Qatar revelations no surprise

Qatar 2022 World Cup organisers say they are “appalled” by the findings of a Guardian  investigation into the treatment of migrant workers in the country.

The newspaper says Nepalese workers in Qatar “face exploitation and abuses that amount to modern-day slavery”.

“There is no excuse for any worker in Qatar, or anywhere else, to be treated in this manner,” a statement read.

“Like everyone viewing the video and images, and reading the accompanying texts, we are appalled by the findings presented in the Guardian’s report.”

It us unclear whether they were appalled by the treatment of the workers or the fact that the Guardian had printed details of how they were treated.

“There is no excuse for any worker in Qatar, or anywhere else, to be treated in this manner. The health, safety, well-being and dignity of every worker that contributes to staging the 2022 FIFA World Cup is of the utmost importance to our committee and we are committed to ensuring that the event serves as a catalyst toward creating sustainable improvements to the lives of all workers in Qatar.”

They also added they will be investigating the claims made by the newspaper.

“We firmly believe that all workers engaged on our projects, and those of the other infrastructure developers in Qatar, have a right to be treated in a manner that ensures at all times their wellbeing, safety, security, and dignity.

“This is our top priority as we begin to deliver on the promises made in our bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.”

The guardian report claimed that at least 44 workers died between 4 June and 8 August. More than half died of heart attacks, heart failure or workplace accidents.

Their investigation also revealed:

• Evidence of forced labour on a huge World Cup infrastructure project.

• Some Nepalese men have alleged that they have not been paid for months and have had their salaries retained to stop them running away.

• Some workers on other sites say employers routinely confiscate passports and refuse to issue ID cards, in effect reducing them to the status of illegal aliens.

• Some labourers say they have been denied access to free drinking water in the desert heat.

• About 30 Nepalese sought refuge at their embassy in Doha to escape the brutal conditions of their employment.

Meanwhile, Jim Boyce, a FIFA vice-president, called for an immediate investigation into the ill treatment of thousands working in Qatar.

“I was appalled and very disturbed after reading the allegations in the newspaper this morning. FIFA must investigate this information immediately and report the full findings at the earliest opportunity to the FIFA executive committee,” he told the Guardian.

So, he, like the organising committee, is appalled. It’s almost as if everyone has been burying their heads in the sand (no pun) these past few years. Because if there is one thing we have known about when it comes to the phenomenal building projects which have sprung up in the energy rich gulf states in recent years, it is that they have been built on the back of slave labour.

Adil Rami hits back at Valencia over suspension

Adil Rami has delivered a spirited riposte to Valencia after being suspended without pay and placed on the transfer list, according to Spanish newspaper AS.

The French centre back was yesterday suspended without pay after publicly criticising Valencia boss Miroslav Djukic.

But the 28-year-old has lashed out at the decision and insists that he has done nothing wrong, despite being made out to be a villain by Djukic.

“I want to respond to the sanction imposed on me by my club, Valencia. It’s an unfounded sanction that I disagree with,” Rami said.

“I regret this situation that tarnishes my relationship with my club and its supporters, for whom I always work with the utmost respect and complete loyalty.”

Rami was said to be allowed to leave Valencia in the summer, providing a club paid the required £8million that Valencia were asking for.

Interested clubs, and both Arsenal and Manchester City are reported to be admirers of Rami, may choose to bide their time as that fee looks set to drop over the coming months.

Premier League clubs chase digital growth

Manchester City and Liverpool announced an expansion of their social media presence with more local language websites and Twitter accounts to cater for a growing international fan base.

City, whose global profile until relatively recently, extended no further than them being the ‘other’ club in Manchester,  launched 10 new Twitter accounts in addition to existing feeds in English and Arabic to engage with supporters in Chinese, French, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

The club said the accounts will give fans in more than 160 countries access to Manchester City Twitter content in their own language.

“As the Club continues to attract fans from across the world and our global community grows, it’s important to find new ways to connect and engage with them in order to build deeper relationships,” said Diego Gigliani, the club’s director of marketing, media and fan development, in a statement.

Sounding like a contestant on the X Factor, Gigliani continued: “Translating our website into 13 languages was one step on this journey – creating another 10 Twitter accounts is another.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool Managing Director Ian Ayre said that his club would be launching an official Chinese website, the Merseysiders’ third after ones set up in Indonesia and Thailand earlier in the year.

Liverpool claim to be the world’s most digitally engaged club with 34 official social media accounts including 12 in local languages on Twitter.

Expect to see that printed on an Anfield banner in the near future. I suppose in the absence of any tangible success on the pitch, being the world’s most digitally engaged club counts for something.

“Extending the Liverpool FC brand beyond borders and connecting with our 200 million global fans also makes good commercial sense for the Club and will help us achieve a competitive advantage on and off the field,” he said.

“We can create added value for our corporate partners and maximize the international commercial opportunities that benefit everyone at the Club, including the players, coaching staff and the global community of fans across the world.”

Which all sounds well and good, but at present it’s difficult to see how Liverpool’s huge global fanbase translates into anything other than a roaring trade in counterfeit replica shirts in the street markets of many Asian countries.

Gerard Piquet and Alvaro Arbeloa review the night’s TV

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique tweeted a rather sarcastic message just as Real Madrid won a pretty questionable late penalty at Elche, which Cristiano Ronaldo converted to give Madrid the late win.

Pique tweeted: “Watching a comedy on Canal+, they’re always good at this time of night!”

Within hours, though, Real defender was on his phone, tweeting “Happy with the 3 points! I’m delighted some people have changed the theatre for the cinema!”

This was a reference to Barcelona’s infamous theatrics and in particular the propensity of some of their players to dive.

Here’s the penalty incident in question.

What happened to Freddy Adu?

Whatever happened to Freddy Adu? It’s a question we’re often asking. Whatever became of the young man who was tipped not only to be the future of American football, but also to be the next global superstar.

Of course, it didn’t work out like that and now Adu, after a peripatetic existence that has seen him criss cross Europe in search of a stage befitting his talents, is currently playing – albeit infrequently – in Brazil with Bahia. This helpful article fills in most of the gaps in his eventful, but ultimately disappointing career.

Although it seems like the Ghanaian-born footballer has been around for ever, Adu is still only 24-years-old , and therefore still of an age where he must think that his big break may just be around the corner. The signs don’t look  promising though, and with a career trajectory that looks to be on a permanently downward spiral, the fear must be that Adu will be less the poster boy for US soccer and more a reminder of what happens to those we push too hard too soon.

As the article notes, during his early development, US coach Bruce Arena was one of very few to sound a note of caution.

“Freddy’s without a doubt the most talented kid we’ve ever seen at that age,” he said. ”But who knows where he’ll be two years down the road?”

The article concludes, admittedly with the benefit of hindsight, with the following lines:

“It is more than tempting to wonder if, had he been treated with more patience and less constant adulation, the boy from Ghana might be playing for the European giants he still dreams about.”

Quote of the day

“Beer and party, Lederhosen and women in their frocks – it’s going to be great. I’m looking forward to experiencing these three weeks. You can trust me.”

It hasn’t taken Pep Guardiola long to acclimatise to life in Munich. Here he looks ahead to the city’s Oktoberfest.

FIFA revokes doping ban

FIFA has lifted the suspension of a Bulgarian player, hours after announcing he tested positive for doping at a World Cup qualifying match.

FIFA says its disciplinary committee chairman, Claudio Sulser, ”revoked his decision … following clarification by medical bodies.”

FIFA says ”it appears that there is no circumstantial evidence that anti-doping rules have been violated.”

Earlier Thursday, FIFA had announced that a player tested positive for ”prohibited substances” after Bulgaria’s 2-1 win against Malta in Valletta on Sept. 10.

The player, who was identified by Bulgarian media as Ludogorets Razgrad defender Yordan Minev, faced an initial 30-day suspension from all football while FIFA investigated the case.

Luis Suarez damaged Liverpool brand

Liverpool’s managing director Ian Ayre admits Luis Suarez’s behaviour has damaged the club’s brand.

Ayre was speaking in the wake of Suarez’s return to action on Wednesday in Liverpool’s Capital One Cup defeat to Manchester United for his first competitive appearance for the Reds since he was handed a 10-match ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic.

In 2011, the controversial Uruguayan was handed an eight-match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra, actions that Ayre admits hurt the club’s reputation.

“It was damaging to the brand but this club is bigger than one player. Luis is a street fighter and we had to deal with it,” Ayre told reporters.

“We’ve worked a lot with him since the Ivanovic incident, and he’s back to what he’s best at – terrorizing defenders.”

While remaining positive about Suarez’s future at Anfield, Ayre insists that there are plans in place should any similar incidents occur.

“We all move on together. Hard work and lessons have been learnt post-Evra and we now have a process in place for any crisis. Not a Suarez crisis, just any one,” Ayre said.

To give Liverpool some credit, matters have definitely improved under the new manager and PR disasters appear to be a thing of the past. After Suarez took a chunk out of Ivanovic, there was no prospect of Brendan Rodgers sporting a ‘Luis is innocent’ t-shirt, similar to the one worn by his predecessor, Kenny Dalglish, when the striker was found guilty of racially abusing Evra.

Bad day gets worse for goalkeeper

His team trailing 2-0 to Grasshopper Club Zürich, FC Luzern goalkeeper David Zibung’s day was about to get a lot worse.

Grasshoppers winger Izet Hajrovic advancing on goal, accidentally stepped on his face, causing deep cuts, which resulted in Zibung heading to the hospital with a 3 inch gash in his face.

Readers of a sensitive disposition may wish to look away.