To be frank

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has welcomed the International Football Association Board’s (IFAB) decision to approve goal-line technology, crediting Frank Lampard for his role in the landmark.

“I am happy, I am pleased we are able to go forward,” Blatter told Sky Sports News.

“When it comes to high level competition and a decisive moment, and you have the technology and don’t use it – then something is wrong.

“This is a real, real approach of modern times in football, it is so important because the objective in football is to score goals.

“New tactics and techniques with so many players involved in attack it is difficult to score goals so now we have the chance to identify it then it is good.

Blatter, who had always opposed the use of technology, underwent a Damascene conversion during the 2010 World Cup. It was Lampard’s wrongly-denied goal against Germany that prompted a rethink.

“For me as FIFA president it became evident the moment what happened in South Africa in 2010,” he continued.

“I have to say ‘thank you Lampard’; I was completely down in South Africa when I saw that. It really shocked me, it took me a day to react.

“It happened again in Ukraine, and Ukraine can still not believe it now.”

That’s how many of us feel when further reports of corruption within FIFA are revealed. Shock and disbelief.

For those concerned that the use of technology will place more power in the hands of TV companies, fear not: the lawmakers insist that a decision must be relayed to the match referee within a second of the incident. that spares us the prospect of an unscheduled ad break interrupting the match or even a sponsored technology break. Although, once the football authorities catch on to the commercial potential of goal-line technology, I wouldn’t rule out their introduction.

Ban lifted

Asian football’s governing body has welcomed the decision to lift a ban on women wearing headscarves during games, saying the move was “in keeping with the times.”

Not sure what times they are: ones in which men dictate what women wear perhaps? Let’s be polite and call these times, the age of theocracy.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) overturned its 2007 ban on the headscarf, or hijab, which it had previously argued was unsafe and increased the risk of neck injuries.

Proponents of the use of the headscarf  said the ban promoted inequality at the highest level of the world’s most popular game and noted that new designs of headscarf secured with Velcro had removed the risk of serious injury.

Asian Football Confederation acting president Zhang Jilong said in a statement that lifting the ban was the “right thing” to do and “a move in keeping with the times”.

“I am very happy to hear that the ban on headscarves has been lifted. On behalf of the AFC executive committee and the Asian football family, I commend the IFAB and FIFA for doing the right thing,” Zhang said.

“The lifting of the ban will allow thousands of women players, who wear headscarves, to play the game.”

He added that the headscarf was “more of a cultural symbol than a religious one”.

In 2011, the Iranian team was disqualified for refusing to remove their headscarves moments before kick-off in the 2012 Olympic second round qualifying match against Jordan.

Boys from Brazil

Brazil have named their squad for the London Olympics and looking at the players they have selected, it’s fair to say that they are taking the tournament seriously. As well they might, coach Mano Menezes has been told he will be sacked unless Brazil return with gold.

Hulk has been named in a strong-looking squad for London 2012, along with other over-23 players Marcelo and Thiago Silva. Throw in a smattering of aspiring world stars such as Neymar and Ganso, not to mention established names such as Pato and Sandro, and you can see that Menezes (who, coincidentally, is interviewed in the current issue of World Soccer) is taking the threat to his position very seriously.

Rafael Cabral (Santos), Neto (Fiorentina); Marcelo (Real Madrid), Rafael (Manchester United), Danilo (Porto), Alex Sandro (Porto), Thiago Silva (AC Milan), Juan (Inter Milan), Bruno Uvini (Sao Paulo); Romulo (Vasco da Gama), Ganso (Santos), Oscar (Internacional), Sandro (Tottenham Hotspur), Lucas (Sao Paulo); Neymar (Santos), Alexandre Pato (AC Milan), Leandro Damiao (Internacional), Hulk (Porto).


International football transfer numbers and fees have fallen sharply in the past six months, says FIFA.

Completed transfers fell by 9% in the first six months of 2012, but their total financial value dropped significantly by more than a third, falling by 34%.

The data was revealed by FIFA’s Transfer Matching System (TMS) organisation, which uses electronic technology with the aim of making international football transfers more transparent and legally compliant.

“We still have to see what happens in July and August, when European transfer windows are open, to see if this [drop] is just a dip or part of a continuing trend,” said Isabelle Solal, head of integrity and compliance at FIFA TMS.

“However, if I personally was asked to pick reasons, I would say it is still because of economic recession and the impact of the Uefa financial fair play sanctions.

“Clubs are making an effort to balance their books, but things should be clearer by September,” Ms Solal told the BBC News website.

The TMS is an online system for registering international transfers and has replaced the old set-up of documents based on paper. In the first six months of 2012, the amount of fines that FIFA TMS has imposed on clubs for not complying properly with transfer regulations has almost reached the total for the whole of 2011.

“We are much more effective as a compliance department, and despite the number of transfers being down, we are finding more infringements as we grow into our role,” said Ms Solal.

“We have a big focus on compliance education,” she added. “We spend a lot of time trying to help clubs and associations understand the transfer market better.

“We have the technology that allows the information necessary for each transfer to be accessible to both parties, even if they are at other ends of the globe.

“It is great that sport is using the sort of technology that is widely used in business, and it is enabling us to become even more professional in our operations.”

Financial Fair Play

Although some clubs may be making efforts to balance their books, it would be fair to say that Manchester City are not one of them.

The Premier League champions are looking to fend off interest from Real Madrid in David Silva by offering the Spaniard a new deal worth a mindboggling £52 million. That works out at something like £325,000 a week. In the age of austerity, we may all be in it together, but some of us are less in it than others.

How City will manage to ensure that such a deal adheres to UEFA’s Financial FairPly rules, remains to be seen. They have a little wiggle room following last year’s sponsorship agreement with Etihad Airways reportedly worth £400million. That eye watering deal was supposed to be scrutinised by UEFA. We’re still awaiting the results of their report, though we’re not holding our breath on it.

David Silva told the Daily Star: “My home is at City and I am totally satisfied there. My head is not at Real Madrid but at Manchester City.

“I’m grateful for my experience at City and I have improved as a player, in every sense, since I joined them. I didn’t know if I was capable of playing like this when I left Valencia.

“I’m on holiday right now, but my agents are negotiating a new deal with City and I think it’s likely we close it in a very short time.”

Georgia on my mind

Kakha Kaladze, who retired from professional football last season, has launched his campaign to enter politics in his native Georgia.

“When I announced that my football career had ended, I said that the most important match in my life was starting now,” said the former defender.

Twice winner of the Champions League with Italy’s Milan, 34-year-old Kaladze will run for parliament this autumn with an opposition coalition led by a billionaire tycoon who is challenging Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s governing party.

“It was a very difficult decision and it came after long reflection. But there is such injustice in my country, so many people live in hardship,” Kaladze said.

Kaladze will stand for the Georgian Dream party, whose leader, Bidzina Ivanishvili, has been fined tens of millions of dollars for allegedly trying to buy his way to victory.

“All this is a result of the authorities’ fear,” said Kaladze, in response to the charges.

“What we face today is illegal and unfair,” he said.

At the heart of the election is the role played by neighbouring Russia, who have been accused of bankrolling Kaladze’s party.

For further insight and background on the story, you can read this interest piece.

Goal of the day

Comfortable start to their Europa League campaign for Steve McClaren’s FC Twente side. A 6-0 win over Andorran side should see them through to the next round. The fourth, from Joshua Jones, was the pick of the goals.

Quote of the day

“You can try and put a good face on a bad game for as long as you want, pontificating about the merits of this model, but it will not hide the obvious fact that it just does not allow our great manager to fully realise his managerial talent and deliver success for the fans who are paying the highest prices in the land.”

An extract from the letter written by minority Arsenal shareholder, Alisher Usmanov, to the Arsenal board, expressing his frustration at the club’s inability to hold on to their star players.

Final pay day

You do wonder when he started out on his illustrious career, whether Alessandro Nesta had any idea it would end in Montreal.

The Montreal Impact have added the former Milan defender to their growing list of grizzled Italian veterans.

The MLS club announced Thursday that it has reached an agreement with the 36-year-old central defender which will see him becoming one of their ‘designated players’.

”I’m very happy to be here,” Nesta said. ”Despite some offers to continue my career in Europe, I was looking for a new challenge and wanted to play in MLS.

”Upon visiting my friend Marco (Di Vaio) to see him play his first game with Montreal, I met great people in this club. I really liked what I saw and I was convinced Montreal was where I wanted to be.”

Di Vaio, a forward who was once Nesta’s teammate at Lazio, made his Impact debut last week against Toronto FC. Nesta joins him and fellow Italians Matteo Ferrari and Bernardo Corradi.

Act your age

It’s easy to forget that beneath the glossy veneer and the immaculate branding, a living, breathing, wants-to -win at all costs footballer, still lurks within David Beckham.

Scratch the surface and the competitor occasionally emerges, and that is certainly what happened last weekend when Beckham’s LA Galaxy side went down 4-3 to San Jose. Angry at perceived time-wasting, Beckham struck a San Jose man with the ball and then continued to argue with opposing players after the final whistle. It was all rather undignified for a man of his age and iconic status, but it was refreshing to see that in the twilight of his career he still cared.

As a result of the kerfuffle, Beckham has been banned for one game and fined an undisclosed amount for his “confrontational and provocative behaviour”.

A statement read: “The committee considered his conduct unacceptable and detrimental to the league’s public image. Beckham will serve his suspension on Sunday afternoon when the Galaxy take on the Chicago Fire at Toyota Park.”

Like Nesta, one does wonder though, whether Beckham, when the fires were still burning and he was continually flinging in those crosses at Old Trafford and the Bernabeu, thought that one day in the not-too-distant future, would be serving a suspension that prevented him from playing at Toyota Park in Chicago.