Technology breakthrough

Football Association general secretary Alex Horne believes that goal-line technology could be used in the Premier League as early as next season.

Horne believes that ongoing tests into the accuracy of various goal-line systems could be completed, and given FIFA approval, in time for the start of the 2012-13 campaign.

“It’s possible we could see [goal-line technology] in the Premier League as early as 2012-13,” he told the BBC.

“It’s easy to make mistakes and we’ve all seen examples where the referee and assistant referee can’t see if a ball has crossed the line or not.

“We need to support them in decision-making.”

FIFA have certain criteria required of any successful bid:
1. The technology applies solely to the goal-line and only to determine whether a goal has been scored.
2. The system must be accurate.
3. The indication of whether a goal has been scored must be immediate and automatically confirmed within one second.
4. The indication of whether a goal has been scored will only be communicated to the match officials (via the referee’s watch, by vibration and visual signal).
5. Don’t mention Frank Lampard’s ‘goal’ against Germany; we all saw it and most of us have now moved on.

Not for sale

Borussia Dortmund have told the European clubs interested in signing Germany’s teenage star Mario Goetze that the 19-year-old is not for sale. This will come as a blow to Arsenal manager who eulogised about the player after Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Dortmund on Wednesday.

“It surprises me how much ignorance big parts of the media show in the way they handle this subject,” said Dortmund’s director of sport Michael Zorc, clearly unaware of the general level of ignorance which pervades the sports desks of the average British newspaper.

“All the relevant people on this topic – the player, his family, the player’s agent and not least us as a club have all said clearly: There will be no transfer for Mario Goetze.

“In football, things are never 100 percent, but I’ll say I am 99 percent, maybe more, sure that Mario Goetze will play next season at Borussia Dortmund.

“Now you can throw the topic in a heavy chest and let cobwebs grow on it.”

Undeterred, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was at that very moment, rnthusing about the youngster’s potential.

“For me, Mario Gotze is a player for the future,” Wenger told German TV station SAT1 TV .

“He is very talented, has a great attitude. It’s no surprise to me that all big European clubs show interest in him, as we do also.”

For the young German, a move to Arsenal would make perfect sense at this stage of his career. The Premier League club can provide regular Champions League football, play an attractive style, have a manager renowned for nurturing young talent, and importantly, rarely stand in the way of their players moving when a big club comes calling.

History makers part 2

Following on from American Samoa registering their first-ever competitive victory, it emerges that the team created a second piece of history during the game by becoming the first team in world football to field a transgender player (Saelua) in an official match.

Johnny ‘Jayieh’ Saelua was making his debut in the game and impressed enought to win the man of the match award.

Apparently, or in other words, according to a quick Google search, Saelua is part of the fa’afafine, biological males who identify as a third sex, and widely accepted in Polynesian culture.

Saelua said: “The team accept me and we have that mutual respect. Which is great. It’s all part of the culture.”

American Samoa coach Thomas Rongen posed an interesting question when he asked how Premier League fans would react to a player like Saelua playing in their league?

Far be it for me to speak on behalf of all Premier League fans, but from my limited experience, I would imagine that a chant involving the word ‘ladyboy’ would quickly be heard. If you’re hoping for an enlightened, 21st century response, the Premier League is probably not the best place to start.

Goals of the year

FIFA have unveiled their nominations for the best goals of 2011. The award, named in honour of Ferenc Puskas, the Hungarian legend, and comprises 10 spectacular efforts.

Selecting a best goal is a fairly arbitrary business. Some people will favour the acrobatic, others the solo dribble, but I prefer to employ a more scientific basis to determine the best goal. The criterion I would use is the likelihood of an average park player being able to score a particular goal.

For instance Heather O’Reilly’s strike could be emulated fairly easily by hitting the ball very hard, whereas Dejan Stankovic’s strike requires not just power and accuracy but phenomenal technique too. Therefore, on that basis, and fairly sure that it could not be replicated in a month of Sundays, the winner really should be this effort by Neymar.

How the mighty have fallen

Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson is holding talks in Iran to become the next coach of Persepolis FC.

The Swede left Leicester City last month and he has not had to wait too long before being offered a chace to get back on the managerial horse.

British newspapers this week reported that the struggling Iranian side was looking to spend around £1 million to secure Eriksson.

Keen students of history will know that Persepolis, a wealthy city, was invaded by Alexander the Great in the year 330 BC. Alexander stormed the Persian Gates and looted Persepolis.

Two and a half thousand years later and on a £1million a year, Sven the not-so-Great, looks set to do the same.

Asia picks its best player in the room

Uzbekistan’s Server Djeparov has been crowned Asian Player of the Year for the second time in his career at an awards ceremony on Wednesday.

Djeparov is the fortunate beneficiary of a bizarre rule which excludes all players who fail to turn up for the awards ceremony. Just by turning up he had a 50-50 chance of winning it, as the only other player to attend was Iran’s Hadi Aghily.

Fellow nominees Shinji Kagawa of Borussia Dortmund, CSKA Moscow’s Keisuke Honda and South Korea’s Koo Ja-Cheol and Yeom Ki-Hun were all tied up with club commitments and unable to travel. Note to the AFC: next time schedule the ceremony when the best players are not playing

Djeparov, who also won in 2008 and now matches Japan’s Hidetoshi Nakata’s double triumph in 1997 and 1998, moved to Riyadh club Al Shabab in July.

“This is my second time I receive this honour. It’s a great pleasure for me – this is very important for me and also very important for the Uzbekistan people,” Djeparov said.

Some of the gloss may be taken off the award when the Uzbekistan people hear that you won it just for turning up.

Japan enjoyed a successful night as they took nine awards – nearly half of those on offer – on the back of their Asian Cup and women’s World Cup wins.

2011 AFC awards list
AFC Diamond of Asia: His Majesty Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah
AFC Player of the Year: Server Djeparov (Uzbekistan)
AFC Women Player of the Year: Aya Miyama (Japan)
AFC Youth Player of the Year (Men): Hideki Ishige (Japan)
AFC Youth Player of the Year (Women): Caitlin Foord (Australia)
AFC National Team of the Year (Men): Japan
AFC National Team of the Year (Women): Japan
AFC Dream Asia Award: Reach Out To Asia (Qatar)
AFC Club of the Year: Al Sadd (Qatar)
AFC Referee of the Year (Men): Ravshan Irmatov (Uzbekistan)
AFC Referee of the Year (Women): Sachiko Yamagishi (Japan)
AFC Assistant Referee of the Year (Men): Abdukhamidullo Rasulov (Uzbekistan)
AFC Assistant Referee of the Year (Women): Sarah Ho (Australia)
AFC Coach of the Year (Men): Norio Sasaki (Japan)
AFC Coach of the Year (Women): Tezuka Takako (Japan)
AFC Futsal Player of the Year: Mohammad Keshavarz (Iran)
AFC Futsal Team of the Year: Nagoya Oceans (Japan)
AFC Fair Play Association of the Year: Korea Republic
AFC Member Association of the Year: Japan

Goals of the day

Two for the price of one today, with both coming from Barcelona’s thrilling 3-2 Champions League win over Milan at San Siro.

First Kevin-Prince Boateng continued his rich vein of form with a contender for goal of the season. Not sure what’s come over Boateng this season, but he never used to do this kind of thing at Portsmouth.

If you’ve ever wondered what is meant by the term ‘slide rule pass’, this ball from Messi to Xavi illustrates it perfectly.

German press show remorse

Following the attempted suicide by referee Babak Rafati, there have been growing calls from within German football to change the image of referees in the media.

In the past, Rafati has on several occasions been voted the Bundesliga’s worst referee in a poll of professional players by German football magazine Kicker.

However, in the wake of Rafati’s attempt to take his own life, the magazine says it is considering dropping the feature.

“We are considering whether or not in the future to include surveys of Bundesliga players on the question of who is the worst league referee,” Kicker chief Klaus Smentek told SID.

Germany’s former World Cup referee Bernd Heynemann was another to call for the worst referee polls to go.

“These polls are not meaningful, the referees have the weakest lobby and so such surveys are a waste of time,” he said.

Rainer Domberg, a spokesman and ombudsman for Germany’s top referees, says the blame culture aimed at football officials has to change.

“Referees need a different culture of recognition,” he said.

“In 95 percent of the games that they officiate, their performance is flawless. Referees seem to suffer under a curse they don’t deserve.”

Price of Hazard

Potential suitors will have to pay €50 million if they are to win the race for Eden Hazard, according to Lille’s president.

The 20-year-old Belgian forward has become one of Europe’s most in-demand players after helping his team to the Ligue 1 title in 2010/11.

Lille president Michel Seydoux acknowledges that Hazard will eventually move, but he is determined to cash in on his prize asset..

“The price is 50 million euros and this is clear in advance,” Seydoux said.

Such an exorbitant  figure will deter all bar the biggest spenders from making a bid. Do Manchester City really need another forward? If not, then Chelsea certainly do.

Beckham opens talks with PSG

Former Milan manager Leonardo, who coached David Beckham during his loan move at the San Siro last year, has confirmed PSG were keen on signing the former England captain..

“Yes, we’ve spoken. These situations take time. We’ll see if something suits him and suits us,” Leonardo was quoted as saying in The Sun.

“I know his history and he doesn’t need to tell me his past. He went to Milan and it was the same thing. There is a rapport with him.

“When you talk about Beckham, you’re talking about something big.”

Yes, his salary.