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Sepp Blatter cleans stables after the horse has bolted

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has indicated he could be replaced “in the near future” as the head of football’s world governing body by Jeffrey Webb.

Webb, a FIFA vice-president, is leader of the confederation for North, Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF).

Blatter, 77, has led the governing body since 1998 and despite his comments about Webb, has shown no obvious signs of relinquishing the role.

Speaking at an event to mark the opening of a CONCACAF sport summit, the FIFA boss was introduced incorrectly to an audience of regional political leaders and confederation delegates as “FIFA’s vice-president” by a local media officer.

Blatter replied to the error by telling the media officer and assembled guests: “I think you’re a prophet.”

“[There may be] a new FIFA president in the near future and this president could be Jeffrey Webb.”

“This would not mean I would be vice-president. Once you have been a horse you don’t go back to the stable.”

Blatter has used the trip to the Caribbean to seek more accountability over FIFA spending.

Several projects are reported to be floundering. These include a plan “to develop a national team for the Turks and Caicos Islands ‘in the middle of nowhere,” which, according to former squad member Chris Gannon, flopped.

FIFA said in April it has had “difficulties” with projects on Antigua, where planned $400,000 pitch is currently “a waterlogged plot of disused land.”

Blatter began meeting with officials from 22 Caribbean football associations and the U.S. and Canada at a five-day seminar in the Cayman Islands Monday.

FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke said that the trip “is part of a global roadshow that aims to ensure Blatter’s reforms to increase accountability and transparency reach national federations.”

Valcke: “FIFA cannot work at the top of the pyramid if at the bottom of the pyramid the member associations don’t have the same level of organization.”

The Caribbean region has received $260M of FIFA’s developments funds since 1999. And, if we’re honest, the region does not have a great deal to show for that investment. Where the money went is unknown and, given the litiginous nature of the main protagonists in the region, it would be unwise to speculate as to its whereabouts.

Maintaining the equine metaphor, it is clear, that in his search for transparency, Blatter has closed the stable door well after the horse has bolted.

Jose Mourinho calls on Germany to embrace technology

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has called upon Germany to overcome its resistance to the introduction of goalline technology.

Ahead of tonight’s Champions League clash with Schalke, Mourinho was asked about an incident from the Bundesliga last weekend when Bayer Leverkusen were awarded a goal against Hoffenheim, even though the ball entered the goal via the side netting.

“If I had been the manager at Bayer Leverkusen, I would have asked for the game to be repeated”, Mourinho told reporters at Dusseldorf airport .

“And if I was the manager at Hoffenheim I would do the same.

“I don’t understand why the Bundesliga doesn’t invest a few million euros into [goal line technology].

“Germany is a rich country and the financial crisis hasn’t had as much of an impact. So it shouldn’t be a problem. The Bundesliga should have goal line technology.”

Despite the ‘ghost goal’, German football remains unconvinced by the accuracy of the new technology

DFL general manager Andreas Rettig has told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that, as things stand, the options remain limited.

“We are not against technological progress, but we are talking about a highly complex system here, which might still be failure-prone,” he said. “The 3cm margin of error allowed by FIFA is not acceptable for us.”

Rettig cited the example of Ukraine’s Marko Devic, who had not been awarded a goal against England at Euro 2012 despite his shot bouncing 2.6cm over the line, adding: “Imagine the uproar if the goal-line technology had not signalled a goal.”

Meanwhile, Hoffenheim have announced that they will auction the ‘ghost goal’ netting for charity.

So, at least some good will come out of the controversy.

Thai football commission rejects election vote

FIFA executive committee member Worawi Makudi insists he retained the presidency of Thai football perfectly legally despite last week’s success being rejected by a panel overseeing the election.

A five-member commission appointed to monitor the Thailand FA (FAT) election has refused to approve Makudi’s victory over former national team manager Virach Charnpanich.

Makudi polled 42 votes to Virach’s 28 to win a fourth straight term.

But many clubs were disqualified from voting under the new reforms and three members of the commission were not convinced with the eligibility of all the voters and felt that the election was not clean.

“As someone who has conducted elections, both nationally and locally, for four years, I found it difficult to approve the result,” Chanin Kaenhirun, a member of the commission, was quoted as saying by Thailand’s The Nation newspaper. “We had a case in which people were taking the place of the clubs’ representatives.”

Straight after the ballot Makudi described the election ‘transparent’ while Virach, who also lost two years ago, complained that many of those who backed Makudi had nothing to do with the clubs they represented.

Makudi insisted the election was clean and fair.

“The election was conducted according to FIFA’s new charter,” he said.”The commission was not authorised to approve the result.”

The final verdict now resides with the Sports Authority of Thailand, and their decision could have ramifications not only for Thailand but also for the country’s role within FIFA. For, the one thing FIFA abhors above all others, is political intervention in the football arena.

Goal of the Day

Pajtim Kasani’s stunning volleyed goal for Fulham against Crystal Palace has already been tipped to be the goal of the season in England. Cottagers’ boss Martin Jol even went as far as to say it was better than Marco Van Basten’s famous effort in 1988.

Quote of the Day

“The philosophy of 10 years ago remains the same, buy great champions, entertain the fans and maintain the historic prestige of Real Madrid. But the reality is that in football, above all now, that’s not enough to win. It’s better to have a project, balance and patience. Money is a good starting point but it’s not enough in itself.”

Ahead of his side’s Champions League clash with Real Madrid, Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon wonders whether the Galatico policy is sustainable.

Manchester United singing area experiment to start

Organisers are calling on Manchester United fans taking part in the Old Trafford singing section experiment for Wednesday’s Champions League match against Real Sociedad to arrive early in order to generate more pre-match atmosphere.

The move is an attempt to revive the moribund atmosphere that has permeated Old Trafford in recent years. The section, with a 1,500 capacity, was heavily oversubscribed when tickets went on sale.

“For the big games, the atmosphere at Old Trafford is up there with the best of them but, as with most grounds, that is not the same for the lesser matches,” said Andrew Kilduff, co-founder of Stretford End Flags, which has been responsible for many of the banners in the stadium.

“The problem is not lack of singing but more that, because of the size of the stadium and the acoustics within it, the sound doesn’t travel. You can have fans in different parts of the stadium singing different songs at the same time and none of them really being heard. The idea is to have an area of the ground where like-minded fans can be in the same place and, generally speaking, make some noise.”

United employed their own acoustics experts in a bid to generate more noise, and studies have found the most suitable areas to be the corners of the stadium opposite the Stretford End, where the roof is lower, trapping more of the sound.

“We would encourage supporters to get to Old Trafford 25 minutes before kick-off so we can make some noise as the players are warming up,”Kilduff said.

“Hopefully that atmosphere will transmit back to the players and it will improve their performance as well. We are aiming to police the area ourselves and hopefully, if it goes well, the singing section is something we can try again later in the season.

“Having it on a permanent basis is not as easy as people think. Nevertheless, if it works, it is something the club may look at because it will have a positive benefit for everyone.”

We shall see. United are certainly not unique among English clubs when it comes to struggling to create a raucous atmosphere. This season, matters have obviously not been helped by the team’s form. Could United supporters be guilty of only singing when they’re winning?

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