Paris or Leicester?

David Beckham continues to be linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain with Le Parisien claiming the midfielder is in the French capital today to discuss terms with the Ligue 1 club.

Beckham’s contract with LA Galaxy expires in November and PSG are reported to be one of a number of clubs interested in bringing the former England captain back to Europe.

Another club courting Beckham are Leicester City, managed by former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Quizzed about the possibility of a move to Leicester, Eriksson told The Times: “I have already had that discussion with him. I spoke to him about Leicester.” A brief conversation, no doubt.

Paris, one of the world’s leading business, cultural and tourist centres, home to some of the most influential museums, stylish boulevards and historical landmarks, versus Leicester, home of Kasabian the potato crisp and the busiest motorway junction in England.

No wonder Le Parisien is reporting that Beckham’s wife, Victoria, has already approved a move to the French capital.

Liars and pirates

FA chairman David Bernstein claims Argentina’s FIFA vice-president Julio Grondona has apologised for his “unacceptable” attack on England.

Grondona branded the English “liars” and “pirates” at the FIFA Congress in Zurich in June, but has now written a letter of apology.

Bernstein told the Leaders in Football conference in London that the FA’s relationships with FIFA and UEFA were improving, and that Grondona had retracted his remarks.

At this rate they may soon be allowed to leave the naughty step.

In an interview with a German press agency, Grondona stated: “With the English [2018 World Cup] bid I said: ‘Let us be brief. If you give back the Falkland Islands, which belong to us, you will get my vote’. They then became sad and left.”

Given England’s desperation to host the finals and the lengths they went to ingratiate themselves with FIFA ExCo members, I’m surprised they didn’t agree.

Leaders in football

Also speaking at the Leaders in Football conference is Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary general of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup organising committee. He will use occasion to debunk some myths that have built up around the Gulf state’s tournament plans for 2022.

Al-Thawadi will tell delegates: “Lately there have been figures discussed in the public domain – guesswork at how much the World Cup is going to cost Qatar.

“What’s important to remember is that the vast majority of infrastructure development projects were already earmarked in what is known as the Qatar Masterplan and would have been developed regardless of whether or not we had been successful with the 2022 bid.”

Al-Thawadi will also talk about the developing sports landscape in the country. Doha is currently in a bidding war with London to host the 2017 IAAF world athletics championships, while the Qatari capital is also bidding to land the 2020 Olympics.

Presumably, if they win, the marathon will now become a stage race. There’ll be no shortage of venues for the beach volleyball though.

Goal of the day

Seattle Sounders defeated Chicago Fire 2-0 in the final of the U.S. Open Cup to win the competition for a third year in a row. The icing on the cake was this stoppage-time solo effort by Osvaldo Alonso.

Feeder club?

Arsenal’s new-found role as a feeder club to Barcelona is gathering apace. The latest player to express an interest in a move to the European champions is goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, who though a relative newcomer at the club, has quickly adapted to the Arsenal way of doing things. Namely, establish yourself in the first team before trying to engineer a move away.

“I can’t declare that I will spend my entire career here (at Arsenal), but if I leave I will have a very important reason or I will go to Barcelona,” Szczesny told the Polish media.

The 21-year-old described the Emirates as his “second home”.

 Presumably, Camp Nou is his first.

Incidentally, a few years ago the club’s motto was changed from ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’ (Victory grows through Togetherness) to the more prosaic ‘Forward’. Soon it may have to be changed again. To Stalled.

One-man team?

Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella has attempted to ease the burden of pressure on star player Lionel Messi.

Messi has thus far been unable to reproduce his prolific goalscoring form with Barcelona for the national side, but Sabella has lauded his contribution.

“He (Messi) has set up more goals than any other player,” Sabella said. “There is no reason to go crazy if he is not scoring goals. Almost all of Argentina’s goals come from his feet or his head.”

So, no pressure there then.

The player himself was equally keen to play down expectations that he was some kind of miracle worker.

“No one player alone wins a game,” Messi told reporters when he arrived in Buenos Aires ahead of Friday’s game against Chile. “This is true with the national team, with Barcelona and everywhere. It’s important the team plays as a team.”

Unfair dismissal?

The Australian players’ union has vowed to fight for World Cup midfielder Jason Culina who has been informed by Newcastle Jets’ that they wish to tear up his A-League contract.

Newcastle Jets sacked Culina’s father – coach Branko – and also served notice they wanted to terminate Jason’s $2.65 million three-year deal after he was last week ruled out for the season.

Branko was fired amid suggestions the club think he knew about the extent of his son’s injury before he was signed than he let on.

Culina, it has to be said, has not been the shrewdest of investments by the Jets. The Socceroo has not played for the club since he moved from Gold Coast in the close-season and has struggled with a knee injury picked up late last season.

But his latest setback and surgery on the eve of this season has prompted Newcastle to take drastic of action.

Professional Footballers Australia boss Brendan Schwab said: “I met with the club two weeks ago and they said they were going to support Jason and we don’t know what’s happened since then to change the club’s position.

“We regard such an application as unprecedented.

“Being injured is an inevitable part of being a footballer and the collective bargaining agreement makes contract security on that point sacrosanct.

Newcastle Jets are run by billionaire Nathan Tinkler, a colourful character who has earned a reputation as a loud, foul-mouthed bully and someone who is not keen on reporters.

Contacted by one last year, he responded: “You’re a fucking deadbeat, people like me don’t bother with fucking you. You climb out of your bed every morning for your pathetic hundred grand a year, good luck.”

The new A-League season starts on Saturday, but it will have to go some to match the drama unfolding off the pitch.

Sack race

All change at Bologna where, to no one’s great surprise, the bottom-paced Serie A club have fired coach Pierpaolo Bisoli.

In his place comes who Stefano Pioli who has signed a two-year contract, although given that the club has employed six different coaches in the past two years, the chances of him serving a full term, look exceedingly remote.

Moreover, Pioli, was not even Bologna’s first choice; they initially approached Davide Ballardini, but he, looking for a position with greater job security than a World War 1 infantryman, turned them down.

“I met the President and their general director,” the former Lazio and Genoa boss told Radio Mana Mana.

“It was clear that they wanted me, but I wanted to speak with my collaborators first. After discussing the matter, we didn’t feel that it was right to start this adventure.”


England 2018 World Cup bid chief Andy Anson claims FIFA’s credibility and integrity hangs in the balance following its handling of the corruption scandal and labelled president Sepp Blatter’s decision to enlist the help of opera star Placido Domingo as “laughable”.

Funnily enough, that was the same word used to describe England’s 2018 bid.

Anson told Sky News: “For me, the worst thing that happened was, after the incidents in the summer with Mohamed bin Hammam and Jack Warner, the whole issue about getting Placido Domingo on an ethics committee was laughable.

“The whole world is watching and waiting in a way. There’s a lot of people watching, a lot of people anticipating but I have to say I think most people anticipating are not waiting for great results because FIFA have not had a track record of taking this issue seriously in the past.”

So speaks Andy Anson, the Iain Duncan Smith of the World Cup bid.


In the standoff between FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Brazil president, Dilma Rousseff, it looks like the wily old fox has won the day.

The pair held talks in Brussels on Tuesday in an attempt to resolve a dispute over Brazil’s reluctance to accede to some of FIFA more outlandish demands for the 2014 World Cup finals.

Brazil wanted to implement a national law during the tournament which gives students and pensioners the right to half price admission to games. That set alarm bells running at FIFA who claimed that in signing the contract to host the event Brazil had ceded it sole control over ticketing policy. Besides, the black market in tickets can’t thrive when you’re giving them away half-price.

Brazil’s sports minister, Orlando Silva, hinted at a compromise, saying the World Cup was “a special event” and that the government would study “what Brazilian laws would be applied during these events of FIFA’s”.