United States wants changes to World Cup bidding process

The United States wants further changes to the World Cup bidding process before trying to win the right to host the finals again.

FIFA executive committee member Sunil Gulati, who is also president of the U.S. Soccer Federation, remains unhappy over the process that led to Qatar beating his country and others to the 2022 World Cup.

”The rules, the procedures, need to be very different than they are now,” Gulati told the Leaders in Football conference in London. ”It’s a unique situation that the Olympics and the World Cup have become so important to countries that nation states are now essentially bidding, it’s no longer bid committees.

”That’s a very difficult situation for countries like England or the United States, frankly, which operate differently. We are not going to conduct a foreign policy based on hosting a World Cup … it’s just never going to be important.”

If the United States, which hosted the 1994 tournament, is to bid again, Gulati wants assurances that voters will follow the technical inspection reports that seemed to be ignored when Qatar was awarded the 2022 tournament despite the summer heat being declared a high risk.

Gulati said FIFA also needs to establish in advance if a particular continent will be designated a tournament and he would prefer the vote not to be held in secret.

”Would we be interested in bidding for 2026? The procedures would need to be very different to what they are now,” said Gulati. ”If the critical issue is taking it to new lands, then tell us in advance, because we won’t bother.

”The rules need to be clearer and tighter. And the process needs to be better. If you are stepping on to a field of play, you know what the rules are.”

To be fair to FIFA, the rules are pretty clear: the more money you are prepared to throw around at corruptible FIFA officials, the more chance you have of hosting the finals; the more democratic your system of government, the less chance you have of hosting the finals.

There’s no way FIFA wants a repeat of the ‘problems’ they have encountered in Brazil, where pesky, democratically elected politicians refuse to overturn their country’s constitution in order to do FIFA’s bidding. World football’s governing body will not be making that mistake again.

Cardiff owner appoints son’s friend as head of recruitment

Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan has suspended Malky Mackay’s right-hand man, Iain Moody, and replaced him with Alisher Apsalyamov, a 23-year-old friend of his son with no known experience in football. Actually that’s not strictly true: three months ago Apsalyamov was painting parts of the stadium.

Apsalyamov, who has no experience at all in football, attended the same Swiss finishing school as Tan’s son.

The Kazakhstani has been shadowing Moody in the last six months, with the general impression being that Apsalyamov’s father may be about to invest in a club where the 23-year-old might also play some kind of professional role.

Moody has been a key part of Mackay’s backroom team, spending two years under him in Wales as well as assisting the Scot at Watford.

The development comes just days after Mackay refused to discuss the recent row that erupted between Tan and the players over end-of-season bonuses. Consequently, the players have requested Tan does not enter the dressing room before or during games.

According to The Independent Tan asked Mackay to quit, during a tense meeting with senior members of club staff on Tuesday, but the Scot had refused.

England for the English, says Jack Wilshere

Studs first, both feet off the ground, Jack Wilshere has waded into the debate over whether Manchester United’s Belgian born midfielder, Adnan Januzaj, should play for England if he becomes eligible.

Januzaj could represent England when he passes FIFA’s five-year residency requirement. The 18-year-old is also eligible to represent, Serbia, Albania and Turkey. However, Arsenal midfielder Wilshere says that only English people should play for England.

Asked about the issue, Wilshere said: “If you live in England for five years it doesn’t make you English.

“If I went to Spain and lived there for five years, I’m not going to play for Spain.”

True, first you’d have to be good enough to force your way into their midfield, and on present form, that’s not going to happen.

“We have to remember what we are,” continued ‘Smoking’ Jack.

“We are English. We tackle hard, are tough on the pitch and are hard to beat.

“We have great characters. You think of Spain and you think technical but you think of England and you think they are brave and they tackle hard. We have to remember that.”

Well, all that bravery and hard tackling has worked so well for England over the past 50 years, why change it now.

A more nuanced approach to the issue came from England Under-21 coach Gareth Southgate, who, perhaps mindful of the dwindling pool of talent available to him, was prepared to keep an open mind.

“It’s a difficult one,” said Southgate. “He [Januzaj] has not played for anyone else.

“We have lots of boys in our squad who were not born here, whose families have fled here.

“There are some wonderful stories and they are all incredibly proud to play for England.

“I’m torn with it. The world is changing. People move and work abroad. It is important to know why someone wants to play for you.”

Dennis Bergkam identifies Arsenal’s missing link

Dennis Bergkamp has identified Mesut Ozil as the player who could end Arsenal’s trophy drought.

In an interview with The Telegraph, the former Arsenal playmaker said of Ozil: “It is still early days. He is a tremendous player with a lot of effective skills like controlling the ball, making creative passes and assists, taking the right position in the field every time. And he’s extremely experienced.

“Putting all that together I think you’ve got a player who can be the missing link in the Arsenal team, a player who will make a striker score goals, who will link up in Arsenal’s position-game and who will score goals as well.”

In which case, Ozil is the natural heir to Arsenal’s previous missing link, a former team-mate of Bergkamp, the defender Martin Keown.

Ozil is the central creative force behind Arsenal’s recent good run revival and Bergkamp suggested he is on a different level to the rest of the Arsenal team.

“Ozil knows exactly how to control the ball in what kind of space to give himself time,” added the Dutchman.”That’s the difference between the players and great players. With his intelligence and his touch and his skills, he is trying to do something right with every ball.”

“With all the respect to the other Arsenal players, I think he is the one who can make a difference. The other players are good in midfield. But you need someone of a high-level you can be good in all areas of the pitch.”

Lazio chief unhappy with anti-discrimination regulations

Lazio President Claudio Lotito has criticised a UEFA and FIGC regulation that has seen a number of Italian stadiums closed because of racism.

Milan will have to play their game against Udinese behind closed doors because of ‘insulting’ chants heard by their fans.

But the Lazio chief has claimed that it is the offending fans who should be punished and not the clubs, suggesting that the current regulations could lead to blackmail.

“Michel Platini is not Gospel and the FIGC is one of the most important federations,” he said. “If a sector of the fans behave a certain way, they should be punished, but not the entire stadium. A few delinquents given this much power allow them to blackmail the clubs.”

“We are a team that is engaged with ending racism. And all forms of discrimination.

“Teams that implement such policies shouldn’t be punished because of a few people.

“The people who indulge in racist behaviour do not have any values or education [as to why it’s wrong].

“Sometime it’s not racism but rudeness that then flows into hooliganism.

“The measures are disproportionate. We should not be closing entire stadiums.”

Opinion remains divided over the decision to punish Milan for the fans’ anti-Neapolitan chants, but the sanction did find support with the Mayor of Naples.

“There is no such thing as a first class and second class discrimination,” said Mayor Luigi De Magistris.

“The Neapolitans have often been discriminated against in unacceptable fashion. People should get used to being respectful to their opponents, their hosts and their countrymen.

“In the stadiums we need to set a positive example, as these games are seen all over the world.”

Quote of the Day

“”I am aware that in recent matches that I played I’ve been calmer. I am very self-critical and I realized that playing well, with more tranquillity, is helping me a lot. I realize and I prefer to continue and not be the same as before.


Football’s most famous biter, Luis Suarez, is now a changed man.

Turkish football clubs are pawns in the political crisis

There’s an interesting report today in Beyondthepitch on the financially struggling Turkish football clubs becoming pawns in the political struggle between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and hardcore football fans.

The fans of the major Istanbul clubs have been at the forefront of the recent campaign against Erdogan, and it would appear that the Prime Minister intends to exploit the club’s current financial mess to bring supporters into line.

The Istanbul stock exchange reports the short-term borrowings of Turkish champion Galatasary, Istanbul rivals Besiktas  and Black Sea club Trabzonspor created “uncertainty over the sustainability” of their finances.

Galatasary with a debt-to-cash ratio of 13:1 are in a relatively decent position compared to Trabzonspor’s ratio of 40:1 and Besiktas’ 24:1.

“If Turkish football isn’t reformed, institutionalized and if all goes as it has so far, Turkish soccer is doomed to hit a wall,” said football economist and journalist Tugrul Aksar.

It is this weakness that Erdogan is hoping to exploit.

Among those facing charges are 20 members of Carsi, a Besiktas supporters group, who stand accused of being members of an illegal organization. Carsi’s reply in defiance of the ban on political slogans has been to chant “everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance” during matches echoing a popular June protest tune.

Click on the above link to see the full story.