Old Firm tensions lead to domestic abuse

Researchers at St Andrews University claim to have found evidence of a link between domestic violence and games between Rangers and Celtic.

The team studied data following all 21 Glasgow derby matches between 2008 and 2011.

If found a “significant” rise in cases of physical, sexual and emotional abuse in the 24-hour period after kick off.

Police and support groups have previously reported a sharp rise in incidents when the fixture is played.

The team looked at the number of reports of domestic violence incidents to Strathclyde Police following a fixture.

Reports were based on any form of abuse against a partner, or ex-partner, in the home or elsewhere.

They then compared the figures with those reported for the same 24-hour period seven days after the match and also 24-hours after high-profile Scotland international games played in Glasgow.

The latter was deemed likely to involve similar amounts of alcohol and “expression of masculine identity”.

Dr Williams said: “We found a statistically significant increase in the average number of reports following Old Firm matches, compared with other periods.

“Our preliminary analysis confirms previous speculation concerning the association between Old Firm matches and reports of domestic violence.”

Dr Williams said further study was needed to “interpret and understand the complex association between sport and domestic violence”.

He added: “Our approach may underestimate the true impact of Old Firm matches on domestic violence, as not all incidents are reported to the police, but it nonetheless offers a conservative estimate of the severity of the problem.

“We hope that our work will not only inform preventive interventions to tackle the association between Old Firm football matches and domestic violence, but will add to the literature advocating for prevention efforts to address sport-related domestic violence more generally.”

The St Andrews study – Association Between Old Firm Football Matches and Reported Domestic (Violence) Incidents in Strathclyde, Scotland – is published online by Sage Open.

Interest in hosting Euro 2020 is huge

UEFA’s decision to invite tenders for the right to host the latter stages of the 2020 European Championships has proved to be a big hit, with 39 cities from 32 nations declaring an interest in hosting matches.

The competition is set to break from tradition and be staged across the continent rather than in one country. Many of Europe’s major capital cities have been included although the omission of Paris is a shock, with the French Football Federation, submitting Lyon instead.

Five countries – Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Ukraine – have named more than one city, with UEFA president Michel Platini delighted at the level of interest his proposal has generated.

“We are extremely proud to see the huge interest in the bidding process, with more than half of our member associations willing to host matches at UEFA Euro 2020,” Platini said. “The finals will be a great celebration of football across the European continent, and the 60th anniversary edition will be truly special, by really coming to the doorstep of all football fans.”

The UEFA Executive Committee will decide in September 2014 on the 13 cities that will host games during Euro 2020.

Cities could be awarded one of 12 standard packages that include three group matches and one knock-out game, or the showpiece package of both semi-finals and the final.

The 32 member associations on the UEFA shortlist are:

Armenia (Yerevan)

Azerbaijan (Baku)

Belarus (Minsk)

Belgium (Brussels)

Bulgaria (Sofia)

Croatia (Zagreb)

Czech Republic (Prague)

Denmark (Copenhagen)

England (London)

Finland (Helsinki)

France (Lyon)

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Skopje)

Germany (Munich)

Greece (Athens)

Hungary (Budapest)

Israel (Jerusalem)

Italy (Rome and Milan)

Kazakhstan (Astana)

Netherlands (Amsterdam)

Poland (Warsaw and Chorzow)

Portugal (Lisbon and Porto)

Republic of Ireland (Dublin)

Romania (Bucharest)

Russia (Saint Petersburg)

Scotland (Glasgow)

Serbia (Belgrade)

Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and Valencia)

Sweden (Solna)

Switzerland (Basel)

Turkey (Istanbul)

Ukraine (Kyiv and Donetsk)

Wales (Cardiff)

Qatar muddies the water

Within 24 hours of European football giving its backing for a winter World Cup, Qatari football officials have reopened the festering can of worms by insisting that the 2022 finals can be played in the summer.

UEFA announced on Thursday that their 54 member associations backed the plan to move the event, but the Qatar organising committee do not believe it is necessary.

Concerns have been raised regarding the temperatures in the Middle East during the normal months of June and July when a World Cup is normally staged, but the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee insist there will be no problems.

“We bid for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in summer and are fully committed and working hard to deliver on these promises,” a statement from the committee read.

“If the international football community asks us to move the timetable for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, we are able to do so, but the development and implementation of environmentally-friendly cooling technologies remains an important legacy issue for our nation, region and many countries with similar climates.

“Creating comfortable conditions for public areas, walkways, training pitches and stadiums both, during and after the World Cup means being able to play and watch football matches in summer throughout the country.

“Cooling technology has existed at Jassim bin Hamad (Al Sadd) Stadium since 2008. This June, the stadium (in Doha) hosted a FIFA World Cup qualifier in cool and comfortable conditions.

“We are now in the process of developing and perfecting sustainable cooling technologies to ensure that our Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup stadia, training grounds and fan zones offer the optimal temperature for players and fans to enjoy the games.”

So, it looks like we’re back to square one.

FIFA’s executive committee will meet on October 4, where they are expected to recommend the 2022 finals be switched to winter.

Anti-homophobia campaign confusion

A number of Premier League clubs have refused to back the rainbow laces campaign designed to combat homophobia.

Certain clubs are unhappy with a lack of consultation by the betting company Paddy Power and gay rights charity Stonewall, who together have come up with the campaign.

The Premier League champions, Manchester United, will not wear the laces. A statement from the club read: “The club supports the League’s central anti-discrimination efforts through Kick It Out. It is a positive move that Stonewall are now speaking to the League directly, rather than working with a commercial provider on a campaign without involving clubs or players at any stage.”

Tottenham also made their feelings clear in a statement: “Whilst the campaign message is positive and one we support, there was unfortunately no prior consultation with ourselves, the Premier League or other clubs. Such consultation would have enabled us to avoid issues in respect of associated third-party commercial entities.

“We have contacted Stonewall directly and let them know that we are supportive and keen to discuss ways in which we can work together going forward. We are committed to working with organisations such as Stonewall and other agencies to eradicate homophobia in football and society.”

Norwich City have discussed the matter with Stonewall, explaining that the organisation’s partnership with Paddy Power conflicts with their own relationship with SBOBET.

Manager Chris Hughton said: “It’s something that we very much support. We have a very good record here at Norwich City Football Club but the Premier League did put out a statement today and we, of course, would have to support what the Premier League say in that statement. This is very much a decision that the club have made. We have to do what is right [for us].”

Meanwhile anti-homophobia organization Football v Homophobia (FvH) criticized the initiative.

“It is incongruous to run a campaign aiming to change football culture whilst using language which reinforces the very stereotypes and caricatures that, in the long term, ensure that homophobia persists,” FvH said in a statement on Thursday.

The organization said expressions like “Right Behind Gay Footballers” strengthened “stereotypes that ensure homophobia exists”.

Paddy Power claimed that they had not mishandled the campaign. A spokesman told the Daily Mail: “The rainbow laces and information were distributed to all clubs last Friday, three days before the launch, to give them a few days to discuss with players about supporting the campaign.”

It would be a shame if the underlying message of the campaign, which is essentially a protest against discrimination, was obscured by arguments over its strategy.

Goal of the day

A remarkable piece of agility from Nilton as he flicks the ball on the volley to give Cruzeiro the lead against Botafogo.

Quote of the day

“I would stick with Messi. It is difficult. It is like when you are looking to buy a house and they offer you many nice ones, but you need to pick one. Messi seems more complete to me, or at least more decisive. In the important moments, he appears and scores goals.”

Asked which of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo was the best player in the world, the Brazilian Ronaldo opts for Messi.

Misses of the day

Bad misses come in threes. Qatari outfit Lekhwiya SC were knocked out of the Asian Champions League by Guangzhou Evergrande and their cause was not helped by three different players hitting the crossbar in the space of three seconds.

Real Madrid theme park no longer a reality

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has confirmed that the club’s ambitious (ie preposterous) Resort Island project in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE,  has “fallen through”.

Plans for the $1billion “Real Madrid Resort Island” project were first revealed in March 2012 and proposed to provide a marina, luxury hotels and villas, an amusement park, Real Madrid club museum and a futuristic 10,000-seat stadium with one side open to the sea.

The 430,000-square metre development off was expected to open in January 2015 with developers hopeful that the resort would attract up to one million visitors to the UAE in its first year.

However, problems over funding soon arose and the announcement from Perez that the Ras Al-Khaimah project has now been official scrapped, comes as no surprise.

Perez had hoped the development would to bring the club closer to their 160 million fans in the Middle East and Asia. But, given the scale of the development, he soon realised it would have been cheaper and more practical to pay for those 160 million to travel to Madrid.

“When ‘Real Madrid Resort Island’ opens its doors, the visitor will form part of the legend of the best club in football history,” said Perez last year.

“We are uniting our name with a unique setting in the world, a strategic meeting point and a project without precedent. Real Madrid and the government of Ras Al Khaimah want to transmit the passion and meaning of Real Madrid to everyone.

“The world of sport and Real Madrid are showing once again that borders do not exist and football is a fantastic tool to bring people together.”

The Greeks had a word for this kind of nonsense: hubris.

In case you want to know who this fantasy land would have looked, here’s the promotional video that launched the promotional campaign for the resort.

Klopp enjoys game with caretaker

Jurgen Klopp looked like he was about to burst a blood vessel when he was sent off for verbally abusing the fourth official during Borussia Dortmund’s Champions League defeat to Napoli on Wednesday.

But, by the time he had walked down the tunnel, Klopp had calmed down and went looking for a television to watch the rest of the game.

He happened to find one in the  caretaker’s room, situated in the bowels of the Stadio San Paolo, where he and the Napoli janitor, 61-year-old Vincenzo Gerrone shared a slice of cake and settled in to watch the remaining hour of the match.

“Klopp was really nice. That was the best visit since Diego Maradona,” Vincenzo told Bild. “I had a bit of cake and water there. Then we sat together on the couch and watched the game.”

“Mr Klopp was actually quite calm, but also a little nervous.”