Sunday, 23 January 2011

Daylight robbery

Sunderland manager Steve Bruce has been left feeling a little cheated this week, after Darren Bent left the Black Cats to join relegation strugglers Aston Villa for a figure rumoured to be around £18million, rising to £24million. It all seems a little fishy, and Steve Bruce has accused Villa manager Gerard Houllier of being disrespectful and unsporting, and believes that in order to get the deal done in the two days after Bent handed in a transfer request Houllier must have spoken to Bent behind Bruce's back.

To cover all angles, though, he has hit out at Bent for leaving, saying he could have shown some respect by staying until the end of the season, rather than jump ship at the first call. And I am sure Sheffield United, Wigan and Crystal Palace fans know how the Black Cats feel. After all, I am sure all remember how quick a certain Steve Bruce was to leave to pastures new, and he left Wigan after just 2 months in charge, and Palace after only 3. During his early managerial career, he had managed 5 clubs in the space of three years, and I am sure that of all people the irony of his comments will not be lost on him.

Also feeling robbed this week is Harry Redknapp, who has admitted he was mugged when he went on a scouting expedition to look at Atletico striker Diego Forlan in the Madrid derby. 2 men tugged at his trousers to distract him as four others rifled through his pockets taking everything in them.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Time for the first Winter World Cup?

While Sepp Blatter's controversial and horrific comments with regards to gay sex at the 2022 Qatar World Cup rightly made headlines, he also mentioned in the very same press conference something that went unnoticed by many, but is perhaps a far more significant dilemma.

It has been barely a fortnight since Russia and Qatar won the rights to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively, but just as it seemed the fuming football fans around the world had begun to calm down, FIFA decided to try and land another bombshell by announcing that it was considering moving the World Cup from it's usual date of June and July, to a much earlier January tournament, in order to help cope with the ridiculously high temperatures of the summer months.

The idea was not one of Sepp's, however, former players, and FIFA executive committee members Franz Beckenbauer and Michel Platini first came up with the idea, before on Thursday the FIFA general secretary said "why not?" when asked about the first ever winter World Cup.

Then, in his press conference on Friday, our favourite FIFA member said this;

"I definitely support to play in winter [in Qatar]. To play when the climate is appropriate and I'm thinking about footballers, not only the fans but the actors. Where there's a will, there's a way."

It is understandable that it will be tough for the players to play in such a gruelling temperature, even with the proposed air conditioned stadia, but is this not why FIFA gave the Qatar bid such a poor safety rating? So why was it voted for?

This will add to the failed bidders' anger and sense of injustice, as if they weren't sore enough. It seems that the factors that may have deterred voters from voting for a nation could now be avoided rather easily.

But there is no rule to state when a World Cup should be held, it has just traditionally been held in the summer months, however there is nothing to stop Qatar holding a World Cup in January. FIFA tend to work out the scheduling for World Cup 2-3 seasons in advance, so there would be plenty of preparation time, and so it is not a matter of FIFA and Qatar picking a date a letting everybody else work around it.

There are still 12 years, or 11 if it is in January, until the World Cup, so there is plenty of planning time, but the big clubs in Europe in particular will do everything in their power to avoid a winter World Cup.