What next for Asian football? Lessons from the AFC...
The dust has settled, the stories have been filed (read my in depth take on the AFC election in the next issue of The Blizzard, which is due out the first week in June), the jetlag over. So what did a few days in Malaysia earlier this month - at the AFC Congress and the confederation’s elections - tell us about the state of Asian football, and football politics? 1/ Anything goes if...
Crisis in Indonesian football →
Indonesian football finds itself in disarray once more, with bitter divisions between a breakaway reform movement and the country’s federation undermining the game. The world’s fourth most populated country is ranked 170 in FIFA’s rankings, yet on a visit to Jakarta for BBC World Football I found the potential in a football-mad country all too abundant. (Source: BBC World...
Four More Years? Blatter Hints at Standing Again... →
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has given another clear indication that he plans to continue as FIFA boss beyond the end of his current term. James Corbett reports from the AFC Congress in Kuala Lumpur. (Source: Worldfootballinsider.com)
New AFC President Throws Down Gauntlet on Human... →
New AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has issued a challenge about accusations over alleged human rights violations in his native Bahrain. James Corbett reports from Kuala Lumpur. (Source Worldfootballinsider.com)
Sheikh Salman Elected New President of Asian... →
Bahrain’s Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has won elections to be new president of the Asian Football Confederation, following an overwhelming first round victory in Kuala Lumpur. (Source: Worldfootballinsider.com)
Sheikh Salman "Not Fit" to Lead AFC Blasts Rival →
AFC presidential candidate Yousuf al-Serkal says that his rival Sheikh Salman is ‘not fit’ to lead the confederation following allegations about human rights abuses in his native Bahrain. Plus a preview of the AFC elections, on the scene in Kuala Lumpur
Fearless reporter defies ex-FIFA man's bully boy...
A leading sports journalist has refused to be silenced by disgraced former FIFA vice president Jack Warner, saying attempts to silence him are a ‘waste of court time.’[[MORE]] Trinidadian journalist Lasana Liburd, a respected contributor to local and international media and who sits on the voting panel for the World Footballer of the Year, is being sued by Warner for libel after posting a tweet...
FIFA fails the first reform test
Two months out from a FIFA Congress in which the organisation’s reform roadmap will be voted upon, a less than convincing press conference by its president Sepp Blatter and Exco member Theo Zwanziger betrayed the likelihood that hopes for ambitious change so sorely needed are unlikely to be realised.[[MORE]] The press conference followed FIFA’s quarterly executive committee meeting in Zurich....
High farce in the Maghreb
Less than three years after the continent’s first World Cup, CAF has become a laughing stock.[[MORE]] In football’s so-called twittersphere, there could be few more depressing places than my timeline over the weekend, as the grim reality of Everton’s abysmal FA Cup capitulation to Wigan hit home. But from Marrakech, where the CAF Congress was taking place, the tweets from assorted...
Dear all, thank you for your messages of support and comfort. God has been...– FIFA Exco member, Jacques Anouma, offers his reaction to a CAS ruling that he is ineligible to stand in Sunday’s CAF presidential election
Makudi, the FFA and another fine mess
Sydney, we have a problem.[[MORE]] Nothing surprises in the world of football politics, but that the Football Federation Australia (FFA) are again found lacking beyond their home turf - having been so badly burned by FIFA during the World Cup bidding process - has an aura of predictability. Dark mutterings about FIFA emanated from its Darlinghurst headquarters after its December 2010 humiliation...
Another day, another Qatar story[[MORE]] France Football has followed up last month’s somewhat sensationalist ‘Qatargate’ cover story with another ‘scoop’ on the origins of Qatar’s World Cup 2022 victory. This time they look at links between the Gulf desert kingdom and Paraguay, home of CONMEBOL HQ and its president, Nicolas Leoz, who also sits on the FIFA Exco. Leoz is understood...
Qatar 2022: A new desert star rising?
Will Hassan al-Thawadi follow in the footsteps of his compatriot, Mohamed Bin Hammam?[[MORE]] Qatar 2022 conspiracy theorists look away now – or at least find a darkened room. A week out from nominations closing for AFC elections, which will be held in Kuala Lumpur at the start of May, there are growing murmurs that a significant candidate will emerge from the Gulf Kingdom of Qatar. The AFC’s...
Hope amidst the storms
In the blizzard of bad publicity that seems to overwhelm FIFA week in, week out, it’s sometimes difficult to remember that much good work is carried out by the organisation and the extended FIFA family.[[MORE]] One of the more progressive members for its executive committee is Prince Ali Bin Hussein, who has frankly been a breath of fresh air since his elevation to the Exco just over two years...
Reading the FIFA president’s runes
Much focus has been given to the media briefing FIFA president Sepp Blatter gave to a handpicked assortment of journalists ahead of last Sunday’s African Cup of Nations final in South Africa.[[MORE]] In it, he simultaneously hit out at UEFA for their mean-spirited declaration on FIFA reform but also appeared to rebuke the Swiss Law professor, Mark Pieth, who is formulating those same...
What's a FIFA Exco member to do?
“The FIFA Executive Committee is the most powerful and influential administrative body in world sport and having elected Australian representation would bring immeasurable status to our nation and Australian football.”[[MORE]] It is difficult sometimes to imagine what goes through the minds of sports administrators when they talk about FIFA. Realpolitik? Deference? Naivety? In the case of the...
Financial doping is dead, long live £35m losses!
The Premier League’s new cost control measures come in 20 years too late, but will at least prevent another Man City or Chelsea from happening.[[MORE]] The Premier League has announced that its 20 member clubs have agreed in principle ‘a system of enhanced financial regulations, which are designed to further improve the sustainability of clubs.’ The two-fold measures will see pay packets...
Mark Pieth’s losing battle
Mark Pieth, FIFA reform and a futile crusade[[MORE]] To those who have followed FIFA’s stuttering reform process closely over the past twenty months, there will be less surprise at the nature of Mark Pieth outburst this week than the fact that it hasn’t come earlier. Pieth, a Swiss Law professor who has been hired as a consultant by FIFA to oversee the reform of its governance, used an explosive...
France Football have published a 15 page investigation into Qatar 2022. Here are some of my thoughts on it.[[MORE]] A decade ago, Germany’s Manager Magazin published a devastating expose of how the country had won the hosting rights for the 2006 World Cup. Although the tournament would go on to be one of the best organised in World Cup history, the nature of its bid success was subsequently...
UEFA and its limits for FIFA's transparency...
Four months out from FIFA Congress, at which its president Sepp Blatter will attempt to push through the remnants of its proposed governance reforms, UEFA has set its stall out. In doing so European football’s governing body appears to have fulfilled criticism that its leaders are prioritising their own ambitions over the good of world football.[[MORE]] At a meeting in Nyon today, UEFA’s 53...
The Ultimate Giant Killers →
Nick Harris of Sporting Intelligence reveals how Bradford City could be the first national cup winners hailing from the fourth tier anywhere in the world. Ever. Source: Sporting Intelligence
FIFA calls time on 'Soviet League'
FIFA president Sepp Blatter has dismissed out of hand the idea of a creating a new Soviet-style league consisting of clubs from Russia and its neighbouring states. But his dismissal of the concept could have wider consequences elsewhere. [[MORE]] “It’s impossible,” Blatter said on a visit to St Petersburg last week. “It goes against the principles of FIFA, therefore FIFA...
"Transparency in African football? Don't ask me,...
[[MORE]]FIFA general secretary, Jerome Valcke, gave a media briefing to journalists in South Africa last weekend following the start of the African Cup of Nations. At the end he was nabbed by the Nigerian journalist Osasu Obayiuwana and asked about the forthcoming CAF ‘elections’. I use the term lightly, because last year CAF President Issa Hayatou oversaw a change in the statutes...
Review: Making The Grade by Stan Osborne
[[MORE]]In 2005 the broadcaster and journalist Gary Imlach scored a surprise bestseller with the publication of his William Hill Sports Book of the Year winner, my Father and Other Working Class Football Heroes. It was a biography of his late father, Stuart Imlach, a Scottish international winger with Nottingham Forest and subsequently coach at Everton. It was a moving evocation of a bygone era...
I’m open to any investigation. Nobody has offered me even a penny, never.– CONMEBOL president Nicolas Leoz denying claims in the German media that his World Cup 2022 vote was bought. Source: AFP
Soccer City Returns to Life →
World Cup 2010 Final venue, Soccer City, subsequently an underused white elephant, returned to life as the African Cup of Nations opened today. South Africa are stand in hosts for Libya, but could only manage a goalless draw with Cape Verde. [Source: CAF]
Putin aide damns Russian football →
The head of Vladimir Putin’s presidential administration has described himself as ‘extremely pessimistic’ about the development of Russia football and said that the lack of proper TV deals is holding the domestic game back. Source: rSport
‘The “dead” committee man has his use. He prevents unnecessary change.’– Jules Rimet, FIFA president 1921-54
King Sepp and the Milanese Prince
A new year, another controversy.[[MORE]] January is the cruellest month, and Sepp Blatter always seems to begin the new year with a bang. A decade ago it was women’s football he was upsetting, by suggesting that female players should wear ‘more feminine kits’ and ‘tighter shorts.’ Two years ago in his hotel suite in Doha he mocked the IOC to a group of journalists,...
2013 Preview - Still going strong at...
All eyes will be on Brazil as preparations for the 2014 World Cup hot up, with FIFA secretary general, Jerome Valcke, the busiest man in world football this year. [[MORE]] Football is finally coming home. 2013 might be the year that we sit back and celebrate the 150th anniversary birth of association football and hail England’s great cultural gift to the world, but it is also the year where it...
FIFA's 'high risk' prophesy proved after yet... →
Welcome to Russia, host of the 2018 World Cup, a tournament where you will need to travel by air. FIFA’s own limited inspections marked its transport infrastructure as ‘high risk’. And here we have this, yet another air disaster - this time captured on film. Terrifying and awful. Source: Guardian
Will Qatar be ready for 2022? →
Normally questions about a host nation’s readiness to stage a major tournament are reserved for the final three or four years before kick off, but nine years out from Qatar 2022 a debate is already starting to take place. In this New York Times blog by Shuaib B. Ahmed, the debate in the comments section is rather more interesting than the article itself. Source: New York Times
Who will lead Asian football next? →
The messy demise of former AFC president Mohamed Bin Hammam has created a vacuum at the summit of Asian football. But who will step into the void? Zhang Jilong, who has been acting head of the AFC the past 18 months, looks the most likely candidate, a view with which Asian football expert John Dureden concurs. Source: Fox Sports Australia
Romario fires a warning shot as World Cup 2014...
Brazilian football legend turned Congressman, Romario, has raised further questions about preparations for the 2014 World Cup, claiming bribes were paid in the host city selection process.[[MORE]] Romario used a public hearing of the House of Representatives’ Committee of Tourism and Sports to launch a withering attack on the Brazilian federation (CBF) and its former president, Ricardo Teixiera....
Copa Sudamericana abandoned after armed police... →
Serious allegations about police conduct at the Copa Sudamericana final in Sao Paolo will surely raise concerns with the Confederations Cup just seven months away. Source: Guardian
President Blatter, you know how much I supported the choice of Qatar to host the...– Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Doha 12 December 2012
Indonesian football only has itself to blame →
FIFA vice-president Prince Ali on the latest twist in Indonesian football’s ongoing race to self-destruct. Source: Reuters
No holds barred interview with Qatar 2022... →
Doha Stadium Plus editor Ravi Kumar gives Qatar 2022 communications chief, Nasser al-Khater, a real grilling about preparations for the finals
Football must remain universal. The rest of world is not just a provider of...– Former Blatter advisor, Jerome Champagne. Le Monde, 4 December 2012
AFC focuses on election rather than reform →
Veteran Middle East correspondent James M Dorsey gives an insightful perspective on the latest twist in the sulphurous world of Asian football politics
The Last Game: Life, Death, Family and Football
“The story of the greatest – in my view – Evertonian of them all. And most of you will never have heard of him. His name was Charles Mills.” [[MORE]] A large part of my career has been spent writing about the men who made Everton great. Yesterday I finally signed off the proofs of a book that details the careers of the 800 plus men to have played for our wonderful club. It had taken...
World Cup D-day One Year On (audio) →
One year on from World Cup D-day, BBC World Football’s James Corbett catches up with the winners and losers.
Domestic Struggles: Qatari football a year after...
A year on from being awarded the 2022 World Cup Qatari football has progressed, but much work needs to be done.[[MORE]] In the year-long maelstrom that has followed FIFA’s decision to award Qatar hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup, the state of football in the desert kingdom has been largely overlooked. Lurid whistleblower allegations (since retracted) and questions about the suitability of...
Bob Bradley on his new role as Egypt coach (audio) →
Former USA coach Bob Bradley tells BBC World Football’s James Corbett about his new life in North Africa.
Palestine’s Political Football
As UN recognition as an independent state nears, how football played its role in Palestine’s march to statehood. [[MORE]] Inside the cool limestone lobby of Ramallah’s Movenpick Hotel, the Palestine defender Omar Jarun is describing a 20 year-long journey that has taken him from a childhood in Kuwait, via exile – following Iraq’s 1990 invasion– in the United States, to his ancestral homeland of...
FIFA's new prince (audio) →
Newly appointed FIFA vice President Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan talks to BBC World Football’s James Corbett about the recent corruption allegations
Afghans' road to Brazil riven with potholes
Politics almost derailed their World Cup qualifier in Palestine and getting there was nightmare[[MORE]] Ramallah, Palestine: If the route to their World Cup first-round preliminary qualifier against Palestine today is anything to go by, the road to 2014 will be long for the young hopefuls of the Afghan national football team. Starting early on Friday, they left their training base in Kabul and...
On the road with Sepp Blatter
“There is nothing else. He’s married with FIFA, it’s everything to him.” [[MORE]] On 1 June, 208 representatives from every nation on earth will gather at the Zurich Hallenstadion, a nondescript indoor arena near the city’s airport. There they will hear the visions of the two men vying to be FIFA president – its incumbent, Sepp Blatter, and his challenger, the Qatari, Mohamed Bin Hammam...
Football in Palestine (audio) →
BBC World Football’s James Corbett travels to Palestine for a match with huge symbolic meaning, as football plays its part in the struggle for independence.