(WFI) World Football Insider rounds up the 10 things you need to know about the global football business today.
Lowy confident despite Blatter Qatar comments
Australia World Cup bid chairman Frank Lowy says FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s comments in support of Qatar’s 2022 campaign over the weekend are a “timely reminder” of what his country is up against in its attempt to secure the tournament. In a statement released today, he said: “It’s the biggest sporting event on earth, and his comments tell us what we already knew – that we are up against an incredibly tough field and that every competitor has a strong case to make. It reinforces the importance of lodging the best bid we can, and the need for the nation to get behind the bid.”
Blatter praised the Qatar 2022 World Cup bid on his visit to Doha over the weekend, noting that the success of the 2006 Asian Games proved its capability to stage international events. Lowy, the Football Federation Australia chairman, countered by highlighting Australia’s strengths in the bidding battle. “If we remain focused and continue to sell Australia’s strong points – our track record with big events, being part of the fast-growing Asian region, and football’s growing popularity here – then I am confident we will succeed,” he said. “We don’t take the competition lightly, every nation has strong credentials, but I genuinely believe Australia is in a position to make the strongest bid.”
Blatter, Platini to speak at SportAccord
The FIFA chief and UEFA president Michel Platini are among the keynote speakers at SportAccord in Dubai this week. They will participate in a panel session on the autonomy of sport on Thursday. More than 1,500 sports officials from the Olympic Movement and international sports federations are attending the international sports convention, which is now in its eighth year.
Rooney dismisses World Cup concerns
Wayne Rooney says he expects to recover from his groin injury to play for England at the World Cup. The 24-year-old Manchester United star, who has scored 34 goals this season, collected the Professional Footballers’ Association player of the year award at a ceremony on Sunday and told reporters he had “no problems for the World Cup”. He beat Didier Drogba, Cesc Fabregas and Carlos Tevez to win the accolade. The PFA trophy remains in a United player’s hands for a fourth consecutive year, after wins for Cristiano Ronaldo (2007 and 2008) and Ryan Giggs last season. Manchester United had four representatives in the PFA’s Premier League
Team of the Year. The line-up is: Joe Hart (Man City on loan at
Birmingham), Branislav Ivanovic (Chelsea), Thomas Vermaelen (Arsenal),
Richard Dunne (Aston Villa), Patrice Evra (Man Utd), Cesc Fabregas
(Arsenal), James Milner (Aston Villa), Darren Fletcher (Man Utd),
Antonio Valencia (Man Utd), Wayne Rooney (Man Utd), Didier Drogba
(Chelsea). England begin their World Cup campaign against the USA on June 12 in Rustenburg. Algeria and Slovenia are their other Group C opponents.
Inter target three trophies
Inter Milan remain on target to win three trophies this season – Serie A, Italian Cup and Champions League. At the weekend, Jose Mourinho’s side moved two points clear of Roma in the Serie A title race following a 3-1 win over Atalanta BC at San Siro. There are three league games left to play in the championship. Inter travel to Camp Nou on Wednesday for the Champions League semi-final return leg against title holders Barcelona, with Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder an injury doubt. A win over Barca would put them one step closer to winning the top continental trophy for the first time since landing the Champions Cup in 1964 and 1965.
AFC Champions League reaches knock-out stages
Ten teams will do battle this week for the remaining five places in the round of 16 of the 2010 AFC Champions League. A draw for Beijing Guoan against Kawasaki Frontale will be enough to take them through from Group E. In the east, Gamba Osaka and Suwon Bluewings in Group G and Pohang Steelers and Adelaide United in Group H have all qualified and will be fighting on Tuesday to secure top spot in their respective groups to ensure they secure home ties for the first knock-out stage of the competition. “We’d prefer to play the round of 16 game at home,” said Adelaide boss Aurelio Vidmar. “It’s an added advantage playing at home and the big disadvantage going to Jeonbuk
is a flight to Seoul and then going 300 kilometres on a bus because there are no flights out there. That’s a good motivation for us to make sure we win this game on Tuesday.” In the west, five-time Saudi champions Al Shabab host eight-time Uzbek champions Pakhtakor on Tuesday in a winner-takes-all clash for a place in the knockout stage of the AFC Champions League.
Old Firm game in the US?
The home of Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox could be the venue for the first ever Old Firm game between Celtic and Rangers to be played outside Scotland. The Scottish clubs are finalising pre-season tours to North America this summer which may include a match at the 37,402 capacity Fenway Park in Boston. The Red Sox chief operating officer Sam Kennedy has confirmed negotiations are taking place to stage the ‘friendly’ at the baseball venue on July 21. “We’re aggressively pursuing the match,” Kennedy told the Press Association. “We recognise it’s a very special match between two very historic teams and the thought is that a very historic venue like Fenway Park would be appropriate to host that rivalry. We’re hopeful that we can make it a reality.”
Ajax seize the advantage in Dutch Cup final
Ajax beat bitter rivals Feyenoord 2-0 in the first leg of the Dutch Cup final that is being played out over two legs instead of one amid fears of fan violence. Siem de Jong netted twice at Amsterdam Arena on Sunday to give Ajax the advantage when they
travel to Rotterdam’s De Kuip for the return leg on May 6. Dozens of Feyenoord fans were reportedly arrested before Sunday’s match for throwing beer or chanting anti-semitic and racist slurs in Rotterdam. Football authorities in conjunction with police and the mayors of both Dutch cities had agreed to a two-leg final because of the high cost – an estimated one million euros – to police fans from both teams during a single match. An agreement already exists between the clubs that away supporters are banned from each ground. The five-year ban was imposed on both team’s fans last year following violent confrontations between rival supporters. It’s the first meeting of the clubs in the cup final since 1980.
Montreal Impact on verge of joining MLS
Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber is expected to confirm this week that Montreal Impact will join the MLS for the 2012 season. The Impact, who drew 1-1 with Portland Timbers in their USSF Second Division home opener on Sunday in front of a sellout crowd of 13,034 fans, will showcase the Canadian city’s passion for football when it hosts international friendlies against Italian clubs Fiorentina and AC Milan on May 23 and June 2 respectively. Impact president Joey Saputo told the Montreal Gazette that the matches “sends a message to the rest of North America that Montreal is definitely a soccer city. That we can support soccer and will be able to support an MLS franchise.”
Chinese carmaker signs Messi
Argentina and Barcelona star Lionel Messi is the new face of China’s biggest domestic car brand, Chery Automobile. The carmaker made the announcement that the FIFA Player of the Year would promote its brands internationally at the Beijing Motor Show.
Bin Hammam urges changes in Indian football
Asian Football Confederation president Mohamed Bin Hammam is calling for club owners in India to accelerate steps to professionalise the game in their country. At the first meeting of the AFC Ad-hoc Committee for Indian Professional Football, Bin Hammam praised Indian football authorities for qualifying to take part in the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2011 Finals draw. “I would be failing in my duty if I don’t point out that both Indian and Asian fans had to wait for 26 long years for this moment. India last played in the Asian Cup in 1984,” Bin Hammam told AFC.com. “I as well as millions of Indians want to see India playing in each and every Asian Cup after this. However this can be guaranteed only when there is a solid and professional base of club football in the country. AFC and FIFA want to listen to you as you are the owners and presidents of Indian clubs. We urge you to share your ideas for professionalising football in India.”
FIFA is already investing in development of the country’s infrastructure through its ‘Win in India with India’ initiative and Bin Hammam said the AFC was considering contributing to the clubs’ costs “towards professionalising their administration”. All Indian Football Federation general secretary Alberto Colaco and other members of the committee then approved the new criteria for professional clubs in India to join the I-League. Clubs must meet various conditions by December 31.
reporting from Mark Bisson ([email protected])
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