Tag Archives: a-league

From the colony to the colonised….Football’s not coming home but to new frontiers….and without a dose of “Fair Play” (Part 2)

So, too 2022….

Millions of football fans around the world are still wondering how Qatar ultimately won the rights to host the 2022 World Cup. Yet in the end FIFA was seduced and “sold” by Qatar’s promise of a high-tech tournament. 

I always maintained Australia was arguably punching above its weight in trying to secure the hosting rights to 2022, yet I also consistently argued we had a solid bid and our real and only rival, and favourite, was the United Sates of America.  Exactly how the tiny Emirate state which has a climate conducive to hell on earth and its capital, Doha, is according to Lonely Planet, “the dullest place in the world” secured the rights over the mighty United States is about as impressive and moreover, believable as me getting lucky with Megan Gale.

And Jennifer Hawkins.

On the same night…..

Not only did the win leave me breathless, but more so, the gravity of same – 11 votes in the first round to the United States’ 3….14 votes in the fourth round to the United States’ 8!

Some of the reasons why I was, and will continue to be shocked by the Qatar win include:

-Heat – the average temperatures in June and July are a whopping 41 and 46 degrees celsius, respectively;

-Potential terrorist attacks/threats;

-The fact there will be ten stadiums within a 25 kilometre radius of Doha which was deemed incapable of hosting the (2016) Olympic Games only last year; and

-Restrictions on the consumption of alcohol. 

To counter these problems Qatar has promised, amongst other things:

-Airconditioned stadiums which will be solar powered and therefore, carbon neutral.  What effect will airconditioning have on the “ball”?  It may make the Jabulani (which was used at this year’s last World Cup and branded by many as like playing with a beach ball), appear “normal”?!; and

-Fans will be able to drink alcohol in specially designed areas called “fan zones”.  Will Doha, I mean Qatar, have room to fit these fan zones? Will they be air conditioned too?!

I’ll believe it when I see it. 

For now, it is a fictional tale. 

Just like Qatar’s bid video which was largely set in the future and the country shown as it “might” be in 2022.   

The abovementioned concerns are shared by many, including FIFA.  In fact, Qatar received the worst technical report of all the bidding nations from FIFA (for instance, FIFA labelled the punishing heat “a potential health risk”) and was the lowest ranked by FIFA’s own independent inspectors.

Yet FIFA still awarded Qatar the World Cup!

In the words of Paul Dalligan, “I have now seen it all”.

So, too the conspiracy theories…..I’m no investigative journalist but the following just doesn’t wash with me:

-How secretive was the voting when Qatari state owned broadcaster, al-Jazeera reported the result before Sepp Blatter opened his envelope and informed the world? And what of Qatari officials who were reportedly seen embracing one another and appeared relaxed in the lead up to same whilst Frank Lowy looked like he needed a year’s supply of Gastro Stop to curb his anxiety?

-What did Mohamed Bin Hamman say to Reyanld Temarii (the Oceania member who was suspended from voting for his part in an undercover newspaper sting) when he met him in Kuala Lumpur last week and shortly thereafter, Temarii stated he would proceed with his appeal, thereby allowing Oceania not to be represented in the ballot? Lest we forget that Temarii was quoted as saying he would have voted for Australia.  To add salt to the wound, Hamman supported Temarii’s decision (to proceed with his appeal).  

-The fact the Qataris were able to sponsor the Confederation of African Football Congress on 29 January 2010 and in doing so secured “exclusive” rights to make presentations to African delegates, including FIFA executive committee member, Issa Hayatou.  Does that name sound familiar?! If not, read my last blog!  In short, he has been accused of accepting bribes in the past! Australia, and the other 2022 bidding nations, could only attend the event as “observers” and could not organise press conferences.

Which brings me to my final point….

The integrity of the World Cup bidding process has been damaged and the system of bidding within FIFA ranks must change.

Transparency is needed. 

In awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar (and the 2018 World Cup to Russia) does FIFA really care about the fans who have made the game what it is today? It would appear not.  FIFA does not appear concerned if a supporter is subjected to a violent racist attack in Moscow or another dies of heat exhaustion whilst playing, “Let’s find the nearest watering hole” in Doha. I have no doubt that any of the other bidding nations would have delivered a better experience for the football fan than the eventual winners.

The “beautiful” game and its loyal fans, stands to lose.  

Mark “The F Word” Fiorenti

From the colony to the colonised….Football’s not coming home but to new frontiers….and without a dose of “Fair Play” (Part 1)

“And the host of the 2018 World Cup is….Russia…

And the host of the 2022 World Cup is….Qatar”

 When the abovementioned hosts were announced just after 2am last Friday morning, I no longer needed my shot of espresso to wake me up. Rather, I needed something to drown my sorrows.

If that wasn’t enough, I became nauseous when I learnt:

  1. England was out in straight sets and finished dead last in the voting for 2018;
  2. Australia was out in straight sets and finished dead last in the voting for 2022; and
  3. The icing on the cake….the results was allegedly known approximately one hour before the tournament.  So much for a secret ballot….

I can read the headlines already…. FIFA president Sepp, or should I say Gall, Blatter is remembered as the man who took the World Cup to Eastern Europe and the Middle East (along with Africa). 

What won’t be widely reported is that Qatar’s victory gives him a reprieve, for had the World Cup not gone to Qatar, Asian Football Confederation chief Mohamed bin Hammam (Qatar’s bid chief, no less) would have allegedly challenged Blatter for the FIFA presidency.  Blatter will now serve a fourth term as FIFA president.

So Hamman gets the glory of winning the World Cup for Qatar (a nice ego check) and Blatter gets to keep his job (and leave a “legacy” behind).

Nice wok guys – ego and political aspirations first, most logical choice and delivering fans a better footballing experience, a distant second.

To 2018….

Russia won the vote in a landslide victory in as early of the second round of voting, whilst England, a favourite, was miraculously sent packing after securing only two votes!

Nevertheless, in the weeks leading up to the vote, Blatter himself stated, “England can organize the World Cup tomorrow” boasting of its numerous world class stadia and the necessary infrastructure to deliver the world’s biggest sporting event.

And what of Russia…? FIFA’s own inspectors graded the bid as a “medium” operational risk and did not appear concerned by:

  1. Travelling distances between host cities;
  2. The need for extensive investment in infrastructure; and
  3. The problem of racism amongst Russian fans (read – the banner erected by Lokomotiv Moscow supporters that abused Peter Odemwingie when he moved to West Bromwich Albion).

I can only guess FIFA didn’t appreciate England’s media recently uncovering new evidence about bribery claims regarding four of the men who voted last Friday morning.  Three of those men, Cameroon’s Issa Hayatou, Brazil’s Ricardo Teixera and Paraguay’s Nicolas Leoz were accused of accepting bribes in the 1990’s and the fourth, CONCACAF President, Jack Warner was treated to a renewal of old allegations from earlier this year when he allegedly sold thousands of World Cup tickets on the black market for personal gain….but more on the issue of bribery and these shady characters, namely Hayatou, in Part 2….

It’s a travesty to think that the country which gave the world the beautiful game and continues to give so much to the world through its highly successful league – the most widely followed in the world, no less, scored so miserably in the voting last Friday. 

England must now wait in excess of 60 years before football comes home.

I’m all in favour of FIFA’s legacy argument and desire to sail into unchartered waters, but in order to move forward one must also acknowledge and pay respect to our past.  Further, a nation should be awarded the World Cup on its respective merits.

England would have been a logical, fair and timely choice.

It appears reputation means nothing in FIFA’s murky corridors of power. 

Mark “The F Word” Fiorenti

Australia’s 2022 World Cup bid becomes a Greek tragedy

Professor’s Rant #4

I’ll start this rant by repeating what I said on Sportzfan Radio last Sunday (see show #181.2) – I would love Australia to get the 2022 World Cup (a view shared by The Gelding, but not Daniel or Stan – is that OK Daniel?). 

The report on the assessment of finacncial return to FIFA  from each of the bidding countries, which has only been recently released (more about that later), seems to be a fatal blow to our chances. 

Given the findings of the report, what are the chances of Australia getting the nod when the vote is held in the early hours of tomorrow morning?  Zero, zilch, zippo, naught, nil, zip.  Get the picture?

Why?  It comes down to simple mathematics – which Board would vote for an option that reaps the least (that’s right, the least) profit for it?  Think about that question for a second or two…now roll it around……easy to answer when you consider it.  Let’s for good measure add that the favourite in this five horse race is the USA ,who just happens to be the country that reaps the most reward for FIFA if they are to be successful with their bid.  The answer becomes a no brainer!

Even if I am wrong and the USA aren’t successful, there are still three other bids that make more money for FIFA.  I can’t see a kangaroo, Hoges and Julia Gillard making up for the giant cash shortfall. 

Ask yourself this further question should you still be struggling with the economics of the situation.  If you were a share holder in FIFA Inc., would you want the voters to vote for a bid that would give you the least money in your pocket to pay increasing mortgage rates and rising electricity and gas bills?

Yet another question.  If FIFA had released the report much earlier (ie when bidding opened) would Australia have run as hard or invested as much money.  I think not!  Synics like me wonder why the findings of this report have only come to light in the last week of the process.  You don’t need to be a Rhodes scholar to work that one out.  Why would FIFA reveal findings that would stifle the competition?  Another no brainer – they wouldn’t.

On Sportzfan Radio, we have queried from the start the wisdom of making such a large investment in a bid that was against the odds from its very beginning.  We felt the money would be far better spent putting resources into growing the game at the grass roots level and enhancing the A League and its teams.  Make no mistake, the local product needs to improve significantly if we are to be rated a credible force in world soccer.

So in the end, what will we have?

Nothing for $45 million dollars.  Shareholders just love that sort of equation!

To quote Paul Dalligan “ah, yep!”

Sportzfan Radio #181.2

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!28 November 2010 181.2 – Daniel wants the Tigers to get rid of their white alternate strip. Stan adds that the Tigers are hopeless at 1-7.  Mark Fiorenti talks up Australia’s chances for the 2022 World Cup and thinks the bid looks a lot better than it did three or four months ago. He also thinks the USA are favourites.  Daniel believes if Julia Gillard writes a letter of support that will sink the bid. The Professor thinks Bob Hawke should have been asked to write a letter.  Mark also wraps up A League and Premier League matches of interest.  He thinks it is Chelsea’s title to lose.  Dr Leslie’s CSA returns to the show after a few weeks off.  Daniel is not happy that the Professor signed off with “We all hope we get the 2022 World Cup”…this then promotes a discussion as to who actually wants the World Cup.  Stan and Daniel don’t want it.  The Gelding hopes we do get it.  Suitably chastened, the Professor re-announces “The Gelding and I both hope we get it, Daniel and Stan definitely don’t”.   The Panel then discuss emails about the Australian Test selections.  The Gelding thinks the role of wicketkeeper has changed over the years as we now pick a wicketkeeper that is an allrounder.  Stan believes it is no good trying to make a batsman into a wicketkeeper.  Paul Dalligan is back to talk rugby league….didn’t the season finish eight weeks ago?  He talks about Russell Crowe leaking details of Greg Inglis’ contract on a US talk show.  The NRL are now looking more closely at the deal.  The Professor asks why this deal is different to the Mark Gasnier deal.  Daniel thinks it would be good for Crow to team up with Inglis at the Rabbitohs.  Paul then goes on to talk baseball and the ABL.  Unfortunately, the Melbourne Aces first three home games have been rained out.  We give a shout out to a new listener…Lisa Haye’s husband.  The Panel talk about Mark “Choco” Williams appointment as Kevin Sheedy’s assistant at Greater Western Sydney.  This leads into a discussion of whether Sheedy will actually coach the team in 2012.  Stan decides to swing the axe and believes Mick Malthouse and Kevin Sheedy have reached their use by date and should retire as the old guys are keeping the younger coaches out of jobs.  Sean Callanan comes on to talk social media and discusses the Dallas Cowboys forgetting to renew their domain name so they were left without a website and thinks the IT man at the Cowboys may be out of a job.  The Denver Broncos have been fined $100,000 for filming the 49ers at practice.  Sean talks about Vince Young apologising to his coach Jeff Fisher by text and says it is probably not the most effective means of doing that.  A listener queries why Young didn’t call Fisher as he had the phone in his hand sending the text.

Sportzfan Radio #179.2

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!14 November 2010 179.2 – Daniel thinks the Melbourne Tigers theme song is very annoying to listen to and believes there should be no basketball theme songs. The Professor wonders whether Daniel was alive when the Leyland Brothers were on television. The ‘F’ word looks at the local A-League scene. Archie Thompson back for Melbourne Victory will be a positive however the Victory have lost one of their other strikers. He doesn’t believe Victory can make the top three given their current ladder position. He is going to see both Melbourne Heart and Victory in the next week but will only be wearing a Heart scarf. Mark also has a quick look at English Premier League and the Socceroos upcoming friendly against Egypt. The Panel discuss IPL’s growing disruption to other forms of cricket with Australia’s test series against Bangladesh needing to be moved as it clashes with IPL matches. Paul Dalligan is stoked about Greg Inglis heading for the Rabbitohs and says it is the biggest signing in his lifetime. He is disppointed that Australia was beaten by the Kiwis in the last minute of last night’s final of the Four Nations Tournament. Social media expert, Sean Callanan believes the Queen has a lot of work to do to catch up to LeBron James on Facebook. He likes people quoting tweets but has a problem with journalists quoting tweets but then not linking back to the original story or using their twitter handle. The NBA and the NHL are always trending on twitter when the games are played which says those Leagues are on the ball with social media.

Sportzfan Radio #177.2

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!31 October 2010 177.2 – The Panel give their Melbourne Cup selections. The ‘F’ word starts talking racing instead of soccer. He was in a marquee in the car park at Flemington yesterday and didn’t see one live race. He says it is all about the fillies! On a soccer note he talks A League soccer and thinks Melbourne Victory’s season is getting back on track after a slow start. He says the Melbourne Heart have a travel nightmare with a trip to Port Macquarie and then Perth within a week. Paul Dalligan talks Four Nations Rugby League and is expecting a much closer game against England than expected with Australia at AAMI stadium. Gambler talks cricket and wonders whether it is over exposed. The Panel talks to social media guru, Sean Callanan about what cricket can do, social media wise to improve things. The Gelding believes the 50 over form of the game is in trouble and maybe there should only be 20/20 matches. Sean thinks the fifty over version is too drawn out today and the state competition seems to be onto something with the two innings version of the fifty over game. Daniel talks about a Sydney Kings player tweeting that women shouldn’t be NBL referees. Sean thinks it is a cheap shot. Not surprisingly it has now been deleted. Daniel wants to know if he can pick four horses for the Cup like the Gelding. He likes half Shoot Out and half Harris Tweed and thinks it would be good if it was a tie so they can come back next week for a re-run.

Sportzfan Radio #175.2

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!17 October 2010 175.2 – Dr Leslie comes on and cleans up after the Gelding’s weather forecast and racing segment – stool gazing indeed! The Professor explains that the Sydney Colt was unable to be on the show this week due to an illness and increases the intrigue when he passes on that the Colt and Stan have never been on the same show together – like Clark Kent and Superman. The Panel welcomes Nicole Chvastek back to the show. Mark Fiorenti discusses the creativity and passion of A-League soccer and the Newcastle Jets gaining more funding under Nathan Tinkler. There is also discussion of the ever increasing debts of Manchester United and Liverpool and the foreign ownership of EPL clubs. Nicole talks about the interest or lack thereof in the Commonwealth Games and the many countries/athletes not competing at the Games,  Daniel says it was good to hear that Australia picked up a late gold medal in the ‘Throwing the washing machine out the window’ event.  Nicole observed “Well done those Aussies”.  Nicole also discussed the legitimacy of naming AFL players even though they had not been charged with an offence.  Paul Dalligan talks with the Panel about the Rugby League Four Nations tournament with the marquee match between Australia and England at AAMI stadium.  He thinks that the first game between Australia and Papua/New Guinea is like the Aussies playing the Wesley College Old Boys.  In a heads up, Paul has heard Jonathan Thurstons may be heading to the Parramatta Eels.  The Panel finish off with a discussion of Australian cricket and Ricky Ponting.  Is Shane Warne too old to come back?  Finally, Daniel asks the Professor which number comes after 248.  Strangely it is 250, as apparently Daryl Corletto played his 250th game after his 248th.

Sportzfan Radio #172.2

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!26 September 2010 172.2 – Mordiboy thinks this is a great chance for the AFL to play a night Grand Final. The Professor suggests the AFL could use Mark Seymour for entertainment at the GF replay. Paul says if they used INXS again, ‘New Sensation’ would be ‘Old Sensation’. The ‘F’ word is worried that the first A-League Melbourne soccer derby between Victory and Hearts is going up against the AFL Grand Final replay. He thinks 20,000 will be there to see the game and tips a draw. Mark has jumped off the Heart bandwagon and is heading back to the Victory. In Premier League Mark was surprised Arsenal lost at home to West Brom, shocked Liverpool lost mid week in the Carling Cup and doesn’t look good for Everton on the bottom of the League. Paul talks NRL with the preliminary finals having been completed with the Sydney Roosters belting the Gold Coast Titans and St George getting over Wests Tigers. He will be at the Grand Final next week via a ticket from a friend from another team. Sean joins in from the Royal Show and discusses the problems created for Collingwood and St Kilda by the Grand Final replay and was thrilled to be at his first ‘live’ Grand Final. He also discusses the Commonwealth Games problems in Delhi. Daniel believes if security can’t be improved they should be called off. Paul worries that Todd Carney may miss the Grand Final due to a high tackle. Stan thinks he will get off though as contact was first in the chest region.

Sportzfan Radio Show #164.2

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!25 July 2010 164.2 – Mark Fiorenti is quizzed whether Jon Bon Jovi is a realistic number 1 ticket holder for Melbourne Heart.  The Panel has some fun with some of Bon Jovi’s songs and Gambo worries that the show is moving away from its sporting roots with the music discussion.  Mark also previews the A League season thinking Sydney, Melbourne Victory and Heart will be the teams to watch with Perth Glory being the dark horse after the signing of Robbie Fowler.  Mark talks about the aborted transfer involving Shane Smeltz due to Smeltz not liking the surroundings in China and thinks it is a bad thing for the League as Aussie players look unreliable.  The Panel talk about the proposed 15,000 seat upgrade to Eureka stadium at Ballarat and wonder whether the AFL will fixture games at the venue.  Is this an endeavour for North Ballarat to be a 19th team in the AFL?… which would then open the door for a 20th team from Tasmania.  Gambo and Daniel ponder whether South Africa and New Zealand may also field teams in the AFL in the future or be preferred to Ballarat and Tasmania.  Nick Tedeschi covers the NRL scene in Paul Dalligan’s absence.  He thinks Melbourne Storm will need to let Greg Inglis go to keep other stars and some of their second tier players.  The level of support for the Storm will depend on their on field performances.  He also discusses the Danny Green/Paul Briggs “fight” and believes it is a disgrace that it went on.  In Tour de Farce news, did Contador break race etiquette in passing Schleck when Schleck had a mechanical failure with his chain?  The Panel thinks so.  We sneak a different Dr Leslie CSA in just before the end of the show.

Sportzfan Radio Show #164.1

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!25 July 2010 164.1 – The Professor welcomes Stan back after illness whilst Daniel Eade laments at the Aussies appalling cricket effort against Pakistan and Gambo has been for a “roll” on the greens.  Sean Callanan recovering from a bit of jet lag is upbeat about the recent Sports Conferences on Social Media in Australia and New Zealand.  He says sports teams that try to engage their fans get the best result in social media.  He is putting together a Sports Social Media Index for A League teams prior to the season start.  He thinks Gold Coast Suns without any tradition, will keep tweeking the design of their football jumper until they get one that resonates with fans.  The Panel talk about the turf at Etihad Stadium and liken it to an ice rink and conclude something needs to be done from on OH&S perspective before an AFL footballer sues over an injury.  The Gelding talks racing with the hits and misses from Saturday at Moonee Valley and Randwick.  His horse Queen Asa gets another start at Cranbourne but is not confident.  Daniel learns that Kenny Loggins “other” song is Footloose and he thinks maybe Kenny should have been asked to provide a theme song for the Gold Coast Suns.  The Professor and Daniel wonder whether the Melbourne Tigers have done the wrong thing by getting Tommy Greer and Darryl Corletto to break their contracts with clubs playing in the SEABL and Big V competitions in order to go on a pre-NBL season tour with the Tigers.  Gambo is happy “Plugger” Lockett is made a legend at St Kilda and the Panel look at big names the Gold Coast Suns could sign aside from Karmichael Hunt to raise the new AFL team’s profile – Shane Warne and Kevin Rudd are suggested