Tag Archives: fifa

Friday musing – AFL, Malthouse, NRL, State of Origin, FIFA, Sepp Blatter & more

Chris Barwin HillsWell the Carlton/Malthouse issue was finally brought to a close this week with Mick challenging the board to make a decision which they duly did. While I have not been a supporter of Malthouse, it is sad that the coaching games record holder should go out in such an inglorious fashion. I also have an antipathy towards Carlton built up over many years, but watching them play Geelong last Friday nightUnknown was quite painful and I must say I felt sorry for them (a first). I didn’t think Geelong played all that well, but Carlton did not punish them for their plentiful mistakes. Something had to give and it is always the coach in that situation, but not usually so early in the season. With Carlton playing again tonight I think I might watch a movie as you would anticipate that the Swans will show no mercy.

I also watched the rugby league State of Origin game during the Dalligan & Gordieweek and while the game was close, I must say I found it rather boring. It did not have any real highlights and Queensland’s
experience in the end got them over line.

The FIFA situation with a number of delegates being arrested was probably the biggest issue in world sport and if every country was honest, Sepp Blatter should not be re-elected president. The problem will be that the delegates, who have been involved in the untoward activities, will probably feel safer with the existing regime that has propagated the issues that are under scrutiny now.

Well we have the dream final in the NBA with Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers, so we should have an Australian on the Unknownwinning team again. As stated last week I would like to see Andrew Bogut salute. He has been around for a long time and suffered a number of injuries, and not only that, he is an Essendon supporter!

Speaking of Essendon I cannot let the week go by without congratulating Dustin Fletcher on his 400th game. In his 23rd season at the age of 40 he has missed over 100 games through injury and suspension which makes his milestone all the more remarkable.

Have a great weekend!

Socceroos need to keep winning to earn respect

kruse“We deserve some respect’….so says Socceroo forward Robbie Kruse. Personally, I think Robbie is getting just a little ahead of himself with that comment. Australia, on the back of some poor results over the last eighteen months has slumped to a lowly ranking of #100 of the 209 teams ranked by FIFA. It will take more than a few wins over fellow strugglers to earn recognition from the fans.

If one looks at the results the Socceroos have turned in (not including the Asian Cup currently underway) in the 15 matches played since September 2013, their record is won 2 drawn 2 and lost 11 – goals scored 12 – goals conceded 37. Not a flattering scoreline at all. In that run of matches we managed to lose to Qatar (ranked 92) and Canada (ranked 112). Sure we played some powerhouse teams like Brazil, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and France along the way but that will always be the case in the world game.

After two rounds of the Asian Cup we have beaten up on Oman (ranked 93) and Kuwait (ranked 125). My expectation is that we should beat these teams at home, so I am not getting carried away just yet. Let’s see how we go against the Korean Republic (ranked 69) in our next game and some of the other heavy hitters of the region in the rest of the competition.

If Kruse wants ‘respect’ it needs to be earned on the pitch with the Socceroos performing well against quality opposition!

Sportzfan Radio #206.2

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!12 June 2011 206.2 – The Professor queries when Daniel is going to attend a production meeting at the Great Western Hotel. Mark Fiorenti comes on the show to talk soccer & the Socceroos. He is bullish on Holger Osieck’s coaching and also the young players he tried in last week’s friendly matches. There is also a discussion of the problems confronting FIFA with corruption claims and the rumors that Cesc Fabregas will leave Arsenal for Barcelona. Mark thinks time might be running out for Arsene Wenger. Daniel and the Professor discuss NBL and the plight of the Sydney Kings who are thought to be in debt again. They also look at cricket with Simon Katich’s axing, the review into Cricket Australia and the selectors. Stan sacks the lot. Paul Dalligan talks rugby league and the coming State of Origin match. He thinks NSW will win 16-12. He also reviews the current NRL round. The Panel look at the dangers of spectators running on to the field at AFL games. Sean Callanan talks about his coming trip as Sports Geek to the US. He will meet with the NBA, see some Mets and Yankees baseball and then assist the Minnesota Timberwolves during the NBA draft in engaging the fans on line.

A Heart stopper for this fan

My visit to the heart mechanic this morning didn’t exactly go to plan….

I (unusually) arrived early so I decided to kill the time reading the headlines in one of our leading newspapers…..Whilst the 1.25 litre bottle of water I was drinking may have disguised my morning custard tart and flat white from the impending blood pressure reading, the headline on the front page certainly didn’t.   

“Soccer fans the Worst”.

So a top cop says.

I’m not a police officer, but a fan of the A-League and moreover, the world game, and not here to dispute what the chief says.  I repeat however, I am a football fan….something I’m unsure Victoria Police and large sections of our media fail to understand.  But more on that later…

I am baffled though, why this newspaper felt so compelled to report this story on its front page….  

This, on the same day the A-League finals commence.  Coincidence or conspiracy?Where was the report previewing the A-League finals campaign? Half way through the sports section…..Or the report reviewing the football purists’ wet dream (that is, Arsenal vs Barcelona in the Champions’ League round of 16) and the former’s stirring comeback? It was a mere footnote…..

Or the right of reply to the refreshing and challenging remarks made by former Socceroo, Llubo Milicevic earlier this week in which he stated, amongst other things, many AFL and NRL players allegedly take drugs, yet get away with it because those codes’ stance on drugs being built on thin “ice”.  No pun intended.  I’m still looking for it…..

I did however, read an article the other day in the same newspaper about a self confessed drug and alcohol user and former AFL star whose former partner would rather spend a night with the lions (no, not the AFL club) on their African holiday than him, being offered a lucrative contract to try and do his best Fred Astaire impersonation on Dancing with the Stars  It’s ironic how sections of our media continually throw lifelines to AFL footballers who can’t, nor know, how to control their emotions, yet throws the boot in on passionate and emotional fans at football games! 

This is not the first time my temples have been pounding at the sight of such news….. 

The night after the first A-League and Melbourne football derby was played, sections of our media, rather than embrace the significance of the game, ran beat up stories about alleged violence between sections of supporters of both clubs and how those supporters allegedly vandalised our public transport system.  Yet how many people did Victoria Police arrest that night? One.  It must have been a slow news day….Oh, but the Caulfield Guineas was on that same weekend and 57 people were allegedly arrested for underage drinking.  Well so I heard on the grapevine….. 

With A-League crowd numbers already way down on those of the opening season, sections of our media seem intent on chasing more fans away from the world game.  Even lower crowd numbers are surely to be the consequence of such stories and the heavy handed manner in which the more enthusiastic, active fans are being treated by security staff and police around the country. 

And so to the point I alluded to earlier….. 

Football fans are a rare and unique breed.  Our authorities, media and the administrators of the game cannot expect a passive and sanitised form of support witnessed in other football codes.  Football supporters are, above all, fans.  They have too much pent-up passion to be able to sit there quietly and cheer when the odd goal goes in.  Of course they will get passionate if and when the winning and only goal is scored in the 94th minute of a pulsating context or the referee makes a bad decision which affects the outcome of the game!  

Football fans see themselves as members of the team and will do whatever they can to contribute to the defeat of the opposing team.  Hence the songs they sing, the giant banners supporting a team or player, the horns, the drums and the hardcore fan groups.  The passion extends beyond the field and into the stands and a connection is built that makes every fan more than a mere spectator. 

It is why at many football clubs around the world, like Boca Juniors for example, there is no number 12 squad shirt – the number being reserved for the fans who are collectively seen as the 12th man.  This is non existent in other football codes.  

This does not of course mean that passion which is channelled into violence should be accepted or go uncontrolled. There is no doubt certain fans are tarnishing the A-League brand.  I’m not that ignorant and/or one eyed.  But as a regular attendant at many A-League games since its inception, I cannot help but observe and note a consistent misunderstanding between our authorities and the games’ fans.  Passionate, positive support should not be confused with football hooliganism, an extremely different and ugly beast.  It is this difference that I feel our authorities and media do not fully understand and moreover, embrace. 

Further, I see no justification for an unnecessarily high police presence at A-League games such as the one witnessed at the Melbourne Victory vs Newcastle Jets game last month.  As a friend later remarked, “There was not one hint of violence….That sort of police presence will only fire up fans even more!” 

And let’s not let the flare throwing individual take the headlines away from a game which has given the world mouth watering local derbies steeped in history and many nations joy in times of despair.

Sportzfan Radio #186.2

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!23 January 2011 186.2 – Paul looks at Nathan Tinkler’s offer to buy the Newcastle Knights.  He thinks that it will make the Knights stronger.  There is also a discussion about Melbourne Storm again being in the news with a fan under threat of being sued over comments posted on social media.  Shane Harmon, Communications Director for the Rugby Union World Cup in New Zealand comes on to talk about the World Cup beginning in September.  The global TV reach will be greater than 4 billion people over the six weeks of the tournament with 1.5 million attendees at the matches.  Mark Fiorenti with a big smile chats about the Socceroos making the semi finals of the Asian Cup with Harry Kewell hitting the winner against Iraq in extra time and now going on to play Uzbekistan in the semis.  He also looks at A League and Premier League results.  The Panel discusses the shrine to be built to remember Paul the oracle octopus.  Mark says FIFA should consider decalring a calamari free Friday as a tribute.  Bogus Powerbalance bracelets also come in for examination and Nick believes it says something about the intelligence of our athletes.  Nick also comments on the selection of the Australian cricket one day side for the World Cup.   He thinks the overlooking of Brad Hodge is astounding and defies logic and belief.  Paul reviews the upcoming ABL finals and how the first season has developed.  He says it is the best value for your sporting dollar that is going around at the moment.  A tweet from a listener provokes a discussion regarding Channel 10 dropping Kelli Underwood from the commentary box to the AFL boundary line for season 2011.  Nick says if she is good enough she should be in the commentary box.  The Professor feelks she may have been rushed in without serving an apprenticeship calling football at a lower level.

Sportzfan Radio #183.1

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!12 December 2010 183.1 – Sean makes a rare appearance in studio and Daniel starts with an apology as it took him five days to read Mark Fiorenti’s blog so he knows nothing about what happened in the sports world for the week. He also adds his favourite Qatar player after some research is Eric Clapton and Sean adds that FIFA’s new game Qatar hero. Stan gets into Daniel again about basketball asking him how he thinks the Melbourne Tigers will go against Perth. Sean thinks as it is Al Westover’s 200th game it may get the Tigers across the line. Their is also a discussion about the the test cricket side and Stan is for sacking all the player sand the selectors. Dan Butterly talks US sport and commences with his view on the Heisman trophy and who will win it. He thinks Cam Newton from Auburn will win it, even with all the cloud of suspicion over him regarding the behaviour of his father. Dan also talks about the Bowl matches coming up with 35 being played over three weeks. He likes Oregon to beat Auburn in the Championship game and TCU to beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. There are moves afoot within the Conferences and Hawaii has now decided to leave the WAC and join the MWC in 2012. The Professor asks whether the MWC will play a game in Australia given Hawaii is halfway here. Dan agrees that it would raise the MWC profile. Sean says AAMI stadium would be perfect to host such a game. Dan feels Brett Favre’s streak will end at 297 as he will not recover in time to play in tomorrow’s game.

The Professor thinks there may have been a first last week when the Gelding was not on the show at all. The Gelding talks cricket first discussing the problems with Victorians trying to get into the Test side. He then moves on to racing and reviews his selections for the Flemington meeting. Although he got off to a great start tipping Aloha to win, it was all downhill from there with his other three selections failing to even be placed. The Gelding’s favourite Qatar player is Jimmy Page from Led Zepplin.

The Panel discusses Gary Ablett’s revelations during the week where he hadn’t spoken to his coach, Bomber Thompson since March this year. Sean talks about a rumor that James Hird and Thompson had been talking about getting together for 2012 but because Essendon’s coterie groups wanted Matthew Knights out, everything got moved forward twelve months. Daniel starts talking about Bob Costas (NBC sportscaster) but he really means the Geelong president, Frank Costa. Stan is swinging the axe again and Sean observes he is going to put Centrelink out of business as everyone is getting the knife.

Mark Fiorenti talks up the local Melbourne derby between the Heart and the Victory with over 23,000 at AAMi stadium. Sean went to his first game during the week to see Heart play but they went down in front of around 2,000 people. Mark says it was the lowest ever at an A League game in Melbourne. He says the FFA must address this as mid week games don’t work.

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

Sportzfan Radio #182.2

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!5 December 2010 182.2 – Daniel and the Professor talk ABL and in particular the ‘rivalry’ round and ask how you can have a rivalry after three weeks of a new league. The Panel talk about whether the ABL will be a success. Stan is not so sure as there have been six or so attempts at starting a league over the years. The Professor believes with the MLB putting money and young talent in, it has its best chance. Some of the up and coming players include Quincey Latimore.

The Panel also discuss emails including the Gabba’s entry restrictions for bags.  Daniel wants to know how Wayne Bennett won the coach of the year award over Mick Malthouse.  Paul Dalligan weighs in with his opinion and believes Wayne Bennett is not only head and shoulders above all other coaches in the NRL, but he also gives his team an ‘x’ factor, so much so that he would love Wayne to coach the Rabbitohs.  Paul believes that Benji Marshall deserved his Golden Boot award and whilst the Professor queries whether the NRL are serious about arranging a World Club challenge in Las Vegas Paul thinks it is a good idea.  Although Paul yet to get to a Melbourne Aces game due to wash outs, he thinks it is a bit early for a rivalry round in ABL. 

Dr Leslie follows Paul’s segment this week and leads into a discussion of the NBA by the Professor and Daniel.  The Professor is amazed that the Knicks are 11-9 and struggles to remember the last time they started a season so well.   Axel is a huge fan of David Robinson…the General….no make that the Admiral.  Daniel believes the Knicks may make the playoffs but it depends on whether they go after Carmelo Anthony.  Daniel finds a way of bringing his team the Clippers into the discussion even though they are on the bottom of their division.

Sean Callanan looks at how social media was used in the World Cup bid and whether Australia used it effectively.  He believes it worked engaging fans but not in getting votes.  Sean reveals he did the ‘shimmy’ at the U2 concert and was rcognised as ‘the shimmy guy’.  The twitter handle ‘the Ashes’, is owned by a US woman who doesn’t know anything about cricket and she is getting cross about people tweeting her about cricket.  Sean will pluck the best three or four tweets he sees over the coming weeks to talk about on Sportzfan Radio.  He is considering bringing out a ‘how to’ shimmy dvd for Christmas.

Sportzfan Radio #182.1

@SportzfanRadio now available on iTunes!5 December 2010 182.1 – ‘Hostilities’ start early with Daniel noting that Stan is growing a beard and is dressing like a metrosexual.  Guest panelist Axel Dench is welcomed  by the Panel and the Professor comments that he thought the Melbourne Tigers, given their recruiting of seven footers, may have called on Axel to fill out the roster.  Daniel is on NBL “import” watch and indicates he thinks Eric Devendorf will survive but Craig Winder from the 36ers was wound up.  He also confirms LeBron James did the ‘powder clap’ and that the game between the Cavaliers and the Heat was like an NBA finals game.

Mark Fiorenti comes on to talk about the failed Australian bid for the 2022 World Cup.  He is shocked that Qatar won and that the Aussies only received one vote in the first round and therefore was eliminated.  Mark believes we may have been too honest and not cunning enought to get the required votes.  Axel wants to know how Australia could have been so blind sided by how countries would vote.  Mark believes we could have been naive and other countries thought getting Australia out early inproved their chamces in latter rounds.  The Professor asks just what we could have gotten for our $45 million spent on the failed bid.  Australia’s bid video gets unanimously panned by the Panel and Mark says it looked more like a tourism advertisement whilst Daniel says the sports stars we used may be big here but not to the rest of the world.  Mark thinks our next bid won’t be until the 2040 World Cup.

The Panel look at a tweet from Lisa Hayes regarding Tom Brady becoming a spokesperson for UGG clothing.  We find out that Daniel is a New England Patriots fan.  The Professor has Daniel speechless twice in a few minutes saying Tom is the elder brother the Brady Bunch never spoke about.  Daniel says the only thing he likes better than basketball is Star Wars and Axel says he gave out more Star Wars autographs than for basketball.

A tweet from Craig Eyles is also discussed regarding the Australian cricket team and the Ashes.  Stan says there aren’t enough players playing cricket and not enough care about whether we win the Ashes or not.  He says we should sack the selectors and Daniel actually agrees.  Axel believes the Aussie fans are front runners and tend to fall off when Australia is not doing well.

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!”