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So it will be Qatar and not the United States who host the 2022 World Cup finals – a decision from FIFA’s executive committee that left many fans in the U.S. angry, dismayed and a little confused.
The machinations of FIFA decision making are far from transparent as U.S Soccer chief Sunil Gulati implicitly acknowledged when he said that the vote wasn’t just about the merits of the bid: “It’s politics, it’s friendships and relationships, it’s alliances, it’s tactics.”
He is undoubtedly right and when it came to all those elements the U.S. was found lacking. Lacking by 14 votes to 8 in the final round of balloting with Qatar after lacking when it came to matching the Arab state’s glitzy presentation, impressive public relations and international endorsements.
The American fans may be convinced that their bid was the best – but it was all about the preferences of the 22 voters in Zurich and they had other ideas.
We’ll be following all the presentations and the vote itself as FIFA’s executive committee decides on the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
Spain/Portugal, Russia, England and Netherlands/Belgium are the four rival bids for 2018, while Australia, South Korea, Qatar, United States and Japan battle it out for 2022, with the vote to come on Thursday.
The chill winds of corruption allegations swirling once again around FIFA’s Zurich HQ have got world soccer’s bosses busy battening down the hatches in the forlorn hope that, if ignored, they will all just blow away.
But if they were to peep out of the windows of their ivory tower overlooking the Swiss financial centre they might see that, in the eyes of much of the world, it is their credibility that is blown and that the process of selecting the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup finals has been seriously tainted.
Diego Maradona is spending his 50th birthday on Saturday far from the two things that have dominated his life — soccer and being constantly in the public eye.
That leaves Argentina’s greatest player at a crossroads a few short months after a humiliating 4-0 defeat by Germany in the World Cup quarter-finals cost him the job as coach of his beloved Argentina.
It is with great sadness that we report the death of the world’s foremost psychic cephalopod.
Paul the Octopus, the mystic mollusc himself, became a more significant World Cup figure than Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo or Franck Ribery with his extraordinarily accurate predictions from his tank at Sea Life in Germany.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter is well known for coming up with some odd ideas and this latest seems as strange as any.
Blatter has admitted that there was too much negative football at the World Cup and believes that one way of improving things would be to scrap extra-time after drawn knockout matches.
Trying to read anything into Spain’s 4-1 defeat in Argentina is tough considering it was a friendly. Did the world champions take it too lightly? Was Del Bosque right to field Pepe Reina in goal with fringe players Nacho Monreal, Alvaro Arbeloa and Carlos Marchena in the back four for a match that was never going to be that ‘friendly’?
Or was it that Argentina really got it together under new coach Sergio Batista?
Spain started poorly conceding two goals in the first 13 minutes and the third came after an embarrassing slip from Reina in the 34th, but they responded well in the second half and hit the woodwork three times overall.
Watching a repeat on Saturday of a TV comedy show first shown early in 2010 offered a stark reminder of how quickly and deeply Fabio Capello’s stock has fallen in the eyes of the average England fan.
As Alistair McGowan gurned his best Capello impression, the Italian-accented words were all about England’s success in qualifying and how they were looking forward to the World Cup with such high hopes.
Yet here we are again at the start of another European season. In fact the likes of Juventus and Liverpool have already begun competitive action in Europa League qualifiers and this weekend France’s Ligue 1 begins and England’s Community Shield pits double winners Chelsea against runners-up Manchester United.
Spanish sports fans have never had it so good.
The Iberian nation is celebrating its latest triumphs after a month of success that local media have called a golden age.
On Sunday, Alberto Contador sealed his third Tour de France title, Fernando Alonso won the German Formula One Grand Prix, and Jorge Lorenzo roared to MotoGP victory in the U.S.