Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
FIFA is guaranteed massive revenue from the World Cup, primarily through billions of dollars in commercial and television rights, that will fill its coffers for the next four years. But that doesn’t hide the fact that soccer’s governing body has made basic errors in the ticketing structure for the first African edition of the world’s most watched sporting event.
FIFA boss Sepp Blatter has steadfastly supported holding the soccer spectacle in Africa despite a flood of negative reporting from Europe that said the tournament would be a disaster and that nothing would be ready in time. Those naysayers have so far been proved very wrong–the 10 stadiums, half of them stunning new venues–are ready way ahead of kickoff on June 11.
Blatter has gained plenty of kudos and political support from his support of Africa but the organisation he leads seems to has allowed what many critics would call greed to impede its ability to make calculations that would seem fundamental.
FIFA’s system of selling most tickets until last week over the internet showed a basic misunderstanding of South Africa’s black fans, who make up the bulk of football supporters in this country. They are poor, they don’t have bank accounts and they do not have access to the internet. This was pointed out to FIFA last year, when ticketing started, but it only took notice in the last month or so.
After the century of call-ups and largely meaningless tests against mediocre opposition in friendlies, not to mention the lack of direction in the qualifiers, talent and form look set to win out in the race for places in Argentina’s World Cup squad.
Most if not all 20 of the players picked by Diego Maradona for the warm-up against Germany in Munich on March 3 would appear to have booked their ticket to Argentina’s Pretoria World Cup base in June.
The striker is far and away United’s most important player this season as he takes up the slack left by Cristiano Ronaldo’s summer move to Real Madrid and his value to his club is matched by that to his country.
Here’s a total random idea: go and choose the best five matches of the last 10 years – a lot easier said than done.
Where do you begin? Do you only pick matches you have seen yourself ? As I am based in England, do I pick only matches played in England, or as I am lucky enough to travel round the world and watch football, do I go for international matches too?
England manager Fabio Capello might well have found himself an unexpected Christmas present this year in Birmingham City goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Filling the gap between the sticks at next June’s World Cup finals in South Africa is perhaps the biggest conundrum Capello will face in the run up to soccer’s most glittering event, but Hart may just have made it a little easier.
David Beckham is in South Africa to help England try to get their bid to host the 2018 World Cup back on track.
Beckham played a similar ambassadorial role for London’s successful bid to stage the 2012 Olympics and as perhaps the most famous player in the world he is clearly an important asset for the FA.
Sepp Blatter conjured up a lot of bluster about the state of the game, in the wake of the Thierry Henry handball and the match fixing arrests.
His call for an extraordinary meeting of the FIFA Executive Committee promised some extraordinary decisions and was followed at the start of the week with the firm hint fundamental change was in the offing.
Just a heads up we will be running a live World Cup draw blog on this site from around 1630 GMT on Friday so feel free to join in the fun.
Which seeded teams will be the unlucky ones to get France or Portugal? Will hosts South Africa get a fortunate draw?