England Miss Out on World Cup 2018 – Was Lord Triesman Right All Along

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For those of you with fairly long memories the final outcome of the 2010 World Cup and the voting for the right to host the tournament in 2018 will come as a bit of an eye opener when casting your mind back to Lord Triesman’s allegations of potential corruption in World Football.

Embarrassing at the time both for him and The FA given how his allegations came to light the suggestion that Russia would help Spain win the World Cup by bribing referees in exchange for their support in getting the 2018 hosting rights now looks uncannily accurate, and we hope he put a few quid on it at the huge odds he would have got to make up for him losing his job because of it.

Now with FIFA looking a bent as a nine bob note its time for football fans everywhere to make their displeasure known. Sepp Blatter is an embarrassment and needs to go and a full independent criminal investigation is needed into how International Football is ran.

The decision to award the 2022 Finals to those well known giants of international football Qatar is further evidence of FIFA losing the plot. Its ok trying to take the beautiful game to other countries but Qatar!!!  Its in one of the Worlds most volatile regions, its searingly hot in the Summer when the finals will take place and hasn’t got a stadium worthy of international Football at this level. OK they have plenty of money (now there’s a coincidence) and 12 years to build some decent infrastructure, but the World Cup needs fans to fill the stadiums and I cant see there being a huge domestic following. The 2011 Asian Cup is scheduled for Qatar and will only use  5 stadiums, 4 of which are in Qatar’s capital Doha.  The main stadium is the 50,000 capacity Khalifa International Stadium, while the Al-Gharafa Stadium will hold 25,000, the Qatar SC Stadium has a 19,000 capacity and the  Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium  hold 15,000.

The reason for the small stadiums is that a top game will be lucky to attract 10,000 fans. The 2022 World Cup looks like being interesting to say the least.

Anyway if you want to read up on the Lord Triesman story there is a good article here.

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Over One Million World Cup Tickets Unsold

Official 2010 FIFA World Cup match ball
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The South African World Cup organisers have announced that in excess of One Million tickets (some estimates are as high as 1.2 Million) for the 2010 tournament went unsold, largely thanks to the returns by sponsors and VIP supporters. Given there were only 2.9 million tickets in total this is a shocking result. FIFA again in their wisdom are refusing to comment on the number, but anyone who watched the games on TV will have seen the masses of empty seats. This is a terrible waste of potential revenue and must be galling for many genuine football fans who were either priced out of the games or couldn’t get a ticket when they applied. Fortunately FIFA have decided to change their ticket allocation structure for the 2014 final in Brazil which will hopefully avoid a similar farce.

Amongst the worst culprits were the sponsors who included Addidas who not content with inflicting their awful Jabulani on us also contributed to the 360,000 sponsor tickets returned. Not a stunning indictment of their enthusiasm for watching games played with their supposed wonder ball.

Other culprits included Manchester based Match Hospitality with 240,000 returns and official tour operators who only managed 144,000 sales from 344,000 ordered.

Possibly most surprising was the poor take up by the 31 non host competing countries who would have been expected to snap up their allocations.  Here the figures were an almost unbelievable 31% take up leaving 384,000 unsold.

On this score at least the 2010 South African World Cup will not go down in history as the success it is currently being portrayed as and although at this stage it should’t be a future impediment to playing the finals in poorer nations, a similar flop in Brazil will be cause for serious debate.

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Emile Heskey Announces International Retirement

Emile Heskey
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England striker Emile Heskey has announced his retirement from International Football following a disappointing 2010 World Cup campaign. He has  never been a prolific scorer at club level managing 113 goals in 499 matches so far (around 1 in every 5 games) in a career which has spanned Leicester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Wigan & Aston Villa.  At international level his record is even worse with only 7 goals in 62 senior appearances, which is less than  Paraguayan goalkeeper José Luis Chilavert who managed 8 including 4 in their 2002 world Cup Qualifying campaign.

Still it is unfair to criticize his goal record too much given the role he is often asked to play for England, which is more conducive to setting up chances for his team mates than for grabbing the glory himself.

Overall he will not go down in history as one of England’s star names but the fact he gained 62 caps despite his scoring record speaks volumes about the regard he was held in by successive England managers.

His overall Record at International Level was:

England U18 – 8 Caps  – 5 Goals
England U21 – 16 Caps – 6 Goals
England B- 1 Cap – 1 Goal
Full England Team – 62 Caps – 7

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World Cup 2010 Epilogue

Man blowing a vuvuzela, Cape Town, South Africa
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The 2010 World Cup ended with victory for Spain who admittedly made very heavy weather of it losing their opener to the Swiss and hardly impressing in their other matches. However despite this lack of flair they were the best team in the tournament and it will go down as a victory for football. Holland who will feel slightly aggrieved due to the extra time refereeing decisions changed their tactics for the final and had they won it would not have been because they had played the “beautiful game”. They are being criticised for their aggressive play, but anyone who grew up in the 1970s will if looking back realise the majority of the fouls they committed would never have attracted a yellow card and in many occasions the ref probably wouldn’t have even blown his whistle.

With all the rule changes it looks increasingly like FIFA would like football to become a non contact sport which will take away much of its attraction. You have to feel some sympathy for Howard Webb who had little choice but to award a record number of cards, although this might in turn mean he is remembered as a card happy final ref rather than the one whose dodgy decisions led to the winning goal. At least Howard Webb’s performance will give the conspiracy theorists supporting former FA chairman Lord Triesman’s something to talk about. For the benefit of those who have forgotten this brief piece of headline news Lord Triesman was sacked for suggesting that Spain would win the World Cup aided by Referees bribed by Russia, who would then get Spain’s support for their 2018 World Cup bid.

Despite the poor final the tournament is widely regarded as having been a success and although it didn’t bring forth the emergence of Africa as a major international force it did have more positives than negatives and produced a few surprises.


South Africa as hosts. The whole country threw themselves behind the tournament adding an element of colour and excitement which really added to the event. Even the much maligned vuvuzela added to the atmosphere. The stadiums were all pretty good considering South Africa is still a developing nation and the much feared violence against the visiting spectators never materialised.  Overall a great result for a country working hard to make up for its past.

The general competitiveness of the Groups. Despite the careful seeding FIFA employ the groups proved to be exciting and in many cases qualification was only decided in the final games. This kept the interest going and helped produce some nice surprises.

The rise of the Asian teams.  Although most neutral fans would have been hoping for a good showing from the African nations, it was instead Asia who seem to be the most likely to overhaul the South American & European Domination of International football. Japan and South Korea both had impressive tournaments and even the lesser lights Australia and North Korea gave us some moments to enjoy. With the Far East fast becoming the World’s economic power house ensuring football is strong there will be good for the game going forward.

The Refereeing. Overall this was generally good although there were several bad mistakes, which in many cases influenced the outcome of the game. The positive which might come out of this is that FIFA will re evaluate the use of technology. With so much hanging on a decision it is no longer acceptable for football to be one of the few sports not to adopt technological help where available

The 3rd – 4th place play off match which eclipsed the final. This is supposed to be the game no team wants to win, however someone forgot to tell Uruguay and Germany this, as they served up probably the best match of the tournament.

The not so positives

The Adidas Jabulani ball. Whatever the makers say this ball was poor and no doubt contributed to the abundance of misplaced passes and the poor long range shooting. Hopefully this ball will be resigned to the annuls of history never to be seen again.

Disappointing performances by the pre tournament stars. Players like Wayne Rooney, Torres, Eto’o, Kaka & Ronaldo were expected to light up the pitch at the finals, however they were mere a shadow of the player who graced their respective domestic leagues and the Champions League.  Ok Torres was injured but overall the star names failed to shine big time. It was left to the likes of Forlan,  Ozil,  Muller & Gyan to give the neutrals something to shout about. The whole French team awful too, but at least gave us something to laugh about with their petulant antics.

The Surprises

The main surprise of the tournament was France and Italy bowing out with a whimper having both contested the 2006 final. Italy were a trifle unlucky, but France were just Abysmal. More pleasant surprises were the superb performances by Uruguay, and a young German team with both reaching the semi finals. Germany look like being a major threat in the 2012 European Championships. Other pleasant surprises included the battling performances by New Zealand, forecast as whipping boys pre tournament but ended up the only unbeaten side, and of course North Korea’s fantastic efforts against Brazil in their opener.

Overall a great few weeks of entertainment with probably the best team winning the trophy, and a few great matches to remember. The World Cup remains the ultimate football competition and the good news is there’s only 3 years and about 11 months to go till the next one ,which will be held in Brazil. Better start saving now.

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Recognition for Diego Forlan’s World Cup Contributions

Leônidas da Silva and Arthur Friedenreich, Bra...
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Very few people will argue with FIFA awarding Diego Forlan the Golden Ball award for best player at the 2010 World Cup Finals. He was instrumental in Uruguay’s run to the semi finals, and with 5 goals he finished joint top scorer. He is only the third winner not to have appeared in the final joining Brazil’s Leônidas da Silva (right) from 1938 and Italy’s Salvatore (Toto) Schillaci from 1990 in this select group.

The other awards were:

Golden Boot – Thomas Muller Germany

Golden Glove – Iker Casillas Spain

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Golden Boot For Thomas Muller

2010 FIFA World Cup
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20-year-old striker Thomas Muller has been awarded the Adidas Golden Boot at the 2010 World Cup Finals, an incredible achievement for a player who who only made his international debut in March of this year. Although the 5 goals he scored in the South African Finals puts him the same as David Villa, Wesley Sneijder and Diego Forlan, the Bayern Munich man’s three assists saw him grab the award.

Muller’s efforts in helping Germany reach the semi-final also won him the Hyundai Best Young Player of the tournament award.

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Howard Webb Wins World Cup For Spain

English football (soccer) referee Howard Webb
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Sadly a rather disappointing World Cup Final will be largely  remembered for the controversial refereeing decisions by Howard Webb, which ultimately led to Spain winning late in extra time.

12 yellow cards and a red largely tells the story of a scrappy match with petty fouls and a packed midfield stifling any hope of free flowing football. Holland probably had the slightly better chances but the only real talking point of the game was the strange decisions by Howard Webb deep into extra time when he first missed a clear corner for Holland he must have been the only person in the stadium who thought it was a goal kick. If that wasn’t bad enough and a few second latter Holland should have had a free kick which he again ignored allowing Spain to counter attack and from this Iniesta scored the winning goal. What had been an otherwise good performance by him was marred by these two ludicrous decisions, which will follow him for the rest of his career.

Still overall Spain were probably the better team and they have now added the World Cup to their 2008 European Championship win making them clearly the most successful international team of the 21st Century so far.

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Holland v Spain Half Time Report

Interesting, intriguing, slightly dull, choose your own superlative. Spain opened brightly but couldn’t capitalise on their possession and the Dutch have came into the game more as the half has worn on.

Still anyones game although Holland might just feel they have weathered the storm  as they did against Brazil. Overall the chances of a tired mistake or a sending off defining the outcome look to be high.

Here’s hoping for a better second half.

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Holland v Spain World Cup Final Preview

Finally after what has been the quickest four weeks ever (or the slowest according to the numerous World Cup widows out there) the final is upon us and what a final it proposes to be.

First we have the midfield flair of the Spanish who currently have their finest international squad ever. Even the German’s couldn’t stop them and in their semi final they finally showed flashes of the brilliance they are capable of keeping possession for long periods and stifling the German counter attack which had been so devastating against both England and Argentina. It could be they are reaching their peak just in time for the big one.

Then we have the Dutch who have shown they are a match for anyone and although they have been a little workman like in their victories they still have a 100% record both in the tournament and in qualifying which must be a record especially if they lift the trophy. They might not have the total football skills of the Holland teams of the 1970s but they remain a formidable side and in Sneijder & De Jong
they have the players capble of giving Spain’s formidable midfield something to think about.

In terms of squad value this should be a walk over for Spain however as we have seen from Germany’s superb performances perceived value doesn’t always transfer to success on the field and the Dutch have also beaten illustrious players when fighting back against Brazil.

Overall this is a hard match to call and with neither side having won the cup there will be nerves, which can lead to mistakes. However there has to be a winner and if forced to choose its the Dutch who look the most likely to prevail. Spain do play lovely football but have relied on teams running out of steam thanks to their flowing passing and possession. Holland are unlikely to flag and will be more combative in the middle of the park than Spain’s previous opponents. This should be enough to frustrate the Spaniards and I expect Holland to make it third time lucky and become the 8th nation to win the World Cup.

To the victor goes the spoils 

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Germany’s Reserves Edge Out Uruguay For 3rd Place

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Germany made 5 changes for this match compared to the team which played the semi final, but were still too good for a plucky Uruguay.

This was one of the more entertaining games in the tournament and with little to play for both sides opened up and treated the fans to some nice end to end football.

Germany opened the scoring on 18 minutes when the Uruguay keeper Muslera, who was not to have a great game spilled a long range shot, and Muller was the first to react stabbing the ball home. However this lead only lasted 10 minutes thanks to some nice Uruguay football starting with a great tackle on Schweinsteiger and ending with Cavani calmly slotting the ball into the net thanks to a lovely Forlan pass. Uruguay were now firmly back in the match and going into half time it looked like they could fancy their chances.

The second half which was played in heavy rain continued in the same vein and it was no surprise when possibly the player of the tournament Diego Forlan put the South Americans 2-1 up with a well taken volley. This put him level in the Golden Boot competition and with assists possibly counting in the event of a tie he could be in with a chance.

Victory would have been sweet for Uruguay who because of their early success are often thought of as a bigger team than they really are, but alas for them it was not to be and two bits of bad defending cost them dear as Germany took the third place medal for a second consecutive World Cup.

Germany’s final two goals came from Jansen in the 56th minute, when he headed in following a hopeless flap at the ball by Muslera and Khedira who pounced on some defensive hesitancy in the 82nd minute.

As per usual Uruguay refused to give up and with the last kick of the game Diego Forlan hit the crossbar from a free kick.

It has been a great World Cup Finals for both teams and Uruguay Manager Oscar Tabarez’s and his team can look forward to a heros welcome when they return to Montevideo while the German Coach Joachim Loew who was much maligned pre-tournament will probably be able to write his own salary cheque when renegotiating his contract

World Cup 3rd Place Playoff Final Score

Germany 3-2 Uruguay

Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Attendance: 36,007

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