England turn on charm for 2018 World Cup bid

British Prime Minister David Cameron was expected to lobby a key FIFA official here Tuesday as England launched a heavyweight charm offensive to secure votes for their 2018 World Cup bid.

Cameron was due in Zurich to meet Trinidad football official Jack Warner head of the North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) region whose support is seen as crucial to England’s chances.

England 2018 officials declined to confirm the meeting but British media and Trinidad newspaper Newsday reported the two men were due to have a private lunch in Zurich following an invitation from Cameron two weeks ago.

As president of CONCACAF, Warner could conceivably deliver three vital votes in Thursday’s secret ballot of FIFA’s 22-member executive committee.

Analysts believe without Warner and CONCACAF’s support in the first round, England have little chance of winning against the likes of the bookmakers favourites Russia or dark horses Spain-Portugal.

Warner, who has been both critical and openly supportive of England’s bid over the past two years, said in a statement on Sunday he had yet to decide who to support but said CONCACAF would vote as a block.

“I am still undecided as to whom we will support, but the CONCACAF family will vote together,” Warner said.

Tuesday’s meeting comes less than 24 hours after FIFA executive commitee member Warner was accused in a BBC documentary broadcast late on Monday of trying to sell World Cup tickets to touts.

Three other members of FIFA’s executive committee – African confederation president Issa Hayatou, Brazil’s Ricardo Teixeira and Nicolas Leoz of Paraguay – were also accused by the programme of involvement in a corruption scandal.

England 2018 officials on Monday condemned the BBC programme, describing it as harmful to the country’s World Cup bid.

“We stand by our previous position that the BBC’s Panorama did nothing more than rake over a series of historical allegations none of which are relevant to the current bidding process. It should be seen as an embarrassment to the BBC,” an England 2018 statement said.

Cameron is one of several high-profile figures who are being deployed by England 2018 officials as they mount a frenzied last-ditch lobbying campaign in an effort to sway voters.

As well as the British PM, England officials will have support from heir to the throne Prince William, due to meet FIFA delegates on Wednesday, and English football icon David Beckham, who arrives later Tuesday.

Tue 30 November, 2010
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Carragher out for three months

Liverpool’s hopes of resurgence have taken a jolt after news of a three-month layoff for defender Jamie Carragher.

The 32-year-old centre-back dislocated his shoulder in the Reds’ 2-1 loss to Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday and will undergo surgery on Friday.

Carragher said it was frustrating to pick up such a serious injury during a period where Liverpool had begun to re-build after a slow start to the season.

“I’ll be having surgery at the end of the week,” Carragher told the club’s website.

“The average is about 12 weeks. I’d like to come back before that but I’ve got to make sure it’s right.”

“It will probably be late February or early March when I’m looking to come back.”

“It’s difficult for me when I’m injured. It hasn’t happened very often, and I’m very lucky with that I suppose, but maybe it’s caught up with me a little bit now.”

Carragher said his long spell on the sidelines could prove a motivating factor later in the season against weary opponents.

“I’ve been here before with a broken leg which put me out this length of time,” he said.

“It’s not easy but you’ve got to get on with it, and it makes you more determined to get back.”

“I’m sure towards the end of the season when people are maybe feeling a little bit tired I’ll be raring to go.”

Carragher joins injured Reds captain Steven Gerrard on the sidelines, while Joe Cole is expected to make his return from a hamstring injury against Aston Villa at Anfield on Monday.

Tue 30 November, 2010
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Press gloats over ´reality shock´ for Madrid

Champions Barcelona inflicted a humiliating 5-0 reality shock to Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid, befuddling them with a sublime “tiki-taka” one-touch passing game, Spain’s press said Tuesday.

“Reality shock,” headlined the Catalan daily El Periodico.

“5-0 – Barca humiliates Real Madrid with showpiece game,” gloated fellow Catalan daily La Vanguardia alongside a photo of striker David Villa celebrating one of his two goals.

Leading daily El Pais said league champions Barca “humiliated Real Madrid with a demonstration game”, to go two points clear of their arch rivals at the top of the Spanish first division.

Sports daily Marca, always close to Real Madrid and ready to back Portuguese coach Mourinho’s side, paid compliment to the Barcelona’s “memorable symphony” on the pitch.

“An impressive demonstration of the game by the champions, a lesson in class, intelligence and precision,” said the number-one Spanish sports daily, adding that it was the “biggest defeat” of Mourinho’s career.

Fellow sports daily AS, which also favours Madrid, said Barcelona played against a “Madrid without soul” and unable to answer or pressure their rivals.

“It was the paragon of tiki-taka,” the paper said, referring to the quick, short-passing game that allowed Barcelona to dominate the field at the Nou Camp.

“The avalanche of goals serves to clarify the situation: Madrid and Mourinho since his arrival have not won anything yet,” AS said, deflating the enthusiasm that has built around the team since his arrival this season.

“Medals from other wars don’t count here,” the paper added, alluding to Mourinho’s boasts of earlier successes in Portugal, England and Italy.

“This proof should be enough to lower Madrid expectations and the tone of the coach which is only tolerable (and even then with difficulty) if Cups rain down from heaven.”

Mourinho, 47, was unveiled as Real’s new coach at the end of May after leading Inter Milan to an historic treble of successes in Italy’s Serie A championship, the Italian Cup and Champions League.

Catalan sports daily Mundo Deportivo said the Barcelona-Real Madrid match will “live on in legend” for the “brilliant” way Barca played, clearly showing “that they are the best team in the world.”

“As one fan said, their football should be classed as a world heritage for humanity,” Mundo Deportivo said.

Tue 30 November, 2010
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Barcelona show Real who’s the boss in La Liga (Video)

One of the most highly anticipated El Clasicos ever turned to be a one-sided affair as Barcelona hammered Real 5:0 to the delight of packed Camp Nou and the whole of Catalunya.

David Villa scored a second-half brace to put the tie beyond doubt after Xavi and Pedro had rounded off nice team moves in the first period.

Youngster Jeffren Suarez added the fifth in the dying moments of the match to pour more misery on Jose Mourinho’s side.

Tue 30 November, 2010
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Cadiz fans know how to party (Video)

One could forgive Cadiz fans for getting bored at a third division match after they watched their team in Primera just few years back, but the fact is they definitely know how to make a boring game interesting.

You will notice that only one fan is really watching the game against Jumilla, while all others are having the time of their lives by mimicking the acts of an assistant referee. Just for the record, Cadiz won the game 2:0.

Tue 30 November, 2010
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Del Piero to be offered a new deal

Juventus have decided to offer Alessandro Del Piero a new contract, as the Bianconeri look to reward the club legend for his performances this season.

Del Piero’s current deal expires at the end of the season, which led to the forward being linked with a move away from the club, but it seems that he will be staying in Turin after all.

The player himself has said on numerous occasions that he plans to stay at Olimpico and it looks as though he will get the chance to finish his career at club’s new ground.

The two sides are set to start negotiations regarding the new deal, with Del Piero’s brother Stefano, who is also his agent, acting on the behalf of the 36-year-old.

The former Italy international is likely to sign a one-year extension to his current deal.

[Source: Il Corriere dello Sport]

Tue 30 November, 2010
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Platini: England bid not damaged

UEFA president Michel Platini does not think the screening of the BBC’s controversial Panorama episode will hurt England’s 2018 World Cup bid.

The current affairs programme’s investigative report into alleged corruption of top FIFA officials involved in the World Cup voting process went to air on Monday night in the United Kingdom, and was scathing in its appraisal of the organisation.

With voting to determine the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups taking place on Thursday, Panorama levelled fresh corruption claims against African confederation president Issa Hayatou, Brazil’s Ricardo Terra Teixeira and Paraguay’s Nicolas Leoz.

But Platini said he did not think the programme’s airing would have a significant bearing on voters, instead claiming a long history of anti-FIFA sentiment from the UK could influence the result.

“I don’t think this programme will have an effect, no – but I think what may affect the decision is the atmosphere going back a long time and what people have been writing about FIFA in the British press for many years,” Platini said.

A statement from the England 2018 bid organisers distanced themselves from the programme, labelling it an ‘embarrassment to the BBC’, but the broadcaster responded with a statement of their own.

“The programme is in the public interest and shows that some FIFA executives involved in making decisions about the 2018 bid have a history of taking bribes – and that FIFA has consistently failed to act,” a BBC spokesman said.

“Delay until after the bid was not an option once it became clear that the winning nations might have been chosen by officials with a proven track record of corruption.”

Tue 30 November, 2010
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IOC to probe official

The International Olympic Committee will investigate FIFA vice-president Issa Hayatou amid allegations he took money from a marketing agency.

Hayatou – who is also a long-time IOC member – was alleged to have received 100,000 French francs from the now-defunct agency ISL in 1995, at which time the company was working on FIFA’s behalf.

The allegations were raised by an episode of the BBC’s Panorama current affairs programme, which went to air on Monday in the United Kingdom.

A statement from the IOC said it would be requesting the BBC hand over any evidence relating to the case.

“The IOC has taken note of the allegations made by BBC Panorama and will ask the programme makers to pass on any evidence they may have to the appropriate authorities,” the statement read.

“The IOC has a zero tolerance against corruption and will refer the matter to the IOC ethics commission.”

Tue 30 November, 2010
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Van Damme returns to Belgium

Defender Jelle van Damme is heading home to Belgium after just five months with Premier League club Wolves.

Van Damme, 27, signed a four-year deal with Standard Liege after passing a medical on Monday, but will not be able to play for his new club until January 1.

Wolves CEO Jez Moxey said: “We can confirm that we have agreed a deal for the transfer of Jelle Van Damme to Standard Liege subject to the paperwork being completed over the next 48 hours.”

“Once the deal goes through Jelle will leave us with immediate effect, but will not be able to play for Standard Liege until the transfer window re-opens on January 1 and international clearance is granted.”

“The agreement has been struck in exactly the same way as when we brought Jelle to the club from Anderlecht in June, meaning we receive the entire fee in the same way as we paid it.”

Van Damme made just six Premier League appearances for Wolves, scoring once in a loss to Fulham in September.

Standard Liege lie fourth on the Belgian First Division table, having conceded 22 goals this term.

Tue 30 November, 2010
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Agent: Trezeguet tracked by Inter

David Trezeguet’s agent admits his client is attracting a lot of attention at the moment, with Inter one of the interested clubs.

The former Juventus striker has revived his career at Hercules and after scoring 7 goals in 11 La Liga games, Trezeguet could be the subject of a real bidding war in January.

“David is raising a lot of excitement among the clubs and there have been several clubs showing interest in him,” said his agent Antonio Caliendo.

Champions League winner Inter are thought to be one of the suitors and Caliendo confirms this is true.

“It is true that we have discussed the option of Inter Milan and currently we do not rule out anything. However, Trezeguet is just thinking about Hercules and completing his contract at Alicante.”

[Source: AS]

Tue 30 November, 2010
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