Andrew Warshaw: Was the pretender to the throne only ever pretending?

Two months ago, when UEFA president Michel Platini was still weighing up whether to run for the top job in world football, it became abundantly clear in the build-up to the FIFA Congress in Sao Paulo that Europe was massively outnumbered in its opposition to a fifth term for Sepp Blatter.

So why did Platini not declare there and then that it was too risky to take on the wily old Swiss? It’s a fair question and one Platini was asked about when he finally announced,

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Andrew Warshaw: Mixed messages on anti-discrimination

It was the most eagerly awaited of FIFA’s daily World Cup media briefings and the questions came thick and fast. Why, asked one highly respected news agency reporter, was FIFA preaching zero tolerance towards racism when zero action on the ground was in fact the reality?

It was a fair point but few, if anybody, expected the two distinguished members of the panel to provide such diametrically opposed responses.

Sometimes, quite fairly,

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Andrew Warshaw: Spain’s reign over but what of succession?

Let’s be realistic. Not many of us expected for one moment that one of the greatest dynasties to grace the game would actually be able to clinch an unprecedented fourth straight major crown.

After all, no European country has ever won the World Cup on South American soil. And not since 1962 had the reigning world champions retained the title.

But by the same token, few believed that the reign of Spain would come to such a shuddering halt before the end of the first week –

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Andrew Warshaw: Whistleblower keeps to script but fluffs his lines

As dusk fell over Sao Paulo’s spanking new stadium towards the end of the first half of the World Cup’s eagerly awaited kickoff, FIFA president Sepp Blatter and his organisation must have felt the same as the rest of us.

Amidst a sea of yellow and a cauldron of noise, here was an opening match full of entertainment and adventure in contrast to the cautious, cat-and-mouse approach that so often fails to deliver at the start of the biggest sporting show on earth for fear of errors being made and confidence being damaged.

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Andrew Warshaw: The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men

When Sepp Blatter took to the stage during the gala opening of FIFA’s Congress in Sao Paolo and strutted his stuff with one of Brazil’s most glamourous models, it rounded off an eventful day for the 78-year-old FIFA president.

But not one that went entirely his way.

After a tub-thumping round of self-promotional speeches to his loyal followers among five of FIFA’s six regional confederations, and hearing gushing messages of support come flying back,

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Andrew Warshaw: Movers and Sheikhers locked in AFC dance-off

There is nothing like a western-orchestrated attack on one of its member federations to put Asian football’s nose out of joint and provoke a strong response.

Over the past few days, both the head of the Asian Football Confederation, Sheikh Salman Ebrahim El Khalifa, and Sheikh Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah, Asia’s Olympic supremo, have joined forces to roundly condemn the corruption allegations being hurled at Qatar over its 2022 World Cup bid.

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Andrew Warshaw: Smoking gun but where does it really point us

For three and a half years, ever since FIFA president Sepp Blatter opened the proverbial envelope and pronounced the word “Qatar” to a tense auditorium in Zurich and millions more following proceedings worldwide, hardly a week has gone by without the hosts of the 2022 World Cup being forced on the defensive amid a spate of corruption claims.

Time and again, just when they think the furore over their fourth round landslide victory in December 2010,

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Andrew Warshaw: Are the have-nots always destined to not have?

Football, as we know, is often all about fine margins. Just ask Atletico Madrid. Whilst no-one can possibly condone the ridiculous behaviour of their otherwise admirable coach Diego Simeone when he lost his cool as victory slipped agonisingly away in Lisbon’s Stadium of Light last weekend, let’s not underestimate what the Spanish capital’s so-called poorer sister achieved over the season as a whole.

Real Madrid finally collected their 10th European crown after 12 years of pain –

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