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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Andrew Warshaw: Salman breaks cover in bid for total supremacy

The words were worthy enough, the message unequivocal. But the real intentions were cringingly obvious to anyone who has followed Asian football politics.

Last week’s attempt by Asian Football Confederation president Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa’s to mark the first anniversary of his leadership by focussing on his so-called achievements served only to highlight the unedifying rift that continues to divide his increasingly fractious organisation.

Ever since he took over last year,

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Andrew Warshaw: AFC political warfare as Shaikh-up hits rails

How much more ugly can the divisions within Asian football become? In a couple of weeks’ time, Jordan stages the latest Soccerex football business conference for the game’s movers and shakers but it does so against the backdrop of festering resentment and unsavoury internecine warfare.

The recent decision by FIFA vice-president Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, head of Jordanian football, to issue an open letter to the entire Asian football membership denouncing Asian Football Confederation chief Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim Al Khalifa for trying to mastermind his downfall by playing politics took most observers totally by surprise.

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Andrew Warshaw: The ‘sack race’ is a brutal and dangerous game

A week has now gone by since one of the game’s most high-profile managerial sackings – and what have we learned?

Only, perhaps, that football, far from being “just a game”, as many traditionalists would love to believe, is in fact the most ruthless of businesses. And that the cash-rich Premier League, supposedly the Holy Grail for any coach worth his salt, is the most ruthless league of them all.

Incredibly,

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Andrew Warshaw: Manoeuvres on the Eastern front

Just as the cavernous conference hall at Astana’s Palace of Independence was being cleared away and the delegates from 54 countries were being chauffeured to the Kazakh capital’s airport past dozens of weird futuristic-looking buildings, in a side room Michel Platini unbuttoned his jacket and leaned back in relaxed, almost triumphant mood.

The president of UEFA knew the job had been done, that he had pressed all the right buttons during his organisation’s annual congress and received the support he needed to carry on leading his flock.

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Andrew Warshaw: Za’atari – where football provides hope and has humbling purpose

I had been warned in advance. It will be the most humbling experience of your career, said a colleague. It will move you to tears and put football into stark perspective.

It was all those things – and more.

In a week when most of the footballing banter was about the 2016 European qualifying draw or who would progress from the cash-rich Champions League, far removed from the Real Madrids and Chelseas of this world,

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Andrew Warshaw: Qatar needs time to clean up its act

Amid the often emotional rhetoric and highly-charged language used by human rights and trade union leaders at this week’s European Parliament session denouncing Qatar’s treatment of migrant workers were the usual trademark demands for the country to be stripped as 2022 World Cup hosts.

This is not being an apologist for some of the Gulf state’s notoriously archaic and antiquated laws. I, as much as anyone, believe that Qatar needs to rid itself of the totally unacceptable kafala employment system that has no place in the modern era and which French-Algerian footballer Zahir Belounis so movingly brought to the attention of fans worldwide.

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Andrew Warshaw: Stalking horse or a real contender for the crown?

Decent man, strong principles and some seriously sensible ideas for modernising the game. But can Jerome Champagne really become the Comeback King at FIFA?

The more one analyses Champagne’s somewhat poorly structured launch announcement on Monday that he is to stand for president of world football’s governing body next year, the more one has to question not only whether he chose the right place to unveil his manifesto but also his motives and whether there is a hidden agenda.

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Andrew Warshaw: Timing, protocol and the bigger Winter 2022 picture

Let’s put things into perspective. Whilst no-one would deny that Jerome Valcke’s off-the-cuff remarks over a winter World Cup in Qatar were untimely in the extreme, was Sepp Blatter’s right-hand man really telling us anything we didn’t know already?

Stakeholders throughout the game have understandably cried foul at Valcke seemingly jumping the gun before the time frame for global consultation is anywhere near complete.

Insideworldfootball has learned, for example, that the Qatar organisers received more concerned calls over this particular 2022 story that at any time in last two years –

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Andrew Warshaw: Mickey Mouse? He would have killed to win the FA Cup

Driving back from an English FA Cup game in the pouring rain last Saturday, I was listening to a radio phone-in and suddenly became so incensed by a Chelsea-supporting caller, I gripped the steering wheel even more tightly in the treacherous conditions to avoid swerving into the path of another car in my rage.

The caller, displaying an arrogance so common among Johnny-come-lately fans whose clubs have enjoyed unlimited success and who disregard everyone else,

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Andrew Warshaw: The Sack Race is on but are there really any winners?

It’s a familiar jibe at almost every game whenever a manager is under pressure to save his job. “Sacked in the morning, you’re getting sacked in the morning,” goes the refrain, belted out with gusto by fans of the opposing team as they taunt the manager in question.

The chant has become part of the fabric of the game in English football and it is around this time of year – in other words close to the mid-season transfer window –

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Andrew Warshaw: The greatest betrayal of all

Next time you go and watch your local team and you see a totally unnecessary foul or an unexplained provocation leading to a red or yellow card, it might not be because of a rush of blood to the head by the player involved.

Likewise next time you see a crazy penalty or some other ridiculous refereeing decision, it might not be because of genuine if irritating human error.

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Andrew Warshaw: Qatar’s Belounis case is raising questions and damaging reputation

The plight of journeyman footballer Zahir Belounis and his desperate appeal to be paid what he’s owed and leave Qatar could hardly have come at a more inopportune time for the 2022 World Cup organisers.

Just as the Qataris were proudly unveiling details of the design and construction for the first of their state-of-the-art stadia for the finals in nine years’ time, so all the pomp and backslapping co-incided with yet more adverse publicity about a case which human rights organisations are using as an example of the restrictive kafala employment system that prevents foreign workers leaving the country until being “released”

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