David Owen: Arsenal takeover might be good news for Russian Olympians

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The link might not be immediately apparent.

But this week’s move by US businessman Stan Kroenke to take his stake in Arsenal, the underachieving English Premier League football club, to 63 percent while agreeing a mandatory offer for the rest of the shares could turn out to be good news for Russia’s underachieving Olympic athletes.

Why? Because Arsenal minority shareholder Alisher Usmanov may sooner or later be in line to receive a very large cheque.

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David Owen: Eastern breakaway could send shockwaves through FIFA – and win China the 2026 World Cup

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As members of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) made their way last week to Pago Pago to vote for a new President, word reached me of an idea that could transform their futures and send a shockwave through the murky world of global football politics.

The idea of a breakaway Asian confederation, embracing Oceania and several easterly members of the current Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is being actively discussed.

At present it is hard to assess the timescale,

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David Owen: Compelling night of theatre as schmoozing hits new heights

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In one corner of the room in one of Switzerland’s plushest hotels, the unmistakable figure of Chuck Blazer, FIFA’s Tweeting Executive Committee member, holds court.

On the other side of a large Christmas tree, a Boys’ Own triumvirate of David Beckham, Gary Lineker and Fabio Capello cluster around a small coffee table.

Nearby, English Premier League boss Richard Scudamore has been doing his bit, engaging the Asian Football Confederation chairman and Qatari ExCo member Mohamed Bin Hammam in earnest conversation for quite some time.

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David Owen: Time for a changing of the guard at FIFA

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The BBC’s Panorama programme told us nothing new about the 2018-22 World Cup campaign.

But it underlined the need for a changing of the guard in FIFA’s upper echelons.

World football’s governing body plainly has no intention of further investigating the nature of links between football officials and the ISMM/ISL sports marketing organisation which collapsed nearly a decade ago.

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David Owen: English football’s coming national inquest

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Once the white smoke from FIFA’s conclave of cardinals has dissipated into the clear alpine air on Thursday (December 2), the way will be clear for an almighty inquest into the way English football is run.

The disappointing nature of the national team’s 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa has ensured this inquest will happen whether or not England’s bid to stage world football’s flagship tournament in 2018 succeeds.

But,

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David Owen: World Cup bid race is beginning to hot up

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As we approach the final week of the contest to decide where the 2018 and 2022 World Cups will be played, in just the last day or so it has emerged that:

● British Prime Minister David Cameron is to spend the best part of three days in Zurich, lobbying for the England 2018 bid. This after inviting Jack Warner, one of the most influential FIFA Executive Committee members, to lunch.

● Russia’s Government are making final plans for a visit to the Swiss city by Vladimir Putin,

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David Owen: Bans will reinforce FIFA reputation for sleaze

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So now we know. The conclave that will assemble next month in Zurich to decide where the 2018 and 2022 World Cups will be played will be at most 22 strong.

Though some might think this appropriate – it is after all the same as the number of players who take to the field for a game of football – the suspensions of Nigeria’s Amos Adamu and Tahiti’s Reynald Temarii will clearly reinforces the reputation for sleaze with which FIFA has long been saddled just as the attention of the world is once again about to descend upon it.

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David Owen: Ultra-realism and why World Cup bidding contests as we know them might soon be consigned to history

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For Australia, Ben Buckley spoke about a “No Worries World Cup”.

Alexei Sorokin said Russia would be ready to show “the new country” it had become.

But, for my money, much the most interesting presentation of the three World Cup bidders that spoke at this week’s International Football Arena was that given by Yuuichiro Nakajima of Japan, the only one of the trio, by my judgment, with little chance of winning.

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David Owen: The gloves are off in the fight for the World Cup

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Tuesday was the day that the gloves came off in the battle to stage the 2018 World Cup.

By making a formal complaint to FIFA, England 2018 signalled to its arch-rival Russia that from now on, in the five-and-a-half weeks that remain before the all-important December 2 vote, it will be playing hardball.

Quite when increasingly hard-pressed FIFA officials, ensconced in their ultra-modern slate-grey citadel in the hills above Zurich, will find the time to adjudicate the matter,

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David Owen: Why Blatter may yet be the real winner in FIFA’s vote for cash scandal

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Another weekend approaches. All eyes in this turbulent 2018-22 World Cup bidding war will soon be turning again towards the Sunday Times.

After Wednesday’s dramatic media conference, complete with an appearance by the FIFA President himself, it seems to me this could now go one of three ways.

Scenario Number One: the well-resourced London newspaper unleashes its second volley; more FIFA Executive Committee members are embarrassed/forced to try and defend themselves;

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David Owen: End this rule-change voting system which unfairly favours Brits

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I can still see the look of bemusement on the Brazilian journalist’s face.

It was in London a few years ago – in one of those expensive hotels along Park Lane.

Joseph Blatter, the FIFA President, had just explained the process by which the laws of football can be changed.

“So you mean to say,” the Brazilian journalist asked, still struggling evidently to grasp the enormity of what had been imparted,

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