David Owen: FA report on Suarez shines light on lengths players go to gain competitive advantage

David Owen

Like other writers, I spent the first two hours of 2012 engrossed not in a bottle of Veuve Cliquot, but the intricacies of the famous October 15 altercation between footballers Luís Suárez and Patrice Evra.

And a right riveting read the 115 pages of findings drawn up by the Independent Regulatory Commission that imposed an eight-match ban – subject to appeal – on Suárez, the Liverpool striker, turned out to be.

It aroused in me all manner of reactions –

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David Owen: When all is said and done, Havelange was one of the towering figures of 20th century sport

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The weekend reports claiming that João Havelange had resigned as a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) brought to mind two images from recent IOC Sessions.

The first is from Copenhagen in 2009.

The Brazilian, who as FIFA President once shared with the late Juan Antonio Samaranch the billing of ‘Most Powerful Man in World Sport’, is inviting fellow members of the IOC club to Rio de Janeiro to celebrate his 100th birthday in 2016.

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David Owen: Football and the power of the poppy

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The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Like a high proportion of my fellow Brits, when that moment comes, I shall be standing silently with my head bowed in a gesture of solemn remembrance.

So why does it make me so angry when November rolls around each year and, like snowdrops in January, Premier League football shirts sprout scarlet poppies?

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David Owen: Despite all the hard work, Wembley Stadium is still a huge financial burden on the FA

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The most telling information in the Football Association’s recently published 2010 annual report and financial statements comes on page 24 of the 42-page document.

This tells us that, for all the pain and hard work that went into driving up the body’s overall financial performance, stadium and non-FA event management remained heavily in loss – to the tune of £12.1 million ($18.9 million/€13.9 million) at the pre-tax level, against £15.6 million ($24.4 million/€ million) in 2009.

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David Owen: “There’s only one Karen Murphy”. Why it isn’t just English armchair football fans who should be chanting the pub landlady’s name this weekend

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The first thing to be said about this week’s European Court of Justice ruling – that promises, for a time, to open a path to cheaper live Premier League football for armchair fans in the UK – is that if this doesn’t make the European Union (EU) more popular in famously eurosceptic Britain, nothing will.

But the potential consequences for the future structure of the European game are just as fascinating.

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David Owen: Beckham to Paris? Oui, Oui oh Oui!

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So David Beckham is wanted by Paris Saint-Germain, according to a BBC headline.

It is an arresting story, but would it make sense?

Well, yes, actually, I think it would – though the reasons have little to do with the former England captain’s capacity for delivering pinpoint crosses from the right touchline.

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David Owen: Blatter now has the opportunity to reform FIFA and restore its image

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One is rarely quite 100 percent sure with FIFA.

But it now looks like Joseph Blatter will get the go-ahead on Wednesday to extend his stint in the governing body’s top seat to 17 years.

Unless 75 percent of the organisation’s 208 member associations vote down the congressional agenda, it is hard to see what can stop the ‘election’ from going ahead, in spite of a campaign that has achieved the seemingly impossible by turning FIFA into even more of an international laughing-stock than it was before.

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David Owen: Blatter win would give him the perfect opportunity to reform FIFA

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Former Football Association chairman Lord Triesman’s allegations last week to a UK Parliamentary Committee concerning four FIFA Executive Committee members certainly caught the eye of the media.

And they have already resulted in one of the four – Worawi Makudi of Thailand – claiming he is planning to sue the former UK Foreign Office minister, who also headed England’s unsuccessful bid for the 2018 World Cup until forced to resign a year ago.

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David Owen: Why we should reluctantly applaud the success of Mark van Bommel

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“Congrats to Mark van Bommel for being first player to win league titles in four different countries (PSV, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and AC Milan).”

When I read this on Twitter on Sunday morning, I nearly went straight back to bed.

If there is a player who epitomises the way the Dutch national team has been transformed over the past decade from Europe’s foremost footballing artists to a group of efficient, but soulless functionaries,

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David Owen: Blatter’s pledge for World Cup vote reform is clever but will it change anything?

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It would have been hard for the candidates in FIFA’s Presidential election to avoid the subject of World Cup vote reform.

And in fairness to Joseph Blatter, his latest proposals came as a direct response to an interviewer’s question.

Nonetheless, several points need to be made about the FIFA President’s “positive solution” for preventing a repetition of the “uncomfortable experience I had here in Zurich on 2 December”.

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David Owen: Bin Hammam can win FIFA election but will he make any difference?

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The race for the FIFA Presidency is turning out to be as dull as those for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were fascinating.

The incumbent, Joseph Blatter, is thus far adopting the wholly predictable strategy of emphasising the value of continuity in an unstable world while detailing the torrents of cash that have rained down on planet football over his 13-year tenure – and critically, he says, will continue to do so.

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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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