David Owen: English football’s coming national inquest

David Owen small(1)

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,

Read more …

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

David Owen(2)

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,

Read more …

David Owen: Bans will reinforce FIFA reputation for sleaze

David Owen small(3)

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.

Read more …

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

David_Owen_Japan_blog

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.

Read more …

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

David Owen small(2)

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,

Read more …

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

David_Owen_3

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;

Read more …

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

David_Owen

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,

Read more …

David Owen: FIFA bracing itself for more bad news

The Sunday Times exposé has exploded like a cannonball off the port bow of the good ship FIFA.

The allegations already spread across three broadsheet pages are damaging enough - although not everyone will have been surprised that the headline “World Cup votes for sale” should have appeared at some point in the campaign.

But there was the suggestion in yesterday evening’s FIFA statement that more unwelcome disclosures might be in store.

Read more …

David Owen: Kosovo dream of emulating Montenegro and playing at Wembley

At Wembley tonight, England’s footballers take on Montenegro in a Euro 2012 qualifier.

Improbably enough, it is the visitors who head the group with three wins out of three - pretty remarkable given that the country declared independence just four years ago and, at some 5,000 square miles, is a touch smaller than Northern Ireland and a touch bigger than Death Valley National Park.

As star player Mirko Vucinic and his team-mates pursue their dream tonight at one of world sport’s most famous venues,

Read more …

David Owen: Excess baggage – who gave the best gift to FIFA’s globe-trotting inspectors?

If you see a man wearing a glazed expression, a hard hat, a pair of UGG boots and an England shirt signed by Fabio Capello, don’t call the police.

It’s probably just a FIFA World Cup bid inspector.

Harold Mayne-Nicholls and his doughty band on Thursday completed their hectic perambulation around the nine bids and 11 countries still hoping to stage either the 2018 or the 2022 World Cup.

Read more …

David Owen: Liverpool win the World Cup – sort of

David Owen small(1)

These are tense times to be a supporter of Liverpool Football Club.

But into every life a little sunshine must pour and, after spending two days number-crunching, I think I am in a position to announce a small piece of good news for Anfield-watchers.

The Reds look set to get a bumper share of the $40 million that FIFA has for the first time earmarked for payment to the clubs whose players took part in the recent World Cup in South Africa.

Read more …

David Owen: No China Crisis yet for Asian 2022 World Cup bidders

David Owen small(1)

On the face of it, Asian bidders for the 2022 World Cup were hit last week by some very bad news.

This took the form of an announcement by a top official at the Chinese Football Association that his powerhouse of a nation wants to host the 2026 World Cup.

“The CFA,” said Wei Di, its general secretary, “is preparing to ask the General Administration of Sport to bid for the 2026 World Cup”.

Read more …