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,

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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.

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David Owen: Liverpool win the World Cup – sort of

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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.

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

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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”.

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David Owen: Euro victory for France but less encouraging signs for Platini

So Turkey narrowly failed in their efforts to upset France and win the right to host the 2016 European football championship.

Having come so close in Friday’s vote, I’m sure members of the Turkish bid team will need time to get over their disappointment.

But once they do, they can reflect that their efforts have secured an important legacy for Turkey: never again will a Turkish bid for any sports competition be taken lightly.

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