45 days to go to the AFC Asian Cup, UAE 2019

David Owen: TV just keeps growing as 2014 World Cup viewing outscores South Africa 2010

I have been privileged to receive, in advance of this week’s Sportel sports content media convention in Monaco, a briefing on 2014 World Cup viewing trends from a leading specialist in the field. The briefing – from Kevin Alavy, managing director – mediabrands at Futures Sport+Entertainment, a US-based sports research consultancy – was unofficial in nature. But it gives an idea of what to expect when the official television audience report for the tournament is published by FIFA.

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David Owen: Welcome to Wembley, UEFA’s Field of Dreams

‘If you build it, UEFA will come.’ With apologies to Kevin Costner and the rest of those responsible for Field of Dreams, the fantasy Black Sox baseball movie, this looks like a more and more apposite slogan for a venue some four thousand miles east of Ray Kinsella’s ploughed-under Iowa corn-field: Wembley Stadium. 

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David Owen: Twilight of the agents?

Given the number of times I read that football agent Jorge Mendes won the summer transfer window, it is ironic that his profession stands technically to be legislated out of existence before the end of the 2014-15 season. If world governing body FIFA gets its way, a new regulatory system dealing not with licensed agents, but with “intermediaries” will take effect on 1 April 2015. Some, including agents I have spoken to who predict that the new rules will produce chaos,

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David Owen: Questionmarks over FIFA’s representation in world sport’s most powerful club

So FIFA President Sepp Blatter is a step nearer securing a fifth term as boss of world football, following this week’s announcement by his UEFA counterpart Michel Platini, probably his most credible potential challenger, that he would not stand against him in next year’s election. That means that world football’s governing body may be a step nearer possibly losing its direct, active representation in world sport’s most powerful club – the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

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David Owen: Liverpool and Balotelli: Why Reds set for a summer transfer profit despite £100m+ spree

Liverpool posted the biggest pre-tax loss in the Premier League in 2012-13. The previous year only Manchester City posted a bigger one. In such circumstances, you might have expected the Anfield club to be squirrelling away at least some of its Luis Suárez windfall; to be showing a modicum of restraint in this summer’s transfer market in the interests of its bottom-line. All the more so with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) provisions hovering in the background.

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David Owen: 1974 – when British football was whiter than white and QPR briefly looked like the shape of the future

Rummaging through my mother’s garage, I found a mildewed relic: a copy of Shoot! “incorporating Goal”‘s summer special from 1974.

It was not a happy time for English football. The Alf Ramsey era had just fizzled to a close with a goalless draw in Portugal. With the World Cup that England had failed to qualify for about to take place in West Germany, the first article was an assessment of Ramsey’s long reign.

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David Owen: Splashing the cash in the glory game

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Top football clubs are different to other businesses. Whereas most companies exist to generate wealth for their shareholders, football clubs must balance this against the pursuit of trophies. Of course, the two aims are linked, or can be: mountains of silverware will increase a club’s popularity, tending to make it more valuable and, hence, to enable its owners, should they so choose, to sell it at a profit.

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David Owen: Brazil’s year of living dangerously and the death of jogo bonito

Brazil eye

July 8 – The last few weeks, with the tournament in full swing, have been a lot better. But I don’t think anyone could justifiably argue that Brazil’s first of three years in the global sporting spotlight has gone entirely to plan. Today in Belo Horizonte Brazilians must face up to the distinct possibility of more bad news: can their yellow-shirted warriors, shorn of their two best players, feasibly get the better of a typically well-drilled,

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David Owen: The French and German football teams have got more similar. Will the nations follow?

Considering they have a common 450km-long border and have together been the beating heart of the European project for nearly 60 years, France and Germany are remarkably dissimilar.

Not so their football teams, which clash in Rio on Friday in what promises to be a fascinating World Cup quarter-final.

Take the goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris and Manuel Neuer don’t exactly look alike; but they are very proactive exponents of their craft, among the quickest to sprint off their lines to snuff out trouble.

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David Owen: Brazil 2014 – another small step, not a giant leap, for soccer in the USA

Twenty-eight years ago I moved to Chicago a month or two before the 1986 World Cup started. A report I wrote then underlines how far soccer has come in the land of the gridiron and the baseball diamond in the intervening nearly three decades.

“Just my luck,” I wrote. “While the rest of the football-mad globe is getting punch-drunk on a ball-by-ball account of the trail to glory, Windy City is more concerned with the size of Bears quarterback Jim McMahon’s close-season midriff.”

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