David Owen: Why Platini’s Grande Idée makes sense for Africa

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By David Owen

I came upon a prescient article from the Washington Post today.

It was about a West African country where poverty was said to be fuelling a resurgence of Muslim fundamentalism.

“People want schools, they want medical attention for their children,” a local sociologist was quoted as saying.

“But who is listening to them?

“Islamists, who provide them with water and fertiliser to believe the solutions are found in religion.

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David Owen: Brazil are coming to Wembley. But will the World Cup really help Pelé’s country to make more out of football’s global money machine?

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Here’s something to ponder in a week when Brazil are expected at Wembley for a friendly international: for more than half a century, the canary-shirted Brazil playmaker has been the embodiment of all that is best about the game that conquered the world; yet, as the sport has grown rich, the home of o jogo bonito has been reduced to a dusty outpost of the shiny multinational that is Planet Football.

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David Owen: What does the Money League really tell us?

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The recently released edition of the Deloitte Football Money League raises a few points that are worth taking a harder look at.
 
The first is about the slipperiness of statistics.

While in euro terms, year-on-year revenue growth among Europe’s 20 highest-earning football clubs is an impressive 10%, a very different picture – of stagnation, basically – emerges if the reference currency is sterling.

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David Owen: Will Platini’s Euro 2020 experiment have a bearing on the race to succeed Sepp Blatter?

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Some thoughts on Euro 2020:

● Yes, a 24-team tournament is too unwieldy for most European countries to take on; but it is simplistic to suggest that this alone forced UEFA’s hand, necessitating the adoption of Michel Platini’s Grand Experiment – a competition spread around the great arenas of the European continent.

Turkey, pipped at the post for Euro 2016, could have coped with the expanded format and would, I’m sure,

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David Owen: Two years on from World Cup bust-up, Goal payment signifies that FA and FIFA have kissed and made up

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Suddenly the 2018 World Cup bidding campaign seems a very long time ago.

At its conclusion in December 2010, relations between the world’s oldest Football Association – whose candidate, England, was among the losers – and FIFA, world football’s governing body, were at a low ebb.

Yet today finds Joseph Blatter, FIFA’s long-serving President, dropping in on St George’s Park, the FA’s new national football centre at Burton on Trent in the English Midlands.

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David Owen: Cardiff City will always be big men with silky touches playing in blue shirts to me

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Now that I’ve seen the pictures, I am ready to believe it: Cardiff City are playing this season in red shirts (Heiðar Helguson, pictured below left, in the new shirt).

It feels wrong – like archery at Lord’s or Usain Bolt doing the polevault.

My personal image of Cardiff will always be caught up with Jimmy Scoular’s team that so nearly made it into the top tier of “English” football in 1970-71.

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David Owen: A tale of two Euros – why Platini’s Big Idea for one Euro may hinge on politicians’ big ideas for another

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Two years ago, it looked odds-on that the 2020 European Championship would be staged in Turkey.

An impressive campaign for Euro 2016, in which the Turks were edged out by France, many thought unluckily, allied to a vibrant economy and the scale to cope with the tournament’s expansion to 24 teams, left the strong impression that Ankara’s claim to Euro 2020 (pictured below, logo) would be all but irresistible – if they decided that they wanted the competition.

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David Owen: Why the new TV deal promises to strengthen English grip on Champions League

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The latest Premier League television deal may have given some BT and British Sky Broadcasting shareholders the jitters.

But the alarm-bells will have been ringing much, much louder in non-English citadels of European footballing excellence from Barcelona to Munich.

The new tide of money that the £3 billion ($4.7 billion/€3.7 billion) settlement will send flooding into English Premier League club coffers from the 2013-2014 season should do much to restore the competitive advantage of English clubs in the top European competitions.

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David Owen: Au revoir but not goodbye Auxerre

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An era may be about to end in French football.

As I write this, AJ Auxerre sit 20th and last in Ligue 1, the French First Division.

There is still time for them to save themselves, but they are three points adrift, six points from safety and the days are getting longer.

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David Owen: Why football may play a part in the Scottish independence debate

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On February 29 at the bijou Bonifika Stadium in Koper, Scotland take on Slovenia in one of those rather pointless friendly internationals.

The match takes place with Scottish independence high on the UK news agenda and a referendum expected in 2014.

You might think the fortunes of the Tartan Army have little if anything to do with the complexities of Scotland’s constitutional arrangements with the rest of the United Kingdom.

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