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Archive for May, 2011

Premier League – Scholes calls time on glorious career

Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes has confirmed his retirement from professional football.

The news was widely anticipated as Scholes has mulled over his future in recent seasons and had not signed the new contract offered to him by Manchester United. Unlike evergreen team-mate Ryan Giggs, he has been afflicted by fitness problems in recent years and made 16 Premier League appearances this season.

Scholes retires as one of United’s modern greats, having secured 10 league titles, two Champions Leagues, four FA Cups and three League Cups in a glittering career at Old Trafford that saw him lauded by players such as Zinedine Zidane and Xavi as one of the best players of his generation.

Scholes told the club’s official webiste: “I am not a man of many words but I can honestly say that playing football is all I have ever wanted to do and to have had such a long and successful career at Manchester United has been a real honour. This was not a decision that I have taken lightly but I feel now is the right time for me to stop playing. To have been part of the team that helped the club reach that 19th title is a great privilege.

“I would like to thank the fans for their tremendous support throughout my career, I would also like to thank all the coaches and players that I have worked with over the years, but most of all I would like to thank Sir Alex for being such a great manager, from the day I joined the club his door has always been open and I know this team will go on to win many more trophies under his leadership.”

Scholes, 36, was one of the famed ‘Fergie Fledglings’ who emerged from the club’s youth system after winning the FA Youth Cup in 1992, and burst to prominence when helping United secure the Double in 1995-96, alongside David Beckham, Giggs and Gary Neville.

Once a prolific scorer from midfield, in recent years he has relied on his vision and superb range of passing to remain an important asset for the club. He will now take on a coaching role for the start of next season and his testimonial game will be held in August.

Sir Alex Ferguson said: “What more can I say about Paul Scholes that I haven’t said before. We are going to miss a truly unbelievable player. Paul has always been fully committed to this club and I am delighted he will be joining the coaching staff from next season. Paul has always been inspirational to players of all ages and we know that will continue in his new role.”

Scholes won 66 England caps before retiring from international duty in 2004 in order to focus on his club commitments, although he rejected a late offer from Fabio Capello to participate in the World Cup last summer.

Eurosport

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Fletcher omission a mistake

There was always going to be a gulf in class between Barcelona and Manchester United at Wembley, but that should not disguise the fact that Sir Alex Ferguson’s tactical choices prevented us from seeing a closer contest.

They suffered from a lack of presence in midfield and I was quite surprised to see Darren Fletcher sat on the bench while Javier Hernandez partnered Wayne Rooney in a two-man attack.

I know Fletcher had been out for a while due to a virus and was lacking a bit of fitness, but his natural enthusiasm and his desire to play in the final – having missed out due to suspension in 2009 – would have got him through it. But Fergie didn’t take that chance and there must have been a very good reason not to do so.

I would have had Fletcher in the side because a central midfield comprising Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick was always going to lack legs. When you play Barcelona you are never going to have a lot of the ball so you need players with energy and at least one player with a bit of guile who can win the ball back and launch a counter-attack. United did not have that player, and suffered as a result as their midfield was overwhelmed.

United pressed very well for the first 10 minutes or so and hounded Barcelona, but when Pep Guardiola’s side did settle into their rhythm, Fergie’s men were running out of energy and couldn’t get near them. They desperately needed something in that midfield, four or five workmen, and they needed to disrupt the passing ‘carousel’.

Park Ji-Sung supplied some impetus but a 10-year-old has more energy than Michael Carrick. He is only effective if you are enjoying the lion’s share of possession and it was never going to be that way against a Barca side that monopolises the ball.

In fairness, there are very few teams who can stop Barcelona playing. Inter did so when knocking them out at the semi-final stage last season – they stifled them all over the pitch – but Jose Mourinho had the players to adopt that kind of approach and make it work.

For Sir Alex and United, it is not in their mentality to play in a negative fashion; they try to stick to the club’s tradition of attacking football. That meant United’s midfield was outnumbered and outlclassed by Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Xavi, and they were inferior in all departments to be honest. The moment United’s players tired, Barcelona capitalised and exploited the space.

The decision to omit Dimitar Berbatov from the matchday squad entirely was also a puzzling one. There is always method in Sir Alex’s madness, but it still baffles me that he could choose Michael Owen over Berbatov. In my opinion, Owen is very fortunate to have a Premier League winners’ medal and to make the squad for the Champions League final as well… he probably can’t believe his luck.

That particular romance is ended and I don’t think it makes much sense to keep Owen. With Berbatov, however, I think there are personal issues. There is something that has happened behind the scenes.

Given that he shared the Premier League Golden Boot with Carlos Tevez and was not deemed valuable enough for the Champions League final, it tells you there is an issue that Sir Alex believed was important enough to exclude Berbatov for the benefit of the team.

Despite these reservations about United’s tactics and selection, you have to hand it to Barcelona. Any team in the Premier League would have been wiped away by that team. Just look at what they did to a side of the calibre of Real Madrid in their 5-0 win at Camp Nou earlier in the season.

Sir Alex said after the final that this Barcelona side are the best he has ever faced at United and the challenge is now to match them. But United are not capable of doing that. Barcelona’s team have grown up together and the way they play football is organic.

You can go out and spend money to try and challenge them, but there is something about Barcelona that no other team is going to be able to match, it is as simple as that. You can’t just go out and spend money and hope to reach their level, even if you buy five of the best players in the world.

When they play at such a level against a club that has been dominating English football for the past two decades, you have to say that this Barcelona side are possibly one of the greatest of all time.

Over the past three seasons they have proven themselves time and again by consistently winning silverware, so they are certainly the best European team of the past 10 years or so. History will decide the rest.

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World Cup – Australian senator wants FIFA refund

An Australian lawmaker has demanded FIFA “refunds” the A$45.6 million (£29.6 million) the country spent on its unsuccessful bid for the 2022 World Cup.

In a statement titled “Red Card for FIFA”, independent senator Nick Xenophon saidAustralia should refrain from spending taxpayer dollars on future bids pending the completion of investigations into FIFA.

“It appears corrupt and highly questionable behaviour goes to the core of FIFA,” Xenophon said in the statement on Monday. “Australia spent almost $46 million on a bid we were never in the running for because bribes were being taken for votes.

“Now we hear that bribes may have been made to fix the result for who will head up FIFA.”

Asian chief Mohamed bin Hammam and Jack Warner, president of CONCACAF, were suspended over bribery allegations in the worst scandal to blight the sport’s governing body.

FIFA’s ethics committee has cleared president Sepp Blatter of any wrongdoing, prompting an angry backlash from powerbrokers Bin Hammam and Warner.

Australia drew only a single vote during the 2022 race, prompting cries of foul play from the country’s bid team and a storm of criticism towards the federal government for financially backing the failure.

Qatar were awarded hosting rights and have since been accused of paying bribes to secure FIFA delegates’ votes.

“The fact that corruption appears to be so pervasive in FIFA makes you wonder whether we should continue to invest millions of dollars in bids for events we’ll never even be in the running to win,” Xenophon added.

“How can FIFA ensure the probity of its bidding process when its senior executives are potentially embroiled in corrupt behaviour themselves? Until the investigation into FIFA has been completed, Australia must hold off spending any more taxpayer’s money on any future World Cup bids.”

Reuters

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Champions League final to break economic records

May 27, 2011 2 comments

The UEFA Champions League final in London this weekend is set to break all economic records but organisers may have to look outside Europe for future market opportunities and growth, a report said on Friday.

Saturday’s final between Manchester United and Barcelona at Wembley is set to be the most lucrative in European club football, boosted by the clubs’ strong brands, the latest annual MasterCard survey said.

It could be worth 369 million euros ($525.4 million) to the clubs and countries involved, a rise of five percent on last year.

But the rate is a slowdown on previous finals, indicating the European market may have become saturated, and that UEFA will have to look to new markets such as the emerging economies, south and central America and BRIC countries for future growth.

The presence of a British team in the final was likely to have contributed to the dip.

“Europe is a mature market, and I think medium-to-long term, maybe UEFA has to look towards other markets across the world for continuing and sustained growth,” the author of the report, Professor Simon Chadwick, told reporters.

Manchester United, who won the English Premier League earlier this month, play Spanish champions Barcelona in a re-run of their 2009 final in Rome, won by the Catalan club.

Up to 220 million television viewers are expected to watch the world’s most high-profile clubs battle it out, each hoping to lift the cup for the fourth time.

The winning team can expect to earn a windfall of 126 million euros, up five percent on last year, but down on the nine percent the year before. The losing finalist could hope to pick up 73 million euros, a rise of 4.3 percent on last year, but lower than the 7.7 percent the year before.

The economic downturn was one of the reasons for the slower growth, while more refined data could be another, Chadwick said.

London can expect to generate 52 million euros from hosting the game, a four percent rise on Madrid last year.

It should further bolster the capital’s reputation as one of the world’s most sporting cities, especially ahead of the 2012 Olympics, but the figure is less impressive than the 11 percent generated by Madrid on its predecessor, Moscow.

“In terms of the British economy ideally it would be two foreign clubs,” Chadwick told Reuters.

“That is one of the reasons why the figures have not been quite so ostentatious perhaps as in previous years. They have been a little more cautious because effectively these people are coming down from Manchester rather than people coming from Munich, Lyon or anywhere else.”

Switching the final to a Saturday has had positive results, but it has yet to fully bed down with fans, Chadwick said.

David Taylor, chief of UEFA events, told Reuters there was “no reason to believe we will change” back to Wednesdays, when it reviews the situation next year.

When asked if he could ever see a Champions League game being held outside Europe, he said: “The business logic may take you there but the sporting logic does not. So the answer would be ‘no’.”

UEFA has been criticised for Wembley tickets costing up to 4,680 pounds ($7,701), making it the most expensive club game.

Taylor repeated UEFA President Michel Platini‘s comment that maybe it had not been the smartest decision it had ever made, and that it will consider a reduced price category in future.

“Football is a game that we can’t price people out of completely,” he said, before adding the game was a sell-out.

Agencies 

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Champions League – Ferguson expects a Wembley classic

May 27, 2011 1 comment

Sir Alex Ferguson says Saturday’s Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona could be a classic between two of the finest teams of the last decade.

The Manchester United manager said it was impossible to predict what would happen when the two sides meet at Wembley Stadium in a repeat of the 2009 final which Barcelona won 2-0 in Rome.

But he 69-year-old, bidding to join Bob Paisley of Liverpool as the only coach to win Europe’s top club competition three times, agreed Saturday’s match could be the best final of the decade as he heaped lavish praise on his opposite number Pep Guardiola.

“The success that both teams have had in the last decade has been enormous and it could not just be the final of the decade, but the best final,” he said. “The two teams have great histories, that’s obvious, but it’s an appealing final in what could happen tomorrow – anything could happen.

“There could be a lot of goals, a lot of excitement and there will be a lot of good football, I’m sure of that, so it is all set up, and hopefully it turns out that way.”

Ferguson also spoke of his admiration for Guardiola, 40, as both a player and coach and said he tried to sign him for United when he left Barca as a player to join Brescia a decade ago.

“I spoke to his agent when he left Barcelona and in the end he decided to go to Italy and maybe it was a moment lost because I admired him as a footballer.

“I thought he was a fantastic passer of the ball. The Barcelona team that beat us 4-0 at that time with players like (Jose Maria) Bakero and (Txiki) Beguiristain was superb.”

Ferguson had equal respect for Guardiola as a coach.

“Since taking over he has changed the way they play and brought maturity to the team.

“From beating us in Rome to the present day, you can see that maturity, and also he has changed the way they press the ball which has been very impressive in the last year or so. For a young coach, he has done fantastically well.

“He has a presence about him and he played for Barcelona, which helps of course. If you look at the history of Barcelona’s Dutch coaches, he has made a big step forward for Spanish coaches.”

However, Ferguson added, he was confident that his team would triumph on Saturday.

“We are not looking for revenge,” he said, “but I trust in the players and believe they will do the job.”

Reuters

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Tardy n´abasore be bageze muri USA mu rugendo bagana MEXICO

Kuri uyu wa kane nibwo ikipe y´Amavubi n´abayiherekeje bagezemuri USA , ikipe ikaba ihageze mu masaha make ashize aho igeze ivuye mu Budage.

Ikipe yasesekaye Chicago ku isaha ya saa cyenda zo mu gitondo ku isaha y´i Kigali , ihita ikomeza Phoenix aho bageze ku isaha ya saa kumi n´ebyiri ku masaha ya Kigali.

Ikipe yahise itwarwa Francisco Grande hotel aho bagiye n´imodoka mu rugendo rwamaze amasaha abiri , bakaba bakoresheje imodoka kuko nta train zari zihari kuko bwari bwije.

Twabamenyesha ko ikipe ijya guhaguruka mu Budage , yaherekekwe na Hon. Christine Nkulikiyinka uhagarariye u Rwanda mu Budage wanifurije intsinzi abasore b´Amavubi U-17 muri Mexico.

Ubu abakinnyi bakaba bari kuruhuka aho bari bukore imyitozo ku mugoroba ku masaha yo muri USA.

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E-mail adds to pressure on Fifa’s Jack Warner

New evidence obtained by the BBC appears to back up claims by former FA chairman Lord Triesman of wrongdoing by Fifa vice-president Jack Warner.

Fifa’s ethics committee could now be asked to open another investigation.

An e-mail from Warner to Triesman in February 2010 is expected to form a crucial part of an FA report.

In it, Warner urges the FA to contribute towards the cost of purchasing the rights to show World Cup matches on giant screens.

Lord Triesman, speaking to a parliamentary select committee earlier in May, claimed four members of the Fifa executive committee made what he described as “unethical requests” during the bidding race for the 2018 World Cup.

Among those claims were allegations that Warner asked the FA for money to build an education centre in Trinidad and for the FA to buy TV rights to the 2010 World Cup on behalf of Haiti.

In the e-mail, he writes: “If you can assist them in any way by contributing in part or in whole to the purchase of these rights I am sure all of Haiti will be eternally grateful.”

He mentions that a company had bought the rights for $1.6m (£980,000) but that he would be able to “get this figure reduced substantially”.

JACK WARNER’S E-MAIL TO LORD TRIESMAN

Dear David

My apologies for this belated response to your wonderful offer of assistance to Haiti for which I am really pleased. The people need all the help that we can give. I made a visit to Haiti last weekend to meet with the President of the Haiti FF to ascertain first hand the needs of our football family. A report has since been done which outlined their needs and proposals to meet these needs in the short, medium and long term. The report is included for your information. Based on this, I will leave it up to you to determine the best options of the FA as to how you all can assist.The FIFA, besides financial assistance, is providing them with large TV screens placed at two football stadia (at which stadia football can no longer be played in the immediate future) so that all Haitians can see the 2010 World Cup. However before the earthquake owner of the rights had charged them $1.6million USD for the rights, a fee which they had agreed to pay. I have since spoken to the owners and can get this figure reduced substantially. If you believe that you can assist them in any way by contributing in part or in whole to the purchase of these rights I am sure all of Haiti will be eternally grateful.

Thanks again for any assistance you can give and I do look forward to hearing from you soon.

Regards

Jack

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Fifa, the ultimate owner of outdoor broadcast rights to the 2010 World Cup, has told the BBC that no public viewing licence was ever granted for Haiti.

It says it had no discussions anywhere in the world for an amount as big as $1.6m, but its response poses serious questions over the deal Warner was trying to arrange with the FA.

On Wednesday Fifa announced its ethics committee would charge Warner and fellow executive committee member Mohamed Bin Hammam with bribery.

And although it is not clear whether Fifa’s ethics committee will add this latest allegation to the charge sheet faced by Warner, it places yet more doubts over the probity of world football’s governing body.

Warner has not responded to the BBC’s attempts to contact him regarding this story, though he did deny Triesman’s previous allegations.

Meanwhile, Fifa president Sepp Blatter, writing for the Inside World Football website, stated: “I take absolutely no joy in seeing my friends and colleagues of many years dragged before the ethics committee.

“I take no joy to see men who stood by my side for some two decades, suffer through public humiliation without having been convicted of any wrongdoing.

“Nobody is guilty until a judge has found him guilty beyond reasonable doubt.”

The FA has launched its own inquiry, calling in QC James Dingemans to compile a report for Fifa.

By FIFA 

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