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Princes, prime ministers and presidents were sent to boost bids from competing nations – but Fifa was playing its own game.
By Ken Bensinger
On 8 June 2010, three days before the kickoff of the World Cup in South Africa, envoys from Russia and England stood outside a meeting room in Johannesburg’s Sandton Convention Centre, nervously waiting to make their pitch to host the 2018 tournament.
Their audience: elected representatives of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football, or Concacaf. Fifa’s 208 member associations, each governing soccer in their countries, were split between six confederations. Concacaf, with 35 member associations under its umbrella, was one of them, and it, in turn, reported up to Fifa. Its territory stretched from Panama in the south to Canada in the north, and included the US, as well as all of the Caribbean and the sparsely populated South American countries Suriname and Guyana.Continue reading...
• McIlroy’s 80 at Shinnecock Hills equals his worst major round
• Ian Poulter has a one-under 69 but Tiger Woods struggles
How abruptly the fun can stop. Rory McIlroy’s buildup had included a series of Long Island golf outings in the company of friends, in a re-acquaintance with an element of the sport that is lost when it becomes a professional pursuit. A return to the competitive scene delivered a reminder of its harsh realities; on a brutal opening day at the US Open, where stellar names did little to mask their frustrations, McIlroy stood over an 11-foot putt on the 18th needing to make it to break 80.
The Northern Irishman’s attempt was to slide by, ensuring the matching of his highest single round score in a major championship. US Open Thursdays have been curiously cruel to McIlroy recently; this 80 follows a 78 in 2017 and 77 two years ago. Shinnecock’s par of 70 adds further bruising context.Continue reading...
When ‘who do you support?’ is a proxy for ‘who are you?’, the debate can be especially personal for football fans during the World Cup
Clad in an American national team jersey on the eve of the first US-less World Cup since 1986, Karla Cantu pondered who to follow this summer. So did other members of the Laredo chapter of the American Outlaws supporters’ group. They decided to allocate temporary loyalty via lottery. “We can’t come to a consensus. We’re going to do a draw,” she said.
Broadcasters have a commercial incentive to urge bereft Americans to watch Mexico in Russia and the demographic, cultural and geographic ties are obvious. But when “who do you support?” is a proxy for “who are you?”, the debate can be especially personal and complex – especially on a frontier that has become a playing field for nationalistic political games.Continue reading...
• New Madrid coach Lopetegui: it was ‘saddest day of my life’
The Real Madrid president, Florentino Pérez, has accused the Spanish Football Federation of an “absurd reaction” in sacking their manager on the eve of the World Cup – a decision Julen Lopetegui described as “the saddest day of my life”.Continue reading...
- Former Irish champion was involved in altercation in April
- McGregor filmed attacking a van containing other fighters
Conor McGregor expressed regret on Thursday for a backstage melee at a Brooklyn arena, and is in plea negotiations to resolve charges in the case. The former UFC champion and co-defendant Cian Cowley remain free on bail after a brief court appearance.
The men marched into court in tight blue suits, and passed a gallery packed with reporters and other defendants waiting for their hearings. They stood and said little during the appearance. “I regret my actions that led me here today,” McGregor said outside court afterward. “I understand the seriousness of this matter and I’m hopeful to get it resolved soon.”Continue reading...
Salah’s stunning form for Liverpool, key role in Egypt’s qualification for the World Cup and charitable, humble nature have turned the boy from Nagrig into an icon for a nation
Mamdouh Abbas wants to set the record straight. A wealthy businessman who has built a vast real estate and petroleum empire is these days better known in Egypt as the man who refused to sign Mohamed Salah in 2011, when chairman of Zamalek – one of the country’s leading teams. “Salah needs much more work,” he said in a televised interview that year. But contrary to what his successor at the club (and apparent arch nemesis) says, a separate committee took the decision at the time. “I am not responsible,” insists Abbas.Continue reading...
The best athletes are living embodiments of traits the president is sorely lacking: discipline, hard work, focus, teamwork and sportsmanship
Donald Trump’s presidency has made one thing agonizingly clear: he doesn’t understand the meaning of sports in America any better than he knows the words to God Bless America. He doesn’t understand athletes, fans, teamwork, or even locker room talk. But as with most things, he doesn’t let his woeful lack of knowledge interfere with his presidential decisions or proclamations, as when he recently accused Canada of burning down the White House in the War of 1812 ... 55 years before there was a Canada. His brand of vacuous but venomous thinking is now being directed at athletes. His disinviting of the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl winners from a White House celebration because of their lack of respect for the national anthem – even though no one on the Eagles team knelt in the entire season – is only one of many flagrant fouls he’s committed against the sports community, from bullying NFL owners to not inviting to the White House the Minnesota Lynx, last season’s WNBA champions. In the past, Trump has tried to rally popular support by ranting against an imaginary “war on Christmas,” but it’s his own very real War on Sports that may be the bridge too far.
Sports have a special place in American culture and values. And our devotion to sports is not just as fans cheering for our local team or athlete to triumph, we also see them as a valuable tool to teach our children basic morals and manners. As Billie Jean King said, “Sports teaches you character, it teaches you to play by the rules, it teaches you to know what it feels like to win and lose – it teaches you about life.” For many, sports are the less formal companion to religion. At their best, athletes are living embodiments of discipline, hard work, focus, teamwork, and sportsmanship. We watch them, even when they’re bruised, battered, and bloody, pushing the boundaries of physical limitations, setting records, inspiring the rest of us to go further than we thought possible.Continue reading...
Hand-wringing over American indifference was allayed by a World Cup that offered up thrills aplenty while smashing attendance records
There will never be a weirder year in American sports than 1994. The Tonya Harding-Nancy Kerrigan affair. OJ Simpson charged with double murder. The World Series straight up didn’t happen. All while the greatest basketball player on the planet was platooning the outfield for a minor-league baseball team in Alabama.
And the World Cup was somewhat awkwardly staged in a country without a top-level soccer league, whose collective attitude toward the sport ranged from apathetic to downright hostile, where domestic TV announcers were made to explain the game to the uninitiated masses and where weapons-grade commercialism was not a bug but an essential feature.Continue reading...
- Warriors cap sweep of Cavaliers for second straight NBA title
- Kevin Durant repeats as Most Valuable Player of NBA finals
- Soon a free agent, LeBron James expected to leave Cavaliers
Early on Saturday morning, Kevin Durant sat in a room beneath the Quicken Loans Arena stands. Before him sat the trophy given to the Most Valuable Player of the NBA finals, an award he has now won twice in a row. His shirt was soaked, he smelled of champagne. He was happy.
His Golden State Warriors had just won the NBA championship, sweeping the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 108-85 Game 4 victory earlier on Friday night. It was their third title in four years, and their second in a row since a Warriors contingent convinced him to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder to build a dynasty built on trust rather than fame.Continue reading...
The Wildcats have their second title in three years. Along with his innate smarts, Coach Jay Wright looked to an NBA team from the past for inspiration
The NCAA Tournament that featured the first-ever victory by a 16-seed and a run to the Final Four by Loyola-Chicago and 98-year-old nun Sister Jean fittingly had an underdog story even in a title game won by the heavily-favored Villanova Wildcats. Michigan led for most of the first half, but Villanova took the lead with 6:08 remaining before the break on a three-pointer by redshirt sophomore reserve Donte DiVincenzo. It was the second of five three-pointers DiVincenzo would hit on the night on the way to a career-high 31 points. Villanova would not trail again in the game and cruised to their second national championship in three years, 79-62.
“Even if we had played our best, it would have been very difficult to win that game with what DiVincenzo did,” Michigan head coach John Beilein said after the game. “Sometimes those individual performances just beat you, and you just say: ‘OK, we played you the best we could, and tonight you were better that us.’”Continue reading...
- Keep up with all the latest updates from Russia on day two
- World Cup Football Daily: the pod review the first match
- Send your thoughts via email, Twitter or below the line
Marcus Rashford returns to England training this morning, after missing a couple of days with a knock to his knee. He is not expected to start against Tunisia but nevertheless, that’s a boost for Gareth Southgate.
Out on the Russian grass, Argentina and Belgium are in training, in Bronnitsy and Dedovsk respectively. Iceland play Argentina on Saturday, while Roberto Martínez’s side meet Panama in Sochi a few hours before England’s tournament gets under way in Volgograd.Continue reading...
In an exclusive interview the Atlético Madrid defender discusses what happened in Brazil 2014, the brutality of ‘Baby Football’ in Uruguay and his affection for Óscar Tabárez
As the Uruguay team boarded their plane bound for the World Cup, elaborate thermos flasks under their arms, the cargo was loaded in the hold: boots, shirts and shorts, plus 180kg of yerba mate and 30kg of dulce de leche. They needed a special permit to take them into Russia, but they were not going to go without their impossibly bitter “tea” or their impossibly sweet caramel. Anyway, why change? There is something about Uruguay, something different, which has served them well. Something in the way they live, the way they play – and, says the captain, Diego Godín, in Uruguay living and playing are the same thing. That’s part of the secret.
Uruguay, who kick off their Group A campaign against Egypt on Friday, are football’s great overachievers: they have won two World Cups and 15 Copa Américas, were World Cup semi-finalists in 1970 and 2010, and four years ago knocked out Italy and England. They arrive in Russia with Godín insisting expectations are high: “We’re going there to win, to compete,” he says. “We’ve won more international titles than anyone else.” None of which makes sense: this is a country of only 3.4 million people, less than half the population of Greater London.Continue reading...
Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Tunisia and Senegal have reason to be confident but all five going beyond the groups looks optimistic
Established powers used not to see African teams coming. That was the case literally in 1982, when West Germany’s manager, Jupp Derwall, decided against asking his squad to watch a video of Algeria before facing them because he feared his players would mock him for making the suggestion. Some of those players had, after all, boasted publicly that they would score a hatful of goals and play the match with cigars in their mouths.
Algeria’s 2-1 victory over the European champions was a delicious lesson about the perils of hubris but also, to anyone willing to pay attention, about advances made by African teams. Tunisia thought they had made that point four years earlier when holding West Germany to a 0-0 draw (and beating Mexico) but apparently some folks needed telling more than once.Continue reading...
• Bielsa: Offer to manage in England ‘impossible to turn down’
Leeds United have confirmed the appointment of Marcelo Bielsa as their new head coach on an initial two-year contract.
The 62-year-old Argentinian replaces Paul Heckingbottom after agreeing a contract until 2020, with the option of extending it by a further year.Continue reading...
• Southgate set to sacrifice Dier against Tunisia
• No place for Rashford in preferred 3-3-2-2 formation
Gareth Southgate’s provisional plans for England’s opening match of the World Cup can be revealed, with Harry Maguire favoured over Gary Cahill in the proposed starting XI, no place for Eric Dier in midfield and Ashley Young beating Danny Rose to the left wing‑back role.
Southgate has set up his team in training to operate with Jordan Henderson as the holding midfielder, which would mean Dier being restricted to a place on the substitutes’ bench in Monday’s game against Tunisia in Volgograd. Young has been awarded a place in Southgate’s provisional lineup and, barring a late change, Maguire has been preferred to Cahill in one of several borderline calls, despite the Chelsea captain’s improved recent form.Continue reading...
Today’s fluff is still getting its bearings
Not content with falling head over heels for Aleksandr Golovin or another of the likely breakout stars of this summer’s World Cup in Russia, Arsenal are intent on landing a former hero – no, not Siphiwe Tshabalala – but Mario Götze, who scored the winning goal for Germany in Brazil four years ago. His club, Borussia Dortmund, want in excess of £18m for the midfielder, though Everton and West Ham might hike his asking price further north.
Unai Emery has been a busy boy and Arsenal have supposedly already had a bid of £18m turned down by Chelsea for David Luiz. Back on the subject of the Germans, and a player that has actually made Joachim Low’s 23-man squad. Barcelona have the hots for İlkay Gündoğan, once of Dortmund but now of Manchester City. And the Spanish club fancy him as a heir to Andrés Iniesta’s playmaking throne.Continue reading...
Max Rushden is joined by guests in the studio and in Russia to discuss the 2018 World Cup opener, Robbie Williams, the facial hair of Stalin, Spain’s self-implosion and Friday’s games
The World Cup is finally under way!Continue reading...
• Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland would host with England
• Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay will submit rival joint bid
The Football Association has held secret talks with the other home nations about the possibility of a joint bid for the 2030 World Cup. The FA chief executive, Martin Glenn, and chairman, Greg Clarke, met their counterparts from Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in Moscow on Tuesday and discussed a potential UK-wide push to host the 48-team event.
Over the next year the FA will weigh up the pros and cons of bidding for the World Cup for the first time since a bruising defeat by Russia for 2018. It has agreed to consult the home nations before beginning any campaign.Continue reading...
Sergio Ramos took one last look around the room and smiled, an invitation for others to join him. “This looks like a funeral parlour, and tomorrow the World Cup begins,” he said, grinning. Alongside him Fernando Hierro, Spain’s new manager, grinned too.
Together they got up and walked through the door, down the tunnel and out on to the pitch at the Fisht Stadium. Behind the stand, the sun set on the Black Sea; before it, Spain prepared for their opening night. Hierro stood watching as the ball flew around the rondo. Two and a half days before, still Spain’s sporting director, he had said he had no intention of coaching his country one day; the day after, his third in the job, he would lead them into the biggest tournament on earth.Continue reading...
Cricket Australia says it has awarded contract to national broadcaster as well Macquarie Media Limited and Crocmedia
The ABC will continue to broadcast cricket on the radio for at least the next six summers, Cricket Australia has confirmed.
CA announced a new radio rights deal on Friday, under which the ABC, Macquarie Media and Crocmedia will share radio broadcast rights.Continue reading...
• British pop star gestures to camera as he sings Rock DJ
• But home team stun everyone with 5-0 win over Saudi Arabia
The first day of the 2018 World Cup went off almost without a hitch for the hosts, Russia, with a barnstorming victory after a brief but polished opening ceremony which even a rude gesture by Robbie Williams could not derail.Continue reading...
- Batting line-up looked vulnerable at the Oval
- Tim Paine’s side looking to level series in Cardiff
Australia’s selection boss Trevor Hohns is poised to reassess the make-up of the side for Saturday’s second ODI against England in Cardiff after Tim Paine’s team slipped to a three-wicket defeat at The Oval in the series-opener with another poor batting display that saw the tourists bundled out for just 214.Continue reading...
James Sutherland praises ‘fantastic relationship’ with national broadcaster
Cricket Australia’s outgoing boss, James Sutherland, says reports that the ABC is on the verge of being excluded from the next round of radio broadcasting rights are “mischievous and incorrect”.
Sutherland, who announced his retirement at chief executive of CA last week, appeared on ABC radio in Melbourne on Friday to address rumours that cricket’s governing body was considering ending its 80-year partnership with the national broadcaster.Continue reading...
Severe winds caused by Storm Hector rip through the VIP tent on the Scottish Open course in Gullane, Scotland, rolling it over before shattering it on the groundContinue reading...
Julen Lopetegui, the former manager of Spain who was sacked due to secret negotiations with Real Madrid, has been unveiled as its new coach. At the press conference, Lopetegui described his sacking on the eve of the World Cup as 'the saddest day of my life'Continue reading...