The Sweeper: FIFA Is Trying To Kill Me

World Cup draw

Big Story
I’m pretty sure Sepp Blatter and FIFA’s executive committee is trying to drive me insane, if not kill me. I’m not sure why they’d have a vendetta against a little-known British-born blogger exiled to the United States, but there can be little other reasonable explanation for them forcing me to write the same commentary over and over again on their practices: stop forcing me to presume you are fixing everything!

Once again, it’s the timing that’s suspect, as FIFA’s World Cup 2010 Organising Committee today announced the seeds for this week’s World Cup finals draw (the top eight seeds in pot 1 are South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, England, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain), with France notably missing out on a pot 1 seeding spot as FIFA decided to use their rankings from October rather than November to determine the order: the Netherlands had been ranked higher the previous month. Some immediately suspected FIFA were making sure France weren’t seeded, at the least, as the controversy over their qualification drags on.

It’s fair enough to use the October rankings rather than November’s, simply because that did put every European team on a level playing field in terms of competitive games played in qualification. FIFA’s Vice-President Jerome Valcke explained, “This is not a case of wanting Holland to be seeded instead of France, just that the feeling was the October seedings represented the best teams.” Yet bizarrely, Valcke went on to say that the decision had been made “last month” — if so, why did they not bother to tell anyone?

Once again, by not setting the rules for seeding in advance and releasing the information in public, the speculation that FIFA are making the decision most convenient to them is fed, just as with the playoffs seeding controversy. If FIFA could only set and release their seeding procedures ahead of knowing which countries would be seeded depending on the system they decide to use, I wouldn’t have to keep writing the same thing: a little more transparency goes a long way.

Worldwide News

  • This is one way to fight back: following the controversy over the amount the Premier League is spending on agents’ fees, the agents association has no shame in calling for their important role to be acknowledged by being awarded a position on the Football Association Council. Supporters Direct’s acid commentary on this is a must-read.
  • Remember Alisher Usmanov, the Uzbeki oligarch and Arsenal shareholder who once threatened to sue this very blog for posting information about his criminal past from former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray?  Well, Arsenal’s biggest shareholder Stan Kroenke obviously wanted to know more about that as their power struggle heated up over the past year, sending a private investigator hired by the company working for Arsenal’s board to Uzbekistan to dig up more information. Unfortunately, the Uzbeki authorities weren’t exactly cooperative, and as is his wont, Usmanov is up in arms about this terrible slight to his reputation. Once again, Alisher, if you have nothing to hide, stand up and prove it by taking up former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray’s offer to let the courts decide.
  • It’s very impressive that WPS expansion team the Atlanta Beat will be playing in a brand new soccer stadium come spring, as the Atlanta Journal Constitution explains: “Kennesaw State announced Tuesday the school will build an 8,300-seat stadium for its women’s soccer team, a facility officials called “the first of its kind in the world” because of its size and focus on women’s soccer.” Great news, and a $16.5m project is entirely reasonable. Just one question: how do you build a stadium in five months?
  • Finally, Pitch Invasion shockingly wins futfanatico award for best blog with “futfanatico” in the URL!

The Sweeper appears daily. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.

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