Luis Figo Launches His Manifesto For FIFA Presidency

FIFA PresidencyPortuguese great, Luis Figo, has launched his manifesto as he contests for FIFA presidency.

The former Barcelona, Real Madrid and Inter Milan star, says unrest he witnessed at the World Cup in Brazil and the furore surrounding Michael Garcia’s report into allegations of corruption at Fifa led him to stand.

“The Brazil report was one of the things that made me to take this step and announce that I’m here to try to change something that I believe should be done,” he told BBC.

One of the points that stood out in his manifesto is the plan to expand the World Cup format and return money to individual national football associations.

While he did not dispute the possibility of smaller nations backing him for the FIFA presidency because of this proposal, he said, “I am not doing this to win votes. I think my ideas are for the future of the organisation and the future of football.

“The money belongs to the associations and I think FIFA have done a good job but not so efficient like I propose.

“Another idea that I think is possible is regarding the reserves of FIFA right now. I propose in my manifesto that $500million is enough to cover all the running cost of the 4-year cycle.

Figo, who won 127 caps with Portugal, says he is “not worried” about the FIFA election turning “nasty”, adding that he is just focused on his ideas and how they affect his candidacy.

What is important to the 42 year old legend is convincing the associations about where changes are required and that he is the right man to bring the positive change to the global game.

Luís Figo, born November 4, 1972, retired from football on May 31, 2009.

Blatter Confirms He Will Stand For Fifth Term As FIFA President

FIFA President Joseph Blatter addresses news conference in HavanaFIFA’s President, Sepp Blatter, has confirmed he would stand for election for another term as head of the world football governing body.

Blatter, who has been widely expected to stand again for re -election despite saying otherwise in 2011, said that his mission at the Zurich based organisation was not finished in a video interview played at the Soccerex Conference in Manchester on Monday.

“You see a mission is never finished. And my mission is not finished,” said Blatter.

“I got through the last congress in Sao Paulo not only the impression but the support of the majority, a huge majority of national associations asking ‘Please go on, be our president also in future.'”

He said he would make an official announcement at FIFA’s Executive Committee meeting between 25-26 September.

The Swiss football administrator, who expressed his profound delight at the success of Brazil 2014, as well as his gratitude to the Brazilian people for justifying his optimism that their love of the game would not let their socioeconomic protests spoil a great World Cup, promised to step up the fight against racism, with the imposition of punitive points deductions and expulsion from cup competitions.

He revealed that he would use the awarding of a women’s tournament to Jordan as football’s instrument in the campaign for female equality in the Arab world.

Blatter offers a rare, personal insight into himself as a football-loving man, as he admits how deeply hurt he was by allegations in an English newspaper which attempted to connect him to any wrong-doing.

His reminder to the world that he has been totally exonerated is passionately delivered, as is his assurance that the independent investigation being led by New York lawyer, Michael Garcia, would be completely transparent and honest.

He asked only that all such deliberations and any critical discussions are conducted with mutual respect, not the heated discourtesy which he sees as having reflected poorly on the game.

UEFA’ President, Michel Platini, had said he would not be opposing Blatter.

The 59 year old France football legend stated early in the year that he would not support Blatter but insisted that he would not be contending with Blatter for FIFA’s top seat, as he wants to concentrate on leading the European football governing body.

Xavi Retires From International Football

xaviSpain star midfielder, Xavi Hernandez, has announced his retirement from international football.

Xavi, who represented Spain 133 times, more than any Spainard outfield player and only bettered by goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas in fourteen years, was a key figure in the La Roja glittering run when they won the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa as well as the 2008 and 2012 European Championships.

The Barcelona midfielder had a disappointing 2013-14 season, when the Catalan side failed to win major silverware for the first time in six years and 2010 FIFA World Cup holders, Spain were knocked out of the 2014 edition in the group stage.

He gave reasons for calling time on his international career before Spain begin their qualifying campaign for Euro 2016.

“I’m grateful for all those years,” Xavi told a news conference after a Barca training session.

“It has been a fantastic time. I’m not 20 anymore, but I still have the motivation of a kid.”I was disappointed on two levels at the end of last season as I did not feel useful to Barca or to the national team.

Xavi, who has won three UEFA Champions League titles, seven La Liga titles and a host of other trophies with Barca, made his debut for Spain in a friendly against the Netherlands in November 2000.

He played in four World Cups and three European Championships and won 100 of his 133 matches for the Iberian nation, controlling play from a central position, regularly providing assists and also scoring the occasional goal.

Spain started the 2014 World Cup in Brazil as one of the favourites, but were dumped out of the tournament in the group stages after a 5-1 defeat by Netherlands and a 2-0 loss to Chile.

Xavi has decided to play on at club level under new coach and former team mate Luis Enrique despite reports going round that he is poised to end his career in the Middle East or USA.

“I would like to single out Luis Enrique, who has made me see that I can still be important.”

Linus Mba Becomes First Casualty Of FIFA Suspension

Linus MbaFIFA Referees Advisor and Consultant to the Nigeria Football Federation on refereeing, Linus Mba, has become the first casualty of the FIFA Suspension order on Nigeria.

Mba, who was appointed three weeks ago as the Match Commissioner for the Sierra Leone and Seychelles African Cup of Nations qualifier in Freetown on July 19 has been replaced.

On Monday, the retired FIFA referee and former member of the CAF Referees Committee got a letter from CAF regretting his replacement.

The letter signed by Amr Fahmy Manager, Nations Cup said in part: “I regret to inform you that due to the suspension of the Nigerian FA, we had to temporarily suspend all appointments for any officials/referees from Nigeria, so we were left without any choice but to replace you for the above-mentioned match.”

Fahmy letter read: “…price that experienced men like yourself, good servants of African football, have to pay.”

Few hours before CAF’s decision, the referee consultant had received a mail from the General Secretary, Sierra Leone Football Association, Chris Kamara, that his tickets and other documents for him and the referees were to be sent by Wednesday.

This decision has come on the heels of suggestions that before Tuesday the Nigeria case would be normalized to allow FIFA lift the suspension order.

The Eaglets are expected to leave on Wednesday to Congo DR, while the Super Falcons are set for the African Women Championship draws in Windhoek, Namibia, this weekend, but that would only happen if Nigeria normalizes the relationship with FIFA.

The fate of Mba would further explain the powers of FIFA sanctions as adopted by Confederations and other Federations worldwide.

2014 FIFA World Cup: Germany Are Champions Of The World

Germany-2Germany have emerged as the Champions of the FIFA World Cup, Brazil 2014, after a hard fought 120 minute battle with Argentina at the Maracana, the first time the country is winning the trophy as a united country.

Former Borussia Dortmund player, Mario Gotze, became the hero for the Germans with a superb finish via an assist by Chelsea’s Andre Schürrle in the 113th minute.

The two substitutes combined to devastating effect for Germany. Schurrle made inroads down the left hand side, and lofted in a neat cross towards the near post. Gotze took it excellently on his chest and with time and space to move, stabbed it into the back of the net.

With seven minutes left on the clock, the South American threw in all they had left and Messi had a freekick in the final seconds of the game to save the game but ballooned the ball into the stands to add to the Argentine misery, a moment which summed up Messi’s night.

It had been a long and impressive road for both final competitors and Germany and Argentina provided a match that had all the elements of a World Cup classic.

The Germans were looking to finish something that they have started since 2010 whereas the Argentines were determined to return to the top by avenging an embarrassing 4-0 thrashing by the same opponents, which happened four years ago.

The Germans, with their fourth title, have now made history as the first ever European World Cup champion to emerge on South American soil.

German Goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, won the Golden Gloves Award for the Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament, while Argentina magician, Lionel Messi, won the Golden Ball for the Best Player of the Tournament.

James Rodriguez of Columbia, though absent at the presentation, won the Golden Boot having scored the highest number of goals. The Monaco attacking midfielder scored six goals in Brazil, one more than Germany’s Thomas Muller, who won the trophy in South Africa in 2010.

The night’s German hero, Mario Gotze, also made history as the first ever substitute to score the winning goal in a World Cup final.

Germany are now a win behind Brazil, who have lifted the trophy on five occasions. Germany won the competition in 1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014.

Mario Gotze Became The Hero For The Germans With A Superb Finish In The 113th Minute To End The Final 1-0

Germany-2Germany have emerged as the Champions of the FIFA World Cup, Brazil 2014, after a hard fought 120 minute battle with Argentina at the Maracana.

The Borussia Dortmund player, Mario Gotze, became the hero for the Germans with a superb finish via an assist by Chelsea’s Andre Schürrle cross in the 113th minute.

The two substitutes combined to devastating effect for Germany. Schurrle made inroads down the left hand side, and lofted in a neat cross towards the near post. Gotze took it excellently on his chest and with time and space to move, and stabbed it into the back of the net.

With seven minutes left on the clock, Messi had a freekick in the final seconds of the game to save the game but ballooned the ball into the stands to add to the Argentine misery, a moment which summed up Messi’s night.

It had been a long and impressive road for both final competitors and Germany and Argentina provided a match that had all the elements of a World Cup classic.

The Germans were looking to finish something that they have started since 2010 whereas the Argentines were determined to return to the top by avenging an embarrassing 4-0 thrashing by the same opponents, which happened four years ago.

The Germans, with their fourth title, have now made history as the first ever European World Cup champion to emerge on South American soil.

More details here.

FIFA Suspension: Sport Journalists Say It’s Unjustifiable

deji omptoyiboRenowned sports journalists have reacted to the  suspension given to Nigeria by  FIFA, on what the governing body has termed as  ”government interference” in the country’s football administration.

The sports ambassadors,  Deji Omotoyinbo, Bimbo Adeola and Harry Iwuala, who were guests on Sunrise, on Saturday, agreed that the government will continue to have a say in the management of football in the Nigeria since it provides funds for the sport.

On the suspension, they believe the sport ministry and the football administrators should be blamed as the same scenario plays out every four years in which the country is embarrassed with the crisis that results into FIFA sanctioning the country.

‘’The thing is embarrassing because every four years we come to this circle as government and the people they use to topple themselves, don’t take any learning from this’’. Harry Iwuala said

‘’You get in there and begin to think you are well seated, not wanting any other person to come in which eventually invites the government to come in again to cause a lot of ruckus, embarrass themselves and the country’’.  Harry declared

On the interference, Iwuala said government must find a nicer way of   being in control, not the juxtapose style arrest basically with due process.

On his part, sports commentator, Deji Omotoyinbo, described the issue as a ‘’storm in a teacup’’ as the trend, unsurprisingly, is the same every four years and unfortunately for Nigeria it usually comes up after a World Cup year because the four year cycle of the NFF ends at the World Cup.

He is of the opinion that FIFA and CAF is not under any government as they are a government to themselves so they can say they don’t want any interference in the affairs of their affiliates from that perspective.

He, however, noted, that technically speaking, the affiliate bodies operate in countries that are governed by the rule of law and as such, are subject to the laws of the land.

‘’Take Nigeria for instance, where what is being done to other sports is criminal as football get a monthly subvention of a hundred and fifty million naira every month apart from what is derived from competitions’’.

While not defending the government that sometimes does things wrongly, Omotoyibo insisted that FIFA is saying that their affiliate bodies can be protected from any probe in their country even when they (the bodies) depend on their government for funds.

He said if FIFA does not want interference in certain parts of the world, then they should fund their affiliate bodies completely as anyone who wants to force themselves into the football body(ies) will still go back to the same government to collect money and they (the government) have a right to ask questions on how the money is used.

On if the NFF is autonomous, the sports journalists said there is no such thing as autonomy as they get their funds which is budgeted for and approved by the National Assembly and are expected to be accountable.

On the solution, Bimbo Adeola said the government should just hands off football if the obnoxious FIFA statute, as it relates to Africa continues, so that football will fund itself as so much money is not accounted for.

‘’Nigeria Football Federation is the only organization I know of in the world where US$90,000 develop wings and fly, where $250,000 is missing in their vault in their office and nothing happens, nobody goes to jail for it and they go to competitions with their cronies on the bill of Nigeria and nobody bats an eyelid ’’. Bimbo Adeola declared.

On if football can fund itself in Nigeria, Deji Omotoyinbo, said it is possible as the league attracts a decent sponsorship from corporate bodies adding that all the country ought to do is to develop domestic football.

They concluded that people who are professionals with a track record should be given the opportunity to manage the affairs of football in Nigeria effectively.

FIFA Shortlists 3 Goalkeepers For Golden Glove

glovesTwo finalists, Neuer and Romero, head FIFA’s Technical Study Group’s shortlist for the best goalkeeper at Brazil 2014.

Below are the World Cup’s safest hands according to information on the FIFA website.

Keylor Navas (CRC) 

The Levante stopper was arguably Costa Rica’s best player at Brazil 2014, including a match-winning display in the Round of 16 tie against Greece. Making 21 saves in Los Ticos’ five games, he was awarded the Budweiser Man of the Match Award on three occasions. At 26-years-old the best years of his career are firmly ahead of him.

Manuel Neuer (GER)

The Germany keeper has played in all of the Nationalelf’s six games so far, making 25 saves and completing 202 passes. He’s kept three clean sheets and been a commanding presence for Joachim Low’s side so far. After winning a host of domestic honours, the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup, the FIFA World Cup and the Golden Glove is now in his sights.

Sergio Romero (ARG)

Penalty shoot-out saves from Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneidjer sent La Albiceleste into the final, capping a fine tournament for the 27-year-old so far. The Monaco keeper has kept four clean sheets, making 15 saves in Brazil 2014 so far. Brought into international football by Diego Maradona, he has been Argentina’s first choice keeper for five years.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil have witnessed some remarkable displays of goalkeeping from Guillermo Ochoa’s spectacular stop from Neymar, to Tim Howard’s record-breaking 16 saves against Belgium.

There’s also been a string of fine displays from Costa Rica’s Keylor Navas, penalty heroics from Sergio Romero and an almost Libero-esque display from Manuel Neuer in Germany’s clash with Algeria.

Suarez Bite Match Referee To Handle Brazil-Germany Semi Final

Marco-Antonio-RodriguezFIFA has announced the referee for match 61 of the FIFA World Cup™, the first semi-final between Brazil and Germany. It will be Marco Rodríguez, the Mexican referee who officiated in the match that saw Uruguay striker, Luis Suarez bite Italian Giorgio Chiellini.

Rodriguez, who did not see the incident involving Suarez and Chiellini during the match, which led to the Uruguay star being thrown out of the tournament and banned from football for four months, now has the task of keeping order in Sao Paulo for Tuesday’s game.

The 40 year old, who sent off Italy’s Claudio Marchisio in the same Group D fixture, during this tournament, also officiated in the group-stage match – Belgium v. Algeria.

Brazil 2014 is the third FIFA World Cup™ for Rodríguez and he refereed two games at each of the last two editions but has never officiated in a knockout stage match. In 2010, one of his matches was Germany’s 4-0 victory over Australia.

During his career, Rodríguez has been selected for several international tournaments, including five editions of the CONCACAF Gold Cup (2005, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013), the Copa América 2004, the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2009 and three FIFA U-17 World Cups (2003, 2005 and 2013).

At club level, he has refereed three CONCACAF Champions League finals, and his most prestigious assignment was the final of the FIFA Club World Cup 2007 between Boca Juniors and AC Milan. He later oversaw Al Ahly v. Corinthians in the 2012 semi-finals of the same competition.

Meanwhile, Germany midfielder, Bastian Schweinsteiger, has warned match officials in the semi-final to keep an eye on Brazil’s physical approach.

“Hard challenges definitely are part of their game, it’s something we have to be careful of and the referee too,” Schweinsteiger said.

Nigeria Comes First, Not My Records – Stephen Keshi

keshiCoach Stephen Keshi has insisted that he is not thrilled about his record as the first African to lead an African team to the FIFA World Cup second round, rather he wants the Super Eagles to do well against France for a place in the quarter finals of Brazil 2014.

Keshi, who became the first black African coach to win the African Cup of Nations in 21 years against all odds, helped the Super Eagles to secure a place in the round of 16 for the first time since France 98.

There have been suggestions in some quarters that Keshi’s achievements in winning the Nations’ Cup and taking his team to the knock-out stage of the World Cup have not been given the value it should by the international media.

However, Keshi believes what is important to him is to focus on the game against France and not his personal glory, “For me, my team and country come before any personal glory.

“What is important is to focus on what lies ahead – not Stephen Keshi and his record.

“That we made the second round and are able to achieve this against all odds is all that matters”, the former coach of Mali said.

Nigeria will face France for only the second time at senior level in the ongoing 2014 FIFA World cup on Monday in Brasilia and the Super Eagles aim to equal Africa’s all-time best of getting to the quarterfinals of the World Cup achieved by Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana in 1990, 2002 and 2010.

Keshi said that this was enough motivation and the Super Eagles would give it all it takes to edge France in reaching the last 8 of the football competition.

“We are not bothered about the past but only interested in this present day.

“My boys know what I expect and our opponents will not make life easy for them.

“The Super Eagles have never made it to the quarterfinals, so they can make history of their own.

“There’s no motivation bigger than that”, Keshi added.

The last time Nigeria met France was in an International friendly in Saint Etienne in June 2009 with Super Eagles beating France 1-0, courtesy of a Joseph Akpala goal, but Keshi says it would be a different ball game against the Le Blues on Monday.

Ramadan Won’t Affect Musa Against France – Keshi

MusaNigeria Coach, Stephen Keshi, is confident that the performance of winger, Ahmed Musa, against France would not be affected by the Ramadan fast which began during the weekend.

There had been fears that Musa may not be at the peak of his powers when the Super Eagles take on France in Brasilia on Monday.

Keshi, however, is not bothered as he believes Musa has been a professional footballer for a long time and this was not the first time he would have to play during the Ramadan period.

“Musa is a professional; he knows what he has to do. I don’t think the fasting will affect his performance against France and am sure he will put in the same level of performance irrespective of the situation”, Keshi told reporters.

“He’s (Musa) going to observe Ramadan. It’s a normal thing to do. He’s used to it.

“He plays for his club when he’s fasting and does what’s expected of him. He’s going to do the same thing on Monday if he’s selected”,  Keshi concluded.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and Muslims worldwide observe it as a period of fasting.

While fasting from dawn until sunset, Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations.

With the temperatures in Brasilia on Monday expected to reach 28 degrees and humidity of almost 72% predicted, the winger is widely expected to struggle with the conditions.

The CSKA Moscow player, who netted a brace against the La Albiceleste has commenced religious observance of the month of Ramadan.

 

I Have No Grudge Against Moses – Keshi

VictorMoses_SuperEagles2-300x244 (1)Coach of the Nigerian Super Eagles, Stephen Keshi, has insisted that he doesn’t have any grudge against Victor Moses, claiming that he is being left out of the team for tactical reasons.

Moses started Eagles’ first game against Iran but was an unused substitute against Bosnia and Argentina.

However, Moses failed to show up for the team’s pre-match warm-up against Argentina, prompting speculations that the Chelsea forward might have been displeased by his exclusion.

“I have no grudge against Moses, neither am I aware that he is complaining. My big daughter is older than Moses, so what is the point in nursing grudges against him? If he does anything wrong it is my job to correct him”, Keshi said.

Media reports have claimed that there was a bust up between the coach and the player ahead of the game with Argentina. Reports also claim that Moses refused to sit on the bench, instead preferring to stay in the bleachers after learning he was not going to start against the Albiceleste.

But the player, in recent tweets, has claimed that he was indeed injured.

“The lads were brilliant again yesterday and did the country proud. Gutted to miss it again with a muscle strain but working hard to get back fit and strong for France game”, Moses tweeted moments after the team’s official release had been made public.

Nigeria are expected to travel out of their team base camp in Campinas on Friday afternoon at 2pm local time, which would be 6pm Nigerian time to Brasilia for the game against France on Monday.