Category: Latest

The 200% World Cup: The World Cup Finals: A Love Story

It’s a comment that has been more than once over the course of the last few months: what could it possibly say about the current kleptocracy that is FIFA that a significant proportion of the population of Brazil, the most storied nation in the history of the World Cup, have been turned against the tournament being held in their own country? The civil disturbances that marked last summer’s Confederations Cup there may or may not be repeated this time around, but what we can say with a degree of confidence is that there is, even in the event that talk of full blown disorder comes to nothing, a good chance that this summer’s World Cup will be accompanied by a an undercurrent of disquiet, to say the least. What, though, of the rest of us? Watching from afar, we will, in spite of our misgivings concerning those that awarded the tournament to Brazil in the first place, still find ourselves as invested in it all as ever. We’ll swallow a small proportion of our principles and watch it all anyway. For those of us who consider ourselves addicts, the World Cup finals, with sixty-four matches to be played out over the course of four weeks, is our equivalent of freebasing. It’s the cleanest hit that we could ever hope for, and we only have the opportunity to get ourselves...

Read More

The 200% World Cup: No Up Side Down Under, For Australia

The optimism that accompanied Australia to previous World Cup finals has been replaced in 2014 by something of a sense of foreboding, as Paul Caulfield writes. As Brazil 2014 gets going, Australian football fans will be trying to forget the fraught process of actually getting there. Though the Socceroos are safely through to their third successive finals – the tortuous route, through two group stages and 14 matches, was worryingly familiar. Some patchy results – including a defeat to Jordan and a draw with Oman – saw Australia stumble through to Brazil, securing the vital second place in the six team CONMEBOL group with a narrow win over Iraq. Second half substitute Josh Kennedy of Grampus Eight (Jesus to his team-mates, thanks to his ‘biblical’ appearance) scored the vital goal before 80,000 at Sydney’s ANZ stadium, heading in a Mark Bresciano cross with just eight minutes left, though Kennedy failed to make the cut when the final squad was announced. The huge turnout showed the Australian appetite for the big occasion, but Socceroos fans will know that such victories are no basis for success in Brazil. Australia’s opponents in a horrible Group B – the Netherlands, Chile and number one ranked Spain – will be far tougher than a team 46 places below them in the rankings. The Chileans are old foes from 40 years ago, but a repeat...

Read More

Neil Doncaster: A(nother) Premier League Chief Executive Under Pressure

Scottish club football’s top man, Neil Doncaster, has little other than nominal occupation in common with slimy sexist Richard Scudamore. Both are English and league chief executives. But Doncaster, the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) boss, now has the opportunity to fashion another similarity, the ability to get away with just about anything. Scudamore, we now know, can do what he likes, how and to whom he likes. Doncaster tried this in 2012, bending over backwards, sideways and eachways to keep Rangers in the Scottish Premier League (SPL) after their liquidation was confirmed. However, more Doncaster machinations recently emerged. On May 16th the “Celtic Research” (CR) twitter account patiently – 140 characters-at-a-time – told previously unpublished tales of the November 2011 SPL broadcasting rights deal – a hurriedly-signed extension to the existing five-year deal signed with SKY and ESPN in July 2009. The deal attracted controversies – especially a clause guaranteeing four Rangers/Celtic “Old Firm” games, which Doncaster claimed was in existence for a decade. Doncaster has not revealed the precise date of its introduction, however. CR also revealed the SPL’s, now the SPFL’s, subsidies to ESPN to show Rangers games. When SPL and Scottish Football League (SFL) clubs voted a replacement Rangers into Scottish club football’s bottom tier in July 2012, Doncaster and the SPL made it more financially viable for ESPN to transmit Rangers games. The first...

Read More

The 200% World Cup: England & Jimmy Hill The Redeemer

Banks, Cohen, Wilson, Stiles, J. Charlton, Moore, Ball, R. Charlton, Hurst, Peters, Hunt. The eleven names any football-obsessed English youngster knows. Although a significant proportion of these youngsters are now in their thirties and forties. Yes, forty-eight years is a long time. Two generations have come and gone since England accidentally won the World Cup on Saturday 30th July, 1966.  If that day was also you date of birth, it is eminently possible that you are a grandparent now. Imagine that. There are children about to grow up in England whose grandparents won’t be able to tell them first-hand about The Day England Won The World Cup. But wait! Hold thine horses, because unless I am very much mistaken there is another World Cup to be held. It starts in a few days and could prove the salvation of a generation of grandparents everywhere, because England have qualified and are a mere 7 (seven) victories away from winning it. No, you shut up. What would England winning the World Cup be like? It’s no use asking your grandparents, even. If you’re anything like me, all your grandparents are now dead for starters, but it goes beyond that. The world of football has changed beyond recognition since July 1966. It is even arguable that England’s (first/only) World Cup win was the Big Bang that created this universe. The key difference...

Read More