Atletico appeal transfer ban

Atletico Madrid lodged an appeal Monday against a one-year transfer ban imposed by FIFA over their dealing in under-age players.

The ban starts from the July transfer window this year and finishes with the January transfer market in 2017.

Real Madrid were hit with the same punishment.

Atletico were also fined 900,000 Swiss francs (820,000 euros) and Real 360,000 (330,000 euros). However, both clubs are still allowed to sign players until the end of the month.

Atletico in a statement announced that they had “lodged an appeal against the decision by FIFA’s disciplinary commission”.

World football’s governing body FIFA said the alarm was raised over the two clubs by FIFA’s Transfer Matching System and its disciplinary committee completed the inquiry.

Under international football rules, players under 18 cannot be transferred to another country, except in limited circumstances. All transfers need the approval of a special FIFA committee.

European champions Barcelona have just completed a one year ban for similar reasons.

Photo Credits : AFP

Blatter says $100 mn bribery case is ‘over’

Suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter insisted that a $100 million bribery case in which he is reportedly implicated “is over”, and pleaded ignorance over alleged corruption by top officials at the scandal-hit world body.

Blatter, speaking to Japan’s Nikkei business daily, also protested that he should have been warned before Swiss police arrested seven FIFA officials in May, and said he hoped to return to his job in the coming weeks.

“It was a tsunami,” he said of the May arrests on behalf of US authorities, which plunged the world body into crisis, in the interview published on Friday.

“Swiss authorities should have at least informed me that such a thing would happen,” Blatter said, adding that he was “shocked when I saw, and (what is) still going on, what has happened in the different confederations”.

“I cannot be morally responsible for the bad activities of members of my executive committee when I have no chance to introduce them or to dismiss them,” Blatter said.

The arrests in Zurich kick-started events which forced Blatter to announce his resignation. He is now suspended from FIFA as Swiss authorities investigate the alleged misappropriation of funds and a $2 million payment to UEFA chief Michel Platini.

Blatter, who suffered a health scare last month, said he would be fully recovered by Christmas and hoped to be back in office in time to hand over to his successor, who will be elected on February 26.

“At least I can prepare the congress and I can go out of FIFA at the time when I am still the leader of the congress, because I am still the president of FIFA,” he said, explaining why he is keen to return.

The 79-year-old’s problems deepened this month when the BBC said US authorities are investigating evidence indicating he knew about $100 million in bribes paid to former FIFA members.

Sports marketing company ISL is alleged to have paid a total of $100 million to officials including Joao Havelange, Blatter’s predecessor as FIFA chief, and former FIFA executive Ricardo Teixeira, in return for TV and marketing rights in the 1990s.

Blatter has maintained he was unaware of the payments, but the BBC said it had seen a letter obtained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States that casts doubt on his denial.

Blatter said that the bribery case “is over, it is finished. It was solved in court. And it was solved by the FIFA ethics committee”.

Asked whether he knew about the payments to Havelange, his former boss, Blatter reiterated: “It is settled. It was settled by a tribunal in Switzerland. They even went to the highest court. (There) was no harm to me on ethics, nothing.”

Blatter also denied that the reason he has barely left Switzerland for months is that he’s scared of being arrested.

“First, we have been in a crisis. This is my military education: When you are in a crisis, the commander is not leaving the command,” he said, adding that his health was also a factor.

The Swiss added that he wasn’t worried about sponsors leaving FIFA. Major sponsors including Visa and Coca-Cola have demanded reforms including greater transparency and accountability.

“They have just made an alarm clock, but they will not go away,” Blatter said, adding: “There is a new world coming in. China decided to go to football, and there is India.”

Photo Credits : AFP

I’m best man for FIFA job, insists banned Platini

European football supremo Michel Platini has insisted he remains the best man to lead scandal-hit FIFA despite currently being suspended from the sport.

The French legend, one of seven candidates to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president, believes that his experience as a player, coach and administrator far outstrips any of his six rivals.

“In all modesty, I am the best-placed to lead world football,” Platini, 60, told Swiss daily Le Matin in an interview to be published Thursday. “I am the only one to have a broad vision for football.”

Platini and Blatter are both suspended for 90 days while an investigation is carried out into a controversial 1.8 million euro payment made by the FIFA chief to the Frenchman in 2011.

“I have been a player, coach of the French team, a club official at Nancy, organiser of the World Cup and, today, the head of the most powerful football confederation, a mission that I have accomplished with honesty,” he added.

Platini faces competition from Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, Musa Bility, Jerome Champagne, Gianni Infantino, Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa and Tokyo Sexwale for the FIFA top job.

Infantino is the general-secretary of UEFA and was a shock candidate for the February 26 vote which will decide who will succeed Blatter.

Platini said that Infantino’s nomination represented a “plan B” on the part of UEFA.

The Platini camp claimed on Monday that Infantino had given an “oral” reassurance to the UEFA executive committee that he would quit the FIFA race if Platini was cleared of wrongdoing.

However, a source close to the Frenchman also added: “The truth in politics today is not the same on the day after”.

Photo Credits : AFP

David Beckham receives Legend of Football Award

David Beckham has been honored with the Legend of Football Award at the 20th anniversary HMV Football Extravaganza. This year’s event was held in celebration of 20 years of football where Beckham won 17 major trophies during his time playing for Manchester United, Real Madrid, LA Galaxy, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain.

The football extravaganza was held together with a fundraising to help provide thousands with music therapy sessions for vulnerable people in the UK.

Former Manchester United team-mate Ryan Giggs (left) handed the award to Beckham (Dailymail)

David Beckham has been a FIFA World Player of the year twice as a runners up, he was also the first English player to win league titles in four countries including England, Spain, United States, and France. According to Daily mail, he is also the most capped outfield player in the history of the English game with 115 international appearances.

‘I’m incredibly honoured to be receiving this Award. When you look at the list of the previous recipients, I feel very fortunate to be considered alongside them. More importantly the night is about recognising the fantastic work that Nordoff Robbins does, and raising funds for their vital work,” the football legend said when receiving the award.


FIFA boss Blatter gives up International Olympic Committee seat

Under pressure FIFA leader Sepp Blatter on Monday gave up his International Olympic Committee seat because he will soon end his reign in charge of world football.

Blatter, whose organisation is embroiled in a corruption scandal, was among a group of eight IOC members who should have sought re-election on Monday at a meeting in Kuala Lumpur.

He has said he will stand down as FIFA president on February 26 when an election for a new leader will be held.

IOC president Thomas Bach said that Blatter “does not deem it to be appropriate to stand for re-election for eight years knowing that after seven months his term would come to an end.”

Bach thanked Blatter and other members leaving the IOC for their “great contribution” to the Olympic movement. Blatter, who has been an IOC member since 1999, did not attend the Kuala Lumpur meeting.

The FIFA president was part of an IOC commission that decided on reforms of the Olympic organisation after it was hit by a bribery scandal over the Salt Lake City Winter Games in 2002.

Photo Credits : AFP

Prince Ali says “Platini is not good for FIFA”

Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein said on Wednesday that he thought Michel Platini, who confirmed he will run for FIFA president next year, is “not good for football and football’s fans and players deserve better”.

The Jordanian prince, who was beaten to the post at the head of world football’s governing body by long-standing chief Sepp Blatter in May, turned on the Frenchman and said Platini, who is seen as a strong candidate, is not the man to run the sport’s global affairs.

“Platini is not good for FIFA. Football’s fans and players deserve better,” he said in a statement.

“FIFA is engulfed in scandal. We must stop doing business as usual. The practice of back-room, under-the-table deals must end.

“I believe that the voices of the individual Football Federations must be heard. In the coming week, I will be consulting with them about what is in the best interests of football.

“What is clear is that FIFA needs new, independent leadership, untainted by the practices of the past”. added Prince Ali

Photo Credits : AFP

FIFA suspends 2026 World Cup bidding process

FIFA announced on Wednesday it had suspended the bidding process to host the 2026 World Cup amid the furore surrounding corruption probes at the organisation.

“It was decided to place the administrative process on hold for the 2026 FIFA World Cup bidding due to the current situation,” a FIFA statement said.

“Further decisions regarding the 2026 FIFA World Cup bidding process will be discussed by the FIFA Executive Committee at a later date.”

Photo Credits : AFP

Captain Blatter’s fantastic voyage comes to an end

Sepp Blatter has always loved maritime analogies. He promised to guide FIFA into a safe port, but on Tuesday his ship foundered on the rocks after 17 years at the helm of the world’s most popular sport.

The 79-year-old Swiss stunned the watching world with his resignation announcement just four days after being voted to a fifth term and repelling the pointed questions of his fiercest critics, the British media.

Blatter said in his election victory speech he would be the “commander” who would take FIFA “out of the storm.”

While Blatter has seen off mutinies by discontented FIFA members, he could not hold off US and Swiss investigators.

Blatter has not been named as a suspect. But their inquiries into bribes and the award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups led to him walking the plank.

It has been an incredible turnaround for a man who last month was compared to Jesus, Moses, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln by Dominican Republic FA president Osiris Guzman at a Central and North American confederation (CONCACAF) meeting.

It was the arrest of CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb last Wednesday — as part of an American investigation into tens of millions of dollars of bribes — in Zurich that started the process that ended in his walking away from an organisation he has been involved with for 40 years.

Unapologetically divisive, Blatter has had to deal with scandal virtually since his first day in office in 1998.

He came through allegations about ‘brown envelopes’ handed out before his 1998 election and the collapse of the ISL sports marketing empire.

– Power Envy –

Blatter said he was unfairly blamed for everything that goes wrong in football.

“In my 40 years at FIFA I have learned to live with hostility and resentment,” he said recently.

“However as the German language proverb puts it: sympathy is free, but envy must be earned.”

There is a lot to envy.

Blatter is in 70th place on the Forbes list of the world’s most powerful people — the only sports leader in the group jostling behind the likes of Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama.

The former amateur footballer — an old fashioned striker — joined FIFA in 1975 from a position marketing Swiss watches.

He became secretary general in 1981 and was elected to the top job in 1998 after another controversial president, Brazilian Joao Havelange, finally ended his 24 year reign.

Blatter, who also worked as a public relations official and general secretary of the Swiss ice hockey federation, claims credit for building FIFA’s financial muscle — $1.5 billion in cash reserves.

When he joined FIFA it was in a small Zurich building with about 10 staff. One story says that it was Blatter who went to the bank to get a loan when they could not be paid.

But FIFA made about $5.7 billion (5.3 billion euros) in the four years between the 2010 and 2014 World Cups and now has about 1,400 staff.

The workaholic Blatter says his main achievement has been to make football “universal” — the first World Cups in Asia (South Korea and Japan in 2002 although the decision was taken before he became president) and Africa (2010) came in his tenure.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are given to national federations and in development grants.

– Football prophet –

But since the day he took office, accusations of skulduggery have never been far away from FIFA. In recent months, he has been fighting allegations about the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar.

Blatter also told UEFA, the European confederation in 2011 that if elected then it would be his last term.

But the FIFA president has never been implicated in wrongdoing and he has always shrugged off controversy — apart from one episode in 2006 when he tried to stop a book on FIFA being published in Switzerland,

While Asia, Africa and to a large extent Central America and South America stood four square behind Blatter at last Friday’s plebisicite Europe turned against him.

UEFA president Michel Platini said the three-times married Blatter made some good decisions “often in difficult circumstances” but that he cannot face a life of “emptiness” without FIFA’s power.

“He has a way of making people dependent or indebted to him, but not in a way that people regret it,” one Blatter confidant told AFP.

“These people know where they are with Blatter. They don’t know where they will be with someone else.”

The people who rely on the man who has dominated world football for nearly two decades will soon have to get used to someone else.

Photo Credits : AFP

Sepp Blatter’s resignation statement

Statement by Sepp Blatter on Tuesday announcing he would be stepping down as president of world football’s governing body FIFA:

“I have been reflecting deeply about my presidency and about the forty years in which my life has been inextricably bound to FIFA and the great sport of football. I cherish FIFA more than anything and I want to do only what is best for FIFA and for football. I felt compelled to stand for re-election, as I believed that this was the best thing for the organisation. That election is over but FIFA’s challenges are not. FIFA needs a profound overhaul.

While I have a mandate from the membership of FIFA, I do not feel that I have a mandate from the entire world of football – the fans, the players, the clubs, the people who live, breathe and love football as much as we all do at FIFA.

Therefore, I have decided to lay down my mandate at an extraordinary elective Congress. I will continue to exercise my functions as FIFA President until that election.

The next ordinary FIFA Congress will take place on 13 May 2016 in Mexico City. This would create unnecessary delay and I will urge the Executive Committee to organise an Extraordinary Congress for the election of my successor at the earliest opportunity. This will need to be done in line with FIFA’s statutes and we must allow enough time for the best candidates to present themselves and to campaign.

Since I shall not be a candidate, and am therefore now free from the constraints that elections inevitably impose, I shall be able to focus on driving far-reaching, fundamental reforms that transcend our previous efforts. For years, we have worked hard to put in place administrative reforms, but it is plain to me that while these must continue, they are not enough.

The Executive Committee includes representatives of confederations over whom we have no control, but for whose actions FIFA is held responsible. We need deep-rooted structural change.

The size of the Executive Committee must be reduced and its members should be elected through the FIFA Congress. The integrity checks for all Executive Committee members must be organised centrally through FIFA and not through the confederations. We need term limits not only for the president but for all members of the Executive Committee.

I have fought for these changes before and, as everyone knows, my efforts have been blocked. This time, I will succeed.

I cannot do this alone. I have asked Domenico Scala to oversee the introduction and implementation of these and other measures. Mr. Scala is the Independent Chairman of our Audit and Compliance Committee elected by the FIFA Congress. He is also the Chairman of the ad hoc Electoral Committee and, as such, he will oversee the election of my successor. Mr. Scala enjoys the confidence of a wide range of constituents within and outside of FIFA and has all the knowledge and experience necessary to help tackle these major reforms.

It is my deep care for FIFA and its interests, which I hold very dear, that has led me to take this decision. I would like to thank those who have always supported me in a constructive and loyal manner as President of FIFA and who have done so much for the game that we all love. What matters to me more than anything is that when all of this is over, football is the winner.”

Photo Credits : AFP

$40,000 in envelopes, alleged bribes for 2011 FIFA vote

US court papers alleged Wednesday that soccer executives were handed $40,000 cash bribes stuffed into envelopes at an upmarket Caribbean hotel ahead of the 2011 FIFA presidential election.

The payments were allegedly arranged by a high-ranking official at FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) who was a candidate in the election but who was not named in the US indictment.

Mohamed Bin Hammam, then head of the Asian Football Confederation, was suspended by FIFA in May 2011 when evidence first emerged that the bribes had been paid to support his candidacy.

Former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner also resigned in 2011 after the scandal emerged. At the time FIFA said it had dropped investigations and that “the presumption of innocence is maintained.”

Warner, 72, from Trinidad and Tobago, is named throughout the US indictment. He has maintained his innocence on Facebook.

According to court papers, $363,537.98 was wired from an account controlled by the AFC official to an account controlled by Warner in Trinidad and Tobago, through New York in late April.

The AFC official subsequently met Caribbean Football Union (CFU) members at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Trinidad and Tobago on May 10, 2011 — just weeks before the scheduled election.

The AFC official addressed the meeting on his candidacy and Warner afterward told delegates “they could pick up a ‘gift’ that afternoon at a conference room in the hotel,” the indictment claimed.

They were allegedly instructed to enter the room one at a time, where each was handed an envelope containing $40,000 in US currency by CFU staff.

The following day, Warner allegedly said the money had come from the AFC official but expressed anger that a representative had informed CONCACAF in New York of the payments.

“There are some people here who think they are more pious than thou. If you’re pious, open a church, friends. Our business is our business,” the indictment quoted Warner as saying.

“The purpose of the $40,000 payments was to induce officials of the CFU member associations… to vote for co-conspirator number seven in the June 1, 2011 FIFA presidential election,” it said.

In July, after the scheme was uncovered and Warner had resigned, the co-conspirator wired $1.2 million from an account in Qatar for credit to an account in Warner’s name, the indictment said.

Photo Credits : AFP

Platini unchallenged as UEFA leader

Michel Platini will on Tuesday be elected to a third term as head of the European governing body UEFA, putting him on course to add master sports powerbroker to his status as a football legend.

The 59-year-old, who led France to the European Championship in 1984, is certain to be elected at the UEFA Congress in Vienna as no-one from the 54 national federations has dared challenge him.

First elected as UEFA president in 2007, the former Juventus star and winner of three Ballon d’Or titles was returned by acclamation in 2011 and is embarking on a third term with one eye on the leadership of world football.

Platini decided against challenging Sepp Blatter for the FIFA presidency in May. But he is backing the three candidates battling the 79-year veteran.

“I feel very happy (at UEFA). Perhaps it isn’t my time at the moment to go to FIFA. We will see one day if I will go,” Platini said last week.

But he welcomed the challenge to Blatter by Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, a FIFA vice-president from Jordan, Dutch football federation president Michael van Praag and former Portugal international Luis Figo as “an opportunity to open a debate for democratic reasons.”

“FIFA needs new ideas, new programmes,” Platini added.

– Platini’s Fair Play –

In eight years leading UEFA, Platini has reinforced the stature of the Champions League, now one of the world’s most valuable sports brands. UEFA says the current tournament will bring in 1.34 billion euros ($1.45 billion).

He has also attacked profligate clubs, insisting that they cannot spend more than they earn under UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules. Offenders face tough sanctions as Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have already discovered.

The European Championship for countries is also being reformed.

Euro 2020 will be played in 13 cities in 13 different countries. A Nations League, which offers qualification for the European Championship finals, will from 2018 replace most of the friendlies played by European countries that get little attention.

But the Frenchman has faced criticism, particularly over the award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

Platini was one of the first to publicly reveal that he was one of the FIFA executive members who voted for Qatar at the controversial 2010 meeting.

He says it was to show that football’s most important tournament should not be limited to Europe. Allegations of corruption have been made against Qatar’s bid, but none against the UEFA leader.

And Platini has been one of the most outspoken calling for the publication of a FIFA inquiry report by former US federal prosecutor Michael Garcia.

UEFA has changed dramatically from the times of Platini’s predecessor, Lennart Johansson of Sweden, according to most of its top officials.

“Now UEFA has an ‘executive’ president who is in the office every day, who gets involved in management. Before him the president had his office in Sweden and it was his number two who followed daily affairs,” said one official with experience of both eras.

Photo Credits : AFP

Football World Cup dates decision to open compensation battle

FIFA’s executive committee will decide the definitive winter dates for the 2022 World Cup finals at a meeting starting Thursday knowing that their ruling will only ignite new battles over the controversial tournament in Qatar.

European clubs are demanding compensation over the change from a summer tournament to November-December, a bitter row over corruption allegations surrounding the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids has not been laid to rest and the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar remains a worry for FIFA chiefs.

The executive committee’s two day meeting in Zurich will decide the firm dates of the tournament as well as whether South Korea or France will host the women’s World Cup in 2019.

Moving the world’s most watched sporting event to the northern hemisphere winter has opened new divisions within the football leadership.

The tournament is expected to be shortened to reduce the fallout for Europe’s league championships.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said the tournament will not run till after December 18 in a bid to reassure the English Premier League, which feared a clash with their packed Christmas programme.

But top European clubs want hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for the disruption to their cash rich championships which contributed three quarters of the players who appeared at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

– FIFA’s billions targeted –

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, chairman of Bayern Munich and head of the European Club Association, said championships around the globe will be disrupted by the winter World Cup revolution which will force a break in championships.

While the former West German international striker admitted that everyone would have to compromise, he added: “The European clubs and leagues cannot be expected to bear the costs for such rescheduling. We expect the clubs to be compensated for the damage that a final decision would cause.”

Blatter, who will seek a fifth term as FIFA president in May, said compensation is not justified.

On the other hand FIFA paid out $70 million to about 400, mainly European, clubs after the 2014 World Cup and this could be substantially increased for 2022.

UEFA is already promising 150 million euros ($170 million) for clubs whose players are on duty at the 2016 European championships in France.

But the European clubs, who will meet at the end of March, are determined.

“We have got compensation from UEFA for its competitions. If we don’t get the same thing from FIFA you can expect an extremely virulent reaction from the ECA,” said Jean-Michel Aulas, president of French league leaders Lyon.

Other federations around the world could follow the European example and demand cash. FIFA has substantial reserves, revenues of $4.5 billion are expected to be announced for the last four years, but the bill for 2022 could rise.

The meeting is also likely to have an extra layer of tension because of the presidential election which is to take place in Zurich at a FIFA congress on May 29.

This meeting will be the first chaired by Blatter since FIFA vice president Prince Ali bin Al Hussein announced he would stand against the Swiss veteran.

Portuguese football legend Figo and Dutch football chief Michael van Praag are also standing.

Blatter, 79, remains the favourite but his rivals are furiously lobbying for support.

Photo Credits : AFP

Zimbabwe thrown out of 2018 World Cup qualifiers

Zimbabwe have been thrown out of the African qualifying competition for the 2018 World Cup in Russia over an outstanding debt, football’s governing body FIFA announced on Thursday.

The Zimbabwe federation (ZIFA) owe an “exceptional debt” to Brazilian former national coach Valinhos and were ordered by FIFA in 2012 to pay the money owed since 2008.

Disciplinary proceedings against ZIFA were opened and the deadline for paying the debt had now expired, FIFA explained.

“Given ZIFA’s failure to make any payment within the granted periods and the request presented by the creditor, the FIFA Disciplinary Committee … ordered the expulsion of ZIFA from the preliminary competition of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia,” a statement on the FIFA website announced.

“It’s very disappointing, very disappointing and very painful for football lovers and supporters of the national team,” ZIFA spokesman Xolisani Gwesela told AFP in Harare.

He said Valinhos is owed $67,000 (63,000 euros) in salaries and allowances from his stint as national team coach in 2008.

“This happened before the current board came into office. However, the board will meet urgently (to discuss) the way forward.”

He said ZIFA are saddled with a $4 million debt incurred during national team assignments.

“Normally the government should support the national team, but this has not been the case.

“We have presented our budget, but we understand the government is also financially constrained.

“ZIFA has no capacity to support its operations and without government support it will be difficult for us to get out of our current predicament.”

Footballers’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary general and former international Paul Gundani said: “It’s a sad development, which is a result of the mediocre type of management by ZIFA.

“The young players are going to miss out as a result of this suspension.

“These qualifiers are a platform for the players to showcase their skills and draw the attention of international scouts. As the footballers’ union, we are very disappointed.”

Photo Credits : AFP

Harambee Stars Still Stuck Below 100 in Latest FIFA Rankings

Kenya has climbed one place in the latest FIFA rankings released today. The national team is now placed on 116th place in the world and 35th in Africa.

Harambee Stars have not been involved in active matches since last year in October when they lost three nil to Morocco in a friendly match.

Kenya was due to play Iran in another friendly but this was later cancelled after both parties failed to agree.

Football Kenya Federation has not revealed any plans for the national team this year and with the current football crisis between the federation and KPL,  it remains to be seen if they will be involved in any friendly match during March International break.

There was no change in the top five nations with Germany taking the first slot while Argentina was second. Colombia is third, Belgium is fourth while Netherlands take the fifth slot.

Algeria who had an overall poor display in the just concluded Africa cup of Nations remain the highest ranked Nation in Africa while newly crowned Africa Champions Ivory Coast are second.

Africa cup of Nations host Equatorial Guinea recorded the highest improvement moving from 118 to 49th place in the world.

Harambee Stars Rankings in the last Five Years

February 2015 >  116

January 2015 >  117

2014 > 116

2013 > 109

2012 >  134

2011 > 120


Top 5 Nations






Top 5 Nations in Africa


Ivory Coast



Cape Verde

Blatter warns Qatar over imported national team

FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Friday warned Qatar against trying to form an imported team for the 2022 World Cup they will host and labelled the foreign team it used at the world handball championships as an “absurdity”.

“The nation of 2.2 million faces the huge challenge of forming a competitive national football team by 2022. However, this cannot be achieved by quickly naturalising players,” Blatter said in a commentary for the FIFA Weekly journal.

He said that football’s world body does not allow this, unlike the International Handball Federation.

According to Blatter, Qatar’s players, who reached last weekend’s final at the handball world championships “contradict the spirit of a national team”.

The Qatar squad included players born in Bosnia-Hercegovina, France, Spain, Cuba and Montenegro. Several had played for other national teams prior to the tournament but handball allows players to play for more than one country.

“The fact that sport builds social bridges and brings cultures together cannot be stressed often enough,” said the FIFA president, who is campaigning for a new term in May’s election.

“However, what happened at this year’s men’s world handball championship in Qatar stretched this notion to the point of absurdity,” he said.

Under FIFA rules, a player has to have been born in the country he represents or his parents have to have been were born there. Otherwise, the player must have spent at least five years living there to qualify.

Photo Credits : AFP

Ginola’s FIFA bid over

Former France winger David Ginola’s bid for the FIFA presidency ended Friday after he failed to receive the required five nominations from football associations needed to continue his bid.

“Contrary to some reports, I did not withdraw. Just as I did as a player, I gave everything until the final whistle,” said the former Tottenham, Newcastle and PSG player.

“Today I have mixed emotions. There is disappointment, anger, but there is also hope. I’m very proud of my campaign and the policies I proposed to reform football.”

FIFA boss Sepp Blatter will now face opposition in his bid for re-election from former Portugal and Real Madrid winger Luis Figo, Dutch football boss Michael Van Praag, Asian Football Confederation vice-president Prince Ali bin Al Hussein and ex-FIFA executive Jerome Champagne.

The election will take place in Zurich on May 29.

Ginola had announced Thursday that his team would refund donations from his supporters.

His campaign website, Team Ginola, was taken down and replaced with a statement that read: “A huge thank you for supporting Team Ginola. The crowdfunding page is now closed.

“All donations will be returned to those that have pledged. The campaign for change goes on.”

Photo Credits : AFP

Football transfers hit a record high of $4 billion – FIFA

The global football transfer market hit a record high in 2014, breaking the $4 billion (3.5 billion euros) barrier for the first time, a report published by FIFA on Wednesday revealed.

England, with its highly lucrative Premier League, provided the biggest investors and, despite their failure at the World Cup, Brazilian players were the most sought-after.

A total of 13,000 players moved clubs, but the combined total of $4.06 billion (3.57 billion euros) in transfer fees does not include the commission paid to players’ agents, which accounted for a further $236 million.

The total was 2.1 percent up on the 2013 total of $3.98 billion and showed an average annual increase of 3.4 percent since 2011, according to the annual report, Global Transfer Market 2015, by FIFA TMS, which monitors all deals.

A staggering 87 percent of all the money which changed hands was spent by European clubs and transfers between European clubs represented 78 percent of the global total.

English clubs were the world’s biggest spenders, accounting for $1.17 billion in 2014, which represents more than a quarter of global spending, according to Mark Goddard, general manager of FIFA TMS.

Spanish clubs received the biggest slice of transfer fees, at $667 million, up from 584 million in 2013. English clubs came next, receiving $523 million, and Portugal third on $435 million.

Brazilian clubs were the most active in the market, recording 646 incoming transfers and 689 outgoing transfers.

For the first time, China broke into the top 10 investing countries, with clubs paying out more than £100 million.

The average age of players transferred during the year was 25 years and 6 months.

Brazilian players were the leading targets, accounting for 1,493 moves, worth $448 million, ahead of players from Argentina, with 801 transfers, England (596) and France (507).

Brazil’s central defender David Luiz cost Paris Saint-Germain 50 million euros from Chelsea, but it was a Frenchman, Eliaquim Mangala, who became the world’s costliest defender when he moved from Porto to Manchester City for 54 million euros.

Photo Credits : AFP

Sepp Blatter tells UEFA to ‘put up or shut up’ in battle for FIFA’s top job

Fifa long-time president Sepp Blatter has accused Uefa of lacking the “courage” to challenge his leadership.The 78-year-old is bidding for a fifth term as head of football’s world governing body and has urged Uefa to put someone up against him or be “respectful” of his wish to continue, Blatter told CNN World Sport.

Three candidates – Jerome Champagne, Prince Ali and David Ginola – have said they will stand against him in May. “All those who want to get rid of me should come,” Blatter said.

Michel Platini, president of European governing body Uefa, has called for his Fifa counterpart Blatter to be replaced but will not stand himself.

Blatter, who has been in charge of Fifa since 1998, added: “All this opposition is coming now, it’s unfortunate to say – but it’s true – it’s coming from Uefa.

“They don’t have the courage to come in. So let me go on – be respectful.”