It has not been a brilliant summer for The Beautiful Game and apart from the exciting conclusion to the CONFEDERATIONS CUP inside the stadiums, and the troubles outside, its perhaps been a time for painting your fence, cleaning out your attic and going on long walks.
For a nation with big intentions TURKEY has imploded. With riots and political squabbels it was hoped that the recent FIFA U 20 World Cup would give the nation and its federation some credibility. NOT SO. Twenty four teams playing in seven cities. Istanbul, Ankara, Bursa, Trabzon, Kazseri, Gaziantep and Antalya, the 19th edition since its inception in 1977, was a BIG FLOP. Average attendances of 5,500, the lowest ever, and most of those FREE tickets for school children, was poor.
Turkey has a law that it must ALWAYS bid to hold the Olympic Games and is hoping that it will be awarded the next one available in 2020 and is competing against Tokyo and Madrid. Michel Platini was hoping that the country would want to host the 2020 European Championships, since nobody else was interested in his bloated 24 team format. NOT INTERESTED, they are hoping for the big prize and the five rings. France will reluctantly host his 2016 version, but there has not been a rush to bid as a host city. In 2020 he has a not very popular plan to have teams in groups of FOUR play all over the UEFA MAP.
The 12 team UEFA U 21 mens tournament was a big success in Israel, despite protests from super liberals who have forgotten the 1972 Munich terrorism attack. Jersuselem, Tel Aviv, Petah Tikva and Netanya. Tournament director Ronen Hershev enthused about how three generations were seen walking together to the stadiums. Over 12,000 average was pretty good for a small country.
While the national league championships in Egypt have been cancelled due to the continuing political and religious troubles, the CAF African Champions League match between fierce Cairo rivals Zamalek and Al Ahly was allowed to go ahead two days ago. Instead of the second city of Alexandria which has seen rioting and deaths, the small city of El Gouna was chosen.
In Kenya once more we have a financial problem. Over 410,000 dollars of development money from FIFA has gone missing...AGAIN. The KFA is one of the most corrupt associations in the world.
In Asia the newly elected AFC President wants an Asian Ethics plan, similar to that adopted by FIFA. Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa is the 10th AFC President and has been accused of human rights violations in his native Bahrain. At the recent Executive Committee meeting in the capital Manama one noticable absentee was Thailand FA President Makudi Worami who is battling political problems at home. Lots of match fixing and betting problems all over South East Asia.
This week Richard Scudamore brought his EPL Road Show to tiny Hong Kong in midweek. With almost 40,000 fans inside the stadium it was suddenly struck by torrential rain. Despite a delay the two matches between Tottenham Hotspur and Sunderland and Manchester City and South China went ahead.
Hong Kong FA chairman Brian Huang tan incredibly wants more relaxed betting rules for international competition. By law, all legal gambling is controlled by the non profit Hong Kong Jockey Club, and betting on local matches is banned.
Sad news of three giants of the game who passed away in the last week. 89 year old Bert Trautmann had an incredible story. He was a German paratrooper and a prisoner of war in England. On his release he stayed here and signed for St Helens Town and then became a legend with Manchester City at Maine Road. 20,000 fans protested his signing but were soon converted to loyal fans. I watched him play in the 1956 FA Cup Final win over Birmingham City with the last 20 minutes or so with a broken neck.
Phil Woosnam had a degree from Bangor University, amateur and full caps for Wales and many matches for West Ham United and Aston Villa before coaching The Atlanta Chiefs and eventually Commissioner of the NASL.. North American Soccer League and helping bring Pele and more to the New York Cosmos. He passed away age 80 after a long illness.
Djalma Santos was one of the worlds greatest right backs. He played 98 times and in four World Cups for Brazil, including two winners medals, and at club level 964 games for Portuguesa, Palmeiras and Atletico Paranaensa. He was 84.