Wednesday Kickoff: Blatter admits to political influences in Qatar voting; Casillas plays down knock; and more

Wednesday Kickoff: Blatter admits to political influences in Qatar voting; Casillas plays down knock; and more

FIFA

Wednesday Kickoff: Blatter admits to political influences in Qatar voting; Casillas plays down knock; and more

SeppBlatterFIFA5 (Marca)

By DAN KARELL

The walking public relations nightmare that is Sepp Blatter has opened his mouth again.

Barely a week after claiming that the bidding nations should have known that the FIFA World Cup isn’t set in stone to take place in June and July, Blatter has now admitted in an interview with German publication Die Zeit that political influences from the governments of certain nations played a role in voting for the 2022 World Cup, which was awarded to Qatar.

“Yes, definitely there was direct political influence,” Blatter told Die Zeit. “European leaders reccomended their voting members to vote for Qatar, because they combine important economic interests with this country.”

Reports in Germany believe that Blatter’s statement is a veiled shot at UEFA President Michel Platini, who admitted that he voted for Qatar in the elections and had enjoyed dinner a few days before the vote with then France Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy and then Qatari emir, Hamad Al-Thani.

American attorney Michael Garcia, who is in charge of the FIFA Ethics Committee, is still investigating the allegations of corruption surrounding World Cup voting for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Here are some more stories to start your Wednesday:

CASILLAS PLAYS DOWN RIB INJURY

Real Madrid goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas has played down the rib injury that forced him off fifteen minutes into his first competitive appearance in 238 days.

The Spanish international collided with teammate Sergio Ramos during Real Madrid’s 6-1 rout of Galatasaray in the UEFA Champions League and suffered what Real Madrid’s medical team is calling a “bruised left rib.” There were scares following the match that Casillas had suffered broken ribs, but after undergoing tests on Wednesday, he claimed that it was just a knock and that he would be fine.

The 32-year-old goalkeeper has played second fiddle to Diego Lopez in La Liga matches, though it seems likely that manager Carlo Ancelotti will turn to Casillas in Champions League matches. Real Madrid’s next Champions League match is October 2 against FC Copenhagen.

MAN UNITED REPORT REVENUE GROWTH

Manchester United may be in a transition period, with David Moyes and Ed Woodward replacing Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill, respectively, but financially, they’re seemingly doing just fine.

The club announced on Wednesday that in the year ending on June 30, 2013, they had recorded revenues of $578 million, a 13 percent increase from a year before. Man United are projecting the next 365 days to bring in even more money to the club, a number estimated to be between $669 million and $686 million, according to reports.

A large reason for the revenue growth is commercial interests, as Man United has completed no less than 20 different sponsorship deals in the last year, and a new one with American automobile manufacturer Chevrolet as the club’s shirt sponsor will kick in next season. Commercial revenue alone in the prior year grew by 30 percent, to $244 million.

Despite this, the club still do have massive debts to pay over the long term, currently $622 million, though that’s an 11 percent decrease from the year before.

FIFA REJECTS AUSTRALIA’S REQUEST FOR COMPENSATION

Just hours after the Football Federation of Australia demanded publicly that they should be given compensation if the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is moved to the winter months, FIFA responded with a swift and strong, no.

In an interview with The Guardian in England, a FIFA spokeswoman confirmed that Australia nor any of the other bidders for the 2022 World Cup would receive any compensation from the governing body if the switch to a winter tournament is made.

“As part of the bidding documents all bidders, including the FA Australia, accepted that the format and dates of the staging of the FIFA World Cup and FIFA Confederations Cup, though initially expected to be in June/July, remains subject to the final decision of the FIFA Organizing Committee,” the spokeswoman said to the Guardian. “There is no ground for any speculations.”

QUICK KICKS

Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp admitted that before Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis hired Rafa Benitez to be manager, de Laurentiis called the German boss first. (REPORT)

Liverpool have been delivered a blow as Philippe Coutinho has been ruled out until late October following an injury to his shoulder that’s necessitated surgery. (REPORT)

Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero has been named captain of his club side Sydney FC after spending last season as vice-captain. (REPORT)

Brazilian No. 1 goalkeeper Julio Cesar, who isn’t in Harry Redknapp’s plans at Queens Park Rangers, has broken two fingers in his hand in training and will miss at least three weeks. (REPORT)

Former Werder Bremen manager Thomas Schaaf is being touted as one of the top candidates to take over at HSV Hamburg after Thorsten Fink’s sacking. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you see Blatter’s comments coming back to haunt him? Do you see Casillas recovering in time for Real Madrid’s next UCL match? Do you agree with FIFA’s decision to not compensate countries if they move to a winter World Cup?

Share your thoughts below.

 

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