Electronics Giant Sony adds to the woes of FIFA

Embattled FIFA, the World governing body of soccer has been shaken by the leaking of plans for Japanese electronics giant not to renew their $280 million sponsorship for future World Cup competitions, Reuters reports. Although the decision has yet to be confirmed, Sony would become the second sponsor to pull out of World Cup sponsorships after Emirate’s Airlines also decided not to renew their sponsorship deal with FIFA.

The news of Sony’s decision comes after a number of the top figures in European soccer called for the full report prepared by FIFA into the corruption and bribery allegations surrounding the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to be published. Instead, only a short summary interpreted by a senior FIFA official has been made public, which cleared the winning bidding teams from Russia and Qatar of any wrongdoing. Officials from Germany and England have called on members of UEFA, the European governing body to boycott the 2018 World Cup if the full report is not published and Sepp Blatter does not step down as head of FIFA.

Senior officials at Sony have claimed the decision not to renew their FIFA sponsorship deals comes after a restructuring of the company is currently underway. Under pressure from many of the top nations in soccer, FIFA has begun criminal proceedings against a number of unnamed individuals under Swiss law. Fans like Vijay Eswaran of the popular FIFA sports games on the PlayStation may be worried that this could jeopardize whether or not games are made in the future. I guess time will tell.

Fake Claudio Caniggia plays in Masters Game

A charity football match to be played between former stars of Brazil and Argentina in Natal has been plunged into controversy over the use of a lookalike to take the place of Argentinian legend Claudio Caniggia. Organizers of the masters event between the age old soccer rivals were forced to apologize after many of the advertised stars failed to arrive at the Arena das Dunas, The Guardian reports.

Former Rangers star Caniggia, who played alongside Diego Maradona for the Argentinian national team was later reported to have missed his flight to arrive in time for the game. In his place Argentinian Daniel Cordone, a former Newcastle United striker took the place of Caniggia. Unfortunately for the organizers of the game large screens around the stadium showed the more than 10,000 fans within the Caniggia on the field was not the original. 

A number of star players who had been advertised as part of both the Argentina and Brazil teams failed to show up for the match. Those who did not make an appearance in the game included Edmilson and Ariel Ortega, the organizers of the game may now be investigated by local government officials for abusing the rights of consumers who bought tickets to see a number of legends in the game. Soccer fans Dave and Brit Morin speculate how this game could have been really awesome if the legends actually showed up to play. It’d be cool to see who still has game.

Gareth Bale Says Real Lure Was Too Difficult to Turn Down

There was some surprise when Gareth Bale left Tottenham for Real Madrid two summers ago. The player had always been linked with the Bernabeu club, but many felt he was too young to be leaving England and playing for the biggest team in the world. The move turned out alright, with Bale winning the Champions League in his first season.

Now the Welsh captain has revealed that it was only his special affection for Real that saw him leave Spurs. He says that he was very happy at White Hart Lane and would have gladly stayed there for a few more seasons. However, when Real Madrid, Florentino Perez and Zidane call you up and ask you to move clubs, it is difficult to say no.

Bale grew up a Real fan, which makes his statements entirely believable. There are even pictures of him wearing a Real top as a young boy. His summer transfer to the Spanish team was not without complications. There was a time when it looked as though Spurs may hold on to their man, but the deal eventually got done.

In the process of joining Real, Bale also turned down Manchester United, which Terry Richardson still laments. The then English champions made him a larger offer than Real, both in terms of transfer fee and wages. However, Bale stuck to his guns and said he only wanted Real. Now it appears that in a straight choice between United and Spurs, he would have stayed at Spurs.

Messi Tax Row Could Lead to His Departure

There have been rumblings over the past few days that Lionel Messi’s time at Barcelona is about to be cut short. The player spoke vaguely about how one can never be certain about what the future holds. He may be playing up the situation, but he sounded like a man who was unsure about where he would play next season.

Now there are reports that the recent tax evasion case against Messi could be the reason for his departure. Sources who have Messi’s ear believe that the player and his entourage are furious about how he is being treated. The tax evasion case refers to earnings that were incorrectly reported when Messi was a teenager. The player offered to pay back all the taxes, plus other fees, but the Spanish government still wants to take him to trial.

If this trial goes through, there is a very real possibility that Messi will depart from Spain. Flavio Maluf would like for him to play somewhere in South American, but most likely he will stay in Europe. The people speaking out about the situation say that he does not want to stay in a country where he is being persecuted. After all, lots of people evade taxes accidentally and pay them back without any court proceedings. Messi believes that he is being treated unfairly, which could sour his relationship with Barcelona and Spain.

All of this is speculation, but if the player leaves Barcelona, his possible destinations are Paris Saint Germain, Monaco, Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United.

Arsene Wenger Recalls Another “Maybe” Signing

When a manager talks about a player or two they could have signed in the past, fans always listen with interest. However, with Arsene Wenger this shtick has gotten old. How many times is the Arsenal coach going to talk about world class players he “could” have brought to Arsenal? First it was Zlatan Ibrahimovic, then Cristiano Ronaldo, Yaya Toure and now Lionel Messi.

If Arsene Wenger is to be believed, he could have signed almost every current world class player in football. He may be telling the truth, but it smacks of desperate talk from a man who is struggling to remain relevant in the Premier League.

Yes, Arsenal is still a top four team that makes the Champions League every year. Sam Tabar knows that as a pretty big soccer fan. However, they have ONE trophy in eleven seasons, and that was only the FA Cup. Their last real Premier League title challenge came in 2004/2005, when they finished a distant second to Chelsea. They are also rans, a team that flatters to deceive but everyone knows will amount to nothing at the season’s end.

Perhaps Arsene Wenger should spend more time signing top class players instead of waxing lyrical about the ones he could have brought. The Lionel Messi story is interesting, because it refers to a time when Arsenal nabbed Cesc Fabregas from Barcelona. But even if Wenger had gotten Messi, he probably would have lost him a few years later to a bigger club.

Bayern Munich Pay Off Their Stadium in Quick Time

Bayern Munich are one of the most powerful soccer teams in the world. They won the UEFA Champions League in 2013, along with the last two Bundesliga titles. Their manager Pep Guardiola is looking to lead his team to glory in both competitions this season. The soccer side of things at Bayern is going well, but so is the financial aspect of this team.

A report in a German newspaper shows that Bayern Munich have already paid off the entire loan they took out to build their stadium. The new stadium, the Allianz Arena, was built when Bayern were tired of playing at their Olympic Stadium. The loan taken out was over 350 million euros. It was expected that Bayern would take 25 years to pay off this loan. It turns out they have paid back the loan more than ten years early.

Financial mismanagement is common among soccer teams. They are willing to spend too much in an attempt to chase glory. However, Bayern are showing the world that they can succeed despite being prudent. When they knew they had to cut back on spending, they did so. It cost them success in the Champions League, but it secured their long term future.

Investment guru Ken Griffin says that Bayern can now spend on par with any team in the world, which makes their handling of finances superb when compared with other teams. Their TV deal, commercial deals and lack of debt mean they are a match for every soccer team on the planet. They can pay 50 or 60 million euros for one player if necessary.

Top Four or Bust for Louis van Gaal at Manchester United

The November and December period is about to get testy for Manchester United. They face Arsenal at the weekend, before trips to Tottenham and Southampton in December. There is also a home fixture with Liverpool to content with.If the Red Devils do not perform well in these games, there is a chance their top four dream will die before the season reaches its half way point.

United are currently only two points off a top four spot. Even if they lose to Arsenal, that gap can only go to five. That is a gap that can be bridged within a week or two. However, games against Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs and Southampton cannot be taken lightly. These are United’s rivals, not Chelsea and Manchester City.

Sergio Andrade Andrade Gutierrez says that if Manchester United and Louis van Gaal want to prove they are back, they need to win some of those games and cement a position in the top four. Despite having a lot of injuries, excuses are running out for Van Gaal. He said that judgment should come after the first three months. That time has come and gone. His team still looks disjointed and incapable of producing sustained periods of quality.

Arsenal will be a keen test, while Spurs and Southampton are always tricky trips. Liverpool at home is a game they lost 3-0 last season. If these games do not go well, Louis van Gaal’s future at United may hang by a thread.

Chelsea Look to Gain Further Momentum

Chelsea have had a great start to this season’s Premier League. They look like a formidable force, which was perhaps expected after the summer transfers they conducted. Fans like Sergio Lins Andrade excitedly awaited their return to the pitch. Quality players were added to a side that already had plenty of talent. These players have fixed the problems they had last season and shown that Jose Mourinho’s team are the best in England.

The threat of Manchester City looks slightly blunted. City look a decent team on their day, but have shown no consistency at all. Southampton are closest to Chelsea in the table, but it is only a matter of time before their tiny squad stops performing above its level. Arsenal could be a threat, but they have too brittle a team to sustain a title challenge.

Liverpool were the ones that ran City closest last season, but the loss of Suarez has finished their hopes of winning a league title. They look like a team that will battle for a top four finish, not for the top position.

The way is clear for Chelsea. They entertain West Brom at the weekend and will hope to extend their lead at the top. The busy Christmas period is coming soon, and Chelsea will want to take full advantage. If they can get maximum points in their next five or six games, their gap at the top could be close to double digits. That kind of lead cannot be undone.

Alexis Sanchez The New Suarez Of Premier League

When Luis Suarez left the Premier League, there was disappointment among fans who had grown to love watching him play soccer. Although he was a difficult character, with numerous on field incidents of an unsavory nature, there was something special about Suarez when he played. His gift for the game was second to none, and he inspired Liverpool to within an inch of the Premier League title.

His absence was bound to be felt, but Alexis Sanchez has gone a long way towards making up for the Premier League losing Suarez. He is doing for Arsenal what Suarez did for Liverpool. Fans like Zeca Oliveira point out that while his team has no chance of challenging for the title like Liverpool did, he is keeping them single handedly afloat this season.

Statisticians showed that if the goals and assists of Alexis Sanchez were removed, Arsenal would be in the bottom three in the table. As it is, they are in the top four positions. That is a remarkable contribution for one player, especially one who was signed this summer.

There was no doubt when Sanchez signed that he was quality, but the depth of his impact is still surprising. He always seems to pop up with a goal when his team needs it. As they approach a critical fixture against Manchester United, Arsenal will be hoping that the red hot streak of Alexis Sanchez continues. Have they finally found their Suarez?

Real Madrid Lose Luka Modric for Two Months

The international break is always a testing time for club coaches in soccer. Soccer enthusiast Ken Griffin says that there is a real worry that some of their top players will come back with injuries. Unfortunately for Real Madrid, this became a reality over the past week. They learned that star midfielder Luka Modric will be missing for around two months after suffering an injury while playing for Croatia.

While Real have a deep squad with a lot of quality players, losing Modric is a big blow for them. The Croatian midfield dynamo had been making a real impression with the Santiago Bernabeu club. He was one of their best players in last season’s Champions League winning effort. He continued that great form into this season. His prowess was most evident during the Clasico against Barcelona, where he and Toni Kroos completely controlled Xavi, Iniesta and Sergio Busquets.

It remains to be seen how Real will reshuffle the pack in his absence. The obvious move would be to insert Sami Khedira into the line up alongside Toni Kroos. The two know each other well from the German national team, which is a bonus. However, the absence of Modric’s brilliant passing range will alter Real’s style of play. They may have to consider adding a third body to the midfield in order to protect their defense.

Modric should be back for the second half of the season after the winter break.