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Saturday, September 17, 2005

2006 World Cup Tickets - Follow Your Team

If your team has already qualified for the 2006 World Cup Finals in Germany, then now is possibly the best time to purchase tickets and hotel packages. The closer we get to the finals, the higher the demand and the higher the price of your world cup tickets.

The best way to ensure you'll see all the matches is to purchase 'follow your team' ticket packages. Although the World Cup draw doesn't take place until Dec 9, you can purchase these World Cup tickets now.

The following companies have a wide selection of these World Cup ticket packages, including 'follow your team' ticket deals for the 2006 World Cup finals :

Ticket City : 'Follow your team' 2006 World Cup tickets plus tickets to all the games and premium concert tickets, theater and more.

Click to visit Ticket City for your 2006 World Cup Soccer tickets.

Soccer Travel : The official partners of US Soccer. Complete range of World Cup soccer tickets available, including qualifiers and finals ticket deals. Highly reputable, specialist travel company. Site in English, Spanish and Japanese. Hotel and complete packages available.

Click to visit Soccer Travel for your ticket packages.

posted by mark_s at 10:10 AM 0 comments

England Likely To Bid for 2018 World Cup

An Article in The Times today suggests that Britain may bid for the 2018 World Cup.

Brian Barwick, the new FA chief executive, said last month: “The next time that it should come to Europe is probably 2018 and we have got time to get organised.”

Personally, I think that - as with the Olympics - it is a terrible waste of public money that could be better spent on better healthcare, housing, education and other more important things that will improve quality of life for the whole population.

Don't get me wrong - I love sport - well, football - but sport is a commercial entity and it isn't the role of government to financially support it.

The old argument that staging these events 'brings the country together' doesn't hold much water, as the only people who are 'brought together' are fans of sport and this happens regardless of whether the World Cup finals are held in London or Tokyo.

The other argument (much repeated during the Olympics bid) is that certain inner city areas will be redeveloped as a consequence of a winning bid. This is also facile. If the money is there to redevelop these areas, they can do so regardless of hosting the World Cup or Olympics or any other sport.


posted by mark_s at 9:51 AM 0 comments

Friday, September 16, 2005

Pointless Marketing Tie Ins - Part 1

It's a little early for the clueless American giants like Coca Cola and McDonalds to get in on the World Cup marketing bandwagon, so I am proud to present to you the official world cup tire, courtesy of Continental.

Yup, the World Cup tire. Apparently, Franz Beckenbauer, Sepp Blatter and Pele will all be using this fabulous and - I'm sure you'll agree - highly football related item when they come to Germany in 2006.

I know, I know, you're all excited to see this tire in the flesh if you can tear yourselves away from watching Brazil crush whoever stands in their way.

Personally, I'm looking foward to seeing the World Cup cafetiere, specially designed to keep you awake whenever Italy are playing and to the official 2006 World Cup marching powder, sponsored by some wealthy Columbian patriots. Not to mention the McCup burger for, um, soccer fans everywhere.

posted by mark_s at 6:56 PM 0 comments

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Ferguson Is An Old Fool

Just wanted to add my view on Alex (oh, sorry, Sir Alex) Ferguson's comments about the quality of the Champions League as opposed to the World Cup.

For those that were fortunate enough to miss it, he said this :

"''I think that the Champions League and Premier League in England are of a fantastically high standard. I think people find it hard to remember when the last great World Cup was. I think the Champions League is better than the World Cup.

''It was probably 1986 and that's nearly 20 years ago. When the Champions League began nobody could have envisaged the level it would reach."

Um, sorry, Mr Ferguson, but Champions League football is clearly not superior to the World Cup. The Champions League, in case you hadn't noticed, is played by European football clubs - none of whom can hold a candle to the Brazilian or Argentinian national teams or even the Czech national team, for that matter.

If the club you support isn't in the Champions League, there really isn't much to hold your interest, but every one supports their national side through the World Cup qualifiers and Finals proper.

Like most soccer fans in Europe and every football fan outside it, I couldn't really care less whether Chelsea beats Liverpool in the Champions League semi-final or if Real Madrid loses to Porto, but I do care whether my national team reach the 2006 Finals in Germany. And it is that - more than the quality of football on display in any individual match - that will always mean that the World Cup is better than the Champions League.

The 1986 World Cup Finals was a good one, though, he's right about that, at least. The old fool.


posted by mark_s at 4:58 PM 0 comments

Latest FIFA Rankings

The latest FIFA Rankings are out, showing England slipping from 7th to 11th, while Scotland and Northern Ireland have both improved after victories over Norway and England respectively.

Once again, the interesting thing are the anomalies and the weirdnesses the ranking procedure throws up. Having beaten the mighty Pharoe Islands and scraped past the Republic of Ireland, France have moved up three places while the USA are still rated a better soccer team than either Portugal or Spain. Crazy.

For those that care about such things, you can view all the latest rankings here. But it's the last time you'll read about them on this blog.


posted by mark_s at 4:16 PM 0 comments

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Fun and Games in West Africa

Great article here in the Nigerian Sunday Independent alledging bribery of teams, officials and random passers by.

Random quote 1: "The Angolan coach added that Nigeria was also working towards influence the outcome of Angola’s last match against Rwanda in Kigali."

Random quote 2: "No one is exactly sure of the source of the story but the news is all over town that Angola offered the Algerians a whooping $1 million to beat the Super Eagles."

All good, clean fun, I'm sure you'll agree.

posted by mark_s at 9:41 PM 0 comments

Ukraine First European Qualifiers for World Cup

The first European team to have qualified for next year's World Cup finals in Germany is the Ukraine, who have won Group Two. As this is a group that includes European Champions Greece, Turkey and Denmark, this is a particularly impressive achievement. Not to mention the problems their coach had combining his role as national team manager with his other job - that of an MP.

What's interesting about the Ukraine is the betting possibilities that their involvement in the tournament brings. I'm not crazy enough to tout them as potential winners (although if you want that kind of action you can get them at a very generous 50-1 with Victor Chandler or VipSports) but their star player - Andriy Shevchenko is surely a great each way bet for the golden boot award. And the team as a whole look extremely solid and - with a good draw - are a worthy outside bet for the Quarter Finals.

posted by mark_s at 7:50 PM 0 comments

What The Hell Happened

I go away on holiday for a couple of weeks and come back to find that the England team - with all the arrogance that a bunch of overpaid, pampered millionaires can muster (and that's a lot of arrogance, believe me !) - have contrived to mess up two of the easiest World Cup qualifiers they are ever likely to encounter.

Scraping through against Wales is just about forgivable as three points is still three points, but losing to Northern Ireland is just unbelievable. I consider myself very lucky not to have seen the match (funnily enough, it wasn't shown on Egyptian TV, although Plymouth Argyle vs Norwich City was available for our viewing, er, pleasure ).

Somewhat unsurprisingly, the media has not been kind and the finger has been pointed at Sven and pretty much all the players. I think this article at SportingLife pretty much sums up many people's views about the whole thing and certainly encapsulates my own opinion.

One thing is clear though - we are going to struggle to win this qualifying group now, so it's likely to be a play-off for England. Luckily, these play-offs are, let's just say, more than a little biased in favour of the big football nations that bring in the largest slice of advertising revenue.

Far be it from me to suggest that they were 'fixed' but it's a good job England is a rich, highly populated country that loves it's football otherwise we might end up facing a real football team like the Czech Republic in a play-off instead of the minnow we're likely to end up with.

posted by mark_s at 7:15 PM 0 comments