FPP-LB-020918

World Cup

Shock news when the Spanish Football Federation announced that they had sacked their coach, Julen Lopetegui, because he had announced he had taken the manager's role with Real Madrid. Would it have made a difference if he hadn't announced it? No doubt Portugal - Spain's opponents in their first game - will be happy. 

Meanwhile, according to this report, the French barely give us a mention at a media conference with Antoine Griezmann and Steven N'Zonzi.

In this one, Griezmann said he knew of a few Australian players but did not mention any in particular, saying that he knew the side would be physical but not so tactical. The day before, Didier Deschamps was able to name Tom Rogic and Andrew Nabbout as potential danger men. 

Playing France first-up could actually be a good thing, as they're notoriously slow starters in tournaments. In their past eight opening games at major tournaments, they have won three, drawn four, lost one and were scoreless on four occasions. 

Latika Bourke reports that Robbie Williams has been accused of taking "blood money" for performing at the opening ceremony of the World Cup by British man, Bill Browder, whose lawyer Sergei Magnitsky was murdered by the Russians in 2009. It also notes that Russia and Qatar will never remove the stains of how the two bids they won were awarded, with a reminder from Bonita Mersiades that: "... this World Cup is the first of the two where the decision was not about what was best for football, but what was best for the 22 men who voted."

Socceroos

Could Jackson Irvine of Hull City (sounds like a spaghetti western) - cut by Celtic after just one game - get the nod to start ahead of Tom Rogic? David Davutovic thinks it may be the case, as well as Mile Jedinak being a "50-50 chance" to start, with Massimo Luongo favoured. 

Good read on Tom Rogic's "slow burn" from being a special talent to a "Socceroos game changer" with some interesting and astute comments from former AIS mentor, Ron Smith. 

Aziz Behich was distraught after the 2010 A-League grand final, after which Ernie Merrick let him go from Melbourne Victory. He played in the NPL, was picked up by John van't Schip during his first stint at (now) Melbourne City, switched him to left back - and now he's a fixture in the Socceroos squad. Another good read, this one from Michael Lynch. 

Tim Cahill knows his chances will come off the bench but he says it's "insane" for a player from Australia to be possibly in the same rarified group as Pele, Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose of scoring in four World Cup finals tournaments. #GoTimmy

The Socceroos are enjoying the little touches at their home base in Kazan, such as photographs of their family in their room, and there are daily reports of the happiness within the camp (hence our main picture today). 

As for fans of the Socceroos, "Economic sanctions or political considerations caused by the Skripal poisonings in the UK, the downing of MH17 or the issues in Crimea have mattered little" to Australian fans - not to mention being the first of the two World Cups won corruptly - who are amongst the top 10 of ticket buyers, making us the number one per capita. We're a lucky country indeed.

2026 World Cup

The combined United States/Canada/Mexico bid (known as #United2026) comfortably won the right to host the 2026 World Cup, 134 votes to Morocco's 65, righting the wrong that the Americans and many others would of the 2022 decision. It is the fifth time Morocco has bid. Australia voted for #United2026. 

While the bidding and voting process was a vast improvement on the last time around (that resulted in Russia and Qatar), it's still not perfect as far as most close observers are concerned. But nonetheless Steven Lowy wholeheartedly endorses it

Overall, it's a big boost for FIFA coffers - with a US World Cup the most lucrative of the lot - as well as Gianni Infantino's election chances in 2019. 

Sepp Blatter

No surprise here. The banned Sepp Blatter is heading to Russia as a guest of Vladimir Putin to attend the World Cup. Presumably he won't be going in 2026. Blatter sees it as a 'dipomatic mission'. 


socceroos, 2018 world cup, #russia2018, robbie williams, sepp blatter, 2026 world cup, fifa, #united2026