Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Inter Milan Sack Rafa Benitez

Reports have been circulating around the media that Rafael Benitez has been sacked by Inter Milan after having only been in charge for six months, the Italians have failed to dominate in the Serie A, currently lying in seventh place in the League Standings and finishing second in their Champion's League group, below Spurs.

Rafa joined the reigning European Champions after quitting Liverpool last season when Jose Mourinho left for Real Madrid. The Spaniard was on borrowed time after his speaking out in the wake of the Club World Cup success when he insisted that Massimo Moratti should back him in the transfer market if they wanted him to stay as coach.

Inter supremo Moratti had refused to stand by the Spaniard following his explosive comments and it now appears his had enough.

David Haye Offers Wladimir Klitschko 50-50 Deal

David Haye’s manager Adam Booth has today confirmed it is now up to the Wladimir Klitschko camp to agree to their latest offer. Previously the negotiations had hit a stumbling block after the WBA champ wanted more than 50% knowing that he would bring more of audience than Klitchsko.

However, now all the previous disagreements have been ironed out, Adam Booth and David Haye were happy to offer Klitschko a 50-50 split.

This was a deal that the Ukrainian had wanted from day one, Wlad had set a deadline of January 4th to agree to fight and now it’s all up to the WBO and IBF Champ to accept.

"We are now perfectly positioned to get together and make this fight with Wladimir Klitschko," said Booth.

"We have sorted out all the old problems and disagreements and are ready to sign the deal both (Klitschko's manager) Bernd Boente and I discussed on Sky Sports' Ringside show in November.

Speaking on UK television about the money that the Haye camp generates, he added; "Despite the fact we know we bring more UK television money to the table, David and I are happy to split the entire pot 50:50 and grant Wladimir the deal he has wanted since day one.

"We have offered them 50:50 on everything - just as they requested - and now see no reason why this tremendous fight can't happen. The path is clear."

David Haye said that he sees no reason why Klitschko should not agree to a unification fight in 2011. "We have now ticked every box they have asked us to tick and I just hope Wladimir is as eager to fight as he tells everyone he is," said Haye.

"We have removed every possible excuse and have shown we are serious about making this fight become a reality. I'll smoke him out if I have to. I only pray Wladimir is as serious as we are, because this fight needs to happen for the good of the sport."

Mancini Happy To End Tevez Saga

Manchester City Manager Roberto Mancini has welcomed the decision Carlos Tevez made when he decided to remove his transfer request last night.  Only last week the Argentinean asked to leave in the hope of pushing through a move when the transfer window opens in January.

Just before the game last night, where City lost 2-1 against Everton, Tevez pledged his commitment to the Eastlands. The U-turn came after a direct conversation on Sunday with City’s chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak.

"It is very important for everyone; the club, the squad, for him," said the City boss. The situation has been cleared up and everything has gone in a good way.

"It was important that we stopped talking about this situation. We are happy about that."

Tevez is quite probably above suspicion here but this may look to the world that he has just done a Rooney. 

Monday, 20 December 2010

Speed Flying & Wingsuit Flying - Video Footage to Take your Breath Away

If you are reading this, don’t tell your mother.  She will probably have palpitations at the thought of speed flying, let alone the fact that you are reading this and perhaps even considering having a go yourself.

The best way to describe this fairly new sport is visually.  The video above which will have your chin meeting the floor is Alain Montant, sliding down the lines of a cable car in Chamonix.

The words mad fool spring to mind, followed quickly by give me a go!

It is also known as ski-base and speed riding.  Here, Mattias Giraud displays his skill with a Ski-BASE triple backflip captured in 960p that has to be seen to be believed.  Hold on to your hats. It is almost as if there is a switch in your head that you have to click in order to get in to the mentality to do this thing - and this video imagines it in exactly that way.

As winter sports go this is a long way from being accepted at the Olympics as it is considered way too dangerous.  It was created by skydivers and paragliders who were looking for new sensations – and they certainly got one too.  They wanted to create a link between gliding through the air and gliding by ski.  They got it right.  The sport has now developed.  Where once the paragliders modified their own equipment, now you can buy SpeedFlying wings and gliders.

Here is a compilation of the progression from skiing to skiflying.  You have to wait a minute or two but then the videos of these guys simply propelling themselves off the edge of cliffs is something awesome - you have to see it to believe it.

Ultimately, you might think, who needs skis - or snow for that matter.  Come forth the new generation of  wingsuit flyers who are ready to take things to the next level.  This is a collection of shots from flights made by guys called Robert, Jean Noel, Ludo and Halvor during the 2009-2010 season, while flying the V3 and testing several new V-series wingsuit prototypes around Europe.  Holy cow.

Andy Flower Ponders Changes

England cricket coach Andy Flower has suggested that he may make some changes to his bowling line-up when they play their fourth Test in Melbourne. England slumped to a heavy 267-run defeat as they struggled to break down the Aussies in the Third Test.

Australia’s fast bowlers dominated in Perth and it is thought that Flower may turn to Tim Bresnan or Ajmal Shahzad. Both have yet to feature so far this tour with Chris Tremlett deputising for the injured Stuart Broad

"A five-Test series is hard on everyone, both physically and emotionally. For the fast bowlers even more so, I would say," Flower said. "We've got a few days now to reassess prior to Melbourne and the bottom line is we'll pick the XI that we think will have the best chance of winning in Melbourne.

"The workload on our bowlers is heavy. In the absence of a quality all-rounder we're sticking with our four-bowler attack and we've shown over the last 18 months that it's served us well."

Andy Flower is considering promoting Ian Bell up the order after Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood have failed to deliver in the middle order.

"We are always looking at ways to improve our side," Flower said. "Ian Bell looks in very good form, he's very confident and he's played beautifully throughout this tour.

"Jiggling with batting orders and personnel is always an option but you also have to be careful about altering a side that's been very successful over the last 18 months."

Mancini Pleads With City Fans

Manchester City Manager Roberto Mancini pleaded with the club's fans to lay off Carlo Tevez. The Argentinean rocked the club last week by handing in a transfer request which has since been rejected.

The Eastland’s outfit face Everton tonight and Tevez is expected to play some part in the game.  This will be the striker's first appearance for the club since announcing that he would like to leave.

"The fans should continue to support a team like they have in other times," said Mancini.

"We should forget this (Tevez affair) because we must focus on the next game.

"The next 20 days will be very important.

"Carlos is a football player. He loves football and he plays like when we were young and in the garden.

"It's the same in training or in a match and I don't think he will be different.”

Mancini’s side lost on both occasions last season against the Toffees. The Italian will be hoping for a win this time around which could see them top the league table over Christmas for the first time since 1929.

"They (Everton) beat us two times last year, so I remember it very well," added Mancini. "It will be a difficult game and a tricky game.

"We can play very well and strong. We can only beat them if we play like this.

"It's important that we are focused on Everton and the supporters are focused on Everton."

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Sir Alex Surpasses Sir Matt

Alex Ferguson has today become Manchester United’s longest serving manager, overtaking Sir Matt Busby.

Ferguson joined the Red Devils in November 1986 from Aberdeen and has had overseen the most successful period in the club's history.

With 24 years as manager of Manchester United, he is the longest serving manager.

Fergie is also the longest of all the current League managers.

The Scot has won many accolades and holds many records including winning Manager of the Year the most times in British football history.

In 2008, Sir Alex became the third British manager to win the European Cup on more than one occasion.

Ferguson said: "I think of Sir Matt Busby as being here forever.

"He started at the end of the war and went right through to winning the European Cup in 1968. The timespan seems to be much longer than mine.

On Sir Matt Busby time in charge, Fergie said; "Of course, there are emotional issues. He had to rebuild the team after Munich. There was so much emotion.

"I did not have that. That is the reason he seemed to have been here forever."

Ferguson also admitted that when he took over as Manchester United boss, he didn’t expect to last as long as Sir Matt.

"I could never have imagined that I would surpass Sir Matt's longevity." He said.

"When I came here, my main thought was to win the league and that was my driving force.

"I couldn't visualise that I would end up with 24 years behind me, going into my 25th year. I could never have imagined that in a million years."

The Best of Ian Holloway

Ian Holloway - Every Football fan dream manager.

Blackpool’s outspoken boss has never been short on voicing his opinions.

He says what others managers won’t.

Below we have put together the best of Mr Holloway expressing his opinions, what a man!

On FIFA, Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini:

On Footballers wearing Snoods:

On picking his team:

On Wayne Rooney:

Hopkins Denied Record Win

Bernard Hopkins missed a chance to become the oldest boxer to hold a major world title after his fight with Canadian Jean Pascal on Saturday night was declared a draw.

Hopkins (right, with Pascal) suffered his first two knockdowns in 16 years after Pascal had him on the canvas in the first and third rounds. However, having picked himself up Hopkins regained momentum and put Pascal down on the eleventh round.

Despite throwing more punches than Pascal, Hopkins was unable to lift the WBC and IBO light heavyweight titles from the Canadian.

Hopkins had edged a close contest but The Executioner was shocked when the fight was called a draw.

"I dominated," said Hopkins. "This was a robbery. I took him to school."

Bernard Hopkins will be 46 on January 15 and the American was hoping to become the oldest World Champion, a feat held by George Foreman who at 45 years and 10 months knocked out Michael Moorer in 1994.

"I believe I won the fight," said Pascal. "It wasn't my best fight, but Bernard fights ugly and dirty. He's a tough guy to box.

"I'm the champion, I like to win, not draw. If he wants a rematch, he can have one any time."

On fighting outside the States, Hopkins said; "One reason fighters from the States don't like fighting outside the country is stuff like this. I know I won the fight.

"This was sure enough robbery," he said. "And this one hurts the sport. I come to Canada and face a 28-year-old guy and I get a draw, at 45 years old? You saw a young guy running from an old grandpa!

"The 12th round was vicious. He looked to be tired from the sixth round. He was gasping.

"He held every time I got close. And I just kept coming forward throwing punches. He was holding on for dear life."

Redknapp Happy At Spurs

Tottenham Manager Harry Redknapp has all but ruled himself out of the running for the England manager’s job when current boss Fabio Capello steps down after Euro 2012.

Redknapp has insisted that he would be happy to finish off his career at Tottenham, with Spurs having enjoyed success with Harry at the helm, qualifying for UEFA Champions League football at White Hart Lane a feat that had never been achieved by them previously.

Harry says he would be content to stay at Tottenham for the rest of his career.

"Of course I would. For sure, only I don't think that far ahead," he said.

"In this game you just never know. Yeah, it's gone great but I was enjoying my life before and out of the blue suddenly you get a phone call (from Tottenham).

On Leaving Portsmouth, Harry said; "It never entered my mind that I would leave Portsmouth, I was enjoying it there and suddenly you get an offer to come here.

"Whoever thought Sam (Allardyce) would get the sack. It can turn so quickly, half a dozen games and suddenly you don't know what you're doing.

"You go from being the cleverest person in the world to being the biggest idiot in the world. That's how this game works unfortunately."

Australia Trounce England in Perth

England was skittled on the fourth day of the Third Test in Perth. The Aussies wasted little time in levelling the series one a piece.

Mitchell Johnson was recalled to the team after being dropped in the last test. What a decision it proved to be, with Johnson blowing England’s batting order to pieces.

England were unable to sustain the constant threat from fast bowlers Ryan Harris (6-47) and Mitchell Johnson (3-44) as Australia won by a massive 267 runs.

England Captain Andrew Strauss expressed his disappointment after the game. He said; "It's a very disappointing defeat, no doubt about it. We came fully expecting to play the same brand of cricket that we played in Adelaide."

He added, wistfully, "We were in a great position after bowling them out for 268 and then being 70-odd for none in reply. The batting in both innings was sub-par. But we have to retain a sense of perspective. This result doesn't make us a bad team overnight.

"We need to retain the confidence we built from the first two Tests and come out all guns blazing in Melbourne. Now is not a time for panic. It is important to retain the method that's worked well."

Khan Not Ready for Floyd Bout

Amir Khan has insisted that he is not ready to fight Floyd Mayweather just yet. The WBA World Light Welterweight Champion would like one more title defence before facing Floyd and feels he doesn't have enough experience to face the American.

Khan successfully defended his title against Marcos Maidana with a thrilling point’s victory in Las Vegas last week and has said he wants to unify the division.

Khan told BBC Radio: "It's a possibility in the future. A lot of people say I want to fight Mayweather next.

"I want to fight Mayweather in 12 months. It gives me time to mature and to get more experience.

"Hopefully around April I want to get one more fight in before I unify the division."

Khan also stated he would like the fight on home soil. "Before the end of 2011 or even in England at the beginning of 2012," he added.

"The interest would be huge in England. I want to bring the biggest fights over here. To get Mayweather to fight in England would be a huge success."

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

England Aim For Third Test Glory

England go into the third Test match tomorrow at Perth in hope of wrapping of the series this side of Christmas, an England win will see them retain the Ashes in Australia for the first time since 1985.

While confidence is high following their triumphant victory in the last match at Adelaide, the tourists know Australia will be looking for a better performance.

Australia will make some changes for the third Test and it is thought that both Ben Hilfenhaus and Mitchell Johnson will return to the side.

Both fast bowlers missed the last test and this wicket will suit their style.

Australia insist that they haven’t decided on the final XI yet.

"We haven't got a team yet," said Ponting on the eve of the match.

"We've had a good look at the wicket this afternoon. It's changed a little bit since we've been here today so we want to just want to have a look at it again tomorrow before we finalise what our XI will be."

"(It's) still particularly grassy and I've had a good chat to Cameron (curator Cameron Sutherland) today about the wicket.

"It's different grass than there's been on the wicket before, so we've got a lot of things that we've got to think about yet before we finalise it.

"Looking at the wicket you'd think there's going to be a result in this game, so obviously that has to be a positive one for us or it's game, set and match."

England will need to make just one change to side after Stuart Broad was ruled out for the rest of the tour following a stomach injury he received during in the last Test.

Chris Tremlett, Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shahzad are all vying for Broad’s position, but it is thought that England will go with Chris Tremlett.

"All three bring different skills to the party, and we have to work out which one is going to be best for Perth and onwards," Strauss admitted. "The way we've got to look at it is which bowler will help us take 20 wickets.

"When you're only playing four bowlers, they've got to be able to do their primary job.

"We're going to have to try to read the wicket - which is always a bit of a mysterious art."

Anderson Signs New Deal

Manchester United’s Brazilian midfielder Anderson has signed a extension to his current deal, Anderson is now signed up to United until June 2015, Anderson arrived at Old Trafford in the summer of 2007 from Porto for an estimated €30 million.

"We are delighted he has signed a new contract," said boss Sir Alex Ferguson.

"Anderson has developed tremendously since joining us and he has fantastic potential at only 22; he is going to be a really top player."

Manchester United announced this afternoon that the Brazilian had penned a four-and-a-half-year extension after returning from a long-term injury problem.

Anderson, 22, told manutd.com: "This is the best club to be at and I would like to thank everyone for the great support I have received over the years.

"I am looking forward to winning many more trophies with this club and I am so pleased to have signed a new contract."

Avram Grant On Borrowed Time

West Ham owners are becoming frustrated with the lack of success under Avram Grant and it is thought that the manager is on borrowed time at Upton Park, the owners have issued Grant with an ultimatum.

If Grant fails to win one game out the next three, the Israeli will be next for the sack.

Time is running out and with only one win in eleven matches, the pressure is on with West Ham currently three points adrift at the bottom of the table.

It is understood that Avram wants to sign three players in the January window but the club are reluctant to spend if he fails to pick up points over the festive period.

A senior source at club said; "If we didn't win once by the turn of the year then there would have to be a change before the start of the January transfer window to give a new manager a chance to make the changes he wanted,"

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Gary Speed Appointed Wales Manager

The Welsh Football Association has announced that Gary Speed has taken up the vacant position as the National team coach, Speed’s club Sheffield United gave the Welsh FA permission to speak with Speed and the former international player was selected ahead of Chris Coleman, John Hartson, Brian Flynn and former Sweden manager Lars Largerback to the position.

Gary Speed’s only management positon has come within the last four months at Sheffield United, many will feel that he may lack experience at coaching level and Speed's first task will be to help get Wales off the foot of their Euro 2012 qualifying group.

Speaking on his appointment, he said: "It's something that's very difficult to turn down when your country comes calling. I'm a very proud man at this moment to be asked to be the manager of Wales."

On Leaving from Bramall Lane, he said: "These things happen in football, where the timing's not always great.

"I was disappointed to leave Sheffield United because I feel I had a job to do there and was fully committed but obviously when your country comes calling it's a tough decision you have to make. I feel in my heart it's the right one.

"To be fair to them they've been fantastic throughout and made the decision really easy for me.

"I'd like to thank Sheffield United for the opportunity I've been given there both as a coach under Kevin Blackwell and then as a manager."

Monday, 13 December 2010

John Higgins Wins Third UK Crown

John Higgins made a dramatic comeback from 9-5 down to beat Mark Williams 10-9 to win his third UK Championship.

The 35-year-old had only recently returned to the sport after being banned.

In April 2010 Higgins and his manager, Pat Mooney were filmed in a sting operation conducted by the News of the World newspaper.

Higgins was cleared of match fixing on 8 September 2010 following a tribunal. However, he was found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute by not reporting the approach the News of The World made towards him.

John Higgins received a six month ban and fined £75,000

"I was a man on a mission. I was really determined to try and stop anything which prevented me from winning it," Higgins said.

"Given everything that surrounds it, this is my finest hour on the table. It means everything, just to be back playing and winning. It means a great deal.

"Obviously it means a great deal to my family as well."

He added: "I just never gave up. I thought 9-5 was too big a mountain but each frame was going past and I was still in it. It is an unbelievable feeling."

Higgins down and out after slipping down 7-2 and then 9-5 but Williams was unable to finish off the match after moving to the brink of victory.

"John done well to come back to be fair to him," the defeated Welshman said.

"I felt the gods were against me on a couple of occasions but I have got no complaints overall.

"I have been pretty dreadful all week. That was probably the best match I played all week. The best player in the tournament won but I had a chance to nick it and probably threw it away."

Brett Lee Backing Ponting & Co

Speed Is The Key
Legendary Australian fast bowler Brett Lee has thrown his full support behind Ricky Ponting and his team as they head into the third test match against England in Perth.

Australia who drew the first test in Brisbane and lost the second test in Adelaide will be looking to bounce back knowing a loss will give England the series win, retaining the Ashes in Australia for the first time since 1986 when Mike Gatting captained the team.

Brett Lee insists all the pressure is all on England and this could help Australia when play starts on Thursday.

"I think the good thing Australia has got now is that the only way for us is up," said the fast bowler.

"The way that England have been playing, I think the pressure is now on them.

"I know they are 1-0 up in the series after two games but we hope that the Australian team can go out there and find some form."

Australia has been recalled to the team by the selectors and he feels the seamer could be the key to breaking through England’s batsmen.

"I caught up with Mitch in Adelaide and he was in a great frame of mind," he added.

"It's almost like when you know you're on the verge of being dropped that when you're actually dropped there's a sigh of relief almost because you can go away and try and work on your game and work out how you can get back in [the team].

"I'm sure he gets his opportunity in Perth - and we hope it's going to be a nice bouncy wicket for the quicks - so fingers crossed he can go there and get a bag of wickets."

Ledley King Dilemma

Harry Redknapp is hoping that Ledley King will avoid surgery as he bids to recover his latest injury, King has been out of action since the 2-1 win over Fulham in October when he hobbled off with a groin problem.

King is no stranger to the medical room at Spurs and the injury-jinxed defender is hoping he won't need the operation.

"Ledley is improving and we are hoping he might be back soon," said Redknapp.

"We have got two options for Ledley - we have got a date for a lady to operate on him, she is available on the 23rd of this month so we have really got until then to make a decision.

"He is coming on well and if he feels okay we won't operate.

"But if it needs doing we will have to get him done before then."

Rio Ferdinand: Rooney Ready To Roar

Wayne Rooney Close To Form
Rio Ferdinand has insisted that Wayne Rooney is close to hitting his prolific goal scoring form, Rooney has struggled this season with his form and off the field issues, which has been well documented.

Rooney scored 34 times for United last season, but has managed two goals from the penalty spot during the current campaign, but Ferdinand suggests that Wayne Rooney’s sharpness is starting to return at training and is only a matter of time before he delivers on the pitch.

"Everyone knows what happened over the last couple of weeks beforehand but Wayne's come back and he's looking sharp," said Ferdinand.

"He didn't score in our last game but he looked sharp and set up a good number of chances for other people.

"It's only a matter of time before he scores and then goes on one of those runs where he scores loads of goals.

"Just having him back around the place in a good mood is fantastic. He's a great lad to have around and long may it continue.

"Arsenal are a good team but I'm concentrating more on what we've got in our dressing room. I'm confident in our team and the individuals as a collective that we can go out there and beat any team and I'll be looking to do that on Monday."

Title Chase

"Arsenal and Chelsea are very big games for us. We're playing two of the teams at the top of the league back-to-back. They'll be hard games but games we all enjoy playing in.

"They'll be big spectacles with everybody watching and we'll be going out there to win. Fingers crossed we can do that and if we can it will put us in a great position for the rest of the season."

Nathan Hauritz Sells Kit

Nathan Hauritz Unhappy With Selectors
Nathan Hauritz has signalled his frustration at being frozen out by Australia by giving away his Test kit.

The off-spinner was sat outside his Sydney flat, giving out his training kit to anyone who was interested,

Hauritz, 29, who has played 17 Tests and taken 63 wickets, was shocked when novice left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty was brought in ahead of Hauritz for the first two Ashes Tests and uncapped Michael Beer for the third.

Nathan Hauritz responded by giving away jumpers and selling training kit. Hauritz said: ‘I don’t play for them (Australia) any more.’

Even Xavier Doherty, who was dumped after taking just 1-158 in the innings defeat at Adelaide, has admitted that there seems to be some confusion over what selectors want from spin bowlers.

''You have seen how many spinners they have used over the last couple of years, so I'm sure the selectors aren't quite sure who the next person is," the 27-year-old said upon learning of his axing on Friday.

Georges St-Pierre Beats Josh Koscheck

Georges St-Pierre Retains Title
Georges St-Pierre showed his class by delighting a home crowd in Montreal when defending his UFC welterweight title with a unanimous decision over Josh Koscheck at UFC 124.

The 29 year old controlled the fight throughout the five rounds at the Bell Centre and was awarded the fight 50-45 on the scorecards of all three judges.

This was Koscheck’s second defeat to St-Pierre, who has cemented his status as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world with another convincing victory.

"I didn't reach my goal tonight. I wanted to take him out, but he's very tough," St-Pierre said after the fight.

"Georges St-Pierre is a true champion," said Koscheck, who waged a war of words with his opponent in the build up to the highly-anticipated fight.

"St-Pierre is the man tonight. He had a great gameplan, he executed very well, and he showed why he's the best pound-for-pound."

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Carlos Tévez: Why I Want to Leave

Carlos Tevez wants to leave City
Carlos Tévez has moved quickly to confirm that he wants to leave Manchester City. After missing the game against West Ham, specualtion had been mounting that Tévez had handed in a transfer request.  That was, it seems, the case.

However, Manchester City then moved to reject the transfer request in hope of convincing the Argentinean to remain at the club. Despite this, the 26 year old has today issued a statement expressing his desire to quit.

Tévez has clearly made up his mind. In his statement he said; "I can confirm I have handed a transfer request to the chairman of Manchester City Football Club,"

"Now I need to clear my head and think because this is an important part of my career.

"My feelings have not changed and it is regrettable that we have reached this situation. But it is something I have felt for some time and have spent many hours thinking this through."

Tévez had wanted leave the Blues this summer, but long-time advisor Kia Joorabchian talked the striker out of a move.

"I hugely resent the management's suggestions that I have been unduly influenced by others," said Tevez.

"I wanted to leave in the summer, but was convinced to return to the club. Sadly, my feelings have not changed. I am disappointed that the management should now see fit to try to portray the situation in another light."

The forward has not exactly been at the club for an eternity.  He arrived in the 2009–10 summer transfer window, the first player to be transferred between the two Manchester teams in a decade.  Yet he quickly made himself indispensible in the eyes of fans and players and became Captain this season.

He continues bleakly in his statement, "My relationship with certain executives and individuals at the club has broken down and is now beyond repair. I do not wish to expand on this at this stage. They know, because I have told them."

Tévez thanked owner Sheikh Mansour for his understanding.

"I wish to clarify that I have no personal issue with the manager Roberto Mancini," he said. "The owner has been very generous with what he has offered to me. I would like to thank Sheikh Mansour for his understanding and support."

100 Greatest Sports Stars - Number 90 - Brian Lara

On 2 May 1969 a newborn child’s cries rang out in Santa Cruz, Trinidad and Tobago.  Not an unusual event in itself but if the parents of the child, christened Brian Charles Lara, could see what was in the future for their son their pride at his birth would have been doubled.

He grew up to be one of the most celebrated cricketers of all time, topping the Test batting rankings a number of times and seizing and holding several records, including the highest individual score in first-class cricket.  On that occasion in 1994 he scored an amazing 501 not out for Warwickshire.  His dumbfounded opponents, Durham had to simply look on as he scored the first and only quintuple hundred in the history of first-class cricketing.

It was little surprise that as that famous day wore on fans rushed to the ground at Edgbaston to witness history being made.

He also is the holder of the record for the highest individual score in a test innings.  This time he was playing against England at Antigua.  The celebrated day saw him score 400 not out.  Over the course of his career he scored many hundreds, but is the only batsman to do that and score a double century, a triple, a quadruple and a quintuple over the course of his career.

To add to all this, in a single over in South Africa in 2003 he scored 28 runs off Robin Peterson of South Africa.  Put simply, the man was unstoppable.

 Lara has his family, perhaps, to thanks for his cricketing success.  As the tenth of eleven children it would not surprise many if the parents didn’t watch their second to last offspring too often, with so many in the family. Yet it was his sharp eyed father, Bunty and Agnes his older sister who spotted his potential at the age of six and enrolled him in the Harvard Coaching Clinic.

As such, Lara’s early exposure to correct batting techniques would stay with him and be developed over his lifetime.  When he was a teenager he was in teams in the Trinidad schoolboy’s league.  He caught the eye of the national under 16 team when his average in the league was an amazing 126 per innings, not to mention his tally of 745 runs in the league.

At the age of fifteen he played his first West Indian under 19 tournaments and the same year saw him represent his country for the first time.  His heroes, Gordon Greenidge, Viv Richards and Roy Fredericks were soon to have company in that special league of their own.

1987 was a memorable year as Lara scored 498 runs in the West Indies Youth Championships – the first record of many that he was to break.  The following year he made his debut for Trinidad and Tobago and scored 98 in his second first-class match.  The same year saw him captain the West Indies in the Bicentennial Youth World Cup.  Lara was on his way.

The following year his great opportunity presented itself – he was selected for the West Indies team (rather than the youth team) but this coincided with tragedy.  His father, Bunty, died and Lara withdrew, coming back the year after to captain the B Team in Zimbabwe.

He was not to be held back again.  In 1990 at the age of twenty he became the youngest ever man to captain Trinidad and Tobago.  He also made his debut for the West Indies.

In 1993 his International career truly got underway when he scored 277 against Australia – his maiden test century.  His efforts proved to be the turning point for the West Indies as they then went on to win the final two tests – and the series 2-1.

To commemorate this, Lara would name his first daughter after the city in which he had achieved this – Sydney.

In 1995 Lara was made Man of the Series in the test match against England.  He captained the West Indies from 98 to 99 won Man of the Match against Australia as well as Man of the Series in the famous Four Test Series of 1999.

Lara was reappointed as captain against the touring Australians in 2003, and struck 110 in his first Test match back in charge, showing a return to stellar performance. Later that season, under his captaincy, West Indies won the two match Test series against Sri Lanka 1-0 with Lara making a double century in the First Test. In September 2004, West Indies won the ICC Champions Trophy in England under his captaincy.

He returned again to the captaincy of the West Indies in 2006 and led the team to victories against Zimbabwe and India.  In the same year he became the first player in the team to ever pass the 10,000 run mark.  He retired from international cricket in the following year.

Unable to resist it, he played again for Trinidad against Guyana – which they won.  Lara’s cricket career is still happening today but what it holds for him is unsure.  Whatever happens he will certainly go down in history as one of the best cricketers of all time.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Carlos Tevez Hands In Transfer Request

Tevez unhappy with Mancini
Manchester City captain Carlos Tevez has handed in a written transfer request. Tevez has been unsettled at Eastland following the arrival of Mario Balotelli. Frustration showed last week against Bolton when Mancini took Tevez off as a substitute.  In addition, Tevez hasn’t settled in well with Mancini’s rotation policy.

The pair also had a half-time row during the 2-1 victory over Newcastle in October.

It has been a well known fact that the Argentinean star has long been unhappy with life under City boss Roberto Mancini. Tevez is rumoured to have told chief executive Garry Cook that he wanted to leave two weeks ago and followed it up with an official letter last Monday.

Tevez has expressed his desire to leave and now wants to force through a move to Barcelona when the January transfer window re-opens.

Tevez' reaction after being substituted against Bolton:

Ricky Ponting: I Won't Quit

Ponting Up For The Test
Ricky Ponting has insisted he still has fight left in him and has not contemplated quitting as captain of his nation's team. Nevertheless, he may be just one test defeat away from becoming the first Australian captain in 120 years to lose three Ashes

Ponting turns 36 on December 19.  He is the first to admit that he has not been at the top of his game with the bat lately and his team are struggling, trailing England 1-0 in the five-match series with three tests remaining. An England victory in the next test could see England retain the Ashes in Australia.

"My absolute focus is on all the things within my control, preparing the team and myself to perform at our very best in Perth, Melbourne and then Sydney over the next three tests," Ponting wrote in the Australian newspaper Saturday.

"I have not stopped for one moment to consider retirement. The question of my future as captain is ultimately a decision for Cricket Australia and categorically the future of Australian cricket must come first.

"I have every confidence in my ability to score runs and be the experienced batsman and leader that my teammates can rely on."

"As captain, I am accountable for the performance of my team and I accept that our most recent results mean that I am being assessed more critically than at other times in my career as captain.

"The team is my priority, not my own ego or the status that comes with being the captain of the Australian cricket team."

Ponting on his preparation and batting, added, "We've been ordinary, we've played poorly. I haven't played the way I would like to have played, especially in Adelaide, but I don't think I'm that far away.

"I've got to keep trusting the way I prepare and play and keep working hard. If anything I might have worked a bit too hard on my batting over the last couple of weeks."

Newcastle Fans Protest Against Mike Ashley

Newcastle Fans Want Mike Ashley Out
Newcastle United fans have today shown their frustration towards owner Mike Ashley outside St James Park.

Fans gathered outside the Milburn Reception to voice their anger after Mike Ashley sacked Chris Hughton as manager during the week and brought in Alan Pardew as his replacement.

Chants of "There's only one Chris Hughton", and "We hate Ashley" and "Get out of our club" as well as "You're not fit to run our club" were heard clearly outside the ground before today’s game against Liverpool.

As kick off time approached, more and more fans were starting to gather and stewards tried to move in and attempt to remove banners criticising the club’s owners.  However, they were stopped as protesters quickly moved them on, although the demonstrations were wholly peaceful.

Speaking earlier, club captain Kevin Nolan said: "We can't deny it's been a tough week, but we know we have to put it behind us and, as players, we have accepted what has happened and we will move on."

Earlier this week Kevin Nolan admitted he was shocked after learning the sacking of Hughton.  He said, "I speak for all of the players when I say we were disappointed to see Chris leave the club."

"It's no secret that everyone was saddened to see him go.

"I'm sure Chris will go on to be a success wherever he goes next, and we wish him all the very best for the future and thank him for everything he achieved here.

"Hopefully we can carry on the good work he put in during his time here.

"We simply have to stick together and rely on the great spirit that exists at this club."

Although the players seem to have forgiven Mike Ashley, it remains to be seen whether the fans are so quick to forget the contributions Chris Hughton made at the club.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Swann Plays Down Warne Return

Graeme Swann says Shane Warne won't return
England spinner Graeme Swann has played down speculation that Legendary Australian bowler Shane Warne will come back out of retirement for the remainder or the Ashes tour.

"I very much doubt that Shane Warne would come out of retirement to play just in these three games," said Swann.

Much of the media has suggested that Australia's all-time leading wicket taker could return to Test cricket after England's dominant innings-and-71-run win in Adelaide and Australia going 1-0 down in the series after the second test.

"It's very good for us that the Aussies are doing this and the Aussie public are looking for Shane to get back in.

"He's not played any cricket for so long. We'll just carry on as we are and let the Aussies worry about that."

Alan Pardew Named Newcastle Manager

Alan Pardew joins Newcastle United
Newcastle United have today confirmed that Alan Pardew will become their new manager, the Magpies sacked Chris Hughton last week after guiding the team back into the Premiership and 11th place this season.

Newcastle decided they needed a change and has now turned to the former West Ham manager.

Several names had been linked with the position, but owner Mike Ashley has plumped for the qualities of Pardew and signed him on a five and half year contract lasting until the summer of 2016.

He started his managerial career at Reading after spells with West Ham United and Charlton Athletic in the Premier League.

Pardew resigned from his position as Southampton manager in the early weeks of the season after winning the Johnstone's Paint Trophy last season.

"I am honoured and privileged to have been given this opportunity at Newcastle United, one of the truly great clubs in English football," Pardew said.

"I understand what this club means to its supporters. Throughout the football world people recognise that this is a unique club in many ways, with supporters who are second to none in their loyalty, passion and devotion for the team."

Newcastle fans will be left scratching their heads with this decision.

Pardew continued: "I'm not a Geordie of course, but I'm a football person with a love of the game and I can assure you I bring great drive, desire and commitment to the job.

"Chris Hughton did a great job last season, guiding the club back to the Premier League, and he continued that good work this season. It is my aim to build on that now and take this club forward.

"I have always managed teams that have played attacking positive football, something I know the supporters here appreciate.

"At the same time I intend to focus on developing exciting young players through the club's excellent academy and development squad, and I know the board here at St James' Park are very committed to that too.

"I can't wait to get started and what better way to kick-off than welcoming Liverpool to St James' Park on Saturday."

Can Pardew do better than Hughton in guiding the Magpies further than 11th position this season?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Klitschko Postpones Fight

Wladimir Klitschko has pulled out of the schedule fight against Dereck Chrisora this Saturday; the Ukrainian has a back problem and has withdrawn just three days before the fight. 

The WBO and IBF champion has back problems after a public workout on Wednesday and his US advisers Shelley Finkel announced, "Wladimir has withdrawn from the fight that is correct. He has torn a muscle in his back."

"It is not too serious though. He should be able to fight again within 60 days."

Promoter Frank Warren who is already in negotiation to re-schedule the fight said, "I was informed about an hour ago that Klitschko pulled a back muscle and he was out of the fight,"

"Dereck is very disappointed. He didn't believe it. He felt everything was fine. Three or four days before a title fight, most of the hard work is done."

Sepp Blatter: England Are Bad Losers

Sepp Blatter gives his reaction to the losing bids
Fifa president Sepp Blatter has blasted England, labelling them as 'bad losers' following their failed 2018 World Cup bid, the decision sparked outrage after Fifa awarded 2018 World Cup to Russia last week.

England’s bid fell at the first hurdle after getting eliminated in the first round, only recording two votes with one coming from former FA chairman, Geoff Thompson. Russia and Qatar were last week chosen by Fifa's executive committee to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups respectively.

A BBC Panorama documentary and the Sunday Times revealed corruption within Fifa and that committee members Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii accepted money in return for their votes.

Blatter insists he was shocked by the reaction in England, after England learned that they lost in their bid to host the 2018 World Cup and also criticised the reaction of all losing bidders.

"To be honest, I was surprised by all the English complaining after the defeat. England, of all people, the motherland of fairplay ideas," Blatter told Swiss magazine Weltwoche.

"Now some of them are showing themselves to be bad losers. You can't come afterwards and say so and so promised to vote for England.

"The results are known. The outcome came out clearly.

"I really sense in some reactions a bit of the arrogance of the western world of Christian background. Some simply can't bear it if others get a chance for a change.

"What can be wrong if we start football in regions where this sport demonstrates a potential which goes far beyond sport?"

Speaking on Corruption in Fifa’s organization, he added; "There is no systematic corruption in FIFA. That is nonsense," he said. "We are financially clean and clear."

But Blatter said FIFA could not act as if nothing had happened, adding he wanted to set up a taskforce to look into compliance issues, without giving details.

"We need to improve our image. We also need to clarify some things within FIFA," he said.

Asked if he would still be FIFA president to open the Qatar World Cup in 2022, Blatter said: "Definitely not. If God wills it, I will be invited to the opening party on crutches or in a wheelchair."

Klitschko Up For Chisora Test

Klitschko and Chisora battle it out on Saturday
Wladimir Klitschko is expecting a stern test when he takes on Dereck Chisora for his IBF & WBO Heavyweight Championship titles, but he insists that he will control the fight from the start at SAP Arena in Germany this Saturday.

The Ukrainian is under no illusion of the threat that Chisora possess and also suggests it will be his most dangerous opponent so far, Klitschko has even insisted that the Zimbabwean-born fighter is more of a threat that David Haye.

However, having done all the hard work in the gym, the champion is confident that he can see off the 26-year-old and retain his world titles.

"I feel fantastic. I'm looking forward to this fight and I think that Dereck Chisora showed also that he is ready, physically and mentally," said Klitschko.

"The man is looking for a challenge, so am I. Considering that he's a beginner in the sport, he's (still) determined, and that's great. So I will have a great challenge on Saturday night."

What to expect

He added: "I analyse my challengers very precisely, inside out. And I've been watching Dereck Chisora a lot before.

"So I know what to expect in the ring, I know what he's able to do or not and I'm just looking forward to the fight."

Chisora has always suggested that he has the power to knock Klitschko out, and the champion is realistic when asked if he could fall victim to a major upset.

"There's been a lot of talking. Any heavyweight can hit and any heavyweight can get knocked out," the Ukrainian said.

"It's (happened throughout) history a lot of times, especially with these young challengers that are undefeated.

"For example, Leon Spinks beat Mohammad Ali in the past, so that's why I'm not going to underestimate Dereck Chisora.

"I'm not going to overestimate him as well, so not too much respect because I am the champion and I know exactly what to do."

Ronaldinho linked with Liverpool move

Ronaldinho heading to the Premiership?
Could Ronaldinho be heading to Liverpool, reports in Italy have suggested that the Brazilian could be heading to Anfield. Ronaldinho has failed to live up to expectation with AC Milan and could leave when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Fellow countryman and Liverpool player Lucas Leiva says that the former World Player of the Year would be welcome with open arms at Anfield should he decide to join.

"I am not aware of anything in terms of Ronaldinho signing but I would be very happy if this was to happen," Lucas told Globoesporte.

"We started a friendship when we played in the Olympics and for Brazil. It would be nice to play with him at Liverpool.

"Everyone knows Ronaldinho and they know what he can do."

Monday, 6 December 2010

Newcastle Sack Chris Hughton

Chris Hughton relieved for his duties
Newcastle manager Chris Hughton has partied company with the club, the Magpies have struggled to find consistency this season and after the Magpies were beaten 3-1 at West Brom on Saturday the club has intervened and relieved Hughton of his duties, a week after drawing with Chelsea 1-1, although that result followed a 5-1 defeat at Bolton.

Hughton guided Newcastle back into the Premier League this season after their relegation in the 2009-10 campaign.

Speculation had been mounting that the ex-Spurs defender was set to leave the several weeks ago.

The board will now look for a replacement with more managerial experience to take the club forward.  

A statement on the club's official website read: "Newcastle United Football Club have today parted company with manager Chris Hughton. Goalkeeping coach Paul Barron also leaves the club today.

"The board would like to place on record their thanks to Chris for his considerable efforts during the club's transition from Championship to Premier League football.

"Chris has shown exceptional character and commitment since being appointed manager in October 2009. The club wishes him well for the future.

"Regrettably the board now feels that an individual with more managerial experience is needed to take the club forward.

"The task of appointing a new manager now begins. An announcement will be made shortly regarding transitional arrangements pending the appointment of a successor."

FA want Harry Redknapp after 2012

FA would like Redknapp to succeed Capello
The Football Association have put Spurs manager Harry Redknapp at the top of their wanted list, current England manager Fabio Capello has said that he doesn't want to continue past the European Championship 2012 when his contract runs out.

It has been no secret that Harry Redknapp would be the FA's ideal replacement to succeed Capello and Redknapp’s success over the last two seasons have improved his chances, having seen Spurs claim fourth place in Premier League last season, qualifying for Champions League football and beating current Champions League holders Inter Milan, both home and away advancing to the second phase of the tournament.

"Harry Redknapp is a great manager," said the FA's general secretary, Alex Horne.

"Tottenham are playing great football and to qualify for the Champions League (knockout stage) from a position of being fourth favourites in the group is huge testimony to that. I would expect Harry to make a long-list (for the England job). It may not be a very long long-list."

Horne said nothing has been discussed in regards to appointing the successor to Capello,

"He's there until 2012, which gives me 18, 19 months to prepare for that process. It is not a policy decision that (the contenders) would be English. It is an absolute preference for certain individuals. It is not yet a board policy decision," said Horne.

"We thought about this long and hard when we got Fabio Capello. We got the right man for the job and that is what we will do again."

After England’s World Cup humiliation in South Africa, Club England's managing director, Adrian Bevington, strongly suggested the next manager would be English.

Bevington, who is overseeing a review as to what went wrong at the 2010 World Cup, said: "I think the English team should be managed by an English manager."

However, Horne told the BBC that was not set in stone: "It is not a policy decision that they will definitely be English. I will be finalising the selection-process criteria during the first few months of next year for internal discussion."

Redknapp has already said this year that he would take the job if offered, when Capello steps down.

"People will always take it because, if you're English, it's the pinnacle of your career if you're in management," said Redknapp, whose credentials have been enhanced by Spurs' performances.

Carlo Tevez: No Rift With Mancini

Carlos Teves is focused
Carlos Tevez has insisted there is no rift between himself and manager Roberto Mancini, the Argentinean looked incensed at being substituted for the 11th time this season in their 1-0 victory against Bolton at the weekend.

The striker had words with Mancini as he left the pitch and it was thought that there was under-lining problems at City with Mancini’s rotation policy.

The manager played down the spat immediately after the game and said he was happy with the player's attitude showing that he wanted to stay on the pitch until the end.

Tevez has pleaded with fans to have patience as there is still a long way to go until the end of the season as City challenge for the title.

Speaking to the club’s official magazine, Carlos Tevez said; "Of course I get on well with Roberto and I back him one hundred per cent,"

He also added, "I was disappointed for instance that my substitution against Birmingham recently resulted in some of our fans showing displeasure towards him.

Speaking on the injury he has been carrying and the manager’s decision to bring Tevez off, the striker added; "To criticise the manager for his decisions is unfair because we need to be patient - there is a long way to go in the season.

"What people didn't know was that I had played the previous three games going through the pain barrier, and the manager knew that.

"I was very close to getting a more serious injury through playing when perhaps I shouldn't have, so his concern was for my well-being.

England Close In On Victory

Can England bowl Australia out
England will be hoping for six quick wickets tomorrow when the final session gets underway, England had earlier declared on 620-5 after adding 69 in nine overs, with Pietersen out for a Test-best of 227, Ian Bell reached 68 and Matt Prior 27.

England left themselves nearly two days to bowl out their hosts at the Adelaide Oval. In reply Australia notched up 238 runs, with Pietersen taking the key wicket of the session,

Australia started there second innings with Shane Watson hitting 57 and Simon Kaitch who was struggling with an Achilles injury registered 43 runs, the Aussie’s started to fight back with an opening stand of 84 before Watson was bowled by Finn and caught by Strauss.

Graeme Swann took two early-afternoon wickets seeing off Simon Kaitch and Captain Ricky Ponting who only managed 9 runs after being caught low down to his left by Paul Collingwood at slip...

Michael Clarke then went on to hit 80 runs and Mike Hussey 44 not out, they were a constant thorn in England's side, having frustrated the visitors. The tourists had done well to reduce 134-3, with Graeme Swann (2-72) striking twice and Steven Finn claiming his eighth wicket of the series.

With the last ball of the day Kevin Pietersen bowled Michael Clarke, who refused to walk but after an official review the decision was made that Clarke was given out.

Graeme Swann has said that if England is able repeat the level of performance they reached today then they can secure the win.

He added; "We need a bit to go our way in that first session and we need to bowl as well as we did today,"

"I think that if we can do that we can win this game.

"Is will be a case of sticking to our guns and seeing what happens."

Speaking on Kevin Pietersen’s last ball, who earlier had a record-breaking test score of 227, the spinner added; "We toiled hard in the last session and a half with very little luck so some time you need a bit of inspiration," said Swann.

"Who else but KP to come on and give you it?

"He went straight in and said 'I'm an all-rounder, I'm an all-rounder' and I still think he is in there shouting it now."

Can England do it or will Australia bat out the whole day with only seven wickets remaining?

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Adidas Chinese Adverts

In each and every country in which they sell their products, global organisations have to be very careful to change their advertising message in order to attract the local market.  With China becoming one, if not the biggest, consumer of sports goods globally then companies like Adidas have had to change the way that they do things.

For instance, if you have a look at the top video featuring Chinese defender and midfielder Zheng Zhi.  The Shenyang born star who has played for Celtic and Charlton Athletic is seen in a number of what you might call patriotic poses.  The video, as well as his monologue that goes with it, stresses the importance of the Chinese Republic and the people in his career and the video shows them, in animated form, helping him to score.

Together with the nation rather than for individual triumph was the key to this clever campaign.  Buy Adidas and be a good communist all at the same time.  Clever, subtle and highly targeted advertising.

It is exactly the same with the video above featuring Zhi again as well as a number of other notable Chinese athletes.  Again, the emphasis is very much on the mass of the Chinese people helping these sports stars to victory over the others.

Individual achievement is carefully underpinned but also undermined in as much as the responsibility for success is handed over to the Chinese people who as good communists subvert their own identity to the good of the many over the individual aspirations of the one.  Or at least that's how it goes if you are feeling generous and not in the least cynical.

The final video which was made for the 2010 Olympics and only shown in China features the enigmatic diver Hu Jia.  Notice how Adidas subtly change the message of their slogan Impossible is Nothing to suit the market.  Again, Jia is helped in his ascent to the top of the diving game by the Chinese people who, in ghostly animated form, literally give their bodies over to him as a platform from which to raise the country's sporting profile.

No one ever said it would be easy - the marriage of rampant commercialism with Chinese communism.  However, Adidas is one of those brands who have carefully thought about their positioning in the market there and acted accordingly.  As each and every TV ad must be approved by central government, their shift in terms of their advertising from the pursuit of individual glory to collective achievement is subtle and well done.

KP scores 213 not out

England picked up where they left off in the Adelaine Test. Kevin Pietersen smashed an unbeaten double century after turning the screw on Australia.

The English team are now more confident of victory than ever - particularly after Pieterson's extraordinary unbeaten 213 runs from 296 balls.  This now puts England 306 runs ahead of their Australian opponents with just two days of the second Test left to go.

England resumed play on day three of the second test match. Alastair Cook went for 148 in the morning, but with Paul Collingwood hitting 42 and Ian Bell scoring 41 not out it helped Pietersen to be the only fifth English player to hit double centuries in Australia and the second in two days.

Kevin Pietersen, who scored 213 not out, hasn’t registered a century for England since March 2009 in Trinidad, but has now reaffirmed his status in the England batting ranks.

Australia appeared to have run out of ideas. England totalled 551 for 4 wickets when the umpires called a halt to play when rain started to fall in the middle session.  The covers went on and the players went off to tea. The conditions didn’t improve enough for the players to take the field again.

Speaking on Sky Sports, he said: "You go through tough times in your career, it's how you get through that.
"I knew doing the basics and keeping things simple I would come good. To get some time in the middle in this fixture has been great."

Pietersen also paid tribute to coach Graham Ford after going back to basics, gh said: "It came back then. He just went through bits and pieces I had forgotten."

Pietersen now wants to help the team press on for victory. He added: "It's about the team's position. The Ashes is still nil-nil and we now need to go about winning a Test match.

Fabregas to Return at Old Trafford

Cesc aiming for United game
Arsenal Captain Cesc Fabregas hopes to return to action in time for the game against Manchester United game on December 13th.  The midfielder has been sidelined with a hamstring injury sustained against Braga in the Uefa Champions League game two weeks ago.

The inspirational captain is close to regaining full fitness and sees the Manchester United fixture as his return, Arsenal has failed to win at Old Trafford since 2006 and Fabregas will want to help change thatblot on their copybook.

Speaking in the Sunday People newspaper, he said; "I'm happy to say everything is going according to plan with my rehabilitation.

"We've tried some new treatments and hopefully they can make a difference.

"My hamstrings are feeling good, and my body feels good and rested.

"The Manchester United  game is the target, so hopefully we can make it happen."

Wingsuit Base Jumping

Hold on to your hats.  Wingsuit flying involves the human body flying through the air using a jumpsuit knwon as a wingsuit. 

This adds more surface area to the body and creates lift.  You should see what they get up to in this video - it will take your breath away.

They are also called birdman suit or squirrel suit.  As you can see from this breathtaking video it is not for the fainthearted.

he flight should end with the opening of a parchute.  As long as you have sufficient altitude you should be able to start your flight from any point - as long as you can glide.  For this, BASE jumping exits are perfect.  But would you do this?

Sit back, grab a coffee and take it all in.  Not afraid of heights by any chance are you?

Saturday, 4 December 2010

World Cup Failure Should Lead to Reform at Home

It seemed as if the whole of the UK lifted its arms in unison in a WTF expression, part bewilderment, part resignation.  The brutal fact was that the World Cup would not be coming home in 2018.

Neither will it be in 2026 – people have already been told not to hold their breath for that tournament.  That great bastion of democracy, China, has already been earmarked to host that event, or so it seems.

It looks very much as if England might not host the tournament until the ten year olds who cried themselves to sleep the other day have ten year olds of their own – and only then if we are lucky.

Yes, there was great gnashing of teeth and not only because of the cold snap that had overtaken the island nation.  How could we have failed?  The real question should be how could we have won?

People point at the revelations in The Times and on the BBC investigative show Panorama.  Many are saying that had these revelations about FIFA not been made then the UK may have won the bid.

I find that naive in the extreme.  The die was cast a long time before.  If anything, the decision to go ahead with the disclosures now looks to me like a great big traditional (yet prescient) finger up to FIFA. So, well done The  Times and the BBC.

As for the winning countries.  Oh dear.  Yes, Russia is now known around the world for its corrupt political system, in fact it led one British tabloid to infer that it was simply one mafia style organisation handing over a prize to a mafia style government.  Yes, Qatar has no real history of football and only one football stadium.  But it does have a world class record for ignoring the rights of its inhabitants and the guest workers who live and toil there.

Perhaps FIFA were thinking along the same terms as the people of the Olympic Committee who awarded the Olympic Games to Germany in 1936.  Who can possibly say what was going on in their minds?

To be frank, I don't give a flying f**k through a rolling donut about who is hosting the games.  So, the two countries who will host the World Cup are not perfect.  Yet, instead of pointing fingers, what people should really be doing is looking at the parlous state of soccer in the land of its modern birth.

Let’s take a look at how British football got in to the parlous state it is in now.  Over the last twenty years or so most of the top English clubs have been taken over by millionaires and billionaires whose roots are anything but British.  The clubs are treated like the playthings of the rich (which of course they are) and then thrown out of the pram when the next bright shiny new toy comes along.

Clubs up and down the UK have watched in bewilderment as their grounds have been sold off and the money grabbed by a bunch of anonymous carpet baggers.  Even the most successful of all the clubs have enormous debts which could well threaten their existence if their financial plug is pulled by those to whom they owe the money.

The media see football as just another form of reality TV and concentrate on the private lives of the players instead of provoking and promoting serious debate about the sport itself.  When the premiership is on the media coverage is at saturation point – as if every single British passport holder must be obsessed with the game (talk to my mother – you will find they are not).

Last of all the players.  Overpaid and spoiled they are at the vanguard of the media frenzy when it suits them and bleating like children when it doesn’t go their own way. Their vast wealth enables them to make morally ambiguous turnarounds without the whiff of introspection.  Their self delusional over inflated opinion of themselves means they have even attempted to stifle free speech with enormously expensive court injunctions.

The traditional values of the game (a cheap way of entertainment, a good day or night out, and so on) are gone.  Television has demanded that the sport twist and turn itself in to something unrecognizable to fit in to schedules.  The fantasy has gone – as has the community spirit.

Most of the kids I see around the streets wear Manchester United kits and profess to follow that team, despite being around two hundred miles away from Old Trafford.  I suspect sometimes that they have not even heard of the clubs whose grounds are spitting distance from their homes.

The prices have evolved with the game so that you need to take out a second mortgage to afford a season ticket.  So, instead of going to matches supporters cheer from their armchairs.  The problem there is that they usually have to buy subscriptions for that – so more money is put in to the pockets of the likes of Rupert Murdoch.

This, in a vicious circle, further drives the very exploitation of the sport that is destroying it.

There are a lot of things wrong with Russia and Qatar, both as countries and as venues for the tournament.  If England had won this bid it would have perhaps made it look (to us) as if everything was fine with soccer here.  It would have been a exoneration of the culture of celebrity, commercial exploitation, foreign investment and disregard for ordinary fans which has wrecked the beautiful game.

At least with the World Cup elsewhere, we will at least undergo our four-yearly humiliation very, very far from home.

Image Credits

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