Brazil’s 2014 World Cup legacy left little to celebrate

Brazil World Cup
RIO DE JANEIRO: When Brazil hosted the World Cup in 2014 the country dreamt of glory, but the beloved national team was thrashed and the tournament left a legacy of unfinished works, huge debts and missing funds. Brazil were hoping to add a sixth trophy to their record five World Cup triumphs, while officials promised that private finance would spare taxpayers the budgetary pain. The optimistic view seemed credible when the hosting rights were awarded to Brazil in 2007. The economy was booming and two years later Rio would be named to host the 2016 Olympics. But things turned out differently — and not just because the home side went out in a humiliating 7-1 semi-final defeat to Germany. The original budget of 17 billion reais ballooned to 27 billion reais (about $11.5 billion at that time). And of the 8.3 billion reais spent on building 12 stadiums, only seven percent came from private investors. “Spending went greatly over projections, with a lot less being completed than had been promised,” said Paulo Henrique Azevedo at Gesporte, which studies sports management at the University of Brasilia. “In numerous cities, transport infrastructure projects were not only unfinished but totally abandoned, despite having already cost millions of reais,” he said. This included airports, tram lines and dozens of other projects that, according to a study by Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, would eventually have brought benefits to 2.5 million people. Rio de Janeiro was the one city that saw all its projects completed, but only in time for the Olympics rather than the World Cup. The mayor at the time, Eduardo Paes, said the World Cup legacy was marked by “white elephants and feeble private investment.” His own management of the Olympic legacy would later receive equally harsh criticism. Azevedo said the basic error committed in Brazil for the World Cup was “building too many stadiums for political reasons.” Some of the 12 stadiums built, like in Manaus, Cuiaba and Brasilia, were in cities with no big team to take over the facilities once the tournament was over.

– Corruption –

For Brazil’s notoriously corrupt local and federal politicians, the spending spree was a bonanza in overbilling, skimming and pay-to-play schemes with contractors. For example, organizers paid three times the market rate for concrete during renovations at the famous Maracana stadium in Rio, which hosted the World Cup final and later the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies. In 2012, former Brazilian star striker Romario, who is now a senator, was predicting that the World Cup would be “the biggest robbery in history.” For ordinary Brazilians, the Germany defeat was probably the bitterest part of the experience. “In the collective memory, that 7-1 humiliation looms larger than all the mistakes committed by Brazil,” wrote sports journalist Rodrigo Mattos in his 2016 book “Ladroes de Bola,” or “Thieves of the ball.” On the plus side, the actual tournament passed off smoothly, an experience that paved the way for the equally successful hosting of the Olympics — despite the behind-the-scenes infrastructure and corruption problems.

World Cup moves onto Qatar and a whole lot of problems

As one of the best World Cups ever ends in Russia, football’s biggest tournament must now prepare for its most controversial, in Qatar in 2022. Since the tournament was handed to the supremely wealthy Gulf state, whose team has never appeared in a World Cup, FIFA’s decision has been roundly questioned and resulted in severe consequences for football and its governing body. The four-year run-up to the Middle East’s first ever World Cup is unlikely to prove any different. With a host rocked by a diplomatic crisis, accused of supporting terrorism, facing allegations of corruption and human rights abuse, a tournament shifted to November and December for the first time and uncertainty over how many teams will take part in 2022, it is fair to say there has never been a World Cup like Qatar’s.

– Gulf crisis threat –

The emirate sold its bid in part by claiming Qatar’s World Cup would be one for the Middle East but that claim has been severely undermined by political events. Since June 2017, a group of neighbouring countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have frozen relations with Qatar, accusing it of backing extremism and being too close to Iran. The crisis has lasted 13 months and shows little sign of abating, instead deepening with Qatar taking the UAE to the International Court of Justice in June. It has unsettled the most stable part of the Middle East and placed 2022 in its crosshairs. Officials in Saudi Arabia and the UAE have openly called for Qatar to be stripped of the World Cup and promised fresh revelations later this year. As part of the crisis, Saudis and UAE citizens are prevented by their own countries from travelling to Qatar; prior to the dispute Doha tournament organisers predicted up to 1.5 million fans arriving for the tournament, many from football-mad Saudi. FIFA has desperately tried to stay out of the bitter and bizarre conflict, but that appears unlikely to last. On July 11 it announced it was preparing to take legal action in Saudi Arabia against pirate broadcasters, transmitting stolen live World Cup games from Qatar’s beIN Sports. And behind all the drama politics continue as FIFA president Gianni Infantino seeks to balance relations with Qatar and his increasingly warm links with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

– List of issues –

The myriad of issues surrounding Qatar 2022 are almost unfathomable. Corruption investigations continue with the Swiss Attorney General’s office examining the awarding of the 2022 tournament as well as an American court case hearing graft claims last year. Qatar denies all allegations, as it does with terror-funding claim by its former allies. The thorny issue of compensation for Europe’s top leagues including Spain, England and Germany because they will suspend their leagues during a “Winter World Cup” remains unresolved, with a payout as high as one billion euros suggested in some quarters. Despite mooted labour reforms affecting some two million migrant workers helping build World Cup venues and related projects, human rights groups remain anxious about the pace of reform promised by Qatar. And the enthusiasm among some FIFA members, including apparently Infantino, for a 48-team World Cup in 2022 rumbles on. Scheduled to be discussed at FIFA’s Moscow Congress it was taken off the agenda, only for senior Qatari World Cup official Nasser Al-Khater to say in Russia on July 7 that a 48-team tournament was doable “if the format is done right”. As if all that is not enough, Qatar now has to follow one of the greatest World Cups, with expectations vastly raised ahead of 2022. And beyond global issues, it will have to deal with more commonplace ones such as how much to limit alcohol sales during 2022. Qatari organisers reportedly sent a team of some 30 officials to Russia and will have noted the large numbers of South American fans and the street party atmosphere in bars, something alien to Doha. Qatar’s World Cup preparations have so far been like none before it and the next four years promise to be no different.

Mourinho confident World Cup heroics will lift Pogba

Mourinho confident World Cup heroics will lift Pogba
Jose Mourinho is confident that the euphoria of lifting the World Cup will provide a boost to Paul Pogba’s club career at Manchester United. Pogba was the subject of criticism from some quarters for his United performances last season and found himself relegated to the bench at times during the second half of the campaign. However, the 25-year-old was instrumental in France’s triumph in Russia, particularly in the final, when he netted the third goal for Didier Deschamps’ side against Croatia. Although Mourinho now expects to be without Pogba for the start of the Premier League season next month, the United boss believes the midfielder will inevitably be in an exuberant mood when he does report back for club duty. “To win the World Cup can only be a positive thing. It’s difficult to say that to win the World Cup is not good for a player’s career. It’s amazing, fantastic,” said Mourinho in Los Angeles, at the start of United’s US pre-season tour. “So many good players have never had the chance to be world champions or their country is not strong enough. “For Paul, I think it’s the first World Cup that he has gone to and to be a world champion can only be fantastic. “It’s a young team, apart from (Hugo) Lloris, they have more Euros and World Cups together. So I think the future for him in the French national team can only be brilliant. “I hope that he understands why he was so good. That’s the point about his performance level and his contribution to a winning team. “It’s important for him to understand why he was so good in the second part of the competition. In the final, he was absolutely brilliant.”

– Mourinho quiet during World Cup –

Mourinho sent Pogba a congratulatory message after the World Cup, yet had no input into his performances when the tournament was underway. “I did with Paul what I did with all my players. I sent a nice message before the World Cup (but) during the World Cup, I decided not to disturb anyone,” he said. “When they are with the national team, especially the World Cup, they don’t need their club manager to be on their shoulders saying yes, well done, happy not happy. They just need to focus on the job. “Then, after the World Cup, I obviously sent a different message to the other guys because he won the competition.” However, the absence of Pogba and United’s other World Cup players at their US training camp is a major concern for Mourinho.

– ‘Pre-season is vey bad’ –

Nine first-team players will miss the entirety of United’s fortnight stay in the States and it won’t be until next week that the trio of Nemanja Matic, David De Gea and new signing Fred link up with the squad. “Pre-season is very bad, I have to say that. The only positive thing of pre-season is for the young boys that have a fantastic opportunity to train with us and know what it is to be a Manchester United first team player,” Mourinho said. “I’m worried because I’m not training and then go to the Premier League without lots of players. “But we have to try to make the best out of it and work with the players we have here. Maybe it’s good for Luke Shaw, Eric Bailly, Andreas Pereira.” Mourinho, who is unsure if United will bring in any further players this summer, has seen his numbers further depleted by the absence of Alexis Sanchez and £19 million new signing Diogo Dalot. Sanchez has been unable to secure a visa to travel to the States, although the club continue their efforts to resolve the issue, while Dalot will miss the start of the season through injury. “If Alexis is not working with us for 15 to 20 days, it will be very bad,” Mourinho said. “I know the club is making the effort. I have to respect the US authorities in their process and selection of visas.” On Dalot, he added: “We knew he was injured, a small injury, a small surgery. “He’s recovering really well and we think he can start training when we go back to England. Not ready for the start of the season, but I think ready for September.”

Hazard and Courtois futures in board’s hands says Sarri

Hazard and Courtois futures in board's hands says Sarri
The futures of star Belgian duo Eden Hazard and Thibaut Courtois can be decided by the Chelsea board said the club’s new manager Maurizio Sarri on Wednesday. The 59-year-old Italian speaking at his unveiling, after being appointed the successor to sacked compatriot Antonio Conte, admitted to being disinterested by the transfer market. This will be music to the board’s ears as one of the reasons for Conte falling out badly with them shortly after guiding the club to the Premier League title in 2017 was his carping over a lack of say in buying new players and the ones being bought were not of the same level to those who left. Hazard and Courtois both shone at the World Cup — the latter winning The Golden Glove for goalkeeper of the tournament as Belgium finished a best ever third — but with their contracts running down have been linked with moves to Spain. Hazard said after the Belgians beat England 2-0 in the third place play-off last Saturday it “Might be time to discover something different,” and Real Madrid are prepared to pay a reported £200million ($260million, 224million euros) for the Belgian playmaker. Sarri, who forged his reputation in charge of Napoli guiding them to runners-up twice and third in his other season, said of course it would be for the better to keep the best players. “Clearly we would always like to keep all the strongest players,” said Sarri, who began in English but switched to his native Italian so he did not “say anything wrong”. “This is what any manager wants to do, this is what any club wants to do. “Then we will have to see how the transfer market goes over the next few days. “I think that I am one of the few managers who is bored by the transfer market. “I don’t want to talk about the transfer market and I’m not that interested in it.” Sarri described Hazard as one of the top two or three players in Europe and said he would like to meet with him. Hazard, though, is on holiday and Sarri admitted phoning him would not be sufficient. “A telephone call without looking them in the eye would not give me any certainty,” said Sarri. “I’d like to meet them face to face. I would also like a player to come on the (training) pitch four or five days to have a clear idea.”

– ‘Extremely difficult challenge’ –

Sarri, a chain-smoking former banker, said he came to the Chelsea job with an open mind and had chosen not to ask his successor at Napoli and former Chelsea handler Carlo Ancelotti for any advice or insight into a post that has seen many different faces down the years since Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003. “Well, for me this is a difficult challenge, but a fascinating one,” said Sarri. “I know it will be very difficult and here we have the strongest coaches in the world and the strongest players in the world. “I know this will be an extremely difficult challenge for me. “I have not asked anything of anyone.” Despite having won no silverware Sarri was named Serie A coach for the 2016/17 season and has praised Conte for what he had achieved in his two year spell at the club. Conte won the FA Cup last term, but crucially failed to secure them a spot in this season’s Champions League. “This is a post-World Cup time,” said Sarri. “It will take some time to build a slightly different way of playing. “All good things Antonio Conte did must be left. They must not be changed.” Sarri, whose methods are admired by title winners Manchester City’s manager Pep Guardiola, said he would not go into the discussions he had had with Abramovich. “They have just asked me to build a season to be competitive in all competitions,” said Sarri. “Then during the season we’ll see whether or not we want to have more specific objectives.”

Pakistan, India can rule the world of cricket – Javed Miandad

Pakistan, India can rule the world of cricket - Javed Miandad
Former Pakistan captain and batting legend Javed Miandad has said he wants to see regular Pakistan and India bilateral series. Miandad questioned the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) that if the teams can play each other in the World Cup, Champions Trophy, World T20 and Asia Cup, then they can play each other in a bilateral series. “We (Pakistan and India) can rule the world of cricket if we work and play together,” he said. Speaking about the International Cricket Council’s decision to convert 2021 Champions Trophy into a T20 event, Miandad said it was a good thing. “People are more interested in watching T20 cricket than Tests or ODIs,” he said. “However, the ICC must keep a strict eye on match-fixing issues as shorter formats involve a bigger threat of fixing,” he added.

Former Wales captain Warburton retires at age 29

Former Wales captain Warburton retires at age 29
LONDON – Former Wales captain Sam Warburton has retired from rugby union at the age of 29 after failing to return to peak fitness following neck and knee surgery, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) said on Wednesday. Flanker Warburton, who was capped 74 times by his country and played five tests for the British and Irish Lions, led Wales in a record 49 matches. He recently returned to pre-season training with his club Cardiff Blues. “Unfortunately, after a long period of rest and rehabilitation the decision to retire from rugby has been made with my health and wellbeing as a priority as my body is unable to give me back what I had hoped for on my return to training,” Warburton told the WRU website here.W08cMdUzZyw. Warburton led Wales to the 2012 Six Nations title and at two World Cups. His last match was the Lions’ test draw against the All Blacks in June, 2017. “I cannot thank the Welsh Rugby Union and Cardiff Blues enough, who have gone beyond the call of duty, in providing the support I received to help me get back on the field, for which I will be forever grateful,” Warburton added. Wales coach Warren Gatland, who gave Warburton the Wales and British and Irish Lions captaincy, paid tribute to his contribution to both teams.
“His leadership, attitude and demeanour along with his performances have placed Sam up there as one of the best and most respected players in the world,” Gatland said. Warburton helped the Lions beat Australia in 2013, their first series win in 16 years. He became only the second man to skipper the Lions on two tours and led them to a series draw with world champions New Zealand last year. “He finishes with a record that he should be extremely proud of and should look back on his career with huge pride… I hope he can take the time to reflect on a magnificent career,” Gatland added.
Warburton’s final match was the Lions’ 15-15 draw with the All Blacks in the third test in June, 2017.

Sri Lanka seeks ‘clear rules’ on ball tampering

Sri Lanka seeks 'clear rules' on ball tampering
Sri Lanka’s sports minister called on the International Cricket Council to establish “simple, clear rules” Wednesday after skipper Dinesh Chandimal was punished for ball tampering. “Laws governing the offence / act of altering the condition of the ball are somewhat vague and lack clarity,” Faiszer Musthapha said in a statement. “I invite the ICC to revisit the applicable laws and ensure that a set of simple, clear and certain rules and procedures are put in place.” He did not elaborate but the statement came after Chandimal, coach Chandika Hathurusingha and manager Asanka Gurusinha were sanctioned following a tampering scandal. Chandimal refused to take the field for two hours on the third day of the second Test against the West Indies last month after he was accused of ball tampering on the previous day. Chandimal as well as Hathurusingha and Gurusinha were banned for two Tests and four one-day internationals for violating the spirit of the game by holding up the second Test against West Indies by two hours. At the start of the first Test against a touring South African team last week, Chandimal and his tourist counterpart Faf du Plessis said they wanted a list of do’s and don’ts from the ICC match referee. Although the use of saliva or sweat to shine the ball is an accepted practice, using any other substance — such as sugary residue from sweets — is prohibited. Chandimal was slapped with a 100 percent fine of his match fees and banned from the third Test against the West Indies last month after he was found guilty of tampering. Match referee Javagal Srinath said Chandimal applied saliva containing the residue of something he had in his mouth to the ball, in violation of the ICC Code of Conduct. The ICC last week unveiled tougher sanctions for ball tampering and sledging in a bid to improve on-field behaviour in the sport. The changes came in the wake of a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa in March that saw Steve Smith stripped of the Australian captaincy and suspended from international and domestic cricket for a year. His teammates David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were also banned. Du Plessis said tougher sanctions would make players think twice before putting something in their mouth and then using saliva to shine the ball.

Faheem, Fakhar lead Pakistan to a thumping win

Fakhar Zaman Faheem Ashraf Pakistan Zimbabwe
BULAWAYO: Pakistan won the third One Day International against Zimbabwe in a dominating display of bowling and batting to seal the five-match series 3-0. Zimbabwe crumbled to 67 all out in the match played at Bulawayo stadium. Pakistan lost opener Imam ul Haq on the first ball of their innings, but it was the only hiccup of Pakistan’s batting line. Opener Fakhar Zaman continued his rich form and contributed 43 runs off 24 balls, while Babar Azam played a careful inning of 19 off 34 deliveries. Pakistan galloped to the target in 9.5 overs. Earlier, Faheem Ashraf grabbed five wickets for 22 runs in his maiden five wickets haul. Zimbabwe chose to bat first after winning the toss, which proved to be disastrous for them. Usman Khan Shinwari got the first wicket of Zimbabwe, while Faheem Ashraf and Junaid Khan did the major damage. Faheem Ashraf took his first ODI five-wicket haul, while Junaid Khan two wickets conceding 22 (8.1) runs. The leg-spinning duo of Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan took one wicket apiece in the inning. Pakistan had win the second one-day international against Zimbabwe by nine wickets. Opener Fakhar Zaman eased to his second ODI century, finishing with a career-best 117 not out, to seal a win that had been set up by Pakistan’s seam attack, who bowled Zimbabwe out for 194. Earlier, Pakistan stormed to a 201-run win over the hosts in the opening game of the series. Career-best efforts from opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq and leg spinner Shadab Khan ensured that Pakistan kept control through both innings. Opener Imam cracked 128 runs as Pakistan made 308 for 7. Khan then made short work of Zimbabwe’s lower order to collect 4 for 32 as the hosts were bowled out in the 35th over for 107.

Morgan rejoices as Root back in the runs – but don’t mention the ‘mic drop’

Joe Root England India Eoin Morgan
LEEDS: Eoin Morgan was glad to see the return of the “Joe Root we know and trust” as his second successive unbeaten hundred helped England clinch the one-day international series against India. But the England captain was bemused by the star batsman’s “mic-drop” celebration as he scored the winnings runs on Tuesday. England beat India by eight wickets at Root’s Headingley home ground to complete a come-from-behind 2-1 series win. “The composure he’s shown, particularly in the last two games, is the Joe Root we know and trust,” said Morgan. “He’s been outstanding even when he’s been low on runs — around the group he’s been the same guy, hungry for runs, hopefully, that continues for the rest of the summer.” Root’s Yorkshire colleagues David Willey and Adil Rashid took three wickets apiece as the tourists were restricted to 256 for eight. Root (100 not out) and Morgan (88 not out) shared an unbroken third-wicket stand of 186 as England won with 33 balls to spare. Test skipper Root hit the winning boundary to reach three figures and end India’s run of nine straight bilateral ODI series wins. It was an impressive display by England, who top the ODI rankings with India second, especially as they had lost by eight wickets in the series opener at Trent Bridge last week. “We started poorly (but) as the series has gone on we have improved,” Morgan said. “It is a benefit of playing a bilateral series. You play against the same team over and over again, it can present different challenges — that constant improvement has been brilliant since Trent Bridge.

– ‘Clinical’ victory –

“Today I thought it was clinical, right from the get-go.” Root had helped spark the recovery with an unbeaten 113 in an 86-run win in the second ODI at Lord’s on Saturday, after being dropped from the final match of the preceding 2-1 Twenty20 series loss to India. It was a reminder that although he may not be the biggest hitter, there is still a place for Root’s stylish, more traditional, approach in the white-ball game, with his 13th hundred putting him ahead of Marcus Trescothick as England’s leading ODI century-maker. Just about the only jarring note of Root’s innings was when he dropped his bat deliberately after reaching three figures, a gesture more associated with rock stars and stand-up comedians. “He caught me off guard completely. He’s made a fool of himself!” joked Morgan. Root was named man-of-the-series but the man-of-the-match award went to county colleague Rashid after the leg-spinner took three wickets for 49 runs in his 10 overs. Rashid claimed the prize scalp of India captain Virat Kohli for 71 with a classic delivery that pitched on leg and turned sharply to hit off stump. A stunned Kohli was left staring the pitch in disbelief before beginning a slow walk back into the pavilion. “It’s definitely the most satisfying wicket I’ve taken,” Rashid said. “Virat Kohli is one of the best players in the world.” Having whitewashed a weakened Australia 5-0 last month, the manner of victory in Tuesday’s winner-takes-all clash would have further encouraged England, who will look to win the World Cup for the first time next year as hosts. “They are obviously favourites because its their home conditions,” India paceman Shardul Thakur said. “England know better how to play cricket here, so other teams have a big challenge to play here.”

Faheem Ashraf’s five-wicket haul restricts Zimbabwe to 67 runs

Faheem Ashraf's five-wicket haul restricts Zimbabwe to 67 runs
Pakistan’s bowlers rattled Zimbabwe’s batting line in the third ODI of the five-match series where they restricted the hosts to just 67 runs. Zimbabwe chose to bat first after winning the toss, which proved to be disastrous for them. Usman Khan Shinwari once again initiated the destruction, while Faheem Ashraf and Junaid Khan did the major damage. Faheem Ashraf took his first ODI five-wicket haul, while Junaid Khan two wickets conceding 22 (8.1) and 7 (5) runs respectively. The leg-spinning duo of Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan took one wicket each in the inning. Chamu Chibhabha remained the highest scorer for Zimbabwe with 16 runs, while the skipper Hamilton Masakadza managed 10 runs.