*** Zinedine Zidane claims, in interview with sports daily L’Equip, that he backed Qatar’s 2022 World Cup bid to help grow the sport in the Middle East. Zidane denied that his involvement was purely for the money. In fact, he claimed to have received no personal benefit at all, stating that the millions of Euros he received were distributed entirely to charities, such as the Zinedine Zidane Tahitian Beach House Foundation, and the Zinedine Zidane Center for the Furtherance of his Personal Automobile Collection. Zidane further added that his headbutting of Marco Materazzi in the final of the 2006 World Cup was intended to help facilitate world peace.
*** MLS dashes Atlanta’s hopes for franchise. In recent months, Arthur Blank, the founder of Home Depot and owner of the Atlanta Falcons, has been taking time out of his busy tanning schedule to lobby MLS for an expansion franchise. Don Garber, however, rejected the Bea Arthur lookalike’s overtures stating that there would be no franchise until they had a plan in place to build a new soccer specific stadium. I’m not terribly familiar with the geography of Atlanta, but if you live in a distant suburb full of parking lots, strip malls, and lightly-used industrial parks, you may someday be in store for a modest low-budget soccer stadium in your neighborhood.
*** UEFA withdraws threat against Ukraine. Previously, we reported that UEFA was rattling its saber, threatening to withdraw Ukraine’s right to host the 2012 Euro championship due to political influence over the soccer federation. After the Ukranian government and federation officials assured UEFA that no further interference would occur, UEFA said that Ukraine would remain co-host of the event. It is unclear yet how many cars these “assurances” can purchase.
*** According to the Zimbabwean, “The Zimbabwe Football Association will get a whooping $300 000 bonus from world soccer governing body FIFA” http://bit.ly/fZGPLE (emphasis added). It is unclear what makes this bonus, which stems from FIFA’s huge profits from the 2010 World Cup, so noisy but hopefully it will be spent before it causes undue disruption for the poor citizens of Harare. [Aw, yea - I went there - take that online editor of low-budget African newspaper!]