Tuesday, January 31, 2006

FIFA fears World Cup theft

Whoever wins the World Cup this year may only be allowed to keep the trophy for six weeks after a FIFA official revealed that football's world governing body fears the trophy may be stolen.

Until now, it has been customary for the winning team to keep the trophy until they defend the title in the following finals tournament.

However, spokesman Thomas von Ubrizsy, who is in Ecuador with the trophy as part of the 'FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour', claimed there would be a change in the rules. He said: "In the future, FIFA wants to reduce the time to six or seven weeks. The Board fears a theft, like the Jules Rimet Cup."

The Jules Rimet Trophy, the predecessor of the current World Cup, was stolen twice.

The first was in 1966 in England although it was later discovered under a hedge by a dog called Pickles.

The second time it was stolen from the Brazilian Football Federation in 1983 and subsequently melted down.

Brazil had been given the trophy permanently for winning it three times.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Melita to air all 64 World Cup games

It must come as a great relief for soccer enthusiasts to know that all Germany 2006 World Cup matches will be aired on Melita Cable for a subscription fee.

For the past decades, the Maltese have followed the World Cup on Italian state-owned channel Rai and lately even on PBS. But the free-to-air status of the world's most-followed sports event was dealt a major blow by FIFA last year when it sold the broadcasting rights of Germany 2006, meaning that state television would not be able to broadcast all the games for free as it used to.

However, Melita Cable said yesterday it had acquired the exclusive rights to broadcast all 64 matches locally for both digital and analogue subscribers, specifically on Melita Sports One and Melita Sports Two of the six sports channels available on digital, and on channels 47 and 48 (the Sports Channel) on analogue subscriptions.

Melita Cable's head of sales and marketing, Franco de Gabriele, said all games would be broadcast live against a monthly subscription fee - Lm5.81 for the Sports Channel (analogue) and Lm6 for Melita Sports (digital).

Melita was also trying to make arrangements with one of the local television stations so that the opening ceremony, the final match, the two semi-finals and the match for the third place can be broadcast free of charge, Mr Degabriele said. Besides the actual matches, which will be broadcast with foreign commentary, Melita will provide pre- and post-match analysis through a locally-produced programme, together with an official preview series of 16 weekly episodes that will include features on the history of the World Cup and interviews with players and teams.

Besides broadcasting the games between June 9 and July 9, Melita will be airing the 2006 FIFA World Cup Gala, to be held in Berlin two days before the opening.

Melita Group chairman Joe Gasan said the company had worked very hard to buy the rights. He would not divulge the amount Melita paid FIFA but did say the package was "not cheap".

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Coca-Cola raises World Cup dream

The Coca-Cola Company, has expressed its resounding belief that Nigeria can win the World Cup in the near future, as the country has all the potentials. This optimism was expressed at the press conference as well as the private viewing event of the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, by the Division President for Coca-Cola Nigeria and Equitorial Africa, Mr. Larry Drake.

He stated that "Nigeria winning the World Cup is not an impossible task. But we at Coca-Cola believe that hard work, dedication and most importantly long term preparation and consistent support preparation are the key success factors. This way, you are ready when the opportunity comes. We can conquer if we believe we can. To this end, Coca-Cola. is making a major investment over the next four years in pursuit of this vision."

The FIFA World Cup Trophy will be visiting 29 countries, and for the first time ever, the authentic solid gold FIFA World Cup trophy has landed in Nigeria for the first time. Larry Drake pointed out though Nigeria did not qualify for the World Cup, "Coca-Cola felt the need to bring the real FIFA World Cup trophy to Nigeria, so that our people can share in this spectacular experience. Having had the excitement of viewing the authentic World Cup Trophy, the next major moment will be to win it. No single sport speaks to the world like football and no single brand speaks to the world like Coca-Cola.’
Also speaking at the press conference, the Marketing Director of Coca-Cola Nigeria, Ms Anne Harte, explained that the ‘World Cup Trophy Tour comes out of our commitment by Coca-Cola to connect with Nigerians' passion for football and to present our football activity in a way no other brand can.
"The fans experience is an amazing event that offers fans all kinds of sensory and physical experiences. It will include interactive sessions, photo trophy area and a movie experience room where a fantastic 3-Dimensional film will show the trophy in a spectacular manner.

The Marketing Director said that the 4 teenage trophy bearers who escorted the trophy to Nigeria were chosen for their academic performance, their interest in sports and their overall contribution. It is important to recognise and reward diligence, sound character and a unifying spirit amongst teenagers.
The Franchise director, Mr. Carl Willis, restated that "Coca-Cola and football have become symbolically synonymous, and together, they are a natural fusion of real delight and pleasure."
The managing Director of the Nigerian Bottling Company, Mr. Marcel Martin concluded that the "the world cup trophy tour by Coca-Cola, should give us all a taste of the excitement and passion that we will all share in 2010, when I believe Nigeria will win the first ever world Cup in 2010."

Friday, January 06, 2006

World Cup stadiums not safe: Stiftung Warentest

The stadiums used for the 2006 World Cup in Germany are not fully safe and there are even some "considerable" safety deficits, a consumer group said on Friday.

Stiftung Warentest, a foundation which test products, said an inspection of the 12 arenas revealed that a mass panic in a full stadium could for instance have a "devastating effect" and that there were deficits as well in the area of fire protection.

Further details on Stiftung Warentest's inspection are to be released at a news conference on January 19.

The organising committee said it believes the criticism mainly concerns emergency lanes and exits, but could not say anything more because it had not
received the Stiftung Warentest report.

"I was informed up to now that there were no major problems. I know that an inspection has taken place, but nothing beyond that. If there are problems it would only be fair to allow us to comment on it," said organising committee vice-president Horst R. Schmidt.

In recent months the roof constructions of the stadiums in Frankfurt and Kaiserslautern made negative headlines.

The Frankfurt roof failed to close twice, leading to cascades of rain onto the pitch during the Confederations Cup final and a Bundesliga match. The Kaiserslautern stadium was even closed for safety reasons in December because parts of the roof came down.

In addition, statics problems were recorded in the Nuremberg stadium.

The three incidents prompted world football supremo Joseph Blatter to tell the organising committee that all stadiums needed to be thoroughly inspected again and that FIFA will monitor the situation very closely.

Stadium managers remained calm on Friday, with Hamburg's Kurt Kraegel insisting that "top security not only applies at the World Cup but every fortnight in the Bundesliga as well" were even more fans were allowed into the stadiums.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Italy striker Cassano signs for Real Madrid

Italy striker Antonio Cassano is joining Real Madrid on a four and a half-year deal from Serie A club AS Roma, the Primera Liga side said on Tuesday.

"Real Madrid and Roma have reached an agreement over the signing of Antonio Cassano," Real said on their website.

"The 23-year-old Italian international will sign for the club until 2010 pending a medical examination which will be carried out on Wednesday.

"He will be presented to the media at the (Bernabeu) stadium at 1200 GMT."

Spanish media reported that Real had paid around 5.5 million euros ($6.54 million) for Cassano who had been embroiled in a dispute with the Italian club over his contract which was due to expire at the end of the season.

The Italian, who has a reputation as a difficult character, cost Roma $28.5 million when he signed from Bari in 2001.

"I've always dreamed of playing in the strongest team in the world and now that dream has come true," he told Real's website.

"Playing for Real Madrid is so important that I'm approaching it with a mixture of delight and responsibility."

The striker added that he was confident he would be able to help the nine-times European champions end their two-year trophy drought and win some silverware this season.

"I'm the sort of player that likes to be a leader when I play and I like to transmit my feelings to the people ... I'm convinced that we are going to play well and that we can aspire to win everything."