Tuesday, December 22, 2009

James McCarthy looking for loan move

James McCarthy is hoping to go out on loan in January after failing to break into Wigan Athletic's first team following his move from Hamilton Accies.

The 19-year-old Ireland Under-21 international linked up with The Latics last summer after joining in a deal that could rise as high as £3million depending on appearances.

However, McCarthy, who was a first-team regular during his time at New Douglas Park, has been restricted to just two appearances totalling 83 minutes under Roberto Martinez.

McCarthy knows he is one for the future and has stiff competition ahead of him for places in Martinez's squad, however, he is keen to continue his education by gaining more experience.

"It is a big squad and it is difficult to get in the team, and it is a big step up from the SPL to the Premier League," he told the Glasgow Evening Times.

"If something comes in and the gaffer is happy for me to go out on loan and get some first-team games then I will be happy to do that.

"If not, I just need to try and work myself into the Wigan team."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Keogh out for three months - One Team In Ireland

Ireland international forward Andy Keogh suffered a long-term injury blow and has been ruled out for three months after damaging a ligament and tendon in his ankle in training yesterday and is set to undergo surgery.

Wolves Manager Mick McCarthy said: “Very sadly, Andy has damaged his ankle ligaments and tendon and has to have an operation. He will be out for 12 weeks.

“It’s a huge blow, because he is a great kid and he was so devastated when he got the news after he did it yesterday. He was running through on goal and got clipped as he landed.

“He scored a goal jumping over Wayne Hennessey and just rocked his ankle.”

Keogh was arguably Wolves’ best player in pre-season and had a superb first month in the Premier League, with the winner at Wigan the highlight of his encouraging early performances.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Charlize Theron continues her Irish support

Ireland didn't get to the World Cup, but Irish fans have a new champion in the form of Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron.

South African Charlize hosted the World Cup draw in front of millions of viewers across the globe last night, and made her feelings clear on France contesting the World Cup.

The star is in a long-term relationship with Irish actor Stuart Townsend and is a regular visitor to these shores.

Stuart is a fan of the Irish football team, and must have been disappointed by the controversial game between France and Ireland which saw cheating Thierry Henry's handball lead to the decisive goal which brought France to the World Cup.

Oscar winner Charlize was asked by tournament organisers to host the draw as she's from South Africa.

A host of sporting stars from across Africa and David Beckham were also asked to be involved.

South Africa are in group A -- and France were drawn in the same group. This prompted a number of boos in the auditorium, which led the actress to say: "Sometimes, I think 'no comment' speaks louder than words."

During rehearsals for the draw a day previously, Charlize jokingly pulled out Ireland for the draw to the embarrassment of the 'under-fire' FIFA president and his corporate stooges.

Given blasts discredited FIFA President

Shay Given has spoken for the first time about The France v Ireland World Cup play-off game and called the result and referee decision an 'injustice'.

Speaking to the Daily Mail Given said ‘Had the tables been turned and it’d happened to France I’d love to have seen the outcome. That’s an interesting question to ask with Michel Platini being the head of UEFA and Sepp Blatter up there. You’d love to know the outcome then, eh?’

Given is as unimpressed by Blatter as he is by Swedish referee Martin Hansson. The Donegal man is a phlegmatic character but this is a situation you feel he will never be able to relax about.

‘I still feel angry about the whole thing,’ he said. ‘All the stuff from FIFA and Sepp Blatter — just rubbish. A couple of days ago Blatter said he’d spoken to Henry and how it wasn’t his fault, it was the referee’s. A couple of days on and FIFA say they’re going to look into Henry.

‘Blatter didn’t have the decency to ring up our captain, Robbie Keane, and say, “I’m really sorry”. Blatter’s saying, “Oh, I’ve just spoken to Thierry and it’s all OK”. All the Irish players are sitting thinking, “Oh, well done, brilliant. Just rub more salt in the wound, why don’t you?”

'I can’t get over it, I’ve had so many sleepless nights just thinking about it. And they show it on TV 20 times a day so it’s hard to forget. I know we’ve to move on but then we’ll get it again next year when the World Cup’s on. It just beggars belief.

‘The officials have said since it wasn’t their fault. What can you say? It’s all a load of b*******. And all that rabbiting on from Blatter? That’s b******* as well.

‘It’s hard to explain, even now to you. My sister says she’s not slept. Everyone is really hurt by it all. They say it’s only a game of football but it’s more than that with something like this.’

Richard Dunne tells FIFA to shove their award

Ireland defender Richard Dunne said talk of Fifa giving his side a special award following their World Cup exit was "taking the mickey".

Ireland were controversially eliminated by France in the play-offs when Thierry Henry's handball set up the winning goal for William Gallas.

Didcredited Fifa president Sepp Blatter said the Ireland may get "moral compensation".

But Dunne said: "It's taking the mickey - give the Irish a plaque instead of going to the World Cup. It's a sop."

Blatter has said Fifa's disciplinary committee will look into Henry's handball incident incident in the crucial second-leg play-off match last month.

But Dunne said any gesture would not make up for the fact he would not be participating in next summer's World Cup finals in South Africa.

"It doesn't affect me one little bit what Fifa will do with Thierry Henry," Dunne said.

"Whether he plays in the World Cup or not, I won't be. Whatever Fifa do will probably be wrong anyway.

"From the moment the rules were changed for the play-offs, when the seedings were brought in, it was decided they wanted France through.

"It's always the same way Fifa think about Irish football. Unless you are a massive country or have massive sponsorship you're not going to be welcome."

And the Aston Villa centre-half said the Republic had no interest in getting an award from Fifa: "They can keep it.

"I would be very surprised if Robbie Keane, our captain, was going over to collect it."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Charlize Theron mocks FIFA with Ireland ball

At this stage we all accept that it is the nearest Ireland will get to the World Cup draw.

Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron (34) yesterday pulled an 'Ireland' ball out of the bowl during a rehearsal for the much-anticipated draw, which will take place in Cape Town tomorrow. Ms Theron, whose long-term partner is Irish actor Stuart Townsend, pulled out the 'Ireland' ball instead of a 'France' ball. No doubt the discredited president of FIFA Sepp Blatter would not have seen the funny side as his organisation and its Fair Play code have been badly tarnished by Blatter's support for Henry and his recent admission that he cheated himself as an amateur player, and found it acceptable behaviour.

Theron was having a laugh at FIFA's expense after the recent Contraversy when Thierry Henry helped cheat his way to the World Cup finals in the play-off game against Ireland.

"Yes, she did, but it was only a joke," FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said.

FIFA are the biggest losers over Blatter's disrespect

On the day Fifa killed off any chance the rule changes the Football Association Of Ireland has been calling for might be introduced in time for next summer’s World Cup, John Delaney, The FAI chief described the game’s governing body as the “biggest losers” in the controversy that has followed the play-off game in Paris and Sepp Blatter (sort of) apologised for the “wrong interpretation” of his comments regarding the association’s request to be added to the line-up for the event.

Members of Fifa’s executive committee did not, in the end, get the opportunity to follow their president’s lead by laughing at the Irish association’s request after the FAI sent word they would prefer the matter was not considered. At least in this regard Blatter and co were able to accommodate their colleagues in Abbotstown.

The key elements of Delaney’s submission in Zurich; that video be used to assist referees, that extra match officials be used and that the rules of the game should be reviewed so as to allow for the retrospective punishment of players who commit game-changing offences, were effectively disregarded, however.

Thierry Henry’s blatant handball offence in Paris is to become the subject of a disciplinary hearing but the organisation announced that the other issues shall be referred to a variety of committees who will examine the merits of introducing video evidence and additional match officials at some point after this World Cup.

Delaney reacted angrily, meanwhile, both to Blatter’s decision to make public the association’s request to be handed a place at next summer’s finals and the Fifa president’s demeanour as he did it.

“Well, it (Blatter’s laughter) was inappropriate and it was disrespectful to our country,” he said. “It was a confidential meeting we had last Friday, everybody agreed that it would be a confidential meeting, so when you have that it means that everything is kept indoors.

“The suggestion about a 33rd team or an extra team playing at the World Cup was very much peripheral to the conversations that took place. There was an hour and a half of a meeting and I think that was discussed maybe for a minute or two within the hour and a half. And there were far more substantial issues discussed than that issue.

“What he chose to do was breach confidentiality in a way that suited him – in an a la carte fashion – and I was disappointed that a president of Fifa would behave in such a way.”

Blatter, meanwhile, provided a wonderfully 'qualified' expression of regret for everybody else’s behaviour in relation to his handling of the matter. “I would like to express my regrets,” he said, “to a wrong interpretation of what I said and, to the FAI, I’m sorry about the headlines going around the world. I have nothing against the Irish, they were very sporting when they came to Fifa.”

That barely seemed adequate for Delaney who said that he had contacted his opposite number at Fifa, general secretary Jerome Valcke, to complain about Monday’s carry on in Cape Town.

“I gather that Blatter has apologised today. And he should do because he insulted us as a country. I tried to impress upon him last Friday the hurt that was in our country over how the whole Henry incident had affected our ability to qualify for the World Cup, and he clearly didn’t understand that given the way he acted subsequently.”

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Discredited Blatter forced to apologise to FAI

Discredited Fifa president Sepp Blatter has issued an apology to the Football Association of Ireland after he was accused of breaking assurances of private discussions regarding the ongoing World Cup saga.

The row erupted in the continuing fall-out from Ireland's elimination by France after Thierry Henry's now infamous handball.

FAI claimed Blatter had gone against his word by making the talks public knowledge and that it was asked for the subject of a 33rd team in next summer's finals to be ignored at Wednesday's meeting of Fifa's executive committee in Cape Town.

The accusation came after Blatter had originally raised the subject at the Soccerex business conference in Johannesburg earlier this week and his words were greeted with laughter from some delegates and businessmen present.

Bungling Blatter said: "In this connection I would like to express my regrets - my regrets to a wrong interpretation of what I have said in the Soccerex.

"I have only announced they have asked it, but the presence in the Soccerex they don't took it very, I would say, seriously.

"So I regret what I have created and especially towards the Irish Football Association, I am sorry about these headlines going around the world.

"Contrary I have nothing against the Irish, they were very sporting people when they came to Fifa and it is a pity that it has been now communicated in this way.

Blatter's half-hearted apology is unlikely to quell the growing unease at his poor leadership over the last few weeks and his personal comments have made a mockery of FIFA's so called Fair Play code.

FAI criticise FIFA President Blatter

The Football Association Of Ireland today voiced its displeasure that issues in the meeting with FIFA were 'singled out in public by FIFA President Sepp Blatter despite his assurances that the meeting would remain private.'

Blatter jokingly revealed at a press conference that the FAI had requested a 33rd nation place at the World Cup in South Africa.

The FAI also said it requested that the matter would not be raised at today's FIFA Executive Committee meeting.

The Association said it knew an additional place at the World Cup was never a possibility, while also criticising FIFA president Sepp Blatter's handling of the issue.

The full FAI statement.

The Football Association of Ireland acknowledges that the suggestion of an additional place at the World Cup is not a possibility and has requested yesterday that it will not be raised at today's FIFA Executive Committee meeting.

The FAI has already clarified that this matter was peripheral, was not raised in any of its formal written submissions to FIFA, and was explored only fleetingly as part of a wide-ranging 90 minute discussion with that body. Regrettably the matter appears to have been singled out in public by Mr Blatter despite his assurances that the meeting would remain private.

Instead of diverting attention, we would prefer that Mr Blatter uses this opportunity to deal with the issues which have been raised formally for the benefit of football worldwide.

1) Ensure that FIFA's rules cannot be changed mid-way through a tournament, for whatever reason, commercial or otherwise.

2) Introduce video technology for matches at the highest level which has been resisted for too long and which would have avoided the error that led, in part, to today's meeting.

3) Implement additional goal line assistant referees for all FIFA international matches.

4) In future, introduce stronger sanctions for players involved in match defining breaches of the Laws of the Game.

5) Issue a clear statement that FIFA does not condone breaches of the Laws of the Game. For a man in Mr Blatter's position to empathise with someone who scored a goal by cheating is inappropriate.

The FAI raised these matters only so that the likelihood of such incidents recurring be reduced and now leaves their consideration in the hands of football's world governing body.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Liam Brady blasts Sepp Blatter

Ireland assistant manager Liam Brady has blasted FIFA president Sepp Blatter for revealing the supposedly confidential details of a meeting with the FAI.

Speaking at a conference in South Africa, Blatter stated that the Irish had enquired at the meeting as to the possibility of being invited to next summer's World Cup as a '33rd nation' after their controversial play-off exit at the hands of France.

Blatter was seen to join in with the laughter that this news created at the meeting, and Brady is disgusted with the FIFA president.

"I was told that the FAI went to a supposedly private meeting with Mr Blatter and officials from FIFA a couple of evenings ago," he told Sky Sports News.

"I don't think they believed that Mr Blatter was going to reveal what was said at the meeting. I believe that they agreed it would be confidential.

"But I'm afraid Mr Blatter is a bit of a law unto himself.

"I thought he was very disrespectful how he presented this fact the other day at a business conference in South Africa.

"He totally ignored most of the controversial things that went on that evening. He never had anything to say about those at all. Like Henry's behaviour after scoring that goal and how that stands within his campaign to have fair play within the game.

"You see the goal and Henry celebrates as if he's done nothing wrong.

"Is that fair play? Hardly. But Mr Blatter chose to talk about our request to be considered as the 33rd team.

"I think when we asked for that we knew there was very little chance of that happening. We asked because we wanted to have them respond in a measured way and see what they had to say.

"After all Mr Blatter is responsible for the officials. He didn't say anything about the appalling mistake the official made to miss such a blatant handball.

"He didn't even have the grace to acknowledge the behaviour of the Irish players after the game. Not one player got booked after that incident, not one player got booked after the match.

"There were 20,000 Irish fans in the stadium. Not one fan caused trouble in the stadium in Paris that night, or in the city that night.

"Now I think my country deserves a little more recognition from Blatter than the way he presented it to the press conference in South Africa yesterday.

"I think the man is a bit of a loose cannon and embarrassment to FIFA."

Brady was also disgusted with the way in which Blatter had seemed to treat the matter as a joke in South Africa, and his revelations had been greeted with laughter by some of the audience.

"The way he presented it was bound to be," Brady added.

"He was presenting it to business people, and he's very close to business people. I think people will be watching Mr Blatter and his decisions very closely from now on.

"And of course England will have a lot to do with him, because they're trying to get the World Cup in 2018 and Mr Blatter will have a big say in that."

Brady also hinted at a broader conspiracy in favour of the bigger European sides.

"I've been a player and gone to Paris a couple of times and been on the wrong end of decisions," he said.

"I think when it comes to the big teams and big business in football you'll find that they usually get the decisions.

"Forget about that. We can accept that. What we can't accept is how he's presented the case to the media in South Africa yesterday.

"He needs to show some respect."

Houghton brands Blatter 'a disgrace'

Ireland legend Ray Houghton has branded FIFA president Sepp Blatter ' a disgrace' and accused him of ridiculing the Irish public after laughing at, and blowing out of proportion the FAI's request to be the 33rd team at the World Cup finals. The FAI are said to be bemused by the manner in which Blatter highlighted that particular aspect of the meeting (33rd team) and, privately, are well aware that it's a fanciful notion. Nor, when they actually met with FIFA last Friday, did the FAI propose any kind of mechanism for accommodating an extra team in the World Cup finals in South Africa'

Indeed, a written submission made by the FAI to FIFA contained no mention of that suggestion and instead focused on improvements to the game such as video technology, extra officials and sanctions for individuals who bend the rules. 'In fact, in their written submission to FIFA preceding the meeting, the FAI had not even mentioned the idea of filling an extra berth at next summer’s finals in South Africa, instead concentrating on issues designed to prevent incidents such as the controversial French goal in Paris from occurring again.

Blatter and the executive committee chuckled as he announced this and Houghton, who won 73 Irish caps, said: 'What he's doing is taking the mickey out of the Irish public as if they don't really matter.

'It's a disgrace. They were laughing at the Irish public which is shocking. The players worked so hard for two years to get to the World Cup and then some fellow's laughing about it and he's the head of FIFA.

'I can't believe he's in the position he is. When you're looking for leadership qualities and someone to make a stand...what's going to happen to Thierry Henry? Nothing.

'What we're saying now is that you can cheat and score and it's alright. That sends out the wrong message to the kids and what we need is someone to say 'this is not going to happen.'

Ex-Liverpool & Aston Villa midfielder Houghton added: 'I think had it been England involved it would have been very similar to Ireland because FIFA don't think too highly of the English.

'Blatter's quick to criticise Premier League clubs for spending too much money but I didn't hear too much when Real Madrid spent £80 million on Ronaldo and £60 million on Kaka. Blatter didn't say the Spanish were spending too much.
'If it was France, Germany or Spain and certainly Brazil or Argentina there would have been mayhem. You only have to look at what they did to the play-off seedings.

'The biggest tournament in the world and they left it until three weeks before the play-offs to decide there would be seeds

'When you look at the way he's treated Ireland and the competition it underlines how he has not led FIFA particularly well. He's a man who does what he wants even though I couldn't tell you what he does. To be ridiculed twice, laughing at the Irish after the seedings change, is shocking.'

Blatter was roundly criticised for his silence last week and made his first foray into the global storm with comments in 'L'Equipe' on Sunday detailing correspondence with Thierry Henry and effectively absolving the French skipper while blaming match referee Hansson. "I definitely gained an advantage by pulling a defender's jersey in order to score a goal. And I didn't go and see the referee to tell him about it," said Blatter, in a slightly unfortunate reference to his days as an amateur player.