“Blatter is the Black Box of football politics”

Football dominates this week’s sporting and journalism quotes, from Zurich to Wembley, with additional contributions from Brendan Rodgers and Paolo di Canio, Tom Daley and Shane Warne, and Luke Donald, England’s latest world No1 golfer. By IAN COLE

Eric Abidal lifts the Champions League trophy for Barcelona, just eight weeks after cancer surgery

“For MBH, I never understood why he was running. If really he thought he had a chance or just being an extreme way to express how much he does not like anymore JSB. Or he thought you can buy FIFA as they bought the WC” Jerome Valcke, the FIFA general secretary, in an email to Jack Warner, vice-president of the world football body. “MBH” is Mohamed bin Hammam, the rival candidate to “JSB”, the FIFA president Sepp Blatter. And where “they” are Qatar, who won the bid for the 2022 World Cup.

“When I refer to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in that email, what I wanted to say is the winning bid used their financial strength to lobby for support… I have at no time made, or was intending to make, any reference to any purchase of votes or similar unethical behaviour” Valcke at a press conference a day after his email was published. Yeah, Jerome, we know what you meant.

“I am shocked, saddened and deeply unhappy about the charges levelled against a man whose friendship I enjoyed for many years. It gives me no pleasure to see him suffer public disgrace before our investigation has even started” Sepp Blatter on Bin Hammam, who he suspended from football activities and forced to withdraw from the elections.

“Blatter is the Black Box of football politics” Henry Winter, in the Telegraph.

“FIFA is not in crisis, only some difficulties. If governments try to intervene something is wrong. FIFA is strong enough to deal with our problems inside FIFA” Blatter.

“Wandering around the outbuilding at FIFA House where we press are corralled I have discovered that apparently three of FIFA’s 387 personnel are tailors. There is a room marked ‘Tailors’ in which people are frantically sewing badges on blazers. Less than 48 hours before the two-day FIFA congress, they are doubtless busy. How they are occupied the other 383 days of the year, I cannot testify. NB: Average FIFA staffer’s salary, 2010 US$200,000” Matt Scott writing for The Guardian from Zurich on Sunday.

“Being a professional footballer gives you an incredible quality of life. You can buy whatever you want, but when something like this happens to you, you realise that an expensive car, for example, cannot help you” Eric Abidal, the Barcelona defender who lifted the Champions League trophy at Wembley just eight weeks after having a cancerous tumour removed from his liver.

“I don’t enjoy being second best, but it’s a great moment for them. Great teams go in cycles and the cycle they’re in at the moment is the best in Europe. They deserve it because they play the right way and enjoy their football” Sir Alex Ferguson, magnanimous after Manchester United’s 3-1 defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League final.

“We’ll get him. Ban him on Friday” Sir Alex Ferguson in the build-up to the match, objecting to AP’s Rob Harris’s reasonable question about the value of Ryan Giggs to Manchester United.

“Flame-nosed Fergie is a giant of football. By any standards he has achieved greatness. But as a human being he has let the side down. Which is why so many Englishmen will be cheering lustily for Barcelona” Michael Henderson on the op-ed pages of the Daily Mail.

“We’ve reached the stage where an English team playing in a European final can probably rely on more support in Malaysia then at home. Should we be surprised that few beyond Old Trafford will take pleasure from a Manchester United win? Times change and football changes. We’re so much more grown up than we used to be, don’t you think?” Martin Samuel, the SJA Sports Writer of the Year, takes another point of view in the same newspaper.

Brendan Rodgers, triumphant after seeing his Swansea side win promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs

“This has put a smile on dad’s face” Duncan Ferguson, son of Sir Alex, gets Peterborough United promoted to the Championship via a play-off win over Huddersfield.

“I told the players it wasn’t  about winning, it was about defending our principles and how we played. Ourselves, Norwich and QPR are a credit to the Championship” Brendan Rodgers leads Swansea City into the Premier League with a 4-2 play-off final victory over Reading.

“A lion cannot stay in the cage. He has to be on the pitch” Paolo Di Canio, appointed as manager at Swindon Town.

“Having achieved promotion back to the top flight, Queens Park Rangers rewarded their supporters for a decade and a half of patient devotion with a season ticket price rise of 40 per cent. Some reward. QPR’s owners may just as well have punched every fan squarely in the face and then congratulated them for having such punchable faces” Des Kelly, in his Daily Mail column.

Tom Daley with his proud father Rob, who died at the weekend, aged 40

“If I can be half the dad he was to me then that will be an achievement in itself” Tom Daley, world champion diver, mourns the death of his father and inspiration, Rob, at the age of 40.

“I was under the impression that whoever was scoring runs and in good form would get selected, but that’s not been the case. I was told I had to do exceptionally well to get Morgs’ place, but I’m not sure what exceptionally well is” Ravi Bopara, who scored 17 and 29 in a trial match for England Lions, compared with Eoin Morgan’s 193.

“So many people are saying cricket isn’t my thing any more, that I haven’t got the bug. But I have only achieved half of what I want to do in the game” Kevin Pietersen.

“He gave up so much of his time for cricket and spin bowling. He was an amazing man, full of knowledge and wanted to share it” Shane Warne’s tribute to his mentor, Terry Jenner, who has died, aged 66.

“It’s going to be a great story to tell the grandchildren, that I was once the best golfer in the world. But I’m not done yet, I’ve got a lot more I want to accomplish” Luke Donald rises to No1 in the world, winning the BMW Championship at Wentworth in a play-off against the Englishman who held the top ranking, Lee Westwood, after Westwood’s chip shot dribbled off the green and in to the water hazard.

“I wanted it to be tough. I wanted people to play with their heads, but also with their talent. You look at the equipment today, where you fly a ball 300 yards in the air. Do these guys really want to play on a course that’s fun, where you can shoot 62s and 63s and end up winning with 26 or 28 under par? I don’t think that’s fun, that’s easy golf. Fun is Disneyland. This is a challenge” Richard Carling, owner of Wentworth, defends his re-shaped course against claims that it was “too tough”.

“I would describe myself as an overnight success. Forget the money, it’s been a privilege to take part. If I had known what it would cost, not only money but emotionally, I wouldn’t have done it. But, having done it, I don’t regret a damn thing” Nigel Wray, owner of Saracens, sees his club lift the Premiership rugby title after 16 years of trying.

“Maybe it’s because I’m black, ha, ha. That’s what Ali G says. Out of six races I’ve been to the stewards five times. People want to see overtaking. You get done for overtaking, for trying to put on a show” Lewis Hamilton regrets a crass joke after being reported for causing two collisions at the Monaco Grand Prix.


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