Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 29th 2014 Contents A60
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, August 29, 2014
MONACO --- Michel Platini won t fight
Sepp Blatter for the Fifa presidency, though
he still hopes somebody will.
The UEFA president decided yesterday
not to challenge Blatter in an election next
May, insisting he was not dodging a battle
with his former mentor.
Platini denied Fifa critics a potentially
bitter contest, but then urged more conflict
within the Blatter-led executive commit-
tee.His decision, which was expected, leaves
the 78-year-old Blatter clear to win a fifth
presidential term --- possibly unopposed for
a third straight time.
Platini will focus instead on being re-
elected to lead European football in March
and a probable Fifa candidacy in 2019.
"Now is not my time, not yet," the 59-
year-old Platini said at a news conference
after meeting leaders of Europe s 54 football
federations. "I hope that somebody will
oppose Mr Blatter and nobody will oppose
me for UEFA."
Platini, a Fifa vice president, then chal-
lenged his colleagues to be "braver" standing
up to Blatter s power.
"To bring ideas and want to change things
and not just be sheep who always say yes,"
Platini said through a translator.
The former France great seemed likely to
avoid a Fifa contest after a successful World
Cup strengthened Blatter s position as pres-
ident, which he has held since 1998.
Blatter already has support from Fifa s
other five continental confederations. Leaders
of most of the 209 member countries have
shown little desire for change as successful
World Cups have raised Fifa cash reserves
close to $1.5 billion.
Platini dismissed one description of a
contest against Blatter as "unwinnable."
"No, my choice was not based on who
was running," said Platini, who recalled
beating another longtime sitting president,
Lennart Johansson, for the UEFA job in
2007. "So I can t be accused of being afraid
of Mr Blatter."
UEFA members were meeting for the first
time since they confronted Blatter in Brazil
in June over his style of leadership and
alleged corruption implicating Fifa. They
also reminded the veteran Swiss official of
his 2011 promise to step aside after his cur-
That hostile encounter in Sao Paulo on
the eve of the World Cup fueled speculation
of a Fifa challenge by Platini or a senior
"We went for peace. I think it is the logical
decision," Iceland football association pres-
ident Geir Thorsteinsson told The Associated
In Brazil, one option emerged for UEFA
to put Netherlands federation president
Michael van Praag as a candidate after he
delivered Europe s blunt message to Blat-
ter.Van Praag dismissed that option yester-
"It won t be me," the UEFA board member
told the BBC. "There was no backing
because (UEFA members) also believe that
if our candidate is not being Michel Platini,
he won t have any chance at all."
Platini opting out could prompt another
candidate to launch a challenge, Van Praag
"Now it is known that he doesn t do it
so maybe there is somebody else in the
world who thinks, Now I have a chance, "
the Dutchman said.
Platini said he would "support him or
her that will bring something new to world
football and will defend the interests of
"I know some of you were expecting me
to attack Fifa but that is not my goal here,"
Platini said. "Quite obviously we want a
Fifa that works better, more transparency,
more solidarity and more respected by those
that love football."
Platini, whose campaigning for Blatter in
1998 helped defeat Johansson for the vacant
presidency, now questioned the integrity of
the Fifa president s public statements.
"I m not sure he always believes what he
says," Platini said, referring to Blatter s recent
support for video replay, coaches challenges
of referee decisions and additional substitutes
in extra time. "I think deep down he is
against all that."
Fifa has set a late-January deadline for
candidates to declare for the secret ballot
scheduled for May 29 in Zurich. Former
Fifa international relations director Jerome
Champagne has said he will stand, though
acknowledged in January he could not beat
his former boss and longtime ally.
AP Sports Writer
LONDON --- Wembley Stadium
is set to be more than half empty
for England s friendly against
Norway next week in a sign of
public apathy following the
national team s worst-ever
World Cup campaign.
The English Football Associa-
tion said yesterday that only
35,000 to 40,000 fans are expect-
ed in the 90,000-capacity
national stadium to see Roy
Hodgson s side. The friendly on
Wednesday will witness the low-
est crowd for an England game
since the new Wembley opened
The previous lowest saw only
48,876 attend a friendly against
Sweden in 2011.
"It is disappointing," FA General
Secretary Alex Horne said. "We
have got some work to do, we have
to rebuild a squad which is Roy s
department, and we have got to
rebuild some trust with the sup-
England went out of the World
Cup in June after losing twice and
drawing once in the group stage.
"Of course it concerns me --- it
is understandable," Hodgson said.
"I can t expect people to suddenly
shrug that off in the way that we
as players and coaches have to deal
hoping that it won t be too evident
that apathy exists."
After hosting Norway, England
travels to Switzerland to open 2016
European Championship qualify-
ing on September 8. The FA will
then have another tough job filling
Wembley for the October 9 qual-
ifier against minnow San Marino.
England dropped to 20th in the
most recent Fifa rankings, the 1966
World Cup winners lowest posi-
tion since 1996.
Horne also revealed yesterday
that England has lined up friendlies
against France, Spain, Italy and
Germany over the next two years.
LA ZUBIA --- Alejandro Valverde of Spain surged
forward to win the sixth stage of the Spanish Vuelta
and take the overall lead yesterday.
The 31-year-old Movistar rider climbed to the finish
line in 4 hours, 35 minutes, 27 seconds, just ahead of
Christopher Froome of Britain and Spain s Alberto
Contador, who both finished in the same time.
Two-time Vuelta winner Valverde takes the overall
lead on 22 hours, 48 minutes, 8 seconds, ahead of
Nairo Quintana of Colombia who is 15 seconds behind
and Contador who is 18 seconds back. Fourth-place
Joaquin Rodriguez was eight seconds back.
Race conditions along the a 167-kilometre (104
miles) ride from Benalmadena to La Zubia were very
hot, reaching close to 40 degrees Centigrade (104
Farenheit), and riders were seen drinking and pouring
water over themselves regularly.
Rodriguez pushed forward with 600 metres to go
but Valverde and Froome kept pace, with Quintana
lagging behind in the heat.
"Although I ve won, it s very difficult to have a good
time in this heat," said Valverde. "I was maintaining
a good rhythm and when Rodriguez broke I went after
him and had enough strength to finish him off."
Just after the category-two Alto de Zafarraya climb,
85 kilometres into the race, Pim Ligthart and Lluis
Mas broke away from the pack and established a 14-
Mas gave up trying to keep up with Lighart with
four kilometres to go and the pack overtook the break-
aways on the final ascent, 2.5 kilometres before the
"I couldn t have imagined finishing among the first
ten riders and look, I nearly challenged for a stage vic-
tory," said Contador, who fractured his right shin in
a crash during the tenth stage of the Tour de France
on July 15.
Today s stage is a hilly 169 kilometre (105 mile) ride
from Alhendin to Alcaudete and is expected to be
raced in hot conditions.
The 21-stage race ends in Santiago de Compostela
on September 14.
TURIN --- Home favourite Francesco
Molinari and Austria s Bernd Wies-
berger both shot 66 to share the first
round lead at the Italian Open yes-
terday, while Stephen Gallacher s bid
to earn a late spot on Europe s Ryder
Cup team ran into trouble.
Molinari --- who was born in Turin
--- and Wiesberger managed six birdies
each in their bogey-free rounds to
finish six under par. They lead a group
of five players, including early leader
John Hahn of the United States, by
Gallacher, who needs a top-two
finish to dislodge former US Open
champion Graeme McDowell from
Europe s team, opened with a par-
72. The Scot is the only player still
capable of moving into the automatic
Ryder Cup places in the final qual-
European captain Paul McGinley
said Molinari is "very much in my
mind" for one of the three Ryder Cup
wild cards he will announce on Tues-
day, while the man himself thinks he
needs a second Italian Open win on
Sunday to guarantee a third consec-
utive cup appearance at Gleneagles
"I had a chat with Paul when he
got here and I think the good thing
is that he knows what I can bring to
the team because he has seen me as
vice-captain on the last two teams,"
"But it s up to me to prove that I
really want it and am playing well
enough. I think anything less than a
win would not be enough so I have
to aim for that."
Gallacher headed straight to the
range after a round featuring four
birdies and four bogeys. The 39-year-
old Scot squandered a good start after
almost holing his approach to his sec-
ond hole of the day.
"I m a bit disappointed because I
threw away a couple of shots midway
through my round, but it s OK for the
first day and I am only one good score
away from the top of the leaderboard,"
"I know I have to finish first or sec-
ond, that s not going to change, so
I m not putting any pressure on
myself. Once you get out on the course
you just try to birdie every hole. That s
the easy part. It s when you finish you
think about the Ryder Cup."
Hahn produced six birdies but
bogeyed the sixth hole to leave him
second with Northern Ireland s Gareth
Maybin, Scotland s Richie Ramsay,
England s Richard Bland and South
African Hennie Otto, with 17-year-
old Italian amateur Edoardo Lipparelli
among a seven-strong group another
Molinari, Wiesberger share lead at Italian Open
in front in Vuelta
Race leader of La Vuelta Spain's Alejandro Valverde,
poses for a photo inside an AV-8B Harrier II aircraft
at the Príncipe de Asturias aircraft carrier, the only
one in the Spanish navy's possession, before the
start of the third stage of the Vuelta, tour of Spain
cycle race, in Cadiz, Spain, on Monday. AP PHOTO
New Wembley set for lowest England attendance
Platini won't run against Blatter
UEFA President Michel Platini, at the
UEFA Champions League draw ceremony,
at the Grimaldi Forum, in Monaco,
yesterday. AP PHOTO
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