Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 19th 2014 Contents MILAN---Juventus eased to a
3-1 win at relegation-threatened
Cagliari yesterday to ensure it
ended the year at the top of the
Serie A standings.
Early goals from Carlos Tevez
and Arturo Vidal gave Juventus
a comfortable lead in the opening
15 minutes, and Fernando
Llorente sealed the match shortly
Luca Rossettini bagged a con-
solation goal for Cagliari.
Juventus moved provisionally
four points ahead of Roma,
which hosts AC Milan on Sat-
Cagliari, which is the only
Serie A side without a home win
this season, remained in the bot-
The match, which was part of
the final round of fixtures before
the winter break, was brought
forward because Juventus plays
Napoli in the rearranged Italian
Supercup on Monday.
After seeing its advantage cut
to one point last weekend with
its second successive draw,
Juventus determination to end
the year on a high received the
perfect start when Cagliari goal-
keeper Alessio Cragno could only
parry Giorgio Chiellini s effort
and Tevez was on hand to tap
the ball in, less than four minutes
in.More poor defending saw
Juventus double its advantage as
Cagliari failed to deal with a cross
and the ball came out to Vidal,
who curled a magnificent strike
into the far corner from just out-
side the box.
Llorente extended Juve s lead
six minutes after the break when
he gathered Andrea Pirlo s lofted
pass with his back to goal,
swiveled, and fired under Crag-
no s body.
Cagliari hadn t scored for three
matches but managed in the
65th, as Rossettini headed home
Andrea Cossu s free kick.
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, December 19, 2014
Countries with tiny populations don t
generally beat big ones with deep wells
of talented players.
So how embarrassing might the score
be when Qatar---smallest host in World
Cup history, with just 282,750 citizens---
plays the opening game of its 2022 tour-
nament against, for example, titans Brazil
At best 5-0? At worst 10-0, even 30-0?
"Impossible, impossible," said Ivan Bravo,
the former Real Madrid administrator work-
ing to prevent such a loss from party-poop-
ing over the Middle East s first World Cup.
"They will be ready to have a very good
team, a competitive team."
Given Qatar s small size and lack of foot-
ball pedigree, Bravo s bravura would sound
like folly if not for one game-changer:
money. The oil-and-gas rich nation that
pokes into the Persian Gulf has mounds of
it. Funneled into the state-of-the-art Aspire
training academy that Bravo oversees in
Doha, Qatar s showcase capital, the wealth
is helping to make the embryonic nucleus
of what will be the 2022 home team more
formidable than population numbers would
"It s thrilling," Bravo said in an Associated
Press interview. "There s always an underdog
story, the little guy trying to punch above
their weight story, and I think people will
get behind it."
Qatar qualifies automatically as host. It
could be the only Middle East representative
if its neighbours stumble in qualifying, as
in 2010, when no team from the region
went to South Africa. A strong host per-
formance can make a World Cup memo-
South Korea s wild ride to the semis of the
2002 tournament it co-hosted with Japan.
So pressure is on.
"The players know what an opportunity
this is," Hassan al-Thawadi, Qatar s chief
World Cup organiser, told the AP. "I m sure
they won t disappoint."
Aspire is a source of such confidence. It
trains local kids and others unearthed by
a mammoth international scouting pro-
gramme---dubbed "Football Dreams"---that
screens hundreds of thousands of teenagers
from 16 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin
America. The reach and size of that tal-
ent-search and Qatar s history of recruiting
overseas athletes to represent it interna-
tionally led to suspicions it could naturalise
foreign footballers in bulk for the World
Cup, although Bravo insisted that isn t the
He said Qatar s ambition for 2022 is not
only to field a team of Qataris but to also
have "seven, eight, nine, 10" Aspire-trained
recruits from Football Dreams playing for
Aspire s facilities rival those of Europe s
best clubs. Under a giant dome, it has a
full-sized indoor pitch with an exhortation
from Pele on one wall: "Success is no acci-
dent. It is hard work, perseverance, learning,
studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of
what you are doing or learning to do."
Outside, generously-watered grass pitches
resist the desert heat. Recordings of birdsong
piped in over loudspeakers give the place
an "Alice in Wonderland" feel.
Raul has an office here, watching the
academy s youngsters play and handing
out trophies at competitions it organises
with Chelsea, Barcelona and other teams
the experience and game-time they will
need on the world stage in eight years. Bora
Milutinovic, who coached the United States,
Mexico, Nigeria, Costa Rica and China at
World Cups, is often seen around the place,
too, working as an adviser.
Young Qatari players have been embed-
ded with professional teams in Spain,
Monaco, Austria and a club Qatar bought
in Belgium to immerse them "in a profes-
sional football environment 24 hours a day,"
which is something Doha lacks, "because
of the league, empty stadiums," Bravo said.
The 2016 Rio Olympics and 2018 World
Cup in Russia, if Qatar qualifies, will also
be opportunities to hone players for 2022.
While the pool of native Qataris is tiny---
roughly only 4,000 boys are born here each
year---Bravo says Aspire scouts see nearly
all youngsters so no potential talent slips
through. Motivating them, however, can
be challenging: Thanks to the nation s oil-
and-gas wealth, Qataris are the world s
second-richest people per capita and---
unlike slum kids in Brazil or Africa---don t
need football as an escape.
"You re in a country where even atten-
dance to training can be difficult," Bravo
said, before adding: "There s a bit of a mis-
perception about everybody in Qatar:
They re wealthy kids, they are wearing
Rolexes and driving SUVs. It s not the case.
A lot of our kids come from more humble
or medium-income situations."
A breakthrough came in October when
Qatar s under-19 team beat China, Myan-
mar and finally North Korea to become
Asian champions, qualifying them for the
under-20s World Cup next year in New
MARRAKECH---Amid another crisis at Fifa, Pres-
ident Sepp Blatter and his executive committee
opened a two-day meeting yesterday to discuss the
sudden resignation of ethics prosecutor Michael
Garcia and whether to publish his confidential
World Cup report.
Garcia quit Wednesday in protest over the handling
of his World Cup bid investigation. The American
lawyer s departure could increase pressure on Fifa to
publish the 430-page report on the 2010 votes that
awarded the World Cup to Russia in 2018 and Qatar
in 2022. The 27 members of the executive committee
are split over releasing all or part of Garcia s report,
which has led to three of them facing unethical con-
Relaxing strict Fifa secrecy rules could potentially
hurt those being investigated by the former US Attor-
ney and former Interpol vice president, whose previous
work as a prosecutor included the 1993 World Trade
Center bombers and a Russian arms dealer.
Only a very small circle within Fifa has seen the
Garcia report. Continuing to sit on it will deepen
suspicions that the body is woefully short on trans-
parency and good governance, and prefers to suppress
wrongdoing rather than correct it.
The executive committee gathered in a luxury
Marrakech hotel that was closed to non-guests for
the day. The 78-year-old Blatter rode to the meeting
in a black limousine from another hotel that was just
a short walk away. Garcia s resignation statement on
Wednesday was critical of Fifa s slow, tentative steps
toward greater accountability, much ballyhooed by
Blatter since his unopposed re-election in 2011.
"No independent governance committee, inves-
tigator, or arbitration panel can change the culture
of an organisation," Garcia wrote.
The fallout over Garcia s resignation will overshadow
other important items on the agenda.
The executive committee is to hear an update on
World Cup preparations in Russia. The staggering
fall in the value of the Russian ruble raises questions
about how the Kremlin and Russian firms will con-
tinue to fund a massive programme of works to host
the tournament. On Thursday, Putin said the World
Cup was an "expensive thing," but if it "provides
extra grounds to develop Russia then we don t mind
spending money on it."
Fifa executives will also be updated on the inevitable
disruption of the soccer calendar if they decide to
move the World Cup in Qatar to cooler months.
But it is the collapse of Garcia s effort to answer
questions about the legitimacy of Fifa s selection of
Russia and Qatar that will be the focus of Blatter s
traditional post-meeting news conference on Friday.
The executive committee will discuss publishing
Garcia s dossier, and could finally see it for themselves.
So far, Fifa has released only a 42-page summary of
Garcia s report, which concluded that any corruption
or rule-breaking was limited and did not influence
the December 2010 vote.
Garcia objected to that, saying the summary mis-
represented his findings. That set off a conflict that
eventually led to his resignation and his damning
criticism of "the lack of leadership on these issues
Prosecutions launched by Garcia against five senior
football officials for wrongdoing in the World Cup
campaigns will continue. Those cases can be led by
his ethics investigation deputy, Zurich-based former
public prosecutor Cornel Borbely.
Former Germany great Franz Beckenbauer, a voting
member of the Fifa executive committee in 2010, is
the highest profile of the five accused men.
Three current board members---Fifa vice president
Angel Maria Villar of Spain, Michel D Hooghe of
Belgium and Worawi Makudi of Thailand---also face
sanctions for their actions during contests marred
by claims of bribery, collusion and favour-seeking.
Juventus ends year top of Serie A
Fifa meets amid
crisis over Garcia's
In this November 6 photo, spectators gesture
during Qatar's 3-1 victory over North Korea in
an exhibition match at the Abdullah Bin Khalifa
Stadium in Doha, Qatar. AP PHOTO
Qatar: Building team to
spring surprise in 2022
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