Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 30th 2013 Contents A54
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Sepp Blatter may have thought
joking about Cristiano Ronaldo
was all in good fun, but the Por-
tugal forward and Real Madrid
has certainly taken offense.
Madrid asked Blatter yesterday
to apologise for having mocked
Ronaldo, while praising
Barcelona rival Lionel Messi at
a recent event in England.
Blatter later complied, trying
to downplay an incident that
had pitted the sport s most pow-
erful executive with its richest
club and one of its biggest stars.
Blatter had told an audience
at Oxford University that Ronal-
do "is like a commander on the
field of play," before strutting
around the stage to the laughs
of the students in attendance.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti
said early yesterday that club
president Florentino Perez had
sent a letter to Blatter asking
him to "rectify what I consider
a lack of respect for a serious
and professional player."
Ronaldo took Blatter s stinging
words, and mimicry, to heart.
"This video (of Blatter s com-
ments) shows clearly the respect
and consideration that Fifa has
for me, for my club and my
country," Ronaldo wrote on his
Facebook page. "Much is
explained now. I wish Mr Blatter
health and a long life, with the
certainty that he will continue
to witness, as he deserves, the
successes of his favourite teams
Blatter asked both Ronaldo
and his club for forgiveness,
sending a letter of his own back
to Perez, which Madrid posted
on its Web site.
"I want to clarify that for me
Cristiano Ronaldo is at the same
level as Messi and that they are
both outstanding players, each
in their own way," Blatter said
in the letter.
Blatter said he was "sorry that
this situation produced in a uni-
versity event hurt as much and
I apologise for it. It was never
my intention to embarrass or
disrespect Real Madrid CF, or
one of their players or their
While slighting Ronaldo dur-
ing the public event, Blatter said
he preferred Messi, the Argentina
forward who has won Fifa s
world player of the year award
for the past four years.
Ronaldo won the award in
2008, finishing second in voting
behind Messi in 2009, 2011 and
In his letter to Blatter, Perez
said he was concerned that the
Fifa president s deriding com-
ments would hurt Ronaldo s
chances at winning the sport s
most prestigious individual
award for a second time.
"We believe that your com-
ments could condition the vote
of those who will decide who
will receive the award," Perez
said in the letter, which was also
posted on the club s Web site.
The incident came on the day
Fifa included Ronaldo and Messi
on its list of 23 finalists for this
year s world player of the year
award. The list will be pared
down to three players in early
While saying both Ronaldo
and Messi were "extraordinary
players," Blatter made it clear
during his talk at Oxford that
he prefers what he sees as
Messi s more subdued person-
"Messi is a good boy, that
every father and every mother
would like to have at home,"
Blatter told the Oxford crowd.
"He s a kind man, a good boy.
That s what makes him so pop-
ular, and naturally he ll always
get a lot of votes because he
plays well and scores goals."
Then, while comparing Messi
and Ronaldo, Blatter made a joke
about Ronaldo s hair.
"They don t have the same
attitude and that gives life to
football. One has more expenses
for the hairdresser than the other
but that doesn t matter," Blatter
Ancelotti defended Ronaldo s
"I completely agree with the
president (Perez)," Ancelotti said.
"I haven t spoken to Ronaldo
about this. I think he shows
every day and in every match
that he is a serious and profes-
sional player that respects every-
Ronaldo also received support
Portuguese football federation
president Fernando Gomes said
Ronaldo is "often misunderstood
because he s forthright and hon-
est," and that his frankness
sometimes "gives rise to a neg-
ative image which isn t him."
The dispute is bound to
strengthen the belief among
some Madrid fans and sections
of the Madrid-based sports
media that Fifa has a bias for
Barcelona and Messi. (AP)
Blatter apologises to
Ronaldo over comments
Franck Ribery, Cristiano Ronal-
do, Gareth Bale and Neymar
are among 23 candidates on the
short list for the Ballon d Or
announced by Fifa yesterday.
Ribery, who won UEFA s best
player in Europe award for the
2012-13 season, helped Bayern
Munich win the Champions
League and Bundesliga and Ger-
man Cup titles.
Messi, winner of the last four
Ballon d Or awards in voting by
coaches, team captains and
media, was injured late in the
season and could not prevent
Barcelona from being beaten by
Bayern in the Champions League
Neymar joined Messi at
Barcelona this season after a
move from Santos in his native
Brazil, while Welshman Bale
moved to Real Madrid from Tot-
tenham in September for 100
million euros, the richest transfer
in football history.
Another nominee was Liver-
pool forward Luis Suarez, who
missed the start of the 2013-14
Premier League season while
serving a ten-game suspension
for biting Chelsea defender
Branislav Ivanovic during a Pre-
mier League game in April.
The Ballon d Or, or world
player of the year, winner will
be announced January 13 in
Two now-retired managers---
Alex Ferguson of Manchester
United and Bayern s Jupp
Heynckes---are among ten nom-
inees for Fifa s coach of the year
Messi, Ribery head Ballon d'Or nominees
MADRID---Xabi Alonso is set to play his first
game since last season when his Real Madrid
hosts Sevilla today in the Spanish league.
The 31-year-old Spain midfielder hasn t
played since Madrid lost in the Copa del Rey
final to Atletico Madrid in May due to back
and foot injuries.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti says, "Xabi
is available. He s training and I think that
tomorrow he will be on our bench and I ll try
to give him a few minutes."
Alonso had back surgery and after recovering
from the operation he broke his foot, pro-
longing his time out.
Alonso missed the Confederations Cup with
Spain and the first ten weeks of Madrid s sea-
Alonso to play
1st match of
MADRID---Reduced to backup in the Spanish
league, Iker Casillas will be Real Madrid s
starting goalkeeper in the Copa del Rey plus
the Champions League.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti tells Cadena
Cope radio, "Casillas, for being such a pro-
fessional, deserves the Champions League (...)
the Champions League and the Copa."
Casillas, captain of Madrid and Spain, has
said he will consider leaving the Spanish club
he has started for, for the past decade, if he
doesn t play more.
He hasn t started for Madrid in league play
since December when he was benched by for-
mer coach Jose Mourinho.
Ancelotti has kept Diego Lopez as his starter
in league games.
The Copa del Rey will incorporate teams
from the first division in December. (AP)
Casillas to play
for Madrid in
Copa del Rey
Ballon d'Or nominees
nationalities): Gareth Bale
(Wales), Edinson Cavani
(Uruguay), Radamel Falcao
(Colombia), Eden Hazard
(Belgium), Zlatan Ibrahimovic
(Sweden), Andres Iniesta
(Spain), Philipp Lahm
Lewandowski (Poland), Lionel
Messi (Argentina), Thomas
Mueller (Germany), Manuel
Neuer (Germany), Neymar
(Brazil), Mesut Ozil
(Germany), Andrea Pirlo
(Italy), Franck Ribery (France),
Arjen Robben (Netherlands),
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal),
(Germany), Luis Suarez
(Uruguay), Thiago Silva
(Brazil), Yaya Toure (Ivory
Coast), Robin Van Persie
(Netherlands), Xavi (Spain).
Coach of the year
teams): Carlo Ancelotti (Italy,
Madrid), Rafael Benitez
Antonio Conte (Italy,
Juventus), Vicente Del Bosque
(Spain, Spain national team),
Alex Ferguson (Scotland,
Manchester United, retired),
Jupp Heynckes (Germany,
Bayern Munich, retired),
Juergen Klopp (Germany,
Borussia Dortmund), Jose
Mourinho (Portugal, Real
Madrid/Chelsea), Luiz Felipe
Scolari (Brazil, Brazil national
team), Arsene Wenger
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo
from Portugal reacts to a
decision from the referee during
the Spanish La Liga football
match against FC Barcelona at
the Camp Nou stadium in
Barcelona, Spain, Saturday. Real
lost 2-1. AP PHOTO
KAZAN---Fifa says the qualifying draw for
the 2018 World Cup will be made on July 25,
2015, in St Petersburg.
The event was confirmed yesterday at a
meeting of the local organising committee in
Fifa also confirmed a lucrative expansion
of its sponsorship programme for the 2018
and 2022 tournaments, being played in Russia
and Qatar, respectively.
The third tier of sponsors will include four
partners in each of five regions: Asia, Europe,
Middle East and Africa, North America and
Fifa first outlined the plan last December,
which replaces the six national sponsors signed
for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and
2014 tournament in Brazil.
Fifa earned $1.072 billion in marketing rights
from the 2010 World Cup, and an increase is
expected for 2014. (AP)
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