Friday, November 18, 2005

Turkey fights back while Australia brings in the money

Turkish coach Fatih Terim has accused the soccer world of being prejudiced against Turkey adding that "...rival countries use this to their own advantage even if nothing has happened."

Newspapers in Turkey went even further when they accused FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Swiss national of being bias. The headline on the Fotomac sports paper read, "He's gone crazy. Fifa's Swiss president Blatter spits hatred." This went along with an image of Blatter's head impaled on the corkscrew of a Swiss army knife (pictured).

This whole mess has spilled over into politics with Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey sending a letter of complaint to the Turkish government. The letter describes the events surrounding the Swiss squad's arrive in Istanbul as "unacceptable behaviour".

Although Turkey has not responded to that letter, their Sport Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin has given his thoughts on Blatter's suggestion of banning Turkey from the 2010 Cup. "I am disappointed to hear the statement of the FIFA president before the reports of the match are unveiled. He spoke as a Swiss fan instead of as a president... These kinds of statements are misleading the decision-makers." Sahin did say he was upset with the way some Turkish fans acted.

I do think that Blatter went a bit far by even suggesting that Turkey could be dismissed from 2010. That is an option, but I think for the head of an organization to make such a statement before an investigation has happened is foolish. It only adds to it that his native country is involved.

As far as the Turks, I think they need to step up a bit more and admit that they let things get out of hand. I don't think this was done on purpose, but they seem to be downplaying their role in this whole thing.

On the other end of the happiness scale we find Australia who are going to their first World Cup in 32 years. They only earned the spot on Wednesday, but they have already turned it into marketing gold. Football Australia has already negotiated $12 million in sponsorship from Qantas, Telstra, Hyundai, National Australia Bank, Coca-Cola, Nike and Westfield.

FA chief executive John O'Neill says there is probably room for 2 more sponsors to join ahead of Germany. This has beer brewers salivating. Australia's own Foster's is looking at making a big bid to back their Socceroos. However, it is believed domestic Lion Nathan and several European brewers are also planning on making a go at sponsorship.

This is great news for soccer in Australia. Add this money (and the money for making it to the cup) plus their move to the Asian Confederation after the World Cup and they are setting themselves up to become a soccer powerhouse. It will be fun to see how far they can go next summer.


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