Tuesday Kickoff: Ghana protests to FIFA over Egypt hosting; Man United want Fellaini surgery; and more

EgyptGhanaAFCON2010 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

The Ghanian FA has come out publicly with a plea to FIFA against Egypt’s decision to hold the second-leg of the World Cup qualifying series between Ghana and Egypt in front of a partial crowd in Cairo.

Reports out of Egypt say that at least 50 people died last weekend during riots in the capital between police and supporters of former Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsi, leading to the conclusion from the Ghanian FA that playing the match in Cairo isn’t a safe option.

“The Ghana Football Association (GFA) wishes to kindly request FIFA to move the venue for the 2014 World Cup Qualifying second-leg, play-off between Egypt and Ghana on 19th November, 2013 from Egypt to a safe and secure venue,” the Ghanian FA wrote in a statement on their website.

“We are seriously concerned about the security and safety of our delegation and spectators if the match would be played in Egypt as events in the country pointedly indicate that our delegation could be exposed to danger as the violence and insecurity in the country continues relentlessly.”

Ghana and Egypt were paired together in the final round of African World Cup qualifying, with the first match coming next Tuesday in Kumasi, Ghana, and the second match currently set for November 19 in Cairo.

Here are some more stories to start your day:

MAN UNITED EMBROILED IN BELGIUM ROW

Against the wishes of Manchester United, the Belgium National Team look to continue to move forward with Marouane Fellaini, despite the midfielder suffering a serious wrist injury last Wednesday.

According to reports in England, Fellaini was diagnosed with torn ligaments in his wrist which will likely require surgery, something that Man United wants to take care of right away. However, with Belgium’s World Cup qualification not yet ensured, they want one of their best players available to play in a crucial match on Friday against the second-placed nation in the group, Croatia.

“Marouane Fellaini should be able to play for Belgium against Croatia in Zagreb on Friday,” Belgium head coach Marc Wilmots said via The Guardian. “Marouane has suffered wrist ligament injury and will have to undergo surgery. He will join the squad and train on Tuesday with a splint. As far as I am concerned, in principle he is able to play Friday. This does not mean that he will automatically play. I have not heard from Manchester United asking that the operation should be as quickly as possible.”

Losing Fellaini is another blow to David Moyes’ Man United side that has struggled early on this season, especially in central midfield.

FIFA ETHICS COMMISSION BEGINS INVESTIGATION THIS WEEK

American attorney Michael Garcia is expected to begin his FIFA investigation on the 2018 and 2022 World Cup bids this week with a trip to England.

In a statement released through the law firm Kirkland and Ellis LLP, Garcia and the investigation group said that their interviews and studies will last well into next year, and when they’re finished speaking with all bidding nations who submitted bids to those World Cups, he’ll submit the findings to the FIFA ethics court. However, Garcia denied that he couldn’t outright demand or change the location of a World Cup venue.

“It is not our role to determine the venue or timing of the World Cup,” said the statement. “Members of the Investigatory Chamber intend to speak with and request information from representatives of every bid team that vied to host the 2018 or 2022 FIFA World Cup. The fact that we request a meeting with members of a particular bid team does not mean that any specific allegation has been made by or against that team or anyone associated with it.”

The Qatar 2022 World Cup winning bid is a key bid that is under investigation, with even FIFA President Sepp Blatter admitting last month that political influences played a role in the voting.

Garcia has reminded all footballing officials in every bidding nation that by the laws of FIFA’s ethics court, they’re obligated to speak with his investigative team. Due to a conflict of interest and a ban in Russia, Garcia’s deputy on the team, Cornel Borbely, will lead the interviews in the USA and in Russia.

QUICK KICKS

Sunderland confirmed the appointment of Gus Poyet as the club’s new manager on a two-year contract. (REPORT)

England left back Ashley Cole has been ruled out of the Three Lions’ match on Friday against Montenegro with a rib injury. Roy Hodgson has called up Kieran Gibbs to replace the Chelsea defender. (REPORT)

Ghana have been handed a gut-punch with the news that midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng has been ruled out of their first-leg match against Egypt next week with a left knee injury. (REPORT)

Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky has pulled out of the Czech Republic squad due to what he calls “health concerns.” (REPORT)

Benfica have learned that summer-signing Lazar Markovic will miss the next three weeks with an injury. (REPORT)

———

What do you think of these reports? Do you think that the Egypt-Ghana second-leg match should move to a neutral venue? Do you see Fellaini playing on Friday? Do you see FIFA’s ethics investigation finding Qatar 2022 guilty?

Share your thoughts below.

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73 Responses to Tuesday Kickoff: Ghana protests to FIFA over Egypt hosting; Man United want Fellaini surgery; and more

  1. Iggy says:

    Ghana may have a legitimate point, but wondering how much of it is just looking for an advantage. It would be a shame for the people of Egypt if the game were moved/ behind closed doors.

  2. biff says:

    Only time will tell, but the appointment of Gus Poyet as manager of Sunderland looks to me at this point like another potential mistake following the Di Canio catastrophe. I was hoping that caretaker manager Kevin Ball would get the job. The team was playing with total heart under him, winning a Cup game and playing tough against two of the top teams in the Premier League, Liverpool and Man U. I thought Sunderland looked especially good in Ball’s third game against Man U. Why not give him a few more games against lesser teams and see what happens?

    • David M says:

      Sunderland are a lot like the USSF. They don’t want a little known homegrown manager. They have to have a sexy foreign name.

      • elpool009 says:

        Totally. Cuz Sunderland are in last place in the EPL and the US are qualified and sitting in the top spot of their group for the World Cup. So Sunderland and the US are a lot like in those aspects…except not…at all. But they both have Americans on the roster, so i guess i can see your point. except i cant.

      • 2tone says:

        @David Ignorance is bliss in your case, huh.

      • Increase says:

        Who has a sexy foreign resume?

    • Josh D says:

      Unfortunately, Sunderland don’t have the luxury of time. They are dead bottom, held by a fifty-ton rock. Getting relegated would cost them $100M. Poyet is a fantastic young manager and more qualified than di Canio. His only stain is the weird way he was fired. Though I expect Sunderland to ask about that. Otherwise, Poyet was well liked by the players and he brought them up a division and had them in the playoff. I liked di Canio, but like most young managers, he tried to do too much too fast. You have to settle a ship before you can add the rocket boosters.

      • biff says:

        Cannot argue that Poyet will be a step up from Di Canio. I mean, even a bumbler like David Moyse would be a step up from Di Canio :-)

        My point is that, IMO, Kevin Ball seemed like total class to me and did a great job of lifting the team back on its feet and playing tough and should have been given, at the very least, a few more games. I think with him there would have been less downside risk and more potential to beat relegation than with Poyet. We shall see.

        • Joamiq says:

          The attack didn’t really seem any more oriented towards Jozy under him though. I think Poyet is a good hire.

          • Mario in QT says:

            I watched some of the Man U game until I got thoroughly disgusted at the refusal of Altidore’s teammates to pass him the ball, I’m talking that moron Johnson. They could have won that game if they utilized Josie just a little in the box when they needed a finisher.

  3. YO says:

    Good news for Egypt, Boateng will be missing for the first match.

  4. dude says:

    So, the investigation into two World Cup decisions, both sold for oil money, one the subject of slavery and humnaitarian atrocities while also existing in an impossible-to-play-in desert, will report their inevitable findings to- FIFA. IS there no other governing body on earth that can rectify the situation, because it is mind blowing stupid that the only people will be informed of it are the people who made the deals and pocketed the change.

    • Brett says:

      This is precisely why centralized authority has never been an ideal way to govern any body. Remember your 9th grade civics classes? FIFA has no system of checks and balances.

  5. Sean says:

    Man U’s start to this campaign makes me think even more strongly that Donovan would have been an excellent two year signing for the club.

    • Josh D says:

      Donovan wouldn’t come close to United’s starting line-up. There’s no way he’s better than Nani, Valencia, Welbeck, Kagawa, or Giggs. Or if he’s playing in the hole, he’s not close to Rooney or van Persie.

      Donovan’s window of opportunity to be seen as a world class player outside of CONCACAF ended when he resigned for LA and took his sabbatical. He never had the guts to properly try for a third time in Europe – and we aren’t talking one off loans. Dempsey will ultimately go down as the better player in the minds of Europeans.

      • That Guy says:

        I think your giving Welbeck, Nani, Valencia and Giggs a little too much credit. Just because you are on Man United doesn’t mean your that good. Donovan makes a difference on the field, even if he isnt as technically gifted as those four. I think its pretty clear from this season that those four may be good, they don’t do all that much. It would be interesting to see if he could fit in. He would be one of the first subs on imo.

      • Increase says:

        Well, I have watched them this season. Nani can be good. He just rarely is. The others are bad or old right now. Oh, but Welbeck will never be good. Kagawa has a higher top end that Donovan just doesn’t show it for Manu. I’m sure we can all agree Donovan is better than Young.(I know you didn’t say him but its sad he plays for England)

      • beachbum says:

        Never had the guts? Your disrespect is continuous, I’ll give you that

      • Yevgeniy says:

        Not Europeans, Eurosnobs!

    • SPB says:

      Donovan would’ve been destroyed at ManU. He couldn’t even handle the “pressure” of playing in MLS much less a team like United.
      There is a huge difference between playing a few games and playing a whole season.

      • beachbum says:

        What’s your crystal ball say about the debt ceiling? Last time in BPL Neville went so far as to call LD the best right winger he’d played with. That must have really bummed out your preconceived yet unsubstantiated BS

      • Yevgeniy says:

        “He couldn’t even handle the “pressure” of playing in MLS”? What is this based on?

    • biff says:

      +1 Sean. Landy-Cakes could be a starter and the curent Man U team.

    • Zimmer says:

      LOL there’s a reason why Donovan plays for a third rate league like MLS. He just isn’t very good. He wouldn’t even make the reserves in Man U and would be lucky to find a starting spot in the Championship.

    • Jay Bonds says:

      What a joke? Man United? This guy is a comedian.

  6. Rory says:

    Okay then Ghana, let’s host that match in the USA, we will give you a safe crowd and give Egypt the home team support they deserve!

    • MisterJC says:

      If only…

    • Beto says:

      Ghana has a point! At least they plan on playing in the smaller stadium in Ciaro.

      Anyone else think Red Bull Arena would be rocking home field for Bradley’s Egyptians?

    • SwanseaPS says:

      I don’t think the Ghana request is unreasonable, but I think the game should be played somewhere that is NOT neutral and allows Egypt to benefit from some home report. Where might the game be played? I don’t know the region well enough to suggest.

      • Drewbles says:

        Either that or move both games to a neutral location. If Ghana doesn’t want to play in Egypt (albeit for legitimate reasons), then the reverse fixture shouldn’t be in Ghana.

      • DC Josh says:

        There is a desolate location near Alexandria I believe that can host home qualifiers. Follow @JamesPiotr for solid info.

      • Joamiq says:

        NYC. Or maybe near Dearborn, MI.

    • Ian says:

      That is a brilliant idea. England would also be a fair venue.

    • dave says:

      Absolutely brilliant idea.
      If you think an Egyptian crowd will be partisan, bring in the Outlaws.

    • PD says:

      this. in seattle. the USA would be happy to have Egypt’s back on this one.

  7. Andrew says:

    Please please tell me there is a camera crew with the investigation group. Not that they’ll be in on the interviews but that they’ll have access to the process and thought pre and post invterview from each bid country. That would be a movie in and of itself.

  8. Chicago_blue says:

    So…Ghana want to play a home game and then a neutral game? When a trip to the World Cup is on the line? That would certainly work out nicely for them wouldn’t it….

  9. Ian says:

    We all support Bob Bradley, and the Pharaohs by extension, but be honest here: It’s completely reasonable for the Ghanaian FA to fear for its players’ safety. Things are still hot in Cairo. Angry mobs take the path of least resistance. I wouldn’t want to be on the opposing team in the middle of that sh!t storm.

    • Andrew says:

      Seems like a perfectly legitimate request. Why don’t they volunteer to give up their home leg and play both on neutral fields?

      • downintexas says:

        That would be to fair or level headed for FIFA

        But I think it is great

      • bryan says:

        if it’s a legit request (moving the game out of Cairo), Ghana doesn’t need to give up their right to have a home game. that would essentially punish Ghana for the political unrest in Egypt. is that really fair?

        • Nate Dollars says:

          it’s just as fair as essentially punishing the egyptian team for the political unrest in egypt.

          • bryan says:

            i disagree. Egyptians are being punished for political unrest in Egypt. how is it fair that Ghana plays away from home because Egypt had to due to Egypt’s own unrest?

            i want Egypt to win, but i fail to see how it’s “fair” to Ghana to have to play away from home due to unrest in Egypt.

            • Nate Dollars says:

              “Egyptians are being punished for political unrest in Egypt.”

              yep, and i’d say that a lot of that isn’t fair. i sure wouldn’t want someone punishing me for any awful things my gov’t does.

              • bryan says:

                right…yet you want to extend that “fairness” to Ghana by stripping them of a home game just because Egypt can’t host one. how does that make sense? you are punishing Ghana by forcing them to play their home game at a neutral site simply because Egypt didn’t get a home game because of the problems in THEIR country.

                are you saying Egypt should be allowed to play in Cairo then? because the team should not be punished for the Egyptian Government’s issues.

              • Nate Dollars says:

                no, i don’t think ghana should be forced to do anything. i do think it would be a world-class gesture for them to offer to play both games at a neutral venue.

                i’m not really offering a solution (not smart enough), just trying to make the point that, in all likelihood, the political unrest in egypt has as little to do with the egyptian soccer team as it does with the ghanaian soccer team.

              • bryan says:

                ok, yeah, i don’t either (think Ghana should be forced). would it be a classy move? absolutely. if that was your point, then i agree.

                but im not sure how you inferred that i thought the political unrest in Egypt was related to the Egyptian team. i was simply disagreeing it’s “just as fair” as punishing the Egyptian team by having Ghana play their home away at a neutral site.

                IMHO, Egypt’s problems are their own. Egyptian home games will be affected as long as the People and their Government are fighting. as such, they, as Egyptian citizens and players, have to accept that their home games could be affected and may have to be moved to a neutral site. it sucks, but that’s the situation.

                i just don’t see how making Ghana play their home game at a neutral site is “fair” for Ghana; when the reason is, “well, Egypt had to.”

            • wood chip zip says:

              It’s fair to make Ghana’s game in a neutral location because ultimately FIFA should want to separate politics from the sport and make it about fair competition. Egypt has performed the best of all the African nations in WCQ thus far and should have been in Pot A when drawing this final leg of qualifying. Instead a team that really finished second in their group was put in the top pot. Politics should not give an advantage to one side and if Ghana got to play a home game and neutral game that would essentially be the case. Plus, this final home and away against one team for African qualification is just a stupid format. It places so much importance on each teams one home game that taking that game away is awfully close to taking away your chance of qualifying.

              • bryan says:

                i do see your point, and it’s valid, but i still disagree that Ghana should have to do it. like Nate said above, it would be the classy for Ghana to offer to do that, but i stop short of forcing them.

    • Joamiq says:

      It would be reasonable if we could be sure that that was their primary motivation. But it seems kind of convenient for them too, don’t you think?

    • PD says:

      It’s also completely reasonable to assume that this is being done to afford some competitive advantage as well, because, while we’re being honest, taking the egyptian leg out of egypt does make it less of a “home and home” scenario, and this kind of gamesmanship is par for the course in soccer. If it’s that big a safety concern to the Ghanaians, I would hope they would entertain a “neutral site for both games” scenario.

      That said, safety should be of the utmost concern and I truly hope it will be. I hope that folks who make decisions like this for a living will make the right call, I’m certainly not sure which route I’d advocate taking.

  10. bryan says:

    i had no idea the attorney was a part of Kirkland and Ellis. that law firm is no joke. Ken Starr is a partner there. they’ll certainly have some weight to throw around and pressure with…i hope it helps.

    • Coke says:

      Oh yeah. Nothing brings terror to FIFA’s heart like a guy that investigates blowjobs.
      Sorry to break it to you but any “weight” Starr and Garcia might have means absolutely nothing once they leave US territory.
      As it should be.

      • Joamiq says:

        Uh, no. Kirkland & Ellis is a major international law firm.

      • bryan says:

        if you think that is all Starr brings to the table, you are way off. he wasn’t a federal judge or the United States solicitor general for no reason. i’m not saying it WILL happen, but K&E is a MAJOR law firm with a lot of power. and the weight is his connections and reputation.

        personally, i doubt anything will happen. but having a firm like that backing the investigation is great. they’ll have plenty of funding and resources. and they are most certainly international, with major offices in London and Munich for European operations.

      • user222 says:

        not about bj’s…. but about an sob leader of the free world…

  11. Increase says:

    Bradley the Younger did an interview with the BBC’s world football about Egypt.

    link to bbc.co.uk

  12. beachbum says:

    FIFA ethics commission

    Oxymoron

  13. foooo says:

    “Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky has withdrew…”

    Has withdrew??? Does this website have any editors that speak English?

  14. selfmade says:

    First of all,Egypt has played all their WC matches behind close doors and am just wondering why they want to play Ghana in Cairo with their supporters knowing very well the security situation in their country!!! Why did they played all their WC qualifers behind close doors and wants to open the stadium to their supporters because is Ghana why? Again,u dont have to be a rocket scientist to know that the security situation in Cairo is very alarming and one noticeable aspects of these pocket of voilences occurred in football matches and that’s why the government has order the closure of stadiums in order to curtail such clashes and we need to understand that it can happen again in Ghana clash if the Egyptians are soundly beaten or things are not going their way!!! Is a serious legitimate issue that Ghana has raised and is not because we want any advantage or any unfavorable edge over the Egyptians!!! Secondly,people are making some ridiculous assertions like both matches should be played on a neutral ground and the question is why? Ghana is safe and sound and doesn’t have any security concerns, so why should we move our match away from home because Egypt can’t guarantee our safety? The main reason why we want the match to be move is plain and simple,psychological, our players ll be affected and moreover, in this world,security should be the uttermost concern!!! Egyptians are taking a risk and maybe the end can be devastating to say the least!!! Remember the violence in Egypt has to do with the military mostly and the match is to be play in a military stadium in Cairo and can we honestly trust the military knowing very well their positions with respect to Egypt current unrest? Lastly,Kevin injury is not a problem to us at all,after all, he hasn’t featured for us for a long time and we still has churned out wonderful performances to reach this stage in the qualifiers and we have able substites to replace him!!!

  15. Paul Miller says:

    I wonder if its reasonable to move a stadium-full of Egyptians out of the country? If they could work that out, then they could play both games in Ghana, but one of the games would be with an Egyptian crowd (and Ghana provides security).