Wednesday Kickoff: UEFA won’t back Blatter; Pirlo extends contract; and more

SeppBlatterFIFAMarch2014 (AFP)

By RYAN TOLMICH

Representatives from UEFA may not have a clear idea of who they want in charge of soccer’s governing body, but they made it very clear that they hope it isn’t Sepp Blatter.

The chairmen of the football associations of England and the Netherlands have urged the current president to not run for reelection, with Dutch representative Michael van Praag stating that “people link FIFA to corruption and bribery and all kinds of old boy’s network”.

“FIFA has an executive president, and that means you are responsible,” the Netherlands federation president said he told Blatter. “People tend not to take you very seriously anymore.

“The image of FIFA has been tarnished by everything that has happened over the last years,” said van Praag. “There are very few people who still take FIFA seriously, and whatever way you want to cut and dice it, Blatter is responsible in the end.”

Blatter initially stated his intentions on stepping down after this current term, but the 78-year-old reversed his decision with intentions on running for a fifth term.

Here are some more news and notes to kick off your Wednesday morning:

PIRLO EXTENDS CONTRACT WITH JUVENTUS

Andrea Pirlo may be 35-years old but he has no intentions of retiring soon.

The Italian midfield maestro has extended his contract with Juventus for a further two years, through June 2016, the club announced on Wednesday morning. Pirlo first joined Juve from AC Milan in 2011, and has lead the club to three straight Serie A titles, a record feat.

Since joining Juventus, Pirlo has scored 14 goals and assisted on 30. Per Juventus’ website, Pirlo has also touched the ball at least once every minute that he has played in a Bianconeri shirt and has kept a passing completion rate higher than 90 percent.

Pirlo is currently set to feature for the Italian National Team at the World Cup this summer in what could be his final hurrah in the Azzurri shirt.

LAHM, MÜLLER SIGN BAYERN EXTENSIONS

Thomas Müller and Philipp Lahm have ended any speculation of them leaving Bayern Munich this summer.

The German giants locked down two of their top players to two-year contract extensions each, with Lahm’s deal now extended until June 2018 and Müller’s now extending to June 2019. The news was announced on Wednesday morning and clears up any confusion regarding Müller’s club future, after recent signs that he might have been ready to leave.

“Both Philipp Lahm and Thomas Müller are very important members of the FC Bayern squad,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said in a statement. “Both have stayed loyal to the club since the start of their careers and will continue to play an important role here in the future. We’re delighted both players have committed to Bayern Munich for the long term.

“I now wish Philipp Lahm and Thomas Müller a successful World Cup in Brazil and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for them and the Germany team as they seek to win the trophy.”

Müller scored 26 goals for Bayern in all competitions last season, starting only 25 times in the Bundesliga but also playing as a regular in the German Cup and UEFA Champions League. Lahm transitioned under Guardiola into more of a holding midfielder and did it terrifically last season, giving Germany National Team coach Joachim Löw another central midfield option to go with this summer.

VELA HEADING BACK TO ARSENAL

After four years away from the club, Mexican winger Carlos Vela appears to be on his way back to Arsenal.

Vela, who was a part of the Gunner organization from 2005-2011, has spent the past three seasons with Real Sociedad, initially on loan before making a permanent move.  However, the Gunners are now prepared to activate a clause in Vela’s deal that will see the 25-year-old make his way back to the Emirates.

“Arsenal have informed us that Vela would be with them next season,” Real Sociedad president Jokin Aperribay said, confirming the £3.5 million clause that will see Vela’s return to London.

Vela scored 16 goals in this past season as Sociedad finished seventh in La Liga.

QUICK KICKS

Real Madrid have offered centerback Sergio Ramos an improved contract following his game-winning-goal in the UEFA Champions League final. (REPORT)

Former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has parted ways with Galatasaray. (REPORT)

AS Monaco has pulled out of a deal to sign former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes after the player suffered a torn ACL last season. (REPORT)

Inter Milan have acquired full ownership of Argentina starlet Mauro Icardi after ending his co-ownership with Sampdoria. (REPORT)

Colombia National Team goalkeeper David Ospina has criticized the Brazuca, saying it’s too light and will be difficult for goalkeepers to adapt to. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Happy to see UEFA stand up to Blatter? Do you see Pirlo playing out his contract at Juventus? Surprised to see Bayern lock down Müller to a contract extension?

Share your thoughts below.

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30 Responses to Wednesday Kickoff: UEFA won’t back Blatter; Pirlo extends contract; and more

  1. Joe says:

    “People tend not to take (Blatter) very seriously anymore.” That’s about as nicely as one could describe the view many of us hold of Blatter. After he is no longer the head of FIFA, I predict more damaging information about his character will be made widely known.

  2. Liam says:

    UEFA didn’t have a problem with the “old boys network” until Blatter starting letting other old boys into the mix.
    If anybody thinks the next FIFA president will be less corrupt then you’re either stup!d or new to the game

    • John says:

      The problem isn’t being more or less corrupt. The issue is now that we live in a digital age where information is leaked instantly, it’s harder to hide corruption. Most of the FIFA executive committee are dinosaurs who wouldn’t know innovation if it hit them in the face.

      • Del Griffin says:

        But the bigger problem is that no one can stop the corruption once they know about it making them more and more brazen.

    • t says:

      That’s about the appropriate level of cynicism for mankind, I agree, but there may also be reasons to support Platini, who Blatter fears and that could be because he’d shake up the hierachy (which Blatter installed) there. Or not, since he too likes to play his allegiances, operates in limited transparency, and craves power. But what he has going for him is that he was one of the game’s twenty, if not ten, best players of all time, and one would think he isn’t interested in being FIFA’s president to enhance his legacy, since doing so will actually tarnish it. He likes politics – which to me immediately qualifies him as dubious – but in general with UEFA his contributions have been oriented toward the purity of the sport (FFP, youth transfers, technology..) more than self-interest.

      Only my opinion, probably dumb, as I’m not new to the game.

      • Liam says:

        Platini is neck deep in this corruption scandal.

        • t says:

          Because he met the man lobbying for a world cup in Qatar and then voted for it. And because prior to the vote he was invited to l’Elysée by Sarkozy to meet with Qatari royalty. But if that is corruption than all politics everywhere are. That’s a fair world view. I think lobbying is sort of evil but not quite corruption and bribery. Qatar has invested billions into Europe, and especially France, and they want something in return.

  3. Andy in Atlanta says:

    Sooner of later the Mexican Federation is going to send a formal apology to Vela… they blamed all the hookers on him to protect the married players, he was a total scapegoat and I don’t blame him at all…

    Imagine if they had Vela playing in his current form…

  4. KGB says:

    “Inter Milan have acquired full ownership of Argentina starlet Mauro Icardi”

    Just FYI, the term “starlet” is typically in reference to young females.

    • Nate Dollars says:

      over here, yes, but i think it’s a british thing. they say it all the time over there regarding young athletes.

  5. GJJ says:

    Both the British Prime Minister and former and current American presidents tied themselves to their repsective country’s bids and were personally marked by the losses resulting, at least in part, from the backroom deals at Fifa. My guess is that MI6 and the CIA got their marching orders to start destroying the credibility of various corrupt officials at Fifa who had previously been able to operate in the shadows.

    The other side to this is that in a way, we lost fair and square. Everyone else seemed to know the rules. You need to supply bribes, hookers, favors, vacations, etc in order to win the Cup. Everyone else was willing to do this or just better at it than we were. We were naive and we lost.

    At this point, Fifa strikes me like the Chicago Police Department….you are never going to reform it. You either get rid of it and replace it with something else or you learn to live with it.

  6. CSD says:

    Pirlo is a legend. I am looking forward to seeing him pull the strings once more on the World stage in Brazil for our national team.

  7. Steven C says:

    So, Pirlo at 35 re-signing with Juventus. Would that make Serie A a retirement league?

  8. reignman says:

    Platini would be even worse as the head of FIFA than Blatter is. He is certainly not the answer we need, given those two options I would rather stay with Blatter sadly.

    • GJJ says:

      I’m sure that MI6 and the CIA are not going to get caught with their pants down this time and have a big, fat file ready for Mr. Platini. Ever wonder where all those thousands of emails and documents that the Times got their hands on with regard to Qatar came from? Jack Warner? Etc, etc, etc.

  9. Alex H says:

    Exactly what does FIFA do anyway other than host the cup? It seems to me that some other sanctioning body can step up and do the same. I don’t think it is far fetched. Somebody like the Sultan of Brunei could as a vanity project just sponsor a tournament and invite the top teams to play. I mention the sultan just because given the present makeup of FIFA he could be viewed as a more morally palatable alternative. Seriously though. There is enough money in the world cup that there would be other groups that could organize it just as well as FIFA.

  10. bryan says:

    good business from Arsenal. they would have been stupid not to do that. i’ll be curious to see how Vela does in the EPL. he certainly seems a better fit for La Liga.

    glad to hear Madrid have offered Ramos a new contract. he deserves it.

  11. The Imperative Voice says:

    FYI US-Belgium scrimmage canceled.