Pele: Lionel Messi is the best player of the last ten years

andrewbinner 12/10/2015
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Brazilian legend Pele gives his opinions to a media gathering in Kolkata on the state of football today and praises Lionel Messi as the world's best player.


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No £1.35M Platini contract payment provided to FIFA investigators

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No written contract for the £1.35million payment from Blatter was found.

Michel Platini’s chances of escaping a lengthy ban from FIFA’s ethics committee appear to have diminished after it emerged no written contract for the £1.35million payment made to him in 2011 has been provided to investigators probing the case.

– #360view: Platini scandal highlights the need outside help
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– Twitter: Social media reaction to Blatter, Platini suspensions

The payment to Platini, signed off by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, appears to have been paid solely on the basis of an oral agreement made 12 years previously, sources with knowledge of the case have confirmed to media.

The disclosure puts a major doubt over Platini’s future as UEFA president as well as his hopes of succeeding Blatter at FIFA. The Swiss attorney general has launched criminal proceedings against Blatter into what was described as a “disloyal payment” to Platini, and both men have been provisionally banned for 90 days by FIFA’s ethics committee pending a disciplinary hearing – though both have formally appealed against the ban to FIFA’s appeals committee – which is confident of making a decision within the three months.

It is understood Platini did submit an invoice to FIFA in February 2011 and was paid 2million Swiss francs. The Frenchman has said Blatter informed him when he started as his advisor in 1999 that it was not initially possible to pay him “the totality of my salary because of FIFA’s financial situation at that time”.

A written contract does exist covering three and a half years until 2002 for Platini to be paid 300,000 Swiss francs annually, and accounts show he was paid a total of 1.05million Swiss francs. However, no written contract has been produced which covers the 2million Swiss francs payment made in 2011.

Swiss law also states that even if there was a written contract, any overdue payment has to be made within five years.

An emergency meeting of FIFA’s executive committee on October 20 is also due to discuss whether the presidential election on February 26 should be postponed. UEFA’s 54 member associations are also meeting on Thursday about the crisis.

Blatter and Platini have strenuously denied any wrongdoing.

Platini said last week: “Mr Blatter informed me when I started my role as his advisor that it was not initially possible to pay the totality of my salary because of FIFA’s financial situation at that time.

“I never doubted, however, that the remaining amount owed to me would be paid eventually, so I did not actively pursue it.

“I even put the matter to the side for a while, before finally requesting that the outstanding balance was paid in 2011.”

Nominations for the FIFA presidency close on October 26, but the French football federation is expected to try to go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to argue that its candidate is being prevented from standing because of the provisional ban.

FIFA’s ethics committee has also announced it has provisionally suspended Worawi Makudi, the president of Thailand’s Football Association and a former member of the FIFA executive committee, from all football activities at national for 90 days. Makudi has been charged with unspecified ethics code breaches. It was claimed Makudi had demanded TV rights from an England v Thailand friendly during the bidding for the 2018 World Cup.

Meanwhile, former FIFA secretary general Michel Zen Ruffinen has revealed he is considering running, though it is unclear whether he would fulfil the necessary criteria of having had an active role in football for two of the last five years. Zen Ruffinen, from Switzerland, was sacked by Blatter in 2002 after criticising FIFA’s governance.

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#360view: Wales' Euro qualification a fitting tribute to Gary Speed

Matt Jones 12/10/2015
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Joyous celebrations: Wales.

The world’s population has more than doubled, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon and Apartheid ended – just some of the historic events that have occurred in the 57 years since Wales last appeared at a major tournament.

– #360view: Time for FIFA to look to an outsider as leader

– Bale: Qualification as good as Champions League win

– FOLLOW: Live football scores from around the world

Now they are back on international football’s big stage, for the first time since the 1958 World Cup, and what a fitting tribute appearing at Euro 2016 will be to a man who deserves a large portion of the credit for their resurgence – the late Gary Speed.

This is undeniably Chris Coleman’s team, but former manager Speed’s influence over Wales still looms large.

From issuing copies of ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ (national anthem: Land of my Fathers) to his players and asking them to learn the Welsh version, to dragging the national team into the modern era of sports science, to the fact nine of the players who played in the 2-0 loss in Bosnia on Saturday also featured in Speed’s last game in charge against Norway almost four years ago. His spirit is still keenly felt.

The ‘Together Stronger’ motto that has been seized upon by the marketing gurus during the midst of this European Championships qualifying campaign, and has since been embraced by the players and fans, also exudes an emotional aspect that has a tangible sense of Speed’s legacy about it.

Wales may have booked their ticket to France next year via the ugliest of means on Saturday, but don’t underestimate the significance of qualification.

The golden generation is a tag the current crop have had to shoulder in recent years but, led by Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, it is a burden they have carried with relative ease.

Where other talented Welsh sides have crumbled in the past, they have prospered. The teams that came agonisingly close on two previous occasions in the modern era were arguably more star-studded than the class of 2015.

True, neither of the teams that failed to reach either the 1994 World Cup in the United States of America nor the 2004 European Championships in Portugal 10 years later, had a Real Madrid Galactico among their ranks.

The team that failed to beat Romania in 1993 though did have Neville Southall, Dean Saunders, Ryan Giggs, Ian Rush and Speed.

The team that lost 1-0 to Russia in a 2003 play-off, meanwhile, contained Speed, Giggs, Robbie Savage, Jason Koumas and John Hartson.

After these false dawns, Welsh football fans can finally get excited about a major tournament, somewhere they have not appeared since exiting the World Cup in Gothenburg back on June 19, 1958.

Wales had advanced to the quarter-finals in Sweden where they were narrowly beaten 1-0 by gods of the game, Brazil. A goal from a 17-year-old starlet by the name of Edson Arantes do Nascimento – Pele to you and I – was the only thing that separated the sides that day.

While Pele’s debut World Cup goal would go on to fire the Selecao to their first World Cup title and begin a love affair with the globe’s most iconic sporting competition, Wales’ progression as a footballing nation since has followed a very different path.

The last quarter of a century has seen them lurch from tragedy to travesty, littered with embarrassing defeats, but all that is forgiven now. After a near 60-year slumber, the Dragons are roaring once more.

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