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Aston Villa in takeover talks with TWO American billionaires

22 June 2014 00:30:39 mirror - Sport

Josh Harris and David Blitzer are looking to buy an English club, know the Villans' current owner Randy Lerner and have been in discussions for weeks

Vice Sport Time22 June 2014 00:30:39


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Aston Villa set for £200m US takeover - if they stay up

18 April 2014 00:28:16 Football - Fixtures, results, news, match reports, comment

Exclusive: American billionaires plan huge investment in players but talks on hold until top-flight status is secure

Vice Football Time18 April 2014 00:28:16


Aston Villa set for £200m US takeover - if they stay up

17 April 2014 23:57:27 Sport

Exclusive: American billionaires plan huge investment in players but talks put on hold until top-flight status is secure

Vice Sport Time17 April 2014 23:57:27


How sanctions take a toll on Russian billionaires

21 March 2014 12:56:25 Finance News - Business news from the UK and world

Gennady Timchenko is among the top Russian billionaires at risk from US and European sanctions        

Vice All News Time21 March 2014 12:56:25


How to be a Billionaire, Channel 4, review

14 March 2014 00:35:31 Finance News - Business news from the UK and world

Sarah Rainey is bored by the super-rich businessmen in Channel 4's How to be a Billionaire        

Vice All News Time14 March 2014 00:35:31


Southampton could become Premier League's richest club as Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin eyes £175million takeover

19 January 2014 06:48:23 mirror - Sport

As Mauricio Pochettino demands Katharina Liebherr talks, Nicola Cortese could make a sensational return to the club if a takeover bid is accepted

Vice Sport Time19 January 2014 06:48:23


US billionaire Harold Simmons dies at 82

30 December 2013 09:29:59 UK Homepage

The Texan billionaire, a pioneer of the leveraged buyout, was one of the richest men in the US and a major contributor to the Republican party

Vice All News Time30 December 2013 09:29:59


Fifa 14 banned by league leaders as footballers use it to research opponents

09 October 2013 12:42:51 mirror - Sport

Players are banned from playing Fifa before matches after playing as themselves against their league opponents

Vice Sport Time09 October 2013 12:42:51


FIFA 14: Amazing video shows how FIFA video games have developed over 21 years

27 September 2013 13:49:17 mirror - News

FIFA 14 is merely the next in a long line of FIFA games - the franchise is now in it's 21st year - how has it changed over time?

Vice All News Time27 September 2013 13:49:17


FIFA 14: Amazing video shows how FIFA video games have developed over 21 years

27 September 2013 13:41:35 mirror - Sport

FIFA 14 is merely the next in a long line of FIFA games - the franchise is now in it's 21st year - how has it changed over time?

Vice Sport Time27 September 2013 13:41:35


FIFA 14: Is FIFA 14 an improvement on previous versions? Our round-up of reviews

27 September 2013 11:47:05 mirror - Sport

Mirror games editor Dan Silver enjoyed FIFA 14, but what do other experts and reviewers think? We have put together the best bits

Vice Sport Time27 September 2013 11:47:05


FIFA 14 release: Twitter divided over the latest football video game

27 September 2013 11:36:42 mirror - Sport

Plenty of fans queued up around the country at midnight to be the first to play the game - but how is it?

Vice Sport Time27 September 2013 11:36:42


FIFA 14: Is FIFA 14 an improvement on previous versions? Our round-up of reviews

27 September 2013 11:23:35 mirror - News

Mirror games editor Dan Silver enjoyed FIFA 14, but what do other experts and reviewers think? We have put together the best bits

Vice All News Time27 September 2013 11:23:35


FIFA 14 release: Twitter divided over the latest football video game

27 September 2013 10:41:59 mirror - News

Plenty of fans queued up around the country at midnight to be the first to play the game - but how is it?

Vice All News Time27 September 2013 10:41:59


Fifa 14 celebrations: How to do Gareth Bale, Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi's signature moves

12 September 2013 12:26:33 mirror - Sport

New celebrations galore in the Fifa 14 tutorial video, but you'll have to score before you can pull off any of these beauties     

Vice Sport Time12 September 2013 12:26:33


Fifa 14 demo: Was it any good?

11 September 2013 12:22:26 mirror - Sport

The new Fifa game has been released in demo form, judging from the early signs, it looks like it has promise

Vice Sport Time11 September 2013 12:22:26


Gareth Bale FIFA 14: EA Sports features Welshman lining up with Real Madrid in viral video

02 September 2013 19:14:00 Sport | Mail Online

It seems the makers of FIFA 14 have been gearing up for Gareth Bale's huge summer switch to Real Madrid with the rest of us.

Vice Sport Time02 September 2013 19:14:00


Gareth Bale FIFA 14: EA Sports features Welshman lining up with Real Madrid in viral video

02 September 2013 19:13:16 Football | Mail Online

It seems the makers of FIFA 14 have been gearing up for Gareth Bale's huge summer switch to Real Madrid with the rest of us.

Vice Football Time02 September 2013 19:13:16


It just got REAL: Gareth Bale featured lining up for Real Madrid in FIFA 14 viral

02 September 2013 09:28:50 Sport | Mail Online

It seems the makers of FIFA 14 have been gearing up for Gareth Bale's huge summer switch to Real Madrid with the rest of us.

Vice Sport Time02 September 2013 09:28:50


It just got REAL: Gareth Bale featured lining up for Real Madrid in FIFA 14 viral

02 September 2013 03:06:02 Football | Mail Online

It seems the makers of FIFA 14 have been gearing up for Gareth Bale's huge summer switch to Real Madrid with the rest of us.

Vice Football Time02 September 2013 03:06:02


FIFA 14: Send us YOUR questions for the new game's producer

19 August 2013 16:48:53 mirror - Sport

We're hooking up with David Rutter this week and YOU can ask the questions

Vice Sport Time19 August 2013 16:48:53


Troubled Europe ripe for US Tour takeover - Derek Lawrenson's World of Golf

13 August 2013 02:53:25 Sport | Mail Online

How’s this for a sensational development? The US Tour has made an audacious bid to buy the European Tour. The news comes at a time when the game is rife with rumour about the relatively troubled state of the European version, and the ever-growing gap between the vast riches offered by its PGA Tour equivalent.

Vice Sport Time13 August 2013 02:53:25


Fulham sale adds to the alarming US takeover of English football

13 July 2013 01:13:42 Football news, match reports and fixtures | theguardian.com

No one seems to question why an increasing number of rich American businessmen are buying up England's leading clubs Shahid Khan is perennially described as the living embodiment of the classic American dream, having landed in the country from Lahore at 16 to go to college and made himself, via the design of a truck bumper, a flamboyantly moustachioed billionaire. Mohamed Al Fayed said it when announcing his sale of charming Fulham football club to Khan , adding: "I met him twice prior to our successful transaction and have been very favourably impressed." The statement from Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL franchise, utilised the traditional language of English football club owners during the game's growth in the 20th century, promising: "I do not view myself so much as the owner of Fulham but a custodian of the club on behalf of its fans." Quite what that actually means on the day he is becoming the club's owner is not explained. Nor did the man who has built a fortune from scratch in an arena as tough as the US automotive industry offer a clear explanation of why he is buying Fulham, for a reported £200m. "Fulham is the perfect club at the perfect time for me" was all his statement said. In such blandishments Khan has common ground with the other American owners of now six Premier League clubs – almost a third of England's top league. Football, loved around the world, is here, in the land where it began 150 years ago, selling some of its most "storied" clubs to billionaires from the US, just about the only country which has never been entranced by the game. As they have arrived, to own Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Sunderland and now Fulham, these shrewd and calculating billionaires have rarely convincingly explained what is driving this gradual US takeover of our soccer. Khan at least avoided making a claim like that of Joel Glazer, when he bought Manchester United with his five siblings and £525m of debt in 2005, that he was an "avid" fan of the club. Stan Kroenke, another NFL franchise holder who has steadily bought a controlling stake in Arsenal, has never said much about his motivation, beyond praising the club. John Henry and Tom Werner of the Fenway Sports Group were more forthcoming, telling the Guardian that they knew almost nothing about football before they bought one of the game's legendary names, Liverpool, in 2010. Henry and Werner acknowledged they were greatly attracted by the huge money the Premier League makes selling its matches to payTV, here and overseas. There has been little from the MBNA credit card scion Randy Lerner and the private equity financier Ellis Short to suggest their purchases of historic Aston Villa and Sunderland respectively did not similarly have an eye on the money. All are smart enough to acknowledge football's and their new club's heritage, as Khan did in his statement, and they are competent and successful business people, although from a different culture in which US sport has always talked of "owners". Here the word has crept in only recently, supplanting years in which the senior man at a football club was referred to as the chairman, whether he owned a majority of shares or not. We never really thought of football clubs being "owned", certainly not to make money. And this wholesale change has arrived with precious little debate about its implications. Forbes, the magazine for the US rich, had a go at assessing Khan's plan, pondering how many "cross synergies" the American can "bank on" between the Jaguars and the Cottagers. It could make "strategic sense", Forbes said, as Khan is already trying to "leverage the overseas market" by bringing the Jaguars to Wembley for matches. This is becoming a critical group now, six clubs of 20, takeovers never planned, barely explained. At the same time more football people are outspokenly lamenting the imbalance between the clubs as global investments and the weakness of the England team, representing a sport still organised country by country. The long-term implications of overseas, predominantly US, mostly financially acquisitive ownership have not been considered; the clubs have just been sold, one by one. The Premier League will see this deal as another handshake of approval, a sign of success. But no other European country is selling its football clubs like this. Germany, which brought two clubs to the Champions League final and played at Wembley to honour the birth of the game in England 150 years ago, scoffs and says it would never countenance it. Fulham Business Premier League David Conn guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds        

Vice Bussines Time13 July 2013 01:13:42


Fulham sale adds to the alarming US takeover of English football

13 July 2013 01:06:36 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

No one seems to question why an increasing number of rich American businessmen are buying up England's leading clubs Shahid Khan is perennially described as the living embodiment of the classic American dream, having landed in the country from Lahore at 16 to go to college and made himself, via the design of a truck bumper, a flamboyantly moustachioed billionaire. Mohamed Al Fayed said it when announcing his sale of charming Fulham football club to Khan , adding: "I met him twice prior to our successful transaction and have been very favourably impressed." The statement from Khan, owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL franchise, utilised the traditional language of English football club owners during the game's growth in the 20th century, promising: "I do not view myself so much as the owner of Fulham, but a custodian of the club on behalf of its fans." Quite what that actually means on the day he is becoming the club's owner is not explained. Nor did the man who has built a fortune from scratch in an arena as tough as the US automotive industry offer a clear explanation of why he is buying Fulham, for a reported £200m. "Fulham is the perfect club at the perfect time for me," was all his statement said. In such blandishments, Khan has common ground with the other American owners of now six Premier League clubs – almost a third of England's top league. Football, loved around the world, is here, in the land where it began 150 years ago, selling some of its most "storied" clubs to billionaires from the US, just about the only country which has never been entranced by the game. As they have arrived, to own Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Sunderland and now Fulham, these shrewd and calculating billionaires have rarely convincingly explained what is driving this gradual US takeover of our soccer. Khan at least avoided making a claim like that of Joel Glazer, when he bought Manchester United with his five siblings and £525m of debt in 2005, that he was an "avid" fan of the club. Stan Kroenke, another NFL franchise holder who has steadily bought a controlling stake in Arsenal, has never said much about his motivation, beyond praising the club. John Henry and Tom Werner of the Fenway Sports Group were more forthcoming, telling the Guardian that they knew almost nothing about football before they bought one of the game's legendary names, Liverpool, in 2010. Henry and Werner acknowledged they were greatly attracted by the huge money the Premier League makes selling its matches to payTV, here and overseas. There has been little from the MBNA credit card scion Randy Lerner and the private equity financier Ellis Short to suggest their purchases of historic Aston Villa and Sunderland respectively did not similarly have the eye on the money. All are smart enough to acknowledge football's and their new club's heritage, as Khan did in his statement, and they are competent and successful business people, although from a different culture in which US sport has always talked of "owners". Here, the word has crept in only recently, supplanting years in which the senior man at a football club was referred to as the chairman, whether he owned a majority of shares or not. We never really thought of football clubs being "owned", certainly not to make money. And this wholesale change has arrived with precious little debate about its implications. Forbes, the magazine for the US rich, had a go at assessing Khan's plan, pondering how many "cross synergies" the American can "bank on" between the Jaguars and the Cottagers. It could make "strategic sense", Forbes said, as Khan is already trying to "leverage the overseas market" by bringing the Jaguars to Wembley for matches. This is becoming a critical group now, six clubs of 20, takeovers never planned, barely explained. At the same time, more football people are outspokenly lamenting the imbalance between the clubs as global investments and the weakness of the England team, representing a sport still organised country by country. The long-term implications of overseas, predominantly US, mostly financially acquisitive ownership have not been considered; the clubs have just been sold, one by one. The Premier League will see this deal as another handshake of approval, a sign of success. But no other European country is selling its football clubs like this. Germany, which brought two clubs to the Champions League final and played at Wembley to honour the birth of the game in England 150 years ago, scoffs and says it would never countenance it. Fulham Business David Conn guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds        

Vice Bussines Time13 July 2013 01:06:36


Fulham bought by US billionaire

12 July 2013 23:32:17 BBC News - UK

Mohamed Al Fayed sells Fulham to Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, ending his 16-year stint at the club.

Vice All News Time12 July 2013 23:32:17


Sepp Blatter: how Fifa's great survivor has stayed on top

30 May 2013 13:59:25 Sport news, comment and results | theguardian.com

Fifa's history is one of chaos and alleged corruption, but the president remains while his allies turned enemies have fallen On Sunday, Joseph S Blatter attended a ceremony on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius to celebrate the renaming of the country's FA headquarters in his honour. The Fifa president would perhaps say it was a fitting tribute, given his promotion of African football and the amount of "development" money poured into the continent over recent decades. His critics would say it was typical of his egomania and note the importance of African votes in keeping him atop world football for 15 years. Either way, the 77-year-old – clutching his trumpeted but now tatty "roadmap to reform" at the Fifa Congress which began on Thursday – no doubt felt a glow of satisfaction as warm as the sun that will this week beat down on delegates from Fifa's 209 members. Two years ago the mood was very different, when an avalanche of corruption allegations threatened to engulf him and the organisation. Following brutal criticism of the chaotic race for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which virtually invited corruption with its ill-defined rules, sponsors began to exert pressure of their own and the ISL affair lingered in the background. After years of seeming untouchable, it was thought Fifa was crumbling from within and would at last be forced into reform. At the Fifa Congress in Zurich that followed, day after day of newspaper headlines brought forth lurid tales of brown envelopes stuffed with cash, historic allegations of vote rigging that went back all the way to Blatter's first presidential election victory in 1998 and a series of scandals that left his position looking untenable. But the Swiss is nothing if not a survivor. By 1998 he had already been employed at Fifa for 23 years, 17 of them as general secretary at the right hand of the all-powerful Brazilian João Havelange, forging alliances, calling in favours and creating debts that would have to be paid. Mohammed bin Hammam, the Qatari who dramatically came unstuck when challenging for the presidency in 2011 amid allegations that he had bribed Carribbean Football Union officials for their votes with bills in brown envelopes, is just one of a string of former allies turned enemies who have been recently cast from Fifa's gilded Zurich HQ. Many of those names echo down the decades as examples of Fifa's bloated and at times corrupt modus operandi. One by one, the cast who benefitted from Fifa's huge growth over three decades as money poured in from commercial partners and broadcasters have exited stage left. Jack Warner, the Trinidadian Concacaf president who revelled in his role as kingmaker during the sometimes farcical 2018 and 2022 races for World Cup hosts and has been involved in a string of controversies down the years, resigned days before the conclusion of a Fifa investigation into claims he helped facilitate the paying of bribes as part of Bin Hammam's bid to unseat Blatter. He has subsequently been accused of embezzling Concacaf funds by an independent report commissioned by his successors. The same report found that Chuck Blazer, the rotund former Concacaf general secretary who documented his travels to meet world leaders on Fifa business on his blog , had taken $15m (£9.9m) in commissions from 1998 onwards and used the organisation's funds to "finance his personal lifestyle". Blazer denies the claims. Ricardo Teixeira, the man who married Havelange's daughter and was all powerful in Brazilian football for more than two decades, also resigned from the Fifa executive committee in March last year, citing ill health. Nicolás Leoz, the Paraguayan who former FA chairman David Triesman claimed asked for a knighthood in return for his World Cup vote and was president of Conmebol for 26 years, is another who resigned on the grounds of "ill health", just days before Fifa's final report on the ISL scandal in which he was implicated was published. As Blatter looks around the table at his 24-strong executive committee in the meetings that will precede the congress, he will see a vastly changed – and considerably younger — cast of faces. Leoz was the fifth member of the Fifa executive committee who voted in December 2010 on the World Cup hosts to leave with outstanding corruption allegations against him. In all, 12 executive committee members have been accused of some form of corruption since October 2010 with Leoz, Warner, Bin Hammam, Teixeira, Blazer, Amos Adamu, Reynald Temarii and Vernon Manilal Fernando facing the most serious allegations. Leoz, Warner, Bin Hammam, Teixeira and Blazer have resigne,d with Bin Hammam banned from football for life. All of them have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Adamu was banned for three years and Temarii for one year, while the Sri Lankan Fernando has now been banned for eight years, despite Fifa not publicly shedding any light on his alleged transgressions. Meanwhile Havelange, Blatter's mentor, has been almost entirely disgraced. Now 97, he was forced to resign from the International Olympic Committee days before a hearing that would have suspended him over the ISL allegations and last month resigned his position as Fifa honorary president. A report compiled by Fifa's ethics committee chairman, Hans Joachim Eckert, laid out how both Havelange and his former son-in-law, Teixeira, had taken a series of bribes over an eight-year period from the now defunct sports marketing agency ISL. Their behaviour was described as "morally and ethically reproachable". But Blatter, who was not accused of accepting bribes himself, escaped with being described as "clumsy" rather than "criminal". Yet the central charge that has dogged Blatter's tenure – that in March 1997, when he was still secretary general and a year before he won a bitterly contested election to become president, a $1m bribe meant for Havelange crossed his desk – was confirmed. The report confirmed that ISL systemically paid out bribes – estimated at $100m — to sports officials between 1992 and May 2000. The company collapsed with debts of $300m in 2001. Yet Blatter, for whom the affair is so damaging because it links him to the institutionalised corruption that was a feature of that era, has interpreted the report as allowing him to close the door on one of the most damaging periods in Fifa's history. He has also spent much of the last two years trumpeting his "roadmap to reform". The removal of so many of the old guard should have been an opportunity for Blatter, divesting him of the baggage that came with those to whom he owed his position. But for his critics, the roadmap has been full of dead ends and blind alleys. First Transparency International, which had offered to work with Fifa to overhaul its structures, walked away in "disappointment". Then the independent governance committee, overseen by Mark Pieth, was over time reduced to the position of a pressure group as their work was handed over to the general secretaries of the six regional confederations. Yet Blatter's tactics appear to have worked. Much of the heat is off and the media focus has moved on. Some shrug their shoulders and say some progress is better than none. The Football Association is working hard to reintegrate itself into world football, so is keen not to rock the boat. Outgoing FA chairman David Bernstein ga

Vice All News Time30 May 2013 13:59:25


Sepp Blatter: how Fifa's great survivor has stayed on top

30 May 2013 13:49:41 Football news, match reports and fixtures | theguardian.com

Fifa's history is one of chaos and alleged corruption, but the president remains while his allies turned enemies have fallen On Sunday, Joseph S Blatter attended a ceremony on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius to celebrate the renaming of the country's FA headquarters in his honour. The Fifa president would perhaps say it was a fitting tribute, given his promotion of African football and the amount of "development" money poured into the continent over recent decades. His critics would say it was typical of his egomania and note the importance of African votes in keeping him atop world football for 15 years. Either way, the 77-year-old – clutching his trumpeted but now tatty "roadmap to reform" at the Fifa Congress which began on Thursday – no doubt felt a glow of satisfaction as warm as the sun that will this week beat down on delegates from Fifa's 209 members. Two years ago the mood was very different, when an avalanche of corruption allegations threatened to engulf him and the organisation. Following brutal criticism of the chaotic race for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which virtually invited corruption with its ill-defined rules, sponsors began to exert pressure of their own and the ISL affair lingered in the background. After years of seeming untouchable, it was thought Fifa was crumbling from within and would at last be forced into reform. At the Fifa Congress in Zurich that followed, day after day of newspaper headlines brought forth lurid tales of brown envelopes stuffed with cash, historic allegations of vote rigging that went back all the way to Blatter's first presidential election victory in 1998 and a series of scandals that left his position looking untenable. But the Swiss is nothing if not a survivor. By 1998 he had already been employed at Fifa for 23 years, 17 of them as general secretary at the right hand of the all-powerful Brazilian João Havelange, forging alliances, calling in favours and creating debts that would have to be paid. Mohammed bin Hammam, the Qatari who dramatically came unstuck when challenging for the presidency in 2011 amid allegations that he had bribed Carribbean Football Union officials for their votes with bills in brown envelopes, is just one of a string of former allies turned enemies who have been recently cast from Fifa's gilded Zurich HQ. Many of those names echo down the decades as examples of Fifa's bloated and at times corrupt modus operandi. One by one, the cast who benefitted from Fifa's huge growth over three decades as money poured in from commercial partners and broadcasters have exited stage left. Jack Warner, the Trinidadian Concacaf president who revelled in his role as kingmaker during the sometimes farcical 2018 and 2022 races for World Cup hosts and has been involved in a string of controversies down the years, resigned days before the conclusion of a Fifa investigation into claims he helped facilitate the paying of bribes as part of Bin Hammam's bid to unseat Blatter. He has subsequently been accused of embezzling Concacaf funds by an independent report commissioned by his successors. The same report found that Chuck Blazer, the rotund former Concacaf general secretary who documented his travels to meet world leaders on Fifa business on his blog , had taken $15m (£9.9m) in commissions from 1998 onwards and used the organisation's funds to "finance his personal lifestyle". Blazer denies the claims. Ricardo Teixeira, the man who married Havelange's daughter and was all powerful in Brazilian football for more than two decades, also resigned from the Fifa executive committee in March last year, citing ill health. Nicolás Leoz, the Paraguayan who former FA chairman David Triesman claimed asked for a knighthood in return for his World Cup vote and was president of Conmebol for 26 years, is another who resigned on the grounds of "ill health", just days before Fifa's final report on the ISL scandal in which he was implicated was published. As Blatter looks around the table at his 24-strong executive committee in the meetings that will precede the congress, he will see a vastly changed – and considerably younger — cast of faces. Leoz was the fifth member of the Fifa executive committee who voted in December 2010 on the World Cup hosts to leave with outstanding corruption allegations against him. In all, 12 executive committee members have been accused of some form of corruption since October 2010 with Leoz, Warner, Bin Hammam, Teixeira, Blazer, Amos Adamu, Reynald Temarii and Vernon Manilal Fernando facing the most serious allegations. Leoz, Warner, Bin Hammam, Teixeira and Blazer have resigne,d with Bin Hammam banned from football for life. All of them have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Adamu was banned for three years and Temarii for one year, while the Sri Lankan Fernando has now been banned for eight years, despite Fifa not publicly shedding any light on his alleged transgressions. Meanwhile Havelange, Blatter's mentor, has been almost entirely disgraced. Now 97, he was forced to resign from the International Olympic Committee days before a hearing that would have suspended him over the ISL allegations and last month resigned his position as Fifa honorary president. A report compiled by Fifa's ethics committee chairman, Hans Joachim Eckert, laid out how both Havelange and his former son-in-law, Teixeira, had taken a series of bribes over an eight-year period from the now defunct sports marketing agency ISL. Their behaviour was described as "morally and ethically reproachable". But Blatter, who was not accused of accepting bribes himself, escaped with being described as "clumsy" rather than "criminal". Yet the central charge that has dogged Blatter's tenure – that in March 1997, when he was still secretary general and a year before he won a bitterly contested election to become president, a $1m bribe meant for Havelange crossed his desk – was confirmed. The report confirmed that ISL systemically paid out bribes – estimated at $100m — to sports officials between 1992 and May 2000. The company collapsed with debts of $300m in 2001. Yet Blatter, for whom the affair is so damaging because it links him to the institutionalised corruption that was a feature of that era, has interpreted the report as allowing him to close the door on one of the most damaging periods in Fifa's history. He has also spent much of the last two years trumpeting his "roadmap to reform". The removal of so many of the old guard should have been an opportunity for Blatter, divesting him of the baggage that came with those to whom he owed his position. But for his critics, the roadmap has been full of dead ends and blind alleys. First Transparency International, which had offered to work with Fifa to overhaul its structures, walked away in "disappointment". Then the independent governance committee, overseen by Mark Pieth, was over time reduced to the position of a pressure group as their work was handed over to the general secretaries of the six regional confederations. Yet Blatter's tactics appear to have worked. Much of the heat is off and the media focus has moved on. Some shrug their shoulders and say some progress is better than none. The Football Association is working hard to reintegrate itself into world football, so is keen not to rock the boat. Outgoing FA chairman David Bernstein gav

Vice All News Time30 May 2013 13:49:41


Why Harry Evans endorsed Rupert Murdoch's Times takeover

28 April 2013 12:35:04 Politics news, UK and world political comment and analysis | theguardian.com

When looking back into history it is often amazing what turns up. No matter how much people may previously have trawled the past, a new piece of evidence is suddenly caught in the net. So it was with Steve Hewlett during the making of his TV documentary about the life of Rupert Murdoch, which will be shown tonight.* While inquiring into the controversy that has always surrounded Murdoch's acquisition of The Times and Sunday Times in 1981, he considered two questions: Did the owner of The Sun and News of the World receive help from the then prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, to buy two more national newspapers? Did the Sunday Times's then editor, Harry Evans, really oppose Murdoch's takeover? He found no evidence of Thatcher's involvement. But, as Hewlett reveals in today's Observer, Evans did endorse Murdoch as the best of the bidders. Hewlett was interviewing Gordon Brunton, the Thomas Organisation executive who negotiated the sale of the papers, about Evans's role. As the leader of a consortium to buy the Sunday Times (but not The Times), Evans was part of the bidding process. But Brunton first surprised Hewlett by saying that Evans eventually backed Murdoch and then astonished him by producing a letter written by Evans to prove his case. That hand-written note, marked "personal and private" and dated 21 January 1981, has never been revealed before. Here's the full text: Dear Gordon, We at the Sunday Times much prefer to be independent and regard the ST consortium as a viable proposition for that title. But it does not include The Times; and I've therefore taken soundings among my staff between the 'corporate' bidders represented by the most frequently mentioned names. There's no doubt that Maxwell, Lonrho and Goldsmith are bottom, and therefore quite unacceptable.** Between Murdoch and Rothermere***, it is Murdoch [underlined] who is preferred by a wide margin. This is not a scientific poll, but I believe it represents opinion fairly - and between Murdoch and Rothermere I myself would choose Murdoch [underlined] for a variety of reasons (though as you know I believe systematic safeguards are required). This is for information and not for any public use. A number of important journalists here will no doubt want to explain their own views more fully than this brief indication of preferences between Rothermere and Murdoch. Yours, Harold It is a great find, no doubt about that. Hewlett has landed a scoop. But I feel - in fairness to Harry Evans - that it doesn't condemn him as a hypocrite, as some might be moved to believe on reading the letter. It requires context. In exploring this matter 10 years ago, when writing my press history, Press Gang , I also discovered that Evans had eventually supported Murdoch (though I never knew about the note to Brunton). I wrote that Evans final gave his consent only after his own consortium bid had failed, and continued: "Some of his journalists were upset that he did not try to thwart Murdoch and later accused him of bad faith. Hindsight can be cruel. Evans, who later acknowledged that his judgements made in that period were 'the worst in my professional career', sincerely believed he was choosing the least bad option then available." (p.332, paperback edition, 2004) I don't think anyone would disagree that Murdoch was a far better choice than Maxwell, Lonrho and Goldsmith. Rothermere bid twice as much as Murdoch (£25m to Murdoch's £12m) but he was interested only in the Sunday Times and wouldn't provide an assurance about The Times's future. Murdoch did, and that was the deciding factor. And it is important to recognise that Murdoch stuck to his word. The Times has never turned a profit and he has accepted millions of pounds of losses over 32 years to continue publishing the title. * Rupert Murdoch - battle with Britain , BBC2, 9pm ** Robert Maxwell , media tycoon, acquired the Mirror Group in 1984. Lonrho , a multi-national company controlled by Tiny Rowland , which acquired The Observer in February 1981. Jimmy Goldsmith , billionaire financier, owner of French weekly L'Express and publisher of short-lived British news magazine NOW! *** Vere Harmsworth , the third Viscount Rothermere, chairman of Associated Newspapers, publisher of the Daily Mail, and father of the current Lord Rothermere Rupert Murdoch The Times Sunday Times The Sun News of the World Daily Mail The Observer National newspapers Newspapers Margaret Thatcher Media business Viscount Rothermere BBC2 Roy Greenslade guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds    

Vice All News Time28 April 2013 12:35:04


Fifa 14 preview: skill games, career mode and more

18 April 2013 23:53:34 Football news, match reports and fixtures | theguardian.com

In our second look at the latest Fifa, here's a glance at some of the other new features we can expect to see in the update Free kick. Penalty. In the real game these words are likely to be greeted with expectant joy from supporters and players on the right side of the decision. In the Fifa series, though, they often invoke indifference or even dread. That's because, for many, scoring from a set-piece in Fifa is a sort of halcyon moment, as rare, magical and incomprehensible as falling in love at first sight, or viewing a meteor shower. My free kick attempts will tend to go anywhere – row Z, out for a throw in, into another game – rather than the goal. Most of the time, I just opt for a short pass. And penalties? The controls seemed so sensitive I always ended up tapping most of mine limply down the middle, like Gareth Southgate at Euro 96 – over and over again. Last year, however, the Fifa development team at EA Sports finally realised something had to be done, so they introduced Skill Games, a selection of mini-challenges designed to teach you how to use various in-game moves and systems. The shooting and crossing ones were useful, but the set-piece tutorials were a bloody revelation, finally letting average gamers into an arcane world of penalty-taking confidence. Now, at least 68% of my kicks go into one of the corners of the net, rather than into the fuzzy face of a simply animated spectator. And it's great because it doesn't feel like a tutorial mode: in each challenge you can continually improve on your performance so it's like a series of mini-games rather than going to football school and being told you're an idiot. It's little wonder then that this new feature has been a success. According to EA, 2.29bn skill games have been played since the launch of Fifa 13 last autumn. And so for Fifa 14, the mode is to be extended – familiar challenges are going to be tweaked, and new tasks are being added. During a recent demo session, producer Nick Channon showed off a selection of the newcomers. One is a distance shooting exercise with a line of balls just outside the 18-yard area – the player has to run along and belt all of these into the goal. More interesting though are the team mate exercises. In one, your player has to run the length of the pitch making one-two passes with other players en route, before finally shooting. Better still, there's a little group task, where seven players in a small box must one-touch pass the ball between them for as long as possible as defenders run about trying to intercept. This one will be familiar to anyone who's actually played for a team, and brings more of a sense of actual football practise to the mode. Elsewhere, the studio is making some key changes to the Career Mode, which lets you compete as a manager or player over a number of seasons. The user interface is being completely overhauled to make it easier to navigate and more logical – the squad screen, for example, has a nice graphic of your first eleven, with each icon showing a range of stats so you get a visual representation rather than having to drill down into multiple screens. From the brief glimpse I got, there's a slight look of Windows 8 about it all – it has that clean, box-based feel. Apparently, email notifications can also be tailored so you're not constantly interrupted by irrelevant spam as you advance though the season - now, only really important messages will be mandatory reads. Fifa 14 is also adding a new global scouting network, which will allow managers to set up searches for fresh talent based on player traits and tendencies rather than stats. For Channon, this is about creating a much more authentic system. "A manager doesn't go in saying I want a 75 rated player," he says. "Instead, with the new scouting system you say, I want a pacy winger, I want a good holding midfielder, I want a big striker I can play the ball up to. You can then go and scout those players. Clearly if you're after a Messi or an Ibrahimovic, you're not going to have to scout them, but what about a longer term player who's cheaper but has the potential to grow? Instead of searching all the ratings, you can think about the types of players you want and scout based on that." So in Fifa 14, you get a series of putdown menus providing specific wish lists to your scout. You can define that you'd like, say, a tall centre back from South America with good dribbling skills; your scout then packs his sun tan lotion and he's off. Apparently, the longer you leave him out there, the more accurate his report becomes, so there's a long term challenge here, stretching out the transfer system so that it takes in the whole season. "We have a dedicated database team working on all this, which is now quite big thanks to the Match Day feature, says Channon. "They have processes in place for managing player stats and traits. But the game still has to be fun. We have to maintain the entertainment factor." Talking about all the changes, Channon says that part of the challenge is learning from feedback, but not reacting immediately. "We look at what the team thinks, what we've learned, things we couldn't get to - then as soon as the demo hits, we get customer feedback. And then when the game is released we get a massive amount more. But we can't just react to the first couple of days. Look at tactical defending: when we first released the demo, the reaction was 'oh my goodness, this is really different', but actually that quickly went away because everyone got used to it. We know that when we make big changes like first touch control, people initially react negatively, but often they'll say, this makes sense, I can't go back." So. just a few extra snippets from Fifa 14 there, and EA will no doubt be revealing more about multiplayer aspects as we head into summer. And while the release date is likely to be the end of September, the big question is over what formats the game will appear on. At the start of our press demo last week, EA made it clear that they wold only be discussing the PS3, Xbox and PC versions of the game – which of course, pretty much confirmed that next-gen versions will be announced. It's likely we'll get Fifa 14 for current platforms in September, then updated special editions for the new PlayStation and Xbox platforms later. One thing's for sure, we can expect ever closer integration with the real sport and an increasingly pervasive feel to the series. Last year's Match Day feature ripped information and stories from the actual season and put them into the commentary and player form stats. Meanwhile, the EA Sports Football Club smartphone app also allowed Ultimate Team fans to play around with their squads while on the move. EA Sports is keen on expanding these elements – it wants us to be constantly in touch with the game; on phones, tablets and consoles, wherever we are, checking team info, tweaking formations, comparing real-world news to in-game seasons. Of course, some people hate all of this, but it's increasingly where big gaming franchises are going – and it will get much more interesting with the next-gen machines. EA just doesn't want to talk about it. Yet. • You can read our main preview of Fifa 14 here .

Vice All News Time18 April 2013 23:53:34


Fifa 14 – preview

17 April 2013 14:14:56 Football news, match reports and fixtures | theguardian.com

Overhauled ball physics, smarter defending and new sprinting controls are key additions to the latest footie sim from EA In modern football, it is the playmakers we idolise; the magicians who can orchestrate attacks as well as score. Andrés Iniesta, Xavi Hernández, Andrea Pirlo, Lionel Messi … mostly, they are deep-lying forwards or creative midfielders; they don't get in on the end of long, lofted passes, they sculpt goals. This is where Fifa 14 wants to go. Every year, when the latest Fifa is shipped, the team gets together, sifts through feedback, from within the studio and from customers, and works out where to go next. This time there was a rather weighty conclusion: Fifa is too fast. There is something about the system, the physics, the controls, whatever that leads toward end-to-end gameplay. All the action is happening around the 18-yard area. Everything is compressed. "That's not as realistic as we'd like," says series producer Nick Channon as he introduces a roomful of journalists to the latest instalment. "When you look at the modern game, it's much more about building up through the midfield. The best teams move the ball around, switch sides, attack on the wings, they attack from everywhere – that's something we want to bring into Fifa. The exhilaration of scoring great goals isn't just about the shot, it's about how you get there." So for Fifa 14, the big emphasis is on build-up play, on anticipation and on off-the-ball movement; it's about driving through the midfield, rather than lofting balls over it. For a start, the team has completely re-worked how dribbling at speed works. It turns out that in most football simulations, when the gamer hits the sprint button, the onscreen player is limited to a turning circle of just 22.5 degrees – which means you get these long, wide turning arcs. Fifa 14 has done away with that; you'll now be able to turn at any angle while sprinting, leading defenders up the pitch before darting back, or winding through opponents. To ensure this isn't over-powered, however, the movement physics is getting a new addition: momentum. Now, if your player quickly changes direction, or turns completely, you'll get a brief pause as they transfer weight from one foot to the other. Channon runs through early footage of a sharp about turn on screen, and the effect looks immediately more authentic. Beyond that, we didn't get any hands-on time so I've no idea how losing this historic 22.5-degree turning circle is going to affect things, but it should make for much less predictability in the midfield. Which is the whole point, of course. On that note, Fifa 14 is also set to build on last year's first-touch control system, which varies how effectively a player receives the ball depending on his skill, position and the speed and angle of delivery. This time, EA Sports is introducing variable dribble touches, so sprinting players will push the ball forward at differing distances, again based on their skills; a stylish midfielder will keep the ball close to them, but a hulking defender may well push it out further, giving opposing players the chance to steal possession. Whatever, the days of having the ball stick to the runner's feet are over. "It will transform how you think about spiriting," says Channon. What we're getting so far is a shift in balance toward defenders, and that continues into the demo. The next big change is in marking, which Channon feels tended to be loose enough in Fifa 13 for players to turn defenders reasonably easily. Now it's being tightened up, thanks to a change to the AI. Apparently, in previous iterations of the game, computer-controlled players would make their defensive decisions in a single frame of animation, often breaking away from attackers if another forward player was spotted in a threatening position. Now they assess situations over multiple frames which means they're less likely to act on split-second decisions, instead staying focused to track the player on the ball. As a consequence, one cheap route to goal has been closed up. Channon talks about how, in the past, if a ball was cleared from the box, it would almost always fall to an attacking player, allowing the ball to be recycled. Now, however, those players are likely to have tight defensive markers. "It's not about making the game more difficult," insists Channon. "It's about making it more fun." By taking away some of game's repetitive tics, the idea is that the action will feel more authentic, and more representative of the real sport. And to balance things up, there are additions to the attacking intelligence of AI players. They can now make three different types of forward move: spinning out and running in behind defenders; running along the back line to stay onside, and backing in to defenders to create space. Each one is a visual cue to gamers, and as with the variable ball control while sprinting, it adds more personality to individual players – powerful centre forwards will have much more success backing into and tussling with defenders than lighter strikers. "The new runs make a huge difference," says Channon later. "The big one is the backing in to defenders, being able to play the ball in to the feet of a striker is important, you see it a lot in the real game. And being able to turn the defender gives you other opportunities. It's all about balance – with the tightening up of marking, it means the game will be less backwards and forwards. We're not changing the actual game speed at all, but it will slow down naturally, you'll be able to look at different options and vary your game. It won't be about getting cheap goals." Adding to the sense of physicality is a new "protect the ball" move, accessible by pressing the left trigger. Hitting this slows the player down, but allows them to shield the ball while dribbling, sticking out an arm or angling their body to see off opposing players. Gameplay producer Aaron McHardy likens the new control system to a racing sim, with sprint on the right trigger acting as accelerate, and "protect the ball" on the left as brake. The idea is that players can now battle through midfield, dictating and varying pace, while probing for decent passes. Players can also use left trigger to jostle for a loose ball, or to counteract a defender using the B button to pull at his opponent. The most intriguing update, though, is to scoring. In the past, player animations didn't tell the full story about a shooting chance. If you hit the shoot button during an animation sequence, the player would be snapped into the correct position – a slightly awkward process. Now, strikers will adjust their stride and angle realistically and this will signal how truly prepared they are. Channon talks about how EA would get feedback from gamers mystified why a certain shot flew well wide or dribbled pathetically into the keeper's arms – now, a new set of animations will provide visual tells: you'll know if the ball is too close to the attacker's feet, if they're going to have to attempt a rushed shot; and by watching closely, there will be a chance to pull out of a strike and instead pass the ball or feint and set up for a better chance. Defenders will get their own version of this. When going in for a tackle in Fifa 13, the defender is essentially committed for the duration of the fixed animation cycle – time it slightly wrong and your man is left floundering. In Fifa 14, however, the more phased appro

Vice All News Time17 April 2013 14:14:56