Inside Lines: Cold war as superpowers squabble over World Cup


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The Independent Online

Stand by for a set-to between the two behemoths of world sport. In one corner Thomas Bach, freshly-esconced president on the International Olympic Committee and in the other Sepp Blatter, the immovable boss of Fifa, football's world governing body.

The battleground will be the likely clash of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games and football's World Cup finals that year. It is now expected Fifa will shift the World Cup from summer to winter in 2022 to avoid stifling temperatures in Qatar and thus appease European clubs. Such a disruptive move could force the quadrennial wintry showpiece to seek another less favourable date because of scheduling by TV networks who have already bought rights to both events.

But led by Bach, the snowpersons won't budge. The 2022 Winter Olympics will be in either Beijing or Almaty Kazakhstan, after Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg pulled Oslo's bid citing prohibitive costs and a massive list of IOC requirements which included a knees-up at the palace hosted and paid for by Norway's King Harald V.

Last week the gauntlet was thrown in Bach's direction by Umberto Gandhi, vice-chair of football's European Clubs Association who inferred that the Winter Games were of little consequence anyway. Bach is prepared to tell Blatter to take a running ski jump when they meet in Switzerland to sort the issue. Blatter is an IOC member and will be aware that it is thought that any disruption to the 2022 Games might even jeopardise football's status as an Olympic sport.

Looks like snowballs at 10 paces chaps.

Froch's low blow

After Roy Keane and Kevin Pietersen's serial slagging off comes another toxic tome. In his biography world champion Carl Froch puts the boot in on twice-defeated George Groves. Talk about hitting a man when he's been down. Groves is described as "A naive young pup… having a dumb, half-arsed look... Jack the Lad… a little prick… and looking like a village idiot."

Among other things Froch says he hoped Groves would get up after being ko'd in their Wembley fight to take more punishment. "Call it a sick pleasure." He adds: "I don't like Groves and I'm not going to pretend that I do." Obviously. But considering Groves's hard-selling of their fights helped line Froch's pockets by some £10m it seems a tad ungracious in a sport where differences are traditionally forgotten after the final bell?

Hammers veto 'permanent'

There continues to be as much love lost between West Ham and Tottenham as between Wenger and Mourinho. For though the London Legacy Development Corporation say they would listen to any request from Spurs (and none has been forthcoming) to have a temporary groundshare of the Olympic Stadium while their own new stadium is being built, chances of this ever happening grow more remote. West Ham point out that they have the right to exercise a veto not just for their inaugural season but in perpetuity.

No-win Lib Dems

The Lib Dems used to have a capable sports spokesman in Don Foster, who knew what he was talking about. Sadly, as he is not seeking re-election next year, he seems to have been supplanted. This platform apparently is now occupied by one John Leech, MP for Manchester Withington, who somehow persuaded the party's conference to support a motion condemning the winning ethos in sport, particularly football. Well, not winning is something Nick Clegg's team know all about. But as Leech professes to be a Manchester City fan it would be interesting to hear him debate it with Manuel Pellegrini.