Inside Lines: Thomas Back and Sepp Blatter in political football over climate change


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The Independent Online

Thomas Bach will kick off his new tenure as president of the International Olympic Committee by playing political football with the world's other sporting czar, Sepp Blatter, head of Fifa.

They are set to lock horns over the probability of the 2022 football World Cup in Qatar being switched from summer to winter, which would bring a costly clash with the winter Olympics. While the IOC says it is confident that talks will resolve the issue, it now seems certain at its meeting in Zurich next month that Fifa will order Qatar to stage the World Cup in January and February 2022, the same time as the winter Games are traditionally held, despite the disruption this will cause to domestic schedules.

In that case Blatter, who is also a member of the IOC, will face irritability from that organisation because having a World Cup and winter Games simultaneously will play havoc with international TV, and have a detrimental effect on the Olympics. Backed by his board, Bach would oppose such a move, resulting in a showdown between the two most powerful figures in global sport. The IOC could even invoke the ultimate sanction of removing football from the summer Games, an event for which, ironically, Qatar are also set to bid for in 2024.

Edwards talks Turkey

There will be a familiar face in the opposite corner when Britain's boxers compete in the world amateur championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan next month. Terry Edwards, the former GB national coach, will be in charge of the Turkish squad – an appointment the Turkish federation wants to make permanent through to the Rio 2016 Olympics.

However, Edwards says he has yet to decide on the offer of a long-term contract, preferring to wait until after the World Championships "to see how things go". Since being axed after the Beijing 2008 Olympics by the then newly formed British Amateur Boxing Association – he had overseen Britain's most successful Games in the ring for half a century – Edwards has been sought-after, working as a consultant in Ghana and the US. He turned down an approach to become the US head coach before the last Olympics, instead being appointed technical operations manager for the London 2012 boxing tournament.

"It will be a strange feeling if the draw puts me in the opposite corner to some of the British boxers I know well because my heart is still very much with Britain," Edwards says.

Girl power at Sky

With Clare Balding banging the BT drum for women's sport, Sky has responded with the launch on Tuesday of Sportswomen, presented by Hayley McQueen and featuring news, views and interviews. Former England coach Hope Powell is the first guest. "Women's sport is thriving," claims head of sport, Barney Francis, who says he receives a dozen applications a day from female wannabe sports presenters. Is there a budding Balding out there?

Sheriff of Fractured Jaw

Aged 71, ailing from Parkinson's and barely able to walk or talk, Muhammad Ali is still outliving most of the men he fought. Ken Norton became the latest to pass away last week. Sonny Liston, Joe Frazier, Floyd Patterson, Henry Cooper, Cleveland Williams, Zora Folley, Jerry Quarry, Oscar Bonavena, Ron Lyle and his nemesis Trevor Berbick are among those who have gone before him.

The one he most respected was Norton, who we first encountered in his 1973 training camp at the Massacre Canyon in California before he became the Sheriff of Fractured Jaw in the first of his memorable trilogy with Ali. A nice man, Norton is the only one to have left Ali speechless.