The sporting week ahead (17/07/11)

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The Independent Online


Not much doubt who the neutrals will be supporting when the all-conquering USA play Japan in today's Women's World Cup final. After their semi-final victory over Sweden, the Japanese unfurled a huge banner reading "To our Friends Around the World – Thank You for Your Support", referring to the global outpouring of aid after the earthquake and tsunami. Victory for the first-time finalists wouldbe seen as a real occasion for national pride.


With the golf out of the way, there is nowhere left to hide. Football is back, with attention focused on the Premier League globe-trotters. Time was when only Manchester United would think about crossing the Atlantic for pre-season, but now even Bolton and West Bromwich are in on the act. Owen Coyle's side are in Orlando to satisfy the needs of all their fans over there.


The World Aquatics Championships – that's swimming and diving to you – will be well underway in Shanghai, where China's gold medals will be met with vigorous waving of mini flags.


Given the resounding thumbs-down that greeted the equestrian test event at Greenwich, where the surface was slammed as a "pudding", organisers of volleyball's equivalent at Earl's Court will be all of a twitch. But what can go wrong beyond a bit of net sagging?


If England really are the best Test team in the world, there is no better stage to prove it than Lord's. But their opponents are India, who will have their own view on the right pecking order. Not much added spice is needed, of course, but the presence of the former England coach Duncan Fletcher in the tourists' dressing room will turn this into a vindaloo dish.


The Fifa ethics committee seems like a curious non sequitur, but they meet in Zurich to decide the fate of Mohamed bin Hammam, accused of bribery.


And they're off... at least in Scotland. Yes, with the Lord's Test only into day three the Scottish Premier League begins, with Rangers v Hearts the top attraction. But, in a truly crass piece of scheduling, the Old Firm then take alternate Saturdays off so they can cash in on lucrative friendlies. Even for football, that smacks of breathtaking opportunism. Meanwhile, bling king Amir Khan fights Zab Judah in Las Vegas overnight for what is billed as a world light-welterweight unification title.