HEADLINE | Let's just get this out of the way up top: we all know that Qatar is a silly place to hold a World Cup. It's a tiny country with no sports history and not much going for it except oil money, and during the summer, the entire area is the same temperature as the surface of the sun. Yet FIFA, in its finely judged wisdom, decided that the 2022 Cup would be held in Qatar.
Now, president Sepp Blatter and company have finally figured out that they've made a mistake. Instead of admitting as such, however, they've been floating a few balloons about playing the Cup in November, after it's cooled down a bit. This, however, presents a number of problems in its own right, which the UK's Daily Mail lays out here. To summarize:
1. A November World Cup would take place smack in the middle of every major European club season, something that the countries are quite naturally fairly incensed about.
2. FIFA is trying to insist that the summer World Cup, held as such since 1930, was merely a suggestion, not a firm requirement. This has not impressed the other countries that made bids for the '22 WC - Australia in particular, given that a November World Cup would be in the summer, Down Under.
3. FOX, which paid more than a half-billion dollars for the rights to show the World Cup stateside, does not want to show a World Cup during the middle of football season, when Saturdays and Sundays are given over to the far more popular NFL and college football.
At any rate, the smart thing for FIFA to do would be to admit they were wrong and re-award the bid for the tournament. This is why you can be guaranteed that FIFA, which is not interested in doing the smart thing, will not do this.
PREMIER LEAGUE | This early in the season, the Premier League horse race is more about who dropped points rather than who won them - and so the story this week is about Chelsea, who lost 1-0 to Everton at Goodison Park. Nikica Jelevic scored the only goal of the game, in first-half stoppage time, and new Chelsea signing Samuel Eto'o missed a number of key chances to get a goal in his Blues debut.
Elsewhere, Manchester United got back on track with a comfortable 2-0 win against Crystal Palace, but it's Arsenal - 3-1 winners at Sunderland, courtesy of a pair of second-half strikes from Aaron Ramsey - and Tottenham, 2-0 winners against Norwich with both goals from the wonderfully-named Gylfi Sigurdsson, that are currently tied atop the table. The other team in that tie is Liverpool, which plays Swansea City today with the chance to keep their perfect record intact.
MLS | Most of the year, Seattle - picked by many to be a title contender - has languished in the lower reaches of the Western Conference standings. The one consolation for Sounders fans was that, due to a quirk in the schedule, Seattle had three or four games in hand on most of the rest of the league; if the Sounders could just win them all, they'd be right back in the mix.
The key to that hope, of course, was the Sounders actually winning those games. Suddenly, though, they're the league's hottest team; they've won eight of nine, which they capped by effortlessly destroying former league leaders Real Salt Lake 2-0 on Friday night.
The win puts Seattle atop the entire MLS standings, one point ahead of both RSL and Eastern leaders New York. And for good measure, the Sounders still have a game in hand on most of the rest of the league - and two in hand on Salt Lake.
NASL | Normally, I leave the local league out of these roundups - but any story in which the police have to get involved in a soccer game is too good not to share. Fort Lauderdale and Edmonton drew 1-1 in Edmonton on Sunday, but the real fireworks took place on the coaching benches. Steven Sandor at the11.ca has all the details:
The sendings-off of Fort Lauderdale Strikers coach Gunter Kronsteiner and goalkeeper coach Ricardo Lopes overshadowed the 1-1 draw between the league’s two top defensive teams. After being thrown out of the game, Kronsteiner and Lopes were eventually escorted from the stadium by the police, an ejection caught on national television cameras. The actions of the Fort Lauderdale coaches have FC Edmonton brass contemplating asking the league for a forfeit. The team has confirmed it will be making some kind of formal protest. A forfeit plea is an option.
After being sent off for walking on the field and arguing a call, Kronsteiner and Lopes attempted to sit in the stands and coach the team from there; they also sent messages to an assistant, and even called the bench on a cell phone. The cops, who had to come onto the field to get the two to leave in the first place, had to throw the pair out of the entire stadium as well.
It's a good bet that the coaches will face a suspension, and Fort Lauderdale may get some additional discipline from the league as well. And it remains to be seen whether the league will take any action with the outcome of the match, which was no doubt affected by the coaches' blatant flaunting of the rules.