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The Sunday Stroll: 24 Oct, 2010

October 24, 2010

‘Reet folks. Sunday morning means car washing, oui? Non! Pay the kid next door. You’re making time for The Sunday Stroll – the week’s goings-on in the world of sport.

Aah, we start with the unfolding FIFA bribes scandal… with a couple of officials essentially admitting they’d take a few dollars in exchange for their vote going to a particular bidding nation. Utterly reprehensible; undoubtedly shameful. It is obviously great news that FIFA are opening an ‘an in-depth investigation’, just as it is equally unsurprising that the Nigerian official in question has denied such allegations. Whilst England’s bid team have, thankfully, been initially exonerated, it would be extremely short-sighted of ourselves to ignore the severity of these allegations and deny the fact that bid-buying will have undoubtedly been prevalent in past bidding procedures; it would be naïve to think otherwise (suggested read: Foul by Andrew Jennings). The Olympic authorities, exemplifiers of honesty and integrity in the world of sport, have a history of such troubles, notably with the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and have since made moves to eliminate such corruption from their bidding procedures. Here’s hoping FIFA can do the same…

Still in football, and we have the crazy Wayne Rooney saga at Man Utd. It seemed the lad was on his way out, following his initial refusal to sign a new contract, citing a lack of ambition from the club regarding player signings, although many suspected the potential earning power he would have commanded elsewhere was a more pressing factor. Regardless, Fergie’s astonishing heartfelt press conference was gripping to watch, choosing terms such as baffled and bemused to decribe his feelings on the situation; he also denied there was a falling out between them. Then, with fears abounding that Rooney would leave Old Trafford on the cheap, Friday’s remarkable turnaround saw him resign on a five year deal. Great news for United perhaps, but didn’t Ronaldo have a five year deal too? At least this way they appear to have guaranteed a decent price for their key asset should he indeed move on at some time in the near future.

Congrats to Andy Murray for winning the Shanghai Masters last weekend, a victory achieved in some style with an apparent ‘thrashing’ of the legend that is R.Fed. No mean feat, I’m sure you’ll all agree. Importantly, this tournament victory qualifies Murray for the end-of-season ATP World Tour Finals, which this year takes place in London. Great news for British fans and tournament organisers alike…

Over in the gentlemanly sport of pugilism, or boxing to most, Vitali Klitschko successfully retained his WBC Heavyweight title with a thorough destruction of American challenger Shannon Briggs. Klitschko was ruthless in attaining his comfortable victory, albeit by a points decision. Many observers felt the fight should have been stopped earlier, for Briggs has since spent time in intensive care, suffering from concussion, fractured cheek bones / eye sockets, a broken nose, and torn left biceps. Post-fight, Briggs had this to say: ‘I’ve faced George Foreman and Lennox Lewis but Vitali is better than any of them’. Now this is one of the two Klitschko brothers that Brit David Haye seems so intent on not only meeting, but actually beating. Whilst SportingBlogs obviously applauds Haye’s confidence and optimism, we find it amusing that he finds time to take on the distinctly average Audley Harrison (affectionately known as ‘Fraudley’) rather than eventually getting round to fighting one of the Klitschkos. Something about talking-the-talking and walking-the-walk, David…

The 2011 Tour de France route was revealed on Tuesday, with the climbers expected to be the main overall beneficiaries with four hill finishes, and two daunting climbs of Col du Galibier and an ascent of Alpe d’Huez at Le Tour’s concluding end. ‘We wanted to provide a huge array of challenges for all kind of riders,’ commented Christian Prudhomme, the Tour director. And challenges they have indeed provided. British Maillot Jaune hope and Team Sky rider Bradley Wiggins feels he and his team might be well suited to surviving the undoubtedly arduous route, stating ‘we want to get on the podium and win it if we can,’ which is good to hear. Not such great news for British sprinter and self-proclaimed ‘fastest man on two wheels. fact’ Mark Cavendish in his pursuit of the Green Jersey however, with several climbs being incorporated into the traditionally flat early stages and only eight stages in total expected to suit the sprinters. No surprises that the French are making it as hard as possible for the Manx Missile to dominate the sprints again, but having overcome pre-season tooth infections and big crashes to claim five stage wins in this year’s Tour, SportingBlogs wouldn’t put it past him to claim a few more in 2011…

There were mixed results for English clubs in Europe mid-week. Liverpool rested several big players, getting a good draw away to Napoli, whilst a Rooney-less United laboured to a 1-0 home victory over Turkish champions Bursaspor. Chelsea survived a tricky trip and a plastic pitch, winning 2-0 away to Spartak Moscow, including a special first Chelsea goal from Russian Yuri Zhirkov. Arsenal sparkled whilst spanking super-rich Ukranian champions Shakhtar Donetsk 5-1; the Emirates faithful giving returning player Eduardo a standing ovation after his consolation goal. And finally Spurs, whose dream trip to the San Siro to face Italian and European champions Internazionale turned into a first-half nightmare, going down to ten men and conceding four goals, before a superb second-half hat-trick from widely-coveted winger Gareth Bale reduced arrears to a palatable 4-3 defeat. Definite room for improvement for Harry’s boys though…

The F1 circus hit Yeongam, South Korea, for the first time on Friday, after much speculation as to whether the race would take place. The circuit is still being readied, having suffered two months worth of bad weather induced delays, but it is mostly the off-track areas (such as grandstands) that need the final touches. Trivial things such as seats, you see. Hmm. Anyways, during their first on-track excursions on Friday practice, the drivers revealed they have big concerns over the pit entry at the end of the blind final corner; Lotus’s Jarno Trulli stating: ‘It’s very dangerous. It is a big issue’. But on the whole, it seems to be a good track, albeit with a few adjustments to be made (click link). Renault’s Robert Kubica commented that although the ‘first few corners are quite boring’, the second half has ‘quite a lot of action going on’, citing the final corner as ‘quite challenging [and] blind’, before suggesting that overall ‘it is 10 times better than Abu Dhabi’. The opening practice sessions saw the big guns trading times at the top, suggesting that Yeongam’s combination of long straights, high-speed, mid-speed and low-speed corners balances out any strengths and weaknesses between the top teams over a lap – great news for the fans come raceday in an exciting five-way battle for the drivers’ title. Qualifying confirmed as much, with the Red Bull’s frequently up to half-a-second slower in the opening sector, before clawing that margin back in the latter parts of the lap. Grid for the race: 1 Vettel, 2 Webber, 3 Alonso, 4 Hamilton, 5 Rosberg, 6 Massa, 7 Button, 8 Kubica.

So, by virtue of the fact that the last seven days might as well have been called Wayne Rooney week, SportingBlogs leaves you with a compilation of Rooney’s finest goals to date. Great viewing…

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