Jan 27, 2011

If You Can't Beat Him, Buy Him:I nter Milan to Make Big Bid for Gareth Bale

From Goal.com:
Inter are set to bid £40 million (€46.4m) in the summer for Tottenham star Gareth Bale, according to The Guardian.

If successful, the move would shatter the transfer record for a British player and will put the 21-year-old among an illustrious group of players.

The fee has only been beaten by transfers involving Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Kaka and Zinedine Zidane.
Maybe they just figured if Bale was going to be skinning international defenders like Maicon, better that he be doing it for them rather than to them.

MLS's Wakes Up From Its Pre-Teen Dream: SuperLIga is Gone

Match Fit USA's Jason Davis talks about the rumored death of SuperLiga, that contrived tournament between four Mexican clubs and four American clubs that usually took place in the summer, screwing up schedules and adding as many as five games to an MLS's club schedule at a time when injuries from over playing would be common.
The move makes sense from a competitive standpoint; with the league schedule expanding but the competition window squeezed, shoehorning in SuperLiga would stretch participating teams in truly adverse ways. MLS has continually stated that it wants to reduce the strain on clubs. Playing SuperLiga after all that talk would come off as hypocritical.
But like Davis, I think there is something to be lost here, a chance to regularly compete against Mexican sides, considered to be, and usually are, the best clubs in CONCACAF. But ending SuperLiga is not giving up on the dream of competing against the region's best clubs and winning; it is a realization that there is probably a better way to do it.  For example, by taking the CONCACAF Champions League more seriously at the league level and giving teams the proper tools to have a shot at winning.  It is also the more mature understanding that success in this game cannot be bought with a dream, but will come only with time and work.

Sometimes it is important to think of MLS as the teenager it is. Look at any 11- or 12-year-old kid (the age of MLS when the SuperLiga started in 2007) and you will find hopes and dreams--often beyond the immediate or even short term reach of that kid. That is not to say that the 12-year-old won't turn into a world famous footballer, surgeon, actor, astronaut or the President of the United States, but that kid must develop the proper foundation.

SuperLiga was the the MLS' equivalent of a kid's dream--ambition uncoupled from the reality of MLS' actual capabilities at that time and even now. With the MLS, Don Garber and the league leadership needs to build the foundation as well. Having the goal and ambition to dominate the region's football is admirable and laudable--as a long term goal. Right now, we have to build for the future by focusing on the foundation in the present.

MLS is really taking those important foundational steps. The academies and youth teams for the clubs which are developing home grown talent, the improved financial footing, the infrastucture in stadium deals and training facilities, better coaching, and cultivating a fan base by being true to the game and not trying (too much) to insult the intelligence of the fans; these are all positive steps that the league is taking to improve the domestic competition. MLS is getting better and that is where the proper focus needs to be. Success at the international level will come with time, patience and work. In other words, let the teenager grown, provide it the skills, the resources and the experience to give it the chance to excel and reach its dreams. If the league focuses on its own competition, international success will surely follow. The demise of the SuperLiga isn't so much a giving up on a dream as it is a reflection of the maturation of a teenager who realized that having dreams is good, but like all good things, you have to sometimes accept that achieving the dream takes time and hard work.

The SuperLiga may have been a contrived, poorly constructed money-maker for the league. But you can't fault the teenager for dreaming big.

Quick Free Kicks

The L.A. Galaxy have hired former DC United head coach Curt Onolfo as an assistant coach.  Steven Goff reports that it is unclear whether Onalfo will continue to receive a paycheck from D.C. United, which fired Onalfo with two seasons remaining on his contract ($300,000 annually).  Well, I will tell you this--probably not, or at least not all of it.  The most Onolfo could get if he sued would be the difference between his LA salary and his DC salary.

In other MLS news, MLS' second all-time leading scorer, Jeff Cunningham has ditched his efforts to make a move to Europe and is now keen on signing with Columbus Crew.  Cunningham needs just one goal to tie and two to surpass the MLS all-time leader Jaime Moreno.

On February 9, the United States will play Egypt for a friendly in Cairo (assuming riots in that country don't postpone the game or force a venue change).  USMNT Coach Bob Bradley is probably looking to bring in his more established, European based players (it is an international break on the FIFA calendar) for the game.  Ridge Mahoney has some thoughts on what he thinks Bob Bradley will be thinking.  (ouch, my head hurts just writing that sentence).

From the "Dumb Things Footballers Do" comes the story of Stoke City's Jermaine Pennant and the Porsche he forgot he had---for six months.  
English Premier League star Jermaine Pennant — once Britain's most expensive teenage soccer player — forgot he owned a Porsche, leaving the luxury car at a train station for six months, it emerged Wednesday.

On the same day "Britain's brainiest footballer," Burnley defender Clarke Carlisle, announced he had been selected as a panelist on the BBC's "Question Time," Pennant helped re-install the image of the intellectually challenged sportsman with the extraordinary memory fail.
Pennant, who has a collection of sports cars, abandoned the Porsche in Spain when he left Spanish club Real Zaragoza for a loan spell at Stoke City last August. When authorities contacted him about the situation last week, he told them he had forgotten he owned the vehicle.
Oh, by the way, the keys to the car--on the front seat!  

Seriously, You can't make this stuff up, I swear.

Manchester United Goalkeeper, Edwin Van der Saar will retire at the end of this season.  Since transferring from Fulham in 2005 (Man I wish the Whites had kept him), Van Der Saar has won three Premier League trophies, the Champions League Trophy and looks on pace to go out on top this year.  Well done to Van der Saar.

DC United Rebuilds--Even if They Don't Call It That

The Black and Red head into the 2011 season with a very different look than last year.  After the most dismal MLS season ever and three years removed from the playoffs, DC United appear to have stopped, taken a look around and decided that instead of trying to reload and shoot for the moon on a shaky foundation, it would be better to address the foundational problems.  So, even though you will not hear Ben Olsen, Dave Kasper or Kevin Payne say it, 2011 is a rebuilding year and any success that occurs this year will be gravy.

Some evidence of that is pretty obvious.  DC divested itself of some pretty old players, legend Jaime Moreno, and Luciano Emilio.  DC released players like Danny Alsop and  traded guys like Adam Christman.  It is not that these men were bad players, just not what DC United needed.

Just take a look at the average age of the current roster:  24.1 years.  There are six players age 20 or younger (Junior Carreiro, Bill Hamid, Perry Kitchen, Andy Najar, Conor Shanosky and Ethan White and just four players aged 28 and above (Branko Boskovic(30), Joseph Ngwenya (29), Clyde Simms(28) and Josh Wolff(33)).  There are another 8 players between the ages of 21 and 25.  DC United has gone younger, but in doing so, they have not necessarily sacrificed quality.

Even DC United themselves have stated they are looking for a new identity and it appears that young is that identity.  But looking deeper at the squad assembled thus far, there is something else that we have not seen in the past several years--more ball control players and more speed.

Players like Dax McCarty and Perry Kitchen excel at holding the ball and spraying around passes to spark something.  Guys like Andy Najar, Josh Wolff, Rodrigo Brasesco and Branko Boskovic excell at going at defenders and making them work.  You still have guys like Kitchen, Clyde Simms and Stephen King who can do the dirty work in the defensive midfield slot, protecting the defenders, but can also transition into attack with the ball.  It seems apparent that Olsen and the front office are looking to build a team that can be like DC United used to be, ball control, movement and passing.  DC United may never rival Barcelona in that department, but it is something that few MLS teams do with any kind of consistency.

But there are finally some smart moves by the DC United front office, or at least it looks that way.  The selection of Perry Kitchen with the 3rd pick overall is not only selecting a quality player, but also a Generation Adidas player who is going to be gone for long stretches this year and thus will not be graduating from the GA program, thus, Kitchen's salary won't count against the salary cap this year or next.  Kitchen will also be getting a lot of international experience in the U20 World Cup Qualifying and/or World Cup this year.  Assuming the US qualifies for the U20 World Cup, Kitchen will be mostly gone until August and may come back at a time when DC United will need some freshness.

The current unsigned draft picks, Blake Brettschneider, Chris Korb and Joe Willis are not quite flyers and might make the team and Willis is the most likely player of the three to make the squad, but they are low risk. If they work out, great, but if they don't DC United might have as many as two or three open spots.  Under MLS rules, if DC United starts the season with an open slot, they get $45,000 in allocation money per open slot and anyone signed after the roster deadline does not count fully against the salary cap.

So maybe DC United is playing a little smarter, going younger (and cheaper), maximizing the salary cap room and playing the rules.  DC United is likely looking at a second designated player to come in as a striker.  Olsen has hinted as much.  What DC United lack is a goal scorer.  Wolff might chip in with 8-10 goals and Ngwenya possible 3 or 4.  If Chris Pontius is healthy, he might be good for 4-5 and Andy Najar bagged five last year.  But that is not going to be enough in the long run.  A young scorer, something similar to Freddy Montero, is probably what DC is looking for.  With some salary cap room, DC United might be able to bag a DP quality player but pay down the salary for a smaller cap hit.

While optimism reigns in preseason, the only question I have to ask is: what formation and tactics is Olsen going to take and who will play where?  But that is a topic for another post.

To be sure, a younger, quicker, ball control team is what Olsen and Payne have been trying to put together.  I think they have succeeded in part.

Dax McCarty's Wicked Bicycle Kick in USMNT Training

DC United's new midfielder and USMNT captain (for one game) breaks out the bicycle kick during USMNT training in Carson, CA.

Suh- wwweeeeeetttt!!

Jan 26, 2011

Making a Case for an American 4-3-3

In light of the play of the young Americans on the US Men's National Team against Chile, Bob Bradley certainly had to have seen some promising players who might make a big impact on the future of the MNT.  Bradley has clearly  moved to the almost international standard 4-2-3-1 formation, abandoning his former bucket 4-4-2.  While I understand why Bradley would move to a 4-2-3-1 considering the feast of central midfielders at his disposal and the formation's focus on maintaining a strong defensive pressure, I think the arrival or impending arrival of some of these young Americans, there is a solid case for a 4-3-3.

The 4-3-3 does a couple of things that could appeal to the American fan and me, even as a former center back/sweeper myself.  It opens up the field of play and gives a fair number of options for attack, either through the midfield or through the direct ball or counter attack.  I don't see Bradley making this change, particularly in light of the current trend in world soccer of clogging up the midfield with players, but in a dream scenario, using players currently available in the pool, this is what I could see as a possible 4-3-3.

If I were making up an 18-man squad under this theory, it would look something like this:





My bench would have the following guys

Brad Guzan, Eric Lichaj, Jermaine Jones, Mo Edu, Mix Diskerud,  Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury.

First up, as goalkeeper, Howard is one of the best shot stoppers in the world, but he is also very good with distribution to start a counter attack and the goal against Algeria is not the first time.  A goal keeper is about more than blocking shots, he has to just as good with distribution.

The back line is where people are probably going "huh?"  Most everyone would agree that right now Steve Cherundolo is the best American right back even though he is getting up there in age, he might still make the 2014 World Cup squad.  Certainly Convey is a surprise pick, but if you look a little deeper and a little longer at these four guys, what do you see?  Confidence and skill with the ball at their feet, great passers of the ball, and good defending skills.  Such a back line is necessary because they will be tasked with two additional jobs other than defending--starting the ball forward with sharp passing, and providing width and ball handling in the midfield.  Both Cherundolo and Convey can attack down the flanks with speed and control and whip in great crosses.  They will either have to provide width in the attack, letting Holden and Donovan to pinch inside or Dolo and Convey would have to move into the channels to provide the connection to the wings.  Convey has been out of the spotlight for a while, but his time with San Jose has improved his crossing and defensive skills. The fact is that Convey is a better crosser of the ball than Jonathan Bornstein, has more speed that Carlos Bocanegra and better ball skills than both.  If the problem is left back, Convey may be the solution.

Stuart Holden, Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan are going to have the hardest job.  It is a good thing that these guys are the probably the fittest players on the U.S. squad, because they have their work cut out.  These guys will have to put in box to box shifts, covering in attack and getting back in defense.  The beauty of these three is their ability to mix it up.  Bradley is not as good on the wings, but he is a brilliant destroyer, breaking up plays but also making those late slashing runs that result in goals.  Neither of these players is afraid of letting go from long distance.  All of these players are also confident on the ball, sharp passers and unafraid to take defenders on.  They all possess the right soccer brain as well and that will be necessary to carry out their tasks.

The strikers are a dynamic group all with a knack for moving around.  Imagine you are a back line with these three players moving all over the pitch.  All three can play on either side or in the middle.  All three are strong, reasonably quick and good in the air and on the ground.  They are capable of scoring from anywhere.  Such Davies might be some wishful thinking, since don't know anything, but the chemistry between Davies and Altidore was undeniable.

With the bench I have chosen, I have looked for flexibility of position (Agudelo and Bunbury aside), guys who can play many positions well, proven industry, tactical awareness and attacking ability.  Do you need to lock down a game in the last 20 minutes?  Take out Holden, insert Jones or Edu and move Dempsey to right midfield and go with a 4-4-2. Does Bob Bradley need some more box to box players--enter Diskerud and Jones.  What about another centerback?  Hello Mo Edu.  Does Bob Bradley need to insert some more attacking flair, in goes Bunbury and Agudelo, another solid partnership that is forming, who can run at a tired defense and make something happen.  The point is that the bench has to be flexible if you are going to play a 4-3-3.

The drawbacks to the 4-3-3 is that it takes an enormous amount of tactical knowledge, soccer brains and absolute trust in your teammates.  The system puts big burden on the defenders and a burden on one or two of the strikers to regularly track back to help on defense.  It will take a lot of work on the pitch to make sure the defenses doesn't get hung out to dry.

I harbor no illusions though.  The fact is that our players may not be tactically savvy enough to run an effective 4-3-3, but the possibility is there.  A system as attacking as this one is radically different than what Bob Bradley has done in the past and could easily unbalance opponents.  A 4-3-3 is unquestionably an attacking formation which rewards creativity and forwardness.  It also requires more defensive discipline, despite the system's emphasis on attack, and the system is highly intolerant of mistakes as there are fewer bodies to clean up the mistakes.

But simply revel in the possibilities--an attack oriented American team, running at defenses, getting sharp, quick passes from the back line to pry apart a midfield and three strikers moving around like the Harlem Globetrotters doing the weave drill.  A team that entertains and isn't that what we want?

Jan 19, 2011

Quick Free Kicks

Kenny Cooper is back in the MLS and Jason Davis thinks it a good sign.

The debate around snoods is, in my mind, hilarious.  Leeds United will not be wearing snoods against Arsenel in their FA Cup tie because the manager has banned them.

Manchester United legend, film director and actor, Eric Cantona has been named Director of Soccer for the New York Cosmos.  For a club without a team, New York Cosmos is certainly making a splash.

I love the long range blast scoring goals.  I scored on in high school when I volleyed a keeper's punt back toward the goal and watched it dip in for my only goal of that season (I was a shortish centerback).  101 Great Goals has a list of what they consider to be the best long range goals.

If you want MLS stats and numbers, there is no better site than Climbing the Ladder.

Jan 18, 2011

D.C. United stadium update--some possible movement?

According to Steve Goff there are a couple of new sites that might be up for consideration as a location for a DC United Stadium, Buzzard's Point and Capital City Market.

Buzzard's Point a semi-industrial area just south and west of the Washington Nationals baseball stadium.  There appears a cement factory and other industrial spaces to be unused space sufficient to house a 20-25,000 seat stadium, at least one training field (perhaps 2) and some parking facilities.  It is not exactly mass transit friendly in the immediate area (the nearest Metro stations are about 6 blocks away, which is a fairly long walk.  But interestingly, across the Anacostia River is Anacostia park.  The space could also be re-developed to a "river front" space might bring some more money and could have some harbor facilities for water taxis and other water born traffic to the stadium.

Capital City Market is a area much closer to mass transit, two or three Metro stations nearby depending on how far you want to walk and the location and rail through Union Station, as well as general proximity to buses and major road transit.  DC has been slowing developing the area just north east of Union Station with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms putting a new headquarters building nearby, Galludet University, Fed Ex facility and other business/tourism sites not far away.  The more difficult problem the most likely space is currently in use and would require the condemnation of some already commercially used property, but the facility may be able to hold a 20-25,000 seat stadium (with room to expand) and a couple of training sites.

Given that the City of Baltimore has made a play to put a stadium in Charm City not far from M&T Bank Stadium (which has hosted some high profile international friendlies), DC has finally sat up and taken notice.  Baltimore hates the fact that they get ignored in the proximity of DC and the DC city council probably couldn't stand losing DC United to Baltimore (the suburbs maybe like Fed Ex Field), but not Baltimore City.  such a prospect might just gall DC United and the City Council to get a deal done.  But I am not holding my breath.

Jan 11, 2011

I'm Not A Huge Basketball Fan

Well, I like college basketball, but I have to say that I still admire athleticism and entertainment.  Check these guys out.

MLS SuperDraft Coverage

There is no better coverage (outside of MLS itself) on the MLS Draft combine and the players and coaches involved that that being provided by Ives Galarcep and his team from Soccer by Ives.

Seriously--go look at the site.  Brilliant stuff.

Jan 6, 2011

Kristine Lilly Hangs Up Her Boots

Yesterday, the big news in American soccer had nothing to do with the U.S. Men's National Team opening its January training camp, or MLS or anything else.  Nope, the big story and one that has not been adequately covered is retirement of Kristine Lilly.

For those of you who don't recognize the name here are a few facts about Lilly:

  1. She has more caps (352) than any other player, male or female, and is the only player to earn more than 200. 
  2. She has played in every iteration of the Women's World Cup and probably had a good chance of making the USWNT for this year's Women's World Cup in Germany.  By the way, that is Five World Cups.  If she had played in this year's WWC, she would have been the only player, male or female, to play in SIX World Cups.  Still, playing in five is remarkable.
  3. She has scored 130 goals and chipped in 105 assists, second on both lists only to Mia Hamm.
  4. She has played in parts of four different decades, with an international playing career that started when she was 16 and ended at age 39--23 years. 

My best memory of Krisitne Lilly is her goal line clearance in the 1999 Women's World Cup Final which saved an almost certain goal and set the stage for the dramatic penalty kick shootout victory for the USWNT. Check out this video of Lilly's Highlights in a long career. The goal line save is about 25 seconds in.

Her longevity, health, skill, intelligence and speed made her one of the greatest players ever.   She is shining example of what a player should be.  Lilly was also a technically proficient player, technique that is missing from some of the current crop of players.  Hopefully she can help bring back that technical skill as a coach.

I will miss her as a player, but I can't wait to see her as a coach.  Don't be surprised to see Lilly as the USWNT team coach in a few years after her young child gets a little older.

Jan 5, 2011

American DPs in MLS? Not Soon

Soccer America's Paul Kennedy seems to think so in this piece.
MLS's Designated Player policy was introduced to make it possible for clubs to sign players otherwise unaffordable, given MLS's salary structure, but the results so far have been mixed. For every Juan Pablo Angel there has been the Spaniard Mista, waived by Toronto after half a season.

Most players near the end of their careers might be affordable by MLS standards, but big-name players like a Lionel Messi or Didier Drogba (the cornerstone of our son's PES team) or the real Spanish stars remain out of reach.

Elevating the likes of Fredy Montero and Alvaro Saborio to DP status was a start in the right direction -- getting the stars MLS already has and keeping them.

But only one American -- Landon Donovan -- is signed to a DP contract. Stuart Holden, now thriving with Bolton in the EPL, got away last year, and Edson Buddle, Jeff Cunningham and Robbie Findley are all looking to complete moves abroad.

I'm not saying Buddle, Cunningham and Findley all deserve DP money, but they are among MLS's top American strikers, and if in the long term MLS can't keep its best American strikers it has a real problem.

If MLS can't attract the great foreign stars of yesterday, it must work on keeping the great American stars of tomorrow.

If I am reading this right, and I think I am, Kennedy seems to be suggesting that MLS needs to consider signing more young foreign AND American players to DP contracts. Aside from the rules based problems, i.e. there being only a maximum of three DP slots per team, there are some other concerns here.

My impression of the purpose of a DP was to do three things: 1) put a brand name on the pitch, 2) put butts in the seats and sell jerseys, and 3) improve the quality of play. To be sure, really only Beckham did the first two and it is not like Beckham spent that much time on the pitch, less than 60 games in 4 years. As for the third goal, a few players have done that, Angel, Blanco and Schelotto come to mind. Now if those goals remain, it is possible that big American stars, like Landon Donovan could do all three, but really, can we expect the other Americans to do the same. Stuart Holden is an exciting player, but he only got really exciting when he moved to Bolton--where, in playing against some of the best players in the world, his game has improved.

Kennedy's missive seems to indicate that the reason players like Findley, Buddle and Cunningham are looking elsewhere is just about money. It is not and probably never was. Players like these men have something to prove, either to themselves (commendable) or to their critics (stupid), that they can play at the next level and succeed. Whether they do or not is irrelevant at this point, they may want the chance. Of course, if they can make more money playing in Denmark or the Championship in England--they would be foolish to pass that up.

Therein lies the problem of an adolescent league like MLS. While the quality of play has grown significantly in the past five years and I would say it has taken a leap forward in the past two years, the league is still growing. America is producing better talent and MLS has more avenues to pursue players who are exempt from the salary cap anyway, including homegrown players and Generation Adidas players. I can see, one day in the future, MLS teams being like Barcelona--fielding a majority of homegrown players.

Now, if MLS is looking to change the purpose of the DP to one of developing and keeping top quality American talent, then a reformation of the DP program will have to happen. For example, you may have to create two types of DP's, much like there are types of players on an MLS squad now, that is American DPs and foreign DPs and limit the number that you have on any given team. (MLS owners are still very gun shy of a non-cap league and a potential old NASL arms race for talent). The problem that Kennedy has highlighted is a league problem that will have to be addressed in the long term and really, the only way that is going to happen is to improve the quality of the game on the pitch.

But truth be told, until MLS gets to be a better league in terms of play we are not going to be able to keep players in this league.

How will we know MLS has arrived--when we start beating Mexican teams in the CONCACAF Champions League at home and in Mexico; when MLS teams are beating established clubs regularly in friendlies with the foreign club fields a legitimate first team; when MLS teams start drawing 25-30,000 fans each game, every game in every stadium.

Would I like to see more American DPs? You bet, but it ain't gonna happen in the next 10 years.

Jan 3, 2011

FIFA to Name an Anti-Corruption Committee

Sepp Blatter will personally assure a Corruption Committee will be set up by FIFA. Nobody knows when it will be appointed or who will serve on the committee or chair the committee, but Blatter says "I will take care of it personally, to ensure there is no corruption at Fifa."

Well, I feel sooooo much better.

Sorry, Mr. Blatter but I don't share in your faith that this effort will stem perceptions of corruption at FIFA. Whether it stops actual corruption is also in doubt as well. But if this anti-corruption effort proceeds on a similar track as efforts to examine the use of goal line technology, this pronouncement is not worth the air expended to make it.

To truly address the issue of corruption, perhaps FIFA should take a page from the International Olympic Committee and have active players, coaches and member representatives on the Executive Committee. I would also suggest a much larger committee responsible for naming host countries. For the IOC there are 150 members or more who make that decision, no just 24 or 25 people who know each other intimately. I am not suggesting that a larger body is immune from corruption, but keeping a secret among 25 people is much easier than keeping the secret among 150 or more.

Corruption is a matter, largely, of perception and opportunity. The opportunity for corruption will always exist. Given the nature of their position and the role the Executive Committee fills, including the awarding of the World Cup and the billions of dollars involved in that decision, there will always be those persons who seek to benefit from FIFA. It cannot be avoided, but can be minimized.

Like most charges of corruption it is the appearance that is as dangerous as actual corruption. If the public thinks there is corruption, the public, particularly those segments who feel aggrieved (read most of England) will stop at nothing to find it. However, while rooting out corruption should be admired, the witch hunts inspired by the kind of digging by aggrieved parties exacerbates the tiniest hint of impropriety or connection into damning proof without any consideration of the scale.

The shocking lack of transparency as to the Executive Committee's ties to various entities looking to profit from FIFA contracts, from stadium building to concessions, simply lends itself to charges of corruption. I am not asking for FIFA Executive Committee Members to tell me all the sordid little details of their lives, but here are three things that they must publicly declare:

1. All of their stock holdings, memberships in companies, or any other ownership interest (or that of their spouse/children) of any nation and any other financial ties to any person or entity that seeks a contract worth more than $50,000 (US) from FIFA. Holdings in a mutual fund or other similar investment advice would be disclosed, but the fact that a mutual fund that holds stock in a bidding company would not be a disqualifying consideration.

2. All the details of any trip abroad on FIFA business or in which FIFA business is discussed. This would include all travel arrangements (if a private plane, whose private plane), accommodations, meals and most importantly gifts having a value in excess of $50 (again including gifts given to their spouse/children).

3. All contacts by letter, email, text, phone or in person from any person affiliated with a bid committee, lobbying on behalf a bid committee or attempting to influence the vote of the Committee Member as it applies to the awarding of any World Cup at any level (including Women's, Youth or Club World Cups), which is not made to more than one quarter of the committee members at the same time. The idea is to allow large presentations to significant segments of the committee but limit individual lobbying.

These documents should be posted electronically on a public website by FIFA. As former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously wrote in Other People's Money, "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.." Make the financial interests of Executive Committee members public, you reduce the perception of corruption. Failure to abide by these requirements would be grounds for dismissal from the Executive Committee or not being allowed to vote on other matters related to the Executive Committee's business.

The most damaging factor in corruption allegations is the perception that corruption exists. However, if FIFA's Executive Committee makes clear that they will do all they can to eliminate the appearance of corruption and to avoid the opportunities for corruption, then an Anti-Corruption Committee will not be necessary.

Oh, and we won't have to rely upon Sepp Blatter's assurance that he will stamp out corruption.