BBC BLOGS - David Bond

Archives for June 2012

Priorities must change for England to succeed

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David Bond | 16:52 UK time, Monday, 25 June 2012

Euro 2012: Krakow

England left Krakow on Monday afternoon accompanied by the usual inquest into the national team's shortcomings.

Penalties again. The quarter finals again. Failure to keep the ball against better opponents again.

This is by now a well-trodden path and it is credit to the new England manager Roy Hodgson that he has even managed to come up to the England team's traditional par for big tournaments. I cannot help wonder what the national response would have been had Fabio Capello delivered this return.

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Government ban Syrian general but message is still mixed

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David Bond | 19:47 UK time, Friday, 22 June 2012

The government had little choice but to ban General Mowaffak Joumaa from attending next month's London Olympics.

As head of the Syrian Olympic Committee and a senior figure in the army, he is said to have close links to President Bashar-Al Assad.

Earlier this year he insisted there was no violence in Syria despite the United Nations claiming 9,000 people have now been killed by security forces in the country.

In a letter to the sports minister, Hugh Robertson, the British Solidarity for Syria group (BSS) described General Joumaa as "an aide, supporter and apologist for a regime committing war crimes and crimes against humanity including torture, sexual violence and extra-judicial executions".

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Optimistic England face most intimidating test yet

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David Bond | 22:52 UK time, Monday, 18 June 2012

Euro 2012: Donetsk

Ukraine has spent a staggering £3.5bn on hosting Euro 2012. And after encountering so many problems on their five-year journey to staging the tournament, there is a huge desire here not to join co-hosts Poland in leaving the party early.

This young nation's path to political stability is still a work in progress but leaders here have called on the whole country to unite behind the team.

With so much riding on Tuesday's final Group D game against England, the atmosphere in the Donbass Arena is likely to be the most intimidating Roy Hodgson's men have faced so far. It will certainly be noisier than when they got their campaign under way with the 1-1 draw against France last Monday.

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Extra competition drives up Premier League deal

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David Bond | 18:48 UK time, Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Once again Premier League football has shown its extraordinary ability to defy financial gravity.

Its new three-year deal with Sky and BT is worth an astonishing £3bn - a 70% increase on the current contract which is due to expire next summer.

Much of the growth can be explained by the increase in live matches - up from 138 to 154.

But it's also down to extra competition in the marketplace. Sky remain the League's main media partner but the price of the rights was driven up by interest from other companies such as current partners ESPN and Al Jazeera.

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Should England bid for Euro 2020?

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David Bond | 09:48 UK time, Wednesday, 13 June 2012

English football is still deeply scarred by its disastrous bid to stage the 2018 World Cup. So it is hardly a surprise that the Football Association is nervous about entering the race for Euro 2020.

But senior figures, both within the FA and the Government, are already starting to talk informally about whether the country should bid.

At the moment Turkey is the only candidate to formally state its desire to host Uefa's biggest event.

The situation is complicated by the fact that Istanbul now looks the overwhelming favourite to stage the 2020 Olympics in the same summer.

Tokyo is a long shot while the economic crisis in Spain looks to have ruined Madrid's chances.

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Chance for England to lay foundations for the future

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David Bond | 11:54 UK time, Monday, 11 June 2012

In Donetsk

England supporters arriving in the centre of sun-baked Donetsk on Monday morning might have expected to find themselves immediately under siege.

Even before the BBC's Panorama report two weeks ago, Ukraine was getting a very bad press. For a group of fans who were once more feared than fearful, it's had a big impact. Some of the supporters who have made the journey here admitted they thought twice about coming.

So far it's clear they had little to worry about. It is true that the hotels are poor and extortionate, and getting here has been a nightmare. One supporter spoke of a 13-hour train journey from Kiev, while there have been horrendous flight delays from European connecting airports. Many are flying in and straight out again.

This mining city (it was actually founded by a Welshman) is the most eastern outpost of Euro 2012. Its wide roads are lined by drab Soviet apartment blocks while in the main square a giant statue of Lenin provides a jolting reminder of this country's past. This city was once known as Stalino.

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UK government snub is major blow to Ukraine

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David Bond | 17:59 UK time, Thursday, 7 June 2012

The Foreign Office's decision to take a hard line on Ukraine by announcing a ministerial boycott of England's Euro 2012 group matches is a significant moment.

It also represents a major shift in attitude. Just last week I was being told the Foreign Office didn't believe in using sport to make political points.

In fact the Foreign Secretary William Hague, a close friend of double Olympic champion and London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe, told me in an interview recently that we should celebrate sport for sport's sake.

Something has clearly changed and it will be interesting to see if more European countries now announce their intention to snub Ukraine.

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Has Uefa done enough to fight racism?

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David Bond | 15:52 UK time, Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The debate about racism in football hangs heavy over the final preparations for Euro 2012.

For England manager Roy Hodgson the next few days are likely to prove extremely uncomfortable as he faces difficult questions over his decision to pick John Terry and leave Rio Ferdinand at home.

He says Ferdinand's omission was for purely "footballing reasons". But his refusal to change his mind even after Gary Cahill fractured his jaw has led to claims that his motivation was more political.

As we all know Terry is accused of racially abusing Ferdinand's brother Anton during a Premier League match between Chelsea and Queens Park Rangers last October. He will stand trial directly after the tournament and it is hard to believe this hasn't played some part in Hodgson's thinking.

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