World Cup 2014 Gossip Roundup
The draw has been made, and the 2014 World Cup now feels closer than ever.
Over the following slides, we deliver a roundup of all the latest news and gossip concerning next summer's tournament in Brazil.
Read about Fabio Capello writing off England's chances, how Fernanda Lima caused a stir in Costa do Sauipe and meet Brazuca, the official World Cup ball.
There's stadium news, potential bans for two Croatia players and THAT cut-throat blunder from the Football Association's Greg Dyke.
Read on for more!
Greg Dyke's England Gaffe
Harmless gesture or terrible blunder? Whatever you think, FA chairman Greg Dyke should have known better when he made an on-camera cut-throat gesture at last week's World Cup draw.
The former director general of the BBC reacted as England were drawn with Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica in Group D, by drawing his finger across his throat.
Most of the reaction that followed suggested that Dyke was writing off England's chances of progressing beyond the group stage.
As reported by Owen Gibson in the Guardian, the FA refused to comment, which left Adrian Bevington—Club England's managing director—to say: "He feels it could've been a lot more difficult. I understand you will write about what he did but after the draw there was a bit of banter about it."
In the days that followed, Three Lions manager Roy Hodgson claimed he hadn't seen the gesture, despite looking right at Dyke. You can see it here and decide for yourself, via a report from the Daily Mail's Neil Ashton and Charles Sale.
Mandzukic and Simunic: Facing World Cup Bans?
Mario Mandzukic faces being suspended for all of Croatia's group stage matches when his disciplinary case is heard by FIFA this Thursday.
The Bayern Munich striker was sent off in Croatia's second-leg qualifier against Iceland last month, for a studs-up challenge on Johann Gudmundsson.
The 27-year-old received an automatic one-match ban for the challenge, but a longer punishment may be put into place.
As seen on MSN.Foxsports.com, FIFA's disciplinary rules require bans of at least one match for "serious foul play" and at least two matches for "assaulting (elbowing, punching, kicking etc.)."
Croatia team-mate Josip Simunic may also miss out on the World Cup after being accused of leading fans in the chanting of a fascist slogan.
Metro reported last month that the defender, famous for being shown three yellow cards by Graham Poll in the 2006 World Cup, took to the microphone with an alleged pro-Nazi chant.
Following the incident, Simunic was quoted as saying: "Some people have to learn some history. I'm not afraid. I did nothing wrong. I'm supporting my Croatia, my homeland. If someone has something against it, that's their problem."
Simunic's case will be considered when FIFA's disciplinary committee meet this Thursday.
Fernanda Lima Causes a Stir
Fernanda Lima caused quite a commotion, following last week's World Cup draw in Costa do Sauipe.
According to the Daily Mail's Steve Nolan, the 36-year-old set Twitter alight, with up to 10 tweets a second devoted to appreciation of the presenter's looks.
Elsewhere, reports of an entirely different nature also focused on Lima, as female figures in football came out to denounce FIFA's choice of the Brazilian actress and model for the role.
In the Telegraph, England Women's team captain Casey Stoney said:
Giving the job to a model has sent out completely the wrong message. Unfortunately I wasn't surprised. They could have had a woman high up in the game or else a player with proper international standing. This should have been about football.
West Ham's vice chairwoman Karren Brady added in Robert Mendick's article:
Football is not only a game for everyone but incredibly influential. So for Fifa to put at centre stage a woman only there to be gawped at sends out a terrible message.
I have had a number of young women contact me to complain about this. Fifa don’t seem to be able to get anything right at the moment.
To add to allegations of sexism were suggestions that Lima had replaced a non-white presenter, who was originally scheduled to present the show.
Although FIFA and event organizer GEO Eventos vehemently deny the allegations, the Telegraph reports that Christiano Jorge Santos, a Sao Paulo prosecutor, will begin an inquiry to investigate FIFA in claims of race discrimination.
Stadium Fears in Three Host Cities
Concerns are growing that Sao Paolo's Corinthians Arena will not be ready in time for the 2014 World Cup.
The stadium is scheduled to host six games, including the opening fixture between Brazil and Croatia but, according to the Guardian's Owen Gibson, FIFA have admitted that the handover date has slipped from December to mid-April.
Two workers were killed last month, when a crane fell and destroyed parts of the new stadium, which is to be the future home of Corinthians.
As seen in the Guardian, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said that three stadiums would not be ready before the end of the year—in Sao Paulo, Curitiba and Cuiaba.
However, Brazil's sports minister, Aldo Rebelo, has tried to downplay fears that the arenas will not be ready in time. He was quoted on NBCsports.com, as saying:
In every wedding that I attended the bride was late. I've never seen a bride arrive on time. But I've never seen a wedding not happen because of that. It's probable that there will be a delay here or there, but nothing too significant. What is important is that all of the stadiums will be ready.
Capello Writes off England
Former England manager Fabio Capello seemed to write off his old employers when questioned about their prospects in the 2014 World Cup.
The current Russia boss suggested that a tough Premier League season would take its toll on the England squad, who will struggle against Italy when they face them in the hot and humid host city of Manaus.
Capello was quoted by John Richardson in the Express, as saying:
It is always the same problem. Physically they are good in September, October, November.
March? So-so. May? No! So England players will not be at the top of their physical condition and Manaus will be really, really warm - another difficult thing.
It will be tougher for England. Italy sometimes arrive tired. But in England the football is stronger, faster - they never stop.
In Italy there is a small break but it is good. You, at Christmas, play even more.
Julio Cesar in Sunderland Switch?
Queens Park Rangers goalkeeper Julio Cesar has been linked with a move to Sunderland this week.
According to the Daily Mail's David Kent, "the 34-year-old has been told he can leave Loftus Road and wants a move to ensure his place in the Brazil side for this summer’s World Cup."
Cesar has not played a game for the Championship side all season, his last appearance coming for Brazil in their friendly against Chile on November 20.
The former Inter Milan stopper needs to be playing regular first-team football ahead of next summer's tournament and recently told Globo Esporte, via Sky Sports: "I need to sort out my situation in January. A lot of things will happen."
Say Hello to Brazuca
Last Tuesday the official ball for the 2014 World Cup was unveiled. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Brazuca.
On Goal.com, Messi said: "My first impression of the ball is that it's really good. The design is different, with lots of colours. I've had the opportunity to test Brazuca and it's great."
The new ball will make its debut on June 12, when Brazil take on Croatia in Sao Paulo.