This is a difficult time for football, the fans and for FIFA as an organisation. We understand the disappointment that many have expressed and I know that the events of today will impact the way in which many people view us.
Anti-FIFA graffiti in Porto.
As unfortunate as these Lipoqq events are, it should be clear that we welcome the actions and the investigations by the US and Swiss authorities and believe that it will help to reinforce measures that FIFA has already taken to root out any wrongdoing in football.
While there will be many who are frustrated with the pace of change, I would like to stress the actions that we have taken and will continue to take. In fact, today’s action by the Swiss Office of the Attorney General was set in motion when we submitted a dossier to the Swiss authorities late last year. Let me be clear: such misconduct has no place in football and we will ensure that those who engage in it are put out of the game. Following the events of today, the independent Ethics Committee – which is in the midst of its own proceedings regarding the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups — took swift action to provisionally ban those individuals named by the authorities from any football-related activities at the national and international level. These actions are on top of similar steps that FIFA has taken over the past year to exclude any members who violate our own Code of Ethics.
We will continue to work with the relevant authorities and we will work vigorously within FIFA in order to root out any misconduct, to regain your trust and ensure that football worldwide is free from wrongdoing.
Rafael Benitez seemed a more likely replacement. Emilio Butragueno had refused to confirm Ancelotti had a job next season on more than one occasion, keeping the rumour mill alive, but Real’s hierarchy usually talk in vague equivocation.
Cristiano, James, Toni Kroos, Marcelo and Luka Modric all voiced support for their Italian boss but on Monday the news emerged Ancelotti had indeed been fired. CEO Florentino Perez only stated that the club “needed a new impulse” as explanation.
Despite winning the Champions League last season, Real’s failure to bring home silverware this year has done for the Italian. The decision was clearly taken following the semi-final loss to Juventus.
Ancelotti leaves with his head held high however, and he was popular with fans as well as players. Losing the league by two points and exiting the semi-finals of the Champions League are no disgrace, yet gargantuan standards are expected by Florentino Perez.
Real had a ropey March and lost the lead in La Primera after losing the clasico at the Camp Nou. Record signing Gareth Bale has been off-kilter too many times while the aggregate loss to Juve showed a team which had run out of ideas when up against a strong defensive unit.
When given the chance, Isco has impressed and James Rodriguez has had a good first season, which has been somewhat overlooked given Bale’s travails. Karim Benzema has been a dangerous presence up front.
When Real lost James as well as Luka Modric, for key spells in the season, they suffered, as Toni Kroos has not been able to influence in the same way as the Colombian and the Croatian.
Despite Ronaldo’s huge goal haul, the Portuguese has looked isolated in too many key games. Once more Real have looked the sum of their parts at times.
* It has been far from a vintage season, but with only two points the winning margin, the second clasico of the campaign, which Barcelona won, proved decisive.
* Barcelona look unstoppable this season but their reserves, Barcelona B, are rock-bottom of the Liga Adelante and barring a miracle, are headed to the third tier. Perhaps their famous academy is not all it has been cracked up to be after all.
* The new Barça shirt featuring hoops instead of stripes has been given the thumbs-down by the blaugrana faithful. 57% of Mundo Deportivo readers and 73% of Sport’s disliked it .
* Sami Khedira fired a parting shot at Real Madrid, claiming he was deliberately overlooked this season by powers-that-be above Carlo Ancelotti. The 28 year-old World Cup winner made only 11 appearances this season, eight of them as a substitute.
* Real Betis will play in La Primera next season after clinching promotion from the Liga Adelante. Pepe Mel’s side are six points clear with one game to play. The Seville side will be joined by Girona or Sporting Gijon plus the winner of the second division playoffs.