England bow to FIFA over kit: England will not wear their traditional kit at this summer's World Cup after bowing to demands from FIFA, reports the Daily Mirror. The Zurich bureaucrats have urged nations to wear a single-coloured kit to improve the quality of HD pictures from Brazil meaning that England will wear white, not blue shorts with their white shirts when they run out in Manaus, Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte. Brazil are believed to be sticking with their yellow shirt and blue shorts combination, but Germany have already caved in and they unveiled their all-white kit last month. Spain will be all-red, Italy all blue and Portugal all monotone as well.
Paper Round's view: While no reasonable person can be in favour of FIFA dictating which colours a national team wears, England won't do too badly out of this. It may be subjective, but the Three Lions all-white kit really isn't that bad. It is even associated with some decent England performances - the quarter-final win over Argentina in '66 and David Beckham's defining match against Greece in 2001 are two good examples. Perhaps Hodgson's men may be able to draw some kind of inspiration from it?
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Spies to snoop on England: The Daily Mirror reports that England are running the risk of being spied on at their World Cup base in Rio. The paper claims that England’s Group D opponents Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica will be able to watch Roy Hodgson’s final team workouts at a supposedly secluded military college from the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain. Rivals, should they wish, can travel to the popular tourist attraction in a cable car for the price of £16. "MirrorFootball’s pictures show how easy it will be to monitor England’s tactical shape and set-piece training despite being 396 metres above the sea," the report claims.
Paper Round's view: It's a fun story, but there may actually be something to it. The photos do indeed quite clearly show the entire training pitch and if Hodgson intends on undertaking all his practice sessions there, it would be easily to pick up tips for anyone determined enough to watch. They may have to hang on a rope for hours on end, but, if that's the price to pay to gain a competitive edge at the World Cup, surely someone is out there willing to do it.
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England to get integrity advice: Meanwhile, England's players will receive special briefings on how to deal with match-fixers, should they be approached during the World Cup. The Daily Telegraph reports that all players from the 32 competing nations will be given “integrity sessions” by FIFA, when they will be told to report anything suspicious via a special anti-corruption hotline available only to players and referees. Intelligence-led targeting of high-risk players, referees and fixtures will also take place.
Paper Round's view: Does anyone else see the irony in FIFA giving integrity sessions? That aside, it's probably a good idea - footballers aren't the most enlightened bunch and they may well need things spelling out to them. And it's good to see the blight of match-fixing being properly addressed.
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Plastic pitches to return to England: In an exclusive, the Daily Express claims that artificial pitches are on their way back to high-level English football for the first time in 20 years. A ground-breaking meeting of the FA board unanimously agreed to embrace the new technology and abandon the current grass-only” snobbery.
Paper Round's view: Rest assured, this new version of a plastic pitch will be nothing like the ones we remember from Kenilworth Road and Deepdale, where controlling the ball was near-impossible and players were susceptible to severe road rash if they didn't wear thick trackie bottoms. Technology has advanced, so why re-introduce them? Especially if it means local communities can benefit. Grass roots football and all that...
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- Sports & Recreation