Tag Archives: factors

Hawk-Eye miss out on goal-line contract with FIFA after GoalControl seal deal

Germany 2 England 1 in goal-line technology saga as Hawk-Eye miss out on FIFA contract (but they could win Premier League deal)

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Net gains: John Terry makes a controversial clearance in England's 1-0 win over Ukraine at Euro 2012

How will it work
Each goal has seven high-speed cameras which track the position of the ball in three dimensions to millimetre precision every two milliseconds.

Within a second of the ball completely crossing the line, the referee is alerted by a vibration and a flashing light on his watch. All camera footage is stored and can be replayed at any time.

How much will it cost
It costs around 170,000 per stadium to install and 2,800 per match to operate

What does it mean for fans
Besides no more missed goals, an instant replay can project a 3D view of the ball’s movement on a virtual pitch to TV viewers at home or to supporters in the stand via the big screen.

PS…

But despite all that technology, referees still retain the authority to make the final decision.

It will cost around 170,000 per stadium to instal and a further 2,800 per match to operate.

GoalControl uses 14 high-speed
cameras to track the 3D position of the ball and promises to alert
referees within a second of the ball completely crossing the line via a
vibration or flashing light on a watch.

FIFA said the German company was
chosen owing to its ‘ability to adapt to local conditions’ in
Brazil. The bids were also ‘judged on cost and project management
factors such as staffing and time schedules for installation’.

The contract, however, is subject to
independent ‘installation tests’ at each of the six stadiums due to be
used for the Confederations Cup – three of which have still not been
completed.

Match officials will also carry out
their own tests before each game, just as they did during the FIFA Club
World Cup in Japan last year.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has urged using goal-line technology in Brazil after Frank Lampard had a clear goal disallowed against Germany at the 2010 World Cup.

Ball-tracking: FIFA hope this system will be a success

Ball-tracking: FIFA hope this system will be a success

Putting it on the line: Hawk-Eye goal-line technology is trialled at Southampton's St Mary's Stadium last year

Putting it on the line: Hawk-Eye goal-line technology is trialled at Southampton's St Mary's Stadium last year

Inconclusive: Chelsea were awarded a dubious goal in the 2012 FA Cup semi-final when the ball was adjudge to have crossed the line

Inconclusive: Chelsea were awarded a dubious goal in the 2012 FA Cup semi-final when the ball was adjudge to have crossed the line

HAWK-EYE REACTION

'Sport teaches us many lessons, including accepting defeat graciously and having confidence in your ability to bounce back strongly. Hawk-Eye wishes FIFA and the appointed GLT supplier every success at The FIFA Confederations Cup 2013.'

Statement released by Hawk-Eye

A FIFA statement said: 'While all
four companies had previously met the stringent technical requirements
of the FIFA quality programme, the final decision was based on criteria
relating more specifically to the tournaments in Brazil, including the
company's ability to adapt to local conditions and the compatibility of
each goal-line technology system in relation to FIFA match operations.

'The respective bids were also judged
on cost and project management factors such as staffing and time
schedules for installation.

'The use of GoalControl-4D in Brazil
is subject to a final installation test at each stadium where the system
will be installed.'

Goal-line: GoalControl-4D's magnetic field system

Goal-line: GoalControl-4D's magnetic field system

In black and white: Geoff Hurst scores England's controversial third goal in the 1966 World Cup final against Germany

In black and white: Geoff Hurst scores England's controversial third goal in the 1966 World Cup final

VIDEO GoalControl in action

Andy Hazell banned for 14 weeks

Gloucester ace Hazell slapped with 14-week ban after repeatedly punching opponent

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UPDATED:

12:38 GMT, 25 October 2012

Former England flanker Andy Hazell has been hit by a 14-week suspension.

The Gloucester forward was sent off for striking an opponent during his team's Amlin Challenge Cup victory over Mont-de-Marsan in France earlier this month.

Hazell's case was heard by independent judicial officer Roger Morris in Dublin on Thursday.

No holding back: Andy Hazell lands several blows on an opponent

No holding back: Andy Hazell lands several blows on an opponent

Video

Click here to watch Hazell's attack

Hazell, who pleaded guilty to striking Mont-de-Marsan replacement Sebastien Ormaechea, cannot play again until January 21.

The player gave evidence and made
submissions to Morris, together with Gloucester rugby director Nigel
Davies and ERC disciplinary officer Roger O'Connor.

Immediately after the game, which
Gloucester won 11-6, Davies suggested that Hazell had reacted to extreme
provocation from a Mont-de-Marsan player or players.

Ban: Hazell pleaded guilty to striking Mont-de-Marsan

Ban: Hazell pleaded guilty to striking Mont-de-Marsan

The Aviva Premiership club provided
photographic evidence of marks around Hazell's eyes, but no citing
complaints were subsequently made to ERC by match commissioner John
West, who could not find sufficient video evidence of foul play.

In a statement, ERC said: 'The
judicial officer (Morris) determined that Hazell had intentionally
struck Ormaechea with both the fist and the knee.

'Having also determined that any
suspensions he would impose for the offences would run concurrently, and
as striking with the knee carries greater penalties than striking with
the fist under the IRB recommended sanctions for offences committed
within the playing enclosure, the judicial officer decided on a top-end
entry point of 16 weeks.

'Taking into account aggravating
factors, he added a further two weeks given Hazell's disciplinary record
and his failure to uphold the image of the game. Then following
consideration of Hazell's guilty plea and his exemplary conduct during
the hearing, the judicial officer deducted four weeks before imposing a
suspension of 14 weeks.

'Hazell will be free to play on Monday, 21 January 2013. Both ERC and the player have the right to appeal the decision.'

Martin Samuel: St George"s opens so England will win World Cup? Er, think again

St George's opens so England will win World Cup Er, think again

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UPDATED:

21:52 GMT, 9 October 2012

Some grand claims will be made for St George’s Park in the coming years. David Sheepshanks, who has overseen the project, gave a categorical affirmative when asked if the complex could help England win the World Cup. He set 2020 as the earliest date at which its effects could be felt.

Last month, Sir Trevor Brooking, the Football Association’s director of football development, was bemoaning the dearth of world class England strikers. Presumably one aids the production of the other. Not necessarily.

Green and pleasant land: It may be some time before the benefits of the 100m complex are felt at the top

Green and pleasant land: It may be some time before the benefits of the 100m complex are felt at the top

More from Martin Samuel…

Martin Samuel: Listen, Balotelli, you are not worth the trouble any more
07/10/12

You don't need a top hat to be a posh boy, Ed
04/10/12

Martin Samuel: England crave the old ego on stilts, not Pietersen Lite
03/10/12

Martin Samuel: Loud, brash and arrogant, but let's hope Team USA stay that way
02/10/12

Martin Samuel: It might get even harder, but it can't get any better than this
01/10/12

Martin Samuel: Why Moyes can feel the fourth and break Everton into the Champions League cartel
30/09/12

Martin Samuel: Superhero McIlroy falls to earth as Americans shatter his aura
29/09/12

Martin Samuel: John, don't fall into Suarez trap… just say sorry
27/09/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Among the motivating factors in the
building of the National Football Centre was France’s academy at
Clairefontaine, established in 1988. It was widely credited with victory
at the 1998 World Cup. So how many wonderful strikers did France have
that year None.

France’s squad forwards were
Christophe Dugarry, understudied by Stephane Guivarc’h, neither of whom
will go down among the greats.

There were two promising 20-year-olds
in Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet, plus Youri Djorkaeff linking
attack and midfield, but France are best remembered under Aime Jacquet
for playing without a top-class front line, after Dugarry’s early
injury.

The architect of their success was Zinedine Zidane, who did not attend the academy at Clairefontaine.

So nothing is guaranteed. St George’s
Park helps, because good coaching helps, and choice helps and at the
moment there is a dearth of both in England. We need to produce more,
and better, coaches, and the England manager needs greater options when
selecting his squad.

Yet that, alone, will not ensure
triumph. English football had plenty of homegrown coaches and a league
stuffed with local players four decades ago and between 1970 and 1982
failed to qualify for the World Cup.

The investment of 104million still
needs a leg up from old fashioned luck. All of France’s fine intentions
would be without a crowning glory, were it not for one genius player,
schooled at AS Cannes.

Clairefontaine has enjoyed plenty of successes, not least the mighty Henry, and it is to be hoped St George’s will, too.

Yet do not think it will bring to an
end the days when we look out at the Wembley pitch and wonder where all
the strikers, or goalkeepers, or central defenders have gone.

All we can hope is that, like France, we produce enough players with the wit to work around our shortcomings.

French fancy: Les Bleus produced a World Cup-winning team from their world-famous Clairefontaine facility

French fancy: Les Bleus produced a World Cup-winning team from their world-famous Clairefontaine facility

Pick your moment

Plenty think the Football Association weak for not making an example
of Ashley Cole. Allowing him to remain in the England squad, while on a
disciplinary charge for referring to the FA in an abusive manner, has
placed them in an awkward position. It is, however, a crisis of their
making.

The moment the FA took the issue of the England captaincy away from
manager Fabio Capello it set a precedent. Team affairs should always be
the preserve of the manager, with appropriate consultation if a matter
is exceptionally controversial.

Instead, FA chairman David Bernstein ploughed ahead in removing the
captaincy from John Terry, with Capello out of the loop. Now, every time
there is a storm around an England player, moralists will expect the FA
to take a hard line, and inaction will disappoint.

Who's call: Roy Hodgson was happy to see Ashley Cole link up with his England team-mates on Tuesday

Who's call: Roy Hodgson was happy to see Ashley Cole link up with his England team-mates on Tuesday

Bernstein, desperate to persuade the FA had the upper hand, made a
big show of announcing Cole’s personal apology yesterday, but images of
the player laughing and joking in training and in light-hearted
conversation with Prince William, will have done little to appease
hard-liners.

The FA, having wanted to play tough over Terry, now look feeble. Just once it would be nice if they thought this stuff through.

'Expert'

How much longer do we have to put up with the BBC football expert
Garth Crooks At the weekend, Crooks predicted England manager Roy
Hodgson would soon be taking an interest in West Bromwich Albion’s
attacking midfield player James Morrison. Indeed he might, were it not
for the fact that Morrison has already played 23 times for Scotland,
making his debut more than four years ago.

This means Crooks has failed to pay attention to all of those games,
plus the controversy surrounding Morrison’s switch in the first place –
he had previously represented England at every level.

Pundits make mistakes, but Crooks, who earlier this year announced
Brazil’s Olympic team were using a 4-2-1-3-1 formation, and said he had
not heard of Christian Benteke, a 7m signing for Aston Villa who had
played six times for Belgium, goes to that well more than most. And
never forget, you are subsidising his expertise.

It wouldn’t happen at Sky – but even if it did, that’s not your money going down the tubes.

Wonga, a political football

Much outrage about Wonga's proposed sponsorship of Newcastle United, not least from season ticket holder and Labour MP Ian Lavery who says he will not set foot in St James’ Park until the name is off the shirts.

Money where your mouth is: Wonga have announced a deal to join up with Newcastle

Money where your mouth is: Wonga have announced a deal to join up with Newcastle

Wonga is a short-term, pay day loan
company with an APR of up to 4,214 per cent. The acceptable face of loan
sharking, in other words.

Yet, once again, politicians want
sport to take a lead they are incapable of themselves. Remember when
England’s cricketers were under pressure to boycott Zimbabwe, yet the
government was happy for British industry to remain Robert Mugabe’s
second biggest trading partner

If Wonga’s business is morally
bankrupt it is up to politicians to pressure the government to
legislate, rather than wait for ethical guidance from Mike Ashley.

The price is right

When Arsenal played Chelsea recently there was great controversy over the cheapest admission price: 62.

On these occasions it is traditional to make reference to the wonderful system in Spain where fans are club members — socios — and are treated with reverence.

So, what was the cheapest ticket at Barcelona’s match with Real Madrid on Sunday 75. And for non-members 236.50. And you may feel it would be worth every penny.

Even so, not doing the fans any favours, are they

Don’t turn a blind eye to violence

Reacting to UEFA’s retrospective ban on Eduardo of Arsenal for diving in September 2009, what manager said this

‘The biggest mistake is not coming out at the start of the season and laying the ground, so that everybody understands what is going to happen if people dive. To do it part of the way through the season is ridiculous.’

Step forward, Tony Pulis, manager of Stoke City, who at the weekend called for retrospective action to be taken against Luis Suarez for diving.

So let’s just say there is a degree of self-interest in this. Pulis now wants Suarez banned, retrospectively, having previously opposed such a move. Brendan Rodgers, manager of Liverpool, defends his player, although it is quite plain that he dived.

Rough ride: Luis Suarez bore the brunt of criticism this past weekend despite being stamped on

Rough ride: Luis Suarez bore the brunt of criticism this past weekend despite being stamped on

Pulis, meanwhile, is less forthcoming
on the subject of Robert Huth, who appeared to stamp on Suarez’s chest
when he could have easily avoided contact. If retrospective action was
permitted, it should not stop with Suarez in the dock.

Why do we have such a problem with
diving yet are relaxed about violent play Suarez’s actions were
reprehensible but no more than those of Huth, or Robin van Persie, who
treated Yohan Cabaye of Newcastle United to a taste of his forearm
during Manchester United’s match at St James’ Park.

Ultimately, Suarez does get punished
for diving because blatant penalty offences against him are being waved
away; indeed at the weekend it is quite possible that Marc Wilson of
Stoke caught his trailing leg and his belated and preposterous fall was
only a desperate attempt to get this noticed.

Referees seem to have shorter memories of violence, however, with repeat offenders often ignored.

That does not appear to trouble Pulis, or many in football, as much; but it should.

AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT

You can spot them a mile off. When Imraan Ladak’s consortium took charge of Kettering Town in 2005, his first move was to appoint Paul Gascoigne as caretaker manager. That lasted 39 days.

Limited success and 13 managerial changes later, including three caretakers, Kettering are in dire straits.

The club failed to pay its wages last November and in December Ladak was banned from all football duties by the FA after ignoring a disciplinary fine and costs.

He remained owner but was replaced as chairman by George Rolls, who announced debts of 1.2million in May.

Following relegation from the Conference, a Company Voluntary Agreement involving demotion to the Southern League was accepted, at which point Rolls was suspended from football for five years for breach of FA betting rules while on the board at Cambridge United. Ladak is back in charge.

Town the pan: Kettering have slumped to an all-time low and Imraan Ladak is now banned from football

Town the pan: Kettering have slumped to an all-time low and Imraan Ladak is now banned from football

On October 2, Kettering attracted a
crowd of 34 for a Northants Hillier Senior Cup game against Peterborough
Northern Star and at the weekend lost 7-0 to Bashley, fielding only 10
players. A reserve goalkeeper, Ben Gathercole, was supposed to play
outfield but declined to attend as he is owed money by the club.

Many team-mates are similarly out of pocket and disenchanted and caretaker manager Alan Doyle left in tears.

He says he was given his role via text
message and has had one conversation with Ladak, six weeks ago. The
latest development at Nene Park – former home of Rushden and Diamonds,
another extinct Northamptonshire club – is that the electricity has been
cut off and the club could not name a squad for last night’s game at
Leamington.

It is said all great journeys begin
with a single step. The day Ladak appointed the damaged Gascoigne in a
blaze of publicity it was plain the sort of owner he was going to be. It
has taken seven years but he has got there in the end.

Removing the issue

It does not matter whether David Collier, the ECB chief executive, is correct in his statement that the South Africans were trying to wind up Kevin Pietersen this summer. The fact remains that if England were not so keen to stuff their team with South Africans, this vulnerability would not exist.

Gay torchbearer It doesn't matter

Rupert Everett, the actor, wondered why the sexuality of Olympic torch bearers was not discussed during the relay around the British Isles.

‘It went on a long time,’ he said, ‘but they never announced, “This is an openly homosexual person”. Sport and showbiz are still very homophobic and it’s strange that no-one has noticed.’

Carrying the torch: The sexual orientation of any of the Olympic torch bearers was irrelevant

Carrying the torch: The sexual orientation of any of the Olympic torch bearers was irrelevant

Yet it would be even stranger if we
brought sexuality into everything a person did. The public face of the
games was Clare Balding, who also carried the torch in Newbury. Is her
sexuality germane to either role No. Was she accepted for who she is,
without prejudice Yes.

What should the BBC do ‘And now we rejoin events at the London Aquatic Centre with noted lesbian Clare Balding…’

‘I’m here in Newbury with Clare Balding who has just carried the Olympic torch and prefers girls.’

When the St George’s Park facility
opened, Hope Powell was there, not as a lesbian, but as a
football coach. We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it, Gay Pride
marchers would shout. So everyone got used to it. And now it scarcely
matters. So why the fuss

It's just not rugby

It is the inclusion of Ashton Gate that is the giveaway. Bristol City’s ground, capacity 21,800. If the RFU had rejected Leicester Tigers’ Welford Road home as a 2015 World Cup venue because its 24,000 capacity was too small, it would make sense.

Game of two halves: Leicester City's King Power Stadium has been proposed as a Rugby World Cup venue

Game of two halves: Leicester City's King Power Stadium has been proposed as a Rugby World Cup venue

Yet Ashton Gate is smaller, as is
Kingsholm in Gloucester (the only selected stadium used exclusively for
rugby) and stadium:mk in Milton Keynes (where no doubt a rugby fever is
just waiting to happen). The King Power Stadium, home to Leicester City
Football Club, which is included, is not much bigger either, at just
32,500.

Clearly, the need to shift 2.9
million tickets from 48 matches means some football venues must be used.
Wembley, Old Trafford and St James’ Park all hold in excess of 50,000.

Yet, as much as possible, the Rugby
World Cup should take place where rugby feels loved. We cannot vouch for
the grounds, but the sport itself is certainly getting sold out.

League Cup should be no afterthought for big clubs – Michael Walker

The League Cup should be no afterthought for 'big' clubs

By
Michael Walker

PUBLISHED:

21:00 GMT, 23 September 2012

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 23 September 2012

Everton have never won the League Cup. It is a fact to make Goodison Park think. They reached the final twice – in 1977 and 1984 – but they lost, first to Aston Villa, then Liverpool.

Everton have won the league title and the FA Cup of course, but the last time Goodison held one of English football’s three major domestic trophies was 1995. That was the FA Cup and Joe Royle was Everton manager. Current boss David Moyes was a Preston North End centre half.

The next League Cup final will be almost 18 years on from Everton’s last trophy, therefore, and that is too long a wait.

Distant memory: Everton last won a trophy back in 1995

Distant memory: Everton last won a trophy back in 1995

We know all about the modern, mitigating factors caused by the Premier League’s monopolising money, with Chelsea and Manchester City denying others opportunity as they buy theirs. Even so, since the turn of the century, Leicester City, Blackburn Rovers, Middlesbrough and Birmingham City have won the League Cup. Cardiff City were pretty close last season.

Everton have not even made the final in that period, but they are not alone among the top-division clubs for whom the League Cup should be a silver priority.

These are the clubs that cannot win the Premier League, as it is financially skewed. They can win the FA Cup, but since Everton’s ’95 victory, 16 of the 17 FA Cup winners have been either Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, City or Liverpool.

On the other occasion Portsmouth won – and how that looks a bought trophy now.

So if the league title is a non-starter and the FA Cup a hope, then the League Cup should be of significant interest to the likes of Everton. On Tuesday night, Moyes’ confident team arrive at Elland Road. The Leeds United manager Neil Warnock usually has other priorities when it comes to the competition. An Everton win takes them into the last 16. A home draw, or a good draw, then and it is the quarter-finals.

Decision time: Moyes must decided whether to field a strong team on Tuesday night

Decision time: Moyes must decided whether to field a strong team on Tuesday night

In total it is five games to Wembley, four for the teams in Europe.

Moyes is talking about Everton making the Champions League places but that’s a 38-game struggle. Five games to Wembley in the League Cup, when others are involved in Europe, that is an opportunity.

It does not just apply to Everton. Come the final on February 24 it will be 17 years since Aston Villa won a trophy, it will be 40 years since Sunderland’s last triumph, the 1973 FA Cup.

Like Everton, Sunderland are away at lower opposition – MK Dons – and the fans are not travelling from Wearside to see them lose, as they did in the second round at Brighton last season. Realistically, what else are Sunderland going to win The same can be said of West Brom, who won the League Cup in 1966 and reached the final in ’67 and ’70. This feels like a consolidated club with a squad of accumulated strength that has started the season well – though Fulham and Stoke are the same and they’re already out.

On Wednesday night West Brom host Liverpool (the holders) having already beaten them 3-0 at The Hawthorns a month ago.

You cannot imagine that this season, this competition is top of the Anfield agenda.

Priority: Liverpool will be looking to retain the League Cup they won in February

Priority: Liverpool will be looking to retain the League Cup they won in February

And QPR They won the League Cup in 1967 as a Third Division team so it should not be beyond a squad purchased at great expense over the past 18 months to get past Reading at Loftus Road on Wednesday. Again: what else are QPR going to win Reading have other priorities.

The epic wait in domestic football amongst clubs considered ‘big’ belongs to Newcastle United. They have never won the League Cup either. They reached the final under Gordon Lee in 1976 but lost to Manchester City.
Newcastle’s last major domestic trophy remains the 1955 FA Cup. 1955.

Being drawn away at Manchester United does not make this Wednesday a promising beginning to this season’s League Cup for Newcastle. But where does the competition figure in the Old Trafford priority list

There is another club who have not won a trophy for a while. By February, it will be eight years.

On Wednesday Arsenal are at home to Coventry City.

Drought: Arsenal have not won a trophy since 2005

Drought: Arsenal have not won a trophy since 2005

Birmingham feeling blue

Arsenal fans thinking ‘Well, anyone can beat Coventry’ could do with speaking to their counterparts at Birmingham City.

Those Blues who experienced the agony of Saturday’s 5-0 home defeat by Barnsley were given a foretaste of that embarrassment in the last round of the League Cup, when Birmingham lost 3-2 at Coventry.

It is just over 18 months since Birmingham defeated Arsenal 2-1 in the League Cup final, Obafemi Martins scoring the late winner. Martins and many others left once City were relegated and on Saturday, of the starting XI against Arsenal, only Keith Fahey started against Barnsley.

The pace of change is rapid: Robin van Persie, Alex Song, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri all started that final for Arsenal.

By the way…

Ravel Morrison, once the next big thing at Manchester United, did not even make it off the Birmingham bench on Saturday.

Belgian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton gambles on contract

Gambler Lewis! Hamilton stakes all his chips on waiting game at McLaren

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UPDATED:

22:12 GMT, 31 August 2012

Lewis Hamilton claims he is no gambler but the poker face he adopts when discussing his McLaren future certainly resembles that of a Monte Carlo high-roller.

Hamilton split his summer break between relaxing at his Monaco home and keeping a vigil in England beside the bed of his aunt Diane, who sadly passed away after losing a battle with cancer.

Given such unfortunate family circumstances, coupled with the need to recharge his batteries for the second half of the Formula One season, Hamilton was happy to leave contract issues in the hands of his management company, XIX Entertainment.

Plenty to ponder: Lewis Hamilton has yet to sign a new deal with McLaren

Plenty to ponder: Lewis Hamilton has yet to sign a new deal with McLaren

But despite predictions from both sides that an extension to his 15-million-a-year contract would be thrashed out during the August lay-off, an agreement has yet to be reached.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, Hamilton opted to keep his employers in the dark as to his next move.

‘I don’t see myself anywhere at the moment,’ he claimed. ‘Nothing’s signed, nothing’s decided. There are still lots of factors to be taken into account.’ Hamilton even suggested McLaren’s opening gambit, when it comes, would be automatically rejected.

‘You never just sign a contract that’s given to you,’ he added. ‘Most of the time it’s s**t.’

Financial factors, of course, need to be considered but Hamilton is also fretting over whether McLaren are the team best placed to cope with the major regulations upheaval planned for 2014.

‘If the rules were to stay the same for the next five years it would make the decision a lot easier,’ reasoned Hamilton. ‘Some people move and some people stay where they are and go backwards. It is a 50/50 chance whatever way you look at it and I am not much of a gambler.’

Wet weather: Practice for Sunday's race was interrupted by the rain

Wet weather: Practice for Sunday's race was interrupted by the rain

With decision time fast approaching, however, he has to take a punt.
Ferrari could have a seat available should they decide to ditch Felipe Massa. But a reunion with Fernando Alonso is highly unlikely. The vastly improved Lotus team are an option if they can find the necessary financial backing to fund a move for Hamilton.

A switch to Mercedes is looking less and less attractive by the day, however, even if Michael Schumacher opts to retire for a second time, given the German car maker is rumoured to be planning to scale back its involvement in Formula One.

Schumacher is celebrating his 300th grand prix in Belgium this weekend. But his 51 races without a win, 49 of them with Mercedes, are likely to be a significant statistic for both him and Hamilton.

Schumacher has long since given up on making any impact on this season’s championship and, like Hamilton, is unlikely to make a decision on his future until October.

Unlike the German, Hamilton feels he is very much in the title hunt despite Ferrari’s Alonso having a 40-point advantage over his nearest challenger, Red Bull’s Mark Webber.

Belgian Grand Prix

With all but one of the nine remaining races back-to-back, starting with Spa and Monza, Hamilton has ample opportunity to inflict some double whammies on Alonso’s advantage should he manage to retain his imperious form of the last race in Hungary.

‘Recovery between back-to-back races will be more important,’ said Hamilton of the gruelling schedule.

‘It is all about commitment so I will put aside anything else that is distracting.

‘It’s all to play for. You just have to hope the team have done their job 100 per cent and continue to develop the car and I have to make sure I am prepared.’

Unfortunately, heavy rain over the Ardennes forests on Friday offered McLaren, and anybody else for that matter, precious little opportunity to test the upgrades they have been working on during the summer break.
Another gamble lies ahead, therefore.

'I am sure everyone has made a step forward this weekend,’ Hamilton added.

‘Some will be bigger than others and I just hope ours is good enough.’

Maria De Villota crash: Car not to blame, say Marussia

Car not to blame for De Villota crash, claim Marussia after investigation

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UPDATED:

11:03 GMT, 16 July 2012

Marussia have excluded their car as a contributory cause behind Maria De Villota's accident almost a fortnight ago.

De Villota continues to make good progress following the incident at Duxford Airfield which resulted in her losing her right eye.

De Villota required two operations at Addendrooke's Hospital in Cambridge in the wake of a crash that saw the 32-year-old run into the tailgate of a stationary service vehicle at the end of an installation run whilst conducting a straightline aero test.

Crash: De Villota lost her right eye following the incident at Duxford

Crash: De Villota lost her right eye following the incident at Duxford

Phil Duncan F1 blog

The team has since conducted a thorough investigation, both at their Banbury base and at the scene.

A team statement read: 'The Marussia F1 Team conducted an initial analysis immediately after the crash.

'This aimed to identify the causes and contributory factors behind the accident and also served to determine if there were any car-related implications for the impending British Grand Prix.

'Having carefully examined all the data and supplementary information available at that time, the team were satisfied there were no such car-related issues and cleared its chassis for race weekend participation.

Recovery: The Spaniard is making good progress

Recovery: The Spaniard is making good progress

'Following its initial investigation, the team proceeded to carry out further detailed analysis of the accident.

'An external forensic investigation was commissioned and carried out at Duxford Airfield (a FIA-approved and much used testing venue, compliant with the recommendations for a test of this nature) and with the team at the Marussia Technical Centre in Banbury.

'This external analysis has been carried out autonomously of the team's own internal investigation.

'As would be normal procedure, the team's findings have been shared with the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), the independent UK regulator which acts in the public interest in respect of work-related accidents.'

In light of the investigation, team principal John Booth said: 'We are satisfied the findings of our internal investigation exclude the car as a factor in the accident.

'We have shared and discussed our findings with the HSE for their consideration as part of their ongoing investigation.

'This has been a necessarily thorough process in order to understand the cause of the accident.

'We have now concluded our investigatory work and can again focus on the priority, which continues to be Maria's wellbeing.

'In that regard, we continue to support Maria and the De Villota family in any way we can.'

London 2012 Olympics: Tom Daley must get real says rival Matt Mitcham

GB poster boy Daley must get real, says Olympic champion Mitcham

Tom Daley has been accused of ‘having his cake and eating it’ by playing down his chances of winning an Olympic gold medal while cashing in on his poster-boy status.

Matt Mitcham, the reigning Olympic 10m-platform champion, said: ‘What piqued my curiosity was when Tom came out to the media saying, “Don’t put any pressure of expectation on me because I don’t know if I can win a medal or whatever”.

‘I just thought you can’t really have your cake and eat it, too. You can’t get all the sponsorship, endorsements and be the poster boy of the Olympics; you can’t take in all the rewards and absolve yourself of all the responsibility and expectation. I just found that curious.’

Poster boy: Tom Daley has been told to get real

Poster boy: Tom Daley has been told to get real

The Australian was referring to a statement issued last week on Daley’s behalf by his agents, itself a response to British diving performance director Alexei Evangulov’s criticism of his star diver’s media and sponsor commitments.

‘He does have a lot of pressure on him,’ admitted Mitcham. ‘I do feel a little bit sorry for him but you just have to deal with it. That’s what mature athletes do. They compete under several different circumstances — environmental factors, pressure from within and from outside.’

Get real: Matt Mitcham has told Daley he can't be the poster boy of London 2012 and not expect the pressure

Get real: Matt Mitcham has told Daley he can't be the poster boy of London 2012 and not expect the pressure

Asked if Daley’s statement revealed a weakness in his make-up, Mitcham added: ‘I applaud his honesty. I think it is rare to get athletes who really speak their mind but, yes, it has.’

Daley, 17, competes today in the World Series event at the Olympic Aquatics Centre, with 10m synchro partner Pete Waterfield.

‘The Chinese are unbelievably strong,’ said Daley. ‘But they don’t always compete so well under pressure.’

Mitcham, the sole non-Chinese gold medallist in Beijing, is only taking part in the individual event on Friday.

Mark Hughes does not mind police talking to players before QPR v Chelsea FA Cup game

Hughes has no issue with police giving team talk before Chelsea Cup clash


Fair: Mark Hughes does not mind the police speaking to the players

Fair: Mark Hughes does not mind the police speaking to the players

QPR manager Mark Hughes insists he has no qualms over the police delivering their own team talk ahead of next weekend’s potentially explosive FA Cup clash with Chelsea.

The fourth-round tie takes place just four days before Terry is due in court to answer charges of racially abusing Ferdinand when the West London teams last met at Loftus Road in October.

In an effort to ensure players from both sides do not engage on in any behaviour likely to cause the passions of rival fans to spill over, Metropolitan police are expected to remind the squads of both QPR and Chelsea of their responsibilities ahead of what promises to be a highly charged encounter.

‘If they feel that’s necessary we’ll do that,’ said Hughes, regarding the prospect of a pre-match talking to by the police.

‘Safety of everybody is paramount and you are guided by the people who have an understanding of that and the risk factors that are involved. So we will cooperate fully in terms of security. That’s very important.’

Hughes will talk to Ferdinand about his state of mind ahead of the Chelsea clash but is confident his defender will want to play.

‘I will get his thoughts on the situation and then I’ve no doubt that he will make himself available,’ said Hughes.

‘I don’t think he wouldn’t want to play in such an important game for us. In fairness playing football is the best remedy for any issues you might have on or off the field.’

Focus: John Terry is sure to be the focus of attention

Focus: John Terry is sure to be the focus of attention

Aside from the highly sensitive issue of Ferdinand and Terry, Hughes finds himself with a crammed in-tray after taking over from Neil Warnock at Loftus Road.

As well as preparing for a huge six-pointer against Wigan tomorrow (SAT), the former Blackburn, Manchester City and Fulham boss is desperately trying to tempt so much needed recruits to QPR before the closure of the current transfer window.

A deal to sign Nedum Onuoha after a 2.5m fee was agreed with City yesterday for the 25-year-old defender while Hughes has not given up on persuading Blackburn’s Chris Samba and Chelsea’s Alex to become embroiled in a relegation battle.

Hughes is also eager to address QPR’s lack of goals by signing another striker to go with Brazilian youngster Henrique who is set for a work permit hearing on Monday.

Target: QPR want Chelsea's Alex

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Admitting to the difficulties of persuading quality players to come to a club currently languishing in the bottom three, Hughes is hopeful the combination of his managerial reputation and owner Tony Fernandes’ cash can still make QPR an attractive proposition.

‘It would be easier if we were a mid-table club, looking upwards rather than downwards,’ conceded Hughes. ‘But once the club have the opportunity to sit down in front of players and representatives and we can talk to them, I think they will understand very quickly what we are trying to do.

‘Our league position obviously tempers their enthusiasm because there is always that worry they might be coming into a situation they don’t want to happen, as we all do.

‘But I made that decision and I was comfortable with it. Once the players hear the same story I heard they will be comfortable with it as well. You have to attract players with a financial package as well as what we can offer on the field of play. They go hand in hand.’

Ian Gough banned for three weeks

Ospreys star Gough slapped with three-week ban for dangerous tackle

Ospreys lock Ian Gough has been suspended for three weeks for a dangerous tackle on Schalk Brits of Saracens during their Heineken Cup tie last Friday.

Judicial officer Jeremy Summers ruled that the offence was at the low end of the range, but added an extra week to the recommended three-week ban for aggravating factors and in light of the IRB clampdown on such tackles.

Centre of attention: Gough (centre) has been banned for three weeks

Centre of attention: Gough (centre) has been banned for three weeks

Summers then reduced the tariff by a week based on Gough”s “excellent record and exemplary conduct during the hearing”.

Meanwhile, Gavin Henson makes his debut for Cardiff Blues tonight, playing at full back against the Dragons at Cardiff City Stadium.

The 29- year-old has been out of action since breaking his wrist in a World Cup warm-up game.

Harlequins" Will Skinner handed two-week ban

Skinner gets two-week ban after his red card against Toulouse

Harlequins flanker Will Skinner has been handed a two-week ban after he was sent off during last weekend”s Heineken Cup victory over Toulouse in France.

Skinner received a red card from Irish referee Alain Rolland for what European Rugby Cup described as “an act contrary to good sportsmanship.”

All smiles: Will Skinner and director of rugby Conor O

All smiles: Will Skinner and director of rugby Conor O”Shea congratulate each other at the final whistle

It followed an incident a minute from time at Le Stadium when Skinner, who had been replaced some 30 minutes earlier, played the match ball in the technical zone and prevented Toulouse from taking a quick lineout.

Following the disciplinary hearing in Dublin, an ERC statement read: “For red card hearings, the onus rests with the player to demonstrate that the referee”s decision to issue the red was wrong and the judicial officer found the player had not demonstrated that, and he accordingly upheld the red card.

Training only: The ban means Skinner will only be able to take part in training

Training only: The ban means Skinner will only be able to take part in training

“Employing the IRB-recommended sanctions for acts contrary to good sportsmanship, the judicial officer decided that the offence was at the low-end entry point of four weeks.

“Having taken into account the mitigating factors, including the player”s excellent record, he decided on the maximum reduction of 50% and imposed a suspension of two weeks.”

Skinner, who can appeal the decision, will be free to play again on January 2.

He will miss Quins” Aviva Premiership games against Saracens at Twickenham next Tuesday and the New Year”s Eve trip to Exeter.