International football

An international ban would endanger Bosnian football at all levels. Kenneth Morrison explains a presidential problem

On a mild March evening in the industrial town of Zenica, a late goal by Edin Dzeko brought Bosnia another impressive victory, this time coming from behind to beat Romania 2-1. Having failed to qualify for a major tournament since their first competitive match in 1996, they narrowly missed out on World Cup qualification in 2010, losing in the play-offs to Portugal.

John Duerden hopes that the Indonesian FA may soon have a less corrupt president

2010 was a bad year for Indonesian football. It started with a 2-1 loss at home to Oman in an Asian Cup qualifier, the high point of which was a pitch invasion by a spectator. The fan, scarf around left wrist, got hold of the ball and ran half the length of the pitch only to see his shot saved by Ali Al Habsi.

Dave Hannigan looks at how Ireland are hoping to attract young footballers with a US education but an old country sentiment

In a little-noticed cameo during the February international break, Derby County striker Conor Doyle made his debut for Ireland Under-21s in a friendly against Cyprus. Born and raised in Texas to a father from Dublin, the 19-year-old’s appearance came just three months after Giovanni Trapattoni expressed interest in establishing a scouting network to find new talent for Ireland in the United States. Indeed, Trapattoni went as far as asking for a full list of Major League Soccer players with Irish-sounding 
surnames.

Paul Giess worries that due to administrative failure vast amounts of football merchandise will shortly be out of date

Unlike many competitions around the world South Africa's Premier Soccer League welcomed February's midweek FIFA international schedule with open arms. March sees a crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against current holders Egypt, who are regarded as the best side on the continent, despite not making it to last year's World Cup. At the request of Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane, a whole raft of scheduled games was moved to accommodate a friendly and give him time to work with his team. The response from the South Africa Football Association (SAFA) made a mockery of the praise that the country earned with its organisation of the 2010 World Cup.

The Asian Cup in Qatar highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of football in the region. John Duerden was there

You had to feel a bit sorry for Qatar. Despite having over a decade to prepare for the 2022 World Cup after the events of December 2 in Zürich, the tiny nation in fact had just five weeks before it was put on the spot. On January 7, the 2011 Asian Cup kicked off in Doha giving an international media, one that needed no second invitation to demonstrate the extent of FIFA's madness, the chance to scrutinise Qatar's hosting capabilities/football culture/traffic and pretty much everything else.

Football is popular in France's former colonies but geography and politics provide a number of challenges. Steve Menary explains

French Guiana is probably best known as home to the European Space Centre, or the infamous island prison that once housed Henri Charrière – better known as Papillon – but not football. That is hardly surprising, as the country's footballers face hindrances that few others could imagine.

Away from the staged celebrations, Sasha Goryunov assesses the social and political consequences for the 2018 World Cup hosts 

As Russian football's domestic season trundled towards its conclusion at the end of November, a collective feeling of ennui enveloped commentators and supporters across the country. St Petersburg, where Zenit fans celebrated the club's second post-Soviet title, was perhaps the only exception. In Europe, as expected, Russia's clubs gravitated towards the knockout stages of the Europa League. However, the decision taken in Zürich on December 2 gave Russia and its football a new sense of purpose. Or so it seems.

Qatar's World Cup win was a surprise to many, but Steve Wilson argues that maybe it shouldn't have come as such a shock

When pictures of public gatherings in Doha and London were beamed across rolling news channels on the evening of December 2, it wasn't just the palm trees in the background, or lack of them, that helped the viewer with their geography.

International tournaments don't always attract local supporters and ticketing arrangements rarely help. Mark Brophy explains

A team of FIFA delegates recently visited England on a fact-finding tour to aid the choice of host nation for the 2018 World Cup. There was much for the English bid team to promote including the existing stadiums, the tourist infrastructure and the tradition of the game in this country, none of which could have failed to impress the delegation. Great play was also made of the passion of our fans. But how many home fans will actually turn up for games should the bid be successful?

Following the departure of George Burley, the Scottish FA appointed Craig Levein as the latest in a long line of Scotland managers, just as Neil Forsyth predicted

Not that they really need one, but Scotland have got a new manager. Eight months from a competitive fixture the SFA acted with surprising swiftness in nicking Craig Levein away from Dundee Utd and appointing him as George Burley’s successor. In WSC 273 I said that the SFA would still be reluctant on a foreign manager after the horror of the Bertie Vogts experiment and that Levein was the standout Scottish candidate. That shows no prescience on my part, rather a depressing lack of qualified candidates who would actually want the job. David Moyes has a more attractive role at Everton, Gordon Strachan had just committed to Middlesbrough, Graeme Souness ruled himself out and Walter Smith made the worthy point that he’d walked out on Scotland for a Rangers return and it would be somewhat cheeky to go back.