Monday, February 20, 2012

What to do and where to stay in the Ukraine?


The fifth largest city of the Ukraine, Donetsk, has so much to do and so many wonderful hotels to reside that it is difficult to know where to begin. Whether you are comfortable on campsites or prefer lounging in luxury, Donetsk is certainly delighted to cater for your every need.


Donbass Palace

The Donbass Palace boasts the finest of fabrics and carefully crafted furniture and fixtures, state-of-the-art technology in every room, such as heated floors in the bathrooms for your absolute pleasure. The hotel staff offer a personalised service, always with a smile.
The hotel boasts 129 air-conditioned and centrally heated rooms, a 24 hour check out service, lift access, hotel safe and, of course, reception. All rooms are spacious and include en-suite bathroom, double or king size beds, wonderful tranquil views of Kiev’s parks and gardens, a wonder to behold in summer and arguably bettered during the winter months as the snow creates what can only be described as a wonderland.

The Donbass Palace truly has everything, from beautiful rooms to an on-site restaurant, conference facilities, car park and laundry. The spa facility is also rather magical, combining Eastern and Western, traditional and modern treatments together to create a truly individual weave of fabric to furnish your health and fitness requirements.
As one might expect from such a large and luxurious hotel, an indoor swimming pool, sauna, hot tub, gym and sun terrace are also provided.

The Donbass Palace is located in central Donetsk, within easy reach of the opera house, drama theatre, shopping and bars/clubs.
A typical summer break at the Donbass Palace would cost around £250 per room per night.

The Opera House & Theatre

Whilst you are staying in Donetsk, visiting the eighty-five year-old opera house and ballet theatre is a must as it offers not only a wonderfully elegant exterior but also out of this world performances at incredibly reasonable prices. The Theatre hosts world class productions and performances by legendary opera and ballet stars such as Ivan Kozlovsky, Pavel Lisitsian and Anastasia Volochkova and since 1994, 'The stars of the World's ballet' festival has taken place at the theatre. Alternatively, why not catch 'Swan Lake' in its original language for as little as £3 a ticket, or for around £10 you will secure the best seats in the house.

Pushkin Boulevard

A gorgeous, green pathway that escorts you for around 2 kilometers out of the city is the picturesque Pushkin Boulevard. During this pleasant stroll, you will discover al fresco cafes, relaxing fountains and the monument ‘O Taras Shevchenko’.

Lenin Square

Home of the immense 42 meter Lenin statue: one of Ukraine’s largest symbols of Lenin, signifying the importance of the city during the Soviet Union: a wonder to behold.

Happy Camping

If your budget is somewhat tighter and the luxury of the Donbass Palace is not within your price range then why not pay 25 times less per night (around £10) and take your own tent or caravan to Donetsk?
If you are visiting Donetsk on a low budget in 2012 or thereafter, why not try
Where ‘Camping Park 2012’ will cater for your every need, at a fraction of the cost of the luxury hotels.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fifa World Rankings For February 2012

Fifa World Rankings For February 2012.
Fifa World Rankings February 2012

Fifa's World Rankings for February 2012 were published today at FIFA HQ in Zurich, Switzerland.

2010 World Cup winners Spain remain on top followed by Germany, the Netherlands and Copa America champions Uruguay. England are still in 5th and Ireland move into the top 20 ahead of Euro 2012. There are big moves for Africa Cup of Nations' winners, Zambia.

Ranking Team
1 Spain
2 Germany
3 Netherlands
4 Uruguay
5 England
6 Portugal
7 Brazil
8 Italy
9 Croatia
10 Denmark
11 Argentina
12 Chile
13 Russia
14 Greece
15 Côte d'Ivoire
16 Switzerland
17 France
18 Sweden
19 Bosnia-Herzegovina
20 Republic of Ireland

Full world rankings

Previous Fifa World Rankings


Monday, February 13, 2012

When I see you Suarez, I go off my head

Suarez Evra Saga

Some say that you never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory. When Luis Suarez refused to shake the hand of Patrice Evra at Old Trafford yesterday however, you sensed the significance of the moment would shape the longevity of the memory. Relations between England's two most most successful clubs - who have not exchanged a player since 1964 - continue to sour, both on and off the pitch.

Pre-match handshakes at Premier League matches are a recently invented 'tradition'. They were introduced to suit the requirements of international television broadcasters, allowing them time for an advertisement break. The Premier League need to stop globalising and start prioritising.

A cancelation of the ritual for the QPR-Chelsea FA Cup tie due to the race row involving England captain John Terry and Anton Ferdinand, and the drama that followed at the Theatre of Dreams, support the case to have it discontinued. Liverpool supporters would have welcomed this move even before yesterday's league meeting, as it interferes with the traditional timing of the pre-match You'll Never Walk Alone rendition at Anfield.

The latest twist of the Suarez-Evra racism saga has been magnified by an unhelpful modern ritual imposed by television executives - yet press conferences aside, the media's role in this instance was largely circumstantial.

The French fullback offered the Uruguayan a lowered hand, with no initial eye contact. It was a disrespectful gesture of respect. It was a gesture nonetheless. The former Ajax frontman could have done the same, many argue he should have done - but he chose instead to publicly declare his dissatisfaction at the outcome of the racism case that saw him hit with an eight-match ban. The Liverpool corner deemed contextual semantics to be significant in 'that conversation', yet these were largely ignored by the three-man panel, and Suarez feels aggrieved.

Following the convenient adjournment of John Terry's case until after the European championships, this week saw Fabio Capello's principled resignation as England manager. The FA's temporary replacement Stuart Pearce soon had to face the embarrassment of defending himself, as videos of him racially abusing Paul Ince during a Manchester United v Nottingham Forest match in 1994 gained repeated air time. Let's ignore his brother's role in the BNP (“the country is full up”, Dennis Pearce declared before standing in the 2009 European elections), Pearce should be judged on his own actions, and the FA on theirs.

'Racism' currently dominates British football's sanitising political correctness campaign. However, English footballing authorities overlooked the relevant linguistic nuances that divide Spanish and French, but the less complicated case involving Ince and Pearce (who were raised 25 miles apart) received a different response.

The PFA's overpaid longstanding chairman Gordon Taylor pointed out that Pearse apologised for being racist. Suarez however continues to protest his innocence, so refuses to apologise, or shake on it.

In a post-match interview an aggravated Alex Ferguson branded Suarez a "disgrace", claiming he should never play for Liverpool again. The Scot implements a confused criteria, for apparently refusing a handshake is worse than kicking a fan in the head. After serving his ban for the infamous Crystal Palace incident in 1995, Eric Cantona continued to play for Manchester United until his retirement in 1997.

Ferguson's Liverpool counterpart Kenny Dalglish continues to be vilified for his support of Suarez and his defence of his club. The fourteen title winning, three-time European champion has coped with triumphs and tragedies throughout his career. Yesterday, an angry Dalglish stood up for his club and his player and Suarez stood up for his principles, whatever you think of them.

British broadsheets are likely to respond by focusing on Manchester United's 'dignity' and Liverpool's apparent lack of it, and misrepresent a Scouse understanding of the notion in the process - as yet another example of the distinction between England and the rebellious enclave that clings to the Mersey. One unbalanced headline reads 'Outraged by everything and ashamed of nothing', as a reference to Dalgish's handling of the post-match press conference. English tabloids will play up the tunnel bust up and Evra's celebration. Someone will point out the scoreline.

Evra had every right to celebrate the win that saw Manchester United go top of the league in the way he did. He didn't run up to the Liverpool fans as Gary Neville did following United's last minute winner in this fixture in 2006. Evra's team won the game and as captain he will consider himself entitled to a bout of triumphalism, particularly in the circumstances.

As GMP officers were confiscating Red Issue fanzines from Man United supporters due to the LFC Ku Klux Klan cut-out masks printed on the back (on the suspect grounds that they were "potentially offensive"), home fans in the ground sung of their hatred of "Scouse bastards", before Liverpool-born Wayne Rooney scored the two decisive goals early in the second half.

This is definitive racism, and Liverpool fans responded in kind.

Suarez' inevitable goal scoring contribution proved merely consolatory, yet the travelling support sang "when I see you Suarez, I go off my head" in recognition and adoration of the Uruguayan, interspersed with songs about their more famous number seven.

Just when Ferguson and Evra began to get paranoid about the reference, the away fans continued to offer their position on the player who divides British footballing opinion: "He scores a goal and the Kop goes wild and I just can't seem to get enough, Suarez."

© Dr Joel Rookwood &

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

It's Harry's game as Capello era ends

England National Team

As the dust clears from the impact of the news that Fabio Capello had called it a day with/been fired by England, the Football Association have a minor headache to deal with in their search for a replacement.

Harry Redknapp.
Harry Redknapp
Harry Redknapp has had his name on the job for some time, at least since Tottenham Hotspur's dazzling display in last year's Champions League convinced the doubters he could cut it in international football. But what will Spurs chairman Daniel Levy be thinking tonight, only hours after breathing a sigh of relief that his coach had been acquitted of tax evasion at Southwark Crown Court. Levy has played hardball more than once before when his star attraction wanted to leave.

Tottenham are flying this season again, third in the league, seven points off the leaders and playing the most attractive football in the country. The loss to Spurs of their mercurial manager will be painful for a club finally
sniffing success after years of frustration. Qualifying for the Champions League may seem immaterial as Redknapp was always going to leave for England in the summer, but a league championship would have been a fitting send-off. Perhaps Redknapp will wait until July, or take the job part-time from now, but however one looks at it, the unexpected end of Capello's England career has left a right mess for the F.A. to clean up.

Capello won around two-thirds of his games and England most recently beat World Champions Spain, but lost when it counted, miserably against Germany at the World Cup Finals in South Africa. England were lethargic and insipid from the moment they touched down and lost Rio Ferdinand to injury, failed to beat the USA and Algeria before they scraped past Slovenia, only to be thrashed in the second round.

He has manifestly failed for the first time in his career, and his English misadventure tarnishes his previously exemplary record. Never mastering the language helped nobody, while his stern style, although at first praised for instilling much-needed discipline in his overpaid charges, became brittle and unhelpful in the final dispute which caused his downfall.

Pride came before his fall, as the Italian publicly slammed his employers on RAI television, precipitating an acrimonious parting of ways today in London. He was foolish to speak out like that, but the F.A. also failed to establish an effective relationship in the first place where both parties respected each other. Being overruled over John Terry's captaincy for a second time was too much for Fabio to take.

Yet sadly Capello always seemed a hired gun rather than an integral team member, his poor English hampering a full immersion into a country and its football culture. Allegedly eschewing the telephone, Capello's communication line to the F.A. became fatally garbled when assistant Franco Baldini, who spoke fluent English, left to become Roma's general manager last autumn.

Redknapp seems to tick all the boxes for England, but we must hold our horses before we can toast our first silverware since 1966. Will the inability to bring in foreign players do for chequebook-happy Harry, and will the lack of regular games frustrate his pally style? Or will the higher level of competition simply prove too much for his abilities?

Has a nation once again got drunk on the idea of a magical saviour instead of looking at the bigger picture of a national football culture behind Germany's in organisation and tactics and trailing Holland and Spain in terms of technique? And why has the F.A. still not introduced a winter break, one of the key reasons for England's demise at the World Cup, which Capello highlighted.

Played 42, Won 28 (67%), Drew 8, Lost 6
World Cup 2010: Second Round

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

Thursday, February 2, 2012

FC Tokyo aiming to step on the gas

FC Tokyo aiming to step on the gas.
FC Tokyo

What does a club do when it has just won the second division at a canter and has been crowned national Cup champions for the first time in its history? Sign a new coach, if that club is FC Tokyo.

The capital outfit celebrated beating Kyoto Sanga 4-2 in the Emperor's Cup final on New Year's Day by officially announcing Serb tactician Ranko Popovic as its new coach barely a day later. Popovic takes over after leading third-tier neighbours Machida Zelvia into J2, with former FC Tokyo Kiyoshi Okuma coach moving back to an administrative role within the club.

Popovic has some experience at this level. He arrived in Japan as an assistant to compatriot Mihailo Petrovic at Sanfrecce Hiroshima in 2006, before taking over the doomed Oita Trinita after their relegation from J1 had been all but confirmed in 2009. When the Kyushu side couldn't afford to retain his services, Popovic moved to western Tokyo to take charge of the upwardly Machida Zelvia.

Now he's has made the short hop over to Chofu to take on an FC Tokyo squad rippling with talent. Japan international and fan-favourite Yasuyuki Konno may have moved to Gamba Osaka, but 'the Gasmen' still have plenty of strike power on their books. Goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda, winger Naohiro Ishikawa and towering striker Sota Hirayama are often on the fringes of national team selection, while the gritty Masato Morishige, veteran striker Lucas Severino and youngster Takuji Yonemoto - who is looking to re-establish himself after a couple of injury-riddled campaigns - would force their way into most top-flight squads.
Ajinomoto Stadium, home of FC Tokyo.
Ajinomoto Stadium

Equally impressive is the fact the Gasmen have strengthened their squad with a couple of impressive signings. Bustling striker Kazuma Watanabe and Iranian-Japanese midfielder Aria Jasuru Hasegawa have both joined from nearby Yokohama F. Marinos after struggling to make an impact at the Tricolore last season. Both offer versatility and will increase the battle for squad places, as does youngster Hiroki Kawano, who joins from stadium co-tenants Tokyo Verdy. Add to that the fact Yohei Otake and Kentaro Shigematsu both enjoyed top-flight football on loan last season and the capital club should prove a formidable force on their return to the top flight.

But while FC Tokyo are looking to build on the performances of Sanfrecce Hiroshima, Cerezo Osaka and Kashiwa Reysol before them - who all qualified for the AFC Champions League just a season after promotion, the latter as J1 champions - the Gasmen already have Champions League football to contend with. They've been drawn in Group F of the Champions League alongside A-League champions Brisbane Roar, South Korean side Ulsan Hyundai and Chinese powerhouses Beijing Guoan, courtesy of winning the Emperor's Cup. And with the Champions League group stage once again jammed up against a packed J. League fixture list, rumours have already surfaced Popovic will field a second-string line-up for continental fixtures and play his first team in the league.

Whatever happens over the early rounds of the 2012 J. League season, the phrase "too good to go down" will reappear any time FC Tokyo take to the pitch. The club from the western outskirts of Tokyo city may only have a League Cup and now an Emperor's Cup trophy to show for their efforts, but they remain one of the more popular and better resourced outfits in the division. Yet such sentiment hasn't spared them before. They went down in 2010 despite being tipped as one of the favourites to win J1, and they'll hope history doesn't repeat itself when top-flight football makes a welcome return to Ajinomoto Stadium in March.