It was midnight in Moscow as three Russian astronauts from the international space station revealed the emblem of the next World Cup finals.
The image was then projected onto the facade of the famous Bolshoi Ballet.
As Judi Online World Cup logos go it is pretty inoffensive, if not rather conservative, as perhaps befitting of the Russian Republic, but it is undeniably elegant at the same time and given the litany of dodgy sporting emblems, we can hardly complain.
It appears a more elegant and refined version of Brazil’s 2014 effort, although vaguely reminiscent of a deodorant in its rounded smoothness.
The shape is loosely the FIFA World Cup trophy once more and the red, gold and black are nods to the medieval tradition of Russian icon painting. From a distance it might even pass for a goblet about to be quaffed by Ivan the Terrible.
Yet the various stars on the blue background and tufts which could be exhaust flames reference Russia’s pioneering role in space exploration, hence the unveiling 330km above the earth.
Brandia of Portugal were responsible for the final design but before producing it consulted eight Russian and international design agencies and a panel of ten individuals, including FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke and Russian national team coach Fabio Capello.
After the furore which greeted the dreadful London 2012 Olympic symbol and the observation after their thrashing by Germany that Brazil 2012’s emblem looked like a hand covering a face in shame, the Russians were taking no chances.
The official slogan will be revealed in early 2015, the preliminary draw will take place in St Petersburg next summer and in late 2016 we will get our first glimpse of the poster and the mascot.
Will it be a bear by any chance..?
No Suarez in Ballon D’Or shortlist
FIFA’s Ballon D’Or shortlists for the men’s player of the year and coach of the year awards have been released.
All the 23 nominated players are Europe-based, with Cristiano Ronaldo favourite to retain his title. Five of Germany’s World Cup-winning team are included, although there is no space for Luis Suarez, thanks to his bite in Brazil.
Otherwise, the Uruguayan would surely have been included for his 31 goals in 33 games for Liverpool last season, a tally only matched in Europe by Cristiano Ronaldo at Real.
Five of the chosen players are South American (Lionel Messi, James Rodriguez, Neymar, Javier Mascherano and Angel di Maria), one African (Yaya Toure) and one from the British Isles (Gareth Bale).
The ten-man shortlist for the world’s best coach contains the usual suspects, although Jose Pekerman’s guiding of Colombia to the last eight of the World Cup after they had not been to the finals since 1998 goes unrewarded.
Jorge Luis Pinto’s achievements in taking unfancied Costa Rica to a heroic penalty defeat at the same stage of the tournament are also ignored. Jurgen Klinsmann, who coached the USA to the second round of the tournament however, makes the list.
FIFA World Men’s Player of the Year shortlist:
Gareth Bale (Wales, Real Madrid), Karim Benzema (France, Real Madrid), Diego Costa (Spain, Chelsea), Thibaut Courtois (Belgium, Chelsea), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid), Angel Di Maria (Argentina, Manchester United), Mario Gotze (Germany, Bayern Munich), Eden Hazard (Belgium, Chelsea), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, Paris St-Germain), Andres Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona), Toni Kroos (Germany, Real Madrid), Philipp Lahm (Germany, Bayern Munich), Javier Mascherano (Argentina, Barcelona), Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona), Thomas Muller (Germany, Bayern Munich), Manuel Neuer (Germany, Bayern Munich), Neymar (Brazil, Barcelona), Paul Pogba (France, Juventus), Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid), Arjen Robben (Netherlands, Bayern Munich), James Rodriguez (Colombia, Real Madrid), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany, Bayern Munich), Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast, Manchester City).
FIFA Coach of the Year shortlist:
Carlo Ancelotti (Real Madrid), Antonio Conte (Juventus & Italy), Pep Guardiola (Bayern Munich), Jurgen Klinsmann (USA), Joachim Low (Germany), Jose Mourinho (Chelsea), Manuel Pellegrini (Manchester City), Alejandro Sabella (Argentina), Diego Simeone (Atletico Madrid), Louis van Gaal (Netherlands & Manchester United).
The decisions will be made by national team captains and coaches and a coterie of international journalists assembled by France Football magazine, who started the European Footballer of the Year award in 1956. FIFA’s World Player of the Year began in 1991 and the two prizes merged in 2010.
Other prizes up for grabs include the FIFA Fifpro World XI team of the year, the FIFA Ferenc Puskas award for most beautiful goal, the FIFA Presidential award and FIFA Fair Play award.
The winners will be announced in Zurich on the 12th of January 2015.