18 December 2010 – FIFA Club World Cup Final

As the UK was covered in snow, I am sure that I did not see a cloud in the sky today!

I woke up at 1130am local time – spent the early hours watching some rubbish on TV – no cricket in my hotel unlike some of the others who are covering this tournament.

I packed and then checked out which took about 20 minutes to pay the bill. I came to the conclusion that staying on the coast was an utter waste of time. I may as well of had an inner city appartment to rent for the week. It would have been cheaper and more suited to my needs. Apart from a 20 minute walk to the shopping centre, and a brief game of footy yesterday (which was on a man made beach 20km away) all I have done is seemingly work, work, work.

Yet again, anyone who suggest that I am on holiday gets a punch in the face!

I get to the stadium and start snapping away of stadium views, basically copying what I did about 14 years ago for another agency, but this time all my work is mine. I then take a walk around the TV trucks and get a fix of some nice satellite dishes. I think mine at home are about 1 meter under in snow. Most of the production is done by UK people. I have a nice chat to an English satellite man and take some pictures of the huge dishes beaming this game around the world.

© MATTHEW ASHTON / AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

I go to the media centre and check my flight back home. Apparently lots of incoming planes are being diverted because of the snow.

Text messages come in thick and fast. I end up being the only photographer for AMA working today – the rest are sledging I think from what I can gather!

Then I get news that Chelsea v Manchester United is postponed too. At least there is no stress on the pilot to get be back to Heathrow on time now. I was planning on making the short dash from Terminal Four to Stamford Bridge, but now there is no need.

© MATTHEW ASHTON / AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY

The first game takes place – Sport Club Interncaional v the team from South Korea. I take a look at some brochures about the Brazilian outfit, they are a team with an historic past. I once spent about three weeks in Brazil and photographed nearly the entire First Division, however I can not remember doing Interacional.

I feel like I am going through the motions. I feel sleepy and not very lively.

At least my pictures are coming out very colourful and I am exposing properly this time. When I did the other games here I think my images were a little too light so I changed settings and was far happier.

I send back some token gestures before rubbing my eyes, shaking my head and really trying to make an effort for the final. The score is 4-2 with all but 2 goals down the other end.

The stadium starts to fill up and I get some pictures of Arab Inter fans for my Italian clients. Soon the teams are out and it is all systems go.

The teams change end but Mazembe do a spot of preying in the goalmouth again  which I suppose every photographer here has got by now, but for someone seeing the image for the first time, it is quite unusual.

Inter Milan dominate and soon go 0-2 up. Eto’o celebrates by holing up some plastic bags. The RAI TV people next to me have no idea either on the roots of his celebration.

Inter attack my end second half and score a third. The goal makes an OK picture but most of my time is sending in pictures of England manager Fabio Capello to the English Sunday Newspapers and also my half time scoop of him chatting to Inter President Massimo Moratti. Rumours are that if Raffa gets the boot, Fabio could step in as new coach.

Perhaps these pictures will help or indeed pay for the whole trip. Perhaps none will get published and I will have to rely on other publications who were banking on an Inter Milan v Sport Club Internacional final.

The AMA derby is off tomorrow. We are official photographers of WBA and Wolverhampton Wanderers. All that emailing and thinking last week was a waste of time!

Back to the final, at least Raffa does not have to worry about getting the sack for a couple of weeks or months as his team win with apparent ease and he can now claim to have managed the World Champions.

Then the obligatory fighting amongst photographers start just before the trophy is presented. One prat wearing a Valencia hat and an AC Milan shirt (WHY!?) is the victim of about 4 snappers shouting loudly in arabic to him. I join in after he shows no compassion and blocks my attempts at getting the Japanese referees getting their competition medals.

I run to get a chair and decide to stand at the back and not get squashed.

It proves to be a good plan as I simply snap away unblocked as Zanetti lifts the trophy with lots of gold confetti taking over the picture.

Wesley Sneijder who lasted about a minute takes the trophy and is the centre of all the attention. I take a brisk walk back to my position and carefully ‘hide’ by big lens in case someone wants to walk off with it and join the rest of the pack following the Inter players around the pitch. I don’t think I have missed anything.

My toe begins to give me some jib, probably from yesterdays football, as photographers drop off leaving only about 15 or so snapping at the World Champions.

Determined to get something different I use language skills (not) to get Cambiasso and then Zanetti on my own. Exclusive -woo hoo!

I decide to follow Zanetti as he sees the owner Moratti. Without realising it, I have Zanetti and Moratti on my own. The pack are no where to be seen.

“Grazie! Grazie!” I shout as the pair smile holding the trophy.

I head back to my position behind the goal and load in the said images to my computer and syndicate them globally.

At 0030 we decide to head back to the FIFA hotel. Then the real hard work begins.

Trawling though pages of African soccer websites trying to identify the Mazembe subs and a good hour is spent trying to ID a bloke in a suit on the Sport Club Inter bench. I not only have one game to edit, the final, I have the 3rd place play off too.

At 4am, 80% of editing is done. I need a break. So its blog time.

In an hour I’ll head off to the airport and sleep in seat 27A that I have booked – thats assuming it is taking off, but according to efficient airline website, there are no reported delays. Perhaps the motorways will be blocked tomorrow but I am sure they can clear snow off a couple of runways before I land at midday.

Inter Milan are Club Champions of the World! Does the world care? They do in one half of Milan tonight I guess.

It may have been 29c today, but all I did was what I would have done at say Blackburn except probably concentrated on goalmouth action more and not the opposition who I don’t have the opportunity to shoot much (unless that is I start doing more Afrcian Champions League games – I think I’ll stick to my beloved Borussia Dortmund)

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Today’s blog may sound dull and uninspiring but I really did nothing apart from get pictures of action, goals and celebrations which I have to do every day. I never bother about the event. Every game should be treated as the same regardless of its stature.

The only thing that made it exciting is the snow back home and the wonder of how many feet of snow my car is under at Heathrow Airport. My jumpers and coat will most definitely be packed within easy reach. If my bags do not turn up, I may as well wave goodbye to my belonging until after Christmas!

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