Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Soccer News 1/31/2007

Weekly World News

Serie A
Inter already champs for the bookies!?Last time around, Inter Milan were declared champions two months after the end of the season. This season, they have been sort of awarded the honour with four months to go.
The Italian bookmakers Snai started to pay winnings to those who bet on Inter to win the 2006/07 championship...on January 30th.
The bookies took the decision after Inter scored their 14th consecutive win at Sampdoria and kept their 11 point advantage over Roma.
It is the first time a bookie has "declared" an Italian team champions just into the second part of the season. Inter's chairman Massimo Moratti has warned his players and coaches that the bookies' decision is totally irrelevant as to who will really win the championship.
"Let Snai believe we are the champions, while we must not forget that the competition is far from over."

Diego Simeone
"I could never do as Ronaldo"Former Inter's player, today a successful coach, the Argentinian Diego Simeone condemned his ex-teammate Ronaldo for his transfer to Milan.
"People are free to take the decisions as they see fit, but I could not have worn Milan's shirt," says Simeone, who won the UEFA's Cup and a second place in the League alongside Ronaldo in 1998.
Current Estudiantes' coach remembers another instance of Ronaldo's "treason".
"He already did something similar when he signed for Real Madrid after playing for Barcelona. I could never have been Milan's, Real's or Roma's player, since I played for Inter, Atlético and Lazio. That's the way I think," claims the feisty Argentinian, who puts loyalty ahead of everything else.

The feisty Argentinian puts loyalty ahead of everything else.



"If supported"
Mourinho to stay until 2010Although he reportedly does not enjoy Roman Abramovich's full confidence anymore, José Mourinho will not be easy to displace from Chelsea's bench except with a hefty severance payment that may come his way in case of dismissal.
"If the club supports me, I don't see any reason not to be here," Mourinho told reporters at a launch of Chelsea's corporate responsibility report at the House of Commons in Westminster.“Support is not about money, support is not about new players, you can feel support and have no players,” the former Porto manager explained.
Mourinho indeed enjoys support, at least from the bulk of the team, including the skipper John Terry and the keeper Petr Čech, recently recovered from a serious head injury.
"We'll help Mourinho to stay by winning trophies. Since he is such a classy coach, his staying on would be the best thing for the team and the club."

"No murderer"
Ricard refuses to go to jailThe Colombian player Hamilton Ricard is no fool. When he learned he had been sentenced in his homeland to three years in jail for causing a fatal traffic accident, he informed the authorities he would not return to Colombia but would stay in Uruguay, where he plays for Danubio.
"I am not a murderer. On that rainy day my van overturned and one person unfortunately got killed", said the former Middlesbrough player, announcing his lawyers would appeal the conviction.

Champion for gender equality
Drogba, UN's ambassador

Chelsea's forward Didier Drogba has been appointed a new UN ambassador of good will. The Ivorian will participate in campaigns to end poverty, reduce infant mortality and combat gender prejudices.
"It is necessary to promote equality of sexes and change men's attitude towards women," announced Drogba ambitiously, the third soccer player to carry UN credentials, alongside Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane.


Victim of a prank
A false call-up upsets Kezman
The former Chelsea striker, Mateja Kezman, has not been called up to the Serbian national team since the Spaniard Javier Clemente took over last summer. He was thus doubtlessly delighted when a Serb daily printed the news that Kezman had been called up for the national team practice to start in Belgrade on February 5th.
It took the 27-year-old one day to realize that no call-up had been sent to him by Clemente or the Serb FA, but that a prankster must have spread the "good news" through his current club, Fenerbahce. The information apparently spread through the club to the Turkish and Serb press, until the FA issued a denial.
A Fenerbahce board member told the Belgrade daily Kurir that in fact no message concerning Kezman had ever reached the Turkish club from the FA or the coach. In the meantime, the Serb FA spokesman Aleksandar Boskovic refused to comment on the "misinformation that does harm to Serbian soccer and Mateja Kezman himself."


Replacing Smith no easy task
Alex McLeish to lead Scotland
The Scottish Football Association named Alex McLeish as the new Scotland coach replacing Walter Smith, who on January 10th announced he was leaving the post to take over his old club, Glasgow Rangers.
Smith left McLeish a team poised to qualify for the 2008 European Championship, a competition in which Scotland has never excelled. The 48-year-old McLeish appeared in three World Cups between 1982 and 1990 before coaching Motherwell, Hibernian and Rangers.
Under Smith, Scotland achieved the feat of beating France at home. If the team manage to emulate that exploit in the McLeish era, the Tartan Army will have cause to celebrate a first qualification for a European Championship final phase.

In spite of transplant failure
Klasnic does not give up hope
Ivan Klasnic of Werder Bremen is bracing himself for an indefinite period of hemodialysis after his body rejected his mother's kidney he had implanted last Thursday.
The Croat, suffering from renal insufficiency, had hoped to return to action in six to eight weeks in his first transplant had succeeded. Still, the kidney donated by his mother Sima failed to assume the original organ's functions.
At the moment, the 27-year old striker is recovering from the surgery while his brother Josip claims to be willing to offer his kidney for a second try, provided the analysis shows tissue compatibility.
"My brother still believes he can return to soccer," said Josip to the Croatian press.
The doctors say they do not know why Klasnic's body rejected the organ, since it is highly uncommon for the rejection to occur so soon.
In the meantime, Werder have renewed Klasnic for another season to enable him to face treatment and recovery with as much security as possible.

New UEFA Boss
A King that wants to be a revolutionary

Michel Platini was Le Roi, the King of soccer. In his prime, he was better than Maradona. Comparing their fair-play records, he was also a much greater sportsman than the Argentinian. He was, and is, far more intelligent and educated than the diminutive South-American with whom he shared the spotlight for ten years or so. He was also a more decisive player than Zinedine Zidane.
Platini is probably the best soccer player ever to have been appointed president of a major soccer organization. No-one like him won three consecutive France Football's Golden Balls (1983-85). No other midfielder topped the Italian scoring charts three times in a row. He scored nine goals in five games to almost single-handedly lead France to its first European Championship in 1984. He won considerable amounts of silverware with Saint-Etienne and Juventus and, yes, he even gave the modest Nancy, his first squad, a French Cup in 1978. Thierry Henry might topple him as the all-time top international goalscorer for France, but for now Platini is the best scorer in French history with 41 goals.
At 33 he became France's coach, taking the Tricolors to Euro'1992 with eight wins out of eight games, but after failing to go beyond the first round, he moved upstairs, serving as a co-chairman of the 1998 World Cup Organizing Committee. Later he was made a member of the UEFA Executive Committee and the chairman of FIFA's Development Committee, before announcing his bid for UEFA president.
On January 26th he defeated the incumbent Lennart Johansson by 27 votes to 23, largely thanks to the votes cast by smaller nations, with whom he had lobbied extensively in the months leading up to the elections. In the years to come, the big soccer nations are destined to become his enemies, if he is indeed to antagonize their leading clubs over such issues as team quotas in the Champions' League and the obligation to release players for international duty without exceptions and financial compensations.
Platini's revolutionary plans
* Reduce to a maximum of three the number of teams per country in the Champions' League to boost representation of lesser federations.
* Introduce two extra linesmen behind the goal-lines.
* Attempt to increase the soccer's haves' solidarity towards the have nots.
* Reduce the influence of G-14, soccer agents and civil courts interfering with soccer issues.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

FA Cup 5th Round Draw

FA Cup 5th Round Draw
Matches to be played February 17 & 18


Arsenal or Bolton v Blackburn
Bristol City or Middlesbrough v West Bromwich Albion
Chelsea v Blackpool or Norwich
Fulham v Tottenham
Man Utd v Reading
Plymouth v Derby County
Preston v Man City
Watford v Ipswich


The bookies favor in order

Chelsea
Manchester United
Arsenal

Friday, January 26, 2007

Platini Elected UEFA President

Platini Elected UEFA President.
Michel Platini, the 51-year-old former France and Juventus star, has been voted UEFA's new president. Platini succeeds Sweden's Lennart Johansson, who has been in the post for the previous 17 years.

Platini has some revolutionary new ideas on his agenda, including limiting Champions League places to three per country and introducing a salary cap.

Platini's closeness to FIFA supremo Sepp Blatter, may also increase Blatter's influence on UEFA, where once he was kept at arm's length by Johansson.

Johansson opposed Platini's proposed changes to the Champions League, which would be deeply unpopular with the top clubs in Italy, Germany, Spain and England.

Platini won the ballot by 27 votes to 23, with much of his support coming from Eastern European countries who stand to benefit from any opening up of UEFA's cash cow, the Champions League.

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Lee And Lee Enjoy Mixed Fortunes In 2007

Lee And Lee Enjoy Mixed Fortunes In 2007
2006 saw Lee Chun-soo impress at the World Cup and almost everywhere else he played while national team-mate Lee Dong-gook was left nursing a torn cruciate ligament and shattered dreams of missing out on a second World Cup.

Things change in football and January saw the Lion King, recovered from his injury, join Middlesbrough. There are few in South Korea who wouldn't wish the striker the best of luck on Teesside after the misery of last summer. He could make his debut for 'Boro on February 3 against Arsenal, followed by a fixture with Chelsea.


Lee Chun-soo was equally keen to head west but despite concrete interest from Wigan, the winger is condemned to spending a few more months in the K-League with Ulsan Hyundai Horang-i.

Like Middlesbrough the previous week, Wigan found that dealing with K-League clubs can be a frusatrating experience. Ulsan wanted to sell their star outright but Paul Jewell preferred a loan period for the 25 year-old. The talented attacker, just wanting to go, accepted such terms and his club reluctanctly follwed suit.

The problem came when negotiating what would happen at the end of the loan period. With the transfer window getting ready to shut, Wigan lost patience with the 2005 K-League champions and withdrew their offer.

It could be a blessing in disguise for Lee. Wigan have the look of a team destined for relegation and the Millenium Kid may have more options in the less frantic trading period of the summer.

Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma.
Seongnam Get Busy

Amid the storm of transfer activity in Korea over the past month, there had been an oasis of calm.

Never shy of flashing the cash, 2006 champions Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma were conspicuous in their absence from the market with most of the deals, rumors and gossip focusing elsewhere in this corner of northeast Asia.

There were a few whispers in the wind regarding the fate of Ahn Jung-hwan. The striker chose Suwon Samsung Bluewings as his first K-League club in seven years, but for a while, Seongnam looked to be the most likely destination for the 2002 World Cup hero.

The money was there to bring the "Lord of the Ring" to the Seoul satellite city, but coach Kim Hak-bom shook his head and kept his hands in the pockets of his bright yellow club jacket.

A look at the club's forward line revealed why the heavy-smoking coach allowed Ahn to ignore the Seongnam exit on the Gyeonbu expressway and continue driving south for just a few more miles.

2006 K-League top scorer Woo Sung-yong may have departed but the deadly Mota remains. Also vying for a starting place were $1 million former Romanian international Adrian Naega, Ahn Hyo-yeon and the tricky Brazilian Itamar.

Suddenly, however, the seven-time champions sprung into action like the mythical animal that appears on the club logo - Pegasus.

First to arrive was Choi Sung-kuk - $2 million was enough to persuade 2005 champions Ulsan Hyundai Horang-I to wave goodbye to their diminutive attacker.

The year 2006 was a strange season for "Little Maradona." Like the rest of Ulsan's strikers, his appearances on the score sheet were all too rare but despite his lack of goals, he was widely held to have enjoyed an impressive season, as a recall to the national team demonstrated.

Equally out of the blue was the $2.4 million that the club splashed on Kim Dong-hyun.

Still only 22, the striker has already played in four different countries, almost as many as the well-traveled Ahn Jung-hwan. His career started in Japan with Oita Trinita before he moved to the K-League and Suwon Samsung Bluewings in 2004.

First team opportunities were limited at the club and a year later, he was off to Braga in Portugal. The pattern continued in 2006 and the new year saw a new club in the shape of Russian outfit Rubin Kazan.

The big attacker made it back onto the national team for the experimental friendly against Ghana in October, in which he scored the Taeguk Warriors' only goal in a 3-1 defeat.

With other players like Han Dong-won signing on the dotted line, Seongnam look well-equipped for the new season's two-pronged campaign. Not only will the coach be looking for an eighth title, the club has some unfinished business in the Asian Champions League after being defeated in the finals in 2004.

Domestic matters come first, however, and there will be some fierce competition at the top.
Ulsan may have lost Choi to Seongnam but 2006 top scorer Woo Sung-young came the other way. The 33-year-old is one of a number of new arrivals at the south-eastern club.

Around $2 million was needed to bring Oh Jang-eun to Munsu Stadium.The midfielder starred in the second half of last season with Daegu FC and was rewarded with a place on the national team. He will be joined in the southeast by Hyun Young-min, who has returned to his homeland after a year in Russia with Zenit St. Petersburg.

In the southwest corner of the country, Chunnam Dragons have been shoring up its defense in preparation for a Champions League challenge. The Gwangyang club somehow persuaded Incheon United to part with defender Kim Chi-woo.

The 23-year-old made his international debut last year and will line up alongside national teammate Kim Jin-kyu, who brings his fierce shooting capabilities back to Jeolla Province from J-League club Jubilo Iwata.

It's all shaping up nicely.

Copyright: John Duerden & Soccerphile

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Pie Will Survive

I’m a lover, not a fighter. My campness is not a result of liberal idealism; I’ve simply lost so many brawls that i’ve had pacifism thrust upon me. Nowadays, the only way i’d get involved in a ruck is if the wife was being mugged. If we stood together, I reckon we could take her.

Jose Mourinho and Roman Abramovich do not share my increasingly feminine outlook. War has broken out between manager and chairman, and Chelsea’s title ambitions are the first confirmed casualty. The beleaguered Blues are still firing on all cylinders in the cups though; Nottingham Forest will be cut down at a scything 1/7.

Petr Cech is so concerned about the ongoing hostilities, he’s whipped out his helmet as a safeguard. With the inspirational keeper between the sticks and a revitalised Shevchenko leading the line, I’m quietly confident that the Blues will either win 3-0 or 4-0, a scenario which pays out at a more socially acceptable 3/1.

The normally placid Frank Lampard has reacted angrily to criticism from Joey Barton this week. I can’t help thinking that Frank should have just taken it on the chin; the second one. The Lamp is in fine fettle, he must be backed at a rotund 11/8 to find the net at any time.

If the fallout from the ‘Big Brother’ house has taught us anything, it’s that we must unite as a people. Let’s come together, right now, to back West Ham at 5/6 to see off Watford.

Wayne Rooney has admitted to knowing all the songs from ‘Oliver!’ off by heart. I’d have thought ‘Grease’ would have been more up his alley. They say an army marches on their stomach’; Rooney can lead his United troop to a victory over Portsmouth at 3/10.

Southampton look overpriced to cause a shock at Manchester City. The Saints are flying high in the Championship, Bradley Wright-Phillips is in goal scoring form and Pele is sure to make it hard for Psycho’s men. Man City are always the epitome of unpredictability, the Saints can march in at 4/1.

I don’t believe in déjà vu, although i’ve got a niggling feeling that I may have mentioned that once before. Birmingham face Reading in the 4th Round for the second year running; the Blues came out on top last time, at odds of 6/4, a repeat is more than a possibility.

Violence is never the answer. Unless the question is, ‘What’s the best way to ensure my dinner’s on the table on time’. Reading coach Wally Downes actually laid hands on Neil Warnock last week, when push comes to shove, I suggest you back Birmingham to win 1-0 at 15/2.

It’s been reported that Tottenham may be given a bye in the UEFA Cup; how can they be so sure that they’ll meet Rangers? I’m absolutely positive that Spurs will beat Southend at 1/4.

Is it wrong for me to continually speak of my admiration for Thierry Henry? Apparently, it is during lovemaking. It’s hard for me to think of the Gunners without remembering my wedding day. It brings a tear to my eye to think of the wife being led down the aisle by her father, shortly after her brothers had led me down head first. I’m welling up about the 8/15 for an Arsenal win over Bolton.

Mike Newell’s comments on female officials were nothing short of abhorrent in today’s more enlightened society. There is a definite place for the fairer sex in the beautiful game; those pies don’t heat themselves. Blackburn will see off Luton at a rather warm 5/6.

Stoke will be up for the fight at the Cottage, but like Big Brother’s Jackiey, they’re poorly armed. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that a Fulham win at 8/13 is a punt pulled directly out of the top drawer.

Many people admire Ghandi for his unswerving commitment to resolving conflict in a non-violent manner. Personally, I preferred it when Thumper tried to teach him how to ice skate. Middlesbrough are on fire, they’ll turn over Bristol City at a red-hot 11/10.

It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; if it was, the wife would be the undisputed world heavyweight champion. Birmingham, Middlesbrough, Fulham, West Ham and Arsenal form an 18/1 accer that is so dominant, any argument against it would be like foreplay; a complete waste of time and effort.


Copyright (c) Gerry McDonnell & soccerphile.com

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Butcher learns to relax

Terry Butcher.
Terry Butcher was no wallflower during his 28-year playing, managing and punditry career in Britain but he's quickly accepted needing to tone down his incendiary temper at Sydney FC in the A-League.

It's true, the legendary laid-back Aussie way of life is even getting to the former England captain, a man best remembered by finishing a 1989 World Cup qualifier swathed in bloodied bandages and putting his foot through a variety of dressing room doors the length and breadth of the country.

Butcher, it seems, has mellowed. The veteran of three World Cup campaigns and 77 national team appearances as well as one of the country's greatest football leaders of the past 20 years has been forced to, he says, after quickly discovering the Sir Alex Ferguson hairdryer school of management just didn’t wash with your modern Australian footballer.

He tried to make his pampered bunch at Sydney come around to the British mentality, naturally. But the methods he used to captain Rangers to three Scottish league titles and to a lesser degree help Motherwell's revival simply failed to have the desired effect, particularly after Butcher replaced soft-talking German perfectionist Pierre Littbarski at the start of the season.

The metamorphosis came about slowly, mind. Earlier this season, for instance, Sydney's usually affable left-back Alvin Ceccoli was suspended for swearing at Butcher after the coach had allegedly provoked him with a four-letter tirade of his own from the sidelines.

The former Ipswich centre-half, a self-acclaimed Norwich hater, also reportedly clashed with ex-Canaries midfielder turned Sydney assistant Ian Crook. The result was Crook was banished from the training ground before accepting a deal to join Littbarski at J-League second-division side Avispa Fukuoka.

But Butcher, who nowadays walks more gingerly than the commanding defender many might remember him, has admitted he's bowed to change and adapted to the Aussie way. "I have mellowed. You have to mellow out here," he told British football journalist Danny Kelly on the Times Online podcast last month. "It's a different culture.

"If you rant and rave and do that sort of thing, it doesn’t wash. Your man management skills have got to be a lot better. You've got to be closer to the players. You can't do those things.

"I tried early on, it didn’t work and I had to change. But you don’t drop your standards, your standards are still the same. But you get your message over in a different, more placid way because it is very laid back out here."

Butcher's adaptability has paid dividends too. From mid-season Sydney embarked on a 12-match sequence where they lost just twice and captured the fourth and final playoff position after earning a 1-1 draw in Brisbane. That came in spite of Butcher's anger at being docked three points by the governing body for financial irregularities relating to player payments last season - before he'd even arrived at the club.

Making matters worse, the press got whiff of Butcher's predicament when it was revealed the second year of his two-season deal was dependant on Sydney making the finals. Without the docked points, the reigning champions would have made them comfortably argued Butcher who reportedly starting seeking legal advice over his position.

But regardless it left Sydney travelling to fellow playoff hopefuls Queensland needing a draw to secure both a berth and Butcher's job despite the coach's protestations otherwise. "It was never about that. It was about getting to the finals," he snapped afterwards. "It was about getting second place. We should already be in second place because of the points taken off us but we're not.

"But I think we're there on merit considering the fact that we have accumulated enough points to be there already. 32 points after 21 games is not fantastic but it might have been enough to get second place but for the FFA.

"Despite all the hiccups and hurdles and everything else this season we're in the finals. Now we're there we aim to make an impact. Nobody wants to play Sydney home or away. They know what we can do."

Butcher's side now play state rivals the Newcastle Jets over two-legs to decide who will reach in the preliminary final and meet the loser of the other semi-final between Melbourne and Adelaide. With table-toppers Melbourne heading into the finals series in arguably the worst form of the lot, the experience of Butcher might well prove the difference.

"It's very similar to my experiences in World Cups and playing in big tournaments where you have a certain date when you can get knocked out," he said. "We reached that today but the departure date for us being knocked out has changed.

"You move forward to the next departure date. The last one is when we get to the grand final and hopefully win it."

Copyright © Marc Fox and Soccerphile.com

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Soccer News 1/23/2007

Fans finally did it. Feyenoord kicked out of the UEFA Cup

The notorious Feyenoord ultras have finally dealt a fatal blow to the club they supposedly love. UEFA has banned the Dutch club from the UEFA Cup because of violent incidents caused by Feyenoord fans in Nancy. The raging supporters even forced the referee to stop the game for several minutes.
Even though Feyenoord were to be just fined and have their stadium closed for two years, the UEFA's Appeal Committee decided to increase the sentence.
Twice the UEFA Cup winners and once European champions, Feyenoord have become one of the biggest clubs to suffer the ignominy of UEFA suspension, Real Madrid, Milan, Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split having also been punished in this way because of their fans' conduct.

Gremio green with rage. Fans attack Internacional directors at airport

A historic rivalry separates city rivals Gremio and International of Porto Alegre. Both clubs have been champions of Brazil, South America and the world, but Internacional have been more successful over the years.
When the board of directors of the current world champions Inter were coming back from Brazilia, where the members of the board and the squad had been decorated by Brazil's president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, they had the bad luck of running into some Gremio's fans.
The rivals' ultras were in fact awaiting their new goalkeeper Sajo from Argentina, but Inter's directors landed first and came under attack from Gremio's hard liners.
After receiving some punches and kicks, the appalled Inter officials said that envy had to be the cause of the aggression."Some people at Gremio cannot bear the thought of Internacional having more success", claimed Inter's chairman Fernando Carvalho.Still, good of Gremio vice-president César Pacheco for condemning the actions of the fans."This should be investigated by the police. A true Gremio fan cannot come to the airport and attack Inter's officials."

Saviola not giving up. Seven goals in 11 days

Barcelona's forward Javier Saviola spent two years on loan in Monaco and Sevilla, and as soon as he returned to Camp Nou last summer, the board attempted to set him up for another loan or a transfer. However, injuries to Eto'o and Giuly forced Frank Rijkaard to field the Argentinean, who has been using his playing time to maximum effect.
Since January 10th, Conejo (Rabbit) scored seven goals in four games, although he played just two of them from start to finish. Even after he scored his seventh in eleven days, against Nástic in the League, he was substituted in the second half. The fans clearly showed what they thought: they booed the Dutch coach only to give Saviola a standing ovation.

Date Game Output
1/10/2007 Alavés 0-2 Barcelona two goals
1/13/2007 Espanyol 3-1 Barcelona one goal
1/16/2007 Barcelona 3-2 Alavés three goals
1/21/2007 Barcelona 3-0 Nástic one goal

A violent Sudamericano U-20. Fillol hit with a bottle

The South-American U-20 Championship in Paraguay has been marred with violence, specially where favourites have been involved.
Argentina's assistant coach Ubaldo Fillol was hit by a bottle thrown from a stand at the end of the game in which Argentina beat the hosts 1-0. After the final whistle, the Argentinean bench was pelted with objects including a bottle full of water, which hit the legendary keeper on the shoulder, causing a minor cut that required three stitches.
At the same tournament, the Brazilian Fernando pushed the referee Alberto Duarte to the ground after he awarded a penalty which Chile converted to make it 2-2 in added time. The referee was subsequently escorted by the police to a safe place, away from the fuming Brazilians.

MLS still hungry for stars. Ronaldinho follows in Beckham's steps?

After Los Angeles Galaxy closed the deal with David Beckham for the upcoming US soccer season, Major League Soccer is aiming at another huge star: Ronaldinho.
Roberto Assis, Ronaldinho's brother and agent, has confirmed to Globoesporte that there have already been contacts between MLS and the top Brazilian star.
"We have been advised that the MLS wishes to sign Ronaldinho, to make him the flag bearer of soccer in the US. I would like to emphasize that there are no problems between Ronaldinho and Barcelona, but this does not mean we will not study serious offers that may come our way", says Roberto Assis.

After a "friendly" in Quito. The Swedish captain calls an Ecuadorian player "idiot" and the referee "clown"

The Swedish skipper Anders Svensson labeled the Ecuadorian player Fernando Guerrero an "idiot" for having kicked him in the groin and the Peruvian referee Manuel Garay a "clown" for not speaking English.
In the friendly which ended in a 1-1 draw in Quito, Svensson and Guerrero were sent off with five minutes to go, after a foul committed by the Swede lead to a showdown between the players.
"I approached him asking why he was rolling on the ground shouting. I had only obstructed him, nothing serious. When I bent over him, he kicked me in the groin", Svensson said of the action that earned Guerrero the "idiot" title.
That was not the end of Svensson's surprises, as Garay gave both players a red card."That decision was surreal, at first I thought it was a joke. The ref acted like a clown throughout the game, not understanding anything. It was useless to talk to him. Imagine a FIFA referee not being able to speak English", said Svensson to the Swedish paper Aftonbladet.
Svensson, never sent off in the past, trusts that the FIFA's Disciplinary Committee will not punish him with more than a one game ban.

"No" to the commissioner. FIFA and UEFA reject governmental interference with Polish soccer

FIFA and UEFA do not recognize the Polish government-named soccer commissioner due to "a breach of the autonomy of sport".
On January 19th, the Polish Government dissolved the board of directors of the Polish Football Federation (PZPN) headed by the chairman Michal Listkiewicz, naming Andrzej Rusko, chairman of the Polish League, commissioner.
The decision was taken to punish the leading FA officials for not curbing the spread of corruption in Polish soccer, in which 60 soccer officials are being criminally investigated.
Governmental intervention into the Polish FA is sanctioned by Polish legislation, but is against FIFA and UEFA regulations.
The world and the European ruling bodies have issued a communique warning that they do not recognize the commissary imposed by the Government as the decision of the Polish Minister for Sports "violates the principles of the autonomy of sport" and the commitments undertaken by the Polish Government towards both institutions.
For FIFA and UEFA, "the executive committee of the Polish Football Federation continues to be the legitimate and the recognized organism in all issues related to Polish soccer."
The quarrel between the international soccer ruling bodies and the national FA's is a very old one and concerns the right of the national governments to correct the conduct of soccer officials when they themselves refuse or are incapable of resolving the issues within their own organizations.
The biggest casualties will be, as always, the fans and the players, if Poland is expelled from the Euro 2008 qualifiers, as may well be the case if the original soccer officials in Poland are not reinstated.

Girls also pack a punch. Fierce Rocío knocks down a ref

Rocío Guerrero Jiménez of Atlético Jiennense from the Spanish women's Division One has been suspended for six months after hitting a referee.
The aggressive player punched Juan Manuel Fernández Gonzáles in the face three times, but the ref bravely brought the game Las Mercedes-Atlético to a close before bringing charges against Jiménez.
Luckily for him, the local club tape every one of their games and a video was given to González showing the details of the incident.
Atlético's chairman Rafael Vasco was swift to condemn the player's behaviour:"Jiménez has tarnished our club's so far impeccable reputation."

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Kop Charter

Kop Charter

Today is a milestone for the world-famous city of Liverpool. 800 years ago, the city was granted its charter and the unique, historic, cosmopolitan melting-pot of Liverpool was born.

Its dialect and its people are Scouse - a stew made of many ingredients - and its symbol is the iconic Liver Bird. One team in the city of Liverpool carries its name. One team carries the city of Liverpool's symbol. One team spreads the city's name far and wide.

Ask anyone, anywhere in the world if they know of Liverpool and they'll tell you yes - that's where The Beatles are from. And Liverpool F.C. Part of LFC's folklore is its famous Spion Kop. And in reminding ourselves of the city's history and traditions on the first day of its 800th Birthday, it's worth reminding ourselves, the latest custodians of the famous Kop, of some its own principles.

1. We are only custodians. The Kop is a spirit, an attitude, the heart and soul of Liverpool F.C. No-one owns it, but together we are a legion, a force like no other.

2. There is no other. The Kop is a one-off. It's the cradle of terrace culture, humour, songs - the original 12th Man. The Kop innovates. It has never followed. As Liverpudlians, we should never follow the rest of country's trends and fancies. Whether that takes the form of lower-league grade chanting, overhead seal-clapping or the wearing of yokel-style head gear, The Kop deserves better.

3. "Liverpool F.C exists as a source of pride for its supporters. It has no other purpose." If that is the club's pledge to us, here's ours to the team. "The Kop exists as a bastion of support. We will get behind the team through thick and thin. We will, always, give them strength."

4. It's the law of nature that fans have favourites. Let's leave the negative stuff in the pubs and schools and wherever else there's a debate to be had. Once we set foot inside Anfield, we are Redmen and we have one purpose; to help the team win.

5. Let's get inside the ground earlier. This is all about playing our part in making Anfield special, and providing the backdrop and the inspiration for the team to walk tall. It's also about letting the other team know where they are. When they come out to warm up, we want our heroes' hearts pumping - and want the opposition shrivelling. Everyone loves a pre-match pint, but let's get The Kop rocking, too.

6. On 15th April 1989, many thousands of us set off to support our team in the semi final of the F.A Cup. 96 of us never came home again. We will always honour the memory of those who died at Hillsborough. In our respect for them and their families, and in our disdain for the unprincipled and unregulated hacks who scared up a shameful pack of lies out of a desperate human tragedy, we will never purchase or read The Sun newspaper, and we deplore the reading of it by any Liverpool supporter.

7. It is our custom and our privilege to welcome supporters from far and wide. We expect all Kopites of all ages, wherever they sit inside the ground, to show similar respect to the city of the team they support. It's not endearing when visitors don curly-perm wigs and tell locals to "calm down". It's not clever to laugh along with away fans who sing tiresome nursery rhymes about car crime. Support Liverpool F.C, and you support Liverpool, too.

8. We always applaud the other team's goalie. Unless he's a twat.

9. "Liverpool F.C. Supporters All Over The World." We don't tolerate racism. Everyone knows LFC, all around the globe. From Nairobi to Nagoya, we have fans, people who love us because we do things The Liverpool Way. We have style, we have honour, we have principles. We are a global force with a local pulse - truly, a club of the people.

10. Our own icon, the symbol that makes The Kop a legend all over the world, is our anthem: You'll Never Walk Alone. If there is one thing that sets us apart as fans, it's this pre-match ritual, this war cry, our hymn of triumph, and occasional pain. We're custodians of the anthem, and we have to maintain it and pass it on to the next generation, in pristine condition. We can never dilute the song, its message and its impact with half-measures and bursts of applause half way through. Let's respect the anthem and do it proud, sing it slowly and with heartfelt emotion, right to the end, scarves held high.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

FIFA World Rankings January 2007

FIFA World Rankings January 2007.
FIFA World Rankings Jan 2007
Brazil remain top, followed by Italy, Argentina and France. England are down to 6th, down one place as Germany leapfrog them into the top 5.

Big climbers are Vietnam.


1 Brazil
2 Italy
3 Argentina
4 France
5 Germany
6 England
7 Netherlands
8 Nigeria
9 Portugal
10 Czech Republic

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A Pizza The American Dream

I’m not anti-American, but I do worry about the cost of supporting Bush.

David Beckham has been criticised for succumbing to the lure of the dollar, but his decision was perfectly justified. Judging by the state of his wife, he was struggling to put food on the table in Madrid.

I’m concerned that other stars may follow Beckham’s controversial lead. FC Dallas play at ‘Pizza Hut Park’, the temptation may prove overwhelming for Wayne Rooney.

Before the Roonatic can commit himself either way, he must first concentrate on United’s trip to the Emirates. Arsenal dominated the match at Old Trafford; the 13/8 about a repeat is larger than a 16 inch pepperoni with extra cheese; or as it’s known in the Rooney household; ‘breakfast’.

If Arsenal v Man U is the main course, Liverpool v Chelsea is a pretty tasty appetiser. The only suitable label for such an extravaganza is the one I used when Peter Crouch claimed he’d score 20 goals this season; ‘the big four collide.’

The timing of this fixture could not have been better for the Reds. Everton may have paraded Sylvester Stallone in front of their supporters; but Liverpool fans will get to see two great thespians.

John Terry has been offered a deal worth £600,000 a month; that’s just peanuts to David Beckham; which coincidentally, is his wife’s favourite meal. Chelsea are a different team without their influential captain, I’m painting the town red at 15/8.

West Ham are beginning to feel the pressure. The once idle threat of relegation is now working out three times a week. The Hammers can take an invaluable point from St James’ at a fighting fit 5/2.

Nicky Butt was involved in a nasty altercation with Chimbonda last weekend. I’m not a boxing referee, but I think Pascal shaded it. A 2-2 draw is definitely in play at a colourful 16/1.

Mad Evertonian Sly Stallone is not just a mediocre actor; he’s also a pretty warm gambler. Rumour has it that he phoned the Watford manager to say, “Yo Adrian, get on the Villa at 8/13. Great advice from a true football fanatic.

Robbie Savage can count himself lucky. If I was officiating the Gilberto incident, i’d have shown the blonde nuisance a yellow for the original foul, a yellow for the kick after the whistle, a yellow for collapsing like a Hollywood stuntman, a yellow for the patronising ‘don’t send him off’ routine and a straight red for the haircut. Tough, but ultimately fair. Man City v Blackburn is a stick-on draw at a golden 9/4.

I’ll take nothing away from the average American, especially his dinner. I’m going to feast on the 5/6 about Reading blunting the Blades.

Let me just clarify, Sylvester Stallone was only in the UK to promote his new film, ‘Rocky 6 - The fight against arthritis’. The rumour that Martin Jol was considering signing him as a replacement for Paul Robinson is probably without foundation. Fulham have won their last four matches at home to Spurs, a fifth is on the cards at 15/8.

Sylvester Stallone will be tuning into Sky to watch his beloved Everton play Wigan; if he can get to grips with the remote control. The Toffeemen will have to settle for a draw at 9/4.

Love is never having to say you’re sorry, a philosophy that the wife holds dear. I’m not apologising for steaming into the 6/4 about an in form Middlesbrough seeing off Bolton at the Riverside.

Portsmouth are the weekend good things at home to a troubled Charlton. You’ll be as grateful as an American on tanks-giving if you play on Pompey at a super-sized 4/7.

This week’s accer is so fearsome; Sylvester Stallone has offered it a leading role in Rambo 4. Middlesbrough, Portsmouth, Reading and Arsenal are the selections, the payout is an explosive 17/1.


Copyright (c) Gerry McDonnell & soccerphile.com

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

J-League News January 17 2007

David Beckham's multi-million dollar transfer from Real Madrid to L.A. Galaxy
J-League transfers

Most of the headlines in world football have focused on David Beckham's multi-million dollar transfer from Real Madrid to L.A. Galaxy.

The major transfer news in Japan, however, is Yuki Abe's decision to leave JEF United for reigning J-League champions Urawa Reds.

Abe was undoubtedly the key player at JEF United and his talismanic performances inspired the club to back-to-back League Cup crowns in 2005 and 2006. His departure will leave a gaping hole in the United squad.

With Urawa midfielder Alessandro Santos signing for Salzburg in the Austrian Bundesliga, Abe could reasonably expect to slot straight into what is arguably the strongest midfield in Japan.

Another J-League player heading for Salzburg is ex-Gamba Osaka defender Tsuneyasu Miyamoto. The popular Miyamoto was made captain of Japan at the 2002 FIFA World Cup following an injury to Ryuzo Morioka. He also captained the national team at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.

Ryuzo Morioka is another player on the move. After seeing little game-time at Shimizu S-Pulse last season, he has agreed to join J2 outfit Kyoto Sanga. Fellow former national team member Toshihide Saito is also on his way out of S-Pulse, joining J2 team Shonan Bellmare on loan.

Kashima Antlers have signed a trio of Brazilian players - as well as a new manager in Oswaldo de Oliveira. Former Shimizu S-Pulse striker Marquinhos makes Kashima his fifth different club in Japan, while Fabao and Danilo join from clubs in Brazil.

As expected, former Japan international Tatsuhiko Kubo has left Yokohama F. Marinos to join recently promoted cross-city rivals Yokohama FC. Kubo will replace Shoji Jo up front for Yokohama FC, after Jo - who won 36 caps for Japan, recently announced his retirement.

Yoshito Okubo has left relegated Cerezo Osaka to join recently promoted outfit Vissel Kobe. The former Real Mallorca striker claimed that the move was in the interests of resurrecting his national-team career.

In other transfer news, Gamba Osaka will be hoping that Bare can reproduce his prolific form this season, after signing him from J1 rivals Ventforet Kofu.

Oita Trinita have signed Serginho - once of FC Porto, as well as former FC Tokyo midfielder Masashi Miyazawa.

Masaki Fukai has left Kashima Antlers in the direction of Albirex Niigata on a one year loan deal, after finding his first team options limited at the four-time J-League champions.

Shimizu S-Pulse have brought in former Gamba Osaka midfielder Fernandinho on loan, as well as former FC Tokyo striker Mitsuhiro Toda, after FC Tokyo announced that they had signed Costa Rican World Cup star Paulo Wanchope.

The biggest transfer news nevertheless remains Yuki Abe's decision to move to Urawa. Many fans in Japan are hoping that Urawa do not turn the J-League into a one-horse race. With the calibre of the squad they are building, however, teams like Kawasaki Frontale and Gamba Osaka will have their work cut out for them, if they are to match the high-flying Saitama club in the coming season.

Copyright © Michael Tuckerman & Soccerphile.com

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Soccer News 1/17/2007


Soccer news.
1/17/07

Beckham, The Best Hope Yet For Soccer In The USA

A string of extraordinary players have attempted to make soccer big in the USA. Among them the King (Pele), the Kaiser (Beckenbauer) and the Prophet (Johan Cruyff), but it is David Beckham that may turn out the be the most telling signing a US team has ever made and crucial for the development of soccer in the USA. Many international stars have attempted to help the game take root in the USA but its popularity has always remained largely limited to the Hispanic or Italian communities.
Beckham is a different deal. He is not only the greatest soccer-pop star in history, but he is also an Anglosaxon. Here's a wild guess: WASPs are going to go crazy for the former England captain and soccer will finally become a mainstream sport in the country of baseball and American football.

Previous Big Moves to the USA

Player Team
George Best (N. Ireland) Los Angeles Aztecs Pele (Brazil) NY Cosmos Franz Beckenbauer (Germany) NY Cosmos Giorgio Chinaglia (Italy) NY Cosmos Johan Neeskens (Holland) NY Cosmos Johan Cruyff (Holland) Washington Diplomats Gerd Müller (Germany) Fort Lauderdale Strikers Carlos Valderrama (Colombia) Tampa Bay MutinyMo Johnston (Scotland) Kansas City Wizards Roberto Donadoni (Italy) NY Metrostars Lotthar Matthäus (Germany) NY Metrostars Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria) Chicago Fire

Sebastian Deisler Calls It A Day

The German international Sebastian Deisler has announced the end of his career at 27, dejected because of the multiple injuries that have prevented him from meeting the expectations either at Bayern or in the national team. Deisler has undergone five knee surgeries and has also been hospitalized twice for severe bouts of depression."It hasn't been a sudden decision but something that has matured over time", said Deisler at a press conference in Munich. Deisler has recovered well from his last injury and returned to the pitch last autumn, but claims he has "lost faith in his knee"."I do not play soccer with joy any more, and I cannot do things half-heartedly. That would not help anybody."Bayern's general manager, Uli Höness, deplored Deisler's decision, calling it "inexplicable". In a nice gesture, the club has said it would freeze the player's contract so that Deisler could return when or if he felt ready.

Terry's Contract Boosted To Keep The Squad Quiet

Marcello Lippi decided to take a year off after winning the World Cup in July, but will announce his future plans in April. Jose Mourinho's probable departure at the end of the season has opened the door to the speculations that Lippi may be the next Chelsea coach. Other candidates reportedly are Juande Ramos of Sevilla and Didier Deschamps of Juventus.
In the meantime, Chelsea's captain John Terry has had his annual salary raised to 14 million euros until 2012, probably to persuade him to quell any unrest that may flare up because of Mourinho's farewell. It is thought that Didier Drogba, Claude Makelele, Michael Essien and Frank Lampard may consider leaving alongside Mourinho, so Terry's influence over his mates may prove essential in keeping the squad together.

Mauricio Macri Wants To Lead Argentina

Boca Juniors' chairman Mauricio Macri leads the most successful South-American team, but his ambitions exceed the soccer field by far."I plan to run for President of Argentina. I am working very hard to reach that goal", said the soccer mogul, who is also a member of the Propuesta Republicana (Republican Proposal) political party.
However, Macri may be forced to fight for the presidency without a former significant ally and friend. Diego Armando Maradona has taken objection at the fact that Macri presented Boca shirts to George W. Bush's daughters Barbara and Jenna during their visit last month to Bombonera Stadium in Buenos Aires. A staunch left wing supporter, Maradona deeply despises Bush and has said he had distanced himself from his former boss at Boca.

The Worst Of The Worst Who are Serie A Antiheroes?

Currently the most popular column in the Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport is "Ci torni in mente" (May we remember him), dedicated to the worst foreign imports to have played in the Italian Serie A over the past 25 years.
Featuring prominently among the couple of dozen selected is the former Rangers' hero Mark Hateley, for whom goals did not come so easy at AC Milan in the mid-eighties. Anfield's eighties' idol Ian Rush enjoys a similar status with Juventus fans thanks to his less-than-famous 1987/88 season at Stadio Communale.Another mega-celebrity included is 1991 Golden Boot winner Darko Pancev, who had scored goals aplenty for Yugoslavia, Red Star and Vardar Skopje, but not at Inter Milan.
Let's have a look at the selected antiheroes from Italian clubs:
Inter: Darko Pancev (Macedonia), Vampeta (Brazil) Milan: Mark Hateley (Scotland), Winston Bogarde (Holland), Bruno N'Gotty (France) Juventus: Alexandar Zavarov (Ukraine), Ian Rush (Wales), Zoran Mirkoviæ (Serbia) Lazio: Pedro Troglio and Gustavo Dezotti (Argentina), Amarildo Sousa (Brazil) Roma: Renato Gaucho (Brazil), Omari Tetradze (Georgia) Genoa: Kazuyoshi Miura (Japan) Como: Claudio Borghi (Argentina)

Madjer - "It Was Shameless Robbery"

Hans-Peter Briegel's confession to the Emirates newspaper Al Ittihad that the game between West Germany and Austria (1-0) at the 1982 World Cup had been arranged so that both teams could progress at Algeria's expense made Rabah Madjer green with rage yet again. "Briegel said what we have known all along", the former Algeria and Porto great told Spanish daily AS. "What's going to happen now? Nothing, because Algeria has no weight in world soccer. We were robbed then and we will never have another chance at reaching the second round of a World Cup", said the author of the famous back-heeled goal against Bayern in the 1987 European Cup finals.
On that day in Gijón, for both West Germany and Austria to go through, the Germans had to win by one or two goals. Any other score would have eliminated one of them. Germany went 1-0 ahead in the 10th minute, after which there was very little play on both sides. Madjer blames the Austrians more, because of supposedly having surrendered in advance. "It is scandalous how Schachner, Krankl, Pezzey and others played, but it seems to me that they had orders from their FA. Afterwards I met Krankl on several occasions and he appologized for having played badly, but he never admitted to having thrown the game."
One of the famous Austrians from that period, Walter Schachner, partially confirmed Briegel's words."I don't know whether there was an agreement, but in the second half the coaching tandem Latzke and Schmid was angry at me because I worked hard to score. (...) During the game, whenever I would come accross Briegel, he would always aks me, 'why are you running so much, take it easy'. Later, when I saw the game on video, it looked as though my mates failed to feed me the ball on some occasions when I was in a good position", Schachner told Diario AS.
On the other hand, German internationals Uli Stielike and Paul Breitner commented that Briegel must have had too much to drink if he had really said that Germany's win had been arranged.

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Lion King To 'Boro?


The news that English Premier League team Middlesbrough look set to buy South Korean striker Lee Dong-gook will be welcomed by the player. It may not be such good tidings for the K-League which will lose one of its biggest stars but even the competition’s greatest supporters would not begrudge the Lion King his chance to roar on one of the world’s biggest and brightest stages.


Lee has wanted to move to Europe for some time but hoped that it would come after impressive performances at the World Cup last June. However, he didn’t make it to Germany. Well, he did, but spent much of the summer at a Frankfurt sports clinic receiving treatment on a torn cruciate ligament.


It was a cool early April evening when the 27 year-old fired home a spectacular volley for his club Pohang Steelers against Incheon United. An hour later, Lee ran for the ball but never made it, collapsing to the ground instead. The World Cup was two months away but even if it had been six, Lee wouldn’t have made that either.


For any player to miss a World Cup is heartbreaking but Lee felt it more than most after being unexpectedly left out of the 2002 World Cup squad by Guus Hiddink two years after finishing as the top scorer of the 2000 Asian Cup. After the coach departed, Lee returned to the team and under new Dutchman Jo Bonfrere, he finished as third-highest scorer in the 2004 continental competition. He wanted nothing more than the chance to show that he could perform just as well on the global stage.


Three goals – two of which were fearsome volleys - helped the team qualify for the 2006 version. As the Taeguk Warriors danced on the pitch in Kuwait in June 2005, Lee was more reserved than most.


“I know what it is like to miss out on the World Cup,” he said. “Anything can happen between now and next summer.”


The worst happened. The fact that despite missing more than half of the K-League season he still finished as the fifth top scorer wasn’t much of a consolation though a move to England will be.


It will not be his first time in Europe; he played seven games for Werder Bremen in 2001. He failed to settle in Germany however and was soon returning to Pohang.


A more mature Lee could soon be pulling on the red shirt of Middlesbrough. It remains to be seen if the north-east club will suit him. An unfashionable outfit, ‘Boro look set for mid-table mediocrity in the current season but that won’t bother the fans who were concerned at the club’s flirtation with the relegation zone.


Such a situation could help Lee. Being thrown into the middle of a relegation battle is no fun for anybody – fans are even more tense than the coaching staff and players. An environment that is a little more relaxed could see the spiky-haired marksman given more time and opportunities.

Middlesbrough may not be as glamorous as Manchester United or Arsenal but the fans care deeply about the club and will support the Korean in his efforts as long as he gives his all.

That isn’t a given as Lee has been accused of laziness in some quarters. It’s harsh; no player is picked 64 times, or scores 22 goals, for such a hard-working national team if he is idle. Like most strikers, Lee does have his anonymous periods but he comes alive in and around the penalty area where he is capable of producing goals from nothing. If he learns to score the simple, instinctive tap-ins to add to his armory of spectacular missiles, then coach Gareth Southgate will be more than happy.


It’s hard to say if Lee and his Hawaii-born wife will settle in England; every signing is a gamble, those from overseas more so. Middlesbrough has signed its fair share of foreign stars, some stayed and scored, others were quick to leave sometimes muttering darkly about the weather.


Few places are colder than Middlesbrough in winter time as the North Sea wind cuts across the industrial city, but Korea is one of them and few players will be as desperate to succeed as Lee Dong-gook.


Copyright: John Duerden & Soccerphile

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Beckham to LA Galaxy

Beckham to LA Galaxy.
Ex-England captain David Beckham will leave Real Madrid for the MLS when he joins LA Galaxy in August this year.

The deal

The 31 year-old player will earn £128m (US$250m) for a five-year contract. Equivalent to £50 a minute and make Beckham the highest-paid sports star in the US.

The contract provides for Beckham to share a part of profits made by his new team LA Galaxy possibly worth US$10 per year.

Beckham's annual salary with the Galaxy will be US$10m.

David Beckham's four main sponsors - Gillette, Motorola, Pepsi and Volkswagen bring in approximately US$25m a year.

David Beckham shirt sales total US$10m each year.

His share of the club profits: US$10m

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Reclaim The Kop

Reclaim the Kop
It was a dark and quiet Sunday night in the heart of Anfield. Twenty-or-so lads were gathered in The Albert Pub, which sits adjacent to the famous Spion Kop stand, to discuss some worrying trends amongst the club's current fanbase.

The Spion Kop at Anfield used to chant "you got your education from The Kop". A sign of our elitist supremacy over the fans of other clubs. Sadly this is no longer the case.

From a position of such unique grandeur, and the pinnacle of terrace culture The Kop is now a meagre image of it's former self.

Saddened by the demise and seeming plight of our support a fans group was formed in October 2006. Under the umbrella of Reclaim The Kop (RTK) a group of ardent Liverpool fans aim to promote the tradition values of The Kop, reignite the atmosphere and ensure the "new" Anfield is not a soulless bowl.

Saturday 6th January was the first official RTK flag day – The game was live on the BBC and served as the perfect opportunity to raise awareness of the fight for justice, as well and letting the world know we're still the greatest fans about.

It was time to make ourselves seen and time to make ourselves heard. A flyer campaign was in operation on the day of the game, highlighting the plans for the 6 MINUTES FOR THE 96. A banner was held aloft at the front of the Kop for the first 6 minutes of the game, with non-stop songs of Justice for the 96 until the banner was dropped.

It was the perfect start to maintaining an eye opening atmosphere for the rest of the game. RTK also arranged a crowd mosaic in The Kop. The BBC showed the game live and simply could not overlook the power of the protest.

The Mosaic was a reaction to former Sun editor Kelvin Mackenzie, who was responsible for the despicable lies published in the newspaper in question following the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster, when 96 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death in the FA Cup Semi-Final.

The same individual continues to put forward this insensitive and wholly inaccurate argument even to this day. Hillsborouth is an unspeakable tragedy which we, as Liverpudlians, will never forget. The memory of loved ones who never came home lives on in the eternal flame that now burns alongside the iconic Liverbird as the enduring symbol of Liverpool Football Club.

The headline The Sun paper chose to print were the same words as those contained in the mosaic. I was sat on seat one on the far Kemlin Road side of the stand, and saw nothing of the opening minutes of the match, but the protest, and the commencement of the RTK campaign was the focus of the day.

It even overshadowed the match for many, including the Liverpool team, who were well beaten by a clinical Arsenal team.

The Gunner's captain said in a BBC interview after the game that he has "So much respect for the Liverpool ground and for their supporters", a comment made in reference to the RTK protest. What started with a low-key meeting of a handful of Kopites could be set to change the face of the social fabric of our supporters.

It's our Kop, let's reclaim it.

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Soccer News 1/11/2007

Disabled soccer player trains for the Olympic tournament in rowing

The former Uruguayan international Dario Silva, who had his right leg amputated under the knee because of injuries sustained in a traffic accident desires to return to the world of sports. Not to soccer, obviously. He plans to make the Uruguayan rowing team for the Beijing Olympics next year.
"I have a coach who is preparing me for the return to sports. My future is rowing. I want to be a professional rower and take part in the Olympics", said the 33-year old forward whose soccer career was cruelly truncated on a street in Montevideo.


Milan wins Luigi Berlusconi

Milan beat Juventus 3-2 at home to collect the 16th Luigi Berlusconi Trophy. The Trofeo Berlusconi is usually staged in August, but last year's edition was postponed because of the referee-rigging scandal in which both teams were involved. The match gave the opportunity to the Italian fans to relish a "classic" that otherwise would not have been seen this season due to the fact that Juventus was relegated to the Serie B.
Milan's goals came from Pippo Inzaghi, Clarence Seedorf and Willy Aubemeyang, Nedved and Del Piero replying for the visitors.


Arsenal fatal for Liverpool twice

Arsenal finished off Liverpool's domestic cup chances in a space of a few days. Wenger's squad first threw the Reds out of the FA Cup by winning 3-1 at Anfield with two goals by Tomas Rosicky and one by Thierry Henry. A couple of days later, at the same stage, the Gunners hit Liverpool with twice as many goals in the League Cup. The hero of the resounding win was Julio Baptista, The Beast, scoring four goals. Could this be a repeat of the 1992/93 season, which saw Arsenal win both domestic cups?


A footballer for a pipeline

What's the price of a soccer player in Romania? There have been reports on payment in kind for transfers, but the new proposal of Minerul's boss Cornel Rasmerita beats them all.
"I'll sell my goalkeeper Cristian Belgradeanu to Jiul if their owner finances the construction of the pipeline to my town of Lupeni", said Rasmerita, who is incidentally Lupeni's mayor.

Jiul's boss, on the other hand, appears to be involved in civil engineering and gas industries, so the match between the two club owners seems to be made in heaven. The pipeline would cost an approximate 150,000 USD, in funds or in players.


Spanish joke: "Zidane true FIFA's player of the year"

What most other people do on April 1st, most Spaniards (not those in Catalunya, for instance) do on December 28th: play practical jokes. On that day, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Spanish media have fun with the readers by printing a story that sounds true with a difference that it is not. Last time around, Madrid's Marca daily "revealed" to the world that FIFA had made a mistake in the counting of the votes for the FIFA Player of the Year contest and that the real winner was not Fabio Cannavaro, but Zinedine Zidane. Marca even included a few words from Luiz Felipe Scolari whose votes had supposedly been miscounted. "I gave maximum votes to Zidane, not to Henry", allegedly said Scolari, who was afterwards furious with the paper's putting the words in his mouth.
Many papers reported the news from Spain without checking. Even Cannavaro's agent came forward asking for the trophy to be shared between his client and Zidane, rather than be taken away from the Italian. And every year Marca or other Spanish papers will get away with it since nobody will ever learn that December 28th is the Fools' day in most of Spain.


Sevilla rewarded as the team of the year

The International Federation for Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) has presented Sevilla president José María del Nido with the annual award for the best team in 2006, and the trophy was handed to the Spaniard by the legendary Czechoslovak Josef Masopust, Golden Ball winner in 1962.
"It's a great honour to come on top of a table ahead of teams like Barcelona, Chelsea or Roma", said Del Nido, whose team last year won the UEFA Cup and the European Supercup.
Most people would like to know what exactly are the criteria that made Sevilla the winners of IFFHS's prize ahead of the Spanish and European champions Barcelona, or the South-American and world champions Internacional of Porto Alegre.

A consolation for Barcelona is IFFHS's annual award for the best coach to Barcelona's Frank Rijkaard, although a reversal of awards would have been more logical: Sevilla's Juande Ramos should have been declared the coach of the year, for having lead an inferior squad to unprecedented heights, and Barcelona the best team for having won the most prized club trophy, while playing the most attractive soccer.


Miroslav Djukic new Partizan coach

The hero of Barcelona's 1993/94 championship winning season, the Serb Miroslav Djukic, has been named Partizan Belgrade's coach replacing Miodrag Jesic. Sub-21 national team coach, Djukic steps in for Jesic in a hopeless situation for the Gravediggers since their 14 point deficit behind Red Star seems unassailable in the spring part of the Serbian season.

Djukic incidentally never played for Barcelona, but was the man who missed a last-minute, last –matchday penalty for Deportivo against Valencia, that would have clinched the title for the La Coruña team. Since Bebeto refused to take the penalty, Djukic took over the duty and had his penalty saved by González. The Serb had a respectable career for both Deportivo and Valencia themselves, but will always be remembered for that unlucky strike that allowed Barcelona to win yet another title..


Lyon first French team to float on the Stock Exchange

Olympique de Lyon will become the first team to float on the Stock Exchange as they presented their project to the Financial Market Authority (AMF) on January 10th. The five-time champions have taken advantage of the new law authorizing the French clubs to be listed on the Stock Exchange, passed on December 30th.

Lyon already tried to float in 2003, but without success, since French legislation did not allow the clubs to do so. In 2005 the European Commission started proceedings against France to force it to amend its position.

Lyon's chairman, Jean-Michel Aulas, expects to have his club listed by mid-February and earn some 100 million euros from the operation, the funds to be earmarked for the construction of a new 60,000 capacity stadium by 2010.


Schweinsteiger: "To score a goal is better than sex"

Bayern's international midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger has been voted the most attractive German man in 2006 by the teenage readers of Bravo Girl. Still, he says the sex-symbol title means little to him.

"Naturally, both sex and scoring goals produce a great feeling, but I prefer scoring goals. Soccer is my life and I'd do anything for it. On the other hand, I wouldn't do anything for sex." says Schweini, to the delight of Bayern's and Germany's fans. They also prefer their players to score on the pitch.



Who's to leave Real Madrid?

Coach Fabio Capello and soccer director Predrag Mijatovic are supposed to have compiled a list of players that are no longer wanted in Real Madrid, according to the Marca daily newspaper. Some are to go by the end of the transfer window on January 31, others will stay just until the end of the season, while still other have been given a stern warning of their precarious position.

Adiós now

Ronaldo: He's fat, leads the Brazilian "clan" and does not please Capello.
Míchel Salgado: He's slow and a bad influence in the dressing room. Will be replaced by Cicinho.
Antonio Cassano: An ideal scapegoat. The past board brought him, this one will get rid of him.

Adiós in June

Iván Helguera: Slower than ever. Used in defensive midfield or central defence for lack of better solutions.
Roberto Carlos: At the end of the line. Bad influence on Robinho and Marcelo showing them the charms of Madrid nightlife.
David Beckham: Top-model will pose elsewhere.
Emerson: Capello admitted his error in signing him.
José Reyes: Has a few more months to show why he was signed from Arsenal.

Yellow cards

Fabio Cannavaro: A pale shadow of the World Cup hero.
Robinho: Too much of a partygoer.
Raúl: The right method and the right timing are being sought to bid him goodbye.

Soccer Book Reviews

Soccer Goods

Baan heads the technical revolution

In Australia, with new football still in its infancy, all new appointments demand a figurehead, a name that screams the governing body's statement of intent. The FFA made such a declaration when they recruited former Rugby Union honcho John O'Neill to steer the ship though the early days. And a similar point was made when Guus Hiddink accepted an offer to coach the Socceroos to the World Cup.

So when the latest - and possibility most crucial - Australian footballing position was created last year, a character with similar standing was required. Names like Gerard Houllier and Aime Jacquet were banded around for the newly-formed role of technical director before the FFA, once again, thought orange and quickly snapped up Dutchman Rob Baan for the post.

Some Australian journos might offer otherwise but nobody - not even the most argumentative of pundits - had really either heard of Baan or anticipated his appointment. When one southern scribe broke the news in December, his research was immaculate and it painted the picture of a coach-turned-technical director of the highest order: managerial stints at all levels of the Dutch national team, domestic coaching roles and advisory positions with the Dutch FA.

Baan, understandably, has remained rather illusive since that announcement. He's given few interviews and you have to wonder whether he might be able to mosey down the corridors of the FFA's Sydney headquarters unnoticed. It seems he would rather let his work do the talking, starting with his temporary assignment of guiding the under-23s through the opening Olympic qualifying group phase while Graham Arnold concentrates on the Asian Cup build-up with the seniors.

We will surely know more about Baan's style and approach - what we're really all clamouring for - following his first training camp with the under-23s next week in Canberra. But if Baan's preferred system for Australia's national teams hasn't yet been made public, something is already certain. He's got one hell of a job on his hands.

The state of youth football in Australia is gloomy. A variety of factors have had the finger pointed their way but recent results speak for themselves. Last year both the under-17s and the under-20s failed to qualify for their respective World Cups in what were their maiden attempts since switching allegiances to the AFC. Few, meanwhile, hold much hope of their under-23 counterparts fairing any brighter in the upcoming Olympic campaign for a spot at Beijing 2008.

It is this group to which the attention will switch over coming months. The Olyroos, as they are cheerfully known locally, must first negotiate a preliminary home and away tie with Chinese Taipei next month before joining a group including regional heavyweights Iran and Saudi Arabia as well as either Jordan or Kyrgyzstan. And that's just in the first round.

Baan's first-ever 24-man squad was selected with the help of Arnold and features no overseas players as is usual for this type of gathering. That is not the concern. The concern is that only one quarter of the group have amassed 10 or more domestic starts this season including Sydney's Mark Milligan who was part of Hiddink's World Cup squad for Germany.

One quarter. That means 18 of the 24 players on duty are not considered good enough for regular places in any of the eight A-League sides. This is a dangerous predicament for the FFA with the under-23 age group suffering badly on two major counts. Firstly, the lack of a youth or reserve league, meaning some of these players are literally relying on a bimonthly national team gathering for any semblance of match action. Secondly, this group were the ones who missed out most when the former national league disbanded and the A-League took 15 months to start up a couple of years back.

Things might change next year with the likelihood proposals on increasing domestic squad limits to 23 players and limiting overseas quotas will be ratified. But the major worry is realistically perhaps just two or three current Olyroos are at a standard where they're ready to step forward for senior duty after the blizzard of anticipated retirements after July's Asian Cup. At present, the future's not that bright. But, some might say, at least it's orange.

Copyright © Marc Fox and Soccerphile.com

Australian Soccer News

Playing with one’s health

I’m a little bit down at the minute. I’ve been carrying around a few pound of overweight and i’m struggling to find any real direction. I need to talk to a professional; I need to ‘Talk to Frank’.

Mr Lampard is in the perfect position to help me through this crisis; a win for the champions over a woeful Wigan will lift my spirits at a mental 2/9.

The wife is also in therapy; she’s been seeing a wily shrink for a number of years. The good doctor fancies Bolton to beat Man City at 4/5. If you’re after a second opinion, I concur.

My love-life has improved dramatically since the wife began her treatment; I make the most of the two hours that she’s out of the house. I’m getting stuck into the 3/1 about Watford holding Liverpool to a draw.

Henrik Larsson has been labelled the new Eric Cantona; i look forward to him putting on seven stone and scissor-kicking Cockneys. Of course that’s just a joke, putting on weight can lead to health problems. Henrik proved the difference between Man U and Villa a week ago, another United win appeals at a seagull-trawling 2/7.

I was genuinely surprised to read that Cristiano Ronaldo has been enjoying liaisons with a Hollyoaks star; he doesn’t look the type to get involved with an actress. The Portuguese love machine can find the net at 13/8.

I’m a real technophobe; I just hate the repetitive beats. My computer says that Sheffield United represent value at 17/10 to see off Pompey at Bramall Lane.

I’ve been suffering from panic attacks lately; possibly brought on by the wife almost finding my ‘special’ DVD’s. Luckily, I’ve now hidden them in a place where she’ll never find them; the kitchen. I’m tucking into the 10/11 about Arsenal beating Blackburn.

It’s no coincidence that Arsenal’s results have improved since Arsene Wenger whipped out his ‘Beast’. Julio Baptista practically beat the Scousers on his own in midweek; the new improved Gunners can win by two clear goals at 5/2.

It was refreshing to see Phil Neville apologise for Everton’s abysmal performance against Blackburn; I hope Neville Neville will now hold his hands up to his two mistakes.

Everton tried to claim that their surrender was due to the poor shape of the ball, they’re hoping for a triangular one against Reading. The Royals can leave Goodison with a point at a shapely 9/4.

The wife didn’t enjoy our honeymoon; well she did for 64 seconds. The honeymoon period is well and truly over for Alan Curbishley, West Ham’s collapse at Reading was the greatest capitulation since the last war that the French were momentarily involved in.

Curbs has labelled his under-achieving team ‘the Bentley brigade’. I think they’re a racing certainty to see off Fulham at 6/5; unless they choke.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, I’m coming round there tooled up. Opposing Newcastle’s decimated squad has hit me where it hurts recently; Spurs will right this heinous wrong at 4/5.

The wife has been diagnosed as a schizophrenic, and I don’t care for either of them. I do like the 7/4 about Middlesbrough seeing off Charlton.

This week’s accer is so persuasive, Frank Lampard has finally agreed to a meet-up. Bolton, Man Utd, West Ham, Arsenal and Tottenham are the selections, the payout is a multiple-chinned 16/1.


Copyright (c) Gerry McDonnell & soccerphile.com

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Premier League Bets

Premier League Bets.
After two defeats at Anfield in a week against Arsenal, including the 6-3 Carling Cup exit on Tuesday night, Liverpool will be grateful for the trip to Watford so they can try and get back into the winning habit.


With seven goals in his last 10 matches, Bolton striker Nicolas Anelka has his sights firmly set on punishing his former employers this season. He scored twice against Manchester City in December and will look for more of the same against a side which has lost seven out of 11 on the road this season.


Charlton already looked dead and buried despite the arrival of a new manager and four months of the season to play. They have good players on the books but they don't appear able to perform, as two Cup exits against lower league opposition this season testifies. The odds on Middlesbrough to win this one are tempting.


Chelsea were fortunate to beat Wigan in December after the Latics came from two behind only to lose in the last minute. After two draws at Stamford Bridge in their last two league games, Jose Mourinho is under pressure and I expect the Blues to win convincingly this weekend.

Manchester United needed a last minute howler from Gabor Kiraly to knock Aston Villa out of the FA Cup last weekend but should win again back in league duty. United have won the last three Premiership encounters against Martin O'Neill's side at Old Trafford.

Sheffield United are five points clear of the relegation zone and an FA Cup exit at the hands of Swansea City will allow them to concentrate on survival. A point against visiting Portsmouth would do nicely.

West Ham United will unleash former Fulham captain Luis Boa Morte against his former employers this weekend as they strive to make up the four points they currently lie from safety. Fulham have improved on their travels, but still struggle to win away from the haven of Craven Cottage.

Blackburn could be good for a draw at Ewood Park against Arsenal after coming back strongly following a 6-2 thrashing at the Emirates Stadium. Arsene Wenger's side have lost five out of 11 on the road which indicates they are susceptible against teams that are in form.

On Sunday, Everton's top half of the table clash against Reading could end all square while Tottenham's home form (eight wins in 11 league matches) should see them beat Newcastle who are still looking over their shoulders at the bottom three.

Verdict:


Liverpool vs Watford - Liverpool
Bolton vs Manchester City - Bolton
Charlton vs Middlesbrough - Middlesbrough
Chelsea vs Wigan - Chelsea
Manchester United vs Aston Villa - Manchester United
Sheffield United vs Portsmouth - Draw
West Ham vs Fulham - West Ham
Blackburn vs Arsenal - Blackburn
Reading vs Everton - Draw
Tottenham Hotspur vs Newcastle - Tottenham Hotspur

David Walker is the resident tipster on a popular free bets website. For further betting advice on this weekend's fixtures please visit Walker's Word.

Bet356

English Premiership Betting

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Football 4 Peace

Football 4 Peace in Israel & Palestine

football and guns in the Middle East

The 'Football for Peace' programme is a co-existence project for Israeli and Arab children, which has been running in Northern Israel since 2001. This project seeks to make grass-roots interventions into the sport culture of Israel and Palestine. The aims of the programme are to provide opportunities for social contact across community boundaries, to promote mutual understanding, to enhance the desire amongst the participants for peaceful coexistence, and to develop football skills and technical knowledge.

Football For Peace [+]

Soccer Book Reviews

New Year Same Old Stories

Ahn Returns

Ahn enters the action


It’s that time of the year again when it feels like half of the K-League is on the move. The close season in Korea is a frantic affair and at times hard to keep up with.

The fate of Ahn Jung-hwan has been the big story of the new year so far. Precisely a year ago, the “Lord of the Ring” was in the process of turning down a trial with Blackburn Rovers. Instead he headed to MSV Duisberg who were then in the Bundesliga.

After relegation, Ahn was released from his contract but since August has been without a club. On the wrong side of 30, his options are not likely to increase and he finally decided to return to the K-League on January 9 when he signed for Suwon Samsung Bluewings.

The three-time champions who already boast international stars such as Kim Nam-il, Cho Won-hee, Baek Ji-hoon and Song Chong-guk, took some time to close the deal with the ex-Perugia, Yokohama, Shimizu and Metz striker.

``We met with Ahn and his agent for the negotiation several times. There was huge difference at first over contract terms, but our talks has recently moved forward further,’’ Suwon club boss Ahn Ki-heon told Yonhap news agency.

``Ahn’s side has yielded a lot in the contract term including the annual salary. We are positive we could bring him unless there is significant disagreement during the rest of the talks.’’

A week later, Ahn signed and was given the number ten shirt. Now the challenge is to win back the red shirt of the national team.

Seoul Life

FC Seoul have released Portuguese midfielder Ricardo Nascimento -the 34 year-old playmaker spent two years in the capital, becoming a firm favourite with the fans. He returns to his homeland’s top flight to join struggling Desportivo das Aves.

Senol Gunes at FC Seoul
Passing in the opposite direction was the club’s new manager. Senol Gunes arrived on January 6. The capital was sitting under a few inches of snow by the time the ex-Turkey coach returned to Korea for the first time since participating in the 3rd/4th play-off game at the 2002 World Cup.

“Thanks to those who came to meet me despite the bad weather,” he said. “My first impression of the fans is a good one.”

“Of course the most important thing is victory but I will try to give fans football that they can love.”

“I still have a good feeling from the 2002 World Cup. Turkey and Korea got good results. The two nations are brothers and that is one reason why I decided to come here.”

At a press conference in the bowels of Seoul World Cup Stadium 48 hours later, the 54 year-old made all the right noises and promised entertainment and results for fans.

Seoul World Cup Stadium under snow

The two Lees

A constant story since the summer has been that of Lee Young-pyo. The versatile Spurs star lost his place at the start of the new season and was a whisker away from joining AS Roma at the end of August. At the last minute however, the 29 year-old changed his mind and decided to stay in North London.

The reason for the change of heart has been kept close to the chest of “Chorongi” who had to deny in a press conference that his deep religious beliefs were behind the decision.

Lee on national duty with Park Ji-sung

Stories in Italy also talked of financial reasons and pressure from Sky Sports on the player not to reduce Korean interest in the Premier League by leaving it. It sounds about as likely as reports of Chelsea interest in the defender.

Fortunately for the player, he has since won back his place in the team but the rumours still abound that he could soon swap England’s capital for its Italian counterpart. Supposedly in the first week of the New Year, Roma asked for a loan and then a full transfer.

Lee will stay put but the same can’t be said of 2002 and 2006 World Cup team-mate Lee Chun-soo. The 2005 K-League MVP said in December that he was ready to leave Ulsan Hyundai Horang-I and the K-League.

Yokohama Marinos and Urawa Reds in Japan fancy the winger who hit six goals in two and a half games in last August’s East Asian Champions Cup held on the archipelago.
As documented on here before, Lee is eyeing Europe – especially England. There has been little mention of possible moves for the winger since the transfer window opened.

It remains to be seen if that is good news or bad.

K-League News

Soccer Book Reviews

Copyright: John Duerden & Soccerphile