World Soccer News for week of 7/19
Ozren Podnar reports...
Manchester United cancel a friendly game due to Jakarta bombings
The English champions Manchester United cancelled a friendly in Indonesia to be played on Monday due to two bombing attacks last Friday in Jakarta.
Suspected Islamic terrorists carried out suicide bombings in two luxury hotels and a commercial centre of the capital city. One of the stricken hotels was the Ritz-Carlton, where the United squad planned to reside during their sojourn in Jakarta.
At least two people died in the explosion in Ritz-Carlton with a further seven casualties at the Marriott and a commercial centre in the north of the city. The attacks were attributed to the radical Islamic group Jemaa Islamiya, an Al-Qaeda affiliate in South East Asia.
United were supposed to play a game against an Indonesian select eleven during their Asian tour.
Estudiantes claim their fourth Latin American title
The Argentinian side of Estudiantes from La Plata were crowned champions of the Copa Libertadores for the fourth time by beating Cruzeiro 2-1 in Belo Horizonte.
Once labelled "the roughest soccer team in the world", Estudiantes drew 0-0 in the first leg in La Plata, but upset the Brazilians in their packed Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte.
The "Students" came from behind in the second half after conceding a goal from Henrique in the 51th minute. The Argentinian goals were scored by Gaston Fernandez five minutes later and Mauro Boselli in the 72th minute. This has been the first Copa Libertadores for Estudiantes in 39 years after having won the competition in 1968, 1969 and 1970. Their win means they will take part in the World Club Cup in Abu Dhabi next December along with Barcelona, Atlante of Mexico and Auckland City, among other continental champions.
Estudiantes won one world club title back in 1968 by defeating Manchester United 1-0 and 1-1 in two infamous, violent clashes. The current generation coached by Alejandro Sabella and the supremely intelligent Juan Sebastian Veron, the son of Juan Ramon Veron, who starred in the triple-crown winning team four decades ago.
Platini: If Cristiano costs 92 million, I would have cost 93
The UEFA president and former soccer king Michel Platini launched an ironic comment on the price Real Madrid paid Manchester United for star winger Cristiano Ronaldo.
"If he cost 92 millon euros, I would have cost 93 million at his age, although maybe in my case it would have been old French francs" said Platini, adding a twist to his comment:
"In fact, my transfer would have been free, because I respected my obligations and stayed in my clubs until the end of the contracts," declared the soccer supremo.
Although denying that he has it in for Real Madrid and Florentino Perez in particular, Platini claims that the transfer fees and wages have reached unsustainable levels.
"It is a moment to remember that a half of the European clubs have losses (...). The pharaonic costs push the market upwards and feed the inflationist surge that has negative consequences on all the European clubs.
While announcing new UEFA norms designed to introduce more equality in European soccer by 2012, the Frenchman again dismissed the idea of a new continental Superleague promoted by Real Madrid, among others.
"We already have such a Superleague and it's called the Champions League."
David Beckham booed on his return to LA Galaxy
On his long awaited and belated return to Los Angeles Galaxy, David Beckham had to face a not entirely friendly crowd, unhappy at his preference of AC Milan over the Major League Soccer franchise.
Last week Becks played his first game for Galaxy in nine months even though his initial loan agreement had required his return to the US by the end of last March.
In the meantime, LA skipper Landon Donovan was quoted in a book expressing his disdain for Beckham on account of his lack of commitment and attachment to Galaxy colours.
At the end of the game between Galaxy and Red Bulls of New York (3-1) the former England captain asserted he was aware of the booing directed at him.
"That was something I expected, but I still believe I can help this team," said Becks.
The animosity between him and Donovan has apparently been settled and Beckham seems set to continue his American adventure, or the "Beckham Experiment", as author Grant Wahl titled his controversial book in which he slammed the most expensive signing in the history of US soccer.
Ibrahimovic to Barca for 45 million plus Eto'o plus Hleb
Another gargantuan signing is being forged in Spanish soccer. In what could be the second biggest transfer in history, after the recent Cristiano Ronaldo switch from Manchester United to Real Madrid, Zlatan Ibrahimovic would change Inter's shirt for Barcelona's, while the current European champions would pay the Italians 45 million euros in cash plus the ownership of Samuel Eto'o and a one-year loan of Aleksandr Hleb. The total price of the transfer would amount to 85 million euros, since Eto'o is valued at some 35-37 million plus a couple million for the former Gunner's loan.
Inter and Barca have apparently reached an agreement, Ibrahimovic is also willing to move south-west to Camp Nou, but the African goleador may still cause problems because this is the way he is.
"I will be the one to decide if the transfer goes through," Eto'o apparently told the Catalonian Sport daily, awaiting a proper offer from Inter.
Jose Mourinho on the other hand seems eager to see the Cameroonian in his squad, fully aware of Eto'os terrific goalscoring abilities.
Barca's president Joan Laporta admitted that the efforts to sign Ibrahimovic "are going in the right direction," but allowed for the possibility that in case it fails, the club may yet turn to Valencia's David Villa or Atletico's Diego Forlan.
Valencia priced Villa, the most lethal Spanish scorer in recent years, at 50 million euros, which initially seemed a tad too much for Barca. Still, they will have to show something to their fans after Real signed Kaka, Cristiano and Benzema. Even at an exorbitant price Michel Platini has been refering to in his criticism of the inflated European soccer market.
Copyright Ozren Podnar & Soccerphile
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