Saturday, March 31, 2007

World Soccer News March 31 2007

Greek leagues suspended over death in volleyball

The Greek government has suspended for 15 days all league competitions in all sports after violent clashes between rival fans before a volleyball game left one person dead and several injured.

A Panathinaikos women's volleyball team fan died from 15 stab wounds and blows to the head inflicted upon him by Olympiacos fans on Thursday.

The two teams are principal rivals in soccer and basketball, but even a women's volleyball match was considered a good opportunity to pick a fight. The murderer has not been identified, but the authorities say he is not among the 13 arrested aged between 17 and 30.

The commentators criticize the police for not having intervened promptly or indeed anticipated the violent events even though, it is said, the fans announced the confrontation beforehand.

Who tops the European qualifiers?

Germany, Croatia and Turkey have the best overall score in the current qualifiers for the European Championship in Austria and Switzerland. The three teams have dropped just two points each; Germany in the unlikely place of Cyprus, Croatia in Russia, and Turkey at home to Norway. All three have piled up 86.7% of all the available points.

Below them are other three squads with 80% of the points each – France, Ukraine and Sweden, with four wins and one defeat.

Top 8

1-3. Germany 5 4 1 0 21-3 13 86,7
Croatia 5 4 1 0 15-4 13 86,7
Turkey 5 4 1 0 14-3 13 86,7
4-6. France 5 4 0 1 12-2 12 80%
Sweden 5 4 0 1 9-4 12 80%
Ukraine 5 4 0 1 8-4 12 80%
7. Holland 6 4 2 0 8-2 14 77,8
8. Poland 7 5 1 1 12-5 16 76,2

Dunga overthrows Ronaldinho – no. 10 shirt to Kaká

In a national team with such a long tradition as Brazil's, every detail counts and specially the issue of the number 10 shirt. It used to be worn by the greatest Brazilians, such as Pelé and Zico. When the coach Dunga gave the number 10 to Kaká against Chile, showing whom he considers the leader of the current generation.
The previous "owner" of the prestigious number, Ronaldinho, had to settle for number 7.

"I don't mind. The shirt number is irrelevant, what's is important is to play. When I first played in the national team, I also had the number seven", said Ronaldinho, while Kaká was delighted:
"I hope to make history with the number ten on my back".

Barcelona's coach Frank Rijkaard is concerned that the loss of the coveted shirt could have a negative impact on his player.
"Dunga was wrong to strip him of the number ten. Ronaldinho is a natural successor to the previous "tens" like Pelé, Zico and Rivaldo. Whatever his reasons may be, in Barcelona the matters are clear. The number ten belongs to Ronaldinho."

Sacked for leniency with the "Kaiser"

Three police officers from Munich have had their employment terminated when it was discovered that they had attempted to cover up a traffic violation committed by Franz Beckenbauer.

In June 2005, "Kaiser" Franz was intercepted after police instruments showed that he was speeding at 74 km/h where a mere 30 km/h was the limit. After recognizing the driver, the officers failed to write him a ticket which would cost the former soccer great a fine and a one month's suspension of his driving licence.

Prso leaves Rangers, but stays in soccer

Three times Croatian player of the year, Dado Prso has finally decided to quit Rangers at the end of this season. After consulting with a specialist in France, Prso learned that a continued career in a demanding league like the Scottish Premier League could cause him disability.

"The doctor explained to him that his knees could be permanently damaged if he keeps on playing and practicing at such an intensity and rhythm required by Rangers. And Dado respects Rangers too much to play for them unless he can give his best," said Prso's agent Ranko Stojic.

Prso joined Rangers from Monaco in 2004 and won the League title in his first season at Ibrox. According to the Croatian press, his possible successor could be his fellow countryman Bosko Balaban, currently shining at Club Brugge in Belgium.

Inter chasing records

With ten matches remaining in Serie A, already crowned champions Internazionale have not lost their edge. Now that they lead Roma by 19 points, they still have plenty of goals.

* Winning the title without defeat. AC Milan achieved that in 1992, but with 12 draws. Inter currently have only four draws and 24 wins, two more than their city rivals. Perugia also finished a season without losing a single game in 1979, but the title went to AC Milan.

* Beating Juventus' record of 95 points from 2005, even though the Turin team have been stripped of that title.

* Becoming the first Italian team with 100 or more points in a season. Currently 24 points divide Inter from this distinction.

"People in the club really believe we can reach 100 points. We'll see," commented the coach Roberto Mancini.

Platini puts a brake on Champions' League reform

New UEFA president Michel Platini does not want to antagonize the big guns after all. In spite of having promised during his campaign to cut to three the maximum number of teams per country in the Champions' League, the Frenchman told the German weekly Kicker that the current rules would remain in place at least until the 2009/10 season.

In the meantime, a reform is inevitable for the UEFA Cup. As early as 2008, the group stage will consist of twelve groups with four teams each, which will play six games home and away. Currently, the group stage involves 40 teams divided into eight groups of five, each team playing the rivals only once, two at home and two away.

Romario tops Pelé in scoring

Romario Sousa Faria has indeed inflated his goal tally with plenty of unofficial goals, but not as much as Pelé, who scored far, far fewer goals than the advertised 1281.

The statisticians of Brazil magazine Placar have carried out a thorough investigation into the official goals scored by Romario and Pele and it turns out that the popular Baixinho (Shorty) already leads O Rei by eleven goals.

Romario has knocked in 731 documented and catalogued goals in official matches, both competitive and friendly, plus 268 in exhibition and practice games. Pelé, on the other hand, achieved only 720 "real" goals.

However, Romario's race for the imaginary 1000th goal is not much more than a show for the gullible, and it would be only fitting that it should be scored this Sunday, on April Fools' Day.

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