Leo Messi's recent national goalscoring is well ahead of his Barca output. He scored his 9th goal in five matches. Unleash the kracken as they say. Sami Khedira got the ball rolling for Argentina with an own goal, Messi followed suit, and then it was the goal of the day when Angel Di Maria absolutely belted the ball from 30 yards out.
Things could have gotten worse but Messi was unable to convert a penalty kick after Angel Di Maria was brought down by first goalie Ron-Robert Zieler who also received his marching orders. Benedikt Howedes scored a consolation for Germany.
The title should actually read what fails Brazilian soccer? Clearly, with all its unsurpassed talent, Brazilian soccer should have no ailment. Jonathan Wilson's article in the Guardian exposes Brazil's fatal flaws when competing against teams which individual talent may find tough to overcome.
Against Mexico in the Olympics finals, as the clip shows, slipshod defending had much to do with the scoreline which suggests that Brazil has yet to find the next generation of savvy, physical, and athletically gifted defenders to takeover from Maicon, Lucio, and Juan.
That was the imprimatur left by Dunga which worked well in the 2007 Copa America but three years later the pendulum shifted the other way when Felipe Melo became the poster boy of his overtly physical, less skillful, defensive posture during the 2010 World Cup. However Dunga's allocation of resources to defensive mettle in an otherwise missing facet of Brazil's game made other team's sit up and take notice. Such mistakes would not have been tolerated.
Dunga should also be appreciated for championing Elano, who would have made all the difference to this Olympic side, connecting backfield to the frontlines. Against Mexico, the twin pivots of Romulo and Sandro were quite circumspect doing little to create other than steering the ball out of harm's way in the backfield. Ganso is a good player but he's obviously struggling to recover after his injury absence. There was another reason why Dunga was able to do more with his squad. He deliberately spurned highly individualistic players like Adriano and Ronaldinho going in for lesser lights like Vagner Love and Fred. In the present line up Hulk would have definitely got a call up to a Dunga squad because of his work rate and willingness to play as a team member.
Since Tele Santana, football in Brazil has been a variation between defense and offense light. The losses of the 1982 and 1986 teams seem to have preyed on the Brazilian psyche in a very negative way. Those scars were seen in a very boring and defensive minded Brazil team win in the 1994 World Cup and then repeating in 2002 against very ordinary competition with a more forthcoming attack. The problem with this U23 team that will surely form the nucleus of the 2014 squad is that they have do not have enough quality competition to iron out the problems between now and the World Cup. But Dunga could possibly do something to help Neymar tamp down on showboating and track back to help those overly ambitious and attacking wing backs.
More Sepp Blatter or blather. He is now insinuating that the 2006 World Cup was rigged to favour Germany.
When asked by the Swiss publication Blick about rumors of corruption surrounding the decisions to award the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments to Russia and Qatar respectively, Blatter responded: "World Cups being purchased.... I am reminded of the World Cup allotment for 2006, when someone left the room at the last moment. And instead of 10:10, the vote was suddenly 10:9 in favor of Germany.... Perhaps in that situation also I was too well-meaning and naïve."
The reaction in Germany was altogether predictable. Franz Beckenbauer and Theo Zwanziger were "unable to comprehend the statements" and there was "no indications to suggest anything was askew". These allegations are not new with Guido Tognoni, a former FIFA executive shedding light on how Germany was awarded the 2006 World Cup, but the timing is interesting.
The German FA had come down hard on Blatter to resign in the wake of the report that fingered him as the FIFA official called P1 with full knowledge of bribes being paid to Joao Havelange, the former FIFA president and a mentor to Blatter. Initially, after denying his complicity using as his defense Swiss law sanctioning such type of payments, he then under pressure said the 96 year old Havelange should be stripped of his title of honorary president. His reaction to the German pressure to step down was to also throw them under the bus. It's a pattern that Blatter has followed in his career as FIFA president. Under threat, he blusters and bluffs his way through, pointing fingers at everyone else except him for the corrupt state of affairs. He could give the late Ken Lay a run for his money.
Think about it. A person leaves the room and it changes the voting and the outcome. The FIFA president is aware of the situation but does nothing to stop it claiming he was too naive. This is the sort of parody that goes into awarding the world's biggest and most lucrative sporting spectacle.
In the space of a few minutes we saw the world of football hand down verdicts on a former England captain clearing him of racism charges and then to one its most storied clubs, devastating them with demotion to the lowest division for financial manipulation.
A brave, new world for the sport as it demanded accountability from its practitioners. But wait, here we have Sepp Blatter fingered in a cover up that saw millions of dollars funneled in bribes to his predecessor Joao Havelange and his son in law, Ricardo Teixeira, a FIFA executive, in exchange for awarding marketing and TV rights to ISL for the 2002 and 2006 World Cup and he admonishes those who say he needs to step down. No, he won't step down.
Blatter willingly participated in these transactions through guilt by association. He has been identified as P1, the hitherto unnamed FIFA official who knew Havelange had received a 1m Swiss franc payment from ISL, which went bankrupt in 2001.
The FIFA president did nothing because as he says under Swiss law at that time, these payments were perfectly legal. In 2002, the government finally clamped down on these "commissions" calling them what they are, bribes, but in eight years from 1992 and 2001, the two men received almost 41m in Swiss francs. As prosecutors moved quickly thereafter, FIFA went on the offensive, urging the case be dropped and forced settlements by having Havelange and Teixeira repay a pittance from those millions. All of this came to light in the special prosecutors report which sheds light on FIFA's baldfaced cover up.
The man governing the sport, who ran on reforming FIFA; is outed as the principal figure in aiding and abetting one of sports most shameful scandals, then basically thumbs his nose at the world. Blatter barely wears a codpiece now but he still shouts rules are for fools. In the real world, there are consequences as we have seen in the past few hours, but he has made a science of mocking them.
The Guardian has a report on the International Sports Media and Marketing aka ISL, the now infamously bankrupt sports marketing company founded by Horst Dassler in the 1970s paying former FIFA president, Joao Havelange and his son-in-law, Ricardo Teixeira, a FIFA executive and former CBF president, millions of dollars in kickbacks for awarding them the 2002 and 2006 World Cup marketing and TV rights worth billions of dollars.
Swiss prosecutors based in the canton of Zug, launched an investigation linking these two men with the ISL kickbacks worth $42million as well as an additional $38 million as "commissions" to other FIFA and sports bigwigs which took place over a period of eight years from 1992 to 2000.
Under Sepp Blatter, who was Havelange's hand picked successor, these investigations were halted in 2004 after a small amount of money from those amounts were repaid as settlements. Very little was known until an amount of 1m Swiss francs in the name of Joao Havelange was mistakenly directed to a FIFA account.
Now, after eight years under a court order and under pressure by various public interest organizations, the results of these investigations have been finally made public and they make for one fascinating reading of FIFA's criminal activities. FIFA claims its all part of its reformation. But out of the ashes of ISL going belly up rose its successor, Infront Sports and Media. Guess who its CEO is? Philippe Blatter, the nephew of Sepp Blatter. The company was awarded the TV rights to the 2018 and 2022 World Cup in many Asian countries.
It is official. FIFA finally ended the goal line technology debate that began seven years ago after Pedro Mendes's ghost goal against Man Utd was missed by the referee and the linesman. IFAB, the body that governs the game's rules and laws, approved goal line technology in Zurich yesterday. In addition, two goal line officials will be included as part of the refereeing crew.
The journey was long and littered with misconceptions and technology missteps. Amongst the misconceptions was this technology would take away the "human element" of the game. But human nature also reacts to injustices and there were far too many "one person's mistake is another person's gain" as the sport became too quick for the human eye.
Technology or the lack of, took center stage at the 2010 World Cup and if Germany had not outplayed England so comprehensively, Frank Lampard's denied ghost goal would have been responsible for a nation's collective amnesia or delusions or both. A missing Wayne Rooney would have had a perfect accomplice.
Still it wasn't easy. The Luddites led by Michel Platini were vocal in their opposition till last week but Sepp Blatter keen on changing a legacy pockmarked by corruption and nepotism gave the green signal. Blatter personally thanked Lampard for helping change his mind.
" I have to say 'thank you, Lampard'. I was completely down in South Africa when I saw that it really shocked me, it took me a day to react. It happened again in Ukraine, and Ukraine can still not believe it now."
Blatter was referring to the Marko Devic goal for Ukraine that the fifth official missed completely in the recently concluded Euro. Ukraine, the co-hosts were eliminated.
Goal line technology could be in place by mid season of the Premiership as well as in the FA Cup semi-finals and finals. Hawk Eye and Goal Ref, the two types of technology will also be installed in this year's Club World Cup in Japan and the 2013 Confederations Cup, before moving to the world's biggest stage, the 2014 World Cup.
Grant Wahl has a nice post about how UEFA and FIFA should get their act together and save mass confusion and heart break over the different tie breaking rules followed in the Euro and the World Cup.
If the World Cup format had been adhered to then Russia would have advanced not Greece from Group A, in the most glaring misuse of the head to head tie breaker. Similarly, all this talk about Spain and Croatia conspiring to keep Italy out would have been avoided if goal differential was the criteria chosen to decide who advanced out of Group C.
The most iconic moment of the first decade of the 21st century now has a permanent home. Alright, that's a bit hyperbolic, but its true for us soccer fans, eh? Zizou's flesh and blood takedown/ dissection of Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup finals is embodied in a resin remake by Algerian sculptor Adel Abdessemed in an exhibition that recently concluded at the David Zwirner art gallery in New York. It's part of an exhibition titled "Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Wolf?" built around the themes of war, violence, and spectatorship.
Marco Materazzi is part of Inter who no one seems to be afraid of anymore nowadays. Here is more info on the exhibition >>
Russian clubs are flush with cash. Anzhi Makhachkala's new coach is Guus Hiddink. They are ready to break the bank to entice Cristiano Ronaldo and Leo Messi. But so many of their fans are still provincial and racist.
FIFA and the Russian FA faces an enormous task ahead of the 2018 World Cup to educate and enforce zero tolerance when it comes to racism. Here we have an example of that troublesome aspect as a fan throws a banana at Christopher Samba who recently joined Anzhi from Blackburn.
Samba said he had been left "very sad that it happened in front of children sitting in the stand".
"For them it sets an awful example. I try not to dwell on racism," he added. "I just want to believe that the problem doesn't exist on a global scale. Maybe I'm mistaken, but I want to believe that that's the case."
Here is the head in the sand response from the Anzhi president, Olga Smorodskaya.
" No one saw anything. If this event actually took place, then it was done surreptitiously. It all looks like a provocation [to make Anzhi appear racist]."
Roberto Carlos, the legendary left back who plays for Anzhi has already been targeted twice by fans either throwing or waving a banana at him.
Ricardo Teixeira, the CBF president for 23 years and the man behind Brazil's 2014 World Cup bid stepped down citing health concerns. It was a great day for football.
Romario, the former footballer and now elected official who campaigned on reforming football reacted: "Today we can celebrate," Romario posted on his Twitter and Facebook pages. "We exterminated a cancer from Brazilian football. Finally, Ricardo Teixeira resigned."
Teixeira was Sepp Blatter's right hand man and a byword in corruption. An interview with Andrew Jennings conducted by Romario is a must read in comprehending the level of bribery and kickbacks that took place under Teixeira's watch and in concert with Blatter and Joao Havelange, his former father in law and Blatter's predecessor at FIFA.
An example of what Dr. Socrates brought to the game:
More about Socrates here, here, and here. This goal - in Brazil's bitter loss to Italy in 1982 - is one I'll never forget. Tele Santana's Brazil was the best team at the World Cup, and despite losing, they were still world favorites.
Juventus inaugurated their new stadium with a visual smorgasbord. In one of the classiest gestures in living memory, they invited Notts County who gifted the Old Lady their signature black and white pinstripes in 1903 after responding to a sartorial emergency which would have doomed the Turin club to wearing pink and being confused for Palermo. Richard Williams has more.
The first goal was scored by Luca Toni after a penalty kick saved by Robert Burch rebounded back into line of play. Notts to their everlasting credit did not roll over with Lee Hughes scoring the equalizer.
The 2022 World Cup will set the Qatar government back by $221bn in development and infrastructure costs according to an analyst who does this for a living. Small change for the richest country in the world even as they stand to lose billions without recouping but a small fraction. FIFA by the way will have made out with its billions in TV and merchandising revenue with all its earnings non-taxable because of its non-profit status.
To put this in perspective, the 2006 World Cup in Germany cost $8.5bn to host. South Africa spent $4bn for the 2010 World Cup. The business generated from these events boosted the GDP by about .5% in both countries.
The projected costs of the 2014 edition runs to $15bn with about 50% devoted to developing transportation (rail, road, and air) because Brazil is the 5th largest country in the world. The World Cup will boost Brazil's GDP by 1.5% according to a bank estimate.
That escalates to about $65bn to $115bn by the 2018 World Cup where the estimates to carpet Russia with high speed rail covering a surface area of 6,601,668 sq miles (the largest country in the world) will itself entail an expenditure of $35bn to $85bn, depending on the source. Without that additional burden, the figures plummet to a more sedate $25bn to $30bn.
This is eclipsed by Qatar where traversing its miniscule 4,473sq miles (164th in surace area) is not the really the problem but building stadia, training facilities, and accomodation that is air-conditioned will cost them $171billion. A new port and expansion to the Doha International Airport adds another $50bn.
There will be no hard feelings between Qatar and FIFA even if the 2022 World Cup is underwritten as a comprehensive loss because by that year the oil and gas earnings generated will more than make up for it (FY 2011 $80.8bn). Government revenues are projected to rise on an average $50bn a year because of increased demand in the energy sector. The 2022 World Cup is more of a vanity project than a economic fillip to a country that really does not need one.
Tragic news out of Japan as Naoki Matsuda succumbs two days later after suffering a suspected heart attack. Matsuda was just 34 years. He collapsed on the pitch during a routine warm up at current club Matsumoto Yamaga and rushed to the hospital where he was put on artificial life support systems but never gained consciousness.
Japan has been in the throes of a heatwave which has already claimed 43 lives and it is possible Matsuda might have experienced a sunstroke. The doctors believe he might have suffered a heart attack after arriving at the hospital unconscious as he did not respond to efforts to resuscitate him.
Matsuda was a long standing fixture at Yokohama F. Marinos having made 385 appearances for that club where his exploits as a central defender earned him 40 international caps for Japan. He was used as a right back in the successful 2002 World Cup squad which got to the quarterfinals and heralded Japan's rise as a soccer power. Amongst his team mates were the fabulous Shunsuke Nakamura who was the first to arrive in the hospital after learning his friend had collapsed. His reaction:
"He was dynamic in every aspect and he was a kind of big brother for everyone in a positive sense. A smile was on his face."
The 6' defender guided the F. Marinos to back to back J-League titles in 2002 and 2003 before moving on after 16 years last December to the third division Matsumoto Yamaga. He also made the J-league top XI in 2000 and 2002.
At his farewell speech at a packed Nissan Stadium, home to the F.Marinos, Matsuda said that he lived for the game. "Seriously, I love football for the heck of it," he said. There probably can't be a more fitting epitaph. RIP, Naoki Matsuda (14 March 1977 - 4 August 2011).
The Premier League is introducing goal line technology from next season which will hopefully resolve the issue of those hundreds of goals that cross the line every season but are never given. And the hundreds of goals that don't but are given. It has already cost Arsenal three titles and relegated West Ham. All because of Frank Lampard's "ghost goal" in the World Cup.
Seriously, far more goals are scored from diving which goal line technology will never solve. The fallacy is to elevate this technology to Wimbledon like proportions when video review can solve everything.
The 1991 US team broke new ground winning the first ever World Cup and repeated the feat eight years later. By that time Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, and Kristine Lilly were household names. US women's soccer and success are so inextricably intertwined with those names leaving each succeeding squad aspiring to reach the same heights and write their names into history. It's a double edged sword providing both motivation and pressure at the same time.
Today, the US looks to a group that have that chance. Some like Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx, and Christine Rampone have fought in previous World Cups but have come up short. This time around they have put into place some of the missing pieces that should give them their best chance in 12 years. Lauren Cheney is has having the tournament of her life and she has a partner in Heather O'Reilly who provide the cut and thrust down the flanks.
The US will have to take full advantage on the counterattacks because their opponents the Japanese have shown stifling control of the ball. The US still have the best attacking weapon in Abby Wambach who has found the net with some huge momentum changing goals. The danger with Japan's possession game is that she might be forced into ball retrieval duties leaving her in an disadvantaged position during the counterattacks. For that not to happen, the US needs to close down the gaps very quickly and throw the Japanese off their passing game. Homare Sawa is their metronome and there might be good reason to shadow her. It was Sawa who found Karina Maruyama to send the Germans out of the World Cup.
The Nadeshiko have also shown that they're no slouches when it comes to set pieces themselves with Aya Miyama the cream of the crop despite her short stature. She showed her ability to bend the ball around the taller Swedish defense and there is no reason to suspect that she might not do the same against the US.
One cause for optimism here is the US defense who were very good against a very organized French attack and in Hope Solo, they have the best custodian possible. An early goal will be a great way to begin and in both instances when the US has done so they have prevailed. Pia Sundhage can look to Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan for impact off the bench. The Japanese have not won against the USA in 26 encounters but this is a very different team. The US is favoured to win but the Nadeshiko have the emotional support of millions in the world.
"Hey Sepp, I'm going to squeeze the jelly from your eyes and have it on toast"
Sepp Blatter beefed up his group of FIFA advisers today adding the name of Shrek and Justin Bieber to the already invited Placido Domingo, Henry Kissinger, and Johan Cruyff.
Asked about Shrek, the FIFA president revealed he liked nothing better than soaking in a hot tub watching reruns of the plain spoken ogre fight the medieval forces of chicanery and corruption. It was a tough toss up between Shrek and the talking donkey but the former won because he resembled a certain footballer whose name Blatter said escaped him.
Justin Bieber was an intriguing choice but Blatter gave him the nod because anything that gets the U13 crowd shrieking is a good thing. The better to drown out Jack Warner's tsunami of secrets. Besides, Bieber's Canadian and they play ice hockey. Which Qatar does not.
All part of an image revamp of hitherto octogenarian white male privilege. It reaches out to the last two demographics not already turned off by FIFA - animated characters and prepubescent girls.
Another Sepp Blatter look alike. Julio Grondona, Argentinian football's godfather
It appears worse than Dunkirk. The English FA's vote to delay the election goes over like a lead balloon and is defeated 172-17. And in between they come for some pretty vicious pillorying.
There is a war reference in Leopoldo Galtieri's ..... err... Julio Grondona's denouncement. The Argentinian Football Association's despot brings in Falklands.
" Yes, I voted for Qatar, because a vote for the US would be like a vote for England. And that is not possible. "But with the English bid I said: Let us be brief. If you give back the Falkland Islands, which belong to us, you will get my vote. They then became sad and left."
Does anyone see the irony in FIFA ordering an investigation into an election opponent of Sepp Blatter without the FIFA president stepping aside from the fray? Where have we seen these sort of tactics before? Ah yes, name any totalitarian regime.
Mohammed Bin Hammam, the AFC chairman has till tomorrow to present his defense. The ethics committee will meet on Sunday and deliver its verdict in time for the June 1st election. Say it with me "kangaroo court". And just like that corruption and the system of unprecedented patronage enjoyed and furthered under Blatter will disappear. Not. He'll just have vanquished his opponent which is what he wanted in the first place.
Does this not say enough about Blatter that nine of the 24 executive members have either been suspended or are under ethics investigations? Under his watch. The world body needs cleaning up and this is beyond Blatter or his challengers because they're part of that corrupt system. FIFA need an equivalent of a receivership with an autonomous body guiding that process before we can even think of presidential elections.
Sepp Blatter whose cronies are the ones square in the eye of the present bribery allegations is now flapping his gums about corruption.
Yes, all window dressing for an election year. FIFA is very, very concerned about Lord Triesman's allegations against some very high ranking executive members. And now there is a report of Issa Hayatou from Cameroon and Jacques Anouma of Ivory Coast accepting a $1.5 million bribe to vote for Qatar.
Stirring documentary about Jay De Merit who arrives in England with a dream of playing in the Premier League and with little money on him scraps around in a non-league club. Two years later he's playing for Watford in their Premiership promotion match against Leeds and scores in front of 65,000 people sending them to the world's top league. His Watford exploits in the following year earn him a call up to the USMNT.
Equally compelling is the story of how Ranko Tutulugdzija, the film maker, and a college buddy of De Merit came to make the film overcoming many obstacles including no prior film experience and a life threatening medical condition. In a selfless moment, De Merit learning his friend needs a kidney transplant offers his without hesitation.
As Tutulugdzija explains: " this isn't just a movie about soccer, but a human story of perseverance, hard work and belief. And for me this project was done with all heart, and with a sense of gratitude that's hard to explain, that Jay was willing to lay down his own life for a friend. That is something that the world doesn't know about Jay, but should. He is more than a soccer player, he is an awesome human."
They movie is complete but they have to pay off the licensing fees of $150,000 before it can be shown in public. If you want to help with the finances and/or distribution contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
SoccerBlog.com is a fan-driven site founded by Christian and Shourin. Our goal is to cover the beautiful game and talk about some of the issues that may not be covered elsewhere. Since we aren't any good at playing, we decided to talk about soccer instead!