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from FaithWorld:

Kenya investigates Islamic group crackdown on soccer and films

kenya fan

A Kenyan soccer fan attends their 2010 World Cup qualifying soccer match against Nigeria at the Kasarani stadium in Kenya's capital Nairobi, November 14, 2009/Thomas Mukoya

Kenya has deployed security agents to its border with Somalia after Islamic clerics announced they had clamped down on the public broadcast of soccer and films, a security official has said.  Clerics in the frontier town of Mandera said on Monday they had confiscated a number of satellite TV dishes in a football-obsessed nation ahead of the World Cup because public film dens were corrupting youths.

"Two groups, an undercover team from National Security Intelligence Service and (an) anti-terrorist unit, arrived here on Tuesday night to investigate," a senior local security source who did not wish to be named told Reuters late on Thursday.  Another team has been dispatched to Dadaab refugee camp which is home to some 270,000 mostly Somali refugees in the mostly Muslim region.

Local residents from Mandera, located just a few kilometres from the porous border, claimed al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels in Somalia had made phone calls to congratulate the clerics, he added.

from Tales from the Trail:

Obama to World Cup? Well, if U.S. team reaches the finals….

BASEBALL/

President Barack Obama has said he might make the trip to this summer's soccer World Cup in South Africa -- but won't commit unless the U.S. team reaches the finals, according to South Africa's foreign minister.

Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, at the State Department to formally launch the new U.S.-South Africa "strategic dialogue" agreement, said Obama had indicated he might be lured to the World Cup, which begins on June 11 and holds its final at Soccer City in Johannesburg on July 11.

from Left field:

Who will rise to the occasion and become a worthy replacement for Beckham?

SOCCER-ITALY/BECKHAMFabio Capello has plenty of options for the right midfield slot, even if David Beckham's snapped Achilles rules him out of the World Cup.

Between Shaun Wright-Phillips, Theo Walcott, Aaron Lennon (if fit) and James Milner there is a wealth of talent at the Italian's disposal.

from Photographers' Blog:

Broken man on the pitch

From Nigel Roddis

Arsenal vs Stoke City, Saturday February 27.

It was a game that wasn't going to plan. Stoke took the lead but Arsenal in the second half started putting on the pressure with wave after wave of brilliant football. It was only a matter of time, you felt, until they scored a winner. Way over the halfway line, frantic gestures were coming from first a Stoke player and then Arsenal players and the referee which meant something very serious had happened.

SOCCER-ENGLAND/

I could see Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey partially obscured by a Stoke player in agony with his ankle at a right-angle to his leg. The first frame I took was the best as his expression said everything. After that he seems to have gone into shock as he doesn't seem to be in pain.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Robben teaches Germans to love long johns

Germans used to laugh at soccer players who wore long johns in the winter, belittling anyone who opted not to play in shorts as a light-weight. Germans even have a derogatory name for the thermal underwear: Liebestoeter  (passion killers).  SOCCER-GERMANY/

That was before Arjen Robben scored two goals and led Bayern Munich to three straight wins in his woolly grey long johns. They may make him look like a 19th century grampa getting ready to get into a cold bed. But they're "hot pants" as far as Bayern are concerned.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

UEFA to call time on loss-making clubs

MALTA/Half Europe's leading professional clubs are losing money, according to UEFA, and the forthcoming Financial Fair Play initiative will be a concerted attempt to tackle the problem.

The new financial framework will mean that from the 2013-14 season, clubs must break even or face the threat of exclusion from European club competition.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Does Angola attack really endanger the World Cup or just Africa’s image?

The bloody attack on Togo's team bus in Angola is a huge tragedy for African football and like it or not, has cast a shadow over the World Cup in South Africa in five months time -- the biggest sports event ever staged on the continent.

It is highly debatable whether the attack, which killed two members of the Togolese delegation as they arrived for the African Nations Cup and forced the squad's evacuation on Sunday, really increases the risk to teams and spectators in South Africa.

from Photographers' Blog:

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…?

Snow. Looks good on those Christmas cards, doesn’t it? Fun for small children. Even nice for penguins in the zoo. But photographers covering soccer? Brrrrrrrrrr. Not really.

Let’s get one thing straight. We Brits go on about the weather like a stuck record, but when it comes to it, we can’t cope with it. That’s why we live in Britain.

from MediaFile:

Fox vs Time Warner Cable: Soccer channels go dark for a bit, coincidence?

SOCCER-ENGLAND/

We were not completely surprised when Fox Soccer Channel went dark on Sunday afternoon while we were watching West Ham take on Chelsea. (It's not that the cable bills hadn't been paid). Seemed the most likely cause was the  really bad snowstorm here in New York and the rest of the U.S. northeast.

But when we noticed that Fox Soccer Espanol, Speed Channel and, for a short while, FX were also down...  well, we couldn't help wonder if the ruckus between Time Warner Cable and Fox Networks had come to a head and that the great dark screen battle of 2010 had started early.  (Adding to our conspiracy theory: Fox's news channels were unaffected yesterday, and neither Fox News nor Fox Business are part of the current carriage fisticuffs between TWC and Fox. Hmmmm).

from Left field:

Five defining moments from a decade of sport

As the decade draws to a close, we pick five sporting moments which have defined the last 10 years.

1. Cathy Freeman lit the Olympic flame at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, a Games set in a country which embraces the outdoor life and punches well above its weight in most sports.

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