Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

How far should intimidating chants go?

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Juventus have been fined 20,000 euros rather than receive a stadium ban for an offensive chant their fans sing about Inter Milan’s black striker Mario Balotelli.

As songs go, it is pretty insulting. “Se saltelli, muore Balotelli” (If you jump up and down, Balotelli will die).

However, the big question is whether the song is racist. The Italian league has decided it is offensive and incites violence but has not classified it as racist, hence the fine and no heftier punishment. Many Italians disagree and say the Juve fans would not sing such a song if he was white.

Of course last season Juve were forced to play a game behind close doors after home fans sang “a black Italian does not exist” at Palermo-born Balotelli in a game with champions Inter.

Wenger deserves to stand with Fergie after reaching landmark

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Arsene Wenger has not collected trophies quite as greedily as his Manchester United counterpart Alex Ferguson but in terms of his impact on English football he has no equal.

Ferguson transformed an under-achieving United into the most succesful club in English football but Wenger has set the benchmark for modern-day club football in terms of style.

Soccer scores and the power of the pub

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Let’s be honest here, people, predicting the English football scores has proved to be a lot trickier than many of us imagined.

You’d have thought that the frankly obsessive interest most of us here at Reuters Soccer Blog Heights take in football would see us approach this competition with the pitiless, sweeping brilliance of Celta Vigo in their ‘EuroCelta‘ heydey of 1998-2000*.

Is Eduardo’s two-match ban too harsh?

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UEFA’s decision to hand Arsenal striker Eduardo da Silva a two-match ban for diving has infuriated the Croatian media, many fans and national team coach Slaven Bilic.

“It is a shameful decision, especially in view of the fact that Eduardo personifies everything that’s decent in professional sport,” Bilic told Zagreb daily Vecernji List after learning the verdict.

Wenger’s unrivalled Midas touch

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Liverpool’s Rafa Benitez may feel he got a good price for Xabi Alonso but he is in no danger of dislodging Arsene Wenger as the Premier League manager with the Midas touch.

Wenger has received criticism of late for not ‘spending big’ on replacements for departing first-teamers. He should be receiving credit for earning a huge pile of cash for players no longer in his plans. Does anyone in football generate as much money from transfers as Wenger?

Wenger makes his point with customary elegance

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“Highly intelligent” and “Arsene Wenger” sit neatly together in countless newspaper columns outlining the exploits, achievements and travails of the cerebral Arsenal manager.

Consequently there was no elaborate deconstruction required following an interview with a French television channel at the club’s training ground this week.

Which soccer players would make good Star Trek characters?

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With the new Star Trek film out, we thought we’d have a bit of fun and see which soccer players could play the famous characters.

They’ve changed all the actors anyway and brought in a youthful crop, so why not?

For Sale: Thousands of nearly new Arsenal flags

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Don’t be surprised if you see this message on eBay in the next few days: “FOR SALE: 57,000 red and white flags as good as new — only waved for eight minutes. Apply Arsenal FC, Emirates Stadium, North London.”

For Arsenal’s fans not only stopped waving their freebie flags after eight minutes, but they also stopped believing in their side after an hour as thousands of them trooped away from the stadium no longer able to watch as Manchester United demolished their young team.

Will United live to regret missed chances?

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Arsenal played poorly at Manchester United on Wednesday but escaped with a 1-0 defeat that leaves them still in with a chance of reaching the Champions League final.When you consider that they haven’t conceded a goal at home in the competition all season, the situation doesn’t look half bad. After all, they have already beaten United in north London this season and there is no reason why they can’t do it again.First though, their big performers need to turn up, because they went missing at Old Trafford. Theo Walcott barely got a kick, Emmanuel Adebayor was subdued and Cesc Fabregas was overwhelmed in midfield.It will also help if Robin van Persie is fit after missing the first leg. Without the Dutchman, and the ineligible Andrey Arshavin, they looked lightweight in attack.United were not at their best either and will be frustrated at not putting the tie to bed. However, they did not allow Arsenal an away goal and so will start clear favourites to reach Rome and a possible re-match with Chelsea.Remember, they were in far worse shape after drawing 2-2 at home with Porto in the quarter-final, first leg. And with such a plethora of attacking options, Alex Fergsuon’s side will be confident of breaching Arsenal’s Emirates fortress.PHOTO: Manchester United’s John O’Shea (C) celebrates with Darren Fletcher (L) and Rio Ferdinand (R) after scoring during their Champions League semi-final, first leg against Arsenal at Old Trafford, April 29, 2009. REUTERS/Nigel Roddis

East Stirlingshire give up on fair play convention

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I’m not sure if Alex Ferguson would approve of a decision taken by one of his old clubs but East Stirlingshire, where he began his managerial career as a 32-year-old in 1974, have just taken a very controversial stand against “sporting behaviour”.

The modest club, whose major objective in the recent past was to avoid
finishing bottom of the Scottish Third Division, but are currently third in the table, have ordered their players NOT to kick the ball out of play if one of their opponents is down injured.

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