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from Photographers' Blog:

Fans, fire and fury

Fenerbahce's hopes of winning the Turkish league title for the 18th time were all resting on the final round of games in the 2009-2010 Super League. Expectations among their fans were high, with the major Istanbul club knowing a win at home against Trabzonspor was enough to clinch the championship.

Second-placed Bursaspor were one point behind Fenerbahce on 72 points and faced the tough prospect of a match against last year's champions Besiktas. Some 50,000 Fenerbahce fans wearing navy blue and yellow jerseys took their seats at the Sukru Saracoglu stadium with their attention focused more on celebrating their imminent title triumph than on watching the game.

Fenerbahce's Daniel Guiza of Spain celebrates scoring a goal against Trabzonspor during their Turkish Super League soccer match at Sukru Saracoglu stadium in Istanbul May 16, 2010. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Spanish striker Daniel Guiza scored the opening goal in the 14th minute, but nine minutes later Trabzonspor equalized with a goal from Burak Yilmaz. The first half ended 1-1. Even at that stage, Fenerbahce fans were very confident of victory. There was an atmosphere of celebration in the stadium. In the second half Fenerbahce played more attacking football.

The home side kept up the pressure but was unable to convert chance after chance. With the 90 minutes over, the referee signaled four minutes of extra time. Fenerbahce kept on attacking with the aim of scoring a winning goal. In the second extra minute, an announcement changed everything in the stadium.

We predict the worst … you show us how it’s done

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SOCCER-ENGLAND/CUPIt seems like ages since we last managed a proper weekend programme*  but at last, here we are, with an all-singing, all-dancing snow-free extravaganza, with the dubious attraction of Arsenal v Man Utd’s traditional handbags at 10 paces highly competitive fixture being shown in 3D at select boozers across the land.

Below you will find the Reuters Soccer Blog standings and predictions for the week but remember, we’d like you to join in as well. If you’re a newcomer, you get 10 points for correctly predicting the exact score from the weekend’s Premier League game, or two for getting the right result. (If you’ve been with us for a while, it’s five points and one point).

from FaithWorld:

Amid the prayers, some haj pilgrims talk football

mecca-mosqueThe haj is supposed to be a spiritual highlight in a Muslim's life, but everyday issues can sometimes intrude. In between prayers and visits to various sites, pilgrims often discuss all kinds of current issues. Among Algerians and Egyptians on the haj here this year, the buzz is about the public row sparked by a soccer game to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. Algeria won that match 1-0. (Photo: Haj pilgrims at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, 24 Nov 2009/Caren Firouz)

The football rivalry has caused considerable bad blood between the two countries. Egypt has recalled its ambassador from Algiers after the play-off, accusing Algerian fans of post-match thuggery at the game's venue in Khartoum. Egypt had earlier complained when Algerian fans trashed the Algiers headquarters of Egypt-based Orascom Telecom's Djezzy mobile subsidiary. Before that, Algeria was irked after Egyptian fans pelted the Algerian team's bus with stones and some fans were hurt in scuffles on game-day in the first round of the qualifier in Cairo.

Hand of Henry goal makes strong case for video evidence

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France’s decisive goal against Ireland in their World Cup play-off will only add further weight to the case for using a video ref, or extra goal-line officials, at least in the biggest matches.

The controversial extra-time strike from William Gallas took France through to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, while leaving the Irish barely able to contain a sense of frustration and injustice.

Would Bayern have been better off selling Ribery?

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Franck Ribery’s knee injury has flared up again and the problem could not have come at a worse time for Bayern Munich.

Ribery picked up the injury in pre-season training at the height of Real Madrid’s efforts to sign him.

The all-star XI in World Cup trouble

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Some of football’s biggest names, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, are in danger of missing out on next year’s World Cup, as countries such as Argentina, Portugal and France struggle in qualification.

Most, if not quite all of them, may make it in the end, of course, but for a bit of pre-weekend qualifier fun, here’s my stab at a world XI wtill fretting over their places at South Africa 2010.

from DealZone:

Own goal?

Standard Chartered bucks the trend of banks making a dash from sports sponsorship deals and will pay $130 million to put its name on Liverpool Football Club's shirts for four years from next summer. It is one of the most lucrative deals in soccer history.But AIG, Citi, RBS and Northern Rock offer a stark reminder that big sports deals can be high-profile signals of waste. AIG sponsored Manchester United and RBS and ING pumped millions into Formula One, and Northern Rock was better known to millions as the sponsor of Newcastle F.C. than as a mortgage bank -- until its collapse.Citi raised anger after sticking with a controversial $400 million deal with baseball team the New York Mets. All those banks needed taxpayer rescue funds.Critics say big sports deals can reflect poor corporate governance and misguided priorities. Advisory firm Advisor Perspectives this year said a study of 69 U.S. sports "naming rights" deals showed the performance of the companies buying the rights trailed the S&P 500 index by almost 5 percent over the course of the deal.But it could be a good fit for StanChart, which gets 80 percent of its profits in Asia. Liverpool is a big, iconic name in Asia and English Premier League games are screened into millions of homes each week. The prize for the bank is not the domestic or European fields where Liverpool has enjoyed regular success, but the potential customers in China, India, Indonesia, Thailand and across the region.At least there can be few complaints the bank's board is following its heart. Former chairman and CEO Mervyn Davies was a staunch Spurs supporter, current CEO Peter Sands is an avid Arsenal fan and Finance Director Richard Meddings may have struggled to find a global reach with a deal with his beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers.

from The Great Debate UK:

What’s a goal (or five) worth?

simon_chadwick-Professor Simon Chadwick, Director, Centre for the International Business of Sport, Coventry, UK. The opinions expressed are his own. -

There is a famous song, composed in the run-up to UEFA Euro 96, in which the Lightening Seeds, Frank Skinner and David Baddiel refer to England’s 30 years of hurt (the period at the time since England won its one and only World Cup).

from UK News:

Is Fabio being beastly to the WAGS?

SOCCER-WORLD/In keeping with the spirit of the times and with his own stern image, Fabio Capello has clamped down on the WAGS.

The wives and girlfriends, whose exuberance and excess often made for more interesting viewing three years ago in Germany than the games their HABS were involved in, have been banished to the stands.

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