Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Welcome back to another week of digesting the global game, and where better to start than with a look at the Lionel Messi effect on the sport.
The wizard-like Argentine is a joy to watch and by playing in countries such as the United States, where soccer is not the main sport, he can only have increased enthusiasm for the round ball game.
The U.S. will also face world champions Spain in June.
In Europe, while Spain huffed and puffed and finally blew the Czech Republic’s door down for a 2-1 win in Granada with yet another mesmerising display of quick passing, there was little else to go crazy about.
In fact, UEFA president Michel Platini fears that Euro 2012 qualifiers are becoming a little boring, and he is concerned that players look forward more to Champions League matches than internationals.
The sport is more global than ever, highlighted in December when Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup ahead of the United States, Japan, Australia and South Korea despite the fact a Middle Eastern country has never before hosted a major global sporting event.
Michel Platini’s Gallic shrug said it all. “I’m not bothered. What do you want me to say?” he said.
The UEFA President and former France captain had just been asked for the third time in a few minutes on England coach Fabio Capello’s decision to strip John Terry of the captaincy because of something which happened off the field.
UEFA President Michel Platini got a close-up view of the ugly side of Israeli soccer in Tel Aviv on Tuesday when a small band of angry young men who support Beitar Jerusalem briefly disrupted a news conference he attended with Israel FA chairman Avi Luzon.
The half-dozen irate supporters, including one in military uniform, sneaked in with the media throng to one of Tel Aviv’s top hotels and sat to one side. Security guards were nowhere to be seen.
The draw for the Champions League final qualifying round raises the question whether Michel Platini and UEFA have done the right thing by giving teams from Europe’s less heralded leagues a better chance of reaching the money-spinning group stage.
On one hand, restructuring the qualifying campaign has opened the group stage doors to Latvian champions Venstpils, Cypriots APOEL Nicosia, Hungarian title holders Debrecen and Moldovans Sheriff Tiraspol.
Yet again I find myself asking the question: why did UEFA award Euro 2012 to Poland and Ukraine?
Questions marks have again been raised over the decision by European soccer’s governing body after it was yet again forced to set another deadline for Ukraine to meet is criteria for a number of its venues.
If you don’t mind the sight of St Etienne glued near the bottom of the Ligue 1 table, you did not grow up in France in the 1970s.
Everybody there then had two teams, their own and Les Verts (The Greens). Even today, many fans of other sides have a soft spot for the team from a small industrial town near Lyon.