Reuters Soccer Blog
World Soccer views and news
Jose Mourinho is no stranger to run-ins with rival club managers, but this week the Portuguese raised his aim and had a swipe at Italian national team boss Marcello Lippi.
The Inter Milan coach had taken exception to Lippi tipping Juventus for this year’s Serie A title.
He accused him of lacking respect, arguing a national team coach should be seen to be impartial even if deep down he wants Juve to win (Lippi had two glorious stints at the Turin club split by a dismal, short one at Inter).
Mourinho even added mysteriously that “this makes me think a great deal”.
Lippi responded by saying it was just a prediction: “Mourinho seemed an intelligent person to me, I’m sorry he’s interpreted things differently. You can’t say half a word”.
The English Premier League has always reminded me of eating out at McDonalds. I always hope for something new but then end up getting the same as last time.
The new season hasn’t even kicked off yet, but if the experts are right, it’s already as good as over for nearly all the teams.
Fans are angst-ridden over the delay of the season as bad management and the global slowdown leave the country’s world-famous clubs unable to pay players and heavily in debt.
Diego Maradona is a worried man, with no football in Argentina and less than a month to go before their critical World Cup qualifier against a strong Brazilian side.
A debt crisis has put an indefinite hold on the 2009/10 season which was scheduled to start at the end of next week.
German Muslims have inundated one of the country's top soccer teams, Schalke 04, with complaints about a verse in the club's anthem which, they say, is disparaging towards the Prophet Mohammad.
The club has its home in Gelsenkirchen in Germany's industrial heartland and immigrants make up about a third of the town's population. Most of them have a Turkish background. Germany's biggest mosque was opened in nearby Duisburg last year and many Schalke supporters are Muslims, as chat rooms like this one point out.
from Changing China:
Soccer is in a tight spot in China -- literally. Huge crowds roar for Manchester United but the national team is a laughing stock at 108th in FIFA world rankings. Poor coaching, lack of grassroots development, even corruption and violence are variously cited as reasons for the sport's demise. But the real reason may be more basic: the fact of physical space, or the lack thereof, in China.
If geography is a determinant of economic development, then it is fair to extrapolate that urban geography underpins the development of sports. And here's the rub for soccer, not to mention American football and baseball. With few parks, small concrete schoolyards and a dearth of quiet streets, urban China offers little of the space needed for the sprawling play that defines those sports. Soccer has deep roots in China, but playing space has been squeezed as cities sprawl and swallow land in big gulps.
Japan midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura’s decision to snub a return to Yokohama and join Spain’s Espanyol left his boyhood club devastated.
Yokohama’s club president slapped himself with a 50 percent pay cut by way of apology to furious F-Marinos fans, but arguably the most surprising aspect of the protracted saga was Yokohama’s “shock” that Nakamura opted for Espanyol instead of them after leaving Celtic, where he won three Scottish Premier League titles.
So, the Confederations Cup is over and much of the pessimistic handringing beforehand proved unfounded.Despite some real logistical problems, the general verdict seems to be that the tournament was a success with enthusiastic and colourful crowds and some classy and unpredictable football, not least the United States’ shock semi-final defeat of Spain and a thrilling final where Brazil went 2-0 down to the Americans before storming back to win 3-2 and ensure the football world was not thrown off its axis.Crucially, South Africa’s own team, Bafana Bafana, did a lot better than many of their own fans had expected. The side suffered a lot of bad press from their terrible pre-competition form — they did not even qualify for next year’s African Nations Cup finals — and Brazilian coach Joel Santana had been treated with scepticism by football writers and fans alike. Even Danny Jordaan, chief executive of the organising committee for next year’s World Cup, expressed concern over their form. After a slow start, however, South Africa turned in a creditable, if not outstanding performance. They reached the semi-final and held eventual champions Brazil until the 88th minute when they went down to a scorching free kick by Daniel Alves. And in the third place final they pushed European champions Spain into extra time before finally losing 3-2, again to a freekick.They badly need more strike power and it looks like Santana must make peace with English-based striker Benni McCarthy who was dropped from the team for his apparent lack of commitment. But their performance gave grounds for some optimism.Bafana Bafana’s Confederations Cup performance was key to the 2010 World Cup because it will encourage local fan participation — a constant worry for the organisers, who expressed concern before this tournament about lack of home enthusiasm.Nevertheless, there are continuing worries that even the cheapest World Cup tickets are still too expensive for working class South Africans and that they will be unwilling to pay in advance for entrance in a year’s time, something which goes directly against the entrenched local custom of buying tickets on match days.World Cup matches attended predominantly by foreign fans and restrained, middle class South Africans would be a huge disappointment for the first World Cup held in Africa, where the unique local atmosphere was a major selling point.That isn’t the only worry in considering what the Confederations Cup tells us about the likely success of next year’s much bigger global competition.FIFA boss Sepp Blatter gave organisers 7.5 points out of 10 for the Confederations Cup but World Cup veterans said this was nothing to be complacent about, given his likely tendency to talk up the tournament. Even Blatter said South Africa had to do “a little bit more” and FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke was more direct, acknowledging problems with transport, security and accommodation capacity, which is still significantly below what will be required next year.Security is a particularly sensitive issue, given South Africa’s frightening reputation for violent crime, so it was unfortunate that the Confederations Cup saw alleged thefts from both Egyptian and Brazilian teams, although some of the circumstances remain mirky.More serious were security lapses in access to stadiums and other areas. Such failures must be cleared up in the time that remains if fans are to follow their teams without constantly looking over their shoulders.So the Confederations Cup provided both encouragement and warnings. Okay so far, but much more to be done. The next 12 months may be both nerve racking and frenetic for the organisers but we are all still hoping for a reasonably trouble-free football extravaganza with the special atmosphere that only Africa can give it–including those pesky vuvuzela trumpets…PHOTO: A South African fan at the June 28 Confederations Cup final REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
from Left field:
The South African sporting public were a little underwhelmed by the early stages of the Confederations Cup and the British and Irish Lions tour but the last few days has seen a major turnaround and there is now something in the air.
Relatively high ticket prices combined with the Sprinboks' decision to keep their players out of their Super 14 teams combined to ensure the early provincial games were played against a backdrop of empty seats.