Reuters Soccer Blog

Why Mourinho is raging at Lippi

August 20, 2009

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.

Premier League season needs a grand finale

August 14, 2009

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.

Argentine fans cry foul over season delay

August 12, 2009

By Luis Andres Henao

In Argentina, where footballing great Diego Maradona is worshipped in his own church, everyone is asking the same question: What will it take to get the ball rolling again?

Argentina without football starts to worry Maradona

August 8, 2009

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.

Don Garber Q & A

August 4, 2009

The following is the transcript of an interview with Don Garber, commissioner of Major League Soccer. Simon Evans talked to Garber as he marked his 10th year in charge of the league.

from FaithWorld:

Muslims angry at German soccer club over song

August 4, 2009

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.

from Changing China:

China’s infertile ground for (some) Western sports

July 30, 2009

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.

Nakamura’s Japan snub a no-brainer

July 15, 2009

Japan midfielder Shunsuke Nakamura’s decision to snub a return to Yokohama and join Spain’s Espanyol left his boyhood club devastated.

Confederations Cup defies pessimists but is World Cup on course?

June 30, 2009

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:

Things warming up nicely on the South African sporting front

June 18, 2009

SOCCER-CONFEDERATIONS/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.