Reuters Soccer Blog

World Soccer views and news

Germans incensed by another harsh penalty


Loew in training

UEFA’s decision to banish mild-mannered coach Joachim Loew from the touchline for Thursday’s quarter-final against Portugal is being put down to anti-German feeling by a lot of people here, a suspicion fanned by the angry response from German FA bosses.

It’s not the first time Germany have been hit with what neutral observers (I’d like to consider myself one of those) might view as a rather harsh penalty just before a critical match.

It recalled the suspension of Torsten Frings on the eve of the World Cup semi-final against Italy two years ago, for his relatively minor role in a post-match scuffle with
Argentina players. Germans also remember that they had to do without Michael Ballack for the World Cup final in 2002, although that was a more straightforward decision.

Is it a general dislike of Germans? Are there influential people that don’t want to see the country that has won three European Championships (1972, 1980 and 1996) and three World Cups (1954, 1974, 1990) succeed again?

Whatever happened to good old fashioned goal difference?


Adrian Mutu gesturesFootball is a simple game so why do UEFA make the Euro 2008 groups so complicated?

The criteria for determining the rankings of teams who finish level on points are mindboggling.

Friday afternoon question: Does 6 + 5 equal nothing but trouble?


Blatter listens

FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s plans to limit the number of foreign players in a team, otherwise known as the “6+5″ rule, received overwhelming backing at FIFA’s congress in Sydney on Friday.

His plans, which would see clubs allowed to field a maximum of five foreign players, are contradictory to European Union laws and Brussels has already warned of legal action against any country which allows this rule to be implemented. Many national associations, leagues and clubs also say the plan is unfair and unworkable.

Biometric tickets and retina scans — the future of football?


Russian servicemenSonia Oxley blogged here last week on whether we might see a repeat of the violence which marred the UEFA Cup final last week at the Champions League final in Moscow.

UEFA officials say they don’t expect any trouble, and certainly no retaliatory attacks on Manchester United or Chelsea fans but last week’s rioting on the streets of Manchester and stabbing of a Russian fan raises wider questions about who is to blame, and whether violence can ever be completely kicked out of soccer.

The weird world of UEFA’s Fair Play League

Manchester City fans have always had a good line in terrace songs and their latest offering is “Hey Thaksin, Leave Our Sven Alone” to the tune of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall”.      

They may still be singing about Eriksson in Europe next season, if Richard Dunne’s final day red card in the 8-1 humiliation at Middlesbrough doesn’t scupper an unlikely route into the UEFA Cup via the wacky Fair Play League.  

Time for UEFA to rethink Champions League finals


Luzhniki Stadium

With Manchester United and Chelsea fans scrambling frantically for match tickets, flights, hotel rooms and visas for the Champions League final in Moscow, should UEFA now rethink the way it awards its showpiece event?      

Many senior UEFA officials have admitted the violence which marred last year’s final between AC Milan and Liverpool in Athens was caused in some way by the fact the stadium was “not fit for purpose”. In other words it was an Olympic Stadium and not a true soccer stadium.      

Whatever next? UEFA brings out football dictionary


When should he raise this?

Bizarre as it sounds, UEFA announced last week it was publishing a dictionary.

Teaming up with German reference book publishers Langenscheidt, European soccer’s governing body has produced a dictionary with around 2,000 “official” football terms, handily translated into English, French and German.

You can’t help but imagine some wonderful uses for this important academic work.

Euro 2008 crackdown could spark penalties and cards galore

Flying elbows, mass punch-ups, mouthy players, shirt-tuggers and divers will be the main focus for referees when Euro 2008 kicks off in June.

UEFA handed a six-point list of instructions on Thursday to the 12 referees officiating at the tournament in Switzerland and Austria.