Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

from Photographers' Blog:

Russia’s hooligans

By Maxim Shemetov

Photographing a soccer match for the first time, I realized that shooting the fans can be more interesting than covering the game itself.

We all keep up with the destinies of football clubs and the careers of soccer players. There are many parts to soccer life, however, that rarely appear on TV and on the front pages of newspapers. It's the life of people absorbed by the game - those inspiring exciting games, TV translations, as well as the construction of new stadiums.

Fan life is inseparable from the game itself, but there are certain aspects to soccer-fan culture that are rarely talked about. It's a quiet closed-off world with its own unwritten rules and laws, concepts of respect and dignity. The community is very picky about who it lets inside. The fan culture is aggressive and resembles that of medieval knights at first sight. Physical power, fighting skills and determination in battle are often attributes of soccer fans.

The world of fans, outside of ordinary team supporters, can be divided into two main categories: "ultras" (those arranging performances and focused on supporting the team in the dedicated area in the stadium) and "hooligans" (those fighting for their club with fans of other soccer teams). As a rule, the fan movement consists of a combination of such groups, competing against each other for authority.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Soccer Break Wednesday

SOCCER-EURO/Happy middle of the week to you all, and if like me you are in London where the sun is out and there is very little football to write about, you are forgiven for thinking the season is over and the grasscourt tennis season is about to kick in.

Don't look so worried, David (right). While the weather will probably change before I’ve finished writing this blog, the good news is it’s only March and there is plenty more football left. It's just this week it’s the international break.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

FIFA’s World Cup decision day — live

We'll be following all the presentations and the vote itself as FIFA's executive committee decides on the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Spain/Portugal, Russia, England and Netherlands/Belgium are the four rival bids for 2018, while Australia, South Korea, Qatar, United States and Japan battle it out for 2022, with the vote to come on Thursday.

from Olympics Notebook: Vancouver 2010:

Olympics Hockey Super Sunday — live

We're running a live blog on the mouth-watering line up of hockey on Sunday, featuring Russia v Czech Republic in Group B, Canada v United States in Group A and Sweden v Finland in Group C.

We'll be talking hockey all day so please feel free to dip in. The fun starts Sunday. Early.

Russia expects as Plushenko prepares for glory

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OLYMPICS-FIGURE SKATING/Millions of Russians will be setting their alarm clocks a little earlier than usual on Friday morning.

The patriotic inhabitants of the world’s largest country are desperate to see Yevgeny Plushenko bring home the cherished gold medal in the men’s free skate at the Winter Olympics later today.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

France break Irish hearts to seal World Cup slot

France ensured the likes of Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema and Thierry Henry will be at the World Cup in South Africa next year after winning through with a goal that has left Irish fans seething.

There was nothing wrong with the finish from William Gallas, but Thierry Henry admitted using his hand to keep the ball in play and commentators and Irish supporters are already talking of "The Hand of God II" and "The Hand of Henry" in reference to Diego Maradona in 1986.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

World Cup live blog

From 1730 GMT.************

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

World Cup playoff draw – your views

Draw for the European World Cup playoffs:

Republic of Ireland v France
Portugal v Bosnia-Herzegovina
Greece v Ukraine
Russia v Slovenia

Two-legged ties to be played on Nov 14 and 18.

Is that the sound of a World Cup playoff shock I hear? France, 2006 runners-up, will have to beat Giovanni Trapattoni's Ireland over two legs to reach South Africa next year and that is no easy feat.

Sharapova shows she is more than a pretty face

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I have never been a big fan of Maria Sharapova’s tennis. I prefer fellow Russian Dinara Safina, who I like to nickname ‘Marata’ (her brother being Marat Safin).

Many men will prefer Sharapova for reasons other than tennis but Safina can be more enjoyable to watch on court, especially when it’s clay.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Hiddink tells Reuters he is in talks with Chelsea

Guus Hiddink is in talks with Chelsea about taking over as manager until the end of the season while continuing as Russia coach.

Hiddink said he was approached by the Premier League club to coach the team after Luiz Felipe Scolari was sacked on Monday.

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