Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

from Photographers' Blog:

Beckham’s final 81st minute

Paris, France

By Gonzalo Fuentes

Since David Beckham arrived in Paris the media have captured every move, every training session, every single time he and his family have roamed around the city.

The infrastructure of the Paris Saint Germain (PSG) stadium was upgraded to handle all the media that he attracts. The media in Paris was ready to follow all his actions as evidenced when 150 journalists were accredited to cover the presentation of his PSG jersey.

While covering his first match, I was able to capture an emblematic picture that I was hoping to shoot. Beckham ran and embraced Swedish team mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic to celebrate scoring, providing me with an image of a true team player. As the French tournament continued, Beckham did what he does best, which was to spread himself among the team, while becoming one of the key leaders.

For the last home match of the season, I arrived at the stadium in advance to install my equipment. The night announced itself as a long one. It was pouring rain and Paris Saint-Germain was already the winner of the French League. This could have been the most irrelevant match if it was not for the fact that this night was to be the last soccer match of one of the most defining figures in soccer.

from Photographers' Blog:

To my friend Vladimir Lenin

By Charles Platiau

When I arrived in Donetsk, southern Ukraine, two weeks ago I didn't think you would be one of the best friends I made during my stay. Nobody speaks English here, even if my hotel is called "the Liverpool hotel" and plays Beatles music all day long everywhere except, thoughtfully, in my room. I don’t speak Russian either, but I soon learned Vladimir Ilyich is how locals fondly refer to you, Mr Lenin. Your statue dominates the landscape of this city's downtown. You remain in full view in contrast to the advertising you stand opposite; maybe people even remember what you stand for.

It's hard to judge a place in such a short time but I wonder what Donetsk looks like when there isn't such a big event in town. The city is quiet, very clean and there are more advertising boards than in most western countries. All the ugliest buildings are now covered with banners to advertise Japanese goods or to hide the worst aspects of the city.

from Photographers' Blog:

A game of two other halves

By Eddie Keogh

As part of our photographic coverage of Euro 2012, Darren Staples and myself from England and Michael Dalder from Germany are covering all the group games in Kiev and Lviv in Ukraine. Our first game was between Germany and Portugal last Saturday in Lviv and proved to be a very interesting day.

Saturday is a busy day to get married in Ukraine and as the city was also packed with fans it was only time before both parties would meet.

from Photographers' Blog:

Finding Funtik

By Will Webster

Who could have foreseen what the late Paul the Octopus started when he began picking the winning teams at the 2010 World Cup? Presumably he could have, he was clairvoyant. But he may have struggled to predict the psychic circus that has appeared in the last week before the opening of the EURO2012 championship:  Fred the ferret, an elephant called Chitta and Kiev’s very own Funtik the pig.

Animals predicting the outcomes of sporting events are all part of various big competitions now, Sonny Wool the sheep had a good run during the rugby world cup in 2011, so it’s easy to take it all with a pinch of salt (we’ll talk about local eating habits later.) However, using animals to predict the future goes back to biblical times, doves landing on the arc gave Noah a hint of better times.
Sitting in Moscow, my first view of Funtik was Gleb’s picture of a rabid and vaguely scary looking beast. Fred the Ferret from Kharkiv has a much more furry and cheeky appeal, so why did Kiev go for a pig? 

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.

from Photographers' Blog:

Saving the Canon 400mm f2.8

By Murad Sezer

All photographers make plans to deal with possible clashes. They are ready to protect themselves and their equipment when covering a potential riot (or a May Day demonstration as I did a few days earlier). But you don’t expect to be doing that before a soccer match, or any other sports events.

While covering the May Day protests I don't carry a camera bag or a laptop. I head out with my two camera bodies, spare memory cards, a gas mask and a wireless lan transmitter attached to the camera body to file my pictures - that’s all.. It's more comfortable and easy to cover if any riots break out. But to cover a soccer match is a different story. If it's a cup final or a decisive match like last Saturday's Fenerbahce - Galatasaray Turkish Super League Super Final, we bring along much more equipment. I pack a hardcase with a laptop, 3 camera bodies, four lenses including a 400 mm f2.8 super telephoto, remote control devices to set up a camera behind the goal, network cables, a mini tripod etc. And usually we don't even think about the safety of ourselves or our equipment. Normally during half time or at the end of the game we set our cameras down and rush to file pictures from the field or in the photographers’ working room.

Boca put River in their place

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By Rex Gowar

The result of the year’s first “superclasico” was logical with first division champions Boca Juniors beating second-division River Plate 2-0.

But Wednesday night’s friendly – an unprecedented clash with one of the two giants of the Argentine game in the second tier — was also something of an anti-climax after the massive build.

from Mark Meadows:

Real’s psychological barrier key to Barca’s 3-1 win

By Drazen Jorgic

Annoyingly for Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, the supposed plot line of  El Clasico on Saturday did not follow the script. The much-anticipated power shift from Catalunya to Madrid did not take place and his team are back to the drawing board as far as playing against Barcelona is concerned.

Mourinho blamed bad luck for the loss, as you would expect, but a lot of the press have zoomed in on Real's psychological barrier when it comes to facing Barca.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

FIFA takes agenda by scruff of the snood

SOCCER-ENGLAND/There will be a lot of fashion-conscious footballers holding their breath for item “V.1.b” at the International Football Association Board’s annual meeting next month.

Forget goal-line technology and positioning of goal posts and the other very sensible items on the agenda, the one sure to get a few people rather hot under the collar is the “wearing of snoods” – those snugly neck warmers much loved by the likes of Carlos Tevez and Samir Nasri.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Football still offside in attitude to women

The British media furore over two television presenters’ sexist comments over a lineswoman at a Premier League match at the weekend has thrown the spotlight on the subject of women in soccer – be it on the pitch or off.

Sky Sports duo Richard Keys and Andy Gray have apologised for saying female officials “don’t know the offside rule” when they were talking about lineswoman Sian Massey at Saturday’s match between Wolves and Liverpool when they thought their microphones were switched off.

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