Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

A not so happy birthday for Maradona

SOCCER/Diego Maradona is spending his 50th birthday on Saturday far from the two things that have dominated his life -- soccer and being constantly in the public eye.

That leaves Argentina’s greatest player at a crossroads a few short months after a humiliating 4-0 defeat by Germany in the World Cup quarter-finals cost him the job as coach of his beloved Argentina.

Having cheated death more than once and defied doubters to get the job in November 2008, it would be unwise to write off his chances of returning to it one day.

Indeed, former Boca Juniors and Argentina team mate and friend Claudio Caniggia saw him recently and confirmed Maradona was still interested.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Paul the Octopus will predict no more…

GERMANY-OCTOPUS/SOCCERIt is with great sadness that we report the death of the world's foremost psychic cephalopod.

Paul the Octopus, the mystic mollusc himself, became a more significant World Cup figure than Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo or Franck Ribery with his extraordinarily accurate predictions from his tank at Sea Life in Germany.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

What’s behind Spain’s run of sporting success?

CYCLING-TOUR/

Spanish sports fans have never had it so good.

The Iberian nation is celebrating its latest triumphs after a month of success that local media have called a golden age.

On Sunday, Alberto Contador sealed his third Tour de France title, Fernando Alonso won the German Formula One Grand Prix, and Jorge Lorenzo roared to MotoGP victory in the U.S.

from Photographers' Blog:

No turning back as Africa’s hour arrives

A local child carries a ball while playing soccer at a dirt field in Soweto, Johannesburg June 7, 2010. The 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup kicks off on June 11.          REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The 2010 World Cup has been a memorable and momentous occasion not only for me, but for South Africa, the African continent and the rest of the world.

It has indeed been incredible. It has been a unifying factor, with people beginning to appreciate the importance of their national symbols such as flags.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Losing team’s national stock markets at risk

SOCCER-WORLD/By Ross Kerber

Two national market indexes that may not shine on Monday are those of Spain and the Netherlands, whose soccer teams are scheduled to meet in the World Cup's championship game on Sunday.

Whichever country's team loses can expect a drag on its market index of 49 basis points, said Wharton business school professor Alex Edmans. That is the amount that national stock indexes tend to be held back on average on the day after their country is eliminated from the World Cup, according to a paper he published in 2007 with two co-authors, Diego Garcia of the University of North Carolina and Oyvind Norli of the Norwegian School of Management.

from Photographers' Blog:

How a simple tentacle became a media star

Sometimes I hold seminars about journalism – photo journalism in particular of course. Most of the time I start talking about the journalistic rule number one.

What is rule number one? Journalism works very simply. When a dog bites a man – this is not a story. Dogs bite men. Unless the man is Prince Charles or the President of the United States, nobody is interested. But the opposite case - when a man bites a dog – that's a story. The story will be even bigger if the man who bites the dog is the U.S. President and the dog belongs to Prince Charles.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Sorry Germany, the oracle octopus has spoken

SOCCER-WORLD/OCTOPUSThere are only three things that are certain in life -- death, taxes and the World Cup predictions of a British-born octopus in western Germany.

That being the case, there's hardly any point in playing Wednesday's semi-final between Germany and Spain -- the Spanish have got it won.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Reuters World Cup 2010 podcast — quarter-finals (II)

Listen!

Join us for a look back at the extraordinary first two quarter-finals at the World Cup and a look forward to Germany v Argentina and Spain v Paraguay. Paul Radford, Felix Bate, Jon Bramley and Kevin Fylan argue over the merits of penalty goals in soccer and consider Ghana's desperate misfortune.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Reuters World Cup podcast — quarter-finals (I)

Join us for an in-depth look at the first two World Cup quarter-finals, Netherlands v Brazil and Uruguay v Ghana, with our soccer experts Paul Radford, Owen Wyatt, Felix Bate, Mark Gleeson, Helen Popper and Kevin Fylan.

from Photographers' Blog:

Samurais in South Africa

I arrived in South Africa with the Japan team filled with excitement and an acute feeling of anxiety. Never mind that I would be on the scene to cover the world's biggest sporting event, and never mind that I would be competing against the top sports photographers from around the globe to get the best pictures. For a Reuters photographer like myself dedicated to a single team, when your team drops out of the competition, you're finished. Like the defeated team, you go back to the hotel, pack your bags and spend the long flight home wondering what went wrong. Based on Japan's lackluster showing in the East Asia Soccer Championship my expectation for Japan was three defeats in a row and no victories. Mine would be a short stay in South Africa.

A Japanese boy living in South Africa reacts as he watches Japan's national soccer team depart from South Africa at O.R. Tambo airport in Johannesburg June 30, 2010. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

But during Japan's first match against Cameroon the Samurai Blue seemed to transform themselves in front of my eyes with Keisuke Honda’s goal being the catalyst. Japan was defeated by the Netherlands in their second match but the Samurais demonstrated the unity of the team in their performance and they were victorious against Denmark in their third match. In doing so they completely wiped out the image that I held of the Japan team before going into the competition. I was covering the world's biggest sporting event, and I was going up against the top sports photographers, but in this World Cup Japan's victory meant that the formidable teams of France and Italy and the even more formidable photographers accompanying them were going home. Not me.

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