Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Dec 11 2013

Profile Image of Basil Seif

Soccer as an Escape in Brazilian Favelas

WLANL_-_elefteria1_-_Favela_and_'Canary'_soccer_shirts,_Brazil_Contemporary_Rotterdam_(05-30-09_until_08-23-09)

Favela and ‘Canary Soccer Shirts’
Photography: Brazil Contemporary Rotterdam/Wikimedia Commons

 

With all of the recent conversation about favela destruction, drug gang violence, and a supposed World Cup of Terror in the running up to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, one very unexpected Dutch immigrant is providing a ray of hope to many of the impoverished children in the favelas, through the game of football.

 

Nanko van Buuren, a psychiatrist by trade, came to Brazil in 1987, aiming to lift children away from poverty and organized crime [1]. Since founding IBISS, the Brazilian institute for innovation and social health care about 20 years ago, he has helped over 4,000 children in 68 different favela communities [1]. Van Buuren is using football to change the culture of violence in these favelas, while also directly increasing school attendance and homicide rates in certain areas [1].

 

Read here to learn more about how the beautiful game can connect people of different backgrounds, ethnicities, and social statures and save the lives of hundreds of impoverished children: http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/22951694.

 

This is a truly beautiful story, especially in the months before the World Cup, about how soccer unifies us all. Enjoy.

 

Sources:

[1] Smith, Ben. “Confederations Cup: Rio De Janeiro Slums Offered Rebirth.” BBC Sports. BBC, 21 June 2013. Web. 8 Dec. 2013. <http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/22951694>.

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Dec 10 2013

Profile Image of Vishnu Kadiyala

Dissent among former stars about the 2014 World Cup

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The debate about whether the 2014 World Cup is good for Brazil has now enmeshed former stars.  In many ways, this is areflection of how this debate has divided Brazil. Proponents of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 World Cup say that the protests shine a bad light onto Brazil, while opponents of the tournaments believe that the protests are the only way to make sure that the people of Brazil are not exploited

 

When the protests broke out, Pele issued a statement saying that “Let’s forget all this commotion happening in Brazil, all these protests, and let’s

remember how the Brazilian squad is our country and our blood.” In many ways, this enraged the younger generation of Brazilians. Pele is a legend in Brazil, but the sport is not everything in the nation. Many claimed that because he was rich, he was unable to empathize with the ordinary Brazilian.

 

Far more harsh worlds were reserved for the great striker Ronaldo. Amidst the protests, he gave an interview where he said “A World Cup isn’t made with hospitals, my friend. It’s made with stadiums” In the eyes of  many Brazilians, he seemed to value the sport over the welfare of his own people. Articles calling  him a traitor emerged. People called him out of touch with the common man. http://www.firstpost.com/blogs/brazil-protests-how-ronaldo-pele-betrayed-their-people-894901.html?utm_source=ref_article

 

In contrast, the 1994 Golden Ball winner Romario has come out against the 2014 World Cup vehemently. Now a member of the Brazilian Parliament, he represents a district of Rio de Janeiro. He says that ““FIFA got what it came for: money,” he said. “Things like transportation that affect the public after the tournament is over? They don’t care. They don’t care about what is going to be left behind.” Instead, he has advocated spending the money on health and education.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/16/sports/soccer/romario-a-world-cup-champion-is-now-a-world-cup-dissenter.html?_r=0

Perhaps Romario is trying to channel a populist vein for political gain. However, it remains undeniable that there is some truth to what he says; Brazil has spent 14 billion dollars already on the World Cup, and the cost is expected to rise. In a Country that spends less than 40 billion on education, perhaps the cost of this World Cup is too high?

 

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Dec 10 2013

Profile Image of Gilda Doria

More Violence in Brazil: Security Fears

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Riots erupted Sunday night in Sao Pablo in a match between Athletico PR and Vasco de Gama, leaving many World Cup fans concerned about the safety in the stadiums for next summer’s tournament. One man was airlifted to the hospital in serious condition, while 3 others are being charged with attempted murder. FIFA is apparently downplaying the event and telling fans not to worry. FIFA representatives have stated that there will be specific perimeters around stadiums, as well as checkpoints to pass through to ensure safety. Karl Matchett, a World Football Writer, believes that, “inside the stadiums, there is seemingly a different demographic watching Brazil’s national team than the one that cheers on the club sides—at times with violent outcomes, such as that in Sao Paulo.”  Maybe this is true and maybe racial classification will be different inside the stadiums during the 2014 World Cup…or is this just a way for FIFA to hush up the media?

 

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Dec 10 2013

Profile Image of Daniel Carp

One of the strangest endings in sports

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As we sit here at the end of another semester at Duke, it’s gotten me thinking about the way we draw things to a close in the sport of soccer. All tie-is-like-kissing-your-sister jokes aside, I’m talking about penalty kicks.

Last week as I was sitting in the press box anxiously awaiting the kickoff of the ACC championship game, I got an ESPN ScoreCenter alert on my phone. Expecting to see something related to college football or the NFL, I looked down and learned that Sporting Kansas City had just beaten Real Salt Lake for the MLS Cup in a marathon, 10-round penalty kick shootout. My first reaction was ‘wow, that must have been exciting,’ but my second thought was, ‘why do we end the most important matches on the world’s biggest stages in a shootout?’

There’s no question that a shootout of any kind—whether in soccer or hockey—is one of the most exciting situations in sports. It’s the ultimate showdown. It’s the attacker against the goalkeeper, and one shot could make the difference between winning and losing. But on a championship setting, ending a grueling 120-minute match in penalty kicks has always struck me as being a bit anticlimactic. I’ll never once pretend to be a soccer die-hard, but I think the players deserve more than the cruel ending of a penalty shootout.

Just weeks before the MLS Cup, I watched anxiously as Duke’s women’s soccer team won not one, but two NCAA tournament matches by way of a shootout. Each time was full of tension and excitement, but even as I celebrated my team’s victory I walked away feeling slightly empty. Do matches that are played so well that they end in ties deserve to end in penalties? By nature, penalty kicks are decided by the choice of the kicker versus the choice of the keeper. Each of them have a 50-50 shot of guessing the right way, so should we be ending soccer matches on what can be boiled down to an immensely skillful coin flip?

Don’t worry, I’m not going to bore everyone with the argument that a penalty kick shootout in soccer is like ending a baseball game that’s tied after nine innings with a Home Run Derby between the two teams. I’ve never enjoyed that argument—unlike a Home Run Derby, penalty kicks are still a part of the game of soccer, although they occur rarely in the run of play. Rather, I advocate against penalty kicks because I would much rather see a marathon soccer match end in a golden goal—no matter how long it takes.

Opposition would argue that if a soccer match goes on too long, players will tire until scoring a goal becomes nearly impossible due to exhaustion. I understand that 120 minutes of a soccer match is grueling enough for the players as it is. But in a sport where conditioning is essential, does it not make sense that the best-conditioned team should be in a position to win the match? Since we’re getting hypothetical with the whole golden goal thing here, let’s propose that to combat fatigue, the substitution rules in extra time will change. Just like NFL and NBA teams receive additional timeouts in overtime, soccer teams that play past the 120th minute would each receive one additional substitution per 15 minutes of play. This would allow teams to stay fresh and add an interesting new element into the sport of soccer—depth is going to matter a whole lot more as the game goes on.

Now I understand that soccer games are already long enough as is, and matches already aren’t built for television because there are no commercials, but as someone who really enjoys baseball I can tell you that I love staying up late into the night watching a 17- or 18-inning game. As the contest wears on, the tension continues to mount and little-known players have the chance to become heroes. Teams have to go deeper into their bullpens and depth becomes an issue. Just like soccer, there is no re-entry into a game, so sometimes if the game goes long enough people will be forced to play out of position and adapt. All of these contribute to the notion that the stronger team—not the luckier team—wins the game.

I’m really interested to see what more traditional soccer fans think about this idea. Maybe it’s something that is much better in theory than it ever would be in practice, but although penalty shootouts are exciting, I’m just not sure it does a great game justice to end that way. If there’s one thing that learning to follow soccer more closely has taught me, it’s that there doesn’t need to be scoring to drive the tension of a match—ending a match in a penalty shootout seems counterintuitive to me for that reason. All it should take is one goal, one moment, and it should happen with all 22 players on the field.

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Dec 07 2013

Profile Image of Elena Kim

La Corée du Sud & cette prochaine Coupe du Monde

Le moment est enfin arrivé – Juste hier, le finale tirage au sort de la Coupe du Monde 2014 très attendu était annoncé. Bien sûr, comme chaque Coupe du Monde, il y avait beaucoup de conversation en regardant la probabilité de chaque pays d’avancer dans leur groupe…

Screen Shot 2013-12-07 at 10.56.22 PM

C’est le 8ème consecutive finale de la Coupe du Monde pour la République de Corée, mais il n’y était pas un parcours facile d’avancer au finale tirage ce temps. L’équipe Coréen a finit deuxième après Iran et le directeur précédent, Choi Kang-Hee, était viré par conséquent. Mais sur une note plus positive, le 15 novembre, la Corée a réussi par 2-1 contre la Suisse, qui est classée huitième. Alors la Corée est dans le Groupe H avec la Belgique, l’Algérie, et la Russie. Comment vont-elles correspondre contre ces équipes ?

Park Chu-Young

Park Chu-Young

D’abord, on doit examiner les joueurs spécifiques qui peuvent guidera l’équipe vers la victoire. Donc, qui est quelques vedettes de l’équipe à surveiller ? L’un des joueurs les plus populaires de la Corée qui joue pour Arsenal est Park Chu-Young. Dans la Coupe du Monde 2010, Park a dirigé l’équipe avec son coup franc contre le Nigeria, ce qui porte la pour les huitièmes de finale. En plus, aux Jeux Olympiques de Londres, il a marqué le premier but de la victoire 2-0 contre le Japon.[1] Et jusqu’à présent, il a marqué six buts dans les éliminatoires de la Coupe du Monde pour l’équipe Coréen. Une autre vedette de l’équipe potentielle est Son Heung-Min. Il a juste 21 ans, et il a tous les ingrédients de devenir icône de football prochaine en Corée. Comme Park Chu-Young, il joue à l’étranger pour l’équipe allemande, Bundesliga.

Son Heung-Min

Son Heung-Min

Et l’entraîneur ? Hong Myung-bo est le joueur le plus capé de la Corée et a joué sous Guus Hiddink dans la 2002 Coupe du Monde quand la Corée a avancé aux demi-finales— l’une des moments les plus fiers de la Corée dans l’histoire. Hong était aussi l’entraîneur de l’équipe Olympique de la Corée l’été dernier à Londres, où son équipe a gagné la médaille de bronze.  Avec la victoire récente contre la Suisse, Hong donne de l’espoir aux Coréens.[2]

291165_heroa

Entraîneur Hong Myung-Bo

Je crois que l’équipe Coréen ont une très bonne chance de faire passé le tour du groupe, mais elles ne peuvent pas sous-estimer la concurrence. Selon agence de presse, Yonhap, l’entraîneur Hong Myung-bo a déclaré :

Les fans sud-coréens peut-être ne sont pas très familier avec la Belgique, mais je pense qu’ils seront une équipe encore meilleure l’année prochaine… La Russie est une équipe de joueurs physiques et qualifiés et l’Algérie est aussi une équipe solide. Il n’y a jamais un groupe facile à la Coupe du Monde, et nous ne pouvons pas se permettre de penser que nous avons retrouvés dans un. [3]

La Corée jouera d’abord contre la Russie le 17 juin, alors l’Algérie le 22 juin, et la Belgique le 26 juin. Voici quelques informations statistiques sur chaque équipe de Groupe H [4]:

La Belgique
FIFA Classement Mondial: 11
Dernière Coupe du Monde: 2002
Meilleur résultat: Quatrième place (1986)
Comment qualifié: UEFA Groupe A gagnant

L’Algérie
FIFA Classement Mondial: 26
Dernière Coupe du Monde: 2010
Meilleur résultat: Tour de groupe
Comment qualifié: Battu Burkina Faso dans le CAF play-off

La Russie
FIFA Classement Mondial: 22
Dernière Coupe du Monde: 2002
Meilleur résultat: Quatrième place (1966)
Comment qualifié: UEFA Group F gagnant

Corée du Sud
FIFA Classement Mondial: 54
Dernière Coupe du Monde: 2010
Meilleur résultat: Quatrième place (2002)
Comment qualifié: AFC Group A second

 


[1] Itel, Dan. “World Cup 2014: Korea Republic national soccer team.” http://www.mlssoccer.com/worldcup/2014/korea-republic.

[3] “World Cup Hell Draw for Aussies, Easier for Japan, Korea, Iran.” Yahoo Sports Singapore. http://sg.sports.yahoo.com/news/world-cup-hell-draw-aussies-easier-japan-korea-013725468–sow.html.

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Dec 07 2013

Profile Image of Rosa Toledo

Le Tirage au Sort de la Coupe du Monde

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Hier, le 6 décembre 2013, le tirage au sort des groupes de Coupe du Monde de la FIFA, Brésil 2014™ a eu lieu. Le tirage au sort est un événement avec plusieurs centaines de millions de téléspectateurs à travers le monde. Ce moment est important pour tout ce qui s’est intéresse par le Coupe du Monde de la FIFA, Brésil 2014™ car ce moment définira le débout de trajet de tous les équipes.

Pour établir une hiérarchie avant le tirage au sort, la FIFA a classé les 32 équipes qui ont qualifié dans 4 chapeaux. Une équipe d’un chapeau ne peut pas jouer contre une autre équipe de ce même chapeau.

Les Chapeaux:

Chapeau 1 – Les têtes de séries d’Amérique du Sud : Brésil, Argentine, Uruguay, Colombie. Les têtes de série d’Europe: Allemagne, Belgique, Espagne, Suisse.

Chapeau 2 – Pays africains et d’Amérique du Sud: Algérie, Cameroun, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Chili et Équateur.

Chapeau 3 – Pays asiatiques et d’Amérique centrale: Australie, Iran, Japon, République de Corée, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexique et États-Unis.

Chapeau 4 – Pays européens: Bosnie-Herzégovine, Croatie, Angleterre, France, Grèce, Italie, Pays-Bas, Portugal, Russie.[1]

Les résultats du tirage au sort étaient les suivant :

Screen Shot 2013-12-07 at 12.13.51 PM

FR.FIFA.COM



[1]  ”Coupe Du Monde 2014: Tirage Au Sort, Mode D’emploi.” 20minutes.fr. 20Minutes FR, 7 Dec. 2013. Web. 07 Dec. 2013.

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Dec 03 2013

Profile Image of Gilda Doria

Brazuca: Adidas 2014 World Cup Ball Promotional

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brazuca-1

 

Want the “Brazuca” 2014 World Cup ball for free? Well just give birth to a baby tomorrow in Brazil and have a birth certificate handy. Adidas is doing a promotional where they will be giving away free 2014 match balls to all babies born in Brazil on Tuesday, December 3rd. The Brazuca, named after the Brazilian way of life,  is made of six textured panels and has been promised by Adidas to perform more like Adidas’ Finale 13 model. It is supposed to maintain faster flight speed and true roundedness. 

The giveaway is the company’s way of marketing Brazilian soccer culture in a very unique way. Adidas said Friday that parents of every baby born on Tuesday will be entitled to redeem a ball next Friday and Saturday at specific locations in all 12 host cities with proof of a birth certificate. For once and for all, it can now be confirmed that Brazilians really are born with soccer balls at their feet. Pretty cool idea if you ask me.

 

 

 

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Dec 02 2013

Profile Image of Vishnu Kadiyala

The Danish Fairy Tale

A friend of mine is a fan of F.C. København, the most successful Danish league side of the last 10 years. København have won 7 of the last 10 Danish Superliga titles, but are more famous for being a Cinderella team that beat Manchester United and drew Barcelona and Manchester City in the Champions League. Remarkably, however,  København is not the most successful Cinderella that Denmark has produced. That honor belongs to the Danish team that won Euro 1992 against all odds, which wrote a fairy tale that can rival any work by Hans Christian Andersen

The Champions

The Team that shouldn’t have even been there

European football in th 1970s and 1980s was dominated by the Germans and Dutch. These bitter rivals had won 3 of the 5 Euros held in that timespan, and were favored to repeat then dominance in the 1992 Euros. But qualification had to occur first. Sweden, as host country qualified automatically, while the Netherlands, Germany, France, England and Scotland qualified by winning their groups. The Soviet Union qualified, then ceased to exist as a country, but sent a team under the name “Commonwealth of Independent States.” The last team to qualify was Yugoslavia, who had beat out Denmark, Northern Ireland, the Faroe Islands, and Austria for a spot at Euro 1992.

But as so often occurs in football, fate had other plans. After the death of Marshal Tito, ethnic tensions had risen in the Soviet Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The various ethic groups started arming themselves, creating a very volatile situation. In mid 1992, Slovenia and Croatia declared independence, starting the Yugoslav Civil wars. During these conflicts, atrocities such as the last genocide in Europe occured, resulting in the breakup of Yugoslavia. In an effort to calm the situation, the United Nations passed Security Council Resolution 757, which banned Yugoslav participation in global evens. Part g of the resolution banned Yugoslav participation in sporting events

As a result, the Yugoslav team was disqualified from the 1992 Euros. Denmark, the runners-up in that group, were selected to replace them. Barring the disqualification of  the former Yugoslavia, Denmark would not have has a chance to write one of the most remarkable tales in soccer history.

The Danish Team

The Danish team, despite finishing runners up in their group, were actually a solid team. In the 1984 Euros, they had lost to Spain, the eventual runners up, on penalities in the Semifinals. The 1992 team boasted players such Peter Schmeichel, Brian Laudrup, Henrik Andersen, and Flemming Søgaard Povlsen, who all played in the major leagues of Europe. However, the most famous and talented player of that Danish generation, Michael Laudrup, had decided not to go to the tournament due to differences with the coach. Famously, Michael Laudrup though Denmark’s chances were so low that he decided to stay on holiday instead of representing his country

 

Laudrup must have regretted his decision

 

The Group Stages

Denmark was placed in a group with France, England, and Sweden (which was another stroke of luck-they may not have qualified from the other group). In the 1st game, they played England, drawing 0-0. In their second game, Denmark faced the host nation, Sweden, but lost 1-0 thanks to a goal by the Parma midfielder Tomas Brolin. At this point, qualification was still possible, but Denmark was last in their group, with only 1 point (France and England had drawn their first two games, so were ahead of Denmark but behind Sweden). At this point, qualification was not in Denmark’s hands; if England won their game by a small margin, Denmark would have been eliminated on goals scored and head to head results.

But Sweden defeated England 2-1 after falling behind early. It was now up to the Danes to determine their own destiny.

In the last game of the Group stages, Denmark faced France, a team brimming with talent. At that point, France boasted players such as Didier Deschamps, Eric Cantona, Laurent Blanc and jean Pierre Papin. During the game, Denmark took an early lead when henrik Larsen scored in the 8th minute. But Papin equalized for France in the 60th minute. As the clock ticked down, Lars Elstrup scored in the 78th minute.  With this goal, Denmark was through to the knockout stages.

The Knockout Stages

But what chance did Denmark have? They were drawn against the mighty Dutch team, who were mounting a strong defence of their 1988 championship The Dutch boasted players such as Ruud Gullit, Marco Van Basten, Dennis Bergkamp, Frank De Boer, Frank Riijkard, and Wim Kieft. Gullit, Van Basten, and Riijkard had formed the backbone of the famous Arrigio Saachi A.C Milan teams of the late 1980s, which had won back-to-back European Cups (a feat which has not been equaled since).   The Dutch were heavily favored, but football is a game of where any given team can win given the right circumstances.

Those circumstances were provided by Henrik Larsen, who gave Denmark the lead in the 5th minute. The Dutch equalized due to a Dennis Bergkamp goal, but Larsen scored again in the 33rd minute. As the clock was winding down, Denmark seemed destined for a famous victory. But Ruud Gullit scored with 3 minutes to spare, sending the game into overtime. Though both teams threatened, the match went to penalties. It was Peter Schemichel’s time to shine. The newly minted Manchester United keeper has just finished as runners up (to give this a little perspecitive, Sir Alex Ferguson had not yet won his first Premier League). The first Dutch and Danish penalties were scored, but on the second Dutch Penalty, Schmeichel was able to save van Basten’s penalty

 

The rest of the Danish and Dutch scored, so Denmark won5-4 on Penalties, eliminating the defending champions

 

The Final

Still, Denmark couldn’t repeat another miracle, could they? After all, they were facing Germany, one of the best teams in the world. The Germans had won the 1990 World Cup, and boasted future legends such as Matthias Sammer, Jürgen Klinsmann, Bodo Illgner, and Andreas  Brehme.  They had easily beaten Sweden 3-2, with Sweden’s last goal coming in garbage time. Again, the Danes were heavy underdogs.

 

Surprisingly, the Danes took the lead in the 18th minute- John Jensen, who was later bough by Arsenal solely because of his efforts in the final, scored a screamer with his left foot. It was the first real goal scoring oppurtunity, but the Danes had capitalized. But the German seemed determined to score. For the next 60 minutes, they laid siege to the Danish goal. shot after shot was on targer, with Schmeichel performing acrobatic saves to preserve the Danish lead. It seemed that the Germans would eventually be rewarded for their dominance

But the Danes had destiny on their side. During Euro 1992, one of the most touching stories was that of Kim Vilfort . Vilfort was a Brøndby IF player who was a solid if unspectacular player. Picked to replace Laudrup, he was one of Denmark’s few true offensive threats. However, Vilfort had a 7 year old daughter, Line Vilfort, who was striken with Leukemia. During the tournament, Vilfort had to twice leave the Danish camp because his daughter’s condition was deteriorating. However, he was sent back by his family to rejoin the team, and had scored one of the penalities in the shootout against the Dutch.

In pretty much the second actual chance for the Danes, Vilfort shot a low goal  in the 78th minute that evaded Bodo illgner and gave the Danes a comfortable cushion.. They weathered relentless German attempts for another 12 minutes, after which Denmark Were champions of Europe. Sadly, however, Line Vilfort would die soon after the tournament

 

 

Denmark’s victory at the 1992 Euros remains the most remarkable moment in the history of that championship. It showed how a team with no superstars could beat teams brimming with individual talent if they possessed defensive discipline, efficient counterattacking, and a healthy dose of luck. The Danes wrote the blueprint which Greece successfully followed in 2004. Yet, the Danish victory remains the most improbable result in the history of the Euros due to the fact that had it not been for Yugoslavia’s disqualification, the team would never have been in the tournament. Yet, Denmark were worthy winners, writing one of the unlikeliest fairy tales in the history of the game.

 

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Dec 01 2013

Profile Image of Kavin Tamizhmani

What’s Wrong with the England Team?

Boasting the likes of Rooney, Lampard, Terry, and others, it is difficult to fathom the lack of success for the English national soccer team. Since defeating West Germany in 1966 4-2, England has failed to win the Fifa World Cup. England has not reached the semifinal of a major tournament since Euro 1996 and in Euro 2012 they were defeated by Italy in the quarterfinals. Current coach of the England squad and former Manchester United great, Gary Neville, expressed his guarded optimism for the English team at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He stated, “I don’t think anybody in the England set-up – fans, coaches, players or management – are saying we are going to go to Brazil and win it. When we qualified for the World Cup in 1998 in Rome by getting a draw, everyone thought it was the greatest result of all time (1).”

England squad line up for team photo before their World Cup 2010 qualifying soccer match against Ukraine in Dnipropetrovsk

Neville asserts that the English squad will always face unrealistic expectations by home fans, despite the fact that they have never won a World Cup in South America or in the United Kingdom. Paul Scholes supported Neville’s comments stating that England lacks in quality wins against established squads. Scholes says, “I always get the impression that, whenever England come up against a big nation like those, it is usually a signal that we are going to go out. They’re OK against the Polands and Ukraines — England will beat them all day long — but as soon as a top team comes along? Well…” Scholes goes on to lament the lack of quality players compared to Argentina and Spain.

Capello_flow2

Interestingly, some of the top talent described by Scholes and Neville perfect their craft in the English Premier League (EPL). They forget that the great Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano began their career at lowly West Ham United before joining more established clubs. Thus, although the EPL has come under fire recently for the lack of quality homegrown talent, the league is still widely regarded as the most challenging league in the world compared to Serie A or La Liga due to the physical nature of the English game. In spite of the production of great foreign players, why has this current crop of English players not lived up to their billing in tournaments?

article rooney

One primary reason for this ineptitude by England could be attributed to the lack of an identity for the national team. Although England does have superstars, who will be the leaders on the pitch and within the locker room? Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand argued “People talk about the identity of the English national team, well I’d like to know what it is. If you say ‘we’ve got an identity’, then what is it? Break it down, tell me what it is. If I said to you ‘what’s Germany’s identity as a national team? Resilience? Discipline? They’ve still got a bit of that, along with the new stuff – movement, retention of the ball, and so on. I just don’t know what ours is. I’m not even just talking about our first team. I’m talking about their under-21s, under-19s, under-18s and so on. If you look at any of their [Germany’s] teams, you would say they play the same way. Not just Germany, but Spain too. In ours, I don’t really see that (2).”

To try to solve the issues in the English squad, Ferdinand is involved in the Football Association Commission to try to revitalize the image of the national team. By implementing changes at a grassroots level, he believes England can once again compete at the highest level with other European powerhouses. With some of the game’s top youth academies, England has the potential to mold together a great squad. It may not be successful at this World Cup, but it remains to be seen what the national team’s identity will become in the near future.

What are your thoughts on what’s wrong with the England team?

If interested, there’s another great article in the New York Times discussing these issues.

 

1- http://espnfc.com/news/story/_/id/1633590/england-not-pressure?cc=5901

2- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/international/10468955/Manchester-United-defender-Rio-Ferdinand-claims-England-national-teams-lacks-an-identity.html

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Nov 27 2013

Profile Image of Vishnu Kadiyala

A tale of two refs

The art of refereeing is a thankless one. No one respects the ref. Players surround him (it’s always men in Men’s soccer) after a call they dont like. Managers abuse him. Fans curse him, burn him in effigy, and generally blame him.  Wages are low, benefits are few. And in the view of the majority, their team loses because of the ref, or wins despite him.

While most of that sentiment is down to fanhood, there does exist a spectrum of quality among referees. Most lie in the middle, and most refs in the top European leagues are very good (though they could be better with video replay, though thats a argument for a different time). But there are some who are clearly much better than other, while some are so bad that even the most biased observer would admit they were bad.  A example of a great ref is Pierluigi Collina, while one of the more infamous refs of recent times is Byron Moreno.

 

Byron Moreno

It takes a lot for Sepp Blatter to criticize a ref, as they are the ultimate arbiters of FIFA’s will. But even Blatter had to admit that the refereeing by Moreno has been a “disaster” after the 2002 World Cup Match between Italy and South Korea. While South Korea was a very good team, when they faced Italy, a lot of decisions went in their “favor.”

 

Watch this video. It’s biased, but does show at least 2 or 3 fouls that should be straight reds. On the other hand, Italy gets whistled for many otherwise innocous fouls

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4lG2RYalS8

 

Weeks after the end of the world cup, Moreno was suspended by his parent organization, the Ecuadorian FA, due to his actions in a game between Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito and Barcelona Sporting Club. Barcelona Sporting was winning the game 3-2 heading into the 90th minute, when Moreno called for an abnormally long 6 minutes of extra time. He let play continue for 13 minutes, during which Liga Deportiva scored the equalizer in the 99th minute and a winner in the 101st minute, after which time was called. Moreno alos falsified the minutes at which Liga scored their equalizing and winning goals in his match report. After serving a 20 game suspension, Moreno “retired” after he was suspended for sending 3 players off in a 1-1 draw. He was obviously suspected of match fixing in both cases

But the story doesnt end there. In 2010, Moreno was arrested at JFK airport in New York for trying to smuggle over 10 pounds of heroin into the US, hidden in his underwear. Arrested and charged with drug smuggling, he was jailed for 26 months before returning to ecuador

 

Pierluigi Collina

 

Collina was a scary ref

Few Players get onto the cover of a soccer video game. It is a great hoor, and one must stand alongside Messi, Ronaldo, and Thierry Henry to claim such an honor. But only one ref can claim he was the face of a video game: Pierluigi Collina, who was the face of Pro Evolution Soccer 3 and 4 (along with an appearance as an “unlockable” ref in Fifa 2005.

So great was Collina’s reputation. He was widely regarded as he best ref in Europe for nearly a decade. He reffed the final of the 1999 Champions League Final, the 2004 UEFA Cup Final, and under the brightest spotlight, the 2002 World Cup Final, with no major errors or contentious decisions. Respected by players and fans alike, he has become a cult figure.

Above all, he was regarded as “uncorruptable,” which is even more creditable give the fact that he reffed in Serie A for more than a decade. He earned the hatred of Luciano Moggi, the chairman of Juventus, for apparenty being too “objective.” Moggi was the major culprit behind the Calciocopoli bribery scandal of 2006, which saw Juventus relegated and Italian football shaken

Collina has made quite a career for himself after retiring. He has been seen in advertisements from Japan, to Turkey, to Italy. He was a spokesman for the car manufacturer Opel, and counts many rich and powerful among his admirers.

 

It goes to show that quality will shine through, even in refereeing

 

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