Ruud van Nistelrooy and Mark van Bommel reject Holland call-ups

Bommelruud_303862hRuud van Nistelrooy and Mark van Bommel have both refused call-ups to the Holland squad for the Euro 2008 qualifiers against Bulgaria and Albania. The pair had fallen out of favour with coach Marco van Basten (under similar circumstances to David Beckham with England), who instead preferred to blood younger players.

The pair have now snapped the olive branch offered by van Basten by refusing his call up. Van Bommel was named in the initial squad despite being previously told by van Basten that he had no international future. Van Nistelrooy was called up as a replacement for the injured Klaus Jan Huntelaar.

Phew! That post had more 'vans' than a Ford dealership!

[Rob Parker]

October 2, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Eto'o out for 5 months

Etoo

Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o will be out of action for up to five months after he underwent surgery for a serious knee injury on Thursday. The Barca striker suffered the injury while playing in their 1-1 draw with the German side Werder Bremen in the Champions League.

"The operation was to repair the meniscus of the knee, not take it out, which lengthens the recovery to eight weeks," said club doctor Ramon Cugat. This is bad news for Cameroon, as the striker won't be available for his country's Nations Cup qualifier against Equatorial Guinea next month.

It's good news for Chelsea however as Eto'o will miss Barca's Champions League games with the boys at Stamford Bridge in October. Real Madrid fans will also be delighted as he will also miss Barca's trip to rivals Madrid in La Liga on 22 October.

[Mof Gimmers]

September 29, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

FIFA to pay out for players injured on international duty?

Abdelmajid_oulmersFifa may be ready to give some leway on one of the thorniest financial issues in football in the form of compensation for clubs whose stars are on international team duty. Fifa is currently in dispute with the G14 group of clubs over who should pay to insure players on national duty, and pay their wages should the stars then be injured.

Fifa rules say players must be released for international football without entitlement to financial compensation. However, in a very surprising move, Fifa says it is now "ready to reform the regulation" in light of the lawsuit from Belgian club Charleroi over an injury suffered on international duty by Morocco's Abdelmajid Oulmers. Charleroi are being backed by the G14 teams.

Charleroi say the loss of Oulmers damaged their hopes of success, and they also had to pay his wages while he was out of action. In May, the case was moved from a tribunal in Charleroi to the European Court of Justice, where it is waiting to be heard.

Heinz Taennler, the director of Fifa's legal division in Zurich says Fifa is now prepared to look at establishing an insurance fund and compensation fund for international players. Mr Taennler stated that sometimes after international duty the clubs had "a player, an employee, not available for a short time, or sometimes a long time, but still has be paid. Fifa wants to take the clubs into consideration. In order to take the clubs into consideration Fifa will probably reform the regulation at some time in the future. We are working on the possibility of an insurance fund, and compensation fund. This will take time as Fifa is a political organisation."

[Mof Gimmers]

September 22, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

David Albelda: 'Spain fail because there is no unity'

AlbeldaIf you thought England fans had a tough World Cup, spare a thought for Spain. Knocked out in the second round having put themselves among the favourites with an outstanding performance against Ukraine in their opening match. Then defeat to Northern Ireland in the Euro 2008 qualifiers. Coach Luis Aragones offered to resign after the Spanish public called for his head, but the Spanish Football Federation wants him to stay in the job.

Midfielder David Albelda has now claimed the difficulties are due to problems within the squad, not Aragones. "Whether Luis Aragones is there or not, it will be very difficult to achieve anything because there is no unity. In fact it more like disunity," he said before going on to defend his own clique of Carlos Marchena, Juanito, Michel Salgado and Raul! Click here to read more from The Guardian.

[Rob Parker]

September 20, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hartson to be recalled for Wales

HartsonSupersized lump of bulldozer lard, John Hartson, is set to be recalled to the Welsh national side. Hartson is expected to join up with the squad for their matches against Cyprus and Slovakia.

Hartson, now a ripe old 31, retired from Wales duty in February, but made himself available again last month for emergencies. With doubts over Ryan Giggs' fitness and Wales' poor scoring record in recent games, manager John Toshack must look at every possible option. This could also mean a lifeline for fellow Baggie Jason Koumas is also set for a recall after proving his fitness.

[Mof Gimmers]

September 20, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Old posh runner takes job in football

Seb_coe Sebastian Coe, posh old long distance runner, has been appointed to become the first chairman of Fifa's new independent watchdog. Lord Coe, the chair of the commitee responsible for the success of the London 2012 Olympics bid, has agreed to head the Fifa's ethics commission.

The Beeb report that the commission will judge all cases alleging conflicts of interest and breaches of Fifa rules. Fifa president Sepp Blatter made the announcement in Zurich on Friday and said: "It is perhaps a surprise but it has been very well received. We have found an outstanding personality in the world of sport, a great personality in the Olympic movement." Watch out next week as Steve Ovett becomes fourth official...

[Mof Gimmers]

September 19, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Overweight Adriano ate all the Bratwurst, claims Mihajlovic

Adriano_1Brazil and Inter Milan striker (occasionally, at least) Adriano has been told to lose weight in order to get his career back on track. Inter club official Sinisa Mihajlovic has told the 24-year-old to slim down to regain his top form.

Mihajlovic said: "Fitness is essential if he wants to play as he used to. I believe he needs to lose at least five kilos as this can represent a big problem on the pitch." At the World Cup, Adriano and strike partner Ronaldo represented two huge problems on the pitch - in size rather than threat. Playing two articulated lorries up front would have provided greater mobility.

Overweight Adriano ate all the Bratwurst, claims Mihajlovic

Brazil's new coach Dunga has already shown he is not afraid to leave out the big names and dropped Adriano for his first squad, so it sounds like decent advice from the former Yugoslavia international. Mihajlovic admitted carrying a bit of excess weight during his time as a player and compared it to playing with a washing machine on his shoulders. [Via Football Italia]

[Rob Parker]

September 19, 2006 in Club football, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Juventus' David Trezeguet and Mauro Camoranesi: Stop the transfer window we want to get off!

David_trezeguet_1Juventus stars David Trezeguet and Mauro Camoranesi have announced they both want to leave the club in the January transfer window. Why they have both decided to say this just a fortnight after the transfer window closed is a bit of a mystery (before the window closes would be better next time, boys!).

France striker Trezeguet is being linked with a move to Arsenal, while Manchester United are rumoured to be interested in bringing Camoranesi to Old Trafford. Trezeguet said: "It is not just me and Camoranesi that are unhappy. None of us want to play in Serie B."

[Rob Parker]

September 16, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

FIFA make Materazzi and Zizou plea

Zizou_3Zidane's headbutt is probably one of the most iconic images in the history of the World Cup. FIFA know this, and want to smooth over the cracks by sending Zizou and Materazzi to prison... sort of.

FIFA honcho and bloodhound lookalike, Sepp Blatter said "We are working on getting together Materazzi and Zidane to bring an end to this story... they could go to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was in prison."

Mandela, South Africa president from 1994 until 1999, was sentenced to life in prison on Robben Island in 1964 and remained there for 18 years. Blatter added: "It is a pity, I have to say, when a World Cup final ends with a red card."

Can anyone shed any light on this nonesense?

[Mof Gimmers]

September 12, 2006 in Classic World Cup Moments, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Sven Goran Eriksson is worried people think he is incompetent

Sven_10Now where would the incompetent Swede get an idea like that from? According to Uefa president and all-round stirrer Lennart Johansson, Sven has pulled out of a guest speaker role at a FIFA conference because he was concerned people would no longer value his opinion.

Johansson said: "He has had enough. He thinks that people have been saying how incompetent he is. He has his money and will still try to have his pride, instead of standing here in Berlin with nobody listening to him because he failed to bring the World Cup to England."

[Rob Parker]

September 11, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Argones resignation turned down

Luisaragones The Spanish Soccer Federation has rejected coach Luis Aragones' offer to resign from his post as the Spain football coach. The 68-year-old, who had been under immense scruntiny after last week's 3-2 defeat by Northern Ireland in the Euro 2008 qualifiers, is still considering his future.

"Luis came to the meeting with the idea that he was going to resign but the president has rejected it," said Federation spokesman Jorge Carretero. "He has asked for two more days to make a final decision." Carretero added: "Luis has our total confidence and our support but he has the last word."

[Mof Gimmers]

September 11, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Juventus held by Rimini on Serie B debut

Juventus_2 Relegated Juventus were held to 1-1 draw against 10-man Rimini in their opening Serie B match. The Old Lady moved up to -16 points following the points deduction for their involvement in Italy's match-fixing scandal. Despite being 1-0 up and having an extra man, Juventus conceded the equaliser following a defensive mix-up involving Jean-Alain Boumsong (shocking, I know!). Next up for Juve is a match against Vicenza.

September 10, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Steve Staunton gets one match ban

StauntonoffWhen Steve 'Stan' Staunton isn't avoiding a shooting, then he's shooting his mouth off on the touchline.

Staunton was banished to the stands of the Gottlieb-Daimler Stadium by referee Luis Medina Cantalejo for constantly whinging and whining about his decisions in the Eire/Germany match. The former Liverpool and Coventry player will not be in the dugout for the Republic's next match against Cyprus on 7 October. "I'll still be at the match" he said ominously... The referee made the decision after Staunton had kicked a water bottle in frustration. Handbags anyone?

[Mof Gimmers]

September 8, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Barcelona get a shirt sponsor at last. Well, not quite

Untitled_23Barcelona are to have a logo emblazoned across the front of their shirt for the first time in their 107-year history. But the Catalan giants haven't sold out just yet - the logo belongs to children's charity Unicef.

Barca president 'Saint' Joan Laporta said - in Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue stylee - that they don't mind doing it for the kids. "It's an initiative with soul. Barca can help the children of the world. It's an historic moment as it is a prestigious logo and not just a publicity brand," he said.

The European champions will start wearing the new shirts from Tuesday. A sponsor more to Fredi Kanoute's taste, perhaps.

[Rob Parker]

September 7, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

White said Fred: Fredi Kanoute gets a plain shirt because he believes Sevilla's sponsors are 'the work of Satan'

Untitled_22 Sevilla striker Fredi Kanoute will be allowed to play in a shirt without a sponsors' logo because he is unhappy at promoting gambling. The Mali international (pictured here with masking tape over the offending item) refused to wear the logo of online gambling firm 888.com because betting is against his Muslim faith.

The 29-year-old said: "According to the Koran, drinking alcohol, gambling, worshipping idols and lotteries are the Devil's tools. That is why I have told the club that I must have a pure shirt. I believe they understand my position and why I have to do this. They have agreed to what I have asked and will let me wear a shirt without this logo."

888.com might have felt obliged to object having just signed a £3 million-a-year deal to sponsor the club, click here for more, but probably realised people like me would be writing about it and generating extra publicity. Excellent decision!

[Rob Parker]

September 6, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Ronaldinho to start against Wales tomorrow

Ronaldinho_8Ronaldinho is set to start against Wales tomorrow in the friendly at White Hart Lane after sitting out Sunday's match between Brazil and Argentina. The Barca star was rested due to having a 'bruised thigh' but is set to run rings around the boys of Cymru.

Amusingly, Wrexham's Mark Jones, who potentially could have made his first appearance for Wales has withdrawn because he's a big soft git got blisters.

"Ronaldinho was disappointed not to be able to feature in the match against Argentina, but I am pleased to announce he is now fit and will play in the match against Wales," Dunga said. "The Brazil football team has come to London - one of the footballing capitals of the world - to play great football, and Ronaldinho wants to be a part of that and will start." Are Brazil the footballing equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters?

Mof Gimmers

September 4, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ronaldinho could leave Barcelona after row with Frank Rijkaard

Ronaldinho_rijkaard_1 Ronaldinho was left out of Barcelona's squad to play Celta Vigo yesterday amid reports of a row with manager Frank Rijkaard. Barca's official site claims the Brazilian missed the La Liga opener through injury, but The Sun reports that he was left out after missing training on Saturday.

The row is rumoured to have been sparked by Ronaldinho's promotional work on the day of the Uefa Super Cup, and his subsequent poor performance. Chelsea and AC Milan are both rumoured to be monitoring the situation closely. [Via The Sun]

Rob

August 29, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Jonathan Woodgate's Madrid time machine - where 90 minutes feels like a year

Woodgate_2No wonder Jonathan Woodgate is always injured. According to the Beeb (at the time of writing - I can't imagine it will be too long before an eagle-eyed sub-editor goes mad with someone!), Woodgate has managed to squeeze 14 years into his two years at Real Madrid. The BBC Sport website reads: "The England defender signed for Real in a £13.4m deal in August 2004, but has played just 14 years in two years."

We are not sure whether Woodgate has invented some kind of time machine or is line to be the next Doctor Who, but it is a pretty impressive feat. Alongside all this time travel, the fact that Woodgate is about to join either Middlesbrough or Newcastle on loan seems quite insignificant. [BBC Sport

Rob

UPDATE: That eagle-eyed sub-editor has spotted the error. It should have read '14 games' - it all makes sense now!

August 29, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

David Beckham signs a new contract at Real Madrid... not just for marketing reasons

David_beckham_1David Beckham has reportedly put pen-to-paper on a new deal to keep him at Real Madrid until 2009. Spanish media reports quote Real president Ramon Calderon as confirming that Beckham had signed a new contract. Calderon was also keen to point out that the contract extension was based on Beckham's on-field performance.

He said: "Marketing is important but at Real Madrid the most important thing is the sporting factor and the technical (coaching) department gave the green light to renew Beckham's deal." Beckham started Real's first game of the season against Villareal despite reports that he could be frozen out by new coach Fabio Capello. [Via Guardian]

August 28, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Merdeka Tournament hots up in Malaysia

IndonesiaHere at Bratwurst we try to keep you up to date with the football that probably won't make the news elsewhere. The Merdeka Tournament in Malaysia falls into that category. Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia are battling it out to win the tournament, which is held every five years.

Malaysia face Myanmar and Thailand play Indonesia today in the final matches of the group stage, with the top two sides going through to the final on Tuesday. You can follow the tournament with Futbol Planet.

Rob

August 27, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls - the little snippets that tell you what's happening and stuff

Mark_van_bommelRio Ferdinand doubtful for England with broken toe [BBC Sport]
Mark van Bommel chooses Bayern Munich over a career flogging hats [Eurosport] AC Milan to snap up Real Betis's Ricardo Oliveira [Soccer365]
Fernando Morientes scores on La Liga return. Liverpool fans scratch their heads [Reuters]
Steve McClaren aims to create 'Club England' [Sporting Life]

August 27, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tennis star Andy Murray urged to do the Crouch

Crouch_1England's goalscoring beanpole Peter Crouch could be the inspiration for tennis star Andy Murray at the US Open, according to his American coach. Brad Gilbert has told Murray to introduce the RoboCrouch as his new celebration.

Gilbert said: "I’m getting more into soccer and I love that Peter Crouch, he’s my favourite, he’s an awesome guy. I said to Andy he ought to try that robot dance when he wins a match. He thinks I’m losing it." The idea might not be taken on board by the Scottish tennis player who was reportedly seen in a Paraguay shirt shortly before England's World Cup opener. [Via The Sun]

Rob

August 25, 2006 in England, News Balls, World Cup funnies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Champions League Draw: Chelsea in the same group as Barcelona

SticklerThe draw for the Champions League group stage has taken place in Monaco with three big highlights. Chelsea have been drawn in Group A with Barcelona and Manchester United will play Celtic in Group F.

Perhaps the biggest highlight of the draw, though, was Uefa official Friedrich Stickler (the scary looking bloke pictured) urging Deco: "Please shuffle around a bit and give me your balls!" Click below to see the full draw.

Champions_league_2Group A

Barcelona
Chelsea
Werder Bremen
Levski Sofia

Group B

Inter Milan
Bayern Munich
Sporting Lisbon
Spartak Moscow

Group C

Liverpool
PSV Eindhoven
Bordeaux
Galatasaray

Group D

Valencia
Roma
Olympiakos
Shakhtar Donetsk

Group E

Real Madrid
Lyon
Steaua Bucharest
Dynamo Kiev

Group F

Manchester United
Celtic
Benfica
FC Copenhagen

Group G

Arsenal
Porto
CSKA Moscow
Hamburg

Group H

AC Milan
Lille
AEK Athens
Anderlecht

August 24, 2006 in Club football, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Allardyce speaks up in support of Ben Haim after exclusion

Ben_haimBolton manager Sam Allardyce has spoken up in defence of his star centre-back Tal Ben Haim following his suspension from the Israel national squad.

The 24-year-old was sent home from Slovenia last week by Israel coach Dror Kashtan after allegedly refusing to take part in a training session. For the full statement from Big Sam, read over.

"When I heard that Tal Ben Haim had been suspended from the Israeli national team for allegedly refusing to train I could hardly believe my ears. Ben Haim arrives at training before anyone else. He trains professionally and often does more than he needs to do. He treats every training session as if he is playing in a Premier League game. After normal training he goes four times a week to the gym. I even threatened that I would fine him because he was over-doing it. He is a true professional and a senior player at Bolton and has told me how much he enjoys training with the fitness coaches. He knows the way we do things in England and because of that it didn't make any sense that he wouldn't want to train.

"The name of one of our players has been blackened and because he has been so hurt in such an unfair way and has not spoken or reacted publicly I decided to support him openly and relate the facts that I have confirmed.

"Ben Haim went to the Ukraine in August last year to represent his country. His flight was the night immediately after a home Premier League match. We at the club were not happy about it but Yisrael Stuchinsky, the technical manager of the Israel Football Association insisted that it was the only route he could arrange. Tal didn't want to let the national team down even though our staff had advised him against flying that night. He has always told us how proud he is of his country and of his pride in representing Israel on the football field. So we realised we were fighting a losing battle trying to persuade him to cut short his time with the national team.

"We felt that he was not giving himself long enough to recover after the game. Nevertheless, he made the long flight to the Ukraine with no proper food provided for him. He played an international match there for Israel and was injured during it. We are convinced that it was as a result of overworking his body. It was diagnosed as a hernia and he needed a painkilling injection before each of the following few matches. He was unable to train for three to four months other than the day before each match.

"Before an international match for Israel against Switzerland he needed two injections but played the full 90 minutes. After that he required surgery to repair the hernia. In the whole time before that, even when he was in pain, Ben Haim didn't miss a single game for Bolton because of his sheer professionalism and commitment to Bolton and his national side. On Saturday August 5th Bolton flew to Spain for a training camp and Ben Haim played for 90 minutes on the Tuesday and Thursday against both Huelva and Seville.

"This is what I understand then happened and this has been confirmed by our other Israeli player Idan Tal who was due with Tal Ben Haim to join up with the Israeli national side in Ljubljana. On the Friday, the day after the Seville match, Stuchinsky, arranged for Ben Haim and Idan Tal to take three flights from Spain to reach Ljubljana.

"We insisted that it needed only two flights and after many telephone calls Stuchinsky changed it to two - via Brussels. Because of what happened to Ben Haim in the Ukraine he knew he had to be very careful to recover after two full matches. Our doctor checked his physical condition before he left Spain because of the hernia injury he suffered in the Ukraine following over-training. We did not want either player to make three flights. Even with two they still needed 13 hours travelling without any proper food or rest. Tal and Ben Haim arrived at their hotel at midnight and didn't get to bed until 2am. At 8am the players received a wake-up call for breakfast. The fitness coach asked Ben Haim what he had been doing over the previous few days and he explained about the two matches he had played and the fact that he had travelled for 13 hours the previous day. Ben Haim told him he needed time to recover and that he did not feel he should train that day, knowing that the team were not due to play until three days later. Ben Haim assured him he would be ready for a full training session the following day. Apparently, when Ben Haim turned up for training on the Sunday, fully fit and rested, they refused to allow him to join the other players so he trained by himself on another pitch. Stuchinsky told him he was suspended and that a flight had been arranged for him back to the UK that evening.

"Because some people have tarnished Ben Haim's reputation in public we decided to check all the facts with Idan Tal who was with him. Idan confirmed that he was in the bedroom when the Israeli team doctor checked Ben Haim and told him that he had overworked and that if he trained that day he might injure himself. Idan said also that Ben Haim went with the doctor to see the national coach Dror Kashtan and the doctor had recommended that he should rest that day but would be fit to train the following day.

"For some reason the doctor changed his version of events completely when he was quoted in the media. He was quoted as saying that Ben Haim was fit for training. Under those circumstances Bolton cannot remain silent and allow different people to mud-sling and damage Ben Haim's good name. He is one of the most professional, committed and dedicated players I have worked with. He gives his heart and soul 100% for his club and country. I cannot remain silent and let one of my players be hurt in this way.

"We showed great faith in the Israel Football Association in allowing Tal and Ben Haim a further 48 hours to prepare for this international. This is an unprecedented move by any Club and this is one of the reasons why we are disappointed that Ben Haim's name has been tarnished in this manner."

Mof Gimmers

August 24, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Italy to be excluded from Euro 2008?

Italyfootball Fifa said Italy may well be thrown out of the qualifying campaign for Euro 2008 if Juventus continue to battle against their relegation to Serie B for match-fixing. Juve were relegated and docked 17 points for trying to exert influence over referees and are now trying to take their appeal to a civil court.

However, this would be against Fifa's rules and could lead to the Italian Football Federation being suspended. That could mean clubs and the national team being excluded from competitions. Juve were relegated for match-fixing that rocked the footballing world,  and were initially docked 30 points, which was reduced to 17 on appeal. Lazio, Fiorentina, AC Milan, and recently Reggina, have been punished and all will start next season with point deductions. Juve are the only Serie A team to have been relegated, which sees them wanting to continue appeal. The soup thickens...

Mof Gimmers

August 23, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls: Owen Hargreaves to speak out about his wish to leave Bayern Munich for Manchester United

Hargreaves_4 Owen Hargreaves due to hold press conference to further his attempts to join Manchester United [BBC Sport]
Germany appoint Herr Flick as assistant [ESPNSoccernet]
Serie B side Juventus sign Jean Alain Boumsong [BBC Sport]
Italian FA will increase Juve's sanctions if their relegation is overturned in civil court [Reuters]
Mexico World Cup coach Ricardo La Volpe takes over at Boca Juniors [FIFA]

August 23, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

AC Milan get Real go-ahead to bid for Ronaldo

Ronaldo_11AC Milan are attempting to turn back the years with a bid for portly Real Madrid striker Ronaldo. The Italian club want Ronaldo to fill the void left by Andriy Shevchenko's move to Chelsea. Were there no Milan scouts at the World Cup? I can't imagine Ronaldo has the will-power to slim down to his old figure. I think the money could be better spent elsewhere. Click here to have a go yourself at getting Rotundo in shape.

Rob

August 23, 2006 in News Balls, World Cup gadgets | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rooney slammed by Alan Ball

Rooney_8World Cup winner and owner of the squeakiest voice in football, Alan Ball isn't praising Wayne Rooney very highly (*groan* sorry). Rooney has apparently threatened to pull out of all commercial duties for the England side after the FA failed to turn over his 3-game ban.

Ball said "I'm disappointed in his agent and by Rooney for taking on the FA. How much power do players want? He should accept his punishment, grow up and become a great player."

Rooney and Manchester United team-mate Paul Scholes were sent off in a pre-season friendly against Porto and handed suspensions.

"I was sent off nine times and deserved it," Ball told www.nobok.co.uk. "But I finished off a miles better player by taking my punishment. He has to accept that you have to grow up to become a top football player - and he will do if he takes his punishment on the chin... But he won't if he thinks that he can come out and make statements to the FA."

Rooney was said to be so "devastated" after the appeal loss that he sanctioned Stretford's letter to FA chief executive Brian Barwick late last week. Rooney is now reportedly waiting for an official response before deciding his next move. Spoiled brat anyone?

Mof Gimmers

August 22, 2006 in England, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Cheeky Juventus appeal against match-fixing relegation... again!

Juventus_1Juventus are continuing to fight their now reduced punishment for match-fixing. The Italian giants have lodged an appeal with a civil court after losing their appeal with the Italian Olympic Committee's arbitration court. Their latest appeal will be heard on 6 September, with the Italian season due to start on 10 September. Click here to read more from the BBC.

Rob

August 21, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls - they're tastier than ever!

Ronaldo_7Real consider Milan and Inter offers for Ronaldo [Telegraph]
Wantaway Owen Hargreaves is dropped by Bayern [Guardian]
Philipp Lahm continues World Cup form [ESPNSoccernet]
Rogerio becomes top scoring keeper [TeamTalk]
Mahamadou Diarra's £18 million transfer to Real almost done [Eurosport]

August 21, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

COSAFA Castle Cup semi-final: Botswana v Zambia

BotswanaZambia20team20picWhile you are following your team this afternoon, don't forget about today's big match - Botswana v Zambia in the semi-final of the Council of Southern African Football Associations Castle Cup. Zambia will be without star midfielder Chris Katonga because he is on trial with Dundee United. UK Soccershop has a couple of retro items from Zambia's football heyday if you want to take sides.

Rob

August 19, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls - the balls even goalkeepers love

Bardsley_1Stevie G was unhappy with Sven. Who wasn't?! [Guardian]
Phil Bardsley (pictured) to decide whether he would like to play at a World Cup or not [Daily Record]
Becks close to extending stay in Spain [Mirror]
Real want Diarra not Reyes [BBC Sport]
Saudi Arabia move for Jared Borgetti [Teamtalk]

August 18, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Italian Match Fixing: Reggina and Arezzo both docked points

Arezzo_reginna_1The slightly less prestigious histories of the clubs involved means that it no longer dominates the headlines, but the Italian match fixing scandal rumbles on. Serie A side Reggina have had 15-points deducted and have been fined £68,000. Club president Pasquale Fotihas been banned for two-and-a-half years and fined £20,000.

Arezzo, a Serie B club, have been docked nine points. Prosecutors had called for both teams to be relegated. Meanwhile, prosecutors will today consider Juventus's second appeal against their 17-point deduction. [Via BBC]

Rob

August 18, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Bratwurst pickle: What effect does juju have on football?

Mugadza Just a couple of days until the new season kicks off and the big question on everyone's lips, of course, is: what effect does juju have an football? Well, maybe not in Britain but it is in Zimbabwe. In fact, Coventry-based NewZimbabwe.com columnist Muzondiwa Mugadza (pictured) is "constantly" asking himself this question.

In his latest column, former Zimbabwe national team goalkeeper Mugadza recounts his experiences of African voodoo on the pitch, including the time an Ivory Coast player threw some powder at his face during a match. Click here to read the article.

Rob

August 17, 2006 in News Balls, World Cup funnies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Uruguay still the champions of the world after beating Egypt

GodinCongratulations to Uruguay who are still the unofficial world champions after a 2-0 win over Egypt last night. The match was Uruguay's fifth defence of their UFWC title since they took the championship from Romania in May this year. A goal from Diego Goodin (pictured here assisting Peter Crouch to score) and an Abdul-Zaher Al-Saqqa own goal were enough to secure a comfortable victory for Uruguay.

Rob

August 17, 2006 in News Balls, World Cup funnies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News balls - filled with news bally goodness

John_terry_2Singing for England: JT's initiation plans [The Sun]
Chelsea deserve to win Champions League claims you know who [Mirror]
Becks set for new Real deal [Guardian]
How Ruud - van Nistelrooy unimpressed with Dutch youth policy [Soccer 365]
Raul clocks up 100 caps for Spain [Reuters]

August 16, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Steve Staunton held up at gun point

StannoSteve Staunton must be used to extreme violence. Well, he did play in the same Liverpool side as Steve MacMahon (The Butcher of Birkenhead). I say this because 'Stanno' found himself at gun point yesterday, and on reflection said "It's over now, no harm done". If I found myself in that scenario, I'd definitely poo.

A man with a gun (an imitation one it was later revealed) held up Staunton in the hotel where the Eire team are staying ahead of their friendly with Holland. He was later arrested on the beach beside the hotel in County Dublin. Mental.

Mof Gimmers

August 15, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls - effective relief for a lack of news balls

StauntonRepublic of Ireland boss Steve Staunton in gun scare [BBC Sport]
Obafemi Martins: the Peter Pan of football [The Sun]
Hargreaves angles for a move to the Premiership [Mirror]
England set to play in a half-empty Old Trafford [Football 365]
Liverpool will check-in Kiev as Uefa switches Israel tie [Guardian]

August 15, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Jens Lehmannn to retire in 2008

Lehmann_jens'Mad' Jens Lehmann is set to hang up his buttery gloves after the European Championships in 2008. Presuming he'll get there with the German side. He's also been talking about leaving England. He said "We will have to see how this season goes, whether I extend with Arsenal or not. I would still like to play another season in Germany." Mad Jens only has a year left on his contract at Arsenal. Who is going to pick fights with the Premiership's strikers now?

Mof Gimmers
 

August 14, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

News Balls - they wobble, but they don't fall down

Ashton_3Dean Ashton fears an England call-up prank. Blame Rio Ferdinand's daft TV show! [Mirror]
Becks can't get a game for Real [The Sun]
McClaren will throw the book at part-time authors [Mirror]
And he's got the backing of Dave Kitson! [Football 365]
Freddy Adu: 'I was over-hyped' [Reuters]

August 14, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Titus Bramble restores the clever-dumb balance by crashing his car into a wall

Bramble_titusYou know the Mint credit card advert about the clever-dumb balance? Well, scoring the winner in Newcastle United's Uefa Cup match against Ventspils was just too clever for Titus Bramble. He restored the balance by crashing his car into a wall last night. That's more like the Titus Bramble we know and love!

Unusually for a footballer in this situation, Bramble was not over the drink driving limit. Click here to read some excellent quotes from Norfolk couple Eddie and Linda Sargent whose wall Bramble smashed his BMW into.

Rob

August 13, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Toshack warns Koumas over future

John_toshack

Wales boss, John Toshack, has warned Jason Koumas that he'll probably miss the European qualifiers squad if he doesn't sort his future out soon. These words came after Koumas refused to train with West Brom in pre-season as his proposed move to Cardiff stalled over payment issues (source BBC).

The midfielder has been training alone but Toshack says the winger will not face the Czech Republic on 2 September unless he gets some match-practice.

"It's not good to be without a club at this time of the year," said Toshack. "I have spoken to Jason, it's not easy, but he tells me he wants to be involved, but there will come a time when that will be difficult. Last season he didn't do any pre-season and now none this time for different reasons." Sounds like a work dodger to me.

Mof Gimmers

August 8, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

John Barnes still linked with Jamaica job

Johnbarnes

The Jamaican Football Federation (JFF) are getting closer to appointing a new manager, one of which is former Liverpool star and terrible Five presenter, John Barnes.

Barnes has been strongly linked with the position, but the JJF are playing it all coy with regards to Johnny Barnes. "We have a shortlist of five names and we're getting near to a decision," said JFF president Crenston Boxhill (great name!) "We've said from day one that, for example, John Barnes is on that list but the other names I don't want to make public." Of course, this, should he get it, won't be Barnes' first role coaching a side as he had a brief spell with Celtic in 2000. Can he make the Reggae Boyz Isotonic? And will his team talks begin with "You've got to hold and give but do it at the right time, you can be slow or fast but you must get to the line... "? I bet that one hasn't been done before...

Mof Gimmers

August 7, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

They Call Him The Wanderer: Franck Ribery to leave Marseille

Ribery_2Junior journeyman Franck Ribery has said he wants to leave Marseille in search of Champions League football. The 23-year-old has already played for Boulogne-sur-Mer, Ales, Brest, Metz and Galatasaray in his short career. His announcement will alert Arsenal, Manchester United and Lyon, who are all known to be interested.

He said: "My wish is to leave Marseille. I want to play in the Champions League. The Marseille club officials know where I want to go and the club I wish to sign for also know it." However, said Marseille club officials are not impressed. President Pape Diouf said: "We disapprove totally with the method used by Franck Ribery. The improved contract he signed in March ties him to Marseille." [Via BBC]

Rob

August 5, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gabbidon doubt

Gabbidon

Danny Gabbidon, who plies his dubious trade at West Ham and the Welsh national side is likely to miss Wales' friendly with Bulgaria on August 15th. The defender has made a slow recovery from a hernia operation and has been left out of the Hammers squad for a pre-season tour to Greece.

But the cockiest man on the planet, Alan Pardew, hopes the Gabbidon will feature in the Upton Park friendly with Olympiakos... which is before the Wales friendly.

"The decision was taken to leave Danny at home so he can work on his rehab," said a West Ham spokesman. We will continue to monitor his fitness and ideally he will play against Olympiakos, with the Premier League starting the following Saturday." Weird.

Mof Gimmers

August 4, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Special News Balls - will they stay or will the go?

Ronaldinho_6Ronaldinho staying put at Barca [Soccer 365]
Luca Toni not staying put and wants a Prem move [ESPNSoccernet]
Owen Hargreaves is also pining for the Prem [Mirror]
Kaka still going if Madrid get their way [Reuters]
Gravesen definitely going after criticism from Capello [Sporting Life]

Rob

August 4, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Roberto Carlos staying with Real Madrid

It looks like Roberto Carlos will see out the last year of his contract with Real Madrid before being put out to pasture. Despite interest from Chelsea (not a good buy for them in my opinion) and Fenerbahce the Brazilian full-back is set to stay at the Bernebau where he has been a loyal servant for 10 years.

Do you remember when Roberto Carlos used to get free kicks on target? No, me neither it was so long ago, but he did and some of his best are featured in this compilation along with a variety of other spectacular goals he has scored. My personal favourite is below.

Rob

August 2, 2006 in Club football, News Balls, World Cup video | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls - they're meatylicious

VenablesInter snap up Vieira [BBC Sport]
Neville blanks Ronaldo [The Sun]
Gravesen and Robinho come to blows. Wonder who won that scrap? [IOL]
El Tel (pictured) ready for England [Independent]
Wembley might not be ready for FA Cup final [Guardian]

August 2, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bus driver Steve McClaren is taking us on an adventure

Mcclaren_1England manager and veteran National Express driver Steve McClaren has said his time in charge of the national team will be "a great challenge and a great adventure". McClaren officially started the job today. FA chief executive Brian Barwick gave him his tasks.

Amateur comedian Barwick said: "His first challenge was to find a coffee machine, his second challenge was to find my office and his third challenge - the real challenge - is to build an England team that we can all be proud of." Read more by clicking here.

Rob

August 1, 2006 in England, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lebanon pull out of Asian Cup

Lebanon

The current crisis in the middle east has forced the Lebanon Football side to pull out of the Asian Cup. With the qualifiers imminent, the side will not be able to play due to the attacks sustained at home.

The head of the Lebanese Football Association, Rahif Alameh, said the fighting had forced several players to leave their homes to evade the war. The Asian Football Confederation said its board would convene an emergency meeting to discuss the matter. The absence of Lebanon leaves one of the qualifying groups a team short.

Mof Gimmers 

August 1, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Jonathan Woodgate praises his fitness record!!!

Woodgate_1Real Madrid and England part-timer Jonathan Woodgate has proven that being aloof has helped him in his battle against injuries. Asked about his top three finishes in both the 3,000m and 15,000m races as part of Real's pre-season training, a straight-faced Woodgate replied: "Well, I'm a naturally fit lad." I wonder if the Real physio would agree? [Via People]

Rob

August 1, 2006 in News Balls, World Cup funnies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Referee moans about Rooney's moaning

Rooney_elizondoIt is now 22 days since the World Cup ended, but it seems the World Cup For Stating The Obvious is just heating up. Following Frank Lampard's startling revelations yesterday, referee Horacio Elizondo has now felt the need to voice his observations on Wayne Rooney.

"He was complaining all the time, always coming close to you and saying 'referee' this, 'referee' that. Protests and more protests. He reminded me of my kids," said Elizondo. And to think we always had Rooney down as the type to keep his mouth shut and get on with it... [Via Telegraph]

Rob

July 31, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls - does exactly what it says on the tin

Brian_mcbride_2Bye Bri - McBride retires from international football (all the cool kids are doing it) [BBC Sport]
Inter are champs, at least until the next appeal [ESPNSoccernet]
Uefa could kick Milan out of Champions League [Guardian]
A lower profile match fixing scandal [Thanh Nien News]
Sol de Marseille [The Sun]

July 27, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dunga announced as the new Brazil coach

Dunga_1

Dunga, the legendary Brazilian skipper, has been announced as the new coach for the Brazil national side. The World Cup winner has replaced Carlos Alberto Parreira who quit after failing at this years World Cup tournament. Ricardo Teixeira, president of CBF, said "The choice of Dunga will fully satisfy the desires of Brazilian fans."

Dunga, also on the board of directors at QPR (!?!?) has no previous coaching experience in the game, but the 42-year-old said "I want to bring the same determination I had as a player. Motivation and will to win are fundamental for anyone who wants to wear the shirt of the Brazilian national team."

Mof Gimmers

July 25, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls - 100 per cent roundness or your money back

DungaBrazil go for Dunga [BBC Sport]
Iran star: 'We were not fit or united' (being the worst team in the group didn't come into it then?) [Soccer 365]
Prem raiders Valencia dive in for Ronaldo [ESPNSoccernet]
Stevie G follows 'Be My Coach' campaign with 'Be Your Captain' bid [Mirror]
Italian match-fixing appeal verdicts due [Independent]

July 25, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Otto Pfister stays on in Togo!

OttopfisterSomehow, Otto Pfister (that's a terrible surname no?) has decided to stay on as the head of the Togo side. After walking out on the side during the World Cup, he's decided that he'd like to stay on until 2008. Mad fool. The head of the Togo Football Federation, Rock Gnassingbe (now there's an ace name) confirmed the German will be staying on."We have taken that decision and Otto Pfister has no problem with it," he said. Otto confirmed this "We have a verbal agreement and I am going to meet the president of the federation next week and everything will be finalised then."

Mof Gimmers
 

July 24, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Scotland reach semi-final of Under-19 championships

McglincheyYes, you have read correctly! Scotland's under-19 side has reached the semi-final of the European Championships after finishing second in their group. Defeat against Spain, a draw against Portugal and a win yesterday against Turkey was enough for Scotland to progress. They will now face the Czech Pepublic.

Scotland's stars are Celtic players Michael McGlinchey (pictured) - who was impressive against Turkey - and Charlie Grant. Click here for an interesting interview with Grant about his role as the under-19's talisman. The side is coached by Archie Gemmill and, well, any excuse really...

Rob Parker

July 24, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls - may contain traces of news

VieiraInter and Barca vying for Vieira [The Sun]
Adriano and the Emperor's new clubs [Reuters]
Juve feel hard done by [Mirror]
Tevez unsettled in Brazil [Football Spectator]
Cannavaro to end Real silverware drought [Clubcall]

July 24, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls - don't knock them until you've tried them

Scholes_1 Scholes to return from international retirement [People]
Colombia 2014 - cocaine cartels as FIFA partners? [ESPNSoccernet]
Real Madrid still squabbling over who is president [Reuters]
Match-fixing circus moves on to Turkey [BBC Sport]
Although Juve have started their appeal [Guardian]

July 23, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls - Made in Taiwan

Ronaldinhos_girlfriend_alexandra_paressaRonaldinho's pre-match World Cup 'romps' [The Sun]
Bellamy court in a tricky situation [Guardian]
Transfer yo-yo Fernando Torres is staying again [Soccer365]
Buffon set for Serie B [ESPNSoccernet]
Brondby have too much money [Mirror]

July 22, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls - less than one per cent fat

Thuram_zambrotta Barca get jealous of Real and bag their own Juventus duo [BBC Sport]
So Madrid want three more players [Reuters]
Argentina offer job to Boca boss [Soccer 365]
Parreira doesn't wait for his P45 [News 24,SA]
Real Seville and Atletico Barcelona here we come [ESPNSoccernet]

July 21, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Zidane banned for three games - he must be devastated!

_41910370_zidane203_1 The brains of football at FIFA have handed out a three-match ban to the now retired Zinedine Zidane for his headbutt on Marco Materazzi in the World Cup final. Zizou also picked up a £3,260 fine which he will have to pay out of his estimated £8.8million annual income.

Marco Materazzi has been banned for two matches for provocation (a dangerous precedent?) and fined £2,170. FIFA have confirmed that Materazzi's comments were not racist in content but were defamatory. [Via BBC]

Rob Parker

July 20, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls - now with extra bounce

Cannavaro_1Cannavaro officially takes on Galactico status [BBC Sport]
Nedved would rather play in Serie B than for Spurs. Ouch! [Guardian]
Pareirra quits Brazil [Reuters]
Zidane and Materazzi head for disciplinary hearing [Eurosport]
Donadoni won't be sentimental over World Cup winners [Soccer 365]

July 20, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls - best served chilled

Poll_4Uefa will not be Poll-axed - Graham's back [Mirror]
AC Milan battle Chelsea for Zambrotta [Telegraph]
Marseille Rib Franck's suitors [ESPNSoccernet]
River Plate fans riot during match [Four Four Two]
Scary La Volpe steps down as Mexico boss (sort of) [Soccer365]

July 19, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls - now available in spearmint flavour

VennegoorZidane ruins advertising campaign [Guardian]
Ronaldo to join Cristiano Ronaldo at Old Trafford. Guess The Sun's headline... [The Sun]
PSV want €8.5 million for Vennegoor of Hesselink. A sound investment if you charge by the letter for printing on replica shirts [Soccer365]
Suicide attempt Pessotto out of danger [BBC Sport]
Henrik Larsson retires from international football (again) [ESPNSoccernet]

July 18, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rivaldo to retire at end of season

Rivaldo_1 Brazilian midfielder Rivaldo has announced he is to retire from football at the end of the forthcoming season. The 1999 World and European footballer of the year told a Greek newspaper he would call time on his career in 2007 to get some rest.

Rivaldo has added some weight to the bowing out on the top of your game method of retirement by playing out his career away from Europe's top leagues with Olympiakos, but he is a great player regardless. Follow the link below to remember Rivaldo at his best. 

Rivaldo to retire at end of season continued

And who could forget this proud moment?

Rob Parker

July 18, 2006 in News Balls, World Cup video | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls - smooth on the outside, crunchy on the inside

Torres_8Torres can't resist any longer [ESPNSoccernet]
Real plunder Juve for Emerson, Zambrotta and Cannavaro [Corriere Dello Sport]
Buffon fancies Milan [Guardian]
Didier Deschamps is good with numbers [BBC Sport]
Nearly done: Wembley in pictures [The Sun]

July 17, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Relegation for Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina

MoggiLeaked reports in the Italian press suggest that three of the four clubs caught up in the Italian match-fixing scandal will be relegated to Serie B later today. Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina are expected to be demoted a division, with AC Milan staying in Serie A but banned from the Champions League for one season.

It is also rumoured that Juventus will also find themselves with a 15-point penalty at the start of the season, while Lazio and Fiorentina will be docked six points. An official announcement on the fate of the clubs is due after 6pm BST this evening. Let the transfers commence! [Via Football 365 and Gazetta]

Rob Parker

July 14, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

FIFA world rankings given a much needed shake-up

RankingsOne of the things Germany 2006 should be most fondly remembered for is getting the FIFA world rankings in some sort of order. The rankings for July actually bear some semblance to reality.

Down the ladder slide the over-inflated USA, Mexico and Czech Republic. Italy move up 11 places to number two, Germany move up 10, England edge up five places, Argentina rise by six places and Ghana leap a massive 23 places.

Who is in charge of the new ranking system, and what have you done with the real Sepp Blatter?! Click here for more rankings information.

Rob Parker

July 14, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls

WoodwardBayern first to make a Franck bid [The Times]
McClaren the bus driver wants Sir Clive as conductor [The Sun]
Noel Gallagher gives impromptu performance at Italy's World Cup party [Dot Music]
Greece ban lifted by FIFA [Reuters]
Iran backs Zidane [Guardian]

July 13, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Zidane: 'I'm sorry, but I don't regret it'

Zidane_6Zinedine Zidane has spoken for the first time about his now infamous headbutt on Marco Materazzi in the World Cup final. His apology for the incident name-checked children, television viewers and even school teachers, but not Materazzi.

In an interview for French television, Zidane - strangely dressed with a big coat draped across his shoulders - said: "It was inexcusable. I apologise, but I can't regret what I did because it would mean that he was right to say all that."

"It was seen by two or three billion people on television and millions and millions of children were watching. It was an inexcusable gesture and to them, and the people in education whose job it is to show children what they should and shouldn't do, I want to apologise," he added.

Zidane claims Materazzi said some "very hard words" about his mother and sister. Materazzi has denied this. Click below to watch the interview. [Via BBC]

Rob Parker

July 13, 2006 in News Balls, World Cup video | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The international football management merry-go-round: The new managers

Merry_1Who would be a football manager, eh? Well all the people mentioned in this post, that's who! Yesterday we gave you the lowdown on the World Cup's outgoing coaches. Now it is time to see who will be replacing them. Follow the link below to find out.

The international football management merry-go-round: The new managers continued

IN

Steve McClaren - England
Smithers to Sven's Mr Burns, but now he is the main man.

Leo Beenhakker - Poland
The former Trinidad and Tobago boss masterminded the draw against Sweden and nearly outwitted Sven's England. Now he has to get under-achieving Poland in shape.

Pim Verbeek - South Korea
Another assistant getting promotion. Verbeek was sidekick to both Guus Hiddink and Dick Advocaat.

Wim Rijsbergen - Trinidad and Tobago
Yet another former assistant. Like South Korea, T&T seem to have a penchant for going Dutch.

RUMOURED CANDIDATES

Claudio Gentile - Italy, Jurgen Klinsmann - USA, Gerard Houllier - Australia, Ivica Osim - Japan

July 13, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The international football management merry-go-round

MerryIt is all change once again in the precarious world of international football management. Jump before you are pushed seems to be the motto of the Germany 2006 coaches. Follow the link below to see who is out of a job.

The international football management merry-go-round continued

OUT

Jurgen Klinsmann - Germany
A good decision by Klinsmann. He was sensible to bow out as a national hero rather than take on more difficult challenges without home advantage.

Marcello Lippi - Italy
Another sensible decision. How do you top winning the World Cup?

Sven Goran Eriksson - England
Hooray!

Leo Beenhakker - Trinidad and Tobago
The wily T&T boss has got a new job...

Jose Pekerman - Argentina
Almost single-handedly knocked Argentina out of the World Cup.

Guus Hiddink - Australia
Already had another job lined up.

Alexandre Guimaraes - Costa Rica
Apparently received a nasty home-coming and feared for his safety. Not much more he could have done with those players.

Henri Michel - Ivory Coast
Going to pick up his pension in Qatar.

Zico - Brazil
The great man is on the prowl for a job in Europe

Ricardo La Volpe - Mexico
The scary man also wants a post in Europe.

Pawel Janas - Poland
Resigned before he was sacked after a poor showing.

Ilija  Petkovic - Serbia and Montenegro
Quit because of concerns that the split between Serbia and Montenegro has led to a lack of unity (I think that was the idea, Ilija!).

Dick Advocaat - South Korea
Going to coach Zenit St Petersburg.

HANGING ON BY A THREAD

Bruce Arena - USA, Carlos Alberto Parreira - Brazil

Come back tomorrow for a guide to all the new coaches.

Rob Parker

July 13, 2006 in News Balls, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The international football management merry-go-round

MerryIt is all change once again in the precarious world of international football management. Jump before you are pushed seems to be the motto of the Germany 2006 coaches. Follow the link below to see who is out of a job.

The international football management merry-go-round continued

OUT

Jurgen Klinsmann - Germany
A good decision by Klinsmann. He was sensible to bow out as a national hero rather than take on more difficult challenges without home advantage.

Marcello Lippi - Italy
Another sensible decision. How do you top winning the World Cup?

Sven Goran Eriksson - England
Hooray!

Leo Beenhakker - Trinidad and Tobago
The wily T&T boss has got a new job...

Jose Pekerman - Argentina
Almost single-handedly knocked Argentina out of the World Cup.

Guus Hiddink - Australia
Already had another job lined up.

Alexandre Guimaraes - Costa Rica
Apparently received a nasty home-coming and feared for his safety. Not much more he could have done with those players.

Henri Michel - Ivory Coast
Going to pick up his pension in Qatar.

Zico - Brazil
The great man is on the prowl for a job in Europe

Ricardo La Volpe - Mexico
The scary man also wants a post in Europe.

Pawel Janas - Poland
Resigned before he was sacked after a poor showing.

Ilija  Petkovic - Serbia and Montenegro
Quit because of concerns that the split between Serbia and Montenegro has led to a lack of unity (I think that was the idea, Ilija!).

Dick Advocaat - South Korea
Going to coach Zenit St Petersburg.

HANGING ON BY A THREAD

Bruce Arena - USA, Carlos Alberto Parreira - Brazil

Come back tomorrow for a guide to all the new coaches.

Rob Parker

July 13, 2006 in News Balls, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Aussie ref to get angry for next World Cup

Shield Australian World Cup referee Mark Shield is promising to get angry in a bid to be assigned to higher profile games at the next World Cup. The 32-year-old said looking stern is the way to find favour with FIFA, citing World Cup final referee Horacio Elizondo as an example.

He said: ""A lot of the time it's a facade. A lot of the referees that are in the World Cup are nice fellas, they are good blokes. But they've got an angry look, which I have also got as well, which you need as part of your refereeing." Don't worry, you look scary enough already on your official FIFA photo, Mark! [Via The Australian]

Rob Parker

July 13, 2006 in News Balls, World Cup funnies, World Cup funnies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Italian match-fixing trial should 'take victory into account'

Mastella_adn200x150The match-fixing trial of Italian clubs Juventus, AC Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina should now take Italy's World Cup victory into consideration according to the country's ironically titled Justice Minister.

Clemente Mastella (pictured) has called for a verdict that "takes into account the victory in Berlin." He added: "Let's do what they did in ancient Rome: whoever has given us prestige and dignity should be treated differently, as one who has done something exemplary."

The Italian FA said a verdict might not be reached until Friday or Saturday. [Via BBC]

Rob Parker

July 11, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Did Materazzi call Zidane a terrorist or not? Either way, Gallas wants to smash the Italian's face in.

Picture_1_194 French sports newspaper L'Equipe has speculated that Marco Materazzi may have called ZZ a terrorist. This is unfounded speculation – let's be very clear about that – but it certainly adds fuel to the fire, as does the continued silence of Materazzi.

William Gallas has also chipped in and to say he's not happy in an understatement: 'When I see this, I want to smash his [Materazzi's] face. Sometimes you have players who are clever and say something to you and you are very angry and want to kill that player.' Strong words from the Zizou's French team-mate.

July 10, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Mystic Materazzi

Marco Materazzi, quoted before the World Cup final: 'We have players that can mark Zidane, like Gattuso… There's no need to charge him up, otherwise he is capable of splitting the world in two.'

UPDATE: Btw, sister site Who Ate All the Pies (Ronaldo, probably) has a cracking video compilation of Materazzi's worst/best fouls. In a word, ouch.

July 10, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Zidane wins the Golden Ball. Why?

Picture_1_193 Zinedine Zidane has 'won' the Golden Ball for player of the tournament. Why? Give him a lifetime achievement award, by all means, but this decision is a disgrace and another embarrassment for FIFA, who clearly couldn't manage a piss-up in a brewery. I understand that the poll was conducted at half-time during yesterday's final, which seems unnecessarily premature.

What sort of message does this send out? Don't worry kids, violent conduct is okay!

FIFA should have gone back to the journalists they polled and asked them to vote again. Surely that would have been easy to do? Zidane had some fine moments, no doubt, but the best player of the tournament was Fabio Cannavaro, who hardly put a foot wrong in seven matches.

PS. The best player of the tournament should have been Argentina's Juan Roman Riquelme, but his manager screwed up the substitutions in the quarter final and the best team in Germany went home early.

July 10, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

News Balls

Woodgate reckons he is fit for Real [BBC Sport]
FA will ban WAGS from future tournaments [Guardian]
How to win friends and influence people with Cristiano Ronaldo [Mirror]
Saint Jurgen playing hard to get {ESPNSoccernet]
Italy champions of the world [La Repubblica]

July 10, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls

Magpies swoop for Becks [Daily Mail]
Jens 'Herr Compassion' Lehmann will step aside for Ollie Kahn in the meaningless third place match [Football 365]
Elizondo to ref final. Why?! [Guardian]
Lippi to join Mouthy after World Cup final [The Sun]
Saint Sepp of Blatter to overhaul FIFA rankings [BBC Sport]

July 7, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls

Sven to become a Reggae Boy [The Sun]
Ronaldo loves to be booed (just as well really) [BBC Sport]
Benitez can't stop signing [Football 365]
Germany give Klinsmann deadline [Guardian]
Juve lawyer: 'We should be relegated if found guilty' [Reuters]

July 6, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls

Chelsea defender warns against diving / Pot warns against kettle [BBC Sport]
Gary Neville to leave the England squad in a wooden overcoat [World Cup 365]
World Cup stars on their way to the Prem [Independent]
Klinsmann being begged to stay six weeks after being begged to quit [ESPNSoccernet]
Ronaldo trains by himself - better get used to it! [Reuters]

July 5, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Steve McClaren told Sven not to pick Theo Walcott - maybe Macca's not rubbish after all?

Picture_2_73 Steve McClaren reportedly told Sven-Goran Eriksson not to take Theo Walcott to Germany. McClaren was apparently concerned by fitness worries over Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen, and feared the Swede was taking an unnecessary gamble in having unproven Peter Crouch as his only fit, experienced striker. A source told the Daily Mirror: 'Steve told Sven he should think again and that he didn't believe Walcott was ready… Sven was determined to stick with Theo, especially after he spoke about him with Arsene Wenger… But it became obvious that Theo was short for this level.'

This is an encouraging story, but it doesn't tell us who McClaren would have chosen instead of Walcott…

July 4, 2006 in England, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

News Balls

Real Madrid set to bring average age down by about 10 years [Independent]
FIFA ban Greece (no, that isn't why Totti had his hair cut) [BBC Sport]
Brazil's chances of scoring a free kick improve [Reuters]
Rooney: 'It was an accident, sir.' [Guardian]
England to win South Africa 2010 [World Cup Hippo]

July 4, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls

Rooney to give testimony on his testicle-crunching [Football 365]
Stevie Gerrard: Ronaldo was 'bang out of order' [Guardian]
Italian media shops Frings [Reuters]
Makelele defends Zimmerframe Zidane and the France geriatrics [ESPNSoccernet]
While Juninho quits and tells the Brazil geriatrics to follow him (at their own pace, of course) [BBC Sport]

July 3, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Beckham resigns – so who should be the next England captain?

Picture_1_185 A wobbly-voiced, emotional David Beckham has stepped down as England captain. Thanks Becks – you may not have had a great World Cup, but no one can deny you've done great things for the image of football in this country.

So a new era dawns… who would you like to see installed by Steve McClaren as the new skipper of England? I'd go for John Terry or Steven Gerrard, both great leaders and the right age to captain the national team for at least the next four years. Who would you choose?

July 2, 2006 in England, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

He's coming home, he's coming, Poll is coming home

Graham_pollThe FIFA referees committee has finally put Graham Poll out of his misery and officially booted him out of the World Cup. Poll had been expected to be sent home from the tournament after booking Croatia's Josep Simunic three times in their match with Australia.

In a statement referees committee president, Angel Maria Villar Llona, said: "Graham Poll is an exceptional referee and a great sportsman who will be able to overcome the situation thanks to his strong personality and love of the game." Unsurprisingly Russian referee Valentin Ivanov's tournament is also over after he allowed Holland v Portugal to descend into farce. [Via BBC]

Rob Parker

June 28, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Former Italy and Juve star hurt in fall

PessottoFormer Italy and Juventus defender, Gianluca Pessotto, now Juve' Sports Director, has been seriously hurt in a fall from his office window at the Juventus headquarters. Pessotto sustained multiple fractures in the accident in the latest blow to the Serie A giants, who have been implicated in a masive match-fixing scandal (which sees the trial starting today).

June 28, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Preview: Spain v France

Picture_4_19 Spain v France Hanover, 8pm BST (ITV1)

I was surprised to read that this is the first World Cup encounter between these nations. I was equally surprised to read that Spain has never beaten France in a competitive match. The Spanish won't have a better chance to put that right than this evening's game: – on form, France stand no chance against the youthful dynamism of Spain. However, you can never discount a team containing the genius of Thierry Henry.
Team news Raul and Cesc Fabregas start for Spain. Zinedine Zidane and Eric Abidal return from suspensions for the French.
Key question Can France start playing as a team, rather than a bunch of high-profile individuals?
Prediction Spain 1-1 France (Spain to win on penalties)

June 27, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Paul Robinson: Don't blame it on the good times, don't blame it on the sunshine, blame it on the pitches

Paulrobinson_vazer2_h England goalkeeper Paul Robinson blames England's sluggish performances on the dry pitches in Germany: 'I think we are finding the pitches particularly difficult because they are not putting water on them. It's slowing our passing game down. We are finding it hard to get a rhythm.'

Subtext: 'Come on FIFA, it's about time we held the World Cup in Scotland in January. I bet these glove-wearing foreigners wouldn't stand a chance – see how Deco and Ronaldinho cope with a bit of sleet.'

June 27, 2006 in England, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Aragones refuses to apologise to Thierry Henry for calling him a 'black shit'. Spanish coach is friends with a chicken sexer though

Picture_2_70 Spanish coach Luis Aragones still won't apologise for calling Thierry Henry a 'black shit', back in October 2004. The subject has naturally reared its ugly head again ahead of tonight's Spain v France clash. When asked about the incident, Aragones gave this reply, which has to rank as Bratwurst's quote of the day:

'No, no, don't go down that road. Henry knows through Reyes, through everything. I won't talk about it for another second. It's a topic that isn't worth talking about. Why? Because it's not like that. I have black, gypsy and Japanese friends, including one whose job is to determine the sex of poultry.'

June 27, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Preview: Brazil v Ghana

Picture_1_177 Brazil v Ghana Dortmund, 4pm BST (ITV1)

After the dull blip that was Switzerland v Ukraine, this match should be a return to form for Germany 06. Will the real Brazil, overshadowed so far by their reserve players, please stand up?
Team news Michael Essien's suspension is a huge loss for Ghana. For Brazil, Robinho is out with a thigh injury and will be replaced by Adriano. There's also talk of Ronaldinho playing as a second striker, with Juninho filling in behind him. Makes sense. The world's best player is much less of a threat when he's stuck inside the centre circle.
Key question Can Ghana compete without Essien?
Prediction Brazil 3-1 Ghana

June 27, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls

FIFA says 'Forget it.' Deco out against England [Football365]
Cristiano Ronaldo wants to play for Real Madrid. Alex Ferguson building world's biggest hairdryer as we speak [Guardian Unlimited]
England players: 'Stop bullying David, you'll make him sick again…' [BBC Sport]
Kelvin Jack: World Cup's sexiest goalkeeper [Trinidad & Tobago Express]
Beckham: a footballing obituary [World Cup Hippo]

June 27, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Preview: Italy v Australia

Picture_2_69 Italy v Australia Kaiserslautern, 4pm BST (ITV1)

Of all the last 16 match-ups, this is one of the toughest to call, especially as these teams have never played each other. Italy topped a very tough group but somehow they've yet to convince anyone, including me, that they are potential winners. These Socceroos punch above their weight and in Guus Hiddink they have one of the smartest World Cup coaches of all time. Should be a tight game, but I'd have to pick Italy to win.
Team news Mark Schwarzer returns in place of clanger-dropper Zeljko Kalac, who almost cost Australia its place in the last 16. Jason Culina replaces the suspended Bret Emerton, whilst Harry Kewell (groin) doesn't start. For Italy, Alessandro Nesta's thigh injury is still niggling him. His deputy is Marco Materazzi, who scored against the Czech Republic in the last round. Francesco Totti is replaced by Alessandro Del Piero.
Key question Can Italy's centre-backs contain the menacing Viduka?
Prediction Italy 2-0 Australia

June 26, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Eva Longoria 'loves watching England play'

Picture_1_174 Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria has been interviewed for Fifa's World Cup website, and it turns out she's something of a football fan. Based on the following quotes, though, I'm not sure she's ready for a pundit's role quite yet: 'I love watching England play' (maybe she has trouble sleeping), and 'David Beckham has been a pretty amazing passer in the games and today he scored off a free kick'. Sounds like something Sven might have said.

June 26, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Preview: England v Ecuador

Picture_1_173 England v Ecuador Stuttgart, 4pm BST (BBC1)

Crunch time. Of the teams left in Germany, England could not have picked an easier opponent than Ecuador. The weather forecast predicts stifling temperatures (not far off 100ºF) in Stuttgart this afternoon – a factor which will level the playing field for the South Americans. I see England taking a first-half lead, again, but it's how they cope in the second half which will determine the length of their stay in Germany. Intelligent substitutions are the order of the day if England are to go through. But will Sven have the cojones to substitute his one-paced, one-dimensional captain if things aren't going to plan? Or will it be deja vu all over again…
Team news As reported yesterday, Michael Carrick will play as the holding midfielder in a 4-5-1 (or 4-1-4-1) formation, with Wayne Rooney up front on his own. Owen Hargreaves drops to right-back, in place of Jamie Carragher. Rio Ferdinand has recovered from a slight groin strain and will also start. Carlos Tenorio and Augustin Delgado return to lead the line for Ecuador.
Player cam Sven has suddenly found faith in Michael Carrick, having dismissed him so far. This is a defining match for the Spurs man.
Prediction England 2-1 Ecuador (aet)

June 25, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Preview: Argentina v Mexico

Picture_2_67 Argentina v Mexico Leipzig, 8pm BST (BBC1)

Argentina is the form team of the tournament (by a long way) and are surely too strong for the Mexicans. Simple as that. Mexico may be ranked sixth in the world, but that's a grossly inflated position, based on its three group matches.
Team news Argentina right-back Nicolas Burdisso has not recovered from the knee sprain he picked up against Holland. Fabricio Coloccini will replace him. Up front, Hernan Crespo and Javier Saviola look set to come in for Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi. For Mexico, Zinha may replace Luis Perez, while Bolton's Jared Borgetti is still a doubt.
Player cam Argentina's Javier Mascherano is the best young holding midfielder in the world. He makes the game look so simple.
Prediction Argentina 2-0 Mexico

June 24, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Preview: Germany v Sweden

Picture_1_172 Germany v Sweden Munich, 4pm BST (BBC1)

More than two weeks in to the World Cup and the hosts have yet to face a decent team. Sweden are a decent team in that they usually add up to more than the sum of their journeyman parts, especially in major tournaments – I expect them to pose more of a threat to the Germans than either Poland, Ecuador or Costa Rica.
Team news Jurgen Klinsmann has a fully fit squad to choose from, but Sweden are sweating on the fitness of star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Player cam Michael Ballack will be the difference between the teams. Sweden doesn't have a playmaker to match him.
Prediction Germany 2-1 Sweden

June 24, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gerd Muller's record equalled by Ronaldo

MullerGerd Muller must be seething. Der Bomber's World Cup goal tally has finally been equalled. Ronaldo's brace against the plucky Japan side took the Brazillian up to 14 career goals in the World Cup. Muller's last World Cup goal was the winner in the 1974 World Cup final (not a bad note to leave on eh?).

The question still remains however; Now that Ronaldo will be facing better opposition, will he be able to break Muller's record in what could be his last World Cup?

Mof Gimmers

It's easy to question Ronaldo, as this is the second wobbler we've seen from him. The patch he's in now at least sees him bagging goals, but still looking a little jaded and forlorn. The previous wobble was the spectacularly poor form of the '98 World Cup final. However, it is easy to forget that Ronaldo is simply one of the finest players ever to emerge from Brazil. A half fit Ronaldo is still better than a fully fit Paul Dickov. Mind you, a half thawed corpse is better than Dickov, but you get my point.

Muller played in a time when the game was a lot tougher, and defenders were without the mercy of modern ones. Muller always kept his head in high pressure games, most notably the 3-2 victory over England in 1970, and of course, the '74 final against neighbours Holland. This is something that Ronaldo has seemingly lacked. One thing in Ronaldo's favour is his all round game. He's quicker than the West German, and can score from anywhere when fully fit and match sharpened. So...

Who is the better striker? And will Gerd's 32 year old record be toppled this summer?

Mof Gimmers

June 22, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Nike under fire for 'offensive' Rooney ad

So five people complained to the Advertising Standards Authority on 'religious grounds' within hours of Nike's new Wayne Rooney campaign being launched. Just what Nike wanted, surely? Personally, I think it's a pretty unappealing image. Some players you don't mind seeing with their shirt off – Wayne Rooney is not one of those players. I don't see how you'd find it offensive though?
Picture_2_66

June 22, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Buddhist monks: 'World Cup makes us real sleepy'

Monkchant Buddhist monks in Thailand are too knackered to receive early morning alms because they are staying up late to watch World Cup matches, a Thai newspaper reports. The Nation quoted a woman in the city of Chiang Mai who said her birthday was ruined because monks were not awake to receive her morning offering. A senior monk explained to her that most of his young colleagues were still asleep because they had stayed up late to watch the action in Germany. Shades of Father Ted's paternal relationship with Dougal there, methinks. [Via Reuters]

June 22, 2006 in News Balls, World Cup funnies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cruciate ligament damage = Michael Owen's World Cup is over

Picture_1_167 Ouch, that's gotta hurt. As soon as we saw the replay of Michael Owen's knee popping, it was clear his Germany 06 was over. Some sections of the media, including The Guardian, thinks Owen's loss is a blessing in disguise. Not sure how losing our one world-class finisher counts as a blessing?

UPDATE: An initial scan on Owen's knee has revealed that he suffered cruciate ligament damage and will be out of action for around five months. He'll fly home from Germany today.

June 21, 2006 in England, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Michael Owen has a bit of a dig at Peter Crouch

Owen_and_rooneyMichael Owen has dropped a not-so-subtle hint that he would like Peter Crouch to remain on the subs' bench beyond tomorrow's match with Sweden. Owen told the BBC: 'You would have thought there won't be so many long balls with Wayne back. We might keep it on the deck a bit more. If we're playing well, I will look as good as ever. I'm as sharp as ever.' Claws away, Michael.

Rob Parker

June 19, 2006 in England, Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rooney/Owen to start up-front against Sweden

Picture_2_62 England's goalscorers against T&T, Peter Crouch and Steven Gerrard, won't start against Sweden on Tuesday. They're both on a yellow card and Sven won't risk them – a second yellow would mean a one-match ban, and we could really use the pair in the second-round match against Germany or Ecuador.

Wayne Rooney will start instead of Crouch, with Owen Hargreaves deputising for Gerrard. I'd also like to see Aaron Lennon start instead of David Beckham. What is clear is that Eriksson desperately wants to win the Sweden game and top Group B: 'There are a lot of advantages to winning the group,' he said. 'All the way along you then get an extra day before each round, until the final itself. And England have not beaten Sweden in 38 years. Before leaving this job, I would like to do something about that.'

June 18, 2006 in England, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wayne Rooney is passed fit for Trinidad & Tobago!

Rooney_2The BBC reports that Wayne Rooney has been passed fit to play against Trinidad and Tobago today. Nervy FA officials flew in independent medical experts Angus Wallace and Chris Moran to cover their backs if Rooney was to get injured again. Wallace and Moran have declared Rooney fit to play and he will now be available to Eriksson. Result! [Via BBC]

Rob Parker

June 15, 2006 in England, Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls

Experts gather around Rooney. Ominous [BBC Sport]
German & Polish hooligans go at it. But where were the English? [Football365]
World Cup Power Rankings!!! [Sports Illustrated]
The Crouch Paradox [World Cup Hippo]
England hotel next to train station & bars. Clever [Guardian]

June 15, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Businesses to be fined £1,000 for watching the World Cup online without a TV licence - stick to the Bratwurst live blogs!

Tv_licensingThe spoil-sports at TV Licensing are threatening to target firms whose workers are watching World Cup matches online without a licence. Businesses could face a £1,000 if employees are accessing the BBC's online streaming.

A TV Licensing spokesman (who sounds like the life and soul of any party) said: "We know exactly which unlicensed business premises to target. It doesn't matter how you're watching, if you are watching a live match you will need a licence." You can always stick to the Bratwurst Live Blogs for up-to-the-minute information on all the 2pm kick offs. [Via BBC]

Rob Parker

June 14, 2006 in Live Blogs, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Van Persie: Robben is a selfish c**t

Picture_5_6 Arjen Robben was voted Fifa's official man of the match for yesterday's Serbia v Holland encounter (he scored the only goal but the Dutch were overreliant on him, as Simon Kuper pointed out in the Financial Times) but not all of his team-mates think as highly if him. Arsenal's Robin van Persie slagged Robben off after the match (just can't shake that Chelsea/Arsenal rivalry), saying: 'He can't do it all by himself… sometime he makes decisions for himself and not the team'

Ouch. Not like the Dutch to in-fight it it? And they won the match! Hate to see the fall-out if they lose…

June 12, 2006 in Group C, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Pekerman names Argentina starting team v Ivory Coast. Saviola and Heinze start but no Messi or Tevez

Picture_2_54Abbondanzieri; Burdisso, Ayala, Heinze, Sorin; Rodriguez, Mascherano, Cambiasso, Riquelme; Saviola, Crespo

Man Utd's Gabriel Heinze is back from his lengthy lay-off, but there's no Lionel Messi (still recovering from injury) and, surprisingly, no Carlos Tevez. Thought Tevez would start, but Saviola is preferred. Strange decision. Argentina play the Ivory Coast tomorrow at 8pm (BST). Should be a cracker.

June 9, 2006 in Group C, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

England News Balls: Gerrard fit for Paraguay

England_14 Stevie G ready to play against Paraguay tomorrow [BBC Sport]
The FA and Man Utd. Just good friends [Football365]
Departing Defoe a real pro [ESPNsoccernet]
Don't mention the war… too late [Guardian Unlimited]
Roberto Carlos: England not as good as Brazil. You don't say [The Sun]

June 9, 2006 in England, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Paul Robinson's pet pooch lost by dog-sitters

Robinson_4England goalkeeper Paul Robinson's pet boxer dog Tyson was lost by a pet-sitting service on Tuesday morning as his owner prepared for the World Cup. The misplaced mutt was eventually found wandering the streets of north London by a dog warden and taken to the Old Windsor branch of Battersea Dogs Home.

The hopeless pet-sitters managed to track Tyson down to the dogs home and he was eventually retrieved by Mrs Robinson on Tuesday evening. The dogs home stayed open late especially to avoid a night in the kennels for Tyson. [Via The Guardian

Rob Parker

June 8, 2006 in England, News Balls, World Cup funnies | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls: Just one frickin' day to go already!

So close now…

Ballack to miss first match – what's the German for 'bollocks'? [via ESPNsoccernet]
Man Utd reportedly tried to block Rooney's return [via Football365]
Cisse breaks leg (the other one) in China friendly. Poor bloke [via BBC Sport]
Police detain nine 'violent' English hooligans [via Guardian Unlimited]
Barca want £30m Frank Lampard [via The Sun]

June 8, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rooney scan result positive: he will play for England in the World Cup!

Waynerooney_1 The result of Wayne Rooney's foot scan today was positive enough for him to get the green light & he is returning to Germany by private jet this evening, as I write this in fact. So he is now officially a member of England's 23-man squad, presumably at the expense of Jermain Defoe (though I'd be tempted to keep Defoe and drop Jermaine Jenas, cause we have loads of midfield cover).

Great news – get in!

June 7, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Jens Lehmann writes off England

Picture_4_15 Germany's No.1 keeper, Jens Lehmann, has mouthed off in a press conference today, writing off England's chances. He said: 'We believe we can do better than England as they've had problems in the past and that's now a mental block… They know how to play well but they do not know how to go through a whole tournament… We have been there and done it. They haven't.' Ooh, you bitch!

I guess Jens has a point, but somehow I can't see his mind games causing Sven to crack up and launch into a Keeganesque 'I would love it if we beat them' tirade.

June 7, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Paraguay captain Carlos Gamarra predicts England will be knocked out in the group stages

Gamarra_2 Let the crafty South American mind-games commence! Veteran Paraguay captain Carlos Gamarra has predicted that England will be knocked out in the first round of the World Cup with Sweden and Paraguay progressing from Group B. The 35-year-old said in a Friends-style statement: 'I so fear England but I think Sweden are the main threat in the group… England is a tough match but we can beat them if we play intelligent football.' The two teams meet on Saturday at 2pm, but you knew that already. [via The Sun]

Rob Parker

June 7, 2006 in Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls Special: 48 Hours to go!

Picture_1_130Just two days to go now! Here's a round-up of the biggest World Cup stories as the clock ticks down to Friday's opening game, Germany v Costa Rica:

Paul Robinson in traditional 'Keeper slags off new World Cup football' story [BBC Sport]
World Cup Power Rankings. F**k, yeah! [Sports Illustrated]
Martin O'Neill wanted England job. Bit late now, Martin [Football365]
Steven Gerrard misses training with stiff back, just a 'precaution' [ESPNsoccernet]
Ronaldo fit to play against Croatia [Guardian Unlimited]

June 7, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mystic Mourinho tips Holland & Germany

Picture_5_5 The Chosen One has tipped hosts Germany and neighbours Holland as the only two teams capable of preventing Brazil from retaining the World Cup. He obviously has a lot of time for Jurgen Klinsmann and Marco van Basten, two legends of the game now coaching their national teams:

'I have no idea who can stop Brazil because they have such a strong team, much more so than in 2002,' Mourinho told The Sun. 'For now, there are two teams who stand out – Holland and Germany. Their coaches inspire me. They were courageous players and they impose their playing style as coaches.'

June 6, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wayne Rooney vs Metatarsal: Rooney winning on points

Picture_2_50 Wayne Rooney's been seen attempting a frickin' scissor kick in training – his recovery from that pesky foot injury would seem to be progressing nicely. He's due to fly back to Manchester on Wednesday for another scan, but it seems 90 per cent likely that he'll be cleared to return to Germany. However, volleying a ball in training and evading the attentions of a giant central defender intent on stepping on your crocked foot are two very different things.

June 6, 2006 in England, Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

10 percent of men would sell an internal organ to get a World Cup ticket. Just 10 percent?

Bath Rubbish survey of the week award goes to Braun, which asked men what they would do to get a World Cup ticket. Nearly 10 per cent said they would sell an internal organ; a third said they would sell their partner's shoe collection (a no-brainer, surely); nearly 50 per cent said they would give up sex (steady on chaps); and more than a fifth said they were happy to take a bath full of snakes (?). [via The Independent]

June 5, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Australia do Argentina a favour with a little game of kick the Dutchman

WesleyWith all the attention on ensuring the Australian public get as excited about Germany 2006 as they do about rugby World Cups, a few of the players seem to have got a bit confused as to which sport they were playing.

With all the vigour of a side who had not qualified, the Socceroos tore into Holland during a 1-1 draw today. Holland's Wesley Sneijder (pictured) and Gio van Bronckhorst both picked up ankle injuries, while Philip Cocu injured his thigh. Luke Wilkshire was sent off for the tackle which injured van Bronckhorst during a distinctly unfriendly friendly.

Click here to read more from the BBC.

Rob Parker

June 4, 2006 in Group C, Group F, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Manchester Airport launches swastika amnesty

_40734911_swastikaEngland fans travelling to the World Cup from Manchester Airport will be provided with bins to dispose of Nazi memorabilia before boarding flights to Germany. Passengers will be warned that they face arrest in Germany if they are found in possession of anything which is seen to glorify Adolf Hitler or Nazism. Click here to read more from the Manchester Evening News.

Rob Parker

June 2, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls: Wayne Rooney making progress

Wayne Rooney jogging again [BBC Sport]
Reaction to Goonergate [Arseblog]
Dennis Bergkamp!!! The sound of a very, very, very excited Dutch commentator - YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO THIS! [Blog FC]
The Guardian tips Argentina [Guardian Unlimited]

June 2, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Owen Hargreaves to star against Jamaica. Oh no, I meant start

Microstarsmc2402 If you strike him down, he shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine…

Yep, everyone's favourite German-Canadian, Owen Hargreaves, looks certain to start tomorrow's Jamaica friendly, in the pivotal holding midfield role. Former No.1 holding midfielder Jamie Carragher moves to right-back (a failed experiment?) to deputise for Gary Neville (nursing a hamstring). As for Michael Carrick, who knows? Also looks like MC Crouch will start on the bench again, with Michael Owen on his own up front. Boo. More here.

What do you make of this rotating shambles?

June 2, 2006 in England, Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls: BBC secures World Cup broadband rights – you can watch all of the Beeb's matches online

Pretty big news this. The BBC has secured World Cup broadband rights – all of the Beeb's World Cup games will also be streamed live online. Excellent, Smithers [BBC Sport]
Frank Lampard's been practising penalties [ESPNsoccernet]
Crouch set to body-pop into Sven's starting XI? [Guardian]
Fifa urged to restore smoking ban [China Daily]
Man Utd doctor gets golden handshake [The Sun]

June 1, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Simple Minds to headline World Cup launch party in Berlin

Simpleminds02 Simple Minds, we haven't forgotten about you! Slightly strange choice for a World Cup gig, but then it's nice for Scotland to have some involvement in the World Cup (I'm contractually obliged to make that statement… no wonder Scotland fans don't support England in major tournaments).

Yes, on 7 June Jim Kerr and the boys will rock Berlin's Brandenburg Gate like it's never been rocked before (except, maybe, by David Hasselhoff). More details here.

June 1, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rio Ferdinand 'kidnaps' David Beckham. Hilarious

Picture_1_122 Ho ho, Rio's a wag, pretending to kidnap Becks. According to The Sun, 'The Real Madrid ace was convinced he was about to be held to ransom after a bizarre car ride that took him across Manchester’s notorious Moss Side area.' Becks jumped out of the car at a red light and sprinted away, clearly shitting himself. Rio leapt out of a nearby van, caught up with his captain and explained it was all a big joke, filmed for Rio's new ITV show, 'Rio Ferdinand's World Cup Wind-ups'. Comedy gold. (The show will be aired on 10 June, after the Paraguay game, btw)

Good to see Rio's mind is fully concentrated on the tournament :(

June 1, 2006 in England, Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Paraguay's Fifa official makes 'booty call' to Swedish photographer

Picture_1_121 A Swedish photographer following Paraguay's World Cup squad has revealed that she was called in the middle of the night by a Fifa official trying to get her to meet one of the players. Emelie Asplund was sent by Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter to cover Paraguay's warm-up match against Denmark last Saturday. After the match she was asleep in her hotel room when the phone rang. It was 1am…

The caller was Manuel Hoffman, Fifa's liaison officer for Paraguay, who had interpreted some interviews earlier that day. 'He said that a player [as yet unidentified] from the team wanted to meet me right away, in the middle of the night - so he could get to know me better,' said Asplund. Classy guy!

Not tempted (wonder why?), Asplund went back to sleep. But the next day her colleague, reporter Maria Nordström, challenged Hoffman. 'When I asked him what he was playing at he apologised. He said it was hard to refuse when someone asks and a whole group of guys are standing around him,' said Nordström.

Tssk. Footballers, eh!

[via The Local]

June 1, 2006 in Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Guide to the German male

Picture_1_120 Props to the Washintgon Post's Jon DeNunzio for spotting this article in German magazine Spiegel. It's a handy Guide to the German male, from Aristo German ('Daddy was the Kaiser's favourite nephew…') to Sporty German (He loves 'forcing you to go Nordic Walking on a Sunday morning…'). Essential reading, particularly for singletons heading to Germany this summer. Does David Hasselhoff count as German these days?

June 1, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Oliver Kahn's Munich motorway madness!

Picture_1_111
As advertising banners go, this one, which overarches a motorway near Munich airport, takes some beating. Shame Kahn won't be starting for Germany, but, hey, he might cause a pile-up or three.

June 1, 2006 in Group A, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls: Butcher condemns Gerrard's dive

Butcher: Gerrard is a very naughty boy [BBC Sport]
Interview with T&T's Chris Birchall [Guardian]
Saha and Henry up-front for France? [ESPNsoccernet]
BT broadband to offer Prem football 'on-demand' [Tech Digest]
World Cup friendlies review [World Cup Blog]

May 31, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Yahoo + FIFA = FREE World Cup highlights on the web

Picture_1_110 FIFA and Yahoo have teamed up to provide FREE World Cup highlights on FIFA's official World Cup site. This is actually a big deal because it marks the first time that web users will be able to access official World Cup clips (two minutes of professionally produced action, available one hour after games have finished) at no cost. No registration is required, so it appears that there's no catch. Everyone's a winner!

May 30, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

News Balls: Michael Owen's dodgy thigh and other stories

Stop tormenting us, Michael Owen… [ESPNsoccernet]
Will the USA be welcome in Germany? [SoccerBlog]
Ronaldo turns down big pot of cash to play in States. Ronaldoh! more like [Sports Illustrated]
Round-up of this week's World Cup friendlies – Liechtenstein vs Togo sounds like a doozie! [World Cup Blog]
Lionel Messi takes the Wayne Rooney World Cup route [FIFA]

May 30, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Jamie Carragher to play as a holding midfielder against Hungary

CarragherWhy, why, why, why? Why pick Michael Carrick and Owen Hargreaves in your squad and then play Jamie Carragher as a holding midfielder? It is rumoured that is what Sven Goran Eriksson has planned for England's friendly against Hungary tonight.

Eriksson has already stated that the team he plays tonight will be the one he wants to start the World Cup. Click here to read more from The Guardian.

Rob Parker

May 30, 2006 in England, Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

BIG NEWS BALL! Wayne Rooney's scan date moved forward one week to 7 June

Picture_2_44 It's been decided at a meeting held this morning at Man U's training complex – attended by both Sven-Goran Eriksson and Alex Ferguson (plus the usual array of medical experts) – that Wayne Rooney's next metatarsal scan will be on 7 June, one week earlier than originally planned. Doesn't change much really, just decides his fate a bit earlier. I'm not holding out much hope.

May 29, 2006 in England, Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Revealed: Wayne Rooney's new nickname…

Picture_1_107 Steven Gerrard on Wayne Rooney: 'The first time I saw him after his injury, I expected him to be a bit down. But even then he was adamant he was going to play some part… That's great news as a team-mate and there's no one more desperate than Wazza to play in the World Cup – except for me.'

Wazza?!*@!!

Yep, the world's finest young footballer goes by the nickname Wazza (I thought it was Shrek?). Classy, very classy.

May 29, 2006 in England, Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Michael Ballack and Oliver Kahn have vibrators removed

Ballack_and_kahnGermany stars Michael Ballack and Oliver Kahn have successfully forced a German sex shop to stop selling erotic toys named after them. Beate Uhse has removed the 'Ollie K' and 'Michael B' models from its shelves after the footballers threatened to take legal action. A 'David B' vibrator had also been on sale.

The offending items were 16cm long and were on sale for around £50. Congratulations to Beate Uhse, who have generated a lot of publicity at very little cost. (Via Blogcritics)

Rob Parker

May 27, 2006 in Group A, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BREAKING NEWS: Rooney not fit to play in England's World Cup group games. Tits

01658506028700 Reports suggest that Wayne Rooney will not be fit to resume training for another couple of weeks (on schedule though, so nothing much has changed medically). He'll have another scan on 14 June and definitely won't play in any of England's group matches. But it looks like Rooney will still travel to Germany and Sven will then leave it until the 11th hour before deciding his fate.

Let's face it, Rooney won't be fit – resuming training is a very different ballgame from playing in a competitive match. Sven, you have to let it go…

May 26, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Rooney's scan: and still we wait…

Sport_teaser1727007_160x120 No news yet on the result of Wayne Rooney's scan. I'm sure that the scan will reveal a good deal of improvement to his injury, but will Man Utd let their most important player go to Germany?

It's clear that Fergie doesn't want him going anywhere near the World Cup, so it'll be interesting to see how this is sorted out; it's also clear that Sven is resolved to take Rooney whatever the result of the scan and then hope he's fit for the knockout stages. Should get news at lunchtime…

May 26, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Togo players will be axed if they talk to journalists from South Korea

OttoThe Togo World Cup squad have been warned they will be dropped if they talk to journalists from group opponents South Korea. Midfielder Junior Senaya claimed slightly loopy coach Otto Pfister (pictured) has also told the players not to talk to people claiming to be Chinese or Japanese in case they are in fact Korean! (Via Togo Daily)

Rob Parker

May 25, 2006 in Group G, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

British man escapes death at hands of Muslim fanatics – because he's a Portsmouth fan

0200623132900 Don't know how I missed this terrific story: Portsmouth-born Tony Renstall was ambushed by AK 47-wielding Muslim fundamentalists in Yemen. They dragged poor Tone out of his car and threatened to execute him. Until… they saw the Portsmouth FC badge in his car window. The Muslims saw the moon/stars emblem, thought Tony was also a practising Muslim and let him go free. So Pompey saved themselves this season and then (indirectly) save a fan's life. Back of the net!

May 25, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls: still we wait on Rooney's metatarsal

Rooney keeps us hanging on, the little tease! [BBC Sport]
Germany struggle against Swiss third division outfit. Yeah, right [SI.com]
Coupet still pissed at not being France's No.1 keeper. Diddums [World Cup Blog]
Chelski wait on Shevchenko [Football365]
Palace accept Wigan's £8.5 bid for Andy Johnson [ESPNsooccernet]
Heinze's comeback complete [Sporting Life]

May 25, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls: Robbie Williams wins 'World Cup funnies' poll

Picture_1_100 Robbie Williams vs Martin O'Neill wins BBC 'World Cup humour' poll [BBC Sport]
Carrick, Lennon and Jenas to start vs Belarus. Come on you Spurs! [Football365]
USA loses friendly against Morocco & Reyna pulls hamstring. Doh x2 [Sports Illustrated]
WBA reject £3.5m bid for star defender Curtis Davies [Guardian Unlimited]
Man Utd doctor sacked. Surely Rooneygate had nothing to do with it? [ESPNsoccernet]

May 24, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Italy World Cup squad is 'homogeneous'

BuffonNo, this has nothing to do with the metrosexual USA squad. In his diary for MSN, Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon claimed: "Our manager Lippi has taken care to put together a homogeneous side." For anyone who was wondering here is the definition: homogeneous.

I suspect this is another lost in translation moment. No footballer knows a word that long in their own language, let alone somebody else's.

Rob Parker

May 24, 2006 in Group E, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

News Balls: Carlos Alberto tips England, World Cup babes and other Germany 06 nuggets

Carlo Alberto likes England's chances. Sort of [BBC Sport]
National anthem archive. Act out the World Cup in a Eurovision-stylee [via World Cup Blog]
World Cup babes. Who said football was sexist? [MegaStar]
Serbia & Montenegro: the end of a beautiful friendship [Washington Post]
Even National Geographic has World Cup fever! [National Geographic]

May 23, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

WARNING: Phil Neville on World Cup standby

NevilleEverton right-back / left-back / holding midfielder Phil Neville has been brought into the England squad on World Cup standby after Nigel Reo-Coker pulled out with a niggling back problem. Not exactly a like for like swap.

How many utility players does one squad need? Owen Hargreaves is already there and Jamie Carragher can play anywhere across the back-four. Kevin Nolan anybody?

Read more from the BBC.

Rob Parker

May 23, 2006 in England, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Metatarsal Watch! Wayne Rooney making 'perfect recovery'. WTF?

Picture_1_98 Little confused here… Roo took almost three months to recover from his last metatarsal injury, suffered during Euro 2004, but now England doctor Leif Sward thinks that he stands a good chance of recovering from multiple fractures after just six weeks. What gives? I guess we'll find out on 25 May, when Rooney has his make-or-break MRI scan.

In other news, Tottenham defender Michael Dawson has replaced injury-stricken Luke Young on England's five-man stand-by list.

May 22, 2006 in England, Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Mystic Sven: 'We Will the World Cup'… Everyone else: 'That's torn it'

Eriksson195_rkBeen taking the cocky pills, Sven? Just because Alf Ramsey proclaimed that his England team would lift the World Cup in 1966, doesn't mean you should too. Where has this out-of-character statement come from? Perhaps Kevin Keegan has stolen Sven's soul? 'I would love it, just love it, if we beat the rest of the world etc etc.'

May 22, 2006 in England, Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gary Neville and England doctor do their best to put more pressure on England

Neville_jpGary Neville and England's team doctor are making a combined effort to put England under more pressure ahead of the World Cup. Neville has today said there is no excuse for England not winning the competition and that they would be remembered as a 'nearly team' if they failed. Click here to read what else he had to say.

Dr Leif Sward, meanwhile, has claimed today that Wayne Rooney is making a 'perfect' recovery from his metatarsal injury. Click here to read more. No pressure boys!

Rob Parker

May 22, 2006 in England, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls: Thierry Henry stays at Arsenal and other baking-hot football-shaped pies

Henry says FU to Barcelona + must-read Champions League final review [Arseblog]
Jens Lehmann's unlikeliest supporter [Sky Sports]
Fed-up Drogba leaving Chelsea? Let's hope so… [BBC Sport]
U2 World Cup commercials [World Cup Blog]
Register now for offical FIFA World Cup fantasy footie [FIFA]

May 19, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Selected pubs to screen World Cup matches in Sky HDTV

Odeonworldcup010_1 A little birdy tells us that  a number of select pubs up and down the country (the pubs in question are yet to be confirmed) will be equipped by Sky to screen World Cup games in glorious, pin-sharp High-Def TV. Shhh, don't tell anyone else though. If you haven't yet ordered an HD system through Sky or Telewest, you won't get it installed in time for Germany 06, so an HD-ready pub may be your best bet.

Watch this space and also keep an eye on HDTV UK, the UK's best High-Def-dedicated blog.

May 17, 2006 in News Balls, World Cup telly | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Armed gunmen demand Champions League final tickets

Picture_5_4 Two armed men burst into a council meeting in Paris yesterday and demanded free tickets to Wednesday'sChampions League final between Arsenal and Barcelona. The hooded men climbed up the walls of a council building in St Denis and through the window of the fourth-floor room where the meeting was being held, declaring: 'We want to see the mayor. We want tickets!' But the mayor, who is often granted guest tickets to major sporting occasions, could not be found and the intruders left empty-handed. Well, if you don't ask, you don't get…

May 16, 2006 in Club football, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Angola, Holland, Mexico, Japan squads announced

Woah woah, slow down a minute, I've only got one par of hands to type with! With the 15 May deadline for announcing your 23-man squad now upon us, World Cup coaches have been unveiling their choices left, right and centre. So now we know the 23-player rosters of Mexico, Japan, Holland (no George Boateng, Boro fans) and Angola.

Wait, wait… the Czech squad has also been annouced. It's all happening.

May 15, 2006 in Group C, Group D, Group F, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Probably the best taxi driver in the world

Picture_3_17 Munich-based cabbie Ghazi Mahmood (that's him on the right) is fitting his fleet of 10 taxis with digital TVs and beer-crammed ice boxes, so that his World Cup-loving fares won't miss any of the action. Now that's a great PR stunt. By the way, Ghazi expects Australians to be his biggest customers – maybe he should fit a barbie in the back too.

May 15, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The science of penalty kicks. Sven, are you paying attention at the back?

Picture_2_34 Here's a thing: In World Cup Finals dating back to 1982, the penalty-kick success rate ranges from 73% (1990) to 80% (1998 – incidentally, that was the year after FIFA changed the law to allow goalkeepers to move along the goal-line). I don't have the stats to hand (any Stattos out there?) but I'd imagine that for England this success rate is much lower…

The science of penalty kicks. Sven, are you paying attention at the back? cont…

So what is it with England and penalty kicks? Even in this season's FA Cup final, Englishmen proved rubbish from the spot, with less than 50% hitting the target: Steven Gerrard and Teddy Sheringham scored; Anton Ferdinand, Bobby Zamora and Paul Konchesky all fu*ked up.

I think that there's something in every English footballer's psyche that is scarred by previous penalty failures. In recent times, the only Englishmen who have been any good at pens have been Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Matt Le Tissier. I trusted them, but no one else really.

Perhaps Sven should instruct his team to just BLAST the ball. A study in biomechanics done by Bath University in 2004 resulted in the oh-so-scientific conclusion: Hit the ball as hard as possible.


Their research indicated that a penalty struck at more than 20 metres-per-second (roughly 46 miles per hour) stands a greater chance of hitting the back of the net than a slower one, as a goalkeeper has less time to react. Like, duh!

May 15, 2006 in England, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Wayne Rooney on a bike. It's madness, I tell you!

Picture_1_87 Wayne, please stop messing about on that mountain bike and get back in your oxygen tent! You're asking for trouble. What next, a photo of Roo bungie jumping? Apparently master Wayne is making 'very positive' progress in his bid to be fit for Germany. He looks happy enough, but there's a big difference between pulling a wheelie at Man Utd's training ground and nutmegging an Argentine defender in the World Cup final.

May 13, 2006 in England, Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls

German whore crackdown [SI.com]
Gallas: 'Non' to Chelsea [BBC Sport]
Dog-painting vandals at large [World Cup Blog]
Cesc Fabregas: 'I surprise myself' [FIFA]
Top 5 footie hunks. Phwoar etc etc. [Megastar]

May 12, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Ze Roberto: Brazil are masters of the universe etc.

Picture_2_30 'I am convinced that we will achieve it [win the World Cup] because we will field the strongest team Brazil has ever had,' Ze Roberto told Germany's Sport Bild. The Bayern Munich midfielder continued, modestly: 'We are sensational on every position, even in goal.'

Maybe something has been lost in translation here, but I doubt it and instead suspect that ole Ze is just 'a cocky shit'.

May 11, 2006 in Group F, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hiddink 'does a Sven' over injured Tim Cahill

Tim_cahill_1 England are not the only team hoping to patch up their star player in time for the World Cup finals. Australia coach Guus Hiddink has gambled on injured Everton midfielder Tim Cahill and included him in the Socceroos' squad. Cahill was widely expected to miss the World Cup with a knee injury.

Middlesbrough's Brad Jones has missed out, but nine other British-based players are included. Click here to read about the squad.

Rob Parker

May 10, 2006 in Group F, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Make a baby, get World Cup tickets. What could be simpler?

Picture_1_80 As part of a novel competition designed to help combat Germany’s low birth rate and as an answer to sold-out World Cup venues, German comedian Harold Schmidt is bribing offering free tickets to couples who give birth before the opening kickoff on 9 June. Last month he gave out 216 tickets. Clever chaps, those Germans.

May 10, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

World Cup slogans

You want to know what uplifting messages will adorn the team buses of each country at the World Cup? Of course you do, you're only human… [via FIFA's official World Cup site]

Angola 'Angola lead the way – our team is our people'
Argentina 'Get up, Argentina are on the move' (rubbish)
Australia 'Australia Socceroos – Bound for glory'
Brazil 'Vehicle monitored by 180 million Brazilian hearts'
Costa Rica 'Our army is the team, our weapon is the ball. Let's go to Germany and give it our all'
Côte d'Ivoire 'Come on the Elephants! Win the cup in style'
Croatia 'To the finals with fire in our hearts'
Czech Republic 'Belief and a lion's strength, for victory and our fans'
Ecuador 'Ecuador my life, football my passion, the cup my goal'
England 'One Nation, One Trophy, Eleven Lions'
France 'Liberté, egalité, Jules Rimet' (definitely the best one)
Germany 'We are football'
Iran 'Stars of Persia'
Italy 'Blue pride, Italy in our hearts'
Japan 'Light up your Samurai spirit!'
Korea Republic 'Never-ending legend, united Korea'
Ghana 'Go Black Stars, the stars of our world'
Mexico 'Aztec passion across the world'
Netherlands 'Oranje on the road to gold'
Paraguay 'From the heart of America... this is the Guarani spirit'
Poland 'White and red, dangerous and brave'
Portugal 'With a flag in the window and a nation on the pitch. Força Portugal'
Saudi Arabia 'The Green Hawks cannot be stopped'
Serbia and Montenegro 'For the love of the game'
Spain 'Spain. One country, one goal'
Switzerland '2006, it's Swiss o'clock' (my favourite)
Sweden 'Fight! Show spirit! Come on! You have the support of everyone'
Togo 'A passion to win and a thirst to succeed'
Trinidad and Tobago 'Here come the Soca Warriors – the fighting spirit of the Caribbean'
Tunisia 'The Carthage Eagles... higher and stronger than ever'
Ukraine 'With our support, Ukraine cannot fail to win!'
USA 'United we play, United we win'

May 9, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Iran says no to metrosexual footballers

Picture_1_77 'I will ban athletes with an effeminate look,' proclaims Mohammad Ali-Abadi, the head of Iran's physical education organisation. He continues: 'It is really disgraceful for Iran that young people step onto fields wearing make-up… When a man enters the field with dyed hair and groomed eyebrows he is disrespecting society.' Exactly, Mo – I can't stand men with groomed eyebrows either.

Just as well David Beckham isn't Iranian, I suppose.

May 9, 2006 in Group D, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Lazy assistants ruin referees' World Cup dreams

Picture_3_14 Love this story: Greece’s Kyros Vassaras and Spain’s Manuel Gonzalez have both seen their World Cup refereeing dreams fail because their assistant referees didn't pass the required fitness test. That's got to piss you right off. [via World Cup Blog]

May 9, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

England's squad announced: Sven turns into risk-taker, picking Walcott and Lennon!

Theo Walcott!!! Just four strikers and no Darren Bent or Jermain Defoe! No Sean Wright-Phillips! Aaron Lennon! No Ledley King! Owen Hargreaves! Sven has ditched his conservative image and taken chances by selecting a fast, attacking squad. Good on him. Click below to see the full squad…

GK: Paul Robinson, David James, Rob Green

DF: Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell, Wayne Bridge, Jamie Carragher

MD: David Beckham, Michael Carrick, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Stewart Downing, Jermaine Jenas, Owen Hargreaves, Aaron Lennon, Joe Cole

FW: Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, Peter Crouch, Theo Walcott


An attractive, attacking squad, I think. Well done Sven for taking a chance on Walcott.

May 8, 2006 in England, Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

England's squad: the Bratwurst 23

Picture_1_75 At 2pm this afternoon, England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson will announce his 23-man squad for Germany '06. I'm wet-the-bed excited. Pundits seem to think he'll be fairly conservative. In the interests of heated pub debate, here are the 23 players that Bratwurst would take to Deutschland…

England's squad: the Bratwurst 23 cont…

GOALKEEPERS

Who: Paul Robinson, Scott Carson, Robert Green
Why: Robinson is England's No.1 by a mile - pray he doesn't get injured early in the World Cup or we really are shafted. I don't see any benefit in taking David James – as we saw again at the weekend, he makes far too many mistakes to play at international level. Rob Green is a talented keeper but I rate Liverpool's young Carson much higher.

Picture_3_13 DEFENDERS
Who:
Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, John Terry, Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Ledley King, Sol Campbell, Kieron Richardson
Why: An area of undisputed strength. Our back four is written in stone: Cole (great to see him fit again), Ferdinand, Terry, Neville. After that there's lots of cover, although Sol Campbell's shaky form worries me and Sven must consider Carragher above him in the pecking order. I don't rate Wayne Bridge as international class and so would take the immensely talented/fearless Kieron Richardson as a utility defender/midfielder.

MIDFIELDERS
Who:
David Beckham (capt), Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Sean Wright-Phillips, Stewart Downing
Why: It gave me great heart to type the names of England's midfield squad members and reassured me that we'll be OK in Germany. Becks, Stevie G, Lamps, Joe Cole – these are four world-class midfielders in their prime (well, Becks may be a couple of years past his best, but he'll want to make up for his injury-troubled World Cup in 2002). Boro's Downing has to travel – although he won't get much playing time, injuries permitting – and so he gets the nod ahead of Jermaine Jenas.

Picture_2_27 FORWARDS
Who:
Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Theo Walcott
Why: Oh dear. If Owen and Rooney were 100 percent fit, then we have a first XI to rival anyone in the world (including Brazil) – but they're not, so we have to accept that against Paraguay Sven will probably start with an 85 percent-fit Owen and Peter Crouch. I like Crouch and he confused the hell out of Uruguay when he came on in that friendly earlier in the year, but he's no Roo. I really hope Sven gambles on Theo Walcott, rather than Darren Bent, who I doubt at the highest level - imagine if Brazil hadn't gambled on a 17-year-old Pele. I'd also put Robbie Fowler on standby (not Bent) because he's in good form and is still the best English finisher in the game. Am also praying daily that oxygen tents actually work miracles.

What say you? Agree/Disagree?

May 8, 2006 in England, Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Team USA coach to be cunningly disguised as 'just another coach'

Canada_flag The USA's official team bus will be the only one at Germany '06 not to feature its national flag – the other 31 team buses all have large national flags painted on them. US officials met with German counterparts and came to the conclusion that the Americans shouldn't advertise themselves, for 'security reasons'. Few can dispute that America isn't the most popular nation in certain parts of the world (Bratwurst still loves ya), but I don't think this move is going to foil any would-be terrorists. Hope I'm wrong, of course.

I suggest instead that Team USA uses the oldest trick in the book: pretend you're Canadian.

May 5, 2006 in Group E, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

How to make football beautiful again?

Very interesting piece in The Guardian by Sean Ingle. If you can't be bothered to read the whole thing, Ingle calls for video evidence, bigger goals (madness!) and sin bins. I agree with the latter, but not with the first two.

May 4, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Surprise, surprise, Steve McClaren will succeed Sven as England manager

Picture_1_73 Steve McClaren has just arrived at FA headquarters and will shortly be announced as the next England manager at the obligatory press conference. Yaaaaaaaawn. How do all the Boro fans out there feel about this? Disappointed? Let us know who you'd like to succeed him.

May 4, 2006 in England, Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Steve McClaren for England

Oh, if anyone's interested, it looks like Steve McClaren, Bratwurst's favourite National Express coach driver and Britain's oldest 44-year-old, will be the next England manager. Ho hum.

May 4, 2006 in England, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

News Balls

Wayne Confucius Rooney [BBC Sport]
Virtual stadium filling up [Largest Online Stadium]
Prawn sandwich, anyone? [World Cup Blog]
Iran fears terrorists [Sports Illustrated]
Brazil - a little too cocky? [Sports Illustrated]

May 4, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rooney needs a 'miracle'

Picture_1_71 It's been confirmed by Sven Goran-Eriksson that Wayne Rooney has multiple fractures in his right foot and will need a 'miracle' if he is to feature for England in Germany. Man Utd have offered a glimmer of hope by saying that Roo is still just six weeks away from training, but I think the game's up. Peter Crouch, come on down!

May 3, 2006 in England, Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Rooney's World Cup dreams shattered?

Picture_1_68 According to The Sun, hospital scans of Roo's foot have apparently revealed that there are multiple fractures in his right foot, rather then just one. If this is true, Rooney will be out for months, not weeks. Better start devising that Plan B, Sven.

This is just dreadful news for the player himself. And like all England fans, I'm gutted too - however, I still believe we have a good enough team to go far in Germany. Our midfield and defence are among the best in the tournament, and Michael Owen is well on the road to recovery… Oh, who am I kidding, we're shafted.

May 3, 2006 in England, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

USA announces squad

Picture_2_24 The fourth-best footballing nation in the world (bites fist) has confidently announced its 23-man squad. Full details here. Continuing on a USA tip, I was interested to read about the 70ft-high Nike billboard near New York's Madison Square Garden (there's one in San Francisco too) which promotes the USA World Cup team and shouts in big yellow letters: 'THE WORLD NO LONGER WANTS TO PLAY US.' Not strictly true - the world doesn't want to lose to you because you'll probably bang on about being 'Number one baby!'

Do most Americans really care about soccer, even when the World Cup is on? If you're an American Bratwurst reader, post a comment and let us know.

May 3, 2006 in Group E, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

The Hooligan League

Picture_1_64 Extraordinary report in The Times about how Polish hooligans are planning a hooligan league, which will be 'won' by the most violent nation. As the piece reports, Poland's finest are looking forward most of all to a showdown with England's thugs, because of their international reputation as the 'best of the worst'. Sniff, makes ya proud, doesn't it?

Poland is apparently a very right-wing place at the moment (Polish Bratwurst readers, is this true?) and I've read several articles on how its violent football fans are intent on causing mayhem in Germany. Worrying stuff – look on the bright side, though: at least this is one competition we have a good chance of winning.

May 2, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Rooney can be replaced

Picture_3_12 FIFA has confirmed that Wayne Rooney can be replaced up until 24 hours before England's first World Cup match, against Paraguay on 10 June. Sven has to announce his 23-man squad by 15 May, but FIFA's system means it's almost certain that Sven will gamble and both Roo and Michael Owen will be in that list of 23 players.

Alex Ferguson, meanwhile, says it's barmy that Sven is even considering taking Rooney. Fergie has a vested interest but I have to say I agree – face facts, Roo won't be fit for Germany. It sucks, yes, but it's the way it is.

May 2, 2006 in England, Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Cole to the left of me, Owen to the right, here I am stuck in hospital with a metatarsal injury

Picture_1_62 Ashley Cole, Michael Owen, Ledley King and now, most damaging of all, Wayne Rooney have succumbed to the curse of the metatarsal. A shocking weekend for England fans, but at least England assistant coach Tord Grip is kidding himself being optimistic: 'Rooney may be out for five or six weeks,' he says. 'That might mean he only misses the first match.' Tord, hang on a minute, experts are saying it's six weeks minimum, so how can you conveniently knock a week off his recovery schedule…

Cole to the left of me, Owen to the right, here I am stuck in hospital with a metatarsal injury cont…

This blind faith reminds me exactly of how a nation conned itself into thinking David Beckham would be fit for the last World Cup. Becks conned himself too. Beckham's lack of fitness meant he couldn't track back and cover Ronaldinho for Brazil's equaliser in the quarter final.

People who say they'd still take Rooney to Germany even if he's only 80 percent fit are idiots:

a) This is the World Cup, not a kickabout for a Nike advert.
b) Roo is more likely to do long-term damage to himself if he plays and he's not totally fit. He's only 20, for God's sake.
c) Joe Cole, Steven Gerrard, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Paul Robinson, David Beckham, Rio Ferdinand… when was the last time England could boast seven world-class players in its squad? Even without mentioning Michael Owen and Ashley Cole (and both will probably be fit by June), we have a very good bunch of players. They'll want to 'Do it for Roo' as well – as I'm sure the red-tops will remind us constantly.

Chin up, plucky Englanders. It's not the end of the World (Cup)…

May 1, 2006 in England, Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rooney's injured. F**k

Picture_4_7Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit.

That's ruined my frickin' weekend. Cheers, Paulo Ferreira - England has now been shafted by the Portuguese national coach and their right back, in the space of two days. The one ray of light is that Roo is reported to have boarded the Man U team coach after the match, so hopefully it's not a World Cup-threatening injury. Oh, and well done Chelsea. Can't argue with the league table.

April 29, 2006 in Club football, England, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The man from Brazil, he say NO!

Picture_3_9 Say it ain't so! Big Phil has apparently ruled himself out as Sven's successor: "The English FA is going to choose a name. My name isn't one of them because I'm closing this matter.' Maybe it was the '20 reporters outside my house' that made Scolari change his mind?

I laughed out loud when I read Big Sam's comments about how the England manager's race was still wide open – but now I wonder what inside information Big Sam was party to, 'cause he clearly knew something we didn't.

April 28, 2006 in England, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Big Sam vs Big Phil vs the FA

SamallardyceEven though it's widely thought that Big Phil Scolari is a dead cert for the job, Big Sam is not giving up: 'As far as I am concerned, all those who have been interviewed for a second time should all feel as though they are still in with a shout. We all want a final, definitive decision to be made but, as the FA have said, the process is still progressing. They are still finding out the way they want to go and who they want to select.'

Do I sense an Oliver Reed vs Alan Bates, Women In Love-style naked wrestle to settle the matter?

The FA have said all along that they would take as much time as necessary to get the right man. Many observers now believe that the situation needs to be brought to a 'swift conclusion', especially 'given the mass of rumours which have filled the void left by the absence of genuine fact' [Football 365]

Allardyce is quick to agree with the sentiment, although he does expect to hear the final verdict from Brian Barwick himself, rather than by picking up a tabloid.

'One way or the other, you would hope to be told by the FA,' Sam said. 'You would not want to find out you either had, or had not, got the job by picking up the papers.… I have no reaction to what has been reported because there has been no official statement. Until I get that official call from Brian Barwick or whoever, I am not at liberty to comment.'

He also added that 'I don't want to get into trouble with the FA, so for a change, I'm keeping my mouth shut on this one!'

Mof Gimmers

April 28, 2006 in England, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Big Gene Scolari will be next England manager. Your heard it here first (possibly)

Picture_2_17 BREAKING NEWS Gene Hackman-lookalike Big Phil Scolari has, according to the BBC, been offered the England manager's job. FA chief exec Brian Barwick is out in Lisbon at the moment finalising Scolari's contract.

So, another foreign manager! Actually, I like Big Phil a lot and his track record is superb - but it will be interesting to see – if the Beeb are right – why Martin O'Neill wasn't chosen… bit of a smack in the teeth for all English-born managers too.

April 27, 2006 in England, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls

Don't accuse refs of flirting with you. Like, duh [ESPN]
Oldest footie in world heading for Germany [BBC]
Analysts tip Italy vs Argentina final [Finanzen]
Shaman to rid German stadia of evil spirits. Phew [World Cup Blog]
Tim Cahill doubtful for World Cup [Sports Illustrated]

April 26, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tom Cruise is buddies with Beckham. Yuck

Picture_1_56 Tom Cruise has been in London to attend the premiere of rubbish blockbuster Mission Impossible 3 (or M:I:3, as they would have us call it). The 100% sane Hollywood legend revealed that he'll be cheering on England in the coming World Cup. He also admitted that he's pals with David Beckham: 'I've got to support my buddy [euch]. I want to see them [England] win. Wouldn't it just be great for them!'

Cheers Tom. We thought you were quite good in Top Gun.

April 26, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Who says Sven has no sense of direction…

Picture_1_42 Great story in The Sun about how England fans with TomTom sat-nav devices in their cars are now able to receive directions from Sven-Goran Eriksson (well, a synthesised imitation of him). More details here. That World Cup bandwagon is creaking already.

April 24, 2006 in England, Group B, News Balls, World Cup gear | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Johnny Rep: I dived

Picture_1_48 Dutch legend Johnny Rep (looking particularly camp here) has admitted to the dive which contributed to Scotland's exit from the 1978 World Cup. The blonde bounder. You have to laugh – unless you're Scottish, in which case you have to cry. Full story here.

April 24, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls: more bounce to the ounce

Psycho takes on Gene Hackman [BBC Sport]
Fellow pros think Gerrard is quite good [Vitalfootball]
Pepsi World Cup ad merits red card. What was Thierry Henry thinking? [World Cup Blog]
Soccer AM in 'crap' shock [Blog FC]
Glenn Roeder begins shameless U-turn? [Football 365]

April 24, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Goldenball: not as gold as we'd been led to believe

Picture_2_9 Remember that post I just did about remembering the football boot-shaped sausages? This is a similar post: remember the story about how the World Cup final will be played with a golden ball - well here's a piccy (AP/Jan Bauer) of said ball, otherwise known as adidas Teamgeist Berlin. Click on it to view full-size.

I thought it would be gold all over, like the woman in Goldfinger, so I'm quite disappointed really. The man in the picture is Franz Beckenbauer, who I'm pretty sure is the most diplomatic man in the world. He's so diplomatic he should be the next U.N secretary general.

April 21, 2006 in News Balls, World Cup gear | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

God bless America: The mad, mad world of Mr FIFA

Picture_1_33 I notice that England has dropped a place in the official world rankings, from 9th to 10th. So winning our last match, 2-1 against Uruguay, clearly didn't mean very much. Slightly odd, but not as odd as the USA's jump to 4th in the world (!!!) - amazing what a 4-1 defeat to Germany and 1-1 draw against Jamaica will do for your standing. What a joke.

Of course this blog would never suggest that a certain football federation might abuse its ranking system in an underhand bid to promote 'soccer' to the world's richest, most corporate nation. That, most definitely, is NOT what we're suggesting…

April 20, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney, live together in perfect harmony, side by side on my piano keyboard, Oh Lord etc etc

Picture_2_4David 'The Diplomat' Beckham maintains that the Owen & Rooney show is still on the road, and that there's been no fall out over Gamblegate: 'People were saying there was an issue between Michael and Wayne but it is because they are the two main strikers that people want to say that… In our squad it is impossible to fall out over something like that.'

Becks also revealed that the only card game he has played is snap. Now that I do believe.

April 18, 2006 in England, Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls: drifting through Easter Monday like a black-and-white tumbleweed

The World Cup ripple effect. Huh? [Sports Illustrated]
Giant carrot dangled in front of Brazil; Ronaldinho sharpens teeth [SLAM!]
The King is dead… long live Nicky Butt [BBC Sport]
Quotes of the week [Football 365]
The road to the World Cup [Washington Post]

April 17, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls: the tasty snack you can eat between meals

Should Phil Neville go to Germany? Um, no [BBC Sport]
Boo-hoo Kalou [neurotribe]
Mexican stand-off [Sky Sports]
Chelski set to improve squad. Bugger [Football365]
Argentina/Chile to host in 2014? [World Cup Blog]

April 14, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Owen in Boots

Picture_1_22 Michael Owen has slipped into his football boots for the first time this year. He trained under the supervision of Toon physio Derek Wright. Good news for Newcastle and England fans alike.

However, let's not start planning the victory parade just yet: Owen's injury problems are depressingly similar to David Beckham's before the last World Cup - Beckham wasn't 100% fit in Korea/Japan and there's no way Owen will be fully match-fit in time for Germany, even if he has played a couple of club games before the end of the Prem season. Darren Bent, get packing.

April 13, 2006 in Club football, England, Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls: 100% roundness guaranteed

Picture_1_16 T&T announce provisional WC squad [BBC Sport]
Cool Thai video (not what you're thinking) [via World Cup Blog]
Sven is crafty. Tell us something we don't know [Football 365]
The decline of Serie A [ESPN]
Sol Campbell: never a dull moment [Guardian Unlimited]

April 13, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls

Do mention the war [Reuters]
Wenger sticks up for Sol [BBC Sport]
You are really spoiling us with this porn-free environment [World Cup Blog]
Michael Carrick: going, going, gone? [ESPN]
World Soccer Power Rankings! Only in America [SI.com]

April 12, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Will Golden Balls get to play with the golden ball?

Davidbeckham1The Times reveals that this year's World Cup final will be played using a gold-coloured ball, which the winners will then keep for four years until they defend their title.

Say what again, motherf***er! A gold ball? What's the world coming to when celeb/chav/Chantelle/bling culture has a place at the world's greatest sporting event? Shame on you adidas. although as an incentive to David Beckham - the man who single-handedly introduced bling to football - to play out of his skin, it may not be such a bad idea. What say you - Is gold good?

April 11, 2006 in England, News Balls, World Cup gear | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls

Football for dummies [blogcritics]
Rooney & Owen in gambling tiff? [BBC Sport]
Heinze's shock return for Man U [ESPN]
Kahn eats whole humble pie [Reuters]
Luke Young to miss rest of season & World Cup? [Guardian]

April 10, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Let the crazy tabloid antics commence…

0200616027200 Plucky Sun journalist Tim Spanton set off last Wednesday on a 66-day walk to the World Cup finals. The Sun hopes his 473-mile 'Route 66' journey will 'inspire David Beckham and the rest of the England team to go all the way'. Hmm, not sure if Becks and co will be aware of poor Tim as they pass him overhead in their first-class seats at 35,000ft, but you have to admire the paper's eye for a neat idea.

If you want to send Tim an email, you can reach him here. Or check out his Myspace page.

April 10, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

No Kahn do

Tys_oliver_kahn_290 Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann has at last chosen his No1 goalkeeper: and the winner is… Jens Lehmann. Arch rival Oliver Kahn, the 2002 World Cup's most valuable player, is less than chuffed, but you have to admit that Lehmann has been in fine form for Arsenal. Kahn said: 'I will consider my future with the national team over the next few weeks and announce my decision at an appropriate date.' Oooh, get her.

April 7, 2006 in Group A, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

News Balls

Violence_hooligans Hooliganism spreading to the US? [We Call It Soccer]
Sol's place is safe (ish) [BBC Sport]
Ronaldo heading for New York? [Big Apple Soccer]
Unsettled Joaquin will attract Mourinho's steely gaze [Football 365]
5 reasons why England will win in Germany, by John Terry [FourFourTwo]

April 7, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls

England manager shortlist down to four [The Guardian]
Beckham's missus selling out… again [Bayraider]
Cantona sits on fence. Fence breaks. [William Hill]
Great video of the next Ronaldinho [Soccer Weblog]
Another England World Cup song emerges [YouTube]

April 5, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

News Balls

'Using your feet is for commies.' Read Dave Eggers' take on soccer in the USA. [The Observer]
World Cup scouting report on Man City striker Darius Vassell. [BBC Sport]
Is Robert Pires off to sunny Spain? I doubt it. [TEAMtalk]
When they say Wayne Rooney can play anywhere on the park, they're not joking. [Google Video]
Bayern search high and low for Michael Ballack's replacement. [soccer-weblog]
Lee Trundle. Lovely chap. [Guardian Sport]

April 3, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0)

Shhh! Shearer for England again?

_795458_shearer_celebrates150 At a party attended by WaatB? last night, a mole (who works on the sports desk at a well-known Sunday tabloid newspaper) drunkenly let slip details of a huge, huge story - apparently Alan Shearer has been in secret talks with both the FA and Sven about the possibility of him reversing his retirement and being part of the England squad this summer. Sven is desperately worried that Michael Owen won't be fit and he'll be without an experienced goalscorer in his 22. Shearer is still in good enough shape to do a job for England. Given the choice between Dean Ashton, Darren Bent and Shearer, I know who I'd pick (clue: not Ashton or Bent). You heard it here first…

April 1, 2006 in England, Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0)

World Cup refs announced

Hold your breath no longer, for FIFA has announced its list of official referees for Germany '06. At last! England is represented by Graham Poll - I can't wait for John Motson to bang on about the likelihood of an Englishman (ie, Poll) making the final, if England are knocked out early. Shut it Motty - no England fan would be consoled by the presence of an English ref in the final.

It's a crying shame that Jorge dos Santos, the world's gayest ref, is no longer with us (he passed away in the 1990s) - still, no excuse is needed to post this classic video.

And it you're really interested in seeing the full list of World Cup refs, click below…

Essam Abd El Fatah (Egypt)
Carlos Amarilla (Paraguay)
Benito Archundia (Mexico)
Carlos Batres (Guatemala)
Massimo Busacca (Switzerland)
Coffi Codjia (Benin)
Frank De Bleeckere (Belgium)
Massimo de Santis (Italy)
Horacio Elizondo (Argentina)
Valentin Ivanov (Russia)
Toru Kamikawa (Japan)
Jorge Larrionda (Uruguay)
Shamsul Maidin (Singapore)
Manuel Mejuto Gonzalez (Spain)
Markus Merk (Germany)
Lubos Michel (Slovakia)
Graham Poll (England)
Eric Poulat (France)
Peter Prendergast (Jamaica)
Oscar Ruiz (Colombia)
Mark Shield (Australia)
Carlos Simon (Brazil)
Kyros Vassaras (Greece)

March 31, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (1)

Home nations get behind England. Really?

A survey of Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish football fans has revealed that the majority will be supporting England this summer. 83% of Welsh fans said they'd back Becks & Co, with 76% of the Northern Irish and, surprise surprise, 67% of Scots.

Hmm, suspicious. The Celts I know usually go out of their way to support whoever is playing against the English. Could this be an April Fool's Day joke come early?

March 31, 2006 in England, Group B, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0)

Chelski net Shevchenko?

Shevchenko The Daily Mail reports that Chelsea have agreed terms with AC Milan for Andrei Shevchenko. The Ukraine striker has apparently signed a four-year deal, worth £110,000 a week. That seems a hell of a lot to pay for a player who is almost 30 years old, but it's well known that Roman Abramovich admires Shev.

Joes Mourinho will doubtless see the arrival of Shevchenko – not to mention Michael Ballack – as the solution to Chelsea's Champions League puzzle.

March 30, 2006 in Group H, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ronaldinho - football's equivalent of a hotel on Mayfair

Ronaldinho_150c_1 Ronaldinho is the footballer with the highest market value in the world, according to a new study by consultancy firm BBDO Germany. The toothy Brazilian has knocked David Beckham off the top slot, while a rising English star jumps to third place. For the full list, click below.

1 Ronaldinho (Barcelona) £32.6m
2 David Beckham (Real Madrid)  £31.2m
3 Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)  £30.4m
4  Samuel Eto'o (Barcelona) £21.3m
5  Lionel Messi (Barcelona) £21.1m
6 Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Juventus)  £20.9m
7 Ronaldo (Real Madrid) £20.4m
8  Frank Lampard (Chelsea) £20m
9  Thierry Henry (Arsenal) £19.95m
10  Michael Ballack (Bayern Munich) £19.9m
11 Steven Gerrard (Liverpool) £19.2m
12 Raul (Real Madrid)  £18.9m 
13 Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid) £18.8m
14 Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United) £18.6m
15 Didier Drogba (Chelsea) £18.3m
16 Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus)  £12.9m
17 Ryan Babel (Ajax Amsterdam)  £12.6m
18 Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United) £12.1m
19  Lukas Podolski (Cologne) £11.3m
20 Andriy Shevchenko (AC Milan)  £9.9m

If cash = World Cup glory, England can book that open-top bus now.

March 30, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friendly Watch! Oh, you don't care?

Who really cares about international friendlys, apart from formation-tweaking coaches? The players certainly don't – would Steven Gerrard want to miss another World Cup because of an injury picked up in a friendly? Of course not. But for the record, Mexico downed Paraguay 2-1 yesterday, while Japan beat Ecuador 1-0. This tells us less than zero about any of these team's chances in Germany.

March 30, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wembley: The Farce is With You

Wembley02 The beleaguered FA will meet Multiplex, the firm contracted to build Wembley, tomorrow to discuss the prospect of further delays to the new stadium. Surprise surprise…

01_c Having failed spectacularly to be ready in time for this year's FA Cup Final, it now looks like next season's Community Shield, which takes place in August '06, may also be a bridge too far for Multiplex. So here's an idea: bung an arch on the Millennium Dome, lay a pitch and some seats, and bingo!

Honestly, this is all too depressing to even think about. We have Franz Beckenbauer coming over and proclaiming that the new Wembley will be the greatest sporting venue in the world, but secretly he is probably laughing into his bierstein at the whole sorry mess. In Germany, they put up Munich's fantastic Allianz Arena (pictured) in no time and for a fraction of the cost of Wembley. Perhaps it's time for Sybil Fawlty to call in Mr Stubbs to fix Mr O'Reilly's mess.

March 30, 2006 in England, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0)

News Balls

Lehmann or Kahn? Klinsmann unsure on 1st-choice keeper.
Latest scouting report by BBC Sport: Stewart Downing.
Sven on Real Madrid's managerial shortlist.
Sol injury update. Ooh, he's bruised his toe.
Game called off due to… um, tornado. Holy cow.

March 28, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0)

Beeb offers High-def World Cup

The BBC has confirmed it will screen Germany '06 in HDTV (High-def television). HDTV is only available to viewers who have HD-enabled television sets (most decent new sets are High-def ready), set-top boxes and the relevant satellite/cable services. The first live HDTV programme to be broadcast by the Beeb will be Germany v Costa Rica on 9 June, the tournament's opening match. The question is, exactly how much stunning detail do you want to see in Wayne Rooney's big, angry Shrek-face?

 

March 27, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0)

Romario heading Stateside?

Romario_1 Now 40 years old, World Cup legend Romario (what a wonderful finisher he was) is reportedly set for a career swansong in America, with Brazilian-run club Miami F.C. Romario is currently in his third stint with Rio de Janeiro's Vasco da Gama but he's fallen out with the coach and could soon be off to Florida. He's currently stuck on 966 career goals – I guess he figures that the American second division, where Miami play, is as good a place as any to make the final push towards 1000 career goals.

March 24, 2006 in Group F, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0)

Kids today. Tut

The Independent has a great story about how Argentina plans to combat truancy this summer by showing its country's World Cup matches in schools. A booklet has even been produced to help teachers plan lessons around the tournament. Argentina's Education Minister Daniel Filmus said schools 'can't ignore an event that is so important to people'. Hard to see the British government taking a similarly generous stance.

March 24, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0)

Capello interested in England job

Capello_marshall 'Within three years I will retire from coaching clubs and then I would like to realise a dream that I've always had, (coaching) England,' Fabio Capello told L'Espresso magazine in a recent interview. The dapper Juventus boss is a class act. He's the sort of man who wears handmade Italian suits, 100%-cashmere sweaters (draped casually over his shoulders, Ivy League style) and those wiry Memoflex glasses that handily spring back to their original shape after you've accidentally crushed them.

March 23, 2006 in England, News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0)

News Balls

Germany spanked the USA 4-1 in a friendly in Dortmund yesterday. Full match report here.
Could our Sven be off to manage South Africa's national side after the World Cup?
CNN has an interview with Germay's coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Does he still drive a VW Beetle?
Check out BBC Sport's in-depth scouting report on Newcastle midfielder Scott Parker.
Embarrassed Birmingham City co-owner David Sullivan admits: 'I don't like footballers'.

March 23, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pele Prediction Watch

I once sat next to Pele on a flight from Geneva to London. He slept for the entire journey and then boredly signed autographs for excited businessmen in the aisle as we waited to disembark. Anyway, I digress – let's get on with Pele Prediction Watch, a fun game for all the family. Before each major tournament, journalists from every competing nation scrabble for a tip from the great man, and he usually comes up with stuff that make you think he's never played the game. Let's look at some of the evidence:

• Tipped Columbia to win in 1994  (they didn't make it past the group stage)
• Said an African nation would win a World Cup by the end of the 20th century (they haven't)
• Proclaimed Nicky Butt to be the best player at the 2002 tournament (no comment)

So far, Pele's tipped Brazil to win the thing, with England and Italy as its main challengers. Who ate all the Bratwurst? will keep close tabs on him, to see who he tips next. Watch this space.

*The value of Pele's predictions can go up and down. Mainly down, though.

March 22, 2006 in News Balls | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sitemap
 
Let the crazy tabloid antics commence | Steve McClaren needs moisturiser | Pele Prediction Watch | Players To Watch | Selected pubs to screen World Cup matches in Sky HDTV | Before Beckham, Roberto Carlos et al... | BREAKING NEWS: Rooney not fit to play in England's World Cup group games. Tits | Ronaldinho - football's equivalent of a hotel on Mayfair | Romario heading Stateside? | Home nations get behind England. Really? | News Balls | Panini Mondays | News Balls - may contain traces of news | Friendly Watch! Oh, you don't care? | Will Golden Balls get to play with the golden ball? | Johnny Rep: I dived | Australia do Argentina a favour with a little game of kick the Dutchman | Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney