FIFA Chooses 2018 and 2022 World Cup Hosts

Amid controversy and accusations of corruption, soccer’s world governing body FIFA selected the host countries for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups this week. The 2018 host will be Russia, and the 2022 host will be Qatar. Already there is lots of talk about what these selections mean, and many observers are wondering aloud whether corruption was a factor in these selections. FIFA

In any event, FIFA officials have long been talking about how they’d like to take the World Cup into areas where the tournament has not traditionally been held. Their selection of South Africa for the 2010 tournament and Brazil for the 2014 cup shows this commitment, and these new selections seem to continue this pattern. Russia has never held a World Cup, nor has any Middle Eastern country.

As FIFA president Joseph Blatter put it at this week’s announcement ceremony in Zurich, “We go to new lands. Never has the World Cup been in Russia and Eastern Europe, and the Middle East and Arabic world has been waiting for a long time.” Continue reading

El Clasico El Massacre

Real MadridReal Madrid boss Jose Mourinho says Monday’s 5-0 thrashing from FC Barcelona won’t decide the Spanish La Liga title this term, but there’s no doubt it’s done some damage to Los Merengues’ title hopes.

Josep Guardiola’s Barcelona were at their exquisite finest at Camp Nou, scoring twice inside the opening 20 minutes courtesy of Xavi and Pedro.

Real tried to rally but their best efforts failed and Barca put the result to bed courtesy of two David Villa goals early in the second-half on 55 and 58 minutes.

Jeffren Suarez put the icing on the cake in injury-time, while Sergio Ramos expressed his frustration at the hammering by earning a late red card after lashing out at Spain international teammate Carles Puyol.
Continue reading

When baseball meets football

Liverpool fans may have mixed feelings about exchanging one set Soccerof American owners for another after it emerged the Premier League club was about to be sold to the New England Sports Ventures (NESV), owners of baseball’s Boston Red Sox.

But supporters on both sides of the Atlantic may be interested in a potential link-up between two clubs that are steeped in the history of their respective sports.

Like Anfield, Boston’s Fenway Park is one of the best-known sports venues in the world, while both cities have a strong expatriate affinity with Ireland.

Liverpool’s hopes of building a new stadium stalled during the ownership of George Gillett and Tom Hicks, but despite a brief flirtation with a “new Fenway”, the Red Sox happily remain at their historic home ballpark – even while many other Major League Baseball teams have moved.

Opened in 1912, Fenway is the oldest MLB stadium in use. And while a young Liverpool player’s ambition may be scoring in front of the Kop, a prospective young slugger making it through Boston’s minor league system will probably have dreamt of hitting a home run over the “Green Monster” – the famous 37ft high left-field wall at Fenway.

Liverpool have not won the English league title since 1990 but Boston ended a much longer title drought when they won the World Series in 2004, two years after NESV’s takeover.

For decades, the so-called “Curse of the Bambino” haunted Red Sox Nation and was immortalised in Boston Globe writer Dan Shaughnessy’s book of the same name. Continue reading

Spanish La Liga Season Preview

The 2010/2011 Spanish La Liga season begins this weekend, so here’s everything you need to know about every club competing in the division ahead of the new campaign.

FC Barcelona

Last season; Champions (31-6-1)
Most goals; Lionel Messi (34)
Most assists; Xavi (14)

Key Ins
David Villa (Valencia), Javier Mascherano (Liverpool), Adriano Correia (FC Sevilla)
Key Outs
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan – Loan), Yaya Toure (Manchester City), Dmytro Chygrynskiy (Shakhtar Donetsk), Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Rafael Marquez (New York Red Bulls), Martin Caceres (FC Sevilla – Loan)

Coach; Josep Guardiola
Key player; Lionel Messi
Player to watch; Pedro

Barcelona had a near-perfect campaign last term, but there’s been some big-name departures. Toure leaving is the main blow but Mascherano replaces him. Beyond that, the main core of the side which led Barca to the title remains. The question is, is there enough hunger to hold off Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid? With players like Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta along with new man David Villa it’s hard to say no. Continue reading

Portugal, Ivory Coast play to a scoreless draw at World Cup

Ball Football CampPortugal got their World Cup finals off to a stuttering start with a goalless draw against a spirited Ivory Coast on Tuesday, a match that saw the return of Didier Drogba only 11 days after breaking his arm.

Semi-finalists at the 2006 finals, Portugal struggled to make a serious impact and made their job of advancing from a fierce Group G – which includes Brazil and North Korea – no easier in a fluid match that yielded only a handful of goalscoring chances.

The Elephants opted to start without Drogba, who was yet to fully recover following surgery, but he came on as a substitute after 66 minutes to a rapturous reception by the Port Elizabeth crowd.

The draw will boost the confidence of the Ivory Coast, which enjoyed most of the possession and always looked dangerous with smooth passing and plenty of energy going forward.

Gervais Kouassi, better known as Gervinho, came in to fill the void and proved himself a constant menace for the Portuguese defence with penetrating runs into the area that left Ricardo Carvalho and Bruno Alvez scrambling. Continue reading

Schelotto to remain with Crew as designated player

Columbus, OH (Sports Network) – The 2008 Major League Soccer Cup Champion Columbus Crew announced on Tuesday that they have exercised the option year on the contract of reigning league and MLS Cup MVP Guillermo Barros Schelotto. The move makes him the club’s first designated player.

“Securing Guille’s return was one of our top priorities entering the offseason and we are pleased to get that accomplished,” Crew President and General Manager Mark McCullers said. “It goes without saying that he was one of the keys to our championship season and, on top of that, he helps attract international attention to both the club and our region. We look forward to his continued dynamic contributions next season.”

Schelotto collected seven goals and 19 assists in 27 games during the 2008 regular season before earning six assists in four matches for the Crew during the 2008 MLS Cup Playoffs.

The Crew kick off their 14th Major League Soccer season on March 21 when they travel to take on the Houston Dynamo.

World Cup England Expects

Sports Central | Will Tidey ( Sports Central | Wednesday, November 7th, 2007 )

Hooray. The English Football Association is to bid for the 2018 World Cup and it’s almost certain England will not only win that, but the whole tournament, too. After all, that’s what happened in 1966. Omens don’t come any bigger. Cue spontaneous street parties in the shires, the uncorking of vintage port in social clubs, and revelry so infectious it marries the warring classes and unites a nation. Call David Beckham. Call Des Lynam. Call Baddiel and Skinner. It’s coming home.

What sublime genius from Gordon Brown to back the bid. That’s what we want from our Prime Minister , a thinker, a doer, a man of the people. And people love their soccer. What was Maggie thinking? She might have lined the wallets of thousands, told those pesky unions where to go, and done it all to a soundtrack of Duran Duran, but she had no handle on the national game whatsoever. How can you expect to be remembered when you failed to win the rights to a single major soccer tournament during your tenure? Even George Bush Senior managed it.

As for the FA, all is forgiven. Granted, Steve McClaren as coach was a mistake, but there’s nothing like World Cup fever to soften the blow. You can take your bungs, scandals, and inadequacies and drown them in hooligan juice with all those ID cards, never to be seen or heard of again. “I think not qualifying for Euro 2008 is a good thing,” will say the proverbial man in the pub, “we need to focus on 2018 now. That’s gonna be our best chance of winning anything. I can’t wait.”

Sadly, unless the price of cryogenic freezing falls dramatically, we still have over 4,000 dreary, rain-soaked English days to negotiate before the celebration begins. In that time, we can look forward to reading approximately 2,178,000 newspaper articles on the subject of England’s bid, which, if successful, will naturally spiral rampantly over budget, allowing politicians to focus on a football tournament , and forget about the darn NHS once and for all. From an advertising and marketing perspective, World Cup England spells what CNBC’s Jim Kramer calls “Mad Money.” Take Geoff Hurst, for example , everybody’s favorite one-match hero (scorer of a hat trick in the ’66 final) would likely earn, 7 trillion from appearances on breakfast television alone.

Cynicism aside, the bid is undeniably a good thing for England and English soccer. It’s just a shame to announce it so early and thus sentence an entire nation to relentless preview mode. Sport is all about anticipation, but 11 years is a long old hall to wait for England to splutter to the latter stages, lose on penalties, and send a nation to mourning. Still, at least we can stop talking about the 2012 Olympics for a while.

Sports Central