28
Jun
2010

world cup 2010FIFA needs to enter the late 20th century.

No, that wasn’t a typo, FIFA, the ruling body for football (soccer) is going to walk away with egg all over its face after what happened on Sunday at the World Cup. Forget the vuvazelas annoying the heck out of everyone, it is the staunch stance against the use of instant reply technology that will forever mark this year’s World Cup.

The Germany Vs. England match was severely marred by a line judge not seeing the ball cross the line into Germany’s goal and would have brought the game up to 2-2.  Everyone else in the world seems to have seen it, but because it bounced back out so fast he missed it and disallowed the goal.  Take a look at this image over at MSNBC, and you try to tell me that ball wasn’t inside the goal line.  Even German coach Joachim Loew said,  ”I saw in the television this ball was behind the line, it must have been given as goal.”

Okay, fine, perfect example of how instant replay could, and should, be used in football, but certainly things like that happen so rarely you can live without it!

… aw, crap.

Argentina Vs. Mexico … later the very same day.  Argentina scores its first goal with its player clearly offsides to just about everyone but a blind man.  Somehow the officials missed it, they allowed the goal, and Argentina was on its way to victory.

Look, there is no way that instant replay can be used in every case, no one argues that, but in the case of a disputed goal, it has to be used.  England deserved to lose (the final was 4-1 Germany), but how differently would they have played the second half had they gone into it 2-2?  My thoughts are that Germany would have still won, but we’ll never know the true outcome of the game because for some insane reason FIFA says that technology should not be involved in the game.

So, with that in mind …

  • Why is there lighting for night games?
  • Why is there artificial grass woven into some of the fields?
  • Why does the main official wear a headset?
  • Why are electronic boards used on the sidelines to communicate substitutions and stoppage time?

I could go on, but you get the point.

Again, instant replay can not be used in every single instance as it would ruin the flow of the match, but when it comes to a disputed goal, it must be introduced.

26
Jun
2010

world cup 2010The World Cup Group Stage is over, and now it’s on to the serious stuff … the Group of 16.

I wanted to get this out before the first game so I could at least look like I know what I’m talking about. With the 2006 final two (Italy and France) already out of the picture, it’s anyone’s guess what is going to happen. There are some easy picks in this round, such as Germany will take down England, Paraguay will dominate Japan (although the Japanese are looking unusually strong) and Mexico will probably be out. There is no way I can pick all eight games, but boy are these going to be some exciting matches.

All times are Eastern USA time.

Round of 16 Schedule

  • Uruguay vs. South Korea – June 26 10:00 EDT
  • USA vs. Ghana – June 26 14:30 EDT
  • Germany vs. England – June 27 10:00 EDT
  • Argentina vs. Mexico – June 27 14:30 EDT
  • Netherland vs. Slovakia – June 28 10:00 EDT
  • Brazil vs. Chile – June 28 14:30 EDT
  • Paraguay vs. Japan – June 29 10:00 EDT
  • Spain vs. Portugal – June 29 14:30 EDT

Who are some of your picks?

22
Jun
2010

world cup 2010France is out of the World Cup, and to that, I say good riddance.

I still have not forgotten that France got into this World Cup off of a handball last year against Ireland, eliminating that country’s hopes of getting into the tournament. The team even admitted the handball after the game, but by then nothing could be done.

Since the team’s arrival in South Africa they have acted like brats, and in a expletive filled tirade against the team coach after a loss to Mexico, team captain Nicolas Anelka was sent home early.  The team then mutinied on Sunday, refusing to practice, and walked off the field.  According to Martin Rogers at Yahoo! Sports, Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, sent his minister of sports to South Africa to try to get the team ready for the game against South Africa, but only after he had publicly blasted the team.

France lost against South Africa today in a 2-to-1 loss, and apparently there was a bus awaiting them outside the stadium to take them directly to the airport to be flown home in coach class.  This is contrast to them arriving in South Africa after having been flown there first class.  Pretty much what they deserved if you ask me.

In 2006 France lost to Italy for the championship, but not until after famed French player Zidane opted to blatantly head-butt an Italian player.  It almost makes you wonder if this country should even be allowed to qualify any more.

Wait … yes, they should.  How else will have a team to point at and go, “See them?  Don’t act like them.”

20
Jun
2010

world cup 2010Could someone explain to me what is happening with the “big gun” nations in the World Cup?

I am far from an expert on football, but it feels like this World Cup is going to end up being a battle of the small nations. The traditional big gun nations (such as Spain, Italy etc) are not having a good tournament.  In the Group of 32 you get 3 points for a win, 1 for a tie and 0 for a loss.  Lets take a look at some of the Big Guns:

  • France, which made it to the finals in 2006 is currently in danger of not getting to the Group of 16.  They have one game left to play, and currently stand at 1 point in Group A, Which Uruguay and Mexico are tied for the lead at 4 points each.
  • United States and England are tied at 2 points each for second place in Group C, with Slovenia leading with 4 points.  In theory we both could make it to the Group of 16, but it’s going to take some work with only one game each left.
  • The Netherlands has 6 points in Group E, and is the only country guaranteed to make it out of the Group of 32 thus far.
  • Spain, the favorites to win the cup lost their first game in Group H and stand at 0 points.  They have yet to play their second game, but they lost to Switzerland … no one saw that coming.

What prompted this post was that Italy, the current World Cup champions, currently have 2 points with one game to go.  Today they tied New Zealand in a 1-to-1 match.  The odds of New Zealand winning were 15-to-1, and the odds of a tie were 5-to-1.

… What in the world is going on?

I have absolutely no problem with the concept of smaller countries getting the attention, or even winning, but thus far this year’s tournament has just been more of a jaw-dropping, “What in the world is happening?!?” kind of feeling.  I almost get the feeling that several of the countries came in with inflated attitudes.  Very much of a, “Well, we’re so-and-so, and we’re just going to walk into the Group of 16, and … oh, hey, how’d you get the ball in our net?”

The big guns have got to get their acts together and fast or it is going to be a very interesting final two come July 11th.

As a side note, don’t get me started on Koman Coulibaly, the referee in the USA vs. Slovenia match where we tied and were robbed of a goal … apparently FIFA will make a ruling on him Monday, but it won’t change the outcome of the game.

17
Jun
2010

world cup 2010It’s hard to believe, but we are already a week into the 2010 World Cup, but it’s a week a lot of teams will never forget.

Up until the beginning of the tournament, everyone was walking around saying Spain had this cup in the bag.  Apparently Switzerland had very different ideas about this and beat the favorites 1 to 0 on the 16th.  They are next up against Honduras, which they will more than likely defeat, but boy that Switzerland loss had to sting.

As we progress into the second set of round 1 games, and the second week of the tournament, so far it looks like we’ve learned that you just can’t predict how this game will go.  Did anyone expect Mexico to defeat France, a country that went to the final two in 2006, today?  No, not really.  Not only did they beat them, but it was 2 to 0, and France looked completely lost.  At this point it isn’t a given France will get into the round of 16.

No one can predict how the World Cup will go, and this year is teaching that lesson in a big way.

14
Jun
2010

Well, it was a nice dream while it lasted.

Yesterday I reported that it looked like a ban was being considered by South Africa’s World Cup organising chief Danny Jordaan of the Vuvuzela, better known as the “World Cup Noisemakers”.  They have been annoying the players, fans, television stations and more, and Mr. Jordaan was considering taking them out of the stadiums if the problem persisted.

Well, FIFA President Sepp Blatter couldn’t care less.

According to The Los Angeles Times, even though ESPN, Al-Jazeera, South Korean broadcaster SBS, TF1 in France and Brazil’s BandSports have all complained on the behalf of their viewers, Mr. Blatter doesn’t care and has no intention of banning the horns.  In a post on Twitter, he said:

I have always said that Africa has a different rhythm, a different sound.  I don’t see banning the music traditions of fans in their own country.

Honestly, during the games on day four (Monday), I don’t even hear them any more. It’s just become background noise at this point, although I am sure the players would still like to get rid of them.

Either way, it looks like the 2010 World Cup will always be known as the year of the horns.

13
Jun
2010

Football fans of the world rejoice!  There is a possible ban coming on the Vuvuzelas!

The Vuvuzela, better known as the “World Cup Noisemakers”, are possibly going to be banned from the stadiums.  According to a report from the BBC, South Africa’s World Cup organising chief Danny Jordaan is looking into the situation.  ”We’ve had some broadcasters and individuals [complaining] and it’s something we are evaluating on an on-going basis,” Mr. Jordaan told the news agency.

Patrice Evra, captain of the French World Cup team, said, ”We can’t sleep at night because of the vuvuzelas. People start playing them from 6am.”  He went on to add, ”We can’t hear one another out on the pitch because of them.”

Traditionally football fans have been known for their singing of club and country specific songs, but the Vuvuzelas have taken away that aspect of the game.   ”I would prefer singing,” Mr. Jordaan  said.  ”It’s always been a great generator of a wonderful atmosphere in stadiums and I would try to encourage them to sing.  In the days of the struggle (against apartheid) we were singing, all through our history it’s our ability to sing that inspired and drove the emotions.”

While it is easy to say ‘just ban them’, there is a financial aspect to the situation.  It is assumed the horns are being made for around a $1 a piece, and reports are saying that they are being sold for between $10 to $13 depending on the area.  There is definitely a lot of money to be made for vendors, and a healthy infusion into the South African economy.  This is completely understandable, but should it be done at the cost of the enjoyment of the entire world?

From comments left on my previous post on this subject, it is definitely spoiling the enjoyment of the World Cup for some fans to the point that are considering turning off the tournament.  Drew Carey, host of The Price Is Right, commented on his blog, “People were just walking and smiling and blowing their Vuzuvelas (which is African for Little F****** Plastic Horn). I swear, those horns are everywhere and their starting to lose their charm. They blow on them here everywhere. Can’t get away from it.”

Financial benefits be damned, ban the “Little F****** Plastic Horn”.

Update: World Cup Noisemaker Ban Not Happening

12
Jun
2010

No folks, the World Cup games are not being attacked by swarms of locusts … those are vuvuzelas.

If you’ve tuned into any of the World Cup 2010 games thus far, you have heard a droning sound that makes you think a swarm of locusts is attacking.  Apparently vuvuzelas are a common item at South Africa football matches, but they are unknown to a large chunk of the rest of the world.  The history of the instrument is fractured with some believing it came out of stadiums in Mexico during the 1970′s, and at least one church in Africa claiming they created it.

I don’t really care who created the blasted things, they’re annoying as all get out.  Actually, I have been using stronger language than that to express my feelings on these things, but this is a “family” blog, but you can use your imagination of some of the things I’ve said.

There had been some talk of banning them at the World Cup games, but that obviously didn’t happen, and now we’re stuck listening to this never-ending droning buzz.  Please … make it stop!

UPDATE 06/13/10: A possible ban is being considered!

U{DATE 06/14/10: And the ban is dead.

9
Jun
2010
Written by  |  under Sports  |  No Comments

world cup 2010Can you feel it? That electricity in the air? That almost palpable sense of the world holding a collective breath as we all wait for that first whistle to be blown?

It’s World Cup time folks.

The first time I actively remember paying any attention to football (deal with it Americans, that’s its name, that’s what I’m calling it) was during the 1990′s and the incredible female squad the United States had.  I caught a game here or there, and I was taken in by the intensity, the athleticism it displayed and the fact lacked all the trappings American sports seem to have.  Where were the endless time outs?  Where were the “special teams”?  The list was endless, but this sport I had never paid much attention to felt much more like the sport I always thought I could get interested in.

I quickly discovered the English Premiere League, and the idea of getting to watch football eight months a year really got me going.  The deal was clenched though when I discovered how standings were calculated.  There was none of this “win/loss” stuff, it was your total goals.  Even if you lost a game, if you scored a goal, your ranking could theoretically go up.

I was the most hooked on a sport as I had ever gotten.

The 2006 World Cup rolled around, and I think I actually watched every match that year (and blogged about it quite a bit).  It took my of the game to a whole new level because every single game was so intense, and due to the level of the athletes at this stage, every kick was like the one that would win them the title.  It was the most into sports I’ve ever been, and I loved every minute of it.

And here we are.  The clock is ticking down to World Cup 2010.  I know I live in just about the only country in the world where football isn’t the top sport, heck, it is even in our top 3, but I am beyond excited.  If you don’t “get” football yet, I invite you to watch what is about to take place over the next 30 days.  Even if you only watch one match, do it.  Your in for a treat, and I dare you to walk away afterwards and call it “boring”.

I also want you to think about something else as you watch this, a game is 90 minutes … there are two substitutions allowed per game … that means that a minimum of nine players per team play the full 90 minutes.  Someone show me an American athlete that does that in any of our sports.

This post is also to serve as a warning to my regular readers.  From now until July 11th, there will be a lot of World Cup talk.  It won’t be every day, I promise you that, but there are sure to be games that just warrant a comment, and I know sports isn’t my normal subject, so, just wanted to warn you.

To close things out, here is Shakira’s video for “Waka Waka (This Time For Africa)”, the official theme song of the World Cup 2010.

16
Mar
2010

erin andrewsMichael David Barrett, the man arrested in the Erin Andrews peephole video case, has been sentenced to 30 months in prison as the results of a plea bargain.

In July of last year, Ms. Andrews, a well-known sports reporter for the ESPN network, was stalked and videotaped in secret via peepholes in hotel rooms while she changed clothes.  Known as the Erin Andrews Peephole Video Controversy, the stalker was finally revealed to be a 48-year-old man named Michael David Barrett, a father of two, this past October.

The details that followed were disturbing as it was revealed the Chicago-area insurance executive had followed Ms. Andrews to multiple locations, recording multiple instances of her changing clothes in the privacy of her hotel room via peepholes he had made.  During the course of the investigation, it was also revealed that Mr. Barrett may have also victimized as many as 16 other women over the course of his travels.

Mr. Barrett’s plea bargain had been for 27 months in federal prison, but after the hearing yesterday, where Ms. Andrews addressed him by saying, “You violated me and you violated all women. You are a sexual predator, a sexual deviant and they should lock you up,” the judge exercised his option to extend the sentence, and moved it up to 30 months.  Mr. Barrett tearfully said he hoped Ms. Andrews could someday forgive him, but talking to the press outside the courthouse after the session, she said that would never be possible.

Ms. Andrews will be be appearing on the new season of Dancing With The Stars which begins airing next week, she said during a Good Morning America interview this morning that she considers it part of her healing process.

28
Feb
2010

Apparently no one has a sense of humor any more.

TMZ is reporting (wow … do those two words belong together?) that some students are failing to find the humor in the Admiral Ackbar for Ole Miss mascot joke.  Apparently some students have proclaimed they will leave the school if the Star Wars character becomes the school mascot, while parents of potential future students are saying they would send their children to the school.

Despite the online support for this, does anyone really think that a university is going to let a copyrighted character they don’t own become the mascot?  There is a very simple reason this will never happen: money.

First, the school would have to pay a licensing fee to Lucasfilm to use the Admiral’s likeness.  Schools don’t typically like giving up money for such things, so it is highly unlikely Ole Miss is going to want to shell out the kind of dough George Lucas would want.

Secondly is the sale of mascot related merchandise.  Ole Miss would have to pay a royalty on every item sold with Ackbar’s likeness on it.  Hoodies, cup holders, shirts, mouse pads, plush toys, all the chotskies that a school normally sells.  Currently schools get all that money, do you think they really will want to split that cash cow with some Hollywood film director?  Nope.

The only positive in all of this is the sales to die-hard fans of the films would suddenly be really interested in the university and everything they sell with the character on it, but would that make up for the royalties and potential lost tuition fees?  Doubtful.

Folks, this is a joke.  No one honestly believes a fish creature from a 1980′s movie is going to become the mascot for Ole Miss.  You are all getting worked up over a student joke.  Back in the 1990′s I worked on an alternative college newspaper, and while the school was taking votes to change its name from Northeast Missouri State University to something else (it eventually became Truman State University), we were pushing for “Missouri State University at Kirksville” … or MSUK.  It amazed me back then how many people took that seriously.  ”Well, we’re trying to get away from sounding regional …” our reply was “How does MSUK sound regional?”, hoping they would finally get the joke … they didn’t.

So, please, everyone just chill out and enjoy the humor for crying out loud.

24
Feb
2010

It seems that Ole Miss needs a new mascot, and nothing says “mascot” like a giant walking fish from the Star Wars movies.

In the third Star Wars film, Return of the Jedi, we were introduced to a member of the Mon Calamari race named Admiral Ackbar. He was the supreme commander of the Rebel fleet that was tasked with taking out the second Death Star.  While he had a few lines, the most memorable, and unintentionally hilarious, one was when he yelled, “It’s a trap!” in reference to super laser being operational on the battle station.

Over the years the dear Admiral has risen to cult status and been featured in numerous Internet videos and jokes.  For what amounted to a third rate character in a film, he’s had a good life.

Now Ole Miss university (The University of Mississippi) is need of a new mascot.  In 2006 the school had to get rid of Ole Reb due to outcries over the Confederate implications, and since then the school has been without a mascot.  Yesterday the school held an election to see if the school or the students should name the new mascot, and the students won.

This is where dear ole Fish Face enters the picture.

It seems there is a group of students that have proposed that Admiral Ackbar be the new mascot, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s looking like he’s picking up a lot of support.  There’s even a website at NotATrap.org to promote the movement.  You can also find a Facebook fan page and Twitter account promoting the Admiral to school mascot.

While all of this is cute to be sure, one important factor is missing: Has anyone has contacted Lucasfilm about the rights to using one of its characters in such a way?  I’ve reached out to both Lucasfilm and the students behind the movement about this to see if either had comment.  Lucasfilm did not have a clarification for me by post time, and nothing has been heard from the students as of yet.  I will be following up with both as time permits.