Heroes of the Week: Oh my. Paraguay went and defeated Brazil 2:1. It was the first time Paraguay had beaten Brazil in a World Cup qualifier, and only Brazil’s second loss ever in qualifying. Paraguay led for 68 minutes (through Paredes) until Brazil levelled in the 74th. Brazil held the draw for only nine minutes, Campos scoring the winner in the 83rd. Brazil are now fourth in South American qualifying, and may drop further as they next face Argentina minus Cafu, who was sent off against Paraguay for a hard foul on Paredes. Wanderley Luxemburgo better top up his resume.
Slam of the Week: Vincent Candela, Roma fullback and France international, got married in the Vatican’s Chorus Chapel. Half the Euro 2000-winning France team was there, including Zidane, Blanc, Dugarry and Djorkaeff. The ceremony slightly over-ran, prompting one hard done by Italian bystander to ruefully remark that, “The French are used to having a few extra minutes added onto things for no reason.”
If I only had a brain … Remember the song the Scarecrow sang in “Wizard of Oz”? He had no brain, the Tin Man had no heart and the Cowardly Lion had no balls. No, this does not have to do with FIFA bureaucrats being flying monkeys, rather to Japanese international Shinji Ono, who was born without ligaments in his knees. What else are the people that people the world of football missing?
- Sepp Blatter (BRAIN)
- George Best (LIVER)
- Alan Shearer (PERSONALITY)
- Eric Whinealda (TACT)
- Ivan Gazidis (CONSCIENCE)
- South Africa (WORLD CUP … bwa-ha-ha-ha!)
- Sunil Gulati (FEMURs)
- Diego Maradona (SEPTUM)
Maradona: “Hell’s a nice place to visit, so I booked an eternity there.” Apparently not content with spending an Earthly hell addicted to drugs, after taking Vicodin … oops, visiting the Vatican … Diego Maradona called His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, a “son of a bitch”.* Maradona’s pilgrimage to Hell will continue with stops in Calcutta, where he will finally consume the nice, juicy steak he requested while recuperating from his New’s Year’s cocaine binge, Mecca, where he will chase skirts and drink like a sieve, and Jerusalem, where he will host a pig pickin’ at the Wailing Wall, before concluding with a 10 match stint in MLS.
- Bucharest (Romania): Nicolae Badea, president of Dinamo Bucharest, was viciously beaten by Ukrainian carjackers. Several passers-by, including two policemen, witnessed the bashing but were too frightened to intervene. 1 casualty.
- Kandahar (Afghanistan): A Pakistan youth team was in the middle of a friendly match in Kandahar when police burst on to the field without warning and arrested a dozen of the players. The staff and the rest of the players fled to Pakistan’s consulate. The captives had their heads shaved, before being deported. Apparently they had the temerity to actually play football in shorts! (The Taliban prohibits wearing shorts or short sleeve shirts in public — even athletes are required to wear the traditional baggy pants and long tunic.) We are not joking. The dress rules are part of the ruling Taliban’s ultra-conservative brand of Sharia law, which also outlaws most sporting events and has turned sports stadiums into places of public execution — unlike most countries, where athletes are publicly executed in newspapers. 12 arrests.
- Penang (Malaysia): After Penang lost 1:2 to Terengganu, some disgruntled Penang supporters accused their players of throwing the match, used naughty words, and flipped the players off. What constitutes flipping off varies from country to country, so TotW’s dedicated reporters were unable to determine, and thus demonstrate for you the dedicated reader, exactly what those gestures were so that you may in turn slyly flip off someone — boss, other drivers, cops — in your locale with them being none the wiser, indeed maybe even thankful for your smiling wishes of luck & good health. For example, the “okay” sign — thumb & forefinger touching, making an ‘O’ — is understood in the US to mean “good job”, “I understand”, etc. In other countries it is a curse, the dreaded ‘evil eye’. Better still, in yet other countries, it symbolizes a certain bodily orifice that you consider the recipient to be an example thereof. We could give you other examples, but back to the story. Unlike their match performance, Penang’s players did not take it lying down, wading into supporters before being separated by the police.
- Xi’an (China): Shaanxi Guoli supporters clashed with visiting Chengdu supporters after the referee denied a late penalty. The fighting poured into the streets where bystanders joined in. The fighting was quelled five hours later as the rioters prepared to storm local government offices. Xi’an has been cited by the China Football Association in 8 of its 42 disciplinary cases since 1995. 8 arrests.
Random thought: Will Oldfart Matthäus’ departure saga drag on longer than his arrival drama? (It took almost two years from the time the rumors first leaked, until we colonialists were allowed to mastrubate in his regal shadow, enough time for even the Banjo Kid from “Deliverance” to read War and Peace — in Russian).
Say again? DC United general manager Kevin Payne on the friendly with Newcastle United: “We’re excited to be playing a team of Newcastle’s caliber, they’re a great side with world-class players.” Newcastle United? World class? The same Newcastle United which barely managed to scratch it’s way into the middle of the Premiership last season, after spending the first third mired in the relegation zone? The same squad in which only two players have even vague hopes of making an impact on the England team, let alone Europe or the world? (Dyer and Shearer, who just retired from international football.) Nope, TotW thinks Football365.com got it right: “Most footballers regard the pre-season tour as a chance to get in shape for the season with a few gentle warm-up games, and an excellent opportunity to top up the tan, enjoy a few cold beverages and perhaps get to know some of the female locals.” Though what strange attraction Newcastle’s footballers might have to Helen Thomas TotW shudders to consider.
|ESPN – The Twilight Zone
Anthony Calabrese, TotW Supreme Legal Eagle
|Last week, Anthony Calabrese, TotW Supreme Legal Eagle, had some negative experiences at ESPN – The Zone in New York. (Linda Cohn ain’t going to show any skin and that tatoo on the commercial is fake anyway, so he probably would have been better off ogling chick wrestlers at the WWF joint.) The incompetent wait staff did not realize that (1) in a sports bar, the most dangerous place to be is between a man and the big screen, and (2) that nothing is so important that it cannot wait until after overtime. Lightning can’t strike twice, can it? Of course it can. It is one of TotW’s Immutable Laws that incompetence sticks to some organizations like stink sticks to shit, and the way to clear the air is a good-beheading, because firing incompetent middle managers does little good when an incompetent senior manager will just hire more incompetent underlings. That is why the Metros continued to suck this year until Major Laughing Stock personnel Czar Ivan ‘the Terrible’ Gazidis kidnapped half of LA Galaxy’s roster on behalf of the Metros. That is why our intrepid adventurer experienced similar disservice this week at another ESPN – The Zone, in Washington, DC.
Picture this. It is an early Sunday afternoon in our nation’s capital. About 12:30, the place gets invaded by about 100 people wearing US Soccer shirts wanting to watch the US-Guatemala game on espn2.So, what do they put on the big screen? NASCAR, of course.
1:00 p.m. comes, still NASCAR. Soccer fans have to watch on small screens while questioning the birth of the manager. Of the 102 people in the place, 100 are watching soccer and 2 are watching ESPN news. No one is watching NASCAR. The folks at the bar say that they have a schedule they need to follow. And besides, they are expecting a big crowd for the Orioles game.
1:30 comes and they finally switch. To baseball. To an Orioles game on local broadcast t.v. Of the now 100 people in the screening room, 100 are watching soccer. But the folks in the bar assure everyone that they are showing baseball.
1:31 comes around, the Orioles game is in rain delay. So the big screen shows reruns of “Married … with Children”. As a red-blooded American male, I was as big a fan of Christina Applegate as the next guy, but frankly I doubt Ms. Applegate has a good left foot. (As for head balls, well, I won’t go there.)
They kept “Married … with Children” on for about five minutes before realizing that they had a soccer crowd starting to speak in English accents, so they switched to the soccer game in order to avoid the fate of a small Belgian city.
To think that into ESPN’s hands was delivered the fate of 1st Division soccer in the US! For being mindless chimps, scared to change channels for fear of losing their bananas … err, minimum wage job (which is still more than ESPN pays its production people):
ESPN – The Zone
Turd of the Week