Friday, July 22, 2011

Raphael Honigstein: Fallout from shocking Turkey match-fixing scandal continues

The special police unit "Organized Crime" swooped at 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning two weeks ago. Around 40 players, managers and officials from nine Turkish football clubs as well as three Turkish FA leaders were arrested in connection with an eight-month-long investigation into organized match-fixing. Among them was Fenerbahce president Aziz Yildirim, one of the most powerful and richest men in Turkey. In a second wave of arrests, another 20 men were apprehended. The police allege match rigging on an industrial scale; politicians, media and the supporters are shocked. "If only five percent of the allegations are true, it would be terrible for sport in Turkey," said Huseyin Celik, the deputy chairman of the ruling AKP party.

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Friday's Rumours


Alejandro Bedoya Joins Fellow American Maurice Edu at Rangers

Just a month after impressing American coach Bob Bradley at the Gold Cup by earning spots in the starting lineup for of the knockout round matches, Alejandro Bedoya has impressed Ally McCoist and the brass at Glasgow Rangers enough to earn a three-year contract that both sides agreed upon.

Copa América: The Final

Jonathan Wilson: Why Uruguay should fear Paraguay's ugly ducklings

Jonathan Wilson: Surprise finalists battle to win the spotlight

"If Paraguay win the Copa America then I shall pose nude on the pitch"
Larissa Riqueme

Scotland: SPL team-by-team guide to the 2011-12 season

Rangers kick off the season on Saturday against Hearts but do not expect McCoist's side to be first when the campaign ends.

Friday MLS Forecast

The Forecast evaluates the deal between Houston and Portland and sorts through the weekend fixture list.

Dominic Raynor: Off The Ball

Off The Ball never rests in its mission to scratch around the underbelly of professional football to find the most bizarre, humorous and inexplicable stories.

This week, Bayern's ultra's issue Manuel Neuer with a restraining order, Thiyab Awana scores the best penalty of all time, Sepp Blatter is voted the "worst villain" of the last decade, a Malaysian Manchester United fan is stripped by Liverpool supporters and Newcastle's new signing Yohan Cabaye is kicked in the teeth.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Oliver Brown: Howard Webb assumes starring role for men in black in the film 'The Referees'

The film’s working title, Kill the Referee, gives a clue as to Webb’s headline billing. Three-minutes into injury time, at a fairly inauspicious group game in Vienna, Rotherham’s most famous policeman awards a penalty to Austria against Poland. Ivica Vastic scores to steal a draw, and the streets of Warsaw turn febrile with indignation. Overnight, Webb becomes persona non grata across the Polish nation. “Disgrace! English referee!” Poland coach Leo Beenhakker is heard to scream as he all but kicks the dressing-room door down. Donald Tusk, Poland’s prime minister, confesses that he wants to “kill”.

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Thursday's Rumours


Marcela Mora y Araujo in Argentina

Julio Grondona announced last month that he will run for a next consecutive term at the helm of Argentina's Football Association (AFA), clocking a potential 36 years in a row as president. The elections are due to take place in October. Argentina's elimination from the Copa America as host might -- under other circumstances -- trigger some sort of shake up. But the word from AFA is that there will be no changes to the structure of the national squad's leadership.

Dutch club AZ Alkmaar signs US striker Altidore

Maybe it has been the language barrier: Spanish, Geordie English, Turkish. And now, Jozy Altidore faces the prospect of learning, or trying to learn, yet another European tongue — Dutch (though so many folks there learn English in elementary school).

On Wednesday, the well-traveled Altidore engineered a transfer to AZ, a Dutch club based in the central city of Alkmaar, and signed a four-year contract with the Eredivisie club.

Sam Kelly at Copa América

After all the surprises, after the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the big boys, and after that extraordinary quarter-final round when not one of the favourites got through, it was about time this Copa America settled a bit and gave us a couple of games that turned out as expected. An unfussy win for Uruguay, and qualification with yet another draw for Paraguay; Tuesday's and Wednesday's semi-finals went rather more to form than a lot of the tournament that went before them.

Copa América: Mass brawl ends Paraguay's semi-final win over Venezuela

Paraguay booked their place in the Copa America final for the first time in 32 years after a penalty shoot-out win over Venezuela. Justo Villar's save to deny Franklin Lucena proved the key moment in the shoot-out after a match Venezuela controlled for the most part ended goalless after extra time. Venezuela struck the woodwork three times while Paraguay had Jonathan Santana sent off in extra-time, but still Gerardo Martino's side held on to ensure their place in Sunday's Buenos Aires showpiece against Uruguay.

Book Review: I'm Not Really Here by Paul Lake

The harrowing and gripping story of a Manchester City football hero's descent from cherished asset to tormented soul.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Copa América: Wednesday's Preview

Paraguay vs. Venezuela


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Wednesday's Rumours


Copa América: Luis Suárez double takes Uruguay past Peru

After four upsets in the quarter-finals, normal service was resumed in the Copa América as Uruguay beat a limited Peru side 2-0 to reach Sunday's final. Two goals in the space of five minutes in the second half from Luis Suárez were enough for Oscar Washington Tabárez's side to make it through, and their task was made easier when Peru's captain, Juan Vargas, was sent off after 69 minutes.

Tevez transfer deal collapses

The deal between Manchester City and Corinthians for striker Carlos Tevez appears to have collapsed, with the Brazilian club revealing they are unable to make the first payment immediately.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Copa América: Tuesday's Previews

Peru vs. Uruguay


Jonathan Wilson:
Principled Peru must stop Uruguay playing their game

Tim Vickery at Copa America

Peru finished bottom of the table in South America's 2010 qualifiers. They lost all nine away games, conceding 26 goals in the process. Their preparations for the current Copa were rocked by injuries, losing captain and centre forward Claudio Pizarro, highly talented support striker Jefferson Farfan and spiky Brazil-based midfielder Luis Ramirez - all first choice players - plus Jesus Rabanal, a strong candidate for the left back position. No other team in the Copa suffered such ill fortune.

And yet here are Peru in the last four.

Steve Davis on MLS

Know your Major League Soccer -- Five things we learned from Week 18:

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Tuesday's Rumours


Martin Rogers: What’s next for U.S. women’s soccer

The heartbreak of losing Sunday’s World Cup final will take some time to heal, but in the aftermath of the United States’ extraordinary and ultimately unfulfilled summer journey, there were immediate positives.

As it headed home following Japan’s incredible and thrilling victory on penalty kicks, the U.S. shed some tears, pondered what might have been and shared a common message that regularly featured the word “London.”

That city is where the Americans will seek some form of redemption for a World Cup that looked to be theirs when the Olympic women’s soccer tournament begins in a little over 12 months time. And early indications are that largely the same group of players will be in England to seek the only thing that could make Sunday’s loss more palatable: a gold medal.

Backheeled penalty scorer Theyab Awana may be disciplined for lack of respect

The scorer of the backheeled penalty which has become a viral hit online is facing possible disciplinary action from the United Arab Emirates Football Association.

Georgina Turner: Women's World Cup delivers a litany of unforgettable moments

The curtain came down on the Women's World Cup on Sunday, Japan clutching the trophy for the first time as the U.S. players graciously applauded. Japan's 3-1 win on penalties (after the game ended 2-2 in extra time) was a fitting ending to an absorbing, highly competitive three weeks of action played in tremendous spirit. Here's a look back at some of the standout moments:

Kenny Dalglish splashes cash but Liverpool spirits rise

Liverpool manager has spent a lot of money on players but it is necessary to compete with Chelsea and Manchester United.

Shay Given signs for Aston Villa on a five-year deal

Aston Villa have confirmed that Shay Given will be unveiled on Tuesday as the club's new goalkeeper. The 35-year-old has signed from Manchester City for a fee believed to be between £3.5m and £4m.

The Republic of Ireland international completed a medical over the weekend and the formality of his signing on Monday on a five-year contract.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Women's World Cup final between USA and Japan sets Twitter record

The phone-hacking scandal, the Royal Wedding, the death of Osama bin Laden or even a television appearance by Justin Bieber – none of these events or people can compete with the Women's World Cup final. At least not in terms of Twitter use.

Roberto Gotta in Italy

AC Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri's assertion on Wednesday that Riccardo Montolivo "is one for the big stages, one of the best Italian midfielders blessed with great skills and athleticism" will have done little to soothe the discomfort Fiorentina fans have felt about their captain for a long time now. Call it ambivalence, mixed feelings, contradictory perspectives. Or downright disdain.

Monday MLS Breakdown

Bad weather and temporary grass required for a friendly against Manchester City led to the postponement of RSL's trip to Vancouver and underscored the issues created by friendlies.


The Mill +

Monday's Rumours


FIFA Women's World Cup: Final Reports & Analyses

Amid the sorrow that lingers throughout Japan, perhaps a little joy -- courtesy of the determined women on its World Cup team. They beat the Americans for the title in a riveting final Sunday night, 3-1 on penalty kicks, after coming from behind twice in a 2-2 tie. The star of the shootout was feisty goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori, who made two brilliant saves in the shootout.

Solo: Japan had The Force

Grant Wahl:
Three Thoughts
Ann Killion:
U.S. women create own legacy

Looking Beyond the World Cup Final

Manchester City accept new bid from Corinthians for Carlos Tevez

Manchester City's manager, Roberto Mancini, has confirmed that an agreement has been reached with Corinthians for the sale of Carlos Tevez. City turned down a £40m bid from the Brazilian club last week, with City believed to be holding out for £50m for a player who finished as joint top scorer in the Barclays Premier League last season with 20 goals.

However, speaking on the club's pre-season tour of North America, Mancini said: "We have an agreement with Corinthians but Carlos now is still a City player."

Back to Brazil...?

Copa América: Brazil and Argentina Crash Out

Sam Kelly:
If you had a speculative fiver on this semi-final line-up before the tournament started - or even on Saturday morning before the quarter-finals kicked off - then congratulations. A Copa America that's already been full of surprises sprung more on us over the weekend. Not one, not two, not three, but all four of the favourites to go through were eliminated, including both the holders and the hosts.

Jonathan Wilson:
There was a total absence of logic in the last eight as Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela made it into the semi-finals -- Argentina and Brazil lead the fall of the Copa América giants.