Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Champions League, Scribes (Phil Ball?!), USA Hotlist, Podcast, Roy Carroll, Super Mario's Whips

Hello, Hello, Hello. Loads to get through today, including an update on the suddenly elusive English Scribe Based In Spain, Phil Ball. Manchester United are in Athens, Dortmund are in St. Petersburg, what Yanks are hot?, Tim Vickery on Brazil's risks, a Podcast, and a whole lot more. We'll begin with the actual matches:

Olympiakos vs. Manchester United: Preview
Zenit St Petersburg vs. Borussia Dortmund: Preview

Karaiskakis Stadium, Athens
Scribes. For years, Phil Ball was our go-to guy for insight in La Liga. Living in San Sebastián, Ball often reported on Real Sociedad and neighboring clubs with a warmth and candor that we enjoyed -- we felt like we were in the stadia with him, or in the pub conversing with gruff Basque barmen. Ball has been silent of late, ever since his controversial article on Qatar. Here's what his wikipedia page says about said incidents:

On November 21 2013, Ball was subject to accusations of propaganda on behalf of Qatar's bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.[7] Ball wrote a piece for ESPNFC, entitled 'Inside Doha: Give Qatar A Chance To Shine', however the article was later removed from ESPN's website after negative reaction to the in-article line that he was "invited on an all-expenses paid trip to see the inner workings." [8] ESPNFC announced in a tweet that they had "carefully re-evaluated ... [their] recent Qatar story and decided to remove it. It did not meet ... [their] journalistic standards. We apologize." Subsequently, in an article published by ESPN's ombudsman Robert Lipsyte ('Conflict of interest?' Dec.22, 2013), it was revealed that Ball had pre-warned ESPN that the trip (to attend the 'Aspire4Sports' conference in Doha) was funded, but that ESPN had accepted the offer in good faith and would publish two articles based on Ball's conclusions regarding the conference. Having accepted and merged the two original articles into one, an editor in the US then inserted the line regarding the 'all-expenses paid trip' without Ball's permission. Lipsyte quotes e-mail evidence to show that ESPN considered the article 'well-written' and 'balanced' on receipt, sentiments that contradict their subsequent behaviour in hastily pulling the piece when the controversy broke. [9] [10]

Sadly, it appears Ball is no longer writing his wonderful columns. We miss him. Here are some of the others that remain, thankfully including El Sid:

Where? Spain. Who? Sid Lowe. What? Real Sociedad exact their perfect revenge

Where? Italy. Who? Paolo Bandini. What? Juventus claim ownership of Turin

Where? Germany. Who? Raphael Honigstein. What? Stuttgart flirting with disaster

Where? Brazil. Who? Tim Vickery. What? Scolari keeps faith in Fred, Jo and Julio Cesar

Where? Brazil. Who? Tim Vickery (again!). What? Why Uruguay could be 'party poopers'

Where? Brazil (again!). Who? Jonathan Watts. What? Why Brazil's footballers play to half-empty stadiums

The United States will play in Brazil this summer. Who is Hot? Who is Not? Who no longer has to try to play for Fulham on loan? (Hint: He's a Texas rapper)

Podcast! AC Jimbo returns to his spiritual home, and he has his oldest muckers Barry Glendenning and Sean Ingle and his hippest new best friend Ian McCourt to welcome him back for a hugely emotional edition of Football Weekly. We begin by examining Liverpool's title credentials after the Reds once again wowed at one end and boobed at the other in their 4-3 win over Swansea. Can they triumph when Chelsea are so good at sneaking horrid 1-0 wins, as they did against Everton? They've only 11 more games to make it happen. Next, we catch up with Sid Lowe about the weekend in La Liga, and look forward to the Champions League with Manchester United coming unstuck against Olympiakos and Galatasary's Didier Drogba not celebrating when he scores against Chelsea. Finally, we discuss the relegation battle and TV quiz shows, and recall a brief encounter with André the Giant.

More Sid Lowe? It's our lucky day! Sid's got The Big Interview with Roy Carroll. Roy talks about a dramatic career that has included Manchester United, West Ham, rehab and now Olympiakos.

One more piece on Wayne Rooney, just because it's by Jonathan Wilson and we find him to be rather astute.

And...Balotelli's got some tite whips, yo.

We out.



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