June 30th, 2010
11:51 AM ET

World Cup giants have fallen – who will be the new Goliath?

Italy's World Cup defense in South Africa ended in an early exit after an embarrassing 3-2 defeat by Slovakia. (AFP/Getty)
Italy's World Cup defense in South Africa ended in an early exit after an embarrassing 3-2 defeat by Slovakia. (AFP/Getty)

Johannesburg, South Africa (CNN) – The World Cup has never been a tournament that respects form or status. In 2006, an unfancied Italy came from nowhere to triumph over all opposition, their feat an echo of the Azzurri’s win in 1982 as dark horses. West Germany overturned an awesome Hungary side in the "Miracle of Bern" to win in 1954, and a star-studded Netherlands side lost in two successive finals in 1974 and 1978 despite their revolutionary "total football" tactics.

And so the 2010 tournament has in many ways conformed to type, with some of the so-called giants of world football being downed by plucky Davids.

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June 30th, 2010
09:59 AM ET

Forget Capello – give Beckham the England job

David Beckham was welcomed onto the England coaching bench in South Africa by Fabio Capello. (AFP/Getty)
David Beckham was welcomed onto the England coaching bench in South Africa by Fabio Capello. (AFP/Getty)

Johannesburg, South Africa (CNN) – Germany did it with great success. Argentina and Brazil are doing it right now, and both teams are setting the pace in South Africa. Holland did it with less impressive results. But these great footballing nations weren’t afraid to try it - and now it’s time for the English Football Association to fast-track one of its favourite sons into managing the national side.

The FA has told Fabio Capello that he will learn his fate soon. Capello is a proud man with an enviable record in the game – he's a proven winner. But despite the hype surrounding his appointment - not to mention his wage demands – he has proved to be another disappointment for the FA and English football fans.

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June 28th, 2010
11:16 PM ET

Armchair Diaries: England are out, hoorah!

Matt Booth’s England shirts find a new home – a trash can in Hong Kong (CNN)
Matt Booth’s England shirts find a new home – a trash can in Hong Kong (CNN)

Editor’s note: CNN Hong Kong Operations Supervisor and England fan Matthew Booth will attempt to watch every match of the World Cup on television in the wee small hours of the night. Can he do it without being fired/divorced/committed to an asylum? Follow his updates here, as he becomes more and more incoherent from extreme sleep deprivation.

Hong Kong, China - Despite wearing my lucky underwear, sitting in the correct position on the couch and the deals I made at half time with various creatures from the underworld, there was nothing that could be done to fight the future that Paul the English octopus had already predicted at a German zoo.

The English are out of the World Cup.

They were soundly beaten, humbled and are on their way back home, leaving the rest of the footballing world wondering what all the fuss was about.

It turns out football isn't coming home - and may not even write a postcard.

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June 28th, 2010
10:18 AM ET

The true giants of football

The Giant Match has been created through a collective of French and South African artists (CNN)
The Giant Match has been created through a collective of French and South African artists (CNN)

Scotch Farm, South Africa (CNN) - The bright morning sun lights up the children's faces as they watch the large trucks and buses maneuver through the narrow streets of the township of Scotch Farm on the outskirts of Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape.

Their eyes are a mix of bemusement and delight as they watch the band of strange, but enthusiastic adults pour out of the vehicles with a vast array of cardboard boxes and lumpy bags.

Watch my report on the giant puppets with a penchant for soccer.

The people of Scotch Farm have benefited very little from the World Cup being hosted in their country. Poverty and unemployment are massive problems in this community and opportunities are scarce.

That is exactly why this collective of French and South African artists has come here. The show is called "The Giant Match" and it aims at creating an artistic spectacle to match the excitement of the world's biggest soccer tournament.

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June 27th, 2010
06:05 PM ET

Just give us the truth: Allow goal-line technology

Frank Lampard's shot clearly crosses the line but the officials do not award a goal. (Getty)
Frank Lampard's shot clearly crosses the line but the officials do not award a goal. (Getty)

The truth. We all seek it in life, and consequently, we all seek it in football as well. In life, it is difficult to get the truth. However, in football it should be easy. As easy as implementing a system that already exists.

Before arguing the various cases that could help implement justice and clarity to football, I will make one thing clear. England were not knocked out of the World Cup because Frank Lampard’s goal didn’t stand.

They lost because their defense was ripped to shreds by a Germany team who played them off the park. If the goal had counted, surely the result would have been more respectable, but the outcome would have been the same.

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June 25th, 2010
03:33 PM ET

U.S. finally catches World Cup fever

USA fans in Miami celebrate their team’s World Cup victory against Algeria and further progress in the tournament. (Getty)
USA fans in Miami celebrate their team’s World Cup victory against Algeria and further progress in the tournament. (Getty)

Hartford, Connecticut  – I knew every last American had been touched by the World Cup when my father-in-law told me how much he enjoyed "the first few innings" of the Brazil-Ivory Coast match.

Needless to say, he's just discovering soccer. He still thinks a red card is what communists keep in their wallets. And yet, like so many of his countrymen, he's suddenly been laid low by World Cup fever, whose symptoms include a dull headache and a stiff neck, the result - in my case - of practicing headers in the driveway. ("Practicing them for what?" my wife inquired. But you never know when that call-up will come for the U-50 national team.)

At long last, soccer ignorami in this country are becoming part of the international community. For most of this past week, I (an American citizen) felt schadenfreude (a German word for "joy in the misery of others") at the spectacular implosion of Les Bleus (the French national team, which mutinied against its own coach while crapping out of the tournament).

That's three countries in a single emotion, the kind of geopolitical awakening most of us only get in America when walking into an International House of Pancakes.

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June 25th, 2010
03:30 PM ET

Is France’s soccer empire in ruins?

Media reaction has been fierce after France exited the World Cup at the group stages (AFP/Getty)
Media reaction has been fierce after France exited the World Cup at the group stages (AFP/Getty)

The world watched with awe and derision this past week as the French national soccer team, boasting a roster of star players, imploded on and off the field at the World Cup. In case you missed it, here's the play-by-play.

At half-time during the France-Mexico game, striker Nicolas Anelka insulted French coach Raymond Domenech in the locker room.

Such words, of course, are heard frequently in the half-time locker rooms of losing teams the world over - though not so often spoken to a coach's face. They don't, however, usually decorate the covers of newspapers.

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June 25th, 2010
02:53 PM ET

England vs. Germany: Don't mention the score

The West German squad and locker room staff celebrate their victory over England in the 1990 World Cup semi-final. (Getty)
The West German squad and locker room staff celebrate their victory over England in the 1990 World Cup semi-final. (Getty)

London, England – When it comes to relations between England and Germany it’s hard not to mention the war. It's certainly the case with football, which proved a symbol of peace in World War One when German and English troops stopped fighting one Christmas and instead played each other at soccer.

However, it was used by Hitler for propaganda just prior to World War Two, when the England team gave a Nazi salute at an international game in Berlin.

Official matches between the two sides date back 110 years. The most famous came in the 1966 World Cup final, when a hat-trick from Geoff Hurst earned England a 4-2 extra-time victory over the then West Germany - a match that England fans now recall with the chant of “two World Wars and one World Cup.”

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June 25th, 2010
02:30 AM ET

Armchair Diaries: Second week's shouts from the sofa stadium

Superfan Matthew Booth grips his dog while watching a game. CNN Photo
Superfan Matthew Booth grips his dog while watching a game. CNN Photo

Editor's note: CNN Hong Kong Operations Supervisor Matthew Booth will attempt to watch every match of the World Cup on television in the wee small hours of the night. Can he do it without being fired/divorced/committed to an asylum? Follow his updates here, as he becomes more and more incoherent from extreme sleep deprivation.

Hong Kong, China - “Booth! What is UP with soccer man?!” screamed CNN’s Asian Business Editor Eunice Yoon, as I walked into the office today.

She proceeded to hold me personally responsible for bad calls made by referees in the previous USA games and went on to allude to the perfect nature of officiating in “American” sports.

While I did discreetly chuckle when the Americans had, not one, but two perfectly good goals wrongly disallowed, I assured Eunice I had nothing to do with either decision and told her that rage-inducing anguish is one of the best parts of the game.

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June 22nd, 2010
12:15 PM ET

Different World Cup... same old England

England fans show their disappointment following the 0-0 draw with Algeria (Getty Images).
England fans show their disappointment following the 0-0 draw with Algeria (Getty Images).

Let's be honest, did any England fan living anywhere around the world really expect anything else?

Even the casual observer, a dispassionate sports spectator, would be hard-pressed not to notice a trend that accompanies the so-called inventors of the game when they qualify for the showpiece of international soccer.

Bar one glorious exception in 1966, when as hosts the team wearing the three lions on their chest won a controversial final to be crowned world champions, the World Cup has only ever resulted in the same thing for Anglophiles: heartbreak and disappointment.

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