October 11th, 2010
10:19 AM ET

Loyal footballers are a dying breed

Ryan Giggs (R) and Paul Scholes have spent their entire careers at Manchester United - a rarity these days.
Ryan Giggs (R) and Paul Scholes have spent their entire careers at Manchester United - a rarity these days.

You know what intrigues me these days? The love and loyalty football fans have towards their clubs.

Regardless of the managers and players that come and go every season, they remain faithful. Even if they can’t pronounce the name of the new centre forward who was bought from an unknown club, they will sing it with all their might when he scores a goal.

Yes, the unconditional love is still there and it really impresses me. In today’s world, where players show little allegiance to the colors they represent, why are fans still so passionate towards them? And is this about to change?

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Filed under:  Football
October 9th, 2010
07:33 PM ET

Do hardmen still have their place in the beautiful game ?

Nigel de Jong's chest high tackle on Xabi Alonso in the World Cup final was widely condemned.
Nigel de Jong's chest high tackle on Xabi Alonso in the World Cup final was widely condemned.

When does a hard man become a bad man? That’s the issue currently being debated by the football fraternity following claims by FIFA’s top medical official, Dr. Michel d'Hooghe, that professional football is being disfigured by what he called "criminality" and "brutality" on the pitch.

Those are some harsh words from one of the longest-serving members of FIFA”s executive committee, and they've obviously raised the hackles of many in the game, notably the global players' union, FIFPro, which rejects the idea that any player would deliberately try to injure a fellow professional.

However, that flies in the face of the old football ethos in which managers would often advise the more physical of their players to “let him know you’re there” in reference to dealing with a tricky opponent.

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Filed under:  Football
October 6th, 2010
11:23 AM ET

Will Liverpool sale be jumping from the frying pan into the fire?

Liverpool fans show their feelings towards the current American owners.
Liverpool fans show their feelings towards the current American owners.

News that the sale of Liverpool football club - one of the world's most successful and famous teams - had been agreed, in principle at least, was greeted with a sense of optimism by many of the legions of Reds' fans around the world.

As one supporter from India stated on the team's official Facebook page: "It is excellent news after a lot of problems ... this new buyer can help us get back the glory after two decades!"

Such reaction was no surprise. Any sniff of change from the doom-and-gloom which currently surrounds the once mighty team was always going to provide hope to followers of the Anfield outfit, as the tenure of current owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett has been an unmitigated disaster in the eyes of supporters.

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Filed under:  Football
October 4th, 2010
09:08 PM ET

The two sides of the Ryder Cup coin

Hunter Mahan fights back the tears after the U.S. team lose on a dramatic final day against Europe.
Hunter Mahan fights back the tears after the U.S. team lose on a dramatic final day against Europe.

Celtic Manor, Wales (CNN) A week that started with everyone sheltering from the pouring rain, ended with a European team being showered with champagne.

This was one of the tightest ever Ryder Cups and the nail-biting drama re-affirmed the event as one of the best competitions in team sport.

But in sport every story has two sides, for every champion there is a defeated opponent, for every figure who grabs glory there is another who must deal with despair - and very often the margins between the embrace of victory and the cold, company of failure is slim.

And so it was that while the European team were posing for their winning photos, the Americans were sitting before the press, trying to put a brave face on what had been a crushing loss.

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Filed under:  Golf
October 4th, 2010
05:21 PM ET

Is the Ryder Cup the ultimate in team sport ?

Graeme McDowell has that winning feeling after beating Hunter Mahan in their crucial singles match at Celtic Manor.
Graeme McDowell has that winning feeling after beating Hunter Mahan in their crucial singles match at Celtic Manor.

Forget the rain delays or the row over ticketing arrangements for the final unexpected day of play at Celtic Manor, the Ryder Cup has cemented its status as the biggest and best one-off team event in world sport bar none.

It brings together a collection of multi-millionaires, who spend their whole year in pursuit of individual glory, to play for their country, or in Europe's case their continent, with no prize money at stake.

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Filed under:  Golf
October 4th, 2010
11:44 AM ET

Liverpool low: Can the once mighty Reds rebuild?

Liverpool's awful start to the season is their worst since before Bill Shankly arrived at the club in the 1959.
Liverpool's awful start to the season is their worst since before Bill Shankly arrived at the club in the 1959.

Just when Liverpool fans - supporters of the once mighty powerhouse of European football which is now saddled with debt, suffering misfiring players and with no league title win since 1990 - thought it couldn't get any worse, it did.

As hosts to top-flight new boys Blackpool and in desperate need of a win, Liverpool unbelievably lost to the orange-clad minnows of English football 2-1 in front of the Anfield faithful. Considering the Reds have won only two of nine games in all competitions so far this season and were eliminated from a domestic cup by fourth flight Northampton recently, I can't remember a time when they have been so low. What’s worse, I don’t see improvement anytime soon.

I will be honest with you. I grew up a huge Liverpool supporter. My first love was Benfica, my hometown club in Lisbon, but in my early teens I admired the Anfield club from afar. I was impressed by their quick passing game, their winning mentality and by the passion of their fans. My favorite player was Ian Rush, because at the time I played as a striker myself, but their group of players in the Eighties was phenomenal. The decades that followed were tough. The Nineties were poor by club standards and with the exception of the 2005 Champions League victory, the next decade was disappointing as well.

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Filed under:  Football
October 2nd, 2010
01:37 PM ET

Contador incident was an accident waiting to happen

Alberto Contador tested positive for the banned substance Clenbuterol, it was revealed on Thursday.
Alberto Contador tested positive for the banned substance Clenbuterol, it was revealed on Thursday.

News of Alberto Contador’s positive test for Clenbuterol may have been a shocker to those of us outside the cycling fraternity, but I get the impression that it was an accident waiting to happen for those in the know.

Contador may have been portrayed as the poster boy for the new era of cycling, in which rigid testing would weed out all the cheats and eventually make doping scandals a thing of the past. But it always looked a bit like clutching at straws when your poster boy is a previous doping suspect - Contador lost his place in the 2006 Tour de France in connection with the Operacion Puerto scandal, before facing further insinuations of doping a year later, and again in 2009.

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Filed under:  Cycling
October 1st, 2010
02:40 PM ET

Is the wet Ryder Cup America's fault?

A rain-drenched Ryder Cup in the Welsh resort of Celtic Manor.
A rain-drenched Ryder Cup in the Welsh resort of Celtic Manor.

Nick Faldo didn’t get much right when Europe lost the Ryder Cup two years ago, but he was spot-on when he said of the next match in Wales "bring your waterproofs".

I stood out and watched the opening tee shots this morning and, within minutes, I was absolutely drenched. Even my waterproofs were of minimal protection. My phone short-circuited with all rain pouring off my hands and I’ve spent the afternoon jostling with other journalists to hang my jacket in front of the hot-air blowers in the media center.

The conditions were inconvenient for the American players too. So inadequate was their wet-weather clothing that PGA officials were forced to rush into the merchandise tent to purchase proper gear for their men. The problem was fixed, but it was surely a blow a to team morale.

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