July 31st, 2012
01:30 PM ET

Do money-spinning tours cost Europe's top soccer clubs?

Arsenal's shirts were adorned with their names and sponsor in Mandarin during a recent tour of China. (Getty)
Arsenal's shirts were adorned with their names and sponsor in Mandarin during a recent tour of China. (Getty)

For years, Europe’s top clubs have complained that seasons are too long; that there are too many matches. Some of them have elected to defend themselves from gruelling calendars by fielding reserve players for domestic cup games in order to keep their stars fit.

The club versus country row has also rumbled on for various seasons. Recently, the European Club Association (ECA) managed to reduce the number of international breaks from 12 to nine per two-year period.

The ECA hailed this reduction as a major breakthrough and said they were doing their best to protect the clubs and their players from exhaustion. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Football
July 28th, 2012
10:17 PM ET

Is swimming's greatest rivalry now dead in the water?

A despondent Michael Phelps ponders what could have been after he came fourth in the 400m individual medley. (Getty)
A despondent Michael Phelps ponders what could have been after he came fourth in the 400m individual medley. (Getty)

Michael Phelps can claim to be the greatest swimmer of all-time for the following reasons:

- In 2008, he performed one of the greatest feats in Olympic history by winning eight gold medals from eight events in the pool
– He has set 29 individual world records, which is in itself a record
– He is the most successful swimmer in World Championships history boasting a haul of 26 gold medals
– And his success has transcended and changed his sport

And at the age of 27, the man known as the Baltimore Bullet and the Flying Fish, was primed to add clear water to any pretenders to the throne by netting a further seven golds to his burgeoning spoils of water-based combat at the London Games. The scene was set for history to once again be rewritten and to add to the spectacle Phelps would need to conquer one of the greatest rivalries in sport, on the greatest of stages, to take glory. FULL POST

July 24th, 2012
04:56 PM ET

Brazil vs. Spain – who will win Olympic gold?

Star striker Neymar scored in Brazil's Olympic warmup win over London 2012 hosts Great Britain. (Getty Images)
Star striker Neymar scored in Brazil's Olympic warmup win over London 2012 hosts Great Britain. (Getty Images)

It’s gold or bust. There are two teams who enter the men’s Olympic football tournament with just one goal – finishing at the top of the podium.

For different reasons, Brazil and Spain are taking these Games in London – which feature under-23 players plus three overage members per squad – as seriously as if it was a World Cup or continental championship, and I hope they get to meet in the final.

For the "Selecao" this competition is about much more than just pride or bragging rights, it’s about history. Brazil may have won the World Cup a record five times and the Copa America on eight occasions, but they have never got their hands on Olympic gold. It is something that not only the country's fans and officials are hoping for, but the players themselves have been saying it would be a dream come true. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Football • Olympics
July 17th, 2012
01:48 PM ET

Can PSG's big bucks buy world football domination?

Thiago Silva (left) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will both be playing for PSG when the 2012-13 season begins. (Getty Images)
Thiago Silva (left) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will both be playing for PSG when the 2012-13 season begins. (Getty Images)

Move over Manchester City, Real Madrid and Chelsea - there's a new club calling the shots in the global transfer market. Paris Saint-Germain have moved into phase two of their “world domination” plan, which has seen the French team splash the cash in a major way.

With the fine print on Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s contract finally worked out, it is time to take a closer look at what the mega $80 million transfer of the Sweden striker and Brazil defender Thiago Silva from AC Milan means for PSG and football as a whole.

Earlier this year I spent a few days talking to the power brokers at PSG, whose new motto “dream bigger” is splashed all over their stadium, and saw for myself they were serious about becoming a major power in world football. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Football
July 16th, 2012
03:37 PM ET

Why U.S. golf has a healthy future

Beau Hossler is one of the new generation of young American golf stars. (Getty Images)
Beau Hossler is one of the new generation of young American golf stars. (Getty Images)

I'd say American golf has much to be proud of right now, ahead of this week's British Open.

Tiger Woods may have continued his own personal major drought at last month's U.S. Open, and Phil Mickelson looked as far away as ever from winning it, but the stage was cleared for another crop of young talent from the States to shine. And how!

Webb Simpson's triumph was significant not just because at the age of 26 it was his first major, but because it was the third straight grand slam title won by an American player - and in a Ryder Cup year that's one huge boost to team captain Davis Love III. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Golf
July 5th, 2012
06:23 PM ET

Will FIFA regret opening technology can of worms?

England have been involved in three notable goal-line technology controversies since 1966.
England have been involved in three notable goal-line technology controversies since 1966.

Good enough for American Football, basketball, baseball, tennis, rugby league, rugby union and cricket; good enough even for the Professional Bull Riders organization; and now finally, good enough for association football.

Following the countless pleadings of managers, players, the media and the fans after some horrendously embarrassing examples of goals that have not been given despite the ball crossing the line, FIFA is to allow the use of technology in the sport.

After years of opposition Sepp Blatter, through FIFA’s law-making body the International Football Association Board has given the thumbs up, even if UEFA president Michel Platini’s digit remains fiercely down as he continues to oppose this new development. FULL POST

July 4th, 2012
02:55 PM ET

Are FIFA’s world rankings fit for purpose?

Despite a penalty shootout defeat to Italy, England are above the Azzuri in FIFA's world rankings.
Despite a penalty shootout defeat to Italy, England are above the Azzuri in FIFA's world rankings.

Like “Knock knock” jokes, FIFA’s soccer world rankings have long been a source of amusement but the latest list, putting England above Italy and Denmark above Brazil, is an embarrassment to the world’s most popular sport.

Some aspects of the current top 10 make sense. Spain, the record-breaking European and world champions, have increased their lead in first place ahead of an entertaining Germany team.

After their disappointing displays at Euro 2012, the Netherlands have fallen to 8th while Italy – the surprise success story from the recent tournament in Poland and Ukraine – are back into the top 10 having risen to 6th place. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Football
July 3rd, 2012
05:13 PM ET

Saudi female Olympians: Historic breakthrough or false dawn?

Dalma Rushdie Malhas will not be the first Saudi female Olympian as her horse is injured.
Dalma Rushdie Malhas will not be the first Saudi female Olympian as her horse is injured.

"First Saudi Woman to Compete in Olympics" is one of those headlines journalists live for.

In an ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom where women can't drive, can't travel without the permission of a male guardian or practice sports in public schools, women are no longer forbidden from participating in the world's highest profile sporting event.

Or so we thought. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Olympics
July 2nd, 2012
10:36 AM ET

Spain make compelling case as best team ever

United in triumph: Captain Iker Casillas (left) and Xavi celebrate an historic success.
United in triumph: Captain Iker Casillas (left) and Xavi celebrate an historic success.

The spine still tingles. The sight of Vicente Del Bosque's team of torero's teasing and tormenting an Italian side, whose honest application should have made such subjugation subject to penalty on the grounds of cruelty, was as devastating a show of technical prowess and collective intuitiveness as you're ever likely to see during your time on planet earth.

The superlatives have long been exhausted and the cliches are too simplistic to capture the audacity of winning the European Championship, arguably the hardest competition in international football, by four clear goals against an Azzurri side bestowed with its own array of experienced superstars.

But thrash them they did, and with a swagger too. FULL POST

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Filed under:  Football