By Tom McGowan
A band of heroes unite to change the lives of those in need, to feed the starving and house the homeless.
This is the rationale behind a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) initiative which it hopes will help halve world poverty by 2015.
Arguably the UN faces an uphill struggle.
A recent Oxfam report estimated that the world's richest 85 people share a combined wealth of $1.67 trillion, as much as the poorest 3.5 billion of the world's population.
The World Bank's definition of poverty is based on an income of less than $2 a day, or a calorie intake of less than 2100 calories.
Football stars Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane are the faces of the Match Against Poverty, launched in 2003 and now an annual event aimed at raising funds for the impoverished.
"It's the world's most accessible and equal sport. You can even make your own football," Petra Lantz, director of the UNDP representation office in Geneva, told CNN.
"I've seen that with kids who use paper and string, then they have a football and they pretend that they're Ronaldo or Zidane.
"If you want to reach these kids who are no longer in school, sport is an excellent activity. Football is a sport that is accessible even for those who are poor."
The jokes came thick and fast on Twitter after Manchester United’s 2-0 first leg Champions League defeat by Olympiakos in Athens: “The greatest Hellenic triumph since George Michael’s Careless Whisper.”
Former footballers were equally unforgiving: "MUFC have had the odd bad day over the years, but I cannot recall such an abject, hopeless, forlorn performance,” tweeted ex-England international Gary Lineker. “And against such mediocrity."
Then there were the photoshopped pictures of Manchester United’s tactical shape joined together by a thick red line spelling out “LOL.”
Wednesday’s media headlines tightened the tourniquet.
Tabloid newspaper the Sun went for full punning scorn: “Pitta-ful Utd in Greek tragedy as fans demand … MOUSACKA MOYES.”
The last time Manchester City played Barcelona, I got Shaun Goater to sign the match program. It was ten seasons ago and Ronaldinho and co. had rolled into town for the commemorative opening match at City’s new home, The City of Manchester Stadium.
Goater, the Bermudan striker, had left City for Reading at the end of the previous season after scoring 103 goals in 212 appearances during five years at the club. He’d arrived on a £400,000 transfer from Bristol City and achieved lifelong cult status with City fans for his never-say-die, bundle-it-in, keep-on-fighting attitude through the yoyo years.
The fans’ anthem, to the tune of the Welsh hymn Bread of Heaven, summed up everything about City in the managerial years of Joe Royle and Kevin Keegan: a bit daft but endearing and full of passion and ironic self-belief: "Feed the goat, feed the goat, feed the goat and he will score." FULL POST
For most job vacancies, a role is advertised, interested parties apply, interviews are held and an appointment is made.
It's a method Manchester United is currently using to fill a number of roles, such as a relationship manager and staffing manager, with the help of a recruitment website that describes itself as “executive career service for high caliber professionals.”
But the process of appointing a football manager remains rather ad hoc, none more so than in the case of David Moyes, who has had –- as baptisms of fire go - quite a grilling since succeeding Alex Ferguson at the helm of one of the world's biggest clubs.
By James Masters
The two greatest players in a generation – a host of conspiracy theories and an award ceremony which will lead to yet more debate over which man really rules the world.
As the football world converged on the Swiss city of Zurich on Monday, the cynical could be excused for rolling their eyes at another mind-numbingly dull FIFA ceremony – sorry “gala” - which appeared to last half a lifetime.
The awkward interviews, the pre-rehearsed throwaway lines and the pictures of delegates fighting furiously to stay awake are all part of the production. FULL POST
It’s the bugbear of every football fan.
A player hits the turf after a collision with an opponent, rolling around in apparent agony before the referee brings the game to a halt.
The stricken “victim” is eventually led from the field, either limping alongside his team’s physio or lying prostrate on a stretcher.
When the player leaves the pitch and the action eventually resumes, something miraculous happens. FULL POST
It’s always fun trying to explain European soccer to an American who has been raised solely on a diet of football and baseball. The concept of promotion and relegation is totally alien to them, as is the notion that one team can play in up to four different “league-type” competitions every season.
A mate of mine used to play in the NFL and we recently spent a whole lunch working through such matters before we arrived at the notion of international matches. The fact that a player could effectively be two-timing his main employer by also turning out for his country blew his mind.
I struggled to explain how those national teams would be made up and the only way he could get his head around it was to think of them as “All-Star” line-ups. FULL POST
Argentina will lift the World Cup on July 13, 2014 - and the country's third triumph in football’s biggest tournament will be the sweetest of them all because it will come in the back yard of South American rivals and hosts Brazil.
Predicting the winner of a major sporting contest is a precarious business for a journalist at the best of times. We’re trained to report the facts, not interpret tea leaves or stare into a crystal ball.
The guessing game for a World Cup, even an educated one, is even harder when it’s done before the teams are drawn into groups – but that’s the task I’ve been given.
Better, then, to face it than live in fear of it. I’ve pinned my colors to Argentina’s mast because they have the will, the skill and the local knowledge to beat their rivals. FULL POST