May 2, 2013
Posted: 1348 GMT
With its youth system, strong national team, and financial prudence as well as the entertaining style of football employed by both the country's international side and its top clubs, it's not difficult to understand why Germany has been branded a soccer success.
And it is. Just not as much as we perceive it to be. Yet.
While the march of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund to Wembley has been thrilling to watch, it's too early to tick the box marked "Era of German domination." Read the rest of this entry »
July 4, 2012
Posted: 1455 GMT
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. Read the rest of this entry »
June 28, 2012
Posted: 1518 GMT
London’s Olympic Games will be the poorer for David Beckham’s absence and his omission from Britain’s football squad highlights the lottery of selections based on subjectivity instead of results.
The fact that so many of the UK’s esteemed football writers - normally highly critical appraisers of sporting talent – have voiced their dismay on social networking sites shows how many experts recognized that Beckham’s place at the Olympics was about more than just his merit as a player.
Henry Winter of Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper wrote “Becks deserved more respect.” Matt Dickinson from The Times tweeted, “shocked by the Beckham news” while The Mirror’s John Cross said he was “Stunned – Beckham deserved it on every level.” Read the rest of this entry »
June 27, 2012
Posted: 1505 GMT
You wouldn’t blame Mario Balotelli for digging out his “Why Always Me?” T-shirt after he was compared to King Kong by Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport.
It was an ill-judged cartoon which proves, yet again, how much more attitudes in the football world need to change to stop black footballers being singled out for the color of their skin.
If a respected publication like Gazetta, which has been running for more than a century, can sanction an illustration comparing someone from an ethnic minority with a famous gorilla – even in jest – then is it any wonder that anti-racism campaigners remain dismayed by football’s attempts to eradicate the problem? Read the rest of this entry »
June 19, 2012
Posted: 1456 GMT
Even just a few months ago, it would have been sporting heresy. Now, it was just a throwaway comment between colleagues in the office. “I’m bored with Spain.” I nodded in agreement - it was hard to argue.
Can it be true? Are we really getting tired of watching the world and European champions? An international side that echoes the quality of Barcelona; a team of footballing matadors with players who can humiliate their opponents, passing them to death and running them into the ground as they chase the ball in vain. Read the rest of this entry »
May 20, 2012
Posted: 1203 GMT
I've never seen so many people make so little noise. For an hour, after Chelsea beat Bayern Munich in a penalty shootout to win UEFA's Champions League, a silent throng of 40,000 red-shirted fans stumbled past me, faces fixed with an expression of stunned misery.
They weren't leaving the Allianz Arena, where the final was played, but Munich's Olympic stadium. Bayern's former home had sold out, even though the only football action on display there was on a giant screen.
From outside it sounded like a real match was going on inside and, for long periods, there were thunderous roars of approval as the local team dominated their English opponents. And that explains the shock; the empty stares as the Bayern faithful walked home wondering how on earth their team had lost. Read the rest of this entry »
April 25, 2012
Posted: 1039 GMT
Chelsea's staggering Champions League victory over Barcelona proves that sport at the highest level can still shock us, defy all the odds and leave us open-mouthed and scratching our heads.
It proves that, despite the specter of corruption and match-fixing, the playing field is still a level one. That even if sponsors and governing bodies want the most entertaining or marketable sides to prevail, star teams don't win by right. Like anyone else, they must earn victory.
With Chelsea down to 10 men, their captain sent off, losing 2-0 and Barcelona's fearsome Camp Nou jubilant – be honest, what were you thinking? How long until Messi scores? Will it be a record win for the European champions, who were seeking a fourth title in six years? Who will Barca face in the final? Read the rest of this entry »
March 5, 2012
Posted: 940 GMT
The sacking of Andre Villas-Boas proves that Chelsea is still a rich man's plaything but fans of the club should be grateful that owner Roman Abramovich is still paying attention to his footballing toy instead of leaving it, forgotten and unloved, at the bottom of the cupboard.
Forget talk of Abramovich shirking his long term project. He was right to ditch a manager who took the 2010 English Premier League champions, last season's runners-up, a club that's only been out of the top two once in the last nine seasons, and left them struggling to qualify for the UEFA Champions League after eight consecutive years in the competition.
Villas-Boas' oversaw just 19 wins in 40 games, giving him a win percentage of 47.5 per cent - the worst of any Chelsea manager in the Abramovich era.
Those bare statistics make it irrelevant whether or not Villas-Boas was the victim of dressing room militancy, senior players with a more direct line of communication to the owner than the manager himself. Read the rest of this entry »
February 20, 2012
Posted: 1438 GMT
It’s been a long time since anyone referred to boxing as a gentleman’s sport. Or, at least, a long time since they did it with a straight face. Any lingering pretensions of pugilism as an honorable and noble pursuit have vanished forever following the ugly press conference brawl between Dereck Chisora and fellow Briton David Haye in Germany.
As the quality of boxing’s heavyweight division has declined, so the outrageousness of pre and post-fight “stunts” has increased. But all the experts I have spoken to insist this was not a set-up. It was a genuine outbreak of madness that has demeaned a sport already, metaphorically, winded and hanging on for the bell. Read the rest of this entry »
December 7, 2011
Posted: 2031 GMT
If you want to know why Tiger Woods isn’t about to dominate golf the way he once did, watch Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy go head to head at the Dubai World Championship this weekend.
Suddenly the sport’s focus is on two Brits –- 1st and 2nd in the world rankings -– battling it out to finish top of Europe’s money list. In years gone by, that sort of headline-grabber would have played out in the United States.
But this isn’t about a switch in golf’s geographical power base; it’s about a generational change. And the disappearance of Tiger’s fear factor despite his first tournament victory for more than two years. Read the rest of this entry »