While the soccer world sharpens its hyperbole for Wednesday’s European Champions League semifinal first leg between Chelsea and Barcelona, another arguably more important match will take place on the other side of the world between two teams from two troubled countries.
In the neutral environment of the United Arab Emirates, the Egyptian national team – led by former U.S. coach Bob Bradley – will take on Iraq, a side now being marshaled by Brazilian legend Zico. There will be few column inches to elucidate the result. FULL POST
The Iran vs. Iraq game was billed as one of the highlights of the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar. Two giants of Asian football with passionate support and a shared past that has been bloody and violent.
In anticipation of a bumper crowd, street hawkers gathered outside the remote Al Rayyan stadium, 15 miles from the capital Doha, to sell maroon vuvuzelas (the color of the Qatari flag), scarves, flags and packets of sunflower seeds. But business was surprisingly slow.
The supporters from both sides - largely ex-pat Iraqis and Iranians living in Doha mixed with several who had flown in from as far as Shiraz, Tehran, Oslo and London - were loud and vociferous outside the ground, chanting their teams' names as they entered the stadium. But inside, a different picture was painted. FULL POST
London, England – Shot in somber black and white and narrated by the gravelly voice of his dead father, Nike’s latest advert showcasing Tiger Woods is certainly a departure from the affirmative, high-energy missives of old.
In golf's new era of moral austerity, it appears to herald a new approach by the U.S. sportswear manufacturer, who have stood by their man as the rest of the corporate world has deserted him.
Nike has faced a nagging problem: how can you capitalize on the intense publicity garnered by your brand ambassador without appearing to condone his many indiscretions?
Sparse, yet strangely obtuse, Nike packaged Tiger and the famous Nike swoosh into 30 seconds of contrition.
But will it be enough to convince the Augusta crowd ahead of what is arguably the most anticipated round of golf in the history of the game?
The advice dispensed by his father from beyond the grave seems oddly prescient. "I want to find out what your feelings are," he asks. "And did you learn anything?" Those questions will begin to be answered when Tiger tees off this lunchtime
What do you think of the advert? Is it timely? Or does it fail to convince you? Has Nike been right to stand by Tiger Woods? Leave your comments below.
Stay up to date with all the comings and goings in the transfer window with CNN.com's daily wrap of the latest rumors and gossip from Europe's sports pages.
LONDON, England (CNN) – All the dancing, rumors, subterfuge, lies and (very) occasional actual transfers come to an end in but a few days time. But there's still time for a last minute flurry of activity with most of the juiciest action taking place at Manchester City and AC Milan.
First to Milan where attempts to sign David Beckham on a permanent deal are gathering pace. After announcing their interest in signing the midfielder earlier in the week, Sky Sports is reporting that AC Milan's vice chairman Adriano Galliani is deep in fractious negotiations with an unhappy LA Galaxy, warning that if no deal is struck this weekend then it never will.
"If Galaxy change ideas with Beckham then we will evaluate the situation and we will keep him," he said. "The player wants to stay with us, but he knows he has to return."
Even the Englishman has decided to get off the fence telling Il Corriere Della Sera that it would be "a dream" to move to the city full time. Still, Milan's football shirt manufacturers should be putting those bumper Beckham replica shirt orders on ice for a few days, just in case.
What do you think about the Beckham transfer saga? Tell us on Football Fanzone.
La Gazzetta Dello Sport has had its hands full reporting on all the other (non-Beckham) transfer activity going on in Serie A. Cash rich UEFA Cup holders Zenit St Petersburg have put in a €10million bid for Juve's talented forward Vincenzo Iaquinta.
Which may add more grist to yesterday's frankly ludicrous transfer mill that West Ham United's in form striker Carlton Cole could be a target for The Old Lady. Their manager Claudio Ranieri used to coach Cole at Chelsea. It can't possibly be true, can it?
Over at Middle Eastlands this week's ongoing transfer saga revolves around Newcastle United's want away goalkeeper Shay Given who, The Times reports, is angry that a deal between the two clubs cannot be made. Oddly, Manchester City seem to be getting shy about throwing around their cash.
Initially the club offered just £3 (€3.24) million before making a final £5 (€5.39) million take-it-or-leave-it bid, far less than the £10 (€10.78) million originally mooted in the press. Which is quite frankly a derisory sum given that (a) Given is arguably currently the form goalkeeper in Europe and (b) Sunderland's Craig Gordon cost £9 (€9.71) million. £9MILLION! Still CNN can only thank Manchester City for their continued ability to stir controversy. Without them we'd have nothing to write about.
Elsewhere one of Europe's great enigmas might be moving to the Premiership after being linked with over a dozen clubs during every single transfer window over the past half decade. The Argentine striker Javier Saviola was (rightly) lauded as a potential world beater but poor form, perceived indifference and an inability to hold down a regular starting place at both Barcelona and Real Madrid has seen his stock fall faster than a suicidal Wall Street trader.
In fact, it has fallen so far that he is apparently considering a move to Portsmouth, according to The Express. But if you happen to be reading Marca, they insist that the current Real Madrid forward may well be used as a makeweight in the deal to take Wigan Athletic's Antonio Valencia to the Bernabeu. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place...
Stay up to date with all the comings and goings in the transfer window with CNN.com’s daily wrap of the latest rumors and gossip from Europe’s sports pages.
LONDON, England – The ripples from Kaka's rejection of Manchester City's advances continue to travel far and wide, with the world's media chewing over the detritus of the deal.
The Guardian asks whether the Abu Dhabi United Group's failure to sign Kaka sounds the death knell for future big name signings, whilst others conclude that the Gulf royal family has been taught a humiliating lesson in political maneuvering. Corriere dello Sera, for instance, has reported that Kaka lambasted City's delegation for not having a clue what was going on and failing to table a bid in their six hour meeting with his representatives.
So you would be forgiven for thinking City would lower their sights and ambitions. Not so. Thursday's papers brim with fresh targets to sooth City's hearts after their very public jilting with The Times reporting that Barcelona's Thierry Henry is again on the club's radar. After a difficult start to his time at the Catalan club Henry has begun to shine and has been instrumental in Barcelona's dominance in La Liga this season. But £10 ($13.89) million might just be enough to capture the Frenchman.
They may need the firepower. City's absent Brazilian international, Robinho, is being lined up by his former national team boss Luis Felipe Scolari at Chelsea. City would be foolish to sell their prolific striker, you may think, but according to The Sun Didier Drogba could well be heading in the other direction. Which, on the face of it, would keep both sets of fans happy.
One of Europe's hottest properties appears to have made his mind up as to where he will play for the rest of the season. German under-19 striker Savio Nsereko has been in rich form for Serie B team Brescia. So much so that Arsenal, Barcelona and West Ham have all been reported to be close to a deal to clinch his signature. But according to La Gazzetta dello Sport he will actually sign for Napoli instead.
Over in Spain, next summer's presidential election at Real Madrid sees the usual round of crazy promises being made by the various candidates. And they don't get any more outlandish than the claims of former president Florentino Perez. After already claiming to have a promise that Ronaldo will join him at the Bernabeu, El Mundo has reported that he has also apparently reached a secret deal with Silvio Berlusconi to take Kaka to Madrid whilst also securing the services of Arsenal's Arsene Wenger.
Which all seems rather far fetched. But with Wenger becoming increasingly frustrated with Arsenal's miserly transfer policy – the club's bid for Andrei Ashavin has hit the rocks after failing to meet Zenit St Petersburg's valuation, according to the Daily Mail – and Perez having a reputation for securing previously unthinkable transfers as he did by signing Luis Figo from arch rivals Barcelona, maybe it's worth taking notice.
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Stay up to date with all the comings and goings in the transfer window with CNN.com's daily wrap of the latest rumors and gossip from Europe's sports pages.
Kaka, Kaka, Kaka. Everywhere you look it's wall to wall Kaka. His intentions again dominate the papers this weekend as representatives from the Abu Dhabi United Group fly to Milan with their big sack of cash. It is the second time Manchester City's owners have tried to talk the Brazilian's paymasters in to parting company with their prized asset. But with 'unnamed sources' constantly spinning, no one is actually sure what is going on. According to The Times, Kaka is seriously considering the £108 ($161) million offer, mainly because he was shocked that Milan considered selling him.
On the other hand The Observer has taken a different tack. The Rossoneri's fans staged a protest before Milan's victory against Fiorentina, a move which deeply moved him according to the newspaper. But, most interestingly, the paper alleges that the whole saga has been a ruse by Milan's owner, arch political manipulator Silvio Berlusconi. Apparently he has been hyping up a potential transfer – a source close to the Abu Dhabi United Group claimed that the £108 million figure was way off the mark – so that he can curry favor with Milan's fans when Manchester City's bid fails. Cunning.
Meanwhile, City are close to securing a more realistic target. West Ham United striker Craig Bellamy is in Manchester having a medical today, according to Guardian, after going on strike when his current club refused permission for him to speak to anyone else. But a bid of £12 ($17.59) million has convinced the East London club to part company with their troublesome hit man.
Any Kaka deal would obviously leave AC Milan awash with cash and the Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport has reported that a number of long term Milan targets would be back on the radar again, including Arsenal's striker Emmanuel Adebayor and Chelsea's bustling midfielder Michael Essien. Apparently both players coule be dislodged from their current employers for £32 ($46.85) million each.
Over in France, L'Equipe is concerning itself with the transfer activity of shock title contenders Bordeaux. Despite the strong Euro making acquisitions from the UK more financially attractive, they have pulled out of a deal for West Ham's French International Julian 'TGV' Faubert as the fee was too high. Instead they will be concentrating on luring Nancy's young striker Issiar Dia. Their most pressing issue, however, is keeping hold of the Yoann 'the new Zidane' Gourcuff. The midfielder is on loan from AC Milan but has turned heads across Europe with some stunning goals and match winning performances.
All of which makes goings on at the usually transfer-crazy Real Madrid seem quite prosaic. The club has been watchfully observing the crazy goings on elsewhere with Marca instead focusing on the resignation of President Ramon Calderon for his involvement in an alleged voting scandal.
But they couldn't keep out of the action for long. The News of the World reported that Madrid tabled a late bid for, you guessed it, Kaka. According to reports, they are willing to match Manchester City's bid, but will offer much less in wages. What will he choose? A relegation dog fight with the second best team in Manchester? Or Champions League football with the biggest club side in the world? Hmm, tough one that....
Where should Kaka go: Manchester or Madrid? Have your say in the Football Fanzone debate.
LONDON, England – There is just one story on the lips of every football fan, and just one story on the back pages of almost every paper today.
Various media are reporting that Manchester City have made a £100 million ($146 million) bid for AC Milan's Kaka. It's understood the deal would also see the Brazilian earn £500,000 ($730,000) per week in wages.
See how this salary compares to the U.S. President's here.
Rumors have been circulating since long before the transfer window opened that the Eastlands club was interested in the Brazilian attacking midfielder, who won the Ballon d'Or and Fifa World Player of the Year awards in 2007.
It seems now that Manchester City has finally made a move, with various media reporting that a City delegation have met with Milan officials and entered into talks, where the unprecedented bid has been put forward.
Should the bid proceed, it would more than double the current record price for a player which sits at £46m ($67m) when France legend Zinedine Zidane left Juventus for Real Madrid in 2001.
Though seemingly excessive, raising the money should not be too much of a bother for City owner, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is estimated to be worth about £15bn ($22bn).
It is likely City manager Mark Hughes will be eager to complete a major signing after having bids rejected for West Ham forward Craig Bellamy and Blackburn striker Roque Santa Cruz, and only Chelsea's Wayne Bridge to show for January's transfer window so far.
As the dust settles, however, it seems that Kaka is less than keen and has distanced himself from a move. Mediaset, which is owned by Italian prime minister and AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi, has quoted Kaka as saying that he will never leave Milan. At least not as a young man. "I want to grow old here and my objective for the future is to become this team's captain," he said, seemingly dashing Manchester City's hopes. "I have already refused important offers in the past." Sheikh Mansour might have a long wait if he wants to get his man.
Of course, there is some transfer activity outside of Manchester. Adriano – Inter's Brazilian striker who has a penchant for the odd night out – has been interesting Harry Redknapp at Tottenham Hotspur according to The Sun. Jose Mourinho has lost patience with the forward and is apparently now willing to sell. London should provide the hit man with plenty of going out opportunities.
Meanwhile The Guardian is reporting that Ghanaian free agent Stephen Appiah, who has been on trial at Spurs, is to play in a specially arranged match to gauge whether he his fit enough for a contract at White Heart Lane.
Karim Benzema continues to excite Europe's sports editors after Lyon's president admitted that he will find it tough to hold on to his star man after two of the world's biggest clubs expressed an interest in signing the striker. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid have enquired about his availability, according to Marca.
One player who definitely won't be playing in France next season is Didier Drogba. Most of Britain's back pages run with the news that the Ivorian striker is on his way out of Stamford Bridge after manager Luiz Felipe Scolari dropped him for tonight's FA Cup replay against Southend. Not so, reports L'Equipe, as Marseille have tried, and failed, to sign him. Apparently Chelsea refused to sell him at any cost.
Finally, it wouldn't be a proper transfer round up unless we featured yet more groveling from Newcastle United's want-away winger Charles N'Zogbia. The Frenchman has very publicly announced his desire to leave the club and asked Europe's top clubs to put in a bid for him, so far unsuccessfully. The latest recipient of his furtive glances are Lyon. "Lyon, make your move!" he shamelessly begged in French paper Aujourd'hui Sport. Tomorrow: N'Zogbia parades through Madrid wearing nothing but a Real shirt. Probably.
LONDON, England – Poor Carlos Tevez. The Argentine striker has led something of a nomadic existence for the past three seasons as successive managers have struggled to work out where to play him. But it looks like Manchester United has finally lost their patience according to reports in France and England.
After Tevez's ill judged comments last week – criticizing Manchester United for not making his loan deal permanent – manager Sir Alex Ferguson has reportedly started sending covetous glances towards Lyon and their young French striker Karim Benzema if L'Equipe, News of the World and, well, pretty much every other newspaper in Europe are to be believed.
It will take £40 ($59.79) million to land Lyon's most valuable asset. But Benzema himself, as reported by La Gazzetta Dello Sport, seems to be a little confused as to where he actually wants to go. "Milan make me dream. I also love Juve, Inter and Manchester United – the big clubs. What's important is to win." Real Madrid seems to be the most likely destination for the unloved Tevez.
L'Equipe's other big story is news that Lyon's distinctly un-Brazilian sounding Fred may well move back home, to Fluminense, for a mere £4.5 ($6.7) million, which would end Tottenham Hotspur's interest in the striker.
Elsewhere, the award for the second most blatant come-and-get-me-plea of the transfer window – Benzema takes the gold – goes to Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery. According to Bild, Ribery is openly flirting with Real Madrid. "I have four years on my contract here. But to promise? That is difficult," said the French winger, who is only in his second season at the German champions. "I am open to everything!" Who said loyalty in football is dead, eh?
Finally you can't have a transfer blog without reporting the crazy goings on over at Manchester City, who seem to be upsetting pretty much everyone by swinging around their huge sack of cash. Aside from the usual news (an improved bid for Craig Bellamy; a failed bid for Roque Santa Cruz, yawn) Marca has gleefully reported that pivotal Barcelona midfield Yaya Toure has had his head turned by a £6 ($8.96) million a year offer. But the big transfer story of the window seems to be shaping up in Russia with City and Arsenal engaging in a tug of love over Zenit St Petersburg's baby-faced midfielder Andrei Arshavin. According to the Sunday Mirror, a bid of £18 ($26.87) million has been lodged by City whilst Arsenal, allegedly Ashavin's club of choice, can only cough up a paltry £10 ($14.93) million. Arsenal will have to break their own transfer record if they want to get their man.
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Stay up to date with all the comings and goings in the transfer window with CNN.com's daily wrap of the latest latest rumors and gossip from Europe's sports pages.
Most of the UK's newspapers lead with news that Newcastle United's underrated winger Charles N'Zogbia has admitted that a host of clubs are vying for his signature, including Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur. But according to The Times and the Daily Telegraph N'Zogbia would prefer a move to Arsenal.
Meanwhile, over at Middle Eastlands, Sheikh Mansour's petro-billions continue to burn a hole in manger Mark Hughes's pocket. Manchester City's transfer dealings haven't seen much success with a combined £20 ($30.64) million bid for West Ham United's Scott Parker and Craig Bellamy falling on deaf ears.
But one player determined to join Manchester City, according to The Guardian, is a 'desperate' Roque Santa Cruz who has handed in a transfer request to Blackburn Rovers in an attempt to be reunited with his former manager. Any improvement on the £18 ($27.57) million bid currently on the table should see City clinch a deal for the Paraguayan hitman.
If they fail, the Abu Dhabi United Group may well dust down their Middle Eastern contacts book to snare young Argentine striker Mauro Zarate instead, according to the Daily Telegraph. Zarate, who is currently on loan at Lazio, has been a sensation in Serie A this season, scoring eight goals so far. But his registration is held by the Qatari club Al-Sadd, who will be prepared to let him go to whoever coughs up £30 ($45.95) million first.
Elsewhere, De Bild is convinced that City have been sniffing around Bayern Munich and Germany full back Philipp Lahm. Although his team mate, French wide man Franck Ribery, is going nowhere, apparently.
La Gazzetta dello Sport is getting very excited after it emerged that AC Milan has lodged a bid for Liverpool's unsettled Danish defender Daniel Agger. Injuries have given the Dane an extended run in the side but €8.5 ($11.63) million will be enough for the Rossoneri to get their man. One player who definitely won't be going to the San Siro is Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant after his club offered him a one-year contract extension to ward off puzzling interest from Europe's elite clubs, according to The Sun. Despite being a bit part player since his arrival at Anfield, both AC Milan and Real Madrid have enquired about the player after it emerged he was in the last year of his contract and could thus be picked up on the cheap. Liverpool's offer should end their interest, for now at least.
Marca, on the other hand, have tetchily reported that Real Madrid's bid to sign Wigan's Ecuadorian playmaker Antonio Valencia has hit the rocks after the Premiership club demanded an 'exorbitant' €15 ($20.52) million. Although Madrid won't dwell on that for too long following the news that, according to The Times, Cristiano Ronaldo has agreed to join the club in principle. Again. His agent Jorge Mendes has reached a 'verbal agreement' with former Real Madrid president Florentino Perez to play at the Bernabeu. Perez hopes to use the agreement in his re-election campaign. And how has Sir Alex Ferguson comforted himself after hearing the news? By making what The Sun calls the 'most bizarre signing of the transfer window' by paying £100,000 to relegation threatened Stoke for defender Ritchie De Laet, who is yet to make his debut for the club despite being there for over a year. That should appease the Old Trafford faithful...
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