Posts Tagged Football

5 Sexiest Bearded World Cup Players

Beards are sexy. Footballers are sexy. Here are the red hot results of what happens when you put the two together.


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Patrice Evra bites back


Patrice Evra is a not a man who forgets. He showed this by biting into a fake arm while celebrating his team’s utter domination of the Premier League.

Manchester United won their 20th top-ranked title after brushing aside relegation threatened Aston Villa 3-0 at Old Trafford.

After the match, Manchester United players and staff celebrated their title clinching win with all the excitement of a yearly free trip around the sun.

To liven things up, a smiling Patrice Evra picked up and pretended to bite a fake severed arm thrown onto the pitch by a fan.

It appeared to be an attempt to mock Liverpool striker Luis Suarez’s who recently  just had to have a bite of Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovich.

Suarez was infamously banned for eight matches last season after being found guilty of racially abusing Evra.

The French full-back just couldn’t help having a dig at his old foe as he tasted title glory for the fifth time with Manchester United.

Either that or it was a homage to some strange magic that has brought Alex Ferguson and Manchester United their success.

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Rugby World Cup 2011: All Blacks and the Kiwis

All Blacks at the official welcome ceremony for the Rugby World Cup in Auckland.

Being in New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup wasn’t particularly my plan last year, but boy am I glad I stayed. Tomorrow, in less than 19 hours, the first game of the 2011 Rugby World Cup will kick-off at Eden Park in Auckland.

Right now, it’s just after midnight and Queen Street, Auckland’s main street, is buzzing with activity. Flags of all nations adorn every shop, car, lamp-post and person.

The World Cup celebrations start at 3pm tomorrow with free concerts, performances and fireworks to mark the start of this historic event.

After the Opening Ceremony, chances are you’ll see thousands of people with silver ferns painted across their cheeks watching the live telecast of New Zealand v Tonga with bated breath.

It has often been mentioned by the various media that the Rugby World Cup is the third largest sporting event in the world, but for rugby novice like me the trivia sounds trivial till I saw the emotion for the sport on the street.

I have been lucky to be in the country long enough to make friends and watch their beloved sport with them. Over the weekend I saw a Rugby League match between NZ Warriors and the New South Wales Cowboys from the comfort of a welcoming Kiwi home where proudly displayed on the piano was a picture of the All Blacks with the man of house cheekily Photoshopped in to be a part of the team.

People of this house got behind their team.

So imagine my surprise when every one of the 6 people in the room shouted out in disgust when one of the Warriors’ players body-checked a player from the other team.

I can’t really tell the difference between an overly physical rugby tackle and a normal rugby tackle. The entire sport seems overly physical to my football-tuned brain.  But my savvy rugby friends were appalled at the harsh treatment meted out to the player and more so because it turned out he used to be an ex-Warriors player. What made them livid was the way their player had treated a former teammate.

I am still trying to understand the game and am often left puzzled by it. But this reaction left my football- fuelled brain which has been numbed by ‘fan-thinking’ more puzzled than ever before.

Not give Wayne Rooney the stick when he goes to play at Everton or even Anfield?

How incredible.

This is when I got a rare insight into Kiwis’ relationship to Rugby and the All Blacks. The All Blacks are the country’s oldest franchise and probably their most recognisable brand the world over.  Every Kiwi loves one or the other form of Rugby and I’d put money on the fact that even those who claim to not care one bit about the game will say a little prayer if they think it’d help the All Blacks win.

But unlike the British obsession with football, Kiwis’ love of Rugby isn’t toxic. They see their team, as an extension of themselves and their country’s character and that is why it is unacceptable to them when one of their Rugby players is unfairly harsh to a fellow player.

Their love for the game is well- known but that doesn’t make them lose sight of it being just a game – important but not more important than being the good guys and being human

They realise that rugby in the end is just a game and they don’t let their love for the game taint their love for their ideals. And because of this, the All Blacks are so much more than just a team and Rugby so much more than just a game.

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Will John W. Henry be denied Liverpool FC?

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For most football clubs, the fight on the pitch is more important than what goes on behind the scenes in the boardroom. But for Liverpool FC, it is the fights in the boardroom that have become crucial for their survival.

So when it was understood that there were two “credible” bids, one from John W Henry, the multi-millionaire  owner of Boston Red Sox Major League Baseball team and the other from business interests in Asia to buy the debt-ridden club off the current American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, everyone should have breathed a collective sigh of relief.

However, this set the stage for another low  for a club that has always prided itself  for keeping internal matters private. The boardroom war between the American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, and the three other directors came into the full public view when an official statement from Liverpool said the board was preparing to approve the sale yesterday. However, Hicks and Gillett sought to block that decision by ousting the managing director, Christian Purslow, and commercial director, Ian Ayre, and appointing instead Hicks’s son and a close ally.

Hicks and Gillett both reiterated “commitment to finding a buyer” but said that they will not accept bids which in their view “dramatically undervalue” the club, which they say had nearly doubled its revenues since they took over.

What this whole mess  most likely means is that while both the offers commit to clearing the £237m Liverpool owe Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia (which is due for repayment in nine days’ time), they were not prepared to give Hicks and Gillett much for their shares.

Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton thinks  that the attempt by the club’s owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to block the sale of the club to John W Henry’s New England Sports Ventures group by changing the board, is a “flagrant abuse” of “written undertakings” and that he is the only person entitled to do such a thing.

In an interview on the Liverpool website the chairman said, “We don’t think it was valid to do it. Essentially when I took the role they gave a couple of written undertakings to Royal Bank of Scotland. Those written undertakings included that I was the only person entitled to change the board and that was written into the articles of the covenant, and also that they would take no action to frustrate any reasonable sale.”

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Broughton also believes that the proposed owners were committed to getting the winning mentality back into the team: “I think the demonstration is: let’s look at what they have done at Boston, what they said in Boston, what they have done in terms of investing in players – and I think you get a high degree of confidence of their willingness to do that.”

The iconic Fenway Park stadium and two championship wins for the Boston Red Sox under John W. Henry’s ownership does seem to suggest that he is the right man to lead Liverpool back to winning ways.

However, Liverpool fans cannot be blamed for being sceptical of any US bid after their bitter experience with Hicks and Gillett’s “leveraged buy-out”.

Article first published as Will John W. Henry be denied Liverpool FC? on Technorati.

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Rafael Nadal: Yet Another Ace!

The World Cup fever  it seems got me early this year. I didn’t quite realise how bad it had hit me, till I discovered a video by Shakira.  My fat head,( made fatter by lofty dreams of England returning home with the trophy) assumed that all Shakira was working on till World Cup was also football related. She however, made the video for her song ‘Gypsy’ and cast the newly crowned US Open Champion and World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in it as her lover. The song is a part of Shakira’s ‘She Wolf’ album and topped‘s weekly list of Top 10 videos.

“Shooting this video with Rafa was a great experience, he is very sweet and made it easy and fun,” said Shakira. “He and I have so much in common — starting out so young in our respective careers and traveling the world — I felt this would translate the spirit of the lyrics in the song and I was thrilled he wanted to be a part of it.”

“It has been a great experience and I had a lot of fun doing it. I had some time in between tournaments and preparation and could not miss this opportunity.”, said Nadal of his role in the video. “Shakira, as always, was spectacular. Working with a woman as charming as her, well, it makes it a lot easier to tell the truth. It was great, very easy, she’s really sweet and that always makes the hours go by faster.”

So if you are like me and love Rafael Nadal, music and Shakira and haven’t seen the video, blame it on Waka Waka, Vuvuzelas and the World Cup.

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A Guide to Champions League Group F

The top team in this group is Chelsea FC and I like believing that being in Group F is a sign that we are going to be in the Final. So the question is: Are any of the other teams from this group going to end up in the Final? Here is a quick guide to help you decide:

Chelsea FC

I don’t think anyone here would’nt know about Chelsea FC. But just in case I am going to tell you a little about them (it’s always  fun to revisit our greatness). So here goes, Chelsea FC, a South-west London club was founded on March 10, 19o5 at The Rising Sun pub (now The Butcher’s Hook). Despite their name, Chelsea are not based in Chelsea but in neighbouring Fulham. They have spent most of their history in the top tier of English football and are the current English champions. Not only do Chelsea play winning  football they are also extremely cool.  In 1930, Chelsea FC featured in one of the earliest football films, The Great Game. Chelsea also appear in the Hindi film Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. Our song “Blue is the Colour” reached number five in the UK Singles Chart and Bryan Adams is a Chelsea fan and he dedicated the ‘We are gonna win’ to the club.

Last season, Chelsea scored a massive 103 goals (an average of 1.89 goals per game) to be crowned champions and striker Didier Drogba won the Golden Boot award as the league’s top goalscorer.

Manager: Carlo Ancelotti

Stadium: Stamford Bridge (capacity: 41,841)

Nickname: The Blues

Honours: Chelsea have been English champions four times, FA Cup winners six times and League Cup winners four times. They have also won the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup twice. In 2008, Chelsea reached the Final of the UEFA Champions League.

Trivia: In the 1997-98 season, Chelsea played in one of the strangest matches against a Tromso, team based 100 miles into the Artic Circle. At one point, the match had to be stopped so that the lines could be cleared of snow.

Chelsea is owned by Roman Abramovich, the richest Russian in the world and the second richest person living in Britain. But did you know what Roman’s middle name is? It is Arkadievich, Roman Arkadievich Abramovich.

Quite simply, Chelsea FC is the best club in the world with  one of the most talented teams in the world, super fans and a world-class manager in Carlo Ancelotti.

Olympique de Marseille

Olympique de Marseille is a French club founded in 1899 and play in Ligue 1. They have spent most part of history in the top tier of French football and are the current French Champions. They were however relegated in 1994 over a bribery scandal. Most Chelsea fans know Marseille as Didier Drogba’s former club.

Manager: Didier Deschamps

Stadium: Stade Velodrome (capacity: 60,031)

Nickname: l’OM

Honours: Marseille have been Ligue 1 winners 9 times, and have won the Coupe de France a record 10 times. In 2005, they also won the UEFA Intertoto Cup. In 1993, Marseille became the first and only French club to win the UEFA Champions League.

Trivia: The Club’s motto is Droit Au But, which translates into Straight to the Goal.

Their home game song is ‘Jump’ by Van Halen, it’s played before every home game.

Their goal song is Puff Daddy’s ‘Come With Me’, it’s played every time they score a goal at home.

FC Spartak Moskva

FC Spartak Moskva is a football club based in Russia, Moscow. They play in the Russian Premier League and finished runners-up to the title. Chelsea supporters will remember this club as the club in whose stadium we lost the 2008 Champions League Final to Manchester United on penalties.

Manager: Valery Karpin

Stadium: Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow (capacity:78,360)

Nickname: Krasno-belye (The Red-Whites),  Myaso (The Meat)

Honours: Spartak have won 12 Soviet championships (second only to Dynamo Kyiv) and 9 Russian championships. They have also won the Soviet Cup 10 times and the Russian Cup 3 times. Spartak have reached the semi-finals of all three European club competitions.

Trivia: In the Soviet era, the club was owned by the Collective Production Farms which got them them the nickname ‘Meat’.

MŠK Žilina

MŠK Žilina is a Slovak football club, based in the town of Žilina. They are the current Slovakian champions and are one of the most successful clubs in the Slovak Superliga, having won 5 five championships since the league’s inception in 1993. This is MŠK Žilina first appearance in the UEFA Champions League.

Manager: Pavel Hapal

Stadium: Stadium Pod Dubnom (capacity: 11,181)

Nickname: Šošoni (after the Shoshone Native American tribe)

Honours: MŠK Žilina have won the Corgoň Liga 5 times and ended up runners-up 3 times since 2003. They have also won 4 Slovakian Super Cups and were UEFA Cup quarter finalists 1961.

Trivia: Stadium Pod Dubňom is named after the hill Dubeň adjacent to which it is located and literally means “Stadium under the Duben Hill”. However, the stadium is more outer-space than under the hill!  Due to specific instructions from the previous Chairman, when viewed from above the stadium is designed to look exactly like the Starship Enterprise as his children were huge Star Trek fans.

In 2003, Chelsea played MŠK Žilina in their first game after Roman Abramovich bought the club. Zilina play their first UEFA Champions League game against Chelsea today.

Honours: UEFA Champions League winners 1992/93, UEFA Intertoto Cup winners 2005, Ligue 1 winners 9 times including last season, Coupe de France winners 10 times.

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Arsenal Offer Fans A Voice Through ‘Fanshares’

As the English Premier League grew, it attracted many rich businessmen. The trouble however, with many such businessmen was the complete control of the club. Their money bought the club that was loved and  supported by many fans. Many of these businessmen like the Glazer family that bought Manchester United and Liverpool owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett were not cash rich, just credit rich. The result is that both Manchester United and Liverpool despite being successful clubs are in debt and struggling much to the dismay of their supporters.

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In order to avoid the fans being left powerless and voiceless, Arsenal have come up with an interesting scheme. The London club has invited fans to buy shares in the club and play a role in its governance. Although with one Arsenal share trading at £10,250, not all Arsenal supporters could afford it. This is where the Arsenal Fanshare scheme which took  The Arsenal Supporters Trust five years to plan comes in handy. This scheme encourages supporters to buy an affordable portion of the share, a minimum of £100, either up front or in in £10 monthly contributions, to buy one fanshare, one hundredth of an actual share. This secures the supporter full shareholder’s rights: they get to attend the annual general meeting, ask questions of the directors and vote on policy.

Arsenal is majority-owned by four shareholders: US property and sports entrepreneur Stan Kroenke (30%); Alisher Usmanov (27%), the Uzbek-Russian mining and minerals billionaire; long-term shareholder Danny Fiszman (16%) and Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith who is currently looking to sell her 16% stake which her family has owned for three-generations. Arsenal is valued at around £640m and each of its 62,000 shares trades at £10,250.

Arsenal Fanshare was a brainchild of The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, a body that opposes the club being bought by one rich individual and demands that supporters be represented in decision-making. The trust hopes that many of the Arsenal’s supporters here and overseas will subscribe, massing small contributions together to form an influential stake. The supporters’ trust spokesman, Tim Payton, said, “The aim is to increase supporter ownership and influence.”

Arsenal Fanshare is fully backed by the club and according to Ivan Gazidis, Arsenal’s chief executive, “In the club’s relationship with supporters, the important thing is that fans are valued and nurtured, not exploited. That’s not only good for the club’s soul; it is also ultimately good for the club overall, because engagement with our fans helps us to be healthier, more vibrant and successful.”

Even though the scheme allows a maximum monthly payment of a £100o which ensures that no one can build a significant holding quickly. The idea is refreshingly democratic especially in light of the recent wars between fans and the absolute owners at  the debt-ridden Manchester United and Liverpool.

Article first published as Arsenal Offer Fans A Voice Through ‘Fanshares’ on Technorati.

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