Sports Outside the Beltway

Chinese soccer team quarantined over swine flu

They along with their coach, have been confined to their training base in Western China. From APv-

China’s soccer officials may suspend the Super League after an outbreak of swine flu at one team.

Players and staff of Chongqing Lifan, including Dutch coach Arie Haan, were confined to their training base in western China after 11 players tested positive for the H1N1 virus, the newspaper Titan Sports reported Friday.

Chinese Football Association organizers are considering a series of contingencies for outbreaks, including suspending the season, said Titan, citing association documents.

Such quarantines are usually lifted after one week if no one else tests positive for the virus. Chongqing’s confinement began on Thursday, it said.

It is said Swine Flu in China so far has been pretty mild. The reaction of local officials isn’t a match. If you believe Chinese propaganda news reports, no one has died of the H1N1 virus in the country. Then why place a soccer team or even an entire hotel under quarantine?


Danish soccer player’s leg amputated after lightning strike

Only last week’s Miami Dolphin exhibition game was delayed by lightning in the area. Maybe it was a good idea. From AP-

Danish soccer player Jonathan Richter has had the lower part of his left leg amputated, six weeks after he was struck by lightning during a reserve game.

The FC Nordsjaelland defender’s condition is improving and he will “very soon” be moved from the intensive care unit at a Copenhagen hospital, his family said in a statement posted Tuesday on the club’s Web page.

It said he “was making great progress” but gave no further details on the 24 year old.

Richter was struck during a brief thunder storm July 20 while playing against second-tier team Hvidovre. He was placed in an induced coma for 10 days.

Richter joined FC Nordsjaelland in 2005. The club is currently eighth in the Danish league standings.

Let’s pray Richter has a speedy recovery from his surgery.


Win at any cost- Chinese school accused of fraud at soccer tourney

I find it interesting that the a Chinese news agency reported this originally. From AP-

BEIJING — A Chinese high school team that won an international girl’s soccer tournament last week in Turkey had secretly bulked up its squad with players from the junior national team, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The team from Daping Junior High beat other high school squads from Turkey, Brazil, Sweden, and Italy in early round matches, before defeating a team from France in the semifinals and a German side in the final, Xinhua said.

While several of the junior national team players did attend Daping, the bulk of the team representing the school was made up of junior national team players who did not attend the school, according to the report issued late Thursday.

Maybe its time for a few sports organizations to issue a short term ban Chinese competitors. It would send a message that this cheating won’t be tolerated any longer.


North Korea beats Saudi Arabia 1-0 in World Cup qualifier

They stand a pretty good chance of playing in South Africa next year.

Mun In Guk scored the only goal Wednesday to help North Korea move a step closer to a 2010 World Cup berth with a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia in Asian qualifying.

It was a deserved victory for the nation that made its only appearance at the World Cup in 1966. The three points gives North Korea seven from four games to share the Group 2 lead with rival South Korea, which plays third-place Iran later Wednesday.

With the top two teams from the group to qualify directly for South Africa 2010, Saudi Arabia is fourth with four points and in danger of missing out on the Cup for the first time since 1990. The United Arab Emirates trails in the standings.


North Korea next hosts the United Arab Emirates on March 28, when Saudi Arabia travels to Iran.- Associated Press

It is good North Koreans are getting better at soccer. A few years ago they tried to kick a referee after a game and missed.


Soccer Star Escapes Murder Attempt

Obafemi Martins a striker for Newcastle United and Nigeria appears to have narrowly escaped an attempt on his life in what appears to be a retaliation for missing a game for the Nigerian National Team.

The horror ordeal began when three masked gunmen surrounded Martins at a petrol station near his plush apartment in Lagos, Nigeria, late on Monday night. The player, who is now recovering in Italy, said: “I didn’t know their mission but they looked scary and mean. My nerves were completely dead when I saw the guns.” The terrified Magpies ace tried to reverse his car to get away but was blocked by another car parked behind him. Gunshots were fired at the windscreen and through the passenger window. Martins’ mate Remi Onipede was hit but the St James’ Park hero managed to run for cover before cops arrived. The gang did not steal the car and Martins now believes their motive could have been murder — as payback for him missing a recent international — rather than robbery. He said: “If you are attacked by armed robbers, they only threaten you and take whatever they want but these guys were only after my life.

Fortunately, no one was killed in this occurrence. Its amazing that some of these soccer (and Raider) fans can get so worked up over their team they fell some uncontrollable urge to commit random and non-random acts of violence against just about anyone.


Globalizing sports

In Foreign Legion, the Baltimore Sun explores the growing globalization of American sports through the lens of the signings of major international stars by American teams. Specifically it looks at the cases of Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yao Ming and David Beckham.

Of Matsuzaka, the article considers the costs, risks and benefits of the Red Sox signing. Right now the financial benefits remain elusive.

The immediate economic benefits to the Red Sox may be more limited. They already sell out every game and charge more per ticket than any team in the league. They spent $103.1 million ($51.1 million for his rights and a six-year, $52 million contract) on Matsuzaka primarily because they wanted an ace for the next six years.”It was first, second and third a baseball decision designed to give us a better team and a better rotation,” Red Sox president Larry Lucchino said. “There are some ancillary benefits, but they are just that — ancillary. The notion that there’s some enormous pot of marketing gold is illusory.”

And I guess, if the Red Sox overpaid, it was also to keep Dice-K away from the Yankees. Still there are some benefits to the signing from a marketing standpoint.

The Sun has an accompanying list of the most prominent signings of foreign players by American sports teams.

In the case of Yao Ming, the article points out that international players are already a significant presence in the NBA, but that China was a real prize.

The league appears on 51 Chinese television stations and has accrued a viewership of 428 million this year. China accounts for 20 percent of the traffic on, and the Rockets’ Mandarin-language Web site ranks among the most viewed sports pages in the world. NBA merchandise sells in more than 20,000 Chinese stores, and the league will open 10 NBA-specific shops in the country by the end of the year.

The benefits of the LA Galaxy signing David Beckham may not be realized only on the soccer field.

MLS receives scant mainstream attention in the United States, but it’s suddenly on the pages of People and on the lips of Access Hollywood anchors. Children in Asia and Europe who’ve hardly given a second thought to U.S. soccer will wear Galaxy jerseys. If the league can attract more international stars, it might connect deeply with immigrant populations that live in the United States but live and die with soccer teams from their original countries.

Some 30 years ago an the NY Cosmos of the NASL signed an international star. That did not work out as well.

In the 1970s, the New York Cosmos signed Pele and other international stars in hopes of popularizing soccer in America. The formula worked for a while as the Cosmos drew more than 40,000 fans a game at Giants Stadium and earned the North American Soccer League a television deal. But the NASL’s other franchises never matched the Cosmos’ aggression, and the league folded less than 10 years after Pele signed his contract.

Globalization can help a team discover new talent or a new fan base. Investing in the former could very well help develop the latter. Smarter teams are going to take advantage of the global market. Or they will risk being left behind.

Incidentally, there’s another side to the globalization of sports. There are the United Soccer Leagues in the U.S. that is affiliated with England’s Premier League. Though the leagues have been operating in Northern America for 20 years, I was unaware of them until a local club – Crystal Palace USA started advertising.

This leads to another question. When will other American major sports leagues follow the lead of NFL Europe and start partnerships with international leagues or teams? This would also extend the marketing reach (as well as the talent pool) of teams and leagues that participate.

Crossposted at Soccer Dad.


Soccer stars wins sex toy suit

Some sports news out of Germany you don’t hear every day.

BERLIN (Reuters) – German sex shop chain Beate Uhse must pay German soccer stars Michael Ballack and Oliver Kahn 50,000 euros ($67,380) each for using their names for vibrators without permission, the company said Monday.

The company had marketed the sex toys, dubbed “Michael B.” and “Olli K.,” before Germany hosted the World Cup in 2006.

Although the surnames of the two German soccer stars were not used, it was clear they referred to Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack and Bayern Munich goalkeeper Oliver Kahn.

Kahn and national team captain Ballack sued Beate Uhse in court for unauthorized use of their names and won.

“The products have been withdrawn,” the spokeswoman said. “We have to pay 50,000 euros to each of them.”

Good for Kahn and Ballack. Now can someone sue to have Barry Bonds name taken off the MLB record books after he ‘breaks’ Hank Aaron’s home run record?


Mexico, The Most Popular Team In America

Atleast when it comes to soccer.

A frenzied crowd of nearly 50,000 soccer fans, the largest ever to watch a non-World Cup game in Northern California, will gather in Oakland tonight to watch an exhibition game between two national teams from foreign countries — Mexico and Ecuador.

The Mexican national team is the most popular soccer team in the United States and consistently outdraws America’s team, or any other soccer club for that matter.

And any game in California is like a home game for the Mexicans.

The Oakland Coliseum will be filled with thousands of screaming fans wearing “El Tricolor” — the green, red and white of the Mexican national flag. The game sold out nearly a month ago. Tickets originally priced at $60 were being resold on Craigslist for $150 on Tuesday.

“We in Mexi-fornia consider this a home game,” said Roger Fernandez, owner of ChivaMex, a store in Oakland’s Fruitvale District that specializes in Mexican League and other international soccer apparel. “I mean Ecuador is coming to our house, so we got to represent for Mexico.”

Its really not suprising story to read because despite America’s size soccer’s popularity ranks somewhere between the NHL and hitting yourself in the head with a hammer. Beyond that its really not suprising that Mexican immigrants maintain a close tie to the team the respresents their home country, especially given the large amount of spanish media outlets that can provide an up to the second link to their childhood teams. Of course with everything there are problems because many of the fans still act like they are in Mexico for the game, which is why I aviod any game in which a Latin American Team is involved. At any given game played in Southern California its not uncommon for the US National Anthem to be booed, objects thrown at non-Mexican fan, threats of violence, and so on. Its great to support your team, even I pull for teams that represent countries where my family comes from (when they aren’t playing the US), but you don’t need to be a soccer hooligan to do it.


Chelsea warn fans over celery-throwing

Those wild and crazy British soccer fans.

LONDON (Reuters) – Chelsea warned their fans on Friday against throwing celery during matches, saying it was a criminal offence and that anyone caught lobbing the popular salad vegetable could be banned.

The unlikely warning follows referee reports which mention celery-throwing at two recent Chelsea matches and which are being investigated by the Football Association, the club said on its Web site (

The FA’s investigation could result in sanctions being taken against the club, who said “the throwing of anything at a football match, including celery, is a criminal offence for which you can be arrested and end up with a criminal record.

“In future, if anyone is found attempting to bring celery into Stamford Bridge they could be refused entry and anyone caught throwing celery will face a ban.”

The club also urged fans who spot anyone throwing celery in the stadium to call a telephone number, adding that “all calls will be treated in confidence.”

Though apparently a growing problem with it landing on the pitch, Chelsea fans have been throwing celery among themselves, and singing an unprintable song about the vegetable, for more than two decades.

Chelsea fans will just have to find a new vegetable? Asparagus anyone?


Beckham & South Carolina Soccer News

A medical exam in the near future may bring about a delay in the Beckham unveiling in Los Angeles.

David Beckham, meanwhile seemed to have twisted his right knee in the 69th minute, while attempting an on-the-run cross, and hobbled of the pitch clutching it.

The news from the Madrid camp is that he has damaged a knee ligament.

The silver lining, of course, is that it is not the dreaded cruciate ligament, rather the medial one, which involves a recovery period of around six weeks.

Only time will tell, but if his opening in Los Angeles is delayed there are going to be some very unhappy people who paid good money for those Galaxy Tickets at a fundraiser I was at this weekend.

South Carolina also managed to make the European Soccer News circuit, but not for anything particularly good.

West Ham manager Alan Curbishley confirmed he will be disciplining defender Anton Ferdinand after it was revealed he defied club orders and went to America to celebrate his 22nd birthday.

Curbishley had told his players they were not to leave the country during a four-day break between matches a fortnight ago.

But word reached Curbishley that Ferdinand had been seen partying at a bar in South Carolina and the England Under-21 international was forced to apologise.

South Carolina?! Why not take the shorter flight to New York and live it up in the City? If you are going to get disciplined why not just go all out?


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