Sports Outside the Beltway

Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy elected to the Soccer Hall of Fame

The former World Cup winning and Gold medal Olympic teammates were will be officially inducted later this year.

CARSON, Calif. – Former teammates Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy, who shared two Olympic gold medals and two World Cup titles, were both elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

Hamm was chosen in a landslide, named on 137 of 141 ballots for 97.16 percent of the vote — both records. The previous highest percentage belonged to Michelle Akers, who was elected with 95.77 percent in 2005.

Foudy was selected on 118 ballots for 83.69 percent. The voting was announced at Home Depot Center in Carson.

“What a blessed career that Julie and I have been able to have with such a wonderful group of women,” Hamm said. “To top it off with this nomination is truly exciting for both of us. It’s going to be a weekend that we never forget.”

Hamm and Foudy, each in their first year of eligibility, comprise the first all-women class elected to the Oneonta, N.Y.-based hall. They will be inducted Aug. 26.

The duo will join the five women who have been inducted since the hall began in 1950.

Congrats to both Mia and Julie. They are deserving inductees. There is still more news.

Foudy became a first-time mother on Jan. 1, when she gave birth to daughter Isabel.

Hamm is expecting twins in April with husband Nomar Garciaparra, who is at spring training with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Congratulations again and good luck Mia with the birth.


Soccer in America

People oftne wonder why soccer isn’t as popular in America as it is in the rest of the world. This should explain why.

Update: Now in English!


Holy football Batman!

A Vatican soccer tournament began in Rome today.

ROME – The fans were pious. The players bound for glory. And the victory? A miracle. Priests and seminarians from several soccer-loving countries took to a field near the looming dome of St. Peter’s Basilica Saturday for the first match of the Clericus Cup, a tournament fielding 16 teams from Catholic institutes in Rome.

“You are playing in view of St. Peter’s cupola, so behave well,” admonished Cardinal Pio Laghi before giving the official kickoff at a small arena on a hill overlooking the Vatican.

In Italy soccer is a hallowed game, taken almost as seriously as Catholicism, and the players were all business once the whistle was blown.

Amid screams from the coaches, pious slogans from the small crowd and T-shirts invoking the protection of the Virgin Mary, a motley crew of Latin Americans, Africans and Asians from the Collegio Mater Ecclesiae (Mother of the Church College) took on an all-Brazilian team fielded by the Gregorian University.

In a miraculous upset, the young Mater Ecclesiae players trounced the more experienced but portly Brazilians 6-0 as their fans chanted: “The Mother of the Church wants a goal!”

Yes but whose team is the Holy Mother a fan of?

Kind of reminds me of the commercial five years ago. A father and his young son watching football and whenever one team scored a touchdown the boy would yell “Touchdown” while raising his arms in the air. Unfortunately the game wasn’t going well for Dad’s team.

That commercial(I don’t remember who the sponsor was) was seen frequently during the 2002 football season. It sticks in my memory and that of my wife who at the time was pregnant with our son Daniel. I wish Daniel was here to watch television with me now rather than me whittling away a Saturday doing nothing in particular.

Cross Posted to The Florida Masochist and Poliblog’s Deportes

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Italian Soccer Teams Play Without Fans

I guess the Serie A teams should hope they have good TV deals.

Only six soccer stadiums in Italy meet security requirements, meaning that league games in other arenas will be played behind closed doors.

The Olympic Stadium in Rome made the list that was drawn up during a meeting of security and sports officials Thursday, while the San Siro stadium in Milan did not, the Interior Ministry said.

The other stadiums that were deemed safe were in Genoa, Siena, Cagliari, Turin and Palermo. Arenas in Florence, Naples and Bologna were among the 25 considered unsafe.

This is all going to go under review, according to the article, and they may choose to open more stadiums in “coming days”. Night games are also out.

Wow. I can’t imagine not being allowed to attend games at my football team’s stadium. What a development. This is, unfortunately, the only way to send a message to fans that this is not acceptable – control over admission is the only instrument a sport really has over its fans. Authorities hope that things don’t get too out of hand, and are faced with hard decisions when they do.

What a fall from winning the World Cup last year – first the deregulation of top clubs, and now this. Italian soccer has fallen far in world opinion in only a few months.


Steroid Tall Tales

I am always amazed at the stories athletes come up with when they fail drug tests. From throwing a teammate under the bus to claiming they just eat things mailed to them. Well we have a case of a girlfriend throwing herself under the bus around it in one of the most bizarre “sex made me fail my steroid test” excuses yet.

AC Milan soccer star Marco Borriello failed a drug test in November when he tested positive for cortisone and has since blamed it on an ointment he rubbed on his willy. Beyond that his Argentine model girlfriend Belen Rodriguez took responsibility stating she had given him the cream after she had passed an infection to Borriello by making love. Unfortunately for the couple, Italian doctors claim that quantities found in Borriello’s samples are high enough to suggest that he ingested a substance, as opposed to using an external cream or spray. Well rumor has it they have come up with a new version of the excuse involving the ingesting of said ointment cream.


‘Hand of God’ No Goal, 20 Years Too Late

While Diego Maradona admitted cheating in 2002 in his autobiography over the ‘Hand of God’goal in the 1986 World Cup (and later justified it as a response to England’s victory in the Falklands War) has gone one lately to lay the blame on the referees. Rightly so too, granted Maradona shouldn’t have cheated, but the referees should of done their job and called him on it. Well the linesman in that game has finally stepped up to the task of throwing the referee under the bus:

THE linesman when Maradona scored his infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal against England in 1986 has claimed it should NEVER have been allowed.

Bulgarian Bogdan Dotchev also launched an attack on the Tunisian referee, branding him “an idiot more fit to herd camels in the desert than take charge of a World Cup game”.

Dotchev broke his 20-year silence after ref Ali Bin Nasser last week blamed him for not signalling the handball. But Dotchev insisted: “A European referee would never recognise the validity of such a goal.

“European refs take charge of at least one or two important games per month and are used to big-match pressure. “What is there for Bin Nasser to referee in the desert where there is nothing but camels?”

Of course he shifts blame from himself when he was equally incompetent, but hey he got to the press first. I’m sure calling the guy a camel herder will go over real well too.


David Beckham Coming To America

In what could be the biggest boost to domestic American Soccer ever, its being reported that soccer super-star and sex symbol David Beckham may will cross the pond to play soccer in America.

International soccer superstar David Beckham is expected to come to America to play for a U.S. Major League Soccer team.

“I’ve played now for two of the biggest clubs in the world. I’ve played at the highest level for 15 years, and now I think I need another challenge,” Beckham said.

The announcement has the sports world buzzing.

With his star power (and his wife’s), I’m guessing he lands in Los Angeles or New York to play. When you get a player like Beckham, you need him in the biggest market for the biggest impact.

Update: Beckham is coming to Los Angeles:

LONDON (AP) — David Beckham agreed to a five-year deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer, leaving the Real Madrid club at which he enjoyed worldwide popularity but experienced disappointment on the field.

Beckham, the former English captain who also starred for Manchester United, will join the Galaxy after his contract with Real Madrid expires on June 30. Los Angeles opens its season April 8 in Houston.

“I am proud to have played for two of the biggest clubs in football and I look forward to the new challenge of growing the world’s most popular game in a country that is as passionate about its sport as my own,” he said in a statement released Thursday.

The move was announced following the end of talks on extending the 31- year-old English midfielder’s contract with the Spanish club. MLS recently changed its rules on salary caps, clearing the way for Beckham to sign a lucrative deal. British news reports put the Galaxy deal at $250 million.

More at ESPN.

UPDATE (James Joyner): I’d note that Pele, the biggest soccer star ever, came to New York a generation ago and couldn’t catapult soccer into the big time in America. I can’t imagine Beckham will be any more successful.

Update (Mister Biggs): Pele is the best ever, but I think the US fans know more about soccer than they did ~30 years ago. Plus Beckham brings something Pele didn’t, Posh Spice and in the celebrity obsessed culture he’ll get more face time in the press than any soccer player in America ever has.

More here, here, here, and here.


Soccer Goat?

This is gross

Palermo general manager Rino Foschi received a surprise in the mail for Christmas – the severed head of a young goat, covered in blood.

At least Mr. Foschi is taking it in stride.

“I don’t have anything to do with that stuff, those are things you see in films,” Foschi said. “I’ve lived in Palermo for five years and I’ve never received any threats. I feel safe in Palermo. I don’t have anything to fear.

“I really don’t have any explanation. I don’t have any suspects to signal. Maybe some idiot wanted to make an ugly Christmas joke … Maybe I’m disliked for some soccer market moves.”

Crossposted at Soccer Dad.


Women turn on ref in soccer brawl

From the

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will today investigate ugly scenes involving North Korean players after they lost their Women’s Asian Cup semi-final in Adelaide last night.

Trouble erupted deep in stoppage time when North Korean players thought they had equalised against China but the goal was disallowed for an off-side infringement.

Play continued but at the final whistle, and as the Chinese started to celebrate their 1-0 win, frustrations among the North Koreans boiled over with four or five surrounding Italian referee Anna De Toni and one appearing to push her.

Television footage also showed a player seemingly aiming a kick which missed De Toni as she and her assistants were escorted from the ground by security guards.

Korean players were also seen throwing plastic bottles which had been thrown onto the ground.

The AFC will scrutinise film of the post-match clash today and is expected to impose tough penalties.

As GI in Korea said, who of the fans in attendance would have thought it. They went to a soccer game and a Tae Kwon Do match broke out.

What this will do for China-North Korea relations and the five-way talks is anyone’s guess. Kim il-Jong may demand a rematch.


Pranksters play hard ball with soccer fans

Whomever did this certainly has balls.

BERLIN (Reuters) – World Cup pranksters in Berlin injured at least two soccer fans by inviting them to kick soccer balls that they had secretly filled with concrete, authorities said Tuesday.

At least six concrete filled soccer balls were found chained to lampposts, trees and handrails across the city next to the spray-painted message “Can you kick it?,” Berlin police said.

“Two young men kicked the balls and suffered bad bruising on their feet,” a police spokeswoman said. “We still don’t have any leads in the case.”

Hat tip- Bullwinkle Blog


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