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This week in soccer

Corner Kicks

Five things happening around the world:

June 25, 2008|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

1 One enterprising butcher in southern Germany has found a unique way to draw attention not only to Euro 2008 but to his shop by installing a display of soccer-playing pigs outside the store.

The life-sized swine are made of plastic, so movement on and off the ball is understandably slow, but the pigs have produced a smile or two from passersby, even from those who do not follow the world's game.

Germany plays Turkey today in the tournament semifinals in Basel, Switzerland. On Thursday, Spain plays Russia in the other semifinal in Vienna.

2 While the soccer world waits to see which two nations will advance to Sunday's Euro 2008 final in Vienna, the man who many thought would be there has jetted off on vacation.

Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo has repeatedly said he would like to move from Manchester United to Real Madrid.

United has been equally insistent that the 23-year-old, who scored 42 goals in all competitions last season, is not for sale.

Even if he were, Real Madrid might not meet the asking price. "We would never pay $125 million for any player," Ramon Calderon, the club's president, said. Real Madrid Coach Bernd Schuster, however, has asked Calderon to "pay whatever it takes" to sign Ronaldo.

If a figure is ever agreed upon, it would almost certainly make Ronaldo the world's most expensive player, surpassing Zinedine Zidane. The retired French star said he would be happy to drop the tag.

"They are ready to pay more than for me, and this will lift the weight from my shoulders," Zidane said.

3 Major League Soccer is taking a bit of a gamble by agreeing to a television doubleheader that will see the Galaxy play at D.C. United on Sunday in a match to be shown live at 9 a.m. PDT followed by the Euro 2008 final at 11:30.

Both games are on ABC, and the respective viewership numbers from the network should make for interesting reading Monday morning.

Contrasting the quality of play would be unfair, no matter what sort of show the MLS teams put on, but it is strange, perhaps even foolhardy, that the league would be willing to risk the contrast being so starkly exposed.

4 Sven-Goran Eriksson will be thrown in the deep end when he takes charge of Mexico's national team.

The Mexican soccer federation said this week that because it had not been able to arrange a friendly match beforehand, the Swede's first game in charge will be a World Cup qualifier against Honduras.

Decio DeMaria, the federation's general secretary, also said that interim coach Jesus "Chucho" Ramirez would decide this week whether he wants to stay on as one of Eriksson's assistants or would prefer to leave.

5 Pia Sundhage has made her picks and if she wants to emulate predecessors Tony DiCicco and April Heinrichs and coach the U.S. women's soccer team to an Olympic gold medal, she has the players to do it.

The 18-strong U.S. squad for the Beijing Games was announced Monday and on Friday the team leaves for Europe and the last of two preparatory games on foreign soil.

The Americans will play Norway in Fredrikstad on July 2 and Sweden in Skelleftea on July 5 before heading home to play a pair of matches against Brazil in Commerce City, Colo., on July 13 and in San Diego on July 16.

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