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Sometimes world soccer seems all about the kids

For example, Slovakia's Vladimir Weiss figures in a U.S. loss, 19 years after his dad helped Czechoslovakia beat the Americans in the World Cup.

November 14, 2009|By Grahame L. Jones | On Soccer

Having been beaten, 1-0, by Slovakia in Bratislava on Saturday, the players on the World Cup-bound U.S. national team might not have been in a mood for a history lesson. But here it is anyway.

Slovakia's coach, Vladimir Weiss, was a second-half substitute on the Czechoslovakian team that rolled over the U.S., 5-1, in Florence, Italy, in both teams' opening game at the Italia '90 World Cup.

And it was Weiss' son, 19-year-old Manchester City winger Vladimir, who was fouled by Jonathan Bornstein on Saturday on the play that led to Slovakia's game-winning penalty kick goal by Marek Hamsik.

Fathers and sons seem to have been a common thread in the last week or so.

In Italy, for instance, Diego Maradona's son, who also carries his father's name, is on the Italy team that will compete in an abomination known as the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, to be played in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, starting on Monday.

The younger Diego last week sprang to the defense of his critic-encircled father.

"No one can teach Diego how to win a World Cup with Argentina or how to wear the jersey," he told reporters. "I have always supported Argentina and I will continue doing so at the next World Cup when my father is on the bench."

Meanwhile, England striker Wayne Rooney, who captained the national team for the first time on Saturday during its 1-0 loss to Brazil, also became a father for the first time on Nov. 3 and named his son Kai Wayne Rooney.

That prompted the English press to have a bit of fun.

The Telegraph, for example, wondered whether Kai referred to "a kind of throat singing practiced in [Russia's] Altai Republic, Maori cuisine, the Hawaiian word for the deep sea, or a Chinese restaurant in London."

The Guardian noted that "in Bengali, a version of the word translates as 'gravy' while in the west African Yoruba language it means 'stop it,' which would save Wayne and [wife] Coleen valuable verbiage when chastising their son."

The Daily Mail, in typical tabloid fashion, carried a headline that said: "Proud Wayne Rooney names baby Kai after a character in a video game."

Not to ignore fathers and daughters, it was interesting to see that Sergei Semak, a midfielder for Russian champion Rubin Kazan and the Russian national team, has named his new daughter Barcelona in honor of Rubin Kazan's Champions League upset of the defending Spanish and European champions.

"This is a nice way to make sure I never forget that memorable win," Semak, 33, told Sovjetski Sport.

"Additionally, it's a bit of a tribute to the beautiful football they play."

Finally, high-scoring Bayern Munich and German national team striker Miroslav Klose has been quarantined after his twin sons both came down with the H1N1 virus.

Like Klose, it can strike anywhere, anytime.

It's a crime

Three years ago, AC Milan and Italy national team midfielder Gennaro Gattuso had his luxury English SUV stolen. Last week, police found the vehicle -- not in Milan, but 1,000 miles away in Tirana, Albania. . . . Lorenzo Sanz, 66, a former president of Real Madrid, was briefly detained by Spanish police and accused of illegally exporting works of art worth more than $11 million from Spain to Italy. "I bought some paintings and afterwards some people told me we could have an auction in Italy," Sanz told Spanish radio. "I have no idea if you have to get permission to sell art outside Spain. It was an unwitting mistake. . . . What I do know is that I won't be buying any more paintings." At least he didn't claim to have been framed.

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