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All the commentary that's fit to print on world soccer news

It was a week full of goings-on, so here's a recap, along with reaction.

July 10, 2011|Grahame L. Jones | On Soccer
  • Real Madrid Coach Jose Mourinho, left, and former French star Zinedane Zidane are all smiles as Zidane is announced as the team's director of soccer.
Real Madrid Coach Jose Mourinho, left, and former French star Zinedane… (Philippe Desmazes / AFP…)

In a week that produced all sorts of news and nowhere near enough time to digest it, there is only one solution: a brief bite of news and an equally brief reaction, so here goes:

News: Joseph "Sepp" Blatter, FIFA's president, traveled to Zimbabwe to press the flesh with that country's equally odious president, Robert Mugabe.

Reaction: There's never a large and ravenous crocodile around when you need one, is there?

News: Real Madrid, which embarks on a three-game U.S. tour this week, starting in Los Angeles, has selected France '98 World Cup winner Zinedine Zidane as its director of soccer.

Reaction: It won't be long before he butts heads — sorry — with Coach Jose Mourinho.

News: Some dim bulb in Qatar suggested that the 2022 World Cup in that country should have the games played in three 30-minute periods instead of two halves to give players an extra break from the appalling heat.

Reaction: If that happens, toss every soccer record book into the Persian Gulf because from then on any historic comparisons will be meaningless and the sport will have sold its soul completely to television advertisers.

News: Two players from the North Korea women's team failed drug tests at the Women's World Cup in Germany and caused the entire team to be tested.

Reaction: Why wasn't that done before the tournament started?

News: Former Netherlands and AC Milan great Frank Rijkaard, who coached Barcelona to its 2006 European Champions League title, has been hired as Saudi Arabia's national coach on a three-year contract at a reported $5 million per year.

Reaction: What, U.S. Soccer couldn't come up with the money to finally land a coach with impressive playing and coaching credentials?

News: Sebastian Coe, now Lord Coe, chairman of the London Organizing Committee for next year's Olympic Games, says he is confident English Premier League coaches will release their young players to take part.

Reaction: The man is dreaming. The Premier League season starts one week after the Olympic soccer tournament ends. Coaches across Europe have consistently fought against releasing players for what they see as a meaningless event.

News: Unsavory former CONCACAF president Jack Warner described as "nonsense" the claim that he had voted for Qatar instead of the U.S. as the 2022 World Cup host.

Reaction: It would be no surprise at all if he did side with the other side.

News: Barcelona is willing to pay Arsenal more than $40 million for Cesc Fabregas, and Manchester United has offered Arsenal $32 million for Samir Nasri. Coach Arsene Wenger said he would fight to keep both players.

Reaction: Wenger can fight all he wants. The two players want trophies and know they won't get them with the Gunners.

News: Canada and Zimbabwe are vying to play host to the next Women's World Cup, in 2015.

Reaction: If it goes anywhere but Canada, it was bought.

News: Manchester United plans to offer Mexican striker Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez a new, extended contract that will not only reward him financially but also keep other clubs from trying to lure him away.

Reaction: Smart move. The former Chivas de Guadalajara player cost United only about $11 million, yet he scored 20 goals in 45 games, making him the bargain buy of the Premier League last season.

News: David Beckham attended a reception in Los Angeles for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Reaction: Hope the back spasms that have affected his play for the Galaxy didn't hinder his bowing and scraping.

News: Defender Fabio Cannavaro, FIFA's world player of the year in 2006 when he won the World Cup with Italy, has announced his retirement at age 37 because of a knee injury.

Reaction: A 19-year professional career and a record 136 games for Italy assure him his place in Italian soccer history, some doubts about drugs notwithstanding.

News: Brazilian teenager Neymar has a $72-million buyout clause in his contract with Santos, but Real Madrid and Barcelona have agreed to pay it. Real Madrid wants him now. Barcelona is willing to wait until January and allow the 19-year-old to play for South American champion Santos in the FIFA Club World Cup in December.

Reaction: Barcelona surely doesn't need Neymar. It sounds more like an effort to thwart Real Madrid or to make Real cough up even more cash for the player.

News: Colombian striker Radamel Falcao looks almost certain to leave Porto and follow former Porto coach Andre Villas-Boas to Chelsea in a multimillion-dollar move.

Reaction: So, which big-name forward is going to sit on the Blues' bench or be traded, Fernando Torres, Didier Drogba or Nicolas Anelka?

News: Argentine fans are furious over the team's starting its Copa America campaign with uninspired ties against Bolivia and Colombia and booed Lionel Messi and Co. off the field after their latest drab outing.

Reaction: Italy won the World Cup in 1982 after starting out with three ties. Don't rule Messi's team out just yet.

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