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9 July 2010 ~
Sepp Blatter has been a regular presence at matches in South Africa but he must have missed last season's FA Cup semi-final between Aston Villa and Chelsea. In that game, World Cup final referee Howard Webb made some highly contentious decisions, notably in failing to give a clear penalty to Villa and later in not sending off John Terry for a knee-high "tackle" on James Milner. It may simply be that Howard didn't want to ruin the big occasion. If that outlook prevails on Sunday expect to hear of him heading for the airport in an unmarked van.
Badge of the week ~ Slavia Mozyr
Many badges feature animals and mythical creatures but these are usually pictured in the rampant position – a lion brandishing a sword, a dragon punching the air, or a griffin threatening a unicorn. Slavia Mozyr, on the other hand, have a bird flying into a window. This image is precisely what anyone inside would see at the moment of impact, just before the bird dropped lifelessly onto the patio. Many people see birds flying into windows as an omen, the most common of which is that danger or death is foretold to the homeowner. These are the same people that spend £25 attending a night of cold reading from a professional psychic, ultimately rewarded by the information that Uncle Alan or Adam is all right and is no longer poorly in Heaven. This bird has simply caught the reflections of the outside world in the window and gone speeding into what he considered was an extra bit of garden. It's nice for a football team to recognise this phenomenon but there is really nothing we can do about it short of filling in our windows or educating birds in the wild. Perhaps the accompanying motto is Russian for "Speed Kills". Cameron Carter
from Colin Smith
"The following is an extract from the official Premier League website under the heading Roles and Objectives: 'Use our resources to develop player talent that will provide for international success with the England team at all levels – with the status of World Champions being the realistic goal.' Following our pitiful attempts to attain that 'realistic goal' isn't it time to accept that after 18 years the Premier League experiment has been an expensive failure and should be scrapped?"
from Duncan Nisbet
"His team 2-0 down to Mexico and the game one minute into injury time, a Frenchman sits slumped with his head in his hands, a portrait of despair for the producer seeking out a good portrait-of-despair shot. The man raises his head slowly, sees himself on the big screen and his face is immediately lit up by a goofy smile as he pummels on his mate's arm to alert him to the fact. What overpowering impulse is it that takes a chap from the Slough of Despond straight to Foam Party in three seconds, from Nation's Shame to Hello Mum? Will he remember this tournament for France scoring just one goal, collecting just one point and dissolving as a squad in front of the world, or for the thrilling five seconds he was on television? Anyone who waves at the screen should be ejected from the ground."
Getting shirty Notable kits of yesteryear
Argentina home, 1978-80
In 1978, Argentina won their first World Cup – 48 years after their appearance in the first ever final – wearing Adidas shirts, but the association didn't last long. The very next incarnation of the albiceleste (sky blue and white) shirt begun the association with Le Coq Sportif which was to later bring the French manufacturers their only World Cup-winning jersey with the shirt they gave Diego Maradona's team in 1986.
This is that first post-Argentina 78 shirt, complete with the legend Campeón del Mundo embroidered over the pleasingly enlarged AFA badge. Le Coq's association with Argentina wasn't to last much longer than the one-man victory at Mexico 86, with Adidas returning as the selección's supplier by 1988. There have been Reebok shirts since, but the last decade has been one of uninterrupted involvement for the German manufacturer, who finally gave up trying to better a classic look and, for the 2010 World Cup, went for a design clearly influenced by the lovely Le Coq Sportif design for 1986, felt-bordered badge and all. Sam Kelly
Buy this shirt and hundreds of others at Classic Football Shirts
The competition isn't stiff but Clarence Seedorf has nonetheless been the BBC's best World Cup pundit. They could have invited his younger brother Chedric too, given that he has a lot of time on his hands. He's been with clubs in five countries since 2001 but has made only six first-team appearances. Bet he's a demon at pool.
from Dave Winter
"Have any of your readers seen a more bizarre sight than this during the World Cup? Prior to the Argentina v Germany quarter-final, on the pitch at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town, I watched a charity match that featured a centre-half pairing of Chris Kamara and Jacob Zuma. I'm not sure who was the slower of the two, but either could have given Jamie Carragher a run for his money."
from Peter Hicks
"Amid all the hype about the introduction of video technology to establish if a goal has been scored or not, Sepp Blatter appears reluctant to approve any system that would be costly for some of the poorer federations around the world. Very noble and considerate of him and it's no wonder they all want to vote him in for another term of office.
However, wouldn't it be a whole lot simpler and cheaper to build a slope about a foot behind the goal-line so that any ball that bounces onto it will be deflected into the back of the net? The boffins at Loughborough will be able to establish the distance and gradient required so that even Lamps' severely-spinning shot would be diverted away from hitting the crossbar on its way out. We used to have one at Plainmoor back in the 1970s although my misty memory can only remember the opposition benefiting from it.
Alternatively, fast-forward a few years and watch as the fourth official disallows a borderline goal after studying the video/digital replay only for both managers plus most of the MOTD experts to all agree it had crossed the line. The call will then go out for... actually I don't know what."
Stickipedia A mine of information constructed from sticker cards
Bert van Marwijk, Go Ahead Eagles Voetbal Sterren 1973-74
Holland's coach started his playing career at his home town club as the quintessential gifted but headstrong winger with a playboy reputation. The photographer has caught him in a thoughtful mood, deciding whether to wear the purple loon pants or the crimson ones for a Mott the Hoople concert. Van Marwijk won his one cap aged 23 in an experimental Dutch team featuring four debutants that was beaten 3-0 in Yugoslavia in May 1975. A knee injury hampered his progress after that although he picked up a Cup winners' medal with AZ Alkmaar in 1978.
That summer, however, Van Marwijk moved to the modest Maastricht with whom he played out most of his career. After coaching several amateur teams, he took Fortuna Sittard to a Cup final and subsequently won the UEFA Cup, and another Dutch Cup, in two spells with Feyenoord. Unlike his players, Van Marwijk has already had experience of landing a world title. In the same year that he got his one international cap, he teamed up with his father to win a pairs title at klaverjas, a card game that is popular in Holland and widely played around Europe.
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