Wednesday, May 27, 2015

FIFA Officials Being Arrested on Corruption

Currently in Zurich, Switzerland, a number of FIFA officials are being arrested and extradited to the US on corruption charges. Sadly though, Sepp Blatter is not one of those. My only question is what took so long? The arrests happened as FIFA officials were attending a meeting at headquarters. Swiss law enforcement, not in uniform, went to hotel rooms to arrest each of them. It goes to show just how corrupt FIFA is that the neutral Swiss are going out of their way to arrest them and send them to the US.

The charges are money laundering, racketeering, and wire fraud. As everyone know, a bribery scandal recently rocked FIFA, with Qatar paying millions of dollars and giving gifts for votes. Its also likely Russia did the same for the 2018 World Cup. One law enforcement official said, "We’re struck by just how long this went on for and how it touched nearly every part of what FIFA did." This article in the New York Times has loads of details.

It's still highly doubtful that the 2022 World Cup will be moved from Qatar, despite the hundreds of deaths of migrant workers. Recently, workers from Nepal were not allowed to go back to check on family or attend funerals, despite the thousands who tragically died in the Nepal Earthquake. Stay classy, Qatar. The 2022 Cup was also moved to November/December because of the extreme heat during the Summer, even though it will interfere with the club soccer calendar.

It is also highly doubtful that Sepp Blatter won't win re-election as head of FIFA. The election is Friday May 30th. Though one can only hope after this investigation that Blatter will have his day in court.

I would personally love to see the Men in Blazers run FIFA, right from their closet in the crap part of SoHo.

Friday, May 8, 2015

2015 FIFA Women's World Cup: Group Games To Watch

The Simpsons Have Women's World Cup Fever
The 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup from Canada is fast approaching with a June 6th start. The Simpsons have caught Women's World Cup fever, and you should too by now! They've upped the number of teams from 16 to 24, which makes for even more soccer/football for us to enjoy. Here are some games that you should be most excited about.

USA vs. Sweden - Clash of the Titans in Group D. The United States and Sweden have both been powers in the Women's game since the 1980s.  Sweden defeated the US in the 2011 Women's World Cup group stage and finished on top, but the US made it to the final. Pia Sundhage, who coached the USWNT from 2007-2012, is now coach of Sweden. She knows the strengths & weaknesses of various players on the US team. This is also a game that should decide who tops the group, though Nigeria & Australia are capable of upsets.

England vs. France - Rivals no matter what, these countries always produce a fun game whether its men or women. In 2011, France defeated England on Penalty Kicks in the Quarterfinals, which is the most English way to lose a big game. These are the top two teams in Group F, and both teams will want to make a statement. England want to be taken seriously, and France want to show they can make it to a final after years of knocking on the door.

Brazil vs. Spain - A team known for being carried by the phenomenal Marta, Brazil seems to come together for the big tournaments. Spain are making their Women's World Cup debut, and might be the most powerful of the debuting teams. Vero Boquete is one to watch in this tournament, with fancy footwork that will wow anyone and rival that of Marta.

Canada vs. China - China aren't what they were in the 1990's and early 2000's, and both the Netherlands and New Zealand might pose a bigger threat in Group A. However, this is the opening match which will feature plenty of rabid Canadian fans, so it'll be interesting to see how Canada handles the pressure on the biggest stage at home. China are young and don't have much experience outside of one remaining veteran from 1999 (Captain Pu Wei) when they lost to the USA in the final.

Japan vs Switzerland - Defending champs Japan were drawn into possibly the easiest group in the World Cup. Switzerland make their debut, but could give Japan a bit of a scare in the opening match. Homare Sawa made the roster for Japan, appearing in her 6th World Cup and passing the likes of Kristine Lilly (5), which is a record for any man or woman. She'll be the only remaining player who appeared in the 1995 Women's World Cup. Lara Dickenmann of Switzerland is one of the best in the world and should give some fits to Japan.

USA vs Australia - This is the opening match for the United States and should set the tone of their play. They'll want a strong showing right out of the gate, but Australia are completely capable of hanging with them. However, Australia will need to be on top of their game to have a chance to pull off the upset. We'll see what formation the US uses, and how they use veteran Abby Wambach. The rotation of Morgan, Press, Leroux, Rodriguez and Wambach in the attack could keep them fresh.

Germany vs. Norway - Germany are ranked #1 in the world right now, and Norway will want to show that they can return to being one of the top teams as they once were. It'll be interesting to see how they handle a powerhouse like Germany. After being knocked out by Japan in the Quarterfinals at home in 2011, Germany will most likely be firing on all cylinders in the Group Stage.