Messi fined for wishing mother “Happy Birthday”

By | January 25th, 2011 | 2 Comments

The Spanish Football Federation fined Lionel Messi between 2000 and 3000 euros for revealing a t-shirt during a goal celebration that wished his mother a happy birthday. The referee did not issue the world player of the year a yellow card, but noted this “crime” in his match report.

In today’s Disneyball, communicating anything other than an officially sanctioned marketing message or corporate sales pitch is not tolerated. Shame on Spain — reigning world champions — for punishing freedom of speech and insulting our core humanity.


Filed under: Players

South Africa “forgets” to vote for FIFA awards

By | January 11th, 2011 | 3 Comments

Mzansi Football and report that the captains and coaches of South Africa’s men’s and women’s national teams failed to cast their vote for FIFA’s Golden Ball as the World’s Player of the Year awards are now known. According to the governing body, the 2010 World Cup hosts were one of just a handful of countries (out of 208) that did not vote. The awards went to Lionel Messi for the second year in a row and Marta for the fifth (?!) year in a row.

“It is the latest botch up by SAFA since the World Cup and makes a mockery of claims the association’s new leadership would bring a new efficiency to the running of the game,” writes “They failed to enter the country’s teams in the All-Africa Games qualifiers and had to scramble to the Confederation of African Football in Cairo to get a backdoor entry when Namibia withdrew.” Read the full, thoroughly embarrassing details here.

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Filed under: Hosting

World Cup All-Stars 1.0

By | June 29th, 2010 | 16 Comments

With two days off before the quarterfinals, it’s an opportune time to take stock of the top performers of South Africa 2010 so far. The team lines up in the widely used 4-3-2-1 ‘Christmas tree’ formation with no more than two players from one nation. Here are my picks:

Julio Cesar
Salcido, Mertesacker, Pique, Maicon
Kuyt, Mascherano, Oezil
Villa, Messi

Honorable mention: Sneijder, Forlan, and Gyan

The Church of Leo Messi is Open!

By | April 6th, 2010 | 5 Comments


There is a Church of Maradona in Argentina with 120,000 members, but rumor has it that the Church of Leo Messi has opened its doors and its membership may soon reach into the millions. I’ve lost track of how many hat tricks, foot tricks, long-distance surface-to-air missiles, slaloms, chips, far-post benders, headers and assists Barcelona’s King of Football has given us. Pure joy.

There is hope that the hyper-fit, inverted pyramid, cynical and suffocating football so dominant in recent times will not completely silence the magical qualities of the beautiful game.

Yes, I have had a soft spot for Barca ever since my brother took me to see Sandro Ciotti’s Il Profeta del Gol — a film about Cruyff with jaw-dropping goals from his azulgrana days — but what Messi is giving us transcends football loyalties. Simply put, Messi is why I love football. Venite adoremus . . .


Filed under: Players

The Goal of the Century?

By | March 22nd, 2010 | 5 Comments

Is Lionel Messi’s second goal (above) of his hat-trick against Real Zaragoza in Spain’s La Liga an early contender for Goal of the Century?

The goal will have to compete with one he scored another Spanish club, Getafe, last year:

‘The 100 Best Players in the World’

By | October 25th, 2009 | 69 Comments


British football magazine FourFourTwo, just published (in the November issue) the list of the “100 Best Players in the World.” The choices are based on the input of the magazine’s journalists. Of course it will lead to all kinds of debate as “lists” are always subjective and don’t mean anything beyond getting fans talking. Generally I agree with the list. If you haven’t seen the list, here’s the top ten (I’ve listed them by country, since that’s an affiliation that does not change):