"Deking" to be Penalized at the World Cup

The International Football Association Board, the organization responsible for setting the rules ahead of the World Cup, announced that "feinting" right before kicking the ball during a penalty is "unsportsmen like behavior" and worthy of a yellow card.

Jerome Valcke, a spokesperson for Fifa, said during a recent press conference on the rules set for the World Cup, "Feinting in the run-up to take a penalty kick to confuse opponents is permitted... However, feinting to kick the ball once the player has completed his run-up is now considered an infringement." What this essentially means is if a penalty-taker, for example Cristiano Ronaldo (a common user of the "feint"), scores on a penalty when using a "deke" after the run up but before kicking the ball, the penalty will be retaken and the penalty-taker will then be cautioned.

Players apply the "deke" or "feint" at the end of the run up during a penalty to try and fool the goal-keeper to reveal the direction of their dive, allowing the penalty-taker to calmly slot the ball into the opposite side of the goal.


ESPN's Top 50 Players of the World Cup

The idea of evaluating the top 50 players of the World Cup is a good idea... if it's done right. Unfortunately, it was done wrong. ESPN released earlier this week a list of the top 50 players of the World Cup according to a "panel of 23 contributors". I don't know who ESPN got as their "panel of 23 contributors", but clearly ESPN needs to do a better job of hiring "soccer analysts". Coming from a Soccernet reader, it was embarrassing to read this list but I fought through the pain. I honestly have no idea where to begin but I'll make an attempt at cleaning up this so called "list" and again prove why I should be an ESPN soccer analyst.

Maybe it's when I glanced at #50 on the list and saw Landon Donovan slotted in there. Really? I understand ESPN's attempt to intrigue the uneducated American in football, but believe it or not there are some of us out there that actually know football. No one's denying he has been in form for Everton since making his switch, but he isn't even the best American on Everton, let alone the entire Premier League! How Landon is ahead of Tim Howard or Clint Dempsey I don't know. Where's your loyalty ESPN? Because Dempsey has been injured and hasn't been playing for a month or so you forgot about him? He's been nothing but excellent for Fulham for 4+ years. He's made more than 100 appearances for the Cottagers and he'll be back before this summer. Simply put, you owe the kid an apology.

And what about Alexander Frei of Switzerland? He's proven himself in Germany's top flight with Borussia Dortmund the past three years (scoring 31 goals in 3 seasons), he's Switzerland's all time goal scorer with 40 goals (not to mention his 73 caps), he's already scored 13 goals in just 17 games for club FC Basel this year in the Swiss league, and Switzerland have a realistic chance of finishing 2nd in their group that feature favorites Spain and underdogs Chile and Honduras. He belongs on the list, probably some where in the early forties, but not to be on the list period is a little shocking.

The Netherlands, personally favored to make an exciting run in South Africa, only have three players on the list total. Dirk Kuyt, Rafael Van Der Vaart, Mark Van Bommel, Andre Ooijer, and Giovanni Van Bronckhorst are just a few of the world class Dutch players left off the list. Also, I just don't understand how Rafael Marquez, a world class defender who plays for FC Barcelona and Mexico, did not even make the list.

I wonder if the "panel of 23" have been following football recently seeing as they forgot to mention Rio Ferdinand, now captain of England. The fact that I don't even have to tell you who Rio is and why he belongs on the list tells you how inaccurate ESPN is.
And as much as I wish Stevie Gerrard is the 9th best player playing in the World Cup, the truth is he's not. He belongs in the 10-15 range, but for sure not the top ten.

Anyone you think they forgot or miss ranked?


Liverpool to Sell Naming Rights of New Stadium

With the fresh news that Fernando Torres might leave Anfield in the summer transfer window, it is no surprise that Liverpool Football Club are now looking for a sponsor for their proposed new stadium at Stanley Park. It is no secret that the big clubs are cash-strapped heading into 2010, and Liverpool will look to capitalize on their record breaking home support by fishing around the market for a top buyer.

Naming rights for stadiums has been a controversial topic in England and the rest of Europe, culminating with the demolition of Arsenal's beloved ground, Highbury, in May 2006. Fly Emirates splashed out a record 100 million pounds over 15 years for the naming rights at Arsenal's new stadium, now simply dubbed The Emirates, and Liverpool FC are looking to take advantage of the relatively new opportunity.

Ian Ayre, a spokesman for Liverpool, revealed earlier this week that sponsoring the naming rights at Stanley Park is a very realistic possibility. "Naming rights is now an accepted part of building any new footballing venue in the world. And as one of only a few global football brands, it would be crazy of us not to tap into that opportunity."

With that said, there has been strong opposition to proposed stadium namings in the past. Manchester United was believed to have considered renaming Old Trafford, their home since 1910, but instead opted to expand the stadium to a record seating 76,000 seats. With sell out crowds a near regular occurrence at the Theatre of Dreams, the decision wasn't so tough financially compared to other smaller clubs. Bolton Wanderers, currently sitting in relegation zone in the Premier League, plays its home games at Reebok Stadium, a 25,000 modern all-seater built in '97.

Liverpool will no doubt get more than the 25 million pounds Reebok paid Bolton for naming rights, but in a country where history and elegance is everything, Scousers world wide will feel let down by their club if their new stadium is named Gillette Stadium.