Saturday, December 6, 2008

Help Heal El Nino!

Remember when Goldenballs broke his foot in the run-up to the 2002 World Cup, putting the word 'metatarsal' on the lips of a previously ignorant public?

Remember how a certain UK tabloid (who shall remain unnamed) printed a picture of his foot and asked Ingerlund fans to use it as a prayer mat to help heal Becks?

Remember how he actually healed and was fit enough to play a role in Ingerlund's inevitable under-performance?

Well, now has come the time to use those potential healing powers for actual Good.

Regardless of your club affiliation, methinks we can all agree on the sublime pedigree of one Fernando José Torres Sanz. Unfortunately, El Nino's talents haven't been on display as much as they should this season. While suffering through a series of (the same) hamstring injuries which have dampened his second season at Anfield, word has it that the brain trust at Liverpool (this obviously rules out G & H) have figured out the problem and hope to put an end to #9's niggling injury. (I personally blame the Spanish National Team. Racists.)

With Liverpool sitting top of the table, the busy Christmas program is approaching and the Reds surely needs El Fantastico (El Nino + Captain Fantastic) operating at peak efficiency in order to keep up its title push. So, I ask you, the UF Readers, to use a picture of El Nino (complete with hamstring clutch) to pray with/on in hopes of getting the phenom back on the pitch.

Now, I understand many of you aren't Liverpool fans. You may not necessarily care about their title aspirations or about Torres' health. But, maybe you hate Chelsea or United? Maybe you don't want to see them win another title this season? Or maybe you just fancy Fernando's flowing blonde locks?

Whatever the reason, I ask you to take a few minutes to say a little prayer to the Footie Gods in hopes of getting my Man Crush back in action.

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EPL Open Thread: It's Big 4 incompetence day!

Saturday, Sunday, happy days, win some trophies, happy days, become crap gaffers, happy days
happy days, oh what a day, losing all week for yoooooou

Well well, we're up late again, although the thought of being on the end of a Vinnie Jones Glasgow Kiss (see below for that gem) would keep me up all night. I'd be petrified!

We decided to skip the early game (we all know it'll end in a draw anyway) and begin our open thread journey at the beginning: 10am. The slate today promises action from all the Big 4, and the tension is killing me: I cannot wait to see who screws up today! Will it be Rafa? Will Scolari's men fail to crack the resurgent Stupid F*cking Bolton? Will Fergie see another precocious player red-carded and spend the next 7 days in media spin heaven? Will Arsenal drop more points at home?

(All signs point to that last one, btw)

Oh, and don't forget to pour one out yet again for Roy Keane. Poor lad. Ince thinks it's a conspiracy because they were good when they were players. I say they're just crap managers. What do you lot think?

So join us after the jump for the fixture list and some comments. Keep 'em clean (unless they're about Phil or Gary Neville; I f*cking hate those two.)

10am kick-offs:
Arsenal v Wigan
Blackburn v Liverpool
Bolton v Chelsea
Hull v Middlesbrough
Newcastle v Stoke

12.30pm kick-off:
Man Utd v Sunderland

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Surprisingly, Vinnie Jones Became Violent

This guy became violent? Inconceivable!

Folks, you won't believe this but Vinnie Jones, former footballing hardman and current tough-guy actor, has been arrested for some violent behavior. Apparently, he was involved in a bar brawl in South Dakota (WTF?) and was arrested for misdemeanor assault.

The arrest was first reported by E! Online Entertainment, who seem to have been watching some footy last weekend:

"Maybe Vinnie Jones mistook his surroundings for a Chelsea-Arsenal match."

I would have been more impressed if they had made a Wimbledon reference. I mean, Chelsea? He only played for the club for one season!

So it turns out that Vinnie was at Wiley's, a popular Sioux Falls bar, when he decided that he would like to partake in a game of pool with some of the locals. When one of the latter reportedly identified Vinnie as "Juggernaut" from the X-Men films, this didn't sit well with the thespian who prefers to be known for his other roles. This caused a donnybrook, in which some enterprising youngster hit Vinnie in the face with a beer glass. I imagine the scene looked something like this:

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Friday, December 5, 2008

UF Quick Throw: Evra gets his ban from the FA

The FA's banned Patrice Evra for 4 games and fined him $30,000 for that groundskeeper scuffle at Stamford Bridge back in April. Burning question here: why on earth did it take this long?

[Sky Sports]

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The Weekend Ahead: Managerless Mackems

He's forever blowing Bubbles... and home games

It's probably time to get into the prognostication game, right? We've only missed over a 1/3 of the season, so hopefully our stats won't compare badly to the likes of Cardillo as we get started.

The big question on my mind at the moment: is there anyone in the EPL that actually wants to win the damn thing? It seems like over the last 6 weeks, all the contenders have shown their strengths and flaws in beating each other up, gaining vital away points and then drawing at home to teams who should be skidmarks by this point. Just when someone dares nose ahead, they underachieve and drop back into the muddle.

Looking at November tells it all, really.

Manchester United: Snuck past Hull 4-3, lost at Arsenal, thrashed Stoke, were lucky for a point at Villa Park, scrape a win over their Manchester rivals.

Chelsea: Dismantle Sunderland, Blackburn (Ince is next for the door, obvs) and WBA, only to draw at home to Newcastle and then lose at home to Arsenal.

Liverpool: Lose to Spurs and end unbeaten start to the season, dominate WBA and Bolton, then two consecutive goalless draws at home to Fulham and West Ham.

Arsenal: Lose at Stoke, beat Man U at home, lose to Villa at home, get murdered by Man City, beat Chelsea.

It's the most perplexing thing at this point since trying to locate Carmen Sandiego. Can you remember a season that was this, ahem, evenly-matched in December? Everyone's fallible, all teams are human (and are capable of great error), anything is possible.

Which is making this decision to finally start predicting scorelines seem even more foolhardy. Ah well, hopefully I'll be better at this than Roy Keane was at figuring out which Spurs players to purchase.

Come Teemu Tainio with me after the jump.

Fulham v. Manchester City
Oh good, a difficult one right off the bat. Do you go with the wonderful Bullard, or the tandem of Robinho and Ireland who seem to shit the bed on the road? That's like deciding between Hall and Oates as to which one you liked better. Fulham 1, Manchester City 2

Arsenal v. Wigan
Is the Gallas situation over and done with yet, or is he the walking, talking epitome of a player who only sings when he's winning? I predict a draw, and then further French self-immolation in the media all week. Arsenal 1, Wigan 1

Blackburn v. Liverpool
If ever there was a team you'd want to face when trying to score your first league goal in over two weeks, this would be it. Ince is clinging to his job by a thread, and this defeat will likely finish him off. Ugly Dutchman will find his boots again, and just in time too. All I want for Christmas this year is a healthy Torres. Blackburn 0, Liverpool 3

Bolton v. Chelsea
This is tougher than you'd think. Stupid F*cking Bolton won 4 of their 5 November games, but Luis Felipe Hackman is still seething from last week's Stamford Bridge shaming at the boots of Robin van Injured. It'll be harder than Frank Lampard would like, but the Blues should right the ship a little here. Bolton 0, Chelsea 1

Hull v. Middlesbrough
The first of this weekend's "who gives a fuck?" fixtures. Hull haven't won in 6, 'Boro are an enigma, and this game will be intolerably boring. Hull 2, 'Boro 2

Newcastle v. Stoke
They're not out of the shit just yet, but Joe Kinnear has his side playing with confidence, something that Allardyce seemed to beat out of them like it was a bad thing. The Potters on the road are dire (2 points from 18), so that trend should continue tomorrow. Newcastle 2, Stoke 0

Manchester United v. Sunderland
If I were a gambling man, I'd bet the house on this one. Fuck, I'd bet the car, the children, the flat-screen TV and the Cuisinart blender you got for Christmas last year but have yet to use. Still, it looks nice gathering dust on the kitchen counter. Who said domestication was easy? Man United 4, Sunderland 1

West Bromwich Albion v. Portsmouth (Sunday)
WBA are playing good football, and Pompey are not. It's that simple. Tony Adams is not the second coming of Jose Mourinho. He's not even the second coming of Kevin Keegan. All the losing they've been doing lately, in the league and in Europe, is going to take its toll on that thin squad. Gamble on this one! WBA 1, Portsmouth 0

Everton v. Aston Villa
Villa may have just lost to Vilnius in Europe (ha!), but they did it the Wenger Way, kiddies to the slaughter. The league is an entirely different beast, one with claws and an inability to feel pain. This is their chance to grab hold of 4th place and never look back, although Moyes' tactics will surely aim to choke all life and excitement out of the game. Still, O'Neill's ready. Everton 1, Aston Villa 2

West Ham v. Tottenham
Draw draw draw draw draw Redknapp draw Zola draw draw draw Bent is falling back to earth draw draw draw Gomes mistake draw draw draw draw. Draw. West Ham 1, Tottenham 1

So there you have it. A week in the EPL. If you lose money on these, it's not my fault. Do what everyone in soccer does: Blame Sepp Blatter.

But back to Roy Keane for a quick minute: we knew him as the most volatile player ever to marshal a midfield, right? So why did he slink off so meekly from the Stadium of Light? Thoughts in the comments, please. And give us your predictions too. If you're that much better than us, shit, maybe we should swap positions.

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I Smell A Sit-Com Premise

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"Hey Tom, want to come over for dinner?"

"Sure George. We can reminisce about the time I made you millions when I bought your baseball team at a premium after you raked taxpayers to build you a new stadium."

"Great, when you're done, I can tell you stories about how I broke the entire fucking world. Yeah, the world. I fucked the whole thing up. Pretty awesome when you think about it."

Okay, that's an artists rendering of the conversation with a bit of artistic license, but it might not be too far off as Tom Hicks, the über-popular (and possibly soon-to-be former) owner of Liverpool F.C. (as well as the Dallas Stars and Texas Rangers) is getting a new neighbor. It's the über-popular and certainly soon-to-be former President of the United States.

According to the Smoking Gun, W. bought new $2.07 million digs in Dallas.

While the Bush [1.13 acre] property certainly appears comfortable, it is dwarfed by the 20-acre estate it abuts. That sprawling property (seen here) is owned by billionaire investor Tom Hicks, who, in 1998, purchased the Texas Rangers from a partnership in which Bush held a stake (the deal netted the future president about $15 million). Hicks, 62, was a leading supporter of Rudolph Giuliani's presidential bid and hosted a fundraiser last year at his home--reportedly the largest in Dallas--for the former New York City mayor.

The linked pics show each house, the Google pic has them both in one view so you can get the full scope of how much more Hicks is compensating for his anatomical inadequacies. That's Hicks under the center mark in the middle with W slightly upper left of that.

Anyway, they're clearly not building and burning down love in this hood. But if you grab the street names (the Google tells me "Daria Pl.") you're probably still going to need the Flowers By Irene van if you want to avoid the guys in the black Continentals trailing you as you wind around the cul-de-sac.

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Soccer 1, Graphic Design 0

It was touched on in the inaugural Own Goals post, but if you missed it, here it is again: behold the logo for the 2009 UEFA Cup Final!

Wolfsburg vs. Udinese never looked so exotic.

I get the connections to the Ottoman Empire, and of course the Byzantines, and the entire visual image (as modeled by Roberto Carlos below) very much reflects the geography of Istanbul. It's the latest move by UEFA to give its Little Cup its own identity over the last few years, as they've tried to create a logo and style for each final since about 2003.

This one falls short of the mark once again, as noted by UF staff:

Precious Roy: Apparently the entire graphic design industry of Istanbul is still tethered to the Commodore 64.

Spectator: ROFL. I've seen better design at Foxwoods Casino!

Of course, they're not all this flashy.

Manchester's final took a painting approach as opposed to the precise-ness of CAD and Photoshop. The finished product is as messy as the metropolis itself, and I was disappointed that the Gallaghers weren't depicted, preferably hanging from one of the stadium's external beams.

For 2007, the bulk of their design budget was clearly spent on cans of Tennent's Super, because the final design looks rather last-minute? "Oh shit lad, we've got our deadline in 3 hours! Slap the regular logo on the left and we'll fudge together some Celtic-looking typeface with dots and lines everywhere. Brilliant! Now back to this videotape of Archie Gemmill..."

The only other one I could find was from 2002, and it shows. A giant, out-of-proportion ball half-floats in amazingly clear water (if you've been to Holland and particularly to Rotterdam, you know their North Sea run-off isn't nearly so spotless and clean) underneath a bridge made of gold. As generic as it gets, unless the final is being played somewhere that's landlocked.

Anyone have any other shocking logos to share? The ACN and the World Cup have had some pretty dreadful ones. Really though, the 2002 UEFA Cup Final must be considered the current bottom of the barrel.

Read more on "Soccer 1, Graphic Design 0"...

Christmas Ideas

Need gift ideas for the special lady (or guy in some cases) in your life this Christmas season?

UF has you covered, well, not covered because you have to buy it yourself.

German accessory manufacturer Abteil has designed a soccer fashion handbag. Just wait until Cheryl Cole has one her arm but only after your special someone has the purse. It will make her (him?) forever grateful.

But, it is kinda steep for a purse made out of an old soccer ball with some plastic handles. It appears to be retailing for about $160. Not too mention, they probably paid some Indonesian child $0.75 to make the bag.

Read more on "Christmas Ideas"...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thursday Backpasses: Nose Rags

French Yobs. I think they should be "Noçrags" [Daily Mail]
Arsene says no more young'uns in the FA Cup [Guardian]
Cheating Ukranian [101 Great Goals]
Torres is never coming back (at least for a month or so) [BBC]

LB thought it would be nice to let us know a League Two player is retiring [BBC]
League One players have some fun in the shower [Mirror]
Dinamo Zagreb fans are assholes [101 Great Goals]
HS girls teams accuse each other of racist taunts. The AD's quote is priceless [WHEC]

And, finally:
A two part look from Inside Minnesota Soccer at the state of USL [part 1] [part 2]

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Riquelme a criminal?

Our tour of South American soccer madness continues this week, this time from perhaps the most famous player/club/stadium on the whole continent. Boca Juniors midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme, after scoring the winning goal against Racing Club, then called out a heckler in the stands. Apparently the result was brawl in the stands involving said fan after Riquelme called him out, and now the district attorney wants to charge the Boca player with inciting violence.

So far this story has been picked up mostly by spanish language media (see here, for example) but Hasta el Gol Siempre has a good recap in english:

After rifling in what proved to be the winning goal, Riquelme ran to the executive boxes and pointedly singled out one fan, who had earlier been insulting the playmaker for reasons best known to himself (but which, at a guess, may have something to do with his form for club and country earlier in the year). There were scuffles in the stands around the fan and Zapata wants to see Riquelme brought up for ‘inciting disorder at a sporting event’.

Riquelme had claimed after the match that the young man - who on Monday appeared on national TV giving his version of events - had been insulting the team throughout the match and looked very nervous after the player had celebrated his second goal. Quite how Riquelme heard this one supporter’s shouting above the Bombonera crowd, he didn’t explain. He did explain what he’d said, though: ‘I only pointed out to him that now, he was celebrating the goal.’

Luis Cevasco, the attorney for the barrio of La Boca, had earlier explained to news channel TN that the investigation had begun after remarks from the officials who’d had to escort the fan from the stand when other supporters expressed their displeasure at him following Riquelme’s second half goal. Riquelme could be tried over contravention of articles 99 and 101 of the Código Contravencional. The possible punishments are a AR$600 to AR$2,000 fine or 10 days’ jail time for the first, and a AR$200 to AR$1,000 fine or five days behind bars for the second
I'm not sure what the problem is here, really. Seems to me this sort of thing happens every other week with Didier Drogba, but I guess he's lucky he doesn't play in Buenos Aires. And its not like the various supporters groups in Argentina don't, you know, murder each other with regularity. Riquelme talking shit to a heckler seems pretty innocuous in comparison.

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Keane Is Leaving

Nope, sorry Liverpool fans, as the above picture suggests, it is not Robbie Keane that has picked up his ineffective arse and skipped town. He's still at Anfield, enjoying Siesta with his injury-prone strike partner. Instead, it is the king prawn himself, Roy Keane, who stepped down as manager of Sunderland. He resigned today after 2+ seasons with the Black Cats. A perfunctory review of his tenure after the jump.

Plenty of time for these now...

May, 2006-- Sunderland are relegated from the Premier League after finishing with 15 points on 3 wins, a record for futilily at the time, and only surpassed by the '07-'08 Derby County squad (1 win, 8 draws.)

May, 2006-- Midfielder Roy Keane retires from professional football after spending final season at Celtic.

August, 2006-- Sunderland name Keane manager, replacing Chairman Niall Quinn, who had acted as caretaker after firing Mick McCarthy in March.

August, 2006 - May, 2007-- Keane's Sunderland earn promotion back into the Prem with their second League Championship title (88 points on 27 wins.)

August, 2007-- Keane signs keeper Craig Gordon for 9-million pounds, making him club's most expensive player ever. Sunderland open the season with a 1-0 win at home against Tottenham, who couldn't defend set pieces then, and still two managers later, have done nothing to improve in this respect.

May, 2008-- Sunderland finish season in 15th place on 39 points, 3 clear of the relegation zone.

Summer, 2008-- Keane spends big to upgrade club, bringing in three from Spurs (Chimbonda, Malbranque, Tainio), Anton Ferdinand, Djibril Cisse, and a bunch of other crappy to average players.

December 4, 2008-- The Sunderland board "reluctantly" accepts Keane's resignation after the club wins only 4 of first Premier League 15 games. They sit in 18th place, with Keane's old buddies at Man U. on tap this Saturday. The Irishmen skips town before the inevitable mollywhopping.

Roy Keane managed 100 games at Sunderland.

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Own Goals: New Feature Inaugural Edition

Holy shit, it's a new feature. Take a moment. Let the awesomeness wash over you.

Anyway, now let me bring it down a bit as this was such a pain in the rear that it will likely be pretty infrequent. But we love our readers so much that we thought we'd pull back the veil and let you know what happens in the secrecy that is the Unprofession Foul listserv. Basically for every post we put up, we send about 20 emails to each other. It's pretty sad when you think about how much more productive we could be.

Anyway, on a normal day, the group distribution list has about 60 emails in it, give or take. Unfortunately, this idea was hatched yesterday, when we went to about 280 collective messages. Yeah, I don't expect you to read those, especially considering after about 100 it became a very special episode of Blossom.

Really, there was sadness and joy in UF yesterday and some of it was personal. Then it degenerated back into an argument over Sean Avery and dirty play. What you after the jump is a largely unedited version of everything that preceded the Oprah-to-NHL talk. Sorry we're not doctors because, on a daily basis, this is all time we could put toward curing cancer. Instead we talk bullshit about football. We hope the Gods don't punish us for taking time so trivially. Enjoy.

The Fan’s Attic: Agger asks for double the pay. (

Spectator: Liverpool in hot water over show of support for jailed supporter (

Just to wrap up the Arsenal chat, again, I agree 100% with Precious Roy. Only thing I'll add is that, as much as I support Arsenal, I'm kind of happy that a Championship minnow has knocked off two of the big four. After all, Obama taught us that change is good!

ü75: Player killed by opposing team after game (

Lingering Bursitis: Burnley: Carling Cup :: Barnsley : FA Cup. Now that's math we can believe in

Spectator: Yup, I got them mixed up! Oh well, it's been a long day, etc.

Spectator: Oh wait, no I didn't. Sorry, I'm in a fugue here.

ü75: Shunsuke Nakamura will not be moving back to Japan in January because

Lingering Bursitis: Ü75, I have to give you +1,000,000 for the obscure Dreamcast/Leonard Nimoy video game reference in today's backpasses. Simply brilliant.

ü75: Thanks. I had forgotten about the game until I did the image search. Too creepy.

Lingering Bursitis: One of my housemates brought his Dreamcast to the apartment back in January, excited to dust off Seaman and begin playing all over again. He had the microphone attachment for the controller (he's a nerd like that; has just about every piece of Nintendo or Sega gadgetry/hardware in existence), and was looking forward to playing Seaman for a couple of minutes each night until he'd cultivated an amphibious beast.

It lasted two weeks, and then his fish died. Back into storage it went...

ü75: Speaking of video games--Wales left out of FIFA 09 (

The Fan’s Attic: looks like this expansion fee for MLS is going to become a bigger issue. (

Lingering Bursitis: I have the Peru riot story for this morning, can someone take Santa Cruz/Pennant from yesterday? Also, that link about MLS expansion fees is worth some discussion too

Precious Roy: I'll do MLS and the cash. Let me get some coffee. Have a good story from the other night. Some British doctor was telling me the 'real' reason for Leeds' implosion a couplathree years back.

Spectator: Interesting that the two cities balking at the franchise fee are in Canada (you don't hear any other cities complaining). I bet that Vancouver and Montreal had put together their proposals when the Canadian dollar was stronger. Oh well, at least Canada has all its Rough Riders franchises!

ü75: Swedish football teens in sorta hot calendar shoot. (

Lingering Bursitis: Oh lord, someone cover that who's not me. I'll get in trouble at work if I stare for too long.

Spectator: I won't even dare open that link here at work!!

ü75: link is ok. just one oddball picture. Slideshow link is above the article. That said, The Local is always obsessed by boobs and dicks, so other stuff may pop up. You should probably stay away.

Spectator: Yes I generally try to avoid popping up dicks here at work! [/Rip Taylor]

Bill Jelavich: I noticed that also, but I doubt it was because they were foolish enough to think the Canadian Dollar would be stronger than the US dollar forever. My thought (and what I was kicking around last night at 3am while watching perry mason) is that while Canada is consider 'more socialist' than the US, they are less likely to use taxpayer funding for what is considered private enterprise investment. Public infrastructure like roads, mass transit, even stadiums, can justify their public good feeling, but franchise fees aren't in the big picture.

Lingering Bursitis: Alright, I have another in the pipe for 10.30. Doubt I can write anymore today due to a series of meetings from 12.30 onwards, but you never know

Bigus: Im doing fourth off and maybe wales fifa 09

The Fan’s Attic: Nothing NSFW on the calendar but story says some of those girls are as young as 15. Hooray Sweden... I mean, that's disconcerting. Although, I'm not sure why the football club is dressing up in hockey gear in one photo.

I do love the one story that says hiding a camera in the women's bathroom is not a crime. Praise Sweden!! Preach!! (

The Fan’s Attic:

Your Homeless World Cup Update. It kicked off on Monday with Fat Boy Slim... appropriate that a man whose stage name sounds like some railcar riding hobo's nickname. (

and... some Socceroos get involved... Emerton, Neill, others I don't know...


and it is the first time there is a Women's Cup as well.


The Fan’s Attic: MLS Rumors got a tip that revealed, allegedly, Toronto FC's Discovery List...some interesting names on it. (

ü75: Commenters seem to be sure that list is a fake.

Precious Roy: Isn't that list a bit long... thought you got like 6 or 8 discovery claims?

The Fan’s Attic: Comments said you get 6 claims. maybe this was a fantasy wish list of a TFC fan.

Lingering Bursitis: Sad thing is, that "wish list" is virtually all duds. Take Bellamy, Senna, van Nist for MLS, that's about it

The Fan’s Attic: Yeah... Just read the comments. They make some good points.

Spectator: Not sure we want to be dicks to MLSRumors, but if we did we should post something along the lines of...

"We here at UF also have received an exclusive anonymous tip regarding
Toronto FC's discovery requests:

1. Kaka
2. Cristiano Ronaldo
3. Gianluigi Buffon
4. The Ghost of George Best

Do with it what you will but keep my name and email address anonymous.
You did not get this from me. Thanks."

The Fan’s Attic: Yeah... not sure we should do that, but it is damn funny.

Looks like Hertha Berlin will get the "USMNT when it's playing Mexico at home treatment" when it takes on Galatarasay. Wow...that's a lot of "a"s. (,,3843350,00.html)

Precious Roy: Maybe add 1962 Pele to that list.

Spectator: Heh yeah that's good. Is it okay if we are kind of dicks? I'll make it really silly and say that we love their site. I can probably write it up this afternoon.

ü75: I'll do the Swedish calendar girls overnight for UF After Dark, unless
someone wants to take it first

The Fan’s Attic: Good idea... I just hope that nobody else hits it today. I didn't really want to write it up at work today.

Lingering Bursitis; I am sure it will keep until tonight. I still can't believe some of them are 15 and posing in a calendar.

Spectator: UF field trip to Sweden??

The Fan’s Attic: LB, I added some artwork to your Lineker post. Had to be done.

Lingering Bursitis: That's fine. It looks good, although how dare you touch my masterwork!

The Fan’s Attic: UEFA Cup Final logo revealed. Unadulterated awesomeness. (

Precious Roy: Apparently the entire graphic design industry of Istanbul is still tethered to the Commodore 64.

Spectator: ROFL. I've seen better design at Foxwoods Casino!

The Fan’s Attic: That's a really easy post for tomorrow... We seem to be shooting our wad today.

The Fan’s Attic: Wow...ESPN's front page is reporting Pedroia got a $405M extension. Thankfully it's not my wife missing a period today.

Precious Roy: What it doesn't say is that they've got him locked up for 100 years.

Precious Roy; I moved the Cheap Canadian Bastards post until tomorrow... We've got a bunch of shit up already today.

The Fan’s Attic: Awesome story...with 3 great parts. First, the cost of a pint in the EPL stadiums. 'Pool and ManU on the cheaper end...Chelsea most expensive. Second, looks like Gillett used his LFC interest as collateral for a $75M loan that is being called in now. He has until next month to refinance the loan. Third, Chelsea is reporting it will make a profit (not counting the interest free loan with no repayments amounting to $600M (or is it quid?) from Abramovich) in 2011. (

Bigus: That logo should have a knife and blood on it. Surely an English team will make the final? Always stabbings. Always.

The Fan’s Attic: More info for the canadian story in that Gillett news. Gillett was part of the group in Montreal bidding for an MLS club. They wanted to negotiate the expansion fee, got shitcanned. Credit crunch is really hurting pro sports. I bet MLS doesn't get $40M... $35 tops.

Bigus: It’s pounds 600 mil pounds.

The Fan’s Attic: Arsene: Young Gunners dumb. (

Precious Roy: And they won't necessarily be self-sufficient by 2011, it's that they think they will be. And that's already pushed back a year. The goal was originally 2010. And it's not including the £600M to Roman.

Bigus; He says you have to mix intelligence and experience, but then he says intelligence is ok on its own? What the fuck is he saying, why does this man speak in riddles?

Precious Roy: Wenger is a fucking genius and is now coaching in Zen koans. He is one step away from being a Jedi and will soon defeat teams with only his mind.

Be cooler if he were a ninja though.

The Fan’s Attic: or maybe Phil Jackson.

The Fan’s Attic: Valencia denies it is bankrupt...which means it will be shortly. (

Back to Wenger... Imagine if somebody told this to their boss as an excuse for a performance... how would that go over?

"We had the quality to [do this project] but you have to make the maximum of what you have. You have to mix intelligence and experience. We did not have the experience but could have made up for that with intelligence."

Autoglass: Wouldn't it be cooler if he won something? Obi Wan Wenger: "These are not the trophies we are looking for..."

The Fan’s Attic: This Wenger thing has to be it's own post.

The Fan’s Attic: Holy crap... that Dundee United shirt is amazing.

The Fan’s Attic: We should probably announce that switch to the dotcom, huh? Ask people to change their links... and the such.

The Fan’s Attic: Freddy Adu Q&A. (

Bigus: Why do you lie about your age fred? Do you think you are over rated? Oh nope... not in there.

Bill Jelavich: Not a bad idea. I also registered last night [redacted] to make some space for our content. I like free but I think some claim staking is needed. Speaking of which I need some legal advice for my friend margaret for her website that sells her sex toys. She is getting an infringement claim over the term party goddess.

The Fan’s Attic: I can probably offer some unofficial free advice (in other words, with the caveat that your friend should speak to a real lawyer and shouldn't rely on anything I say).

Precious Roy: Another piece on Gillett gives a little more scope to his holdings and potential problems. (

The Fan’s Attic: Man, that guy loves sports... he owns a bit of everything it seems.

The Fan’s Attic:US Women team has game in Detroit on Dec. 17... tix on sale now. (

Bigus: Why? And why would you?

The Fan’s Attic: For the fundamentals of the game. And, I love to look at women soccer players' bodies (most of them). Seriously though, I was just sending the link... maybe somebody near there could get a press pass... I don't know.

NY Kid: I sent an email to [redacted] about getting me a press pass so I could do some coverage, and I never heard back from. I contacted [redacted] but I haven’t heard from him either. No one loves me.

The Fan’s Attic: Do again young lad.

Spectator: Agree that you should try again. Maybe you could try to email the nice MLS lady that LB and I met this summer.... Granted she doesn't work for the USSF, but maybe she has an in with them. I'll dig up her email address.

Autoglass: Freddy Adu grew up a Tottenham supporter? That is somehow perfect. Overhyped, middlebrow, changes managers like old underwear.

Autoglass:WATFORD! Gooooo Colaship!

Read more on "Own Goals: New Feature Inaugural Edition"...

Canadians Are Cheap Bastards

On the heels of Montreal's MLS bid getting the kibosh put on it over a desire to pay less than the posted $40M franchise fee, Vancouver's bidders are getting similarly cold in the feet about ponying up that kind of dough.

Or are they?

This article here first writes, "Should we pay or should we go? That's the question facing the Vancouver Whitecaps and five other ownership groups bidding for two Major League Soccer franchises as a global recession forces them to reconsider the $40-million US franchise fee."

Then the same article goes on to report, "[Vancouver bid applicant Jeff Mallet] said his group still expects to pay a $40-million fee if it is selected to join the league. 'We know the league is looking for $40 million and we respect that,' Mallett said in an interview. 'All our financial modelling has been done around the $40 million.'"

According to the same article, St. Louis is apparently getting a little anxious about the size of the fee and Barcelona Miami has said it will pay the full 40 as long as nobody else pays less. Maybe the article is simply saying that global economic conditions aren't what they were a couple of months ago? Gee, crack journalism there boys.

Anyway, probably no coincidence that the Canadians are particularly nervous. When this process was going on, the Canadian dollar was close to parity with the US dollar. Now it's about .8 to the USD, so that $40M fee becomes $50M.

But does it even matter? Mallet is a former Yahoo! executive. Were his options and compensation packages paid in Canadian dollars (doubt it)? Also part of the Vancouver bid are Steve Nash and Steve Luzco, minority owner of the Boston Celtics. Nash, while Canadian, plays in Phoenix and is probably paid in US Dollars and Luczo, like Mallet, also has a background from US-based tech companies. So I would imagine any personal wealth they commit to this or any financing they secure would be in USD (unless there are some rules here I'm completely ignorant of... and even if there are, I'm hoping they were smart enough to buy some futures to reduce this kind of forex risk).

All of that said, the cost of the franchise fee relative to the salary cap is a pretty significant multiple. Cap in MLS is $2.3M, so that makes the fee about 17.4 times that of the cap. Compare that to the NFL. The cap in the NFL is about $117M so relative to the most valuable franchise the Dallas Cowboys that's a multiple of about 13.7. Relative to the least valuable franchise the Minnesota Vikings that ratio drops to a mere 7.2.

The cap-to-cost ratio is a bit of an arbitrary measurement—and comparing any sport to the NFL is a bit like comparing mini Red Delicious apples to super jumbo Honeycrisp apples—but it does show how low the compensation in the MLS is (versus what the value of the franchise is). As another measure look at the revenue to cap for the NFL teams v. the MSL teams. Average revenue for the top half of the NFL teams averages about $220M (eyeballing from the same Forbes lists linked above). So the revenue is a little less than a 2x multiple of salaries. In the MLS the top half of the teams are somewhere between $10 to $14M in revenue (this excludes the LA Beckhams). So they have revenues in excess of about 5x or 6x that of player salary costs.

Now, if you are looking at buying a franchise, in the NFL you're probably paying somewhere in the $1.3 to $1.5 billion range, so you're about 5x the revenue of a top team. In the MLS you're paying $40M and are down around 3x to 4x of revenue of a successful team. So, new entrants in MLS aren't necessarily getting raked over the coals. But as a long terms strategy for the league, keeping player salaries so low while expanding and collecting large franchise fees probably isn't very sustainable. You're already not able to attract world class talent (one or two designated players aside) given salary restrictions, and now in a couple of years' time, you are going to dilute the talent pool that much more by adding four teams. Probably doesn't take much more expansion before potential owners get shy about paying tens of millions for s team that's at least half stocked with borderline marginally talented players.

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Saucy Swedish soccer players in photos shocker

Welcome to another edition of UF After Dark. It's where we take a look at the dirtier, seamier side of the sport we love. And it always involves women. Or, in this case, girls. Don't follow? Keep reading.

Sweden is a wonderful place. It's where you can place a camera in a women's restroom and have the courts declare it's not a crime. Got a baby? You don't have to name that sumbitch for months. Then, there's the moose, the stupid o with the diagonal through it, the umlauts and, most importantly, the women.

Swedish women. Two things about them. One, they love to dress up. Two, they love to be photographed while dressed up. Now, we have all seen it when they go to a sporting event. Radiant, rosy-cheeked lasses decked out in blue and gold. Perhaps this link will jog your memory, if you are having trouble recalling.

But the Euros were so last summer. It's winter now. Why am I bringing up the willingness to pose of Swedish women? Because, my friends, a Swedish women's team has released a calendar, it's themed, there is controversy, and I have a slideshow. Good enough?

First of all, the team. Emtunga and Tråvad are a team in Sweden, located 60 miles northwest of Gothenburg. That's it, that's all I got. It's not that important.

Now, the calendar. Yes, it's themed. Themed in that the ladies are shown participating in other sports. Sometimes, it's in athletic wear. And sometimes, it's in an odd mishmash of formal wear and sport. Doesn't sound too oddball, but it is controversial.

The controversy comes from some of the female's ages. It seems that this is an all-inclusive team, with ages running from 43 on the upper end to 15 on the lower end. Chris Hansen has already been alerted to your presence in this thread.

But it's all okay, you see. The girls wanted to do it. No coercion whatsoever. And those under 18 had to have their parent's permission. So all the bases are covered then. Now you can go and look at the pics. I'm partial to photo 7 myself.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wednesday Backpasses: Yo

WorstBest dive ever [Fan Nation]
Maradona to teach Indian kids how to punch the ball [Thaindian News]
Daniel Agger wants to get PAAAAIIIIDDDD, yo [Daily Mail]

Q&A with Fredua [Soccernet]
CREDIT CRUNCH to keep Nakamura in Glasgow. British press still in love with their alliteration [Telegraph]
Estimated breakdown for Hertha Berlin's home match versus Galatasaray--60-40 Turkish [Deutsche Welle World]
Valencia deny they are bankrupt. Look for this to update in a week with a "What happened to Valencia?" article [Soccernet]

And, finally:
If you are not creeped out by this, you are not human. Beckhams and Cruises in some bizarre inter-family marriage thingy [The Inquisitr]

Read more on "Wednesday Backpasses: Yo"...

Finally, Some Good Financial News Regarding Hicks and Gillett

Just kidding.

Anyway, Liverpool co-owner George Gillett has a $75M payment due in January. This bit of debt is particularly interesting because Gillett apparently secured it by putting up his 50% of Liverpool as collateral. So that means if he defaults on the loan, the folks holding it could conceivably assume Gillett's share of Liverpool F.C.

Gillett borrowed the money from a group called Mill Financial on January 25, 2008. Mill Financial is a unit of Springfield Financial Co., which is based in Virginia. To secure the loan, Delaware-incorporated Gillett Football LLC, pledged all of its "right, title and interest in Football Investments LLC," lien documents filed in Delaware show. Football Investments LLC is the company through which Gillett owns his 50% stake in Liverpool F.C. (the other half of the club is owned by Tom Hicks).

From the Sports Business Journal:

The duo originally borrowed about 280 million pounds (currently $429 million) from Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia to finance their acquisition... Hicks and Gillett had expected to refinance easily, but the credit markets soured in the summer of 2007. A hoped-for refinancing proved arduous, and the lenders required the duo earlier this year to put in about $150 million of equity they were not envisioning. That means there is at least $575 million of debt directly tied to Liverpool.

Springfield is selling the debt and say a transaction will be completed this month (December). According to the SBJ article, there are at least two groups trying to purchase the debt. One is Gillett himself with some additional investors. The other is a separate group with "eye on seeking control of Gillett’s Liverpool interest."

Basically, if the non-Gillett folks purchase the debt and Gillett doesn't have the funds to cover the money due, they could assume his half of Liverpool. If Gillett fails to purchase the note, then he does have the option of simply paying it off when it's due (Jan 25, 2009), assuming he can come up with the cash. But if you're Gillett, you're probably looking at paying a premium on your own debt to compete with the other group, and if you are bringing other investors in to do that, that's a sign that you don't have the $75M.

Anyway, there is more in the Globe and Mail here and on soccernet here. The Globe and Mail story is worth the read because it's written from the standpoint of what the impact might be on Gillett's ownership of the Montreal Canadiens, so it has a wider scope on Gillett's sports business operations. The soccernet page is worth a click because, above the Gillett piece, is a story about beer.

Read more on "Finally, Some Good Financial News Regarding Hicks and Gillett"...

Small Town Crimes Are Hilarious

Sometimes the Google Alerts send us crap and sometimes they send us great things like the one in this post about a small town police log. Today's find comes from Lodi, California just east of the Bay Area. Before I get into this story, though, I want to tell the story of the best police log entry I can remember from my own small town newspaper.

I went to law school in Oregon and the place I lived had a weekly paper with the crime blotter. This town was very white (like most all of Oregon) and fairly affluent. Anyway, some women called the police reporting she had spotted a member of Al Qaeda entering the local Safeway. She knew it was Al Qaeda because he looked middle Eastern and had a towel on his head. No joke, this is what she reported. The fellow was not contacted according to the police log. This one was slightly better than the lady who kept reporting that a mysterious pair of black pants kept showing up in her house.

Anyway, on to the soccer related police log entry. On this past Sunday in Lodi there was some property destruction going on and soccer was the culprit.

Wayward soccer ball, times two
1:51 p.m.: Adults were playing soccer at Needham School, 420 S. Pleasant Ave., and couldn't keep the ball on the correct side of the fence. First it hit a woman's pick-up truck, and then it destroyed her flower bed.

Well, that's a shame.

More importantly, though, it is clear Lodi's police force is handling some very important matters and mediating disputes:

Refusing to nap

12:46 p.m.: A 9-year-old boy didn't want to take a nap and was screaming at the top of his lungs in a backyard in the 500 block of South School Street. Police mediated the dispute between child and mother.

Glad it all worked out.

Read more on "Small Town Crimes Are Hilarious"...

The Good, The Bad, The WTF

Sorry. I zoned out there. I was looking at something, and then twenty minutes passed. I don't know what happened. Let's see if I can recreate the circumstances.

I remember opening up my email account. Therein was an email from LB passing along horrible shirts for inclusion in this recurring feature. So far, so good. I opened the link and scrolled through the usual horrors. Arsenal V-shirt? Check. Jorge Campos? Check. Caribous? Check. But then, I go blank.

Well, not so much blank as swirly. I see demonic horseheads and Satan's face and claw marks and the NBA's championship trophy, but nothing is in color. It's all in black and white and muted grey. Except. Except now I see some orange. It's not much, but it's something to focus on. Yes, this will free me from the trap.

And, poof. I was back.

The horror. The horror.

Dundee United's alternate strip from 1993-94. It's awesome. It would appear to be another one of those "confuse your opponents with what you are wearing" shirts, mixed with a little "scare them with what their inner demons make them see" type deal. Of course, that last part only works in movies, and event then you either need Tubular Bells or a cat jumping out screeching at you for it to work.

I've already blown my wad telling you what I see in this shirt, which you may feel free to interpret in the comments. What I'd like to know is what I missed. What do you, the fair reader, see in this? Let's all psychoanalyze each other, shall we?

Read more on "The Good, The Bad, The WTF"...

China's Joey Barton

Say ni hao to the Asian Joey Barton. I know, you all have been diligently searching, praying and hoping for this discovery. His name, Mao Jianqing of course. I guess he's known as the badboy of Chinese soccer. Not sure if that means he's terrible at soccer or just a Joey Barton wannabe, but that is beside the point. Dude's stone cold without remorse.

Mao's team, Shanghai Shenhua, recently just lost its Chinese Super League Title bid on Sunday, and early Monday morning Mao took out his frustration. Very early. Like 4:50 a.m. It is alleged that Mao and a friend beat up some young guy named Xu greeted one of Mao's female friends who was Xu's former colleague. Mao didn't take kindly to this and told him to step off or something like that and then was attacked in a manly manner. Mao and his accomplices, a teammate and former pro basketball player, proceeded to throw dishes and an ashtray at Xu. Awesome! (That's Mao in the photo heading to jail and Xu's injuries in the inset).

This isn't Mao's first rodeo either. According to the report, Mao kicked a fan at the U-17 World Championships and struck a referee at the U-19 World Championships. So he's a bit of Eric Cantona too. Nice.

Realizing that they may have made a mistake, Mao tried to pay off Xu to not go to the cops. Xu said eff you, but then tried unsuccessfully to extort even more money out of Mao later.

Mao and friends have been arrested, fined and will spend 7 days in a Chinese jail. As Jack Bauer knows, that ain't no country club.

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The Fourth (Un) Official.

Every now and again, an opportunity presents itself for a fan to get up close and personal. To infiltrate the game at ground level. Some of you may remember Karl Power and his hilarious antics in 2001 at Old Trafford before a Champions League game. No? Power ran onto the pitch in full United kit and joined the team for the official team photo, lining up next to Andy Cole. Only after the snap had been taken did Roy Keane notice Power and point out his stunt (video after the jump). Well, Power isn't the only impostor to get on the pitch. But the latest sneaky fan stayed a lot longer than Mr Power did.

United impostor Karl Power.

Wycombe fan Jarred Knight was at Notts County (25th of November) watching his team play the magpies, when a tannoy announcement asked if there were any qualified referees in the stands. The fourth official had replaced one of the linesmen who was injured. Jarred had spotted his big chance. He blagged his way into the fourth official gig by lying about his non-existent FA qualifications. The officials claimed afterwards that there wasn't enough time to check whether or not Jarred was the right man for the job.

Maybe it was a clear give away when he celebrated Wycombe scoring?

“My mates were trying to make me laugh. Thank God I hadn’t been to the pub or I couldn't have kept a straight face. I even told Wycombe manager Peter Taylor to get back in his box. I’ve got a taste for refereeing now and I’d like to do it again.”
-Prankster Jarred McKnight.

Wycombe won the game 2-0 and Jarred was thanked by the Notts County chairman for his efforts as he enjoyed drinks in the players lounge after the final whiste!

Now if I could only get myself into that phony fourth official gig for the Norwich Ipshit derby this Sunday. "Oi..Magilton..You are out of here sunshine!"


Read more on "The Fourth (Un) Official."...

When bland and beautiful collide.

For the unaware, this is Gary Lineker:

[TFA's Note: This cannot be left out of any Gary Lineker story right now...below is Gary Lineker's "artwork" that is being auctioned off for charity.*

*Probably not actually Lineker's work, just his name.]

He's the England legend, the striker, the face that sold a billion bags of chips (I do hate that they're referencing Italia '90 there), and perhaps the dullest person on television.

Now this is Danielle Bux:

How the f*ck does Mr. Clean end up with Miss Naughty, Naughty Girl? Some things are perhaps best left unexplained, like their impending marriage, but it's worth taking a closer look at Danielle's latest modeling shoot.

As envious as their union might make me, it's hard to stay mad at the greatest English striker of all time. Still, I will try.

Looks so good, they'd make John Terry weep

A promising rearguard

Timed her run well, but unfortunately her boobs were offside

A refreshing approach to taking corners

Read more on "When bland and beautiful collide."...

South America does it again

The Copa Peru in happier times

Well, I opened my big mouth yesterday and said we'd have more insanity from the South American soccer world before week's end, and it took less than 24 hours to find more!

From the report:
At least 100 people were injured over the weekend when a fight broke out during a Copa Peru match in the southern city of Ayacucho, the official Andina news agency reported.
I really, really love being right.

The whole sorry incident makes sense, I suppose. Towards the end of the Copa Peru match between Sport Huamanga and Sport Huancayo (and by the way, looking at that Wikipedia page will blind you, as it's seemingly the most complicated tournament ever), the Huancayo fans get restless and begin fighting Huamanga's fans until cars get upturned and the police are called in. And of course, it's all the ref's fault:
Referee Alejandro Villanueva called a penalty against the home team with four minutes left, and shoving broke out, the El Comercio newspaper reported on its Web site. The referee halted play for nine minutes, then he allowed the match to resume with four minutes on the clock, prompting fans to start throwing stones and other objects on the field. Fans tore down the security fence and ran on the field, battling police, who fired tear gas at the crowd. A National Police patrol car was set on fire by angry fans outside the stadium.
As insane as the footage looks below, it's just another day in the life of soccer in South America (and don't forget the Polish effort from a couple of months ago).

Perhaps the saddest thing of all about this story, besides the violence of course, is a comment on the YouTube page itself:

Mega sigh. Obviously this guy's never been to any sporting event involving a team from Philadelphia.

Read more on "South America does it again"...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tuesday Backpasses: Would have made an interesting Friends episode

One of our new causes, Vedad Ibisevic, has a Q&A with New York Times [NYT Goal blog]
Spanish player who admitted to taking payoff two days ago takes it back [Think Spain]
Coleen Rooney and pals attempted to outdo Man U's last Christmas party--the one with all the rape--by staying out all night. Okay then [Daily Star]

Anothosis Famagusta heading for a boardroom meltdown [The London Daily News]
Groundbreaking for Philly's MLS stadium happened yesterday. Could come in cheaper because of recession [Delco Times]
Generation Adidas players go on whirlwind tour of England to train [The Offside]

And, finally:
One more celebrity canvas from that eBay auction. This time it is David Seaman's, and it has an interesting squiggly in it [eBay]

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I'll set the scene. You are the manager of a Scottish Division one club. A club that's position in the league (5th) is not representative of recent form. You meet the Chairman. You then take training, head back to your office for a little website browsage. Bam...You're fired. That's what happened to Livingston manager Roberto Landi.

Livingston Chairman Angelo Massone has a rather novel way of sacking people. He meets with them, lets them leave the meeting under the impression everything is hunky-dory and then he fires them by Internet. Roberto Landi had only been in charge of Livingston since July but recent results were against him. The Livi Lions have won just once in the last 8. Still...Maybe a phone call? Another meeting to explain your decision? Clearly not the Massone way. Landi logged on to the official Livingston website yesterday after training to discover he had been canned along with his assistant Valter Berlini.

“I don’t know how it was on the website. I don’t know who had this information to put it on the website. I am very disappointed because I have only been here five months. You will have to ask the chairman for his reasons." -Roberto Landi.

Landi had just turned down coaching roles with Q.P.R and Derby to stay at Livingston.


Read more on "www.YouAreFired.Com"...

ITV, You're F***ing S**t

I love the FA Cup. Especially in the early rounds where you can still see some of the non-league clubs give the big boys a fight. I'm pretty sure there are a few people around these parts who still get a chill when the name Havant & Waterlooville gets thrown out there. The big upsets are harder to come by before the third round, because that's when the EPL and Colaship teams get drawn into the, ahem, draw. Still, when a team like Leeds United, less than a decade removed from a semi-final berth in the Champions League, scuppers down into League One, it's an exciting draw for whomever gets them.

Especially for a non-league team like Histon who got the big boys at home in the Second Round. It's almost enough of a story to know that Histon beat Leeds on Sunday 1-0, through a goal by a postman. While that is pretty swell, there's another bit of the story of the day to go.

The match was televised by ITV, which you can think of as the CBS of Britain. Like CBS's Super Bowl broadcast from a couple of years ago, there was a little bit too much shown by the network. Histon, as is the norm, celebrated post-match in the locker room in various states of undress. One player felt a little more frisky than his teammates and danced around naked. Either this guy is super-tall, or the cameraman let his attention (and eye) wander, because the unnamed player managed to go Full Monty to the entire nation. Sadly, at this time, no video is available of the incident.

There is, however, video of the other incident mentioned in the article above. About 14 minutes into the match, Leeds fans commandeered a pitchside microphone, one used to get the sounds on the pitch and of the crowd, and used it to let all viewers know exactly what song they were singing. It's a simple ditty, really only one line repeated until boredom. That line--"ITV, you're fucking shit". You can hear it in the background at about the 20 second mark, then, nine or so seconds later, the microphone gets picked up. Two more rounds of the song follow, until sound is cut off.

There are two things I really like about this video. One, I love the conditions the announcers have to work in while calling these FA Cup matches at non-league sites. Second, they both had that "I don't get paid enough for this shit" moment and just shut down when the chant came over their headphones. Priceless.

For their giant-killing efforts, Histon have been awarded another fine draw for the next round, getting Colaship side Swansea City at home. For those that remember, this is the same team that got pushed to the brink by minnows Horsham last season. Here's hoping Histon can do the same. Perhaps Histon can pick up a certain deaf striker before the match to help them in their quest.

Histon's goal

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Something to drink?

The world's most effective (and photogenic) poison

By now, we all know and understand the first rule of football: South America is fucking crazy.

We've studied this phenomenon before. Whether it be Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia or Bolivia, there's plenty of futbol madness to go around. Well, it's been a couple of weeks, but thankfully Paraguay wants to throw its entry into the ring, with the allegations surrounding an important Primera Division match, a team in danger of being relegated, and the sublime art of poisoning.

Club Guarani is in 2nd place in the Torneo Clausura, hunting the title and automatic berth into the 2009 Copa Libertadores with just one game to play. This past weekend, they played relegation-threatened 3 de Febrero, and beat them easily 4-1. Simple enough, right? Just another day at the office for Guarani.

However, 3 de Febrero were missing several players who'd been hit with food poisoning in the days leading up to the match, including one, defender Juan Ortiz, who received treatment in hospital, and causing six other players to miss the game.

The guilty substance is said to be the sports drink with vitamins (too much riboflavin, perhaps?) that they consumed during training, and the coach Pedro Nelson Fleitas smells a conspiracy: "This needs to be investigated. We don't know if the product was past its sell-by date of if somebody put something intentionally in the juice."

Check the goals below (at about :58 in the video); now, I don't know much about Paraguayan soccer, but Guarani looked to have it pretty easy. Their goals were more sunday league than title-chasing, thanks to some sloppy, lazy defending. That said, Guarani could simply be that good.

Sour grapes, or sour stomachs? You decide.

It's not the first time the specter of sabotage has riddled the sport: Brazilian midfielder Branco claimed that the Argentines tainted a water bottle that they gave to the Brazilians during their 1990 Second Round game that Argentina won 1-0. There have been several other incidents, one involving Spurs a while ago, I think?

Anyway, there's your South American scandal for the week. I'm sure there will be a few more by Friday.

Read more on "Something to drink?"...

No Bienvenidos a Miami

Anelka pondering a transfer to the soon-to-be MLS Miami club and Drogba begging Big Phil

In our second hip-hop related story of the day, Premiership stars Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Djibril Cisse and El-Hadji Diouf have been banned by their managers from attending Lil' Wayne and Akon's Christmas celebration in Miami. Ryan Babel wants to know where his invite is, he could make some good hip hop contacts and lord knows he's got plenty of time on his hands thanks to Rafa (please Rafa, play Babel up top).

I don't know what's more dumbfounding that Lil' Wayne and Akon know who these guys are or that they see the need to fly snow in from Greenland for the party? Wouldn't it be cheaper to just rent a snowmaking machine? But what do I know? There's a reason I'm a blogger and not a millionaire.

Read more on "No Bienvenidos a Miami"...

Does a pole come with the Ballon d'Or?

Cristiano Ronaldo has captured the prestigious (but perhaps evil) Ballon d'Or. The Manchester United winger has won numerous plaudits for his performance this season, but maybe he should have been a goalie.

One of UF's favorites, Eva Roob, has recently weighed in on Ronaldo and thinks he would do well with the poles. The erstwhile Samira Summer recently opined (NSWF) on the merits of footballers as go-go dancers.

From the pitch to the pole – which of her male football colleagues does Roob think could cut it as a sexy dancer?

She revealed her thoughts in an interview with football newspaper ’11 Freunde’: “Maybe David Beckham. And of course Cristiano Ronaldo.”
All that prancing around on the field may be beneficial to CRon after all. He could use this backup career as leverage to get that wage raise he so desires from the Glazers.

While Eva seems to like Manchester United midfielders, she doesn't seem keen on a certain Chelsea midfielder and fellow Teuton, Michael Ballack, saying “There is no one from Germany. Not even Michael Ballack, whom lots of people find attractive. I think he is probably too stiff.”

Of course. Now excuse me while I try to rid my mind of these images.

Read more on "Does a pole come with the Ballon d'Or?"...

Fifty Cent Meets Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole on the Movie Set

Maybe you already heard the news, but Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole are teaming up to buy the latest must-have accessory for rich footballers.... their very own gangsta film starring Fifty (aka "Fitty") Cent. Because Ashley Cole is down with the streets, and Rio Ferdinand is about to get serious up in dis ting.

The plot involves something about gangstas and loan sharks and will probably have lots of guns and awesome dialog and Guy Ritchie-esque, seizure-inducing quick cuts. In fact, we are very proud here at UF to say that we've been given an exclusive early sneak peak at one of the first scenes from the film! Check it out after the jump...

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Just remember: when a celebrity says something, it's true

And who can argue with Jason Bourne? He created some wonderful artwork for charity (current bid on ebay: roughly $110), and there's really not much to argue with. And anyway, if you did, he'd break your neck with his pinkie.

After the jump, a vid of him talking sports (sadly, not soccer).

Read more on "Just remember: when a celebrity says something, it's true"...

Monday, December 1, 2008

Monday Backpasses: Bendtner's is alright

Newcastle fans taunt Mido with anti-Islamic chants [Eurosport]
Hearts boss wants less of Rangers and Celtic on Scottish TV [Scotsman]
Which might help Hearts actually pay their players [BBC]

TFA Squareball: Perhaps the best Christmas present for male footie fans...a WAGvent Calendar [The Spoiler]

Rising South African star urges his compatriots to get tested for AIDS [The Times]
Chelsea says there is no money to be spent in January [Soccernet]
League Two club wants Robbie Fowler as player/manager [Sky Sports]

And, finally:
EPL stars draw worse than your neighborhood five-year-old [The Spoiler]

Read more on "Monday Backpasses: Bendtner's is alright"...