Some stuff happened this week, but to be honest,
it didn't really grab my imagination.
France won the Six Nations Rugby, with Ireland picking up
the Triple Crown and England finishing third mere months
after being crowned World Champions. Oh, and Virender Sehwag,
a reliable if usually unemarkable batsman, became the first
Indian cricketer to score a triple hundred, as his team
sauntered to an easy victory over Pakistan in the first test
the two nations had contested on Pakistani soil in fourteen
years. What else? Oh, well Roger Federer, the world's number
one tennis player, suffered a straight sets defeat against
Rafael Nadal, a 17-year-old Spaniard whose main claim to fame
is that his uncle used to play football for Barcelona.
But none of that has really captured me this week. What
has captured me is FIFA Magazine, the official
magazine of the Federation
of International Football Associations, which I bought
the other day along with the FA Cup Semi-Final preview
special of the Sunderland Echo.
FIFA is celebrating its 100th anniversary this
year and, as such, the magazine includes a large number of
features on the history of the game. One that took my fancy
was an interesting bit about how the linesmen were initially
umpires running around on the pitch who gave the decisions
and, if they disagreed with each other, they would refer the
matter to the referee (hence the name) who would be standing
by the sideline, often in a top hat and carrying a cane or
They should bring that back! You'd have much less of this
referee-baiting if any player arguing got whacked with the
cane! It'd be fantastic.
I was also interested to read that, originally, the
goalkeeper could handle the ball anywhere in his own half of
the field and that way back in the mid 19th
century, all English schools played football in different
forms, making up their own rules (Rugby school had some
particularly famous ones, I recall). It was only once players
got to university that they realised they all had different
rules. So Cambridge University drew up some rules, and
everyone used them except awkward g*ts in Yorkshire who used
the Sheffield rules (you don't hear the phrase 'Sheffield
Rules' often in football anymore, do you?). And that was why
the FA was formed, to standardise rules and shut the
Yorkshiremen up. And then other FAs were formed to decide
rules for internationals and then they formed FIFA as big
boss people. Fascinating stuff, I'm telling you.
Oh, but FIFA Magazine gave me some more modern
stuff to ponder as well.
Like the fact that Brooklyn Beckham, five-year-old son of
England captain David, is playing in the youngest age group
at Tottenham Hotspur, a club who turned Daddy down. Yup,
that's right, Spurs turned David Beckham down for a contract
as a youngster and now he's captaining England and playing
for Real Madrid.
Which actually raises quite an interesting question. Would
Beckham be the player he is today had Spurs signed him rather
than Manchester United? Would he have received the same kind
of training and guidance at Tottenham and, if not, would he
be anything like the player he is today? Interesting points
to ponder. I don't know the answer of course.
Another feature in the magazine was about the African
countries, one of which will host the 2010 World Cup, and
there were little guides to the countries - which appeared to
have been copied from an Encyclopaedia.
I really hope Libya don't get it. Not only am I not a big
fan of Colonel Gadaffi, but Libya is the only of the
contenders1 not to have any professional
clubs, a website - either for the government or for the
and the only one not to have any World Heritage
didn't even have a football association until the 1960s; the
only more recently formed association in contention is South
Africa and that's only because they re-formed the association
at the end of apartheid).
Also, Libya has an awful flag. It's green. Just green.
Seriously, it's a big green block. Nothing else on it. No
national symbol, no natty stripes, no stylish adornments,
it's just green.
Oh, and the b*****ds beat Sao Tome e Principe 8-0 in a
World Cup qualifier. I like Sao Tome e Principe, purely
because one of their players, young midfielder China - real
name Oswaldo Soares Brito, plays for Naval in the Portugese
lower divisions - is great and cheap on the football game
Also in this fascinating publication4 were
the details of 2006 World Cup Qualifying - and aren't
Colombia doing badly?
Now, almost every region has FIFA members who have not
enrolled for qualifying, so the entrants number is fewer than
members. For example: 'Asia - 44 members, 39 enrolled'. And
what did Myanmar do to get excluded? Asia and Africa are
missing a few teams each, all ten south Americans enrolled,
North/Central/Caribbean America is missing Puerto Rico,
Europe officially lacks Germany, as they qualify as hosts,
and thus don't have to enrol in qualifying.
The odd one's Oceania: '11 members. 12 entries'.
Turns out they've let New Caledonia in, despite them not
being members of FIFA. Nice of them.
Oh, and elsehere in the magazine, I discovered that US
veteran Alexei Lalas, who just retired, has been made
president and general manager of the San Jose Earthquakes, a
team he had previously had nothing at all to do with. And
he's had a shave and a haircut, which those of us who
rememeber him as the crazy-bearded centre-back from the 94
world cup and Italian Serie A are shocked by. You know, of
course, that he's also an accomplished rock guitarist and
once suppported Hootie and the Blowfish on tour.
Anyway, that's way too much from me. Sorry for rambling
on. But if you see FIFA Magazine in your newsgents,
buy it. It's fascinating. And it tells you where the idea for
red and yellow cards came from.
Several A/K/A Random's 'sporting
Well, and let's see, what to write about in Amsports this
week, what to write... the Men's College Basketball
tournament is getting all the ink and bytes, along with Major
League Baseball starting up with the season opener between
the Noo Yawk Yankers and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays over in
Tokyo, so I think I'll start with Women's College
The 30-3 Duke University Blue Devils face the University
of Minnesota Golden Gophers, while the Stanford Cardinal (not
the Cardinals, the Cardinal, for some reason) meet the
Tennesee Lady Volunteers (29-3) in the finals. Duke and
Tennesee are past champions and are perhaps the premier
programs for women's basketball.
Interestingly, a study released last week shows that 14 of
the top 16 women's teams have graduation rates of better than
50%, and some are in the 90th percentile, as opposed to the
men's programs, which has six teams graduating less than 50%
of their athletes, with a best of 80%. My theory about this
is that the boys are out chasing the girls that don't study,
and the female athletes know they had best get an education
because, out in the Real World, there is still, sadly, a 20%
difference in men's and women's earning power.
But that's not sports.
Okay, how about 14-year-old Michelle Wie placing fourth in
the Ladies' Professional Golf Association's recent tournament
? She wishes to get a scholarship for college, so she isn't
allowed to take the money she could have won. Meanwhile,
14-year-old Freddy Adu will make his debut this weekend with
the DC United pro soccer team, earning over $1 million
between his shoe endor$ement deal and hi$ $alary. I guess he
can hire an education.
And some other things you won't get from the major media:
the Mexican pro soccer teams Guadalajara Chivas and Morelia
Monarcas played and exhibition match in San Jose, California
that drew over 20,000 rabid fans, one of 50 such exhibition
games the Mexican League has scheduled in southern US cities
that have a large Hispanic populace. Aided by television
coverage by the new Fox Sports En Espanol teevee network and
sponsored by El Mexicano, distributors of Mexican cheese,
yogurts, jalapenos and other products to the US markets,
Mexican soccer draws better crowds than the American Major
League Soccer teams, which is why Freddy Adu was hired to
Chivas, owned by Jorge Vergara, has been awarded a new MLS
franchise but will only be allowed to import three of its
players into the American pro league. Vergara is hoping for a
stadium in San Jose, California, while the other MLS
franchise is tentatively slated for Cleveland, Ohio. Mexican
League players can earn, on average, $50,000 a month, while
the American pros average closer to $50,000 per year, Freddy
Also in the news are reports that Major League Baseball
will agree to Olympic drug testing standards for the proposed
World Cup baseball tournament... actually, the Player's
Association (which is really the player's agent's
association) will let any of its members who are clean
participate, as long as insurance can be obtained to make
sure the agents get their 10-15% off the top of the players'
And on that note, I shall conclude the Amsport portion of
Sporting With Egon and, unfortunately, none of this is April
Fool's. This is several, a/k/a random, over and out.
Have Your Say
If you would like to report, opine or rant on matters
sporting as I and Several do here, then just drop me a line
at my personal space, or comment below. Also comment below if
you would like any elaboration or further explanation of any
of this week's stories.
Tunisia and Morocco.2I like that sort of thing in a host.3because we all know that's what football fans
and players look for in a country, don't we?4Do you think
I should get paid by FIFA for all this promo?