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Bee Swarm Attacks Brazilian Match

17 Apr

When I first saw this video I feared the worst having seen similar scenes last year when gunshots erupted outside a stadium in Mexico. But alas, this was nothing more than a bunch of grown men humping the ground and praying to avoid the wrath of one of the fiercest and most intimidating predators in the insect kingdom…bees. A massive swarm to be exact.

Players from Fluminense and Juazeirense hit the deck at the latter’s Adauto Moraes stadium in the Brazilian city of Juazeiro after a swarm of bees invaded the proceedings sending all those in attendance into a tizzy. Yet after viewing the video it’s hard to figure out how threatening the flying stingers truly were.

For one thing you can’t see them. Some players simply sit on the pitch while another can be seen walking around. And as some fans rush for cover under a large banner, a few remained in their seats exposed to the elements chewing the fat. The highlight comes at the 49 second mark when the referee, also laying prone on the ground, radios in for an air strike. His coordinates however proved faulty and the planes missed their desired target. Play would eventually resume and Fluminense escaped, sting-free, with a 1-0 victory.

The referee’s wish for a cameo appearance in the next version of Call of Duty ended as quickly as it began.


Pelé To Play In The Club World Cup For Santos?

3 Aug

Armeio Neto, the Marketing Director for Santos FC, has pitched the idea of Pelé making an appearance in the FIFA Club World Cup this December in a potential final versus Barcelona. Pelé, who netted over 600 goals for his former club, will be a sprightly 71 years old when the tournament begins.

Although the likelihood of this happening is minimal, Neto does not wish to discredit the idea entirely:

“I don’t doubt anything. It also depends on the coach. If Pelé is a boost to the team then why not?”

If the manager of Santos thinks a 71-year-old relic will add something to a squad which already boasts Neymar and Gonzo, then perhaps Santos need to ask themselves a few questions. As the voice of reason, Santos President Luis Alvaro Ribeiro expressed a slightly more rational opinion:

“Of course, even though Pelé trains, he would not be able to play for a long time, but one can imagine him coming on at the end of the game to take a penalty.”

And hopefully no more than that. Remember, this is a rather important tournament which every confederation champion takes very seriously. You would be hard pressed to find any appropriate instance for Pele to be substituted on the pitch, unless of course Santos is up 3-0 against Barcelona and the club still has two substitutions remaining (in order to remove Pele immediately after he pulls whichever muscle).

In the seven FIFA Club World Cups, Brazilian clubs have won three titles while the remaining four went to the UEFA Champion. The 2011 edition begins on December 8th in Japan. Santos and Barcelona, who enter the competition in the semifinals, will play on December 14th and 15th respectively.

Brazil Bottles the Penalty Shootout

18 Jul

Shambolic, catastrophic, embarrassing, shocking, unprecedented, entertaining, humorous – all accurate descriptions of Brazil’s role in the penalty shootout with Paraguay last night. In becoming the first team in history to miss every spot kick in a Copa America shootout, Brazil exited unceremoniously from a tournament in which they never looked the threatening force everyone expected.

Lauded for their technique and aesthetically pleasing ability, Brazil’s shooters were anything but. Balls airlifted to the International Space Station or misplaced so wide, the photographers found themselves in harm’s way. One after the other they approached. Elano came first and I knew he would miss, as I am a firm believer that you never choose a kicker who has only played minimal minutes in the match (see Nicolas Anelka’s sorry effort in the 2008 Champions League Final or USA’s Tobin Heath yesterday in the Women’s World Cup Final).

Elano’s approach showed indecision and a lack of confidence.  Thiago Silva, a center back, shot his ball into the gut of the keeper. Andre Santos? A souvenir for the cheap seats. Fred? Perhaps he had issues with the photographers and took his anger out on them. Of the four shooters, two were defenders while the other two were substitutes who played a combined 51 minutes of the 120.

You can question Mano Menezes’ selection of kickers or the shoddy playing surface (although the Paraguayans had no issue), but the Brazilians have only themselves to blame. While they never fail to thrill in their victories, at least they remain consistent in defeat.

Rivaldo Joins the Brazilian Retirement Community

25 Jan

The great Rivaldo, World Cup and Champions League winner, European and World Player of the Year, has just signed for Sao Paolo…and he’s 38!!

It brought to mind the two most prominent retirement communities in the world, both conveniently located in the Western Hemisphere. Both Major League Soccer and Brazil have become a haven for the aging talents of European football who wish to continue playing on some level – a level that caters more to their diminishing abilities. Enter America and Brazil, which can provide such an enclave for these players, although the latter has far more history and success than the 17-year-old MLS. So how do they compare?

Looking at Major League Soccer first, their “designated player” status limits the amount of superstars who can join the various clubs, although an increased quota has enabled many more to reach our shores. At the moment there are 14 such players, 9 of whom make an annual salary of over $1 million.  The league average was $138,169 in 2010, a drop of 6.6%. Of the 14, only 4 are under 30 and 3 are over 35. Average age = 31. For many, like Beckham, Henry, Marquez, Angel, Nkufo, and Mista, this is the end of the road.

Over in Brazil, a similar pattern has emerged in recent years as one generation nears its conclusion. The Brazilian Campeonato operates like every other league with no limits on wages or transfer fees. Nor on age, which makes the Brazilian retirement community far more dependent on social security than its counterpart up north. Fat Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, Deco, and Belletti are but a few who have all moved home to finish their careers. They boast an average age of 34 years old, yet command average yearly salaries of $6.1 million. In fact, 2009 saw a return of 707 Brazilian players to their home soil, more than double the number in 2006.

The question is, which retirement community benefits its domestic league more? And which one is simply a place to rot? In Brazil, revenue of the 20 top-tier teams rose 12% to $1.13 billion in 2009 on more television rights income, a result of the clubs’ ability to sell their product with a big name player. MLS only began selling TV rights for profit in 2007, and will receive a much smaller sum than the above. However, total attendance in 2010 was the highest since 2007 and third highest in league history. 5 of the top 8 clubs in 2010 attendance contained a designated player. Clearly, the old farts have made a difference.

In terms of scale, it’s unfair to compare the two leagues. And while some complain that MLS is nothing more than a place for superstars to put their feet up and relax, you cannot ignore the significant impact it has made. Like it or not, these guys still fill the stadiums whether in Toronto or Sao Paolo or Salt Lake City or Rio. They just need walkers and wheelchairs to get there.

Ronaldinho To Return Home

23 Dec

When Ronaldo de Assis Moreira arrived at Gremio at the ripe old age of 7, Porto Alegre and the rest of Brazil anticipated the arrival of Brazil’s future. Meanwhile, up the road in Belo Horizonte, Brazil’s present was crafting his skills at Cruzeiro before setting off on a rampaging, goal scoring career. The latter was of course the Ronaldo, and Porto Alegre needed to distinguish their young prodigy to make him their own. And so, Ronaldinho was born.

After 11 seasons in the youth ranks, Ronaldinho finally broke into the first team in 1998 and remained for 3 years, scoring 21 goals in 44 appearances, before moving to Europe. Now, 9 years after leaving Brazil, Ronaldinho is set to return home having come to an agreement with Gremio. All that’s left is for his agent to negotiate the release from AC Milan, who made a statement of Ronaldinho’s tenure at the club having acquired Antonio Cassano earlier in the week. For Europe, it is the end of one of the most memorable and spectacular campaigns ever witnessed. Something tells me the hometown fans in Porto Allegre have no sympathy for their pals across the pond.

Although he only played 3 seasons for Gremio, he made sure everyone knew his name after completely embarrassing Dunga twice with artistic strokes of brilliance (below). Dunga – Brazil’s 1994 World Cup winning captain. The rest as they say is history.

I first saw him in the flesh back in the spring of 2006 during a semester in Barcelona, perhaps the height of his club career. Every time I went to the Camp Nou, I expected the unexpected, and Ronaldinho never let me down with his mesmerizing dribbles and no-look passes. He just made everything look so effortless, and he always did it with a smile. That gaping horse mouth, the utmost illustration of his happiness on the pitch, will always endear him to me. And while I’m sad to see him go, it is simply another chapter of his illustrious career and I will surely be rooting for him to succeed (and remain out of the clubs and favelas in the wee hours of the morning).

Thanks ‘dinho. You’re weekly appearances on our televisions will be sorely missed. Enjoy your company.

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