In an absurd first for major international tournaments (so you know it’s coming by way of the CONCACAF Gold Cup), a competing nation has knowingly and willingly knocked itself out of the competition.
Chuck Blazer, the former FIFA Executive committee member and CONCACAF General Secretary who the FBI flipped into spilling the beans on FIFA corruption, passed away yesterday at age 72, his lawyers confirmed.
Chuck Blazer, a controversial former FIFA exec, has died. Statement from his lawyers here: pic.twitter.com/j1wOXORbWY
— Jim Dalrymple II (@JimDalrympleII) July 13, 2017
They don’t get the credit the footballers do for their performance each game, but referees have to be just as prepared physically and mentally as those players they’re chasing all around the field.
It’s a varied and strenuous training process. The best refs have to be fitter than a world-class midfielder, have to possess an acute awareness for the type of teams, players and tactics they’ll be observing, and they need to be ready to handle all that might be thrown at them psychologically when it comes to high stakes and other maddening elements.
The Gold Cup cometh, and with disgraced former CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb no longer around to taketh, the 2017 edition of the biennial championship of the North, Central American and Caribbean region promises to giveth in abundance.
Beginning with a titanic clash between French Guiana and Canada on Friday, July 7 and culminating on Wednesday, July 26 with the final in Santa Clara, California, we’ll be treated to three weeks of CONCACAF’y tomfoolery.
When it comes to the notoriously ill-advised FIFA World Ranking system, there’s generally a lot to laugh at. Nations are cruelly punished by virtue of not playing (the United States, unbeaten since November of 2016, drops 12 places to 35th) while others largely benefit by playing lesser sides in meaningful competition (Poland is up to sixth after waxing Romania in World Cup qualifying).
FIFA president Gianni Infantino's base salary has been reported at $1.5 million. That is far less than his predecessor, Sepp Blatter, earned. Infantino's net worth has not, as far as we can tell, been reported.
Claudio Bravo, Chile’s goalkeeping hero during penalty shootout victories over Argentina at both the 2015 and 2016 Copa America finals, came up trumps again against Portugal at the 2017 Confederations Cup semifinal stage. Bravo faced penalties from Ricardo Quaresma, Joao Moutinho and Nani, saving all three of them.
Arsene Wenger has done something special with his most recent Gunners team.
Despite missing out on the Champions League for the first time in his career, Wenger has managed to instill a sense of team unity that’s the envy of Europe.
Five minutes into the Confederations Cup group B match between Chile and Germany, two Arsenal players combined for the game’s opening goal.
Gunners defender Skhodran Mustafi passed to Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez, who, after a one-two with Eduardo Vargas, fired home off the left post.
Oribe Peralta, enemy of the free people of New Zealand with six goals against the Oceania side, might’ve saved Juan Carlos Osorio’s job with a match-winning goal against the Kiwis in the 72nd minute of El Tri’s 2-1 victory.
After an impressive showing from Mexico in their opening 2-2 draw with European champions Portugal, El Tri manager Juan Carlos Osorio made eight changes to his side because he’s the tinker man. As a result, Mexico spent the opening 45 minutes looking disjointed, blunt and second best.