Drone with Flag Sparks Brawl at Euro 2016 Match: The Euro 2016 qualifier between Serbia and Albania was abandoned after a drone carrying a banner with an Albanian nationalist message flew over the pitch at Partizan Stadium in Belgrade, Serbia, and sparked a brawl between the teams after a Serbian player pulled it down and Albanian players tried to take it from him. Albanian supporters had already been banned from attending over security concerns, given turbulent relations between the countries. Deadspin has the video.
Gus Johnson Booted as Fox Soccer Announcer: Gus Johnson has stepped down as Fox's No. 1 soccer broadcaster. When Fox Sports president Eric Shanks was asked whether Johnson being widely reviled calling the sport was a reason for the move, he said no but added, "I am not going to lie and say we were unaware of it."
Diego Simeone gets eight match ban: Although Athletico Madrid started off the season with a trophy, winning the Spanish Super Cup will cost their manager a spell off the sidelines as he behaved very poorly when the assistant ref was slow in allowing his fullback back on the pitch after treatment for a bloody nose. Simeone was suspended for four games for tapping the back of the assistant referee's head, two games for protesting, one game for applauding his sending off, and one game for remaining in the stands instead of going to the changing room after his expulsion. Atletico assistant coach German Burgos will take charge in his absence.
Soccer Player Killed by Thrown Object from Stands: Albert Ebosse, a 24-year-old striker from Cameroon playing in the top-flight Algerian league for JS Kabylie, died after he was hit in the head by a thrown object from the stands at the end of a game Saturday. Ebosse scored the team's only goal in a 2-1 home loss to USM Alger.
Men in Blazers Move to NBC Sports: Sunday's Premiership opener between Manchester City and Newcastle was followed on NBC Sports by the Men in Blazers, television producer Michael Davies and writer Roger Bennett, broadcasting from their new Panic Room. "Not since Lewis and Clark have two men been so excited to be here," Bennett told the Wall Street Journal. "We're incredibly surprised that they wanted us," Davies said.
The Premier League Season Kicks Off Tomorrow: After a short post-WC break, the season in England's top flight begins tomorrow. The first manager to quit or get fired has already left the building, in the form of a man who seems almost unrecognizable minus the hat. Don't forget to join the SpoFi Fantasy Premier League mini-league (anyone know the SpoFi league code?). Post your season predictions inside.
Donovan to Retire at the end of this MLS season: An outstanding player and professional.
Will Financial Fair Play kill youth development at larger clubs?: "They will, at some point, be sold on, a premium fee guaranteed by having attended finishing school at one of the world's elite clubs. Chelsea are essentially running a recruitment and development business completely unrelated to their first team . . . Investment in their youth structures is exempt from FFP. But the money the club raise by selling players is not. They are making their money work for them. As one observer put it to me Wednesday, they are 'gaming' FFP."
Drogba!: "He is coming with the mentality to make more history."
SportsFilter's World Cup Confidence Pool Winner: The World Cup Confidence Pool has been won by Tron7 by 24 points over Goddam and 36 over Rcade (sigh). Two factors in the win were putting Spain out of the top 5 and Netherlands at 5, higher than anyone else in the top 10. My son Ecade takes home the coveted Costanza by being best at scoring the fewest points (you have to be encouraging as a parent). Tron7 wins an Adidas Brazuca Glider Soccer Ball.
How is Qatar building a national team for the 2022 World Cup?: by importing promising children from poor countries. Their families are given stipends and the boys come to live in a beautiful, possibly insane facility ("Across the campus, speakers pipe in the sounds of birds chirping throughout the day.") in hopes of some day making it onto the Qatar-owned team in Belgium. Doubly so since their options, much like those of the people building stadiums for 2022, limited:
Aspire executives were displeased by the departures. "They didn’t want us to talk to other agents, they definitely did not," said Tchoutou, who now plays for A.S. Roma’s top youth team. But after three years, he decided to leave with their approval or not. According to one scholarship agreement, the boys pledge not to sign any contract without the written authorization of Aspire. Of the few boys who have left the program, Bleicher said agents approached them secretly and made promises.
Germany Wins World Cup: Germany won its fourth World Cup after a tense 1-0 victory over Argentina on Sunday. Mario Gotze's strike, seven minutes from the end of extra time, ensured Germany ended its 24-year wait for glory at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium. Deadlocked at 0-0 after 90 minutes, it was left to substitute Gotze to provide the game's defining moment with a touch of magic. The Bayern Munich star took Andre Schurrle's pass on his chest before displaying exquisite technique to volley the ball past Sergio Romero.
Liverpool Sells Luiz Suarez to Barcelona: Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez is being transferred from Liverpool to Barcelona for a reported transfer fee around 80 million Euros. The 27-year-old serial biter is serving a four-month suspension from soccer as punishment for chomping Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during the World Cup. Barring his appeal, Suarez will miss 18 games for Barcelona, including three in the Champions League, one for Copa del Rey and nine in La Liga.
Argentina Faces The Netherlands for Spot in World Cup Final: Argentina plays its first World Cup semifinal since 1990, facing today a Netherlands team looking to reach its second consecutive final. The countries have met four times in the tournament and four other times. Argentina won only one of the matches, but it was the 1978 World Cup final.
Nate Silver Had Brazil at 65% to Win Today: "We have some reasonably good news for Brazil. Even without Neymar and Silva, the team remains the leading contender to win the World Cup in our estimation. You may or may not agree with the math, but the intuition behind it is this: Soccer is a team sport, and Brazil is a very deep team. ... If we run the new numbers through the SPI match predictor, we come up with a 65 percent chance of Brazil prevailing against Germany." -- Nate Silver's pre-match prediction on 538
Brazil Faces Germany for Spot in World Cup Final: In the worst World Cup loss by Brazil in the country's history, the host nation lost 7-1 to Germany in the semi-final after goals by Thomas Mueller, Miroslav Klose, Toni Kroos, Toni Kroos, Sami Khedira, Andre Schuerrle and Andre Schuerrle. Oscar scored for Brazil.
The Netherlands Faces Underdog Costa Rica in World Cup: The Netherlands and Costa Rica meet in the World Cup for the first time Saturday to decide the final spot in the quarterfinals. The Netherlands has won 10 of its last 11 World Cup matches, losing only to Spain in the 2010 finals. Costa Rica, the biggest surprise of the tournament, is the first CONCACAF team to reach a quarterfinal in 12 years.
Argentina Faces Belgium in World Cup Quarterfinal: Argentina and Belgium meet Saturday in the day's early World Cup quarterfinal. The teams have met twice in the tournament before, Belgium winning in the group stage in 1982 and Argentina in the semifinals four years later. All eyes are on Argentina great Lionel Messi, who has four goals and one assist out of his country's seven total goals at this World Cup.
Brazil Knocks Out Colombia, But Loses Neymar: In a match full of hard fouls and poor officiating, Brazil defeated Colombia 2-1 with goals from Thiago Silva and David Luiz. Colombia's James Rodriguez scored on a penalty to cut the lead in half. Brazilian star Neymar took a knee to the back in the 88th minute on a hard foul by Colombia's Juan Camilo Zuniga and suffered a broken vertebra, ending his tournament.
Germany Closes Down France in World Cup: Germany scored on a Mats Hummels header in the 12th minute and that was all it needed in a 1-0 victory over France in the World Cup quarterfinals. The win makes Germany the first country to reach the semifinals in four straight World Cups. France had a late chance as Karim Benzema launched a final-minute strike in the box, but German keeper Manuel Neuer got a hand on it. An ESPNFC writer was disappointed by the French effort, calling the game "one of the more turgid affairs of this consistently excellent tournament."
This isn't The Onion : Championship League football owner cuts player from team because date of birth is unlucky.:
Cellino is so suspicious of the number 17 that he had the seats at his former club, Cagliari, taken out and replaced with 16B.
Michael Bradley Covered Most Ground in World Cup: Michael Bradley covered 54.7 kilometers during the four U.S. games, the highest total of any player in the World Cup. Headlines such as What Happened to Michael Bradley? suggest the 26-year-old underperformed, but nobody outworked him. "His positioning has been flawless and his work ethic is quite literally unmatched," wrote Beck Barnes before Monday's match.
How Good Are the Americans, Really?: An interesting analysis of where the U.S. men's national team stands in the soccer hierarchy after its exit from the World Cup, written by Mark Satterfield of the Christian Science Monitor. "Team USA has not stagnated. The bus is still moving forward," he observes. "But the issues that made the first 105 minutes of the Belgium game -- and much of America's World Cup, frankly -- an exercise in intestinal fortitude are the same issues that have defined the USA ever since it reemerged on the world stage in 1990."
U.S. Falls to Belgium Despite Epic Tim Howard Performance: In one of the biggest games in the history of the U.S. men's soccer team, the United States lost to Belgium 2-1 in a round of 16 elimination game in the World Cup. The game went to an extra 30 minutes after it was 0-0 at the 90 minute mark. Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku scored goals for Belgium, and 19-year-old American substitute Julian Green -- the youngest player ever to take the field for the U.S. at a World Cup -- scored to cut the lead in half with 12 minutes to spare. American goalkeeper Tim Howard had the most saves in a game in recorded World Cup history.
Costa Rica Faces Greece in Unlikeliest World Cup Knockout: Costa Rica, the surprise of the World Cup tournament thus far, faces Greece Sunday in a knockout game in the World Cup round of 16. The Ticos were not expected to survive a group that included Uruguay, Italy and England, but they won it. Greece beat Ivory Coast in its final game for a surprise escape from its group. This is the first time the countries have ever played each other, and only the second time Costa Rica has reached this stage. They're bidding to be the first CONCACAF team to reach the quarterfinals since the U.S. in 2002. Greece has only one two of its nine World Cup matches and was scoreless in all seven losses.
Mexico Faces The Netherlands in Round of 16: After making the World Cup only through the divine intervention of San Zusi, Mexico has been on an impressive run so far. But now they face The Netherlands, the 2010 runner-up who absolutely demolished 2010 champ Spain in the opening game and helped them exit early. Mexico has lost three times and drawn once in its last matches against the Dutch and exited the World Cup at this stage every time since 1994. Arjen Robben and Robbie Van Persie are within 1 and 2 goals, respectively, of Johnny Rep's all-time national goal record in the finals.
Colombia Faces Suarez-Less Uruguay in World Cup Knockout: Uruguay may have bitten off more than it can chew in a World Cup round of 16 match against fellow South American side Colombia, playing without star striker Luis Suarez after his suspension for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in the final group game. This is only the second time Colombia has reached the round of 16 and the first time it enters as a group champion. Uruguay has won 6 of the last 8 against Colombia, but lost the last two cup matches it played without Suarez.
Brazil Faces Chile in World Cup's First Knockout Game: South American rivals Brazil and Chile meet Saturday in the World Cup round of 16. Brazil hasn't lost to Chile since a cup qualifier in 2000, winning 10 out of their last 12 meetings, and has beaten Chile three times in knockout games. Chile has only reached the final four of the tournament once, in 1962, where they lost to Brazil 4-2 and it went on to hoist the trophy. Neymar, Thiago Silva and two other Brazilians enter this match on yellow cards.
Luis Suarez Banned 9 Games for Biting Opponent: Uruguay star Luis Suarez has been banned for nine games and four months by FIFA for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini during their World Cup match. Suarez had two prior biting incidents in the past five years, one while he played for Liverpool in England's Premiership and another at Ajax in Holland. The decision takes away Uruguay's top player and one of the standouts of the tournament before its match against Colombia in a knockout game Saturday. The punishment covers the start of Suarez' club season as well for Liverpool.
U.S. Escapes Group of Death, Advances Despite Loss: The U.S. men's soccer team lost to Germany 1-0 but advanced to the next round of the World Cup with Portugal's 2-1 victory over Ghana, winning the goal differential tiebreaker over Portugal. Thomas Mueller scored for Germany in the second half. This is the first time the Americans have advanced out of the group round in two successive World Cup tournaments.
Luis Suarez Bites Opponent at World Cup: Uruguay striker Luis Suarez bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during their World Cup match Tuesday, the third time in his career he's clamped down his massive choppers on an opponent during a match. A minute after the incident, Uruguay's Diego Godin headed a corner kick into the net for a 1-0 victory, sending his team into the round of 16 and knocking out Italy.
Portugal Ties U.S. in Final Seconds of Match: The U.S. men's national team was less than a minute from clinching a place in the round of 16 in the World Cup when Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo made a perfect crossing pass to Varela, who headed it past keeper Tim Howard for a 2-2 draw. Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey scored goals for the U.S. following an early Nani goal for Portugal.
Luis Suarez Pushes England to Brink of World Cup Elimination: Wayne Rooney's first ever World Cup goal drew England and Uruguay level at 1-1 in the 75th minute but Premiership top scorer Luis Suarez scored the winner 10 minutes later for a 2-1 win Thursday night. To survive the group stage, England now needs to beat Costa Rica by 2 goals and Italy to beat Costa Rica and Uruguay.
Spain Eliminated from World Cup After Just 2 Games: Spain followed its 5-1 thrashing by The Netherlands with a 2-0 loss to Chile Wednesday, ending its defense of the World Cup crown it won in 2010 after just two games. Chile's Eduardo Vargas poked a close-range shot past Spain keeper Iker Casillas and Charles Aranguiz doubled the lead by hitting an ill-advised Casillas punch off a free kick into the net. Chile, which entered the tournament with the daunting task of being grouped with both World Cup finalists of four years ago, advances out of the group with The Netherlands.
World Cup Confidence Pool Leader: After every World Cup team has played once and Brazil and Mexico twice, MrFrisby leads the confidence pool over tron7, myself and wduchene. Cl trails all others superlatively in the race for the coveted Constanza.
Keeper Guillermo Ochoa Saves Mexico's Tocino: Mexico keeper Guillermo Ochoa made several spectacular saves to keep Brazil scoreless in a 0-0 draw in a World Cup match Tuesday. This puts Mexico in a great position to advance after two games. Both Mexico and Brazil have 4 points in Group A while Cameron and Croatia play tomorrow seeking their first points of the tournament. The 28-year-old keeper's heroics are well-timed. He's a free agent after his French side AC Ajaccio was relegated to Ligue 2 this past season.
U.S. Defeats Ghana with Late Header by John Brooks: Clint Dempsey scored in the first 34 seconds and substitute John Brooks in the 86th minute as the United States men's soccer team defeated Ghana 2-1 in their World Cup opener in Brazil Monday night. Ghana dominated the second half after injuries to American striker Jozy Altidore and defender Matt Beisler, scoring an Andre Ayew goal in the 82nd minute. But on a corner by Graham Zusi set up by Fabian Johnson, Beisler's replacement John Brooks headed it past the Black Stars keeper. The U.S. and Germany are tied atop Group G after one game.
The 2014 World Cup is Here: Twelve stadiums will host 64 football matches during the month long World Cup tournament in Brazil, which begins today. The Telegraph has prepared this Google Earth flyover of each stadium. Use this discussion for today's World Cup talk.
Even if you don't follow La Liga, it's worth reading The Sids: the annual awards from Sid Lowe. They start about a quarter of the way down with "Best signing" and move on to videos of mooning a penalty kick, stories of fans playing linesman and the eloquence of Javier Aguirre:
“I said hijo de puta but I say that 10 or 12 times a game: that’s the way I talk,” Aguirre admitted, going on to say hijo de puta rather a lot to reinforce the fact that he does indeed say hijo de puta rather a lot. Out came a magnificent stream of Mexican mouthing off, his accent getting stronger with every smirk and every swear word.
Landon Donovan Left Off World Cup Roster: The United States World Cup roster is officially set, and coach Jurgen Klinsmann has left off Landon Donovan, the most accomplished player in U.S. men's soccer history. The 32-year-old has 156 caps and scored five World Cup goals. "The other guys are a little ahead of him," Klinsmann said after announcing the final roster. "He did everything right, He was always positive. His disappointment is huge, totally understand that. He took it very professional."