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More on MLS tweaks for 2013: Stay on the bench; hands down; leave officials alone


Steven Goff’s report went beyond mass confrontations, though that was the big one. The Washington Post’s reporter relayed a few other tweaks, all of which come down to enforcing certain standards of in-game (or, in one case, around the game) conduct.

In short: (a) Stay on the sidelines until you’re given permission to do otherwise; (b) Never (like, ever) make contact above an opponent’s shoulders, and; (c) Don’t bird dog the officials.

Or, as Goff more formally puts it:

1. Players, coaches and team personnel, aside from medical staff, are subject to suspension for leaving the bench area and entering the field. (The NBA has a similar rule.)

2. Any action involving a hand to the face or head of an opponent, even a light slap with the purpose of inciting and not injuring, is subject to fine and suspension.

3. A coach or staff member approaching match officials from the time they arrive at the stadium until they depart is subject to fine and suspension.

The third rule hits home for me, mostly because I’ve already used this space to talk about the issue. Following officials down the tunnel to plead your case — after the match is over, when it can’t possibly have an effect — is useless. Actually, that’s the best-case scenario. Often it involves a confrontation in a state of heightened emotion. It always involves the implication of physicality.

Not all players impose themselves when arguing with officials, but often, you have a world-class athlete infringing on the space of somebody who should be off-limits. Nothing good can come from that dynamic. While not all world-class athletes are that physically imposing, the rules for Kenny Cooper have to be the same as those for David Ferreira.

If an official royally blew a call, it’s often reflexive to yell and plead and potentially insult. But there’s no reason to precipitate a physical confrontation by getting in an official’s face. If your complaints are so important that you’re willing to resort to that, take your case to the league. Your on-field appeals will never work.

Jeff Agoos, MLS’s director of competition, told the Post the new rules intend to “make the game more entertaining and less of a spectacle [in terms of] the things around it.”

I don’t if they’ll work, but the changes certainly won’t hurt.

Cisse arrested in sex tape investigation

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Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.

The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.

[ MORE: Klinsmann sends Johnson home ]

Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.

According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.

[ MORE: Dust settles, questions remain for USMNT future ]

Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.

Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?