'Erdinger-Talk 2013'

Beckenbauer apologizes for Buffon ‘pensioner’ comment

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Raphael Honigstein had an enlightening interpretation on Thursday’s Football Weekly podcast. The German soccer writer was on The Guardian’s show when Franz Beckenbauer’s “pensioner” quote came up. The Germany and Bayern Munich legend had cast that label on Gianluigi Buffon after the Juve keeper’s performance on Tuesday, implicitly comparing the 35-year-old to somebody twice that age.

The comment was big news in Italy, but as Honigstein explained to the podcast’s panel, the remark was less an attempt at analysis than a flippant, off-the-cuff assessment. Beckenbauer, per Honigstein’s telling, sits in a television studio and just says what’s on his mind, often giving his reactions in the same voice that a fan might use for an offhand comment at the pub. It’s not that Buffon is a pensioner. It’s just that on David Alaba’s opening minute goal, he looked like one.

(MORE: Bayern clinch Bundesliga in record time)

Good luck staying something like and expecting the Italian media to have a sense of humor about it. Buffon is a legend in Italy, the national team’s number one, and the starting goalkeeper for the country’s best club. Fair or not, jabs at players like Buffon, Andrea Pirlo, and Francesco Totti are sometimes interpreted as shots at Italian soccer itself.

Perhaps that’s why Beckenbauer has apologized:

“I apologise to Buffon if he felt offended by my words, as it was not my intention,” Beckenbauer told Bild.

“However, I remain convinced of my opinion: Buffon should’ve been able to block the first and second goals.”

I think most people feel the same. And most people know that Beckenbauer wasn’t being literal when he called Buffon a pensioner. But with Buffon and others having taken offense to Beckenbauer’s reaction, might as well apologize and move on. No point making a stand over something that was never intended to be serious in the first place.

The backlash on this one has been a little weird, though. I can’t shake the feeling that Juventus are reaching for something to rally around. Never underestimate the number of ways an athlete can perceive and use a slight, especially when that slight could take headline space away from a recent, disappointing result.

Buffon has already apologized to fans. He called Tuesday’s performance the worst of his Champions League career, so rolling with the pensioner jab wouldn’t have been that big a deal. Playing into it, however, has given his team a way to draw attention from their Tuesday letdown.

PST’s writers predict the USA vs. Mexico score

United States v Mexico - International Friendly
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This is it. Don’t get scared now.

On Saturday the U.S. national team take on Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup at the Pasadena Rose Bowl, as the bitter rivals square off to decide who will be going to the 2017 Confederations Cup.

[ FULL PREVIEW: USA vs. Mexico ]

The time for talking is over. Whoever wins the one-off game in California will be heading to Russia a year before the 2018 World Cup to represent the CONCACAF region.

Click on the link above for a comprehensive preview of everything you need to know heading into Saturday’s massive game, while below all five of our writers predict the score and how the game will pan out.

[ MORE: Bedoya out for USA ]

Do you agree? Let us know in the comments below.

Joe Prince-Wright

USA 2-2 Mexico (USA win on penalty kicks)

For some reason, I think this is going to PKs. Expect a fast, frenetic opening and if the U.S. can keep things level at the break then I think they have a great chance. I see a dramatic evening playing out in this dramatic rivalry. U.S. win. just.

Nicholas Mendola

USA 3-2 Mexico

After the game, one in which Fabian Johnson serves the game winner to Clint Dempsey, Klinsmann runs shirtless across the field with “Benny who?” painted on his chest. On the back, he’s painted, “I’m kidding, America. Benny is a wonderful midfielder and a blessing to our shores.”

Kyle Bonn

USA 0-2 Mexico

The U.S. limped its way through the Gold Cup and still doesn’t have any idea what its best 11 is. Mexico takes this one despite turmoil at the top. (Also the team I pick usually doesn’t win, so I’m all in with the reverse jinx)

Andy Edwards

USA 1-2 Mexico

Too much possession conceded to Mexico, too much pressure on the USMNT defense… just like the Gold Cup, except against even better opposition.

Kyle Lynch

USA 1-2 Mexico

The United States takes an early lead, but Mexico fights back and wins it all in Jurgen Klinsmann’s final game as USMNT manager.

Blatter, Platini both officially appeal FIFA suspension

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 25:  FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter and UEFA President Michel Platini look on during the Team Seminar ahead of the Preliminary Draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the Corinthia Hotel on July 25, 2015 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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Suspended FIFA executives Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini have both officially appealed their 90-day bans through various means in attempts to clear their names.

The pair have been forced to temporarily vacate their office due to an investigation by Swiss authorities into corruption charges based on a “disloyal payment” of around $2 million from Blatter to Platini in 2011.

Blatter’s appeal was lodged within FIFA on Friday, with the president’s lawyer confirming he has “requested additional proceedings before the Adjudicatory Chamber of the Ethics Committee and filed an appeal with the Appeal Committee.”

Blatter’s American lawyer Richard Cullen said he is “very hopeful” the suspension will be lifted on appeal, while his lawyer team back on Thursday argued in a statement that the FIFA Ethics Committee “based its decision [to suspend Blatter] on a misunderstanding of the actions of the attorney general in Switzerland, which has opened an investigation but brought no charge against the president.”

The New York Times obtained a copy of the appeal, in which Blatter’s lawyers demand to see the case file which the Ethics Committee reviewed upon its decision to suspend the 79-year-old. It also asks that he receive a full opportunity to argue his innocence in front of the committee; previously, he was only afforded a short interview with Swiss investigators.

Meanwhile, Platini’s appeal came through Saturday morning and is filed with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. His case has received official, legal backing from the French FA as his home nominating association for the upcoming presidential election. Using the French FA’s support, Platini can bypass the FIFA appeals system which he individually must exhaust before moving to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

CONMEBOL has also publicly supported Platini, issuing a statement that says it “does not agree” with the decision to suspend him, calling it “untimely and disproportionate” while stating, “The presumption of innocence is a fundamental right that has to be considered. Mr. Platini has not been found guilty of any charge, therefore the provisional ban jeopardizes the integrity of the electoral process to the FIFA presidency, of which Mr. Platini is a candidate.”

Platini has not been replaced at his UEFA presidential post, with no interim leader named. “This is because the UEFA executive committee is aware that the UEFA president will immediately take all necessary steps to appeal the decision of the FIFA ethics committee to clear his name,” UEFA said in a statement. They confirmed he will not continue his duties while under punishment.

The FIFA Executive Committee has announced it will hold an emergency meeting on October 20 to discuss the situation. Among the topics that will be considered will be a decision on whether to postpone the February 26 presidential election.