Spain v Tahiti: Group B - FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013

Del Bosque, Torres dub Tahiti as “noble opponents”


Tahiti may have lost 10-0, but they’ve captivated the soccer community.

Despite the scoreline, both teams played with professionalism and a love for the game in mind, and the Spanish squad publicly recognized the hearts of the Tahitians.

Fernando Torres has faced criticism throughout his years at Stamford Bridge, but he was the first to acknowledge how Tahiti played the game. “All of us have become big fans of that team” said Torres after accepting his Man-of-the-Match award. “We have all had our photos taken together – it was a joy to play in that match and not just because we won so easily, but because they were sporting and despite losing they played with a smile on their faces from the first kick to the last.”

Torres continued, saying Tahiti provided an example for others to follow. “They tried to play football and although the result proved there is a massive difference between the teams, that was not the most important thing. The most important thing was it was sporting contest. A lot of other teams should follow their example.”

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque echoed Torres’ claims, saying the way Tahiti played is a positive sign for the sport as a whole.

“It was quite humbling to play against them,” the boss said. “They were sporting, they played really fairly and every time they got the ball they tried to attack us. They were noble opponents. Of course the gap between professional and amateur football is huge but with the respect each team showed, I think football has been strengthened today and not weakened.”

The Tahitians were mostly praised after the match for not trying to “park the bus” by shoving everyone behind the ball, but instead attempting to build attacks of their own.

Tahiti coach Eddy Etaeta said that while he was disappointed with a number of the goals conceded, believes they’ve still “won a major victory by winning the hearts of the Brazilian public.”

Etaeta thinks their country is vastly improving, and is asking club teams around the world to give his players a chance so they may gain the experience necessary to qualify for a World Cup in the near future. “We are laying some foundations. We will improve if some of our players move to professional clubs overseas. Not the top clubs naturally, but if we had more professionals the game could improve at home, and who knows about the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.”

It’s a longshot, but you can’t fault the effort and the heart.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia