FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke admitted his shock over the partying going on at World Cup venues in Brazil, saying he was “amazed” by the levels of drunkenness in the host nation’s stadiums.
Whether alcohol sales should be allowed at World Cup matches is not a new debate but nevertheless became a topic of conversation Wednesday in Rio de Janeiro when Valcke admitted to Brazil’s sports television network SporTV that “maybe there was too many people who were drunk” at the matches.
Given Brazil’s history with alcohol bans, it’s a topic worth examining. In 2003, Brazil banned alcohol sales at soccer matches in an attempt to cut down on fan violence. That law changed, however, when Budweiser signed on as a major sponsor of this summer’s World Cup.
It was a move that compelled comedian John Oliver to go off in his now famous (and hilarious) World Cup rant:
“The amazing thing is here FIFA won. They successfully pressured Brazil into passing a so-called Budweiser bill, allowing beer sales in soccer stadiums,” Oliver said June 8th on his HBO show Last Week Tonight. “And at this point you can either be horrified by that or relieved that FIFA was not also sponsored by cocaine and chainsaws.”
FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fisher thereafter set the record clear, noting, “there is no Budweiser bill” because Brahma, owned by Belgian-Brazilian company Anheuser-Busch InBev, is also sold during matches.
Either way, the booze sponsors won and in all likelihood, will continue to do so if Valcke’s comments from January 2012 are anything to go by. “Alcoholic drinks are part of the FIFA World Cup, so we’re going to have them,” he said. “Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant, but that’s something we won’t negotiate.”
One great striker got another one to open up on an up-and-down year at Manchester City.
Thierry Henry — one of the greatest of all-time, it must be said — sat down with Sergio Aguero ahead of Thursday’s Manchester Derby at the Etihad Stadium, and asked the Argentine about Pep Guardiola, Gabriel Jesus, and more.
At times, it’s a fascinating discussion on playing lone striker. Even apart from the obligatory questions regarding Jesus’ arrival at City, Henry and Aguero speak their craft in a manner you don’t see too often.
That’s helped by the fact that Henry played for Guardiola at Barcelona, and can relate to the positional demands of Man City’s boss. Consider this exchange, from Sky Sports:
HENRY: When I was at Arsenal, I played up front and if I wanted to drift out to the left, I could. But when I got to Barca, I had to stay out wide and press. Sometimes doing that can be hard.
AGUERO: The thing I’ve found the hardest has been getting into my head the fact that I have to press the centre-back and the goalkeeper in matches. That’s what Pep asks me to do. It may not be a big deal, but in terms of processing it, the two of us speak a lot. He knows what I’m like.
I’ve been gradually learning and adapting to that style of pressing over the last few months. The first thing he taught me was how to press and how to do it well. Obviously there are times when I might drift out of position or I might press in an area where I’m not supposed to be, which might make it hard for the wingers or midfielders.
In the game itself, I may not realise because I’m so immersed and you can’t stop yourself. I’ve learnt a lot from him in terms of zones. He asks me to play as a No 9 and to stay in that position. I often drift out wide during matches and he looks at me and says, “If there’s a player out wide who wants to cross it in, who’s in there? Nobody.”
HENRY: I know all about that, believe you me.
I love this, because it shows how difficult it is for an elite striker to adapt his mentality. Both Henry and Aguero found world-celebrated success by playing in a certain fashion, and Guardiola understood that and still demanded a change. Earlier this season, the manager somewhat famously spoke of improving Aguero.
Hirving Lozano’s dipping shot rebounded into the path of Franco Jara, who scored the goal that won Pachuca its fifth CONCACAF Championship early Thursday morning.
The Argentine’s goal was the only one of the win over UANL Tigres, and gave Pachuca its first continental title since 2009-10. USMNT veteran Omar Gonzalez played for the winners, while Jose Torres started for Tigres.
John Brooks is out of Hertha Berlin’s lineup “for the time being” after scans revealed a hip strain suffered in this weekend’s win over Wolfsburg.
That’s all Hertha has said, and that makes it hard to imagine whether American fans should be a little concerned or very concerned ahead of the USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago in early June.
Brooks was unavailable for two weeks with an adductor strain in September, missing a month before returning to the starting lineup.
The U.S. center back pool isn’t teeming after Brooks and Geoff Cameron. Matt Besler, Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, and Walker Zimmerman were called up for the last World Cup qualifiers, and Gonzalez struggled but is a Bruce Arena favorite from their time in L.A.