Before the world’s media left Brazil after spending well over a month in the South American nation, FIFA President Sepp Blatter held one final press conference to wrap up the 2014 World Cup.
In true fashion, Blatter didn’t disappoint as he spoke at length about a variety of topics. He discussed discrimination being an issue at the tournament and wasn’t happy with the way it was dealt with in Brazil, being “surprised” that Lionel Messi won the Golden Ball and “hopes” that Luis Suarez will be back.
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After giving the 2010 World Cup in South Africa a ” 9 out of 10″ overall, Blatter rated Brazil as slightly better.
In a World Cup that many, including myself, are calling one of the best in history, Blatter really could have gone for a 10 out of 10 here. Right?
Were there any major issues in Brazil during the actual tournament? Nope. Was the standard of play exceptional? Yes. However the fact that so many stadium delays and other disputes played out in the lead up to the showpiece event may have scuppered Brazil’s chances of getting a perfect 10 in Sepp’s book.
Oh well. Maybe I am getting caught up in the romance of it all and Brazil really only deserved a 9.25 at best. Anyway, here is what Blatter had to say.
“We have improved on four years ago in South Africa. We consulted all our computers and our Facebooks and decided on 9.25 out of 10 because perfection does not exist in football. This was my 10th World Cup and my fifth as president and what makes this so very, very special was the quality of the football and the intensity of the games.”
PRAGUE (AP) Czech champion Viktoria Plzen is close to signing Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz.
Plzen says Ivanschitz agreed terms for a contract lasting 1 + seasons and will sign it when the team returns from a training camp in Spain. Ivanschitz has already joined the squad at the Oliva Nova resort, the club says.
Ivanschitz helped the Seattle Sounders win their first MLS Cup in December.
[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]
No financial details were given.
The 33-year-old Ivanschitz also played for Rapid Vienna and Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, Mainz in the Bundesliga, Levante in Spain and Panathinaikos in Athens.
Ivanschitz played 69 games for Austria in 2003-14, scoring 12 goals.
Joel Matip is going to get to play for Liverpool during AFCON after all.
The center back had turned down the chance to represent Cameroon at the Africa Cup of Nations, and Liverpool was forced to apply to FIFA for a waiver.
[ PL PREVIEW: Swansea vs. Liverpool ]
Matip suffered an ankle injury in December, adding to his desire to stay at Anfield. He declared himself internationally retired and was one of six Cameroon players who refused call-ups for AFCON.
He last played for the Reds on Dec. 11, and can be selected by Jurgen Klopp against Swansea City on Saturday.
MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney says he raised 1.2 million pounds ($1.5 million) from a friendly game against former club Everton last year.
That represents the profits, after operational costs, from August’s sellout match at Old Trafford and goes toward the Wayne Rooney Foundation’s target of raising 5 million pounds for children’s charities.
[ NEW HOMES: Fonte | Berahino ]
Rooney said: “I’d like to thank all the fans who came to the testimonial and made it such a special night. They’ve raised a huge amount of money for children who are disadvantaged and it will make a real difference to their lives.”
Rooney is one goal from breaking Manchester United’s scoring record, with the striker currently tied with Bobby Charlton on 249 goals.
Rooney joined United from Everton in 2004.
Robert Lewandowski picked up where he left off.
The Polish striker scored twice for Bayern Munich, once in stoppage time, as the Bavarians improved their Bundesliga lead to six points after toppling Freiburg 2-1 on Friday.
[ MORE: Bundesliga second half preview ]
And what a winner it was, Lewandowski taking a Douglas Costa cross with two juggling touches before hitting an offspeed bouncer inside the post.
It was the league’s first match following the winter/holiday break, giving Bayern a cushion before RB Leipzig takes the pitch against Eintracht Frankfurt in a Top Five tilt on Saturday.
Lewandowski moves closer to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on the goal scoring chart. His 13th and 14th goals have him two back of Borussia Dortmund’s striker, as Lewandowski pursues a third Golden Boot in four seasons.
Full Weekend Schedule
Freiburg 1-2 Bayern Munich — Friday
Augsburg vs. Hoffenheim — Saturday
Schalke vs. Ingolstadt — Saturday
Darmstadt vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — Saturday
Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Dortmund — Saturday
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburger SV — Saturday
RB Leipzig vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — Saturday
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin — Sunday
Mainz vs. Koln — Sunday