Jermaine Jones apologizes to fans for red card, Traoré left out

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Credit to Jermaine Jones. The guy has publicly addressed his red card, taking to his Twitter account (@jermainejunior) on Saturday night to apologize to Schalke fans for getting sent off at Stuttgart:

source:

After it happened, I took to my soapbox to outline all my problems with the challenge: it was unnecessary, part of a pattern, ill-timed, and inherently disrespectful to his opponent. Jones conceded it was a too much for a “50:50” challenge. He undoubtedly realizes down 3-1 with his team playing 11-on-10 is a poor time to be that aggressive. And though I’d like him to be “100% on the ref side,” it would be a little naive of me to expect an athlete to do so.

Regarding the pattern of behavior, that needs to be taken back. According to various sources, Jones earned the first straight red card of his career today. He may have a penchant to unnecessary fouls, but there’s little record of his affinity for dangerous ones.

source: APStill, I would have like to see him apologize to Ibrahima Traoré, the Stuttgart player he put at risk with his challenge. That play could have seriously injured the 24-year-old Ivorian. Without acknowledging that, I’m not sure Jones really gets what was so wrong about his challenge.

In the big picture, the problem wasn’t that you broke the rules, Jermaine. It’s that you took another player’s well-being into your own hands. For feet, as it were. For those few moments you were airborne with your right leg extended, Traoré’s immediate future was under undo risk.

That this isn’t the first thing on your mind when you go to tweet apologies hints this situation could happen again. I only hope the next player is as spry as Traoré.

And I’m not looking for contrition here. At least, I’m not looking for it from one player. This is a sport-wide problem. The frequency of these kind of tackles is something every player should care about the same way basic safety concerns are important in all sports. No horsecollar tackles in American football. No putting a guy head-first into the boards in ice hockey. No ankle-breakers in soccer.

They’re not an inherent part of the game. Nowhere in the rules are lunging tackles addressed, but player safety and danger play is. The potential risk associated with these plays in no way justifies an insignificant reward.

From what I know of Jermaine Jones, I imagine his response to whether he should apologize to Traoré would be “of course.” It’s just not something that enters a player’s head unless an injury has occurred. That’s how far down the list of priorities player safety is in these situations.

Over the last 25 years, the game has gotten much better about curtailing these types of challenges, but at some point, players are going to have to take it upon themselves to say the possibility of injuring a fellow professional makes those challenges off limits.

Whether that means more punishment than a red card and suspension, I’m not sure. But I’m confident once players agree this type of aggression has no place in the game, the problem will disappear within a generation.

Khedira laughs off Swedish reporter’s offer of tickets home

AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
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Juventus midfielder Sami Khedira brushed off a gesture from a Swedish reporter, trading a bit of banter ahead of Germany’s big World Cup match against Sweden on Saturday.

Germany fell 1-0 to Mexico in its opener while Sweden beat South Korea, leading a playful Swede to hand Khedira boarding passes for a flight home to Germany.

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Khedira’s reply? He joked that Sweden won’t be a problem and he’ll use the tickets after the World Cup Final.

From Goal.com:

“After this bad start, we know that it’s super difficult, but we know that we are a strong team. We analysed the game, we saw Sweden play and we are sure that we are winning this game.

“I think we’ll need them [plane tickets] on the 16th of July.”

Report: Newcastle’s Clark knocked out on Spanish dance floor

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A wild story out of Spain says an Englishman knocked Newcastle United defender Ciaran Clark unconscious at a night club.

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Clark was on vacation in Spain, where he was spending time at Crystal’s Bar in Punta Ballena, Magaluf very early Sunday morning.

Clark and a man “in his 30s” got into an argument that saw the Irish defender knocked out, according to the BBC.

Clark was left unconscious and taken to hospital after an argument between him and the suspect broke out on the dance floor.

The 28-year-old suffered cuts and bruises to his face.

Clark, 28, scored twice in 20 Premier League appearances this season, his second at St. James’ Park.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 9 — Iceland’s next step, Brazilian bounce back?

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Brazil is one of the favorites of the 2018 World Cup, while Iceland is the smallest nation to qualify for the world’s biggest tournament.

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On Friday, both enter their second match days feeling quite different after 1-1 draws.

They won’t face each other, of course, but the contrast is striking nevertheless.

Brazil opens the day’s action when it squares off with Costa Rica, who fell to Serbia in the opener. For Serbia, a dark horse of the tournament, it will be a meeting with Switzerland.

Then there’s Iceland’s bid to climb into the Group D driver’s seat by knocking off Nigeria. A win from Iceland would make Lionel Messi and Argentina’s task of qualifying for the knockout rounds extremely unlikely.

Below is Friday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group D
Nigeria vs. Iceland: Volgograd, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group E
Brazil vs. Costa Rica: Saint Petersburg, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Serbia vs. Switzerland: Kaliningrad, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Sampaoli defends Messi, blasts Argentina

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Jorge Sampaoli is lambasting his team after a 3-0 loss put Argentina on the edge of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup’s knockout rounds.

“The reality of the Argentina squad clouds Lionel Messi’s brilliance,” Sampaoli said. “The team doesn’t gel as well as it should.”

[ MORE: Modric urges humility ]

Sampaoli said his players could not find a way to get the ball to Messi, and that the introduction of Boca Juniors youngster Cristian Pavón was aimed at opening up the field a little bit.

And Sampaoli is not shying away from the long-discussed comparison between Messi and Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo. From the BBC:

“Cristiano is a great player and he has achieved a lot with club and country. Right now it is hard to compare these two players because of the ability in the Argentinian squad clouds the judgment. Leo is in a difficult position because the squad doesn’t gel with him. As coach I have to accept that. I don’t feel shame but I definitely feel pain. It has been a long time since I have gone through this experience as a coach and obviously it is more painful when I’m wearing the colours of my country.

“We have no alternative but to give it our all in the final match. We have not performed at the level the country expects. We were ambitious ahead of the game but now it is harder for us as a group. We did think this would be the match we can take off as a team, but it wasn’t in the end. I think this is an excellent squad but we didn’t gel or come together. We need to take advantage of the next match, when the pressure will be on, and hope to progress.”

Now, of course Sampaoli is going to defend Messi, but Argentina’s team is not chopped liver. The side certainly isn’t as deep or solid as Croatia, but 1-1 with Iceland preceded this one.

That said, Argentina’s performance once Croatia essentially decided to surround Messi was unacceptable. If favored Nigeria doesn’t handle its business against Iceland, the World Cup finalists won’t have a prayer of going back.