2014 FIFA World Cup

Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Webb says De Jong would have been sent off with video review

2 Comments

NEW YORK (AP) Howard Webb says he would have given Dutch midfielder Nigel De Jong a red card in the 2010 World Cup final if a video assistant referee had been in place.

The retired English referee showed De Jong a yellow card in the 28th minute for his karate kick into the chest of Spain’s Xabi Alonso. Hired in March to oversee video technology for professional soccer in the U.S. and Canada, Webb held a media seminar Friday ahead of its Aug. 5 launch in Major League Soccer.

Webb says: “Yes, it was a clear red card. It was a clear and obvious error on my part not to send the player off, and VAR would have been able to recommend a review to me, and I would have been able to make the right call.”

Now 46, Webb was a Premier League referee from 2003-14. He worked the Champions League and World Cup finals in 2010, became director of referees at the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, and started in March as manager of video assistant referee operations for the Professional Referee Organization.

IRS official says more indictments to come in FIFA case

8 Comments

The FBI has arrested multiple FIFA officials on corruption charges over the past few days, and after Sepp Blatter was re-elected president today, the indictments are not over, according to The New York Times.

Richard Weber, the chief of the I.R.S. unit in charge of criminal investigations, spoke to America’s premier newspaper about the ongoing investigation and revealed how its process has unfolded.

Originally, it was Chuck Blazer, a former member of the FIFA Executive Committee, who came forward and acted as an informant for law enforcement, following accusations against him for tax evasion. In 2012, he recorded FIFA officials, says the NYT report, and one year later, he “secretly” pled guilty to corruption charges.

“The case starts off as a tax case against Blazer, but our involvement isn’t just on the tax aspect,” Weber said. “Once we get involved in an international corruption case like this one, we use our financial expertise to follow the money.”

[FOLLOW: All of the latest #FIFAarrests news

Both the I.R.S. and FBI joined together to spearhead this investigation, an extremely interwoven and complicated one.

Weber notes that the building of this case, occurring as a chain reaction–one piece of evidence precipitating another–continues to produce more suspects.

“I’m fairly confident that we will have another round of indictments…We strongly believe there are other people and entities involved in criminal acts.”

“I don’t think there was ever a decision or a declaration that we would go after soccer. We were going after corruption….One thing led to another, led to another and another.”

As the action of traveling around the world to arrest the accused seemed far-fetched, striking in Switzerland during a FIFA gathering was fairly plausible when enough information was gathered to execute the move.

That incident already happened. But the real question is: Will Sepp Blatter’s name be called next?

Weber declined to comment specifics.

James Rodriguez goal against Uruguay wins Puskas Award for goal of the year

9 Comments

Hungarian legend Ference Puskas scored a boatload of goals in his career for Budapest Honved and Real Madrid, and he scored them with a style that put his name on the trophy for goal of the year.

The Puskas Award nominees were goals from James Rodriguez and Robin van Persie at the World Cup, and surprise candidate Stephanie Roche from Ireland, whose stunning juggle, volley and turn is among the best goals you’ll see in your life.

[ MORE: World XI revealed | Low wins COY award ]

The goal was similar to James goal in the World Cup, and perhaps the grander stage is the reason the Real Madrid star is taking home the Puskas Award.

Uruguayan president lashes out at FIFA over Luis Suarez’s bite ban

11 Comments

The President of Uruguay has got involved in the Luis Suarez controversy, as 79-year-old Jose Mujica has launched a scathing attack on soccer’s governing body.

Following Suarez’s four-month ban for biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini in Uruguay’s final Group D game at the 2014 World Cup, many Uruguay fans and public figures have supported Suarez.

[ RELATED: Suarez refuses to admit he bite Chiellini ]

However Mujica’s comments were extremely strong, as Uruguay are now out of the World Cup after being knocked out by Colombia in their round of 16 match on Saturday. La Celeste certainly missed Suarez in that match and Mujica has hit out at FIFA.

“FIFA are a bunch of old sons of bitches,” Mujica said. He then paused, put his hand over his mouth at what he had said but then told journalists to “publish it.”

Mujica then admitted that Suarez deserved to be banned but stated that “they [FIFA] could have punished him, but not given him this fascist ban.”

It’s safe to say Uruguayans are upset over the way Suarez has been treated but a “fascist ban” … really? Across world soccer the general consensus is that Suarez could have got a much lengthier ban for his THIRD bite on an opposition player in his career. This strong response from Uruguay’s president (Mujica has been in office since 2010) comes at a time where he is seeking public support.

The next presidential elections in the tiny South American nation take place later this year in October and Suarez’s ban has become huge news in Montevideo and Uruguay’s other cities. Hence Mujica’s strong response.

These comment are all making sense now…

Top Ten Players of the 2014 World Cup’s Group Stage

4 Comments

It’s quite a task selecting the best 10 performances from 32 teams playing three games each, but in the hard world of being employed to rank world footballers, I stand ready.

It’s especially hard not to just latch onto incredible moments and insert a player on the list. Robin van Persie’s headed goal against Spain still amazes me, but was he the driving force behind the Netherlands’ surprising group stage? Certain teams got by on defending, so does that mean one defender can rise above the rest?

[ RELATED: Complete bracket for Round of 16, more ]

Oh, shoot. Let’s just do this thing. The Top Ten players from the 2014 group stage were:

10. Gervinho, Ivory Coast – No, Les Elephants were not able to charge out of their group stage funk, but that was no fault of the electric Gervinho, who challenged back lines and midfields alike.

9. Arjen Robben, Netherlands – He’s a menace, and his motor never stops going (even during his full-energy dives). Robben drove the Dutch into the knockout rounds.

8. Enner Valencia, Ecuador – The bright spot in a disappointing tournament for La Tri, the ‘other’ Valencia has been linked with a number of Premier League sides including Newcastle United.

7. Guillermo Ochoa, Mexico – You watched the Brazil/Mexico match, right? Can you believe El Tri had coaches who didn’t suit this guy up?

source: AP6. James Rodriguez, Colombia – Absurdly-gifted and just as productive, James is one of the main reasons Colombia could emerge from the loaded CONMEBOL quadrant and into the semifinals.

5. Karim Benzema, France – If this guy played in England, he would be one of the most popular players for American audiences. He’s big, talented and hard-charging.

4. David Luiz, Brazil – So PSG is going to team Luiz up with Thiago Silva? Champions League, beware.

3. Neymar, Brazil – If there’s been more stress placed on a younger player by a host nation, we’ve yet to find him. Coming into his own during this tournament.

2. Thomas Muller, Germany – All he does is score goals, and that bullet against the United States was bordering on impossibly well-placed.

1. Lionel Messi, Argentina – Any more questions about the Atomic Ant on the international stage? He was Argentina in the group stage.

Honorable mention: Wayne Rooney, England; Yeltsin Tejeda and Bryan Ruiz, Costa Rica; Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones and Tim Howard, United States; Daley Blind, Robin van Persie and Memphis Depay, Netherlands; Blaise Matuidi, France; Xherdan Shaqiri and Diego Benaglio, Switzerland; Andre Ayew, Ghana; Juan Cuadrado, Colombia; Merhdad Pooladi, Iran; Serey Die, Ivory Coast; David Ospina and Jackson Martinez, Colombia; Vincent Kompany and Eden Hazard, Belgium; Ivan Perisic, Croatia; Claudio Bravo and Alexis Sanchez, Chile; Vincent Enyeama, Nigeria; Oribe Peralta, Mexico; Diego Godin and Luis Suarez, Uruguay; Islam Slimani, Algeria; Keisuke Honda, Japan; Mesut Ozil and Mats Hummels, Germany.