BBC: "Former Match of the Day presenter Jimmy Hill, one of English football's most influential figures, died on Saturday at the age of 87. As chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association, he led the campaign for the scrapping of maximum wages for professional footballers. He played 297 games for Fulham and was later manager and chairman at Coventry. Hill - diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2008 - made more than 600 appearances as presenter of Match of the Day." Guardian Report - Guardian Obituary.
There are many foreign players in English football today, but back in the 70s and 80s there were only a few. Some became club legends, others had disappointing spells with their club. This Daily Mail article has lots of lovely 70s and 80s style pictures of many of these players, including Ardilles, Grobelaar, and, of course, a young Alex Sabella.
As the last of the African teams exits at the Round of 16, filmmaker and columnist Farai Sevenzo looks at the state of African football, bedevilled by the perennial problems of poor organisation, tactical indiscipline and rows over money. [BBC]
In the wake of England's exit from the 2014 World Cup, QPR Manager Harry Rednapp said in an interview with BBC Five Live that some players didn't want to play for England.
"When full internationals came around, two or three players didn't want to go and play for England. They'd come to me 10 days before the game and say: 'Gaffer, get me out of the game. I don't want to play in it.'"England Captain Steven Gerrard then called on Rednapp to name names, however Rednapp has so far refused. Former England Manager (91-93) Graham Taylor then came out and said that players not wanting to play for their country is "nothing particularly new". And finally, ex Arsenal and England striker Ian "Wrighty" Wright wades into the debate in The Sun
Today sees the start of the final round of group games in the 2014 World Cup. Each day, there are 4 games, the final 2 games from each group. Both matches in each group will be played simultaneously, after a scheduling rule change by FIFA after an infamous 1982 World Cup Finals match. But last night, Algeria qualified for the knockout stages after beating South Korea 4-2. This is the first time in history an African team has scored 4 goals at the World Cup Finals.
"It was the dark ages of American soccer, with the United States preparing to host a World Cup for a sport that its public had virtually no common appreciation for. Since the collapse of the North American Soccer League in the 1980s, the country didn’t even have a professional top division – Major League Soccer was a mere glimmer in Doug Logan’s eye. It was a time when the notion that airing football matches in the US could be a viable, lucrative endeavour received “zero respect”, in Keane’s words, from broadcasters. Burdened by extortionate broadcasting agreements with pay-per-view carriers, Keane would often record European matches for diehard fans who had no idea which teams won over the weekend."
The BBC assesses the World Cup Groups: Group A/ Group B/Group C/Group D/Group E/Group F/Group G/Group H. [more inside]
"Look at this beautiful woman that's athletically very strong beside me, I knew there were some intangibles that I could work with to turn this team around in a short space of time." The woman Rongen refers to is Jaiyah Saelua, born Johnny, but one of the island's Fa'afafine - an integral part of traditional Samoan culture, born biologically male but embodying both masculine and feminine gender traits. It makes her the world's first transgender national football player. While, through the force of her own personality, Jaiyah becomes an integral part of the documentary - there is no explicit battle for acceptance from her teammates, the issue of sexual identity is just not an issue for the islanders. "Its natural in American Samoa because its part of the culture. Fa'afafine's have been around since before the missionaries came. It's so deeply embedded in the foundations of our culture to show respect and that includes respect for transgender people," says Jaiyah.
After being thrashed 5-0 in the FA Cup by Nottingham Forest, West Ham United have offered one very sad young fan the chance to watch a home game from the directors box.
"Cuthbert Ottaway lifted the FA Cup as skipper of Oxford University, represented them at five different sports ranging from athletics to real tennis, and once shared a 150-run partnership with WG Grace in the highest level of cricket. His most notable achievement was captaining England in the first ever international football match though. About 4,000 spectators, including a "large number of ladies", gathered to watch the historic game against Scotland at the West of Scotland Cricket Club in Partick on 30 November 1872."
"On Sunday, Joseph S Blatter attended a ceremony on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius to celebrate the renaming of the country's FA headquarters in his honour. The Fifa president would perhaps say it was a fitting tribute, given his promotion of African football and the amount of "development" money poured into the continent over recent decades. His critics would say it was typical of his egomania and note the importance of African votes in keeping him atop world football for 15 years." [more inside]
Some great retro images of George Best during his time with the L.A. Aztecs in 1976. Includes this wonderful image of Best and Pele - whats not to like about it? As the article writer says: "George Best. The NASL. adidas retro kit. Pelé in a coral suit.......To be honest, you could probably shoot us now..."
Football (Soccer) in the USA has a much longer history than many people think. In fact, the first International Match outside of the British Isles was between the USA and Canada in 1885, played at Newark, New Jersey. [more inside]
The World Cup Final is almost here, only 24 hours and 30 minutes away: Sunday Night, 19:30 GMT [more inside]
There are only 10 days of the World Cup left. The World Cup Final is on Sunday 11th July at 19:30 GMT. Today sees the start of the Quarter Finals, and with only 8 teams left, this is when the pressure really starts. A brief Preview of the Quarter finals: [more inside]