soccer

FIFA Vice President Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein will challenge incumbent Sepp Blatter for the presidency of soccer's governing body.

"I am seeking the presidency of FIFA because I believe it is time to shift the focus away from administrative controversy and back to sport," he said in a statement on the website of the Jordan Football Association, of which he is president.

The U.S. Women's National Soccer team finished its 2014 season with a second-place finish Sunday in the rainy final of the International Tournament of Brasilia. Brazil and the U.S. played to a 0-0 draw.

Soccer's governing body says it has lodged a criminal complaint against individuals in connection with the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, days after clearing the winning bids of corruption.

"In particular there seem to be grounds for suspicion that, in isolated cases, international transfers of assets with connections to Switzerland took place, which merit examination by the criminal prosecution authorities," FIFA said in a statement.

He didn't want to play Friday, but in the end, U.S. soccer legend Landon Donovan was glad he did.

The setting was a farewell game to honor the retiring 32-year-old forward, a friendly game between the U.S. team and Ecuador. Donovan played only 40 minutes and didn't score — although he came close, when he bounced the ball off the goal post in the 25th minute — and the game ended in a 1-1 tie.

Tucker Ives / WNPR

Update at 8:10pm.

As Landon Donovan admitted during a halftime interview, he did everything but score tonight. He had several chances but couldn't find the back of the net. He was taken out in the 41st minute, which was 11 minutes longer than he planned to play.

As expected, Donovan received a rowdy ovation from the mostly packed crowd. The second-half is now underway but there are still fans trickling through the gates.

The USA still leads 1-0 and now that the Landon era is over, they can start the march to the 2018 World Cup in earnest.

Update at 7:12pm.

A lot of fans missed the first goal of the match. Cars are still streaming into the Rentschler Field parking lot and Mix Diskerud already scored. 1-0, U.S. leads.

Update at 6:45pm.

Landon Donovan is one of two starting forwards in his last match with the U.S. Men's National Team. He only plans to play in the first 30 minutes to be rested enough to play with his professional team, the L.A. Galaxy on Sunday.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:03pm and is broadcast live on ESPN. Officials said fans can expect numerous tributes to Donovan before, during and after the match.

Original post below:

After being cut from the United States World Cup roster this summer, soccer star Landon Donovan will play one last match with the national team Friday night in East Hartford, Connecticut. He played for Team U.S.A. in three World Cups and is the program's all-time leading scorer with 57 goals and 58 assists in his career.

MomentCaptured1 / Creative Commons

Two snapshots: The first from the publication American Bazaar, right after the German World Cup win. "In the city of Leipzig, a solitary car scuttled along, with the flag attached to the roof. Waving the flag has yet to catch on. Jan Hoffman, who works in Frankfurt, was in New York when 9/11 happened.  'I had never seen so many flags in my life. Here, there are hardly any, although we won football's greatest tournament.

In a tense match that saw a lot of action but no score for more than 90 minutes of play, Germany was finally victorious over Argentina to take home the 2014 World Cup title on Sunday with a 1-0 win.

In a game that at times seemed more like a rugby match or WWE bout — with head injuries, flying knees and even an eye rake — both teams displayed hardy defenses and a hungry offense.

Luis Suarez, the Uruguayan striker who became headline news in the U.S. after biting an Italian player during the World Cup, is moving to a new club. He'll play for Barcelona, after the team reached terms with Liverpool in a transfer widely reported at 75 million pounds, or more than $128 million.

Israeli Defense Forces / Creative Commons

Once again, violence has escalated in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine. Rockets are now reaching northern Israel and that government is responding with barrages of its own rocket attacks on Palestinian targets. We talk with a local professor who recently returned from the region and studies this on-going conflict.

Updated at 6:56 p.m. ET

Argentina defeated the Netherlands 4-2 in penalty kicks to reach the final of the World Cup, where they will play Germany on Sunday.

The two teams were tied 0-0 at the end of extra time.

Goalkeeper Sergio Romero saved penalties by Ron Vlaar and Wesley Sneijder. Maxi Rodriguez put away the winning kick.

The last time a World Cup semifinal was decided by penalty kicks was 1998 when Netherlands played Brazil. Brazil won that encounter.

The Associated Press reports:

The flailing about, the protests, the sheer agony — what if everyone behaved like international soccer stars who can evidently be slammed to the ground by a fingertip?

"The worst game I saw in my life" is how one Brazilian fan describes it. Another says it's simply a tragedy. Some angry fans burned Brazil's flag in the street.

Jorge in Brazil / Creative Commons

On Tuesday, Brazil faces Germany in a World Cup semifinal match. For thousands of Brazilians living in Danbury, the game is a chance to gather, eat barbeque, and cheer on their native team. 

The United States will have a presence at today's semifinal World Cup match between Brazil and Germany. It won't be the U.S. National Team on the field, but American referee Mark Geiger. FIFA selected Geiger to be on the officiating crew of the high-stakes match. It's the first time a U.S. referee has been used this late in a World Cup.

Donkey Hotey / Creative Commons

It's that time of year when nine people who were never elected decide all manner of questions about how we live. Monday marked the last round of Supreme Court decisions. By now, you probably know that in a five-four decision, they sided with Hobby Lobby in affirming the rights of employers to invoke their religious principles to opt out of the requirement to provide certain contraceptives otherwise mandated by Obamacare. 

Chion Wolf / WNPR

This week on The Nose, our culture roundtable, we'll tackle "Columbusing," the act of believing that something never existed before you discovered it. Also, this week's biting episode in the World Cup makes us wonder if vampires are setting a bad example.

I would never have imagined that my immigrant mom, a Spanish teacher, a proud mexicana, would be cheering for Team USA in the World Cup. A few days ago I overheard her talking to my tía on the phone. She told her sister, "Isn't it great that the American team is playing so well? Now we have two teams to root for!"

Until then, I didn't realize cheering for two teams was an option. As a Latina living in the U.S., deciding whom to root for was like answering the question "where are you really from?"

Sunday's thrilling and frustrating World Cup match between the U.S. and Portugal drew an average of 24.7 million viewers, according to the Nielsen ratings company, a result that puts the game above the recent NBA finals.

The game's total U.S. viewership of 24.7 million includes ratings from both ESPN (18.2 million viewers) and the Spanish-language Univision (6.5 million); it doesn't include the 1.37 million people ESPN says streamed the game online.

The "Group of Death" is living up to its name.

Going into the third and final match of group stage, all four teams — the U.S., Germany, Ghana and Portugal — still have a mathematical chance of moving on to the round of 16.

Of course, the U.S. had a prime chance at sealing the deal last night against Portugal. But, as we told you, a last-gasp goal by Portugal scuttled those plans.

There were 30 seconds left to play and the United States team was beating Portugal 2 to 1. The majority pro-American crowd of more than 40,000 at last night’s World Cup game in Brazil were ready to party, but it wasn’t to be.

Portugal scored with less than half a minute to go, and now the U.S. looks ahead to Thursday evening’s game against Germany to determine its World Cup future.

In A Stunning Finish, Portugal Ties U.S.

Jun 22, 2014

It was heartbreaking. It was stunning. It was the reason they call Group G the "Group of Death."

With 30 seconds left and despite astronomical odds, the United States men's national soccer team was about to qualify for the second round of the World Cup.

But just like that, Portugal's superstar Cristiano Ronaldo crossed to Silvestre Varela, who headed it into the net, tying it, 2-2, marking the final play of the game.

This means everyone in the group of death has a mathematical chance at advancing.

While many millions are enjoying the drama of the World Cup, a handful of scientists are keeping their eyes very closely on the ball.

You know, it is the 21st century, and it is possible to acknowledge that and make both the World Cup and the Olympics more affordable. The current waste and opulence simply aren't defensible anymore.

For the soccer pooh-bahs to demand that Brazil build new stadiums, costing billions of dollars, is unconscionable. How much more logical to utilize existing stadiums in neighboring countries, in large cities like Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Santiago.

An explosion has rocked a northeastern Nigeria town where people had gathered to watch World Cup soccer on television, security officials say.

There were reports of casualties, but it was not immediately clear how many or whether anyone had been killed. Reuters quotes witnesses to the blast at the town of Damaturu, the capital of Yobe state, as saying they saw several trucks carry bodies to a local hospital.

The BBC says:

The name John Anthony Brooks likely didn't ring a bell for many Americans before Monday.

But by minute 87 of the U.S. vs. Ghana game, John Brooks had become America's newest national hero.

The U.S. Men's National Team beat Ghana in the group stage of the World Cup, payback for losing to the Black Stars in the previous two World Cups.

Team USA captain Clint Dempsey surged past Ghana's John Boye to score 29 seconds after the start of the game, marking one of the fastest goals in World Cup history.

Brazil stumbled early on, but came back to overpower rival Croatia in the group A preliminary round match in Sao Paulo at the opening of the FIFA World Cup 2014.

CBSSports.com says:

"The Brazilians surrendered an early own goal before Neymar answered with a first-half equalizer, and a dive in the box from striker Fred led to the go-ahead goal in the second half on a Neymar penalty kick.

Need time off from work to watch the World Cup? If you're in China, no problem. Online stores there are providing fake doctor's notes — even extensive falsified medical records — to get you days of sick leave so you can enjoy your favorite teams.

The service may be particularly appealing, given the time difference with World Cup host Brazil. China is 11 hours ahead of Rio. So if you want to catch opening matches, you have to start watching at midnight, Shanghai time.

Update at 4:31 p.m. ET

And Brazil does recover, with a goal from star Neymar a few minutes later.

Update at 4:28 p.m. ET

The beautiful game is not so beautiful for Brazil in the early moments of the game: Croatia is ahead 1-0 after an own goal by the home team. It's early, though. Plenty of time for Brazil to recover.

[A tweet from NPR's Russell Lewis in Sao Paulo.]

Update at 10:25 a.m. ET

Wednesday welcomes the year's second global sports extravaganza, as the World Cup begins. Just a few months ago, we worried that terrorists would invade the Russian Olympics. Now we wait to see if riots will tarnish the Brazilian World Cup.

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