19
Jul

Clint Dempsey earns spot on FIFA 15 Cover

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Seattle forward Clint Dempsey returned from the World Cup to find out he had landed another honor: a place on the cover of FIFA 2015.

Dempsey is the first American player to land on the cover of the game since Landon Donovan in 2011. He will share the duties with Lionel Messi when the game hits the shelves in September.

"It’s crazy," Dempsey said in a phone interview on Friday. "It’s really cool. I was a fan of the game growing up, playing with my friends. Going from playing the game with my friends to being able to play with my own player in the game and now being on the cover, it’s something that’s pretty special. It’s an honor."

It is also a sign of Dempsey’s cultural relevance in a World Cup year and the increasing influence of MLS on the whole. The popularity of the game — and the presence of the U.S. captain on the cover of it — offers yet another entry point for emerging fans. If Dempsey’s presence prompts more players to opt for MLS sides instead of Barcelona or Real Madrid, then it is exactly the sort of development that can help the league moving forward.

Those broader concerns matter in the long term for a league still seeking to expand its foothold among the general population, but the cachet afforded by Dempsey’s place on the cover reaps immediate benefits, too.  

"I’m super excited that Clint’s on the cover," Seattle defender DeAndre Yedlin said. "I think the fans not only in Seattle, but throughout America will really like it and appreciate because Clint is such a familiar face in soccer, especially in America. I think everybody’s really going to like it. I’m excited to see the response."

Dempsey dons his Sounders FC alternate jersey on the XBox version of the cover (Seattle has the Xbox logo on the front of its kits) and wears his international jersey on the PS4 cover.

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Photos courtesy of EA Sports

30
Jun

Patience is a virute! Fan gets second chance to attend World Cup final

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It has taken sixty-four years but one World Cup fan will finally get to attend the final match of the world’s biggest tournament.

Brazilian Joedir Sancho Belmont had tickets to the 1950 World Cup final in which Brazil lost 2-1 to Uruguay — but he was unable to attend because he chose to look after his dying mother.

Now the 85-year-old has been given a second chance.

Belmont offered his original ticket to FIFA when he heard of their plans to open a new museum. FIFA accepted and, in exchange, gave him three tickets for the 2014 final.

Awesome, right?

This year’s final will be played at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, the scene of the 1950 heartbreak.

Note to self, always, ALWAYS save ticket stubs.

(h/t NPR/Reuters)

Photo courtesy of Action Images. 

28
Jun

World Cup protests are smaller but still emerging in Brazil

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SAO PAULO —

It took a full two weeks at the World Cup for me to see my first demonstration in Brazil. It had been a long day. Following an early-morning flight on the heels of the USA-Portugal game in Manaus, a four-hour plane ride away, a colleague and I had scurried to the Estadio de Sao Paulo to catch the Netherlands-Chile match — insofar as you can scurry in this snarled metropolis at the edge of this tortuous country.

We caught a media bus back after the game, which would drop us off at a hotel close to our own. But as we pulled along a major thoroughfare taking us into our neighborhood — the swanky Barra Funda — the driver stopped the bus cold and opened the doors. In the middle of the road. This bus was going no further.

It took us a minute to realize why. Up the road, people were marching, protestors surrounded by a human wall of police in full riot gear, barely discernible through the black uniforms. It all looked innocuous enough from afar: A few hundred people, banging drums, chanting, and holding aloft a lone red banner. But there’s no predicting how a protest will turn out. They are lightly flammable. The Brazilians’ rage slumbers just below the surface and rouses at unexpected times. In recent days, people have started taking to the streets again. Some protests have turned violent.

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21
Jun

Flavored World Cup Condoms are a big hit in Brazil

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil has undoubtedly captured the imagination of the world, showcasing the exciting side of ‘the beautiful game’. While it’s certainly been a goal-laden tournament, there’s plenty of scoring going on off the pitch, too.

For some, sex and football is the perfect combination. Thanks to DKT international, an organization which provides family planning and reproductive health services in the developing world, it’s become reality.

These special World Cup, Caipirinha-flavored condoms - emblazoned with the signature green and yellow of Selecao, are all the rage on the continent.

It might all seem fun, but there’s a serious side to it. They represent DKT’s attempt at helping prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases at a time when sex becomes rife - the World Cup.

DKT, a charitable, nonprofit organization, and their flavored condoms have certainly proved a hit. The world’s largest condom maker, Karex, have felt the benefit, too. In fact, the company’s sales in Brazil have increased 25 percent.

On top of that, the first delivery of 864,000 units sold out in 15 days.

Either way, DKT have certainly found the best way to get their striking message heard. Well played.

(H/T Huffington Post)

16
Jun

Landon Donovan definitely knows how to laugh at himself

You’re probably sick of hearing about Landon Donovan not making the USA’s World Cup team, but this ad is worth just one more mention of it.

Instead of Donovan sporting red, white and blue this summer, we get Landon in his bathrobe, slippers, moping around his apartment while playing as himself on FIFA.

Oh, and make sure you watch it all the way to the end.

That’s got to be one of the best eye-rolls ever.

He may not be going to Brazil, but at least Landon can still give American fans something to smile about.

15
Jun

Spaniard predicts 5-1 rout by Netherlands, wins $135K in gas

It was the highest scoring game in the World Cup so far, and probably one of the more surprising results.

And yet, a Spanish fan managed to predict his team’s 5-1 loss to the Netherlands. 

Jacobo Ríos-Capapé, a 56-year old architect and ex-referee from Valencia, may be mourning the embarrassing loss but can at least celebrate winning a contest organized by Spanish fuel company, Cespa.

Ríos-Capapé submitted his guess of 5-1 weeks before the match along with 120,000 entries with the hopes of winning the grand prize, $135,000 worth of free gasoline. 

It turns out he was the only entrant to guess the correct result. He explained the logic behind his guess to MARCA:

"Hoping that Spain would win, of course, I thought that if Holland were to beat us, it would be big, so I came up with the 5-1 scoreline, without being very convinced by it. Actually after, I thought it was outrageous and wouldn’t happen."

He’s not done yet. Ríos-Capapé told MARCA that he’s entering a guess into the next contest for Spain’s match against Chile.

(h/t Dirty Tackle)

Image provided by Getty

13
Jun

Whoops! World Cup opening ceremony displays the wrong nation’s flag

imageThis guy has the correct Nigeria flag. (Getty Images)

As we all know, Thursday’s World Cup opener did not go off without a hitch.

A bank of floodlights in Sao Paulo’s stadium went out inside the first 15 minutes of the match, the doves released met an untimely demise, and we all know about Pitbull’s costume. But even though we kept a running diary of everything that happened yesterday, we still managed to miss the perhaps most egregious moment of the entire day:

Yup, the organizers of the World Cup opening ceremony displayed Niger’s flag on the giant globe… while announcing Nigeria. Oops!

H/T Yahoo!Sports

12
Jun

2014 World Cup Opening Match: A running diary of highs and lows

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The World Cup opener had almost everything you could have expected; golazos from Neymar, bikini-clad females in the stands, lights going out in the stadium, a controversial penalty for the home team, Pitbull in capri pants. You know, no big surprises.

Still, it was an enthralling couple hours for anyone who feverishly awaited this day — so much so that you probably didn’t pick up on a few things. Luckily, we kept a running diary of the events, from the opening ceremony right down to the last kick:

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11
Jun

Betting on the World Cup: Some crazy prop bets to throw money at

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Got some cash to burn? Or just really don’t like a particular player or a team?

Most online betting sites let you wager on your favorite (or least favorite) teams, the likely tournament winners and top players. 

And then there’s the fun stuff. And the truly insane.

Here’s a roundup of some of the wackier prop bets you can make on the World Cup through betting site Paddy Power:

  • Luis Suarez to outscore the entire England World Cup Team — 7/1
  • Lionel Messi does not score a goal — 12/1
  • Cristiano Ronaldo does not score a goal — 9/2
  • Neymar does not score a goal — 5/1
  • Andrea Pirlo to score direct from a free kick outside the box during any match — 2/1
  • Any goalkeeper to do a scorpion kick — 66/1
  • Player fails a drugs test during the tournament — 6/1
  • Any English player to cry when eliminated — 2/5

We’re no gambling experts at the FOX Soccer towers, but it’s pretty safe to assume that Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar will NOT be held scoreless in Brazil this summer.

H/T Paddy Power.

Image provided by Action Images