Adidas has agreed to stop selling controversial World Cup shirts that promote “sexual tourism” after a formal complaint from the Brazilian tourism board on Tuesday.
The shirts in questions picture a bikini-clad woman with the tag line “Looking to Score,” while another reads “I (heart) Brazil” with an image of a thong bikini inside the heart. Both were limited edition T-shirts only available in the United States, according to Adidas.
While these shirts may have gotten the ‘Sepp Blatter Seal of Approval,’ they didn’t sit well with the hosts. Ahead of the World Cup, the Brazilian government has campaigned strongly against the country’s reputation as a destination for sex tourism.
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It just had to be this way, didn’t it?
The United States were drawn with Portugal, Germany and eternal World Cup nemesis Ghana in next summer’s “Group of Death.”
Before the draw began, many on Twitter joked they couldn’t wait to see how FIFA would rig the draw. It’s not so funny anymore. The draw may not have been rigged, but the opposition the Americans will face is certainly stacked.
Group G is riddled with some fantastic story lines. The USA first got drawn against the two countries that eliminated them in the past four World Cups (Ghana in 2010 and 2006, and Germany in 2002 and in 1998). Jurgen Klinsmann is facing the team he led to a third-place finish in 2006 and won a World Cup with in 1990. Germany’s Jerome Boateng will line up against his brother Kevin-Prince and Ghana. And if that wasn’t enough, the powers that be tossed in the world’s top player at the moment, Cristiano Ronaldo. Ooof!
Predictably, the response on twitter was a mix of giddy excitement and pure, unbridled terror:
Ouch. #WCdraw— Alexi Lalas (@AlexiLalas)
What fun watching USA get the group of death. :/ ugh— Abby Wambach (@AbbyWambach)
It’s going to be absolutely epic when Jurgen is on our sideline while we play Germany. I can’t wait. #TimmyTakeover— ESPN (@espn)
— Kevin-Prince Boateng (@KPBofficial)
Group G (Germany, USA, Portugal, Ghana) is the only group in which all four teams reached the knockout stage of the 2010 World Cup.— STATS Football (@STATS_Football)
Group G isn’t the only tricky group next summer. Far from it. You could make a good case that England’s group (D) is just as difficult to navigate as the USA’s. The Three Lions will have to face Uruguay and Italy in Group D. Luis Suarez and Mario Balotelli are licking their chops as you’re reading this. And while Costa Rica is presumably the clear underdog, you just have to ask the US or Mexico how difficult they are to beat.
Tough group…but so what? If we want to win it we will have to play the best teams anyway!!— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere)
England, Suarez, Balotelli and 99 per cent humidity in a World Cup, what could go wrong?— Daniel Taylor (@DTguardian)
I’m happy with England …— Warren Barton (@warrenbarton2)
Spain and Netherlands are the first two countries to contest the final of one World Cup and meet in the group phase in the next #worldcup— Infostrada Sports (@InfostradaLive) December 6, 2013
Previous failures have forced Mexico in a must-win position against Panama tonight. El Tri cannot afford a fifth consecutive match without a victory at Estadio Azteca. Anything less than the full complement of points against the Canaleros will place Mexico in the unenviable position of requiring help from the United States in Panama City on Tuesday to secure a place in a World Cup playoff against New Zealand next month.
Victor Manuel Vucetich addresses the media. (Photo: Miguel Tovar/Getty Images)
In order to avoid that awkward situation and maintain control of its own destiny, Mexico must absorb the crippling pressure and produce its best home performance of the Hexagonal to dispatch a canny and motivated Panamanian outfit. Mexico coach Victor Manuel Vucetich will hope these five factors spur Mexico to the display required to grab hold of its World Cup hopes.
1. Establish a solid foundation: The recent struggles to score at Estadio Azteca will encourage Mexico to push additional numbers into the attacking half in a bid to rectify the concern. It cannot do so without a coherent plan to adjust its defensive shape accordingly. Vucetich said on Thursday he wants his side to play aggressively without losing the necessary balance in the back. He will likely aid the process by plumping for a 4-4-2 formation to match Julio Dely Valdes’ preferred tactical setup and provide some of the required solidity. The rest will come down to how the players adhere to the instructions set forth and remember the potential pain created by pursuing the game too ardently.
Giovani dos Santos in training. (Photo: Miguel Tovar/Getty Images)
2. Commit the right numbers forward at the right times: Vucetich is expected to select Miguel Layún and Jorge Torres Nilo at fullback to boost El Tri’s options in the wide areas. Both players offer more going forward than they do inside their own third. Panama will look to exploit the space created by their forays into the attacking half by moving quickly to exploit the vacated spaces. Mexico must ensure those excursions do not create counterattacking situations where expected central defenders Hugo Ayala and Rafa Márquez must confront the Panamanian forwards – particularly the mobile Gabriel Torres, a likely starter – one-versus-one.
3. Overload the wide areas to create operating room: Mexico functions best when it receives quality contributions on the flanks. In this projected setup, with Giovani dos Santos and Christian Giménez likely to feature as nominal wide players with established tendencies to drift inside, the onus will fall on Layun and Torres Nilo to overlap frequently and provide width. The extra man out wide does a couple of things for El Tri: it creates two-versus-one opportunities with the midfielders to exploit the suspect Panamanian fullbacks and it stretches the normally compact Panamanian shape. It looks likely to work on paper, but it must succeed in practice, too. Layún and Torres Nilo must give Panama a reason to adjust and compensate to their presence by combining well and providing accurate service into the penalty area.
Oribe Peralta and Javier Hernández prepare to face Panama (Photo: Omar Torres/Getty Images)
4. Lean on Oribe Peralta to pull everything together: The Santos Laguna man is expected to partner Javier Hernández up front for Mexico. He operates a bit different than Chicharito does: he is a capable conduit willing to drop off the line to facilitate play and permit other players (in this instance, likely central midfield inclusion and club teammate Carlos Peña) to leap into the attack. His aerial presence – he poses a significant danger despite not boasting the size of a prototypical target man – provides a more direct route to goal if required, too. If Peralta can find a way to influence the game (and perhaps even drag Felipe Baloy a step or two out of position along the way), then Mexico stands a good chance of procuring the points.
5. Trust the special players to make a difference: Vucetich will send out El Tri with a more coherent tactical approach than José Manuel de la Torre ever mustered, but he still must rely on his players to perform. The onus falls upon dos Santos and Hernández – the two superlative players in this squad – to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and spur Mexico to the sort of showing missing so far in this Hexagonal. The two stars must inspire an across-the-board improvement to ensure Mexico retains its World Cup hopes at least through the weekend.
Brazilian soccer legend Pelé is as iconic as it gets in the global game. Widely considered as the best soccer player ever, it would stand to reason that his blessing of a team ahead of a World Cup would be welcomed.
Evidently, it isn’t.
Colombian fans have taken up a grassroots effort to dissuade Pelé from naming Los Cafeteros as favorites heading into the 2014 World Cup. The hashtag of choice? #PeléFavoritosNo
As noted in the video, the last time Pelé picked Colombia to succeed in the World Cup, 1994, the team failed to emerge from the group stage and crashed out unceremoniously from the competition:
Upon reviewing “O Rei’s” track record, it makes sense why the video refers to him as the “Anti-Nostradamus.” On separate occasions, Pelé picked Germany, Spain and Brazil to have varying degrees of success, and he whiffed on them all.
So what happens if the Colombians falter in Brazil? Well, it looks like they won’t have Pelé to blame.
(Image: Getty Images/Slaven Vlasic)
It appears the protests in Brazil have made their way into the digital world.
When fans visited the FIFA 2014 World Cup website on Sunday night, they were greeted with a banner saying “we want a fair world cup” as well as a dancing Sepp Blatter in the middle of the screen.
The hack has since been fixed, but the protestors certainly got their point across.
Photo via AxisPhotography.com
By: Megan Kenworthy
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL — Translating his flair for the dramatics on the field to the release of Nike’s new soccer boot, Brazilian phenom Neymar played both rock star and politician, carefully explaining for the first time in public his reasons for selecting new club Barcelona.
"It’s been a dream come true. I’m really happy," Neymar told a group of international journalists gathered in Rio’s city center. "At the same time, I’m a bit sad because I’m leaving my cherished team in a city where I grew up and where I played for nine years in Santos."
But in an one-on-one interview later with FOX Soccer’s Keith Costigan, Neymar talked more candidly about his move to Spain, saying it came down to La Liga rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid. In the end, Neymar’s father, who helped broker the deal, said Barcelona’s offer was stronger.
"My dad was in negotiations. He knows the details," Neymar told Costigan. "During the last meeting Santos showed us the proposals, and Barcelona’s was the best. And that’s when I made my decision."
Entering a dark, mock pitch Tuesday to heavy music and flashing pictures of some of the world’s greatest players, Neymar coolly sported the country’s yellow and blue kit before lacing up the new Nike Hypervenom boot.
But even at the official release for shoe, the first questions revolved around the 21-year-old’s decision this week.
"The feeling is like having butterflies in my stomach," Neymar said. "I still feel it… to be playing with great players like Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Daniel Alves, Adiano and others who are in the team."
Which national team will inch closer to Brazil 2014? Find out.
Catch all the drama filled World Cup qualifying action on FOX Soccer.
Will the beautiful game benefit from a winter World Cup? You be the judge.