Section 1: Ivanov the Terrible fingers Dutch

By Paul Kennedy
Managing Editor
Soccer Ameica

Russian Valentin Ivanov, the referee of Sunday's controversial Portugal-Netherlands match, said it was nastiest game he had ever called.

Speaking out for the first time since the match, the 45-year-old Ivanov, dubbed Ivanov the Terrible for his calls, told Russian daily Izvestia, "Probably, from the point of view of rudeness, it was the worst match I ever had."

Ivanov sent off four players (setting a World Cup record) and booked 16 players (tying a World Cup record). He said he was surprised by the actions of the Dutch players.

"You would expect some dirty tricks from the Portuguese," said Ivanov. "They are known for time-wasting or hitting from behind. But I was unpleasantly surprised by seeing such things from the Dutch. More so, they were the instigators."

Russian soccer federation president Vitaly Mutko came to Ivanov's defense, in response to FIFA president Sepp Blatter's statement that Ivanov deserved a yellow card for his call of the game.

"If Ivanov should be given a yellow card for his performance," said Mutko, "then many other referees at this World Cup deserve a red."

Maxi takes grandfather's advice to heart

Maxi Rodriguez, hero of Argentina's 2-1 overtime victory over Mexico with a wonderous left-footed volley, credits his grandfather with helping him develop his left foot.

"My grandfather always told me to try to hit the ball with both feet," said the Espanyol midfielder, "but I nearly always go with the right. I've got the left one, as they say, to get on the bus. My grandfather always took me to training at Newell's Old Boys and taught me a bit of everything, like all grandfathers, like all fathers."

"You never imagine scoring a goal like that and even more so with your left foot," Rodriguez added. "If you said with my right, maybe, but it happened with the left. And when it went in and in such a tense match and the winning goal I felt a lot of emotion and joy because the team deserved to keep going."

Rodriguez took a high cross-field pass from left back Juan Pablo Sorin on his chest and volleyed it.

"It was instantaneous," he said. "I thought of controlling it, but the ball kept floating in the air and then I hit it with my left and I realized [it was a goal] when it touched the net."

Germans finally learn words to 'Deutschlandlied'

German soccer federation president Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder says one of the benefits of the German public's show of patriotism during the World Cup is an understanding of "Deutschlandlied," the national anthem.

"It's been a most beautiful experience," Mayer-Vorfelder said. "It moves me when people in the stadium stand to sing the national anthem now. In the past, there were perhaps three or four people in the VIP section who knew the words and sang along. We used to have to put the words to the anthem on the scoreboard for people to read. We don't have to do that anymore. The people are singing it. It's beautiful. It's a normal relationship to patriotism without any exaggerated nationalism."

Germans rejected displays of nationalism as a reaction to Adolf Hitler's Nazis and their abuses.

Unfamiliarity with the lyrics to "Deutschlandlied" was highlighted last year when German-Italian tenor Luciano Rondine flubbed the words before a basketball championship game and Germany's top pop singer, Sarah O'Connor, got the words mixed up at the opening game of the Allianz Arena, the Munich World Cup stadium.

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