• Section 1: What provoked Zidane?
    By Paul Kennedy Managing Editor Soccer America Just what did Marco Materazzi say or do, if anything, to provide France captain Zinedine Zidane to viciously head-butt the Italy defender and get sent off in Sunday's World Cup final? "According to several very well informed sources from the world of football," the anti-racism group SOS Racism said in a statement, "it would seem that the Italian player Marco Materazzi called Zinedine Zidane a 'dirty terrorist.'" Zidane, the son of Algerian immigrants, was shown a red card late in overtime, and Italy went on to ...
  • WOITALLA: Italy shrugs off the jeers
    By Mike Woitalla in Berlin The fans who watched the World Cup final in Berlin's Olympic Stadium probably enjoyed the final more than the estimated 1 billion who watched on TV. The festive atmosphere began an hour before kickoff. Fans belted out competing chants. They danced and sang along to the piped-in tunes, from "I Will Survive" to the "Triumph March" from Aida. Shortly after French President Jacques Chirac, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, UN General Secretary Kofi Annon and Bill Clinton took their ...
  • MAHONEY: Italian pragmatism reigns supreme
    By Ridge Mahoney In Berlin On a night of finely balanced tensions, set under darkening skies and poised between two teams replete with heroic storylines and marvelous players, a great career ended in disgrace and a grand tradition prevailed once again. Italy, purveyor of defensive efficiency, rode out numerous French attacks to end regular play tied at 1-1, then ruthlessly dispatched five penalty kicks to win the shootout, 5-3, and thus its fourth World Cup. The outcome lingered bitter in the mouths of those fervently wishing fate would reward France's adventuresomeness, and more sour still was the sight of ...
  • Section 1: Klinsmann wants more time to decide
    By Paul Kennedy Managing Editor Soccer America Juergen Klinsmann wants more time to decide whether he will remain as Germany coach. Klinsmann is considered the leading candidate to replace Bruce Arena as U.S. national team coach if Arena's contract is not renewed, but he's under heavy pressure to remain as Germany coach, despite objections to his living in and working out of California. The Stuttgart crowd of 52,000 chanted Klinsmann's name after Germany's 3-1 win over Portugal in the third-place game. Franz Beckenbauer, the head of the 2006 World Cup organizing committee and one-time ...
  • Section 1: Zidane lets feet do the talking
    By Paul Kennedy Managing Editor Soccer America Retiring Zinedine Zidane is letting his feet doing the talking. In what would be unheard upon in American sports, Zidane has refused to speak to the press since before France's opening game of the 2006 World Cup. Even before the final game of his career, he didn't talk to press. Nor did any of his teammates. Raymond Domenech, the coach of the surprise finalists, wasn't bothered that no player accompanied him for the final press conference before Sunday's final against Italy in Berlin. "I understand ...
  • Section 1: Seven Italy players picked to World Cup All-Star Team
    Seven Italians and four Frenchmen head the 23-man MasterCard All-Star Team, as selected by FIFA's Technical Study Group. World Cup semifinalists Germany and Portugal also had four players apiece on the all-star game. Argentina had two, and Brazil and England one apiece. The MasterCard All-Star Team: Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Italy), Jens Lehmann (Germany), Ricardo (Portugal). Defenders: Roberto Ayala (Argentina), John Terry (England), Lilian Thuram (France), Philipp Lahm (Germany), Fabio Cannavaro (Italy), Gianluca Zambrotta (Italy), Ricardo Carvalho (Portugal). Midfielders: Ze Roberto (Brazil), Patrick Vieira (France), Zinedine Zidane (France), Michael Ballack ...
  • WOITALLA: A Tabloid Trip
    By Mike Woitalla in Munich Even the Germans who would never admit to reading the Bild newspaper can't escape its giant headlines. They jump out from the newsstands and can be easily spotted if someone's reading the tabloid at the far end of a subway  car. When German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was anointed head of the Catholic Church last year, Bild's famous headline was, "We are Pope!" When Italy eliminated Germany from this World Cup, the front-page headlines  read, "We're crying with you!" and "You're ...
  • Section 1: Zidane nominated for MVP award that eluded him in 1998
    Retiring France star Zinedine Zidane heads the list of players on the short list for the 2006 World Cup MVP award -- the adidas Golden Ball. Zidane is one of seven players in Sunday's final who were nominated for the award. Three Frenchmen -- Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and Zidane -- and four Italians -- goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, central defender Fabio Cannavaro, midfielder Andrea Pirlo and fullback Gianluca Zambrotta -- were nominated by FIFA's Technical Study Group. Other nominations for this year's award are: ...
  • WOITALLA: Gulati says U.S. Soccer to conduct complete review of technical areas
    By Mike Woitalla in Munich Theo Zwanziger, the president of the German soccer federation (DFB), says he believes Juergen Klinsmann will remain coach of the German national team. Klinsmann says he'll decide after discussions with his family, following the World Cup. U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati won't say who the candidates for the U.S. job are if Bruce Arena doesn't remain at the helm. But Klinsmann is an obvious choice, especially because he has no intention of relocating from his Southern California home to Germany. ...
  • MAHONEY: France ends Scolari's run
    By Ridge Mahoney in Munich To stop a most remarkable streak required a gritty team on a great run of its own led by a flickering star not yet willing to be dimmed. France, mired in self-doubts in the run-up to the World Cup and a surprise runner-up finisher in group play behind Switzerland, knocked off Portugal, 1-0, to reach the final Sunday in Berlin. The Portuguese were beaten on a Zinedine Zidane penalty kick yet were marginally superior over the 90 minutes. Cristiano Ronaldo's mazy dribbles mystified the French again and again, ...
  • Section 1: 'The night of tears'
    Germany's dream of winning a fourth World Cup title ended Tuesday night when it fell to Italy, 2-0, in overtime in the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup. All across Germany, fans were glued to the game, hoping that the improbable run of Juergen Klinsmann's team would continue, and a lot of tears were shed when Fabio Grosso and Alessandro Del Piero scored in the last 90 seconds of overtime to send the Azzurri into Sunday's final. The television ratings reached a record 29.7 million viewers, and millions more fans watched on giant ...
  • WOITALLA: The Dortmund boost fails Germany
    By Mike Woitalla in Dortmund If Bruce Springsteen were German, he'd write songs about Dortmund. The Ruhr city was once a leading producer of steel, coal and beer, but its last coal mine closed two decades ago, the last blast furnace folded in 2001, and the eight  breweries that once produced a tenth of Germany's beer have dwindled to two. What is left is soccer. The titles may pile up in Bayern, but the biggest crowds and the heart and soul of the German game is here in ...
  • Section 1: Ribery enjoys spotlight
    By Paul Kennedy Managing Editor Soccer America Franck Ribery came out of nowhere to be one of the stars of the World Cup. He's only played two seasons of top level soccer and never played for France before being called up for the World Cup, but he's emerged as one of the key players in France's surprise run to the semifinals, where the Bleus face Portugal on Wednesday. Ribery's pace and dribbling ability have caused havoc for opposing defenders, and he can attack down either wing. ...
  • Section 1: Frings' suspension leaves big hole in Germany lineup
    By Paul Kennedy Managing Editor Soccer America The suspension of Torsten Frings has put a damper on German hopes of reaching the World Cup finals. The German national team was flying to Dortmund on Monday for Tuesday's Germany-Italy semifinal when it received news that the 29-year-old defensive midfielder was banned for his part in the brawl that followed the shootout victory over Argentina on Friday -- a game in which he had played a key role in shutting down the potent Argentine attack. "Torsten marked Riquelme out of the game against Argentina," Germany coach
  • WOITALLA: The Fan Fest Phenomenon
    By Mike Woitalla in Hamburg Fans who take the S-Bahn to the Hamburg Fan Fest get out the Reeperbahn  station and walk east down the red-light avenue. The McDonald's is flanked by Erotik Heaven and Blue Banana's Table Dance  Club. Across the street is the St. Pauli Theater, soon to stage "The Threepenny Opera" by Berthold Brecht and Kurt Weill. There are five-star restaurants and sausage stands, American fast-food  joints and the Turkish doener booths; fancy nightclubs, brothels and a  church. At Operettenhaus, well-dressed couples will line up tonight  for "Mama Mia." ...