Outside the Box: We found the box!

We’ve been looking for a while but we finally realized where we put the box. You wouldn’t believe the things that got misplaced in moving from the Dallas Morning News back to a stand-alone site!

Amazon Prime Soccer

Let’s kick things off with a declaration that Seattle not only invented the sport of soccer but also broadcasting of the sport too. Amazon Prime Video aired their first live Premier League games in the UK this week and celebrated by recreating Wayne Rooney’s bicycle kick that proved the winner in the February 2011 edition of the Manc Derby. Undoubtedly one of the great Premier League goals and worthy of putting on a barge on the Thames with Tower Bridge set as the goal. Ah, the days when Joe Hart was more than NPSL-quality.

Wayne Rooney’s bicycle kick against Manchester City is brought to life on the Thames, with Tower Bridge as the goal, at Amazon Prime’s launch. Photograph: PinPep/Rex

Back to Amazon, who actually saved the day prior to Man City’s 4-1 win at Burnley yesterday. I’ve heard of teams shutting off the hot water in the away changing room, or soaking the floor just before the away team gets there but Burnley managed to shut off all the lights in the Citeh locker room. Amazon’s camera crew, fortunately, had a couple of spare lights they could lend City.

Not that the City players minded, belting out Oasis’ Wonderwall in the dark before the game.

You’re Late

The FA has announced that all FA Cup Third Round games will kick off one minute late to encourage fans to ‘Take A Minute’ to think about looking after their mental health as part of the Heads Up campaign.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said: “Whilst delaying kick-off times by 60 seconds is a simple idea, it provides a powerful platform for us and our Heads Up charity partners to deliver a really important message on mental health.

“We know that men, in particular, can be reluctant to talk about the subject, so it is important that we use football as a vehicle to stress the importance of mental fitness.”

It echos a similar move in the Netherlands where games kicked off on time but the teams, officials stood still clapping for the first minute as a protest against racism. MLS has its own eight-minute delay for every game because keeping time is difficult. The exception is when games are aired on Univision, for which a random number generator seems to be used instead of a clock.

Up The Irons

Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris is probably the most notable ‘celebrity fan’ of any team in the world. The former Irons youth player gave up soccer for the rock star lifestyle.

“It was great, but 14 is the wrong age really,” he told Kerrang! magazine in 1992. “Because all I wanted to do was start having a few beers and meet a few birds – which doesn’t mix with playing football. They want you in bed early and all that stuff.”

Maiden make a habit of playing soccer on tour stops, like in Dallas (apologies that someone misspelled football as futbol, they obviously don’t cover the sport in DFW enough!). The band has collaborated with West Ham to release a new kit for the touring team to wear that resembles the mid-90s West Ham kits complete with a real West Ham logo and not the garbage they’re trying to pass off now.

Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris and West Ham United’s Pablo Zabaleta model the new Iron Maiden and West Ham United ‘Die With Your Boots On’ kit.

The jersey itself can be bought from the Iron Maiden store, featuring Harris’ favored number 11.

The Statue Has Limitations

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is in the news again. The Swede has yet to sign for anyone but did decide to buy a 50% stake in the Swedish branch of LA Galaxy owner Phil Anschutz’s AEG. That meant he also bought into their main property in Sweden with a minority ownership of Hammarby.

Ibra is well known for starting his professional career with his hometown club, Malmö FF, and their fans aren’t too happy to see him investing in a rival in this year’s championship race. The two clubs finished a point behind champions Djurgården.

Malmö fans attempted to set fire to the statue, before settling for placing a tarp over the head and a toilet seat on the arm. Someone also spray-painted the word Judas on the door of Zlatan’s home in Stockholm.

Digging Deeper

Italian soccer has been dragged through the mud lately with racist incidents. Romelu Lukaku was subjected to monkey noises by Cagliari fans, who the Italian authorities failed to punish, and Lukaku’s own fans at Inter Milan tried to excuse as a warped form of respect. Luciano Passirani, a pundit on Italian TV, was cut off and immediately fired on air for saying “If you go one-on-one with him, he will kill you. Either you give him 10 bananas to eat, or…” about the former Manchester United striker.

Mario Balotelli received the same abuse from Verona fans, with Ultras leader Luca Castellini stating “Balotelli is Italian because he has Italian citizenship but he’ll never be fully Italian.” Well, he was born in Italy, which makes him fully Italian. That moron was banned from attending games for ten years. Even the guy who signs Balotelli’s paychecks, Massimo Cellino, made a really ill-advised joke about the former Man City and Liverpool striker trying to ‘whiten himself’.

Above is Corriere dello Sport’s preview for Friday’s Inter Milan v Roma game. A huge game as Inter look to put themselves in a better spot at the top of the table and Roma aim to move closer to a Champions League spot. It focuses on Lukaku and Chris Smalling as two key signings to their clubs’ successes, but wow what a terrible choice of headline.

In Europe a lot of things are considered acceptable that wouldn’t be in the US given the history here, but one of the three national sports-based newspapers should not have an editorial meeting where someone says ‘They’re both black and their teams play on Friday, that’s your headline.’ The text even cites that they’re former Man Utd teammates, have a play on United, something that isn’t race-based.

The paper tried to excuse the headline as celebrating diversity and refused to apologize. As a result, Roma and Inter made a joint statement banning Corriere dello Sport from media activities related to their teams.

Ballon d’GOAT

Leo Messi took home a record sixth Ballon d’Or while Megan Rapinoe became the first American to win the female version of the award in its second year.

Messi finished just six points clear of Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk, but the Dutchman took most of the headlines for a joke on the red carpet. When asked what he thought of Cristiano Ronaldo – specifically referred to as ‘a rival’ – opting not to show up to accept third place van Dijk asked if they’re rivals. The response prompted CR7’s sister to post a long rambling rant about all of her brother’s achievements, none of which seemed to indicate that the pair have been rivals.

President Pinoe took the opportunity to appeal to Messi, Ronaldo, and the Swedish chap with the burnt statue to join her in speaking out on the big issues affecting the sport and society.

“I want to shout Cristiano, Lionel, Zlatan, help me!” she said in the interview. “These big stars do not engage in anything when there are so many problems in men’s football.

“Do they fear losing everything? They believe that, but it is not true. Who will erase Messi or Ronaldo from world football history for a statement against racism or sexism?”

While it isn’t an instant fix, I’m inclined to agree that Cristiano Ronaldo leading Juventus off the pitch would send a huge message throughout Italy in a game where racist abuse was being directed at a player.

What’s On This Week

There’s an Old Firm Derby and the Champions League group stage wraps up this week. Keep an eye on Group H where Ajax, Valencia, and Chelsea fight for the two knockout spots. Chelsea are currently third but face bottom club Lille, plus Mourinho made his name pulling off big Champions League wins with Porto.

We always like talking youth, and there are a couple of examples of great local talent on show. You can check out hopefully future FCD Homegrown Eddie Munjoma and SMU this evening as they take on number one seed Virginia in the NCAA tournament. Madison Haley and Stanford follow in the women’s semi-final as they take on UCLA hoping to reach Sunday’s final. FCD’s Diana Ordonez takes part in the Nike Friendlies on Wednesday for one of the two US U-20 teams.

Friday, December 6:
1:45PM – Inter Milan v Roma (Serie A) – ESPN+
2:00PM – Villareal v Atletico Madrid (LaLiga) – beIN SPORTS
6:00PM – Virginia v SMU (NCAA Men’s) – ACC Network / WatchESPN
8:30PM – UCLA v Stanford (NCAA Women’s) – ESPNU

Saturday, December 7:
6:00AM – Real Madrid v Espanyol (LaLiga) – beIN SPORTS
6:30AM – Everton v Chelsea (EPL) – NBCSN
8:30AM – Borussia Mönchengladbach v Bayern Munich (Bundesliga) – FS1
9:00AM – Bournemouth v Liverpool (EPL) – NBCSN
10:30AM – Montpellier v PSG (Ligue 1) – beIN SPORTS
11:00AM – Udinese v Napoli (Serie A) – ESPN+
11:30AM – Manchester Utd v Manchester City (EPL) – NBCSN
1:45PM – Lazio v Juventus (Serie A) – ESPN+
2:00PM – Barcelona v Mallorca (LaLiga) – beIN SPORTS

Sunday, December 8:
7:00AM – Real Betis v Athletic Bilbao (LaLiga) – beIN SPORTS
8:00AM – Aston Villa v Leicester City (EPL) – NBCSN
9:00AM – Rangers v Celtic (SPFL) – B/R Live
2:00PM – Marseille v Bordeaux (Ligue 1) – beIN SPORTS CONNECT
7:30PM – NCAA Women’s Championship – ESPNU

Monday, December 9:
2:00PM – West Ham v Arsenal (EPL) – NBCSN

Tuesday, December 10:
12:00PM – RB Salzburg v Liverpool (UCL) – TNT / TUDN / UniMas / B/R Live
2:00PM – Inter Milan v Barcelona (UCL) – TNT / TUDN / UniMas / B/R Live
2:00PM – Chelsea v Lille (UCL) – B/R Live
2:00PM – Ajax v Valencia (UCL) – Galavision / B/R Live

Wednesday, December 11:
12:00PM – Dinamo Zagreb v Manchester City (UCL) – TNT / TUDN / UniMas / B/R Live
2:00PM – Bayern Munich v Tottenham (UCL) – TNT / B/R Live
2:00PM – Bayer Leverkusen v Juventus (UCL) – Galavision / B/R Live
2:30PM – France v USA Red (U-20 women’s friendly) – US Soccer social media channels
5:30PM – Brazil v USA Blue (U-20 women’s friendly) – US Soccer social media channels

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