European Championships


Would you pay this much for a ball? I can buy a Nissan Maxima instead!

Beckham penalty ball sold to collector for more than $45,000 Cdn ($34k USD)

MADRID (CP) - A collector has paid more than $45,000 Cdn for the ball David Beckham booted high into the crowd during England's penalty shootout loss to Portugal in the European Championship quarter-finals.

But there was confusion over just who shelled out 28,050 euros ($45,400 Cdn) on the Spanish Internet auction site El Mundo newspaper announced on its website that the successful bidder was a Canadian collector. It did not offer further details.

But the auction website said the successful bidder was "goldenpalacecasino." That appears to be an online casino, whose ties to Canada are through a licence with the Quebec-based Kahnawake Gaming Commission.

Apart from online gambling, Golden Palace is known for paying boxers to advertise their website by entering the ring with its website marked on their bodies like a slogan.

The Internet casino has also used streakers to serve as human billboards, most recently at the world figure skating championship in Germany earlier this year.

Former NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman - wearing apparel - recently ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, to raise funds for MS research.

At one point last week, the Beckham ball price was bid up to 10 million euros ($16.2 million Cdn) in the online auction, though that was purely fanciful.

What makes it memorable is the circumstance. Beckham stepped up to take the first penalty shot in the nail-biting Euro 2004 match.

As he ran forward, his left foot slipped on the turf and he skied the ball, giving subsequent penalty-takers a hint that the penalty spot was potentially tricky underfoot. The ball was caught in the stands by Spaniard Pablo Carral.

At first he thought of protecting himself from the approaching ball, then he reached out and grabbed it.

"The incredible thing was that the ball reached our row because we were sitting a long way from the goal," Carral was quoted by sports daily As. "To leave the stadium, I was guarded by two friends whilst I hid it in my clothes."

The tournament's official Adidas "Roteiro" balls were manufactured in Thailand. The Beckham ball bears the date of the quarter-final - 24 June 2004.

Copies of official competition balls had been on sale for 100 euros ($162 Cdn) during the championship matches in Portugal.

Tempted by the chance of owning a small piece of soccer history, or a memento of English humiliation, bidders had followed the ebay instruction: "Don't miss this great and unique chance, place a bid now!"

A Scottish bidder is reported to have made the 10-million-euro bid, later claiming he made a mistake and kept his finger on the "0" button too long.


Lol I wish I could have sold that kind of ball...too bad I wasn't there when Beckham kicked it past the net :D


Me too, Tora...

... and then Tora, you could have bought yourself a Nissan Maxima with that money! :D

(there's that copper colour again, Serena :D)



(that's a map on that LCD screen, not a soccer match :D)


You'd need about twice that for that LM002 Lambo...

... that Lamborghini is now considered a classic and the owners take good care of it to keep its originality ... all that drives the price way up and since it's a Lamborghini (the one made when the brand and the name was already established and recognized with an amazing reputation ... not just as "bla bla bla" :D) ... anyways, you'd at least need two to four of those soccer balls.


Ah well,I need to wait a couple more years then...and it's good if Beckham still has it in plans...but who knows,perhaps he wouldn't wanna miss any more penalties :D


Yeah LOL if he misses more of those...

Brazil vs. Argentina playing in the finals this weeks! That's who I picked right from the beginning. :)


Since this turned out to be a huge soccer thread:

Brazil beats Argentina 4-2 on penalties to win Copa America final

LIMA, Peru (AP) - Goalkeeper Julio Cesar blocked Andres D'Alessandro's shot and Gabriel Heinze missed over the crossbar as Brazil defeated Argentina 4-2 on penalties in the Copa America final on Sunday.

Brazilians players celebrate with the trophy after defeating Argentina in a penalty shootout, during their final game of the Copa America, in Lima, Peru, Sunday. (AP/Natacha Pisarenko)

The archrivals played to a thrilling 2-2 draw in regulation in a near-capacity National Stadium. Cesar, who also blocked a shot in the shootout against Uruguay in the semifinals, dove to his right to stop D'Alessandro's opening attempt for Argentina. Defender Heinze then missed the second shot.

However, Brazil made all of its penalty kicks, capped by defender Juan's for their seventh Copa title, and first against Argentina in the final.

"We never thought it would be easy," Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said. "Argentina came with all these experienced players, but our team proved they are capable of overcoming any difficulties."

Adriano, Edu, Diego and Juan all scored for the world champions, while only Cristian Gonzalez and Juan Pablo Sorin netted for Argentina, which missed a grand chance to win a record 15th Copa title.

"There are things that can't be explained in soccer," Argentina midfielder Javier Zanetti said. "That's what happened against Brazil, we can't explain what went wrong."

Brazil had to equalize in injury time of each half, the last time in the third minute of second-half injury time by Adriano, the tournament's top scorer with seven goals.

"I can't explain how I'm feeling right now," Adriano said. "This is definitely the greatest moment in my career."

Argentina had only gone ahead in the 87th minute, when replacement striker Cesar Delgado's powerful shot appeared to have deservedly won it for the dominant Albiceleste.

Adriano's equalizer began a squabble between both teams on the field when Argentina players took exception to taunts from Brazil's bench. Referee Carlos Amarilla requested riot police to separate the sides and prepare for the shootout.

"They shouldn't have celebrated ahead of time," Parreira said of Argentina. "It's one thing to slow the game down, but you can get in trouble when you start fooling around with the ball before it's all over."

Argentina's patient craft allowed it to control possession and pin Brazil in its half for long stretches, but the Brazilians' explosive counterattacks helped rivet 40,000 spectators to their seats.

Midfielder Cristian Gonzalez had put Argentina ahead with a penalty in the 20th after Brazil defender Luisao brought down midfielder Luis Gonzalez. Luisao then made up for the penalty-kick foul when he headed in a free kick from playmaker Alex a minute into first-half injury time.

Luisao missed his team's celebrations. He was carried off in the 82nd minute bleeding from the nose following a clash of heads with Argentina captain Roberto Ayala, and immediately taken to hospital. Team doctors later said Luisao lost his memory but was conscious at the hospital and not seriously injured.

Brazil's third title in four Copas capped an unexpectedly successful campaign by a second-string side. Parreira rested his major stars and wanted to test new talent for World Cup qualifying. Only Kleberson of its 2002 World Cup champions was in Peru.

For Argentina, which hasn't won a major title anywhere in 11 years, the loss to Brazil's B team could be devastating. Its demanding fans had just begun to warm to the side and put behind the shocking first-round exit in 2002.

"We keep asking ourselves what we could have done differently to have avoided this kind of result," Argentina coach Marcelo Bielsa said. "Argentina always pressured and sought ways to win just as it did through the tourney. Unfortunately, what happened is what happened."

Argentina paced the match throughout. The back line gave Adriano little space, and Zanetti helped it dominate the midfield. The team forced four corners in the first 15 minutes and would finish the game taking 10 corners to Brazil's two.

After Luisao fouled Luis Gonzalez and Cristian Gonzalez (no relation) converted for his third penalty goal of the tournament, it only underlined Argentina's control.

Luis Gonzalez almost made it 2-0 six minutes later but his low drive from the top of the box was brilliantly parried by Cesar.

The threat posed by Brazil's individual talents finally came to fruition in injury time when Luisao ran onto Alex's free kick and headed it past paralyzed goalkeeper Roberto Abbondanzieri. The goal warned Argentina, the tournament's high-scorers with 16 goals in six games, to stop squandering its frequent chances.

But even after Brazil had replaced Kleberson, captain Alex and Luisao, and kept struggling to set up a score, Argentina took until almost time to score the go-ahead goal.

Sorin headed out of the box to an unmarked Delgado, and the Cruz Azul player rifled in what everyone thought was the title-winning goal, his first of the Copa.

But in injury time, a pass into the box was missed by Ayala and Fabiano and fell close to Adriano, who flicked it up with his left foot and smashed in the volley. He took off his jersey, earning an automatic yellow card, and kissed it while his teammates erupted in joy.

"I usually don't like to single out anybody, but Adriano was very important to this title," Parreira said.

It was the teams' first matchup since Brazil, then with its top stars, defeated Argentina 3-1 in a World Cup qualifier last month in Belo Horizonte.

Parreira was able to field his ideal starting lineup for the third consecutive match, while Bielsa welcomed the return of captain Ayala from a one-game ban.

TALES AZZONI; © The Canadian Press, 2004


Far from Baghdad's chaos, Iraq's soccer team shows country can still win

CHENGDU, China (AP) - Iraq may be awash in violence, political upheaval and economic malaise, but Adnan Hamd and the 22 players of the national soccer team have other concerns this week.

Iraq is turning heads at the Asian Cup, where Hamd's scrappy young team has opened a tiny window of hope to their beleaguered countrymen.

"Our quarter-final match (Friday) against China is going to be very tough. We've got to prepare well, we've got to be ready," says Hamd,

Iraq moved into the quarter-finals by beating former champion Saudi Arabia 2-1 Monday, snapping a 16-year victory drought against its Persian Gulf rivals who promptly fired their coach.

The Iraqis have already qualified for next month's Athens Olympics and are still hopeful of making it to the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

"My friends and family are watching the Asian Cup games at home on television and it makes them very happy," said forward Ahmad Salah. "They see that we are still a normal country, a good country."

The team has had to overcome incredible odds on the road to China.

Suicide bombings, kidnappings and firefights have made practising within the country virtually impossible. Home games have to be played in Jordan and earlier this month, German-born coach Bernd Stange quit over safety fears, leaving the job to Olympic coach Hamd.

Athletes' pay and team funding have also been halved under the new Iraqi government, more focused on restoring security and the economy than winning tournaments. Six players work for clubs in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and Iran, but the rest are signed with teams in Iraq's domestic league, which is in recess until conditions in the country improve.

Players talk little about those difficulties, though, sticking mostly to soccer and their impressions of China.

"Playing in Iraq, it was about half good and half not so good," Salah, one of two Iraqis signed with Egyptian club Zamalek, says simply.

Yet the players' cool demeanour masks the pressure they're under, says team doctor Imad Abdul Nabi.

"It's very hard for them because their families are still back home and still exposed to danger. The psychological strain on them is intense," Abdul Nabi says.

While few if any Iraqi fans have made it to the games, the team's grit and determination has won them enthusiastic backing from Chinese fans in Chengdu, where Iraq played its group round matches. Some attend games wearing improvised Arab headdress.

"We really sympathize with them because of the war and everything they've had to go through. They are real heroes to us," said Chengdu college student Wang Kai, who watched Iraq beat the Saudis.

Tournament organizers are also lavish in their praise.

"This shows tremendous willpower by the players, that whatever is happening in the country, politically, security-wise, they want to keep the Iraqi flag flying," said Peter Vellapan, secretary general of the Asian Football Confederation.

How far the Iraqis will go is anyone's guess. The team's best showing in the Asian Cup was fourth in the 1976 tournament in Iran.

Captain Abdul Wahab says he's not setting any limits.

"We are very strong and technically very sound," Wahab said. "There is no reason we can't go all the way to the final."

CHRISTOPHER BODEEN; © The Canadian Press, 2004


Any Portugal fans here?

Portuguese great Figo announces retirement from international soccer

LISBON, Portugal (AP) - Portuguese midfielder Luis Figo, a former FIFA World Player of the Year, announced Wednesday he is retiring from international soccer.

The 31-year-old Real Madrid star said in a written statement that, after a 15-year international career, "at the moment I feel a need to stop playing" for the Portuguese national team. However, he did not rule out a return to the Portugal side if he's asked "because I have never refused to serve my country and because no one can predict the future."

Figo appeared 110 times for Portugal -sharing the national team record with still-active 35-year-old Lazio defender Fernando Couto, scoring 31 goals. However, was substituted several times during the recent European Championship where Portugal lost in the final to Greece. He was replaced several times by Manchester United's 19-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo, a standout player among a new crop of Portuguese players.

Figo was the best player of his generation in Portugal and the Portuguese soccer federation described him on its website as "one of Portuguese soccer's greatest symbols of all time."

He took over the mantle of Portuguese soccer icon from Eusebio, known as the Black Panther, who became a national hero at the 1966 World Cup.

Figo was voted FIFA's World Player of the Year in 2001 and was European Footballer of the Year in 2000.

He made his debut for the Portuguese senior team in October 1992 in a game against Luxembourg. He became a regular at Sporting Lisbon in the 1991-92 season, but his career progressed significantly with his 1995 transfer to Barcelona.

Figo's departure comes just before Portugal, under Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, opens World Cup qualifying. Its first match is Sept. 4 in Latvia.

© The Canadian Press, 2004


Legendary Luis Figo...Just about a week ago Zinedine Zidane announced that he's leaving the French team too...and so two legendary players out of the international arena.We,soccer fans,will never forget them.