Former Argentinian soccer star Diego Maradona has issued something of an apology to British fans for the infamous "Hand of God" goal against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter-finals. Maradona knocked in the first goal of Argentina's 2-1 win with his hand, an act that went unnoticed by the referee. He went many years without admitting that it was, in fact, a handball.
Maradona has since said he did it because the English goalkeeper was very tall and he couldn't get his head on it. He also called the tipped goal "something that just came out of me. It was a bit of mischief." A bit of mischief??! Huge understatement.
Nevertheless, he was quoted in a London tabloid last week as saying, "If I could apologize and go back and change history I would." However, he shortly thereafter said that the paper changed his words and what he actually said was, "A long time has passed since that and that history can't be rewound."
It is unfortunate that Maradona, who is highly regarded as one of the best soccer players of all timesecond only to Pelewill likely be remembered in such a controversial, negative way.
There is no need to wait years for another World Cup soccer match. The World Cup action continues Tuesday the 6th as United States takes on Portugal-on the sand. The FIFABeach Soccer World Cup is in full swing as teams fight to determine who will be claimed World Champion.
Group play concludes tomorrow to determine who will continue on to the quarterfinal round to take place November 8. After a day's rest, the action continues this weekend with the semifinals on November 10. Sunday, November 11 will be the culmination of the tournament when the world's best beach soccer team is crowned.
The competition was originally organized in 1995 as the Beach Soccer World Championships. The Beach Soccer World Championships were administered by Beach Soccer Worldwide, a Spanish-based organization, with FIFA's endorsement. FIFA took over the tournament in 2005, when the first Beach Soccer World Cup took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and was won by France (without any head butts, to my knowledge).
Beach soccer is an exciting variation of the game. The ball is modified to be slightly softer and the compact pitch allows players to score from anywhere. This leads to high-scoring games, with an average of 60 attempts at goal in a single game, with an approximate scoring rate of one goal every three to four minutes.
The major rules differences are:
Shoes are not allowed, although ankle guards are permitted.
Throw-ins are taken from the sidelines, and can be taken with either hands or foot.
Goal kicks are taken by the goalie using his hands.
An additional notable variation is that each team fields five players and has unlimited substitutions to get them through three 12-minute periods. Every beach soccer match has a winner, with the contest going down to three minutes of sudden-death overtime, followed by penalty kicks if the score is still tied.
Check out this short highlight reel of the best beach soccer goals. You will be amazed at how they move the ball.
"I'm not happy with it, but it is the coachs decision and I have to be there for my team," replied Hope Solo regarding not getting the start prior to the U.S. womens soccer teams semi-final World Cup match against Brazil.
Fair enough. I can understand not being happy about being sidelined for the most important match of your career. And she seemed to understand that she still had a responsibility to support her teammates and be prepared to contribute in a positive way.
After hearing her post-game interview, it is quite clear that she did not grasp that concept.
I watched her interview make the rounds on ESPN several times after the game was over and became increasingly disappointed each time I heard her bark those disparaging words. Publicly calling out your coach, no matter how wrong he was, isn't a good idea; nor is slighting your teammate--especially if she is one of the most decorated keepers in the world.
Prior to the game, head coach Greg Ryan said Solo is a very talented keeper who will lead this team many years into the future. Now that future has become unclear for the young keeper. I think Julie Foudy's comments were right on and I would venture to say that many members of the U.S. team agree with her:
"It is an unwritten code of conduct that you don't do that to a player. This is a coach's decision so, if anyone, she could have made Coach Ryan the villain but instead she chose to attack a player, Brianna Scurry. To make the decision to go in front of a camera, if I'm a playerI don't think I want Hope in goal behind me."
For a team that has always been far removed from controversy, the loss on the field and the heated debate off the field made it the most regrettable day in the history of the United States women's national team.