Chelsea and Inter secure doubles (the league title and the domestic cup) in England and Italy respectively, while Barcelona also win La Liga after being pushed all the way by Real Madrid. Chelsea overcame a plucky Portsmouth 1-0 at Wembley despite giving a penalty away to the south coast side, which was missed, and fluffing a spot kick of their own. In Italy, Inter wrapped up the title and a double with a 1-0 victory of their own over Siena. They now look forward to the Champions League and a possible treble when they clash with Bayern Munich, also in with a shout of an amazing treble.
Sao Paulo from Brazil and Guadalajara from Mexico make it into the semi-finals of the Copa Libertadores. Sao Paolo, the Tricolor Paulista, comfortably overcame fellow Brazilian team Cruzeiro 4-0 over two legs and they’ll be hoping they can go all the way and win the title for the fourth time. Meanwhile, Guadalajara had a scare at Libertad of Paraguay, losing 2-0 in the away leg, but getting through because of their first leg 3-0 victory. Chivas, the Goats, could be the first Mexican side to win the Copa Libertadores. The semi finals take place after the World Cup on July 29th and August 4th.
Ballack, the German captain, is out of the World Cup after a heavy tackle by Kevin Prince Boateng’s in the FA Cup final in England. Boateng, who was born in Germany but plays internationally for Ghana slid into the German international injuring Ballack’s angle ligaments. But the incident has led to a war of words between the two players with Ballack and his supporters accusing Boateng of deliberately going in to hurt the star midfielder. The accusation has been given extra spice as Boateng’s Ghana are in the same group as Germany in the World Cup, and conspiracy theorist are saying it was a foul intended to remove a key player from the German side. Boateng has hit back by pointing out that minutes before his tackle, Ballack had slapped him in the face – usually a sending off offence.
The England World Cup bid was rocked by revelations that Lord Triesman, The England World Cup bid’s chairman, privately alleged that the Spanish FA of doing a deal with Russia to get the Russians to bribe World Cup referees. The extraordinary claims were made to a woman who also went on to claim that they had been lovers. Triesman has had to resign his post as head of the English FA as well as the World Cup Committee post and the allegations he has made have caused huge embarrassment to everyone involved in the England bid to host the World Cup in 2018, a bid that had just made its formal application two days earlier.
Diego Maradona, Argentina’s coach, runs over a journalist on his way to a press conference to announce the Argentine squad. Well, perhaps it wasn’t his fault. After all, in the scrum of cameramen trying to get a few words from, or a photo of, one of the World’s greatest players, it’s not surprising that someone fell. But, what makes this incident ugly is Maradona shouting at and insulting the unfortunate journalist: “What an asshole you are. How can you put your leg there where it can get run over, man?” Not what you want from the coach of any national side before they start their World cup campaign. But at least he didn’t take a shot at the guy.
fluff: to miss badly, to make an embarrassing error
go all the way: win a tournament, get to a final
get through: win a match to progress to the next stage
ligaments: a tough piece of body tissue that connects two bones, often damaged in football (especially the knee ligaments and ankle ligaments)
war of words: argument, often a dispute that is played out in the media
extra spice: an extra dimension, something that makes an argument or confrontation more interesting
be rocked: be shaken, be threatened by, be surprised
to allege: to claim, to accuse, to say something with no evidence
scrum: large, chaotic group of people usually trying to fight for something (a part of a rugby game)