BASN Soccer Notebook

By Andrew Dixon
Updated: August 5, 2008

soccer ballMIAMI — This week, we’ll speak on the club vs. country row ahead of the Olympics, says goodbye to a classy defender and updates on other news around the international game.

The Olympics

The Olympics will be getting underway this week but the run-in to the men’s side of the tournament has been overshadowed by a long running dispute: the club v. country tug of war.

Over the years, club sides, especially in Europe, have frowned upon players representing their countries internationally. Reasons such as the potential of injuries, disruption of training preparations and conflicts with matches have led to contentious words and frantic negotiations between clubs and the international federations.

This is most notable during the African Cup of Nations which is played during the middle of many European seasons.

This Olympic tournament has been no different. FIFA has put its foot down stating, as it always does, that clubs must release their players if called for international duty.

Many clubs like Barcelona (who will lose the incredibly gifted Lionel Messi for a Champions League qualifier) and two German clubs, Schalke 04 and Werder Bremen (who lose Diego), whose seasons begin during the Olympics, have stated that they will take the matter up with the Court of Arbitration and Sport.

Their argument is that the Olympics are not part of the FIFA international calendar and therefore, clubs are not obligated to release their players. As I mentioned last week, Brazillian star Robinho was dropped by his country from the Olympic team to avoid the showdown but Ronaldinho will be representing his country.

The U.S. is not dealing too much with this. Because of their spring to fall schedule MLS clubs are used to losing players to international duty and the European based players have been released with no issues.

But as U.S. players continue to gain footing with internationally renown clubs, the club vs. country row will start to impact U.S. Soccer as well.

Au Revoir

Football said goodbye to one of its classiest and most accomplished defenders of the past two decades. France defender Lillian Thuram has retired after medical tests revealed a heart condition, ending an 18 year career that saw him win domestic titles, one World Cup, appear in another final and a European championship.

Along the way he established himself as an outstanding and consistent player in central defense. He was instrumental in France’s 1998 and 2006 World Cup campaign, scoring twice in the semifinals in the former tournament and coming out of international retirement to help lead France’s qualification and run to the final in the latter.

Thuram: Pure class (

Known also for his efforts against racism in his adopted country (he was born in Guadeloupe) football has lost one its true gentlemen who leaves the game with his head held high.

Samuel Eto’o: Not so fast

Thuram’s former Barcelona teammate, Samuel Eto’o was told by incoming coach Pep Guardiola that he was surplus to requirements. Eto’o, a two time African Player of the Year, however has made Barcelona think twice.

Though the Catalans have said that several big name clubs are lining up bids for the Cameroon star, he’s been playing very well in exhibitions (scored twice after coming on at halftime against Mexican side Chivas) and has made President Joan Laporta admit that the club could reverse its decision to sell him.

Eto’o: Barca u-turn?(Daily Mirror)

I think Barcelona would be making a mistake letting him go after the departures of Deco and Ronaldinho. Pair him up with Thierry Henry, let them play off of Messi and let’s see what happens…

Get it Together

The Ethiopian Football Federation has been suspended by FIFA after refusing to reinstate its president. The East African nation was unhappy with the direction of federation president Ashebir Woldegiorgis but instead of ousting him, elected a new president in his stead and elected other top officials in an assembly not recognized by FIFA.

FIFA and the Confederation of African Football reached in agreement with the EFF to reinstate the president unless a special general assembly decided otherwise.

Neither happened and FIFA called the EFF’s bluff by suspending them. This puts that nation’s World Cup qualifier against Morocco on September 7 at risk. The EFF is appealing the ruling to the CAS.

The good kind of ACL

The African Champions League is into its group stages. In Group A, Egyptian side Zamalek beat Zimbabwe’s Dynamos 1-0 while the Ivory Coast’s ASEC Mimosas could not solve defending champion Al-Ahly’s goalkeeper Amir Abdul-Hamid and was forced to settle for a 0-0 tie.

Two time champions Enyimba of Nigeria beat Coton Sport of Cameroon 2-0 while the two suprising clubs left in the competition, TP Mazembe (DR Congo) and Al Hilal of Sudan drew 0-0.

Comings and goings

Senegalese star El Hadjj Diouf has moved to Sunderland from Bolton in the English Premiere League… Cuauhtemoc Blanco was banned from the US Open Cup for two years after 1)punching DC United’s Clyde Simms 2) poking him in the eye and 3) head butting a stadium official who was leading him off after being red carded for 1&2. Loco…Zach Thornton (yes, he’s still in the league) was picked up by Chivas USA who lost Brad Guzan to EPL side Aston Villa…Kei Kamara was traded from San Jose to the Houston Dynamo.

MLS Scoreboard (Black goal scorers CAPITALIZED)

Real Salt Lake 2 (OLAVE 63′ FINDLEY 87′)

Toronto FC 1 (Guevara 84′)


DC United 2 (EMILIO 11′ Moreno 60′)

KC Wizards 0


Chicago Fire 1 (NYARKO 16′)

Chivas USA 0


H. Dynamo 2 ( Davis 13′ Ching 43′)

Columbus Crew 0


SJ Earthquakes 3(Alvarez 8′ Huckerby 40′ Cochrane 90′)

LA Galaxy FC 2 (Donovan 42′ BUDDLE 76′)


Toronto FC 0

FC Dallas 2 (Cooper 12′pk 90′+1)