Since the dawn of religion, worshippers have venerated sacred places and objects in honour of a greater faith.
For football lovers, touring a city's stadium is akin to visiting its cathedral, and in the case of such hallowed grounds like the Bombonera, Camp Nou, Azteca or Maracana, who can disagree there is something transcendental about the arenas where unforgettable rites of football have taken place every week for years.
As the dust clears from the impact of the news that Fabio Capello had called it a day
with/been fired by England, the Football Association have a minor headache to deal with in their
search for a replacement.
Harry Redknapp has had his name on the job for some time, at least since Tottenham Hotspur's
dazzling display in last year's Champions League convinced the doubters he could cut it in
England 1:0 Spain
Wembley Stadium, London
Wembley was full, sold on the dream of the king's touch, as the world's No.1
soccer nation Spain dropped by for an evening.
A strange pre-match atmosphere, as the usual patriotic fantasy rang increasingly hollow: No-one
expected England to win and most were hoping for a defeat short of embarrassing.
England will be allowed to wear poppies on their shirts against Spain on Saturday after
all, albeit as an armband.
An extraordinary row had been stirred up after the Football Association announced the England team
would sport the Remembrance Day flower for their friendly against the World Champions.
Manchester United 1:6 Manchester City
Scorelines don't come much more amazing than Sunday's Mancunian derby, but was there really much
reason to celebrate, however many records tumbled at Old Trafford?
With a few days' recuperation from that shellshock of a final score, can the result be deemed a
welcome riposte to or even wholescale power shift from the hegemony of moneybags Chelsea and
Manchester United, or another symptom of the obscene, out-of-control spending in the English top
division which is upsetting its natural order of competition?
The end to an arduous 22-year campaign for truth surrounding the Hillsborough disaster
could at last be in sight as the UK government has confirmed it will release all contemporary
documents relating to the day in question.
After a 139,000-strong online petition and a moving parliamentary debate
led Home Secretary Theresa May to announce up to 300,000 files will be
FIFA have rubber-stamped agreements with GoalRef and HawkEye, ensuring goal-line technology is now officially a part of professional football.
Extensive official testing by IFAB concluded in July and the board unanimously approved the two systems for usage and the signing of contracts heralds their arrival in leagues worldwide.
African soccer was all the rage on Sunday as the final round of qualifiers took place for next year's African Cup of Nations.
Cape Verde sensationally knocked Cameroon out to qualify for their first ever ACN finals, prompting wild celebrations in the Atlantic archipelago.
Colombia have jumped 13 places to ninth in the latest FIFA World Rankings, another sign they are the South American country to keep an eye on as we approach Brazil 2014.
Los Cafeteros (coffee-growers) have not qualified for a World Cup Finals since 1998, when they went out in the first round after defeats by England and Romania.
Brazil has revealed the venues for the 2013 Confederations Cup, the now traditional
warm-up for the following season's World Cup Finals.
The six stadia for the eight-team competition are as follows:
Belo Horizonte (Mineirao) - 70,000Brasilia (Nacional) - 71,500Fortaleza (Castelao)
- 67,000Recife (Pernambuco) - 44,000Rio (Maracana) - 76,500Salvador (Fonte
Nova) - 56,500
The tournament, which will take place between the 15th and 30th of June 2013, has five of
the eight finalists confirmed already.
FIFA have released the dates and venues for the matches of the 2014 World Cup finals in
Brazil, with the patience of traveling supporters set to be tested once again.
Instead of keeping group games within a couple of venues located close to one-another, as used to
be the norm, fans will face trips of up to 2,000 miles in order to watch all of their nation's
Morocco will host both the 2013 and 2014 FIFA Club World Cups.
Iran, South Africa and the U.A.E. all withdrew their bids, leaving FIFA to bring the competition to
Africa for the first time. The hosting is set to be rubber-stamped in Zurich in December.
The North African nation has a strong soccer tradition, and the national team memorably became the
first African nation to win a group in the World Cup Finals, topping England, Portugal and Poland
at Mexico '86, before losing to a late Lothar Matthaus goal from eventual finalists West Germany in
the next round.
London 2012 Olympic Games Womens Football FinalJapan v USA 7.45pm GMT Wembley Stadium,
LondonJapan can add the Olympic title to their World Cup crown at Wembley today
to complete a historic double.
Assured of at least silver, Nadeshiko will pick up their first Olympic medals this afternoon
in Wembley having lost their bronze-medal playoff to Germany in Beijing four years ago.
Men's Football Tournament 26th July - 11th August 2012
Venues -Wembley, London 90,000
Old Trafford, Manchester 76,000
Millennium, Cardiff 74,500
St James Park, Newcastle 52,000
Hampden Park, Glasgow 52,000
Ricoh Arena, Coventry 32,500
Group A: Great Britain, Senegal, United Arab Emirates,
Group B: Mexico, South Korea, Gabon, Switzerland
Group C: Brazil, Egypt, Belarus, New Zealand
Group D: Spain, Japan, Honduras, Morocco
1st round - 26th July, 29th July, 1st August
Quarter-Finals - 4th August (London, Manchester, Newcastle & Cardiff)
Semi-Finals - 7th August (London & Manchester)
Bronze medal match - 10th August (Cardiff)
Final - 11th August (London)
Bookies' favourites in order: Brazil, Spain, Great Britain, Uruguay, Switzerland, Mexico, South
Korea, Japan, Egypt, Belarus, Senegal, Morocco, Gabon, Honduras, U.
UEFA EURO 2012 FINAL: ITALY v SPAIN
Olympic Stadium Kiev, 19:45 BST
Stopping Pirlo the great dictator must be at the back of Spanish
minds on the eve of the Euro 2012 final.
While the world champions appear to follow the Brian Clough maxim 'let them worry about us', their
sub-par first half against Portugal when their Iberian neighbours upset their rhythm must have
given them pause for thought.
The Italian renaissance.
Last night Germany, a team tipped by so many for glory, succumbed to the blue
surge which threatens to run away with the cup itself. Euro 2012 was supposed to
end in a Germany v Spain final. The Italians have sneaked in the back door.
For a while, it looked like the last day of Spain's empire.
Portugal's attack-minded approach in yesterday's Euro 2012 semi-final had freaked the world
champions into launching hit-and-hope clearances. Tiki-taka was only a memory as the white shirts
of the Lusitanians squeezed the space between defence and midfield and closed down the Spaniards
ferociously throughout the first half.
England v Italy was expected to be the least entertaining of the quarter-finals and so it
A largely turgid tale of massed English defending and missed Italian chances was put out of its
misery by a penalty shoot-out, won 4-2 by the Azzurri, after Ashleys Cole and Young fluffed their
spot-kicks for England.
France are the latest team heading for the airport, well beaten 2-0 by Vicente del
Bosque's men in Donetsk this evening.
Spain did not play fluently and a fine goal apart were never thrilling, but still won
comfortably enough. The French had already lost their way in their abject 2-0 defeat to Sweden in
Kiev on Tuesday, which was followed by the sort of changing-room row they hoped they had left
behind in South Africa two years ago.
UEFA 2012 Group D, Kiev
England 3: 2 Sweden
A helter-skelter of a game which must have pleased everyone but the aesthetes. England got the
champagne after coming out on top of a five-goal thriller, but the Swedes, backed by phenomenal
support, left Euro 2012 in glory, coming from a goal down to bag two in ten minutes and send
England reeling for a few crazy minutes.
*The last time Italy entered a tournament in crisis was in 2006 at the height of the
Calciopoli scandal, when the dark side of that nation's football showed its face in daylight
again. Gli Azzurri went to the World Cup under a cloud but came home with the trophy.
1980 saw another match-fixing expose, Totonero, blacken the name of calcio.
The World Champions completed their preparation in defence of their European title tonight with a
1-0 win over China in Seville.
Spain played an unimpressive first half creating little of note and indeed it was the
visiting Chinese, coached by former Real Madrid and La Roja legend Jose Antonio Camacho,
which came closer to scoring.
With less than a week until Euro 2012 kicks off in Warsaw, UEFA's top soccer nations have
been flexing their muscles in their final friendlies.
Eleven of the sixteen qualifiers got the morale boost they had wanted by winning their last games
before jetting out to Eastern Europe, but four lost theirs (Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal and
Ukraine) and one drew (Croatia).
Wasn't this the golden age of FC Barcelona?
Barely a week ago the blaugrana were going for a clean sweep of trophies as their legend as
the greatest football team of all time continued to be told.
Now Barça are out of the Champions League and have handed their Spanish title to Real
Madrid with a loss to their arch-rivals at the Camp Nou.
With less than two months until Euro 2012 kicks-off in Warsaw, England alone of the
finalists do not have a confirmed manager.
Tottenham Hotspur's 1-5 humiliation by Chelsea today may usher the hot favourite Harry Redknapp
closer to the exit door at White Hart Lane and the Jubilee Line to Wembley Park.
Euro 2012 is less than two months away, although there is little excitement building up
Some of this can be put down to the continent-wide recession, which Polish and Ukrainian hoteliers
have ignored, given their suicidal decision to hike accommodation prices to unaffordable levels, a
spectacular own-goal which the UEFA President and Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovich have both
The final lineup for next summer's European Championship in Poland & Ukraine is now set
after tonight's playoff second legs, with a strong field of sixteen heading for Eastern Europe.
There were no winning fightbacks following the first legs and Portugal, the Czech Republic, the
Republic of Ireland and Croatia all advanced to Euro 2012, eliminating respectively Bosnia &
Herzogovina, Montenegro, Estonia and Turkey.
Michel Platini has said he is at last confident Ukraine can host Euro 2012.
After several 'last chance' warnings over the past three years, the UEFA boss can tear a few fewer
hairs out now the four stadia do seem to be on track for next summer.
"A year ago, we were deciding whether to leave four or two cities," Platini told reporters on a
tour of Kharkiv.
Fabrice Muamba may never play again for Bolton or the England set-up, but his triumphant
return to the Reebok Stadium last night was something out of a fairytale.
When he collapsed with a cardiac arrest on the field during the Tottenham v Bolton F.A. Cup tie on
the 17th March, a whole nation feared the worst.
Richard Bevan of England's League Managers Association inadvertently raised the frightening
prospect of a breakaway from the Premier League when he mentioned some club owners
wanted to do away with promotion to and relegation from the
* Reborn Napoli celebrated returning to the top of Serie A with a 3-1 home win over Milan,
with echoes of titanic clashes between the north and south's giants in the era of Diego Maradona.
Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani scored a hat-trick.
*The quest for a level playing-field in Spain goes on.
It is happy news that the genes of Lionel Messi, the greatest contemporary footballer, have been passed on another generation.
A baby boy, Thiago Messi was born on the 2nd of November 2012 to his girlfriend and childhood sweetheart Antonella Roccuzzo.
'Mini-Messi' is barely out of his mother's womb but has already been presented with membership of Newell's Old Boys, his dad's first club, and a blaugrana jersey from his current one.
We're roughly halfway to the next World Cup with 31 places still up for grabs. Europe, Oceania and the Americas have just been in action.
The competition in Europe, which has the lion's share of final qualifiers (13) is now beginning to thin out with some clear water emerging between the competing nations.
At first glance it did not look serious.
Two last-minute expressions of interest in hosting Euro 2020 were registered before the
deadline to add to Turkey's existing one.
One came from Georgia and the other was a joint proposal from Eire, Scotland and
Having just watched the engrossing documentary, "Marley", it is worth remembering how much the
beautiful game meant to the legendary reggae singer and cultural figure.
Despite hailing from the cricket-loving Jamaica, Bob Marley played football almost as much
as he played music and was never far from a ball and a kickabout with his friends.
The mystery surrounding the death of Wales coach Gary Speed unraveled somewhat today at the
While the coroner concluded there was not enough hard evidence to record a deliberate suicide,
instead of just a cry for help presumably, we did learn that Speed and his wife had been having
problems in their marriage and had rowed on the night he died.