On The Ball

A series of weekly satirical reports delving into the world of sport. Any resemblance to real life characters or incidents is utterly deliberate, but should not be taken seriously as this blog is merely an attempt to look at the agony and ecstasy of sport in a humorous vein.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

And The Klinsmann Award Goes To...

We all know that at this World Cup a new award was instituted in the form of the Gillette Best Young Player Award, and the award's first ever recipient was Lukas Podolski of Germany. However, what many people don't realise is that there is another award at this tournament that is making its World Cup appearance for the first time in recorded history- the Klinsmann Award for Excellence in Diving, named after Podolski's national team coach Juergen Klinsmann. A world renowned diver, probably the best among all footballers to have graced the sport of football, Klinsi made the Beautiful Game even more beautiful with his graceful diving skills. And at this tournament, he has been chosen to hand over the trophy named after him to its rightful recipient, decided upon after not-so-extensive polling within the football community. And in today's article, this correspondent receives the honour of announcing the name of the first ever Klinsmann Awardee.
But first the nominees. And they are:

1) Marc van Bommel (Holland)- Words can't describe the tremendous ability of the Barcelona hardman to fall to the ground in a crumpled heap of skin and bones. The Dutchman has taken the art to a level not seen since Klinsmann's retirement. Rumour has it that MvB has 2 things on his agenda after he retires from football: to win an Olympic Gold in Diving, and then to start his own Football Diving School. A truly noble gesture from the man, an attempt to pass on his knowledge to others. [For further details about this diving school, please watch the documentary by clicking here ]

2) Fabio Grosso (Italy)- The Italian leftback has become a star at this tournament with his phenomenal twisting bursts down the left wing that helped take Italia to the trophy and Grosso to a dream move to Internazionale. It was one such run that helped win Italy win a crucial penalty against Australia in the final minute of the match to enter the quarterfinals, when Grosso twisted past Lucas Neill and then threw himself dramatically over the outstretched legs of the Aussie defender, making it look like Neill caught him with his raised elbow. It was truly poetry in motion to watch Grosso go down the way he did. And the subtlety in the dive was unmatched for the rest of the tournament, partly because the peerless Grosso decided not to go to ground after that, much to the disappointment of diving enthusiasts around the world.

3) Michael Ballack (Germany)- The German skipper did not go to ground as gracefully as Grosso or as consistently as van Bommel or Cristiano Ronaldo, but he will be remembered for his fantastic acting in the semifinal when he and Vincenzo Iaquinta clattered into each other with Ballack landing on Iaquinta's head and shoulders (Dandruff, anyone?), and then mysteriously grabbed his face as though someone had just ripped off the skin on his visage. Whether or not he wins the Klinsi, Ballack can take pride for he has since been nominated for an Emmy.

4) Thierry Henry (France)- Another one who may go unrewarded for not going down often enough, the scowling Frenchman earned this nomination after he wowed experts by going down clutching his face in agony after having his shirt pulled. However, it is feared that his contribution in winning the penalty for anticipating where and how to run into Carvalho to win the penalty in the semis may be cancelled out by his inability to dive in the final, and he may lose out on the award for not being able to perform at his highest diving levels in the final when it mattered most.

5) Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)- 'Twinkle toes' has reached new depths in diving at this tournament, adding to his graceful style while on his feet by increasing his consistency in falling off them. So much so that referees now refuse to award Ronny free kicks even when he has been fouled. A referee survey recently found that to award a free kick to Ronaldo requires that he be clearly beaten up and badly bruised by a minimum of seven opposition players while an eighth player drives a knife into his abdomen. Ronny will be proud to learn that his efforts have been acknowledged by the men who truly matter, the ones in the middle.

And now, the moment everyone has been waiting for.
The first ever Klinsmann Award for Diving Excellence (drumroll, please) goes to...


The Dutchman has been rewarded for his great contributions to the art of football diving. However, it was a stiff competition, with Cristiano Ronaldo losing out on his second major award in a week, for the jury felt it was no good handing out an award to a player who will be shot by an MI6 sniper within the next 2 months (Oh dear, I've said too much. Must leave now before they get here! Too late! NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please don't kill m...)

[Sorry for the delay... been having some unfortunate internet problems. Those in Delhi will know what I mean when I say "May Spectranet operators rot in hell..."
Anyway, keep coming back, for in my next post, we will give you the inside scoop on a new school for the refs...
See ya later!]

Saturday, July 08, 2006

World Cuppers At The Olympics

Sure, we know that professional footballers are great athletes. But would they stack up well competing at the Olympics in other disciplines? This correspondent has put together a dream group of footballers at this World Cup who are sure to excel in another sport at the Olympics if given the chance. And this multitalented bunch of footballing superstars is:

1) Diving- Marc van Bommel (Holland)- The Sinking Dutchman has impressed many over the years with his ability to go down under the softest of challenges in a graceful, artistic manner. He proved his calibre at the very start of the tournament, when he went down in a first round match in a fabulous flowing motion, showing that he is truly peerless when it comes to this footballing art. In the process, van Bommel became the first footballer since current German coach Juergen Klinsmann to achieve a perfect score in diving. He is also among the frontrunners for the upcoming Klinsmann Award in Diving Excellence (more on that tomorrow). He is now clearly a frontrunner for the Olympics! Alexandre Despatie, watch your back, for MvB is coming up right behind you!

2) Synchronised Swimming- entire Ghanaian defence- Against Brazil, all the members of the Ghanaian backline appeared to be working in perfect unison as they successfully messed up their offside trap on no less than four different occasions, three of which resulted in Brazilian goals. They also seemed magically capable of ignoring the very same Brazilian players time after time, without even having to communicate the message to the other Ghanaians around to do the same. We can be certain that with their heightened ability to communicate through ESP, they are sureshot Gold Medal winners in Synchronised Swimming at the Olympic Games.

3) Boxing- Adriano (Brazil)- Not quite at this World Cup, but we saw Adriano try his hand at this sport a couple of seasons ago, when, in a match for Internazionale, he attempted a left hand upper cut on an opponent and pulled off the manouevre with flawless technique. What's more, the opponent was nothing more than half-conscious for a few seconds. We are certain that with a little more training, our favourite Brazilian pugilist will be a knockout sensation at Beijing 2008!

4) 400 Metre Sprint- Franck Ribery (France)- This new sensation can claim to be responsible for one of France's moments of the tournament when he ran through on the Spanish goal before rounding 'keeper Iker Casillas and scoring. What was even more amazing, however, was his celebration which involved a lungbursting run all over the football pitch. We suspect he could be game for another variety of the same lap come Beijing...

5) Gymnastics- Francesco Totti (Italy)- Still not quite comfortable enough on his feet following a 4 month injury layoff, the Roma captain showed that he was capable of magic with his back as well in the semifinal against Germany. When Michael Ballack crouched, Totti gracefully leapt into the air, and managed a delightful little roll over the German skipper's back using his own. We figure that if he can do so well using a human back, he is capable of much more with proper gymnastics equipment,

6) Archery- Frank Lampard (England)- Well, we figure eventually he's got to manage to get something on target, so...

7) Exhibition Event (Karate Skills)- Luis Figo (Portugal)- In a match against Holland, the Portuguese skipper headbutted an opponent with seemingly incredible force that caused the player to crumple to the ground in agony. Surely Figo could also do that to a few wooden planks and bricks, right? Well, there is a slight possibility there may not have been as much force in the move as the opponent made it out to be. After all, the player headbutted was Marc van Bommel...

Elsewhere, retired Brazilian legends Pele and Socrates decided to come out of retirement and play again for a country that sorely disapponted at this year's World Cup. In the words of the otherwise diplomatic Socrates, "Our grandmas could play better than these pieces of s***. Plus, so many older players are doing well nowadays like Zidane. Maybe we could also manage fine." Not to be outdone, a relative of the late footballing legend Garrincha said that Garrincha's spirit would also come and play for Brazil, and he offered a similar explanation to Socrates'.

In other sports, the Wimbledon Championships are coming to an end this weekend, and Roger Federer faces off against the player who has a jinx on him, Spaniard Rafael Nadal. Although this is the pair's first encounter on grass, Federer's domain, the Swiss World Number One is not willing to take any chances, given his opponent's seemingly unshakable ability to beat Federer. The reigning Wimbledon champ said, "I will ask my friend Juliette to pay him a 'visit' before the match." (For more information about Juliette, please click here)
McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen later expressed interest in having Juliette pay a similar 'visit' to Juan Pablo Montoya, Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso.

[Yayyyy!!! The World Cup final is here at last!
For those who didn't realise it, wherever there is a link, please understand that you are supposed to CLICK ON IT!!!
And for those who spotted it, I mentioned in the Diving section that my next report would be tomorrow. That's right- after an extensive polling over the last one week, vote tallies showed that there was a majority in favour of posting that needn't be restricted to every Saturday- by a slim majority of half a vote to none. For those who don't know how that works, it is just that the only vote that come was by someone who had misunderstood the voting message, but later clarified the case.
Well, that's it then. Come in tomorrow!]

Friday, June 30, 2006

Lampard To Fight UFOs

In Baden Baden, Germany today, the Struggle against UFO Campaigns and Killings (SUCK) announced that it had signed England and Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard as its latest not-exactly-goodwill ambassador. The organization has as its aim to strive tirelessly to destroy UFOs and alien beings that come to our planet, whatever be the cause of the visit. Most organizations such as the CIA, FBI, MI6, etc are ill-equipped to cope with the threat of UFOs as they don't possess weapons that can reach the elevation of overhead UFOs. SUCK, however, has acquired great proficiency in spotting individuals capable of sending projectiles upto such heights, Lampard being the latest big name signing for the organization.
Lampard has endured a torrid period at the 2006 FIFA World Cup so far, failing to score a single goal inspite of having had the most shots by any player in the tournament. It is estimated that he has had thrice as many shots striking down aeroplanes flying overhead, as those that have gone within even a 3 yard distance of the goalmouth. While Lampard could take solace in the fact that things can't possibly get worse from here, this remarkable statistic has attracted the attention of SUCK officials (referred to as SUCKers), who have spotted the potential of such shooting to bring down alien spaceships.
This could be quite a coup for Lampard, who has joined past greats such as Ade Akinbiyi, David Beckham (he had to be replaced, however, when his disastrous abilities at taking penalties were ended by Lampard who took up the same responsibility) and Eric Djemba-Djemba. There have also been sportspersons from other fields as well, such as Anna Kournikova for her tremendous ability to mishit any shot straight out of the tennis court.
At the press conference where Lampard was officially pronounced a SUCKer, there was a memorable speech by the most powerful of all SUCKers, also known as the Chief SUCKer, Roman Abrahamovich, who coincidentally happens to own Lampard's club Chelsea. Abrahamovich said, "On behalf of all SUCKers in the world, I would like to officially welcome Frank Lampard to the community today. We always knew you were a true SUCKer, and today we have been proved right."

Elsewhere, referee Valentin Ivanov said that he had been watching the Oprah Winfrey show shortly before the match between Portugal and the Netherlands, in which he handed out a mammoth 16 yellow cards and 4 red ones to boot. Apparently this helps explain why Ivanov kept exclaiming during the match, "You get a card! YOU get a card! Everybody gets a card!"

[Hi again!
I find that having weekly posts only serves to ensure that even the ones who enjoyed the blog fail to remember to come back the following Saturday to check up on the blog. Hence, to those who wouldn't mind commenting (doesn't matter if you ain't a Blogspot member, you can still do it anonymously if you wish), please do respond to this post and tell me whether or not I should scratch the whole weekly post thing, and just do something when there is a worthwhile sporting event to write about (and mock, of course!).
And for those who didn't understand the Oprah Winfrey thing, nothing to be ashamed about, it just means you are a natural guy who doesn't watch Oprah. So here's a link to explain it to you.


Ok that's it, after a week I will tally the votes about the weekly thing and let you know in my next post. Thanks a lot!]

Friday, June 23, 2006

De Rossi Stupidity Not A Mistake: FIGC

Another week has gone by at the 18th FIFA World Cup, and there have been many more memorable matches. Not the least of which was the encounter between highly fancied Italy and the struggling USA, an eventful 1-1 draw that saw both goals being scored by Italians and the over dominant referee handing out three red cards. Yes, that's right- THREE. One of those went to Italian hardman Daniele de Rossi for a senseless elbow to the face of an American player.
It now appears, though, that there is more to this incident than meets the eye. At a press conference organized by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), a spokesperson said that the incident was a deliberate ploy.
The spokesperson said, "De Rossi's actions were utterly deliberate, not childish stupidity as assumed. In major international competitions over the last few years, the Italians have suffered due to rash suspensions at the wrong time. Hence, this time we decided to use up our token act of stupidity in the group stage itself, to avoid paying a high price in the knockout matches. We also believe the incident will give the young man a great deal of confidence, for with this act he has emulated idols such as Francesco Totti."
This comes two years after De Rossi's Roma skipper Francesco Totti was suspended at Euro 2004 for spitting at an opponent. The same player was crucially sent off in controversial circumstances when the Italians were knocked out by South Korea at the 2002 World Cup. At Euro 2000, Gianluca Zambrotta missed the final after getting sent off for two lunges on Boudewijn Zenden in the semifinal against Holland. De Rossi's incident is just another in this historic list for the Azurri, and young Daniele will surely shed a tear reading this, proud that he can now be mentioned in the same breath as illustrious compatriots like Totti.
The spokesperson continued, "Given our recent history, we believe that by being rid of this burden- of having to commit one act of gross stupidity in the tournament- quite early on, we are enabling our team to justify its potential in the knockout stages, when it really matters."
The team has since qualified for the second round comfortably, and is unbeaten since master tactician Marcello Lippi took over two years ago. Their confidence is high, and the team looks set to go far. And now, with this move, Italy can play freely without fear of any traditional stupidity.
This is a bold move from Lippi, a tactic that may succeed or one that may fail terribly. At the moment, however, we can only applaud the man for this baffling tactic which has now left his team as even stronger contenders for the cup.
Elsewhere, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger appeared in court as the prosecution's star witness in an apparently obvious hit and run case. Against the odds, however, the case was dismissed, after Wenger's repeated refrains of "I zees not zee any incizent."

[I must apologise to the Azurri faithful for mocking the Italians in this post. Let me assure you, I intend nothing other than a little humour, and I too am cheering the Italians on in this World Cup. For me, the only good thing to come out of this unfortunate incident was that Gattuso got his rightful place in the Italian starting lineup.
As for the rest, I am not entirely sure this post is as good as its conceptions was, but I have nevertheless given my best, and would like to thank my friend Nabankur for his comments regarding the post.
As usual, comments are invited, and if you are not a Blogspot member, please feel free to comment anonymously.]

Saturday, June 17, 2006

World Cup Fever: WHO Alert

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned the whole world about a new disease that has swept almost the entire world, called World Cup Fever. Americans are the only ones who needn't worry about this ailment- it only affects people with good taste and common sense.
This highly infectious disease has already been declared a pandemic of epic proportions, and also goes by the codename 'Germany 2006.'
There are many deadly forms of this disease, some more painful than others. The most common ones are listed below:

1) Peter Crouch syndrome- this variation of WCF afflicts tall and lanky people, and causes them to look perpetually dazed and perplexed.
2) Ronaldo fever- also called the 'Statue Syndrome,' this disease causes people to swell up completely, until they reach the point that they have to stand around incapable of any form of motion. This can also lead to hallucinations of headaches and dizziness.
3) Sore Loser Syndrome (SLS)- also termed the 'Henry Syndrome,' this leads to incessant babbling about being affected by hot grass, Russian referees, and people by the name of Ribery. It can also lead to attempts to get rid of people going by the name of Trezeguet.
4) Long Ball disease- caused by the 'Eriksson virus' this ailment is actually considered beneficial as it helped restore sleep to many insomniacs.
5) Ronaldinho Syndrome- doctors believe this disease causes laughing gas (Nitrous oxide) to be formed in the body, hence affecting the patient and causing to laugh uncontrollably throughout the day. Anaesthetics, Catalans and Brazilians are the only people who are positively affected by this syndrome (Anaesthetics don't need laughing gas to operate on such a patient). Others are also affected by this infectious disease that causes people to smile. Defenders, however, tend to suffer heart attacks and suicidal tendencies also arise, on being exposed to this virus.

Many more variations are there, but these are the most prevalent ones. The good news, says a WHO spokesperson, is that WCF will affect the general public only until July 9, after that it will only affect its sources.
In other news, British Prime Minister Tony Blair has announced a historic first. Great Britain has become the first nation to have a National Injury, which is, in this case, The Metatarsal Injury. At the first National Injury Day, the likes of David Beckham, Gary Neville and Wayne Rooney will be honoured for their contributions in making this injury popular.
Elsewhere, after criticism of his decision to allow Japan's goal against Australia at the World Cup after two Japanese players clearly wrestled Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer to the ground, the referee said that he felt the incident paled in comparison to his training in the Egyptian Air Force. 15 minutes later, Mike Tyson, in a bid to find gainful employment and get out of bankruptcy, announced that he felt he had the right experience to be a soccer referee. 15 seconds later, Schwarzer had a minor heart attack. There is no concrete evidence yet that the three incidents are linked in any way.

[As you can make out, I am well and truly caught up in the World Cup fever (I am currently suffering from the Argentina syndrome, also called the '6-0 Shock'). Anyway, just thought I would mention that I am in desperate need of a decent 'logo' for 'On The Ball' because the above one was something I just created using Paint 5 minutes before the first post. If somebody can help me out with a logo similar (and yet infinitely better) to the one above, please do mail me. This is going to be a pretty common request in the weeks to come, so if you can help me...
Have a great week, and enjoy your sports!]

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Bollettieri's Shocking Announcement

As I write this, we are in the midst of a truly momentous sporting weekend. Apart from the British Grand Prix and the start of a little something called the FIFA World Cup Finals (!), the news has been dominated by the French Open, where the Men's Final will be contested, as expected, by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and the Women's Final by Justine Henin-Hardenne and Svetlana Kuznetsova. The limelight, however, has been stolen by seventeen year old Nicole Vaidisova, a product of the Nick Bollettieri Academy, who knocked out reigning Wimbledon champion Venus Williams and current World Number One Amelie Mauresmo before succumbing to Kuznetsova in the semifinal.
This performance has astonished the sporting world. Most are shocked at the Czech teenager's maturity on court, whereas some who who have followed her career since 2004, such as this correspondent, are bewildered as to why it took her so long to display her potential at a Grand Slam.
The real shock, however, came from Nick Bollettieri's latest announcement. Buoyed by his students' remarkable success rates at ever younger ages, as demonstrated by Miss Vaidisova, he has now announced that the Academy will take things one step further by starting advanced training for toddlers. Bollettieri claims that this ambitious move could lead to eight year olds winning Grand Slam titles by 2015.
The announcement has evoked a mixed response. Groups that are for the rights of children have stated that they will oppose this move, as it amounts to exploitation of children. In contrast, the proposal has received the backing of the ATP, the WTA, and various marketing agencies. They believe this could attract more youth to the sport. The move has also received support from unexpected quarters. A reclusive Peter Pan-like popstar has praised the plan, saying he would like to see more young children in the game.
Elsewhere, FIFA has announced a parallel world championships for the numerous players who are missing the World Cup Finals through injury or are still recovering. The tournament has already got the votes of stars such as Wayne Rooney, Francesco Totti, and Andriy Shevchenko.

[Welcome to On The Ball, a series of weekly reports presenting aspects of the sporting world in a lighter vein. In my first post, I haven't taken many risks and mostly stated plain facts, but with slight twists (no such announcement from Nick, obviously. No parallel tournament either- that was just a dig at the number of stars injured coming into these World Cup finals). As the series goes on, you shall see me getting a bit more adventurous and sometimes downright rude, especially when it comes to my favourite whipping boys Chelsea and Arsenal. Now that the intro to the series is done, that's it for my first day on the job! Come back again!]