FIFA Pressures Mandela to Present Trophy at World Cup Final

With the 2010 World Cup being held in South Africa, it’s an obvious no-brainer that FIFA president Sepp Blatter would salivate over the possibility of closing the first ever World Cup held on the African continent with former South African President and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela presenting the champion’s trophy to either Spain or the Netherlands on Sunday. And there is no harm in asking, of course, but reports emerging that Mandela, who will be 92 this week, is under “extreme pressure” from FIFA to present the trophy are a bit unsettling, particularly in light of the passing of Mandela’s great grandaughter, Zenani, following the World Cup opening concert. Mandela’s grandson, Mandala Mandela, has spoken out on the issue:

We’ve come under extreme pressure from FIFA requiring and wishing that my grandfather be at the final today. But I think that decision will solemnly lie with him, how he wakes up today, how he feels, what his medical team says, but as well his family.

My grandfather is 92 years old next week, this is an evening game. He’s expected to hand over the trophy after the game which could be anything from 10:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and it will be quite strenuous on his part.”

Mandela has generally steered clear of the international soccer celebration, and with good reason. The family is in mourning and the man is basically 92 years old. Let it go FIFA. Or here’s a suggestionInvictus star Morgan Freeman will be at the game — maybe FIFA should consider him to present the trophy.

Mandela faces pressure to attend final [AP/ESPN]

Fight Breaks Out at Tour de France

Someone needs to tell these pro cyclists that they are not members of the Hells Angels. During Friday’s heated stage 6 of the 2010 Tour de France, Carlos Barredo found himself in the midst of a little scuffle with rival Rui Costa. The video tape shows Barredo, identified as the gentleman in the Quickstep uniform wielding a bicycle wheel over his head, literally fights Costa to the ground before the two riders were separated.

I’m honestly not sure how two professional cyclists get to the point in their minds where they say, “lets drop the bikes and do this.” The Tour slapped each cyclists with a fine, and that’s exactly what needed to happen. While there is no place for fighting in professional cycling (I can’t believe I have the opportunity to actually say that), I might suggest that the WWE take a page out of Barredo’s book and integrate a bike wheel into their next pay-per-view event. Check out this video of cyclists fighting at the Tour de France via Break Sports:

This post was sponsored by Bing Twitter Maps.

Tour De France Rider Hits Opponent With Wheel [Sports Break]

Psychic Octopus Predicted German Loss

One slimy sea creature was really cashing in on the 2010 World Cup — that is, until Germany lost Wednesday. Paul the psychic octopus correctly predicted all six of Germany’s outcomes, including a 1-0 group play upset defeat at the hands of Serbia and Wednesday’s semifinal defeat to Spain. The eight-legged creature is clearly not afraid to tell fans the future, no matter how harsh it may be for their team. Here’s a video of Paul the Octopus picking Spain to beat Germany via Jimmy Traina’s Hot Clicks:

Here is what owner Oliver Walenciak had to say about Paul’s powers:

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A Hungry Kobayashi Released From Jail

A quick update for those of you who totally forgot about the LeBron James sweepstakes after learning that eating champion Takeru Kobayashi was arrested because he jumped onstage Sunday at the Nathan’s Hotdog Eating Contest. Kobayashi, also known as “The Tsunami,” was released from jail on Monday. Judging by his statements, Kobayashi seems a bit dumbfounded by his arrest:

I went as a spectator to cheer on my buddies that I used to eat with. Everyone in the crowd kept chanting ‘let him eat, let him eat’. So I jumped onto the stage to prove that I am still the champ, but I was arrested.”

Kobayashi, who according to FOXSports.com was given a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and milk while in custody, added, “I am very hungry, I wish there were hotdogs in jail.”

To add to the drama, Kobayashi’s attorney, Mario D. Romano, claims that his client was encouraged to jump onstage by none other than a Nathan’s security guard. Romano hopes the charges will be dropped. According to FOXSports.com, Kobayashi has been charged with four counts including disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, obstruction of property, and trespassing. It seems that what may have appeared to be a publicity stunt at first has turned out to be just a hungry and confused former hotdog eating champion.

Kobayashi released from jail after arrest [FOXSports.com]
Photo Credit: YahooNews/Reuters

Dale Jr. Wins in #3 Car for Daddy

Anything less than a trip to victory lane would have been coming up short for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who accomplished just that as he raced his father’s No. 3 Wrangler car to the win on Friday at the Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway. Dale Jr. decided to pay tribute to his father by driving the throwback vehicle in commemoration of the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. being inducted into NASCAR Hall of Fame. It’s safe to say that Dale Jr. has had a rough time over the last couple of years. The race was Dale Jr.’s first victory since the 2008 Sprint Cup Series in Michigan, and he knew it was a must-win:

I was so worried that I wasn’t going to win, because nothing but winning was good enough. If you didn’t win, what a waste of time. I worked hard to try to win it, not only for Daddy, I am proud of him going into the Hall of Fame, and he would be proud of this, I’m sure.”

Now as heartwarming as this story is, my first instinct was to assume that this was all about the money like so much else in NASCAR often is. However, after taking a look at Ed Hinton’s blog over at ESPN.com, I feel free to be more optimistic, at least for the moment. This was a race that Dale Jr. wanted to run, and something that could have only been accomplished through the cooperation of, as Hinton lists, “Hendrick Motorsports (engines), Senior’s longtime car owner Richard Childress (rights to the number), Dale Jr. and Kelley’s JR Motorsports, and Teresa Earnhardt.” Dale Jr. showed real maturity in this race, and it’s safe to say he did justice to sending the No. 3 and his father into the Hall of Fame.

Dale Jr. nets Daytona Nationwide win in father’s No. 3 [AP/SI]
Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Nigerian President Bans National Soccer Team From International Competition

While the glory of the 2010 World Cup competition resumes on Friday for the remaining eight nations, the fallout of defeat is emerging from those who made the early trip home. Namely, Nigeria. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has suspended the Nigerian national soccer team from international play for two years as a result of their poor performance in South Africa, as well as other recent failures. Nigeria finished at the bottom of group B, drawing with South Korea and losing to Argentina and Greece. Here is what Nigerian Sports Minister Ibrahim Isa had to say:

“The government has taken a decision we believe is in the interests of Nigeria that we should for now, withdraw from international competition because our football since 1996 seems not to be growing … The president Goodluck Jonathan has endorsed this decision and the Nigerian people are excited about it.

The Nigerian people are excited about having their national team suspended from competition? OK … And one slight potential problem: FIFA regulations prohibit national governments from interfering in the affairs of national football federations. FIFA officials have yet to act but Nigerian lawmakers have already attempted to intervene, passing a resolution calling on President Jonathan to rescind the ban. FIFA is currently reviewing the situation before it takes any action. Nigerian national team member Dickson Etuhu had this to add:

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Maradona Looking for an Apology

Say what you will about the habitually controversial Diego Maradona, but the Argentinean soccer legend and current national team head coach has his squad in top form heading into the knockout stage of the 2010 World Cup. After a 3-0 start, Maradona must be feeling just fine about converting his Argentinean critics into believers. Good enough to say this:

Many journalists should apologize to the players. I’m not suggesting you drop your trousers, but it would be honest and great so we all get along better … It isn’t easy going from being nobodies back home to winning three matches at a World Cup. At the training camp, we had to swallow what you all said about us being a disaster—the worst Argentine team you’d ever seen. All of a sudden we’re an excellent team … the most handsome people in the ‘barrio!”

First of all, I’m not suggesting Maradona drops his trousers either. Second, the one-and-done system of the knock out stage is a volatile format for competition, and Maradona may be eating his words come Sunday when Argentina faces Mexico in Johannesburg. Self destruction is a pain like that. So yes, Maradona, you have a point and nice work in group play, but just because your critics are now your supporters does not mean that they don’t expect a bit more than you have offered so far.

Maradona: Time for critics to say sorry [FOXSports]