World Cup Wrap-Up

You hate to see a game, let alone a championship, get decided by penalty kicks, but it does make for perhaps the most exciting five minutes in sports. Great ending to a great World Cup.

Afterwards, of course, all the talk has been about the head-butt (see below for some links and video clips). Crack teams of lipreaders at The Guardian and elsewhere have come up with various interpretations of what Marco Materazzi may have said to Zizou, mostly centering on his mother, his sister, their nipples, terrorism, and an accusation of being a French collaborator during Algeria’s war for independence – but ultimately, the incident had little effect on the outcome.

National team coaches Marcello Lippi of Italy and Juergen Klinsmann of Germany both announced their resignations Wednesday. Lippi goes out a hero, but also under scrutiny in the ongoing match-fixing scandal in Italy. Klinsmann also leaves on good terms, with a reported 93% public-approval rating, and with the prospect of another job coming open closer to his California home; U.S. coach Bruce Arena is said to be on his way out; he’ll meet with USSF officials this week.

The new coaches won’t have much time to settle in; the qualifying campaign for Euro 2008 begins Sept. 21.

FIFA released their redesigned world rankings on Wednesday, weighted more toward more recent games, and with an enhanced “strength of schedule” component. Brazil remains number one, Italy rose from 11th to second, and Germany, France, England, and Argentina moved up as well. On the other hand, the U.S. dropped from fifth to 16th, and Mexico from fourth to 18th.

A Few Head-Butt links and resources:
Materazzi Hit Lists:
Sports Illustrated
New York Times
World Cup 365
Zidane speaks
Zidane's mother speaks: "I want his balls on a platter"
Materazzi's agent: "My personal wish would be that one day they could meet again and maybe make a nice moment.'
An Arcade Game

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