BRIEF CHRONICLES: “MY SON DOES KNOW HOW TO PLAY BASEBALL”

“When he is not in front of the PC, he is playing soccer. And I love baseball much more than soccer, since I was a kid!”

There is a baseball field near my house. And kids were playing….soccer! The FIFA World Cup is being played now and it means passion!

“Everyone dreams of being Messi or Ronaldo,” my neighbor said. I do not want to thwart their dreams. However, if they check the statistics, there are no Cuban players at any top league around the world.”

  Well, perhaps these boys can change the future. Perhaps one      of them is the next Maradona —I said.

  Yes, sure —my neighbor tried to ridicule me—. We have “lots of great pitches here, lots of balls, and trainers. The future is ours.”

I shrugged my shoulders and I did not know how to answer. A lady was passing by and stopped where the teenagers were playing.

  Do you see the kid with the yellow jersey? That’s my son! When he is not in front of the PC, he is playing soccer. But if you give him a baseball bat, he does not know what to do with it. He has never learned how to play baseball.

  Have you ever tried to teach him? —my neighbor asked.

  I tried to teach him myself. I know how to play baseball. My father taught me. My team is Industriales no matter who the manager is.

  What’s your boy’s favorite team?

  Real Madrid!

  Well, perhaps he has a future in soccer —I said.

  Look, the best thing he can do is to study hard and get into college. He can be an engineer in Cuba since he will not go anywhere as a soccer player. Do you know anyone famous here?

My neighbor agreed.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

We may have seen Ronaldo & Messi at the World Cup for the last time – Schmeichel

Russia 2018 may be the World Cup swansong for Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, according to Peter Schmeichel, after both players exited on the same day at the last 16 stage.

Ronaldo and Messi are the two players who have defined their generation, breaking record after record and vying for the title of the world’s best player year after year.

However, the pair have again failed to add an elusive World Cup to their trophy-laden cabinets, after Messi’s Argentina were defeated 4-3 by France in the last 16 in Russia on Saturday, followed shortly after by Ronaldo’s Portugal, who suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Uruguay.

Goalkeeping great Peter Schmeichel, who is an RT World Cup guest host, says both players looked jaded judging by their performances in the last 16 – and raised doubts over whether fans would ever see the pair on football’s biggest stage again.

“We’re now speculating, was this the last time we saw Ronaldo and Messi at the World Cup?” Schmeichel asked.

“By the look of their performances today, they looked tired. Ronaldo’s looked OK [at the World Cup], but I don’t think Messi has.”

Ronaldo is 33, and while he says he feels like a 23-year-old, even his obsessive desire to succeed and meticulous approach to staying in shape will not dispel doubts as to whether he appears at Qatar in four years’ time. Messi is two years younger than his great rival, having turned 31 during this World Cup, but doubts will be even more fervent over his international future after such a bitterly disappointing campaign in which he scored a solitary goal and cut such a peripheral figure in Argentina’s defeat to France.

Ronaldo’s World Cup exit is down in large part to the talents of Uruguayan strike duo Luis Suarez and Edison Cavani – the latter of whom scored a stunning double in Sochi.

READ MORE: France 4-3 Argentina: Mbappe fires Les Blues into World Cup quarter-finals as Messi crashes out

Schmeichel was full of praise for an attacking duo he had warned about before the game.

“Cavani was brilliant, he got injured which is a bit of a worry, but he didn’t look to be in too much discomfort, but it’s a worry.”

“He’s very important to Uruguay… There’s no doubt about the quality of Suarez, but for me Cavani is the big star for the team.”

The attacking pair linked up perfectly for Uruguay’s open, which saw Cavani send a sweeping cross-field ball to Suarez, before sprinting half the length of the pitch to turn the return ball home.   

 
“This is a perfect ball in, to a striker who’s very good in the heading department, and he doesn’t miss from there,” said Schmeichel.

Portugal showed more urgency after going behind, equalizing through Pepe in the second half, although Schmeichel said the game saw the best and worst of the former Real Madrid defender.

“Pepe slipped in with a really good header,” Schmeichel said of the defender’s 55th-minute goal, before finding fault with the 35-year-old for the goal which saw Uruguay re-take the lead.

“But when you have someone like Pepe in the team, he pops up and scores goals, but he also makes stupid decisions in the game.

“For the second goal he made stupid decision to try and win a header, when he should have stayed back, but he left so much space for Cavani.”

Cavani used that space well, curling home from the edge of the box for what proved the winner.

Former Denmark and Manchester United ‘keeper Schmeichel said experienced Portuguese stopper Rui Patricio could have done better.  

“It is a great finish, but when you are facing a situation like that as a goalkeeper, you need to be a little bit further out of the goal. Rui Patricio was on the line, and also he got a bit carried away, he was a bit too far to the right.

“It’s nearly in the center of the goal… it’s a quality finish from a great striker… but you always have to question these players, he could have done a bit better.”

READ MORE: Ronaldo flashes legs, internet goes into meme frenzy

Uruguay closed out the game for the win, with the closing stages to what could be Ronaldo’s World Cup swansong not showing the best from a man who has scored four goals at Russia 2018 – including  a stunning hat-trick in Sochi in the opening game against Spain.

“After that there was nothing in Portugal… Ronaldo huffed and puffed, but there was nothing really in that,” Schmeichel said of the closing stages against Uruguay.

With that, Ronaldo’s World Cup in Russia was over as he departed football’s greatest stage along with his greatest rival.

  • Published in Sports

Donald Trump's Joke On Cristiano Ronaldo Falls Flat

Washington: US President Donald Trump cracked a joke about Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo running for president against incumbent Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who responded by saying that Portugal "is nothing like the US".

What started off as a casual conversation on Wednesday about the World Cup between Donald Trump and Rebelo de Sousa, who is on an official visit in Washington, revealed the stark contrast between their political cultures, Efe news reported.

In his first bilateral meeting with President Trump, Rebelo de Sousa bantered that when Trump would talk World Cup in his upcoming summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, he should not forget to mention that "Portugal is still there and hopes to win..."

"Don't forget that Portugal has the best player in the world who is called Cristiano Ronaldo," Rebelo de Sousa told Trump in the White House.

President Trump recognised that Portugal indeed was "doing very well" and asked his counterpart "how good a player" Ronaldo was.

When Rebelo de Sousa said Ronaldo was "the best player in the world", Trump asked "so will Cristiano ever run for President against you?"

As his Portuguese counterpart pondered on a response, Trump assured him that "Cristiano wouldn't win, you know he won't".

At this Rebelo de Sousa turned and said "President, you know -- you know something -- I must tell you, Portugal is not like the US. It's a little different."

  • Published in World

No Evidence of Doping Among Russian Soccer Players: FIFA

Russia has rejected allegations it has run a state-sponsored doping program and elaborately covered up its athletes’ positive tests at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

FIFA rejected Sunday a British media report alleging doping cover-ups among Russian national team soccer players, saying it had not found any evidence of doping among Russia’s players as the country hosts the World Cup finals.

OPINION: The Biased Report That Led to Banning Russian Athletes

Reiterating a statement it made last month, FIFA said: “insufficient evidence was found to assert an anti-doping rule violation by any footballer.”

It added that the investigations opened against players named to Russia’s preliminary squad last month had been closed.

Rubin Kazan defender Ruslan Kambolov, investigated by FIFA over alleged doping violations, was named in Russia’s preliminary squad last month but later sustained an injury and was left out of the final selection.

“In the course of the investigations FIFA looked at every possible evidence, leaving no stone unturned,” the global soccer governing body said.

FIFA launched investigations into possible anti-doping violations by Russian soccer players after a report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found that more than 1,000 Russian competitors across more than 30 sports — including soccer — were involved in an institutional conspiracy to conceal positive drug tests.

The country’s athletics federation, its anti-doping agency RUSADA and its Paralympic committee remain suspended over doping allegations.

  • Published in Sports

Colombia Wins 3-0 Over Poland in World Cup

After a loss against Japan Colombia wins big against Poland.

Goals from Yerry Mina, Radamel Falcao, and Juan Cuadrado gave Colombia a convincing 3-0 win on Sunday against Poland, who were eliminated from contention at the World Cup before their last Group H match.

RELATED: Mexico: At Least 16 Fans Dead Within 24 Hours of World Cup Win

Japan and Senegal, who both picked up wins in their first games, drew 2-2 earlier on Sunday and are in a battle with Colombia to qualify for the knockout stage.

Mina headed home from close range in the 40th minute when midfielder Juan Fernando Quintero caught the Poland defense off guard from a short corner with a smart clipped pass to James Rodriguez who whipped it in first time with his left foot.

Quintero's defense-splitting pass then gave captain Falcao, who missed the 2014 tournament due to injury, his first World Cup goal in the 70th, while Rodriguez got his second assist five minutes later when he set up Cuadrado to make it 3-0.

  • Published in Sports

Nicaraguan Women´s Soccer Team beat Cuba in Second Game of the Friendly Match

Nicaragua women's soccer squad beat 2-1 Cuba in the second and last friendly match these two sides held at Havana´s Pedro Marrero stadium.

The visitors opened the score at the 25th minute when Cuban goalkeeper Katherine Montesinos couldn´t keep a header and right winger Yensi Aguirre took the rebound and sent the ball home from close range.

At 45´, left winger Sheyla Flores starred a magnificent play when dribbling past two local defenders to then beat Montesinos through a tremendous shot, thus setting the score 2-0.

In the second half, the Cuban coach Reiniel Bonora made some substitutions as he had lined up several not-regular players and his team noted the improvement and at 75´, Nicaragua´s defender scored an own goal, but the visiting side didn´t collapse, as in the first match, and managed to maintain the score 2-1.

Last Tuesday, Cuba won 4-2 the first of these two matches after starring a tremendous comeback in the second half as they were losing 1-2 at half time.

  • Published in Sports

Cuba: Soccer Fans and Where to Find Them

Let’s imagine for a moment, only for a moment that the city is a jungle that there are trees instead of buildings and for the chirping of birds we have the honking of old American cars.

This jungle, of course, has its own animal species: beautiful, exotic, colorful and dangerous. But out of the entire urban biosphere there’s a particular specimen, a new one that little by little has earned its place among the noisiest beasts in the environment. In Cuba, where globalization seems to have sunk in like a roof leak, there are already these extraordinary beings who live match after match and feed of goals. Soccer addicts are undeniable part of our social fauna and, although in the world they are called "fans", "hooligans" and "ultra", those here prefer to call themselves fanatics.

Sub-species

Soccer fans in Cuba are not on the brink of extinction at all; they are rather in their peak, although they are far from being a plague yet. Just like there are different species of cats or spiders there are also different classes of soccer fanatics, which usually divide in Barcelona Fans, Real Madrid Fans, followers of the Bayern Múnich and those who support a team from the Premier League or the Italian Calcio. Nevertheless, it’s the Barcelona Fans and Real Madrid Fans who proliferate around these days.

The unstoppable growing number of fans of both teams is a limitless phenomenon. In the last years, specialists worldwide have noticed a huge growth in the ranks of these two packs in detriment of others. For many, the origin of this overpopulation is due to the majestic presence of two male alphas: Christian Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. In the jungle, as everyone should know, the male alphas usually impose by the "survival of the strongest". But as soccer must not be of violence (unless the faults committed in the field), we could assure that this law is translated for these born leaders in talent, skill, elegance and omnipresence in the media.

Natural Habitat

At least in Cuba, soccer fanatics are easily identifiable. Their natural habitat is usually corners, parks or any field, may that be grass or pavement, as long as the ball can roll without problems. Certainly there is nothing more appealing for them than a television broadcasting a soccer match.

To better understand these fanatics you must study them in full action, in their ideal ecosystem, where they express their wildest nature. If we talk about an important match, one that defines a tournament or that pits historical rivals. Previous the television broadcast, the Cuban soccer animal bet all kinds of things, review shortly the times his team has won over the other one and, lastly, he uses his premonitory skills to predict the result of the match. During the game they just jump off their chairs to scream, and fruitlessly speak to the TV screen. Once the whistle indicates the end of the match, if he wins, his main duty is humiliating the opposing fanatic. In the event of losing, then there will be the warning of a sure revenge.

Physical characteristics

The physical characteristics of this species are quite variable, to the point that they can sometimes be mistaken with the rest of the human kind. However, there is a small detail that gives them away: the outfit. The fanatics walk around wearing their soccer T-shirt and the crest of the team on their chests. But T-shirt are expensive and, wear out in the end. A few lucky ones ask their relatives or friends to bring them a t-shirt from abroad. Other more radical decide to turn their colors permanent and tattoo their skin. The crest is something sacred for them which they respect and love, as if it were a religious symbol. They pray to it in search of goals and, when the goal is scored, it’s mandatory to kiss it feverishly, to thank it, to tighten the muscles and raise his arms to the sky.

Wild Behavior

Warning! in the event of facing a soccer fanatic you should know, first of all he doesn't have a “favorite team”. No. The beast in question has "a team", or better, HIS TEAM. In his head he believes that the club (or national team) is his property and he will refer to it as HIS. This behavior leads him to assume an entire bunch of responsibilities: to defend against detractors and enemies, to suffer the defeats, to sing the victories and tell them among friends like epic battles that for their historical accuracy and detail would rival Homer himself.

There are few things in this world compared to a goal, or at least that believes a soccer fanatic. In his mind the goal is like an orgasm, a spasm with heart arrhythmia included, the glorious culmination of comings and goings of fulfilled expectations and disappointments. He celebrates it as if he had scored and with the burning desire of being in the skin of players. So don't be scared if you see some rapture of ecstasy in some specimen, because that could be his less harmless behavior. Of course, if his team scores.

Predators and Preys

Some specialists affirm that soccer fanatics is a specie introduced that has altered the domestic ecosystem, becoming natural predators of baseball followers. However, the Cuban sport biosphere has not suffered any change, or at least none associated to the boost of “soccer”. Baseball is and will always be the national sport, the very existence of hot corners, the homelike ritual that brings the family together in front of the television. The recent National Baseball Series has proven that, where soccer fanatics either those of Barcelona or Real Madrid have worn the Industriales, Las Tunas or Granma T-shirt. The scientific community should not be based on groundless fears, since baseball is the Cuban fiber that gives certain qualities to the soccer animal.

Evolution  

Soccer fanatics in Cuba which as every being is victim of evolution would gladly mutate his wild nature of television spectator and neighborhood player for that of the regional "fan". He would not hesitate to wear over his T-shirt of European clubs that of the provincial team and cheer from the bleachers with greater enthusiasm than at home. But reality conspires against the Darwinian designs, because both the stadiums and the national tournaments alike are missing the minimal conditions to start a proper competition. Only a few improvements to those forgotten fields and turned into amazonic jungles, and maybe something promotion, to attract that mass of curious characters among which, with pride, I include myself.

  • Published in Specials

Brazil leads FIFA rankings, Iran best in Asia

Brazil has taken over at the top of the FIFA rankings for the first time since 2010. 

After losing Lionel Messi to a four-match ban, Argentina lost 2-0 at Bolivia last week and dropped to No. 2. 

World Cup winner Germany is still No. 3, followed by Chile and Colombia. South American teams tallied more ranking points last month by playing two World Cup qualifiers. European teams played one. 

European champion Portugal is No 8, while Switzerland entered the top 10, up two to ninth, one ahead of above Spain. 

Mexico climbed one to No 16 and leads CONCACAF teams. The United States climbed seven to No 23. No 19 Egypt leads African teams, and No 28 Iran is Asia's best. 

World Cup host Russia fell one to No 61.

  • Published in Sports
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