Hertha Berlin Players, Officials Kneel in Solidarity with American Athletes


Click to enlargeAP Photo/Michael Sohn

❝ Players and coaches from Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin kneeled prior to Saturday’s game against Schalke in a stand “for diversity and against violence.”

“Berlin is colourful,” the public address announcer at Olympiastadion Berlin said, according to ESPN FC’s Stephan Uersfeld. “Hertha BSC stands for diversity and against violence. For this reason, we are joining forces with the protest of our fellow American athletes to take a stand against discrimination. For a tolerant Berlin, both now and forevermore.”

❝ …Ivorian forward Salomon Kalou told reporters Hertha Berlin got the idea to kneel from NFL players who have protested social injustice and racial inequality during the American national anthem.

“As Hertha we always fight against racism,” he said, per Uersfeld. “For us, kneeling down is a way of fighting against this kind of behaviour. It should not exist in any kind of sport. Not in NFL, and not in football or soccer, like they call it in the U.S.—it shouldn’t exist in any sport, period. For us, it’s a good example to show.”

Meanwhile, individual gutless owners of American sports teams, NFL officials and candyass politicians kissed Trump butt. They have taken a constitutional symbol of protest and tried to turn it into an act worthy of the sort of pseudo-patriotic witch-hunt we haven’t witnessed since the inglorious days of McCarthyism.

I’ll take constitutional guarantees over quasi-religious breast-beating any day

Real Madrid and Manchester United shatter American attendance record for proper football

Michigan Stadium
Click to enlargeLeon Halip/Getty Images

A small town in Northern Michigan had the eyes of the soccer world watching it with the largest crowd in American history on hand to witness Real Madrid and Manchester United at Michigan Stadium. A grand total of 109,318 were in the stands to witness the event. The game was broadcast around the world in up to 40 countries, with an estimated economic impact of $15-20 million on Washtenaw county…

As expected, the atmosphere inside the stadium was even louder and more energetic than the one created outside of it leading up to the match. Fans had descended onto Ann Arbor from around the world, and once the game kicked off, it was easy to forget that the match was only a part of a preseason tournament. Nonetheless, Manchester United, only needed a point to reach the final in Miami, and Louis Van Gaal wanted his team to be there…

The game on the pitch was rather action packed, but it was those watching the match in the stands that really made it such a special occasion. Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor was proof that soccer has made it in North America.

Major League Soccer continues to grow in strength, reputation and competitive level. Reflecting not only the growth of proper football in the United States; but, the reputation and ability of teams throughout our regional association CONCACAF.

Today’s record attendance broke the existing record by almost 10% – and that was a match between Brazil and France. Not in Michigan.

The match was fun BTW. Man of the Match was Mr. Potatohead – which is not a negative in my mind for Wayne Rooney from Man U.

Benfica 1 – 2 Chelsea

chelsea win
Click to enlarge

Three minutes earlier, Frank Lampard had rattled the woodwork, leaving Chelsea fans to rue what at the time seemed to like a storybook ending. What better way to win a trophy than, on the day he’s reported to have signed a one-year extension, to have an icon secure silverware.

But Chelsea fans wouldn’t have to wait long for another well-established Blue to secure another piece of European gory. With the match tied 1-1 and Amsterdam’s Europa League final looked destined for an extra 30 minutes before another, less revered part of the Blues’ core gave the Londoners another European trophy.

In second half stoppage time, Juan Mata swung a corner kick far post, allowing veteran defender Branislav Ivanovic to elevate above André Almeida and Jardel, his contact putting a long, looping header back near post, leaving goalkeeper Artur flat-footed as the Serbian center half secured Chelsea’s 2-1 victory…

A lackluster first half ended scoreless before Fernando Torres, on the end of a Petr Cech ball, beat Luisao to go in Artur, the Spaniard’s finish from the right of the box putting Chelsea up in the 60th minute. Eight minutes later, Benfica equalized, with Paraguayan Oscar Cardozo converting from the spot after a hand ball from Cesar Azpilicueta.

In a match largely controlled by Benfica’s midfield yet often lacking inspiration, it was just that a late tally eventually separated the sides. Benfica had 58 percent of the possession but only three shots on goal. Chelsea, on the other hand – often content to let Benfica play at the edge of their attacking third – managed five shots on Artur.

The last, of course, was the most meaningful…Ivanovic has done it before, his two against Liverpool in the 2009 quarterfinals as well as his winner against Napoli in 2012 standing out, but with the timing of tonight’s tally, Ivanovic is unlikely to have scored a more important goal. With his looping header in stoppage time on Wednesday, the 29-year-old helped Chelsea secure this year’s Europa League.

The first half suited everyman’s description of Euro football, e.g., no one dares play harder than at 90%. Less if you’re off-camera. But, the second half came alive even if the handball from Azpilicueta put me in mind of Serie A match-fixing shenanigans more than anything else.

BTW, I chose NBCSports.com for this article to see if I can tolerate their print coverage of footie – since starting the coming season they will be the provider of Premier League coverage on DirecTV.