Tuesday’s Column: Remembering a life well-played

i-a2d5373123e3e872dda40a6b4d10affb-623227616c.jpgThe author (inexplicably wearing a D.C. United t-shirt) and younger brother, Daniel.

Regular readers of my weekly Tuesday soccer column and this blog know that both have been on hold for a couple of weeks now as I deal with family issues, specifically the unexpected death of my younger brother and last surviving sibling.

Frankly, I have had neither the time nor motivation to write recently during what has been the most difficult period I have ever experienced in my life.

I’d like to thank readers who suspected something serious was up, friends in soccer who contacted me via email and Facebook and all those who knew Dan for your expressions of support. Your words meant a great deal.

I’ve never known a life without Daniel. I’ve never known a life without soccer. I’m hoping my passion for the latter will help overcome the loss of my brother.

This week’s column is my tribute to a huge soccer fan and great person, my brother Daniel.

Regular programming will resume shortly. Thanks for reading.

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Final: Galaxy-D.C. United

i-8c4a502b255dff8ebd375e1f62411c13-highflyingbecks.jpgHigh-flying David Beckham, high-flying Galaxy: This is the kind of play you see involving a Brazilian named, um, Fred, I guess (AP Photo).

Phil Collin has the game story.

Full disclosure: Pressing family matters (thank you to the Galaxy PR staff for their kind words) kept me from seeing virtually all of tonight’s game except for the YouTube highlights.

Doesn’t sound like I missed much, though. It looked to me the largely impotent Galaxy were more fortunate to escape with a point at home than their opponents.

I don’t care what Galaxy Coach Bruce Arena says, however, this is a team that looked woeful without Landon Donovan (that’s no crime considering we’re talking about the best all-time U.S. player, is it?) And JPA was dropped completely? Whoa!

Hard to argue with a seven-game undefeated streak and four consecutive shutouts though. Isn’t it?

Check out the highlights:

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Galaxy Friday gameday

8 p.m. Galaxy-D.C. United at Home Depot Center (live on Fox Soccer Channel).

The blog is essentially on hiatus, but in an effort to keep it ticking over in my absence:

*Read Phil Collins’ game notes.

Tonight is Military Appreciation Night, which means those serving in the armed forces get 50 percent off tickets here.

From the Galaxy press release:

Prior to the start of the game, each branch of the United States Armed Forces — U.S. Air Force, U.S Army, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Marines and U.S. Navy– will be recognized. Additionally, 30 recruits from the Air Force will take their Oath of Enrollment prior to the game on main field of The Home Depot Center.

Furthermore, the 1st Marine Division Band, based out of Camp Pendleton in Oceanside , Calif. , will perform at the top of the Main Entrance from 7-7:20 p.m. as well as the National Anthem prior to kickoff.

Hopefully, if this sort of recognition is repeated next year the Galaxy can coordinate things better with the annual Torrance Armed Forces Day parade that was held last month and is the only Pentagon-sanctioned event in the nation.

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FIFA’s Blatter wins new term at helm of scandal-ridden FIFA

i-b4761ffe97dd4da243ea11d555583bcf-blazerblatter.jpgThe whistleblower and the beneficiary: FIFA Executive Committe member Chuck Blazer, left, and newly-relected FIFA president Joseph Blatter in Zurich today where Blatter was elected to a final term as president of the world governing body of soccer (AP Photo).

Last man standing:

ZURICH (AP) — Sepp Blatter was re-elected FIFA president on Wednesday after a major bribery scandal left him as the only candidate to deal with a sport reeling from a wave of corruption allegations.

Blatter, a 75-year-old Swiss executive who has been in office since 1998, was handed a final four-year term as head of soccer’s governing body in a vote at FIFA’s congress. He received 186 votes out of 203 ballots.

After a tense week of drama and controversy surrounding his unchallenged candidacy, Blatter was beaming as he came into the congress hall to a standing ovation and warm applause after the result was announced.

“Vamos! Vamos! Vamos!” said an ebullient Blatter, using the Spanish term for “Let’s go!”

He immediately took steps toward major reform by winning the assembly’s backing for his
proposal to have future World Cup hosts selected in a vote of all 208 federations instead of the 24-man executive committee. The congress also endorsed his plans to revamp the ethics committee and bring in more transparency.

Blatter said he also planned to appoint a woman to the executive committee.

FIFA will meet again later this year to formally adopt the measures.

“We will put FIFA’s ship back on the right course in clear transparent waters,” he said in
French. “We will need some time. We cannot do it from one day to the next. It’s a new
challenge for me and I accept it.”

The election went ahead after England’s call for a postponement of Blatter’s unopposed
“coronation” amid the ethics crisis was overwhelmingly rejected by the delegates. England’s FA chairman David Bernstein left before the vote.

Hours earlier, Blatter promised fundamental reform to tackle the scandals and vowed to let the 208 national federations choose the host of future World Cups instead of the 24-man executive committee.

The re-election completed a frantic week for Blatter, who strained under the weight of
accusations targeting the top echelons of FIFA and himself as guardian of the game and the World Cup.

“We have been hit and I personally have been slapped,” Blatter said. “I don’t want that ever again.”

The impending election of an incumbent as the only candidate had dealt a serious blow to FIFA’s democratic credentials over the past week.

Blatter’s sole challenger, Qatari executive committee member Mohamed bin Hammam, withdrew from the race last weekend and was suspended pending a full probe into allegations of bribing Caribbean voters during the campaign. FIFA vice president Jack Warner of Trinidad was also suspended for involvement in the alleged payoffs.

Despite the bribery scandal that saw the heads of the Asian and CONCACAF confederations suspended, the overwhelming backing was a ringing endorsement for Blatter.

“I am happy we are able to bring this solidarity, this unity in FIFA,” Blatter said.

Bernstein had called for a postponement of the election for several months to allow for the scandals to be cleared up, saying that “a coronation without an opponent provides a flawed mandate.”

However, 172 of the 208 delegations rejected England’s call, clearing the way for the election to proceed.

Blatter said the worst scandal in the body’s history could be solved within FIFA itself and
with him in charge.

“The FIFA ship is in troubled waters but this ship must be brought back on the right track,” Blatter said in an opening address. “I am the captain of the ship.”

“It is therefore my duty and responsibility to see to it that we get back on track.”

To make sure his legacy would not be seen as one of a leader who let the rot of corruption take over the world’s premier game, Blatter promised to improve decision-making and openness in FIFA.

“Reforms will be made and not just touchups but radical decisions,” Blatter said in his speech to the 208 delegations.

He insisted that reform should come from within the FIFA family, snubbing calls for
independent, outside oversight that many critics had insisted on and he himself had

IOC President Jacques Rogge told Blatter on the eve of the election that only drastic measures to improve democracy and transparency had saved the Olympic movement when it faced a similar corruption scandal in the run-up to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

“We have made mistakes, but we will draw our conclusions,” Blatter said.

Allegations of corruption in World Cup bidding have also roiled FIFA in recent weeks. On Monday, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke was forced to acknowledge he had written in an email that Qatar “bought” the 2022 World Cup. He said he was only referring to Qatar’s formidable financial clout, and that he never accused the Gulf country of buying votes.

On Wednesday, German federation President Theo Zwanziger said Qatar’s victory in December’s vote should be reviewed in light of “speculations and corruption allegations.” Qatar has denied any wrongdoing.

In a major policy shift, Blatter said he would work to make sure that the awarding of future
World Cup hosts would be decided in a vote of all federations instead of the two dozen
executive committee members, several of whom have been involved in bribery scandals.

Just ahead of the election, FIFA’s financial officers highlighted the enormous importance of the sport’s showcase tournament. FIFA made a $631 million profit in the four years leading up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, registering $202 million of that in last year alone.

The four-year financial cycle showed income of $4.19 billion from broadcast and commercial deals, with 87 percent tied directly to the World Cup.

So far, Blatter’s dogged determination to bring the World Cup to Africa with the successful staging of South Africa 2010 stands out as his legacy. In his last four years, his ability to reform the governance of the sport could mean as much for his place his history.

A fourth term will give Blatter a total of 17 years at the head of FIFA. Add the 24 years of
his predecessor Joao Havelange, and the sport will have been in the hands of just two men over the past four decades.

AP Sports Writers Rob Harris and Graham Dunbar in Zurich and Nesha Starcevic in Frankfurt contributed to this report.

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Chivas USA Wednesday Gameday & more

Tonight’s game against the Vancouver Whitecaps kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Home Depot Center (live on Fox Sports West) with both teams hoping to do better than the scoreless draw they managed to accomplish last month in Canada.

It will be an uphill battle for the Whitecaps, the game coming a day after Vancouver fired their coach.

Here’s the Chivas USA perspective:

The missing players Coach Robin Fraser mentioned: Joint leading scorer Alejandro Moreno as well as Andrew Boyens and Simon Elliott, who are all on international duty. Jorge Flores misses the game through suspension.

Notable: Defender Heath Pearce is the only Chivas USA player to have played every minute of every MLS game so far this season.

In other local soccer news:

*Striker Charlie Davies will likely start on the bench when D.C. United takes on the Galaxy Friday night in Carson (7:30 p.m. live on Fox Soccer Channel). The Western Conference-leading Galaxy are seeking their fifth straight win.

*Reminder: Tickets starting at $30 are on sale for the Galaxy’s 1 p.m. July 24 friendly against FA Cup winners Manchester City at Home Depot Center.

*Santa Clarita resident Paula Berriz was elected to a four-year term as the first woman president in the 47-year history of the Harbor Gateway-based American Youth Soccer Organization. She is a 27-year volunteer with the nonprofit that touts itself as “the largest single-entity youth soccer association in the U.S. with nearly 600,000 players and 225,000 volunteers.”

*Speaking of recreational soccer, Southern California soccer blog From A left Wing talks about the angry white men stalking local soccer fields.

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