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Wednesday Kickoff: Ferguson irate at referee, Goetze leads Dortmund to UCL quarters, and more

IrateAlexFergusonvsRealMadrid1 (Getty)


Sir Alex Ferguson was so furious at referee Cuneyt Cakir’s decision to send off Nani that the Manchester United manager did not attend his own post-match press conference, instead sending assistant coach Mike Phelan to meet with the media.

Nani’s controversial dismissal in the 56th minute turned the match, which had been in United’s favor, over to Real Madrid, who would score two goals in two minutes from the feet of Luka Modric and Cristiano Ronaldo, and eventually hold on to win on aggregate 3-2. The English club did do their best to mount a comeback, but Madrid goalkeeper Diego Lopez made a couple of brilliant saves to keep the tie in the Spanish club’s favor.

As Cakir blew for full-time, Ferguson walked up to the Turkish official, who by day works in insurance, and gave him a few choice words, before walking off without nary a glance at any of the players on the pitch. UEFA is considering taking action on the long-time United boss for his actions towards the fourth official during the match, and referee afterwards.

Here are some more stories to get your Wednesday started:


While much of the world watched Real Madrid battle with Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund kept their Champions League dreams alive with a commanding 3-0 victory (5-2 agg) over Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk.

The two sides drew 2-2 in Ukraine in the first leg, but Dortmund were determined from early on to write a different script at home in the second leg. Goals from Felipe Santana – filling in for Mats Hummels in defense – in the 31st minute, and Mario Goetze in the 37th all but condemned the visitors exit of the competition. A goal from Jakub Blaszczykowski into an open net was the ribbon on the Champions League gift that Borussia had made for themselves.

Manager Jurgen Klopp, who has guided his side to the quarterfinals for the first team since 1998, stated that he was enjoying the moment, and thinks Borussia could make it to the semifinals as well. Forward Robert Lewandowski said after the match that he believes they could even make it to the finals.


During a difficult first season under Brendan Rodgers, where injuries, inexperience, and poor play have left Liverpool in seventh-place in the Premier League, goalkeeper Pepe Reina is determined to work his way out of it. But not without some help from those above him.

The Spanish international has urged the Liverpool owners to spend money this summer, and bring in a few signings that could get the squad back into the Champions League picture. It was only in 2005 that Liverpool won the competition, but poor management and the rise of Manchester City has left the Merseyside club on the outside looking in.

It’s speculative to say the least whether Liverpool could spend enough money to bolster the squad with top players, after last week’s news on the club’s rising debt was released. In the meantime, recent signings Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho have had big impacts on the squad so far, and look to be well worth the money spent.


Brazilian club Gremio’s veteran side have continued their winning ways in the Copa Libertadores, with a 4-1 victory over Venezuelan side Caracas FC. Striker Hernan Barcos got the ball rolling for Gremio with a close range strike in the 16th minute, after Caracas goalkeeper Alain Baroja dropped the ball in his own six yard box. Werley followed with a great header into the near post in the 38th minute for the second goal, and the 38-year-old Ze Roberto scored the third goal of the match seven minutes into the second half, when he beautifully rounded the keeper and slotted into an empty net.

Caracas would score one back in the 60th minute off a header from Andres Sanchez, but Ze Roberto would assume command of the game once more with a close range tap in, after a bullet cross from his teammate Para.

Gremio now sit atop Group 8 with Brazilian side Fluminense, each of them with six points from three matches. With the loss, Caracas slips to third-place in the group.

Elsewhere in South America, Chilean club Universidad de Chile condemned Newell’s Old Boys of Argentina to their second successive Copa Libertadores defeat, by a score of 2-1, moving the Chilean side to the top of Group 7. Paraguayan club Olimpia tied Venezuela’s Deportivo Lara 2-2, putting them in second and third-place, respectively in the group.

In the two other matches on Tuesday evening, Fredy Montero and Millonarios of Colombia defeated San Jose of Bolvia 2-1, and Ecuadorian side Emelec got revenge for their previous loss to Chilean newcomers Deportes Iquique, winning this match 2-1.


FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, who previously got into trouble by admitting his concern over the Brazil stadium situations, has said again that he is worried about the Maracana’s progress to be ready by this summer’s Confederations Cup. (REPORT)

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has signed a four-year contract extension. (REPORT)

Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has announced his squad for two upcoming friendlies against Italy and Russia, with Kaka and Fred returning to the squad and Adriano and Ronaldinho being dropped. (REPORT)

French champions Montpellier are interested in opening talks with Diego Maradona to be the club’s next manager. (REPORT)

Arsenal have been linked with Swansea centerback Ashley Williams, in an £8 million move this summer. (REPORT)


What do you think of these reports? Do you see UEFA taking action against Ferguson? Do you see Dortmund having the quality to make the final? Interested in seeing Maradona back in management?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Honestly how does Maradonna keep getting considered for a coaching job? He is awful and just brings distractions everywhere he goes!

  2. The problem i have with the sending off is that Nani DID NOT KNOW that Arbeloa was there. He was trying to take the ball out of the air at full speed, which i am sure most of you know requires intense concentration on the ball. IT was not a tackle, because he did not see the player. It was a collision that was unfortunate, Nani’s boot was high and thus was dangerous play which warrants a foul and perhaps a yellow. But a red card for a collision at full pace in arguably the biggest game of the year? Never. Then again I don’t know why people are surprised that it was a red though, I have seen worse decisions (Van Persie sending off against Barca for kicking the ball out of play 1/2 a second after the whistle). However, unfortunately the game of soccer is advancing in all areas EXCEPT officiating.

  3. This was Sir Alex’s fault.

    When you fail to start Rooney and instead depend on the bonehead that is Nani, you deserve whatever result you get in a match. Especially a vital one.

    The blame is also on Nani, for putting the ref in that position to make a call, according to the letter of the law. People who want to dispute whether or not this is a red card are nullified by the video, plain and simple.

    The video, very clear, displays Nani making contact and continuing to thrust his boots into Arbeloa’s chest/rib cage.

    Cuneyt Cakir’s fault? No. Sir Alex’s fault, followed by the bonehead Nani.

  4. When you try to tap a high ball, and another player runs across you and your studs sink into him, its a yellow for a dangerous play, mostly to discourage that situation from happening again. It wasn’t a red card. It wasn’t a Nigel De Jong move. Some seem to feel that Nani made contact and then kicked out again. How much balance and control does anyone have when your leg is above your waste and attached to a moving human being? The collision wasn’t pretty, that’s why it’s more than a foul. But if that’s a red card, all a team would have to do is run into other player’s outstretched legs all game, and matches would finish 7 vs. 8.

    • Actually, FIFA laws dictate that dangerous play rules only come into play when no contact is made.

      “Playing in a dangerous manner involves no physical contact between the

      players. If there is physical contact, the action becomes an offence punishable

      with a direct free kick or penalty kick. In the case of physical contact, the

      referee should carefully consider the high probability that misconduct has also

      been committed.”

      The moment he made contact it become a red card. Had he not made contact it was simply a yellow.

  5. Ives, thanks for being one the of the few American Soccer Journalists to mention the Borussia Dortmund X Shakhtar Donetsk match. It’s nice to know that all North American Soccer Writers aren’t all biased towards EPL sides. Borussia is something special despite a not so great season in Bundesilga and is deserving of better coverage than they’ve gotten.

      • LOL, I know, Right?

        They had it coming when think about how Borussia owned Bayern last year. I think Bayern’s ass kicking last year’s German Cup Final won’t be forgotten anytime soon in Bavaria.

    • I was glad I could sit at the bar later in the evening and catch the Shakhtar v Dortmund match (albeit on delay). Was a treat to watch some great attacking football. I always felt that tie was going to be a great one for those who love the purity of the sport. Dortmund were excellent. I wish them the best the rest of the way.

      • Oh, I agree with that. My question is more would people infer that intent was malicious, based on perceptions of the players I named?

      • You’re absolutely right, and I’m sure that played into FIFA’s thought when constructing the rules so that perception bias could not come into play with rulings of discipline for dangerous plays.

      • That’s a great point. And sadly, I think LSU Chris is right in his answer. Plus, I think attacking players will always get a little more benefit of the doubt in any similar scenario.

        Based off how the play unfolded (specifically Nani looking at the ball the entire way to his foot), I’d like to think those who are students of the game would maintain the same answer no matter who committed the foul.

    • I’ll take that a step further.

      What would the reaction be for any player on any team that is not named Manchester United.

      But if Pepe put his cleat in someone’s chest the outcry would be for suspensions and how his thuggish play isn’t wanted in the game. Imagine if Joey Barton did this? The English media would implode.

  6. Never a red card and the players from both teams reactions proves this more then analyizng the actual incident will. Terrible decision that put the ball firmly in Madrid’s court having to go against one of if not the best(I’ll say best in this case because of Madrid’s direct style in comparison to Barca’s style) a man down for 40+ minutes.

  7. I can see the argument that it was a harsh sending off, but please stop claiming the intent of his actions are relevant or that it was not a legitimate red card. By the law, it was a red card.

    And the argument that it should not have been given because it would ruin the match is essentially an admittance that you don’t mind seeing the rules broken for the benefit of ratings and your entertainment. If you want a rigged sport, try the NBA or WWE. Until then, players are accountable for their actions and the consequences for their team.

    The FIFA rule book explicitly states in many cases that the intent of an action dictates the severity of the discipline–such as with a handball. The FIFA rule book intentionally left out the intent clause when it comes to determining discipline for tackles because a referee cannot and should not be asked to judge intent of that nature. Nani’s decision to put his boot at chest height was reckless in any manner, and reckless by definition, is devoid of a necessity for intent.

    I can drive extremely fast on the highway and lose control of my car and hit someone else. I didn’t intend to hit them, but my reckless actions outside the confines of what is allowed put me in that position and I have to suffer the consequences if something worse comes from those actions.

    In this case, Nani decided to raise his boot up to chest level to get a ball and he missed the ball. I think everyone can agree that studs being at chest height is reckless. His stud went into a player’s chest and could have seriously, seriously injured him. His play was reckless and the moment he put himself in that position he opened himself up to possible consequences should something happen. Something happened.

    • The laws of the game state a player should be sent off for “serious foul play” or “violent conduct”. I guess your argument would fall under the “violent conduct” portion of the law. To an extent, if I were following the laws of the game in their strictest form, then there is some merit to that. But “serious foul play” and “violent conduct” inherently suggest that intent or knowledge of your actions is present when committing said foul. And for me, I just don’t see it. And playing this game since I was 5 years old (not that I’m discrediting you or your knowledge), I personally don’t consider it breaking/bending the rules. I consider it understanding the game, having an idea of situational play and a little bit of common sense.

      That could have been any team in the world… could have been Lekhwiya from the Qatar League for all I care… and I still would say that’s a horrible sending off.

      • FIFA actually went on to qualify the serious foul play rule because it was vague and added that any tackle by a player that endangers another player must be deemed as serious foul play.

        So like I said, I can see the argument that it was a harsh sending off and that possibly a change in the rules might be in order–but going in with studs at chest height (and according to some doing so without being aware of your surroundings) certainly may fall under “endangers an opposing player.”

      • So I’ll add a little more merit to your side of the argument. That’s fair because yes, he endangered another player. I can’t disagree there.

        I guess my reply to that would be, if that’s true and the law states “any tackle, etc…” — I wouldn’t consider Nani’s actions to be a ‘tackle’. There’s no intent (I know we’re trying to remove that word from the argument) and knowledge from his end that he’s going into a ‘tackle’. He’s just attempting to bring the ball down. That’s where I see common sense and an understanding of situational play being a big factor.

        Side note: I feel I’ve loved this game long enough and I’m not biased enough, that if it were a Madrid player (such as Pepe) who was sent off under the exact same circumstances, then I would without a doubt think it was a terrible decision.

        Also… I don’t see that qualifying statement about serious foul play in the official PDF they on FIFA’s site. Just for my own knowledge and future referee gigs, is there someplace I can find some of those updates? Have to keep up-to-date out there. Thanks.

      • Yeah, check this out! It is added explanations for referees from FIFA on how to interpret fouls.

        “Serious foul play

        – A tackle that endangers the safety of an opponent must be sanctioned as

        serious foul play.”


        “-A player who is guilty of serious foul play should be sent off and play is

        restarted with a direct free kick from the position where the offence occurred

        (see Law 13 – Position of free kick) or a penalty kick (if the offence occurred

        inside the offender’s penalty area).”

        There’s actually a lot in there about more discretionary things like explicitly stating that bicycle kicks and scissor kicks are allowed if the referee deems that they aren’t immediately dangerous to another player.

      • Awesome. Thanks A.

        Nice to have a logical debate without a complete uproar and/or name calling.

      • But the thing you’re missing is CONTEXT. Serious foul play and violent conduct are always going to be subjective and up to the interpretation of the referee, so context is inherently a part of it. And the point here is that everyone who knows the game, understands the game, and is a fan of soccer understands that in that particular context, there’s no way in h@ll he should have been given red.

    • “I can drive extremely fast on the highway and lose control of my car and hit someone else. I didn’t intend to hit them, but my reckless actions outside the confines of what is allowed put me in that position and I have to suffer the consequences if something worse comes from those actions.”

      Well… in your scenario intent could mean the difference between manslaughter and murder… a yellow card and a red. Not disagreeing with your overall point, but your analogy is flawed.

  8. Subsequent kick off afterwards? What on earth are you talking about?

    Also, Peter Crouch had a similar if not worse incident this weekend for Stoke and didn’t even get a yellow.

    “Red card, no question about it” – worst.statement.ever.

    • Watch the video. He kicks out at arbeloa as he goes by. Nani is going one direction and he sends his foot another direction. It was a cheap shot, it was violent play.

      • Dude, I wonder about your sanity. There’s absolutely no way it was a red card and those of you that are questioning it are either blind or lacking in some sort of cognitive facility.

      • danny boy, the referee judged it to be a red. the records show a red was given. what gives? studs up is a way to end a players career, we only need look to stuart holden for this conformation.

        he pushed off at the end and the replay clearly shows that he pushed his foot into the madrid player. was it a “knee jerk” reaction? does it even matter? he was shown red and harsh or not, it doesnt matter. it was a red.

        maybe it is your opinion that is a little scary.

      • Let me guess Danny was pulling for Man U.

        Get real dude, someone that sees it as red is 100% reasonable.

  9. As much as most people would agree that the red card was an awful call, UEFA has got to get control over Ferguson. He should not be able to get away with these on-field tirades just because he is a legend. He is not above anyone else when it comes to berating officials.

    • I didn’t think he was too bad. I’m not sure what he yelled at the final whistle, whatever it was, I’m sure it would be moderated on this board. But other than that, I thought he was pretty composed to his normal self. He had the wherewithal to not go to a press conference and say something to really get himself in trouble

    • Studs up contact with the ribs and a subsequent kick off afterwards, who could argue it didn’t deserve red?

      I’ve only been on the receiving end of that much cleat once in my lifetime, and I walked off the field with 4 cleat-sized holes in my leg, and blood running from my shorts.

      Red card, no question about it.

      • I’m inclined to agree. It looked like Nanny pushed his foot out at arbeloa. That is where the malice was.

      • A subsequent kick off? What does that even mean?

        And I disagree completely. There are plenty of questions about it.

      • Ah, a kick out. Understood. But I still disagree. If you happen to feel that the laws of physics when two objects collide is a “kick out”, then I would consider some truth to that statement. But I don’t, and I feel that at that speed, a speed of the game I can only try to comprehend, its purely the momentum of Arbeloa’s full weight coming through Nani’s foot/leg (much less weight) that might give the illusion of a kick out. Pretty sure if my leg was in the air and was run through, I would have pretty much zero control over what my feet and body would do next.

        That being said, I realize not everyone will see it this way and I respect that.

      • Yeah, I am not about to try and add intent to a high speed collision shown in slow motion. It could have been momentum or a secondary kick.

        Whether he did or didn’t we’ll never know what was in his head.

      • A red card is given for malicious intent. Pretty hard to be malicious when you don’t see the other guy coming.

        The fact that all of Real’s players were also in disbelief says it all.

      • It has nothing to do with Intent, look up the rule for confirmation. In this case it’s a safety issue – IMO…haven’t seen the Referee’s report to see what he said. It’s the right call in my opinion.

      • No — under the rule, intent is not relevant. On borderline calls it might make the referee more likely to show a red, but it’s not a required element. A red card is shown for serious foul play, especially where it endangers the opponent. Here, Nani went in with his studs showing, and made full contact with Arbeloa’s ribs, with the toe of his boot practically in Arbeloa’s armpit. What more would you need to see, in such a situation, to show red?

      • Good to see I’m not the only one who thought it was deserved. Flying studs to the chest is red 100% of the time. For the record, I can’t stand either squad so I could care less who won.

      • Some of you guys are out of your minds. Like for real. Have you played soccer? There’s no way that’s a red card. Nooo Waaay. It worries me that you could actually think it is.

        It was a stupid, terrible call with multi-million dollar implications. And for the record, I could also care less who won.

      • I am all for harsh treatment of studs up tackles, but this wasn’t one. It warranted a yellow, because the boot was high, but Nani wasn’t trying to tackle, he was trying to control the ball and the Madrid player came flying into the play to get the ball, too. For me, a foul for sure, and a pretty clear yellow, but not a red.

      • the reaction to this red card will be the reason I stop visiting this website. It has confirmed what I have thought for a while now…this is a website run by a soccer nerd with little to no ability to critically analyze anything and the cliental that “debates” on the boards are about as enlightening and informed as the parents of most soccer players that I coach.

      • Clearly you haven’t been here long enough for anyone to care; this is one of the tamest debates I’ve ever seen on here. Over a subject being debated the world over.

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