Goldenballs lives up to his name

End of the road or a watershed moment? Only time will tell whether LA Galaxy’s MLS Cup success will come to be remembered as the end of the David Beckham era or the instant when football began to be taken seriously in the States.

The press in Americacan’t quite make up their mind about the significance of LA’s 1-0 victory over Houston Dynamos, but one thing they are agreed upon, is that Beckham has finally justified some of the hype that accompanied his arrival in the country four years ago.

Beckham, himself, said that winning an MLS Cup title would not influence his decision to stay or go.

The former England captain’s future is up in the air with his five-year contract due to expire next month, but he insisted that speculation about his future had not affected him in the build-up to the MLS Cup final.

“Not at all,” he said on ESPN. “I play the game to win. Whether I stay or not, I’ve had an amazing five years.

“I’ve loved it here. The fans have been unbelievable, the owners, the players…every one of them are heroes tonight. They’ve been incredible all season and this has capped it off.”

Fittingly, for a club based in Tinseltown, it was the the three star names at LA, Beckham along with Robbie Keane and goalscorer Landon Donovan, who combined for the only goal of the game.

Tragedy averted in Germany

Events on the pitch Germany over the weekend, including Bayern Munich’s 1-0 home defeat to reigning champions Borussia Dortmund, were overshadowed by the attempted suicide of referee Babak Rafati.

Rafati, 41, had been scheduled to officiate at Cologne’s game against Mainz on Saturday, but the game was called off after he tried to take his own life.

He was found by his assistants – Holger Henschel, Frank Willenborg and Patrick Ittrich – who received no answer when they knocked on his door after he failed to show up for a meeting.

“I have got to say that these three have saved his life,” said Dr Theo Zwanziger, President of the German FA (DFB).

“When they discovered him, they ensured that he could survive with quick emergency measures.

“They have explained everything to me and to the police. All I can say is compliments to them.

“They took immediate measures and kept their cool.

“It definitely took a lot to stabilise him and to contribute to him being able to remain alive.”

Rafati has now been released from hospital and his father told reporters on Monday that his son was full of remorse over the incident.

“He said he loved me. He wanted to apologise. I am very happy that he is OK,” Djalal Rafati said.

Goal of the day

Felipe scored the opener in Vasco’s 2-0 win over Avia with the outside of his foot.

Quote of the day

“You wonder if he’s being controlled by a 10-year-old in the crowd on a Playstation.”

Gary Neville’s withering dismissal of Dvid Luiz’s performance in Chelsea’s 2-1 home defeat to Liverpool.

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas was one of the few people who did not find the remark amusing.

“Gary Neville was a fantastic defender but it is a stupid approach to an opinion,” he said. “If that’s the way he wants to take the game that is ridiculous.”

Feeling blue?

It was another bad day at the office for the Chelsea boss, one which led to him having to field questions about his future at Stamford Bridge.

Luiz Felipe Scolari, a predecessor of the Portuguese at Chelsea, lasted just seven months in charge before he was fired by the club’s impatient owner Roman Abramovich. Villas-Boas has lost twice as many points – 14 – from his first 12 league games in charge as Scolari did in 2008-09. Nevertheless, he remains convinced that he retains the support of the Russian

“The owner didn’t pay €15m [in compensation] to get me out of Porto only to pay me another fortune just to let me go again,” said the under-fire boss.”

Considering Abramovich was prepared to write off £50million when he signed Fernando Torres, it seems naive, on the part of Villas-Boas, to assume that his job is safe because it might prove costly to fire him.

Trick of the day

Iker Casillas shows he’s a man of many talents with this clever little card trick.

Match abandoned as referee struck by umbrella

A Spanish league match between Granada and Mallorca on Sunday was abandoned midway through  the second half after a linesman was hit in the face by an umbrella thrown from the stands at Los Carmenes stadium.

The referee immediately ordered his fellow officials and the teams off the pitch, with Granada winning 2-1.

Granada coach Fabricio Gonzalez said: “We are in a state of shock. Our fans have always helped us and this is a pity.”

Milan keen on Tevez

Press reports in Britain claim that Milan are interested in signing Manchester City’s AWOL striker Carlos Tevez.

The Mirror claims: “Milan assistant coach Mauro Tassotti said: “Tevez to Milan? He is a great player but we need to evaluate his condition and his head because as well as technical ability, you need to be mentally ready to play.”

If Milan thought they could exploit Manchester City’s disenchantment with Tevez and cut a deal on the cheap, they may be in for a disappointment.

“Tevez is strong regardless of what has happened,” City boss Roberto Mancini told Italian television station Rai Due.

“And great players have a price that is rather high.”

Under attack

Galatasaray’s Emmanuel Eboue was bombarded by objects thrown by Besiktas fans in a typically lively Istanbul derby.

There have been suggestions that the abuse was racially motivated, but there apears to be no evidence of this, and a more likely explanation is that Eboue happened to be wearing the wrong shirt in the wrong part of town.

Still, it must have made a pleasant change for the Ivory Coast international to be abused by opposing fans rather than his own.


Diego Maradona says an opposing coach’s celebration was “not right and unacceptable” after his Al Wasl team lost a league match that ended with supporters being pelted with stones.

Maradona was upset with the way Al Ain coach Cosmin Olaroiu celebrated the 1-0 victory on Saturday.

Maradona says “all that happened was not right and unacceptable in professional football.”

Al Wasl also says that the Al Ain supporters threw stones at the fans and their cars as they were leaving the match.

Maradona left for Argentina on Sunday to attend the funeral of his mother, Dalma Salvadora Franco de Maradona, who died Saturday.