World Cup Group of 16, Knockout Round, gets underway 6/28-7/1

Brazil's World Cup team.

Brazil’s World Cup team.

By Carmen Glover

An exciting, unpredictable, first round of the 2014 World Cup football (soccer to some) tournament ended with the USA team gaining entry to the Knockout Round of 16 while football powerhouses Ghana, Portugal, Italy, England and defending champions Spain made quick exits amidst a cloud of questions about their future. Will they revamp their rosters? Will they hire new coaches? For all the hype that surrounded Portugal’s Cristiana Ronaldo, dubbed the best player in the world, he was a colossal bust and seemed to be more concerned with preening than delivering for his team and his ball club.

Costa Rica's World Cup Team.

Costa Rica’s World Cup Team.

It remains to be seen what steps will be taken to make the early exiting teams more competitive for World Cup 2018. While the exiting teams sort out their next steps, the Knockout Round for the 2014 World Cup begins and excitement appears to be at a fever pitch, especially for the American team which has won new fans, after doing what seemed like the impossible by making it out of the Group of Death, and the Costa Rican team which emerged from the Group of Champions in first place, despite being the only team in that group that has never won the World Cup trophy.

The USA World Cup Team.

The USA World Cup Team.

The Knockout Round features 16 teams who will face fierce competition as each team tries to advance to the other rounds that bring them closer to the finals. The winning team will advance while the losing team will head home. No second match. No chance for redemption. The first match of the Knockout Round will feature Brazil taking on Chile on Saturday at 12 noon on Channel 7 while Uruguay takes on Colombia at 4: 00 p.m. In the meantime, perennial bad boy Luis Suarez, was banned for four months from all World Cup and football related events and fined $112, 000 for yet another biting incident, for which he seems totally unremorseful. So he will not play against Colombia and will not play in early games for his Liverpool club.

The Nigerian World Cup Team.

The Nigerian World Cup Team.

So far in the World Cup tournament, the African teams have not done well. Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon have returned home after poor showings, while Nigeria and Algeria are still in the mix. One of the problems this World Cup faces with perception is the total exclusion of English-speaking Caribbean nations, which is an issue that has garnered a great deal of attention and is expected to generate heated debate when the tournament ends. The schedule of the Knockout Round is as follows:

The Netherlands' World Cup Team.

The Netherlands’ World Cup Team.

Saturday, June 28, Brazil vs. Chile on Channel 7 and Univision at 12:00 noon, Colombia vs. Uruguay at 4;00 p.m. On Sunday, June 29, Netherlands vs. Mexico at 12 noon on ESPN, and Univision; Costa Rica vs. Greece at 4;00 p.m. Monday, June 30, France vs. Nigeria at 12:00 noon on ESPN and Univision and Germany vs. Algeria at 4;00 p.m. On Tuesday, Argentina vs. Switzerland at 12:00 noon on ESPN and Univision and USA vs. Belgium at 4:00 p.m.

If you have not had a chance to catch the matches so far, treat yourself to what will be an intense, nail-biting Knockout Round that will provide unmatched entertainment. Happy viewing! –OnPointPress.net.

World Cup begins as controversy swirls around Brazil, Qatar, FIFA

FIFA World Cup Trophy, Team, Players Wallpaper.

FIFA World Cup Trophy and players who will be participating in the tournament.

By Carmen Glover

Soccer fans around the world can finally borrow a line from rapper Fabolous or country singer Faith Hill and “Breathe!” Yes, the beautiful game of soccer, known around the world as football, will be on full display today, as the tournament opens on June 12 in Brazil. The World Cup is expecting to attract significant attention since it is being hosted in the country which has won the most titles, five in all, making Brazil soccer’s home.

Brazil's players line up for a team photo before their Confederations Cup Group A soccer match against Japan at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia June 15, 2013. (Front row L to R) Oscar, Dani Alves, Marcelo, Paulinho, Neymar, Luis Gustavo, (back row L to R) Julio Cesar, David Luiz, Fred, Hulk and Thiago Silva. REUTERS/Jorge Silva (BRAZIL  - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

Brazil’s players line up for a team photo before their Confederations Cup Group A soccer match against Japan at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia June 15, 2013. (Front row L to R) Oscar, Dani Alves, Marcelo, Paulinho, Neymar, Luis Gustavo, (back row L to R) Julio Cesar, David Luiz, Fred, Hulk and Thiago Silva. REUTERS/Jorge Silva (BRAZIL – Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

The Brazilian team, which is hoping to lead its country to its sixth World Cup, will play its opening game against Croatia at 4:00 p.m. in an unfinished stadium. The fame will be played amid protests from the Brazilian locals and controversy about corruption in FIFA and Qatar, the site for the 2018 World Cup. Despite the tumultuous period leading up to the World Cup opening day, FIFA President Sepp Blatter was re-elected to the top position this week, again proving that FIFA is its own fiefdom.

Sepp Blatter holds the FiFA Code of Ethics aloft after being re-elected as President this week.

Sepp Blatter holds the FiFA Code of Ethics aloft after being re-elected as President this week.

While discussions rage about the necessity for a revote in light of the corruption allegations about Qatar, Brazilian locals have been vocal and spirited in expressing their disgust with FIFA, the World Cup’s governing body, and the organizing committee in Brazil. Brazilians protested again on Tuesday, June 10 and Wednesday, June 11, even as teams were arriving for the World Cup, in a sign that protests will frame the backdrop of the games this year. Some teams, including the US national team, cancelled their practice matches due to concerns about congestion and safety.

Protestors in Brazil are pepper sprayed by police officers on Monday, as World Cup teams arrive for the game.

Protestors in Brazil are pepper sprayed by police officers on Tuesday, as World Cup teams arrive for the game.

The protestors have argued that instead of investing the more than $10 billion in preparing to host the World Cup, the focus should have been placed on crumbling infrastructure, poorly funded education, transportation and social sectors. Also, they have suggested that rampant improprieties took place with the World Cup funding, because the results suggest that massive theft of World Cups funds occurred, resulting in incomplete stadiums and tournament facilities while the funds promised to local Brazilian projects failed to materialize.

Brazilians continue to protest against misuse of funds for stadiums at the expense of basic programs such as education, healthcare and transportation.

Brazilians continue to protest against misuse of funds for stadiums at the expense of basic programs such as education, healthcare and transportation.

To say the protests and controversy is an inconvenience for FIFA and Brazil is an understatement. After all, Brazil possesses the most World Cup victories of any other nation, and is universally regarded as the country which pioneered the style of play that is often described as exuding finesse and beauty. For the residents of Brazil to organize years long protests is the last thing that FIFA, its president Sepp Blatter, the Brazilian organizing committee and soccer fans would expect.

pele

Soccer legend Pele, regarded by many as the best soccer star to ever play the game, has been a member of the organizing committee in Brazil but has been just as vocal in expressing his disgust with the incomplete World Cup infrastructure, the protests and alleged theft of funds.

Brazilian soccer icon Pele incurred the protestors’ wrath recently when he stated that the protests should have been staged in 2007 when the announcement was made that Brazil would host the World Cup, rather than in the months and days leading up to the tournament. Still, despite the protests and anger that now add to the World Cup flavor, the Brazilian team is expected to lead their country to the World Cup trophy so the players have danced a fine line between supporting the protestors’ right to protest, while seeking their support as the games get underway.

Aftermath of flood in Brazil which caused the deaths of more than 9 people on the eve of the World Cup games.

Aftermath of flood in Brazil which caused the deaths of more than 9 people on the eve of the World Cup games.

This is by no means an easy feat, as the eyes of the world are trained firmly on Brazil, now privy to all the problems that were not as publicized in the past.On Wednesday, one day before the World Cup, severe flooding left more than nine Brazilians dead, according to Good Morning America, further complicating the feverish attempts to salvage the pre-game preparations.

Anti-government protesters demonstrate at the security perimeter two kilometers (1.2 miles) from the Castelao stadium in Fortaleza where Spain and Italy are to clash in their FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 semifinal football match, on June 27, 2013. Riot and mounted police set up roadblocks on access roads leading to the stadium as several thousand young demonstrators peacefully rallied outside Ceara State University in Fortaleza Thursday, hours before the match. Nationwide anti-government protests in Brazil initially focused on a hike in transport fares before mushrooming to encompass a variety of gripes including corruption and the lack of investment in health and education as well as to denounce the high costs of hosting the Confederations Cup and next year's World Cup.   AFP PHOTO / YASUYOSHI CHIBA        (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Anti-government protesters demonstrate at the security perimeter two kilometers (1.2 miles) from the Castelao stadium in Fortaleza on June 27, 2013. Riot and mounted police set up roadblocks on access roads leading to the stadium as several thousand young demonstrators peacefully rallied outside Ceara State University in Fortaleza. Nationwide anti-government protests in Brazil initially focused on a hike in transport fares before mushrooming to encompass a variety of gripes including corruption and the lack of investment in health and education as well as to denounce the high costs of hosting the Confederations Cup and next year’s World Cup. AFP PHOTO / YASUYOSHI CHIBA (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, there has been no shortage of intrigue from some of the other participating teams. Striker Landon Donovan was dropped from the US team by its coach, former German soccer star Jurgen Klinsmann, Rossi was dropped by Italy while Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, still recovering from a leg injury, has voiced his certainty that his team will prevail to win it all. Stay tuned to OnPointPress.net for coverage of the World Cup and the  beautiful game of soccer.-OnPointPress.net.