Video of the Week: Only in Russia – a Brown Bear Being Used as Ball Kid.

Nastrovje! This week’s video of the week is proudly presented to you by mother Russia. To be precise, by the third Russian football division and the game between Mashuk KMV and FC Angusht Nazran where probably the most Russian thing ever has been pulled off.

Instead of having the referee or some lucky kids presenting the match-ball for this football game, they came up with another idea and used a tamed brown bear for this job instead. Wow.

In footage that is going viral currently, the bear can be seen walking into the stadium simply accompanied by one brave guy. Obviously he doesn’t need anything like a leash, as that would obviously be not what you’d expect from your average fierce Russian dude. After arriving in front of the seats the bear starts to act like a proper mascot and claps with the crowd. It is then handed the ball and passes it on to the referee.

See for yourself: The Russian Bear Ball Kid in Action

YouTube / Fontanka Ru

The scene is, however, rather unfunny after all and doesn’t only upset animal right activists. Also I believe that this isn’t the treatment this animal deserves and that the whole project is highly questionable and should – obviously – not be done. I mean, if the bear would be in his natural, free spirit he’d never act tame like that.

Still, I decided to pick this scene as video of the week, since I do find it absolutely strange and hence noteworthy. Especially, when you take into consideration what unconfirmed reports spread through the internet about this scene. According to them, this scene could have been a rehearsal for the World Cup opening ceremony in Russia this summer. And that’s what makes it even more strange. A brown bear opening the World Cup? Only in Russia.

What do you think? Is this a funny way of changing the ball kid game or is it animal abuse that should be stopped immediately? Share your opinion in the comment section below!

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Reactions to the World Cup draw in GIFs – Check out my guest appearance on The Kopville

Hi guys! Hope you’re doing fine and that you’re happy with last week’s World Cup draw. I had the chance to be a guest writer over at the Kopville this week and published a post there with some reactions to the draw in GIFs. Make sure to check it out here:

My guest appearance on The Kopville

Have a great week!

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Mainstream media at its finest: Italy WON’T go to the World Cup, even if Peru should get expelled. Live with it. (WRGMG #14)

The other day, I finally went to get a haircut. Was about time as I started to risk looking like Marouane Fellaini with my curly hair slowly but truly. And quite frankly, I didn’t really want that. So I went to my local barber that I visit since I’m a kid, really nice guy. Why am I bothering you with this pointless tale?

Because in the barbershop it was one of the many times I’ve heard people talking about the possibility of Italy still heading to the football World Cup in Russia next summer. Since Peru could probably face suspension after all, there’d be a spot available. And football romantics would love to see Italy take that space.

Now, I’m a football romantic too, but I know that this is virtually impossible. And suggesting it might actually happen is either the worst kind of clickbait by mainstream media, who took up this topic around the globe and appealing to those who were disappointed that the squadra azzurri failed to qualify in their playoffs against Sweden, or just people jumping on the bandwagon.

As I didn’t want to end up bald, I’ve decided to shut my mouth and let my anger about this whole story – not the people at my barber’s in particular – out on my blog. 21st century style. But honestly, we will have to live without Italy going to the World Cup. No ifs, no maybes and no buts. It is how it is.

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Source: Pixarbay

But why were people suggesting that Gigi Buffon and his teammates might actually still end up at the World Cup? The answer lies somewhere around the Macchu Picchu region and is best known for pan flute music and great landscapes: Peru. The country that sealed the last World Cup spot in the playoff game against New Zealand. The country that went viral for their fan’s passion ahead of this qualifier and the unusual support by shamans trying to give their team a special power. Apparently it worked, the South-Americans qualified.

But now, they might still not end up going to the World Cup. Because a new law is set to be released in the country that would put the national football association directly under governmental influence. An absolute No-Go for FIFA, as the mentioned newspapers state.

Well, firstly we have to doubt how principle-centered FIFA actually is. Excluding a country from the World Cup and probably having to redraw the groups as there are continental quotas for the World Cup groups and everything? Much of a hassle. But more importantly, we’d have to go back a few years. To 2010 to be precise. That was when a rather famous country called North Korea took part at the World Cup. And my educated guess would be that their football association isn’t entirely independent from the national government either. But well, that’s just an assumption that you probably can’t really use to exclude the possibility of Peru being expelled.

Anyways, even if this would be reason enough to exclude Peru from the tournament, there still wouldn’t be any chance for Italy to take their spot. Normally it would have to be given to New Zealand who got directly eliminated by Peru or to Chile who come from the CONMEBOL region as well and finished one place behind Peru and hence missed the playoffs.

But FIFA has no clear rules on who would be given that spot either. So it might still be Italy after all, right? Nope. Because there is one clear rule: There can’t be more than 13 European teams at the World Cup. And Peru isn’t European.

So, unless England would retire voluntarily as they will probably go straight back home after the group stage anyhow, Italy won’t get a World Cup spot. As much as we all wuld love to see the Italians at the World Cup, we’ll have to live with it, no matter what clickbait articles say the opposite.

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What really grinds my gears #11 – A ghost goal lead Panama to the World Cup

In this format I will, once per week, polemically write about things that disturb me in the world of sports. Things that, in my opinion, either are hilariously disgusting or just proper embarrassing. You decide.

First of all: I find it hilariously funny that the US didn’t qualify for Russia 2018 – as sorry as I am for the upcoming football scene in the country and hence the fans wanting to see their idols play in the spotlight of a World Cup. But apparently that’s what you get for calling it soccer.

Nevertheless, the US will be missed at the World Cup. Just as much as Chile or the Netherlands who failed to qualify as well. It will be a lack of entertainment and a lack of quality – and probably a lasting negative effect on the development of American football – excuse me, soccer. And this is terrible, because football was slowly but truly getting somewhat of a standing in the States. The lack of media attention due to the missed World Cup surely won’t be of any benefit to this.

But things get worse for American soccer fans. Not only did their team fail to qualify while teams like Honduras and Panama overtook them in the qualifying campaign. But until the last game away against Trinidad and Tobago, at this time last of the CONEMBOL group with 3 points out of 9 games and, obviously, no chances to qualify anymore, the US-players had their World Cup fate in their own feet. Even a draw would have done – against an island with slightly over a million inhabitants that shouldn’t have been a daunting task. Apparently it was.

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The US-players were devastated after the game against Trinidad and Tobago. Source: Twitter.

But what should annoy the Americans much more than their own embarrassing failure on the Caribbean island is the fact that their direct competitor, Panama, qualified thanks to a 2:1-win over Costa Rica. Costa Rica? That’s right. The team that made the World Cup quarterfinals in 2014. They shouldn’t really lose to a team like Panama either. But they were through since the second last game. I’m not saying that they didn’t care – but maybe they still felt some sort of exhaustion after the celebrations. Who could blame them?

Yet, it gets even better. Costa Rica might not even would have lost that decisive game in Panama, if it wouldn’t have been for Panamas equalizer in the 55th minute of the game. And that goal, despite the great story of Panamas qualification, the tears of joy spilled by the fans and the great story of their qualification campaign, really grinded my gears. Why? Because not in 200 years, that was actually a goal.

When a corner from the right side came into the box, the ball got headed towards the goal, where it was blocked between an attacker, a defender and the post. From there it went out of play. Yet, it never came close to cross the line. Still somehow  referee Walter Lopes decided that this was a goal.

But actually, this scene is too weird to be described, so see for yourself:

Despite the protests by the Costa Rican players, the ghost goal counted and from there on Panamas miracle could be written.

As you might remember from one of my earliest blogposts, I’m – let’s express it diplomatically – not the greatest fan of video assistant referees (VAR). This time they could have been at least useful. But actually, goal line technology (that is really support) and a less terrible ref would have done too here.

But hey, Costa Rica und especially the US: You’re not alone. Hilarious referee mistakes happen quite frequently. Check out this disallowed penalty from the Uefa Youth League for example:

Still not convinced? Ghost goals happen in the allegedly best league of the world as well:

Anyway. As much as this goal is undeserved, it can’t be changed anymore. Mistakes are human and they happen – that’s the nature of the game. So let’s just hope that Panama makes something out of this rather lucky World Cup ticket and that country and people will spread more of the amazing celebratory emotions they expressed after the historic qualification. At least, they don’t call it soccer there.

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What really grinds my gears #3:  What’s the use of follow-up doping tests?

In this format I will, once per week, polemically write about things that disturb me in the world of sports. Things that, in my opinion, either are hilariously disgusting or just proper embarrassing. You decide.

So it happened again. The international Olympic committee (IOC) published results of follow-up doping tests that have recently been conducted for the 2008 and 2012 summer Olympics in Beijing and in London.

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New techniques and methods at the disposal of the anti-doping agencies lead to the conviction of 111 athletes, 62 of which have won medals at those two Olympics. Massive numbers of doped athletes if you ask me. Numbers that should never be this high after all.

However, they are. Or they were, respectively. Because during said Olympic games, none of those now convicted athletes have been caught. They were allowed to prepare for, participate in and even win medals at the Olympic games – the dream of millions of athletes.

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Many among those millions have been robbed off a chance of fulfilling that dream. Athletes wo didn’t use doping. Who were eventually weaker than their steroid-loaded opponents and couldn’t qualify for the games or had to shed bitter tears after missing the medal-ranks due to seconds or inches.

Now, what’s the use for them of learning now that they lost to competition who cheated? That they may call themselves winners and probably even receive a package with a medal and an apology card in it? Come on.

It will probably just make it even worse. This process will take up several months or years with many, many lawsuits ahead. Time, in which they will be reminded of their bitter moments for getting only a fraction of the glory they’d deserve. Well they never thought they’d get a medal at all, so these few months won’t harm them, right? Fool yourself, please.

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If only it was just about the medals… (All images: Pixarbay)

It’s not about a piece of colored metal on a ribbon. Hell no. It’s about hearing your national anthem being played while you’re receiving the honor, about your parents watching at home and you girlfriend or boyfriend standing in the crowd. About celebrating a fresh victory with your team. About becoming a national hero for a while, getting a warm welcome at the airport from people you’ve never met or just even about being able to walk into that Olympic stadium and follow the Olympic spirit: The important thing is not winning but taking part.

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The Olympic spirit is getting violated over and over again

The sad thing is that all those so-called athletes violated this spirit and got away with it. They got to enjoy what I’ve mentioned above and much more. Now they might have to hand back the medal and probably get banned for a year or two, if their offence hasn’t time-barred yet.

Personally, I really don’t see the necessity of these follow-up doping tests. Of course, dopers should be caught and punished for their offences. Also years after it. But having them caught is no redemption for the fair athletes.

Hence, it’s absolutely crucial to start getting proactive, not only reactive, when it comes to doping. When I see that during these follow-up tests, so far not a single American but 37 Russians have been caught for doping at Olympics, I feel that actions need to be taken. Ideally before the winter Olympics in South Korea this winter.

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