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Tuesday Kickaround

*Ticket sales for the USA's World Cup qualifier against Honduras on June 6 at Soldier Field in Chicago have surpassed 32,000. Somehow I have a feeling American fans will be in the minority.

*A lesson in media ethics, boys and girls: South Africa's marketing council is offering expense-paid trips ("junkets") worth thousands of dollars to U.S.-based bloggers/reporters to cover the Confederations Cup and, in effect, help promote tourism. The council's purpose is to "create a positive and compelling brand image for South Africa." At least two folks who contribute to ESPN's online soccer coverage, as well as others, are considering accepting the offer. Nope, absolutely no conflicts of interest there.

*Americans abroad:
GK Marcus Hahnemann 90 minutes in Reading's 2-0 win at Norwich City
(Reading has clinched a playoff slot for possible promotion to the Premiership and has a chance at an automatic berth)
D Danny Califf 90 in Midtjylland's 4-2 loss to Sonderjyske
D Heath Pearce not in the 18 for Hansa Rostock's 0-0 tie at Osnabruck
F Jemal Johnson and MK Dons at Northampton Town
D Michael Orozco and San Luis at Libertad

*Soccer on TV:
Euro Champions League, Barcelona-Chelsea 2:30 p.m. ESPN2, ESPN Deportes
Euro Champions League, Barcelona-Chelsea 5 p.m. (taped) ESPN Classic
Copa Libertadores, Gremio-Boyaca Chico 6:30 p.m. Fox Sports Espanol
Copa Libertadores, Libertad-San Luis 8:30 p.m. FSE
Copa Libertadores, San Lorenzo-Universitario midnight FSE

*What's it like to play a Mexican league match in front of zero spectators (swine flu alert)? Watch and listen:

By Steve Goff  |  April 28, 2009; 9:25 AM ET
Categories:  Mexico , TV , U.S. men's national team  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Poll: Champions League
Next: United News & Notes


Anyone know if Hahnemann has signed a new deal yet with Reading? I thought he was out of contract in the summer. Would love to see him finish up his career in the Premiership with Reading or some other club.

Posted by: bluesfan1 | April 28, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Ya know, if Reading is going to go up, I hope their ownership is a little more serious about staying up this time. Signing Kevin Doyle for 20 quid is a great story, but it's not a business plan. You can't replace a Steve Sidwell with a championship reserve player on the cheap and expect to stay up.

Come on you RRRRRRzzzz

Posted by: JkR- | April 28, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Looks like Goff is headed to the Confederations Cup :-)

Posted by: muskratinator | April 28, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

The match in Mexico is very strange. It is very odd not to hear all of the chanting and shouting that normally accompany a match like that. I just wonder, if the stadium is empty, who is the announcer in the stadium making announcements for?

Posted by: HarkesyRules | April 28, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Ten bucks says Andrea Canales is first in line to shill.

Posted by: beach3 | April 28, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Ten bucks says Andrea Canales is first in line to shill.

Posted by: beach3 | April 28, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

She would have been, but she was knocked over by Ives racing past her to the ticket counter....

Posted by: JkR- | April 28, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

I guess I should start a blog to get a free trip to South Africa. Let's see:
I-270's South Africa Journal
Day 1: What a marvelous place. The food is outstanding. I haven't seen the stadiums yet. I'm told that they're complete, down to the last bit of paint, but are closed for a national holiday.
Day 2: Terrific beaches. Stadiums still closed for the holiday. All parts of the population are living together in harmony. Still no stadium tour as the national holiday continues. Funny how nothing else is closed for the holiday. I guess that's how much they treasure soccer.
Day 3: I don't play golf, but wow what beautiful courses. The Sports Minister can't find the keys to the completed stadiums, so the tour will have to wait.
Day 4: Complementary gambling at the world class casinos. AIDS is not a big problem here. A traffic jam made me miss the stadium tour. All the bloggers on this media tour were also caught in traffic jams. I giess everyone is getting back to work after the national soccer holiday.
Day 5: Last day of the tour. Saw the stadium as the plan took off. Looks pretty nice. All those blue tarps must be covering sponsors' logos.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | April 28, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | April 28, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Excellent! Don't forget to rip Michel Platini and have a cheeky post about the players WAGS....

Posted by: JkR- | April 28, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Funny thing on the Mexican clip -- the first goal scorer cups his hand to his ear -- is he expecting more applause from his teammates?

Posted by: OWNTF | April 28, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Goff:

Re: Trip to South Africa

This issue is a bit trickier than your snarky comment would suggest. Presumably, most U.S. newspapers will not be sending reporters to cover the Confed. Cup. As a result, U.S. based readers will necessarily rely on AP/Reuters reporting to cover the match. Because most bloggers cannot afford to cover this event in person, they face an apparent choice between the prospect of no coverage with the appearance of conflict loyalties.

Your comment assumes that the mentioned ESPN folks cannot cover the event in an even handed way if their trip is paid by South Africa. Given that this is socer (and not a global business summitt or some other matter of actual importance), I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt in order to get coverage of this event. Traditional newspaper ethics might suggest otherwise, but I think the snark is misplaced here.

Posted by: buzzbuzz | April 28, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

"At least two folks who contribute to ESPN's online soccer coverage, as well as others, are considering accepting the offer. Nope, absolutely no conflicts of interest there."

Hmm, a peek inside competitive journalism? The issue with online blogs is that the quality of the writing pales in comparison to quality journalists like Goff.

I270Exit1: Excellent idea.

Posted by: paj18 | April 28, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

Those were my exact same thoughts. I had started it as soon as South Africa was selected, but just moved to a new host today so that is why all the dates are today. Some of my first posts were about the stadiums progressing on schedule from the start.

Posted by: sitruc | April 28, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I meant to say those were my exact same thoughts, I-270Exit1.

I wouldn't be surprised to find Mayor Fenty recently started a blog.

Posted by: sitruc | April 28, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

The guy's celebration on the first goal was great.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | April 28, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

aye carumba... the support for that Pumas v. Chivas match was Gawd Awful...

Re: bloggers and journalists to SA for the COnfed Cup... while I see the conflict of interest for reporters. I fail to see how it is a conflict of interest for bloggers... bloggers are not journalists, and do not abide by the the same media ethics as journalists... however.. if the blogger is also a contributor to sport news organizations, then they should and need to be ethical.

if I were a betting man... my cash would go to Ives being on the short list of ethically challenged ESPN writers... he just seems a little skeezy in that regard... stoopid red bull supporters

Posted by: bonghits4gomez | April 28, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

i'm also willing to bet that buzzbuzz is Ives....

Posted by: bonghits4gomez | April 28, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't be hating on too much. At least they make money (which is still a good thing right?) and it'd be an excellent platform for Goff if the Post goes under or the Post sports section goes the way of the Post business section.

Posted by: OWNTF | April 28, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Weird, I thought I was watching a Serie A match for a moment.

Posted by: addick | April 28, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

bonghits4gomez: I think you're wrong about buzzbuzz. I like Ives (I read his blog multiple times daily), but he's not that eloquent.

Posted by: paj18 | April 28, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Addick: ouch

270- you forgot to mention what gracious hosts you have, and how everyone seems thrilled with having one party rule. Also, there is no crime. None.

Posted by: joshuaostevens | April 28, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

"At least two folks who contribute to ESPN's online soccer coverage, as well as others, are considering accepting the offer."

Well done, Mr. Goff. I can read between the lines. I might even be able to guess who those fine folks might be.

And when it comes to media ethics, I am not convinced that most would hold "bloggers" to similar standards, nor would most people expect bloggers to meet those standards. Then again, if you contribute to or another reputable media outlet, things change.

And paj18, I agree that Ives is not that eloquent. I actually find him somewhat grating and a bit pretentious, and he has very thin skin. (I would also be curious what you think about SBI's reader soccer IQ. I, for one, stopped reading the blog a long time ago because the readers have almost no soccer knowledge.)

Posted by: TwinCity | April 28, 2009 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Ives is too busy eating to comment on other blogs.

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | April 28, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

VBB: or making banners... :eyes roll:

Posted by: bonghits4gomez | April 28, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

"A lesson in media ethics, boys and girls..."

I hear ya, Steve. The next thing we know, former White House officials will become Washington bureau chiefs at major TV networks.

Posted by: joedoc1 | April 28, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Well done Goff! And BuzzBuzz, it wasn't a snarky comment - he was straight-forwardly telling us that the WCOC is essentially paying for good press. So, what you'll get is something not too similar to I-270's post, which is closely behind the original comment as the best thing I've read this morning!

Posted by: ZidVicious | April 28, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I don't see anything wrong with South Africa promoting its World Cup.

A good journalist could report from South Africa without making it sound like a tourism promo. Just like a good journalists can cover US military operations in Iraq or Afghanistan without sounding like a Pentagon spokesperson.

I'm glad there's more than one source for news, whether it's about soccer or something more important.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | April 28, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I thought ethics died a long time ago. Viva Goffer!

I haven't been comfortable with ESPN's contract soccer writers for a long time. I know it's probably the business model for the future but I'd feel much better with full-time employees and none of these money-generating "side projects". The whole "designated players" thing is a joke.

I'm pretty sure Special 1 TV accepted those junkets. the Special One and Nelson seem pretty tight. If you haven't seen it yet, I suggest checking out Nelson's updates on World Cup qualification such as this comment on Sven: Only chance he'll be in South Africa in 2010 is on safari!

Posted by: diego_r | April 28, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

"I am now Dr. Fantastic. Shut up academia!"

Posted by: diego_r | April 28, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

ESPN sucks anyway. I'm so glad FSC got the champions league next year. ESPN does the absolute minimum in its soccer coverage in Sportscenter, its magazine, etc. Its like they don't want to show anything but are obligated to. I hope they lose the national team games as well. Then they'll have plenty of room to show poker, pool, and women's softball on primetime! I don't read their reporters or visit their website for anything soccer related.

Posted by: Brian76 | April 28, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Goff -- love your blog!

Given your view that it's a conflict of interest for Ives or other bloggers/journalists to accept the junket, please elaborate on why you wouldn't do this. It would be much more informative (and journalistic) to provide your concerns about conflict of interest than to just give a snarky comment. I respect your thoughtful opinions and would appreciate more detail.

Posted by: lasoccer | April 28, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

@Brian76 -

While I agree that ESPN doesn't report soccer news well, it has two huge advantages over FSC. First, it's in HD. Second, there's ESPN360, which means that it is possible to watch the Champions League at work (as I will do today with Barca vs. Chelsea).

If FSC has the CL next year, it will be a disadvantage.

Posted by: lasoccer | April 28, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Spot on about Goff, diego_r. Our esteemed blogger does it the right way. There have been several occasions when Steve could have gone with a story that he knew about, but held it until he could get source confirmations. That is why I don't trust other soccer bloggers, but I do put my trust in Goff.

But don't be hard on the folks at ESPN, people. After all, it's not like they do commercials that positively highlight the people they cover...

Posted by: joedoc1 | April 28, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

This discussion about bloggers accepting money from South Africa brings to mind the great quote from Jesse "Big Daddy" Unruh (former Calif. State Treasurer and Speaker of the Assembly) -- "Son, if you can't take their money, drink their liquour and **** their women; you're no politician."

However, journalists are not politicians. Goff's point about the ethical dilemma is spot on. The point of conflict of interest guidelines is that for those who are serious, the issue is not avoiding an obvious conflict, but avoiding a situation that could appear to rise to a conflict. For those of you who actually believe the bloggers could remain "objective" despite the financial support for SA and the avowed reason for the financial assistance should agree with this statement -- "It would be OK for Goff to have DC United pick up the tabs for this out of town trips, because I know that despite this financial assistance, Goff still would be able to report objectively about all aspects of DC United's operations." If you can't then you get the point of Goff's original point; if you can agree -- sheesh.

Posted by: griffin1108 | April 28, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

In Goff We Trust

is that what you're saying joedoc?

Posted by: OWNTF | April 28, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, can't say I agree that there is a conflict of interest. It's not like just because you get a free trip to cover the match you're going to cheer for South Africa or something. When you went to Cuba or to China you posted info about the country and various interesting other stuff. Didn't really make me want to go to Cuba.

What's the conflict?

If you need someone to go in your place for free please let me know. Happy to oblige and pretty sure I could keep my moral compass focused.

Posted by: hacksaw | April 28, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Well, since we now have a huge precedent in switching long term allegiances, is there anything you have to say to the group today, Mastodon Juan?

Anything at all?

Posted by: JkR- | April 28, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Scariest thought of the week: Red Bull New York had a bigger crowd on hand than the Guadalajara Goats. *shudder*

Ya know, I'd been thinking about starting a sports blog...wait, did someone say "free trip to South Africa"? ;)

Posted by: SportzNut21 | April 28, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Hey I should start a blog too! I'd love to go South Africa! Hello Durban Poison!

Posted by: DadRyan | April 28, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

In Goff We Trust

is that what you're saying joedoc?

Posted by: OWNTF | April 28, 2009 12:46 PM |

For all things soccer, yes, OWNTF. For my salvation? Negative.

I have Barca-Man Utd, though I wouldn't shed a tear if Arsenal made it through...

Posted by: joedoc1 | April 28, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

hacksaw... the difference is that Goff paid (or the Post) for the trips to China and Cuba....

SOuth Africa is offering the bloggers and journos a free trip...which brings in to question how truthful the writings of the bloggers or journos will be...

Posted by: bonghits4gomez | April 28, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

I have a blog. I haven't posted to it in a long time, but I'd be happy to revisit my blogging activities. Fair and balanced blogging. Not to mention that I'm really excited and looking forward to my expense-paid junket to South Africa. I can almost guarantee that I will love it.

Posted by: fischy | April 28, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

SOuth Africa is offering the bloggers and journos a free trip...which brings in to question how truthful the writings of the bloggers or journos will be...

This conflict of ethics brush that Goff is throwing around is ridiculous. So what if some writers are going to have their trips paid for them. As long as they write about the games and only the games in terms of match analysis, then explain where this supposed conflict of interest is?

Now on the other hand, if they write about how great South Africa is and shill for the tourism board, that's a different story but if they're just writing purely about Italy versus Egypt, so what?

Posted by: AnoopDawg | April 28, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Those blogs would be as real as Adu's Monaco blog:

"The food is great. Everyone treats me well. I have trained hard this week. Maybe I will make the bench. Allez Monaco!"

Posted by: Reignking | April 28, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

TwinCity: I tend not to read the comments or post all that often - usually only when a topic stirs me like the youth soccer issues.

I like the soccer blogs for the inside info - for instance Ives did well with the Tim Howard interview. I hate to be elitist, but Goff is employed by one of the best newspapers in the world for a reason. I now live in Wyoming but am originally from the NYC area and lived in DC when MLS started up - I had season tickets those first two years right amongst the jumping fanatics. Good times.

Posted by: paj18 | April 28, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, so what.
"Man, South Africa is the greatest place ever." Sure, aside from the poverty and the fact that zillions of dollars is going to stadiums when they can't seem to get food and medicine to the poort.

The point being, if you are stupid enough to believe the blog then... well... you're stupid enough to believe the blog. But, how is SA paying for Goff to go to cover matches going to affect his reports on the matches? Doesn't seem like it will. Especially, if he doesn't let it......

Lots of Adu about nothing, methinks.

Posted by: hacksaw | April 28, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Some of you folks must have attended the Conflict of Interest seminars given to Congress.

Sure, just because Lockheed pays for my visit to the Joint Strike Fighter assembly plant doesn't mean that I'll vote for the program.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | April 28, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Yikes! Not too many people on here have a clue about ethics, apparently.

I'm sure SA is offering to fly these bloggers over strictly to write match reports. Uh huh.

Anytime someone is being paid by the person/event/organization to write about that person/event/organization, it's just fishy.

Posted by: Figgy | April 28, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

If a travel writer accepts a paid trip to talk about tourism in the paying nation, then fine, that's a conflict of interest.

If a soccer writer accepts a paid trip to Hawaii from DC United to write about a game being played there by DC United, then fine, conflict of interest again.

But if a soccer writer takes a paid trip from the local tourism office -- what's the problem? The resulting article about the match between Belize and Tajikistan (or whoever) in South Africa will be tainted somehow because the guy is getting lunches on South Africa's dime???

I just don't see the scandal there.

Posted by: fallschurch1 | April 28, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Reading have a decent shot at automatic promotion, even though they sit 4th and three points out of second.

1) They play 2nd place Birmingham at home. A win puts them = on points. I don't know what the tiebreaker is in England (GD or head to head), but Reading have both. They have already won the first meeting with Birmingham, and have a vastly superior overall GD.

2) They trail Sheffield United by 2 points. The Blades play away to Palace (mid table) the last game. If Reading win, United can only secure auto-promotion with a win as well, as Reading have a better overall GD, and they teams have split head to head, but Reading have a better GD in those games.

Maybe we can get Marcus and Eddie both up! Though I do feel for United after they got screwed in the whole Tevez thing a couple years back.

Posted by: TrueCrew | April 28, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

That's just silly.
If Goff goes on their dime and discloses it at the end of the article there's just no conflict. Guess by your logic if you won a trip to spain and you went that'd be unethical because you might tell someone you like spain...

Posted by: hacksaw | April 29, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

If I won a trip to Spain and went, there would be nothing unethical since I'm not a journalist/blogger getting paid to write about this trip. My reputation as an ethical, objective reporter wouldn't be at stake.

Unfortunately, there are many who engage in unethical behavior by pocketing money or getting pampered by companies to write about these companies' products. That's no longer reporting. That's propaganda.

If you want to remain an ethical reporter, you either pay your own way to SA or you get your regular employer to pay the expenses. Accepting a junket from a marketing council is unethical, b/c once you've done that, who's to say your reporting is impartial?

Posted by: Figgy | April 30, 2009 2:14 AM | Report abuse

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