LIONEL MESSI (Argentina): Shy, only 22, and already considered the best soccer player in the world, he’s a magician with the ball. You’ll need slow motion to keep track of his footwork once he starts weaving through opponents inside the box. He scored one goal in his first World Cup appearance, in 2006, which also made him, at age 18, the youngest player to play for Argentina in the World Cup. “Messi is a creature as biologically adapted to play football as a shark is to smell blood, a salmon to swim upstream, a squirrel to gather nuts,” says the London Times. He plays professionally for Barcelona. Soccer fans in Pretoria, South Africa, wave to Messi and teammate Juan Sebastian Veron during practice on June 6.
Policemen practice laughter therapy near their camp in Allahabad, India, on Wednesday.
Manchester United prodigal son David Beckham returns home to Old Trafford for the first time in seven years today, representing AC Milan in a clash for a quarterfinal place in the European Champions League, the world's richest club soccer competition. There's a brewing insurgency in Manchester, though, against the clubs US owner Malcolm Glazer.
The English Premier League, one of the richest in world soccer, could see one of its teams go bankrupt.
FIFA settled the World Cup draw in South Africa today ahead of next summer's tournament. The US will face off against England and minnows Algeria and Slovenia.
A World Cup sudden death qualifier pits Algeria vs. Egypt in a rematch of a game Saturday when Algerian players were assaulted by hooligans before the game and dozens of fans were injured afterwards.
The move to buy Manchester City is expected to trigger a new spiral in player costs and a fresh backlash to foreign ownership.