Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 26th 2013 Contents A59
MARCH 26, 2013
• Twitter: @GuardianTT • Web: guardian.co.tt
ZURICH---Fifa is studying a protest
from the Costa Rica football federation,
which wants a World Cup qualifier
against the United States replayed after
losing 1-0 in a snowstorm.
"Fifa will now analyse the content of
the letter and next steps will be deter-
mined in due course," football's governing
body said in a statement yesterday.
The Costa Rican federation said Sunday
that the "physical integrity" of players and
officials was affected, "ball movement be-
came impossible" and field markings were
not visible in Friday's match played in
Commerce City, Colorado.
The federation also urged Fifa to punish
match officials, including referee Joel
Aguilar of El Salvador, for allowing the
match to proceed.
For the protest to have a chance of suc-
ceeding, it must meet specific require-
ments stated in the 2014 World Cup
One clause says that when a field be-
comes unplayable, the protesting team's
captain "shall immediately lodge a protest
with the referee in the presence of the
captain of the opposing team." Costa Rica
also had to file written protests with the
match coordinator within two hours of
the final whistle, and to Fifa's administra-
tion by registered letter within 24 hours,
"otherwise they shall be disregarded," the
regulations state. Fifa had yet to deter-
mine whether Costa Rica had followed
ROME---In the slowly shifting
landscape of Italian football, the
past week has marked a relatively
quick change of focus.
From old to new.
Past to present.
From Francesco Totti to Mario
The homegrown Roman senator
vs the son of Ghanaian immigrants.
It all started a week ago, when the
Azzurri opened their training camp
and Italian media latched onto a
comment from coach Cesare Pran-
delli, who said that if Totti keeps up
his form he would consider bringing
the forward to next year's World Cup
in Brazil just a few months short of
the Roma captain's 38th birthday.
Never mind that Totti retired from
the national team seven years ago.
Or, as Totti himself eventually said,
that he could be retired altogether
The next day's headlines were total
Totti---Totti this, Totti that---while
the current crop of Italy players, the
group that reached last year's Euro-
pean Championship final, were left
to prepare for a friendly vs Brazil in
Fast forward to Thursday's match
in Geneva, which concluded 2-2 after
Balotelli's stunning equaliser, a
screamer from about 25 meters that
took his tally to eight goals in eight
matches in 2013 for club and coun-
try.It was the type of goal that only
a highly skilled and confident player
would even attempt---and reminis-
cent of Balotelli's second strike in
Italy's 2-1 win over Germany in the
semifinals of Euro 2012.
After the goal against Germany,
Balotelli stripped off his jersey and
flexed his muscles in a defiant pose,
an emblematic moment that
announced his arrival on the sport's
biggest stage---in the face of his wide
array of critics and the fans who still
direct racist chants at him.
This time, Balotelli simply waved
his hand in a common Italian gesture,
as if to say, "Look at what I've
done"---indicating that he had
impressed even himself.
From total Totti, the discussion
surrounding the Azzurri was now
squarely focused on "Super Mario,"
who will be expected to score more
goals in today's World Cup qualifier
"Balomania: Can he become the
greatest?" said the front-page head-
line in Saturday's Gazzetta dello
"Forget about Neymar, he's the
real star," said former Italy defender
turned TV analyst Fulvio Collovati,
a member of the squad that won
the 1982 World Cup. "Down 0-2 he
carried the squad on his shoulders
and leveled the match practically by
himself. ...If he plays like that he's
among the best in the world."
For now, best in the world still
means Lionel Messi and Cristiano
While Totti was never really con-
sidered best in the world, it is
remarkable how long he's been
among the best in Italy, which is
now being documented by his steady
climb up the Serie A record books.
Earlier this month, Totti scored
his 226th league goal in Roma's 2-
0 win over Parma, surpassing
Swedish great Gunnar Nordahl for
second place on Serie A's all-time
scoring list, 48 behind Silvio Piola's
Piola played for Pro Vercelli, Lazio,
Torino, Juventus and Novara from
1929-54 and his mark of 274 goals
had seemed insurmountable for more
than half a century.
Now, though, the discussion in
the capital's myriad bars and cafes
is whether Totti can catch Piola,
which would be a just reward for an
entire career dedicated to one club---
21 seasons and counting.
Totti has 11 goals with nine match-
es remaining this season. If he can
keep up that level of production for
a few more seasons, it's possible.
Of course, age is working against
the 36-year-old Totti, who credits
his current form to his preseason
preparation under Zdenek Zeman,
the Roma manager who was fired
"It won't be easy, because I'm not
20 anymore," Totti said. "But when
I get an idea inside my head I try to
Totti also appears rejuvenated by
a stable family life, as evidenced
when his two children, Cristian and
Chanel, ran onto the pitch to cele-
brate his 225th goal. His kids pre-
sented him with a T-shirt that said,
"Sei forte papa!!"---"Dad, you're
The decision to leave the national
team, made after helping Italy to the
2006 World Cup title, has also
helped---leading to fewer matches
and more rest time for Totti's sur-
gically repaired left ankle, which was
injured in 2006.
Totti is still sensitive when oppos-
ing players get overly aggressive with
his ankles, and he was memorably
handed a red card for retaliating
against Balotelli by kicking the
younger striker in the back of the
thigh in the 2010 Italian Cup final
when Balotelli was with Inter Milan.
Balotelli also claimed that Totti
racially abused him in that match,
which Inter won 1-0 under then
manager Jose Mourinho.
But all appears forgiven now, with
the 22-year-old Balotelli back in Italy
with AC Milan after 2 1/2 seasons
with Manchester City.
On Sunday, Balotelli was asked if
he would mind Totti rejoining the
"Why not? He's a phenomenon,"
Balotelli replied. "Champions like
him are always well accepted by the
While it's unlikely that Totti would
be able to play a full 90 minutes
every four days, he could represent
a veteran option off the bench for
Prandelli in Brazil, or fill in for an
injured starter now and then.
Who knows, maybe Totti and
Balotelli---the best Italian players of
the past and present generations---
could be the right combination.
Totti or Balotelli?
FIFA gets Costa Rica protest over WCup loss to US
...Italy torn between old and new
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