Barcelona player Lionel Messi was named La Liga’s best player for the 2011-2012 season by players and coaches of the top two divisions in Spain that vote on the awards. He was also named La Liga’s best striker and former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola was named best coach. Others in contention for the best player award were Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.
“I want to thank the coaches who have voted me the best player and my professional colleagues who have named me best player,” Messi said after winning the two awards for the fourth consecutive year. “I am very happy and very proud.”
It has been a record year for Messi. He recently broke former Brazil player Pele’s scoring record of 75 goals during one calendar year. Now Messi is aiming to outscore the top record, held by Gerd Muller, who scored 85 total goals for Bayern Munich and West Germany in 1972. To date, the Barcalona striker has scored 76 goals in 59 appearances and still has nine appearances in 2012 for Messi to catch or pass Muller’s record.
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Ahead of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, Games organizers have withdrawn half a million tickets and reduced stadium capacities due to lack of demand. Even with the reduction, 250,000 soccer tickets are still available for purchase and another 200,000 will be put on sale before the games begin on July 27. The Olympic soccer games will take place in six venues across the U.K.: Wembley Stadium in London, St. James’ Park in Newcastle, Old Trafford in Manchester, Hampden Park in Glasgow, Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and the City of Coventry Stadium in Coventry. The men’s and women’s finals will be played at Wembley.
“We’ve sold more football tickets than we’ve sold anything else,” said Games chief Seb Coe. “They are in reduced size venues of course, we’ve had to scale down the size of those venues. We are not in bad shape on tickets but football tickets at a Games are always the challenge. I think we’ll do pretty well.”
When speaking of reduced capacities, it means organizers have closed off parts of many stadiums. For example, the upper tier of seats at Cardiff’s Millennium stadium will be closed for all games, reducing the stadium’s capacity from 75,000 to 40,000.
Do you think that the lack of demand for Olympic soccer tickets is due to the popularity of events like the Euro Cup and World Cup? To follow your favorite players and teams through the Olympics, download the free SoccerInferno toolbar today – the Olympics start in just one week.
He might look exactly like Austin Power’s Mini-Me, but he has the energy and temper of someone of a much larger size—and that’s exactly what the New York Red Bulls like about forward Luke Rodgers. According to SoccerInferno sports toolbar, Rodgers stands only 5-foot-7, but he makes up for what he lacks in height with a rugged, all-out playing style that’s helped the Red Bulls secure more than a few wins. The 29-year-old Brit even made recent headlines when he dared to call out fan favorite Landon Donovan for shouting at linemen and cursing at referees. That doesn’t go to say that Rodgers himself brings a clean slate to the game, however; He has numerous charges in England for drunken bar fights and even one for accidentally wounding a teenage girl with fireworks. Despite his past, Rodgers’ teammates are more than happy to have him aboard.
“I love Luke Rodgers,” said Bouna Coundoul, goalkeeper for the Red Bulls, in an interview with ESPN. “He’s the type of guy who is going to fight from the beginning until the end. He can create chances out of nothing. There’s few forwards in this league who follow all the chances until the end [the way he does]. When he plays against you, he’s a headache, because he keeps knocking, knocking, knocking, until he gets something out of it. I love playing with him—a nice guy to have on your team.”