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The Lead

First, this:

So Suarez’s agent’s damage control was all for naught. This is happening. Remember kids: any less than 40 million pounds and LFC don’t know what they’re doing. And yes, it does seem the press did play a role:

Anyhoo, tis the season for friendlies! And while they don’t exactly lend themselves to white hot preview action as well as their competitive counterparts, there is always some grandiose theme to extrapolate out of the otherwise meaningless proceedings.

Over in Brazil for example, a judge called off a friendly that was to be held at Rio’s newly-renovated Maracana stadium. That is until her ruling was reversed:

However a statement on the Rio state government confirms the stadium complies with “all safety rules”.

The statement also confirmed the safety certificate was granted.

“All safety requirements for the friendly between Brazil and England have been complied with and, because of a bureaucratic failure, the appraisal from the public ministry that proves the compliance with the rules on safety at the Maracana have not been sent to Suderj,” the statement read.

Suderj is a division of the Rio de Janeiro state authority that holds responsibility for administrative issues with major sports venues.

Apparently these safety guarantees didn’t make it to the office responsible for approving sporting venues because of a “bureaucratic mistake.” And, make no mistake, this and the first person testimonials we’ll be seeing on Monday about the shoddy state of the place from England fans will be used to push an “Is Brazil Really Ready?” line.

As for the game itself, a bit of pish, a reason to look at Neymar, and whinge about two banks of four.

A little further north, Toronto’s slightly sturdier BMO Field will be the site of another, potentially more fiery rematch between the Canadian and American national women’s teams. They haven’t met since the epic 4-3 Olympic semifinal match in London, a game that still draws a bitter divides otherwise friendly soccer nations.

Equally bitter: fans of the Canadian mens team over the lavish attention paid to their more successful female counterparts? Perhaps, and there is some grumbling about a smaller pool of talented nations in women’s soccer flattering Canada. But fans of the program should put any sniping aside; Canadian soccer rarely enjoys this kind of attention, and the Canadian Soccer Association is milking it well.

The trick, as Duane Rollins wrote yesterday, would be to view this match as another opportunity to spur on a national development program, rather than a glorified back-slap. Attendant media would do well to ask Canada’s technical director and president what movements have been made to implement the recommendations for a division three national league.