Soccer Training in the Heat – 5 Tips to Prevent Dehydration, Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

In a hot climate, regardless if you are in this environment all year round or if it is hot in your spring and summer, you still must be able to train at a the highest intensity possible. It is for that reason you need to be aware of your soccer player's physical health.

The most important thing is to keep your players hydrated on a consistent basis. First let us take a look at the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Heat exhaustion is the early stage of heat illness and is the most common form you see with soccer training. This occurs after long periods of training in a hot environment.
Heat exhaustion is an early indication that the body's temperature regulating system is becoming overwhelmed. If not addressed immediately it may lead to heat stroke and death.

Soccer players lose fluid through sweating which decrease blood volume. Blood flows to the skin away from the vital organs like the heart, lungs and kidneys.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
Normal or below body temperature
Cool moist pale skin
Headache
Nausea
Dizziness
Weakness
Exhaustion

Heat stroke is the least common and most severe heat related illness. This occurs if you ignore the signs of heat exhaustion. Heat stroke develops when the body's cooling mechanism cannot function due to lack of treatment. Sweating stops and the body cannot cool itself and body temperature rises at a quick rate. Unfortunately if there is no treatment vital organs like the heart, kidney and brain begin to fail. If there is no medical treatment death is imminent!

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke
High body temperature
Red hot dry skin
Progressive loss of consciousness
Rapid, weak pulse,
Rapid, shallow breathing

Here are five things you can do to prevent heat illnesses.

1) Find an area with shade either under tress or a tent. Just getting a player out of the direct heat can help them lower their body temperature.
2) Take a water break every fifteen to twenty minute from soccer training
3) Encourage pre-hydration. Make sure your players have plenty of fluid before soccer training.
4) Immediately after training make sure your soccer players have at least 250ml to 500ml of fluid. At this sports drink is good to have for electrolyte balance.
5) Players should avoid eating anything heavy before they train. The less the stomach contains the less stress on the body during training.

Keep this in mind with younger players. They do not have fully developed sweat glands. Youth Soccer players, until they reach puberty, cool down through urination. Many coaches and parents are unaware of this so keep this mind If you are working with younger soccer players.

Finally, training soccer players until exhaustion in the heat will lead to preventable injuries. Sometimes less is better than more.

Enjoy your training in the heat.

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Formula 1 Rising Stars: Interview With Valtteri Bottas

Valtteri Bottas is regarded as one of Formula 1’s rising stars. And rightly so; in 2014, in only his second season in the sport, the Finn secured six podiums and finished fourth in the Drivers’ Championship, outperforming his more experienced teammate Felipe Massa.

Bottas’ breakthrough season greatly contributed to the resurgence of the Williams F1 team, which saw them finish third in the Constructors’ Championship; their best result since 2003’s second place.

The 2015 campaign, however, hasn’t quite got off to the start that the clear potential of the Mercedes-powered FW37 would suggest: Bottas failed to take the start of the Australian Grand Prix after injuring his back in qualifying, and he and teammate Massa found their race pace lacking in the searing heat of Malaysia.

I spoke exclusively to the Finn about his rise to Formula 1 and his expectations for the year ahead.

EH: You first got behind the wheel of a kart at the tender age of five, but your interest began a year earlier when you, along with your Dad, discovered a kart race during the summer. Can you tell me about that day and then your first experience in a kart the following year?

VB: Well, that day, I was actually going to Lahti (a town in Finland) with my father and we saw a sign about the go-kart Finnish championship race. We went there just to check it out, none of us was familiar with the sport. When I saw it the first time I thought it was really cool and wanted to get in to try one! My fist time actually trying a go-kart was about a year later, I was about 5-6 years old, and I actually crashed in the first corner of the first lap, as I did not use the brakes, and went off to the barrier. Nobody actually explained to me how it worked and they only said «Off you go»! That day, I learned from my mistake.

EH: In 2008 you won both the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup Championships. That is an enormous achievement, you must have been very proud of your efforts that year. How difficult was it competing in two championships?

VB: It was an important year and difficult too, as [I had] lots of races between two different championships. [But I needed] to get the support to move up to Formula 3. But overall it was good to get as much mileage as possible, the season went really well and I won both championships. This is also how I met and started working with my management (Mika Häkkinen, Didier Coton and Toto Wolff) so it was important to show them good results!

EH: You have had a very impressive season last year with six podiums, including your first Formula 1 podium at the Austrian Grand Prix on an unfamiliar track. Can you put into words how that felt and what thoughts were going through your head on the final lap, knowing you were mere seconds away from claiming your first podium?

VB: Austria was a very special moment, we had been chasing the podium for a long time and the last lap, even though you should never make any plans before crossing the finish line, I started thinking (as there was enough margin at the front and back) how cool it would be to cross the line and make the podium and meet my team when I get back, as the whole team had been working really hard for good results. The podium was very special, to see everyone there, it was a really nice day which I will remember forever.

EH: Last year Formula 1 veteran Felipe Massa joined the Williams team replacing Maldonado. What did you learn from his experience and knowledge of the sport, and how did it feel beating your more accomplished teammate in only your second year?

VB: My experience as a teammate of Felipe has been very good; obviously he is very experienced, he has been in different situations, car set-ups, different conditions, tracks. It has been good to work with him even though, as a racer, my goal is to be quicker than my teammate (whoever that is) and get more points.

EH: For a long time the Williams team appeared to be in racing ‘No Man’s Land’, but 2014 saw a dramatic shift in fortunes for the team. What do you think have been the major contributing factors to this remarkable turnaround for the team?

VB: I think the arrival of [Chief Technical Officer] Pat Symonds made a very big difference since joining the team mid-2013. He has been reallocating people at the factory, bringing new people to the team. Now we have the right people to the right positions and that definitely brought the results back. Another major contributing factor is the switch to Mercedes-Benz power units.

EH: For a country with a relatively small population, Finland has delivered three Formula 1 World Champions (and perhaps soon a fourth). What is it about your home country that sees it produce so many world class drivers in racing and rallying?

VB: First of all Finland is a motorsport country, it is part of our culture – we simply love F1 and rallying and it is true there are quite a few very good drivers from our country. Also, the level of go-karting (at a young age) is very high so this could explain it also. The mentality of Finns is also good for the sport, we can keep focused and don’t stress about things too much which is very important in F1 in my opinion.

EH: What are your first memories of following Formula 1 as a child and which driver/s did you most enjoy watching race?

VB: The first car I remember is the blue and yellow Williams car – my favourite in the beginning. One race that stands out as a race is Mika Häkkinen’s first win in 1997 in Jerez! I remember this race very clearly.

EH: After your most successful Formula 1 year to date in 2014, what are your expectations for 2015?

VB: In 2015 the competition is going to be much closer between the teams.

2014 Ton Series Cricket Bats Produced By SS

Sareen Sports more commonly known as SS is one of the reputed cricket manufacturer brands coming from India. Over the years SS has produced some of the best bats such as SS Gladiator, SS Limited Edition, SS Ton Matrix which are used by many international cricketers such as Kumar Sangakkara, Shikhar Dhawan and Kieren Pollard. SS also manufactures mid range bats such as SS Yuvi 20-20, SS Ton Professional, SS Ton Premium which are affordable to common people and good for club level and first class cricket.

Going into 2014, SS has come up with a new range under a new flagship brand called TON. Ton has always been SS’s identity as SS bats have Ton letters embossed on the edge. In TON series, SS has brought 5 english willow bats in different price ranges and covering all grades. These 5 bats are Ton Reserve Edition, Ton Player Edition, Ton Vertu, Ton Slasher and Ton Super

Ton Reserve Edition is top of the line cricket bat and used by India international players such as Yousuf Pathan and Rohit Sharma. This is SS Ton’s flagship product and is made from only the finest and selected clefts of English Willow.

The next in the line is Ton player edition cricket bat. Ton player edition is grade 1 english willow bat too and usually comes with lot of straight grains and can be obtained in medium and medium to heavy weight. Again sweet spot for players edition bat is mid and mid to low.

The three next bats in the Ton series are Ton Vertu, Ton Slasher and Ton Super English Willow Cricket bats.

Ton Series was briefly used by rohit sharma during India’s 2013 – 14 domestic season. Ton vertu can be found usually light and light to medium weight i.e. around 1130 to 1190 grams and in terms of Lb-Oz measure, it could be anywhere between 2.7 to 2.9~. Lots of ruller straight grains, thick edges, traditional SS concave profile are some of the highlights of all these three grade 1 English willow bats.

Next in line is Ton Slasher which usually comes in green attractive Decals. Lot of first class and club level cricketers use this bat mainly because of its price which is 8650 Rs or $150 USD. Having said that, the bat provides all the nice to have features such as thick edges, straight grains, good balance etc just that this one is a grade 2 english willow which means the willow is not as good as some of the grade 1 bats that I just mentioned. But that shouldn’t’t really deter anyone from trying one’s hands on this willow.

The last in the series that we at crickstore have in stock is Ton Super. This is a grade 3 english willow cricket bat, which usually comes in 6-7 grains. This is perfect for someone who has just started playing or for someone who wants to have a second cricket bat for practice in nets where you want to protect your big blades for the important games. The ping, pick up are quite good for their price tag which is 5500 Rs or just less than $100 USD.

Travel Style Tips: How To Dress Appropriately In Qatar

With Qatar winning the rights to host the 2022 World Cup, this tiny sheikdom on the northeasterly coast of the Arabian peninsula will become an increasingly popular travel destination. Being a predominantly Muslim country, the appropriate dress code may pose a bit of a dilemna for women traveling there from other countries. As the way a woman dresses in Qatar may influence how the locals view and treat her, here are a few travel style tips and simple courtesies that will ensure local values in Qatar are respected and traveling there an enjoyable experience.

The key to dressing appropriately in Qatar is to consider what Qatari women themselves wear. They are completely covered from head to toe in lose, non-revealing robes, with faces more than likely covered by a veil. Although the Qatari’s don’t necessarily expect Western visitors to dress in the same manner, what it does spell out to visitors is that wearing revealing clothes is not appropriate in this country. It is considered more respectful to wear loose-fitting clothes that cover the limbs:

1) Do have a look at the range of long cotton robes for women that can be purchased in the shopping malls, souqs, or even large supermarkets in Qatar. The selection of colours and prints have become wider and more fashionable over the years. Do wear these robes on your visit to Qatar as they will be far more comfortable in the heat and you will be much better received by the locals.

2) Do wear trousers, skirts and dresses that are well below the knee. Shorts, even if they are knee length, are inappropriate, as are skimpy skirts. Do not show any leg.

3) Do leave any tight fitting or low cut clothes at home. They will not be appropriate for Qatar.

4) Do keep the chest and shoulder area covered. Bring blouses or shirts that have either 3/4; or long sleeves. If bringing T-shirts, make sure that they are not tight and have the appropriate sleeve length. Keep the midriff well covered.

5) Take a chiffon scarf that you can fold up and pack into your handbag and use as head cover if required or when visiting mosques.

6) Consider the type of bathing suit that you bring to the Qatari beaches or hotel swimming pool. A bikini will attract unwanted attention. A full piece, with a modest cover-up when out of the water, will be more appropriate.

Women are expected to dress modestly in Qatar. And while most likely no Qatari will ever tell you that you shouldn’t be wearing something, it doesn’t mean that they will not take offense, which may in turn influence the manner in which you will be treated. Taking the time to follow a few simple travel style tips, practice some simple courtesies and conform to local dress standards will not only help to show respect for the local culture, it will avoid offending the locals.

Some Pearls Shine in the Shallow Waters of Qatar’s Sea of Culture

Qatar is gaining ground in the Gulf Countries’ race to become the ultimate cultural destination.

Doha is not a usual cultural destination; the only reasons why people get to visit Doha are pretty much just business or layovers between flights to more exotic destinations, even though curiosity must be growing due to all the fuss around the apparently mysterious winning of the 2022 Soccer World Cup bid.

Together with all other Gulf Countries Doha is taking part in the race to attain cultural credibility. Abu Dhabi, for example, is gaining ground with its magnificent museum projects (including a Solomon Guggenheim and even a branch of the Louvre), but Doha is moving very fast and with a precise strategy.

In the quest for popularity, Doha decided to walk the different path of preserving and enriching its very own culture by fostering Arabic art, which means showing the world that Arabic culture and art is not a world apart, but that it has always been melded with both western and far eastern cultures.

With this objective in mind, this old pearl fishing village got itself two absolute pearls in the Museum of Islamic Art and the Mathaf, but even more are on the way.

Before diving in to the discovery of Arabic arts, you may want to stop first at the Islamic Cultural Center, to get a glimpse of what Islamic culture is about.

The Babel tower shaped building is home to a cultural center which aims to introduce people to Islamic culture. On walking in you will be approached by a friendly officer who will offer you tea and will give you some booklets (in your own language) about Islam and Arabic culture. You then enter the main downstairs room and take a look at the wide graphic on the walls displaying the interaction of Arabic world history with the rest of the world, and the interaction of Islam religion with other faiths. If you spend some minutes reading the short descriptions of Islamic customs and behavior you will be pretty well ready to enjoy the rest of your visit to Doha with a deeper awareness.

The Museum of Islamic Art alone is worth the visit to Doha. Designed by I. M. Pei, the legendary Louvre Pyramid architect, the building looks like a combination of superimposed geometric shapes, culminating in a parallelepiped that almost reminds you of a Qatari woman’s face, traditionally covered by the hijab but revealing her eyes, and protecting the city with her gaze.

When you will walk in, you will be attracted to the wide windows looking over the water with the West Bay skyline in the background. While sitting and having a coffee and enjoying the view, just look around you and discover, glimpse by glimpse, the many aspects of the gravity – challenging architecture.

The collections feature a selection of masterpieces from the 10th century to the present age, organized in a precise journey through the discovery of Islamic art, but the museum also hosts an average of two big exhibitions a year featuring western masters’ masterpieces.

The Mathaf (Arab Museum of Modern Art) is the real surprise. Created to exhibit to the public the extensive H.E. Sheikh Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali Al Thani’s (The Emir of Qatar) art collection, it opened its doors on the 30th December 2010.

Practical note: if you are new in town you’d better get clear directions to reach it, as the taxi drivers won’t be of any help and you’ll need to reach the edge of the city.

The museum is located in a white anonymous building; you will probably be the only visitor, and in the beginning you will think there is not much more than the theatrical «Animals’ arch» installations in front of the building.

However, when you wander around the many rooms, you will realize how huge and valuable H. E. the Emir’s collection is. So huge that it can’t be displayed all together at the same time, it must be organized in themed temporary exhibitions, providing extensive descriptions to enhance the visitors’ enjoyment of these works of art. You will discover that most modern Arab artists have trained themselves by looking at western art, and you will easily recognize here and there some Miro and Picasso influences, or an Impressionist’s flare. You won’t be surprised when reading the labels that most of the artists have died or are currently living in a western country.

Qatar’s ambition to become a cultural destination is not yet satisfied, and it will reach its climax with the New National Museum project, designed by no less than Jean Nouvel (Torre Agbar, Barcelona). The building will feature the petal-like shapes of the desert rose stone formations found under the desert sand, acknowledging the desert Bedouin cultures of Qatar. It’s meant to become the most iconic building in Doha, and the first thing tourists will spot when landing at the airport. But that is still in the future, we’ll talk about it in a few years time.

India to Boost Security for the ICC Women’s World Cup

It is common knowledge that things are not as great as they can be with Pakistan and India. Though we haven’t exactly buried the hatchet on issues that have transpired over the years, the relation between the sporting teams of the respective countries have always managed to keep it civil to date. As a matter of fact, the player in the name of good sportsmanship, have always handled things with bonhomie and characteristic respect towards each other; a commendable feat by both the sides.

But while everything might seem to be in its proper place from the outside, it goes without saying, that there is a long standing docile rivalry between the two nation’s cricketing teams, which becomes fully animated as the two battle it out at the cricket field. The ban imposed on the Pakistani players, following the Mumbai blasts in 2008, was recently lifted and the India was just warming up to the idea of the inclusion of the players in the Indian Premier League Cricket tournament, ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup and Hockey Indian League when the recent unsavory incident at the border, have the BCCI in a catch-22 situation.

The tension at the border has ebbed over to the Hockey fields where Shiv Sena activists protested the presence of the players in the Indian hockey league. Indian Premier League’s decision to welcome back the Pakistani players is also met with protests by the same group which has made it clear that they will not allow the participation of a Pakistani in any sport or game held in Mumbai.

According to ICC Women’s World Cup news, this tournament will also be held in Mumbai, which is a land mine waiting to explode. Fearing the safety of their female athletes, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has wrote to the International Cricket Council (ICC) asking the association to ensure better security measures and a change of venue for the matches involving the Pakistani team if the step is considered necessary with accordance to ensured security.

There is also the potential threat of calling back the players akin to what happened to the nine hockey players who were sent back to their country. But a World Cup without the Pakistan team is incomplete and bordering on unimaginable. The trouble started again this year following the killing of two Indian army personnel by Pakistani soldiers. The ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup schedule is from January 31 to February 17.

The History of the FIFA World Cup Football Trophy

There are many trophies presented for various sporting endeavours today, however one of the most famous of these is the FIFA World Cup. Yet what many people do not realize is that the FIFA World Cup Trophy awarded today has only been in existence since 1974. Prior to this date those nations that were winners of this particular sporting event were presented with the Jules Rimet Trophy instead.

The main reason why a new FIFA trophy was introduced was in 1970 Brazil were awarded the Jules Rimet Trophy outright as they had won this competition three times. As they were presented with this trophy so the FIFA had to arrange for a new trophy to be made to replace it.

The new FIFA World Cup trophy was then presented to the winning Nation in 1974 and this was West Germany who at the time were captained by Franz Beckenbauer. The trophy that they were presented with was designed by Silvio Gazzaniga and produced by Bertoni Milano.

This trophy just like the Jules Rimet one before is very elaborate in design. On the body there are two figures shown holding up the Earth and on its based are engraved «FIFA World Cup» in out pouring letters. The actual trophy is made from 18 carat solid gold and weighs a total of 11lb and measures to a height of 14.4 inches. To ensure that the cup stands correctly the base which measures a width of 5.1 inches has been made from a strong carbonate mineral known as Malachite.

To be able to view the names of the winning nations on this particular trophy it needs to be turned upside down. This is because the names and dates when the trophy was won are engraved on plaques in English on the bottom of the base.

Today there are still enough plaques available to allow a further 9 nations to have their winning details placed on this trophy. It is only after the FIFA World Cup Competition in 2038 will a decision need to be made as to whether this particular trophy should be retired and replaced with a new one.

The biggest difference with this particular FIFA World Cup Trophy is that it is not one that can be won outright as Brazil did with the Jules Rimet Trophy. Today although the winning team are presented with this trophy on the day of their victory they don’t actually get to keep it and instead of provided with a replica.

The main reason for this is that following Italy winning the competition in 2006 after the FIFA World Cup Trophy had been restored it was damaged. A number of days after the trophy had been presented to Italy pictures appeared in newspapers showing a small piece of the Malachite base had broken off. The damage to the trophy was repaired but in order to prevent such a situation in the future the FIFA decided no longer to allow the winning nation to retain the trophy until the next tournament.

The FIFA World Cup Trophy replica that the winning nation now receive is the same size as the original. However, unlike the original these are not made from solid gold but rather they use gold plating instead.

Messi Vs Maradona

Who is the world’s greatest footballer? Many currently place that mantel at the feet of the talismanic Barcelona front man Lionel Messi. But is Messi the greatest EVER player? This is food for thought and in order to come to a conclusion it is important to compare Messi with another Argentinean, a man so often lauded as the greatest footballer of all time – Diego Maradona.

To adequately compare Messi and Maradona it is important to examine their playing styles, abilities, achievements at domestic and international level and the eras in which they both played.

Lionel Messi

Messi began life as an attacking midfielder, but in recent years has been deployed as a forward (rather than a traditional striker). His skill and creativity on the ball means he can dictate the game by dropping deeper, but can push forward and score goals with terrifying regularity.

In the 2012/13 season Messi broke Gerd Müller’s goal-scoring record of 85 goals in a calendar year, a record that stood for 40 years. This has led to many pundits, fans, players and media outlets to proclaim him the greatest player of all time.

Messi’s ability is undeniable, especially as, at the age of 11 he was diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency, which lends to his small stature and meant he had to develop pace, touch and skill at a young age in order to compete at the highest level.

Despite having won everything at domestic level, question marks still remain over Messi’s ability to transfer his form to the international stage. In an Argentina shirt he doesn’t appear to possess the same magic as in a Barcelona jersey.

There are also reservations as to whether Messi could deliver playing in other European league’s; the Premier League for example. The game in England is much more physical and fast paced than in Spain and some ponder whether Messi would be as good playing outside of Spain.

Diego Maradona

A generation (or so) before Lionel Messi there was another Argentinean who wore the famous scarlet and blue of Barcelona. His name was Diego Armando Maradona.

The mercurial Argentinean was technically gifted, a playmaker and great strategist. His skill on the ball was unrivalled and despite being an attacking midfielder, Maradona regularly scored at a rate that would have rivalled most strikers.

Many fans, pundits, experts, players and critics regard Maradona as perhaps the greatest footballer who ever lived.

He began his career at Argentinos Juniors before transferring to Brazilian heavyweights Boca Juniors, where he spent a season. It was then that he moved to FC Barcelona for a (then) world record fee of £5 million. A record he himself would later break with a £6.9 million move to Napoli. Maradona spent two injury plagued seasons at the Nou Camp, but still managed 38 goals in 58 games and helped the team to win both domestic cups.

Following several disputes Maradona transferred to Italian club Napoli in 1984. It was here he enjoyed the most successful spell of his career, winning 2 Seria A titles, the Coppa Italia, the Italian Super Cup and the UEFA Cup. He also finished as top scorer in Serie A at the end of the 1987/88 season.

Maradona also produced on the international stage, where he was instrumental in Argentina’s World Cup win in 1986 and runner up finish in 1990. He also won the World Cup Golden Boot in 1986.

Conclusion

Whilst Messi may have won more domestic trophies and broken more goal-scoring records, there is no doubting that Maradona played in a much tougher and more physically demanding era of the sport. He also played in weaker sides than Messi and perhaps most importantly, produced at international level. Its unlikely Messi will move to a smaller unfashionable team to elevate them to greatness like Napoli. After all his current Barcelona side is built to accommodate him. The support of numerous talented Spanish internationals such Xavi and Iniesta combine with Messi to create a potent attacking force. One could argue this set-up make the diminutive Argentinean look better than he actually is.

It is worth noting that Maradona is an outspoken and patriotic man, whilst the young pretender is more introverted and timid in nature. This is partly the reason why he doesn’t enjoy the same level of adulation from his home country.

Comparing them is difficult as the eras they played in were so different, but taking everything into account Maradona edges Messi as the greatest ever footballer. With the world Cup 2014 looming in Brazil Messi does have the opportunity to turn this round.

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10 Reasons Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo Are Not the Greatest of All Time [GOAT] in Football

For the best part of the last decade, two names have dominated world football (soccer) more than any others; Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. These great rivals have broken countless football records, scored insane number of goals and pushed each other all the way to greatness despite the fact that they are two very different football players, playing two very different styles in two very different roles for two different clubs. The only thing that really connects the two is the ocean of ability that separates them from the rest of the players in the world. There can be no question as to whether the duo belongs in the pantheon of football all-time greats anymore. Although any effort to determine the greatest footballer of all time is subject to generational bias, it should be noted that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are not individually or collectively the greatest football player[s] of all time due to the following reasons;

Cristiano is not the best ‘Ronaldo’ to play the game: Despite his unparalleled achievement in and off the field of play, Cristiano Ronaldo is still not considered the best Ronaldo to have played the game. Ronaldo de Assisi (also known as Ronaldinho) and Ronaldo de Lima (the phenomenon) are the other ‘Ronaldos’ whose legendary attacking prowess is often compared to Cristiano Ronaldo’s. Ronaldo de Lima was a more explosive and complete striker who would have probably been the ‘World’s Best Striker Ever’ if he had stayed injury-free in his footballing career, while Ronaldinho was the entertainer who, at his peak, constantly wowed the footballing world. Cristiano Ronaldo is better than other ‘Ronaldos’ in terms of constituency over the years, phenomenal goal-scoring rates, overall fitness and prolonged career (due to low rate of injuries) but for sheer skill, explosiveness, superior technical ability, and the ‘wow’ factor, the two ‘Ronaldos’ are better than Cristiano Ronaldo.

Lionel Messi is not the best ever Argentine player: It is a well-known fact that for a footballer to be the best ever in the world, he has to be the best ever footballer in his country and sadly, Lionel Messi isn’t both. Lionel Messi is not the best football player Argentina has produced. That honor goes to Diego Armando Maradona. Maradona (widely regarded as one of the best football players ever) is a footballing legend that inspired Argentina to a world cup victory and S.S.C. Napoli (in the Italian Football League) to its first and second League title [Scudetti] in its history. He is the scorer of the world’s most dubious goal (the ‘Hand of God’ goal) and the FIFA Goal of the Century. There is virtually a cult around the player in Argentina. Diego Maradona (and Pele) is the benchmark for the illustrious South American nation when a new star comes on to the block. So, while Messi has dazzled on the European stage, passing milestone after milestone and picking up loads of awards, his countrymen regard him as the country’s second best football player ever.

Both players have never won the World Cup: Although the latter rounds of the modern-day UEFA Champions League would rival the FIFA World Cup in terms of quality, with talents from around the globe increasingly concentrated in the hands of an elite few, the World Cup still retains substantial symbolic value as a quadrennial competition which pit the best of one nation against the best of another. It is no secret Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have never won (or inspired their respective countries to win) the FIFA World Cup. Cristiano Ronaldo has won an European Cup (The Euros) with his home country, Portugal but has never been to the semi-finals or the finals of the World Cup while Lionel Messi was underwhelming in the 2014 world cup semi-final and final with his home country Argentina eventually losing to Germany. The World (and Messi) was shocked when he was named the best player and awarded the Golden Ball of the tournament. Lionel Messi is also a three-time runner-up in the Copa America competition with Argentina. Most football players such as Zinedine Zidane, Pele, Diego Maradonna, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo de Lima etc. often touted as the world’s best ever football player all played dominant roles in the World Cup tournament they eventually won. The same cannot be said presently of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

They are not Football’s best Goal-scorers ever: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are efficient, effective and phenomenal goal scorers boasting amazing goal per match ratio but they aren’t among the five best goal scorers in football history. Neither of them have scored up more than 700 goals in their respective careers so they cannot be in the company of great players such as Pele, Romario, Josef Bican, Ferenc Puskas (he has a FIFA goal-scoring award named after him), Gerd Muller. The rate of scoring of these legendary players is more impressive than that of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo given they ended their footballing careers with goal tallies well into the 800s. So if scoring goals are what makes footballers great, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, having better players boasting better goal tallies ahead of them, cannot be the greatest footballers of all time.

Both players have been accused of being criminals: They both have tax payment issues with the Spanish authorities (the country they reside and play in) and so have been accused of being criminals. After a lengthy trial that attracted so much publicity due to his status as a supremely gifted sportsman, Lionel Messi (and his father) was found guilty of not paying his taxes to the Spanish government, fined heavily and sentenced to two years in prison (he has since agreed to pay an increased fine rather than have a 21-month suspended prison sentence). His trial, guilty verdict, fine and (suspended) sentence damaged his credibility as a morally upright athlete who could do no wrong and that of his football club (FC Barcelona). Cristiano Ronaldo is also being investigated for tax evasion by the Spanish authorities, might be tried (or not), heavily fined and get a suspended prison sentence.

Their overall goal tallies are padded with too many penalties: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the greatest goal scorers of their generation. They score obscene number of goals in a football season but almost half of the total goals scored both players have come from the penalty spot. In football, penalties are the easiest way to score because it involves only the designated penalty-taker and a goal keeper to beat. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, being the designated penalty-takers of their respective club sides, always take every penalty kick awarded them or their teammates thereby increasing their goal tallies. In 2013/2014 Football season in England, Luis Suarez of Liverpool FC (before he moved to FC Barcelona to become a teammate of Lionel Messi) won the highest goal scorer award in the English Premier League and shared the European Golden Shoe award with Cristiano Ronaldo by scoring 32 goals in 33 games in open play without taking a single penalty. That is a record Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo do not yet hold.

They play for football’s most valuable clubs: Messi and Ronaldo play for super-clubs in Spain where the top sides score goals by the hatful. The second millennium’s new financial order unfortunately gave birth to the modern super team essentially creating a certain form of predictability in both domestic and continental leagues. Lionel Messi plays for FC Barcelona in Spain while Ronaldo plays for Real Madrid CF also in Spain. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid CF are extremely rich and dominant football clubs that can afford to buy and stockpile the best and most expensive football talent anywhere in the world and so Messi and Ronaldo are always surrounded and assisted by world-class players to aid in dominating continental club football thus raising their international profiles. Both clubs always have a slew of world-class players at their disposal which leads to utter domination in domestic (Spanish La Liga) and continental (UEFA Champions League) football competitions.

The benefit of playing in the Modern Era: It is almost impossible to compare players of different era in a game that has changed so much over the years. Great footballers like Ferenc Puskas, Alfredo di Stefano played in an era when the game was played at a tempo unrecognizably slower than in the modern era. That does not make them less great than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The game played presently has changed because of changes in rules governing the game and the quality of footballs produced and used. Players in the modern era are also fitter, faster, and stronger than they have ever been, but players (especially defenders) are technically weaker than they have ever been. The Champions League’s expansions of the nineties is also an advantage to the modern player: having a group stage allows a margin of error that simply did not exist in the knock out style pre-1995 tournament. It has never been easier for attackers – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo probably would never score 40-60 goals a season in the 1980s when the rules governing the game and footballs used didn’t benefits attackers (strikers), and defenders/defenses were littered with world-class talents.

They are a part of football’s rich history: We view the history of the game through our own national experiences, or at least we did until the modern era, where we can watch the Spanish league, Messi and Ronaldo every weekend. It is worth remembering that in the 1970s and even into the 1980s, most of Europe just watched the European Cup and UEFA Cup games of their own national teams. So, here is a little suggestion; the next time Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo score a breath-taking goal and someone on Twitter suggests the debate (on the greatest football player) is over, head to YouTube and spend ten minutes watching goals from Diego Maradona, Johan Cruyff, Pele, Ferenc Puskas, Roberto Baggio, Eusebio, Alfredo di Stefano and so on. There have been plenty of geniuses in the game, and Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are part of that rich football history.

Generational and positional bias in football: The hunt for the greatest football player in history is like that of the Holy Grail. All footballers (sportsmen) are products of their time. Due to football’s developmental stagnation relative to other sport and because there are so many different positions, and so many roles within those positions, it is hard to have a worthwhile conversation about who the best football player of all time is. Since the main objective of the game is to score a goal, the best goal scorers such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo will always be near the top of any list about the game’s best players.

Conclusion; Don’t kid yourself that there won’t be another player like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, no-one thought they would see another player like Diego Maradona.

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