Football putting on a show to rival the Ice Bowl for notoriety


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THE USA! USA!! USA!!! GO LOWThe 1967 NFL Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys is the single most famous sporting event ever held on US soil, a statement The Fiver makes with the caveat that we don’t know what we’re talking about but have decided to run with it anyway. The match has become immortalised as the Ice Bowl, on account of temperatures being -26C, with a wind chill as low as -57. The field turned into a skating rink, the referee’s whistle stuck to his lips and several players lost toenails due to frostbite. Green Bay won, and afterwards there were snacks.By comparison, soccer’s version of this meteorological lunacy, the semi-legendary Snow Clásico between the USMNT and Costa Rica in 2013, was positively balmy. A thick blanket of white powder covered the pitch, the lines required constant clearing, and a yellow ball was required, but while there was certainly quite a nip in the air, at least there was no sense of extremity-bothering doom. However, on Wednesday night in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the soccer world finally put on a show to rival the Ice Bowl for notoriety, when the USMNT were sent out to face Honduras in temperatures of -16C with a wind-chill factor of bloody hell. Visiting coach Hernán Gómez described the conditions as “inconceivable”, before bringing his pre-match interview to a dramatic end by stating he was off outside and may be some time.OK, what Gomez actually said was: “The game hasn’t started, but I can’t wait for it to end. Because it’s not for enjoying, it’s for suffering.” He was spot-on in that analysis, because Honduras, bedecked in tights, gloves and balaclavas, went on to lose the Human Rights World Cup qualifier 3-0, with a couple of their players substituted so they could be treated for hypothermia. USA! USA!! USA!!! head coach Gregg Berhalter insisted the game was played in a “safe environment”, which was a slightly more charitable reading than the National Weather Service’s “dangerously cold”, and ignored the fact his unoccupied keeper Matt Turner was at one point farcically reduced to warming his hands in a quarterback’s pouch.Berhalter went on to point out that fixtures in “those countries” are contested by “dehydrated” players in “unbearable humidity”, so all’s fair in love and war. You can sort of see his point, but then again this sort of sharp practice really should be beneath one of the major nations in the federation. It’s also storing up trouble for the future, and The Fiver looks forward to the USA! USA!! USA!!!’s next visit to Honduras, at a time and place yet to be decided, in conditions so stultifying they have no other option to play in their vest and pants.LIVE ON BIG WEBSITE!Join Scott Murray for hot Afcon semi-final MBM coverage of Cameroon 2-1 Egypt from 7pm GMT.QUOTE OF THE DAY“It’s a victory of sorts for the hundreds of people who make the club, who were appalled at the board’s original decision and who were not afraid to speak out. But it’s just the first step on a long road back. The same people who made the decision are still in charge. Those who love and value the club are still on the outside; they need to be on the inside, shaping the future for the community” – Val McDermid, who withdrew her sponsorship of Raith Rovers following their signing of David Goodwillie, responds to the club’s belated U-turn and decision not to play him. “This very unfortunate episode is something we all bitterly regret,” sobbed chairman John Sim, one of those still in charge.The scene at Starks Park on Thursday. Photograph: Murdo MacLeod/The GuardianFIVER LETTERS“This goal by Canada’s Atiba Hutchinson in HRWC qualifying has to be the goal of the year; it’s not every day that you have a Fifa glitch come to life! Just your everyday run of the mill head, post, heel, back of head goal. The fact that it also helped take us one point from automatic qualification is just poutine gravy!” – Craig Sagert.“Similar to Pierre–Emerick Aubameyang and Jim Hearson (yesterday’s Fiver letters), I too was on holiday, albeit Greece, when in a bar one balmy evening the subject of football came up. Once the details of my stellar career with Patcham North End and Dartington United were revealed, the owner tempted me with the vacant No 9 shirt and the enticing prospect of bar work to eke out the lack of readies in the off-season. I was promised 40,000 drachma a month, and after a long, protracted and alcohol-infused discussion I accepted, ready to leave the grey of England for the sun-drenched beaches and possible Big Cup opportunities of Greece. The next morning, and suffering from an almighty hangover, I worked out that 40,000 drachma, far from being a fortune, was a tad over £20 a week. Unlike Pierre, I took the first flight home” – Spike Ewens.Send your letters to [email protected] And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Craig Sagert.RECOMMENDED LISTENINGGet your listening gear around the Football Weekly Extra podcast.NEWS, BITS AND BOBSFifa will request more details about the appointment of a coach accused of sexually abusing and harassing female players in Barbados, after it was suggested that he was given “positive recommendations” to take over as director of football in St Kitts and Nevis by the president of the Barbados FA.IOC members are using Big Winter Sports Day as a chance to stick the ski into Gianni Infantino’s biennial World Cup plans. “The plan would create immeasurable damage and would put sport in danger and in particular football,” sniffed Mustapha Berraf, National Olympic Committees of Africa president. “It would simply push away other sports and relegate them to the back benches – which is unacceptable.”You’ll like this one: Steve Bruce is being considered for the West Brom gig.You’ll like this one too: Roy Keane is being considered for the Sunderland gig.The Bhoys are back in town – well, the top of the Scottish Premiership – after a 3-0 smiting of the Pope’s Newc O’Rangers. “Our end goal is to play football a certain way but win things,” warned boss Ange Postecoglou. “We haven’t done that yet.”His name is Reo, etc and so on. Photograph: Russell Cheyne/ReutersSenegal are one win from Afcon glory after seeing off Burkina Faso 3-1 in the semis.And Mr Roy is back, so his weird quotes are too. “This job was one I was never going to turn down because it was quite literally the siren call from the mermaid as the sailor passes by on his ship,” he hooted after being unveiled by Watford. “They got the right mermaid going past the right ship.”STILL WANT MORE?Tom Dart points at a whiteboard and gives us some lessons from this week’s Concacaf qualifying.Josh Butler meets Arjan Wijngaard, who has collected 3,000 football shirts and wants more.Arjan living the dream. Photograph: Arjan WijngaardAnd if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!


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