Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ronaldo Unavailable to Portugal?

Cristiano Ronaldo, arguably the greatest soccer player in the world, is injured and won't play Sunday for his club team, Real Madrid.

What the story (linked, above) doesn't address is this:

Will Ronaldo be available for Portugal's crucial World Cup qualifying match on Oct. 10?

Which comes back to an interesting question we probably will address at greater length sometime in the future:

Are club commitments such an overpowering concept that athletes (as well as journalists) don't bother to take international duties into account?

Ronaldo's unavailability for one of dozens of club matches this season ... is the sole point of attention in the story. When anyone who is interested in the World Cup would immediately and understandably wonder "so, what does it mean for Portugal?" And hope that topic were broached at least to the point of "Portugal has an important qualifying match with Hungary coming up and Ronaldo readiness for that match isn't known." Tell us you don't know what it means for a week from now, because a week from now is what the international soccer community is interested in.

Portugal is trying to rally, here at the end of qualifying for South Africa 2010, and finish at least second in Europe's Group 1 standings -- and get into the home-and-home playoff with some other second-place team.

Portugal is well-advised to win its final two matches -- home against Hungary next Saturday, and home against Malta on Oct. 14.

The second match is all but a sure victory. The first is anything but.

Hungary, remember, also still has a shot at finishing second in Group 1, and the Oct. 10 match should be very, very intense.

Giving us an idea of whether the reigning FIFA Player of the Year might be available for that match seems like the least the writer could do. But when club, club and club overpower even the World Cup ... information like that gets left out.


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