Ten Things Soccer Must Change Before the Next Cup: Opening Line

Nancy was right.

It certainly wasn’t a triumph on the field for Brazil, but all the hand-wringing about its readiness to hold the World Cup added up to nothing, or little, anyway, as our guest contributor suggested on the eve of the tournament.

There were some problems, even right up to the end, but not the failure some had anticipated in the last couple weeks leading up to the start.

Brazil has to be at least mollified by not having to watch their Argentinian nemeses celebrate the championship on Brazilian soil and by knowing that the team that crushed them went on to win it all.

FIFA has to be happy, not just because it all came off OK, or that scoring was up (at least in the first round), but because this was the year when, shall we say, an emerging market really emerged onto the World Cup scene in earnest -- the U.S. team with a meaty, wealthy fan base in tow.

Americans love the beautiful game now. Not enough to call it football, but enough that we’ll have clammy hands every four years (if we qualify) like the rest of the world. Also, the world has taken a shine to the Yanks and their style of play, and that’s good, because not a lot of people outside our borders like us very much these days. (Nouri al-Maliki doesn’t count.)

So, given America’s inexorable tendency toward hegemony, we’ve taken the liberty of forging a list of 10 things that have to change in the sport before the next World Cup. You might even agree with a couple of them. 10. Enough with the Mohawks. 9. And the flopping. 8. Allow timeouts so that we have time to grab a beer. We wouldn’t want to miss the goal. 7. Put microphones on referees and leave them on. 6. Shot clock. 5. The team with the most shots on goal wins a match that ends in a 0-0 tie. Notice we didn’t say draw. Or nil. 4. Yellow card warnings replaced by time in a penalty box. You feel shame, you know. And then you get free. 3. Goals scored by headers are worth two points. 2. All national anthems are sung by Ann Coulter. 1. Call it soccer. Everywhere.


There’s nothing on the economic calendar today. Citigroup reports earnings at 8 a.m. EDT, and it might announce a $7 billion settlement with the U.S. over misrepresenting the quality of mortgage-backed bonds.


+ Sotheby’s auctions are coming to EBay, the New York Times reports. + Abbvie raised its offer to 31.4 billion pounds ($53.7 billion), and Shire said it would endorse it. + Aecom agreed to buy URS Corp. for $6 billion including debt. + Lindt agreed to buy Russell Stover Candies. Terms weren’t disclosed. + Whiting Petroleum agreed to buy Kodiak Oil also for $6 billion including debt. + Junior traders in London were offered some immunity in the U.S. currency-rigging probe, the FT reports. + Israeli navy commandos made a brief incursion into Gaza, the first ground offensive of the current round of hostilities in which the UN says 33 children are among the 160 Palestinians killed. + China says iPhone tracking features pose a national-security threat. + The Farnborough International Airshow has started. + The BRICS summit begins with finance and trade ministers meeting today. The heads of state meet tomorrow. + About 2 percent of Roman Catholic priests are pedophiles, Pope Francis said, sort of. + If you were born from 1893-97, the U.S. Selective Service System is requiring you register for the draft. + Catch Manhattanhenge over the weekend? + The French don’t call today Bastille Day. + The Costa Concordia is being prepared to leave the waters off Italy’s Giglio Island, where it capsized in 2012. + "The idiot with the mobile." + Prescription-drug abuse in NFL locker rooms is under investigation by the DEA. + Carmelo Anthony is staying with the Knicks, LeBron James is returning to Cleveland, Jeremy Lin was traded to the Lakers and Paul Pierce is headed to Washington.


As has been suggested more frequently of late, the rising investment in stocks by retail investors has the professionals starting to think the party is close to an end.

The party-crashers, individual investors, have plowed about $100 billion into stock mutual funds and ETFs in the past year, 10 times the amount in the year before. The bull market, now entering its sixth year, is already about a year older than usual, Lu Wang reports as she greets the week in stock markets.

“As institutional investors, we’re always concerned when the retail investor is actually arriving in the market,” Ashburton’s Nick Skiming tells her. “The retail investor arrives when they can only see blue skies.”

Think of it as the nerd wolf who bounds into the picture in the classic Far Side cartoon.


At the same time equities are being bid up, Treasuries also are in great demand.

Somewhat forced by the Volcker Rule and helped along by nagging indications that the U.S. economic recovery is still inconsistent at times, banks’ holdings of U.S. government and agency debt have risen to $1.9 trillion from $1.2 trillion in 2008, Daniel Kruger and Cordell Eddings report as the greet the week in bonds.

The Treasury Department has received $3.4 trillion of bids for the $1.12 trillion of debt securities sold this year, they report, a bid-to-cover ratio of 3.06, the second-highest on record after a ratio of 3.13 in 2012, when Europe was in the throes of its sovereign debt crisis.

So, money’s pouring into stocks and money’s pouring into bonds. Someone’s going to be wrong.


Republicans with medical backgrounds who are running for office are conveniently forgetting to change out of their work clothes before filming their campaign advertisements.

Manipulating the public’s trust of doctors and nurses, health-care professionals are betting voters will believe them as they run on a platform of either “fixing” the health-care system or on a position of -- stop us if you’ve heard this before -- an outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Probably makes sense to give it a try, at least. Nurses and doctors hold the top two spots in a Gallup poll professions exhibiting honesty and ethical standards, at 82 percent and 70 percent, respectively, Greg Giroux reports.

Members of Congress? Second-to-last at 8 percent, above only the lobbyists who feed on them.

This tends to reinforce the notion that politicians will be whomever you want them to be as long as they get your vote. Wonder what the immigration costume will look like.


While the ECB will take longer to prepare buying of asset-backed securities as a stimulus measure, it will come to banks with cheap, easy money approaching $1 trillion to spur lending, according to Bloomberg survey of economists.

Lending to companies and households is a weak spot in the euro area’s recovery, Alessandro Speciale and Andre Tartar report today. So while interest rates remain low, perhaps until 2017, and negative deposit rates will force banks to pay to park their money anyway, Mario Draghi could spell out the money supply plan today in his testimony before the EU Parliament.

And it’s not even guaranteed the central bank will venture into its own quantitative easing. Half the economists surveyed said the ECB won’t undertake QE.

So with inflation dragging its tail, and Banco Espirito Santo renewing uneasiness about Europe’s recovery, some walking-around money looks like a winner for now.


Marlon Sanchez called us back. Turns out there was a misunderstanding.

At the end of last week, when Cynk Technology was taking the stage as the silly season story on Wall Street, we combed through the phone listings in the Las Vegas area to try to reach Sanchez, the sole name behind the company, shares of which have since been halted. We reached the household of one Marlon Sanchez, and when we asked the little boy who answered whether this was the home of the Marlon Sanchez who works for “Cynk Technology,” the boy said yes.

Yesterday, as we spoke with Sanchez, we repeated the question. Turns out the boy, and, we, were half-right:

Our Marlon Sanchez installs granite sinks.

This doesn’t explain why we were told later by a woman, who answered the phone when we were attempting a second call last week, that we had the wrong number, but whatever.


We’ve arrived at MLB’s All-Star break and that means its time for the best show in baseball (when you’re a Phillies fan) and that’s the Home Run Derby.

While we could do without Chris Berman’s “back back back back” on the ESPN broadcast, the derby is mesmerizing for anyone who has had the pleasure of swinging a bat and deeply, deeply connecting with the ball. That’s a feeling that never gets old and never leaves your memory bank.

Watching 10 guys take cut after cut at the cheese that’s floated over the plate is sensual. When one or two them gets hot and balls start launching, it’s better than the aurora borealis.

This year’s contestants from the American League are Toronto’s Jose Bautista, Oakland’s Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes, Baltimore’s Adam Jones, and Minnesota’s Brian Dozier.

From the National League, the hitters are Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki and Justin Morneau, Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, L.A.’s Yasiel Puig, and Cincinnati’s Todd Frazier.


There’s a new man in yellow at the Tour de France. Tony Gallopin of the Lotto-Belisol team emerged from the group chasing stage winner Tony Martin of Omega Pharma-Quick Step to overtake race leader Vincenzo Nibali of Astana and put 1 minute and 34 seconds between them.

Gallopin is French, and for a Frenchman to be wearing le maillot jaune on July 14th can’t really be adequately expressed by a non-French.

Moreover, Gallopin is considered a contender for this year’s tour, and if he were to become the first native son to win it since Bernard Hinault in 1985, well, let’s just say we’d like to be in Paris that night, or anywhere in France.

Today’s 10th stage on the national holiday is a run of 161.5 kilometers (100 miles) down the east of France from Mulhouse to La Planche des Belles Filles (the shelf of beautiful girls? Odd one.). It’s one of those stages when the top contenders will try to take time from one another, when the experts say the tour can’t be won but it can be lost, rambling over four Category 1 climbs and two from Category 2. Just looking at this chart makes us winded, and this isn’t even the Alps yet.

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