Archive for the ‘International’ Category


Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Nwaji Jibunoh

Nwaji Blog






During the first games of the Round of 16 Tournament of the UEFA Champions League, we saw two clubs; Arsenal and Barcelona (two clubs with a history of being purists when it comes to the execution of the Total Football strategy, otherwise known as “Jogo Bonito”- The Beautiful Game) getting completely hammered in the first legs of their games. Barcelona lost 4-0 to Paris St. German (PSG) and Arsenal lost 5-1 to Bayern Munich.

Now, both Bayern Munich and PSG are leaders in their respective leagues in Germany and France and their results from the first set of games not only proved how good they are but it also showed how impossible it would be for any team to recover from those first two heavy defeats to progress beyond this round, given the aggregate formula used in European Football.

So come games 2 and Mission Impossible. Sport writers and pundits had already written off Barca and PSG coming into these games with insurmountable odds. What happened next completely defines the philosophies of both clubs.

Arsenal Football Club located in London, England is one of the oldest clubs in England, having joined the English Football Association in 1893. Since 1996, Arsene Wenger has been managing the club and is responsible for bringing the Jogo Bonito Total Football style to Arsenal. Such style focuses on dominating possession during a football game, intricate passing in all directions, and capitalizing on the point of maximum opportunity to score goals. This style over the last 20 years has seen Arsenal rank among the most successful clubs in England and Europe.

Barcelona Football Club, located in the Catolonia region in Spain have been a global powerhouse in Sports for decades, but more so over the last 10-12 years when the initial foundation work of Legendary Coach John Cryuff grew exponentially under Frank Rijkaard and succeeding coaches. The Barcelona system has been so successful that not only because has it seen them dominate Spain and Europe, but it has also ensured that regardless of whoever is at the helm of affairs, the winning formula and mentality continues. Barcelona, very much like Arsenal, also rely heavily on dominating the possession game, intricate passing, and the capitalization of scoring when the opportunity is created, versus when the opportunity randomly presents itself.

So here you have two powerhouses of European football who mirror each other in terms of their style of play and how they are coached.  And here you have two powerhouses of European football going into their second games of the round of 16 after having suffered “insurmountable” losses in their first games. How both teams responded has completely redefined their genetic makeup.

Arsenal came into this game after having lost 3-1 to Liverpool FC only a few days prior. Spirits were low and the general attitude for Game 2 was just to make the score line respectable. Barcelona on the other hand, led by the likes of Lionel Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez, and Iniesta, had a hint of belief over accomplishing mission impossible. Their two games leading up to the rematch with PSG saw them thrash Sporting Gijon 6-1 and Celta Vigo 5-1. This meant that they were going into their showdown with PSG having scored 11 goals over two matches. They needed a miraculous 5 unanswered to progress to the next round.

So come match day and the ensuing series of events, Arsenal travelled to Germany to take on Bayern Munich and Barcelona hosted PSG at home.

The Arsenal v Bayern Munich game saw a deflated and demoralized team who started well by scoring first, but then capitulated once The Bavarians equalized. Arsenal got absolutely thumped by the exact same score line to the first game, 5-1. After a while the players looked like all they wanted to do was go home.

However, the Barcelona v PSG game saw a Barcelona team come out from the very beginning looking to shoot their shot against all odds. They didn’t particularly play well and some players (including Messi) looked out of sorts. But the deep-seeded philosophy/belief was evident that night, especially in the opening minutes. Barcelona need to score 5 answered goals in order to progress to the next round.

The plan was in motion and Barcelona were getting closer and closer. They had scored 3 answered and were feeling the impossible was inevitable. It wasn’t until Edson Cavani scored a wonder goal for PSG that brought things back down to Earth. PSG felt that they were in the clear and it appeared to the Barca players that this mountain they needed to climb only got much higher. So at this point, Barca now needed 3 answered goals. 8 minutes were remaining and only divine intervention could get Barca through, and divine intervention manifested itself in the form of Neymar. First it was a free kick…GOAL. Then a penalty…GOAL. Then at the death of it all, a sublime pass again from Neymar to Sergio Roberto slides the ball into the net…GOAL.

The unimaginable had happened. Barcelona, through sheer grit and determination pulled off an impossible comeback.

What Barcelona did was solidify their philosophy as a team that will never give up, which is ironically the final ingredient that defines Jogo Bonito. An ingredient missing with Arsenal when it was required.

Two teams who share similar philosophies but two teams who will forever define greatness differently. We can blame the coach and the execution of the game strategy etc, but at the end of the day history always vindicates those that pursue greatness.

Well done to Barca….and on to the next one in this legendary story.


Nwaji Jibunoh, International Correspondent for War Room Sports

Located in Lagos, Nigeria, Nwaji Jibunoh is War Room Sports’ International Soccer Contributor.  Nwaji also contributes commentary on U.S. sports from an international perspective.  He’s an Atlanta Falcons fan, Howard University alum, and former tight end for the North Atlanta High School Warriors.

CONCUSSIONS & ACCENTS: Dr. Bennett Omalu, the NFL, Hollywood, and Will Smith

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

by Nwaji Jibunoh

Nwaji Blog





Dr. Bennett Omalu & Will Smith

Dr. Bennett Omalu & Will Smith

Upon reflection, my very first exposure to the NFL aka “American Football” had to be in the 80’s when the Super Bowl became big ticket events in Nigeria because of the halftime performances. I remember at a very early age not understanding the game and also trying to compare it to Rugby. The one thing that stood out was the sheer physical nature of the game and how hard those tackles were. I remember my mother saying “I hope you never plan to play this dangerous sport”.

Fast forward 30 years and sports analysts and NFL enthusiasts are now engrossed in a medical term known as CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), which according to PR newswire is a form of encephalopathy that is a progressive degenerative disease, which can currently only be definitively diagnosed postmortem. In March 2014, researchers announced the discovery of an exosome particle created by the brain which has been shown to contain trace proteins indicating the presence of the disease. The disease was previously called dementia pugilistica (DP), i.e. “punch-drunk”, as it was initially found in those with a history of boxing. CTE has been most commonly found in professional athletes participating in American footballAssociation footballice hockey, professional wrestling, and other contact sports who have experienced repetitive brain trauma. It has also been found in soldiers exposed to a blast or a concussive injury.

One of the pioneers of the research that discovered and named this degenerative disease is Dr. Bennett Omalu, a forensic pathologist who is the Chief Medical Officer of San Joaquin County in California and a Professor in the University of California Davis Department of Medical Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Dr. Omalu is of Nigerian origin but has resided in the US for over 30 years. Through his research he discovered this disease and was able to link it to the death of certain NFL athletes such as Mike Webster, after CTE was found in his brain during an autopsy. He wrote a book called “Play Hard, Die Young”.  His story is being adapted into a major motion picture called “Concussion”, and Hollywood Blockbuster icon Will Smith will play the character of Dr. Omalu.

We all know Will Smith. In 2007, Newsweek referred to him as “The most powerful actor in Hollywood”. You ask why? Well, over the last 20 years, where he has done 21 films in a leading role, those movies have earned $6.6 billion. Basically, if you are looking for a big actor to portray your story, there is no actor bigger than Will Smith. The movie Concussion will come out on Christmas day 2015.

Ever since the trailer for the movie came out, there have been a few social media discussions about how authentic Will Smith’s accent was, given that he is playing a Nigerian. Nigerians from all walks of life have made their displeasure known about how the accent sounded more Southern African (Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa) than anything close to West African, and more specifically Nigerian. Such questions as to why a “Nigerian” couldn’t play the role or why Will Smith couldn’t learn a proper Nigerian accent have been circulating all over the place.

The challenge with such perspectives is that it deviates from the purpose of what Will Smith is trying to accomplish. This story is about one of the most profound developments in sports in the last 30 years as it has fundamentally changed the regulations around hitting in the NFL. In addition to that, the NFL on August 30, 2013 reached a $765 million settlement with former NFL players over their head injuries. The settlement created a $675 million compensation fund from which former NFL players can collect depending on the extent of their conditions. Frankly speaking, this was astonishing given that the NFL is behemoth institution that nobody takes on and wins. So why on earth should it matter if “the most powerful actor in Hollywood” gets the accent right or not when there is a bigger mission at hand of letting the word know of this disease and the impact it has on life after sports for several NFL players?

Hollywood has a history of regionalizing accents and they get it wrong a good percentage of the time. Call it creative license or sheer standardization to culturally identify but at the same time ensure that the primary audience (USA) can understand what is being said.

Dr. Omalu is a remarkable human being who has probably saved the lives of hundreds of athletes. He achieved this feat practicing medicine in America and pushing this agenda in a very American game. He just happens to be Nigerian.

In a situation like this, the story is more important than an accent and that story is being told by one of the world’s biggest story tellers.

As a Nigerian, I am extremely proud of Dr. Omalu and I am so excited at the fact that a Hollywood Star such as Will Smith is about to play this role.

Credit to everyone involved in this project and may the lives of NFL athletes be spared as a result of this.


Nwaji Jibunoh, International Correspondent for War Room Sports

Located in Lagos, Nigeria, Nwaji Jibunoh is War Room Sports’ International Soccer Contributor.  Nwaji also contributes commentary on U.S. sports from an international perspective.  He’s an Atlanta Falcons fan, Howard University alum, and former tight end for the North Atlanta High School Warriors.


Sunday, February 1st, 2015

by Nwaji Jibunoh

Nwaji Blog





(Image via

(Image via

Two years ago, I wrote an article telling the story of how the number of people across the world watching the NFL, especially during the Playoffs and very specifically when it comes to Super Bowl, is growing.

Since that time, I decided in conjunction with other NFL enthusiasts to throw an unofficial Lagos Super Bowl party with the 2014 games being the inception edition. Needless to say the first year event drew a remarkable crowd. A combination of Americans living in Nigeria who wouldn’t miss the Super Bowl for anything, Nigerians like myself who grew up stateside and are still in love with the game, and Nigerians and Europeans who just want to see what the greatest show on Earth is all about, and of course to catch the halftime show.

2015 marks the 2nd annual event and it is gaining some serious momentum as more individuals are attending this year by sheer word of mouth. The game is also growing on a lot of individuals as the stories behind the players and how they got here are becoming main talking points on international news stations such as CNN and Sky News. I am actually having very significant dialogues about how Brady should not think of throwing any passes in the direction of Richard Sherman or how the Pats are truly “America’s Team” and not the Dallas Cowboys, and of course Marshawn Lynch making the statement “shout out to all my real Africans” has made folks over here even more interested in the Super Bowl this year.

I am quite proud to be part of the growing culture of people wanting to watch the Super Bowl, not only for the entertainment value anymore but for the actual sport itself, in this part of the world at the ungodly hours on a Sunday night into Monday morning. It just shows that with enough time, branding, publicity, exhibition, and league games being played globally that the NFL, even with its Rugby looking ball and even stranger style of play can truly become a global sport, as is evident with the number of people attending the 2nd ANNUAL UNOFFICIAL LAGOS SUPER BOWL PARTY….


Nwaji Jibunoh, International Correspondent for War Room Sports

Located in Lagos, Nigeria, Nwaji Jibunoh is War Room Sports’ International Soccer Contributor.  Nwaji also contributes commentary on U.S. sports from an international perspective.  He’s an Atlanta Falcons fan, Howard University alum, and former tight end for the North Atlanta High School Warriors.


The Future of Team USA

Friday, August 8th, 2014

by Jon Carroll





Is doubt creeping in for NBA players regarding USA Basketball? (Image via

Is doubt creeping in for NBA players regarding USA Basketball?
(Image via

Even before seeing Paul George’s gruesome injury during last Saturday’s Team USA scrimmage in preparation for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, I was thinking of writing something about the future of NBA players and their involvement in the Olympic process.  It started with NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, Kawhi Leonard, deciding not to play, followed by LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin and then Kevin Love.  Just as I was about to send this in, a big shoe dropped as Kevin Durant withdrew from the team.  LeBron James, the most notable player in the game, is not playing in 2014, and I would be surprised if he returned to Team USA for a fourth Olympics in 2016.  Ever since the 2004 Olympics, when a then nineteen year-old LeBron earned a Bronze medal, the National team, directed by Jerry Colangelo has developed a program where players make a three-year commitment so that when the players take the floor at an Olympics or World Cup, they will have had more than a three-week training camp as preparation.  It is because of this program that I am confident that Team USA can continue to excel in international competition moving forward without having to tap the superstars of the league for service over and over again.

While it was somewhat eye-opening to see Kawhi Leonard turn down the opportunity to increase his stardom by being a key member of this World Cup team, it is not all that surprising given whom he plays for and who his teammates are.  The San Antonio Spurs make it clear through their actions that they are all about the playoffs and championships.  Coach Gregg Popovich rests players during the regular season with no real concern of the opponent, occasion, or potential consequences he may face from the league office.  It is clear that Leonard has gotten the message and sees international play as a hindrance to that goal.  If you look at the output of his teammates, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli in the 2012-13 season after both played in the Olympics, it is hard to argue that the extra games in the Olympic tournament did not take a toll after playing another 90+ games before losing in the Finals to the Heat.  This was particularly true for Ginobli who posted career-low numbers.  Kevin Durant noted in his statement about not playing, “I need to take a step back and take some time away, both mentally and physically in order to prepare for the upcoming NBA season.”  As an NBA fan, I would much rather see players with this mindset and in peak condition for NBA playoff competition than summer international tournaments.  The NBA has enough depth of talent that if you tweak the current program slightly, you still have enough talent to field a quality team without putting the top stars at risk when they are already playing nearly 100 games per season.  International play is also a chance for young NBA talent to develop and get a running start into their young NBA careers.

The main suggestion I put forth is to limit the number of Olympic cycles that players can make on the National team to two.  In this way, by the time a player makes his second team, he is just entering his prime and can focus on his NBA career without the extra wear and tear of summer competition.  This would save someone like Stephen Curry, who has been injury-prone, from having to shoulder the offensive burden in this upcoming World Cup in favor of younger stars like Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal and Anthony Drummond, all of whom are 21 or younger.  Speaking of age, I would suggest bringing the age limit back down to 22.  Yes, having a younger team puts the USA in a position like 2004 where a young nucleus of James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade were outplayed by more experienced teams.  However, with the global popularity of the NBA, it serves their purposes better to send emerging talent to international tourneys and risk losing than to put extra wear and tear on the bodies of the most marketable superstars.  Here’s what a 22 and under squad could look like for the World Cup:

Kyrie Irving
Trey Burke
Victor Oladipo
Elfrid Payton
Tim Hardaway, Jr
Bradley Beal
Jabari Parker
Doug McDermott
Aaron Gordon
Anthony Davis
Mitch McGary
Andre Drummond

We are quickly moving out of the era where international stars are comfortable playing at home in other leagues and then representing their countries in international play, which has been the biggest threat to American teams over the years.  There are very few Arvydas Sabonis’ running around these days who wait to come to the NBA.  International stars now come to the NBA as quickly as possible so over time, the idea of a team that has played together for years being able to beat USA all-stars has quickly eroded.  I hope that a change comes before we reach a situation like we had in 2004 where thirty players were invited to the team before a full roster could be assembled.


Jon Carroll, for War Room Sports

MY WORLD CUP IS BACK: The Raw Emotions of the Beautiful Game

Friday, June 20th, 2014

by Nwaji Jibunoh

Nwaji Blog


(Image courtesy of

(Image courtesy of

The year was 1982 and among my earliest memories in life. My twin brother and I struggling for space on our father’s lap as he attempted to balance the two of us while he watched the Brazilian squad of that year play possibly some the finest football the world had ever seen. That team consisted of the great Socrates, Zico, and Juninho. Players that mesmerized opponents with the Samba style Jorgo Bonito. Brazil was knocked out that year by a well-disciplined Italian team that would eventually go and win the World Cup, but what they did for me as a toddler was instantly convert me to a worshipper of the sport.

Subsequent tournaments such as Mexico ’86, Italia ’90, USA ’94, France ’98, South Korea/Japan ‘02 brought out the best players the world ever saw. What we also began to see as the years stacked on were the overt corporate commercialization of the sport and the introduction of prima donna global stars that had bigger personalities than the actual tournament itself. By Germany ’06 and South Africa ’10, players were no longer going to the World Cup for the same reasons that generations did before them. It became one big party, an opportunity to showcase to the world pure individualism. The core elements of the game were lacking, and it was starting to turn into pure entertainment. Yes, there was good football, I cannot lie (The ’06 final between France and Italy was quite epic), but something was missing. I did not feel the uncanny attachments and sheer euphoria I used to experience from days gone by.

Fast forward to Brazil 2014 where the beautiful game returns to the spiritual home of football. The games are being hosted in a country that produced the one and only Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pelé, the Royal Prince of this Sport, a record holding 5-time champions, and a team that combined the musical sensation Samba into the very fabric of their playing style.

We are only in the group stages, and we have already witnessed some of the finest football, ecstasy, and euphoria that this tournament has produced in the last 24 years. I honestly do not know if the game being played in Brazil is the reason for what we are witnessing or if players’ donning the colors of their national team is bringing the sexy back.

So far, we have seen absolutely sensational goals and goal celebrations. Let me quickly point out the Colombians. Every time they score, I honestly do not know what to expect, but their rhythmic Latin American inspired dance moves invigorate my soul each and every time. We are watching the Dutch National Team; La Orange returning to their Johann Cruyff philosophy of Total football by being the team of the tournament so far with comprehensive victories against current holders and two-time Euro champions Spain and a dogged Australian side. The German national team bringing their machinery of efficiency by blowing out a star studded Cristiano Ronaldo led Portuguese team. Then of course, we saw the USA national team beating the Black Stars of Africa Ghana in the game of the tournament so far. The US coming into their own despite heavy hating from individuals like myself, showing that yes indeed they belong here. We saw Lionel Messi finally walking into his own destiny and leading the Argentinian national team to victory. England being England as usual by underachieving each and every tournament, and then there was Mexico holding down the indefectible Brazilian, led by Neymar da Silva Santos in an Iron Clad match where their Goalie Ochoa becomes a cult legend.

My World Cup is back, because the Raw Emotions are back. We are seeing fans in the stadium weeping when their National Anthem is played. We have superstar players literally going bananas when they score goals and are instantly besotted by the enormity of the situation that they find themselves in. We are witnessing the relatively unknowns becoming Gods overnight. We are watching the Beautiful Game!



Nwaji Jibunoh, International Correspondent for War Room Sports

Located in Lagos, Nigeria, Nwaji Jibunoh is War Room Sports’ International Soccer Contributor.  Nwaji also contributes commentary on U.S. sports from an international perspective.  He’s an Atlanta Falcons fan, Howard University alum, and former tight end for the North Atlanta High School Warriors.


Monday, February 10th, 2014

by Nwaji Jibunoh

Nwaji Blog






(Image via

(Image via

This past week, a lot of us who watch sports with the enthusiasm of addicts witnessed what went down with Marcus Smart during the Oklahoma State vs. Texas Tech game, where he was shown to shove a fan after he tumbled into the crowd after trying to block a shot. There have been several blogs, comments, and discussions about what caused a 20-year-old NCAA player to push a fan after being in close proximity with him. The overriding conclusions that have been put out there are that the Texas Tech fan, namely Jeff Orr, used a racial slur towards Marcus Smart, prompting him to do what he did out of disgust and annoyance at what was said.

A tearful Mario Bolatelli (Image via

A tearful Mario Bolatelli
(Image via

Also, within this very interesting week in sports, in the Serie A in Italy, we witnessed Mario Bolatelli break down in tears during the AC Milan vs. Napoli game, where AC Milan lost. At some point during the game, Bolatelli was subbed and was subsequently taunted by the notorious Italian fans that were making monkey gestures and noises. Whether or not this is the reason why Mario broke down on the sidelines is debatable. There are reports that he shed tears due to the sheer level of racism he had to endure and has had to endure his whole career, being an African who only knows Italy as him home. There are other reports that he shed tears because he was disappointed with his play and wasn’t too happy that his team was losing.

These two situations remind me of two other Soccer players, Samuel Eto’o and Kevin Prince Boateng, who while playing in Spain and Italy respectively, both walked off the field due to incessant racial abuse from the fans in two different games. In the case of Kevin Prince Boateng, the game had to be abandoned because his teammates walked off with him.

These scenarios always bring about the question of what is the right reaction from multi-million dollar athletes (with the exception of Marcus Smart, of course, who is still a collegiate athlete) who are subjected to such abuses. Are they meant to just sit there and take it and carry on with the task of what they are paid to do, which is to simply play the game? Or, are the regulatory bodies in various sports meant to intervene and ensure that there are hospitable environments in stadiums and arenas across the world, so that super star athletes do not have to endure the whims of fans who decide to be ignorant?

In my opinion, the onus remains with the athlete in reference to how he controls his emotions. At the end of the day, it is a game we are talking about. Somebody calling you the “N word” or a “bloody African monkey” cannot warrant a justifiable reaction out of you, especially when the prospect of your actions can affect the overall harmony of any team. Case in point, Marcus Smart (the outstanding player for Oklahoma State) has now been suspended for 3 games. Samuel Eto’o and Kevin Prince Boateng were heavily fined for their actions. The reasons being that there are overwhelming precedence’s for how an athlete is meant to behave, especially during game time. Any violation of that leads to consequences. A fan or group of fans provoking you does not unfortunately override that precedence.

Amateur and Professional Athletes, regardless of their background, need to come to the realization that these remarks, as horrific as they are, cannot and should not affect them in any way, because it is never personal. Why would you allow your emotions to go haywire because some overweight coward decides to be ignorant towards you? A coward that will never earn the kind of money you are earning. A coward that may never achieve in life what you have achieved as an athlete.

The need for targeted emotions and controlled reactions towards fans in sports is necessary because it all becomes too distracting when an inconsequential moron like Jeff Orr gets notable mention because he successfully pushed Marcus Smart’s buttons.

The irony is that the hearts and minds of people like that and those fans in Europe will probably never change. The only change I will ask of professional athletes the world over is to actually stop giving a damn and just play the game to the best of their ability, entertain us all, and go home with your fat salaries.


Nwaji Jibunoh, International Correspondent for War Room Sports

Located in Lagos, Nigeria, Nwaji Jibunoh is War Room Sports’ International Soccer Contributor.  Nwaji also contributes commentary on U.S. sports from an international perspective.  He’s an Atlanta Falcons fan, Howard University alum, and former tight end for the North Atlanta High School Warriors.


Quick thoughts on the 2013 Champions League Final

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

by Veree Bampoe-Addo


Saturday will mark the first time two German Clubs are meeting in the Champions League Final.  Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund. These two clubs meeting in the CL final is in no way a fluke – let’s take a quick look at each of their paths:

Bayern for one finds itself in the title game for the third time in the past four seasons.  They came up short in 2010 vs. Inter Milan when Diego Milito managed to find the net twice in a fairly boring match.  Then just last year when it seemed they had the deal sealed vs. Chelsea with a Thomas Muller goal in the 83rd minute, Didier Drogba equalized 5 minutes later to force extra time and an eventual PK shoot out ending in a heartbreaker.  In this year’s tournament, Bayern defeated Arsenal, Juventus, and European League Super Power Barcelona in the knockout stages.  The aggregate of the two games with Barcelona was 7-0; it doesn’t get any more impressive than that.

Shifting gears to Dortmund – I’d be lying if I said I’ve seen more than a handful of their games, but if you’re able to top a group that includes 2012 Premier League Champ Manchester City and Spanish League Giant Real Madrid, chances are it’s your year.  Not only did they win their group that included RM, but when the two teams met in the Semi-Finals they advanced courtesy of a 4-3 aggregate (they smashed Madrid 4-1 in the first leg).

Now to my prediction:

Wembley Stadium will be rocking on Saturday night, let’s dub it the “German Takeover”.  Two Rival German clubs both with a rich history.  Bayern of course the more notable club of the two, considering the amount of success they’ve had in the German League (all-time leader with 23 titles) and are coming into this Champions League title game on a high as newly crowned German Champs, dethroning who else – Borussia Dortmund who had held the title for the previous two seasons.  I’m picking Bayern because they’re a lot more experienced and even though they’ve come up short in their last two tries; they’re accustomed to being in this spot.  From a talent standpoint, Bayern has the better roster top to bottom.  German National Team superstars Mario Gomez, Bastian Schweinstagger, Thomas Muller, and Phillip Lahm might be too much for Dortmund to handle.  These guys were part of the National Team that finished third in the last World Cup (2010).  Throw in French National star Franck Ribery and Dutch icon Arjen Robben and Dortmund may be overwhelmed.  We can’t overlook the fact that Dortmund has had Bayern’s number in recent years – Bayern hasn’t defeated Borussia Dortmund over the past 3 seasons (6 games total).  Hopefully all of this build up leads to a thriller of a CL Final like we saw last year.  Bayern Munich wins 3-1 to claim their first CL Title since 2001.


Veree Bampoe-Addo of The Sports Forum, for War Room Sports


Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

by Nwaji Jibunoh









At the 1978 World Cup Finals in Argentina, there was an absent figure that was highly regarded at the time as one of the greatest soccer players after Pele.  His name was Johan Cryuff; the man who invented and executed total football and showcased his skills on the grandest stage throughout the 70’s.  Cryuff had played for his country; The Netherlands in the previous tournament in 1974 and reached the final game losing to Germany.

Everyone was expecting this prolific player to return 4 years later and catapult La Orange (that’s the nickname for the Dutch national team) into super stardom.  At the last minute, their talisman pulled out of the tournament to the shock and awe of the world.  There were all sorts of speculation as to why he dropped out, but it wasn’t until 2008 when he finally spoke out indicating that he and his family had been the victims of an attempted kidnap plot.  He stated that experience and the demands from the assailants with regard to his profession had such a profound effect on him that he decided to exit the world stage of soccer to the disappoint of millions of fans, the expense of several marketing magnates, and a dent in the reputation of the beautiful game.

Criminal elements have always found their way into sports.  Johan Cryuff is one of the first examples of such a high profile case where an organized crime syndicate ultimately affected a decision made by a professional athlete creating the beginning of football scandals influenced by Organized Crime.

Yesterday, Europol in a very bizarre and interesting press conference stated that there are currently almost 700 games whose outcomes where determined as a result of Match Fixing.  Now, match fixing is not new to the World of Soccer.  After all, all you have to do is go back to Olympique Marseille in the French League in 1994 and AC Milan and Juventus from the Italian top flight in 2006 to see evidence of the influence of criminal elements in soccer and their very long reach.  But, this particular situation currently being investigated by Europol showcases a new depth to how bad this scandal has become.  We are talking about 680 games, 15 countries, 425 referees in a span of less than 3 years.  Absolute MADNESS!!!!

In as much as the details are not public right now as the investigations are ongoing, it does spur the question of the integrity of the sport.  For majority of individuals who aspire to be professionals in this sport, it will always be more than just a game.  It is first and foremost a way out of one’s current socioeconomic situation.  In developing countries, this is more apparent than anything else.  So for every young lad from a South American or African ghetto looking to one day make it big in world football, there are countless Europeans already enrolling in youth development programs honing their craft at a very early age.  So even before one can conceptualize it, the disparity already exists.  Some make it through the cracks, others won’t.  What this now creates is a recipe for match fixing.  How so?  Check it; the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, and Didier Drogba earn on average 200,000  Pounds Sterling per week ($320,000 USD).  These guys play for the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, and Drogba who left Chelsea in May 2012.  All these clubs are well funded with billionaire owners.  Now, these clubs will as a result of their schedules play the likes of Accrington Stanley, Real Zaragoza, Reading FC, and Debrecen.  These are clubs that you will probably never hear of on ESPN.  The average salary from these clubs that I have just mentioned is in the ball park of 1000-3000 Pounds Sterling per week ($1600 – $4800).  Any mafiaso, crime agent, etc can easily go to any member of the aforementioned teams as a result of such ridiculous earning disparities and say “I will give $20,000 in cash if you miss a few shots and another $40,000 if you allow Messi to breeze right by you”.  No matter your level of competitive spirit, honesty, and integrity, your morals will be questioned especially when you have responsibilities and even worse when you know the man they are asking you to NOT defend makes 40 times what you’re making.

The lack of having an effective salary cap and salary floor structure in FIFA regulated leagues along with a regimented punitive system to prevent overt betting is partly the cause of this problem, and as Europol begins to release the names of the clubs, players, games, referees, and countries involved in this fiasco, I am sure somebody may want to hire Olivia Pope to fix this Scandal.


Nwaji Jibunoh, International Correspondent for War Room Sports

Located in Lagos, Nigeria, Nwaji Jibunoh is War Room Sports’ International Soccer Contributor.  Nwaji also contributes commentary on U.S. sports from an international perspective.  He’s an Atlanta Falcons fan, Howard University alum, and former tight end for the North Atlanta High School Warriors.


Monday, January 14th, 2013

by Nwaji Jibunoh







It is approximately 2:15am Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and the pre game show is about to begin.  An alarm blares as a certain fan is forced to wake up from that early morning slumber, run to the refrigerator to get an ice cold beverage, a light snack, and then turn on the TV; but not too loud for fear of awakening others in that household who may be fast asleep.  For the next almost 3 hours, with only friends stateside to talk thrash with via Facebook, an NFL fan is engrossed from half way across the world in the 2013 playoffs.

This is the typical situation that anyone living on this side of the pond (Europe, West Africa, and the Middle East), must go through in order to enjoy the playoffs live and not a broadcast delay the following day when you will pretty much have got the full synopsis of the game by the time the replay comes on.

Football, or better classified as “American Football”, has never been as popular as the other American export Basketball for numerous reasons.  The main reason is that a lot of schools in this part of the world don’t have Football programs due to lack of interest and facilities, whereas basketball is quite popular because it is a lot easier to erect a few baskets than it is to buy football equipment.  And with basketball being played as a global sport during the Olympics, the rest of the world pretty much understands, appreciates, and loves that particular “American” sport.

However, over the last 10 years with the globalization of ESPN and FOX Sports, there has been a huge introduction of American Football to the rest of the world.  With such coverage, you will always find keen sports fans willing to learn something new and have a new team to support.  For most people in the States, they support teams based on a particular affinity to either the city the franchise belongs to or certain players.  The rest of the world has several different approaches to selecting favorite NFL teams.  You ask the majority of Europeans, Africans, or Asians who have never lived or schooled in the United States who their favorite team is, they will either say the New England Patriots or the New York Giants.  The reason being is that in the last 10 years, these are the two teams that have featured prominently in the Superbowl finals.  And of course, with Tom Brady being married to one of the hottest women in the world, people kind of flock towards the Pats.  In addition to that, a lot of new NFL watchers are starting to enjoy the sheer athleticism of the game and also the depth of technical coaching involved.  The world’s most popular sport; Soccer, does not have as many playbooks or as many coaches as football does.  This peaks a lot of curiosity into how the game is played and how every yard/inch/route/block counts for a victory or a loss.

This year, I have seen a heightened interest amongst sports watchers over the playoffs.  Since leaving the United States in 2004, I have not witnessed as much interest in the playoffs from die-hard soccer fans as I am witnessing this year.  ESPN International has spent a lot of marketing dollars hyping up certain players/rivalries/legacies/Cinderella stories to the point that folks over here just want to see how everything pans out.  There are the traditional Patriots fans, and then amazingly there are Ravens fans all over the place.  This is primarily due to people falling in love with Ray Lewis after seeing him do his intro dance, and of course the whole story with this being his curtain call.  It is all getting very exciting and I sincerely hope to see more people hosting those early morning Superbowl parties like I have been doing for a long time now.

It is interesting to see the sport grow to the level it is now.  It is also interesting to see little minor leagues pop up here and there with flag football tournaments.

With enough time, interest, and understanding of the game, I do believe that the NFL will gain as much popularity as basketball, showcasing how every sport has the potential to truly be a global game.


Nwaji Jibunoh, International Correspondent for War Room Sports

Located in Lagos, Nigeria, Nwaji Jibunoh is War Room Sports’ International Soccer Contributor.  Nwaji also contributes commentary on U.S. sports from an international perspective.  He’s an Atlanta Falcons fan, Howard University alum, and former tight end for the North Atlanta High School Warriors.