When France and Uruguay face off in a World Cup quarterfinal here Friday, French star Antoine Griezmann may have trouble remembering which team he’s playing for.
Lined up against him will be Juan Maria Gimenez and Diego Godin, two of his teammates at Spain’s Atletico Madrid. In fact Griezmann and Godin are so tight, the Uruguayan captain is the godfather of Griezmann’s daughter.
Add to that Griezmann’s affection for mate, a Uruguayan drink, the fact he speaks Spanish with a Uruguayan accent and has been pictured wearing the team’s jersey and, well, things could get complicated.
“Griezmann is very Uruguayan. He tries to look Uruguayan,” midfielder Nahitan Nandez said. “It could be a very special match for him. We hope that he behaves well on the field and that he remembers that he is Uruguayan.”
Griezmann’s affection for the small South American country started about a decade ago. He made his Spanish first division debut in 2009 for Real Sociedad under the direction of Uruguayan coach Martin Lasarte. He also established a close relationship there with Carlos Bueno, another Uruguayan.
It was from Lasarte and Bueno that Griezmann learned how to drink mate. The Frenchman also became a fan of Uruguayan club Penarol and learned the chants sung by its supporters.
When he moved to Atletico, he befriended more Uruguayans: Cristian Rodriguez, then Gimenez, Godin and fitness coach Oscar Ortega.
But Uruguayan star Luis Suarez isn’t buying any of it.
“As much as he says he’s half Uruguayan,” the Barcelona striker said, “he’s French.”
“He will have his habits, his way of speaking, but [not] the feeling ... we feel differently,” Suarez continued. “For us it’s a special game. I do not know if it is for him.”
Foul play suspected in Colombia’s demise
England’s second-round game with Colombia may have ended in penalty kicks but Colombian coach Jose Pekerman believes it was decided by fouls.
MLS referee Mark Geiger handed out eight yellow cards – six to Colombians – as he struggled to control a game that included a head-butt, yelling players surrounding the officials and gamesmanship and spikiness across the pitch.
“When there are so, so many fouls and interruptions that’s not good,” Pekerman said. “We shouldn’t only look at Colombian players. We should also look at England players.”
Wilmar Barrios got the first yellow card after he butted his head into Jordan Henderson’s chest and then his chin. The England midfielder fell to the ground theatrically.
Four of six cautions Colombia drew came in a particularly ill-disciplined 12-minute second-half spell that included midfielder Carlos Sanchez wrestling England striker Harry Kane to the ground on a set-piece in the 18-yard box. Geiger awarded a penalty and Kane scored from the spot.
“There were so many interruptions in the game, far too many interruptions,” Pekerman said. “That hasn’t been good for us. It’s hurt our side a lot.”
Even computer hackers watch the World Cup
Apparently the World Cup can make your computer perform better.
According to data compiled by EnigmaSoft, makers of the anti-malware software SpyHunter 5, malware infections dropped 19.9% when there was a game in one of the countries studied, suggesting people were turning off their computers to watch soccer.
“A day-to-day drop that dramatic can only happen when people get offline in massive amounts,” said EnigmaSoft spokesperson Ryan Gerding. “We think the World Cup games are a big enough distraction to make that big of an impact.”
Uruguay had the biggest game-day drop, 41.4%, of the more than dozen countries surveyed. The only country that did not have a decline on days its national team played was Russia. Infections actually increased nearly 6% in the World Cup host country when its team was playing.
MLS officials asked to say
U.S. referee Jair Marrufo will work Friday’s quarterfinal between Belgium and Brazil as the fourth official. Marrufo and Geiger were among 17 referees FIFA has selected for consideration in next round of the tournament.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.