July 14, 2006

Barbaro is doing much better today

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. - Barbaro was doing "much better" Friday morning, a day after his veterinarian said the Kentucky Derby winner was a "long shot" to survive a potentially fatal hoof disease.

"Barbaro was out of his sling for more than 12 hours yesterday, and he had a calm, restful night, sleeping on his side for more than four hours," Dr. Dean Richardson said in a statement issued Friday by the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center. "While his condition is stable, it remains extremely serious."

Richardson appeared upbeat earlier when he told The Associated Press that Barbaro had a "good night. He's doing much better."

Richardson told a packed news conference Thursday that the 3-year-old colt has a severe case of the disease laminitis in his left hind leg, and termed his prognosis as "poor."

Barbaro looked every bit the champion Thursday, but it's how he acts in the next few days that will determine how much longer he lives.

Laminitis, Richardson said, is an "exquisitely painful" condition, and Barbaro has a case so bad that 80 percent of the Derby winner's left hoof wall was removed Wednesday. It could take as long as six months for the hoof to grow back. The disease is often caused by uneven weight distribution to a limb, usually because of serious injury to another.

Barbaro shattered three bones in his right hind leg just a few yards after the start of the Preakness Stakes on May 20.

While the news was good Friday, Barbaro's condition could change at any time.

"If he starts acting like he doesn't want to stand on the leg, that's it — that will be when we call it quits," a blunt Richardson said Thursday at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center.

"It could happen within 24 hours," he added.

The vet, who has been treating Barbaro since the colt's breakdown, said Thursday that Barbaro looks fine — "his ears are up, he's bright, he's looking around." But that doesn't reflect the true nature of his condition.

"I'd be lying if I said anything other than poor," he said. "As long as the horse is not suffering, we are going to continue to try to save him. If we can keep him comfortable, we think it's worth the effort."

Barbaro is being treated aggressively with pain medication and remains in the same stall he's been in since being brought to the intensive care unit.

Only the sight of fiberglass casts on both hind legs — a longer cast is on the right leg — gives any indication that something is terribly wrong with Barbaro.

"If you look at this horse, it'd be hard to put him down," Richardson said.

That precisely is the awful task that could be imminent because of a disease that has no cure.

"It's a devastating problem in horses that nobody has a solution to," Richardson said.

Until his misstep at the Preakness, Barbaro's career was nothing short of brilliant.

He won his first five starts, including the Florida Derby. His 6 1/2-length victory at the Derby was so convincing he was being hailed as the next likely Triple Crown champion — and first since Affirmed since 1978.

But seconds after the gates swung open at Pimlico, that career was cut short when the colt broke down, his right hind leg flaring out awkwardly because of three broken bones.

Race fans at Pimlico wept and within 24 hours the entire nation seemed to be caught up in a "Barbaro watch," waiting for any news of his surgery and condition.

And for the longest time, it all seemed to be going well.

Barbaro's first six weeks of recovery were relatively smooth — despite five hours of surgery to insert a titanium plate and 27 screws into his three shattered bones.

Each day brought more optimism: Barbaro was eyeing the mares, nickering, gobbling up his feed and trying to walk out of his stall. There was great hope Barbaro somehow would overcome the odds and live a life of leisure on the farm, although he'd always have a hitch in his gait.

Richardson, along with owners Gretchen and Roy Jackson and trainer Michael Matz, all believed the colt had a chance to recover.

Until last week, when Barbaro's condition steadily worsened.

The colt underwent three surgical procedures and four cast changes on the injured leg, followed by a hoof wall resection.

"I really thought we were going to make it two weeks ago," Richardson said. "Today I'm not as confident."

Within hours of the grim update, roses and apples began arriving at the hospital, and hundreds of get-well e-mail messages were posted on a Web site set up by the New Bolton Center.

The vet didn't mince words: "It's as bad a laminitis as you can have. It's as bad as it gets."

He said he has discussed the situation closely with the Jacksons, who have stressed that their main concern is for Barbaro to be pain free.

Several telephone messages left for the Jacksons and Matz were not returned.

Richardson said Barbaro's injured right hind leg was healing well, but because a horse has to be evenly balanced to carry his weight, laminitis set in on the other foot. Secretariat, the 1973 Triple Crown winner, was euthanized due to laminitis in 1989.

"The reason we cut away the hoof wall is because the hoof wall is not connected" to the bone, he said. "If you had a nail that was separated from the end you'd pull it off. It's dead tissue that's in the way of living tissue."

Richardson said it would take several months for the hoof to grow back, and as long as six months to be completely healed.

Barbaro has been fitted with a sling to prevent sudden movements and allow him to shift his weight from side to side. The main goal is comfort.

"The sling is on only some of the day, when it's off, he can lie down," Richardson said. "We are not torturing this horse."

Edgar Prado, the jockey credited with saving Barbaro by quickly pulling him up in the Preakness, was devastated by the grim prognosis.

"It's very upsetting," he said. "Barbaro has shown to everyone what a fighter he is. He showed it on the track and with all the surgeries he's had. It just goes to show what kind of courage he has. He's a true champion, and is fighting every step of the way.

"All we can do now is hope and pray. We'll need a miracle, but maybe it will happen."

July 13, 2006

Red Buttons Has Died at 87

Red Buttons, the impish former burlesque comic who became an early TV sensation and an Academy Award-winning character actor during a career that spanned more than seven decades, has died. He was 87.

Buttons died today at his Century City home after a long battle with vascular disease, publicist Warren Cowan said.

A product of New York's Lower East Side, Buttons had already performed in Minsky's Burlesque and in Broadway plays and musicals by the time he became an overnight hit on television in 1952 with the launch of "The Red Buttons Show" on CBS.

A comedy-variety show, it featured the likable Buttons' monologues, dance numbers and sketches with regulars and guests. Among the comic's recurring characters were a punch-drunk prizefighter named Rocky, a juvenile delinquent called Muggsy, and a dumb "dialect" German named Kleeglefarven.

The diminutive comic — 5 feet, 6 inches and 140 pounds — inspired children around the country to mimic him singing his signature "Ho Ho Song," in which he hopped around singing, "Ho Ho! Hee Hee! Ha Ha! Strange things are happening."

The Academy of Radio and Television Arts and Sciences named him Comedian of the Year in 1954.

But Buttons' time at the top on TV was short-lived.

The show, which moved to NBC when CBS canceled it after its second season, became a sitcom and was off the air a year later.

After his show was canceled in 1955, Buttons said years later, "I couldn't get arrested." Indeed, as he said at the time, "I found out how tough show business can be."

Over the next two years, he worked only 14 weeks, primarily in nightclubs, with only three guest shots on "The Perry Como Show" and a role in a "Studio One" production.

But in late 1957 he was unexpectedly back on top with his dramatic supporting role in the screen adaptation of the James Michener novel "Sayonara," starring Marlon Brando as an Army major who falls in love with a Japanese woman after he is assigned to an air base in Japan during the Korean War.

Buttons' role as the tragic Airman Joe Kelly, an enlisted man in Brando's company who marries his Japanese sweetheart despite a military policy forbidding interracial marriage, earned him an Oscar and a Golden Globe for best supporting actor

"I'm a little guy," Buttons said at the time, "and that's what I play all the time — a little guy and his troubles."

Buttons appeared in more than 30 movies, including "Hatari!," "The Longest Day," "Harlow," "Stagecoach" (the 1966 remake), "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?," "The Poseidon Adventure," "18 Again!" and "It Could Happen to You."

In 1966, he starred in the short-lived situation comedy "The Double Life of Henry Phyfe," in which he played a bookkeeper who is asked to pose as a secret agent.

Buttons never equaled his early TV success or the high of his Oscar win, but he also never again stopped working. He appeared in TV movies and specials and made frequent series guest shots. He had a stint on "Knots Landing" in the 1980s and recurring roles on "Roseanne" in the '90s and in the Showtime series "Street Time" in 2002.

In the 1970s, he made frequent appearances on "The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast" shows, in which Buttons would begin his portion of the proceedings by noting, "Some of the most famous people in history never got a dinner!"

A popular guest at testimonial dinners over the years, Buttons offered up one-liners, including: "Alex the Great, who said on his wedding night, 'It's only a nickname'." and "George W. Bush, who said to Pope John Paul II, 'Give us a visit and bring the missus."

"You think you can reach a peak and stay there, but that's not what happens. I've been coming back continuously," Buttons said in a 1987 interview. "I've had a Humpty Dumpty career. It's been a roller coaster ride."

Born Aaron Chwatt in New York City on Feb. 5, 1919, Buttons spent his early years in tenements on the Lower East Side, the same poor neighborhood that had spawned legendary figures including Eddie Cantor, George Burns, Jimmy Durante, Fannie Brice and George and Ira Gershwin.

"I don't know," Buttons once said. "It must have been something in the seltzer."

His father, a Polish immigrant who made hats for a living, sparked his early desire to get into show business.

"He was a clown who liked to sing and dance," Buttons told Newsday in 1995. "I picked that up from him. I noticed he made people happy, smiling, laughing, and that's what I wanted to do."

As a kid, Buttons sang for pennies on the street, encouraging donations by wearing a small sign that said, "I am an orphan."

"That was my gimmick," he recalled. "People were nice to orphans."

Buttons' family, which included his brother Joe and sister Ida, moved to the Bronx while he was still in grammar school.

At 12, billing himself as Little Skippy and singing "Sweet Jennie Lee," he won an amateur night contest at a local movie theater.

At 16 in 1935, he landed a job as a bellboy and singer at Dinty Moore's Tavern on City Island in the Bronx. Customers, eyeing his red hair and uniform festooned with brass buttons, gave him the nickname that became his professional moniker.

That summer, Buttons made his first appearance on the Borscht Circuit. In exchange for room and board, he entertained at Greenfield Park in New York's Catskill Mountains.

During a summertime stint at Loch Sheldrake in the Catskills after he graduated from high school in 1938, Button was spotted by a talent scout for burlesque impresario Harold Minsky. That led to a 17-week engagement at the Gaiety Theater in New York, followed by time on what was known as the Western Wheel circuit.

Buttons made his Broadway acting debut in a supporting role in "Vickie," a farce at the Plymouth Theatre starring Jose Ferrer and Uta Hagen. He followed that by joining the "Wine, Women and Song" vaudeville-burlesque company at the Ambassador Theater in 1942.

After being inducted into the Army in 1943, Buttons joined the cast of "Winged Victory," playwright Moss Hart's Army Air Forces play to benefit Army Emergency Relief.

After 212 performances in New York, he re-created the role in the 20th Century Fox film version. That was followed by a 28-week "Winged Victory" tour.

He also had a stint with another Army unit in Europe in 1945, and that year he performed and served as master of ceremonies in a show for President Truman, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet dictator Josef Stalin at the Potsdam Conference.

Back in New York after his discharge, Buttons appeared on Broadway in George Abbott's musical "Barefoot Boy With Cheek" in 1947 and the 1948 musical "Hold It," in which he impressed New York World-Telegram critic William Hawkins, who wrote: "The best out and out performance of the evening is Red Buttons, who comes into his own He can dress up comedy lines."

Forty-seven years later, in 1995, a 76-year-old Buttons was still dressing up comedy lines with "Buttons on Broadway," a one-man show filled with old stories and old jokes.

"I love to make 'em laugh. I love to hear 'em laugh. I love to entertain," he told Back Stage magazine. "That's my life. It's always been my life."

July 12, 2006

July 10, 2006

June Allyson, 'perfect wife,' dies at 88

LOS ANGELES - June Allyson, the sunny, raspy-voiced "perfect wife" of James Stewart, Van Johnson and other movie heroes, has died, her daughter said Monday. She was 88.

Allyson died Saturday at her home in Ojai, with her husband of nearly 30 years, David Ashrow, at her side, Pamela Allyson Powell said. She died of pulmonary respiratory failure and acute bronchitis after a long illness.

During World War II, American GIs pinned up photos of Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable, but June Allyson was the girl they wanted to come home to. Petite, blond and alive with fresh-faced optimism, she seemed the ideal sweetheart and wife, supportive and unthreatening.

"I had the most wonderful last meeting with June at her house. ... We were such dear friends. I will miss her," said lifelong friend and fellow actress Esther Williams.

With typical wonderment, Allyson expressed surprise in a 1986 interview that she had ever become a movie star:

"I have big teeth. I lisp. My eyes disappear when I smile. My voice is funny. I don't sing like Judy Garland. I don't dance like Cyd Charisse. But women identify with me. And while men desire Cyd Charisse, they'd take me home to meet Mom."

Allyson's real life belied the sunshiny image she presented in films of the `40s and `50s. As she revealed in her 1982 autobiography, she had an alcoholic father and was raised by a single mother in the Bronx. Her "ideal marriage" to actor-director Dick Powell was beset with frustrations.

After Powell's cancer death in 1963, she battled breakdowns, alcoholism and a disastrous second marriage. She credited her recovery to Ashrow, her third husband, a children's dentist who became a nutrition expert.

Born Eleanor Geisman on Oct. 7, 1917, Ella was 6 when her alcoholic father left. Her mother worked as a telephone operator and restaurant cashier. At 8, the girl was bicycling when a dead tree branch fell on her. Several bones were broken and doctors said she would never walk again. Months of physical therapy helped her to defy that prognosis.

"After the accident and the extensive therapy, we were desperate," Allyson wrote in her autobiography. "Sometimes mother would not eat dinner, and I'd ask her why. She would say she wasn't hungry, but later I realized there was only enough food for one."

After graduating from a wheelchair to crutches to braces, Ella was inspired by Ginger Rogers' dancing with Fred Astaire. Fully recovered, she tried out for a chorus job in a Broadway show, "Sing out the News." The choreographer gave her a job and a new name: Allyson, a family name, and June, for the month.

As June Allyson she danced on stage in "Very Warm for May" and "Higher and Higher." For "Panama Hattie," she understudied Betty Hutton and subbed for her when Miss Hutton got the measles. Her performance led to a role in "Best Foot Forward" in 1941.

MGM signed her to a contract, and she appeared in small roles. Then in "Two Girls and a Sailor" (1944), her winsome beauty and bright personality connected with U.S. servicemen. She starred in "Music for Millions," "The Sailor Takes a Wife," "Two Sisters from Boston" and "Good News."

Allyson appeared opposite Johnson in several films, and she was Stewart's wife in "The Stratton Story," "The Glenn Miller Story" and "Strategic Air Command."

Only once did she play an unsympathetic role, as a wife who torments husband Jose Ferrer in "The Shrike." It was a failure.

In 1949, she starred with Elizabeth Taylor, Janet Leigh and Margaret O'Brien in "Little Women."

In 1945, Allyson married Powell, the crooner who turned serious actor and then producer-director and television tycoon. The marriage seemed like one of Hollywood's happiest, but it wasn't.

She began earning big money after leaving MGM, "but it had little meaning to me because I never saw the money, and I didn't even ask Richard how much it was. ... It went into a common pot with Richard's money."

The couple separated in 1961, but reconciled and remained together until his death in 1963. They had two children, Pamela, who lives in Santa Monica, and Richard Keith Powell, who lives in Los Angeles.

A few months after Powell's death, Allyson married his barber, Glenn Maxwell. They separated 10 months later, and she sued for divorce, charging he hit her and abused her in front of the children and passed bad checks for gambling debts.

On Oct. 30, 1976, she married Ashrow. It was a very peaceful time for her, Pamela Allyson Powell said, because she and Ashrow were free to travel and spend time with family and their dogs.

After her film career ended in the late `50s, Allyson starred on television as hostess and occasional star of "The Dupont Show with June Allyson." The anthology series lasted two seasons. In later years the actress appeared on TV shows such as "Love Boat" and "Murder, She Wrote."

For the last 20 years, Allyson represented the Kimberly-Clark Corp. in commercials for Depends and championed the importance of research in urological and gynecological diseases in seniors.

"Mom was always so proud of representing a product that provided such a service to senior citizens, including at that time, her own mother," Powell said.

The company established the June Allyson Foundation in honor of her work.

In 1988, she was appointed by President Reagan to the federal Council on Aging.

"For nearly 60 years, we have been hearing how much she meant to so many people from all over the world. She still gets fan mail from places like Germany and Holland. They send old photos. It was wonderful to us," Powell said.

Besides Ashrow and her children, she is survived by her brother, Dr. Arthur Peters, and her grandson, Richard Logan Powell.

A private family memorial will be held in Ojai. A day of remembrance will be scheduled in the fall, her daughter said.
World Cup W-L record

The Hollywood script would've had Zinedine Zidane's cracking header in the 104th minute smack the back of the net, not the right glove of Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. It would've been the perfect ending to the career of one of the all-time greats, with Zidane walking off the field one last time as a world champion.

Such art would not be imitated by life. Instead, Zidane did his best Wayne Rooney impression.

Six minutes after nearly scoring the go-ahead goal, Zidane let his frustration get the best of him after exchanging trash talk with Italy's Marco Materazzi. Zidane's blatant charging head butt into Materazzi's chest dropped the Italian defender to the ground and drew a deserved red card from referee Horacio Elizondo. That stunning turn of unsportsmanlike events deflated France's hopes for a second World Cup title as Italy went on to win on penalty kicks (unless you thought the French weren't toast without Zidane and substituted stars Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry).

Up until Sunday, this World Cup had been transformed into Zidane's farewell tour, with his rejuvenated 34-year-old legs showing off the skills that earned him three World Player of the Year awards. We should remember Zizou's magic when looking back on Germany 2006, but the fact Zidane lost his cool in the heat of the world's biggest soccer game places him among both the World Cup winners and World Cup losers.

Here's the complete scoreboard from 30 days and 64 games of the world's biggest sporting event:

WINNER: Fabio Grosso – As the story goes, the Italian defender was playing fourth division soccer just five years ago. (The American parallel: A beer-league softball player getting signed by the Yankees and then starring in the World Series.) Grosso is now an international hero after converting the two biggest shots in Italy's run to a fourth world championship. His one-timed strike against Germany at the end of overtime sent Italy to the finals, and his penalty kick capped the shootout victory over France.

WINNER: Fabio Cannavaro – Italy's little big man in central defense put on a textbook display every time out. The Juventus star routinely beat taller forwards to the ball and snuffed out scoring chances with speed, agility and toughness. If you can't fully grasp what the Italian captain did for the Azzuri, think of Ben Wallace dominating on D – but by a guy standing just 5-foot-9. Given the circumstances surrounding Zidane exit, Cannavaro would have been a more-deserving recipient of the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player.

LOSER: Francesco Totti – Was he even on the field for Italy's last two games? The match reports indicate he was. Granted, Totti was nowhere near 100-percent fitness after hurrying to recover from a broken ankle in February, but the AS Roma star is simply too talented not to make some type of impact. Other than his winning penalty kick against Australia, Totti was invisible.

WINNER: Franck Ribery – The argument could be made that Ribery was France's most consistent player in its run to the championship match. In a lineup full of thirtysomething legs, Ribery helped provide the pace in the French attack and was relentless in applying pressure on the opposition. Widely regarded as the best player in France's top league last season, the Marseille winger was already being sought by the Man Us and AC Milans of the soccer world. It's safe to say he raised his stock even higher.

WINNER: Jurgen Klinsmann – It wasn't long ago that the German media and fans nitpicked him for his L.A.-to-Germany commute and then ripped him for his team's lackluster play in the run-up to the Cup (a 4-1 loss to Italy had people calling for his head). But after leading the Germans to a third-place finish, Klinsmann is being hailed in his home country as a hero and suddenly finds himself in big demand (at least by wishful-thinking American soccer fans). Klinsmann didn't win the tournament, but he accomplished what he set out to do: prove that his country can play attractive attacking soccer.

WINNERS: Shameless divers – The caution-happy referees ruined the tournament further by rewarding bad acting, as forwards fell down in the box if a defender so much as breathed on them. If FIFA was serious about eliminating diving, it would increase the degree of difficulty by reviewing the offenders' fake actions and suspending them after the fact, just like it does with overly aggressive tackles. Until then, players will continue to imitate Greg Louganis/David Hasselhoff.

LOSER: Ronaldinho – Like his teammates, the reigning World Player of the Year kept it in cruise control, failing to show a sense of urgency until Brazil fell behind in the second half against France. He had one last chance to rescue the Brazilians (and salvage his own poor World Cup), but his 89th-minute free kick from close range sailed over the cross bar as the French recorded the upset of the tournament. Ronaldo was ridiculed for being overweight, but at least he scored.

LOSER: Frank Lampard – Yes, Rooney's red card against Portugal was costly, but England's scoring problems can be directly attributed to Lampard's offensive ineptness. The Chelsea midfielder failed to score a single goal despite attempting a tournament-best 24 shots, and his passing touch was uncharacteristically off. He also missed the first penalty kick in England's shootout loss to Portugal. Lampard may be one of the world's most complete midfielders, but you couldn't tell by his showing in Germany.

LOSERS (AND WINNERS?): Manchester United – Their 20-year-old star striker (Rooney) lost his temper yet again after being sent off in the quarterfinals against Portugal. Their 21-year-old star winger (Cristiano Ronaldo) no longer wants to play in the Premiership because of the flak he's getting in England for his involvement in Rooney's red card. Sir Alex Ferguson may have to find replacements for Ronaldo and Ruud van Nistelrooy. … Then again, if it's true that Italy coach Marcello Lippi will become an assistant/heir apparent to Sir Alex – and that Italy's match-fixing scandal will make free agents out of its star players – then guess where some of that talent could land?

LOSER: Jose Pekerman – Turns out, the only person in Germany who could stop Argentine teen wonder Lionel Messi was his coach (now former coach). Pekerman inexplicably left the game-changing Messi on the bench in the quarterfinal loss to Germany, opting to substitute Hernan Crespo for Julio Cruz. He also yanked star midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme for no good reason late in the second half, too. Argentina had played the best soccer of the tournament at that point and should have gone farther had Pekerman's meddling not gotten in the way.

WINNERS: Australia and Ukraine – The Socceroos made the most of their first Cup final appearance in 32 years by reaching the round of 16, where they gave Italy one of its toughest games in a 1-0 loss. Ukraine didn't play the prettiest soccer but managed to use its archaic Soviet style of play (known as "collectivism") to advance to the quarters.

LOSER: Landon Donovan – Bruce Arena gets most of the blame for the United States' embarrassing performance – why, all of a sudden, go conservative with a single striker? – but Donovan deserves his share of the criticism for yet another disappearing act in Deutschland. Having failed in two separate stints with Bayer Leverkusen in the German Bundesliga, Donovan had that deer-in-the-headlights look again, never wanting the ball, and when he did gain possession, he was incapable of generating scoring chances. His decision to pass and not shoot inside the penalty area against Ghana will be his signature 2006 World Cup lowlight.

LOSER: U.S. Soccer Federation – And they thought the last-place finish in France '98 was rock bottom. After investing so much time and money the last eight years to put American soccer on track to win the World Cup by 2010, U.S. Soccer suffered a setback bigger than the France debacle, especially after the progress made four years ago in Korea/Japan. With the "greatest America side ever assembled" (at least, that's how ESPN/ABC billed it) crashing before the knockout stages and ending up last in its group, there are more questions than ever about the U.S. national team. Arena is right about one thing, though: For America to become the world's best, it needs its top players to go overseas and play against the best. That, and widen the talent pool by mining the inner cities for better athletes.
Zidane wins World Cup's best player award, despite red card

BERLIN -- France captain Zinedine Zidane, sent off for head-butting Marco Materazzi late in Sunday's World Cup final loss to Italy, won the Golden Ball award for the tournament's best player.

The results were released Monday morning in Berlin by FIFA.

Zidane polled 2012 points in the vote by journalists covering the tournament, beating Italians Fabio Cannavaro (1977 points) and Andrea Pirlo (715 points) in the ballot.

Zidane, who put France ahead with a penalty kick in the opening minutes, was given a red card after slamming his head into Materazzi's chest during the tense second period of extra time.

It was his last act as a professional player and one that was widely criticized in France and abroad.

With the score locked 1-1 after 120 minutes the French missed Zidane's prowess in the penalty shootout, which Italy calmly won 5-3 to collect its fourth World Cup title.

Zidane, 34, a former international player of the year and 1998 World Cup champion, announced last month that he was retiring from soccer after the tournament.

He wasn't particularly outstanding in France's opening draws with Switzerland and South Korea and missed the last group match against Togo due to suspension. But Zidane produced some vintage performances in the wins over Spain, Brazil and Portugal in the knockout phase.

Voting for the 2006 Golden Ball closed at midnight Sunday. In previous tournaments, the ballot has closed at halftime in the final and the winner announced soon after the match.

Italy captain Cannavaro led an Italian defense that conceded only two goals in the tournament: an own-goal against the United States and Zidane's penalty. The final was his 100th cap for Italy.

"I got my award, that's it right there," Cannavaro said, gesturing toward the World Cup trophy sitting on the table in front of him. "I'm extremely pleased with what I have."

With fellow central defender Alessandro Nesta injured, Cannavaro played every minute of Italy's seven games.

Many pundits tipped Cannavaro as the winner, including 1986 winner Diego Maradona.

"Fabio Cannavaro was the best player of this World Cup," the Argentine great said. "Yes, it was a tournament without one dominant player, but Fabio was huge."

Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn won the Golden Ball in 2002. Other previous winners were Brazilians Ronaldo (1998) and Romario ('94) and Italy's Salvatore Schillaci ('90).

Germany striker Miroslav Klose was the Golden Shoe winner for the tournament's leading scorer. He won with five goals. Ronaldo won the award in 2002 with eight goals.
Italy basks in glory of fourth World Cup victory, a distraction from scandal at home

ROME -- Italians basked in the glory of their team's fourth and hard-fought World Cup victory on Monday -- a welcome distraction from the match-fixing scandal that has tainted Italian soccer.

Fans celebrated throughout the country well into Monday morning, hitting the streets in droves. Many set off fireworks; others stripped down to their underwear and jumped into fountains.

In Rome, people climbed into and up the historic Trevi fountain, screaming, waving flags and mocking the French. Some clashed with police at a central square by the French embassy.

"Italy of champions," screamed the banner headline across the Milan newspaper Corriere della Sera.

"It's all true! World champions" headlined the front page of La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Italy's 5-3 victory over France in a penalty shootout Sunday temporarily set aside concerns about verdicts expected this week in the match-fixing trial that could relegate four teams and 13 of Italy's 23 players to lower divisions.

"It doesn't matter. We won, that's it," said Federica D'Acuti, 26, who was celebrating Italy's victory near Rome's Colosseum early Monday. "We showed that we're not just all about scandal in Italy. We showed that we're strong still."

Some insisted that the current investigation helped inspire the players.

"If the scandal hadn't happened I think we wouldn't have won the World Cup," Italy's midfielder Gennaro Gattuso said. "It has given us more strength."

But the day of reckoning is not far off.

"It is not going to go away," said Alfonso Franco, a 20-year-old mechanic. "We have to deal with this scandal, whether or not we won the World Cup."
Barbaro's recovery slowed by complications

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. - Barbaro's road to recovery has been slowed by recent infections, but his owners remain hopeful those are only minor setbacks for the Kentucky Derby winner.

After a relatively smooth recovery, Barbaro underwent three procedures in less than a week, the latest for a new infection and "potentially serious" complications to his injured right hind leg.

"He was definitely not comfortable and they found the source of the discomfort and did something about it," owner Gretchen Jackson said Monday. "He was a lot more comfortable yesterday and, as I understand it, even better today."

Barbaro developed an infection in the leg in which a titanium plate and 27 screws were inserted after he shattered three bones at the start of the Preakness on May 20.

After Barbaro showed discomfort and had a "consistently" high fever, the plate and screws were replaced and the infection treated late Saturday night.

"It's one of those setbacks that we've prepared ourselves for as best we can," Jackson said. "Sure it's disappointing, but we've been warned. ... But a lot of bone has healed, a lot. There's a lot of good stuff. And the horse is incredibly strong, healthy and we've got to keep the faith."

Surgery was performed by Dr. Dean Richardson at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center, where Barbaro has been recovering in the intensive care unit.

In a statement released by the hospital Sunday, Richardson emphasized that the complications are "potentially serious."

"Barbaro had developed some discomfort and a consistently elevated temperature so we believed it was in his best interest to remove the hardware and thoroughly clean the site of the infection," Richardson said. "We also applied a longer cast on that leg for additional support."

Last Monday, Barbaro had the cast on his injured leg replaced and three new screws inserted. On Wednesday, another new cast was applied after the horse showed discomfort. Barbaro is also being treated for a small abscess on the sole of his left hind hoof, according to the hospital.

Richardson said Barbaro's main fracture is healing well, but the pastern joint — located above the hoof which was shattered into more than 20 pieces — continues to be a concern. The joint, which doctors are attempting to fuse, was stabilized with "new implants and a fresh bone graft."

"Maybe we've been lucky that we haven't had any big problems," owner Roy Jackson said. "Then a little problem like this crops up. The whole recovery is a difficult thing."

Barbaro took longer to recover from the anesthesia from Saturday's procedure. Richardson said the colt was back in his stall and receiving pain medication, antibiotics and "other supportive care."

The Jacksons, who live in nearby West Grove, Pa., and trainer Michael Matz continue to visit twice daily, the statement said.

"He looks all right," Roy Jackson said. "He looks fairly bright."

Doctors have said it could be months before they know if the colt can survive what has been called catastrophic injuries that leave him vulnerable to infection and other life-threatening complications.

Barbaro won the Kentucky Derby by 6 1/2 lengths, was unbeaten in six races and expected to make a Triple Crown bid before his misstep early in the Preakness ended his racing career. He was taken to the New Bolton Center hours after breaking down at Pimlico Race Course and underwent five hours of surgery the next day.

At that time, Richardson said the chances of the horse's survival were 50-50.

July 09, 2006

Italy 1, France 1 (Italy wins shootout 5-3)

BERLIN -- The beautiful game turned vicious, even venomous Sunday.

It was all still beautiful to Italy.

And very ugly for France, which lost captain Zinedine Zidane with a red card after his nasty head butt in extra time, and then went down 5-3 in a shootout after a 1-1 draw.

Explanations were nonexistent for Zidane's action in the 110th minute of his farewell game. He was walking upfield near defender Marco Materazzi when, in his final act for his national team, he bashed his shaven head into Materazzi's chest.

"I have not seen the replays, but if it's voluntary then there's nothing you can say," France coach Raymond Domenech said. "But it's a shame. It's sad. He (Materazzi) did a lot of acting and for such a big man, a gust of wind made him fall over."

Not quite. Zidane, who is retiring, might have been provoked, but he definitely knocked over Materazzi.

"It's regrettable. We regret it, he regrets it," Domenech said.

Without their leader, the French still had their chance in the shootout. But the Italians, never masters of the penalty kick, made all five, setting off an hour of hugging, dancing and fist-pumping celebrations.

"This squad showed great heart," Gennaro Gattuso said. "Maybe it wasn't pretty, but we were hard to beat."

They were impossible to beat and gave up only one goal actually scored by an opponent. And no, it was not pretty.

Outplayed for an hour and into extra time, the Italians won it after Zidane committed the ugliest act of a tournament that set records for yellow and red cards, diving and, at times, outright brutality.

Asked if French soccer would miss Zidane, Domenech said:

"Yes, well, he was missed in the last 20 minutes tonight. It weighed heavily in the outcome."

Without their leader for the shootout, the French only missed once. But Italy was perfect. Fabio Grosso clinched the Azzurri's fourth championship, and his teammates had to chase him halfway across the pitch to celebrate.

"It's incredibly emotional. Words can hardly describe it," Grosso said. "Maybe we still don't realize what we have achieved. We really wanted to win and in the end we made it."

Only Brazil has more World Cups, five.

Until now, no team since the last Azzurri champions in 1982 had to endure the stress and anguish of a soccer scandal. Rather than be disrupted by the current probe ripping apart the national sport back home, the Italians survived.

"If the scandal hadn't happened I think we wouldn't have won the World Cup," Gattuso said. "It has given us more strength."

Verdicts in the match-fixing trial that could relegate four teams -- and 13 of Italy's 23 players -- to lower divisions are expected next week.

France underwent a renaissance of its own in the last month. The French, racked by dissension, nearly went out in the first round for the second straight World Cup, and then Zidane turned them around. They controlled the flow of play Sunday, only to fail to finish through 120 minutes.

Their only goal, Zidane's penalty kick in the seventh minute, was the lone score by an Italy opponent in seven games.

But the Italians put the ball into the net 12 minutes later on Materazzi's header off a corner kick. And then they held on in a game marked by sloppiness and maliciousness.

Rarely did Italy threaten over the final 75 minutes. But the Azzurri ignored recent history -- they lost a quarterfinal shootout to France in 1998, when Les Bleus went on to their only championship.

Andrea Pirlo, Materazzi, Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Del Piero all easily beat France goalkeeper Fabien Barthez in the shootout. The difference was the miss by rarely used David Trezeguet, which hit the crossbar on France's second attempt.

When Grosso connected with his left foot, the sliver of Italian fans in the opposite corner of Olympic Stadium finally could let out their breath -- and screams of victory.

"We had fear of the penalties," said Gattuso, aware that Italy lost the only other final decided in a shootout, to Brazil in 1994. "Our history was not great, so that was the fear."

On the trophy stand, amid hugs and slaps on the back, Materazzi placed a red, white and green top hat on the World Cup Trophy. Captain Fabio Cannavaro then held it high as cameras flashed everywhere. An impromptu Tarantella by the players followed as silver confetti fluttered around them.

It was, by far, the prettiest sight of the night.

"I've won many championships," coach Marcello Lippi said, "but a joy so big I have never felt."

With a 25-game unbeaten streak dating back nearly two years, the Italians added this title to their championships in 1934, 1938 and '82 -- when another match-fixing investigation plagued Serie A.

The hero then in Spain was striker Paolo Rossi, fresh off a two-year suspension for his role in match-fixing. This time, there were a dozen stars and a coach who seemed to make all the right moves.

Italy won its first-round group over the higher-ranked United States and Czech Republic, and Ghana. Then it beat Australia on a controversial penalty in the second-half extra time that Francesco Totti converted.

It routed Ukraine 3-0 before depressing the host nation with two stunning goals in the final minutes of extra time for a semifinal win over Germany.

Gianluigi Buffon made the save of the final match in the 104th minute as the ever-dangerous Zidane fed Willy Sagnol on the wing and then slipped into the area. Sagnol's cross was headed into the top of the net with the Italian keeper soared high to knock it over.

By then, the sea of blue supporters for both teams seemed as exhausted as the players. The crowd let out a short gasp, and then it was back to the tense and tentative action.

Zidane used his head again in the 110th, albeit the wrong way, and almost got away it. Argentine referee Horacio Elizondo didn't see the butt, and Buffon charged out of his net imploring Elizondo to seek help.

The ref finally asked his assistant on the sideline, then pulled out the red card.

For the remaining extra time, the fans whistled their displeasure.

"We prepared exactly how we needed to be at the top. You could see that in the second half and in extra time," Domenech said. "Once again we were largely superior to our opponents."

Both sides played nervous, sloppy soccer for 120 minutes, hardly befitting a World Cup final. There were far more mistakes than inspiration.

France's Thierry Henry went down in the first minute in a seemingly innocent collision with the impregnable Cannavaro. Henry stayed on the ground, clearly dazed, for two minutes before being helped off with an ice bag held to his head.

The striker soon came back and his first touch, naturally, was a header. It was a terrific one, too, falling at the feet of a breaking Florent Malouda.

Malouda stumbled -- many might say dived -- in the penalty area and Elizondo immediately signaled a penalty kick.

Zidane, whose penalty beat Portugal in the semifinals, lobbed it right as Buffon dived the other way. The ball struck the crossbar and fell 2 feet inside the net in the seventh minute.

For the rest of the half, the French showed little of the flair that carried them this far. And Italy tied it with one of its strengths: a set piece.

Mauro Camoranesi won a corner kick on right wing and was setting up to take it when Andrea Pirlo signaled Camoranesi to back off. Pirlo took the corner, a perfect spiral that found the head of defender Materazzi above France's Patrick Vieira.

Materazzi's header soared past goalkeeper Fabien Barthez to tie it.

Luca Toni hit the crossbar off another corner kick in the 36th.

Henry had the best opportunity in the second half, but Buffon lunged left to hand-save his right-footed drive. France got a scare, too, when Zidane fell on his right arm and shoulder and needed freeze spray applied before staying in.