Samurai Blue Bound for Brazil
Japan is the first country to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The berth to Brazil was booked late Tuesday in Saitama when Keisuke Honda netted a last-minute penalty against Australia.
His score drew the Samurai Blue even with the Socceroos at 1-1, enough for Japan to clinch a trip to the 2014 finals.
Centennial for U.S. Soccer
U.S. Soccer is 100 years old.
The football association formally celebrated its centennial Saturday with a Gala Dinner at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C.
U.S. Soccer was originally founded in 1913 as the United States Football Association.
Among the attendees Saturday were U.S. Soccer president and recently elected FIFA Ex-Co member Sunil Gulati as well as CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb.
Also a FIFA vice president, Webb presented a commemorative plaque to Gulati on behalf of FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who could not attend.
U.S. men count nine FIFA World Cup appearances in the past 100 years, their best finish third in 1930.
U.S. women have placed on the podium in all six FIFA Women’s World Cups so far, winning the tournament in 1991 and 1999.
Former Finnish FA Chief, 74
Former Football Association of Finland President Pekka Hämäläinen is being remembered as “a vastly respected servant of football” at home and abroad.
Hämäläinen died Tuesday at age 74 after a long illness.
“We have lost a person whose merits in developing football in Finland are enormous,” current SPL-FBF president Pertti Alaja was quoted by UEFA.com.
“We will all deeply miss Pekka, who was a true servant of the game. He had a heart of football gold. His good humor always touched everyone around him. There is so much we should thank him for.”
Hämäläinen headed the SPL-FBF from 1997 to 2009, during which time Finland hosted the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2003 as well as three UEFA finas: Under-18 in 2001, Women’s Under-19 in 2004 and Women’s EURO in 2009.
He also served as a member of the UEFA Committee for the European Championship (1998–2000), as vice-chairman of the Assistance Programs Committee (2000–06) and as first vice-chairman of the UEFA Legal Committee (2007-11).
Hämäläinen’s career in football administration followed success on the field with HIFK Helsinki, which he helped to win the Finnish championship in 1961 and with which he worked in various capacities after his retirement as a player.
By INSIDER’s Matthew Grayson
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