All Owen needs is seven minutes

KEITH BRADFORD -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:09 AM ET

It'll be the seven-minute game. With three points at stake.

Which, of course, should suit Real Madrid's Michael Owen down to the ground.

Who else has more experience of running onto the field with just a few minutes left than the world's most expensive supersub?

Heck, they should even make him captain. If only for seven minutes.

Some clever entrepreneurs could print up "I saw Michael Owen play the whole game - for seven minutes'' T-shirts for all the fans.

And it would all be a very welcome distraction from the real reason the seven-minute game has been planned.

A bomb threat, reportedly from the Basque separatist group ETA, forced players, staff and about 72,000 fans to flee the Bernabeu Sunday with less than three minutes left to play.

Madrid and Real Sociedad were tied 1-1, so the final three minutes and four minutes of overtime are to be replayed Jan. 5.

The fact that officials decided to replay the game - or at least the remaining minutes - should be applauded.

If the score had been allowed to stand, there's no doubt it would have created a dangerous precedent - one which could have encouraged "bomb scares'' in other sporting events.

But this seven-minute game will still go down as one of the most bizarre in the history of soccer.

Given the fact it was created by a bomb scare, officials and team staff will no doubt try to ensure that everything about the game is as normal and low-key as possible. Which will probably mean a defensive-minded, boring affair.

But I can't help thinking it would be a whole lot more exciting if both teams agreed to pull their goalies.

Then those poor fans would at least have something to cheer about.

And Michael Owen might even score.

Some flip-flop thinking

It's the same problem the world over - in virtually every team sport.

How do you make superstar players with inflated egos accountable to the fans?

Simple, according to supporters of Brazilian soccer team Palmeiras.

Just pelt them with flip-flops.

That was the plan anyway. An organized supporters group known as Mancha Verde (Green Stain) apparently co-ordinated efforts to arm fans with flip-flops.

Why? Because the footwear represents the "sandals of humility'' - a quality apparently lacking in Palmeiras players.

Unfortunately (Oh come on, flip-flops aren't going to hurt anyone), police uncovered the plot and the offending footwear was confiscated before the game kicked off.

The only consolation was that the players seemed to get the message. They won 3-2.


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