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Pele Praises U.S. Soccer 'Almost Same Level Of Europe'

4/24/2016 12:45 AM PDT

The level of soccer in the U.S. is getting dangerously close to the elite leagues in Europe ... so says the greatest player of all time, Pele

TMZ Sports spoke with the Brazilian soccer legend at a Hublot watch event in NYC Tuesday -- and the 75-year-old told us Team USA has made SERIOUS improvements since he played with the NY Cosmos back in the '70s. 

And while Pele wouldn't predict when Team USA would finally win the World Cup -- saying "football is a book of surprise" -- he did praise Team USA coach Jurgen Klinsmann

All in all, some pretty encouraging stuff from the Brazilian legend.

Akon Don't Move The World Cup!!! It Belongs In Qatar

3/27/2016 12:35 AM PDT

There's at least one huge figure who believes the 2022 World Cup still belongs in Qatar ... Akon ... who says despite rampant corruption and human rights violations ... the event should stay put.

Akon is a HUGE international soccer fan so when we got him out at LAX we had to ask ... should the 2022 WC be relocated out of Qatar due to all of the turmoil surrounding the country right now?

That turmoil includes investigations into how Qatar got the bid in the first place (allegations of bribery and widespread impropriety) and the now well known putrid conditions for workers working to get the event ready.

Check out the clip -- Akon is undeterred by any of that stuff and tells us keeping the tournament in the desert nation can serve to prove we can all celebrate even when we disagree.

If you say so bro.

Carli Lloyd Agony of Da Feet Screw These Heels, I'm Going Barefoot!

7/16/2015 6:45 AM PDT

Carli Lloyd is tough ... really tough ... but there's a limit to how much pain she'll tolerate when it comes to high heeled shoes. 

After running around all night long for the ESPYs -- Carli finally had enough with her painful kicks ... and hit the dirty, gross streets of Hollywood ... barefoot.

But the best moment ... when Lloyd got into her waiting SUV with her fiance, we asked if he was actually going to be allowed to attend the World Cup matches in 2019, since Carli forbade him from coming this year. 

His answer is brutally honest. 

Cobi Jones On U.S. Women's Team: No Way They Beat the Men!

7/14/2015 8:59 AM PDT

Sorry ladies, there won't be any "Battle of the Sexes" Billie Jean King moment if the U.S. Women's soccer team plays the men ... 'cause the champs would get rocked ... so says Cobi Jones

It's an interesting question ... considering the women just DOMINATED their way through the World Cup and seemed virtually unstoppable. But could they hang with the guys? 

"No ... not yet," Jones says. 

"I have a feeling it's probably gonna be a long time before that happens. But right now I don't think that's probably in the cards."

As for the men, Cobi's obviously a big fan of the U.S.M.N.T. -- but says they're still a "long ways" away from doing what the women did ... and taking home the big trophy. 

"It's not an easy thing to do."

Team USA's Ashlyn Harris Obama Has a Crush On Carli Lloyd!

7/8/2015 6:20 AM PDT

The entire country is OBSESSED with Carli Lloyd ... including the President ... so says Team USA's Ashlyn Harris who tells us the squad thinks POTUS has a little crush on #10. 

Ashlyn -- one of the goalkeepers on the US team -- was at LAX when she told us one of the coolest post-World Cup moments was when the gang got a call from President Obama. 

Harris says POTUS congratulated the team and officially invited them to the White House -- but says afterward, the ladies thought Obama seemed a little smitten with the Queen of the Hat Trick

Hey, can't blame the guy ... GO USA! 

Team USA's Heather O'Reilly Adidas Hooked Up Yeezys ... For Free!

7/7/2015 2:58 PM PDT

Memba when we told you Team USA soccer star Heather O'Reilly was rockin' a pair of Yeezys when she got off the team jet at LAX? Turns out she got 'em for free .. courtesy of Adidas

O'Reilly was leaving the victory rally at L.A. Live today when she told us the super-exclusive (and expensive) kicks were gifted to her. Teammate Becky Sauerbrunn also had a pair -- we're guessing they were also free. 

It's a pretty brilliant move by Adidas ... which got some major sneaker exposure while every single member of Team USA was rockin' championship shirts made by Nike.


Women's World Cup To the Winners ... Go the Yeezys!

7/7/2015 8:31 AM PDT

Nothing goes better with a brand new World Cup ... than a slick new pair of YEEZYS ... just ask the ladies from Team USA. 

Christie Rampone got off the team jet with the trophy in her hands ... and the new ultra-exclusive Yeezy Boost sneakers on her feet. Teammates Heather O'Reilly and Becky Sauerbrunn also had the shoes. 

The kicks are still super hard to get ... and selling for hundreds of dollars (some in the thousands) in the secondary market. 

No word if the champs bought 'em themselves or got 'em as a congratulatory gift -- but either way, they look good. 


Carli Lloyd Banned Fiance From Final Game 'No Distractions'

7/6/2015 10:46 AM PDT

World Cup hero Carli Lloyd BLOCKED her fiance from attending the championship match yesterday -- and says it was for the good of the team ... and their relationship. 

Lloyd just appeared on FOX Sports 1 and explained that her fiance Brian Hollins WANTED to come to the game ... and made plans to attend ... until Lloyd found out and shut him down. 

"My fiance Brian was coming until I kinda made sure he wasn't coming," Lloyd said ... "and then he quickly changed his mind 'cause he figured we might not get married if he did show up."

Check out the clip ... Lloyd explains that she doesn't like when her friends and family attend her games because it's a distraction. 

Instead, Brian watched the game at a restaurant in New Jersey

Can't argue with results. 

Abby Wambach World Cup Kiss a Huge Score For Worldwide Gay Rights

7/6/2015 9:21 AM PDT

Abby Wambach isn’t afraid of the big moment, and she seized one right after the World Cup when she locked lips with her wife in front of a global TV audience.

Moments after the final whistle ... Abby sprinted off field to celebrate with her wife, Sarah Huffman. It was an especially big (even historic) moment for gay rights -- coming on the heels of the Supreme Court decision, and happening on one of the biggest sports stages possible.

The nation got to see Michael Sam have his draft day kiss with his boyfriend, but that's nothing compared to the over 21 million worldwide viewers that saw Abby's PDA.

Check out the video for the kiss seen round the world.

Team USA Poppin' Bottles Like Champs ... In Locker Room Turn Up

7/6/2015 7:02 AM PDT

To the victors ... go the BOTTLES OF CHAMPAGNE!!! 

Moments after crushing Japan and taking back the World Cup, the U.S. Women's National Team partied their faces off in an epic locker room celebration. 

Check out the pics ... Carli Lloyd, Abby Wambach, Sydney Leroux and the rest of the gang turned all the way up. 

Go USA! 

Carli Lloyd Instagram Explodes After Hat Trick ... 100,000 New Followers

7/6/2015 6:33 AM PDT

Carli Lloyd has become VERY popular after her legendary performance in the World Cup finals last night ... racking up more than 100,000 new Instagram followers in less than 24 hours. 

Lloyd was sitting at roughly 226k when Team USA took the field ... but 3 goals later ... and now she's already up to 340k -- not bad. 

Similar trend on Twitter -- where she was at 302k during the game ... and now she's at 370k. 


Arsenal's Mesut Ozil I'm Huge in Hollywood Just Ask These Blondes!

6/17/2015 10:53 AM PDT

International soccer superstar Mesut Ozil is conquering the U.S. ... at least in the Hollywood club scene ... where he's been MOBBED by fans and paparazzi all week long. 

The 26-year-old Arsenal star -- who won the World Cup with Germany last year -- got the rock star treatment at Bootsy Bellow's nightclub on the Sunset Strip.

We asked what he thought of the U.S. Women's soccer team -- and it sounded like he told us, "They look real good."

While Ozil left the club solo last night, he had more than his share of ladies on Sunday night ... when he left Henry's with TWO hot blondes. 

Soccer -- who says Americans don't care?! 

Barack Obama We Need to Fix FIFA 'Cause We're Good At Soccer Now

6/8/2015 1:15 PM PDT
Breaking News

President Barack Obama is finally weighing in on the international FIFA scandal -- saying it's important for the U.S. to make sure the sport is clean ... because the Americans are good at it now!! 

Obama was at the G7 Summit in Germany when he said, "I will say that in conversations I’ve had here, in Europe, people think it is very important for FIFA to be able to operate with integrity and transparency and accountability."

“And so, as the investigation and charges proceed, I think we have to keep in mind that although football -- or soccer, depending on which side of the Atlantic you live on -- ​is a game, it’s also a massive business, it’s a source of incredible national pride, and people want to make sure that it operates with integrity."

"The United States, by the way, since we keep on getting better and better at each World Cup, we want to make sure that a sport that is gaining popularity is conducted in an upright manner."

Suck on THAT Zlatan ... 

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