"It is said that every new nation or groups making claims to nationhood needs to have a national football team, otherwise you may as well not exist in the first place. The late historian Eric Hobsbawm once declared: “The imagined community of millions seems more real as a team of eleven named people. The individual, even the one who only cheers, becomes a symbol of his nation himself.” So, in the absence of recognition by formal political bodies, recognition by the Fédération Internationale de Football Associated (FIFA)—which is larger than the United Nations—can be a boon in struggles for political self-determination." Now Western Sahara is trying some football diplomacy of their own.
A FIFA-charterd independent ethic committee has suspended FIFA President Sepp Blatter from all football-related activities for eight years. The decision takes effect immediately. [more inside]
In honor of Thanksgiving, Sports Illustrated presents their 2015 Turkeys of the Year slideshow.
Less than half of FIFA’s national federations have girls soccer programs. Those that do exist give a girl less access to facilities, less support, and poorer development pathways than her brother. She will play in competitions with less investment, minimal promotion, and consequently fewer fans than the all-important male versions. Media coverage will amplify this skew, battling age-old preconceptions and making her all but invisible in the mainstream. Administrators preoccupied with the men’s game will struggle to meet her needs. (SLNYT)
Suspended Fifa president Sepp Blatter has suggested there was an agreement in place for Russia to host the 2018 World Cup - before the vote took place. The 79-year-old told Russian news agency Tass of a "discussion" in 2010 about future World Cups.
BBC: Swiss prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation against Sepp Blatter, the head of football's world governing body Fifa. Telegraph: Criminal proceedings have been opened against him by the Swiss attorney general on two issues: a TV rights deal that FIFA signed with Jack Warner's Caribbean Football Union and an alleged "disloyal payment" of two million Swiss francs made in 2011 to UEFA president Michel Platini. Guardian: Office of the Fifa president has been searched and data seized. LA Times: The new investigation targeting Blatter involves “suspicion of criminal mismanagement as well as -- alternatively -- on suspicion of misappropriation,” according to Swiss Atty. Gen. Michael Lauber.
The Grass Ceiling: How to Conquer Inequality in Women's Soccer [Atlantic link] An attorney who helped players file a gender-discrimination lawsuit over artificial turf in the World Cup proposes a way forward for the sport. [more inside]
16 teams remain in the FIFA 2015 Women's World Cup as we enter the knockout stages. Let's review the 16 survivors, how they got there, and how far they might go. [more inside]
United Passions started out as a FIFA vanity project telling the story of the men who helped found the organization. Then one month before the film's release in theaters, Fourteen FIFA officials were arrested on corruption charges (previously) and president Sepp Blatter announced he would step down from his post. Now, in the wake of incredibly dismal box office and rock bottom ratings on both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, Both director Frederic Auburtin and star Tim Roth (who portrays Blatter in the film) have publicly come out against the film and apologized for their involvement.
While FIFA may be in a bit of a getting caught with their hands in the cookie factory, as we're discussing over here the game goes on, as the highest level of international competition has begun in the Women's Game, the FIFA 2015 Women's World Cup. [more inside]
FIFA officials, in Zurich for their annual meeting, were arrested this morning by Swiss authorities. They will be extradited to the United States to face charges of wire fraud, racketeering, and money laundering.
Russia and Qatar World Cups are 'insane' due to homophobia, says Robbie Rogers. Soccer/Football's first openly gay player, RR has things on his mind. Will Klinsmann come around? On Mefi Previously.
10 football (soccer) experiments that were doomed to failure.
"It is an unbelievable goal. Both feet, over her shoulder. It is totally instinctive. The technique and contact required to volley a ball that is coming over your head is amazing. If Wayne Rooney or Ronaldo had done something like that you would be talking about it for years. It is the best of the three."And the nominees for the FIFA goal of the year are James Rodriguez, Robin van Persie and Stephanie Roche, the first woman football player to ever have been a finalist for the Puskas Award, beating out people like Diego Costa and Zlatan Ibrahimović.
"It involved four international teams and an empty stadium, no ticket sales and yet the game was (open) for betting," Steans explains. "I sat and watched match fixers with a briefcase full of cash to pay the referees."
With the completion of the group stages, three quarters of the matches in the 2014 FIFA World Cup have been played. Now, it's a straight round-by-round elimination for the remaining 16 teams in their quest to reach the final. There's been biting, alternative commentary, mood swings, (allegedly) sulky England players, exciting matches, the USA vs Ronaldo, Europeans taking early return flights, deep analysis, a fantasy league and many goals - but who will finally lift the trophy in Rio's Estádio do Maracanã on Sunday 13th July? [more inside]
"And looks like an almost goal. If that whole goal system would have been moved over maybe thirty more feet, we would have been looking at a goal." -- MeFi favorite Reggie Watts (previously) doing World Cup commentary alongside MeFi favorite Peter Serafinowicz (previously) on his Mixlr account, where Serafinowicz has been providing comedic commentary for the games for the last week. [via]
Karim Benzema is ticked off because you stretched out his favourite t-shirt. FIFA filmed every footballer present at the 2014 FIFA World Cup folding their arms and looking moody, to be used in VFX. Now, thanks to Josh Cluderay, you can find out why they look so pissed.
So earlier today Luis Suarez, striker for the Uruguay side, bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder during their respective teams' final group play match for the World Cup. This is not the first time he's done this--in fact, folks were taking bets that Suarez would bite someone during World Cup play. Biting is a major taboo in sports, and sure enough, Suarez is now facing a ban of up to 24 games by FIFA. Indeed, Suarez has a history of violent behavior and racist statements, even when you leave aside the biting incidents. And yet, despite all this, Suarez is generally regarded as one of the best soccer players in the world today. So it's fitting that, just before this year's World Cup began, ESPN published an essay by Wright Thompson (previously) on the many myths and contradictions that surround Luis Suarez.
Today sees the start of the final round of group games in the 2014 World Cup. Each day, there are 4 games, the final 2 games from each group. Both matches in each group will be played simultaneously, after a scheduling rule change by FIFA after an infamous 1982 World Cup Finals match. But last night, Algeria qualified for the knockout stages after beating South Korea 4-2. This is the first time in history an African team has scored 4 goals at the World Cup Finals.
Today at 6 PM Eastern, the United States plays Portugal in the World Cup. The United States has never been very successful in World Cup soccer (football), but it has come close. The United States shocked the world by coming in third in 1930 and again by defeating England in 1950. In 2002, the U.S. had an upset against Portugal, but could it happen again? Playing for Portugal is Cristiano Ronaldo, possibly the best player in the world, whose fancy footwork is legendary.
The Rise And Fall Of Chuck Blazer, The Man Who Built And Bilked American Soccer
BBC re-reports: Fifa is facing fresh allegations of corruption over its controversial decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. The Sunday Times has obtained millions of secret documents - emails, letters and bank transfers - which it alleges are proof that the disgraced Qatari football official Mohamed Bin Hammam made payments totalling US$5m (£3m) to football officials in return for their support for the Qatar bid.
The closest his memories usually come to the surface is when he insists those memories no longer hold any power over him. "All of this stuff," he says, "helped me realize that you have to be happy in life. I had my childhood. It was fun. I would never change my childhood." Twenty years after fleeing with his family from the Bosnian War, Vedad Ibasevic has led his national team to an appearance in the World Cup. But nothing can stay buried. [more inside]
"The indispensable English footballer whose metatarsal will snap four weeks before the 2022 World Cup is currently 12 years old, but Fifa is already worrying stagily about the temperature in which he will perform disappointingly. As for the 12-year-old Nepalese boy whose family are unwittingly saving for the chance to send him off in a few years to die laying the foundations of a stadio-mall, or the 12-year-old Qatari boy wondering not when his people voted for this, but whether they'll ever vote for anything at all … well, it would be much easier if people did not concern themselves with them." The Guardian summarizes the current issues over the staging of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
"On Sunday, Joseph S Blatter attended a ceremony on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius to celebrate the renaming of the country's FA headquarters in his honour. The Fifa president would perhaps say it was a fitting tribute, given his promotion of African football and the amount of "development" money poured into the continent over recent decades. His critics would say it was typical of his egomania and note the importance of African votes in keeping him atop world football for 15 years." [more inside]
"Organized crime gangs have fixed or tried to fix hundreds of soccer matches around the world in recent years, including World Cup and European Championship qualifiers and two Champions League games, Europol announced Monday. The European Union's police agency said an 18-month review found 380 suspicious matches in Europe and another 300 questionable games outside the continent, mainly in Africa, Asia and South and Central America. It also found evidence that a Singapore-based crime syndicate was involved in some of the match-fixing."* [more inside]
"The World's most popular game is also its most corrupt, with investigations into match fixing ongoing in more than 25 countries. Here's a mere sampling of events since the beginning of last year: Operation Last Bet rocked the Italian Football Federation, with 22 clubs and 52 players awaiting trial for fixing matches; the Zimbabwe Football Association banned 80 players from its national-team selection due to similar accusations; Lu Jun, the first Chinese referee of a World Cup match, was sentenced to five and a half years in prison for taking more than $128,000 in bribes to fix outcomes in the Chinese Super League; prosecutors charged 57 people with match fixing in the South Korean K-League, four of whom later died in suspected suicides; the team director of second-division Hungarian club REAC Budapest jumped off a building after six of his players were arrested for fixing games; and in an under-21 friendly, Turkmenistan reportedly beat Maldives 3-2 in a "ghost match" -- neither country knew about the contest because it never actually happened, yet bookmakers still took action and fixers still profited." [All the world is staged: Bribed players, fake games. Criminal syndicates can fix any match, anywhere.]
Brian Phillips of The Run of Play (previously) examines FIFA's history of corruption from the birth of sports sponsorship deals to a serious of mysterious deaths in South Africa before the 2010 World Cup and speculates about the future of embattled FIFA President Sepp Blatter. [more inside]
The most powerful presidential position in the world is having its election soon, and the incumbent has just been brought up before an ethics committee for investigation. The USA's best attempt at a candidate was shut out and couldn't even be nominated. The person who is supposed to be representing the US region has been found guilty of corruption several times. Could this result in a historic revote for the 2022 World Cup location? [more inside]
Pelé and Maradona: the glorious, ludicrous feud between soccer's two biggest stars. In the summer of 2000, FIFA, which does not understand computers, decided to celebrate the arrival of the millennium by hosting an online poll. Its object: to determine the best soccer player of the past 100 years, with the victor to be fêted at a gaudy banquet in Rome. The organizers of the vote assumed it would be won by Pelé, soccer's silky ambassador, who'd been cheerfully ensconced in his Greatest of All Time sinecure for 40 years.
The World Cup Final is almost here, only 24 hours and 30 minutes away: Sunday Night, 19:30 GMT [more inside]
Following the goal that wasn't a goal in the England vs Germany match and the illegal offsides goal in the Argentina vs Mexico match, FIFA President Sepp Blatter has apologized to the eliminated teams and said that goal line detection technology will be considered for future matches. [more inside]
One of the least edifying aspects of professional football [soccer] is the dive. Is it just part of the game, or something that, ahem, foreigners do? In 2006 FIFA rejected the use of video evidence to punish cheaters and although "simulation" is punished, when spotted by the referee, the problem remains. In the wake of (among others) a dodgy red card to Brazilian star Kaka in the 2010 World Cup, here's a handy guide to some of the best/worst dives about (inside) and how to tell when a player is faking it. [more inside]
I scored a goal in the FIFA World Cup Final. A series of short films produced by ESPN about players ranging from Uruguay's Alcides Ghiggia in 1950 to Italy's Marco Materazzi in 2006. [more inside]
The paradinha is a devastating penalty kick tactic popularized by Pelé in the 1970s, and increasingly adopted by Brazilian players. This week soccer's primary governing organization, FIFA, will discuss the maneuver as it prepares for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. As the Wall Street Journal [print version] explains: The paradinha (pronounced par-a-JEEN-ya) is performed on a penalty kick by the shooter, who pauses unexpectedly before striking the ball—or even swings his foot through the air several times—before making contact. It's designed to throw off the goalkeeper's timing. When executed properly, the move can have jaw-dropping results. [more inside]
The world of soccer has been rocked by a French player's game-defining handball in the much-anticipated qualifier match between France and Ireland. Thierry Henry has admitted to the offense, but said ultimately it is the duty of the linesman to make the call. His action and subsequent admission have drawn strong reactions, including attempts to vandalize his Wikipedia page. [more inside]
The Guardian recently published a beautiful article about Danish Dynamite, the '80s Danish national soccer (football) squad. Rob Smyth and Lars Eriksen write about how the success and failure of the national team highlighted national traits that Denmark has. The writing about the matches is among the most inspired I have ever read. [more inside]
A history of the online World Cup. Do you remember the first ever official FIFA world cup website? How much we've grown...
Pickles - The dog who won the World Cup. There were two amazing events that happened in London in 1966 that focused on the Jules Rimet Trophy (aka The World Cup): 1: England won; 2. the 15 inch, solid gold trophy tall was stolen, held to ransom, and then discovered in a bush by a dog called Pickles. The English FA had commisioned a base metal replica, which - after the Queen awarded the trophy to Bobby Moore - was substituted for the priceless trophy in the England dressing room, when a copper swapped it with legendary Manchester United & England fullback Nobby Stiles. That was the one which toured the country over the next few years - not the the real one. The replica was sold £254,000 by Sothebys in 1997... to FIFA, whereas the original was stolen again in Brazil, and has never been seen since. The replica is on long term loan to the National Football Museum in Preston, Lancashire - though they don't always tell you: it's a fake.
Please, do mention the war. Really, it's hard not to. After all, in a sense football is war, as the General famously joked. Sometimes it's peace. Same goes for that other football, by the way.
Old Firm dialectics It's going down the thinnest wire tomorrow in the Scottish Premier League (football/soccer/fitba that is) as Celtic and Rangers, with one game left to play in perhaps the most absurd league in Europe, stand equal on points and goal difference after 37 games thus far.
Brazil vs. Germany. The 2002 FIFA World Cup has come to an end. History was made today.
A few rather mundane numbers have turned into international chart toppers by being blessed as the 'official song' of the FIFA World CupTM or being on the 'official album' and getting airplay as the theme songs for local TV broadcasts. I think this trend started during Italia '90. Neither I, nor FIFA can remember any official songs from Mexico '86 or Spain '82. While Anastacia's Boom is this year's FIFA designated 'official song;' I like Tejano singer Jennifer Peña's upbeat Vamos al Mundial, the theme song for Univision's World Cup broadcast. What's the theme song of your local World Cup broadcast? Is it any good?
Kicked Out Of The World Cup? Kick The Blues Away Now! Friday fun and consolation with a kicking little game under the expert supervision of kicked-out Italian striker Roberto Baggio. Fire away, losers!
"Soccer scolds" attack! The Weekly Standard's Jonathan Last has had it with gushing soccer writers like Slate's David Thomson ("[Soccer is] something made out of muscle, speed, grace and the soul") who see American lack of enthusiasm for the sport as a deep-seated national character flaw worthy of dire-sounding pronouncements. Is he right, or, as The San Francisco Chronicle would have it, can soccer really bring world peace?
Korea 2-1 Italy. A classic World Cup in the making? First it was Senegal dumping out the French, and then the Argies and the Portuguese were left biting the dust. Spain and Ireland fought out a nail-biting penalty shoot-out, Saudi Arabia got hit for eight, and now South Korea continue their miraculous journey by sending Italy home. Next on the cards: let's hope for another classic when England take on Brazil!
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