The Portuguese footballer Eusébio, considered one of the greatest of all time, died today. The first great footballer to come out of Africa, Eusébio was above all an humble man who would congratulate a keeper who had just made a difficult save and for whom the greatest joy after winning the European Cup (now named UEFA Champions League) was in getting to trade jerseys with his idol, Real Madrid's star di Stéfano. (The goals of the final.) [more inside]
The Far Post is a journalism series by Roads and Kingdoms and Sports Illustrated on global soccer culture that will run every other week until the start of "the largest theater that has ever existed in human history," the World Cup. So far there are five articles: Brazil 2014 Starts Now by Laurent Dubois gives an overview of the history of the World Cup and what it means now. Messi in Kolkata by Kanishk Tharoor is about a visit by the Argentine national team to Kolkata and the state of the game in India. Afghanistan United By May Jeong is the story of the incredible triumph of the Afghan national team at the 2013 South Asian Championship. Soccer and the Street in Istanbul by Izzy Finkel reports on the links between soccer and politics in Turkey. The Long Revolution of the Ultras Ahlawy by Patrick Kingsley is the account of how hardcore soccerfans in Egypt, at the center of the 2011 revolution, have fared in the aftermath.
When the announcement had been made that Wimbledon FC would be moved to Milton Keynes, to later be rebranded MK Dons, a meeting was called by Wimbledon fans. Toward the end of a charged meeting in the Wimbledon Community Centre, Kris Stewart, then chair of the Wimbledon Independent Supporters Club, realized that the fans had no chance of hanging on to their club and that no amount of protests would stop the franchise moving to Milton Keynes. In that moment Stewart made his walk through the crowd toward the microphone. “I’m tired of fighting,” he said before issuing a spontaneous rallying cry that has become legendary among fans of AFC Wimbledon. “I just want to watch football.” (SLTheMorningNews)
After (intentionally?) missing a last second penalty kick, the US Men's National Team beat Mexico in Columbus by a now famous final score. Following the game, the team watched Honduras hold on for a 2-2 draw against Panama which officially cemented the team's slot in the 2014 World Cup. An unassuming venue [autoplay video], Crew Stadium was the first purpose-built soccer facility in the US, and it has become the preferred location for the US to take on its most-powerful CONCACAF rival.
From the innocents at the New York Times: how to attend a Premier League match.
Non-orthogonal soccer fields, a slideshow
Even if you calculate that on average away teams only ever had a 10 per cent chance of beating one of Mourinho’s sides (for some, like Gijón, it might be a lot less, but for others, like Sporting Lisbon, AC Milan, Manchester United or Barcelona, it would be a lot more), the odds against going unbeaten for 150 matches are more than seven million to one. The London Review Of Books on the home advantage in sports.
Copa América is streamed live on YouTube. Copa América is the oldest international football competition, having been held first in 1916. This is a contest between the 10 South American nations and two invitational teams, this time Costa Rica and Mexico, who both sent young squads (Japan was slated to take part but withdrew due to the earthquake). The tournament started yesterday with Bolivia unexpectedly managing to hold Argentina to a draw. Colombia are currently beating a 10-man Costa Rica 1-0. Brazil start their campaign tomorrow, against Venezuela. One of the world's premier football writers, Jonathan Wilson, wrote previews of the three groups, A, B and C. The Independent has more light-hearted team previews.
But street football doesn't really exist any more, Cooper admits. "Many children have never played outside. And in some cases their parents haven't either." He cites a 2009 survey by the charity Living Streets which found that only half of five- to 10-year-olds had ever played in their street, whereas nine of out 10 of their grandparents had. How the increasing professionalisation of soccer at all levels in the UK has led to the death of park and street footie for ordinary kids.
Bye bye Big Mal. Malcolm Allison, one of the most flamboyant characters in English football, has gone to the players' lounge in the sky. He certainly knew what sold, with his signature cigar, fedora and sheepskin coat, and also laid on a pretty good bath. But all that stuff aside, he was a well-respected manager, and will be fondly remembered by Manchester City fans (you can read the fans' tributes here, and leave your own if you are so inclined) for leading them to glory in the late 60s and early 70s. The world is a lesser place without him.
Since the attack on the Togolese national team in Angola (previously), soccer in Togo has descended into a freefall. In a strange turn of events, a fake national team recently represented the country in a tournament in Bahrain. The soccer loving people of Togo were outraged when the truth about the situation came out.
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]
America is doomed. Why? Soccer.
The future of soccer in America is black, female and from the inner-city.
The Journal of Footballing History is a scholarly journal about the history of football (soccer) all over the world. You need to register (or "subscribe" as JOFH calls it) but it's free. Gloriously, gloriously free. After you've subscribed you can enjoy articles on matters such as France's footballing culture, a back and forth about the state of African football, a pair of articles about Euro 2000 and what England's dismal failure at that European Championships tells us about the national side and on shooting from free kicks. There are also short histories of kits, boots, passing and squads and a book review section.
Ready or Not. "South Africa is a great place to have a party, and people are incredibly generous of spirit. What we should be doing is trying to make the World Cup experience uniquely African: where the bus comes 10 minutes late but nobody gives a toss because they are having such a good time. Instead, the organisers seem to want to try to run the World Cup as efficiently as the Germans did. What a load of bull. The Germans could invade Poland in three days. We could not invade Swaziland in three months." Article in today's Observer about preparations in South Africa for the soccer World Cup in 2010.
Goals are become scarce in the final 16 knockout phase of the World Cup. A discussion has been going on over at the Guardian's World Cup blogs. In the knockout phase the number of goals has declined from 42 in 1986 to about 25 in 2006. There hasn't been a World Cup Final since 1986 where both teams scored. There have been a mere 3 games in the knockout phase from 14 where both teams have scored. For the first time ever a team, Switzerland, has been eliminated without conceding a single goal. Does something need to be done? Do bigger goals, no goalkeeper, fewer players or changed rules need to be considered?
Stand Up, Speak Up -- Against Racism (and for Nike) A new campaign against the ugly, very present problem of racism in the game of soccer, with soccer stars like Thierry Henry and Rio Ferdinand. An elegant (if more than a bit tame and unimaginative) new ad by Wieden+Kennedy. The campaign aims to encourage fans to wear interlocked black-and-white wristbands as a symbol of their stand against racism, which can be bought for €2, or £1.50 in the UK. In every Nike store near you. (more inside)
2006 World Cup Tickets went on sale last night at midnight, and since then over 500,000 tickets have been ordered. Orders have come in from over 108 countries from people looking for their chance to see the premier competition of the most popular sport on the planet. Everyone will get a fair shot at the tickets with any orders between now and the end of March being put into a lottery to see who gets tickets.
Putting your faith in your kids. Only a little soccer story about a possible new England goalkeeper but its quite sweet.
World-wide obsession I am told these sports betting sites are readying themselves for an onslaught of World Cup Soccer traffic never seen in history. Will you play? Does it make the sport uplifting or uncouth?
"Motty is fast, simple and free." Football is quite rubbish, but this is great for us office prisoners.
England 5 Germany 1 there is a god, and his name is Michael Owen
'Who the hell is that fella on the end?' If you've ever looked out onto a sports field and wondered who all the imposters are pretending to be your favourite team, spare a thought for Manchester United before their 'crucial' European Cup soccer match last night. During the pre-game photographs, it transpired they'd gained a twelfth man somewhere along the line . . .