On Wednesday, after retiring in September, former Germany international Thomas Hitzlsperger announced he is gay in an interview with Die Zeit (excerpt, de) and a statement (PDF, en) on his website, followed by an interview with the Guardian. He discussed the decision and the aftermath of the announcement with Gary Lineker on Football Focus (1:00-4:15). [more inside]
After being thrashed 5-0 in the FA Cup by Nottingham Forest, West Ham United have offered one very sad young fan the chance to watch a home game from the directors box.
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.
Football as soccer …or should that be American Football as football?
The Major League Soccer playoffs have begun and the MLS Cup is on the line. After beating Colorado this week, the Seattle Sounders will now face their fiercest rivals, the Portland Timbers, in a two leg Western Conference semi-final Cascadia derby. They'll have to beat both the Timbers and the Timbers Army, who will no doubt produce yet another incredible display of tifo.
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)
"This is Brett Keisel, a defensive end for the Pittsburgh Steelers who makes the usually frustrating identifying process of having to look for pictures of NFL players sans helmet an unexpected pleasure. Consider two things: i) Why in the name of all that's holy would anyone want to imprison this cascading, oddly backwoodsesque yet pleasingly groomed beauty behind visor, mask or grille? And: ii) Given that he has nonetheless to do so, how the hell does he cram it all in? I'm picturing, in a pleasing sort of reverie, some sort of monstrous snood." The Guardian presents the Greatest Beards in World Sports, parts one and two.
"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.
From prison to pro football (~soccer) but hampered by a dark past: how Ilombe Mboyo's rise destroyed the scheme that saved him. Can football help rehabilitate a criminal?
France has made Japan angry again, this time with insensitive political cartoons about Fukushima. With radiation levels still spiking, and the government only reticently admitting to constant leaks, some are questioning the legitimacy of PM Abe's insistence that Tokyo is safe. With decisions not to prosecute anyone involved in the disaster, it seems that amakudari is, in Japan as in most other countries, still alive and well.
Soccer Euphoria The Olympic Stadium in Kabul has not seen this big a crowd since the Taliban used the place for public executions. No coercion was needed on Thursday to bring tens of thousands of delirious fans here to greet their national soccer team on its return from winning its first international championship. The underdog team stunned India, the defending South Asian champions, in a 2-0 victory in Katmandu, Nepal.
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.
You're Lewes F.C., a small semi-professional football club playing in the Isthmian League in London, six levels below the English Premier League. You want to get punters to come to your games, but don't have the budget to put out radio or tv ads. What do you do? Create some really great match day posters, like this one mimicking a WWII Russian propaganda poster or this Clash poster.
The day Harry Redknapp brought a fan on to play for West Ham. According to one of football's most endearing fairytales, Harry Redknapp once pulled an abusive fan from the crowd and put him on the field for West Ham. This allegedly happened in 1994, but no video and scant evidence of the incident exist. Jeff Maysh chased this mystery for over a decade before finally catching up with the fan in question.
"Cuthbert Ottaway lifted the FA Cup as skipper of Oxford University, represented them at five different sports ranging from athletics to real tennis, and once shared a 150-run partnership with WG Grace in the highest level of cricket. His most notable achievement was captaining England in the first ever international football match though. About 4,000 spectators, including a "large number of ladies", gathered to watch the historic game against Scotland at the West of Scotland Cricket Club in Partick on 30 November 1872."
It's amazing, isn't it? Just when you think this photo shoot has peaked — that Donovan's inert lower lip or Mathis's oddly bendy face have set an unsurpassable standard — it finds a way to top itself, in this case by dressing a hulking, be-dreadlocked defensive midfielder in Stormtrooper underleggings and a miniaturized I Love Lucy housedress and convincing him to make unhurried love to a set of stadium bleachers. If "The Boys of Soccer" were Maradona, this would be his England game. Grantland investigates the greatest sports photoshoot of all time.
With the English Premier League season less than two weeks away, there have already been a number of massive shakeups to the established order. Among the most shocking are the appointment of
Jason Sudeikis Ted Lasso as head coach for the Tottenham Hotspurs, and Luis Suarez returning to a relatively normal office life in Uruguay.
Dynamic target tracking camera system keeps its eye on the ball - motorized mirrors track a moving object of interest every thousandth of a second, reflecting its image into a camera
"It's a shame we don't share the same courage in our convictions as this little 10-year-old Dutch lad, who - with a little help from his Dad when it came to the words (come on you boys in red, Eindhoven we love you), proudly led the PSV crowd in a chant during a recent pre-season friendly against FC Eindhoven..." (SL Youtube) [more inside]
"Italy is in crisis. I think that's safe to say. Something new is arising out of something old. I don't know whether it's a first breath or a last gasp. James Walston, the professor, thinks all the racial abuse is a sign that Italy has changed, and this is a defiant last stand before a multi-cultural society emerges. Maybe he's right. I don't know." Wright Thompson writes about soccer and racism in Italy.
"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]
From the innocents at the New York Times: how to attend a Premier League match.
Yesterday the Green Machine beat the Portland Timbers 10-9. What makes this unusual is that the Green Machine is a youth club, and the winning goal was scored by Atticus Lane-Dupre, an 8yd old with cancer. And that the match, organized by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, was attended by thousands of enthusiastic fans.
The Washington Spirit are a professional soccer team in the National Women's Soccer League. Like many of the lower earning professional sports, they have to be creative about costs, and often arrange host families for their players. Instead of host parents, Diana Matheson and Robyn Gayle got host grandparents. Several hundred of them.
Liverpool's Luis Suarez bit Chelsea's Brankslave Ivanovic on the arm during Sunday's Liverpool-Chelsea football (soccer) game sending the media into a frenzy. But this is not the first time he's bitten another player. In 2010, while in the Dutch Eredivisie, he bit Otman Bakkal. He also was suspended for 8 games this year for racist comments. However, he has a new twitter follower: Mike Tyson who bit Evander Holyfield's ear in a prize fight in 1997.
Grant Wahl tells the story of a devoted fan and José Mourinho, manager of Real Madrid. Abel Rodríguez, who works for the LA Metro system, has volunteered for Real Madrid soccer practices in Los Angeles. Last February, he traveled to see the Real Madrid-Barcelona Clásico, without a hotel reservation or even a ticket. The training facility's security guard wouldn't let him in, so he sat outside for 5 hours. What happened next sounds like a fairy tale.
Last month, Robbie Rogers came out and announced he'd left football. In an interview with the Guardian, he reflects on coming out in professional football. [more inside]
The United States Men's National Soccer team played a very, very, snowy game last night against Costa Rica. Costa Rica is not happy. A live blog of the events.
In November of 2011, Jaiyah Saelua, a center back for American Samoa, became the first transgendered individual to participate in a World Cup qualifier. [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]
"We're just trying to lead normal lives, doing what we want to do. Why shouldn't we?" The members [of Afghanistan women's national team], who range in age from 16 to 24, are up against widespread resentment from their relatives* and neighbors, and threats from men who disapprove of women playing sports. They managed to participate in an inclusive tournament in Berlin and they registered their first official win as they defeated Pakistan national women's team 4-0 and reached the semi-finals of the 2nd SAFF women's championship in 2012 improving on their past performance (rough 2010 SAFF footage). They're able to practice just three times a week for 90 minutes, occasionally at the stadium (2) or in its gym, but more often at a helicopter landing pad on a base for NATO troops, where practices are interrupted by takeoffs and landings. Players have some outside support from hummel, the sponsor of the women's and the men's team, and have had football clinics in Stuttgart and with Olympic U.S. player Lorrie Fair in Kabul. [more inside]
Downton Abbey returns to American TV screens this Sunday. Since many Americans have become fascinated with the intricate social dances featured in the English drama/soap, Grantland feels there's an opportunity to provide them a lesson about the equally intricate plot machinations associated with the English Premier League. I give you the "English Premier League to Downton Abbey plot converter." [more inside]
A soccer stadium in Palestine was destroyed recently and a number of European based footballers signed a letter condemning the act. Palestine has historically been a difficult place to be a footballer, up to and including being imprisoned, although Mahmous Sarsak has since been freed. Despite all of this, it looks like at least the Palestinian women’s game is on the up and up.
I could imagine a younger version of myself sitting down to a Non-League game, watching ten minutes, then leaning over to my friend and whispering “Hey, you know, like, these guys suck. And your country suffers from a serious deficiency of nachos.” -- An American learns to appreciate Non-League Football Day. [more inside]
Football's (soccer, that is) ultimate conquest of North America comes a step closer with the sale of English Premier League broadcasting rights to NBC for 250 million dollars. Unlike the Olympics, NBC has indicated that they'll broadcast the games live, to complement their NHL broadcasts. [more inside]
In the first 11 matches of the 2010 season they scored 2 goals and conceded 227. Madron FC is the worst football team in Britain.
When Alexi Lalas was asked by a woman sitting next to him on a plane what he did for a living, he told her he played soccer. She said: 'That's nice, but what do you do for a living?' Today the US Men's National Soccer Team can be watched on ESPN, has a large traveling fan base and can sometimes beat major teams like Italy or Spain, but back in 1990, no one knew who they were.
45Football is based on a collection of about 1000 vinyl 7" records on football. Listen to classics like "We're Never Going to Stop" (LFC, 1983), and "Undici uomini d'oro" (AC Milan, 1979).
A writer for outside magazine investigates first hand the world of the Argentinian Barra bravas. Argentina's most popular football team Boca Juniors is supported by La Doce, who are known as football's most passionate fans, and also run the underground economy of the stadium. (Boca's players aren't known for being saints either...) In spite of the violence, drugs, poverty, exploitation, and extortion - if you can get a chance to go to La Bombonera, eat a choripan and dare to stand in the populares with La Doce - it can be life changing.
Lionel Messi is one of the world's greatest soccer players. So why is he forgotten in his own home town?
Nico Calabria plays soccer and wrestles for Concord-Carlisle High School in Massachusetts. He summitted Mount Kilimanjaro at 13 [Vimeo] as a fundraiser to provide wheelchairs to people in Tanzania, he does some parkour, and this week he's in a race to have the "Best of the Best" video on ESPN's SportsCenter for a goal he scored in a recent game. Calabria was born with one leg and uses carbon fiber crutches when he plays; he's a starting forward on the US Amputee National Team.
Information on cricket salaries in England is difficult to find, though the amounts are acknowledged to be low; many cricketers take on a second job during the off-season. One of the top flight teams, Durham, is the first county fined for narrowly exceeding the total playing staff salary cap for the year. As a cross-sport comparison, the top flight football (soccer) team wage bills for 2010-11, and the team salary caps for rugby.
Non-orthogonal soccer fields, a slideshow