Over five decades of economic decline and racial conflict, a Western Pennsylvania mill town has found unity and hope on the football field. "There is no drug dealing at the Pit, and rarely any violence," Walker says. "It really is sacred ground; it's like a miracle. You've got guys that, any other time of the day, they're going to try and rip each other's throats out, but they just walk past each other in the Pit. They're there to watch those kids play."
Sam Borden on calcio storico, Florentine historic football
With two teams of 27 players placed in a sand pit and told, essentially, to do whatever is necessary to get a ball into the other team’s end zone, the sport is a strange mix of American football, rugby and street fighting. Watching it live, a more direct comparison might be to the children’s game Red Rover, but with punching and tattoos.
Football fans – and here I naturally include myself – act as if they are mentally ill. This is an article that is nominally about football, but is just as much about the pressures of modern life and the plight of men (in particular, but not exclusively). This is both a very personal account and an observation of how others behave. It is about being a football fan, but also the impact of social media on our appreciation of life (and sport), and how constantly striving for more can lead to increased unhappiness – even if you attain it.
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
J.R. Moehringer's essay discusses the end of football, the immortality of football, head injuries, and why what the sport means to America and to him.
Christianne Harder on why Jessica Dorrell's actions hurt all women trying to work in college football.
Goalgasm: a brief history of over-excitable commentaries
Before the former American football player Dave Duerson killed himself, he asked that his brain be left to researchers studying head injuries among athletes.
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.
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.
ESPN takes a look at how Madden NFL became a franchise video game.
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]
At the insistence of Cincinnati Bengals owner Mike Brown, the FAA is apparently targeting a pilot who was hired this month by disgruntled fans to fly messages like "Hire a GM!" over the team's training camp. A "Mike Brown Step Down" banner was flown over games last season. Brown's futility (1 winning season in 18 years) in Cincinnati has spurred fans to pay thousands for billboards and distribute urinal cakes, while HBO's Hard Knocks series has recently shown insight into his cluelessness. [more inside]
'Roy Of The Rovers' is back... The footballer* has returned to the newsagents in a one-off special. [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.
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.
There's lots of controversy about Nebraska playing for the national championship in tonight's Rose Bowl because they didn’t win their division or conference and got crushed 63–26 by Colorado in their last game of the season. [more inside]
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 . . .