Cristiano Ronaldo, Carli Lloyd and Claudio Ranieri, Silvia Neid were The Best in 2016, according to FIFA. [more inside]
On November 28, Chapecoense, a small club from Santa Catarina in Brazil was boarding a flight headed to Medellín, where they would face Atlético Nacional in the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana (the CONMEBOL second-tier club trophy). A few hours later, the day ended in tragedy as the plane crashed on the mountains outside the host city, killing 76 of the 81 on board. The flight included the squad and staff, but also 21 journalists covering the big game, and early reports claim it ran out of fuel on the approach and was facing electrical problems. [more inside]
Hand-drawn maps of Negro League teams, defunct NFL teams, the first NHL league, Ukrainian FCs. More maps, hand-drawn and not.
Anfield Road prices to stay frozen for two years. After many protests [nsfw:language] over a price increase from £59 to £77 - that included an unprecedented 10000 fan walk-out against Sunderland at the 77th minute (result 2-0, final score 2-2), Liverpool FC owners Fenway Sports Group stepped back and apologized from the original pricing plan. [more inside]
In honor of Thanksgiving, Sports Illustrated presents their 2015 Turkeys of the Year slideshow.
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]
If you built a $7,000 pool table big enough to walk around on and replaced the balls with soccer balls, you'd be playing Snookball. The sport was invented by two French entrepreneurs and there are 10 tables in that country so far. "We know this game will be popular when beer is involved," one told Sport Bible.
"Casually, I click in a compilation of clips I've never seen before. I think it's another video like other thousands of thousands, but I soon realize it's not. The clips are not Messi goals, his best runs, nor his assists. It's a strange compilation: the video shows hundreds of clips, two or three seconds long each, in which Messi receives strong fouls and doesn't fall to the ground." Messi es un perro is a short essay by Argentine writer Hernán Casciari on Lionel Messi. You can read an English translation on Reddit, Messi Is a Dog. Perhaps the best way to enjoy it is to listen to the original as read by Norberto Jansenson with English subtitles. [via this Deadspin article about Messi by Billy Haisley which you should also read]
"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]
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.
The World's Ball - the NYT reviews the design evolution of the soccer/football from 1930 to the present
Brazil has spared no expense for the upcoming World Cup. The month-long competition will feature 64 matches in 12 cities across the country. Refurbishing old stadiums and building new ones has cost Brazil $3.6bn. Several of the new stadiums will seldom be used after the World Cup, and Brasilia's World Cup stadium is estimated to have cost taxpayers $900m. [more inside]
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.
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.
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
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.
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]
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.
"The last European monopoly, in any area, is crumbling. This recently-opened transfer window has underscored, more than anything else, that it is no longer the European football clubs’ birthright to sign the greatest players in the world." -- Leander Schaerlaeckens on the growing clout of Chinese, Brazilian, and (WTF?) Indian soccer leagues in grabbing the top talent
Last Saturday 23-year old professional soccer player Fabrice Muamba suffered cardiac arrest while playing in front of a packed stadium. The medical staff rushed to his aid, as did a cardiologist who happened to be in the crowd. Muamba's heart was stopped for 78 minutes, but he survived and seems to be making good progress. Here, the doctors involved tell their remarkable stories of the incident.
Turkish football fans have probably kept many flare companies in business over the years, but when the Turkish FA banned flares from stadiums, their brand of pyromaniac fun seemed to be over. The fans of Super Lig club Eskisehirspor had other ideas, though. [more inside]
"How do you get Americans interested in soccer? ... For one thing, you make the balls much bigger and the teams much smaller. For another, you arm each of the players with a stun gun."
Golden Goal is a Norwegian sports talkshow, and in one of their segments, they play football in unusual ways. With three teams. On a hill. On the beach. Blindfolded. Not difficult enough for you? How about three-legged soccer? On hoppy balls? With binoculars? Inside plastic bubbles? Electroshock style?
Here's the deal: If you don't play for, or you are not an employee of, the team in question, "we" is not the pronoun you're looking for. "They" is the word you want.Why "We" is the most overused term in sports.
What happens when a multi-millionaire footballer playing for one of England's top club teams refuses to go out and play as a substitute? Possibly, he gets shipped off to prestigious second division northern Irish club squad Limavady United.
Fun While It Lasted is a blog that details the histories of long-dead sports franchises, including the Hawaii Leis/Sea-Port Cascades/Seattle Cascades, the Portland Lumberjax, the Columbus Minks, the Denver Comets, and the Phoenix Fire -- a professional soccer team that never actually played a game. [more inside]
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.
L'equip petit - "... if one day I score, I'll be so happy that I'll fly."
Now, in 2011, in his endless middle-sunset as a player, [Roger] Federer has become something mysterious, an all-time great whose career feels increasingly fragile. Brian Phillips on Federer's long autumn. DFW, five years ago, on Federer as a religious experience (previously). Riffing on DFW, Phillips on Pele as comedian.
The Football Pantheon is a new website by football journalist Miguel Delaney. The aim of the website is to "present objective lists of the greatest clubs, players, countries, managers and so much more." The first entry is a very impressive list of The 50 Greatest European Club Sides, which breaks down the various legendary teams, from the late 19th Century until today, and ranks them according to their achievements.
Greatest calls in sports is a selection of 32 great calls in broadcast sports, chosen by Joe Posnanski, obviously US-centric but featuring some good choices. Want some elation this Friday? [more inside]
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.
When greedy sports team ban press photographers, cartoonist saves the day. Southampton Football Club decided to ban press photographers from their home matches, and sell their own photos to the press. Plymouth Herald hires a cartoonist instead. [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.
They were one of history’s greatest teams. But by the late 2000s, Pro Vercelli were entrenched in the lower leagues, their glorious past forgotten. Until one day, a man bought a video game. Read the uplifting saga of a small-town Italian club, an unknown American manager, triumph, betrayal, passion, and several extremely good recipes, from start to finish [more inside]
Vuvuzela time! View any web site like you're at the South Africa World Cup!
A heartbreaking 10-minute documentary on Joe Gaetjens who scored the single goal in the USA's shocking victory over England at the 1950 World Cup. Gaetjens was a Haitian accounting student at Columbia University who went to Europe shortly after the 1950 World Cup and returned to Haiti a few years later. His story, and the story of the upset victory, was until recently largely unknown in the US.
Following on from Jonathan Wilson's excellent column The Question (previously), Zonal Marking illustrates and explains how a football match is won and lost, often with same-day analysis and emphasis on individual players. [more inside]
At the beginning of the '09 season a young rookie coach named Pep Guardiola was appointed manager of FC Barcelona, one of the top teams in European football. One year later, the team plays 19th December in Abu Dhabi against Estudiantes for the Club World Cup, the cusp of association football season. Guardiola had taken a talented but stagnating team to the top, a prometean figure that brought the philosophy he had inherited playing for historical player Johann Cruyff almost 20 years before. [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]
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.
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