“Part of the allure of the World Cup is that, despite changes to format, entrants, moments in early history when certain European countries refused to send teams to South America one year and vice versa the next, the tournament has managed to maintain a linear quality stemming from a basic competitive consistency. One can trace, for example, the narrative thread from Brazil’s 2002 World Cup win back to its lacklustre turn in 1994 when Baggio missed, through to its peak in 1970 when Pele hosted the Jules Rimet trophy, all the way to 1950 when Ghiggia scored Uruguay’s winning goal in the 79th minute leaving the Maracana in deathly silence. There are recurring heroes and villains, classic semifinals, great teams that never won (the Netherlands, Hungary), touchstone moments that changed the direction of the sport. Even the most casual soccer person will be able to recount in a reasonably dependable chronology.” The Score
Can Uruguay roll back the years at London 2012?
“The Paris Olympics of 1924 are best remembered in Britain for providing the backdrop to ‘Chariots of Fire.’ But for all the heroism of Messrs Liddell and Abrahams, something happened there with far greater consequences – the birth of modern football. No one knew much about Uruguay as they sailed their way across the Atlantic to take part in the football tournament. But they strolled to the gold medal, and did it with a balletic, artistic style of play which captivated spectators and set off a fever for the game. Four years later, to prove it was no fluke, Uruguay won the gold medal at the Amsterdam Olympics. Argentina came across as well, and they took the silver.” BBC – Tim Vickery
Strange things happen at a football Olympics – Simon Kuper
“In 1996, the Nigerian football team arrived at the Atlanta Olympics in their usual financial chaos. They stayed first in a college dormitory, later in a cheap motel. Most days they slept late, and then went for brunch at a Chinese restaurant. Their Dutch coach, Jo Bonfrere (known by Nigerian custom as ‘Bonfrere Jo’) paid for the meals out of his own pocket. On the field the Nigerians attacked frantically and won gold – the first African nation ever to do so in the football Olympics. Nwankwo Kanu, their ‘Lucky Skipper’, said of his last-gasp equaliser in the semi-final against Brazil (after Nigeria had been 3-1 down): ‘That goal was the most beautiful moment of my life.’” MIO Stadium
Olympic Football – The Real Thing?
“BBC football commentator Jonathan Pearce got through last Friday evening without once name-checking his current love…Cristiano bloody Ronaldo. He also avoided one word you would have thought key to his commentary on a football match between Great Britain and Brazil. Britain. In an age where succinct branding is so important (and Google “Bill Hicks advertising marketing” for my “view” on such things), “Team GB” is about as much detail as the modern sports fan is deemed capable of understanding. So Stuart Pearce’s hastily-flung together team of B-list England stars and most of the best of the Welsh were “Team GB” for the night. Maybe if they had the ball long enough to force Pearce to use two descriptions…” twohundredpercent