An idea unto itself

June 30, 2010


“Robben Island rises just out of the ocean in the distance. From the shore, it looks like a thin, lifeless wedge, a gray spot on the horizon. The rabbits have taken it over. But tourists dutifully pile into boats, and they make the pilgrimage along with the whales across the water. During the World Cup, the boats have been sold out, piled high with Algerians and Englishmen, Italians and Portuguese. Robben Island, this terrible place once reserved for lepers, lunatics and prisoners, has become a must-see. Its most famous former resident, Nelson Mandela, spent 18 of his 27 years in prison there; his life since has transformed his cell into a kind of shrine, an impossibly cold place turned impossibly warm.” (ESPN), (ESPN – OTL: Robben Island)


From the World Expo to the World Cup: Field Notes From the New Economy

June 29, 2010

“I started the week at the World Expo in Shanghai and ended it at the World Cup in Cape Town. Both events offer a spectrum of perspectives on what is really happening in the world economy today.” (Huffington Post)


Maradona Makes Me Happy

June 28, 2010


“I’m here in South Africa, and last night went to the see the Argentina-Mexico game at Soccer City. I’ll warn you that a portion of this post will sound a bit like FIFA propaganda, so if you can’t stand that please stop reading now. But the feeling here in electric and ebullient, and I really can’t imagine any other event that could produce the same thing. I felt happily overwhelmed at the scene last night.” (Soccer Politics)


World Cup scouting: The 32 – Week Two

June 26, 2010


Rene Krhin (Slovenia)
“The following 32 names represent Football Further‘s players to watch at the 2010 World Cup. We’ll be following their performances closely over the course of the tournament, with weekly scouting reports rounding up their progress.” (Football Further), (Football Further – Week One)


Notes from South Africa 2010: Xenophobia and Humanity

June 25, 2010


“Everywhere you turn in South Africa, FIFA has papered walls and billboards with the slogan ‘Ke Nako. Celebrate Africa’s Humanity.’ At first glance it seems banal and harmless. But the more I see it, the more it bothers me. First, there is something discomforting in seeing the large trademark symbol inserted next to every use of the slogan. Can you really trademark ‘Africa’s Humanity?’ Isn’t that exactly the kind of neo-imperialism an African World Cup is supposed to counter?” (Pitch Invasion)


Listening to the World Cup: Waka Waka, Zangaléwa and Vuvuzelas

June 24, 2010

“From the first 2010 World Cup broadcasts on ESPN, my fellow tweeters cracked jokes about The Lion King. We imagined Rafiki calling the matches, or James Earl Jones (who provided the voice for Mufasa), and half expected the referees to raise the Jabulani aloft to announce the arrival of the New Ball. Most folks simply observed, ‘I feel like I am watching The Lion King.’” (From A Left Wing)


France and Raymond Domenech exit World Cup by betraying their heritage

June 23, 2010

La fin. Let the discredits roll. Let Les Bleus depart the total shambles that they are. Their World Cup 2010 experience has been so unfathomably awful, it is hard to know where to begin with the inquest. A poll conducted by Canal Plus split the blame pretty evenly between the players, the manager and the French Football Federation. All of them have blundered their way through South Africa in their own special way.” (Guardian)


Uruguay 1-0 Mexico: the best two sides from Group A progress

June 22, 2010


“A strange match, considering both teams’ prisoner’s dilemma in this final group game. Both sides were going for the win, of course, but the match is difficult to analyse because the mentality of the sides changed at various points in the game. Mexico started playing with their normal mentality, then switched to an urgent attacking strategy just after half-time, when they became aware of the South Africa v France scoreline. Finally, when they heard France had got a goal back, they reverted to a more cautious approach – still trying to score, but acknowledging that conceding a couple of goals on the counter-attack was not a risk worth taking.” (Zonal Marking)

World Cup 2010: Mexico 0-1 Uruguay
“My first memories of Uruguay as football team – and quite possibly of their existence as a country at all – came from the World Cup in 1986. They were in Scotland’s group then, and were portrayed as thugs, a bunch of big cheating, spoiling, fouling, cynical bruisers who would – if the ref let them – hack Scotland’s magnificent collection of creative wizards out of the tournament. In the event, of course, Scotland did get some help from the ref; Uruguay played the last 89 minutes with ten men, but a Scotland side who had in any case already lost to Denmark and Germany weren’t good enough to break them down.” (twohundredpercent)

2010 FIFA World Cup Group A Final Standings: Uruguay & Mexico advance
“Group A has finished play in the 2010 FIFA World Cup with Uruguay winning the group and Mexico advancing by placing second. South Africa made a run to challenge for the second spot but lost on goal difference. France failed to win a match and was a disappointing last with only one point.” (The 90th Minute)

Mexico 0-1 Uruguay – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 22 June 2010
“The two teams leading Group heading into the final set of matches met as Mexico faced Uruguay. A draw or a close loss would likely see both teams go to the next round as they had the advantage of goal difference on South Africa and France.” (The 90th Minute)

France 1-2 South Africa – Video Highlights, Recap, and Match Stats – World Cup – 22 June 2010
“South Africa faced France as both teams looked to sneak into the knockout stage. Each side needed a win, the other match to not end in a draw, and to make up a significant margin in goal difference. While France would normally be the favorite in the match their off the pitch problems would give South Africa a decent chance.” (The 90th Minute)


France vs. South Africa, Then and Now

June 22, 2010

“In 1998, as the French team prepared to play their first World Cup match, they heard singing from the opposing team’s locker room. The Bafana Bafana — in their first World Cup appearance after the end of apartheid, fielding an integrated team — were gearing up to play with song, and as the two team’s marched down the tunnel out onto the pitch, they continued singing, sending echoes through the halls. For Lilian Thuram, born in Guadeloupe, and Marcel Desailly, born in Ghana, it was a deeply moving moment.” (Soccer Politics)

French Racism and Les Bleus
“Yesterday I participated in two discussions about French football. The first, on the English-language TV station France 24, had a perfect line-up: one person defending the classic “football is alienation” thesis, a sports journalist seeing politics as mainly being projected onto sport, and me, the cultural historian imagining everything as politics.” (Soccer Politics)

Whatever: A French Perspective on French National Team’s Implosion
“I’ve translated an article by Simone Capelli-Welter, a regular contributor to So Foot. It’s a fantastic piece, and in it you can hear an all too familiar frustration with the drama, the hysteria, and the contradictory flows of media discourse on such implosions. This an unauthorized translation – but I am so sick of ESPN/CNN’s stupid reporting on this story that I couldn’t help myself…” (From A Left Wing)


World Cup 2010: Fans, robbers and a marketing stunt face justice, Fifa style

June 22, 2010

“The Johannesburg magistrates’ court is the sort of unloved municipal building whose corridors smell of damp and bureaucracy, and whose chilly courtrooms recall Bismarck’s observation that those who love sausages and believe in justice should never see either being made.” (Guardian)


Developing Soccer in South Africa: Where’s the Game?

June 21, 2010


The vandalized locker rooms on the pitch
“I’ve seen a lot of soccer in a little over a week in South Africa, but I realized something strange the other day: almost all of it has been in stadiums. The trope of African soccer is the barefoot child playing on a dirt field with a rag ball—and in my previous experiences in Africa that scenario has been harder to avoid than to find. But in the greater Johannesburg megalopolis circa 2010 the grass roots game seems conspicuously absent from anywhere other than FIFA propaganda.” (Pitch Invasion)


Winning for “El Mariscal”

June 20, 2010

“There are several reason why I enjoyed Paraguay’s victory over Slovakia. First, there’s the obvious. As almost every Paraguayan team in history, this group understands football first as a physical game. It is no coincidence that Paraguay is one of the few teams in the world—and certainly in this continent—so clearly identified with the ancestral values of its indigenous people, the Guaranies. This is not ‘el equipo paraguayo’; this is el ‘equipo guarani”. The indomitable culture of the Guarani is as much a part of Paraguayan football culture as Maori tradition for New Zealand. This Paraguayan team lives up to its billing. The Italians had a terrible time with Paraguay’s midfield.” (TNR)


Soccer Music Politics

June 19, 2010


“By now, we have all heard Shakira’s edifying ‘Waka Waka,’ the official theme song of the 2010 World Cup. I promised myself that I would keep this post short, so please allow me just to note that I believe the majority of the conscious world has found this song to be, at various times, putridly abominable, horrifically terrible, terribly horrific, condenscending to Africans, ignorant, frivolous, foolish, a representative of the Gap commercial-ification of everything that used to be holy and complex and interesting, Exhibit A in the thesis that the Apocalypse is near, the death blow to optimism. Thank you, Shakira, you have done it again. And curses, you’ve already made me write a hundred words about you!” (Soccer Politics)


Images from Africa

June 18, 2010

“Below you will find photo series displaying different aspects of African football. The photos are kindly shared by Twenty Ten: African Media on the Road to 2010 (and beyond).” (Play the Game)

Handmade Soccer
“Children from the pastoral tribes of Southern Ethiopia and Northern Kenya are often responsible for household and community chores. Many of them do not have the opportunity to attend school.”> (Twenty Ten)


Notes from South Africa 2010: On the Invention of Tradition

June 18, 2010

“The clichéd tourist fare in South Africa outside the World Cup seems to mostly involve two components: big animals and ‘traditional’ dances. To the dismay of almost every South African I meet, I’m not much of a big animal person. The famous game parks, no matter how spectacular, are not on my itinerary. The ‘traditional’ dances, however, are harder to avoid. They are also, in my experience, harder to make sense of in this World Cup of vuvuzelas and the invention of tradition.” (Pitch Invasion)


A Tired Ball Speaks

June 17, 2010

“A small selection of images from the new coffee table book by photographer Jessica Hilltout that captures the soul of African football in a 208-page photographic essay.” (Vimeo), (Jessica Hilltout)


The memories come flooding in

June 17, 2010

“The crowds had gathered near the Hector Pieterson Memorial, and a group of schoolboys stood together on the street, in their iron-crisp uniforms, singing at the top of their lungs. Through our open van windows, it sounded like a song of celebration, a joyous song. But our driver, a 45-year-old former soldier named Jan, felt the hair on his arms go up. He had not been back to Soweto since his military service ended in 1994, when the apartheid regime fell and the soldiers were told to go home. Now that song brought him back to the freedom riots here, the burning tires and the bricks. The memories came flooding in.” (ESPN)


XI. World Cup Factoids and a Few Observations

June 16, 2010

“Today we complete the first set of 2010 World Cup group play games. I’ve watched more than 90% of all the minutes – and yet managed to miss five goals live (Holland, Argentina, Slovakia, Brazil’s second and North Korea’s). It’s been an educational experience. I’ve learned many interesting factoids (many acquired by virtue of this being the first Twitter World Cup) and made a few observations as well.” (Pitch Invasion)


Excavating American soccer fields, uncovering buried layers of sport

June 16, 2010

“This essay by Martha Saavedra affirms that all sporting terrain has a history, both personal and corporate. Organizers of the 2010 World Cup discovered this when developing the site of Green Point Stadium in Cape Town. Football grounds offer testimonies buried in sediment and memory.” (The Global Game)


Risking Life and Limb for Football in Somalia

June 16, 2010

“‘Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that,’ former Liverpool manager Bill Shankly once said. Uncomfortably close to a bald statement of fact for fans of the beautiful game in Somalia, who risk their lives to watch the World Cup unfolding in South Africa. In the final weeks before the tournament kicked off on Jun. 11, demand for satellite dishes was high. But the Islamist groups that control much of the country have declared the World Cup un-Islamic, threatening dire consequences for anyone found watching.” (IPS)


Should FIFA ban the Vuvuzelas at the World Cup?

June 15, 2010


“If you’ve been at or watched a World Cup match on tv in the past few days, all you hear from the crowd noise are the sounds of the vuvuzelas. They are the loud horn that have been present at all the World Cup matches and extremely loud. They have drowned out virtually all other crowd noise including chants from particular countries.” (The 90th Minute)


A Short History of World Cup Goalkeeping Blunders

June 14, 2010

“Robert Green’s ‘hand of clod’ goal against the United States, painful as it was to watch (here it is again!) … … was not the first howler committed by the England keeper.” (NYT)


Should This Horn Be Banned?

June 14, 2010

“Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh! We’re writing this column under proper World Cup conditions—with vuvuzelas blasting in both of our ears. Is everyone already exasperated with the Infamous Plastic Horn of Distraction? WE SAID, IS EVERYONE ALREADY EXASPERATED WITH THE INFAMOUS PLASTIC HORN OF DISTRACTION?” (WSJ)


South Africa/Mexico: A Game of Nerve

June 12, 2010

“There is not much for me to say about today’s match: it has already been said, not even an hour after the match’s conclusion. We even broke Twitter, twice the whole network seized up – too many of us telling each other all about it. It was a game of two halves, and two nervous teams. Throughout the first act South Africa was afraid to attack, and the whole side seemed to play stopper.” (From A Left Wing)


2010 World Cup: Fighting AIDS

June 12, 2010


“An American soccer star joins the TRIAD Trust using the game to educate children and young adults about how to protect themselves from contracting H.I.V.” (NYT)

Condoms for the World Cup and other ways to keep HIV at bay
“In three months hundreds of thousands of soccer fans are expected to descend on nine South African cities for the 2010 World Cup. But for so many visitors going to a country where more than 10 percent of the population is estimated to have HIV/AIDS, many public health experts are worried that the event will kick off a spike in transmission. South Africa, in turn, has responded by requesting one billion condoms for the year (many of which will be supplied by the U.K.)—more than twice as many as usual, the BBC noted.” (Scientific American)


South Africa 1-1 Mexico: a fair result but neither side will be happy

June 12, 2010

“An entertaining game that finished with a fair result, a point apiece. Both sides will be relatively disappointed to come away from the opening game with just a draw, and the match demonstrated the faults of both sides more than it did their qualities.” (Zonal Minute)

Uruguay 0-0 France: no cohesion in attacking zones from either side
“Group A is wide open after the first round of matches, after a draw in both games. The earlier game was open and exciting throughout – this one started well but faded badly as the game went on. Uruguay’s expected 3-5-2 became a 3-4-1-2 with Ignazio Gonzalez pushing forward to play just behind Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez. Mauricio Victorino came in on the right side of defence, and Egidio Arevalo took the midfield role requiring the most positional discipline.” (Zonal Minute)


World Cup scouting: The 32

June 11, 2010


Matías Fernández (Chile)
“The following 32 names represent Football Further‘s players to watch at the 2010 World Cup. We’ll be following their performances closely over the course of the tournament, with weekly scouting reports rounding up their progress. Names preceded by squad numbers. Players in bold have been scouted by Football Further in the build-up to the World Cup. Players in brackets were scouted but not called up by their national sides.” (Football Further)


South Africa 1-1 Mexico – Video Highlights and Recap – World Cup – 11 June 2010

June 11, 2010


“The opening match of the FIFA 2010 World Cup was the host nation South Africa taking on CONCACAF side Mexico. A host nation has never lost an opening match but Mexico could provide a tough test for South Africa. Would South Africa get a win or would Mexico start off with a win over the host country? A full recap of the match along with video highlights are below.” (The 90th Minute)

World Cup 2010: South Africa 1-1 Mexico
“The gloves are now off. For the first game of any World Cup, you always need to pick your strongest side. Anything else would be foolhardy, so we can be fairly sure we are seeing people’s strongest hand. How, then, did ITV do? This year it was their turn to take the opening game for the first time in eight years, and they looked keen to show they meant business. Their key new acquisition was Adrian Chiles, who continued to exude his unaffected charm with such familiarity that you could almost believe he’d been kidnapped from the BBC in his sleep and no-one has yet told him.” (twohundredpercent)

World Cup 2010: The Opening Ceremony… Live!
“Though it has slipped under many people’s radar, there is some sort of World Cup due to be held. Soccer City, Johannesburg is the venue for the start of this summer (winter)’s festivities. South Africa and Mexico wait in the wings to entertain us with some actual – wait for it – football. But first, of course, comes the dubious pleasure of the opening ceremony.” (twohundredpercent)


Excitement and expectation mount in South Africa

June 11, 2010

“In 2006 it was inconceivable that Germany would be the first host nation to depart the World Cup at the group stage. Yet by their own high standards the squad was one of the country’s weakest and pundits had the knives out. We should have known better – they were edged out only in the semi-finals and the tournament was a huge success in uniting and popularising the country.” (WSC)


The Style and Skill to Reach the Final

June 10, 2010

“And the winner is. … As the World Cup opens Friday amid a celebration of exceptional vibrancy with host South Africa playing Mexico, two countries float above the field of 32 teams: Spain and Brazil. Yes, Africa is the host. Yes, Asia is developing. And, yes, there are dark horses — the gifted but erratic Argentines, the talented Dutch and the ever self-confident English among them.” (NYT)


Pilgrimages

June 10, 2010

“The South African magazine Chimurenga has just launched a World Cup project called ‘Pilgrimages,’ sending African writers on journeys to various cities on the continent and beyond to report on the experience of the World Cup there. It will be a great series, I think, and starts with a compelling case for Argentina winning the Cup, by Grant Farred.” (Soccer Politics)


World Cup Predictions, Knockout Stage: World Cup Buzz Podcast

June 10, 2010

“You have invested the last month with us, though the expert interviews to the two weeks of group breakdowns, and now – the day before the 2010 World Cup starts – Laurence McKenna, Kartik Krishnaiyer and myself make out final predictions: the Round of 16 to the July 11 final. Join us in this final preparatory step for South Africa 2010 as we tell you who we think will be the next world champions.” (EPL Talk)


In the shadow of Green Point Stadium

June 9, 2010

“When the first soccer game kicks off at the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town, 4.5 billion Rand (4.3 million Euros) will already have been spent on its construction. Environmental concerns, noise pollution worries and transportation arguments have enmeshed the stadium in controversy since before the first brick was laid. For many, the argument is not the money spent but what the money could instead buy. They argue that the cost is not in Rands but in lives. Many of Cape Town’s townships are without sewage systems, hospitals are horribly under funded and the poor are homeless. 4.5 billion Rand can, roughly, build 60,000 homes, which could house up to 300,000 previously homeless people.” (Twenty Ten)


World Cup 2010 a feast of technology and tribalism

June 8, 2010

“Don’t be surprised if there are fewer meetings booked over the 31 days starting June 11. Chances are there will be fewer people at their desks, too, more people responding to e-mails on their BlackBerry and, oh yeah, the network might be a little sluggish as well. That’s because the FIFA World Cup 2010 finals kick off at 10 a.m. Friday, June 11 as Mexico takes on hosts South Africa.” (The Globe and Mail)


Thirty-One World Cup Shirts

June 8, 2010

“It’s that time again. Back by popular demand (to be precise, two people), it’s time for our quadrennial report of all the team shirts that will be on display at the upcoming World Cup. As ever, the menu is overwhelmed by items produced and designed by the twin behemoths of the sportswear universe, Adidas and Nike. Whether they have been using their market domination to the benefit of the sartorial elegance of international football, however, is something of an open question.” (twohundredpercent)


World Cup Predictions, Betting Tips, SEO SEO

June 8, 2010


Tiziano Vecellio, Venus and Adonis
“Just when you think that David Bowie has retired from the site, that the Goblin King will no longer grace our presence, that Jorge Luis Borges really is dead and not just waiting for a USMNT run to the finals, bam. It hits you. Despite the odd jokes, obscure historical references, and kinda weird pictures, we at Futfanatico give you the best betting tips for the World Cup while mocking the SEO keyterm Google carousel in an ironic act of betrayal, subversion, and delightful perversion. Thus, here are your WORLD CUP BETTING TIPS.” (futfanatico)


World Cup Group D Preview: World Cup Buzz Podcast

June 8, 2010

“The deepest group in the tournament was made all the more interesting when injuries to Michael Ballack and Michael Essien took the two biggest names out of Group D. On this episode of the World Cup Buzz podcast, myself, Laurence McKenna and Kartik Krishnaiyer consider what the absences of Ballack and Heiko Westermann do to Germany’s chances to get out of a group that also features Ghana, Serbia, and Australia. Along the way, we hear thoughts from Andy Brassell, Raphael Honigstein, Jonathan Wilson and Simon Hill.” (EPL Talk), (World Cup Group A Preview), (World Cup Group B Preview), (World Cup Group E), (World Cup Group H), (World Cup Group F)


Uruguay have case for local support at World Cup

June 7, 2010


Francisco “Pancho” Varallo
“Once the World Cup hosts have got the action under way in South Africa on Friday afternoon the drone of the vuvuzelas might die down and the sound of drums should come through as the second game kicks off in Cape Town. They might sound straight out of Africa but the drums will be pounding for Uruguay, telling a tale that stretches across oceans, religions and races.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)


South Africa Stadium Stampede is No Reason for World Cup Pessimism

June 7, 2010

“I like to think that World Cup Blog has been very positive about South Africa hosting World Cup 2010. For example, when the whole thing was a little questionable in early 2009 we shared our 10 reasons to be optimistic about South Africa hosting the World Cup. There will possibly be a few problems along the way, but the whole thing will hopefully be worth the tradeoff.” (World Cup Blog)


World Cup marks a milestone in S Africa’s evolution

June 6, 2010

“It’s 1985, and I’m sitting on the veranda of my grandparents’ house in white Johannesburg. It’s a blazing December day, and I’ve just swum in their pool. Next to me my grandfather is listening to the cricket on the radio. Nesta, the black maid who has been working for my grandparents for decades, is cutting the chocolate cake. At the bottom of the garden, her grandchildren are playing in our old underpants from Europe. In 1985, apartheid is still going to last forever.” (FI – Simon Kuper)


World Cup Power Rankings

June 6, 2010


“You knew they had to be coming: World Cup power rankings are here. Let’s dive in…” (SI)


Experience at the World Cup

June 6, 2010

“It’s an oft-used cliché that experience is necessary in order to win the greatest football competition in the world. In fact, only the other day I saw Steve Hodge being interviewed on Sky Sports News talking about this very subject. I think he was trying to tout his Maradona ’86 World Cup shirt again but was nonetheless happy enough to offer his wisdom to Sky Sports’ rolling news feed. He made the point that the sides who won the World Cup normally had an average age of around 28/29. He’s got a point, the average age of the World Cup winning Italian squad of four years ago was 28 years and 8 months.” (twinty tin)


Don’t Bet on Home Continent in African World Cup

June 6, 2010


“The World Cup opens Friday, and this host city is draped in the flags of the 32 participating nations. With the world’s biggest sporting event coming to Africa for the first time, hope wafts across the continent that one of the six African teams might win. ‘The talent is there, certainly,’ Bob Bradley, the United States coach, said. Yet history says that disarray in preparations, desperate coaching changes, poverty, official corruption and vagaries of the draw will conspire against Africa’s chances.” (NYT)


The Rise Of African Soccer

June 5, 2010


“The boy was handed an AK-47 assault rifle and taught how to clean, load, aim and fire it. There was target practice for a while, which was fun. Almost like a video game, only louder with more recoil. Then one day, the boy was blindfolded. ‘I was told not to open fire until instructed,’ recalls the boy, now a man. ‘So I waited. Finally, I was given the order. I opened fire, then I was told to stop. When they removed the blindfold, I saw that I’d killed a man. They said, ‘Now you know you can shoot to kill.’ They said, ‘Do this or you will become dust.’ I was 12, maybe 13 years old. I had no shirt and no shoes. But I had an AK-47. A lot of boys like me fought in that war.’” (ESPN)


World Cup 2010: Matthew Booth the perfect advertisement for integrated South Africa

June 5, 2010

“So when some members of the Spanish press thought they heard him being booed by black fans at the Confederations Cup last summer they thought they had a great story about racial disharmony in the new South Africa and filed their copy to Madrid. They got it excruciatingly, embarrassingly wrong. The fans were celebrating their cult hero, launching into a resonant chant of “Booth!” every time the 6″6 centre-half met the ball with one of his thumping defensive headers.” (Telegraph)


World Cup Host Needs To Live Up To Its Promise Of Better Housing For The Poor

June 3, 2010

“Since the fall of apartheid, the South African government has initiated a massive effort to improve the housing situation of millions of its marginalized citizens. South Africa’s commitment to housing was presumably such a priority that the Bill of Rights in the South African Constitution (1996) embodies this commitment…” (Nutmeg Radio)


Mediating South Africa 2010: Parting Thoughts and Sources

June 1, 2010

Note: The second half of this post is a set of suggested links and sources for context and culture around the coming World Cup; anyone interested in that more than my own thoughts on context—or anyone with suggestions of your own—should feel free to skip ahead. (Pitch Invasion)


World Cup winners

May 29, 2010


“It now seems normal for nations to obsess about the football World Cup. Yet when the English did so in 1990, Jonathan Wilson notes in his scholarly Anatomy of England, it ‘was unprecedented and unexpected’. Only quite recently have World Cups turned into occasions for countries to debate who they are. Those 11 young men in their team shirts have become the nation made flesh, and the tournament the foremost contest for prestige among countries. Twenty years ago, very few serious studies of football existed. Today there are enough to fill a mid-sized library. The four books under review here build on this body of knowledge, add to the library’s tiny African room, and distil patterns from that knowledge.” (FI – Simon Kuper)


World Cup Coaches, By Nationality and Numbers

May 28, 2010


“Below you’ll find a complete list of the 32 coaches at World Cup 2010. You’ll also find their nationality, and their age going into the tournament. Beneath that you’ll find some amateur hour number crunching I did with pen, paper and the calculator on my cell phone to work out a few statistics.” (World Cup Blog)


Legacy of South Africa’s World Cup will take many years to measure

May 27, 2010

“‘Our society,’ said British writer Johann Hari, ‘is very good at some things, generating wealth, say … But we are very bad at meeting a basic human need for shared collective experiences. Our atomized lonely culture can only meet this need at freak flashpoints.’ Or World Cups.” (SI – Tim Vickery)


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