World Cup draw set to reveal unique magic

December 1, 2013

Sergio_Ramos_2751050b
“Day after day, reports from the land of the next World Cup send shudders through the soul. A collapsing crane claims the lives of two construction workers at the stadium in Sao Paulo. The Brazilian FA, the CBF, makes the sad announcement that the legendary left-back Nilton Santos has passed away after a lung infection. Concerns rise over local companies fleecing visiting fans over accommodation and internal flights. Anger at socio-economic problems is expressed through protests. The 2014 World Cup is currently associated with many issues, few relating to the promise of an on-field spectacle.” Telegraph – Henry Winter (Video)


After the World Cup is gone

October 24, 2013

“Do we need a book on the 2010 World Cup already? That’s the first question I asked Peter Alegi and Chris Bolsmann, editors of the brand new volume, Africa’s World Cup (University of Michigan Press, 2013). … That’s a good enough reason, and Peter and Chris are uniquely qualified to edit the book. Peter teaches history at Michigan State University and has written two books about African football (here and here). He also runs a football blog and shoots videos of himself walking from his home to his office playing keepy uppy. Chris, a former club footballer in South Africa’s capital Pretoria, is a sociologist based in the UK. He has written a number of academic articles about football, including on the cultural significance of Mark Fish, one of a few white players to represent South Africa after Apartheid and who played for Lazio in Serie A (he’s one of a few South Africans who played in Serie A).” Africas A Country


“The Referee” by Mattias Low

October 13, 2010

“Swedish director Mattias Löw, of the production company Freedom From Choice, shared with me a short documentary called “The Referee,” about the unfortunate Martin Hannson, who officiated the France-Ireland qualifier last fall and failed to call Thierry Henry’s decisive handball.” (Soccer Politics)


Derby date for new-look Brazil

October 4, 2010

“I’m flying to back to Rio and feeling a bit jealous of people who live in the Midlands – not a sentence you’re likely to come across every day. The reason? Next Monday, Brazil come to Derby to face Ukraine, giving fans at Pride Park the chance to have a close look at a fascinating moment in the development of the five-times world champions.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)


Central players World Cup 2010

August 24, 2010

“Soccer analysis focuses on particular moments of the game, usually highlights or events preceding a goal. Goals are nice to watch and few events preceding the goal keep it comprehensible. Advanced chess players might be able to do better, but in general we memorize around seven to nine events. In the short term, judging player performance is based on seven to nine actions. Let alone putting those actions back in to team perspective.” (Sport Analysis)


Will a defensive-minded World Cup mean a defensive-minded Premier League season?

August 13, 2010

“ZM was planning to publish an extended article about how the defensiveness of the World Cup could result in a more defensive Premiership season. However, Jonathan Wilson got there first and covered everything. The last time we had this was 2004, the year of the underdog – Jose Mourinho’s Porto won the Champions League and Otto Rehhagel’s Greece won the European Championships by playing defensive-minded football. The start of the next Premier League season was the most negative in the short history of the division, with Mourinho summing it up with his legendary ‘park the bus’ comment following a goalless draw against Tottenham.” (Zonal Marking)


The Match-Fixing Allegation Tainting Spanish Soccer

August 12, 2010

“As Spain continues to revel in reigning supreme after lifting soccer’s World Cup in South Africa last month, a match-fixing allegation is threatening to overshadow the start of the country’s top domestic league. The scandal surfaced when the main shareholder of second division team Hercules was allegedly caught on tape boasting that he paid €100,000 to the goalkeeper of the opposition side Cordoba to throw a match in May.” (TIME)


‘Obama We Are Sorry’ – possibly best World Cup memory from Ghana

August 10, 2010

“Flashback: This video captures the euphoria in the streets of Ghana just after the Black Stars knocked the US out of the World Cup.” (From A Left Wing)


English Pride

August 10, 2010

“This week it seems the latest trend in the football world is retiring from the international game, after both Wes Brown and Paul Robinson called time on their England careers. It’s probably for the best as the last thing a true England fan wants is to be watching players whose hearts are not in it. Representing your country is surely the highest honour of all in the professional game and at the risk of sounding cliched, there really is no ‘I’ in team.” (Beyond The Pitch)


Prepared Blanc wastes little time undertaking French challenge

August 9, 2010

“Why take on a challenge in which you can’t do any better when you can go somewhere you can’t do any worse? That would seem the gist of the rationale behind Laurent Blanc’s reported decision to turn down the coaching job at European champions and Italian double-winners Internazionale and instead take over the France side after the most embarrassing World Cup campaign in its history.” (SI)


Argentine Soccer Politics: Fútbol Para Todos, Continued

August 7, 2010


“Presidential interest in national soccer is nothing new to us. With so much popular will and attention fixated on national teams, national soccer has long been mixed with executive politicking. The recent World Cup has illustrated this phenomenon more clearly than ever, with notable presidential “arbitrations” occurring in the French, Nigerian, and North Korean football associations in the wake of poor tournament performances.” (Soccer Politics)


Out with the old, in with the new

August 4, 2010


Rome – the Basilica of Constantine, Jean Baptiste Camille Corot
“England’s reverse alchemists managed to ensure the so-called Golden Generation produced only leaden performances at the World Cup finals and, like any struggling scientist, Fabio Capello now has to reassess his formula for success. But who are the corrosive elements within his squad, and who should form part of his new experiment?” (ESPN)


Blown calls are human nature

August 3, 2010


Frank Lampard
“It was the World Cup goal seen around the world but missed by the eyes that mattered most: England midfielder Frank Lampard’s shot that dropped cleanly past the German goal line but was not given by the referee. The avalanche of complaints about that missed call and others during the largest soccer tournament in the world raised the philosophical question of whether instant-replay technology improves games or turns them into soulless events run by a bank of blinking lights. Scientists who study the human brain say it is surprising that bad calls do not happen more often.” (The Globe and Mail)


Accidents of Fate: Rättskiparen (The Referee)

August 2, 2010

“Rättskiparen (The Referee) is short documentary about Martin Hansson, the referee who missed Thierry Henry’s handball. A Swedish television program had already committed to this project before the infamous incident which kept Ireland from going to South Africa. The station’s plan had been to track the country’s top ranked referee in the months leading up to the 2010 World Cup – as fate would have it, the story of course got more complex with that one game. It’s an incredible portrait – part of a wave of films looking at referees. This one has an unusually personal quality to it.” (From A Left Wing)


World Cup 2010: Tests ahead as focus turns to Brazil

July 29, 2010

“Since the start of the tournament, delegations from the South American country’s federal and local governments, plus several other different institutions, have been in South Africa trying to learn lessons about staging the world’s biggest sporting event. That’s because, in four years, it will be Brazil’s turn to play host.” (BBC)


The dark arts of sticker collecting

July 27, 2010

“Never mind Mesut Ozil. Forget Thomas Mueller. And as for Keisuke Honda … pah! The discovery of the World Cup was Danny Shittu. Maybe not in South Africa, but certainly in Spain. He might not have made much of an impact on the football field but, boy, has he made an impact off it. Even if he doesn’t realize it himself. Nothing can match the joy of laying your eyes on the Nigeria defender. Danny Shittu / Lagos, 2-9-1980 / 1,88m / 81 kg / Bolton Wanderers (ENG) … No. 133 in the Panini sticker album for the 2010 World Cup. It’s confession time: I am over 30 and I am collecting soccer stickers.” (SI)


France Suspends Entire World Cup Squad

July 27, 2010


“This may just be the best thing France has done since ‘98 (or ‘00 if you prefer). In the wake of that massive mental and behavioral meltdown that was their World Cup 2010 campaign, a show of bad football and even worse insubordination, the French Football Federation has suspended the entire World Cup squad for their next game at the request of new head honcho Laurent Blanc.” (World Cup Blog)


We Are All Made Of Stars

July 25, 2010

“The failure of established ‘Stars’ to shine, certainly in the manner which they had in much of the promotional material issued by sponsors in the run-up to the tournament, seemed a defining feature of the 2010 World Cup. There were many debates around this on Minus the Shooting and Loki posted a piece questioning the ability of the Premier League to create stars. There’s a huge amount of interesting tangents here to me and one is the nature of determining a Premier League star.” (Vieiras Weary One)


Time to Introduce Technology to Football?

July 24, 2010

“The debate about the implementation of the various technologies in football such as the Hawkeye system used in tennis to determine whether the tennis ball falls into or outside of the court has been raging for quite some-time. It has died down in recent times due to the persistent unwillingness of FIFA, the world’s football governing body to implement such technologies in football.” (Beopedia)


Vive la Blanc revolution

July 24, 2010


“The French have a history of doing revolutionary things, and Laurent Blanc’s decision not to call up any of the players that were on ‘the bus of shame’ when les Bleus refused to train at the World Cup is almost up there with lopping the head off Louis XVI. It was the hapless king’s dilettante wife, Marie Antoinette, who declared, ‘Let them eat cake’, and it seems Blanc has taken a leaf out of the Queen’s book with a devil-may-care ditching of every single player who rebelled in South Africa.” (ESPN)


The Ball Day 48 – Farewell Bamako

July 22, 2010

“The Ball says final goodbyes to friends made in Bamako as it heads off the beaten track ou route to Burkina Faso. This EP we have a great song from Mamou Sidibé and her new release on Akwaaba Music with “Mary” find the album on iTunes. ; Check it.” (Blip)


The curious reluctance to love the Spanish: Part 1, Barca

July 21, 2010

“A debate is raging on the excellent Minus the Shooting regarding the dissatisfaction wrought by Spain’s performance at the World Cup so far. A lot of really interesting points are being made about the cognitive dissonance of the media’s framing of Spain and the difficulty to be excited by the virtuosity inherent in their performances.” (Vieira’s Weary One)


The Question: Is the World Cup too big?

July 21, 2010

“I wasn’t quite as down on this World Cup as most people seem to have been, but these things are relative. I’d place it high above 2002 and just above 2006, but behind every other tournament in my lifetime, and I don’t think that’s just down to the weariness of age. For once, in fact, I seem largely to agree with what Sean Ingle says in this piece.” (Guardian)


Demons From World Cup Follow Capello

July 21, 2010

“The World Cup has gone, but the embarrassment lingers for England and its Italian coach, Fabio Capello. The coach and his legal advisers are seeking to distance him from an online rating of players’ performances that bears his name. The Web site, the Capello Index, published last week, does not list one English player among the top 70 at the World Cup after the country was beaten 4-1 by Germany in the first knockout stage.” (NYT)


On Losing

July 20, 2010


Paolo Uccello, The Battle of San Romano
“Now that the World Cup is over and the Spaniards and everyone else who admired their elegant way of playing soccer is happy, and the few nations whose teams either exceeded expectations or did okay in the month-long tournament have returned to their normal lives, the fans in underachieving countries are still fuming, many of them destined to recall for the rest of their days how their side either disgraced themselves, or were the victims of gross injustice. For those of them that have been following their national team for years, they’ve most likely already suffered more than any holy martyr in the history of the church, and yet it’s doubtful that even one of them will go to heaven, because they cursed and swore till they were blue in the face each time their team lost.” (NYR – Charles Simic)


Top ten managers of the World Cup

July 20, 2010


Milovan Rajevac
“Sometimes in-depth tactical analysis can overcomplicate the fairly basic job of a manager – to get the best out of his players. Here are the ten managers who did that well at this World Cup.” (Zonal Marking)


The W-W formation: the future?!

July 20, 2010

“It is hard to envisage how formations will evolve in response to the current formational hegemony 4-2-3-1. It is an adaptable format which matches up well against other approaches. Two defensive midfielders provide a shield for the back four, which allows the full-backs to advance. The attacking midfielder has the freedom in behind the centre-forward to influence forward play without being mired in the opposition’s central defence – and they also prevent the team from being outnumbered in midfield.” (World Cup College)


The Ball Day 45 – Mali backtracking, hair braiding & football

July 20, 2010

“Bus rides, hair braiding, and the spirit of football go hand in hand. The Ball continues its journey through Mali this time heading out on some backtracking through more remotes parts of Mali away from Bamako.Today’s EP features music from Akwaaba Music artist Iba Diabate with ‘Dakan Tessa’ listen and download the track at Bandcamp. The second track is from Mamou Sidibe with ‘Tounge’ and you can find it on iTunes right here.” (The Ball 2010)


FIFA’s Foul Play

July 19, 2010


Cape of Good Hope
“For any practitioner of Zen who imagines he has achieved a state of detached equanimity, the ultimate test must be to watch his national side play at soccer’s World Cup. That England’s team is dull, I tell myself after the first game, I can handle; that they are truly dire, I reflect after the second and third, is perhaps only par for the course. When, in their first knockout match, England goes 2–0 down to a fluent and attractive Germany, it seems the perfect opportunity for resignation and acceptance.” (NYB)


Brazilian league lacks bite

July 19, 2010

“Spain or Barcelona? No contest. Week in, week out, Barcelona combine the midfield interplay of Xavi and Iniesta with the cutting edge of Lionel Messi, Daniel Alves and co. The comparison serves to confirm the impression that these days club football is of a much higher standard than international – as long as we restrict the debate to the major European leagues. The big clubs in Spain, England, Italy and Germany are in front of the national teams because of the time their players spend together and because they count on the best talent from all over the planet. When the World Cup stops and domestic football returns, the level of play goes up.” (BBC – Tim Vickery)


Remediations

July 19, 2010

“I was born in the age of the instant replay, but only just – if it was in fact in 1970 that they started using it, as I seem to recall having heard once. I wasn’t able to confirm that, and still wonder if Hurst’s goal of 1966 was available to the television audience for immediate review, however grainily. I know for a fact the games were broadcast in black and white back then, and that it was only cinemagoers who got to see the highlight packages in colour. At any rate, the first World Cup in my actual memory is the one of 1978 and at that stage you could watch the games live – still only in black and white in our household – and the replays of the goals during the games themselves, but that was it.” (Miinus the Shooting)


The final analysis, part five: Iniesta takes up increasingly advanced positions before pouncing

July 19, 2010

“The first sign that Andres Iniesta was the danger man came midway through the second half of normal time, when he found himself through on goal (pink), but took too long to get a shot away.” (Zonal Marking)


Feel It: Reflections on South Africa 2010 and the Contradictions of Fandom

July 19, 2010

“Though a round-about series of unplanned events, a few weeks ago I ended up watching South Africa play France in an immense and busy fan park in a dusty working class outskirt of Pretoria/Tshwane. In the fan park, while stumbling around looking for an angle on one of the big-screens, a couple South African fans glommed onto my American friend and me with curiosity: other than some staff running the show, we seemed to be two of the few white people in the place and we obviously didn’t quite know what we were doing. So, as always seemed to happen during World Cup 2010, the locals took it upon themselves to look out for us.” (Pitch Invasion)


ZM’s World Cup 2010 Best XI

July 19, 2010

“This was the tournament in which many of the big names failed to perform, but few of this XI were unknowns before the tournament started. No rules about number of players per country, here’s ZM’s all-star XI.” (Zonal Marking)


This time for South Africa?

July 18, 2010


“As the sound of the Vuvzelas dies away – at least until the start of South Africa’s domestic league season – many South Africans begin to get on with their normal lives. But did the tournament, which was hailed as an unprecedented success, really make things better for South Africans like the papers are saying it has? I decided to ask them.” (Not on the Wires)


Agincourt and England 2010

July 18, 2010

“Paul Carpenter (Carpsio) takes the ‘passion and commitment’ line of England criticism in an interesting direction with an informed comparison of Agincourt to that 4-1 defeat to Germany…” (More Than Mind Games)


Africa’s World Cup?

July 18, 2010

“On the eve of Ghana’s fateful loss to Uruguay in the quarterfinals, South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, declared them the Black Stars of Africa. Locals joined their compatriots across the continent in willing the Black Stars on. When Uruguayan gamesmanship prevailed in the end, the disappointment seemed genuine. Even Nelson Mandela sent “a message of condolence” to Asamoah Gyan, the Ghana forward, who missed the dramatic penalty at the end of extra time. (Ghana eventually lost on penalties.)” (Social Text)


Thomas Hobbes & English Mechanism

July 18, 2010


Thomas Hobbes
“WCC has noted previously that the England team appears to operate somewhat mechanistically. Even over a successful qualification campaign it seemed that Fabio Capello’s efforts had yielded mechanical rather than organic solidarity. The team was playing well together, but like an ordered collection of components rather than a smooth functioning whole. This reflects English society to a degree: this nation is closely defined by the temporal framework of a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday culture. Collectivist solutions to social problems such as the Welfare State, which were predominantly put into place in the immediate post-war era, also have something of an overarching mechanistic quality.” (World Cup College)


World Cup 2010: Henry Winter diary part 1

July 17, 2010


“June 3: Pride before a fall. England swan into town and the locals start dancing. They’ll soon be laughing, but for now respect fills warm air of the savannah at the Bafokeng Sports Campus outside Rustenburg. Even the king of the Bafokeng tribe turns up to greet Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and Rio Ferdinand. The noble warrior does well to get close. England are surrounded by heavy security as they disgorge from a battle-bus emblazoned with the slogan ‘Playing With Pride And Glory’’. Someone obviously has a sense of humour. A nearby building would be better suited to hosting England — the Phokeng Trauma Centre.” (Telegraph – Henry Winter, Part 1), (Telegraph – Henry Winter, Part 2), (Telegraph – Henry Winter, Part 3)


Not For Glory Alone

July 17, 2010

“Two billion souls: One must begin with that. That’s how many people, or nearly so, sat or stood in view of television screens to watch twenty-two men kick a white ball around a green field on a warm July night in Berlin four years ago. The twenty-two men comprised the men’s national soccer teams of Italy and France. The occasion was the final game of the 2006 World Cup. The cagey match, as the world now knows, turned on an extraordinary event near its end when France’s captain and star, Zinedine Zidane, strode toward the Italian defender Marco Materazzi and, for reasons unknown, drove his bald pate into the taller man’s chest. The motion mimicked one he’d used a few minutes earlier to head a flighted ball inches over the Italians’ goal, coming ago nizingly close to winning the day for France. Now Zidane was expelled, his team was rattled, and a player in blue whose name few outside Umbria and Trieste recall darted inside a player in white and curled the ball inside the French goal with his left foot, cueing images, on countless flickering screens around the planet, of his countrymen celebrating Italy’s triumph in the floodlit waters of the Trevi fountain in Rome.” (Laphams Quarterly)


“They Didn’t Have to Deserve It … They Were Just Playing”

July 17, 2010


Andrés Iniesta
“His control of the ball, his first touch, looked just a tiny bit heavy by the exalted standards of Andrés Iniesta. The football popped up in the air and seemed to hang there, as Iniesta turned toward it with intent. Around the world we held our breath or shouted out or just waited to see if, after two hours of soccer, we would at last see a goal, and thus be spared the cheap drama of a penalty shootout to decide the destination of the World Cup trophy.” (counterpunch)


The final analysis, part four: second half changes on the flanks

July 17, 2010

“As the game wore on, Arjen Robben took up even more advanced and central positions when Holland had the ball. Indeed, the shot below sees Robben (green) about to race through for his one-on-one with Iker Casillas, and the Spain defence temporarily looks like a back three up against two strikers, with two man-markers and Gerard Pique (yellow) as the sweeper.” (Zonal Marking)


Del Bosque finally proves he’s far more than just a player’s coach

July 16, 2010


Vicente del Bosque
“‘Vicente del Bosque is a lovely man.’ Rarely has anyone been quite so damned with faint praise; never has a human strength been so readily and immediately presented as a professional weakness, a quality presumed to be a defect. Del Bosque is indeed a lovely man, a good man — impeccably polite, overwhelmingly decent. Loyal, humble, kindly, he is like a favorite uncle with a bushy ‘tache, a portly belly and the warmest of handshakes. But by extension, by definition, he is not much of a coach. After all, nice guys come last.” (SI)


Diego Forlan Deserves the Golden Ball

July 16, 2010

“World Cup 2010 has been done and dusted, as we have found a champion out of the 32 teams competing for the biggest prize of all in footballing universe, Spain, as well as Thomas Muller, the winner of the Golden Boot award and also for the young German to officially announce his arrival in world football. However, there’s still one more award which drew quite a lot of criticisms and that’s the Golden Ball award, awarded to the best player in the tournament. In World Cup 2010, the winner is Uruguay’s Diego Forlan, and many pundits and fans, especially Internazionale fans out there feel that Forlan is not a deserving recipient of this award, as they feel that Wesley Sneijder, the runners-up for the award, or in other words the Silver Ball winner of this tournament who should have been the recipient of the Golden Ball.” (Beopedia)


World Cup scouting: The 32 – Conclusions

July 16, 2010


Antonio Di Natale
“Starting with Nicolás Lodeiro back in December last year, Football Further selected 32 players to watch out for at the 2010 World Cup and then tracked their progress through the tournament via weekly scouting reports. Below is a full compilation of those reports, along with conclusions (and marks out of 10) on how each player performed.” (Football Further)


From Total to Anti-Football: Why Holland Lost, and I’m Glad

July 16, 2010

“Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll provide you with all the post-WC analysis you can handle, but for now, let’s talk about the final. As I was watching the game, I didn’t have a strong rooting interest either way, but I expected a great game. Both teams were stocked with All-Stars at virtually every position. The Spanish had won Euro; the Dutch were working on an undefeated tournament. Although the score line of a lot of the Spanish games this tournament were not as impressive as some of the other teams (Germany for example), anyone who watched a Spain game – watched the execution, understood their dominance on the ball, marveled at their ability to play ‘keep away’ after scoring a goal – knew that they were impressive. Meanwhile, the Dutch had seemingly rolled through the tournament and they managed to defeat mighty and heavily favored Brazil. This game was to be an epic showdown.” (Yanks are coming)


The final analysis, part three: brilliant Busquets

July 16, 2010

“As is customary after a Spain or Barcelona success, the performance of Sergio Busquets (two La Ligas, a Champions League and a World Cup after two seasons of professional football) has largely been ignored. In the World Cup final he was one of the key players for Spain – keeping Wesley Sneijder quiet, providing his usual solid, reliable passing from a deep midfield position, and dropping between his centre-backs to turn Spain’s 4-2-3-1 into something more like a 3-3-3-1 or 3-4-3 when in possession.” (Zonal Marking)


World Cup 2010 Redux: Links & Videos

July 16, 2010

“So, yeah, the World Cup has ended. Some hated it. I enjoyed it. Of course, I took into account that no even can realistically live up to the hype as “the greatest and most entertaining” sporting event on Earth. Still, from the fluid counter-attacking Germans to the patient passing Iberians, this tournament was light years ahead of the catenaccio Italians and plodding French of 2006. Yes, Zizou was amazing in the outrounds of that tournament. No, that did not redeem the other 31 teams or other games. But enough of that, onto links and classic videos from South Africa 2010.” (futfanatico)


Why football can’t save the world

July 16, 2010

“Now the tournament is over, it’s a good time to get some perspective on the World Cup. In the latest WSC, Ian Plenderleith looks at some sporting (and marketing) myths.” (WSC)


‘Octodamus’ and other surprises – Eduardo Galeano

July 15, 2010


Mensaje de Eduardo Galeano para América Latina Cartagena de Indias, Julio de 1997
“Pacho Marturana, a man with vast experience in these battles, says that football is a magical realm where anything can happen. And this World Cup has confirmed his words: it was an unusual World Cup. The 10 stadiums where the Cup was played were unusual, beautiful, immense, and cost a fortune. Who knows how South Africa will be able to keep these cement behemoths operating amid pulverising poverty? The Adidas Jabulani ball was unusual, slippery and half mad, fled hands and disobeyed feet. It was introduced despite players not liking it at all. But from their castle in Zurich, the tsars of football impose, they don’t propose. …” (Dispatch)


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