Pelé in a match at the 1966 World Cup in England.
“Every team is simply trying to score goals while preventing its opponent from doing the same. But they all seem to go about it in distinct ways, don’t they? To understand what is happening on the fields in Brazil at the World Cup, one must learn a bit about each country’s history, and literature, and music, and regionalism, and economy – not to mention bicycles and pottery. If you look closely enough at the X’s and O’s, you just might find a national poem.” NY Times
“‘When you win the World Cup, you start to become a legend — for the people around the world, you are different.’ For Fabio Cannavaro, this legendary status was hard earned. At just 5 foot 9 inches tall, he wasn’t built to be the world’s greatest center back. And he certainly never expected to be named the world’s best player.” CNN
“World Cups are never just about what transpires on the field. When the 2014 soccer World Cup kicks off in Brazil on June 12, tens of thousands of Brazilians will likely protest, angered by the wasteful government spending that has led up to the tournament. What better platform to make a statement than one watched by billions around the planet? Soccer’s unchallenged place in the global imagination also means that what happens on the field carries special resonance. The goals scored aren’t just markers of sporting success: they are moments of national glory and humiliation, acts of cultural expression and political defiance. World Cup goals can change history. Here are 20 that did.” Washington Post (Video)
“In Cameroon’s biggest city, Douala, we name streets and squares for the alcohol and sex trade (rue de la Joie), for corruption (Carrefour des Trois Voleurs, or Junction of the Three Robbers, for three officials who used public funds to build houses in the area), for violent deaths and footballers. All these names are unofficial. The only official names are those of the colonisers. Carrefour Eto’o Fils, the junction named for our striker and captain Samuel Eto’o, is in New Bell, the populous quartier where he was born. It is a few blocks from Place Roger Milla and Carrefour Thomas Nkono, named for past footballers. New Bell is Cameroon’s Soweto – revolutions begin here.” FT
“1. THE ‘SHOT’ THAT STARTED IT ALL. In November 1989, the week-long training camp before the most important U.S. soccer game in 40 years was the usual no-frills affair. In the days before cell phones and the Internet, the U.S. players slept two to a dorm room in Cocoa Beach, Fla., and shared a single pay phone among all of them to call home. But they did have basic televisions in each small unit, and one night defender Paul Caligiuri was sitting on the floor when his roommate, goalkeeper Tony Meola, commandeered the couch and started flipping through channels looking for a show to watch. Their talk turned to the game they would play two days later in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, a World Cup qualifier that bore the highest of stakes. To clinch the U.S.’s first World Cup berth since 1950, the Americans had to win on the road against a team that had not lost at home during the qualifying campaign. If the U.S. tied or lost, tiny T&T would end up grabbing the first World Cup spot in the nation’s history.” SI
“Colette, the ‘Grand Dame of French literature’, lived with fame and scandal throughout her life. The novelist and performer caused a riot at the Moulin Rouge in 1907 when she simulated sex with another woman on stage. She seduced her stepson when he was 16, telling him: ‘It’s time you became a man.’ She had three husbands, two messy divorces and a string of lovers, both male and female. In 1924, when Paris hosted the Olympic Games, Colette met, and was captivated by, one of its participants: José Leandro Andrade. Their upbringings could not have been more different: Andrade was a Uruguayan footballer who had slept on a dirt floor in his childhood and spent little time at school. But Colette was not the only famous Frenchwoman smitten by Andrade.” Guardian
“Elmo Cordeiro is 80 now, but he still stands ramrod-straight, with a ready smile and eyes that shine under a set of bushy gray eyebrows. It isn’t hard to turn back the clock and imagine him 64 years ago, his white hair a darker shade, his skin wrinkle-free, his compact frame darting around the edge of a soccer field chasing down errant balls. In 1950, Cordeiro was a ballboy at the Estádio Independência here in Belo Horizonte, Brazil—stationed yards away from the historic goal itself—for perhaps the most famous upset in the 84-year history of the World Cup.” SI (Video)