The real cost of hosting a World Cup

December 15, 2013

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“You don’t often see people consciously building a white elephant, but that’s what I witnessed in Brasilia last year. Smack in downtown, on the main avenue of Brazil’s tropical capital, workers were finishing off a stadium for 70,000 people. The Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha is one of 12 stadiums for next year’s World Cup. And even before the tournament ends, it will be redundant. No club from Brasilia plays in the two divisions of the Brazilian national league. Even what passes for the local powerhouse, Brasilia Futebol Clube, plays only in the local state league, in which the average game draws fewer than 1,000 fans. Nor will the Rolling Stones regularly visit this city in the middle of nowhere to fill the Nacional. Brasilia might as well tear down the stadium after the last World Cup game and save itself maintenance costs. So could other host cities such as Manaus, Cuiaba and Natal.” ESPN – Simon Kuper (Video)


Tactics: inverting the triangle

December 15, 2013

“The designations given to formations rarely tell the whole story. For example, when does 4-4-2 become 4-4-1-1 become 4-2-3-1? And what if the right-sided forward tucks in to allow the right-back to overlap, but on the left the forward stays wide and the full-back sits back, sometimes shuffling into the middle to form a de facto back three. How would that be denoted?” World Soccer – Jonathan Wilson


The Ugly Side of the Beautiful Game

December 15, 2013

“It seems like footballers have taken these words to heart. What we watch these days expecting volumes of excitement and sentiment from the Beautiful Game is accompanied by plenty of acts which are deemed unsportsmanlike, shallow, tarnishing and disgraceful by many. To be fair, it’s what humans have done for thousands of years: proceed in the path that is most profitable to us. Interpreting this in football terms, what we have are plenty of performances that are concentrated purely on gaining an unfair advantage, all of which, mind you, have been worked around and worked through the laws of the game.” Outside of the Boot


Heat is on for all but Argentina

December 15, 2013

“And so after the trip way out west to Cuiaba to take on Chile, it’s the frozen wastes of the south for Ange Postecoglou’s Socceroos. Winter can bite a little bit in the cities of Porto Alegre and Curitiba, where Australia will face Netherlands and Spain respectively. Whoever wins Group B is then in for something of a shock – up to Fortaleza in the north east for a second round match, which is due to kick off at 1pm local time. It will probably be hot enough to fry. A Brazilian first division game would never get going at such a time. A few days ago I was on a TV show with Tite, who has just stepped down from a hugely successful spell in charge of Corinthians – and who could well be the next Brazil coach, once the 2014 circus has packed up and left town.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


Burnley manager Sean Dyche eager to take Championship leaders into the Premier League

December 15, 2013

“Sean Dyche strides from Burnley’s training pitch on the banks of the River Calder, having taken his Championship-leading players through a detailed and energetic session in advance of Saturday’s trip to third-placed Leicester City, and marches into a modest building that resembles a Lancashire village hall on the outside but Nasa on the inside. It is all sports science, mission statements on the wall and borrowed hi-tech running machines. It is clear there is far more to Dyche, the 42-year-old former centre-half, than the general perception. His shaven-headed, physically imposing presence belies a sophisticated approach to the game, a hunger for knowledge and a determination to change critical views of English coaches.” Telegraph – Henry Winter