Futebol = life

March 5, 2014

“‘Life imitates art far more than art imitates life,” wrote Oscar Wilde, who might not have spent much time in Brazil. For here, it is not art that life imitates, but football. There is arguably nowhere in the world where the game is so gloriously and tragically tied to the feats and failures of the society that surrounds it, and it is hard to think of another country whose history is so symbiotically linked to the sport or that looks so pleadingly to the success of its national team for self-validation.” ESPN (Video)

2014 World Cup: Pressure starting to rise for hosts Brazil
“‘We’re working in conditions where the cement is not yet dry,’ said Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke as preparations for the 2014 World Cup move towards the final straight. The strain is showing on Valcke. Fifa wanted all 12 stadiums ready by December, to give plenty of time for test events. Sao Paulo, scene of the opening game, may not be handed over until May. Curitiba got itself so far behind that there was a real danger of the city being cut from the schedule.” BBC – Tim Vickery

Battling the elements in Brazil
“‘President Blatter,’ asked a Fortaleza-born journalist during the World Cup draw last December, ‘in Fortaleza we never play soccer until early evening to avoid the heat. Why,’ the journalist continued, referencing the local times, ‘have you scheduled matches at 1 p.m. or 4 p.m.?’ FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s predictable answer mentioned Brazil’s time difference with the body’s biggest market, European TVs. Given that those kickoff times won’t change, some squads will have to prepare for a grueling mixture of heat and muggy weather, tiring factors to be added to the huge distances between certain venues.” ESPN

Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life
“The Brazilian football team is one of the modern wonders of the world. At its best it exudes a skill, flamboyance and romantic pull like nothing else on earth. Football is how the world sees Brazil and how Brazilians see themselves. The game symbolises racial harmony, flamboyance, youth, innovation and skill, and yet football is also a microcosm of Latin America’s largest country and contains all of its contradictions. Travelling extensively from the Uruguayan border to the northeastern backlands, from the coastal cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo to the Amazon jungle-Bellos shows how Brazil changed football and how football shaped Brazil. He tells the stories behind the great players, like Pele and Garrincha, between the great teams, like Corinthians and Vasco de Gama, and the great matches, as well as extraordinary stories from people and pitches all over this vast country.” amazon

Don’t Take Julian Green to the World Cup

March 5, 2014

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that Julian Green is a special soccer player. The 18-year-old winger already made his first-team debut for Pep Guardiola’s world-destroying Bayern Munich, and has scored nearly a goal a game for its reserve team this season. Born in Tampa, Green has lived in Germany since he was 2. He is, at worst, an exceptionally promising prospect. At best? Who knows; projecting the future of a teenage soccer phenom is an exercise in cloudy crystal-ball reading under the simplest circumstances, and Green’s situation is far from simple. He’s not Lionel Messi, but he’s closer to him than he is to Freddy Adu. Let’s just say he’s the type of player who, in the right situation, could dramatically improve the fortunes of the United States national team this summer in Brazil.” Grantland

The Indomitable Tino

March 5, 2014

“September 5th, 1993 is more or less regarded as major event in Colombian history, a sort of soccer version of Independence Day. That is the date that the Colombian and Argentinian national football teams met in Buenos Aires for the last of their qualifying matches for the 1994 USA World Cup. Whichever team won would go straight to the World Cup. The loser would face Australia in a playoff. A tie would have sufficed for Colombia, but instead they won the match 5-0. It remains the biggest win in Colombia’s history. A player known simply as “El Tino” scored the second of Colombia’s goals—skilfully evading two defenders and the goalkeeper, and then scoring as he fell to the ground—and the fourth, a clever chip, before assisting teammate Freddy Rincón for the fifth. The day cemented Faustino Asprilla’s place in Colombian history.” ROADS & KINGDOMS