Watching the World’s Game, in the World’s City

June 9, 2014

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“On a gloriously sunny afternoon recently, Lunasa, an East Village pub, was packed seven deep at the bar, as three TVs showed the day’s big games. Soccer games, that is, in Germany, Portugal and England. Just wait until the World Cup starts on June 12. Outside Brazil, there is no better place to experience the world’s sport than the world’s city. Passion for soccer runs deep in New York, among Ghana fans in the Bronx, who expect yet another victory over the United States team; among the Japanese faithful in a discreet Kips Bay lounge; and bursting from 900 Bosnians around Astoria preparing for their nation’s first ‘Svjetski Kup.’ There are 32 teams, in eight groups; we have chosen one nation from each group and provided a local prism to view the games through.” NY Times

Where to Watch the World Cup in New York


Cameroon: need to get the midfield balance right

June 9, 2014

“With Cameroon, off-field issues are of greater concern than tactical factors. They always have some kind of problem in terms of organisation, and it was no great great surprise when a row about bonuses threatened to take over again. There have also been problems between Samuel Eto’o and Alex Song, Cameroon’s star players, in the past. Following an extremely unconvincing qualification campaign, where Cameroon suffered from infighting, had three different coaches and only escaped elimination because Togo were found guilty of fielding an ineligible player, it was difficult to see any hope for them at this World Cup. A recent 2-2 draw with Germany suggests all is not lost, however.” Zonal Marking


World Cup 2014 Tactics: Analysing Chile’s tactical approach, formation, and set up

June 9, 2014

“Tasked with a difficult group but favoured by a familiar climate, Chile head to Brazil with a target of qualifying for the second round which will equal their best effort since the tournament expanded to 32 teams, having reached the last 16 in both 1998 and 2010. In South Africa, led by the innovative Marcelo Bielsa, they progressed from Spain’s group after running the eventual winners close in Pretoria and they once again face the World and European champions in Brazil. Group B also houses the Netherlands, losing-finalists last time out and coached by Manchester United’s Louis Van Gaal, and a rather transitional Australia who boast the least experienced squad of all in this World Cup.” Outside of the Boot


Sao Paulo police tear gas protesters

June 9, 2014

“Brazilian riot police have used tear gas against protesters in Sao Paulo, three days before the World Cup opening game in the city’s main stadium. The BBC’s Katy Watson at the scene said about 300 demonstrators were there and helicopters circled overhead. The protest was called by Sao Paulo metro workers who are striking in support of a 12.2% salary increase. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has said she would not allow violent demonstrations to mar the World Cup. Sao Paulo metro workers have been on strike since Thursday, creating traffic chaos in one of the world’s most congested cities.” BBC (Video)


Tomgram: Eduardo Galeano, The World Cup and the Corporatization of Soccer

June 9, 2014

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“There is a tiny universe of editors of Eduardo Galeano. I was once one of them. Carl Bromley of Nation Books is so today. For an editor, working with such an author is an experience glorious beyond describing. Think of it as to ordinary editing what ‘the beautiful game’ (soccer), World Cup variety, is to sports. With the latest round of that contest imminent, I thought the perfect teaser for TomDispatch readers would be a selection from Galeano’s classic book, Soccer in Sun and Shadow, and Galeano’s splendid literary agent Susan Bergholz agreed immediately. So, one editor to another, I asked Carl, as a literary gent and a Brit with a yen for soccer (who will be cheering for Italy), to do the TomDispatch introduction. Let me give all of you the TomDispatch Guarantee: buy Galeano’s book before the World Cup begins and you may not be able to look up long enough to catch the games! Remember, he’s just been called ‘the Pele of soccer writers’ in the Guardian.” TomDispatch

amazon: Soccer in Sun and Shadow by Eduardo Galeano


The Burden of Being Messi

June 9, 2014

“In much of Argentina, where Lionel Messi lived until he was 13, native speakers replace the ‘y’ sound with a ‘sh’ sound. Yo, the personal pronoun for ‘I,’ becomes ‘sho,’ and calle, which other Spanish speakers would pronounce ‘ka-yay,’ becomes ‘ka-shey.’ The sound gives Argentine Spanish a slurry softness that resembles aspects of the Portuguese spoken in Brazil. More important to this story, that ‘sh,’ and the fact that Messi has retained it all his life, has at times been the sole lifeline between the greatest soccer player in the world and the country he plays for.” NY Times


Racism on soccer field in Brazil still hidden not so deep beneath surface

June 9, 2014

“RIO DE JANEIRO — Close to the geographical heart of Brazil, in the little-known state of Tocantins, soccer players remonstrated with a referee over a decision. Tensions ran high at the state championship match in the small town of Peixe, and in the midst of the ruckus, an official observer called an Afro-Brazilian player a ‘monkey.’  The incident barely made a ripple outside the town of 9,000, and police ignored the victim, a middle school teacher. But as Brazil pulled behind its defender Daniel Alves after a banana was thrown in his direction while he was playing for Barcelona, the episode in Tocantins revealed the country’s complicated relationship with racial identity.” Al Jazeera


‘The other French team’: Soccer and independence in Algeria

June 9, 2014

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Fans of Algeria’s soccer team celebrate World Cup qualification in Algiers on Nov. 19, 2013. Twelve people died in the celebrations.
“Today we continue our series on politics, political science and the World Cup (here are posts 12, and 3) with a look at identity, politics, and football in Algeria and France. First up is Tony Ross, who examines how soccer got tied up in Algeria’s struggle for independence but now exemplifies the country’s continued ties to France.” Washington Post


World Cup 2014 Tactics: Analysing France’s tactical approach, formation, and set up

June 9, 2014

“If there’s a man who has a more illustrious career than the entire French cirque that has descended upon Brazil this summer, it is the man at the helm of Les Blues, Didier Deschamps. European honors with Juventus and Marseille, along with a European Championship and World Cup medal are credentials enough to convince any Les Blues fan worth his salt that the former Nantes man is good enough to lead France towards a memorable tournament this year. Rewind back to the night in Ukraine, in a scenario where France have failed to over turned the two goal deficit and this could have been an entirely different story altogether. Failure to qualify for the finals would have ensured that Deschamps would never be remembered in the history of French football alongside greats like Platini, Zidane, Henry, (and the usual suspects).” Outside of the Boot


‘Miracle of Eibar’ – Can tiny Spanish club avoid cruel twist of fate?

June 9, 2014

“There is only one fairytale story in Spanish soccer this season, but will it have a happy ending? Forget Atletico Madrid’s first league title for 18 years, disregard its city neighbor Real concluding an exhaustive wait for ‘La Decima’ — a 10th European Champions League crown. Because this season is all about the ‘Miracle of Eibar.’ The Basque town has a population of just 27,000 and the club a budget dwarfed by almost all its rivals, yet back-to-back promotions have banked Eibar a place in the big time.” CNN