Sao Paulo metro strike suspended for two days

June 10, 2014

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“Metro workers in Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo, have suspended a strike over pay to allow for negotiations. The five-day stoppage had caused traffic chaos in one of the world’s most congested cities just days ahead of the football World Cup. The union warned that the strike would resume on Thursday – when Sao Paulo hosts the opening match – if its demands are not matched. A strike would make it hard for fans to reach the stadium on Thursday.” BBC


World Cup 2014: age begins to tarnish Ivory Coast’s golden generation

June 10, 2014

“Fate has not been helpful to Ivory Coast at World Cups. In 2006, as the so-called golden generation first emerged, they were drawn in an impossible group with Argentina, Holland and Serbia-Montenegro, lost their first two games and were out almost before they had begun. Four years later, they lost to Brazil, drew with Portugal and, although they beat North Korea, went out as Brazil and Portugal played out a goalless draw. The tournament has been rather kinder on this occasion but the truth is that time has probably been called in the last-chance saloon, and the Ivorians are outside on the pavement wondering if there is anywhere else still open.” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


USA: a diamond midfield

June 10, 2014

“While 4-2-3-1 remains the dominant formation, there’s a decent amount of tactical variety on show at this World Cup. The United States are expected to add to this variety by using a diamond midfield, which might be unique among the 32 teams. Jurgen Klinsmann has spent recent weeks telling the press that the formation doesn’t matter, but the switch to the diamond in April’s 2-2 friendly draw against Mexico was a significant move, and was designed to bring the best out of the USA’s outstanding player, Michael Bradley.” Zonal Marking


Diamonds in the Rough

June 10, 2014

“The human body is 18 percent carbon, which means that if you subject it to high enough pressures at high enough temperatures and hold it there for a long enough time, it will form diamonds. You can try this yourself, in a laboratory. All it takes is, say, a pound of human ash, more than 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and 60,000 times the standard atmospheric pressure of Earth at sea level. Extract carbon, bake, compress. Check back in a few weeks. Not a DIYer? No problem. Just FedEx your burial urn to one of the many Internet-facing memorial-diamond companies that have sprung up in the last few years. For between $2,500 and $25,000, outfits like Chicago’s LifeGem and Switzerland’s Algordanza will take the cremated remains of your loved ones and return them, presto chango, in the form of wearable jewelry.” Grantland – Brian Phillips


Switzerland: true dark horses

June 10, 2014

“Switzerland have appeared at the previous two World Cups, and from their seven matches across those two tournaments, have conceded just one goal. They’ve always boasted good organisation, but have lacked quality in attacking positions to record victories. That might have changed. Switzerland have a superb generation of young talent, summed up by the fact their four forwards are aged 21, 22, 23 and 24, and their first-choice attacking midfielders 21 and 25. If Switzerland can keep their traditional defensive structure while successfully introducing attacking invention, they have all the qualities required to succeed.” Zonal Marking


The Night Croatia’s Soccer Players Booked Hotel Rooms for Their Fans

June 10, 2014

“The morning after Croatia defeated Germany, the defending European Champion, 3–0 in the quarterfinals of the 1998 World Cup, I drove a rented Renault up to Vittel, where the victors would be based for the days leading up to the semifinal against France. Vittel is a genteel spa town, best known for the mineral water that is bottled under its name. Grand old hotels lined the perfectly maintained streets. The few people appeared oblivious to the presence of the team that had just pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament.” Fusion


Terry Gilliam, Guy Ritchie & Alejandro González Iñárritu Direct Soccer Ads for Nike

June 10, 2014

“Even if you don’t hail from one of the world’s many soccer-loving countries (you know, the ones that don’t call it ‘soccer’) surely you can get on board for the World Cup. Here in the United States, I often hear ‘I just watch it for the ads’ said about the Super Bowl. And if that game’s breaks showcase some pretty cool spots, then its non-American football equivalent offers an even higher level of promotional spectacle. Last year, we featured Brazil and 12 Monkeys auteur Terry Gilliam’s two ventures into the form of the World Cup commercial, ‘The Secret Tournament’ and ‘The Rematch,’ the first of which you can watch at the top of the post.” Open Culture (Video)


The World Cup Is About to Begin, and FIFA’s Reputation Has Never Been Worse

June 10, 2014

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“With the World Cup kicking off this Thursday, the month of June should be FIFA’s moment in the sun. Instead, the skies continue to darken over soccer’s international governing body. It all started on June 1, when The Sunday Times exposed that Mohamed bin Hammam, a former member of FIFA’s executive committee, had secretly bribed soccer officials worldwide nearly $5 million in an attempt to win votes for Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup. This wasn’t the first corruption charge leveled at bin Hammam: he was banned from FIFA in 2012 on charges of bribery, though the decision was later overturned.” New Republic (Video)


Iran: frustrating to watch, frustrating to play against

June 10, 2014

“In a World Cup featuring lots of very familiar sides, Iran are something of an exception. They were absent from the 2010 edition, lack standout individual names, and a combination of politics and finances means their preparation for the tournament, in terms of warm-up matches, has been minimal, although they’ve now managed to squeeze in four pre-tournament friendlies. Opposition players won’t naturally know much about Iran, and opposition scouts will find it difficult to build a picture of their strengths and weaknesses.” Zonal Marking


The group stage’s biggest battles

June 10, 2014

“The group stage of the World Cup is nearly upon us — 48 matches in eight groups, from 12 venues, spread across 15 days. It can all be a little overwhelming, so here’s a group-by-group preview of the key battles between teams, managers and players.” ESPN – Michael Cox(Video)


UFWC World Cup preview: Uruguay’s chances in Brazil

June 10, 2014

“The UFWC title is going to the World Cup, in the hands of Unofficial Football World Champions Uruguay. The WC tournament begins in Brazil this Thursday, 12 June, and the UFWC action begins on Saturday, 14 June, when Uruguay play Costa Rica in Group D. Also in Group D are England and Italy, both likely to be involved in UFWC title matches over the next couple of weeks. Depending on results, the unofficial title may then be contested in the knock-out stages, which would mean UFWC title matches all the way to the WC Final.” Unofficial Football World Championships


Statistically speaking, pressure is on USA to get points in World Cup opener

June 10, 2014

“How important is the USA’s first game of the World Cup? Let’s just say that if the U.S. wants to advance from a difficult group (Germany, Portugal, Ghana), history shows that it needs to get at least a point from Monday’s U.S. opener against Ghana (while three points from a win would be fantastic). On Tuesday, I asked U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley if he viewed the Ghana game as a must-win or a must-get-a-result game.” SI