Daily Archives: June 26, 2014

Messi Lifts Spirits of Argentines, Even Those Without Tickets

“An estimated 50,000 Argentines completed the trek to this World Cup city by Wednesday morning. Many of the soccer pilgrims were wearing long faces along with their Lionel Messi jerseys as they roamed the parks and the streets and took in the hazy view of Guaíba lake while carrying hand-lettered signs that read, ‘Compro’ (‘I’m buying’). ‘It’s shameful; the scalpers are asking for 1,200 to 1,500 dollars for a ticket with a face value of no more than 100,’ said Cintia Perri, a young woman from Buenos Aires who had driven 20 hours to get here and spent the night in her car in a nearby camping site. But Messi would soon lift the mood of his sleep-deprived, ticket-deprived compatriots.” NY Times

Magical Messi continues to rise
“At the very least, Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella could say someone else settled the game. It wasn’t Lionel Messi who got the decisive goal; it wasn’t quite so necessary for the playmaker to drag his team forward. Instead, left-back Marcos Rojo kneed home Ezequiel Lavezzi’s corner, and Argentina eventually beat Nigeria 3-2. It gave Sabella’s men a flawless points record from the group stage, with three wins from three games in Group F, but they are far from a flawless team. Although the specific details may have changed, the wider reality remains the same. It is the same storyline around the team tipped as one of the favourites to lift the trophy next month and the developing narrative of this World Cup.” ESPN (Video)


World Cup 2014: group stage, day 14. ARGENTINA 3-2 NIGERIA. BOSNIA 3-1 IRAN. SWITZERLAND 3-0 HONDURAS. FRANCE 0-0 ECUADOR.

“A gentle, open game with both sides already through. Open feel. This game could have gone in two very different ways. With both happy with a draw, it could have been slow, boring and about both teams avoiding injuries. However, there was a sense both wanted to put on a show, having been underwhelming in their opening two matches, and therefore it was open and entertaining. With two goals inside the first five minutes, it was immediately an enjoyable contest. Messi. Nigeria’s main tactic was to track Lionel Messi extremely tightly. Ogenyi Onazi was usually the man with this responsibility, although sometimes Messi was passed on to the other two midfielders when he drifted around the pitch.” Zonal Marking

How Soccer Explains the World

“Female soccer fans in Iran chuck aside the hijab to celebrate the national team’s victory halfway across the globe. Brazilian managers swindle American corporations abroad and exploit their own players at home. Undisciplined soccer stars from Nigeria are sold to Ukrainian teams and forced to adapt to chess-like coaching strategies in the dead of winter. Globalization never seems so vivid as when seen through the eyes of a soccer fan. In his new book, How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization, Franklin Foer looks at the passions and rivalries embedded in soccer, and comes up with some surprising theories about our ever-shrinking world.” Mother Jones

amazon: How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization – Franklin Foer

Why You Should Root for Nigeria (or Brazil, Mexico or Ghana)

“Most of the world considers soccer’s quadrennial World Cup to be the most important sporting competition of all. A growing number of Americans have embraced the event, but many are only vaguely aware of it, and, aside from the United States, not so sure for whom to root. I am offering an alternative, utilitarian guide to help Americans choose a country to support. This guide can also be used if the Americans are eliminated, to help decide whom to root for among the remaining teams. The basic principle is simple, drawn from utilitarian principles: Root for the outcome that will produce the largest aggregate increase in happiness. So I came up with a simple index, calculated by a country’s passion for soccer multiplied by its average level of poverty multiplied by its population. It’s perhaps a bit crude, simply to multiply these factors by each other, but the exercise highlights some important truths about the world.” NT Times

World Cup 2014: A Tie Sends France Through and Ecuador Out

“The goals came so easy, and so often, for France in its first two games at the World Cup that one could be forgiven for assuming it might never end. Three against Honduras. Five against Switzerland. When the well went dry in a scoreless tie against Ecuador on Wednesday, there were bound to be questions. Just do not bring them to France’s coach, Didier Deschamps. Unbeaten and safely in the second round as the first-place team in his group, he was not really interested in hearing them.” NY Times

Ramadan Poses Test to Muslim Players at World Cup
“Down the quiet, tree-lined Rua Gonzaga Bastos, less than half a mile from Estádio do Maracanã, the custodian of this city’s only mosque was preparing for the busiest time of the year. Mohamed Zeinhom Abdien, the custodian, was sitting at a desk opposite messy piles of boxes containing thousands of leaflets about Islam written in Portuguese, English and Arabic. The observance of Ramadan, one of Islam’s five pillars, is a religious obligation in which Muslims fast and forgo any liquids from dawn until dusk over the course of a month. The month begins Saturday night, and Abdien’s usually quiet mosque has been inundated with newcomers.” NY Times

Why Are These Fans Showing Up to World Cup Matches in Blackface?

“Racial attitudes, historian Barbara Fields wrote in a classic essay, are ‘promiscuous critters that do not mind cohabiting with their opposites.’ If I were FIFA, I’d consider hang that from a banner in the World Cup stadiums to provide a little inspiration for self-reflection among certain fans. It might ultimately do more good than the more satisfyingly pedantic ‘Say No to Racism,’ which is of course an unimpeachable as a command but has the disadvantage that it requires the people at whom it is directed to understand what racism is. But to interpret, understand, and confront racism in sport is to enter into a labyrinth of contradictions. And it forces us study the denials and tactics of deflection and self-exoneration on the part of fans and institutions alike.” New Republic

The Ivory Coast’s Golden Generation Comes to a Cruel End

“The soccer gods can be cruel. Nobody knows that more than Les Éléphants of Ivory Coast. For the third-straight World Cup, the nation finished third in its group and failed to move on to the knockout stages. In a way, this exit is more painful than previous departures in Germany and South Africa. For this trailblazing collection of superstars, the dream is over, almost certainly for good. The tale of Les Éléphants becomes more popular with each passing World Cup (although it can often carry with it a faint unpleasant scent of paternalism).” Grantland

Reality Bites

“When Zinedine Zidane head-butted Marco Materazzi during the 2006 World Cup final between France and Italy, he more or less blew any chance France had of winning the game. Materazzi is believed to have made some provocative suggestions about Zidane’s sister, and what’s winning the World Cup next to defending one’s sister’s reputation? Luis Suárez’s action yesterday—he left an impression of his teeth in Giorgio Chiellini’s left shoulder—will, after his inevitable ban, have the same effect of terminally harming his country’s chances of victory. But unfortunately for him, Suárez doesn’t have a chivalric excuse. Human beings frequently act against their own self-interest. Think of the highly successful British pop group KLF, two of whose members, self-described as the K Foundation, withdrew a million pounds of their own money from the bank back in 1994 and ceremonially burned it.” The Paris Review – Jonathan Wilson