What the World Cup Looks Like to a Refugee Child

July 12, 2014

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“I wanted to write a post predicting who will win the World Cup, but then truly, who really cares about my prediction? What do I know? I’m no pundit, not that pundits know anything anyway. Also, I’m a firm Bohrian. It was Niels who said, ‘Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.’ Basically, a child could do just as well as me. So why not have a child do it? Not just any child, but a refugee. I had friends who work with two NGOs ask kids served by their groups some questions about the World Cup. The first organization is the World Food Programme in Beirut, which provides essential food and nutrition to over a million Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The second is Faros, an NGO in Athens, Greece, that provides individual assistance and long-term, durable solutions for unaccompanied refugee minors, mostly from Iraq and Afghanistan.” New Republic


After Soccer Loss, Dilma Rousseff Soothes Brazil With a Song

July 12, 2014

“As her country recovers from its humiliating loss to Germany in the World Cup, President Dilma Rousseff sang a samba to express Brazil’s resilience and gave no quarter to opponents who suggest that the soccer disaster may haunt her in the election this fall. ‘Soccer doesn’t mix with politics,’ Ms. Rousseff told a small group of foreign correspondents here on Friday night. ‘We’ll be discussing this defeat in Brazil for a long time to come,” she added, defending her government’s handling of the World Cup, which has unfolded without major problems. “It would have been more serious if we had lost outside the stadium than within it.'” NY Times (Video)


Soccer in Brazil, and Outside the World’s Glare

July 12, 2014

“Mauricio Lima has been in Brazil for the World Cup. Not exactly at the games, mind you, but going deep into the hearts — and jungles — where love of the game sustains and thrills (at least until the Brazilian team’s loss this week to Germany). He has ventured to a floating village where children kick improvised soccer balls along narrow docks, to a prison where inmates make balls, to an amateur tournament where teams and beauty queens compete together and to indigenous villages that are an overnight boat ride away from the nearest World Cup match.” NY Times


Photos: Displaced Brazilians Protest as Argentina Prevails in Sao Paulo

July 12, 2014

“I landed early in Sao Paulo after a sleepless night in Belo Horizonte. I was too consumed with the thrashing of Brazil to get any real sleep. I had always thought an early exit from the tournament would be a crucial moment in the Brazilian psyche, but the way it played out was much more complicated. The crippling of Neymar by the knee of Zuniga along with the Thiago Silva ban were daggers in the heart of the host nation. The absolute dismantling of the rest of team by Germany was the fatal twist of the blade. It was shocking and, in the end, humiliating. Newspapers around Brazil trumpeted the great shame brought upon the country. There was a new blight in the history of the beautiful game: the Mineirãzo. It was a time for soul searching, not impetuous rioting as everyone feared. Only fate could have come up with such a tragic ending.” New Republic


The Third-Place Game Is Often the Best Game

July 12, 2014

“Back in the nineteen-seventies, when Brazil still played the jogo bonito, the Dutch star Johan Cruyff was setting joyous new standards of creative attacking play, and Italy had not yet transformed soccer with the dour technique of stifling defense known as catenaccio (‘door-bolt’), the Austrian writer Peter Handke wrote a play called ‘Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter’ (‘The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick’). Wim Wenders followed up with a movie of the same name two years later. That title comes to mind as being extraordinarily prescient. With the exception of Germany’s spectacular 7–1 thrashing of Brazil in the first semifinal, the latter stages of the World Cup have, for many years, had a sorry tendency to be dominated by anxieties and goalies and penalty kicks.” New Yorker


When the Only Soccer In the U.S. Was En Español

July 12, 2014

“In the 1980s and ’90s, most of the sport televised in this country was in Spanish. An American writer says gracias. It wasn’t always like this, flicking to and fro from ESPN to ESPN2, to hear soccer commentary in English: Derek Rae rolling his Scottish Rs; Steve McManaman in sing-songy Scouse-speak; or the Manchester basso profundo of Efan Ekoku. Nor, for that matter, did you hear the flat American accents of Alexi Lalas, Mike Tirico, or Kasey Keller (and, thank goodness, not that in-between-the-pond affectation of Brad Friedel). No, there was a time when the only soccer in this country was broadcast in foreign languages, mainly en Español. And this wasn’t a bad thing. On the contrary: It was glorious.” Fusion