Inside Bayer Leverkusen and how they plan to grow a club built around a company


“There are wild parrots in Leverkusen. Step off the train in the German city and walk into the park that leads to the football stadium. They’re there. A dozen, maybe two. They sit in the branches and then flutter away when they decide people are getting too close. It’s a local phenomenon. Nobody seems to know quite where they came from. One theory has it that a few rose-ringed parakeets were released many years ago and, from there, the population boomed. ….”
The Athletic (Video)

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World Cup 2022 team guides part 9: Argentina

“This is the first time Argentina arrive at a World Cup in peace. Excited, yes, but also calm. The greatest strength is the team’s collectiveness, the fact that everyone works hard for each other and that has been highlighted again and again over the past four years. Everyone in the team – in the squad in fact – knows their role: this is a well-oiled machine. The current cycle began towards the end of 2018 after Jorge Sampaoli’s disastrous spell in charge, which included a last-16 exit from the Russia World Cup and off- and on-field problems. Lionel Scaloni, who had been an assistant to Sampaoli, took over on an interim basis – together with Pablo Aimar – and the former Deportivo La Coruña and Lazio player never looked back. …”
Guardian

The Curious Case of the World Cup Catfish

“Many of us have had that experience where we have been anticipating a film for many months, one whose cast and director are so good that it simply cannot fail, only to realize that, within the movie’s first few scenes, we are in for an epic disappointment. By the time we shuffle away from the cinema or forlornly fold our laptops closed, we are overwhelmed by that unique feeling: the ache of unsatisfying art. In extreme cases, our ache also carries a sense of betrayal: You promised us a rousing, soaring spectacle, and yet you presented us with something so different from and so far beneath our expectations. How could you? You catfished us. …”
The Ringer (Video)

A Soccer Team Once United Iran. Now It Reflects Its Divisions.

“Iran’s national soccer team has historically been viewed as a representative of the country’s people, not of the Islamic Republic’s government. Team Melli, as the squad is known, has been embraced as an apolitical force, and as a secular passion that reflected a certain ideal, the Iran of everyone’s imagination. For years, the team has brought unity and joy to a fractious nation. Support for it has been effectively unconditional. Until now. …”
NY Times

Inside AFTV a decade since its launch: The controversies, criticism, changes and future


“Last month, AFTV turned 10 years old. The channel has now provided a decade of post-match catharsis for Arsenal supporters. … This is, in business terms, a clear success story. At the time of writing, AFTV is on the verge of reaching 1.5 million YouTube subscribers. It has amassed more than a billion views. Its other social-media profiles have grown too, with more than a million followers on Instagram. This is a significant media organisation. …”
The Athletic (Video)