An Ex-Owner of the Dodgers Takes Another Swing in Marseille

September 16, 2018


“MONACO — Not long after Frank McCourt arrived at his luxury hotel here, there was a knock at the door. A valet had returned with a newly pressed shirt. McCourt, freshening up after an overnight trans-Atlantic flight, called out from the bathroom with an instruction to hang the shirt in the closet. McCourt carried on with his ablutions. The valet, in that smooth, five-star silence, carefully slid the shirt onto the rail and, without seeing McCourt, prepared to slip out the door. As he was leaving, though, he could not help himself. ‘Allez l’O.M.,’ the valet said, and vanished.” NY Times

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At Transfer Time in Lithuania, Prospects and Profits Collide

September 4, 2018


“KAUNAS, Lithuania — The letter was short and to the point: A.S. Monaco, the elite soccer club on the French Riviera, wanted Ibrahima Sory Soumah to travel from his home in Guinea to France for a 10-day trial. Soumah’s mind raced with the possibilities. If Soumah, a teenage midfielder, could succeed in the test period and convince his hosts of his value, he might take his place at one of the finest soccer finishing schools in the world, and maybe even follow the path that led George Weah, Thierry Henry and Kylian Mbappé from Monaco to global stardom. But even if he did not, Soumah knew that simply spending time under the tutelage of Monaco’s coaches would increase his chances of finding a different club and forging a decent pro career in Europe, fulfilling his dreams and those of his family back in Conakry.” NY Times


A Rebuilt Liverpool Hopes to Reach New Heights With Its Soul Intact

August 10, 2018


“At the start of the last Premier League season, Liverpool fans had some fun online passing around a picture labeled ‘Liverpool F.C. as a car.’ The image showed one vehicle Frankensteined together from the parts of three: The front was a sports car, the center a boring family sedan and the back a rusted junker missing its wheels. And for the first half of last season, the image seemed to be a perfect metaphor for their team. Liverpool’s attack, headlined by the transcendent Mohamed Salah and the almost-as-good Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino, blitzed through the league terrifying opposing defenses. The midfield, typified by the stereotypically English grit of Jordan Henderson and James Milner, did its job capably if unspectacularly.” NY Times


Manchester City Sizes Up Its Toughest Premier League Opponent: Complacency

August 10, 2018

“It was not a goal that clinched a title, or secured a trophy, and it was not a victory that was needed, not a win that changed very much at all. On the surface, when Gabriel Jesus scored in injury time against Southampton on the final day of last season, it was just another goal, just another win. Manchester City had scored 106 times over the previous 10 months; on the way to the Premier League title, Pep Guardiola’s team had won 32 of 38 games.” NY Times


In a Dark, Endless News Cycle, the World Cup Gave Us Light

July 17, 2018

“When history looks back and remembers the stunning 2018 World Cup, what will be the lasting images: Neymar attempting, game after game, to break the land speed record for rolling while clutching your ankle? The referees experimenting with VAR? The replays of celebrating players and fans in rapture, tossing their drinks in the air, after yet another last-minute game-winning goal? (This tournament’s 23 stoppage time goals shattered the previous record.) Or maybe it will be a singular moment, like Kylian Mbappé’s strike to make it 4-1 and become the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since a man named Pelé.” NY Times


Russia Finally Falls, Leaving a Trail of Admirers and Doubters

July 8, 2018


“It was only a couple of minutes to midnight, and Miroslav Romaschenko did not want to leave. As Croatia’s players bounced around in ecstasy and as Russia’s collapsed, disconsolate, onto their backs, the losing team’s assistant manager sat down, frozen in place on the Fisht Stadium’s turf. He stayed there, staring into space, as the Croatian captain, Luka Modric, leapt into the crowd, celebrating his country’s second-ever World Cup semifinal; as both teams sought out Fyodor Smolov and Mário Fernandes, the two players whose missed penalties brought Russia’s tournament to a close; and as the fans turned to leave, back to the beach, back to the bars, back to reality.” NY Times


Drug Use. Corruption. Scandal. There’s an Ugly Side to the Beautiful Game.

July 7, 2018

Musa Okwonga, a poet, activist and author of two books on football, answered questions on Reddit this week about the off-the-pitch issues around the World Cup and some of the most exciting matches. Mr. Okwonga is no novice. His ties to the beautiful game started generations before his birth in England, when his grandfather coached the Ugandan national team. The Reddit conversation, ranging from doping to inequality, was punctuated by his friends’ inside jokes about frozen beans and wedding poetry. Mr. Okwonga, who lives in Germany, used the Reddit forum to expand upon the writing he has done for our newsletter, Offsides.” NY Times