The Football Griot – Laurent Dubois

June 28, 2018

“In the early 1950s, a Senegalese radio announcer known as Allou developed a style of match reporting on the radio that delved deep into West African storytelling traditions. He drew on the styles of the griot—hereditary musicians who for generations have spoken the history of families and communities—to recount the exploits of these new heroes in real time. In one memorably tragic match, he recounted live as the player Iba Mar Diop scored a penalty kick at the last minute, winning the game for his team—only to collapse from a heart attack and die moments afterward. Radio journalists such as Allou gave audiences a way to experience and understand such dramatic moments by connecting them to broader cultural narratives about heroism and sacrifice.” Africa is a Country

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How to really watch the World Cup

June 27, 2018

“Every soccer game is a story that opens up onto an infinite number of other stories. The World Cup is the ultimate concatenation of these stories, the greatest work of literature the sport has to offer. World Cup teams are perhaps the most visible embodiment of nations — collectives whose actions on the pitch can seem, in the moment, to determine the fate of a country. The biographies of particular players intermingle with that of the team, channeling and condensing our most vexed histories, those of nations and their unending quest to define themselves. Yet while many of us root for a particular nation in the World Cup, our fandom during the tournament is often an expression of a complex web of allegiances.” Vox – Laurent Dubois


Senegal’s jersey – Laurent Dubois

June 19, 2018


“In Kehinde Wiley’s 2008 portrait ‘Dogon Couple,’ a man wears the jersey of the Senegalese national football team, layered with a pendant bearing an image of Leopold Senghor. Two symbols—the image of the bespectacled intellectual and long-time president, and the seal of the Fédération Sénégalaise du Football—founded at the moment of independence, in 1960—alongside one another, echoing each other.” Africa in a Country


The Blood of the Impure

August 31, 2016

“The French national anthem, La Marseillaise, is, if you think about it, a pretty nasty song. It dreams, in one of its more memorable verses, that the “blood of the impure” will “irrigate our fields.” It’s a rousing anthem, to be sure, and I myself can frequently be heard humming it to myself in advance of a match being played by Les Bleus, or as I ride my bike or do the dishes. I’ve found that it’s sometimes hard to find a French person (at least if you hang out, as I do, with too many intellectuals), who can actually sing it without irony. ” MARCH 20, 2013 by  – Africa’s a Country


Euro 2016, ISIS, and France

July 8, 2016

“On March 29th, 2016, France played Russia in the first football match to take place in the Stade de France since the terrorist attacks on November 13th. Before the game, the media coverage centered as much on the increased security presence as on the game itself. Commentators wondered: would fans feel safe returning to the stadium? Would the stadium be full? Would the atmosphere be lively or sober? The players were attuned to the extraordinary circumstances as well: speaking about returning to the site of the attacks, French striker Olivier Giroud said that ‘we are human beings before being sportsmen…It will obviously affect us to go there.’” Soccer Politics


History of the Ball

April 17, 2016

“According to official FIFA regulations, a soccer ball must be spherical, made of leather or another suitable material, the circumference must be between 68 and 70cm, the weight must be between 410 and 450g, and the internal pressure must be between .6 and 1.1 atmospheres. Within these regulations, however, there can be a lot of variation. The history of the modern soccer ball began in 1862 with the invention of the rubber bladder.” Soccer Politics


For Club or Country?

April 12, 2016

“Today in class, we celebrated ‘Jersey and Scarf Day’; many of the students in our Soccer Politics class brought in their favorite piece of soccer memorabilia and shared their story about how it was obtained, as well as the extent of their allegiance to their respective team. The class appeared to be roughly split 50/50 between club teams and national teams. After observing this trend, I recalled back to an r/soccer forum from a few years ago which simply asked its readers: ‘Club or Country?’ Do soccer fans care more about club success or national team glory?” Soccer Politics