Peru’s Achilles heel threatens to derail their World Cup path

March 28, 2016

“I was just turning five in the build up to the 1970 World Cup – too young to really understand what all the fuss was about. I do recall, though, some older kids nearby collecting the sticker album, and I can still remember going through a pile of their swaps. The first one I saw was a Peruvian – memory plays tricks but it might well have been Ramon Mifflin. Everything about the photo looked impossibly exotic – the Andean features and, especially, that red sash on the white shirt! In my young mind it all conjured up mystery and adventure.” The World Game – Tim Vickery (Video)

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Remember the name Marlos Moreno… he’s a star in the making

March 20, 2016

“In the 22 years I have been living over here there have been plenty of careers I have been lucky enough to follow from the start. The highlight, of course, is Lionel Messi. Little known even by Argentina when he was called up for the South American U-20 Championship at the start of 2005 in Colombia. He was two years younger than the rest of the players and seemed half the size, an unimpressive figure – until the ball was tied to his left foot and all of us fortunate enough to be watching were aware that we were in the presence of something very special.” The World Game – Tim Vickery (Video)


Cubas shows ‘It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary’

February 28, 2016

“While some players take the easy option and go hiding when they chips are down, pint-sized Boca Juniors midfielder Adrian Cubas showed courage beyond his teenage years to do what is expected of him by his team – the simple things. All fans have seen it on a frequent basis – after the team has scored, suddenly it is a different game. The ball is zipping around all over the field, the moves are flowing and suddenly, after seeming a desperately complicated affair before the deadlock was broken, football now looks like a simple game. It is the same players, on the same pitch, in the same game against the same opposition, but the whole atmosphere has changed.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


One kick can make all the difference in the cruel world of football

February 14, 2016

Rodrigo Lopez, left, and teammate Juan Patino, of Paraguay's Guarani, react after failing to classify for the next round, at the end of a Copa Libertadores soccer game with Ecuador's Independiente del Valle in Asuncion, Paraguay, Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)
“It will surely be a traumatic memory for Socceroos fans, but I’ve always loved a piece of Australian radio commentary when Azizi scored that famous goal for Iran in the 1998 World Cup play off. It is a classic case of a man caught up in conflicting impulses; the professional, needing to explain the events – and the personal, that of a fan devastated by a strike that deprived Australia of what had seemed certain qualification for France.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


CONMEBOL’s ills curtailed Pele’s global appeal

January 17, 2016

“It can surely be seen as a consequence of the FIFA-Gate scandal, of which South America was the epicentre. The arrest or indictment of so many football fat cats has obviously weakened the power structure – which in turn has emboldened the clubs. In Ecuador, for example, the clubs look set to take over the running of the local championship from the federation – a project that long-term FA president Luis Chiriboga said he would bury. Instead, with Chiriboga one of the names on the list of those indicted, there has been a change of power at the top and the clubs have come out fighting. The meeting of the 15 clubs, with talk of setting up an association, is a similar thing happening on a continental scale.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


South America’s brightest want a slice of ‘Paree’

January 4, 2016

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“At the end of the First World War there was a new hit tune in the United States, one that made reference to the experiences that US servicemen were having on the other side of the Atlantic. The title – ‘How can you keep ‘em down on the farm, now that they’ve seen Paree?’ It is a song with relevance to modern football. Because in today’s globalized world, footballers from the four corners of the globe have all seen ‘Paree’ – meaning, in this case, the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and (why not?) Paris Saint Germain. It is where they all want to be. And so it has become impossible to keep them at home.” The World Game – Tim Vickery


The good, bad and ugly of FIFA’s Mad Men

December 21, 2015

“I discovered it late but I’m glad I got there in the end. As a 1960s nut, the TV series Mad Men was made for me. In the last few months I ploughed through all seven seasons of a program that looked at the decade and its changes, especially in terms of gender relations, through the prism of the advertising industry.” The World Game – Tim Vickery