The Unrecognized

June 16, 2016

“It was an incongruous chant from the small crowd at a rudimentary soccer field nestled between the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea, but one that over the week would be regularly and passionately echoed from the stands. The Somaliland National Football Team, a gregarious squad representing a controversial disputed territory in East Africa, made up mostly of the children of refugees living in Europe, had become the hometown team of Gagra, a past-its-prime resort town in the similarly controversial and disputed pseudo-state of Abkhazia.” Roads and Kingdoms

A Soccer Team, Its Foreign Owner and Local Discontent

January 6, 2016

“A new Chinese owner arrived at the Dutch soccer club ADO Den Haag in early 2014, promising multimillion-dollar investments and better days ahead. Fans of the club liked the sound of that. Yes, the money to buy the team arrived a few months late, but it did arrive in the end, along with firm deadlines for further investments and a handful of new signings. Even if the most ardent fans were wary of the new owner’s intentions, they held their tongues. ADO, a 110-year-old club, has not won the top Dutch league, now known as the Eredivisie, since the end of World War II. But the new owner, a wealthy businessman named Wang Hui, promised to turn the team into a powerhouse — one that could challenge the likes of Ajax, P.S.V. Eindhoven and Feyenoord, clubs that have long dominated Dutch soccer, and play well enough to qualify for top European competitions like the Champions League.” NY Times

Van der Vaart’s drawn out goodbye – The story of a disappointing end

February 25, 2015

“He should have been one of the last missing pieces of the puzzle when Hamburger SV purchased him back in 2012. Rafael van der Vaart was the long-lost son of the HSV fans and he finally made a return to the Imtech Arena on the last day of the transfer window during the 2012/13 season. The club’s sugar daddy, Klaus-Michael Kühne, opened his wallet to extend a loan for the purchase of one of his favourite players. The Red Shorts paid 13 million Euros for the Dutch playmaker, which to this day is still the record transfer fee paid by the club. Back then things were seemingly getting sunnier for the club.” Bundesliga Fanatic

The state of the Portugal national team [Part 2] Second chances and the final squad

October 13, 2014

“Now that we have settled in the last part exactly how Portugal arrived at the situation in which they find themselves, we take a look at the short term future of the Portuguese senior National Team. On October 3rd, new coach Fernando Santos revealed the list for the first call up of his tenure, which broke every taboo and controversy Paulo Bento had stirred in one way or another, by bringing back some very familiar names along with some new blood.” Outside of the Boot

For World Cup Heroes, Back to the Day Job

September 1, 2014

“There are times when it seems as if the World Cup never ended, and that it is being played out every weekend in England’s Premier League. That was the impression at Turf Moor, where Burnley’s underdog spirit prevented Manchester United from getting either a goal or a win, despite United’s fielding its new purchase, the Argentine winger Ángel di María, whose annual salary (let alone his $100 million transfer fee) exceeds what it cost to assemble Burnley’s entire roster.” NY Times

How will James fit at Real Madrid?

July 22, 2014

James Rodríguez
“The summer transfer window never fails to be a chaotic, ridiculous and erratic mess, but there are some entirely predictable stories every year. Chelsea will sign a couple of talented youngsters but immediately loan them out. Juventus will embark upon a relentless campaign to acquire a percentage of various young Italian prospects, the majority of whom will never play for the club. But, most predictable of all, every four years, Real Madrid will sign a star — often the star — of the World Cup.” ESPN – Michael Cox

What does the James Rodriguez signing mean for Real Madrid?
“For the seemingly umpteenth summer in a row, Real Madrid have stuck to their policy of signing at least one high-profile player name to their already star-studded roster. This summer, that name is James Rodriguez of AS Monaco and Colombian fame. Rodriguez was arguably the standout player at this year’s World Cup having netted six goals for his nation, including a stunning off-the-chest volley against Uruguay. While Colombia eventually lost to Brazil in the quarterfinals, James’ flamboyant play made him an instant superstar and attracted the Spanish giants and reigning Champions League winners. Florentino Perez, president of Real Madrid and aficionado of paying big money for marketable stars, made his move instantly and offered a reported €80 million for the starlet, an offer Monaco simply could not refuse. So what does this mean for Real Madrid?” Outside of the Boot

James Rodriguez’s Real Madrid move adds to options for talent-rich club
“A World Cup summer usually throws up a different recruitment strategy for Real Madrid, whose preference to sign a Ballon D’Or winner every year hasn’t been able to be maintained since Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have been its only winners since 2008. After the 2006 World Cup, Real Madrid signed Fabio Cannavaro, captain of Italy’s victorious side, while in 2002 it was Brazil’s Golden Boot winner Ronaldo. This month, the reigning European champion has signed two players who starred at the World Cup: Germany midfielder Toni Kroos, and, as confirmed Tuesday, James Rodriguez. It also is reportedly close to confirming a third star from Brazil, Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas. James will cost around €80 million and will wear the No. 10 shirt that has been vacant since Mesut Ozil left 12 months ago.” SI

Football is all the easier to love, or hate, because it is unquantifiable

July 22, 2014

July 9, 2014. “Sometime around the fourth goal, I descended into hysterics. No exaggeration – as Toni Kroos nicked the ball from Paulinho on the 25th minute and slotted the ball into the back of the net, almost from kickoff, moving and passing around Brazil’s backline like cones laid out on a training pitch, I convulsed with hysterical laughter. When the rational disappears, we must confront the irrational and unexpected, and there was little as unexpected as Brazil capitulating as they did last night. When the fifth went in I had to leave the room.” News Statesman