The best World Cup format–that FIFA would never consider

December 8, 2016

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“The World Cup might grow to 40 teams, or it might wind up with 48. It might be eight groups of five or four groups of 10, or there might be 16 seeds and a straight 32-team knockout round to get to join them in the format we have now. Or it might be 16 groups of three. Either way, the endless gigantism stimulated by FIFA presidential elections, as candidates promise more and more nations that they, too, can play in a World Cup, means that the competition will be even more bloated, even more unwieldy by then. Of course, this is 2026 we’re talking about, so there’s a significant chance global political elections by then will mean that by then, as George Orwell foresaw, it’s just three teams: Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia.” SI – Jonathan Wilson

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Bulgaria 1994

October 20, 2016

“In the modern technological age, it’s quite easy to take for granted the vast amounts of information available to us about people and cultures from across the globe- the fact that we can, for instance, watch local news broadcasts from Papua New Guinea on Youtube or Snapchat with people working in a scientific base in Antarctica is no big deal. But for those of us who grew up in the late 80s and early 90s- a generation now popularly known as ‘millennials’- vast swathes of the world’s populations, despite experiencing unprecedented levels of social and political change at the time, still seemed so mysterious.” In Bed With Maradono


Desert fire: the world cup rebels of Kurdistan

October 16, 2016

“Football’s world cup for unrecognised territories is viewed through the eyes of the manager and players of one of the most fascinating teams, Iraqi Kurdistan. In summer 2016, an extraordinary tournament took place: football’s ‘rebel’ world cup for stateless nations, minority ethnic groups and unrecognised territories. This surreal and vibrant spectacle is viewed through the eyes of the Kurdistan players and coach.” Football Pink (Video)


Uno: La Historia De Un Gol (One: The Story Of A Goal)

September 15, 2016

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“While a bloody civil war rages at home, El Salvador’s national team travels to Spain for the 1982 World Cup — one of only two World Cup tournaments the nation has ever qualified for. In their opening match, they lose to Hungary, 10-1 – still the most lopsided defeat in World Cup history. But that goal, that one goal, scored by Luis Ramirez Zapata, remains a symbol of pride and joy for the tiny nation. This is the story of that goal and its continuing legacy.” Kicking and Screening (Video)


Britain’s “other” national team: Ellan Vannin

June 2, 2015

“The four national teams of the United Kingdom are supposedly England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Each with its own FIFA affiliated side, these nations have spanned generations and produced some wonderful footballers, and in the case of England have even won the FIFA World Cup, triumphing by a margin of 4-2 over West Germany in 1966 – a fond memory to those who witnessed that historic match.” Football Pink


1927: A Look Back At Our Last Semi Final

April 16, 2015

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“How long ago was Reading’s last FA Cup semi final? So long ago that the name of the country we live in was still the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The acknowledgement that the Irish Free State was no longer part of the Kingdom was only to take place a month after our defeat to Cardiff. In January that year the BBC as we know it came into existence. Amazingly it was November 1927 when traffic lights first appeared on our streets. If you were looking for excitement in the 1920s then there was only one place you would head: Berlin. The German capital was enjoying its decedent vibrant heyday whilst Germany as a whole looked to be slowly rebuilding itself as a democracy having joined the League of Nations a year before.” SBN (Video)


Italy at Argentina ’78 – Bearzot leads the renaissance

April 3, 2015

“When the Romantics of Brazil imploded in Barcelona’s Sarria Stadium against an unfancied Italy in the second group phase of the 1982 World Cup, the purists’ dreams died, and Italy’s eventual triumph in Madrid just days later was greeted with largely grudging acknowledgment. Italy’s victory in Spain is often advanced as some kind of immoral victory of Roundheads over Cavaliers. In truth, it was no such thing.” backpagefootball