FIFA’s Captain Clings to the Helm of His Sinking Ship

September 27, 2015

“When Sepp Blatter was re-elected president of FIFA this spring, he trotted out one of his favorite metaphors. In his 17th year in charge of the organization, and brushing aside a raging corruption scandal, Mr. Blatter boasted that he would navigate FIFA’s rocky waters and guide world soccer’s governing body safely to the shore. But here is the latest snapshot of the bang-up job this captain has been doing: On Friday, he was huddled deep inside his ship’s hull, meeting in the bilge with top FIFA crew members, as his ship continued to take on water. When Captain Blatter returned to the upper deck later that day, he was greeted by investigators representing Switzerland’s attorney general. They had come aboard with the news that Mr. Blatter was the target of a criminal investigation.” NY Times

Reuniting Palestine

September 24, 2015

“From the Palestinian national team’s debut at the 2015 Asian Cup in Australia to this summer’s diplomatic effort to suspend Israel from FIFA, football has become an important instrument for the Palestinians to reach an international audience and gain recognition. During this summer, football has emphasised the division between Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestine Cup, a two-legged match between Itthiad Shajaiya from Gaza and Ahli Al-Khalil from Hebron, the Cup winners in both Palestinian territories determined which team would qualify for the AFC Cup and represent Palestine internationally. For the first time in 15 years, a club from the Gaza Strip could travel to the West Bank for a match, and vice versa. This game was to become an instrument for internal healing and reunification of a politically divided Palestinian people.” Football Pink

Top FIFA Executive Jérôme Valcke Placed on Leave Amid Corruption Investigation

September 20, 2015

“Jérôme Valcke, the second-ranking official at FIFA, was placed on immediate leave and will be investigated for allegations of corruption involving the black-market sale of World Cup tickets, the association announced Thursday. FIFA, global soccer’s governing body, announced Mr. Valcke’s departure in a brief statement posted on its website. It said that Mr. Valcke had been relieved of his duties effective immediately and that FIFA had been ‘made aware of a series of allegations involving the secretary general and has requested a formal investigation by the FIFA Ethics Committee.’” NY Times

Wales, Iceland, and Wait, Who? Your Not-Quite-Last-Minute Guide to Euro 2016 Qualifying

September 8, 2015

“You know what’s not fun? Having to go a weekend without club soccer, yet this is the reality the gods1 of FIFA and UEFA have cast upon us over the next few days. But you know what is fun? International tournaments. You might remember exciting events such as last summer’s Women’s World Cup, when the USWNT kicked ass and Carli Lloyd finally became a household name. Or perhaps you recall the summer before, when Germany made David Luiz cry. If evoking either of those memories makes you yearn for the past, do not fret: After two summers of World Cups, the European Championships kick off in June 2016.” Grantland

Argentine Businessman Pleads Not Guilty in FIFA Corruption Case

August 1, 2015

“Turning over his two passports to federal agents, Alejandro Burzaco, a citizen of Argentina and Italy, pleaded not guilty Friday at an arraignment in United States District Court in Brooklyn to charges that he paid millions in bribes to world soccer officials to secure lucrative media and marketing contracts. Mr. Burzaco, one of 14 top soccer officials and businessmen indicted in May on charges of widespread corruption within FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, was the second defendant to be extradited to the United States and the third to appear in federal court in connection with the case. He was not among the seven men arrested in Zurich in May.” NY Times

Fifa: New taskforce announced to tackle corruption

July 20, 2015

“Fifa is to set up a taskforce of 11 people to look at reforming football’s scandal-hit world governing body. Proposals for reform will include term limits for presidents and integrity checks for top officials, president Sepp Blatter announced. Fifa will hold an extraordinary congress to elect its new president on 26 February 2016, he added. Blatter, 79, announced he would stand down in June – just four days after being re-elected president. Blatter’s resignation on 2 June followed the arrest of seven Fifa officials as part of a United States investigation that saw 14 people in total indicted on corruption charges.” BBC

7 strikers that need to be upgraded on FIFA 16

July 14, 2015

“In FIFA, as in football generally, goals are the key to every single match, as long as you get one more goal than your opponent you’ll be fine. In FIFA 15 the outrageous goal was king thanks to some dodgy goalkeeping mechanics. In FIFA 16 we think that problem should be fixed so we expect poachers to become the focal point of a lot of teams. We’ve picked out seven of them who need upgrading in FIFA 16.” Squawka

Sepp Blatter on Sepp Blatter: I’m not corrupt and I’m going to heaven

July 2, 2015

“FIFA ‘President for Life’ Sepp Blatter (née September, hopefully) is an amazing man. But you probably already knew this, especially if you were one of the 13 people who saw the FIFA-financed blockbuster film United Passions, which acutely dissects Blatter’s amazing life from his virgin birth in a manger through the moment he saves humankind. If it wasn’t for Blatter, international soccer on steroids, as we know it today, may not exist. Sponsors wouldn’t be driven to stab people in alleys to get a lucrative piece of real estate on an ad board (allegedly).” Fusion

Sounds silly but Qatar keeping the 2022 World Cup might be the least fucked solution

June 27, 2015

“The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the largest inter-governmental organization in the world after the United Nations, describes itself as the ‘collective voice of the Muslim world.’ With 57 member states on four continents, the OIC seeks to ‘safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world.’ It’s a noble-sounding endeavor, tone-wise, and in line with the mission statements of almost every other notable inter-governmental organization designed, in theory, to foster global harmony, understanding, and puppy GIF feelings.” Fusion

Going, Going, Gone: Sepp Blatter Resigns

June 4, 2015

“Yesterday, Sepp Blatter resigned as president of FIFA. It would be easy and cheap to gloat about this; it would also be fun, so let’s do it. Blatter’s reign of merry larceny had seemed like it would go on forever. He’d been reelected for a fifth term only the previous week, despite the blinking neon elephant of a U.S.-led corruption investigation that resulted in the arrests of several powerful FIFA officials two days before the election. He’d been widely loathed and tangled in scandal from literally the moment he rose to power in 1998, when he refused to address rumors that his Qatari backers paid $50,000 for votes on his behalf. He always seemed to enjoy it, as though winking at critics and dancing around accusations was a hobby he tackled with zest. It gave his charm a little sparkle of superiority. It was one of the things that made him so pink.” Grantland – Brian Phillips

How a curmudgeonly old reporter exposed the FIFA scandal that toppled Sepp Blatter
“The biggest news story of the year was breaking, but the journalist responsible was fast asleep. It was just after dawn on May 27 when Andrew Jennings’s phone began ringing. Swiss police had just launched a startling raid on a luxury hotel in Zurich, arresting seven top FIFA officials and charging them and others with running a $150 million racket. The world was stunned. The waking world, that is. If Jennings had bothered to climb out of bed, he wouldn’t have been surprised at the news. After all, he was the man who set the investigation in motion, with a book in 2006, ‘FOUL! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals,’ followed by an exposé aired on the BBC’s ‘Panorama’ program that same year, and then another book in 2014, called ‘Omerta: Sepp Blatter’s FIFA Organised Crime Family.’” Washington Post

FIFA’s corruption is not going to ruin your soccer
“Last week’s events could have been a turning point. After the United States issued indictments against 14 senior members of FIFA, the organization could have chosen to move in a different direction, toward change, toward reform, toward decency. The remaining members might have ousted the incumbent, the man who led FIFA, guardians of the world’s most popular sport, toward its current charges of corruption and deceit. Instead, FIFA elected Sepp Blatter to his fourth term as president. A mere four days later, the man FIFA had just endorsed abruptly announced his intention to resign.” Soccer Football

Ex-FIFA Official Jack Warner Threatens to Spill ‘Avalanche’ of Secrets
“Jack Warner, the former FIFA vice president who was among 14 people indicted by a United States grand jury as part of an inquiry into corruption in world soccer, says he knows why the organization’s president, Sepp Blatter, announced plans to step down from soccer’s governing body. ‘Blatter knows why he fell. And if anyone else knows, I do,’ Mr. Warner said in his home country of Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday, referring to Mr. Blatter’s decision this week to resign after 17 years at the helm of FIFA, soccer’s governing body. Mr. Warner, who said he feared for his own life, also said he had evidence linking FIFA to his country’s 2010 election.” NY Times

Sepp Blatter to Resign as FIFA President

June 2, 2015

“Sepp Blatter, who led world soccer’s governing body for 17 years and had just won re-election for a fifth four-year term, resigned his position at a hastily called news conference in Zurich on Tuesday evening in the wake of an international corruption inquiry. In a short speech delivered at the headquarters of FIFA, which oversees global soccer, Mr. Blatter said that ‘FIFA needs a profound restructuring’ and that he had decided to step away from the organization for which he had worked in various positions for 40 years. Mr. Blatter, 79, who spoke in French, then referred to his recent re-election by FIFA’s 209 member nations when he said, ‘Although the members of FIFA have given me the new mandate, this mandate does not seem to be supported by everybody in the world of football.’ …”
NY Times, The Rise and Fall of Sepp Blatter

Sepp Blatter to resign as Fifa president amid corruption scandal
“Sepp Blatter says he will resign as president of football’s governing body Fifa amid a corruption scandal. In announcing his exit, the 79-year-old Swiss has called an extraordinary Fifa congress “as soon as possible” to elect a new president. Blatter was re-elected last week, despite seven top Fifa officials being arrested two days before the vote as part of a US prosecution. But he said: ‘My mandate does not appear to be supported by everybody.'” BBC (Video)

John Oliver and Last Week Tonight went after FIFA again
“Soccer fan and HBO’s Last Week Tonight host John Oliver isn’t afraid of taking FIFA to task for, well, being FIFA. Two weeks ago, Oliver provided a brief update on the troubled non-profit organization in advance of its presidential elections. But now that the election is over and FIFA has overwhelmingly voted to give ‘President for Life’ Sepp Blatter a fifth term, Oliver and his team have brandished the knives once again. Apparently, no one is safe. This time, those caught in the Last Week Tonight wake include alleged FBI snitch and acclaimed cat person Chuck Blazer, the spectacularly and often hilariously allegedly corrupt former CONCACAF ringmaster Austin ‘Jack’ Warner, as well as FIFA’s corporate sponsors. …” Fusion (Video)

Sepp Blatter to resign FIFA presidency
“In a stunning announcement made at a hastily called news conference Tuesday in Zurich, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said he will resign after FIFA elects a new leader at an ‘extraordinary congress’ that will be called by the organization’s executive committee. The election will be at least four months away, a FIFA official announced. FIFA’s next congress, at which such decisions usually are made, is not until next May in Mexico, but FIFA announced its desire to speed up the process in order to put the scandal in the past.” Washington Post (Video)

These 5 alternatives to Sepp Blatter are just as likely to fix a broken system
“For the past week, the soccer community has been discussing the FIFA investigations, indictments and arrests in a way that’s made me want to do the unthinkable and delete my Twitter account. The rhetoric from soccer journalists, commentators, and outside observers has come across like a public contest to decide who can most poetically (or angrily, if you like your takes hot n’ fresh) make painfully obvious points like ‘bribery is bad,’ ‘Qatar is a weird place to play soccer,’ and ‘women are people, too’ sound like groundbreaking shit. I hate it, but at the same time, I understand the struggle.” Fusion

Salt Lake Olympic, global finance scandals hint charging FIFA execs could prove much easier than punishing them
“On June 8, 1998, two days before Brazil opened France’s World Cup with a 2-1 win over Scotland, a former head of the World Society of Friends of Suspenders from rural Switzerland was elected as FIFA president. Sepp Blatter’s rise to power has proved to be a pivotal moment in modern sports history, but it was far from the biggest sports governance story of the year. That came in that winter, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was mired in a scandal related to its award of the 2002 Winter Olympics to Salt Lake City.” Fusion

How Fifa can find a new direction and start the clean-up of corruption
“The 161-page indictment of 14 Fifa officials and marketing executives is pretty repetitive. They are accused of a simple scheme to extract bribes and kickbacks, repeated many times over. National football associations, federations and confederations own the broadcast and marketing rights to the national teams that everyone likes to follow. The elected officials in these organisations are supposed to use the revenues they generate to support the development of the game – but many seem to want to enrich themselves instead.” Guardian

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

FIFA’s Sepp Blatter Has Finally Met His Match

May 29, 2015

“When I heard about the latest accusations of corruption against FIFA, the global governing body of soccer, my initial reaction was to think of Captain Renault’s disingenuous response to gambling at Rick’s Café in the movie ‘Casablanca.’ Like many other long-suffering soccer fans, I was ‘shocked, shocked!‘ to learn that the U.S. Justice Department had charged nine FIFA officials with conspiring to enrich themselves through such practices as selling their services to the highest bidder, siphoning off millions of dollars in ‘sports marketing contracts,’ funnelling money through offshore shell companies, and, in some cases, receiving suitcases full of cash.”
New Yorker (Video)
NY Times: Crisis-Hit FIFA Prepares to Vote on Whether to Keep Sepp Blatter as Chief
NY Times: How the Indicted Officials Fit Into FIFA (Video)
NY Times: After Indicting 14 Soccer Officials, U.S. Vows to End Graft in FIFA (Video)
World Soccer: Sepp Blatter

A guide to the FIFA corruption scandal for the athletically illiterate
“Sports, amirite? Probably not. As a lifelong self-identified indoor kid, I initially had no idea what was happening with this whole FIFA corruption thing. But, as a lover of scandal, I wanted to understand. If you’re anything like me, you do, too. So, here’s a guide to everything you need to know about the insanity that’s brewing in the soccer world right now, tailor-made for the athletically illiterate. You can do this.” Fusion

‘Rampant, Systemic, and Deep-Rooted’: A Sting in Zurich Finally Targets FIFA Corruption
“It went down, in the end, like a scene in some 1920s comic novel, Wallander reimagined by Wodehouse: Swiss law enforcement officers politely stormed in through the revolving door of the Baur au Lac, a five-star hotel in downtown Zurich, and surrounded the concierge’s desk. They politely requested the room numbers of several FIFA officials in town for the soccer organization’s annual congress. Then they went to the rooms and politely arrested the occupants. They knocked rather than barged in. They gave the officials time to pack and get dressed. They let members of the hotel staff — ‘wearing suit coats with tails,’ as the New York Times reported — erect a barricade of white bedsheets to shield the arrested men from photographs. After a few minutes, they loaded the soccer officials into small, fuel-efficient hatchbacks and politely whisked them away.” Grantland – Brian Phillips

Soccer Superpower
“On July 4, 1988, at a hotel in a suburb of Zurich, the executive committee of soccer’s governing body, FIFA, awarded the right to host the World Cup to the United States. The country was a fútbol backwater. Its last pro league—the one that had imported Pele, Franz Beckenbauer, and other aging international stars—had folded four years earlier. Its men’s national team hadn’t qualified for a World Cup since 1950; stocked with collegians, it was on the cusp of being eliminated from regional qualifying for the 1990 tournament. Its women’s national team, hastily assembled three years earlier, had played just a handful of games.” Slate

FIFA Inquiry Yields Indictments; U.S. Officials Vow to Pursue More

May 27, 2015

“United States law enforcement officials declared in forceful terms on Wednesday that their broad investigation of FIFA had only begun and pledged to rid the international soccer organization of systemic corruption. The Justice Department, F.B.I. and I.R.S. described soccer’s governing body in terms normally reserved for Mafia families and drug cartels, saying that top officials treated FIFA business decisions as chits to be traded for personal wealth. One soccer official took in more than $10 million in bribes, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said. The schemes involving the fraud included the selection of South Africa as the host of the 2010 World Cup; the 2011 FIFA presidential elections; and several sports-marketing deals.” NY Times (Video)

FIFA: U.S. alleges corruption, indicts 14; Switzerland opens separate probe
“‘The indictment also alleges that corruption and bribery extended to the 2011 presidential FIFA election, and to agreements regarding sponsorship of the Brazilian national soccer team by a major U.S. sportswear company,’ U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told reporters in New York on Wednesday while providing details about the U.S. corruption investigation into FIFA officials and others. FIFA executives and others used bribes to influence where the 2010 World Cup would be held, Lynch told reporters Wednesday while providing details about the U.S. corruption investigation of FIFA. The 2010 World Cup was held in South Africa.” CNNN (Video)

Fifa officials corrupted football – US prosecutors
“US prosecutors have accused several officials from football’s governing body Fifa of racketeering, fraud and money laundering involving tens of millions of dollars over 24 years. Prosecutors said they had discovered a dozen schemes, including one awarding the 2010 World Cup to South Africa. Fourteen people have been indicted, with seven held in Zurich on Wednesday. Fifa president Sepp Blatter is not among them. Fifa still intends to hold its presidential election on Friday. However, European football body Uefa has called for the election to be postponed and said it would decide on Thursday whether to boycott the congress. Mr Blatter is seeking re-election and is favoured to win a fifth term.” BBC (Video)

Sepp Blatter says protesting sporting events doesn’t work. Sepp Blatter is wrong.

March 22, 2015

“FIFA ‘President for Life’ Sepp Blatter wants all of you people talking about World Cup boycotts to know: He’s not trying to hear that noise. According to Blatter, boycotts are nonsense. The only thing that can heal the demons plaguing the world is the glorious, magical FIFA World Cup. It’s Robitussin for the masses.” Fusion

The Men Behind the Curtain: Inside FIFA’s Sinister (and Pretty Entertaining!) Presidential Race

February 15, 2015

“Let’s be clear up front: Sepp Blatter is never going to lose a FIFA presidential election. Never. He’s not going to lose the one in May. He’s not going to lose in 2019, if he decides to run — which looks unlikely, but then, we said the same thing four years ago, back when he, you know, promised never to run again if he was reelected. He’s running again, and he’s going to win again, too. If he wants to rule FIFA forever, it’s hard to imagine what could stop him. Get ready for the debate about whom the moon of Ganymede bribed to host the 2480 World Cup.” Grantland – Brian Phillips

FIFA candidates must heed past lessons

February 5, 2015

“Now that a few candidates have thrown their hats into the ring, at least the next FIFA presidential election should generate a healthy debate, something which seems to be in short supply on the subject. The European, and particularly the English, press go on and on about corruption scandals. There is much to applaud here. The most noble part of journalism is that which digs into stories and asks questions which make those in power uncomfortable. Moreover, corruption is clearly harmful, with corrosive effects on institutions and individuals.” The World Game – Tim Vickery (Video)

FIFA Agrees to Release Redacted Ethics Report

December 21, 2014

“FIFA said on Friday that it would release a redacted version of the 430-page report compiled by Michael J. Garcia, the former chief investigator for the governing body of soccer’s ethics committee, who spent more than a year digging into allegations of corruption in the World Cup bidding process. Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, announced the decision at a news conference in Morocco, at which he also said that the 2018 World Cup would take place in Russia as planned and that the 2022 event would remain in Qatar because there were no legal grounds for a revote.” NY Times

Who’s Going to Win the Club World Cup? Related: Who Cares?

December 21, 2014

“FIFA maintains a common design across all of its trophies: A globe in the style of a soccer ball is the dominant centerpiece. Its depiction illustrates — however ham-handedly — the universal resonance of soccer, and perhaps only the iconic World Cup trophy is as impressive as the prize handed to the winners of the Club World Cup. But despite all of that shimmering symbolism, club soccer’s world championship can’t escape irrelevance.” Grantland

Qatar Hero

December 17, 2014

“… This friend will remain anonymous, for two reasons: firstly, while he won’t mind my re-telling the tale in question he would probably prefer not to see his own name in print; secondly, his name wouldn’t mean much to most readers anyway. This friend could adopt Descartes’s larvatus prodeo [masked, I proceed] as his motto, as the path he’s followed in football, which took him to very high places indeed, remains largely uncharted. He wouldn’t have it any other way.” Blizzard

Fifa corruption report: Who is to blame and what happens now?

November 14, 2014

“At 09:00 GMT on Thursday, Fifa published a report that cleared Russia and Qatar of any wrongdoing during the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups. Instead, the English Football Association came under fire for flouting bid rules. Less than four hours later, it was all change when the Fifa report was criticised by the man who spent two years investigating claims of corruption on behalf of football’s world governing body. What is the background to this story, who is to blame for the controversy and what will happen now?” BBC (Video)

FIFA may be threatening retaliation and taking World Cup 2015’s crazy to a whole new level

October 29, 2014

“The deranged run-up to the 2015 World Cup leapt over another ridiculous bar on Monday, with lawyers for a group of prominent players claiming FIFA has threatened retaliation over a lawsuit filed last month. That claim, one that seeks to keep next summer’s event from being played on artificial turf, is expected to be heard before the end of the year, giving both sides a few more weeks to ramp up their crazy ahead of a possible conclusion.” Soccer Gods

What next for hipsters’ post-World Cup favourites, Colombia?

October 8, 2014

“With no competitive fixtures for almost a year, the post-World Cup period is a perfect opportunity for South American nations to assess, experiment and in some cases, rebuild in preparation for the next qualification campaign. Tom Robinson takes a look at the future of the Colombian side that we recently witnessed at the FIFA World Cup.” Outside of the Boot

Brazilian football: FFP rules could ‘prompt revolution’

October 1, 2014

Marcos Rojo
“With 85% of teams inactive for more than six months of the year, leaving 16,000 players unemployed, Brazil’s professional football clubs are effectively in intensive care. So far they have been sustained by the drip-drip-drip of money from investors keen to buy a stake in players potentially destined for big-money European moves. But with world governing body Fifa’s recent announcement that it is banning third-party ownership, that lifeline is about to be withdrawn. That poses a major problem for Brazilian clubs, but it could be a decisive moment and one which prompts a much-needed revolution in the country’s domestic game.” BBC – Tim Vickery

Sark FC – the worst team in the world?

September 24, 2014

“TOMOS KNOX looks at the plight of the team from the tiny Channel Island as they search for more ‘international’ recognition. It’s 2003, and the Island Games, an Olympic themed tournament for islands all over the world, is just about to begin. Hosted in Guernsey, it includes triathlon, sailing, basketball, and of course, football. The opening ceremony, held on the seafront in St Peter’s Port, was a far cry from the multi-million pound Olympic Games ceremonies, but it still attracted thousands of people. Instead of parading around a monsterously large stadium, the 2,500 competitors and officials walked from North Beach to Albert Pier, drawing applause from the crowd. Among the 23 islands were Greenland, debutants Bermuda, and Sark. Although the latter had competed in previous editions of the Games, this was to be the first time that they would enter a football team. …” The Football Pink

A Generation Lost For the Golden Jaguars

September 17, 2014

“Amidst the usual release of FIFA Rankings recently lay a statistic which only a keen-eyed observer would notice: the biggest drop in places had been awarded to the small nation of Guyana, a Caribbean country geographically located in South America and neighbour to one the most famous footballing nations of all: Brazil. Guyana was a team which only two years ago, reached their furthest ever point in 2014 World Cup qualifiers, and were giving Mexico a run for their money at the Azteca Arena after previously eliminating Caribbean powerhouse Trinidad and Tobago. Yet fast forward to 2014 and the National Team now finds themselves comprehensively losing to St Lucia and St Kitts & Nevis in recent Caribbean Cup qualifiers. The question therefore is: how did this decline occur?” In Bed With Maradona

Renard the man for Ivory Coast regeneration job

July 29, 2014

“Brazil 2014 followed an all too familiar script for the Ivory Coast, with the Elephants of West Africa once again buckling at the key moments. For over a decade the Ivoirians have been plagued by an inability to mould their array of talent into a unit resembling anything near the sum of their parts. At the same they have consistently struggled psychologically with the mental challenges associated with tournament football – their failure to win any of the last five African Cup of Nations (AFCONs) in spite of entering them all as resounding favourites being vindication of that flaw.” backpagefootball

What is Americans’ Favorite Global Cuisine?

July 25, 2014

“During the World Cup, we wondered how the countries would fare if it wasn’t their soccer teams but their national cuisines playing for glory. So we launched the FiveThirtyEight International Food Association’s (FIFA) 2014 World Cup. The group phase of the competition identified a few front-runners. Some, such as Italy, are also good at soccer. (The Italians might have done better in the soccer World Cup, but Uruguay’s Luis Suarez, apparently confused about which tournament he was playing in, decided to take a bite out of one of them). Others countries, like Mexico, will have a chance to avenge their soccer disappointments. We also introduced a few ringers, such as China, that didn’t qualify for the soccer World Cup but that belong in any discussion of the world’s best cuisines.” fivethirtyeight

Hipster Football: Who, How and Why

July 21, 2014

Jan. 4, 2014. “Hipster football: A sometimes pejorative shorthand for various forms of interest in football, from a love of obscure tactical facets of the game to an appreciation of teams you’ve never heard of but should love. Given the usually dedicated nature of football fandom, why do we develop crushes on certain teams, and why do we call that ‘hipster’ anyway?” Huffington Post

FIFA’s Dazed and Dated Attitude

July 16, 2014

“Of all the lasting images from the 2014 World Cup, the officials who run FIFA, soccer’s governing body, should be forced to remember one, above all: Germany’s Christoph Kramer staggering around the field in the final, glassy-eyed and dazed, like a sleepwalker. It was a glaring symbol of FIFA’s misguided approach to concussions and how desperately it needs to amend its substitution rules, which now allow for only three replacements per game and dictate that once a player is out of the game, he stays out. Faced with those restrictions, coaches are hesitant to keep a player with a possible head injury from leaving the match.” NY Times

Policing FIFA-Space

June 25, 2014

“What’s happening in the stands, where the fans meet the field? Scalpers, ticket touts, and cambistas operate freely around the Maracanã, exploiting fans desperate to get into matches. Outside the Spain vs. Chile match, an Englishman was selling three tickets for a total of $2,500—a sum that is maddeningly expensive and theoretically illegal. And this was one of dozens of such transactions happening on a newly constructed overpass that leads to the stadium before the game.” Fusion

Towards an Ethic of World Cup Fandom

June 23, 2014

“Sometime before he died, my uncle told me that in his youth, his dream had been to watch a World Cup game in person. He passed away before he could do it, so when Costa Rica qualified for the FIFA World Cup, I seized the chance to go. I contacted welcoming friends in Brazil, bought a ticket to see my team play football against England, and planned my trip. Like many fans around the world, I wanted to appreciate the beautiful game played at the highest level.” New Republic

The Matches Have Been Excellent So Far. But Could FIFA’s Corruption Make This the Last World Cup?

June 16, 2014

“In the spring of 2006 I was working on the Observer when, one quiet afternoon, the editor, Roger Alton, called out to me across the newsroom: ‘Jase, d’you fancy going to the World Cup?’ This was a question to which, if you liked football, the answer could not be ‘no’. Alton was an inspirational editor. He combined charm with just a hint of menace. He was menacing because he was capricious and unpredictable. But it was his very unpredictability that made him such a good editor—this and his high intelligence, which he tried to disguise by speaking in a kind of hectic demotic. The writer Geoff Dyer once described him to me, accurately enough, as being like a ‘cross between an Oxford don and a London cabbie.'” New Republic

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO): FIFA and the World Cup

June 11, 2014

“John Oliver’s excitement for the World Cup is tempered by knowing information about FIFA, the organization that produces it. John details the problems with the upcoming tournament and the staggering allegations of corruption against FIFA.” YouTube: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO): FIFA and the World Cup (Video)

The World Cup Is About to Begin, and FIFA’s Reputation Has Never Been Worse

June 10, 2014

“With the World Cup kicking off this Thursday, the month of June should be FIFA’s moment in the sun. Instead, the skies continue to darken over soccer’s international governing body. It all started on June 1, when The Sunday Times exposed that Mohamed bin Hammam, a former member of FIFA’s executive committee, had secretly bribed soccer officials worldwide nearly $5 million in an attempt to win votes for Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup. This wasn’t the first corruption charge leveled at bin Hammam: he was banned from FIFA in 2012 on charges of bribery, though the decision was later overturned.” New Republic (Video)

Throw FIFA Out of the Game

June 7, 2014

“MOST people associate FIFA, the organization that oversees international soccer, with the quadrennial joy of the World Cup. But as the 2014 tournament begins next week in Brazil, FIFA is plagued by levels of corruption, graft and excess that would shame Silvio Berlusconi. Despite the palatial estates, private planes and pompous airs of FIFA’s current leaders, the organization actually has quite humble origins. FIFA was founded in 1904 in Paris as a simple rule-making committee that aimed to regulate the guidelines for a new, rapidly expanding sport when played between nations.” NYT – Opinion

Beijing’s Green Army

April 16, 2014

“Nike. Carlsberg. Samsung. Familiar sponsors flash past on electronic billboards. At the same time, red-letter propaganda banners line the pitch, proclaiming: ‘The Chinese Dream. You, I, Gather Together. You, I, Advance Together.’ Apart from its name—the ‘Workers’ Stadium’ — and the socialist realist statue outside the entrance, Beijing Guoan’s home ground shows no signs that it was first erected at the height of the Maoist era in 1959. Today the renovated stadium is ringed with slick bars and clubs; posters advertise an upcoming Bruno Mars concert. China may have not yet made much of an impact on to the world soccer stage. But it is not the country it once was. Along with the meteoric rise of its economy, Chinese soccer has developed rapidly over the past two decades.” Roads and Kingdoms

Domestic league turbulence won’t affect Uruguay at World Cup

April 5, 2014

“The directors of Uruguay’s FA resigned earlier this week, and a scare story was doing the rounds suggesting that this would result in the country’s national team being kicked out of the World Cup. There was never the slightest chance of this happening. The false justification for the fear was FIFA’s hard line against government interference in football administration. But this is not what had transpired in this case. The Uruguayan government had taken measures on a subject 100 percent within its proper jurisdiction — policing policy.” ESPN – Tim Vickery (Video)

Whither Marc-Andre ter Stegen?

April 5, 2014

“The shockwaves were felt far and wide. FIFA announced earlier this week that FC Barcelona had been found guilty of skirting the rules barring the international transfer of underage players. Of course, few football observers would be truly shocked at the idea of a major football power playing fast and loose with the rules. Perhaps the more-skeptical among the underwhelmed would say the real stunner was that FIFA was taking action of any sort. But the news item that pushed Barcelona’s Champions League semifinal to ‘in other news’ status was the punishment: no transfer action for the club over the coming two transfer periods. In other words, no player not currently under contract with FC Barcelona will be moving to the Catalan giants this summer, nor in the winter to follow.” Bundesliga Fanatic

Futebol = life

March 5, 2014

“‘Life imitates art far more than art imitates life,” wrote Oscar Wilde, who might not have spent much time in Brazil. For here, it is not art that life imitates, but football. There is arguably nowhere in the world where the game is so gloriously and tragically tied to the feats and failures of the society that surrounds it, and it is hard to think of another country whose history is so symbiotically linked to the sport or that looks so pleadingly to the success of its national team for self-validation.” ESPN (Video)

2014 World Cup: Pressure starting to rise for hosts Brazil
“‘We’re working in conditions where the cement is not yet dry,’ said Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke as preparations for the 2014 World Cup move towards the final straight. The strain is showing on Valcke. Fifa wanted all 12 stadiums ready by December, to give plenty of time for test events. Sao Paulo, scene of the opening game, may not be handed over until May. Curitiba got itself so far behind that there was a real danger of the city being cut from the schedule.” BBC – Tim Vickery

Battling the elements in Brazil
“‘President Blatter,’ asked a Fortaleza-born journalist during the World Cup draw last December, ‘in Fortaleza we never play soccer until early evening to avoid the heat. Why,’ the journalist continued, referencing the local times, ‘have you scheduled matches at 1 p.m. or 4 p.m.?’ FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s predictable answer mentioned Brazil’s time difference with the body’s biggest market, European TVs. Given that those kickoff times won’t change, some squads will have to prepare for a grueling mixture of heat and muggy weather, tiring factors to be added to the huge distances between certain venues.” ESPN

Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life
“The Brazilian football team is one of the modern wonders of the world. At its best it exudes a skill, flamboyance and romantic pull like nothing else on earth. Football is how the world sees Brazil and how Brazilians see themselves. The game symbolises racial harmony, flamboyance, youth, innovation and skill, and yet football is also a microcosm of Latin America’s largest country and contains all of its contradictions. Travelling extensively from the Uruguayan border to the northeastern backlands, from the coastal cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo to the Amazon jungle-Bellos shows how Brazil changed football and how football shaped Brazil. He tells the stories behind the great players, like Pele and Garrincha, between the great teams, like Corinthians and Vasco de Gama, and the great matches, as well as extraordinary stories from people and pitches all over this vast country.” amazon

League of Ireland Preview: Sligo Rovers

March 3, 2014

“Truth be told, it was always going to be an arduous task for Sligo Rovers to retain their league title last season. And so it proved as it was a superior St Patrick’s Athletic outfit who instead took home the crown as the chasing pack wilted in the closing stages. Despite the fact that Rovers began the league campaign excellently by storming to an impressive eight match winning streak, their powers began to wane noticeably towards the business end of the league season. Of course, finishing third is still nothing to be sniffed at and the self-belief to better that performance remains as strong as ever.” Backpage Football

League of Ireland Preview: St Patrick’s Athletic
“As the old saying goes, reaching the top of the mountain is one thing but staying at the summit is an entirely different ball game and that is the task the stares 2013 Airtricity League Champions, St.Patrick’s Athletic right in the face ahead of the new campaign. Liam Buckley will once again take the reins at the Stadium of Light for the 2014 League of Ireland season but perhaps never has there been such expectation and excitement surrounding the “Saints” going into a new year with big name signings such as Mark Quigley and Irish international, Keith Fahey adding to the already hugely impressive Pats armour from last season.” Backpage Football

Where Soccer Gets Made

February 19, 2014

“When the British ruled India, they had a habit of establishing garrisons in towns across the subcontinent. One of these was located in the ancient town of Sialkot, which now lies in Pakistan’s Punjab province, just shy of the Indian border. To amuse themselves, British soldiers stationed there would, of course, play cricket. But they played football, too, on the many stretches of carefully watered and manicured grass that can still be found across Sialkot’s cantonment area. According to a local legend, at around the turn of the twentieth century, the British officers managed to puncture their ball during a casual kick-about. Seeking a quick and cheap mend, they enlisted the services of a local Sialkoti cobbler, who readily agreed to try and restore the unusual object to its original full-roundedness.” Road and Kingdoms

China’s Stadium Diplomacy in Africa

January 29, 2014

“In Maputo, the ‘Garden for Sculptors’ behind the Museu Nacional de Arte on Avenida Ho Chi Minh has become a kind of prison yard for Mozambique’s various Ozymandiases, a semi-public dumping ground where colonial monuments now crumble quietly away. A marble European baroness reclines in thick robes, the grasses growing up around her base. Both of her arms have been lopped off, but her amputated left hand still touches the midriff of a black male slave crouched in a loincloth by her side. Nearby, a decapitated Lady Justice presides over a small patch of weeds and bare earth. No longer public art, but not quite garbage, these are the monuments which were extracted like rotten teeth from the city’s squares and public buildings when Portuguese colonial rule finally ended, but which nobody could quite bring themselves to destroy.” Road and Kingdoms

Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Goalkeeper

January 19, 2014

“We all know it: goalkeepers are different. And good thing, too. They prompt a special affection or loathing from fans, and even their nicknames—a solid indicator of devotion—carry a yearning that other players struggle to match. The Iron Curtain (Rinat Dasaev), the Always-Standing Little Hercules (Aldo Olivieri), the Elastic Wonder (Ángel Bossio) the Ballet Dancer with the Hands of Steel (Vladimir Beara). Even at their most obscure or unimaginative —the Cat of Prague (Frantisek Planicka), the Cat of the Maracanã (Antoni Ramallets), the Black Panther (Lev Yashin), the Black Spider (Lev Yashin), the Black Octopus (Lev Yashin) —these alter egos suggest a mythical quality not easily dismissed. Our fascination with the position—and the oddballs and iconoclasts it attracts—has spawned a small library of books, ranging from how-to manuals, histories, and manifestos to novels and memoirs. A survey of the literature takes us deep into the soul of the game and reveals the onlookers as much as it does the keepers themselves.” Howler Magazine

The Best of Football Writing in 2013

January 15, 2014

“This is the third year that The Best Football Writing list (2012, 2011) has come into existence. We’ve seen blogs come and go, as well as writers rise and get the recognition they deserve. 2013 was no exception, but the continued domination of social media in sport created a new landscape for writing. With a flood of information hitting us every day, it can be difficult to find the long reads amongst a pile of memes. This year’s list was the hardest to compile, but there was hardly a shortage of quality writing. In fact, we were overwhelmed with tweets and emails recommending great writing in football.” A Football Report

New Film Series, “30 for 30: Soccer Stories”, Surrounding 2014 FIFA World Cup on ESPN

January 15, 2014

“ESPN Films, creators of the critically-acclaimed 30 for 30 film series, will premiere a new series in April surrounding the 2014 FIFA World Cup on ESPN. 30 for 30: Soccer Stories will include a mix of standalone feature-length and 30-minute-long documentary films from an award winning group of filmmakers telling compelling narratives from around the international soccer landscape. In addition, a collection of 10 vignettes about Brazil’s rich culture will be featured throughout ESPN’s FIFA World Cup programming.” ESPN

Afro-Europe in the World Cup

January 8, 2014

“It isn’t fair. Though Africa has more countries and a larger population than Europe, the continent only has five berths in the World Cup compared to Europe’s thirteen. And they had to fight for that: it was only a boycott in 1966, led by Kwame Nkrumah, that changed the policy that allowed only one spot for either an African or an Asia team. There are all kinds of justifications, of course, offered for this inequality. And it will likely to a long time for change to happen, and then it will come incrementally. While we wait patiently for institutions to change, however, the world has a way of rendering a kind of justice. Post-colonial migration has created a loophole of sorts in FIFA’s global apportioning of representation. This year, there will be two additional African teams in the competition: France and Belgium. If they are going to the World Cup at all, it is thanks to goals scored by the children of African migrants: Romelu Lukaku for Belgium, and Mamadou Sakho for France. I’m not sure if these old colonial powers deserve the help, but they’ve gotten it: Africa has come to the rescue. In fact, it might be worth giving new names to these two football teams: Françafrique and AfroBelgica, perhaps?” ROADS & KINGDOMS – Laurent Dubois

Football fixing claims: When is ‘match-fixing’ not match-fixing?

December 12, 2013

“Football is never far away from its next scandal and allegations of match-fixing certainly dent the reputation of the beautiful game. But is it right to call the recent claims of wrongdoing ‘match-fixing’? Sam Sodje, a former Portsmouth player, was filmed by an undercover reporter claiming he could arrange for footballers to be booked for a £30,000 fee and a sending-off for £50,000 to £70,000 in order to facilitate betting fraudsters. Six people have been arrested, including DJ Campbell, the Blackburn Rovers striker. Emotive terms like ‘plague’ and ‘cancer’ have been used in the media and there have been calls for fixers to be banned for life, but why has no-one asked whether it is actually possible to make substantial amounts of money by betting on yellow and red cards?” BBC

Brazil venues struggle to meet World Cup deadline

November 26, 2013

“After a spate of building problems and public protests in Brazil, the governing body of world football, Fifa, repeatedly warned there would be “no compromise” over the delivery of World Cup stadiums. But with Fifa’s end-of-year deadline looming, several stadiums are well behind schedule and one host city, Cuiaba, has told the BBC that not only will be it unable to finish its stadium on time, but there are not even enough hotel rooms for visiting fans.” BBC (Video)

FIFA could have handled Ballon d’Or better

November 20, 2013

“There’s nothing quite like FIFA changing the rules and procedures midstream to fuel the conspiracy theories. This time, the powers-that-be have extended the deadline to vote for the FIFA Ballon d’Or by another two weeks. The vote had closed Nov. 15. Now it has been moved to Nov. 29. Ostensibly, this was done because turnout among voters was poor. Not that low turnout hasn’t been an issue before; by my count, nearly one-in-five (18.9 percent) eligible voters didn’t cast their choice last time around.” ESPN (Video)

Fifa 2014 World Cup: Who is there & who is in the play-offs?

November 17, 2013

Roman Zozulya
“With the group stages of qualifying over, the final 11 teams at next summer’s World Cup finals in Brazil will be decided this week in the play-offs. Next summer’s tournament will feature 32 teams, with the draw for eight groups of four to take place at the Costa do Sauipe resort in the Brazilian state of Bahia on 6 December. BBC Sport takes a look at the definite qualifiers and the play-off contenders across the six Fifa confederations.” BBC

The Long Revolution of the Ultras Ahlawy

November 13, 2013

Graffiti of several Port Said victims daubed on one of the American University in Cairo’s external walls
“… On Sunday, as Ahmed Abdel Zaher turned to celebrate scoring his side’s second goal in the final of the African Champions League, he did something strange with his outstretched right hand. He extended his four fingers, and tucked his thumb over his palm. The goal itself was significant — it ensured that Cairo’s mighty Al-Ahly team would beat South Africa’s Orlando Pirates for its eighth champions league title. But in Egypt, it was Abdel Zaher’s celebration that later stole the limelight. For his four-fingered salute has over the past three months become a potent and divisive sign of opposition to the overthrow of Egypt’s former president, Mohamed Morsi. It invokes August’s bloody demolition of an encampment of Morsi’s Islamist supporters outside a mosque called Rabaa al-Adawiya. (Rabaa means ‘fourth’ in Arabic.)” SI

Ahly Ultras show patience in quest for justice, but for how long? 15 February 2012
“Almost three weeks after the Port Said football disaster, no tangible legal action has been taken against the perpetrators. Meanwhile, Ahly’s main Ultras groups, the Ultras Ahlawy, known as UA07 and centralized in Cairo, and the Ultras Devils, whose members are situated in Port Said, Alexandria, Zagazig and Suez, seem to be running out of patience as they demand swift justice.” Ahram Online

Recalling the Past: The Battle over History, Collective Memory and Memorialization in Egypt
“History is inescapable in Egypt. Foreign tourists drawn to the abundant physical remains of Coptic, Pharaonic, Hellenic, and Islamic cultures are reminded of the contemporary past as they head downtown from the Cairo airport past the triumphant October War Panorama, a war museum commemorating the 1973 war with fighter jets parked out front. Numerous place names—Sadat City, the Twenty-sixth of July Street, Talaat Harb Square, the Sixth of October Bridge—are constant evocations of persons and events raised to iconic status by former regimes.” Jadaliyya

“Ultras Ahlawy (UA-07) is an Egyptian ultras group that supports the Cairo-based Egyptian Premier League football club Al-Ahly. The group was founded in 2007 by former members of the first Ahly support group, Ahly Fans Club (AFC). Ultras Ahlawy raised its banner for the first time at a match against ENPPI on 13 April 2007. Ultras Ahlawy also supports the Al-Ahly basketball, volleyball, and handball teams. Ultras Ahlawy first became known for its banners and pyro shows. Later the group began introducing derby matches using theWE ARE EGYPT chant. Ultras Ahlawy also introduced long-form supportive songs to Egyptian stadiums. It’s popular that it’s the fire Ultras in Egypt and Africa. Banner and pyro displays. Ultras Ahlawy is known for its members’ banners at both home and away games. The most famous examples were the Al-Ahly logo at a SuperSport United F.C. match in the CAF Champions League, the red devil at a Zamalek match in the Premier League, and a Freedom for Ultras banner at the match against Espérance in the CAF Champions League. During a match against ZESCO United F.C. in the CAF Champions League, Ultras Ahlawy made a pyro show in the 55th minute.” Wikipedia

Turbulent World

October 15, 2013

“… As is often the case, the advent of the Arab Uprisings in 2011 was bathed – in the media and in Western academic circles – with a roseate glow and the belief that Arab exceptionalism had been shown to be a myth so that the Arab world would now enter into the generalised emergence of democratic governance worldwide. There was, to be sure, a residual anxiety, as new governments began to emerge, that the challenge of political Islam as a new force shaping regional political dynamics might find democracy difficult to accommodate. Confidence, however, was placed in the political maturity that such movements seemed to show, a confidence that was not dented by the sudden and unexpected emergence of a new gamut of Salafist movements and parties throughout the region.” Turbulent World

Qatar 2022 could be FIFA’s biggest mistake ever

October 9, 2013

“Growing up around an Egyptian father–absolutely obsessed with football–there were certain truths that I had to accept and never question: 1. Pele is the greatest soccer player of all time, and any Argentinian fan who disagrees is blinded by bias. 2. Never trust a fan of the Algerian national team. 3. Never be optimistic about the English national team. 4. Never trust FIFA because it is the most corrupt governing institution in the world. With the 2022 World Cup eight short years away, FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, arguably the most nefarious man in sports, has dug himself into an inescapable hole by picking Qatar to host the world’s largest sporting spectacle.” Soccer Politics

The World Cup With Blood On Its Hands

September 29, 2013

“There comes a point at which the rotten core at the heart of football will become too much for most to take. We have come to accept the greed and the avarice as a part of life, as if there is no other way in which these people behave, and we are pacified only, it seems, by the collection of three points on a Saturday afternoon. Perhaps, though, for the corrupt culture that has burrowed its way into FIFA over as many decades as you choose to select from, some sort of day of reckoning is fast approaching.” twohundredpercent

Sep 15 – Fictionalized films…

September 16, 2013

“Fictionalized films about football are usually a bust. It seems hard to recreate on-field action. And nowadays professional footballers’ lives off the field can be regimented and organized, drained of any real drama. So we are not sure what to expect from the planned biopic ‘Pele’ by the Zimbalist brothers (to their credit, they directed the documentary ‘The Two Escobars,’ which even the Colombians we know, admit is a very good film). The hype for the film ‘Pele’ started in May this year and shooting was supposed to have started in August. That we know and (from the producers’ website) the film will only focus on his early life: from ‘… his impoverished youth to his unlikely rise to futbol stardom in 1958.’ …” Football is a Country

Qatari Foundations

September 1, 2013

“A spectre is haunting European football – the spectre of Qatar. No holy alliance has emerged to respond to this rising power; indeed, it has been embraced by both established luminaries (Barcelona, Zidane) and by (hopeful) rising stars, such as the Paris Saint-Germain football club and now, in Belgium, Eupen. Qatar is already acknowledged by European football powers to be itself a power in their midst.” Soccer Politics

How can we interpret and ‘handle’ the current hand ball rules?

August 8, 2013

“In the modern footballing era there have been many criticisms of refereeing performance and the clarity of the laws by which our players are to abide by whilst playing the game we all love. One rule that will always come into the spotlight is that relating to the law against handling the ball. ‘That was never deliberate’ or ‘he never meant that’ are two phrases used on countless occasions where a decision has been made where it is deemed a player has handled the ball. But the pain does not end there, when in similar situations, sometimes in the same match, the same decision has not been given. The modern approach seems to accept that referees make mistakes and that is an inherent part of the game, but can more be done to make this problem simpler? We can try to understand the root of this issue by looking at the wording of the relevant law set out by FIFA in their Laws of the Game.” Think Football

Is the Premier League providing corporate cover for ‘corrupt’ foreign owners and regimes?

August 6, 2013

Soccer - Barclays Premier League - Manchester City v Liverpool - City of Manchester Stadium
“‘In this meeting of a desperate UK economy with Abu Dhabi’s fortunes’ wrote David Conn in the Guardian this week, ‘there is a limit to the UK government’s disapproval over allegations of torture and flaws in the UAE legal system.’ But then domestic attitudes have always been a little on the liberal side when it comes to owners of Manchester City. Six years ago nobody in a position of much authority had anything very accusing to say about Thaksin Shinawatra after his £81million take-over of the club, save for the Thai authorities who spent a couple of years frantically posting out arrest warrants like junk mail over a catalogue of offences against the state.” Think Football

Jury remains out on Michel Platini’s financial fair play project
“For all of Michel Platini’s tough talk, conspicuous consumption has once again been the order of the day this summer from the gilded boulevards of Monaco to the fast-changing post-industrial landscape of east Manchester. Arsène Wenger has labelled the situation ‘a joke’. As Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur haggle over just how much the Spanish giants will pay for Gareth Bale and in how many instalments, the likely world record fee will add further to the volume of disgruntled muttering surrounding the implementation of the Uefa president’s financial fair play project.” Guardian

Brazil 2014 blame game

July 20, 2013

“‘If the protests happen again,’ said FIFA president Sepp Blatter, ‘we will have to ask ourselves if we took the wrong decision in giving Brazil the right to stage the World Cup. His words would not appear to contain any threat, implied or otherwise, that the venue for the 2014 World Cup might suffer a late alteration. Rather, this would seem to be a public relations exercise, and an attempt to separate two distinct areas of protest. The mass demonstrations that rocked Brazil last month began relatively small and specific – on the issue of public transport in Sao Paulo.” ESPN – Tim Vickery (Video)