Tag Archives: Soccer Politics

The Football Griot – Laurent Dubois

“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


How to really watch the World Cup

“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

“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

“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

“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

“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?

“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

The Story of Arsenal vs Barcelona: Will Arsenal ever beat Barca?

“The Story of Arsenal vs Barcelona: Will Arsenal ever beat Barca? Arsenal and Barcelona are frequently compared among football fans with their similar football styles; high possession rate, tiki-taka, total football, and etc. Both teams, almost every season, record highest ball possession rates in their corresponding leagues. Iniesta once said ‘I think Arsenal still play the best football in England. They play in a style in the way that most emulates what we do in Barcelona – and what is in our opinion the right way to approach the game … their football philosophy is the most attractive in England.’ As shown in this comment, one of the greatest products created by the Barcelona system obviously has respect for Arsenal’s football and also admits that Arsenal is somehow imitating Barcelona’s style.” Soccer Politics

Football Management – Davis Muthoka

Football Management is a blog maintained by Dr. John Beech an independent academic who is an Honorary Research Fellow at Coventry University where he was Head of Sport & Tourism at the Applied Research Centre in Sustainable Regeneration (SURGE). Through his work on this blog, Dr. John Beech received the Football Supporters’ Federation Writer of the Year Award for season 2009/10. With detailed data on over 200 English soccer clubs, the blog offers commentary on current as well as historic issues on management and governance of English league clubs. The blog is read in over 175 countries across the globe. The homepage of Football Management is easy to navigate. The first section on the homepage is the Recent Posts section. An article that caught my attention under this section is titled Opening a can of worms ?.This article covers the issue of the relationship between English clubs’ management and their local councils especially when the clubs are at the center of an issue. Given the big roles these clubs play in the economies and the unwillingness of the councils to anger fans, the author claims there is a possibility of these clubs failing to be subjected to the due legal process in settling significant issues. …” Soccer Politics

Pellegrini Out?: Evaluating Manchester City’s Manager Options

“Manchester City is teetering on a crisis. Since the new year, when they were tied with Chelsea atop the table , they have struggled, and are now sitting 13 points behind the soon to be champions. Not only that, but the team has looked poor doing it, showing little drive or defensive structure. Manchester City supporters are questioning his leadership and ability to motivate his players. The agent of city’s star midfielder, Yaya Toure, called Pellegrini ‘a good coach, but a weak manager.’Soccer Politics

Soccer Analytics – Do They Belong in the “Beautiful Game”?

“There is a revolution happening in the world of sports, but it is not happening on a field or a court. Rather, the revolution is happening in the Excel sheets and the computers of statisticians and analysts who are tracking every play in sports today. In an age where the accessibility of data and the ability to analyze it quickly has reached team managers and coaches, the question remains, ‘How will analytics affect the sport of soccer?’” Soccer Politics

What Analytics Can Teach Us About the Beautiful Game
“Sports analytics, no matter the field’s renegade posturing, has now been around long enough to have its own pieces of conventional wisdom. Baseball’s cognoscenti know all about the primacy of on-base percentage over batting average, and they’ve also come to realize once-treasured strategies like bunting and stealing bases are best used sparingly. In basketball, the mid-range jump shot is slowly being phased out as an inefficient relic of antiquity. Spreadsheets are shaming football coaches into rolling the dice more often on fourth downs.” Five Thirty Eight

The Barrabrava – Crusaders Turning Exploiters

“As I read Christopher Gaffney’s Temples of the Earthbound Gods, one issue that particularly struck me was the excessive nature of the barrabrava, the fierce fan group that exists in most of the Argentine and South American football clubs. In the book, Gaffney suggests the unclear, shady relationships between the clubs and their barrabravas, or barras in short, and some of the borderline illegal actions that the barras take that is veiled under the name of passion and footballing identity. For instance, the level of physical violence that the barras have reached a point where the barras of each club have their signature means of violence – rubber mallets in San Lorenzo or umbrellas in Independiente, for example – and yet their clubs have remained reluctant, even sympathetic towards such acts.” Soccer Politics (Video)

German Nationalism Courtesy of Football

“The 20th century was a wicked roller coaster ride for Germany. Two World Wars, each spawned by high levels of nationalism, both resulted in German defeat. In the course of less than fifty years, Germany’s territory, economy, and politics were reduced to rubble, rebuilt, and then subsequently destroyed multiple times. Post World War II, the Allied Powers split Germany into two countries to separate East from West during the Cold War, with the very visible divide in the form of the Berlin Wall. Only with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 did East and West Germany begin the process of reunification. So, where has that left German citizens?” Soccer Politics

The Danish Fairy Tale

“A friend of mine is a fan of F.C. København, the most successful Danish league side of the last 10 years. København have won 7 of the last 10 Danish Superliga titles, but are more famous for being a Cinderella team that beat Manchester United and drew Barcelona and Manchester City in the Champions League. Remarkably, however, København is not the most successful Cinderella that Denmark has produced. That honor belongs to the Danish team that won Euro 1992 against all odds, which wrote a fairy tale that can rival any work by Hans Christian Andersen.” Soccer Politics

Territorial Discrimination in Italy

“Remember that mom who always went back on her word? The one whose kid would fail his classes, get suspended from school, and then be allowed to go out the next weekend after you thought he’d never see the light of day again. The mom who threatened to ground her kid for the next two months but always caved and never held firm. Well that mom is exactly like the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), an organization whose menacing threats are undermined by a severe lack of enforcement. Specifically, as territorial discrimination by fans in Serie A continues to escalate, the FIGC’s lackadaisical approach hinders the hope of any indelible progress being made.” Soccer Politics (Video)

The Beautiful Game Leads to a Beheading

“The field in Centro do Meio, Brazil, where two young men were killed after an altercation at a pick up soccer game last June. Late last week, Jeré Longman and Taylor Barnes of The New York Times relate one of the most chilling stories I have ever read in briliant, gory detail. This is a story of violence, poverty, anger and of course, soccer.” Soccer Politics

Uruguay: World Champions

“The Uruguay national football team has undoubtedly had a rough year. After a promising start to qualifying for the next World Cup, a run of negative results put the team’s chances in jeopardy. Uruguay ultimately advanced to a two-game playoff against Jordan for a spot in Brazil in 2014. Their 5th place finish in CONMEBOL qualification derived from a paltry 2-1-5 away record, including a 4-1 loss to lowly Bolivia, and an additional 3 home draws to weaker opposition such as Paraguay and Venezuela. Finishing below a talented Colombia team and a young upstart Chile was somewhat disappointing, but losing the last automatic qualification spot to Ecuador was shocking after Uruguay finished in 4th place in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.” Soccer Politics

Qatar 2022 could be FIFA’s biggest mistake ever

“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

EA Sports FIFA, US, and The Global Game

“In the United States, Saturdays and Sunday are reserved for one thing: football. Across the country, people neglect their chores, homework, jobs, and responsibilities to flock to sports bars, friend’s couches, and the biggest TV they can find to in order to watch college and professional football. Recently, however, American sports fans have been putting aside one kind of football in favor of another. American soccer, or football, as it’s known to the rest of the world, has seen a seismic shift in popularity during the last several years. According to Rich Luker, the brains behind the ESPN Sports Poll, soccer is America’s second most popular sport for those aged 18-24. How? What could be the source of this newfound fanfare? Perhaps it’s the increasingly global reach by the world’s most popular clubs? Soccer Politics

Rodgers and Liverpool have the cyclic nature of football on their side

“Great sides come and go. Clubs rise to greatness and fall back into the pack like the monthly tides, with the exceptions able to be counted on one hand. Teams like Ajax come to mind, who in the mid-seventies rose to the forefront of Europe under the brilliance of Johan Cruyff only to fade from glory on the European stage for some twenty years after. For manager Brenden Rodgers and Liverpool Football Club, however, the time has never been riper to wrestle back control of the Premier League from their rivals at Manchester United.” Soccer Politics

Qatari Foundations

“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

Invisible Men? Racism in Honduran Soccer

“… In the United States we hear a lot about racism in soccer, but it is always in the context of events in Europe. Most people who follow the sport know about the John Terry-Anton Ferdinand affair, for which Terry was stripped of the England captaincy. And many are familiar with the more recent cases involving fans making monkey sounds at Kevin Prince Boateng and Mario Balotelli. Even when a Latin American player is involved–such as in the Luis Suárez-Patrice Evra incident–the question of whether or not something qualifies as racism is interpreted through a European (not to mention a U.S.) lens.” Soccer Politics


“‘Tear gas is a magic potion,’ writes Chris Gaffney from the streets of Rio. ‘Those who launch it are weakened while those forced to inhale it are strengthened.’ For those of you interested in the politics of football in Brazil, his blog – as well as his excellent book on Stadia in Argentina and Brazil – is a key place to go to understand the ways in which preparations for the 2014 World Cup have served as a trigger for what may become a major political and social movement in Brazil. As is often the case, the state’s response to what were initially small protests has energized a movement that is tapping into a powerful vein of dissatisfaction in the country.” Soccer Politics

Can Brazil protests can be traced back to a 2003 Fifa decision?
“Of all the unimportant things in life, as the wise old saying puts it, football is the most important. Which means, wonderful as it is, that the global game comes below education, health and public transport in any rational list of governmental priorities. It is the poor standard of these public services which has brought millions of Brazilian people onto the streets. No-one saw this protest movement coming and no-one knows where it will end. Most agree that the complaints are justified.” BBC – Tim Vickery

A Moth for Mali

“The Western-most tip of Africa seemed like as good a place as any to watch the Mali vs. South Africa quarter-final in the African Cup of Nations. On Saturday, I was at the Pointe des Almadies in Dakar, a tourist stop and hang-out with a beach carpeted with black stones and hand-holding couples. On offer there were grilled fish, birds, paintings made of butterfly wings, ham and cheese crepes and beer, Bob Marley renditions — and a tiny television tuned to the match. We stood packed behind a bar watching. Everyone, as usual, was both coach and expert tactician.” Soccer Politics

UEFA Financial Fair Play

“Over the last 20 years European soccer has gone through an exciting but dangerous period of global expansion. When Rupert Murdoch’s Sky TV signed the English Premier League to a $115 million television rights deal in 1992, he set the European club sport on a terror of worldwide expansion. The Spanish Empire of the 1700s is the only conquest that rivals the expansion of European soccer.[1] With the additional capital, individual clubs could grow. More potent, though, was the exposure the clubs garnered worldwide through the advent of technology. This exposure turned community institutions into global brands that have been wielded with a capitalist’s fist. The dangerous part is that this expansion has gone unregulated.” Soccer Politics

Palestine on the Pitch

“‘It is unacceptable that children are killed while they play football.’ So declares a statement by 62 professional footballers protesting the recent Israeli actions in Gaza. Posted on the website of Frédéric Kanouté, it includes some of the best known names in global football, notably Didier Drogba and Eden Hazard. It is a striking gesture, one with few precedents. It highlights how powerfully football and politics are increasingly intertwined in Israel and Palestine.” Soccer Politics

Why Football is Part of the Creative Economy

“Football is part of the creative economy because its value lies in ideas. Typically when we think of football, we tend to think of it as “big business.” Real Madrid made over $695 million in the 2011 fiscal year and the combined net worth of the top five richest clubs for 2011 is over $5 billion. But to put this into perspective, we need to realize that the combined value of the world’s five richest companies is nearly $2 trillion. We can all see that in the grand scheme of things, football financially pales in comparison to other sectors of industry. Yet football is both immensely powerful and popular. In FIFA’s latest Big Count, 270 million people—or four percent of the world’s population—are involved in football in some way. Further, more people watch the World Cup Final than any other single sporting events. This leads us to ask—is football really a business at all?” Soccer Politics

What is Soccer’s Business?

“The business of a soccer club is to produce a winning team. At the end of the day sports are a form of entertainment. Too often, though, actions taken place in the board room or at the negotiating table take away from the entertainment displayed on the field. At times, the aggressiveness and sometimes greediness of clubs leads to failure on the field. Specifically, the mountains of debt some European clubs have amassed in recent years often do more harm than good for a club. Last year, players in La Liga — one of the world’s richest leagues — nearly went on strike when one club failed to pay wages.” Soccer Politics

The Hijab on the Pitch

“On Friday, the French Football Federation announced that it would ban the wearing of hijab during all organized competitions held in France. The Federation declared that in doing so it was fulfilling its ‘duty to respect the constitutional and legislative principles of secularism that prevails in our country and features in its statutes.’ The decision came one day after the International Football Association Board — the body within FIFA that governs the laws of the game — unanimously declared that it would, for a ‘trial period’ allow players to wear the hijab during international competitions. France, then, is seeking to carve out an exception to an international ruling, one that links its football regulations to a broad set of laws that ban veils in public schools and public administration, as well as banning the burqa in all public spaces.” Soccer Politics

¡Tricampeones! Spain complete their cycle

“They are calling them el generation de fenómenos – ‘the generation of phenomenons.’ On the night of July 1, 2012, in Kiev, the most talented generation of footballers that Spain has ever produced – or, perhaps, will ever produce – fashioned their most lucid performance. With their destruction of Italy by four goals to nil, the largest margin of victory in a European or World cup final, Spain has become the only team to defend successfully the European Championship, and the first international side since the Uruguay teams of 1924, 1928, and 1930 to win a hat-trick – tres tantos – of consecutive major tournaments.” Soccer Politics

The European Cup and the New Europe

“During international football competitions like the European Cup, eleven players briefly become their country, for a time, on the pitch. A nation is a difficult thing to grasp: unpalpable, mythic, flighty. Historians might labor away to define the precise contours of a country’s culture and institutions, and even sometimes attempt to delineate it’s soul, while political leaders try mightily (and persistently fail) to stand as representatives of it’s ideals. But in a way there is nothing quite so tactile, so real, as the way a team represents a nation: during their time on the pitch, they have in their hands a small sliver of the country’s destiny. And in those miraculous and memorable moments when individual trajectories intersect with a national sporting victory, sometimes biographies and histories seem briefly to meld. At such moments, the players who inhabit the crossroads of sporting and national history –Maradona in 1986, Zidane in 1998 — become icons, even saints.” Soccer Politics


“There are some matches that end up seeming primarily the vehicle for one person to somehow attain mythical status. The Champions League final between Chelsea and Bayern was written, it seems now, purely to allow Didier Drogba a form of poetic catharsis worthy of fiction or film. The fact that Chelsea won was itself a kind of oddity, for throughout the game it seemed the most unlikely of outcomes. But as he had against Barcelona, Drogba became the master of the unruly and the absurd: none of what the other team did, not of the great passing and possession and continual shots on goal, mattered in the end. Just Drogba did, his head and then his foot.”


“In October 2001, the national football teams of France and Algeria faced off in a long-awaited, and (at least in principle) “friendly” international game at the Stade de France in Paris. The event was trumpeted as an opportunity for reconciliation, a symbolic end to the conflict between the two countries, and an opportunity for a French nation increasingly shaped by it’s Algerian immigrant population to find peace within itself. But from the beginning, the match was something else: the stadium was packed with fans of the Algerian team, most of them French citizens of Algerian background. Many booed and whistled not just at the French national team (sparing only Zinedine Zidane), but also — loudly — at the French national anthem.” Soccer Politics

From the Stadium to the Streets in Egypt

“There were several interesting reports this week about the fact that some of the best organized and most effective groups involved in the protests in Egypt came from what some saw as a surprising place: football fan groups.” Soccer Politics

A little information about Ultras fan clubs in Egypt
“Egypt’s football fan clubs are figuring prominently in stories about the current uprising. For readers wanting to learn more about the Ultras in Egypt and their role in the uprising, here are a few links: James M. Dorsey, ‘Soccer Fans Play Key Role in Egyptian Protests’ (readers of this blog will not be surprised, as this is a fairly consistent topic in writing about the sport and politics). The Football Scholars Forum posted a link to that story and to this BBC interview with David Goldblatt (of The Ball is Round): The Secret Policeman’s Football.” From A Left Wing

Yellow and Green in Haiti: A Footnote to the Election Crisis

“In the midst of the brewing crisis over the election in Haiti, I’m taking solace in small, containable observations. Jude Celestin, the ruling party candidate who now stands accused by twelve other candidates of having carried out fraud at the polls today, made a shrewd choice in his campaign colors. As Emily Troutman noted in a pre-election article on the candidates, the green and white of his posters and shirts are the same as those of the Brazilian national team.” (Soccer Politics)

“The Referee” by Mattias Low

“Swedish director Mattias Löw, of the production company Freedom From Choice, shared with me a short documentary called “The Referee,” about the unfortunate Martin Hannson, who officiated the France-Ireland qualifier last fall and failed to call Thierry Henry’s decisive handball.” (Soccer Politics)

Univisión, Latino (Dis)Unity, and the World Cup

“In this past month of World Cup football, I have seen my facebook stream lit up by ‘friends’ claiming that they are loving to watch coverage in Spanish. In many cases, these friends speak Spanish as a second language; I even have friends who don’t speak Spanish well at all, yet watch the Spanish coverage because they claim it is more dramatic.” (Soccer Politics)

Maradona Makes Me Happy

“I’m here in South Africa, and last night went to the see the Argentina-Mexico game at Soccer City. I’ll warn you that a portion of this post will sound a bit like FIFA propaganda, so if you can’t stand that please stop reading now. But the feeling here in electric and ebullient, and I really can’t imagine any other event that could produce the same thing. I felt happily overwhelmed at the scene last night.” (Soccer Politics)

France vs. South Africa, Then and Now

“In 1998, as the French team prepared to play their first World Cup match, they heard singing from the opposing team’s locker room. The Bafana Bafana — in their first World Cup appearance after the end of apartheid, fielding an integrated team — were gearing up to play with song, and as the two team’s marched down the tunnel out onto the pitch, they continued singing, sending echoes through the halls. For Lilian Thuram, born in Guadeloupe, and Marcel Desailly, born in Ghana, it was a deeply moving moment.” (Soccer Politics)

French Racism and Les Bleus
“Yesterday I participated in two discussions about French football. The first, on the English-language TV station France 24, had a perfect line-up: one person defending the classic “football is alienation” thesis, a sports journalist seeing politics as mainly being projected onto sport, and me, the cultural historian imagining everything as politics.” (Soccer Politics)

Whatever: A French Perspective on French National Team’s Implosion
“I’ve translated an article by Simone Capelli-Welter, a regular contributor to So Foot. It’s a fantastic piece, and in it you can hear an all too familiar frustration with the drama, the hysteria, and the contradictory flows of media discourse on such implosions. This an unauthorized translation – but I am so sick of ESPN/CNN’s stupid reporting on this story that I couldn’t help myself…” (From A Left Wing)

Referee Bashing 101

“Paul Kennedy recently noted at Soccer America that we owe a big thank you to Koman Coulibaly, the suddenly world-famous referee who made a controversial call against the U.S. a few days ago. “He accomplished what no one else could in more than 100 years. He made Americans care passionately about soccer.” Indeed, I may have to take back what I wrote last week in my post ‘Happy at the Margins.’ Maybe soccer has arrived in the U.S. On Friday it suddenly seemed as if we’ve joined the venerable ranks of the aggrieved nations of international soccer, the righteously indignant, the purveyors of rage and — in some quarters — bizarre, xenophobic, and racist conspiracy theories all aimed at one man and his whistle.” (Soccer Politics)

Facing Algeria

“Since last December’s World Cup draw, the Algerian team has been, to my mind, underestimated. They’ve certainly had their ups and downs, and the coach has taken risks by incorporating some new players who weren’t present in qualifying. And the goalie who played so well against England, Raïs M’Bohli, did so during his first full international game for the team. But what we saw against England suggests that, in fact, this team will present a very strong challenge next week against the United States.” (Soccer Politics)

Soccer Music Politics

“By now, we have all heard Shakira’s edifying ‘Waka Waka,’ the official theme song of the 2010 World Cup. I promised myself that I would keep this post short, so please allow me just to note that I believe the majority of the conscious world has found this song to be, at various times, putridly abominable, horrifically terrible, terribly horrific, condenscending to Africans, ignorant, frivolous, foolish, a representative of the Gap commercial-ification of everything that used to be holy and complex and interesting, Exhibit A in the thesis that the Apocalypse is near, the death blow to optimism. Thank you, Shakira, you have done it again. And curses, you’ve already made me write a hundred words about you!” (Soccer Politics)

A Blue Flame

“It’s strange to say, but I feel a powerful sense of relief tonight. I’ve been rooting for France steadily since 2006, through the crash-and-burn of Euro 2008, through a qualifying campaign that constantly seemed like Waterloo (with Serbs instead the English), through the ire of Ireland, optimistic to a fault. And today, all I can say is that I feel a weight off my shoulders: barring some miracle against South Africa, I don’t have to see Domenech again, don’t have to watch him twist, squeeze, and ruin a group of remarkably talented players any more, don’t have to watch figures like Thuram and Henry end their international careers in the worst possible way.” (Soccer Politics)

“You idiot. Go kill yourself!”: Watching Ghana beat Serbia, in Serbia.

“I am probably watching soccer with the wrong person. As my friend D. and I walk through the 40-degree heat of downtown Belgrade, where she grew up and returns in the summers, I spot a building-high vertical banner of an enthusiastic, fit young man in body paint hawking soda. ‘Refresh Your World!’ it implores.” (Soccer Politics)

The Toughness Game: An American Style of Soccer

“The US game against England–a 1-1 tie, as everyone knows–was real entertainment and also, for me, a moment of revelation. After an early goal, when it seemed like it would all be out of reach very soon, star-studded England seemed troubled by the innocent, sincere play of the Americans, who were able to pull even later in the first half and keep it at that for the rest of the game.” (Soccer Politics)

From Underacheivers to Overwhelming Favorites: What Could a World Cup Win Do for Spain?

“As Spain prepares to take on Switzerland on Wednesday, the world is abuzz with anticipation. Not only are Spain joint favorites with Brazil, but the tournament needs the Spanish team like a fish needs water. After one of the drabbest opening rounds in memory, fans everywhere are looking for reasons as to why things are so awful this time round. The long European season, the austral winter, the security concerns and the stress it creates, the ultra-defensive attitudes, and the worst ball in history that was still round: the Jabulani. Thanks, adidas, for a World Cup with no shots on goal.” (Soccer Politics)

The Algerian Bleus: Dispatch from Paris

“On Sunday afternoon, I rode the metro up from my place in the thirteenth arrondissment to Belleville, in the northeastern part of Paris, to take in the Algeria-Slovenia match in a neighborhood with a large Algerian population. Almost as soon as I emerged from the station onto the wide Rue Belleville, I met Ben, an Algerian immigrant whose parents were French, and his son Ilias. They were selling the green and white jerseys of the Algerian national team, both draped in Algerian flags themselves. Ilias predicted a 2-0 Algerian win; Ben thought 1-0.” (Soccer Politics)

The Difficulty of Being a Goalie

“Two goalies emerged scarred out of the drama of yesterday’s USA-England game. One injured but with pride intact, another perhaps irreparably damaged professionally. I remember well how, as a kid playing YMCA soccer in suburban Maryland, I learned the universal lesson we were reminded of yesterday: being a goalie is hell. Perhaps the only goalie to have won the Nobel Prize for literature, Albert Camus (in the front row in the snazzy clothes below) wrote that what he know most surely ‘about morality and the duty of man,’ he learned from playing football at the Racing Universitaire d’Alger in Algeria as a young man.” (Soccer Politics)

World Cup Stereotype and Myth Update, Part I: The German Machine; African Chaos

“We all know that with the thrill of the World Cup comes an astonishing array of national, racial, and cultural stereotypes. While we are not yet through the opening round of matches, we are taking a look for posterity’s sake at some of these, seeing how they’ve held up (or not) so far and what might become of them.” (Soccer Politics)

Jozy Altidore: The Next Haitian Hero of U.S. Soccer?

“The New York Times just published a nice profile of Jozy Altidore — thanks to my friends at Duke’s FHI for a tweet about this! — and, despite the fact that I know seeking historical and social redemption in football matches is a dangerous game, I can’t help dreaming that this summer will bring us a little echo of 1950. In that year, Joe Gaetjens — a Haitian national recruited onto the U.S. team, in the days when FIFA was a rather easy-going about citizenship requirements — brought the U.S. perhaps it’s greatest footballing victory, a story told a few weeks back in a nice Sports Illustrated story, when he scored a goal against the English team.” (Soccer Politics)

Watching PSG-Valenciennes with Lilian Thuram

“I was in Paris this week, and got to catch up with Lilian Thuram, who we hosted here at Duke last fall. He invited me to attend a PSG match with him at the Parc des Princes, and I of course jumped at the opportunity. The police have been heavily cracking down on some fan organizations at PSG, but they seemed spirited as ever, with the Boulogne Kop on one end, and Auteuil and the Paname United Colors on the other.” (Soccer Politics), (Lilian Thuram), (Soccer Politics – Lilian Thuram Visit)

Burying War Through Football in Lebanon

“A student posted a link on my ‘Global France’ blog about a fascinating football tournament organized in Lebanon recently as a way of commemorating, but also burying, the wars that tore about the country starting in the 1970s. You can read her post here, and the full story here. Interestingly, while the match was intended to create a context for peaceful encounters between political groups that were once at war, it was considered to delicate an event to allow for spectators, though the event was broadcast on TV.” (Soccer Politics), (Google – Lebanese mark war’s outbreak with political soccer)

Why Video Technology Is Not The Answer

“Sports have kept in touch with technology as the information age has changed the face of modern games. Cricket, basketball, rugby, tennis, American football, and a plethora of other sports employ video technology in order to help referees make decisions and review calls. However, football, arguably the world’s most popular sport, has yet to integrate video technology into its rules. Although I disagree with the majority of FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s opinions, I am in concord with him distancing football from the use of video technology.” (Soccer Politics)

“El Clasico” in Haiti

“Laura Wagner, a UNC Anthropology graduate student who was in Haiti during the earthquake (and wrote a searing account of her experience at Salon.com), has recently returned to continue her research there. On Saturday, she took this photograph in Port-au-Prince, in the neighborhood of Delmas 32. The chalk board in front of this damaged building — you can see a broken gate inside the building, and the tarp is a necessary addition now that the rainy season has begun — invited fans to come watch the Real-Barca game, something that is of course not to be missed under any circumstances.” (Soccer Politics)

The Nationalist Press in the Post-Dictatorship: Real Madrid, Marca, and Other Conspiracies

“There is a phenomenon in Spain, one that is on the lips of commentators of the Primera División all over the world, one that tinges any match involving Spain’s two biggest teams, Real Madrid and Barcelona: villarato. When I hear the word uttered on GolTv, on ESPN, even on the Fox Sport family of networks, it quickly becomes clear that the depth of this conspiracy is not that evident to those whispering its sinister name.” (Soccer Politics)

African Teams, But Not Coaches

“As the big countdown ticks away, less than 100 days before the World Cup, perhaps Africa’s strongest team, Ivory Coast, is still without a coach. An article in the Zimbabwean brings up the state of African football and its reliance on foreign coaches. In Cote D’Ivoire, the disgruntled Vahid Halilhodžić was unceremoniously dispensed with following an unsuccessful run at the African Cup of Nations (despite having lost only one match during his two-year tenure).” (Soccer Politics)

Stereotyping the African: 99 Days to a Change of Imagination?

Abou Diaby
“An article by Jonathan Wilson in the Guardian today asks an interesting question for those of us who grew up in an era in which West African football was the realm of skilled artists such as Abedi Pele, George Weah, Roger Milla, and exciting teams like the ‘original’ Nigerian Super Eagles who played swashbuckling, imaginative football. In a piece that starts out by discussing Egypt’s tactical formation (very interesting as well), he goes on to ask…” (Soccer Politics)

Anti-Spaniards for Spain: Irony, Terrorism, and La Roja

“The whole army of Spanish media outlets has been splashed with this bit of news, regarding the facebook page of suspected ETA members–ETA being, for those unfamiliar with Spain, the Basque separatist-terrorist group responsible for thousands of acts of violence since their establishment during the Franco dictatorship. From sports dailies such as AS to Marca, to dailies such as El Mundo and even regional papers like La Voz de Galicia, most everyone had a shot at this piece.” (Soccer Politics)

Iranian Football Protest

Hadi Aghili
“Thanks to my friend Negar Mottehedeh, and via a post from Enduring America, here are two videos from a January 6th game between Iran and Singapore, during which Iranian fans chanted anti-government slogans — ‘Ya Hossein, Mir Hossein,’ in support of opposition leader Mousavi in the 1st video, and ‘Marg Bar Dictator,’ (‘Down with the Dictator,’) in the second.” (Soccer Politics)

Anarchist Football

“John Turnbull, editor of The Global Game, shared with me some fascinating information about “three-sided football.” In early November, as part of the Bienniale d’art contemporain de Lyon, a tournament showcasing this unique sport was held in Venissieux, a banlieue of Lyon. The game was invented in the 1960s by a Danish Situationist artist, Asger Jorn. The goal is to subvert the antagonistic duality of traditional football by having a hexagonal field and three teams, as well as three goals.” (Soccer Politics)