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

March 24, 2015

“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

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The Barrabrava – Crusaders Turning Exploiters

March 16, 2015

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“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

December 7, 2013

“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

December 3, 2013

“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

December 1, 2013

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“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

November 5, 2013

“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

October 30, 2013

“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