Book Review: Raphael Honigstein’s “Das Reboot” Tells Story Behind Germany’s 2014 World Cup Victory

October 9, 2015

“‘This piece originally appeared at The New Republic.’ When U.S. Men’s National Team coach Jürgen Klinsmann declared ahead of the 2014 World Cup, “We cannot win this World Cup, because we are not that level yet,” it sparked howls of outrage across the country. Landon Donovan, who had recently been cut from the team by the Germany native, took to television to disagree, while ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon was so incensed he told Klinsmann to ‘get out of America.’ Klinsmann wasn’t wrong—the U.S. lost in the round of 16—but his cold pragmatism was unwelcome in a country that not only regularly makes heroes out of underdogs but that likes to view itself as one.” Bundesliga Fanatic

How to Build a World Cup Winner
“When U.S. national team coach Jürgen Klinsmann declared ahead of the 2014 World Cup, ‘We cannot win this World Cup, because we are not that level yet,’ it sparked howls of outrage across the country. Landon Donovan, who had recently been cut from the team by the German-native, took to television to disagree, while ESPN commentator Michael Wilbon was so incensed he told Klinsmann to ‘get out of America.’” New Republic

Das Reboot: How German Soccer Reinvented Itself and Conquered the World
“… Estádio do Maracanã, July 13, 2014, the last ten minutes of extra time in the World Cup Final: German forward Mario Götze jumps to meet a floated pass from André Schürrle, cushions the ball with his chest, and in one fluid motion volleys the ball past the onrushing Argentine goalkeeper into the far corner of the net. The goal wins Germany the World Cup for the first time in almost thirty years. As the crowd roars, Götze looks dazed, unable to comprehend what he has done. In Das Reboot, Raphael Honigstein charts the return of German soccer from the dreary functionality of the late 1990s to Götze’s moment of sublime, balletic genius and asks: How did this come about?” Public Affairs


A Troubled History – José Maria Marin

June 2, 2015

“‘Sport is very authoritarian,’ said the Brazilian marine engineer Ivo Herzog. ‘And it mobilises millions of people. Apparently, sport attracts a certain kind of human being: men who used to work inside totalitarian forms of government, who are products of non-free environments, who can’t handle a democratic reality. They appear to feel comfortable inside sports administrations, in a way they don’t out in the real world.’ For a couple of years, Herzog has been running a campaign to remove José Maria Marin from his positions as president of the Brazilian football federation (CBF) and head of the local organising committee for the World Cup.” The Blizzard

Book review – Stuck on You: The Rise and Fall… & Rise of Panini Stickers by Greg Lansdowne

May 1, 2015

“As the subtitle of this book implies, the art of sticker collecting has been making a comeback in recent years. Author Greg Lansdowne cites research claiming that during the summer of 2014, over $4million was spent on eBay by bidders on items that matched the keywords ‘Panini World Cup’. Indeed, the album released by Panini for last summer’s tournament in Brazil appears to have been a welcome turning point not only for the company, but for the industry as a whole. Stuck on You therefore comes at a time when invigorated collectors old and new are eager to engage with one of the oldest practices of the dedicated football fan. The book begins with an exploration of this renewed enthusiasm. Ironically, this is best encapsulated not by conventional sticker collectors but by an English couple, Alex and Sian Pratchatt, in their successful attempt to draw each player into Panini’s 2014 World Cup album.” Football Pink

amazon, amazon – UK

My 2014 Sportsman nominee: Goalkeeper Tim Howard

December 2, 2014

“By any reasonable standard, Tim Howard had enjoyed a remarkable career heading into World Cup 2014. Even in a country renowned for goalkeepers, the 35-year-old Howard stood out, holding U.S. national team records for appearances and victories by a goalie. He had played in 342 Premier League games for Everton and Manchester United, and he was the only American to have won England’s FA Cup.” SI

Kaká and Scolari returned home for the hugs

October 3, 2014

“It still feels as though it was only yesterday – Luiz Felipe Scolari wandering hollow-eyed across the pitch after the final whistle, the Mineirão transformed into his own private Agincourt. Around him David Luiz, Julio Cesar and the rest his fallen troops lay prone, or sat broken on the turf. Others simply stood and stared into space. The chutzpah of a couple of hours before had been cruelly exposed by a lethal Germany. In the stands, the Brazilian fans that had not already left gazed through tears at the wreckage of their dreams or poured opprobrium down on their hapless manager.” Fusion

Optimism springs eternal as club football rolls back into town

August 24, 2014

SV Werder Bremen v FC Chelsea - Pre Season Friendly
“I confess that it has not been easy to put the 2014 World Cup behind me and focus once more on club football. Part of that, of course, is that the party happened on my (adopted) doorstep, and I had a grandstand view. But there is something else. Nationalism can be a dangerous force. But in the heat of a giant tournament there is so much to celebrate in national team football. It is not so much ‘my country is always right.’ It is more a case of ‘my country fitting into a global context’ – a much more healthy way of looking at the world. I enjoy the power of representation that national team football engenders, and love the fact that this is a forum where the likes of Uruguay and Costa Rica can be competitive. It is striking how in the world of national teams the playing field is levelled. True, the last two World Cups were won by Germany and Spain, countries with powerful domestic leagues. The same, though, is not really true of Algeria, which pushed the Germans hard in that second round match in Porto Alegre. Many of the Algerian squad, though, have grown up in France, where they have benefited from a welfare state and from local facilities and coaching.” The World Game – Tim Vickery

In Belo Horizonte, Cruzeiro fans turn to their club to forget World Cup rout

August 24, 2014

No other graveyard in the world could be this festive, this crowded, this loud. The Estádio Mineirão, where Brazil’s World Cup hopes were cut to pieces—seven, to be precise, one for each German goal—and buried without honor, is ablaze with life. A crowd that will swell to 42,000 is on its feet, waving huge blue-and-white flags and chanting to the insistent beat of bass drums. And the game hasn’t even started. Barely five weeks after the most humiliating home loss ever suffered by a World Cup contender, soccer fans here are again finding hope and joy in the game. That’s partly because, in a fine bit of redemptive irony, the Mineirão is the home pitch of Brazil’s best football club: Cruzeiro, the defending first-division champion and a favorite to repeat. And on this overcast Sunday afternoon it’s hosting a solid side from Santos, Pelé’s old team, newly fortified by the return to Brazil of Robinho.” SI