Tag Archives: World Cup

Geoff Hurst, a Dog Named Pickles, and the Curious Case of the Missing World Cup Trophy

“The Ringer’s 22 Goals: The Story of the World Cup, a podcast by Brian Phillips, tells the story of some of the most iconic goals and players in the history of the men’s FIFA World Cup. Every Wednesday, until the end of Qatar 2022, we’ll publish an adapted version of each 22 Goals episode. Today’s story involves Geoff Hurst, a dog named Pickles, and the curious case of missing World Cup trophy in England in 1966. …”
The Ringer – Brian Phillips (Video)

Panini World Cup stickers: The history, the joy, the mullets and more


“This is an excerpt from Greg Lansdowne’s chronicling of Panini’s World Cup Stickers: Panini Football Stickers – The Official Celebration. Lansdowne and Bloomsbury Press have graciously allowed us to run two more future excerpts — one on the 1994 World Cup set, and another highlighting some of the best hairstyles throughout the history of the sticker collection. …”
The Athletic

Marco Tardelli, and the Grandeur and Glory of a Goal Celebration

“The Ringer’s 22 Goals: The Story of the World Cup, a podcast by Brian Phillips, tells the story of some of the most iconic goals and players in the history of the men’s FIFA World Cup. Every Wednesday, until the end of Qatar 2022, we’ll publish an adapted version of each 22 Goals episode. Today’s story involves Marco Tardelli at the 1982 World Cup in Spain. …”
The Ringer (Video)

How to win the World Cup – Chris Evans (2022)


The art of international football management – by those who’ve done it: “The pinnacle of the game. A job reserved only for the very best. That was how an international manager’s role was viewed for decades. The World Cup was where the globe’s top coaches would meet in the dugout, just as the best players were doing so on the pitch. While the growing importance of domestic leagues and the Champions League has curbed international football’s reputation in the 21st century, there remains a special enchantment to leading a national team to glory. No other job in football gives a manager the chance to bring such unbridled joy to so many people. …”
Guardian
amazon

Most Goals Scored in a FIFA World Cup by One Player


“The only players to score nine or more goals in a single FIFA World Cup did so between 1950 and 1970 – a competition with nearly a century of history cramming its one-tournament stars into two decades. It seems the game’s defensive focus and organisation had yet to catch up to its emerging individual attacking skill. It was a time of free goals, and in some places free love, and if you weren’t around to experience it in person, you’re left with grainy video – and of course the numbers. None of the five players to score that many did it in more than six games while the modern-day format for World Cup tournaments has made it possible for top goalscorers to get seven in should they reach the last four. …”
The Analyst

Dennis Bergkamp, the Non-Flying Dutchman Who Reimagined Space and Time


“The Ringer’s 22 Goals: The Story of the World Cup, a podcast by Brian Phillips, tells the story of some of the most iconic goals and players in the history of the men’s FIFA World Cup. Every Wednesday, until the end of Qatar 2022, we’ll publish an adapted version of each 22 Goals episode. Today’s story involves Dennis Bergkamp at the 1998 World Cup in France. …”
The Ringer (Audio/Video)

‘22 Goals’: Ronaldo, 2002 World Cup Final in Japan


“As the 22nd men’s FIFA World Cup approaches in November 2022, The Ringer introduces 22 Goals, a podcast by Brian Phillips about the most iconic goals scored in the history of the World Cup. Every Wednesday, until the end of Qatar 2022, we’ll publish an adapted version of each 22 Goals episode. Today’s story involves the ‘original’ Ronaldo from the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan. …”
The Ringer (Audio)
The Ringer – ‘22 Goals’: Diego Maradona, 1986 World Cup in Mexico (Audio)

Season of the Pitch

“‘The mindset was predisposed to be negative,’ the writer Pete Davies said not long ago. We were discussing English attitudes in the run-up to the 1990 World Cup—Italia ’90—the subject of his elating travelogue, All Played Out, often described as the greatest book about soccer. The national game had been in a bad way—the playing style primitive, the supporters feral. An article by Brian Glanville, a prominent reporter, carried the headline ‘England Abroad: Shame and Mediocrity.’ …”
BOOKFORUM
amazon: All Played Out: The Full Story of Italia ’90

Jack Kerouac and the Childish Art of Fantasy Football

“I have always had an uneasy and uncomfortable relationship with the work of Jack Kerouac. Even when I was what observers would have identified and described as an ‘impressionable’ youth prone to literary fads, carrying a battered copy of ‘On The Road’ in my limp, milky pale hand around with me, a battered copy that gained more visible prominence if it could be brandished within the promiscuous radius of half-closed, dreamy and cannabis occluded New Age girls’ eyes. I forced Kerouac’s faux hipster psychodramas and irresponsible frat boy antics down my throat, baulking on fayre that was trying too hard to be hip. …”
Football Paradise

El Dorado: When Colombia Learned Money Talks In Football

“It’s hard to picture a time when being a professional footballer at the highest level did not mean astronomical wealth and lavish lifestyles. Yet, that was the reality for many of the world’s biggest stars in the early days of organised, professional football. There are bountiful stories of some of England’s biggest stars having to take summer jobs just to pay their bills in the early days as the Football Association and FIFA kept a tight lid on pay. Disgruntlement over finances was a common theme amongst players. It wasn’t exclusive to England either as Argentina was having its own issues with player wages in 1949. … They would soon find a home in, of all places, Colombia. …”
Longball Football

Blood, sweat and speeding plastic: 48 hours at the foosball World Cup


“In his 1928 novel Nadja, French surrealism ace Andre Breton described the city of Nantes as ‘perhaps with Paris the only city in France where I have the impression that something worthwhile may happen to me’. To think that he was still a good 94 years away from having the chance to wander around the bowels of his local sports arena in a vain attempt to track down the anti-doping officials at the foosball World Cup. …”
The Athletic (Video)

The disappearance of Wee Willie McLean: Solving America’s oldest soccer mystery


February 5, 1946. The entrance to Mount Pleasant Mental Health Center in Henry County, Iowa scales a gentle grade; a long, wide driveway passing through rows of oak trees, past manicured lawns and flowerbeds. If you’ve never been here, you’d assume you were entering the grounds of a botanical garden, or maybe an elegant estate. Then the facility’s main building comes into view, a brick-and-concrete goliath that eventually consumes your entire field of vision. It is cold, dark and imposing. Function over form, a warehouse for the unwanted. …”
The Athletic (Video)
W – Willie McLean (soccer, born 1904)

Jorge Luis Borges: “Soccer is Popular Because Stupidity is Popular”


June 2014: “… I don’t lose all my critical faculties, but I can’t help but love the World Cup even while recognizing the corruption, deepening poverty and exploitation, and host of other serious sociopolitical issues surrounding it. … In Argentina, as in many soccer-mad countries with deep social divides, gang violence is a routine part of futbol, part of what Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges termed a horrible ‘idea of supremacy.’ Borges found it impossible to separate the fan culture from the game itself, once declaring, ‘soccer is popular because stupidity is popular.’ …”
Open Culture
New Republic: Why Did Borges Hate Soccer? (June 2014)

Tragedy and triumph: the remarkable tale of Croatia’s first football steps


Croatia’s Davor Suker celebrates after scoring in the 1998 World Cup semi-final against France.
“Igor Stimac, a 54-year-old Croatian man usually full of laughter and love, begins to cry as his memories grip him in a world darkened again by a devastating war. The fleeting tears of the former footballer fall for Ukraine and its people. They have suffered in a way that reminds Stimac of everything his own country endured during the terrible Balkans conflict that surrounded its independence from Yugoslavia almost 30 years ago. It was a time when football gained a rare real-life significance as, out of bloodshed and carnage, Croatia’s defiant, gifted and fiercely intelligent players lifted their young nation by lighting up Euro 96 and then leading France in the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup in Paris. …”
Guardian
Croatian and Serbian Hooligans: Football Foes Share Love of Hate (June 2020)

Amateurs & A Yorkshireman: Sweden’s World Cup Finalists


“Following the 1958 World Cup final, the Swedish FA informed their English head coach, George Raynor, that he would be relieved of his duties. Far from being an acrimonious disagreement between two parties, this was the Swedes being self-aware. There was no way Raynor wouldn’t have offers flooding in from back home. They were wrong. …”
The Longball Football
W – 1958 FIFA World Cup Final
YouTube: Brasil 5 x 2 Sweden – 1958 World Cup Final Extended Goals & Highlights (Live)

About That Game: England 2-2 Argentina (1998)


“International football rivalries are rarely intercontinental, but the ill-feeling between Argentina and England is an exception. The rivalry emerged in the latter half of the 20th century, partly due to the 1982 Falklands War between Argentina and the United Kingdom, but also on the pitch thanks to controversial World Cup meetings between the two sides in 1966 and 1986. This meeting in 1998 certainly didn’t help to heal the rift. …”
The Analyst (Video)

Battle of Belfast 1957: When a match between Northern Ireland and Italy turned nasty


Cush scores again in the rearranged clash against Italy that Northern Ireland won 2-1
“The recent World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign saw Northern Ireland and Italy meet in the same group. It was only the second time the two have met each other in World Cup qualifying, prompting memories of the first time. A game which was infamously known as the ‘Battle of Belfast’. The circumstances surrounding this occasion were bizarre, yet not completely out of character with international football of the time. The two countries were pitted against each other in qualifying for the World Cup in Sweden 1958. Back then only 27 countries entered the European section, equally split into nine groups of three. …”
Football Pink
W – 1958 FIFA World Cup qualification – UEFA Group 8
YouTube: Ireland: 2 Italy: 1

Portugal 1986: Part 1: A Troubled Beginning, Part 2: The Saltillo Affair


“Playing in a World Cup is the pinnacle of a player or coach’s career. To test yourself in the world’s premier tournament is the ultimate challenge and a dream come true for many footballers. However, there are times when the dream of participating in a World Cup can turn into a nightmare. No country would have such a nightmare of a tournament than Portugal in 1986. Prior to the mid-1980s, Portugal were unable to build on the success of the 1960s, where Portugal finished third in the 1966 World Cup and Benfica won back to back European Cups in 1961/62 under the coaching of Béla Guttmann. Since then, Portugal had failed to qualify for a World Cup or European Championship. …”
Breaking the Lines: Part 1, Part 2
W – Saltillo Affair
The Saltillo affair – the story of Portugal at Mexico ’86

When Two Champions Leagues Titles in Eight Months Don’t Count



“Pitso Mosimane has done enough winning in the last year, plus change, to talk about nothing else. In November 2020, only three months after he was appointed manager of the Egyptian club Al Ahly, he won the African Champions League title. He did so by beating Zamalek, Al Ahly’s fiercest rival. The final was cast as the derby of the century. Nobody in Egypt thought it was an exaggeration. Eight months later, he repeated the trick. The calendar contracted and concentrated by the pandemic, Al Ahly returned to the Champions League final in July to face Kaizer Chiefs, the team Mosimane had supported as a child in South Africa. He won again. He was showered with golden ticker tape on the field, then presented with bouquets of roses by government grandees when he returned to Cairo. …”
NY Times

Will a biennial World Cup be good for Africa?


“If anything has defined the landscape of world football in 2021, it has been the desire to shift from the traditional to a new order of competition. In April, European football was hit with the unexpected, if not exactly unprecedented, news that a number of its most influential clubs had signed up for a splinter Super League. While fierce public backlash saw nine of the founding members back down from the idea, the stage was set for a year of upheaval. The second half of the year brought its own peculiar agenda, with world football governing body Fifa angling for a shift to a biennial World Cup tournament as part of a wider revamp of the football calendar. …”
New Frame

1998 World Cup terror plot


“From March to May 1998, a terror plot against the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France was uncovered by European law enforcement. More than 100 people were arrested in seven countries as a result of the plot. Organised by the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and backed by al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the plot is thought to have targeted the England–Tunisia match on 15 June 1998, and involved infiltrating the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille in order to attack players and spectators during the game, attack the hotel in Paris hosting the United States national team, and finally hijacking an aircraft and crashing it into the Civaux Nuclear Power Plant near Poitiers. … Although Osama Bin Laden had a rented place in the stands of Arsenal Football Club, he wanted to destroy English football. Terrorists had reportedly planned to blow up the England substitute bench (targeting youngsters David Beckham and Michael Owen), shoot English players and throw grenades into the stands. …”
Wikipedia
Howler: Net of Suspicion

When the Solution Is the Problem


That split-second when everyone thinks the ends justify the means.
“Not once, in two decades, had David Beckham heard the moment. He had witnessed it at the time, of course. More than that, in fact: He had summoned it and created it and lived it. He had, presumably, watched the moment more than once in the intervening years, too. But it was not until a couple weeks ago that he sat down and listened to it. The moment he did was — obviously — captured for posterity, a social media post as meta as they come: a man recording his own reaction to a recording of himself. As Beckham listens, he has a look of fierce concentration on his face, mixed with just a little genuine concern, as if he really does not know how it all ends. The audio plays in the background, an echo of his past: the last couple minutes of the BBC radio commentary of England’s meeting with Greece on the road to the 2002 World Cup. …”
NY Times (Audio)

El Gráfico


Heleno de Freitas (Boca)
El Gráfico is an Argentine online sports magazine, originally published by Editorial Atlántida as a print publication between 1919 and 2018. El Gráfico was released in May 1919 as a weekly newspaper, and then turned to a sports magazine exclusively. It began to be scheduled monthly from 2002, and was discontinued in 2018, continuing only on internet. El Gráfico is widely the most regarded sports magazine in Argentina and Latin America. The magazine was nicknamed La Biblia del deporte (‘The Bible of sports’) due to its chronicles, notable journalists and collaborators and its photographies. … The best selling era of El Gráfico was during the 1986 FIFA World Cup when Argentina crowned champion, with 690,998 sold. The second place in the ranking of all-time best seller magazine is for the 1978 FIFA World Cup with 595,924. Diego Maradona was the sports man with the most appearances on the cover: 134, followed by Daniel Passarella (58) and Norberto Alonso (54). …”
Wikipedia
Angels with Dirty Faces – Jonathan Wilson: 15 – Our Way
Diego Maradona: A genius and the soul of a nation – Jonathan Wilson
El Pibe del Barrio: Understanding the Latin American archetype and what it means for U.S. Soccer

Disentangling memory from truth


“Soccer is the global sport. It is so universal that it often intersects with global events. One can read 20th-century world history through international soccer. A major theme of the century—European colonialism—is written all over the sport. In 1974, as the last African countries were winning their independence, colonial dynamics erupted on the biggest soccer stage of all. The 1974 World Cup in West Germany was the first time a Black team made it to the tournament, won eventually by West Germany. (They beat the Netherlands in the final.) In fact, it was two Black teams: Zaire, the first sub-Saharan African team to qualify, and Haiti. In the collective consciousness of football history, both teams are remembered for their dismal performance. But is this legacy justified? …”
Africa Is a Country

Who invented the red card?


Referee Horacio Elizondo of Argentina shows the red card to Zinedine Zidane 2006 World Cup … Berlin, Germany, July 09, 2006.
“… Yet that law was only instigated in 1992. Those that watched football throughout the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s still find themselves wondering why the defence doesn’t kick the ball back to the goalkeeper to waste some time. Of all the rules that have been introduced to football over the years, perhaps none have been as influential as the decision to issue players with yellow and red cards for infractions of the rules of the game. The backpass rule that we’ve just mentioned is widely considered to be one of the game’s most successful changes, but it has never had the ability to influence a match in the same way that a sending off has, for example. …”
Yellow And Red Cards In Football
Who has more red cards in their career: Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?
W – Fouls and misconduct
YouTube: Who invented the red card?

1998 FIFA World Cup Final


Aimé Jacquet – Zinedine Zidane
“The 1998 FIFA World Cup Final was a football match that was played on 12 July 1998 at the Stade de France in the Parisian commune of Saint-Denis to determine the winner of the 1998 FIFA World Cup. The final was contested by defending champions Brazil and the host nation France, marking the first time that a World Cup final was disputed between the host nation and the defending champion. France won the match 3–0 to claim their maiden World Cup, with the timing of the match two days before Bastille Day adding to the significance of the victory. Zinedine Zidane, who was named man of the match, scored twice before half-time and Emmanuel Petit added a third goal in the last minute. The match had an attendance in the region of 75,000. … The match also saw speculation on the condition of the Brazilian striker Ronaldo, who suffered a convulsive fit on the eve of the match. After initially being left out of the team sheet, in spite of his physical state, it was announced just 72 minutes before kick-off that he was going to play. In the match, he sustained an injury in a clash with French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez. Although it was believed that the decision to play Ronaldo had backfired, it was understandable as the player had been a crucial member of the side throughout the tournament, having scored four goals and created three more. …”
Wikipedia
Tactical Analysis: France vs. Brazil
W – Aimé Jacquet, W – Roger Lemerre
W – Zinedine Zidane, W – Didier Deschamps
NY Times: Sun Shines on France’s National Heroes
YouTube: Tactics Explained | 1994-1998: A History Of The World Cup, How France’s 4-3-3 won the 1998 World Cup | Tactical Analysis: France 3-0 Brazil | Zidane vs Ronaldo

Eredivisie Overture: Part One


PEC Zwolle vs. Feyenoord in happier, safer times. 16 February 2020
“The Dutch are a society littered with contradictions. Rising waters threaten a country largely below sea level, but it was Amsterdam that served as a breeding ground for the very capitalism which constructed our climate crisis. Nationalism inherent in the Dutch psyche sees Germany as an ‘other’ when in reality the relationship between the two countries is as close as any. The Netherlands became famous in the football world for a revolutionary change in the perception of the game. Today, however, their current state of football is defined in many ways by conservatism. It’s not unlike a nation-state to find itself drowning in its own conflict. …”
Football Paradise

Golden Team


W – Gusztáv Sebes, W – Ferenc Puskás
“The Golden Team (Hungarian: Aranycsapat; also known as the Mighty Magyars, the Magical Magyars, the Magnificent Magyars, the Marvellous Magyars, or the Light Cavalry) refers to the Hungary national football team of the 1950s. It is associated with several notable matches, including the ‘Match of the Century‘ against England in 1953, and the quarter-final (‘Battle of Berne‘) against Brazil, semi-final (against Uruguay) and final of the 1954 FIFA World Cup (‘The Miracle of Bern‘). The team inflicted notable defeats on then-footballing world powers England, Uruguay and the Soviet Union, before the 1956 Hungarian Revolution caused the breakup of the side. Between 1950 and 1956, the team recorded 42 victories, 7 draws and just one defeat, in the 1954 World Cup final against West Germany. …”
W – Golden Team, W – Total Football
The greatest teams of all time: Hungary 1950–56
Guardian – Hungary’s Golden Squad: the greatest football team never to win it all?
The Curious Case of Hungarian football
Remembering Josef ‘Pepi’ Bican, once Europe’s greatest goalscorer
The glory of Josef Uridil, the first man to transcend football and celebrity in Austria
Hungary 1950s (Video)
W – Match of the Century (1953 England v Hungary football match), W – Battle of Berne (1954 FIFA World Cup), W – 1954 FIFA World Cup Final

The Original Pirate Football League


Alfredo Di Stéfano’s adventures in Colombia
“The Golden Age of football in Colombia had war, destruction and corruption, long before Pablo Escobar. Between 1949 and 1954, some of the world’s very best players congregated in a brand new league with no history, in Colombia. Tifo uncovers how a ‘pirate league’ attracted stars of the day (including Alfredo Di Stefano, World Cup winner Schubert Gambetta, and Manchester United’s Charlie Mitten), how an assassination of a presidential candidate launched the competition, and how the fallout changed a FIFA law forever. Written by Seb Stafford-Bloor, illustrated by Philippe Fenner.”
YouTube: The Athletic
‘The Only Thing That Unites Us’ – Origin Story of Colombian Football: Part 1, El Dorado – Origin Story of Colombian Football: Part 2
W – El Dorado (Colombian football), W – Alfredo Di Stéfano
NY Times: The Lessons of the Pirate League
Colombia: …and an overview of the El Dorado era (1949-1953).

Penalty shoot-out


Steven Pressley scores for Hearts against Gretna in the 2006 Scottish Cup Final shoot-out
“A penalty shoot-out (officially kicks from the penalty mark) is a method of determining which team is awarded victory in an association football match that cannot end in a draw, when the score is tied after the regulation playing time as well as extra time (if used) have expired. In a penalty shoot-out, each team takes turns shooting at goal from the penalty mark, with the goal only defended by the opposing team’s goalkeeper. Each team has five shots which must be taken by different kickers; the team that makes more successful kicks is declared the victor. Shoot-outs finish as soon as one team has an insurmountable lead. If scores are level after five pairs of shots, the shootout progresses into additional ‘sudden-death’ rounds. Balls successfully kicked into the goal during a shoot-out do not count as goals for the individual kickers or the team, and are tallied separately from the goals scored during normal play (including extra time, if any). Although the procedure for each individual kick in the shoot-out resembles that of a penalty kick, there are some differences. Most notably, neither the kicker nor any player other than the goalkeeper may play the ball again once it has been kicked. …”
Wikipedia, YouTube: The Science of the Penalty Shoot-Out | Documentary, YouTube: 5 INCREDIBLE Penalty Shootouts | Longest Ever Record & Adrian’s Winner | Emirates FA Cup, Guardian: What’s the difference between a penalty and a penalty shootout penalty? (Video – 2016)

Diego Maradona, anti-imperial symbol


“Even in death, Diego Maradona continued to torment the peculiar empire-nostalgic milieu that is conservative England. The scars of Mexico ’86 have clearly still not healed. The Times painted a portrait of a ‘self-obsessed’ and ‘self-destructive’ figure whose ‘rare gifts were ruined by self-indulgence,’ with paternalism dripping from the page: ‘That such a supreme talent could be so undisciplined, that he felt he needed to cheat … was perhaps a pointer to the unhappy times ahead.’ The Telegraph obituarycould wait no longer than the end of the first sentence to denounce him ‘a liar, a cheat and an egomaniac,’ concluding that whatever about his talents, ‘ultimately Maradona remained a boy from the barrios.’ This was not meant as a compliment, and the snobbish tones were nothing new to British media depictions of Maradona. …” Africa Is a Country

Italia ’90: Roberto Baggio’s magical goal against Czechoslovakia


“Retro football has been our staple for the past few months, as we look to get our fix of on-pitch action by looking back at matches gone by. And with classic games screened on TVs from a series of international tournaments, it’s prompted a round of assessment of how good they really were in comparison to perception, collective memory and nostalgia. Which is all fair enough. It’s interesting to look back on tournaments like that, consider things we might not have thought about back then or since. False nostalgia for a time that didn’t exist has got the world into some problems in the past few years, so re-examining those memories are a useful exercise, if nothing else. …” the set pieces (Video)

The Pressure Of Being A South American Goalkeeper


“Veteran Ecuadorian defensive midfielder Segundo Castillo is winding down his career at home with Guayaquil City after almost 90 games for his country and spells in Serbia and England. Around a decade ago he had a season with Everton and the next one with Wolves. He did not play many games, but he stayed long enough to form an impression, which he recently shared with the Ecuadorian press. ‘Football in England is passionate in its intensity,” he said, “but in a cultural aspect, after the game, it’s different. Losing doesn’t mean that you’re mediocre. The fans wait outside and ask for autographs, and nothing bad happens. Here in Ecuador it’s different; lose and you can’t go out because maybe people want to get you.’ …”
World Soccer

Golden Goal: Jean-Pierre Papin for France v Belgium (1992)

“Karim Benzema has been publicly reflecting, let’s say, on France’s ability to win the World Cup with a ‘go-kart’ of a striker, Olivier Giroud. He might also recall Stéphane Guivarc’h, who led the line for France in 1998. For their two World Cup triumphs, France have had centre-forwards who went through the whole tournaments without finding the net. In the early 90s, on the other hand, they had one of the deadliest finishers the game has seen – and they made fools of themselves on the international stage. Go-kart? Go figure. …”
Guardian (Audio)

Carlos’s 1986 World Cup foul and the value of rethinking our villains

“Football can give you completely the wrong idea about people. One incident in one match can skew the perception. For years I thought I hated Carlos, the Brazil goalkeeper who pulled back Bruno Bellone after the France forward had gone round him in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final and somehow went unpunished. How, four years after Harald Schumacher’s horrendous assault on Patrick Battiston, could that glorious France – Platini! Tigana! Giresse! – be cheated once again by a goalkeeper? Carlos’s offence had nothing like the raw violence of Schumacher’s, but it was cynical. And so, for compounding the injustice of Seville 1982, he went on the blacklist. …”
Guardian

The Illusion Train

“As the referee’s whistle signaled the end of the 2018 World Cup final between France and Croatia, I confess that I wept, more from relief than from joy. The blunder by French goalie Hugo Lloris that allowed Croatia its second score had struck me as suicidal. It reminded me of Zinedine Zidane’s narcissistic, self-destructive foul in the 2006 final World Cup match, when the Italian defender Marco Materazzi allegedly insulted the French superstar and Zidane responded by attacking him, causing Zidane to be ejected and weakening his team to a degree that I felt cost France the game. Was there something in the collective unconscious of les Bleus that didn’t want France to win its second world title, following on the great triumph of 1998?” Harpers

England 1 West Germany 1* World Cup semi-final, 4 July 1990, Stade delle Alpi, Turin

“English football was reborn on the fourth of July. Umpteen factors contributed to the game in this country becoming both richer and poorer; by far the most significant was England’s Italia 90 campaign and particularly the glorious failure against West Germany in the semi-final on Wednesday 4 July 1990. England’s campaign started as a Carry-On film and ended as an operatic epic. The ultimate consequence was the Premier League, prawn sandwiches, Sky, Wags and the rest. All that may well have happened eventually, but it would have done so at a different time and in a different way.” The Blizzard

How Zinedine Zidane’s flawed genius defined the 2006 World Cup

“Everyone remembers the headbutt, but not so much what came before. The background to that defining moment in the career of Zinedine Zidane – and the history of the French national team – has been lost in the stark brutality of such an arresting image. A thrilling journey has been forgotten, completely overlooked in favour of the tragic destination. In the final moments of the 2006 World Cup final, with the score at 1-1 and penalties on the way, Zidane planted his head firmly into the chest of Italy defender Marco Materazzi.” The Set Pieces (Video)

Did Pelé–by playing a match in Nigeria–cause a ceasefire during the Biafran War?

“The story goes that in 1969 the great Brazilian footballer Pelé and his club, Santos, stopped the Nigerian civil war for 48 hours as the warring factions (Nigeria and Biafra) put aside their differences for a couple of days for Santos to play in the country. But did this really happen? And how come the world’s greatest player came to Nigeria in the first place? In this essay, I look back through the archives in search of the real story of Pelé in Nigeria.” Africa is a Country, W – Nigerian Civil War

Lev Ivanovich Yashin 1929-1990


“The greatest goalkeeper of them all, Lev Yashin revolutionised his position and became a hero of the Soviet Union. This summer, the image of him flying high will be seen by millions of people because it is Yashin who is on the 2018 Fifa World Cup poster. He was an international star and an iconic figure, famous for his black outfit and flat cap. But he had his childhood torn away in a country ravaged by war and died aged 60 after a retirement plagued by ill health that led to him losing a leg.” BBC, W – Lev Ivanovich Yashin, YouTube: The Legendary Goalkeeper

How to improve the World Cup? Scrap penalties and move the goalposts

Penalty shootouts are an offence against the greatest of team games, association football. They are a lottery, doctored to add tension, personal agony, group ecstasy and nationalist hysteria, for the benefit of television. They are to sport what Love Island is to Romeo and Juliet. Before shootouts were introduced in the World Cup in 1978 (although the first time one was needed was in 1982), coins were tossed if nothing could be decided on the field. No triumphalism was attached to the winner. But since coin-tossing was boring, it was replaced by what amounted to the public execution of individual players who missed. Team effort was replaced by unarmed combat.” Guardian (Video)

Melilla, Morocco vs. Spain and the World Cup’s Unique Football Rivalry

“On Monday night in Russia’s Kaliningrad Stadium, Morocco played Spain in another thrilling FIFA World Cup match. It was the first time the two countries—which have had a love-hate relationship for over a millennium—met since a two-legged 1962 World Cup playoffs tie. Nowhere on earth—with the exception of Ceuta—had the match such political resonances than in Melilla, which is, along with Ceuta, a Spanish enclave on Moroccan soil. Melilla, with its wide boulevards, modernist buildings and tapas bars, has a distinctly Spanish feel. Palm trees abound.” Bleacher Report

Algerian history as graphic novel: “The past flows into the future”

“The football World Cup of 1958 is mainly remembered for two men. The first is Pelé, and the second is Just Fontaine. On the way to the semi final, which they lost to Brazil, Fontaine scored thirteen goals for France, still a world cup record. France beat Germany in the play-off to finish the tournament in third. Absent from Les Bleues throughout the tournament was Rachid Mekhloufi, a twenty-one year old forward who played for Saint Étienne.” Africa is a Country

The Great Disgrace

“Two days before his eleventh birthday Richard Gaulke straddled his bicycle, the one without gears, and pedalled the fifteen miles from his hometown Monheim to Düsseldorf, where Germany were playing the Netherlands. Germany won 4-2. A Bayern Munich forward scored a hat-trick on his debut. His name was Josef Pöttinger. There were 60,000 on hand and they went wild. The date was 18 April 1926. It was Richard Gaulke’s first international. He was hooked for life.” The Blizzard

World Cup 2018: Senegal’s Art of the Unforeseen

“If Africa were a single country, its history and founding myths could be narrated around thrilling episodes of ‘the beautiful game’ on the world stage. Ask any not-so-young African what their best memories of the World Cup are, and you may hear about that day in 1982 when Algeria beat the mighty West Germany—at the pre-game press conference, a German player had quipped, ‘We will dedicate our seventh goal to our wives, and the eighth to our dogs.’ No one had told him, one suspects, about the Algerian team’s proud past, during the country’s anti-colonial struggle in 1958, as flag-bearers for a nation fighting for freedom.”  NYBooks

When Cameroon Convinced Themselves They Couldn’t Win

“If the spirits of Frantz Fanon and Steve Biko were hovering unseen above a football stadium in Naples in July, 1990, they would not have liked what they saw. But they would have found it sadly predictable. The stadium hosted a World Cup quarter-final between Cameroon and England. The more skilled team, Cameroon, lost. They were beaten not by England but by themselves.” Jacobon

‘All the gods were with us’: Salif Diao tells the inside story of Senegal’s historic campaign at the 2002 World Cup

“When Bruno Metsu told the Senegal players that beating France would be “an earthquake in the world”, he did not just have an eye on future history books. He also had a problem he wanted to go away. The team’s achievements has since consigned it to the footnotes of the story, but before their first game at the 2002 World Cup the Senegal team was engulfed by scandal.” Independent

Poets and Scoundrels of the Beautiful Game

“The 2018 World Cup is now upon us, promising to call forth heartaches, hallelujahs, and wonder as part of a universal, even unifying passion. Yet the joy that millions take in it is polluted by foul, for-profit priorities, violent classism, and discrimination. As left-wing soccer fans plot a course between these dueling components, there’s no better to guide for navigating the game’s darkness and lights than the late Uruguayan author and activist Eduardo Galeano.” Jacobin

Paolo Rossi: Redemption and the crushing of the Brazilian dream


“In nature there’s a brutal truth about something beautiful always getting its comeuppance. Whether it’s a doe-eyed mammal striding elegantly across the plain or a beatific panfish darting deep between the oceans, there is always the waiting mechanics of a set of teeth ready to devastate its backbone. Football always comes full circle like that too. The beautiful game can’t defy the laws of the system forever, nor its progression. In a thrilling game in the 1982 World Cup, that philosophy would play out beautifully. …” Football Pink (Video)

10 Greatest World Cup Matches


The 1966 World Cup Final makes our list of the best matches in World Cup history.
“The World Cup has seen some of the greatest matches ever take place, so bearing that in mind we have put together ten of the best. From amazing goals, to spectacular moments, these matches have helped write World Cup history. …” World Soccer

27 days to go: Record-setting Mighty Magyars

“27 – With their exceptional individual skill and outstanding team play, this generation of Hungarian footballers were unsurprisingly known as the ‘Golden Team’ or the ‘Mighty Magyars’. Most of the side also played their club football for Honved in Budapest, which meant they could string together passes and find each other effortlessly when representing the national team. The legendary names of Sandor Kocsis, Nandor Hidegkuti and, above all, Ferenc Puskas, have been etched permanently in the history books of Hungarian and world football. …” FIFA (Video)

Reliving Giants Stadium

“The 1994 World Cup in America was the first for Luke Constable of the brilliantly named RGSOAS (Ruud Gullit Sitting on a Shed). His native England hadn’t qualified but thanks to his Irish grandfather, Luke was rooting for the Republic. Having missed the full game with Italy, the myth around the match had grown. Houghton’s goal and McGrath’s performance became legendary as the years went on. Luke has never seen the game in its entirety…until now. …” Pog Mo Goal

Will Carlo Ancelotti be Italy’s next manager?

“The deadline the FIGC gave for the announcement of the new Italy manager is fast approaching. Billy Costacurta, one of commissioner Roberto Fabbricini’s deputies, promised Giampiero Ventura’s permanent successor would be in place by May 20.  His former teammate and manager, Carlo Ancelotti, has always been the frontrunner. The last elected FIGC president, Carlo Tavecchio wanted him in situ immediately after Sweden qualified for this summer’s World Cup at Italy’s expense. …” Investobet

The legendary Luis Monti


“Luis Monti was known as ‘Doble Ancho’ (Double Wide) because of his impressive physique. He wasn’t particularly tall, measuring just 1.70m, but he had an imposing presence. He was a tough midfielder, although he always played with a sense of fair play. Monti began his career with Club Huracán, but he soon ended up at San Lorenzo de Almagro, with his brother Enrique. After his arrival in 1922, he soon established himself as a dominant midfielder in the Buenos Aires’ club’s Gasómetro stadium, winning three league titles in 1923, 1924 and 1927. Through his hard work, he was called up to the Argentinian national team in 1924, where he played a crucial role in reaching the Final of the World Cup in Uruguay in 1930. …” FIFA

World Cup stunning moments: The Battle of Santiago


English referee Ken Aston sends off Italian player Mario David, while an injured Chilean player lies on the ground, during the 1962 World Cup meeting.
“It took two days for highlights of the match that was christened, even during the commentary, the Battle of Santiago, to be flown from South America and broadcast in Britain. Two days in which the game became, in its own brutal way, legendary, spoken of in ways which must have sent anyone with a combined interest in football and mild gore into a frenzy of excitement. …” Guardian (Video)

World Cup stunning moments: Cameroon shock Argentina in 1990 World Cup

“Of the great World Cup upsets – the USA’s victory over England in 1950, North Korea’s over Italy in 1966 and Algeria’s over West Germany in 1982 probably push it close – this one stands alone in myth and memory. It was not a perfect match but it was an irresistible narrative, as the World Cup champions, led by the great Diego Maradona, were vanquished by an unheralded team largely assembled of journeymen players from the French lower divisions – though for some of them even that was either an impossible dream or a distant memory. …” Guardian (Video)

Great Goals That Weren’t: Diego Maradona vs England (1980)

“Barry Davies said it best. Four minutes after Diego Maradona had broken the deadlock by punching the ball into England’s net in the quarter-finals of the 1986 World Cup, the Argentinian genius collected possession in his own half, dribbled past five opponents (including goalkeeper Peter Shilton) and gave his country a 2-0 lead which would prove unassailable. …” The Set Pieces (Video)

The Last Cup of Sorrow – the story of the Anglo-Italian Cup

“MATTHEW CRIST remembers a short-lived and short-loved relic of the 60s which was reincarnated for football’s boom time in the 90s but eventually fell foul of supporter apathy and violence both on and off the pitch. The arrival of the 1990s provided something of a watershed for English football. The national side had shone at Italia ‘90, club sides were once again able to compete in Europe after a five-year ban, and Channel 4’s live Italian football coverage beamed a host of new names and faces into our living rooms for the first time; not to mention the introduction of the Premier League, which promised us a whole new ball game. …” Football Pink

Why the ‘greatest footballer in the world’ is buried in an Egyptian war cemetery

“England 1 Scotland 5. Saturday, 31 March 1928. Wembley. Att: 80,868. The spartan, light-coloured gravestone looks like any other in Fayid War Cemetery. Just one of hundreds arranged into formal, regimented rows on an incongruous patch of land on the western shore of Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake. There, at the mid point of the Suez Canal, lie men who died after serving in the Second World War. Men such as Major AS Jackson. The conflict was over by the time Jackson was killed on 15 November 1946. His end came after he lost control of a truck near his base in the Suez Zone, suffering serious head injuries. The 41-year-old died before he reached hospital. …” The Set Pieces