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

June 27, 2018

“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

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The Great Disgrace

June 25, 2018

“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

June 21, 2018

“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

June 21, 2018

“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

June 18, 2018

“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

June 17, 2018

“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

May 23, 2018


“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)