The Jabulani Virus
June 30, 2010
Whining about the World Cup ball is almost as old as the tournament itself. During the last Cup in Germany, scientists postulated that it might “unsettle goalkeepers.” In Korea and Japan, the ball was universally deemed too light and bouncy. This year the now typical smattering of complaints began during the final tune up matches, when most teams were given a first chance to get their touches on it—but the whingeing really got started with Robert Green’s blunder against the U.S. Green, to his credit, refused to blame the ball for his woes, but Capello was not so tactful.
Best of the Web, PM Edition
June 29, 2010
Why FIFA's official match reports can't be trusted Sid Lowe: Spain discovers its old self US-Ghana and Mexico-Argentina TV ratings leave the networks hungry for more A musical interpretation of the Jabulani Is the Nike TV ad really cursed? Zonal Marking: substitutions the turning point for Spain How Germany saw their win
June 24, 2010
Peru hasn’t won a major tournament in nearly thirty years. We last qualified for a World Cup in 1982, and didn’t make it out of the group stage. Since then, with the exception of a few instances of magic, watching the national side has been a kind of ritualized despair. We—players and fans—start each game hoping not to lose. During this last qualifying campaign, our players drew with Brazil at home and celebrated with so much booze and so many prostitutes, you’d think they’d actually won something (or that they were French).
Go, Gattuso, Just Please Go.
June 24, 2010
At one point in the Italy-Slovakia game today, Peter Drury, ITV's commentator in the UK, said of Kamil Kopunek, who'd just scored Slovakia's third goal, "he need never kick a football again; he will bore his grandchildren forever!" It was a funny comment, but immediately I wondered if, in fact, Drury was not only referring to the goalscorer who had finally put paid to Italy's attempts to defend their crown, but also to that heinous, 32-year old midfield attack dog, Italy's excerable Genaro Gattuso. What a joy it will be to never see him in the World Cup ever again -- yes, please, go away and b
The American Ascendancy
June 24, 2010
PRETORIA, South Africa -- The guy standing near me was crying, too. It was my new best friend, Ian Ainslie of the fan group American Outlaws, and after the fourth Foer brother -- tell me that Landon and this blog’s editor aren’t separated at birth -- scored the most important goal in American soccer history (later, Paul Caligiuri), tears were streaming down his face. Streaming, I tell you.
The Trials and the Elation
June 23, 2010
When Landon Donovan finally slammed the Jabulani into the net, 91 minutes after the kickoff, there was one part of me that wondered “Will it count? Will it count?” And not, Alex, because I think there’s been a massive anti-American conspiracy, but simply because the refs in this group stage have been terrible. Contrary to popular prognostication, Koman Coulibaly, according to FIFA's official report, called back Edu’s goal for a foul not by Bocanegra, but by Edu (who didn’t commit a foul); there's a reason FIFA gave Coulibaly a "poor" rating and dropped him for the second round.
To be just a little cheeky, the answer to your question, Frank, is Yes. This has nothing to do with Team America's performance. We may, nay should and do, all admire their courage, their attitude, their determination to rise above their limitations and their refusal to buckle even when all seems lost.
With South Africans' dreams of soccer glory dashed by the elimination of their Bafana Bafana from the tournament today, fans may now be hoping that at least the World Cup will deliver on the economic boost its organizers have repeatedly promised them. They are likely to be disappointed again. "We want, on behalf of our continent, to stage an event that will send ripples of confidence from the Cape to Cairo—an event that will create social and economic opportunities throughout Africa," former South African President Thabo Mbeki said in the run up to the tournament.
About Those Kiwis...
June 21, 2010
I have to take issue with Zach's assessment last week that the World Cup has been "crap" so far. Sure, only 67 goals have been scored in 32 games. But two of them were scored by New Zealand. I happen to be a Kiwi myself, and so it's possible that this means more to me than it does to any of you. To be honest, like most New Zealanders, I don't normally pay any attention to soccer. Rugby is the national religion—it dominates the culture in a way that reminds me, as one of the country's twelve non-fans, of those droning vuvuzelas.
The Sixties Strike Back
June 19, 2010
Of all the advantages that England seemed to enjoy at the outset of their lifeless 0-0 draw with Algeria, perhaps none looked so dramatic on television as their vast handsomeness advantage. On the sideline there was David Beckham, of course, the only man alive who can make a mohawk look upstanding, and the coach Fabio Capello, who looked terrific and commanding--gorgeous light grey suit, charcoal shirt, black tie, and spectacles so impeccably designed they seem likely to inspire a line of kitchenware.