Simon Kuper

The best part of this match was that it ended before penalty kicks, where the Dutch could have squeezed out a win and enjoyed the fruits of their goonish performance. Simon Kuper wrote a great column in last week’s Financial Times, where he bemoaned how Holland had turned away from idealism in its football and in its politics. This performance should bury the myth of Dutch Total Football for good.

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There’s no doubt that Germany looked magisterial against Argentina. Late last year, I watched a team pummel Diego Maradona’s team in similar fashion. They ran all over them with astonishing ease, making them look like a third division team on the brink of the brink of relegation. This was a particularly low moment for Maradona, the winter when his team was more messy than Messi. Still, the side that beat them clearly possessed players of superior quality. That was last December when the albiceleste ventured into Barcelona’s Nou Camp. They left the stadium that day defeated 4-2.

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A good question! Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski suggest not. Their argument, summarised by Tim Harford, runs more or less like this: - England do about as well as you’d expect, given their size, economic power, proximity to football’s “core” in Western Europe, and footballing history. That is, you’d expect them to usually make the last 16, sometimes make the last 8, occasionally make the last 4 and make the final very rarely. And they do. - Managers don’t make much difference to a team’s expected performance.

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The backup national team keeper, and the esophagus that saved American soccer Jonathan Wilson: one goal may be enough for US Ives Galarcep: US must forget about revenge Mick McCarthy's favorite players of the tournament Zonal Marking: Chile-Spain "a bizarre game" Dunga and Maradona: opposite views, together at the center of the soccer universe Richard Williams: Time for a new chapter in England-Germany rivalry Simon Kuper: the many reasons the English hate their team

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.

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Simon Kuper: Brazilian football has moved from poetry into prose Familiar pattern emerging in Capello's reign Will fans just have to accept diving? Rob Hughes: cracks in the European camps Tim Vickery: South American stars shine Zonal Marking: Brazil always in control against Ivory Coast, Portugal exploits the space against North Korea Gabriele Marcotti: Denmark's Simon Kjaer is a throwback to the ball-playing defenders of old Can the Cup really spur grassroots soccer in South Africa?

Simon Kuper: "the growing tribe of US soccer nerds" ThinkProgress takes on "the right-wing war against soccer" Jonathan Chait: soccer triumphalism turns ugly Hyundai pulls its "Church of Soccer" ad Spain is the Apple of World Cup teams; France is the Goldman Sachs How African is ESPN's African Choir? Goal Post endorses Must Read Soccer The most ridiculous reasons to lose a World Cup place  

I've been a long-time, tongue-in-cheek participant in the regular soccer Kulturkampf. But there seem to be a lot of people who take this issue deadly serious, and it's a little frightening. Max Bergmann at the Center for American Progress rounds up some of the unhinged conservative rhetoric about soccer. So let me say that, as a confirmed non-soccer fan, the prospect that America will one day become a soccer-loving nation does not strike me as dangerous in any way.

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There's a new master narrative for the history of sports. And it goes like this: We have only just begun to emerge from the superstitious dark ages, where coaches clung to folk wisdom, into the enlightened world of data. The Copernicus and Galileo of sports’ scientific revolution are the statistician Bill James and the Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane.

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RUSTENBURG, South Africa -- “Well done,” the middle-aged England fan said to me outside Royal Bafokeng Stadium last night after his country’s 1-1 draw against the United States. The civility was less rare than you might imagine. Sure, there was the drunken Brit in the eternal shuttle-bus queue in the red-clay parking lot shouting -- and if you read my first post, you know it brought a smile to my face -- “You’re shit and you know you are!” at a harmless group of flag-clad Americans.

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