South Africa

The Boys from Montevideo
June 26, 2010

Let us now praise Uruguay. The Little Country That Did is deservedly back on the world stage and it's splendid to see. In a sense Uruguay are close to the platonic ideal for a heart-warming World Cup story: a tiny country of just 3.5 million souls who, once aristocrats of the game, subsequently fell on hard times but who now find themselves back in the quarter-finals for the first time since 1970.

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.

Why Do We Care About Countries We'll Never Go To?
June 24, 2010

This week, as I looked forward to the launch of Entanglements, I happened to be reading selections from the Spectator of Addison and Steele.

The Nike Jinx?
June 24, 2010

For decades, superstitious sports fans have lived in fear of their favorite athletes and teams making the Sports Illustrated cover.

Best of the Web, AM Edition
June 23, 2010

The most error-strewn World Cups Jonathan Wilson: "Serbia must battle their own demons" Wilson (again!): Uruguay could be dark horses Curse on England squad lifted by African druid A more serious look at the "real magic" of South Africa Martin Samuel: Time for Rooney to grow up A new level of parity in this year's Cup

Maradona is Smarter Than You Think
June 22, 2010

Well, maybe he is. The contrast between Argentina and France or England is total and not simply because Argentina are winning and a winning team tends to be a happier team. Nevertheless, keeping the players contented—and unified—helps too. And here Maradona has, I think, done well. All but one of his outfield players has now played a part in the tournament and the man who hasn't, Ariel Garcé, is, well, Ariel Garcé: Of the lesser lights who made the plane instead, Ariel Garcé has become symbolic of Maradona's unconventional approach.

The End of the Affair
June 22, 2010

On Twitter this afternoon we had some fun remembering French
embarrassments in Africa: the Battle of the Nile, Fashoda, Mers El Kebir, Suez, Bocassa, Rwanda and now, of course, South Africa 2010.

 Flippant, obviously, but France's meltdown this tournament has been 
richly entertaining (the shame of it is that Les Bleus cannot meet 
England. Now *that* would be a perversely amusing moment of anti-entertainment). Apart from the Irish, no one has enjoyed this tournament more than the 
French themselves. Few countries, after all, do self-mortification 
quite as well as the French.

Bafana Bafana Is Out. Will South Africa At Least Make Some Money?
June 22, 2010

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.

The Best of Group A
June 22, 2010

As Group A wraps up, here's some selections from our writers. Leon Krauze on the quality of Mexico's victory over France: It’s not only that Aguirre’s men played a wonderful game tonight: air-tight defending, wonderful ball rotation and physical fitness that, as far as I’ve seen, is probably the best in the whole tournament. By the end of the match, even Jeremy Toulalan—by far the most committed of Domenech’s disappointing team—simply wanted to throw in the towel. Rabih Alameddine was succinct in his judgment: Everyone should celebrate Mexico’s defeat of France.