The World Cup

George Carlin's Lost Soccer Routine
July 13, 2010

George Carlin (RIP) used to do a bit about America's unwillingness to leave Vietnam, despite the certainty of defeat. Imitating the heads of the US military he would say, "Pull out? Doesn't sound manly to me, Bill. I say leave it in there and get the job done!" Carlin, who would have made a great grammar teacher, loved to play with language and to discuss language choices. He famously riffed on Stuff, Dirty Words, Airplane Safety, and Baseball and Football.

A Reaction From the Streets of Catalonia
July 13, 2010

Standing on the streets of Barcelona – capital of Spain’s Catalonia region – last Saturday, one would have had no idea that the country was preparing to watch its national team compete in the World Cup the very next day. That afternoon, over a million people flooded the downtown to protest a decision issued Friday by the country’s constitutional court striking down some provisions of the territory’s 2006 autonomy statute. That legislation devolved a number of important powers to the region, but was challenged by the country’s conservative political party, the Partido Popular.

The Games Continue: Soccer for the Next Generation of Americans
July 13, 2010

The United States may have missed its chance to play Spain in the World Cup final Sunday (and the Netherlands in the semifinal, and Uruguay in the quarterfinal), but similar battles take place every day on American turf, where the world meets for pick-up soccer games. There’s weekdays outside an MIT building in Cambridge, weekend mornings behind the White House, and barefoot on the beach in Fort Lauderdale. There are, in fact, times when the U.S.

Best of the Web, Post-Final Edition
July 12, 2010

The Guardian's team of the tournament Sid Lowe: Spain worthy champions Tactical analyses from Zonal Marking, David Pleat, and Jonathan Wilson Is money poisoning English football? Famous pitch invader Jimmy Jump tried to put a hat on the World Cup trophy. He did not succeed. Top 10 villains of the World Cup Jen Chang: 10 players whose stock rose at the Cup Tim Vickery is already looking ahead to the 2014 qualifiers Lastly, the scene from Spain (although Catalan media would beg to differ):

Espana Es Differente
July 11, 2010

Everything said and done around the World Cup in the last month has seemed right and wrong, spot on and deluded—and often simultaneously. First it was the “African Cup.” The dream was ephemeral, save perhaps for Ghana. Then there was talk about a “new Europe”: forget aging Italy, England, and France, here came the vibrant sons of a united Germany. (Though, it must be said, less and less of them are actually German). Almost as soon as it started, however, it became the “Latin American Cup.” European tactical conservatism seemed doomed against the Latin love for the game.

How I Wish I Could Support the Dutch... Plus, Worst Call, Best Kit, Etc.
July 10, 2010

Which team should the large majority of us who are neither Dutch nor Spanish support? At the final there are sometimes strong pulls of sentiment even for neutrals, though such sentimental longings can be disappointed, with Germany the likely culprit. I mean the 1954, “Aus! Aus! Aus!” final, when so many people wanted to see the World Cup got to Ferenc Puskas and his wonderful Hungarians, and 1974, when so many of us rooted for Johan Cruyff’s Dutchmen, only for both to be defeated by what we no longer call Teutonic efficiency.

When My Father Cried for Paraguay
July 09, 2010

The always brilliant Rick Hertzberg has been debating our very own Jon Chait about the perils of soccer nationalism and tribalism. I don’t have much to add, aside from some personal anecdote. The other week, my father and I watched Paraguay and Japan play in the first knockout round. It was hardly a match that anyone outside of those two countries will remember, except perhaps for Paraguay enthusiasts like Sasha. But the match droned on, nil-nil, all the way to penalty kicks.

So Who’s Going To Win This Thing?
July 09, 2010

This should be a game for the ages, if for no other reason than because neither Spain nor the Netherlands has ever won the World Cup. We are going to have a new Champion and the constellation of world soccer is going to change. While the Netherlands narrowly missed it twice in the seventies, losing to the hosts (West Germany 1974, Argentina 1978), Spain has never reached the heights of the WC finals before. If Spain wins, a talented generation will be crowned as the best one in a long while.

In South Africa, Missing My Favorite Univision Announcer
July 09, 2010

One of the only bad parts about being here in South Africa for the World Cup is missing out on Univision’s Spanish-language coverage. I should probably note that I don’t speak Spanish. Not fluently, at least. But I vastly prefer watching my fútbol en español. And being here, subjected to the dry and ramblingly irrelevant South African announcers on the local SABC and Supersport stations has reminded me just how superior the voices of Mexican television are on the global scale.

Best of the Web, PM Edition
July 08, 2010

Jonathan Wilson's tactical analyses of Spain and the Netherlands Raphael Honigstein: Germany admits Spanish superiority Joachim Low, fashion model Applying other sports' rules to Suarez's handball A bird tries to muscle in on Paul the octopus's territory The "ten most reprehensible acts" of the World Cup