The World Cup

Best of the Web, PM Edition
July 02, 2010

Bill Simmons: 20 Questions for the World Cup Ghana and pan-Africanism Raphael Honigstein: how Germany reinvented itself The World Cup and tunnel vision Amy Lawrence: Dunga's defense unravels Fascism's excellent record Black South African players in the age of apartheid

Diego Maradona Is Not Gay
July 02, 2010

The once-great Maradona wants everyone in the world to know, just in case there was any doubt, that he’s not gay. No sirree, he certainly is not. He likes women. He really likes women. He’s fucking pretty Veronica. I received an email from Daniel Alarcon this morning asking whether I planned to write anything about his dingbatness’ “I’m not gay” press conference, because if I wasn’t, he intended to. I had no idea what he was talking about, and so I watched the press conference—I watched the 55 second clip before I had my morning coffee.

The Stupidest Man in America
July 02, 2010

Like Satan, Sodomy and Socialism, Soccer begins with an S. Obviously, then, it's un-American and likely to corrupt these great United States. Hats off to Marc Thiessen for scrawling the most absurd anti-soccer nonsense of the World Cup. At long last we have a winner: The world is crazy for soccer, but most Americans don’t give a hoot about the sport. Why? Many years ago, my former White House colleague Bill McGurn pointed out to me the real reason soccer hasn’t caught on in the good old U.S.A. It’s simple, really: Soccer is a socialist sport. Think about it.

The Good, the Bad, und die Rache
July 01, 2010

With the group stages over, the sextodecimal matches played, and the quarterfinals about to begin, what kind of a World Cup has it been so far? It has been good for South Africa, with large, happy crowds and none of the violence that pessimists predicted, altogether nothing worse than the horrible vuvuzela. The home nation were eliminated, but not before a glorious victory over France, who scuttled home in disgrace, as did the Italians, and then the English. No, it hasn’t been a good year for Europe, even with Germany, Spain and Holland in the last eight.

The Unbearable Weight of World Cup History
July 01, 2010

To anticipate Argentina versus Germany or Brazil versus Holland is to again hear World Cup history whisper ever more urgently as the tournament approaches its conclusion. The coaches and players will insist that such talk is nonsense; a distraction. The game must be won on the pitch in South Africa. Eleven against eleven. The future scripts are yet to be written. What's past is irrelevant.

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.

Is Maradona's Madness Working?
June 29, 2010

As the World Cup began, Diego Maradona was a figure of absurdity and fun—a perverse and lunatic figure, his ego as bloated as his abdomen. On the sidelines, bearded and animated as he was during his days of cocaine and Castro, he wore two huge wristwatches at once. He forced his hotel to rebuild his suite to include a bidet. He had lost, in qualifying, to Bolivia, and favored an absurd strategy that committed everything to attack, a sugared-up video game kind of football.

The Other Reason Soccer Keeps Growing
June 28, 2010

Most soccer fans today accept the idea that the world's most popular
sport will continue to grow in the U.S.—albeit slowly—and that the
game's rise is supported by increased TV coverage, rising quality of
 MLS teams, and fan education and awareness that takes place during
spectacles such as the World Cup.
 But there's another reason: high school.
        Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the U.S.

First They Ignore You. Second... Wait, There is No Second.
June 28, 2010

Over at the World Cup Blog, Stefan Fatsis is again full of soccer triumphalism: A poster named “Irishman” puts it nicely: “The USA has the extraordinary luck to be both Germanic and Hispanic, black and white and brown, African and European and Asian, all in one driven national character.” Progress is uncertain for every national side, but it’s highly likely for the U.S. Irishman quoted Gandhi: “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” To which JustinO replied: “First they ignore you (to 1989). Then they laugh at you (1990-2001).

More on Americans and Soccer
June 27, 2010

The thing that bothers me most about the Americans-not-accepting-soccer story is the underlying notion that if the majority of Americans have no interest in soccer, then Americans have no interest in soccer. By the same logic, Americans have no interest in reading novels, as survey upon survey shows that the majority of Americans prefer television to reading. I don't know the numbers, but I would venture to guess that the number of Americans reading literary fiction is in the neighborhood of the number of Americans interested in soccer.