The World Cup

Best of the Web, AM Edition
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June 10, 2010

The most irritating World Cup products Tom Williams: Ten tactical questions for the World Cup FIFA: We Have No Profanity List The official Twitter feed of the stat geeks at Opta The Dutch squad have been banned from Twitter. Why Slovenia might qualify ahead of the US Argentina’s fitness coach says Messi’s exhaustion is “irreversible.” Top 25 “hard men” at the Cup

Explaining Wagner's Relevance to Soccer
June 10, 2010

As the World Cup approaches I am reminded of a friend, B_____, who died last year. A physician, he was earnest, over-rational, and an assiduous problem solver. He considered himself very lucky to have married a man, H_____, who was his opposite in so many ways, a painter.  B_____ once told me of an experiment he tried. He liked Wagner, but considered his music too long.  “Wagner has moments of ecstasy,” he told me, “but it takes too long to get to them.”  I remember we were sitting in a restaurant’s garden.

Latino Immigration and U.S. Soccer
June 10, 2010

Practically all the U.S. stars—Landon Donovan, Jozy Altidore, "Oguchi" Onyewu, and Tim Howard—are the children of immigrants or immigrants themselves. But—despite an ever growing tide of immigration from soccer-frenzied Latin America, Hispanic representation on the national side has not kept pace. In fact, many have noted that at times it seems like things have been going in reverse, with the number of Hispanic players actually shrinking—from five when the cup was played on U.S.

Dunga, Diego, and Destiny
June 10, 2010

The World Cup is but a couple of weeks away, and, if you are not trembling with anticipation, now is the time to start. There has never been a World Cup like the one about to take place in nine South African cities: For the first time ever, the greatest soccer tournament is being held in Africa.

Best of the Web, PM Edition
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June 09, 2010

How American soccer almost made it in the 1920s Zonal Marking’s Spain preview  Why so few female soccer announcers?  Against sanctimonious World Cup whining Is the World Cup bad for your health?  Austria bans Zidane head-but ads for promoting violence  The 5 pin-up boys on the US squad The British Embassy in Washington and the American Embassy in London make a wager In Case You Missed it: Massie Roots Against Brazil and Alameddine Picks Algeria

From the Archives: TNR Debates Soccer
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June 09, 2010

Not everyone at TNR has an equal appreciation for the beautiful game. In fact, Frank Foer and Jonathan Chait have debated its proper role in American sports and culture around the office for over a decade. Here are excerpts from a passionate argument (and equally rousing response) published in the magazine eight years ago, while the World Cup was wrapping up in Korea and Japan. From Foer’s piece, “Fair Ball,” (7/1/2002): But there's a simple solution to this perception problem: Let soccer be soccer.

Funny Old Wayne
June 09, 2010

The average Premier League club has very little to do with you, the supporter, and your life. Yes, it is named after your town, but most of the players come from elsewhere, countries you may never have heard of, stay two or three seasons, then leave. The uniform displays the logo of an offshore gambling website. The owners fly in from the Cayman Islands to snap up your club with foreign oil money, mall money, steel money, or money loaned to them by investors which they are then happy to freight onto your club’s debt.

Chile--And Its Crazy Coach--Will Win Your Heart
June 08, 2010

I am a big fan of the site Zonal Marking. The good folks over there have an excellent study of Chile. Now, I plan on rooting for Chile on feel-good humanitarian grounds. But I also intend to root for them because of their coach, Marcelo Bielsa. We’ve spent a fair amount of time already discussing the eccentricities of Diego Maradona. You might ask, how on earth did the Argentine football federation select such an obviously unstable man? Well, Maradona probably looked sane in comparison to Bielsa, one of his predecessors as the national coach.

Best of the Web, PM Edition
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June 08, 2010

South African star Benni McCarthy dropped for womanizing. The case for Ricardo Clark. How South African soap operas have promoted World Cup fever. Gabriele Marcotti: “30 players set to light up the World Cup.” The cult comic strip “You Are the Ref” Goal Post contributor Tom Vanderbilt's Twitter feed. England players on Safari! And, in case you missed some of our earliest posts, here’s Leon Krauze on the magic of Marquez and Blanco, and Luke Dempsey on England vs. the United States.  

The Austere Beauty of Italy
June 08, 2010

A word about the defending champions. Not since Germany's victory in the desperate 1990 edition of the tournament has any victor been so little celebrated. Doubtless this owes something to the fashion in which Italy prevailed and to the sense that those players who remain in the squad aren't the men they once were, while the newcomers aren't the men they're replacing either.   So Italy arrive in South Africa overlooked and unfancied and available at 16/1 with some bookmakers.

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