World Cup

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.

Best of the Web, AM Edition
June 09, 2010

England are struggling with the altitude. "Shouldn’t Africans coach Africans?" The strangely addictive Freddy Adu Twitter feed Jonathan Wilson: single-striker formations predominant in South Africa Grant Wahl’s USA predictions “If Kaka still believes in God, does God still have faith in Kaka?” Rob Smyth: Top 10 one-tournament wonders And Spain heads to South Africa on a high note:

I Fall for Afellay
June 09, 2010

I have a confession to make: I’m tired of this Spain-certainty. Yes: they do have an amazing team. Courageous when defending, brilliant when attacking, Spain is formidable. Their midfield by itself is a thing to behold. What on earth could be the result of having Barca wizards Iniesta and Xavi playing alongside Fabregas, their former Catalan accomplice, and Xabi Alonso, that confident brute? Only magic. So yes: Spain should win the cup. Which is exactly why I think… it won’t!

A Meditation on Loyalty
June 09, 2010

Zachary Roth and Luke Dempsey's eloquent and honest posts about the USA-England match raise interesting questions about the roles of identity, citizenship, and fandom. Loyalties are strange things. Driving to play in a charity “World Cup” event over the weekend with a friend from Liverpool, he casually mentioned he was having trouble fully giving himself over to Wazza & Co. Why? There are no Evertonians in the squad.

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
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.  

Headline Competition
June 08, 2010

World Cup College predicts the headlines to emerge from the tournament: Hand of Drog Roo Beauty Chile Gone Barmy Let’s Go Foul a Kuyt New Zealand suffer half-Nelsen [Ryan Nelsen is sent off just before half-time]

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.

The Apostasy of Dunga
June 08, 2010

Alex has launched a wonderfully entertaining all-out assault on Brazil. I had planned on issuing a rebuttal and intend to return to the subject soon. In the meantime, I want to recommend this insightful (if somewhat meandering) post from the blogger santapelota. No country's game has been as sentimentalized as Brazil's--and santapelota does a nice job of parsing the reality of joga bonito from its hype.   To be fair, the fatuous Nikeisation of Brazil's footballing image in recent years has done much to support his argument against ball-juggling, irresponsible street entertainers.

Soccer and Human Trafficking
June 08, 2010

There’s a lot of happy talk about how this World Cup will aid the cause of Africa soccer. I hope that’s the case. In the meantime, I highly recommend Spiegel’s excellent piece on how the European soccer economy has sunk its tentacles into the continent. A sample of the piece's ugly findings: More than 10 years ago, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights issued a report warning that "a modern 'slave trade' is being created with young African players." In Belgium, the politician Jean-Marie Dedecker investigated 442 cases of alleged human trafficking with Nigerian players.

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