Mission statement

Dembakwi Yomba

Dembakwi Yomba of Sierra Leone and Clarkston, Georgia, demonstrates "the bike."

The Global Game’s primary mission is this website: a source for news, in English, about cultural aspects of world soccer. Through reporting, translation, online interaction and other exchanges we aim to enhance, with soccer as vehicle, cultural learning and connection among peoples separated by language, lifeways or social systems.

This is a non-profit, grassroots media project as well as a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. (Go to our donations page.)

We emphasize original reporting and writing about soccer and soccer culture, including books, cinema, peacemaking and the place of sport in everyday life. We do not repurpose football news from elsewhere or replicate mainstream sports coverage. We steer from titillation and trivia. We do not draw on corporate support, nor are we connected in any way with world football’s administrators and their media projects.

The Global Game says “no” to big soccer and yes to soccer as a game for women and the marginalized, as a place of resistance, as a tool for education and social learning, as a vehicle for expression in the arts and all creative fields.

About the website

The website started in Jan 03. Although based in the United States—in Atlanta—we privilege non-American stories. Areas of interest are cinema and the arts, faith, grassroots, history, literature, media and football from a supporter’s perspective. Since 2007 we have offered interviews via podcast.

Football is the world’s game, not the property of one organization or country, so we ask people about it and explore football through non-English sources. We want the world to explain soccer to us and let subjects of our articles speak for themselves. One of the first interviews, in Mar 03, featured Colombian anthropologist Beatriz Vélez recalling her experiences with soccer. She remembers when her brother would walk into the family home after matches “with his clothes and football cleats full of mud.” Vélez, of course, would have to clean up his footprints while he recounted goal-scoring feats. Within such vignettes we have discovered a grassroots football culture.

We prefer stories that teach about the daily life of normal people to the “big soccer” that receives prominence. “Big soccer” is a game for men, and we try to privilege the women’s side. Women’s football does not suffer for media attention and sponsorship because it is less important, but because conscious decisions have been made, in many societies over time, to provide men an advantage in almost all areas of life. In Aug 03 we note that frescoes from China’s Later Han dynasty (25–220 C.E.) depict stylized female figures playing the ball game tsu chu. Women, therefore, have always played the game but must continually strive for their validity as players. When asked why such achievements are important for women, Vélez immediately places the answer in broad context: “[I]t would make society more equitable, less sexist, more democratic …”

Vélez’s answer provides our response and our solace when others ask, or when we ask ourselves, why we spend so much time writing and reading about a game. In our writing about soccer, we hope to open new democratic vistas on sport.

Editor and publisher

John Turnbull


John Turnbull is a journalist, editor, graduate of the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, a one-time seminarian and doctoral student in Hebrew Bible. He has contributed to When Saturday Comes (London), So Foot (Paris), the New York Times Goal blog, Soccer and Society, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, World Literature Today and Afriche e Orienti and is coeditor, with Thom Satterlee and Alon Raab, of The Global Game: Writers on Soccer (University of Nebraska Press, 2008).

I notice that authors, angling for the dungareed authenticity of Woody Guthrie‘s boxcar-riding days, also include in their bios lists of odd jobs.

So I mention that I have washed dishes at a U.S. Navy cafeteria, watered, rolled, swept and lined clay tennis courts, caddied, filed and reproduced hospital electrocardiograms, installed dance floors above outdoor swimming pools, erected tents for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, operated the 18th-hole scoreboard at the PGA’s Kemper Open, counseled Boy Scouts as a wilderness-camp chaplain (where I also proctored the archery range), coordinated phone banks and financial reporting for a member of the D.C. City Council, failed a Central Intelligence Agency security clearance, compiled Georgia’s statewide high school football results, administered precincts during the 2000 and 2004 presidential primary and general election cycles, and supervised a crew of U.S. census enumerators. In the early 1990s I also reported firsthand on an outbreak of wedgies that swept secondary education on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, for which I earned no awards.

For personal essays and jottings, go to this site.