Author Archive

Books | ‘Global Game’ anthology en route from University of Nebraska Press

The Global Game: Writers on Soccer is scheduled for November release—the product of some three years of compiling, winnowing and permissions seeking by myself and editors Thom Satterlee and Alon Raab, along with strong support and belief from the University of Nebraska Press in Lincoln and heroic efforts from a network of translators, working in Spanish, French, Italian, Danish, Portuguese and Slovenian. (Apr 24)

Cinema | In ‘Tiro libre,’ walls of separation and misunderstanding

A film conceived by Chileans about the aspirations of Palestine’s national team has stirred a Chicago film festival—at least judging by an 11-page torrent of comments that debates which filmmaker deserves credit for the idea and which has the more authoritative connections to justice struggles (Ed M. Koziarski, “Social Justice, with Soccer,” Chicago Reader, Apr 3).

Scotland | As foretold in scripture: ‘The queen of the South will rise up …’

Dumfries, Scotland, Apr 18 | “All our dreams are viable,” ventures songwriter Chris Belford, launching into the refrain of the Queen of the South anthem. “We’re the only team in the Bible.” The strength of the connection to Jesus’ prophecy about the “queen of the South” rising at judgment day (Matthew 12:42) is dubious, but Doonhamers’ supporters, following the side’s first berth in a Scottish Cup final, are convinced about the rest: “Something greater than Solomon is here!”

History | Were Paterson FC the first stateside association football club?

Which was the first American association football team? Some evidence points to Oneida Football Club of Boston, honored with an obelisk in Boston Common as “the first organized football club in the United States.” While Oneida played one of the football codes—perhaps a soccer-rugby hybrid—beginning in 1862, photographic evidence offered by a descendant of a Paterson FC captain suggests that the New Jersey side, formed in 1880, staked claim early to playing by the FA rules established in London in 1863.

Africa | Destroyers v. Rebuilders, a Zimbabwean allegory

According to an extended allegorical match account mailed to the Zimbabwe Standard (“Matchless Match,” Apr 12), the Destroyers—meaning the state apparatus of entrenched president Robert Mugabe—hold a 10–2 edge over political opponents, the Rebuilders. (Apr 15)

Art | At Vienna stadium installation, ‘you will only be nude for a short period of time’

Avant garde photographer Spencer Tunick has requested 2,008 nude participants—each with football—for a May 11 “installation” at Ernst Happel Stadion in Vienna, site of the Euro 2008 final.

Africa | In Liberia’s hidden places, amputee players wait for empowerment (w/ podcast)

Monrovia, Liberia, Apr 6 | Football has its hidden stories, but even when these stories are reported some aspects still remain hidden.

Such is the case with amputee footballers of Liberia, who on Apr 6 defeated neighbor Sierra Leone to earn the championship of the second All Africa Amputee Cup of Nations. In the final at Antoinette Tubman Stadium—the facility named for the spouse of former president William TubmanJunior Kulee scored Liberia’s lone goal. With 14-minute podcast.

Cinema | For cinéastes, Fußballfilmfestival offers definitive fixture list

As one should not judge a book by the cover, one should not judge a film by its trailer. But the trailer for Maradona: La mano de Dios, which opened the 11mm Fußballfilmfestival in Berlin on Apr 4, sounds a warning: handle with care.

History | Remembering New Jersey’s immigrant soccer past

Newark, New Jersey, Mar 30 | At the start of its 13th season, MLS lacks a nuanced appreciation for history. But the sense of American soccer as a game among immigrant enclaves has been preserved, with regional focus, at Sport Clube Português and within a northeastern amateur league featuring divisions along ethnic lines (see New York Times coverage).

Africa | Showing Mugabe the red card proves a difficult trick

Harare, Zimbabwe, Mar 28 | For nearly 10 years political opponents have tried to send off President Robert Mugabe, but he still has not left the pitch.

Drawing on the range of football metaphor in the Zimbabwean political process, the Movement for Democratic Change shortly after its founding in 1999 initiated a red-card campaign to retire the 84-year-old strongman, who has led the state since independence in 1980. Voters have another opportunity to reject Mugabe on Saturday at parliamentary and presidential elections.

Health | From schizophrenia to social anxiety, ‘football addresses it all’

As similar programs in Italy have discovered (see 12 Jan 07), a London-based football league presents “regular, constant, holistic treatment” for those afflicted with mental health problems ranging from schizophrenia to social anxiety (Angus Watson, “More Than a Game,” Financial Times, Mar 22). (Mar 25)

Women’s football | Maize husks mark lines in Mzuzu, says Mr. Happy

One of the most lyrical descriptions of traveling to women’s football in Africa comes from the recent e-mail newsletter of Africa Unplugged in Nkhata Bay, Malawi. A revival of the charity’s Nkhata Bay United Sisters FC (see 15 Jan 07) involved several players participating in regional trials for the Malawi senior women’s team. (Mar 19)

Health | The goalkeeper’s anxiety at the filtered cigarette

Portsmouth goalkeeper David James writes an entertaining column for Guardian Unlimited, most recently meditating on the cultural contact between football and smoking and confessing his own “15-year 20-a-day habit” (“It’s Time for the Whole Game to Stub Out My Filthy Habit,” Mar 16). (Mar 19)

Poetry | ‘View well this Ball, the present of your Lords …’

We publish an excerpt from Matthew Concanen the Elder‘s 1720 canto describing a six-a-side football match in Dublin—at variance with a traditional view that only the frenzied folk football variety was contested at the time. The players “around the field in decent order stand …” (Mar 13)

Books | For centuries, life has had its uppies and downies

Hugh Hornby, author of a comprehensive account of Britain’s 15 surviving festival football games—Uppies and Downies: The Extraordinary Football Games of Britain (English Heritage, 2008)—says the ideal venue for these mass-participation events is a town of between 5,000 and 10,000. With podcast »

History | In hard stone, ancient ball-playing exploits remain

Ongoing exhibits in Chicago (“The Ancient Americas”) and Washington, D.C. (“Exploring the Early Americas”), feature artifacts of ball-playing in Mesoamerican cultures as part of larger surveys. (Mar 6)

China | Football at all compass points on EastSouthWestNorth

James Montague has dissected the “footballing Venn diagram of … political and social hatreds” that constituted the recent East Asian Championships in Chongqing, China (“Football? What Football? The Asian Game Is about Politics,” Guardian Unlimited, Mar 3). Within Asia, Montague concludes, football still comes with political intrigue, readily available in every permutation of a four-team round-robin featuring the hosts plus Japan, South Korea and North Korea. (Mar 5)

Books | Alan Sillitoe, channeling the angry young football man

Alan Sillitoe‘s work was on the syllabus in my short-story class as a college freshman. Naturally, the story considered most representative was “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner,” consisting of a teenage cross-country runner’s interior dialogues upon liberation each day from the Borstal fetters (“I’m a human being and I’ve got thoughts and secrets and bloody life inside me …”).

But a fresh assessment on Sillitoe’s 80th birthday today suggests that the short story “The Match,” which takes its tone from the terrace gloaming at Notts County’s Meadow Lane, might be the best introduction. (Mar 4)

Internet | ‘Liveblogging’ Dnipro Dnipropetrovs’k v. Dynamo Kyiv

We have covered the revival of the Ukrainian championship—back after winter break—and the weekend’s top fixture, second-place Dnipro Dnipropetrovs’k (43 points) hosting fourth-place Dynamo Kyiv (39). (Mar 2)

Books | Murakami runs from soccer, to the distance

As a sidebar to the Feb 29 entry (“A multihued archipelago, tuned to soccer’s harmonics”), part-time Hawai‘i resident Haruki Murakami reflects in a recent Spiegel Online interview on his sporting interests and their relationship to his writing (“When I Run I Am in a Peaceful Place,” Feb 20). (Mar 1)

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