Author Archive

England | Rough girls, delicate boys

England women try to surmount culture of contempt

Leicester, England, Sept 21 | With the United States and England preparing to meet in a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal Sept 22 in Tianjin, China, the contest matches players who, to some degree, owe their footballing fortunes to the deeds of Lancashire forebears.

We interview Jean Williams of the International Centre for Sports History and Culture on the early history of English women’s football and on the “contemptuous” attitude that has endured toward women playing the national game.

Black Queens and Super Falcons dare to transgress on a 'crooked field'

Black Queens and Super Falcons dare to transgress on a ‘crooked field’

“For a woman to play [football] in many places is a transgression,” says Martha Saavedra in a 2007 podcast. Through her research in West Africa, Saavedra sees how football works to define masculinity.

‘Do other Martas exist?’ | In ‘machista’ Brazilian culture, one cannot be sure

Rio de Janeiro, Sept 12 | Argentine journalist Diego Graciano since 2004 has been assembling the story of Marta Vieira da Silva, Brazil’s greatest female player and a potentially galvanizing figure in lifting women’s status in her country.

With her exploits in the cathedral of Brazilian futebol in July, leading the team to a Pan American Games gold medal with 12 goals and having her footprints calcified in the Maracana’s Walk of Fame, she pushed herself into Brazil’s male-dominated sporting consciousness.

‘The feel of the game’ | On the streets, Charlotte participants experience football as sole force

Charlotte, North Carolina | Given the rigors of a night-shift job, Ron “Pop” Miller sometimes would sleep until the last possible moment before practices preceding the Homeless World Cup. Physical conditioning, fatigue and poor nutrition all posed obstacles for Miller’s participation in the fifth homeless tournament between Jul 29 and Aug 4 in Copenhagen. Further, Miller found himself learning a new game that some teammates from Central America had been playing much of their lives.

Cinema | Top-5 films do not feature soccer on the Sly

In choosing our five favorite football films we have limited ourselves to those available via DVD and to those we have actually seen, resisting the urge to include Le Ballon d’Or (The Golden Ball; France/Guinea, 1994) based on reputation alone.

Playing against boys | Professional league in waiting, competitive instincts still burn for U.S. women

Atlanta, Aug 24 | Nel Hayes, who competed during the Women’s United Soccer Association’s three seasons as Nel Fettig, can be said to have grown up in the “early phase” of the American women’s soccer boom.

Now with a four-month-old daughter, Lily, of her own, Hayes speaks in our Aug 21 podcast of the prescient tactical awareness of girls in the Atlanta Youth Soccer Association, of which she is executive director.

Historically black and proud | At Spelman, women’s soccer pushes beyond expectation

Atlanta, Aug 23 | As soccer tacticians do, Spelman College coach Philmore George speaks of building a team from the back, using combination play to instill belief in the collective.

It makes sense, therefore, that the co-captains in George’s fourth season, which begins Sept 1, are defenders: seniors Ashley Hamilton and Rabiah “Rabi” Jamar. Together they not only have led the Spelman Jaguars from the back but the spread of women’s soccer into new territories in America’s fragmented demographic.

Pride of lions | Iraqi Asian Cup victory reminds a civilization what ‘normal’ feels like

Baghdad, Aug 9 | A triumphant march through the Asian Cup tournament in July contributed to the resurgence of the Arabic phrase Assood al-Rafidain (Lions of Mesopotamia) to refer to the Iraqi national football team.

“It’s a way of labeling them with this unifying and historic cultural icon,” says Newsweek Baghdad correspondent Larry Kaplow, who appeared on our Aug 7 podcast. Rising above divisions by ethnicity and sect, the Iraqi team, which trains and plays matches in Jordan, defeated Saudi Arabia 1–0 on Jul 29 to lift the Asian Cup for the first time.

Winning with tolerance | Sydney lesbian club shows Australia it is bats for football

Sydney, Aug 8 | The Flying Bats’ fifth-division representative in the North West Sydney Women’s Soccer Association suffered its worst outing of the season on Aug 5: a 0–6 loss to Thornleigh.

The taste of humiliation still lingered the following morning for team member Danielle Warby, who called the experience both “embarrassing” and “painful.” But the community liaison for the Flying Bats Women’s Football Club, the longest-running lesbian soccer club in Australia’s capital, offers more fundamental reasons for the club’s existence.

File under ‘aesthetics’ | 5 epiphanic goals from Marta Vieira da Silva

Normally we do not post goal videos, but that these are goals by a woman—albeit one of the world’s best-known players, Marta Vieira da Silva of Brazil—and that they were scored at a “lesser” football competition, the 15th Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, means that otherwise they will rapidly fade into obscurity, as if they had never happened.

Cross of distinction | Cruz Azul’s visit to Atlanta offers another cultural intersection

Atlanta, Jul 25 | Much of soccer culture in the United States remains hidden, but matches such as the Jul 28 Copa Amistad between the Atlanta Silverbacks and Cruz Azul cast light on the place of the sport in everyday lives of Latinos.

Will Ramí­rez, publisher of Estadio, a Spanish-language sports weekly based in Tucker, Georgia, describes in our Jul 24 podcast how he and many of the 425,000 Hispanics in the Atlanta area remain linked to soccer despite, or because of, displacement. Also joining us are Silverbacks owner Boris Jerkunica and Los Angeles Times writer Sam Quinones.

Carson’s next guest | Beckham’s posh brand of football has vanguard to follow

We have offered our two cents—at current exchange rates, slightly less than one pence—on David Beckham‘s touchdown (bad metaphor?) in the United States. The article appears in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Sunday “@issue” section.

Streets paved with soccer | Atlanta-birthed grassroots program teaches game and life in ‘Soccer 101’

We are grateful for the biweekly indulgence, from the north Atlanta studios of WGSR, of speaking to soccer-impassioned people about soccer. Today we feature Soccer in the Streets, part of the streetfootballworld network of some 80 football-based social-development initiatives aimed at communal and personal transformation.

Soccer made in Canada | CBC schedules grassroots broadcast spanning B.C. and the Maritimes

Toronto, Jul 7 | First there was Hockey Night in Canada. Now there is Soccer Day in Canada, a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. production that aims to fill two hours on Jul 8 with reporting on the grassroots game, tied to the ongoing FIFA U-20 World Cup.

Lofty discussions | Morales’s maneuvering in Zurich earns reprieve for La Paz

Zurich, Switzerland, Jul 6 | Is it safe to play football on the Andean altiplano or the Tibetan plateau? FIFA has not decided yet, but it continues to modify its judgment, originally decreed in May, that FIFA competitions could not be staged above 2,500m. We interview, as part of our third podcast, Eduardo Ávila of Global Voices Online to learn about Bolivia’s reaction to FIFA’s decision-making process.

Souls on ‘The Line’ | Guatemala City sex workers turn to fútbol for a sense of who they are

Of football documentaries that favor the human element there is no shortage of late. One of the most recent is Estrellas de la Lí­nea, screened at English-language film festivals as The Railroad All-Stars, about Guatemala City sex workers who in 2004 organized themselves as a football team.

Out of thin air | Where llamas and footballers prosper, FIFA fears to tread

La Paz, Bolivia, Jun 15 | On May 27, FIFA’s executive committee announced the ban on competitive international matches 2,500m above sea level. For once united internally and with their Andean neighbors, Bolivia—the country most severely affected—is organizing. A manifesto sponsored by several Bolivian newspapers concludes, “Bolivians are a poor people, we play football with humility, but we are dignified and we have a national character such that we will defend our rights when we are not at fault.”

‘It wesnae a goal, Geoff’ | Worldwide, Scots lend ‘fitba’ their distinctive style

Dundee, Scotland, May 31 | In our second podcast, Billy Kay, author of The Scottish World, recalls Scotland’s influence on the worldwide spread and ultimate dominance of the passing, artistic style of association football. Scotland will not let England forget that “it wes us.”

We brake for commercials | Soccer spectacle fits seamlessly in America’s land of make-believe

Multibillionaire Philip Anschutz, owner of three Major League Soccer teams, has seized on football as a consumable, offering it to the American public in packaged, market-tested form devoid of any native countercultural quality.

Such practice is in keeping with what Umberto Eco and isolated voices from the past, such as Britain’s suffragettes, have noticed about male spectator sport: that it is a cultural neurosis “for which there is neither a reasonable explanation nor an effective cure.”

Back to Brownsville | Chronicling a soccer team, and a sister city, skilled at border crossing

In our inaugural podcast, Texas writer Oscar Casares discusses his Nov 06 profile of the 2006 Texas state soccer champion Porter High School of Brownsville.

We wonder why the Dallas Cowboys, and not soccer, feature in his short stories and hear how a border culture, up to 98 percent Latino in places, may have helped foster Porter players’ resolve in facing up to racist taunts.

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