Author Archive

Flower of Scotland | Do nationalist feelings last longer than 90 minutes?

Nationwide parliamentary elections have lifted Scottish nationalists, for the first time, into a plurality of seats in the Scottish Assembly at Holyrood. Did feelings for the Scotland football team, made explicit in the lusty terrace singing of “Flower of Scotland,” play a role?

Wor(l)ds for football | From ‘ball-coise’ to ‘kaduregel’ to ‘voetbal’

A long explanation for why we include “socca’ ” and “socker” on our newest T-shirt offering.

The year of Speedy Gonzales | In 2006 Texas final, Brownsville’s Cowboys produced outsider’s art

The Porter High School Cowboys’ soccer season ended prematurely this year, in a regional quarterfinal playoff to Brownsville rivals Rivera.

By defeating Coppell in the 2006 final, the school, however, will always lay claim to having become the first team from the Rio Grande Valley, in any sport, to have won a state championship competing among Texas’ largest high schools (class 5A). They also validated, in the face of prejudice, their existence as straddlers of culture and language.

Visual arts | The sixth photo-contest winner

The winner of the quarterly photo contest is posted.

Talisman of the throw | FIFA searches for new moniker to proclaim Blatter’s reign

Zurich, Apr 1 | Suits at FIFA, the governing body for the world game, apparently are a bit miffed at the license being taken with Joseph “Sepp” Blatter‘s honorific. Gliding unopposed into a third term as FIFA president, Blatter has on occasion been heralded in press reports as the FIFA “boss,” “supremo” or, sometimes, “kingpin.”

Cinema | Iranian women, in Panahi’s film, move beyond a boundary

The women in OffsideJafar Panahi‘s 2006 production receiving limited release in American cinemas—have “entered a forbidden space before the law has given them permission to do so,” says the Iranian director.

Don’t smoke ’em if you got ’em | Coming ban in England stadia another blow to terrace nostalgia

London, Mar 16 | Any traces of the UK terrace culture after which nostalgists now pine may be snuffed out permanently as of Jul 1, at 6 a.m., when a nationwide public smoking ban comes into force.

Jean Baudrillard, 1929-2007 | Coining a ‘worldwide currency’ for football violence

Paris, Mar 12 | Little evidence exists of Jean Baudrillard‘s rooting interests in football. The French philosopher, who died Mar 6, left behind a corpus of cultural reflection.

To him belonged clear-eyed, if not always clearly worded, explication of concepts such as “hyperreality” and “simulation”—with the latter implying more than Arjen Robben flopping around on the left-hand touchline. Such notions have lent themselves to football, including Baudrillard’s own essay on the Heysel disaster of 1985.

Coverage abroad | In Islamic world, head scarves not always compulsory football equipment

Rabat, Morocco, Mar 11 | A cursory survey of women’s use of the hijab within football, in both Muslim and non-Muslim lands, shows variance that likely defies a systemic approach.

Whose heads are covered? | Rules-addled Quebecers keep hijab, but not politics, off the field

Laval, Québec, Feb 28 | Eleven-year-old Asmahan (Azzy) Mansour walked onto an indoor field at a youth soccer tournament in suburban Montreal Sunday and into the maelstrom of Canada’s identity politics.

A portrait with fluidity | Preserving Zidane’s day of work on ‘the green of the field’

For art-house and football film buffs in the United States, viewings of the 2006 Cannes Film Festival entry “Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait” likely will be a private or slightly illicit affair.

Women who matter | West Midlands photographer offers clearer picture of grassroots game

Birmingham, England, Feb 14 | When Jaskirt Dhaliwal trained the lens of her Mamiya 7 II on players of Birmingham City Ladies FC, she told them not to smile. Instead, the players were asked to think about their lives in football and all that such a life entails.

Protected: In Scotland’s Valley of the Rule, searching for modern soccer’s carnival roots

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

Ryszard Kapuscinski, 1932-2007 | A witness to (soccer) war that lay in wait

Warsaw, Poland, Jan 30 | Ryszard Kapuscinski, 74, who died on Jan 23, rarely wrote about football. Yet the title of one of his best-known collections is “The Soccer War” (Granta, 1990), in which the title essay, translated from the Polish by William Brand, chronicles Kapuscinski’s insertion into the Honduran capital as war breaks out with El Salvador across the shared border.

Villains, for a moment | New York Times’ Fugee tale exposes soccer-challenged Southerners to public ire

Clarkston, Georgia | In the first few lines of a 6,000-word article by Warren St. John, readers of the Jan 21 New York Times—even those glancing casually at copies at supermarket checkouts—learned Clarkston Mayor Lee Swaney‘s feelings about soccer and, by extension, about the nicely kitted team of refugees who wanted to play in his town.

But they may have been misled by a convenient stereotype and should have been treated to a tale without villains.

Importing Real football | Beckham adds his share to U.S. trade imbalance

Carson, California, Jan 22 | The bridge metaphor has become prominent with the Los Angeles Galaxy’s signing of David Beckham from Real Madrid. “David is truly the only individual that can build the bridge between soccer in America and the rest of the world,” says Timothy Leiweke, president of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Galaxy.

Such brainless marketing patter deservedly sinks into the well of words that has accumulated about this player transfer of global insignificance.

Sisters, united | Like mushrooms, women’s soccer sprouts in northern Malawi

Nkhata Bay, Malawi, Jan 15 | In this zone in northern Malawi, bordering Lake Nyasa along the southern terminus of the Great African Rift Valley, rates of HIV/Aids infection among pregnant women reach 24 percent. Lack of economic opportunity and education, isolation, alcohol abuse and boredom all contribute to the epidemic’s hold in a breathtakingly scenic countryside that lures tourists to well-appointed chalets.

But football for women offers an alternative in which Nkhata Bay Sisters United persist, although they must travel 62 miles round-trip to play many of their opponents in a 16-team league based in Mzuzu.

‘Mad about football’ | Tackling the stigma of mental illness through calcio, cinema

Rome, Jan 12 | Within the sometimes cynical culture of calcio in Italy, the documentary “Matti per il calcio” (Mad about Football) offers respite from the latest “calciopoli” scandal: the dark dealings linking several of Italy’s major clubs to a pattern of match-fixing and referee seduction.

“Una cura di calcio” says the headline above the film review in La Rinascita della Sinistra. The article suggests the benefits of football in treating the mentally ill and clinically depressed, but also wonders whether the members of Gabbiano FC, the subjects of the movie, recapture some of the joy and life-renewing power that football was meant to provide.

Mind over rattan | In a meld of meditation and footvolley, the Burmese excel

Doha, Qatar, Jan 3 | In the family tree of football variants, cuju begat chinlone begat sepak raga begat sepak takraw.

While this genealogy may be speculative—less formalized and less freighted than that in the first chapter of Matthew—the importance is that the stylized kickball game of imperial China has found expression in the modern era.

Clerical error? | Iranian officials say coed attendance remains possible, despite sharia’ ban

Tehran, Iran, Dec 30 | With translation help from Portland, Oreg.-based writer and radio host Goudarz Eghtedari, we learn from Iran’s sporting authority that preparations are being made to facilitate coed attendance at football matches despite an ongoing ban by clerics.

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