Les Ulis, France | Arsenal’s Thierry Henry will return to hometown Paris on May 17 for the Champions League final against Barcelona. More precisely, Henry grew up in Les Ulis, a satellite town in the southwest in the Essonne département, where children, according to John Goodbody in The Times (London), “still use the trolleys from the […]
Ndola, Zambia | Columnist Christeter Macha of the Times of Zambia finds that Africans of many stripes remain scarred by the 28 April 1993 Buffalo CT 15 crash that killed 30 off the coast of Libreville, Gabon, including 18 players of Zambia’s national team. Booksellers, filling-station attendants and journalists testify that the effects of the disaster spread […]
Madrid | With pledges “to leave it all behind” and to start playing the game with children, archetypal playmaking midfielder Zinédine Zidane has announced his retirement from football following the World Cup finals.
Typically, the 33-year-old player for Real Madrid and France looked sheepish facing the bank of microphones and cameras at Wednesday’s press conference. “Yes, he is shy,” said France teammate Thierry Henry.
Mandalay, Burma, Apr 20 | Dry dispatches announcing chinlone tournaments appear occasionally in the New Light of Myanmar, the mouthpiece of Burma’s military regime.
The terse pronouncements show that despite the political and economic torpor and the governing junta’s Orwellian logic—the capital recently was relocated from Rangoon based partly on the forecasts of astrologers—a taste for the beauties of “cane ball” remains.
Gaza City, Palestinian Authority | Some of the most contested, densely populated land on earth offers little space for football on grass. Even less so now that a massive crater remains near the center of the Palestine national stadium in Gaza City, the result of an Israel Defense Forces bomb attack on Apr 1.
Decatur, Alabama | Until hundreds of thousands marched yesterday, it had become hard to piece together isolated movements from such places as Janesville, Wisconsin; Liberal, Kansas; Bowling Green, Kentucky; San Angelo, Texas; and Dalton, Georgia. These are small to mid-sized locales featured in recent media reports for burgeoning Hispanic populations and for the development of local, ethnically based soccer leagues.
London and San Francisco | Dave Eggers states the facts straight in a book excerpt published last weekend in the Observer. In yet another permutation of the “Why Americans don’t like soccer” argument, Eggers mentions, first, the Cold Warâ€“era “commie” taint and, second, the prevalence of diving (aka “simulation”).
Blackburn, England | The visit would not exactly qualify as ping-pong diplomacy, but sport as a means of high-level diplomatic exchange continues with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s excursion to what has been termed “the center of the world.”
Edinburgh, Scotland | Pity the Hearts or Hibs supporters who must plan a dawn awakening Sunday, shuffle through sleep-addled fog onto a westbound train or auto and negotiate riot-ready police cordons to enter the national football stadium at Hampden Park in Glasgow. All this is to see two fiercely supported Edinburgh clubs who, in defiance of probabilities and history, meet in a Tennent’s Scottish Cup semifinal at 1215 GMT. A Scottish Police Service spokesperson predicted “one of the biggest exoduses ever from Edinburgh.”
Kuala Lumpur | The fantasy of discovering previously unknown talent—the fuel behind American Idol and a host of schlocky televised talent shows worldwide—has been adapted in Malaysia to football. Producers of MyTeam (short for Malay Team), a planned 12-part production on TV3 Malaysia, believe that their idea of fielding a side of amateur footballers drawn from Malaysia’s 13 states will help reinvigorate a moribund domestic game. They hope that the ragtag outfit, following a seven-week training camp, will show well and perhaps defeat the national team on 28 May.
Freetown, Sierra Leone | The physical prowess of amputee footballers shows clearly in the pictures and text supplied by Robyn Dixon in last Friday’s Los Angeles Times. The victims of atrocities or other injuries incurred during a 10-year civil war, members of the Single Leg Amputee Sports Club must shed prostheses before taking the field and confront the handicap as well as the prejudices of the able-bodied.
Buenos Aires | More interesting even than the game passions and the crushes of shirtless supporters in La Bombonera, some boosting themselves precariously on stanchion bases, the political context for this version of el superclásico lent the end-of-summer derby a compelling backdrop. English-language commentators did not appear to appreciate the significance of River Plate’s XI holding a white banner, reading “Nunca Más,” at the introductions, nor did they mention the reason for the pre-game moment of silence, interrupted by chanting Boca fans at Estadio Dr Camilo Cichero.
Seoul | We are unable to determine exactly what actions constitute the kkokjijeom, the “vertex dance” consisting of “simple, repetitive rhythmic movements” with which South Koreans will be supporting their side during the World Cup finals. Dancers have assembled across the country, outside the Seoul World Cup Stadium on Mar 1 before a friendly against Angola, to demonstrate its addictive qualities.
Dortmund, Germany | Supporters lent a raucous surrounding to today’s friendly between Germany and the United States. We did not see denizens of the Signal Iduna Park wearing any of the free 11,000 T-shirts reading “Ihr fÃ¼r uns und wir fÃ¼r euch” (“You’re for us and we’re for you”) meant to soften feared hostility toward Germany’s manager. At least the U.S. television commentators were not wearing them.
Melilla, Spain | For a taste of the familiar after months-long journeys by land and sea, football has much to offer hundreds of displaced Africans. Recently the CETI Club de FÃºtbol started to compete in a 10-team city league in this Spanish enclave on the coast of northern Morocco.
Part 2 of the diary finally arrives, featuring evenings at Upton Park and Highbury. At Upton Park, home to West Ham United, we fake a Cockney accent and most of the words to “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.” Besides this, we learn what literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin might have to say about our zest for football chants.
London | Wayne Rooney may be developing writer’s cramp along with his football injuries in years to come. But of more interest than Rooney’s Â£5 million publishing deal are several other football titles showing that the game lends itself to multiple genres.
East Rutherford, New Jersey | Names for Major League Soccer clubs these days appear to have all the staying power of names for PGA Tour events. Last week Red Bull New York—which, confusingly, will compete as the New York Red Bulls—supplanted the MetroStars with the latter’s acquisition by Red Bull GmbH of Austria. This follows the rebranding […]