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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dois Riachos, Brazil, Dec 28 | Marta Vieira da Silva, proclaimed by FIFA on Dec 18 as the best player in women’s soccer, has been on the road for much of the past six years.
Beginning at 14, when she followed a path from the nordeste to Rio de Janeiro, seeking opportunity with Vasco da Gama, she has played around the world for age-group and the full Brazilian national team and now, professionally, for Umeå IK in Sweden. The journey took her to the Zurich Opera House last Monday night for recognition, at 20, on a gilded stage and with a golden trophy.
Including figures from the world of football in the holiday-time presepe could not be sacreligious, as football in Italy certainly takes on characteristics of faith.
Istanbul, Dec 20 | New York Times popular-music critic Jon Pareles refers in the opening paragraph of his appreciation to the “sheer improbability” of Ahmet Ertegün‘s career.
A reading of Ertegün’s life, even a superficial reading, demonstrates the often covert international influences on seemingly indigenous American art forms—on soul music and rhythm and blues, in Ertegün’s case—and on American soccer. The late Lamar Hunt, too, sought to bring the international spice of football to the U.S. sportscape.
Manchester, England, Dec 15 | The Independent calls them “Â£imited editions.” These are books seeking the reverence once granted the Gutenberg Bible, instant collectibles demanding coffee tables with reinforced legs.
The latest megabook publicity splash concerns the Manchester United Opus, nearly 80 lbs of silk-coated pages with a base price of Â£3,000.
Within Diosdado Macapagal International Airport six miles northwest of Angeles City in the Philippines, Ghanaian footballer Ayi Nii Aryee spends his days in legal limbo, lacking proper paperwork to travel to his destination or back to his point of origin.
He has been living at the airport, the one-time U.S. air base formerly known as Clark Field, since July, sleeping first on terminal chairs and then on a cot provided by the airport’s fire brigade.
Articles on the Palestinian Territories national women’s soccer team, on tensions at Heart of Midlothian in Edinburgh, on the run on Â£5 notes depicting George Best, and on the assassination of a Sunni Arab soccer official in Baghdad.
Articles on football in Montserrat, an Arsenal stadium mystery, a winner in the Football Art Prize competition, possible relief for German referee Robert Hoyzer, the “wee ones” in Scotland, and a plan for cleaner World Cups.
Articles on the cult status of Celtic’s Shunsuke Nakamura, prospects for Australia’s A-League, Icelandic influence in the form of a takeover at West Ham United, FIFA’s ban on Iran, and pessimism over South Africa 2010.
Articles on the world’s smallest football league–on the Isles of Scilly–and Islamist restrictions on football in Somalia.