Category: Regions

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.

’Tis the season for tears | The extraordinary, untold story of Marta Vieira da Silva

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.

Butting in on Christmas | Zidane, Materazzi herald His coming

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.

Ahmet Ertegun and Lamar Hunt | Adding spice, foreign and domestic, to American soccer

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.

Magnum opus | From Charlton to Cantona, book charts a Devilish history

Manchester, England, Dec 15 | The Independent calls them “£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 £3,000.

Terminal sadness | Stranded in time, Ghanaian plays football alone

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.

Occupied territories | For Palestinian women, a field is a dream

Articles on the Palestinian Territories national women’s soccer team, on tensions at Heart of Midlothian in Edinburgh, on the run on £5 notes depicting George Best, and on the assassination of a Sunni Arab soccer official in Baghdad.

Nine years after volcanic eruption, football still suffers | Readings for 2 December 2006

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.

The Chinese commentator for whom soccer brought pain

Articles on the downfall of Chinese football commentator Huang Jianxiang and on the end of Lansdowne Road in Dublin.

The Japanese Bhoy done good | Readings for 27 November 2006

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.

The league that can field only 2 teams for the game of 2 halves | Readings for 21 November 2006

Articles on the world’s smallest football league–on the Isles of Scilly–and Islamist restrictions on football in Somalia.

2002 World Cup inspired a ‘toilet culture’ | Readings for 20 November 2006

Articles on the “toilet culture” inspired by the 2002 World Cup, on a 35lb Pele book and on the coaching skills of Hope Powell, manager of the England women’s national team.

Hungary | Ferenc Puskás dies, aged 79

Articles on the death of Ferenc Puskás at 79; Hugo Sánchez‘s first statements as coach of Mexico; Ligo Revelacion in Decatur, Alabama; a grumpy columnist in Israel; and another study on sectarianism in Scottish football.

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