Promotional material for the documentary Football Under Cover (see interview with director Ayat Najafi, 29 Sept 07) celebrates the display of “Frauenpower” in its chronicle of an Apr 06 friendly between BSV Al-Dersimspor of Kreuzberg, Berlin, and the Iranian women’s national team.
Atlanta, Feb 5 | His work in ministry, as a public speaker and as face of the American civil rights movement prevented him from developing strong sporting enthusiasms, but at least once in his career Martin Luther King Jr. stepped onto a soccer field.
Metaphorically, King’s strides on the Sacramento State pitch in Oct 1967 point toward soccer as a place of social change in America of the civil rights era.
Soccer bashers and advocates for soccer often take on roles in the United States resembling bickering marriage partners, rehearsing old lines and grievances in a zero-sum debate in which the game acquires the capacity to corrupt or to save. Guardian Unlimited writer Steven Wells (see 31 Oct 07) compiles a roster of the sport’s critics, including some unexpected voices from academia, and adds an important observation often missing in the meaningless discussion over whether soccer will displace American games (“The Truth the Soccerphobes Refuse to Face,” Jan 17). (Jan 22)
In an interview Jan 11 with the Jewish Chronicle of London, Meir Granat—father of Chelsea manager Avram Grant—details the displacement and death that met the Hasidic family in wartime Europe (Simon Griver, “Shoah Horrors That Haunt Avram Grant”). (Jan 11)
Bethlehem, West Bank, Jan 11 | The statement of the biblical Ruth, the Moabite, a poor woman gleaning in Bethlehem (“house of bread”) behind reapers of barley strikes a parallel with the women’s football team from Palestine, taking its passion and pleasure from scraps left by a patriarchal culture and occupying authorities.
From an initial bid of €50 on Jan 8 to €3,310 ($4,900) two days later, 102 chancers on ebay Deutschland have demonstrated that 24 hours of managerial service to bankrupt fourth-tier Oberliga side KFC Uerdingen is worth paying for. Bidding lasts until Jan 15, four days before the winner assumes tactical oversight during a fund-raising friendly versus Rot Weiß Oberhausen. (Jan 10)
Rangers chairman David Murray has more than a football ground in mind in recent proposals to create a £700 million “Rangers Village,” including the redevelopment and possible renaming of Ibrox, the Govan ground that boasts one of the most iconic façades in world football. The distinctive red brick South Stand, opened 1 Jan 1929, would be retained in Rangers’ proposals, which have not yet been made final. (Jan 9)
Ian Plenderleith, not for the first time, has done great service by offering a synopsis and highlights in translation of director Britta Becker‘s 90-minute documentary Die besten Frauen der Welt (“The Best Women in the World,” Jan 7).
The film chronicles Germany’s championship at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Sept 07 and, along the way, points to “the obvious contrasts between the Germans and the US team that failed to advance beyond the semi-final.”
The longest-running radio sports program in the world, the BBC Sports Report, celebrated its 60th anniversary on Jan 3. Recognition also goes to the Edinburgh inflections of James Alexander Gordon, who as part of the show has read the classified football results at 5 p.m. every Saturday since 1972 (see Andrew Baker, “Classified Football Results Make Music at BBC,” Daily Telegraph, Jan 3). (Jan 6)
In conversation on the Charlie Rose Show on PBS on Dec 31, Ha’aretz columnist Akiva Eldar notes the rising popularity of Yigal Amir, the assassin in 1995 of former Israel prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Television viewers and spectators at the Maccabi Haifa–Beitar Jerusalem match on 4 Nov 07 heard the evidence loud and clear. (Jan 5)
Jan 1 | The first recipient of a new award for truth-telling in world football is Hope Solo, who stood tall in goal for the U.S. national team at the Women’s World Cup and again when defending her version of truth after a bizarre goalkeeper switch before a Sept 27 semifinal versus Brazil.
Reports from distant cultures, in Guatemala and Burma, confirm how football insinuates itself into the most hallowed seasonal festivities.
Padaung writer Pascal Khoo Thwe recalls in From the Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey that football helped mark the festival calendar. To commemorate trophies at distant tournaments, his township team would receive homecoming welcome from a brass band playing Handel. But not The Messiah. (Dec 29)
Within the textured, contested, sad depths of Ukrainian history, few political gestures go unexegeted in a Talmudic-like zeal for obscure associations and hidden meaning. Such occurred following prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko‘s Dec 23 visit to perennially troubled Zasyadko mine in eastern Donetsk, where 101 coal miners died in a Nov 18 explosion. Her comments stirred memories of past mining disasters and of the wheelchairs that regularly circled the Shakhtar Donetsk football ground (see also 26 Dec 04.) (Dec 28)
Mumbai, Dec 21 | The surprising aspect of Riyas Komu‘s upcoming cross-country series of art installations perhaps is not that football serves as the subject. The unconventional element is that Komu views the project as a responsibility toward Indian footballers, with whom he empathizes in the “struggle with their lives.”
Patrick McSharry of Oxford University, analyzing scores from 1,460 international matches played at different altitudes in South America, concludes that differences in altitude do produce advantages for the acclimatized team (“High-Altitude Football Teams Have Big Advantage over Opponents,” AFP, Dec 21).
Modena, Italy, Dec 19 | Collectible football stickers (figurine) have achieved such cultural cache in Italy that they are afforded dedicated museum space and now a comprehensive exhibition running into February: “Mondo calcio—Campionati e campioni della storia del calcio in figurina” (The World of Football: Championships and Champions in the History of Football, in Sticker Form).
As an Australian-born feminist and possessor of an educated Continental palate, author Germaine Greer does not often find an opening for digressions into sport (see also 16 Dec 03). But with the fastiduous Fabio Capello having been hired to graft Italian flair onto a stylistically maladroit England side, Greer spots the opportunity to write about the man from San Canzian d’Isonzo, Gorizia, whose name translates as “Mr. Hair.” (Dec 17)