Surrey-based production company Can Communicate has begun releasing short-form videos, commissioned by FIFA, for Internet distribution. Nine of 26 segments, going under the title “Football’s Hidden Story,” have been posted to YouTube thus far, including installments on a female referee in Senegal, futsal players in Thailand and the U-17 team in Haiti. There is also a blog and photography.
Beckham, on Vancouver swing, tries football by Canadian rules
Vancouver, British Columbia, Nov 7 | As usual, David Beckham‘s North American barnstorming circuit—with a stop tonight at BC Place Stadium—to us raises more interest in pre-existing soccer traditions than in the soccer actually being played.
Banal wordplay leads to inevitable end … Brazil in 2014
Rio de Janeiro, Nov 1 | Should a nation’s literary talent be enlisted as part of a state’s quest for sporting laurels? One might ask the question following novelist Paulo Coelho‘s appearance on behalf of the Brazilian football federation Oct 30 in Zurich, backing the country’s successful quest for the 2014 World Cup finals.
Unable by temperament and conviction to create a “conventional” sports report, Steven Wells has built a Web 2.0 following by trusting his punk-poet instincts and inducing an irony-challenged foamy slaver among his American and UK readership. With 40-minute podcast.
Rabat, Morocco | Fulbright fellow Nicole Matuska wonders why players with the women’s club side she has been following for the past year are not watching the Women’s World Cup. “A paradox still exists. In spite of [their] achievements, the football field remains a masculine stage.”
In Iran, Kreuzberg team learns about football under cover
Berlin, Sept 29 | Filmmaker Ayat Najafi had to content himself with experiencing the centerpiece of his new project, Football Under Cover, as an exile.
At Ararat Stadium in Tehran on 28 Apr 06, Najafi stood outside the arena along with husbands of the women inside—players for the Iranian women’s national team, their amateur opponents, BSV Al-Dersimspor of Kreuzberg, and about 1,000 female supporters.
England women try to surmount culture of contempt
Leicester, England, Sept 21 | With the United States and England preparing to meet in a Women’s World Cup quarterfinal Sept 22 in Tianjin, China, the contest matches players who, to some degree, owe their footballing fortunes to the deeds of Lancashire forebears.
We interview Jean Williams of the International Centre for Sports History and Culture on the early history of English women’s football and on the “contemptuous” attitude that has endured toward women playing the national game.
“For a woman to play [football] in many places is a transgression,” says Martha Saavedra in a 2007 podcast. Through her research in West Africa, Saavedra sees how football works to define masculinity.
Rio de Janeiro, Sept 12 | Argentine journalist Diego Graciano since 2004 has been assembling the story of Marta Vieira da Silva, Brazil’s greatest female player and a potentially galvanizing figure in lifting women’s status in her country.
With her exploits in the cathedral of Brazilian futebol in July, leading the team to a Pan American Games gold medal with 12 goals and having her footprints calcified in the Maracana’s Walk of Fame, she pushed herself into Brazil’s male-dominated sporting consciousness.
A small Arab Israeli town of 25,000 residents, nestled in a lower Galilee valley among fig and olive orchards, with an illustrious history and a difficult present, has become world famous within the past three years—all thanks to its soccer team.
A new documentary film, Sons of Sakhnin United, examines Bnei Sakhnin’s place as a bridge builder in divided Israel.
Charlotte, North Carolina | Given the rigors of a night-shift job, Ron “Pop” Miller sometimes would sleep until the last possible moment before practices preceding the Homeless World Cup. Physical conditioning, fatigue and poor nutrition all posed obstacles for Miller’s participation in the fifth homeless tournament between Jul 29 and Aug 4 in Copenhagen. Further, Miller found himself learning a new game that some teammates from Central America had been playing much of their lives.
Atlanta, Aug 23 | As soccer tacticians do, Spelman College coach Philmore George speaks of building a team from the back, using combination play to instill belief in the collective.
It makes sense, therefore, that the co-captains in George’s fourth season, which begins Sept 1, are defenders: seniors Ashley Hamilton and Rabiah “Rabi” Jamar. Together they not only have led the Spelman Jaguars from the back but the spread of women’s soccer into new territories in America’s fragmented demographic.
Baghdad, Aug 9 | A triumphant march through the Asian Cup tournament in July contributed to the resurgence of the Arabic phrase Assood al-Rafidain (Lions of Mesopotamia) to refer to the Iraqi national football team.
“It’s a way of labeling them with this unifying and historic cultural icon,” says Newsweek Baghdad correspondent Larry Kaplow, who appeared on our Aug 7 podcast. Rising above divisions by ethnicity and sect, the Iraqi team, which trains and plays matches in Jordan, defeated Saudi Arabia 1–0 on Jul 29 to lift the Asian Cup for the first time.
Normally we do not post goal videos, but that these are goals by a woman—albeit one of the world’s best-known players, Marta Vieira da Silva of Brazil—and that they were scored at a “lesser” football competition, the 15th Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, means that otherwise they will rapidly fade into obscurity, as if they had never happened.
Atlanta, Jul 25 | Much of soccer culture in the United States remains hidden, but matches such as the Jul 28 Copa Amistad between the Atlanta Silverbacks and Cruz Azul cast light on the place of the sport in everyday lives of Latinos.
Will Ramírez, publisher of Estadio, a Spanish-language sports weekly based in Tucker, Georgia, describes in our Jul 24 podcast how he and many of the 425,000 Hispanics in the Atlanta area remain linked to soccer despite, or because of, displacement. Also joining us are Silverbacks owner Boris Jerkunica and Los Angeles Times writer Sam Quinones.
We have offered our two cents—at current exchange rates, slightly less than one pence—on David Beckham‘s touchdown (bad metaphor?) in the United States. The article appears in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Sunday “@issue” section.