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For more on England, see the Global Game's diaries from London in January 2006.

Asians can't/can play football

Leicester, England, 27 October 2005 | Like small-fry petitioners in the Dr. Seuss fairy tale "Horton Hears a Who," forgotten groups of footballers must,
Click to download PDF file (1 MB)
The Asians Can Play Football report notes positive trends in the U.K., among them that London APSA and Sporting Bengal have become the first Asian sides to play in the FA Cup. Both were eliminated in the first preliminary round.
from time to time, scream "We are here!" We should probably add exclamation points, as they must scream pretty loudly. Women players must scream all the time. Now Asians in the U.K. are screaming (as are Asian women). In the latest report from the Asians in Football Forum (Asians Can Play Football: Another Wasted Decade, September 2005)—a follow-up to a 1996 report titled, ironically, "Asians Can't Play Football"—authors take English football authorities to task for not doing more to bring Asians into the sport's mainstream. (In the U.K., "Asians" refers to those from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The term "oriental" refers to those from China and other East and South Asian countries.) The report lists positive developments, but Jas Bains, chair of the forum, responds, "So what? It may feel like the game is changing, and initiatives in the sport may be multiplying, but all the evidence confirms that change in behaviour at the highest levels of the game still lags lamentably behind any real change in attitude or in stated policy" ("Asians Can Play Football, 2005," p. 5). One of the most frequently cited statistics is the dearth of Asian players at the top levels of English football: only four play professionally and just two— Michael Chopra at Newcastle United and Zeshan Rehman at Fulham—in the Premiership. This is despite a 2001 population of 2.3 million South Asians. Further, the proportion of Asian players connected to Premiership clubs' youth academies is 0.8 percent.

"Often we are judged before we are watched," says Zesh Rehman of Fulham. His parents are from Pakistan. Rehman is interviewed as part of a BBC 1Xtra documentary, "Asian Footballers" (5 April).

Some who want to play at an amateur level, Bains writes, feel that they must join all-Asian leagues "partly because of a lack of confidence in local [Football Association] decision makers to afford adequate protection against racism and partly because it remains a way in which the community seeks to fill the gap." An "Asians in Football" conference will convene on 7 November in Leicester to discuss issues in the report. Bains, who also co-wrote Corner Flags and Corner Shops: The Asian Football Experience (Victor Gollancz, 1998), and fellow report authors do not shirk in describing progress, such as programs at Leicester City, Leeds United and West Ham to recognize Asian groups' passion for the sport. Especially intriguing is the Sharrow United side, developed through Football Unites, Racism Divides in Sheffield. Three teenagers started the ball rolling in 2000 by gaining entry to an 11-a-side Sunday league. The polyglot team has since been promoted twice, despite having faced racism and physical abuse from opponents. "There're still people wanting to come out and break our legs," one Sharrow player tells BBC Five. "They think we're going to be easy . . . but it's not like that, it's never been like that." This stated desire to play clashes with dubious claims that Asians are physically disadvantaged; some members of the Asian community say that households tend to emphasize education over sport.

Another stereotype, of course, is that those from South Asian backgrounds have more interest in cricket. A Manchester University study in 1991, however, found that Asian males had the highest rates of participation in football of any ethnic grouping (higher, on average, than white boys). Interest among females has also been expanding. In Corner Flags and Corner Shops, Bains and Sanjiev Johal write that women used to be content with their own social events while men played volleyball, hockey or kabbadi—a 7-on-7 version of tag with roots in rural India—at meets such as the Shaheedi Udham Singh Games. At school, girls were directed toward netball, but in Leicester, as of 1998, there were more than 20 teams in a girls' football league. With an Asian population of some 40 percent, many of these girls are of South Asian households. "There is a new era of school teachers of an Asian background, especially in primary schools," says Hema Chauhan, a Leicester sports-development official. "They have really forced this issue about Asian girls and sport" (202).

Sammy Chung at Ipswich Town. (http://kindred-spirit.co.uk/)

We will condense discussion of the cultural barriers facing those from Japan, China, Korea and other "oriental" contexts. We can recommend, though, a recent Observer (U.K.) article that addresses the issue (Anna Kessel, "Lost in Translation," 23 October). Kessel mentions the subtleties of Western and Eastern language systems as one area of struggle. Hidetoshi Nakata of Bolton, for example, says that he has struggled in getting accustomed to forthrightness in speech. The Japanese, he says, use different systems for different occasions, depending on how well the conversation partners know each other; there is overriding reliance, though, on tatemae to honne, a principle stating that one holds back true opinions so as not to embarrass another person. Such reasons and numerous others help explain why there have only been two British footballers with East Asian backgrounds: Frank Soo, who played for Stoke in the 1930s and '40s, and Sammy Chung, whose father was Chinese and who played for Reading and Norwich. As co-manager of Wolverhampton in the 1970s, Chung had to read racist accounts such as one from a Birmingham sportswriter: ". . . the Blues finally found a chink in Chung's defence." In the pecking order of Asian nationalities in Britain, it would appear, in football at least, that some backgrounds prove even more of a hindrance than others.

al-Qaeda + Arsenal = Incendiary

London, 5 August 2005 | Violence and sport continue as a brew enchanting would-be terrorists and, now, an epistolary novelist. Chris Cleave's Incendiary, which takes the form of a bereaved widow's letters to Osama bin Laden, was published on 7 July.

The book by Adam Robinson includes details on bin Laden's football-viewing habits. It is said he made four visits to Highbury in 1994.
In a horrible coincidence, the date was that of the terror attacks on the London Underground. The book's premise is an attack on Arsenal's new Emirates Stadium during a pivotal match with Chelsea. A nameless narrator, a woman from Bethnal Green, loses her husband and son and begins her letter-writing campaign. Cleave renders the prose in what more than one reviewer describes as "faux-naïf." From the narrator's opening missive:

They say you believe that if your people kill anyone innocent then you're doing them a favour because they will go to be with Allah. I wouldn't know about that. My husband didn't believe in Allah he believed in his kid and Arsenal football club. I always liked the football but my husband and my boy were mad for it. My husband used to take the boy to all the home games. The fun used to start the night before. Before we put the boy to bed my husband would run around the flat with the boy on his shoulders. They would sing 1 NIL TO THE ARSENAL till the upstairs neighbours banged on the ceiling. They were Chelsea fans upstairs.

The narrator continues:

You live in the mountains with your Kalashnikov Osama sending god's fiery vengeance down on the heads of the prophet's enemies so you might think football isn't that important. Well it is. . . . You think you've seen jihad Osama but I'm telling you you haven't seen anything till you've seen what happens if they let Arsenal and Chelsea fans mix going into a game.

Curiously, the narrator seems blissfully unaware that bin Laden—according to Adam Robinson's book Terror on the Pitch: How Bin Laden Targeted Beckham and the England Football Team (Mainstream, 2002)—is, or was, an Arsenal supporter, an attachment developed during his London residency in the early 1990s. Simon Kuper of the Financial Times calls Robinson's book "curiously ignored" ("Terrorists Take Aim for the Global Audience," 8 July), as it details the foiled al-Qaeda plot to kill England players and fans at the first-round England–Tunisia match in the 1998 World Cup finals. (Kuper also documents bin Laden's Arsenal ties in "The World's Game Is Not Just a Game," New York Times Magazine, 26 May 2002, 36–39.) The failure of the operation allegedly led to a subsequent al-Qaeda attack on American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Kuper quotes U.S. government agent Louis Mizell as having tallied 171 terrorist attacks on sporting events since 1972. Arsenal now have officially banned bin Laden from the grounds ("Fanatical about Football," BBC Sport, 11 November 2001), and we doubt that the old chant is still in use:

He's hiding near Kabul
He loves the Arsenal
Oh oh oh oh!

Dangerous liaisons and football

View of Beeston, Leeds, from the School of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Leeds. (leva.leeds.ac.uk)
Leeds, England, and Lahore, Pakistan, 17 July 2005 | It would have been surprising if football could not be linked in some way to the four young men who killed themselves and some 50 others in the London Underground and bus bombings of 7 July. In Cross Flatts Park—"the ribbon of green that borders the red-bricked houses of Beeston," a ward in south Leeds, in the Yorkshire midlands—Mohammad Sidique Khan, Shehzad Tanweer, Hasib Hussain and Jermaine Lindsay (aka Lindsay Jamal) played soccer weekly and developed their volatile association (Jason Burke et al., "Three Cities, Four Killers," The Observer [U.K.]). One of the midweek soccer-playing group told friends and a Wall Street Journal reporter on 13 July: "[I]t was them. Why aren't they here if it wasn't them? They never missed a game" (Carrick Mollenkamp et al., "Close Quarters: From Heart of U.K., Four Friends Emerge as Terror Suspects," 14 July). This is not to say that football played a role in the atrocities. Such a tableau, however, helps characterize a large immigrant Pakistani community with links to Lahore and emerging Islamic theologies. Journalists have tied the four friends to the Hizb ut-Tahrir group, allegedly seeking radical converts in multicultural Leeds. "Hussain's generation," writes the Observer, "would have been seduced by [the group's] rejection of orthodoxy such as long beards while tolerating contemporary pastimes such as football." The inability of British Asians to gain full inclusion in football has contributed to a sense of separation, enduring since Pakistanis were first attracted to textile-industry jobs in the Leeds–Manchester arc in the 1960s. The disaffection from football is well chronicled in Corner Flags and Corner Shops: The Asian Football Experience, by Jas Bains and Sanjiev Johal (Victor Gollancz, 1998). It forms a subtheme of the film Bend It Like Beckham, in which one hears the persistent "Paki" slur. The slur allegedly set off the disgraceful beating of Safraz Najeib in Leeds in January 2000. Former Leeds footballers Lee Bowyer and Jonathan Woodgate ultimately were acquitted for their involvement, although Woodgate received 100 hours' community service for participating in the chase of Najeib outside a nightclub (Denis Campbell and Ian Ridley, "Fury Over Race Verdict," The Observer [U.K.], 16 December 2001; see the BBC for more). In the summer of 2001, Muslim youths in Oldham, Burnley, Bradford and Leeds rioted over several days after racial provocations from Britain's neo-fascist National Party. Following the London bombings, the rightist thugs—tied all too often to hooligan groups—threatened revenge on Muslims. "Hooligans from West Ham, Millwall, Crystal Palace and Arsenal are among those seeking to establish common cause," The Guardian reports (Hugh Muir, "Far Right and Football Gangs Plot 'Revenge,' " 15 July).

Update: A scheduled friendly between Millwall and Iran on 30 July was canceled due to feared confrontations between hardcore Millwall fans and Iranian supporters (Hugh Muir, "Millwall v Iran Match Likely to Be Called Off amid Fears of Racist Attacks," The Guardian, 19 July). One other match during Iran's England tour—against Portsmouth—also was canceled for financial reasons.

Football against the enemy

At left, the football that Nevill allegedly kicked toward German positions, and his headstone at Carnoy Military Cemetery, Somme, France. (www.queensroyalsurreys.org.uk | www.silentcities.co.uk)
London, 14 July 2005 | One week after the bomb attacks on the Underground, Europe paused for two minutes at noon to remember the lost. Golfers at The Open in St. Andrews even stopped in their rounds. The grit and sangfroid of Londoners has been a theme in media coverage, moving at least one American journalist to recall the 8th East Surreys regiment and the tale of soldiers kicking four footballs toward German entrenchments on the morning of 1 July 1916—the start of the Battle of the Somme (Michael Browning, "Britons Keep Stiff Upper Lip," Palm Beach Post, 8 July).

On through the heat of slaughter
Where gallant comrades fall
Where blood is poured like water
They drive the trickling ball
The fear of death before them
Is but an empty name
True to the land that bore them
The Surreys play the game

These were lines penned anonymously to commemorate the mostly futile advance. The idea of using footballs to initiate one small section of a coordinated assault across a 15-mile-long front was, according to war historians, that of Capt. Wilfred Percy "Billie" Nevill, attached to the East Surreys from the East Yorkshire Regiment. "In the face of murderous fire, and sustaining heavy casualties, they charged across the intervening ground with the footballs bouncing encouragingly before them," according to the account at the Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment website ("A Different Ball Game"). Nevill was killed by German machine guns, and British losses were extreme: some 20,000 dead on a single day. According to Paul Fussell in The Great War and Modern Memory (Oxford, 1975), kicking a football toward enemy lines had been tried previously in combat and has been done since as a show of bravado. Two of the footballs allegedly used by Nevill's men are on display in British museums.

Table legs withstand swift kicks

"The Writer" is interactive: one passerby noticed a screw loose and returned with a screwdriver to tighten it.
London, 2 July 2005 | Giancarlo Neri's "Lo Scrittore" ("The Writer") has been in place on Hampstead Heath for a mere 10 days, yet already it has attracted climbers, graffiti artists, pranksters and footballers who have found the oversized chair and table legs serviceable as goals (see photo; collection of installation photos available from the Rollo Contemporary Art gallery). Neri, originally from Naples, played for the New York Apollo of the American Soccer League and cites Diego Maradona as "one of the greatest artists of the past century" (Peter Aspden, "Artistic Goals Win the Day," Financial Times, 2–3 July). He proposed, during the 1994 World Cup finals, suspending giant footballs beneath the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges in New York; the project fizzled, however, when Coca-Cola insisted that its logo be displayed. No logos mar the surface of "The Writer," Neri's testament to the loneliness of the vocation. "It is a neat metamorphosis," writes Aspden. "[T]he empty desk, a metaphor for the agonising of a writer, becomes an impromptu site for celebrating one of the most ecstatic of sporting moments, the scoring of a goal." "The Writer" remains on Hampstead Heath, at the bottom of Parliament Hill, through 9 October.

Lasses leave lockers, looking lovely

The England women's side was the toast of Westminster on 21 June. (FA.com)
Manchester, England, and Philadelphia, 27 June 2005 | Remarks by UEFA President Lennart Johansson appear to have added injury time to the aftermath of the recently concluded European Women's Championship (James Ducker, "Sexist Claims Are Rejected by Johansson," The Times [U.K.], 18 June). The comments do not bear repeating—suffice to say that they include the words "sweaty," "rainy weather" and "dressing room"—but they lead us to wonder how competent Johansson and Sepp Blatter before him are in English. They speak the language well, but it is not their first language. These multilingual gents now have found that obfuscation becomes more difficult when venturing beyond the mother tongue. Hence, perhaps we received a more accurate rendering of their beliefs than we would have otherwise—a disturbing thought. If one's definition of "sexism" includes creating a bind of "double negativity" for victims, consider the dilemma facing women footballers: encouraged by FIFA and UEFA leaders to look feminine (are men asked to look masculine?), yet yellow-carded, as was Norway's Solveig Gulbrandsen, for lifting her shirt above her head during a goal celebration. At least rules on the field are applied consistently, while the women's game off the field still receives mixed messages.

A second entrenched "-ism"—racism—has been in the news. For close to two weeks The Guardian website has touted its report on racism in American soccer (Steven Wells, "Racial Divide Driving a Wedge into Soccer's Grass-roots," 17 June).

The Rutland High School girls' team in Vermont is all-white. But what does it say about U.S. soccer? (rutlandhs.k12.vt.us)
We have no doubt that the thesis—that American soccer is overwhelmingly white—is true. But Wells's statistics are slight. For instance, he queries why there aren't more African American sides in Philadelphia, which is 40 percent black. "[T]he segregation of US cities still shocks," Wells writes. "And nowhere is this divide more obvious than in US soccer. No one is keeping statistics on just how effectively working class African-Americans have been excluded from America's grass roots soccer explosion. But everyone is agreed that US soccer is . . . hideously white." Notice the unqualified use of "nowhere," "no one" and "everyone." To us, segregation and the resulting monoculturalism are felt at every level of American life; to single out soccer seems like treating a symptom rather than the disease. Wells's article needs a conversation partner. But up to this point, U.S. soccer authorities have met the indictment with silence.

But are the seats guano-proof?

London, 16 June 2005 | Architecture Week 2005, beginning tomorrow, includes a retrospective at the Royal Institute of British Architects on the creations of HOK Sport Architecture. Along with a concurrent display at the Tate Modern on the works of Jacques Herzog and Jacques de Meuron, architects of the recently consecrated (by Lutheran and Roman Catholic bishops) Allianz Arena in Munich, the exhibits demonstrate the rising prominence of stadia and those who build them.

A book to accompany the HOK Architecture exhibit, "The Stadium: Architecture for the New Global Culture."
A growing supply of books on the subject—such as Simon Inglis's oeuvre, most recently on the Glaswegian Archibald Leitch—is helping to chronicle the importance of these gathering places in the scope of world culture. The first two dictionary definitions for "stadium" relate to the Greek and Roman units of measure (1 stadion = approximately 185 meters) and to the footrace course that measured one stadium in length. After the decline of Rome, however, stadiums lost their utility until team sports in Victorian England created a new need (see Simon Kuper's excellent survey, "Crowd Pleasers," Financial Times, 28 May). "Comparisons between religion and soccer are overused," Kuper writes, "but European stadiums undeniably took over certain functions from the emptying cathedrals. It was increasingly in stadiums that 20th-century citizens gathered in community, sang, cried and felt part of something larger than themselves. An English stadium, says Herzog, was 'the living room of a religious community.' " HOK Architecture, the firm behind the American "ballpark renaissance" that has been gaining commissions in Europe, is not shy about mentioning the role of its projects in revitalizing urban centers. The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, for example, was developed deliberately at Arms Park as a venue and attraction. "Suitably redolent of dock and waterside," writes HOK's David Elder, it is now "the most fabulous place on the earth for playing and watching top-level rugby football" ("The Stadium in the City Centre," Architecture.com).

Questioning the age of separation

Preston, England, 13 June 2005 | Rare is the day when academic conferences make headlines. But that has occurred even before today's start of

The title of Williams's book is drawn from the saying of Oscar Wilde: "Football is all very well a good game for rough girls, but not for delicate boys."
the "Women, Football and Europe" conference at the University of Central Lancashire's International Football Institute. Jean Williams of De Montfort University and author of A Game for Rough Girls? A History of Women's Football in Britain (London and New York: Routledge, 2003) told reporters that her keynote address today would recommend an end to strictures in England's Football Association separating male and female players at age 12 ("Coach Kicks Off Football Debate," BBC Leicestershire, 11 June). No doubt Williams will make, as demonstrated by her book, many other arguments, but the mere suggestion of tampering with gender separation in sport treads on sensitive ground. Inequality in sport is deeply embedded, Williams says, "encapsulated by the use of the very term 'women's football.' " Nevertheless, media have delighted in the emergence at the ongoing UEFA Women's Championship (see our report) of 17-year-old England winger Karen Carney. Although England has since been eliminated, comparisons were drawn between Carney and Wayne Rooney, heralding her "uninhibited physicality" (Paula Cocozza, "Carney in a Class of Her Own," The Guardian, 8 June). Writers also noted the string of expletives that burst forth when she scored a stoppage-time winner against Finland on 5 June. She later was chided by her mother.

download printable PDF Click for printable PDF
The Once and Future Home of Women's Football

Tiffeny Milbrett arrives in Sweden, to the surprise of at least one fellow traveler. (Sunnanå SK)
Tiffeny Milbrett got off a plane in the hamlet (pop. 70,000) of Skellefteå and went through the rituals of new signees. She posed with her Sunnanå SK jersey—plastered with sponsors' names like a Formula 1 driver's—responded to questions beneath the flash of TV lights and, in our favorite variation, juggled a football beside an idle baggage carousel. We are not certain, but a security guard may be standing in the distance. (Video of the 31 March arrival is available along with Q&A with Thomas Hedlund of Norra Västerbotten: "Sunnanås nya stjärnspelare har landat.") Milbrett says the airport's one runway is "kinda cute."

It might be tempting to say that Milbrett and other Americans (see table) are in forced exile in Europe with the demise of the Women's United Soccer Association. But this is what women players have always done: to seek out opportunities where they exist, and even where they do not. And Europe—with the ninth official European Championships to begin Sunday in Blackpool and Manchester, England—has become the most dynamic zone for women's club football.

FC Energy Olympique Lyonnais Djurgården/Älvsjö KIF Örebro Malmö FF Sunnanå SK

Building on firmly established football cultures and club infrastructure, much is on offer for the free agent looking for a home. This is especially true for Americans, whose senior women's national team—under a new head coach, Greg Ryan— has not assembled since the Algarve Cup in Portugal in March. A friendly with Canada at the end of June was only recently scheduled.

Historically, Europe—with Scandinavia far in the lead—has been the most consistent in providing a training environment for high-level women players. Taking Sweden as an example, the first women's football league formed in 1950 in Umeå, a northern town of some 95,000 (see note 1), although historians date the first Swedish women's team to 1917. The latter was organized initially to play gubblag or "old-boys' " sides. As in England and other outposts where male-dominated sport was becoming a leisure-time pursuit, opposition to women mounted. "There are not words strong enough to berate women's football—" penned the sports newspaper Nordiskt Idrottslif in 1918, "if the girls or their advocates want to be taken seriously." In England, the opposition to women playing before large crowds for charity, but also in organized competition on Football League grounds, developed into a ban on women playing on League-owned surfaces from 5 December 1921 to 29 November 1971—6 days shy of 50 years.

Significant to the inclusion of women's football in the sporting landscape has been the so-called Swedish model, in which some 22,000 sports clubs fall under the umbrella of the Swedish Sports Confederation and various sport-specific and regional groups. Local clubs, therefore—such as Milbrett's Sunnanå SK—function democratically and allow local expression of more widely held ideals. In the 1960s, for example, as in large areas of the West, the role of women in Swedish society came into question.

[P]eople questioned, among other things, the working conditions of industrial workers, nuclear families, traditional holidays, the authoritarian structure of universities, patterns of consumption (materialism) and so forth. The new women's movement criticized the gender order in society and the patriarchal and capitalistic structure that created and upheld this gender order. (Hjelm and Olofsson, "A Breakthrough," 196)

Related to these social forces and preexisting sport structures, Hjelm and Olofsson make clear that "the development of modern Swedish women's football was not a result of international influences (with the exception of the southernmost part of Sweden), and neither was it a process initiated by the [Swedish Football Association]. Instead, football spontaneously developed from below when hundreds, and after a few years, thousands of women began playing the game" (195).

Marta signs for fans. At a December 2004 FIFA gala honoring the world's best players, she found herself in tears: "When I was a little girl, I used to tell my Mum, 'I want to be the best player,' and now I'm here." (Umeå IK)

Southern parts of Sweden, Skåne in particular, were influenced by the women's game in Denmark. But places such as Umeå expressed their own dynamism. Umeå IK formed a women's team in 1985, a year after Sweden won the inaugural European championship. Umeå ranks among the strongest in Europe, having won the 2003 UEFA Women's Cup. They are tied for first with Malmö FF in the Swedish Damallsvenskan at the Euro break with Swedish greats Malin Moström and Hanna Ljungberg along with the player we consider the most brilliant in the women's game, 19-year-old Marta Vieira da Silva of Brazil, in their side. (We once saw Marta in the lobby of a Washington-area hotel, absorbed in the music coming through her headphones, oblivious that her hotel was within spitting distance of a famed underground parking facility in which Deep Throat, aka Mark Felt, passed classified information to earnest young reporter Bob Woodward 30 years earlier.)

But what about the state of the women's game in Europe in general? Some answers likely will come from a conference sponsored by the International Football Institute at the University of Central Lancashire, "Women, Football, and Europe," from 13– 16 June. Thirty-three papers will be presented, including oral histories, discussions of racism in women's football and ideas on development. England captain Faye White has mentioned the problem of persistent comparisons between the men's and women's games. White says that the ill-advised parallels are keeping the women's sport down. "Women's football should be seen as a game in its own right," White says. "It might have the same rules but it's different. The two can't compete" (note 2).

Link to Euro 2005 official site
EURO 2005

Home page: uefa.com

Television: Fox Soccer Channel (U.S./Canada). In Europe, games air on Eurosport (with online audio stream) and BBC2.

Internet broadcasts: BBC Radio Five Live offers live coverage of England games.

Websites: Visit the sites of host England's Football Association and the BBC for news in English. See the sites of participating countries for more on sides from Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, France and Italy.

We all need to start thinking differently about women athletes. Social structures in much of the world still do not accommodate their desires. As Elsie Milbrett-Parham, mother of Tiffeny Milbrett, told the New York Times at the time of the 1999 Women's World Cup, "A lot of men still feel we're supposed to be cooking the meals, waiting for them to come home. At least it's falling by the wayside" in the United States and other societies, primarily in the West. "We're all going to go out and have fun, then come home and cook and clean the house together."

There will always be girls like Milbrett and France's Marinette Pichon, who need to express their creativity on the pitch. Pichon says of her youth in Bar sur Aube, France, "I started kicking a football when I was five. I don't know why I did it. It was just something that happened—something inside me wanted to do it."

1. Much of the information on the development of women's football in Sweden comes from Jonny Hjelm and Eva Olofsson, "A Breakthrough: Women's Football in Sweden," in Soccer, Women, Sexual Liberation: Kicking Off a New Era, ed. Fan Hong and J. A. Mangan (London and Portland, Oreg.: Frank Cass, 2004), 182–204. | back to text

2. Dan Warren, "Women's Game Faces Catch-22 Situation," BBC Sport, 31 May <http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/women/4573257.stm>. For a complete assessment leading up to Euro 2005, see Rose George, "Pitch Battle," Independent (U.K.), 21 May <http://sport.independent.co.uk/low_res/story.jsp?story=640017&host=18&dir=118>. Another issue is women footballers desiring to compete with men when opportunities are lacking. FIFA decreed in December 2004 that Mexico's Maribel Domínguez could not sign for Mexico second-division club Celaya. The logic behind FIFA's judgment? "Custom has been that men and women compete in different competitions" (Simon Kuper, "Team-mates from Mars and Venus," Financial Times, 16 April <http://news.ft.com/cms/s/c08c1bb2-add9-11d9-9c30-00000e2511c8.html>). That media representations of men and women in sport differ astronomically is without question.
Jemele Hill
Columnist Jemele Hill writes: "It seems the crime most female professional athletes have committed is they aren't scandalous or weird."
According to the Women's Sports Foundation UK, women accounted for 2.3 percent of images in sports pages of Britain's media (Natasha Woods, "Action Woman," Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 27 March <http://www.sundayherald.com/48692>). "The public has this problem when it comes to female athletes," writes Jemele Hill in The Orlando Sentinel. "We don't like them to make money as professionals. . . . It's like female athletes were permanently put in the feel-good story box and never let out. We love their hard-luck stories so much we decided to keep them hungry by failing to support their professional leagues" ("Public Loves Women Athletes as Amateurs, but as Pros . . . ," 4 April <http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/sports/11310378.htm>).  | back to text

Whither red shoes and angels

Norwich, England, 30 May 2005 | "On a narrow road through ancient woodland." Such is the scene, far from Istanbul, as Elvis Costello,

According to Costello, Milan was cutting through Liverpool "like a chainsaw through a bucket of ghee." But that was the first half.
musician and Liverpool supporter, recounts the magical night of 25 May ("Fretting While the Scarlet Tide Make History," The Times [U.K.]). He and his band, the Imposters, had been booked at the University of East Anglia and, though their appearance was delayed as Costello waited for a result in normal time, they honored the gig nonetheless. "Once we got rolling, the boisterous start gave a different flavour to the show, although the Imposters played with their customary swagger and panache, not unlike the Liverpool team of the Hansen/Dalglish era. I tried my best to keep my eyes from the TV screen over the bar at the back of the room but the words 'Oh . . . he's missed' might have accidentally crept into the lyrics of Good Year for the Roses." We can expect many more such recollections as Liverpool faithful assimilate how they again lifted a European cup, coming from three goals behind in the Champions League final after having traveled a much longer distance to restoration: "The road to Istanbul really began in Brussels 20 years ago today," write Paul Wilson, Brian Oliver and Kaz Mochlinski for The Observer ("The Miracle of Istanbul"), "when Liverpool's domination of Europe came to such an abrupt and tragic end . . . at Heysel." | back to top

Aughh! We forgot about the game!

Cardiff, Wales, 18 May 2005 | Tampa Bay, er, Manchester United and Arsenal meet Saturday in the final of the FA Cup for the first time since 1979. But where is the joy?
Queue up to bid on the vintage FA Cup trophy
The second FA Cup trophy, cast in 1896, was auctioned at Christie's on Thursday, 19 May. The winning bid—from an anonymous buyer, rumored to be Roman Abramovich—was £478,400.
The Gunners' left back, Ashley Cole, has spent part of the last two days being grilled over what would have been an illicit meeting in January with suitors from crosstown London rival Chelsea (see Rob Hughes, "The High Price of Freedom," International Herald Tribune). He has been examined by the Football Association, stewards of the oldest domestic cup competition, which dates to the season of 1871–72. Yet the FA itself has been under scrutiny for institutional malaise and managerial gridlock (David Owen, "How to Manage a Country's Obsession," Financial Times, 17 May). Lest we forget Tampa Bay watch and restaurant magnate Malcolm Glazer's $1.47 billion takeover of United, which has prompted manager Alex Ferguson to plead with effigy-lighting supporters for calm during the match at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

Media and Buccaneers' fans in Tampa do not seem so smitten, either. Writes the Tampa Bay Tribune's Martin Fennelly of the prospect of $90 million in annual debt service related to the United purchase: "It's hard for me to see how Malcolm won't siphon money from football to soccer, borrowing from Peter to pay Ronaldo" ("New World Disorder," 14 May). It almost seems, though, that ManU supporters have not fully assimilated that, with 50 million registered fans, the Manchester United name now belongs to the world. The name has been bought and sold since the team went public in 1991, used to sell financial instruments as well as ketchup. "[T]he mythology about United survived its early commercialization," John Williams of the Centre for the Sociology of Sport at the University of Leicester tells the New York Times (Sarah Lyall, "For Glazer, Uphill Battle for Hearts and Minds"). "It's always inhabited an uneasy space between on the one hand being a successful, global commercial project and on the other hand being this great national institution that nobody owned." | back to top

Hornby embraces 'miserablism'

London, 23 April 2005 | A long Guardian profile of Nick Hornby applies an interesting new hermeneutic to Fever Pitch (Simon Hattenstone, "Laughing All the Way to the Cemetery"). Read

Hornby's new book will be released in May. The Guardian calls it "a suicide romp."
against Hornby's expanding oeuvre—including High Fidelity, About a Boy, How to Be Good and now A Long Way Down—we now, according to Hattenstone, can read the 1992 account of Hornby's Arsenal love affair as one man's struggle "with depression, under-achieving and not belonging." Hornby says that Fever Pitch was born from encounters with his psychotherapist. In the awkward silences beginning each session, Hornby would fill the void with football results. But Hornby "began to think of Arsenal as a metaphor for his life: boring, boring Arsenal (as they had been for decades), the chippy underachievers, so hard to love because they played such unattractive football." Yet though Hornby's recent book project concerns suicide, life is looking up: Arsenal are playing well and Hornby has two new sons. He characterizes his mood as "a sort of strain of English miserablism, where you know everything is crap and everyone who pretends it isn't is kidding themselves. Yeah, this is the best it will ever get."

Update: Hornby reads a children's story on the 26 August 2005 edition of This American Life (the reading begins at about the 32-minute mark). The story, to be included in a collection benefiting 826NYC—a nonprofit teaching creative and expository writing—concerns a nation so small that it consists of a soccer pitch, school and some dwellings. The measure of patriotism is taken by one's willingness to compete for the national football team against San Marino, Andorra and the Vatican. | back to top

Link to the complete 'Stations' series
Penny Warden's study for station 8 depicts Christ speaking to the women in Jerusalem. (Modern Artists Gallery)
Exalted station for Rovers

Blackburn, England, 25 March 2005 | The local Premiership team, Blackburn FC, have sponsored a portrait that forms part of a contemporary stations of the cross at Blackburn Cathedral, Lancashire. The life-size banners have been installed in time for Holy Week. No further details were available on the Rovers' sponsorship. We can only surmise at the portrait linked to the side—perhaps the atypical 15th station celebrating the resurrection, as Rovers have recently lifted themselves above the relegation zone. | back to top

'Curse Stone' leads to goal drought?

Carlisle, England, 3 March 2005 | A recently inscribed monolith employing the alleged words of a 16th-century Glaswegian
Link to BBC for full text of curse
The famous stone, bearing the "splendid, sonorous and, above all, comprehensive curse" (Stephen Cook, "Border Lines," The Guardian).
archbishop has been linked to goal-scoring woes of Nationwide Conference side Carlisle FC. No, seriously. The 7½-ton boulder, created by artist Gordon Young and installed in 2001 in an underground passageway between the Tullie House Museum and Carlisle Castle, has been regarded suspiciously after a series of local crises: foot-and-mouth disease, job layoffs, a fire and floods. City Councillor Jim Tootle advocates the stone's removal, and his council motion will be discussed on 8 March. The curse itself, believed to have been proclaimed in 1525 by Archbishop Gavin Dunbar in response to northward incursions by the Border Reivers, does not mention football, but spares little venom in its 1,068 words. "I curse [the reivers] going and I curse them riding; I curse them standing and I curse them sitting; I curse them eating and I curse them drinking; I curse them rising, and I curse them lying." And it continues in this vein. As for Carlisle FC, they lost league status after relegation in 2004; they now stand midtable in Nationwide. (See the update in the Guardian of 9 March, in which artist Young is quoted: "If I thought my sculpture would have affected one Carlisle United result, I would have smashed it myself.") | back to top

Remembering to play, playing to remember

London, 2 February 2005 | Members of Parliament and children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors played at West Ham United's Upton Park as part of activities commemorating the 60th anniversary of the

Sven at the draw for the UEFA European Women's Championship. The draw was held in Manchester on Jan 19. (AP)
liberation of Auschwitz. The match, organized by the Holocaust Educational Trust, is featured on BBC's World Football program, archived until Feb 5. England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson took part in an hour-long service on Jan 27 at Westminster Hall. Eriksson had taken England players to Auschwitz before a friendly last year against Poland. Stephen Bates, in his Guardian account of the recent observance, however, seems to suggest that Eriksson was out of his depth. Eriksson told the gathering that Auschwitz was "like nowhere I have ever seen before . . . you had a very, very strange feeling." | back to top

New read on 'Tebbit test'

London, 21 January 2005 | The Guardian's Leo Benedictus masterfully surveys ethnic communities and cultures in a city that

On the right we find Norman Tebbit, author of said "Tebbit test." (BBC)
may be the world's most diverse ("Every Race, Colour, Nation and Religion on Earth"). Food and, to some extent, sport—especially football—serve as prime cultural indicators. Benedictus finds a "shrine to football" among Portuguese in Stockwell; a passion for football, church and living-room karaoke among Koreans in New Malden; and Vietnamese in Hackney looking for a sure thing in football betting parlors. Sporting allegiances Benedictus finds divided between England and the native country, showing the "insidiousness" of former Conservative MP Norman Tebbit's so-called test for national loyalty—if Asian immigrants supported the England cricket team rather than India's. "What some people see as the great experiment of multiculturalism," writes Benedictus, "will triumph or fail here." | back to top

Frame freezes Burnley rearguard

Burnley FC circa 1900 at Turf Moor, courtesy the recently discovered reels of Mitchell and Kenyon. The ground is still used today. (BBC, BFI)
Blackburn, England, 15 January 2005 | Discovered accidentally in the cellar of an empty Lancashire shop, some 800 rolls of nitrate film lend new insight to the life and times of Edwardian England from 1900 to 1913—including the region's passion for football. The films were uncovered in 1994 in the former studios of Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon, filmmakers and entrepreneurs who toted their hand-cranked camera to the textile factories, parades, tramline openings and sport stadiums of north England and other locales.

Thirty-two football matches are included in some 28 hours of footage (teams like Burnley, Hull City, Hunslet, Leeds and Man Utd), and 18 rugby games (see the fascinating essay by Ian Jack, "The Lost World," in The Guardian, Jan 7). Crowds are large in number, predominantly male and wearing hats. "[T]he men wear flat caps, bowlers, straw boaters, trilbies, toppers . . . ," Jack writes. The films are airing presently as part of a three-segment series on BBC2, "The Lost World of Mitchell & Kenyon." | back to top

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Required Tools for 'Man Management'
Speculation on GhanaWeb.com that former Japan coach Philippe Troussier will accept the Ghana position later this week again has brought our attention to desired qualities for football management. We pored over articles discussing the Ghana vacancy, wondering if the country's football authorities sought particular experience or qualities in the Black Stars' next leader. With four coaches having left in the last two years, we thought that the GFA would have clear priorities in mind. If so, they have not divulged these qualities to the media, who had opined that Ghana might look locally to avoid the embarrassment of yet another foreign coach abandoning the job at the

Weah's parents were born in Ghana; he informally advises Freddy Adu, a Ghana native. (Kevin Clark | The Washington Post)
first opportunity (Micheal oti Adjei, "Ghana's Coaching Conundrum," BBC Sport, 14 September).

Word for a while had recently retired France captain Marcel Desailly and Liberia's George Weah—who had renounced interest in heading his country's football association—in the mix. Certainly Weah, with strong ties to Ghana, presents innumerable strengths—UNICEF goodwill ambassador and 2004 Arthur Ashe Courage Award recipient (see Steven Goff, "Two Africans in a United State," Washington Post, 7 July). But can he coach football? What does a football manager do, exactly?

Some insight into these questions comes from an installment of the BBC production Faking It. Chess enthusiast and bullying victim Maximillion Devereaux attempts to convince a judging panel, including former Liverpool legend and short-shift Celtic manager John Barnes, that he is a lower-league football manager. He has 30 days to learn the ropes. In this time he receives crash lessons that lift up an "old-school" approach to leadership in sports: point and scream a lot, play pranks, booze it up . . . be one of the lads. The BBC states:

Max must come out of his shell and exhibit a commanding presence through both his body language and his voice. He will also need to show he can communicate with the players, giving orders but also encouragement.

Devereaux's quietude and native gentleness made the episode uncomfortable to watch, recalling youth-football memories of our coach,

Brian Clough, center, scored often at forward for Middlesbrough and Sunderland, but had to retire at 29 from a knee injury. (Dennis Lee Royle | AP)
gurgling and swearing, pulling a goalkeeper off the field by the scruff of his neck. The goalkeeper was the man's son. Clearly, different leadership styles suit different situations: must there be a one-size-fits-all prototype for football managers? That differences abound becomes apparent in press coverage of the recent deaths of Brian Clough and Bill Nicholson, both great England club managers with contrasting approaches.

Clough, on the surface, accumulated the most awesome achievements: two European Cups with Nottingham Forest and league titles with both Forest and Derby County. But he was hard. Tributes pay homage to Clough's self-belief, but they also note the bleaker side of his motivational work. As manager of the openly gay Justin Fashanu, he used a team talk, according to Peter Chapman in the Financial Times ("Ace Striker Who Was Good with Kids," 21 September), to confront him in enigmatic style: "If I want brussel sprouts, I go to the greengrocer. If I want a bucket I go to the hardware store. So what were you doing hanging around that gay club, Justin?" Harry Pearson, in a remembrance in the November issue of When Saturday Comes ("North-East of Eden," pp. 24–25), charts some of the antecedents to this "hard man" performance:

Born and brought up in the Grove Hill area of Middlesbrough, Clough must have had plenty of chance to practise those withering put-downs, if only in self-defence. Nowadays cockiness is seen as a not-entirely-negative trait; some even view it as a prerequisite to sporting success. But back then self-regard was a mortal sin. The slightest sign of confidence was mercilessly crushed. Nobody likes a bighead. And Clough was by all accounts a monstrous egotist right from the start.

Clough, despite a place as perhaps Britain's finest managerial talent, never coached the national side. Some write that the problem was his acerbic persona, others that he had become too closely linked to an illegal "bung" scheme, in which club officials take cuts from player-transfer fees. Yet Clough's is not the only way. Nicholson in 1961 directed Spurs to the FA Cup and league title and, in 1963, to the European Cup Winners' Cup. But star Dave Mackay recalls Nicholson's calm when Spurs trailed at the interval of the '61 Cup final: "He was not in the habit of shouting, bawling or swearing," Mackay says (Alan Davies, "Spirit of Nicholson Alive . . . at Highbury," The Times [U.K.], 1 November). "He would have been calm and encouraging. He would have drawn our attention to some specifics. He would have seen things we hadn't." Davies makes the link to Arsenal's Arsène Wenger, credited for bringing a "new folklore" to Highbury that rises above a win-at-all-costs approach. (Some, no doubt, would fiercely debate this statement.)

In the end, we are baffled. What qualities constitute effective football management? The answer likely differs for age, skill, gender, culture, and so on. Let us consider, at least, repose as one option.

Update: The Independent (U.K.) reports on a cardiovascular study of football managers in England (Nick Harris, "Nearly Half of Football Managers Suffer Serious Heart Problems," 24 March 2005). Forty-four percent of managers, according to the World Council for Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, show "significant cardiovascular risk factors." Existing conditions include atrial fibrillation, aortic stenosis, ventricular ectopy and dangerous blood-pressure and cholesterol levels. U.K. football managers work an average of 80 hours per week, according to the newspaper's survey. In a companion article ("Heart Attacks, Pills and No Sleep—The Manager's Life under Pressure"), Harris follows Barry Fry, owner-manager of Peterborough United ("The Posh"). Fry has had several heart attacks:

The media alone is ridiculous. It used to be one press conference a week, now it's one a day. Radio stations want to talk, there's TV, websites hammer you to death. Radio phone-ins start two minutes after the final whistle asking whether the manager should go. And I get dog's abuse every match in the dug-out.

Other sources: For additional "case studies" of managerial method, see an account of the confrontation between Spain manager Luis Aragonés and José Antonio Reyes (Phil Ball, "Holy Hosts and Racists," ESPNSoccernet.com, 12 October | http://soccernet.espn.go.com/feature?id=312978&cc=5901); the demise of Scotland's Berti Vogts (Rob Hughes, "Vogts Hounded Out by Scottish Critics," International Herald Tribune, 3 November | http://iht.com/articles/2004/11/02/sports/soccer.html); the grumbles surrounding José Pekerman in Argentina (idem, "Youth Coach Faces Old Guard Grumbles," IHT, 6 October | http://www.iht.com/articles/542192.html); and the all-too-brief love-in involving Jürgen Klinsmann in Germany (Georgina Turner, "Hail Klinsi!" The Guardian, 10 September | http://football.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,9753,1301637,00.html). Vociferous coaches, and parents, have helped usher in drastic measures in U.S. youth football: "silent Saturdays," during which kids manage themselves. See C. W. Nevius, "Soccer Players Get the Silent Treatment—And It's a Good Thing," San Francisco Chronicle, 15 October (http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/10/15/EBG6N959LP1.DTL); and Robert Andrew Powell, "No Yelling, No Cheering. Shhhhh! It's Silent Saturday," New York Times, 5 November (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/05/travel/05SILE.html).

The possibility of a gay football manager is broached in Gaffer! a new play by Chris Chibnall. ITV in Britain, on the lighter side, has been talking with Ricky Tomlinson about reprising, in serial sitcom form, his title role in Mike Bassett: England Manager (2001) (see Jason Deans, "ITV Nets Tomlinson for Football Sitcom," The Guardian, 6 October | http://media.guardian.co.uk/broadcast/story/0,7493,1320386,00.html).

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Three Promising Youngsters, Three Cultural Conundrums
Wayne Rooney, in a transfer completely lacking in suspense, has joined global marketing force and über-club Manchester United. One of at least three teenagers carrying the "next Pelé" label—along with Robinho of Santos and Freddy Adu of D.C. United—Rooney's sale capped an extraordinary summer for the 18-year-old. The former Evertonian generated "Rooneymania" in the European Championships (see our "Euro blog") and, in the same tournament, suffered a broken foot, an injury that still keeps him sidelined.

Feelings on Merseyside about the Sun have not calmed, even after 15 years.
But Rooney offers a far more interesting study for some of his decisions off the pitch and for the way these decisions are filtered through the English press. Both Robinho and Adu face their own challenges within vastly different football cultures—to which we will come shortly—but Rooney's combination of youth, captivating skill and salvific potential (that is, the potential he has to save Sven-Göran Eriksson's bacon) creates special pressures.

Rooney's unique place within the English imagination perhaps most clearly emerged during the summer, following Euro 2004 and as all things Wayne became public commodities. In selling his "world exclusive" story to the Rupert Murdoch–owned Sun tabloid for some £250,000, Rooney set off a swirl of events that recalled the darkness of Hillsborough 15 years earlier. As a Merseysider, although only 3 years old when the tragedy occurred, Rooney and certainly his advisers should have known better than to deal with the Sun, infamous for its egregiously careless journalism following the 1989 disaster—as if its misogynistic style of reportage and inflammatory headlines would not be enough to scare anyone away. But the Sun headlines post-Hillsborough, within days of the 96 deaths—"Some fans picked pockets of victims"; "Some fans urinated on the brave cops"; "Some fans beat up PCs giving the kiss of life"—assured an almost total loss of its Liverpool circulation (Owen Gibson, "What the Sun Said 15 Years Ago," The Guardian, 7 July). Incredibly, 15 years on, the Sun still has not regained the 200,000 local readers it reportedly lost that week. It sells 3.3 million copies nationwide but only 12,000 in Liverpool (Ian Burrell, "An Own Goal? Rooney Caught in Crossfire between 'The Sun' and an Unforgiving City," The Independent [U.K.], 8 July).

More substantively, some feel that the Sun in its carelessness helped perpetuate a negative stereotype of Liverpool. Jon Brown, deputy editor of the Liverpool Echo, says:

The Sun's coverage of Hillsborough still has ramifications today in the vilification of Scousers, of an entire culture and community. It blackened the reputation of the city and it has still not recovered. If you go anywhere in the world Liverpool has a great reputation. If you go anywhere in England, it's different. (David Smith, "The City That Eclipsed the Sun," The Observer [U.K.], 11 July)

After its Rooney "exposé," the Sun made matters worse by printing a front-page "apology" that, while saying "we gladly say sorry again . . . fully, openly, honestly and without reservation," also managed to plug itself in the same article: "For goodness sake, give the lad [Rooney] a chance. . . . [N]early all Liverpool-born celebrities regularly talk to Britain's favourite daily newspaper" ("Don't Blame Rooney," 13 July; article only available through paid archive). The Sun also alleged that its rivals—the Trinity Mirror–owned Liverpool Echo and Post (Trinity Mirror owns the Sun's tabloid rival, the Daily Mirror)—were the ones exploiting Rooney, to which the Echo responded:

Today's Sun article is not a real apology. It is a shameless and cynical attempt to win readers. And most people on Merseyside will realise that. The Sun has missed the point and lost the plot. The majority of the people of Merseyside have nothing personal against

The cows mark a Manchester renaissance. (Slate.com)
Wayne Rooney. They feel he has been badly advised. . . . Today's Sun exaggerates, over-reacts and depicts a lurid picture of hate which is about as far from the truth as its London offices are from Goodison Park. ("The Sun Has Lost the Plot [Again]," 7 July)

So Rooney now leaves Merseyside, perhaps with some relief. He moves to the Northeast and to a city seeking to reinvent itself, as revealed in June Thomas's recent weeklong Slate diary ("Manchester, So Much to Answer For," 30 August; see also subsequent entries). Will Rooney become part of the "bourgeoisification of the working class" of which George Orwell wrote in the 1930s in The Road to Wigan Pier (see Thomas's day 2)? With the Imperial War Museum North and the Lowry as evidence, perhaps the once-gritty Lancashire city has room for another urban hulk looking to retool.

And what of Robinho and Adu? Robson do Sousa—Robinho's given name—is also 18 and plays for Pelé's old club Santos; his skills have helped lead Santos back into the limelight of South American football. The possible burden seems clear to Santos management, who have barred Robinho from wearing Pelé's No. 10 jersey. "[T]he simple sight of a young black boy of such promise wearing that number would trigger a collective recollection in Brazil too profound for anyone to bear," writes Guy Lawson in his recent Observer profile ("The Boy Wonder," 5 September). Lawson continues:

The likeness between the two was first suggested by Pelé himself. He had been estranged from his old team for years, feuding with the directors over the allegations of fraud and corruption that have long blighted Brazilian football. But the very first day he returned to Santos to work with the junior players, as if drawn by a karmic force, he spotted Robinho. The boy was only 13, his shirt dangling from the narrow, underfed shoulders, but Pelé instantly saw himself in the boy. Not in size, strength or style of play. As a child Pelé was bigger, stronger, direct, the product of an age before the poverty and hunger of Brazil today; Robinho was small, skinny, sly. Pelé meant in the mastery of ela [the ball], in familiarity and control of her; in his ways with her.

The encounter as depicted may be apocryphal; indeed, it smacks of hagiography. But the sense of precedent in Brazil seems strong, a nation able to field a roster of "next Pelés" (featuring Romario, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka, Diego . . .). Alex Bellos even dissects the phrase in his own Robinho profile. The reality has arrived that it is not enough for Robinho to remain a malabarista—a magician, trickster, illusionist—and master of the pedalada (pedaling-like feint). Agent Wagner Ribeiro has advised his client to shun the pedalada, realizing that "every Brazilian hopes to go to Europe. I am very sad about this." Robinho, according to Lawson, seeks to become a craque, a "player of substance": "The craque doesn't pass to a man. He passes to ponto futuro: a point in the future."

Another drama in self-creation involves Adu, 15, who suffers somewhat in his quest from the naïveté of the U.S. press and public. The age dilemma for Adu is dual-edged. After the questions as to whether the Ghanaian-born Adu were truly 15—an insinuation, whether intended or not, of assumed Third World incompetence—now he must play a joyful game with serious men (see Steven Goff's extended profile, "The Emergence of a Prodigy," Washington Post, 31 August). He is both young and, in a sense, old: we see above, with Rooney and Robinho, how, in the minds of dreamers and nostalgists, 18 represents the height of athletic potential. But, for realists, 17 or 18, too, might be the age of emergence: when a mark must be made, the monster transfer arranged. Already at Highbury, the Arsenal supporters sing of midfield wizard Francesc Fábregas ("Fábregas the Fabulous: A Star on the Rise," FIFA.com, 7 September):

He's only seventeen
And he's better than Roy Keane.

Hurry up, Freddy. Time is wasting.

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Despicable Arson, No Matter the Motivation
Staff at Football Unites, Racism Divides refer euphemistically to the time following an arson attack and computer theft as a "tricky period." Multiple attacks culminated in the fire on 24 July, which damaged library holdings,
Click for FURD 2003 report, 1.2 MB PDF
Football Unites, Racism Divides outlines its activities in a 2003 report. Click here or on picture for PDF (1.2 MB).Click for FURD PDF
burned leaflets and distributed smoke throughout the building. No one was injured, although the offices—located in a building that also houses affiliated resource centers for Asian women and for youth of African and Caribbean descent—have been relocated. Howard Holmes, FURD coordinator, told the Sheffield Star that, in his opinion, there was no "racist agenda." "They have stolen a couple of computers so there was profit to be gained" ("Youth Centre Counts Cost of Arson Attack," 26 July). The group, launched in 1996, directs an astounding array of projects, outlined in its 2003 report (1.2 MB PDF file; see photo, right). An account of the group's beginnings makes for interesting reading. In a game between the home side, Sheffield United, and Bolton, on 22 November 1996, just 1 percent of spectators were of color, compared to an ethnic-minority youth population of 44 percent in the Sharrow city-council ward. Further, researchers from Sheffield Hallam University reported that minority residents were suffering harassment on match days, such that they closeted themselves indoors. With a clear objective of ensuring "that people who play or watch football can do so without fear of racial abuse and harassment," the FURD partnership set to work. Its credo states:

FURD believes that football, as the world's most popular game, can help bring people together—people from different backgrounds, to play, watch and enjoy the game, and to break down barriers created by ignorance or prejudice.

The Global Game has long linked to FURD's online resource library; sadly, at least some of the library's holdings appear to have been damaged in the fire. But we have learned much about the FURD partnership over the last few days: that its advocacy for the forgotten history of black footballers helped lead in 1997 to placing a headstone at the grave of Ghanaian-born Arthur Wharton, a goalkeeper for top-flight English sides in the 1890s; that it has devised a mobile, inflatable football game, stolen from a freight container after the 2004 European Championships; that it has helped form an Asian team to play in a regional adult league; that it has created women's sides, one of which competed in the 2002 Anti-racist World Cup; and that it has secured more than £150,000 for the Porter Project, an all-weather football pitch, training facility and future home for FURD—all located in Sharrow.

The Global Game regrets that is has taken a crisis to make us aware of the full scope of FURD's activities. We urge you to visit the FURD website and to let them know of your support.

LONDON, 5 MAY 2004
Only So Many Ways to Score, and 'I Have Seen Them All'
Disgruntled Observer columnist Will Buckley purges his ill feelings about football in memorable fashion ("Why I'm Not Singing Any More . . . ," The Guardian). Buckley's criticisms and bile would have more resonance,

Will Buckley promotes his book (above) and spills bile at the same time.
however, were he not plugging his just-published novel, The Man Who Hated Football (Fourth Estate). At least Buckley confesses to his awkward position as being of one mind with the novel's protagonist, Jimmy Stirling, a similarly disillusioned sportswriter—a situation that, Buckley writes, has resulted in the merging of truth and fiction.

Buckley apparently has been salting his wounds for some time. Last year he took part in an Arsenal-bashing e-mail exchange with author Julie Welch in which he formulated many of his gripes about the media's obsession with the game, about the game's "unbridled capitalism," and so on. Welch parried him nicely:

Poor Will, Have you had a significant birthday recently? Going off football—it's one of the harbingers of middle age, like wanting to read your pension plan. Football is for the young. You think you're consuming it, but really it consumes you. . . . And then, when you're middle-aged, it spits you out. The sound of the Kop choir gives you a headache. You look ridiculous in a replica shirt. . . . You think to yourself, what am I doing here? You'd rather be at the Chelsea Flower Show.

More significant, on the same day, were the links that the Guardian's Steven Wells suggested between TalkSport radio's anti-immigrant slant and domestic attacks in Britain on asylum seekers ("Why TalkSport Is an Obscenity"). Wells protests when "the UK's most popular commercial sports radio station . . . gives a platform to nationalist bigots, quasi-fascists and racists of every strain" and, in particular, the use of code language: "internationalism" for Jewish influence and "multicultural" to mean non-white. "[H]ow could the nazis," Wells writes, "not love a station that debates (seriously) whether the word 'paki' is more offensive than the word 'brit'?"

These critiques sound spot-on, certainly more substantial than Buckley's. But we'll reserve judgment until reading Buckley's novel, about which the Scotsman sounds lukewarm, calling it "an entertaining enough novel that settles for a safe, no-score draw."

LONDON, 4 MAY 2004
Puns Ahoy! Women's Game Gets Fleeting Mention
Yesterday provided another opportunity to take stock of women's football some eight months after the WUSA's decline. On a wet afternoon at Loftus Road, more than 12,000 turned out on a holiday, shelled out £3 and thrilled as Julie Fleeting tallied three, her Arsenal side defeating Charlton 3–0 in the Women's FA Cup Final.

Julie Fleeting, in Arsenal yellow, buries her third goal in the 83rd minute. (The FA)
The 23-year-old Scotland international suited up despite a leg injury incurred the previous day in a Euro 2005 qualifier—a 3–1 loss to Germany in which she scored her 88th international goal. The Guardian's Georgina Turner, however, could not see the bright news through the clouds, lamenting that the women's game is declining, evidenced most recently by the return of one of England's best female sides, Fulham, to amateur status ("The Golden Era Loses Its Shine").

The fact that Fleeting played yesterday's final less than 24 hours after putting in a full 90 minutes for Scotland against World Champions Germany speaks volumes about the lack of equality between the two sides of the sport—imagine the furore should Thierry Henry have to do the same. It just would not happen. ¶Women's football also suffers an inescapable Catch-22 situation—inescapable at least as long as the game's current economic frailty lasts. Turning UK women's football into a professional sport could only raise standards, diminishing suggestions that the game is vastly inferior to the men's, or that this is a "hobby" made famous by the PC brigade. It would also mean higher gates for all clubs and the chance of subsistence—but without those higher gates in the first place, professional women's football remains a distant dream.

Fleeting, like most women footballers, must make special efforts. She works during the week as a physical-education teacher at St. Michael's Academy in Kilwinning, Ayrshire (be prepared to mute speakers if you visit the school's website), flying from Scotland before matches (Angie Brown and Ginny Clark, "Scots Hat-Trick Heroine Shows Our Men the Route to Goalscoring Glory," The Scotsman). Her father is former Kilmarnock manager Jim Fleeting, and, perhaps due to her extensive background in the game, as a forward with the San Diego Spirit she enlivened the pitch with her goal celebrations: once "marking," in canine fashion, a corner flag along with teammate Aly Wagner.

So, what of Georgina Turner's question: "They say a tree falling unseen and unheard in a forest doesn't really fall, so what for women's football?" Well, even with the hopefully temporary loss of the professional game, long-term trends seem positive. The Women's FA Cup has existed since 1971; this year, it was televised on BBC for the third straight time, with some 2 million viewers expected. The game has a past, a future and an exciting now. | back to top

Supporters Vent and Sing for Merry Old En-ger-land
The on-stage portion of the "summer of football" launches with Roy Williams's Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads,

Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads opens April 23.
beginning Friday at the National Theatre (Aleks Sierz, " 'They Are Fighting for This Myth of Britain,' " Financial Times). A 2002 World Cup qualifier provides the setting; England supporters watch a 1–0 defeat to Germany—the last England match at Wembley—at a south London pub. Supporters need some way to vent. The playwright takes in the scene:

For an England fan like me, it was bad, but, for a dramatist, it was better than winning—the fans' reaction to defeat was very aggressive and very theatrical. . . . I was enjoying myself in the pub, and then all these drunk guys came barging in, chanting En-ger-land and shouting racist obscenities. And the most appalling things about [David] Beckham's wife. It was uncomfortable but, at the same time, I realised it was a great stage set.

Williams had already written a play about sport: The No Boys Cricket Club, about a Jamaican woman all-rounder. Williams's mother is from Jamaica, although Williams himself was born in Fulham, west London. In an earlier National production of Lads, staged in 2002, Guardian reviewer Michael Billington writes that Williams reaches a sobering assessment in his latest work: "Examine British society at almost any level, implies Williams, and you will find a measure of racism." Says Williams: "Whenever we talk about race, we dismiss it too easily with wishy-washy liberal clichés. If we're going to talk about race, let's get ugly here."

Archbishop: God Has Given Us All Space in Life's Midfield
The phrase "tempest in a teapot" was coined for items such as these. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, writing in his diocesan newsletter, Outlook ("Archbishop Rowan's Easter Message to the Diocese," April 2004; link opens PDF file)—a

Archbishop Rowan in cope and mitre.
friendly jumble of updates on missionary life and bad clip art—correlates, in an allusion to 2 Corinthians 5:16, St. Paul's "works of the flesh" with the British serial Footballers' Wives. "For St Paul," Williams writes,

living in "flesh" is living by the standards of a world enslaved by rivalry, fear and self-seeking: the "works of the flesh" are almost all to do with different kinds of selfish behaviour, behaviour that is destructive of other people's welfare or safety or reputation. "The works of the flesh" are what you see on "Footballers' Wives" on television and what you read on lots of websites (including Christian ones . . .)—a world in which charity and fairness, generosity, a sense of perspective about yourself are all swept aside.

That is the extent of his comment. Goaded by the press, however, the show's executive producer felt called to launch a spirited defense, noting viewers' ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy and then, in a parting salvo: "There are probably more people watching Footballers' Wives than attending Anglican services." It sounds to us like Williams has good taste—a fan of the Simpsons rather than the Wives' mythical Earls Park FC. We have not seen Wives, but the Guardian's David Liddiment may be on to something when he calls the program "a drama of its time" ("Footballers' Wives—A Morality Tale").

Last week's episode was a case in point. Its big set piece was the annual team party (echoes for Dallas fans of the annual Ewing barbecue). This provided the stage for the whole cast of characters to come together for a particularly tawdry story climax: closeted gay footballer is caught on camera in flagrante with a male prostitute, watched by all the team. The drama of the moment, the humiliation felt by the gay character, the homophobic reaction of many of his team-mates, were all undercut by the fact that the entire cast were in outrageous 70s fancy dress. The joke was on the characters, perpetrated by the producers, and the audience was in on it.

Some 'Glam' Alternatives to Replica Kit
We have neglected fashion for too long here at the Global Game. Today's weekend package in the Financial Times helps us rectify that oversight. First is a report on Neil Barrett,

Someone named Flo loves the Gunners. An item from Katie Walker's Vedette collection.
a British designer selected to create the new kit for Italy at the upcoming European Championships (Damian Foxe, "Best Man for the Italian Job"). Barrett will work on the team's full wardrobe: playing and training gear as well as casual and formal wear. He is also tasked with creating 12 full retail collections for Puma, under the marketing header "96 Hours." Italian media, as with the Azzurri, will be looking for results from Barrett. "In Italy, more so even than in England, football is a religion," the designer says.

Katie Walker has launched a second football-themed collection, these items exclusively for women (Edwina Ings-Chambers, "Football Fever Gets the Feminine Touch"). Although she will soon be working with Juventus of Turin, Walker's line concentrates on clothing for Arsenal and Chelsea supporters. These are relatively high-end products, with T-shirts retailing for £50 and cashmere team scarves at £500. Bikinis cost £100. Items for the two clubs are distinctive, with the Chelsea line, according to Walker, emphasizing the "glam" element, "very China White very Rod Stewart's girlfriend." Models at fashion shows are told "to prance around like they go everywhere in a helicopter" (see Fashion UK's interview). Wearers of Arsenal items, in contrast, will be "much tougher, cooler." Viewed at a certain angle, the Arsenal dress reads "I Love Arse."

Part of Walker's inspiration was research she discovered on Sheffield fans from the late 1970s and early '80s. The author, for his Ph.D., focused on supporters' obsession with clothing. Walker says:

He was talking about one boy on an industrial estate who was walking along looking for work and he looks on the other side of the street and he sees someone with a new thing like a pair of Kickers, and he said that it just made his heart leap. It was one of the most important days of his life, he was so passionate about what he'd seen and that so appealed to me because I thought that this is a fashion movement that doesn't come from magazines or celebrities, it is a fashion movement that is on the street.

'The Ref . . . Is Not a Wanker'
Spinning off the sad case of the "La Manga Three"—Leicester City football players charged with sexual assault during a recent foray to Spain—Observer essayist and Arsenal supporter Mary Riddell refuses to condemn professional footballers in blanket fashion ("Still a Beautiful Game").

Gooner Mary Riddell alludes to the beefburgers "that smell of hippo's nostril."
(The players implicated in the alleged incident—Paul Dickov, Frank Sinclair and Keith Gillespie—joined the Leicester reserves on 16 March for a midweek fixture at Southampton.) To the notion that the words footballer and rapist are equivalents, Riddell answers "rubbish." She follows up in part on an earlier essay ("What Beautiful Game?" The Observer, 12 October 2003), which remarked on the Rio Ferdinand case and rape accusations then in the news. There, part of Riddell's thesis was that footballers are, in general, poorly educated and function as tools in the big-money game in which the real villains are the bosses. In a memorable turn of phrase, Riddell termed the game's difficulties a "poverty of scruple."

Yet, drawing on her experience at Highbury in north London, Riddell in her most recent essay avers that "football is one of the civilising forces in British society."

Highbury is a place where the middle classes, in woolly hats and windcheaters, know their place. Suppressing any preference for vin chaud and vine leaves, North Bank chameleons drink anaemic tea and eat beefburgers that smell of hippo's nostril. Racism is outlawed and gay taunts restricted to a sad few. Multiculturalism is a given, with the side-lesson of how the rest of Europe and the world manages to teach its teenagers, however poor, to speak in several languages rather than grunt in one. If Tony Blair had Arsène Wenger as public-health tsar, McDonald's would emigrate and anti-obesity strategies would no longer involve half-baked measures, such as hoping Beyoncé might become an evangelist for lettuce. Chips, steak, baked beans, junk food and sugar were long ago barred by Arsène, to be replaced by compulsory boiled chicken, steamed fish and broccoli.

What Was He Thinking?
Pelé Names 100 (And Then Some)

Pelé has made a lot of wise choices in his career. Perhaps one of the worst, however, was agreeing to name history's 100 greatest footballers for FIFA's centenary. Now he's encountering no end of stick for his selections, even from his native Brazil, where folks feel that more than 15 merited inclusion (" 'I Did My Best': Pele Angers Brazilians by Leaving Out 1970 World Cup Stars," Associated Press). The first oddity is that the list actually includes 125 names. Click for FIFA 100 siteThe list has also gained attention for including two women, both Americans: Michelle Akers, who, with China's Sun Wen, was FIFA's co-player of the century among women, and Mia Hamm. Pelé defends this choice: "[W]omen's football in the world is very important. We have the World Cup, the United States is world champion twice. This confused the people who were working with me but it was my choice, my idea." Ultimately, though, the selection seems like a half-hearted nod to the women's game. Why just two names? Why not a separate list when influential figures such as Carolina Morace (Italy), Pia Sundhage (Sweden), Elsie Cook (Scotland) and so many others get the snub? . . . We enjoyed Michael Skapinker's take on clichés ("Heed This Wake-Up Call or Risk a Spectacular Own Goal," Financial Times, 3 March, p. 7; available by subscription only). In the relevant section discussing "own goal," Skapinker notes the rarity of its use among Americans.

The war on Iraq was a "spectacular own goal", says Robin Cook, the former UK foreign secretary. Shackling the accused in their cells before their trial for defrauding the Commercial Bank of Mozambique was another "spectacular own goal", says the Agência de Informação de Moçambique. ¶A parenthetical curiosity is that real own goals are embarrassing, hilarious, unexpected—but rarely spectacular. They usually come from a mistimed defensive lunge or an ill-judged attempt to head the ball over the bar.


Gentle Giant to the End
The shocking aspect of the football career of John Charles, who has died at 72, is that he was never cautioned. John Charles, 1931–2004Second-most surprising, perhaps, is that he was voted Juventus's greatest player, ahead of Frenchmen Zinedine Zidane and Michel Platini (Rob Hughes, "A Gentle Giant to the Very End," International Herald Tribune, 23 February). His gentle demeanor and 6-foot-2, 200-lb. frame earned him the moniker "Il Gigante Buono" (gentle giant), and, indeed, Charles was revered in Italy, perhaps more so than in his native Wales or among supporters of Leeds United, for whom he also played. At Juventus from 1957 to 1962—a period in which the "black and white" won three championships and two Italian cups—Charles came to represent a special interval, according to daily La Stampa:

Those were formidable years. Italians were driving Vespas as the economy boomed and television became the national pastime. Rome hosted the Olympics as Fellini shot La Dolce Vita. The darkness of the war and its aftermath was, if not forgotten, at least finally absorbed. And those three beautiful men in black and white stripes, (Giampiero) Boniperti, (Omar) Sivori and Charles, epitomised a generation finally ready to look forward, not back. (Translated and quoted in Gabriele Marcotti, "Italy Mourns Beloved Charles," The Times [U.K.], 23 February)

"If I have to knock them down to play well," Charles wrote in his autobiography, cited by Hughes, "I don't want to play this game. Players have to realize the public do not pay good money to see pettiness and childishness." Sadly, Charles has become at least the fourth footballer of prominence to have died recently and to have suffered from Alzheimer's (Peter Chapman, "Deadly Ball Situation," Financial Times, 12 February). The others are Sunderland's Bob Stokoe; Scotland's manager at the 1978 World Cup finals, Ally MacLeod; and Leonidas da Silva (see 27 January gleanings entry). As part of his suggestions that football might bear responsibility for these players' dementia, Chapman writes, "As central defenders Charles and Stokoe were prolific headers of the ball. Charles would sometimes play the first half of a game upfront, nod in a couple, then retreat for the second half to keep the opposition out." But, as far as we know, the link between football and dementia in later life has not been proven.

  • London | 6 February 2004 . . . With the publication of a new promotion for England's women's team—called the "Look Book"—media scrutiny again falls on how the women's game should be marketed (Paula Cocozza, "Is Sex Appeal the Way to Sell Women's Football?" The Guardian). The glossy brochure, as Cocozza describes it, includes pictures of four prominent England footballers in high heels and with bras and knickers showing. Goalkeeper Rachel Brown appears in the "Look Book" in pink high heelsAs Cocozza writes, the timing seems strange in the wake of FIFA boss Sepp Blatter's comments calling for tighter women's kit (see 16 January 2004 gleanings entry) and contrasts with the stated desire of many women to be taken seriously as athletes. Cocozza refers to Brandi Chastain's sports-bra moment in the 1999 World Cup finals as "an individual, celebratory act of the moment every footballer, male or female, dreams of. It had taken place on the football pitch. She looked sexy because, among other things, she was successful, brave, athletic, impulsive and convincing." Unsurprisingly, England's Football Association would not affirm that the "Look Book" is also meant to counter lingering public uncertainty about female athletes' sexuality. "The closest the FA and [FA official Beverley] Ward will come to the subject is to praise Gurinder Chadha's film Bend It Like Beckham as 'the defining point of the women's game in England in the past 10 years.' Among its achievements is the fact that 'it dealt with a lot of issues while showing that girls can play football—issues of sexuality in sport, of not necessarily being a tomboy, of there being no career in it.' "
  • London | 10 January 2004 . . . The Times is asking readers to identify Britain's all-time greatest manager. Alex Murphy has Stately Herbert Chapmancast his lot with Herbert Chapman of Huddersfield Town and Arsenal ("Revealed: A Ruthless, Pioneering Genius Who Ranks as the Best British Manager . . . Ever!"). Under Chapman, Arsenal won the FA Cup and two championships; more important, though, Chapman set a standard for managerial control over team affairs. Murphy writes that Chapman

    stands out as the pioneer who shook British football out of an age-old slough and was a tireless innovator decades ahead of his time—a champion of such ground-breaking concepts as floodlights, numbered shirts, clocks inside grounds, white footballs, team meetings, physiotherapy and synthetic pitches, to name just a few.

    Chapman also had enough pull to influence renaming the Highbury-area Tube station from "Gillespie Road" to "Arsenal." . . . In another interesting take on managerial trends, the Telegraph writes supportively of Southampton manager Gordon Strachan's decision to step down at the end of the season, citing "medical and personal reasons" (Paul Hayward, "Punch and Judy Show Is No Fun for Merry Saint"). Hayward likes Strachan's "simple, human statement," and adds: "Our culture of machismo and denial requires us to yabber about how well paid football managers are, and how much fun it must be to pick your own Premiership team every week." But "managers exist in a twisted and hyper-cynical world: not middle England but middle earth." . . . Simon Kuper identifies another aspect of the contemporary European game—the near-impossibility of mid-sized clubs such as erstwhile Champions League competitors Fiorentina claiming major silverware ("M-Cities March Over European Soccer Map," Financial Times). As top players gravitate toward the "M-towns" of Milan, Manchester, Munich and Madrid, so do trophies: "These M-towns are big enough to produce the required fan base, yet provincial enough to generate a Medicean yearning for global recognition. Local fans and sponsors invest in the club partly because they feel civic pride is at stake. In the middle ages they would have built a cathedral instead."

  • Rio de Janeiro and Exeter, England | 8 January 2004 . . . Ninetieth-anniversary celebrations of the Brazilian national team's first match—against Exeter City—are being planned (Tom Dart, "Exeter Prepares Big Devon Welcome for Cream of Brazil," The Times [U.K.]). July 21 is a target The Exeter City grounddate for a rematch in Rio, with Nike already producing a ninetieth-anniversary Brazil kit. Exeter, now relegated from the Nationwide League, lost 2-0 to Brazil in 1914, and one might expect far worse the next go-around. Getting Brazil to play in Devon will also require a lobbying effort. "In our centenary year we'd like to get a big team to St James' Park and we'd like it to be Brazil," says Ian Huxham, Exeter's managing director. "We were able to assist in the (origins) of the game in Brazil and they could help to save the future of professional football in Exeter by appearing in a sell-out game."
  • Bamako, Mali, and London | 4 January 2004 . . . Club-vs.-country controversy, permutation 15,184. This time the dispute involves Tottenham Hotspur's Frédéric Kanouté, who wishes to play for his father's native Mali in the upcoming African Nations Cup (Jan. 24–Feb. 14). Oh shut up, PleatLatest developments include Spurs caretaker manager David Pleat further upsetting Mali officials with his bizarre comments, such as "Do you know the population of Mali? Neither do any of my players," and, "I don't even know where Mali is" (James Copnall and Amy Lawrence, "Club v Country Row Grows as Angry Africans Slam 'Contemptuous' Spurs," The Guardian). Pleat adds that, though he is cloudy concerning particulars on Mali, he is not sure Kanouté is up to the task of playing internationally: "I am not sure Freddie is that equipped to play in that intensity. He's a player who is very sensitive to his body parts: his ankles have to be right, his knees have to be right, that's the way he is." Bavieux Traoré of the Mali Football Federation, however, objects. "Mali is a country, Tottenham is a club. Why should we be subordinate to their wishes?" The Guardian's Richard Williams, for one, has chided both Pleat, who wants Kanouté to help Spurs in a potential relegation battle ("Pleat and Allardyce Fail to See the Bigger African Picture," 31 December 2003), and Bolton Wanderers manager Sam Allardyce. Jay-Jay Okocha has been the object of Allardyce's lobbying—bald-faced statements to tempt the Nigerian from international football, using the "lure" of a potential Carling Cup final: "He hasn't played at the Millennium Stadium and I think it would be wonderful for him to have it on his CV." Such disputes are not only occurring in the English Premier League; witness the problems between Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o and his club side, Real Mallorca. In other coverage, the Financial Times calls Kanouté the prodigal son for his previous flirtation with France (James Copnall, "Prodigal Son Returns to His Roots," 7 January 2004), and Sepp Blatter again blasts the G14 for trying to interfere with African players' international ambitions ("Country Always Outweighs Club," Financial Times, 7 January 2004).
  • London | 26 December 2003 . . . The legendary No Man's Land truce of December 1914 was a reality. So The cover of Weintraub's volume "Silent Night"writes Simon Kuper ("When Football Brought Peace to the Trenches," Financial Times), referencing recent books by Stanley Weintraub (Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce [Plume, 2002]) and Michael Jürgs (Der kleine Frieden im grossen Krieg [The small peace in the big war] [Bertelsmann, 2003]). According to diaries, German and Allied soldiers did initiate a pause in hostilities, during which football matches were staged, although, Kuper writes, "shellholes and the soldiers' huge boots made close control impossible." Four years ago the diary of one Lt. Kurt Zehmisch was found. Zehmisch writes:

    A couple of Britons brought a ball from their trenches and a lively game began. How fantastically wonderful and yet strange. The British officers experienced it just the same—that thanks to football and Christmas, the feast of love, deadly enemies could briefly meet as friends.

    Kuper notes that the last soldier known to have played No Man's Land football, Bertie Felstead, who played in a match at Christmas 1915, died in 2001 at an old-age home in Gloucestershire. He was 106.

  • London | 16 December 2003 . . . Stunning essay by Australian-born feminist Germaine Greer, Germaine Greer, sexual liberationist and feministauthor of The Whole Woman and The Female Eunuch, on the destructive and criminal sexual behavior of male athletes, such as that alleged against Kobe Bryant and assorted U.K. footballers ("Nothing New about Ugly Sex," The Guardian). Among her insights is that men behave badly in groups, invoking the powerful bond of "shared transgression and mutual guilt." Also, "Athletes don't get involved in sordid behaviour because they need sex but because they need sordidness." She does try to take a balanced view of these men's actions, seeing the athletes as repositories of others' desires:

    All athletes (and managers) live on a knife edge. All are only as good as their last performance. All are incessantly reminded that there is only one way to go after reaching the top, and that's down. The situation of footballers is the most precarious of all. As the last in the pecking order, after club owners, directors and managers, players are denied adult status. They are "lads" or "boys" to be bought and sold, transferred or dropped or left on the bench; as they are denied autonomy, we can't be surprised if they lack responsibility. Their survival depends on luck and is as fragile as a hamstring. Much of the concerted misbehaviour that ends in catastrophe begins as an attempt to discharge accumulated tension, which is no excuse.

  • Budapest | 25 November 2003 . . . Today marks the 50th anniversary of Hungary's famous 6-3 victory over England at Wembley, England's first home defeat to a continental opponent. The Times (London) and the UEFA website provide extensive coverage, much of it focusing on the tactical innovations of Hungary coach Gusztav Sebes, who, in turn, was indebted to former Legendary left-footer Ferenc Puskas, who Real Madrid teammate Alfredo Di Stéfano called "the big gut"Tottenham manager Arthur Rowe (Ben Lyttleton, "Hungary 1953," footballculture.net) and Aston Villa, Fulham and Celtic gaffer Jimmy Hogan (Norman Fox, "How Total Football Inventor Was Lost to Hungary," The Guardian, 22 November). The game's outcome is memorialized in the name of a Budapest bar, 6:3, but no one questions that football in Hungary has been in decline for some years. Current 6:3 tap puller Marianna Toth tells the Times's David Powell, "The reason I'm not so keen on Hungarian football is that it is of poor quality." Water polo has become more popular than football. Remembrances of the 6-3 victory appear to be sparse: The Budapest Sun reports it could find no evidence of a government-sponsored commemoration (Tamás Kiss, "6-3—Is Anniversary a Net Loss?" 20 November). A recent change in government has arrested support for Hungarian youth football; meanwhile, legendary Ferenc Puskas, who scored 240 goals in 260 appearances for Real Madrid, now lives in a hospital suite paid for by the state, the Times reports. Perhaps the Times offers the best tribute, reprinting Geoffrey Green's 1953 matchday coverage, in which he writes, almost liturgically, "Here, indeed, did we attend, all 100,000 of us, the twilight of the gods." It continues:

    [H]ere, on Wembley's velvet turf, [England] found themselves strangers in a strange world, a world of flitting red spirits, for such did the Hungarians seem as they moved at devastating pace with superb skill and powerful finish in their cherry bright shirts.

  • London | 25 November 2003 . . . Five judges, led by current poet laureate Andrew Motion, seek a national "chants laureate" to, according to the job description from Premier League sponsor Barclaycard, "demonstrate their ability to create witty, insightful, rousing, and original chants that reflect the pride and passion of the game" (John Ezard, "Only Sing When You're Rhyming as Football Seeks Chants Laureate," The Guardian). Potential handicap: no obscenities will be allowed. Thus, one could be left with ironic tunes like the following from Southampton (culled from the "Soccer Songs & Chants" website):

    Brazil, it's just like watching Brazil
    It's just like watching Brazil
    It's just like watching Brazil, Brazil . . .
    Oh when the Saints
    Go marching in.

    For £10,000 per year, the new laureate's proposed wage, one hopes for more lyricism.

  • County Durham, England | 22 October 2003 . . . A strange story in the Times (London) about the Chester-le-Street Town Ladies Football Club. The Pauline Godward, upset with cup tieDurham County Football Association has nixed the club's efforts to gain £15,000 by wearing "No bollX" on its kit, which would have promoted a book by Keith Brown, True Masculinity, No bollX. The club is now backed, however, by a Northern Ireland hypnotist, John Grierson—and gaining moral support from elsewhere, judging from the website picture of Newcastle United gaffer Sir Bobby Robson. Grierson came to a recent FA Cup tie, but Chester-le-Street coach Pauline Godward (right) was not happy with a 3-1 result. "[I]t was abysmal. I hid in the dugout I was that embarrassed. We had about 200 spectators and I was glad we hadn't charged them." The side's kit now says, "New Life Hypnosis."
  • London and Istanbul | 9 October 2003 . . . There has been a spate of articles on problems besetting English football: the alleged sexual assaults and gang rapes, as well as the strike threats before England's crucial Euro 2004 qualifying fixture against Turkey. "Football does seem to be all-pervasive," writes the Guardian's Matthew Engel. In advance of the 11 October match, The Observer's Ed Vulliamy gives a rambling, rollicking account of the Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe derby in Istanbul.
  • This is the battle between two clubs from the same city but different continents—Europe and Asia—divided by the Bosporus, astride which a metropolis of 16 million sprawls from either bank. It is a confrontation up there in the league of loathing with Roma-Lazio or Celtic-Rangers and devoid of that Samba carnival nonsense that makes Rio's Flamengo-Fluminense so limp. "This is war," declares the Fenerbahçe fans' leader, Sefa. "In Glasgow maybe it's religion, in Rome maybe it's politics. Here it's pure football. We hate each other, that's all."

    On the sex angle, we refer you to Simon Kuper's Financial Times article, in which he observes that "English footballers sin in packs. . . . They get into trouble together. They even watch each other having sex. This is because there is a strain in English football that regards drinking and group sex as forms of teambuilding."

  • London | 25 September 2003 . . . An important article on British perceptions of the BBC appears today in the New York Times (Sarah Lyall, "The BBC Loses a Bit of Its Luster"). Is the BBC losing its luster?The story, assessing the tarnish on what Brits call "Auntie," or the "Beeb," in the wake of BBC's reporting on the Iraq war, does not relate directly to football. But the network, especially its far-reaching radio broadcasts and websites, mediates much of reality, including sport, in Europe, Africa and Asia. Americans and others might also be surprised to learn that, according to Lyall's article, each British household that owns a color TV is required to pay a $192 annual license fee. (The fee is only $63 if your TV is black-and-white. Do such TVs still exist?)
  • London | 9 August 2003 . . . With top-flight leagues in the U.K., France and Germany beginning new campaigns, the talk turns to . . . shirts. The Times (London) gives surprising information: that players' names only appeared on shirts in England with the 1993 league-cup final. At the same time, the English Premier League introduced the idea of each"It's all about the shirt." Aly Wagner wears the No. 10 jersey for the U.S. national side. player having his own number, rather than numbering the players in each match according to position, 1 through 11 ("1" for goalkeeper, "10" and "11" for the front-runners, the rest in between). The Times quotes Trevor Phillips, the Premier League's commercial director when the changes were instituted: "It’s difficult to imagine a game without it now. I was watching Tottenham against Kaizer Chiefs in Cape Town the other day and as is normal at pre-season games the Spurs' guys didn't have any names on their shirts. They had several young or new players and I was thinking 'who on earth are they?' " The August FourFourTwo includes shirt tales (Dan Rookwood, "Big Girl's Blouse!" 46–47), from unconventional post-match exchanges to embarrassing gaffes (like spelling David Beckham's name "Beckam" at the 1997 Charity Shield). See also the Washington Post's nice history of shirt exchanging. | back to top