N.B.: It is always possible that links below will have expired, or that the link will take you to an archive, where you must part with $3.00 or so for a 750-word article. Another possibility is that a subscription or registration of some sort will be required. We apologize for any inconvenience, noting only that there frankly are too many links on the site to keep up with them all.
If, however, you would like us to find a now-expired article in our archives, we'd be happy to send it to you, if available. Please use the contacts link.
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,
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).
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.EPISTLES
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 narrator continues:
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 KabulNEIGHBORHOODS
Dangerous liaisons and football
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.POEMS
Football against the enemy
On through the heat of slaughter
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.GOALPOSTS
Table legs withstand swift kicks
Lasses leave lockers, looking lovely
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.
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
Tiffeny Milbrett arrives in Sweden, to the surprise of at least one fellow traveler. (Sunnanå SK)
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.
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).
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 text2. 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.
Columnist Jemele Hill writes: "It seems the crime most female professional athletes have committed is they aren't scandalous or weird."
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,
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?
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 topAUTHORS
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
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
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 SUPERSTITIONS
'Curse Stone' leads to goal drought?
Carlisle, England, 3 March 2005 | A recently inscribed monolith employing the alleged words of a 16th-century Glaswegian
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
New read on 'Tebbit test'
London, 21 January 2005 | The Guardian's Leo Benedictus masterfully surveys ethnic communities and cultures in a city that
Frame freezes Burnley rearguard
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
Weah's parents were born in Ghana; he informally advises Freddy Adu, a Ghana native. (Kevin Clark | The Washington Post)
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:
Devereaux's quietude and native gentleness made the episode uncomfortable to watch, recalling youth-football memories of our coach,
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.
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)
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).
Feelings on Merseyside about the Sun have not calmed, even after 15 years.
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
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)
The cows mark a Manchester renaissance. (Slate.com)
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.SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND, 2 SEPTEMBER 2004
Football Unites, Racism Divides outlines its activities in a 2003 report. Click here or on picture for PDF (1.2 MB).
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.
Will Buckley promotes his book (above) and spills bile at the same time.
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."
Julie Fleeting, in Arsenal yellow, buries her third goal in the 83rd minute. (The FA)
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
Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads opens April 23.
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 Rowan in cope and mitre.
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.
Someone named Flo loves the Gunners. An item from Katie Walker's Vedette collection.
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.
Gooner Mary Riddell alludes to the beefburgers "that smell of hippo's nostril."
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
[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.
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.
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."