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PLYMOUTH, MONTSERRAT,
AND HAMILTON, BERMUDA, 28 FEBRUARY 2004

Qualification Process Continues,
Despite Pyroclastic Flows

The lowest-ranked side (no. 204) in the

The steam rises from La Soufrière, which has caused much anguish for residents of Montserrat (National Geographic Society)
FIFA system, Montserrat, begins its World Cup pursuit tomorrow with a first-leg qualifier against Bermuda (no. 179). [Update: Bermuda began the tie with a 13–0 victory.] Montserrat's woes have been well-documented, beginning with the 1995 eruption of La Soufrière that resulted in the relocation of almost two-thirds of the island's population of 11,000. A documentary film about Montserrat's "Other Final" with Bhutan, held on the same day as the World Cup final in 2002, has been produced and is showing next month at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. The documentary's title is, simply, The Other Final (link opens the movie's official site). As for the volcano, La Soufrière, FIFA Magazine reported in October 2002 that it

is still volatile, and giant ash clouds have been known to shoot 5,000 metres into the sky during the national team's practice sessions. If the winds are in the right direction, the ash blows out to sea. Otherwise it comes down on top of the island. The dome atop the volcano still glows red and occasional pyroclastic flows add to the debris on the south end of the island. Underground thunder, another telltale sign of volcanic activity, is a regular occurrence. (Paul Gains, "The Aspirations of a Volcanic Island," p. 39; link opens PDF file)

Thanks to FIFA's Goal Programme, however, Montserrat does have a new national stadium, where it should host the return leg on 21 March. (Update: Montserrat lost the second leg 7–0.) As for Bermuda, the Royal Gazette is imploring the cricket-loving nation to show support (Colin Thompson, " 'We Need You Behind Us,' " 26 February). "This match is attracting international attention," says David Sabir, Bermuda Football Association general secretary, "and we have been contacted and advised of journalists and photographers from the UK and El Salvador who will be coming to report on this game." The winner of the two-leg qualifier faces El Salvador in the second round. | back to top

• • •

MIAMI AND PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI, 24 FEBRUARY 2004
Haiti Plays On, through Strife
In matches in Miami and Hialeah, Florida, Haiti advanced to a World Cup qualifying meeting with Jamaica, defeating Turks and Caicos 7–0 on aggregate. The results must please the some 230,000 Haitians in South Florida—the largest concentration in the United States (Abby Goodnough, "Island Chaos Casts a Pall Over Miami's Little Haiti," New York Times)—but a larger reality remains the political difficulties in

Anti-Aristide marchers gather in Port-au-Prince (Miami Herald)
Haiti and the cultural struggles in their new homeland. Just before the second leg, midfielder Peter Germain learned his home in Saint-Marc had been burned to the ground (Michael Lewis, "Haitian Team Hit by Unrest," New York Daily News). Furthermore, as rebel forces in Haiti advance on the capital, Haitians in Florida and elsewhere in the United States suffer under a restrictive immigration policy and discrimination from both whites and African Americans.

Beneath the language and culture barriers lies the issue of society's acceptance of Haitians . . . , who point to the U.S. immigration policies toward Haitians as an example. Unlike Cubans who are greeted by an immigration law that allows them to apply for permanent residency, Haitians trying to seek refuge in the United States are put in detention or sent back to Haiti. (Kelly Brewington, "Struggles Follow Haitian Students to School in Orlando," Orlando Sentinel, 21 February; registration required)

Other recent features on Haiti

Mark Zeigler of the San Diego Union-Tribune ("Political Fallout," 10 March) and the New York Times's George Vecsey ("Haitian Players Watch the Ball and the Tube," 4 March) write in particular about Clavijo. The football team featured on 28 February on the radio program Only a Game (WBUR-FM, Boston) and also in the Miami Herald (Michelle Kaufman, "With Worried Eyes on Home, Soccer Team Seeks to Inspire," 27 February).

Fernando Clavijo, a former U.S. international, born in Uruguay, took over as coach of the national team in October 2003 and moved the training camp to Florida (Michelle Kaufman, "Haiti Shows New Life in the Soccer World," Knight Ridder Newspapers, 15 November 2003).

In the recent qualifier's first leg, Haiti's Johnny Descollines recalled the exploits of Haitian star Emmanuel Sanon (two goals in the 1974 World Cup finals, in which Haiti became the first finals entrant from the Caribbean) with a hat trick inside a seven-minute interval ("Hot Haiti's Hat-Trick Hero," FIFAWorldCup.com). Nono Baptiste, former Haiti coach, effused afterward:

No puedo describir la emoción que produce esta victoria en la comunidad haitiana. Siempre cuando escucho la radio, veo la televisión y leo los periódicos, encuentro sólo malas noticias sobre Haití. La victoria del domingo produjo una noticia positiva, como un rayo de esperanza que demuestra el potencial de nuestra gente. ("I can't describe the emotion that this victory provides the Haitian community. When I listen to the radio, watch television and read newspapers I only see bad news about Haiti. Sunday's victory gives us some good news, like a ray of hope demonstrating the potential of our people.") (Luis F. Sanchez, "Baptiste, timón de oro de la Selección Haití," El Nuevo Herald [Miami])

The U.S. women's national team faces Haiti on Friday in a CONCACAF Olympic qualifier in Costa Rica. The men play the Haitians in Miami on March 13. (To keep up to date on political events, refer to the Miami Herald's Haiti page.) | back to top

• • •

WAKEFIELD, ENGLAND,
AND TURIN, ITALY, 21 FEBRUARY 2004

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 2004 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. | back to top

• • •

RAMAT GAN, ISRAEL, 18 FEBRUARY 2004
Israelis Come Home, with New Knowledge
The Israel national team thumped Azerbaijan 6–0 in a significant match for both sides. For Israel, 18,000 attended the national team's first international match at home since the previous March. "In my wildest dreams, I didn't believe so many people would come to the game," said Israel Football Association chairman Yitzhak Menachem (Doron Bergerfreund, "Israel Romps as Soccer Comes Home," Ha'aretz, 19 February). Security concerns had prevented Israeli clubs and the national side from hosting matches—UEFA's restrictions still stand, although they will be reevaluated in April (ed.: the UEFA ban was officially lifted on 21 April)—but Sepp Blatter affirmed last week that Israel could play international friendlies as well as World Cup 2006 qualifiers on home soil (Ofer Ronen-Abels, "FIFA OKs Matches in Israel," Jerusalem Post, 12 February). The lads from AzerbaijanAlthough Azerbaijan could not be pleased with the result, only the previous weekend it had acquired a new coach: 1970 Brazil captain Carlos Alberto Torres, who has also coached in Egypt, Oman and Nigeria. (For excellent background, see the Azerbaijan page created for UEFA's Golden Jubilee.) Media in Israel, for the time being, also seemed tolerant of coach Avraham Grant, dressed down by domestic football officials for secretly attending the recent African Cup of Nations in Tunisia, a country with which Israel has no diplomatic relations. Ha'aretz writes, somewhat sarcastically:

The sharp-eyed observer would have noted that the national team did not pass the ball like that before Grant's African trip. Since that fateful visit, Grant's players have become mercurial in mind and body. A quick glance at the notes that Grant took while in Tunisia would show that the national team played with a rare blend of Moroccan virtuosity, Tunisian pressure, Algerian defending and Libyan mentality. (Avi Ratzon, "The Last Word: Out of Africa," 19 February) | back to top

• • •

DUBLIN, IRELAND, 17 FEBRUARY 2004
Eggs and Shirts a Focus of Brazil Friendly
Intrigue swirls around tomorrow's friendly with Brazil at Lansdowne Road. Brazilian officials have asked for a change in kickoff time to avoid a conflict with a popular Brazilian soap opera (Russell Kempson, "Ireland Refuse Slot in Brazil's Soap Sideshow," The Times [U.K.]): no dice, says the Football Association of Ireland (FAI). Word has it that the Brazilians have banned eggs from their training-camp menu ("No Eggs in Mad Scramble for Ronaldo," Irish Independent). What's going on? Clearly, the first encounter between Brazil and the Republic of Ireland since 1987 (a 1–0 Ireland victory) has caught the media's attention. Of particular interest has been the July 1973 fixture between the so-called Shamrock Rovers XI, The Brazilian eleven will trot out Wednesday in a redesigned jerseya united Ireland side (including Northern Ireland international and current Celtic manager Martin O'Neill), and Brazil, who then, as now, were world champions (Emmet Malone, "Brazil Bring Out United Front," The Irish Times, 14 February; Ciaran Orighallaigh, "Brazil's Return to Dublin's Flair City Conjures Up Memories," Scotland on Sunday, 15 February). The match occurred despite FAI objections to the unified-team concept. These were times of the Troubles, when 163 people already had been killed in sectarian violence. "Three months after the publication of the divisive Widgery report that exonerated the British army's actions on Bloody Sunday 16 months earlier," Orighallaigh writes, "the focus of an island switched, if only for 90 minutes, to a football match." The FAI had succeeded in downplaying the importance of the match, hence the "Shamrock Rovers" team title. Only the Brazilian flag was flown and its anthem played, although, the Irish Times reports, the St. Patrick's Brass and Reed Band did play "A Nation Once Again," once voted the world's most popular song in a BBC World Service poll. The fallout from the match was severe for Northern Ireland captain Derek Dougan, who was seen as disloyal. As Dougan tells the Irish Times:

After it, I probably had a couple of my best years at Wolves but I never played for Northern Ireland again. I finished up with 43 appearances, seven short of my second gold watch. After 15 years I had no complaints but you lot down south owe me a watch. | back to top

• • •

LONDON AND LISBON, 16 FEBRUARY 2004
Eusebio: 'Cried for a Long Time'
In advance of Wednesday's England-Portugal friendly, the Times (U.K.) speaks with Eusebio about the 1966 World Cup finals and his own struggles under the thumb of Portuguese A bad dictatordictator António de Oliveira Salazar (1889–1970) (Gabriele Marcotti, "Eusebio: The Agony of '66"). First, he mentions lingering bitterness that Portugal's semifinal against England in 1966 was suddenly relocated from Liverpool to Wembley Stadium; Portugal lost 2–1 before 95,000.

I looked up to God in heaven and screamed at the top of my lungs: "What have we done to deserve this?" There was no reply. I knew the answer. We were poor and small. England was rich and powerful and they were the host nation. And then I cried. I cried for a long time. Had we played in Liverpool, like we were supposed to, we would have won that game and reached the final. There is no question about it.

Eusebio, who was born in Mozambique, notes that his movements as a footballer, in contrast to today's post-Bosman world, were limited. The game was segregated, and Salazar barred moves abroad from Benfica.

Juventus came for me when I was 19. After the World Cup, Inter made a big offer, one which would have made me the highest-paid player in the world. And yet I was not allowed to move. Why? Salazar was not my father and he certainly was not my mother. What gave him the right? The truth was that he was my slavemaster, just as he was the slavemaster of the entire country. | back to top

• • •

PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY, 15 FEBRUARY 2004
Hail the 'Schlubster Linesman'
Irishman Paul Muldoon's poem "Soccer Moms" appears in the New Yorker (issue dated 16 and 23 February, pp. 166–67; available in the magazine only). Poet Paul Muldoon. Click for his official website.
		  Winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Moy Sand and Gravel: Poems, Muldoon invokes the Cuban Missile Crisis, Gene Chandler of "Duke of Earl" fame and two mothers, Mavis and Merle, who watch "their daughters, themselves now tweenie girls, / crowd round a coach for one last tête-à-tête." The 34-line poem of 11 stanzas contrasts seriousness with recreation, highlighting the worries and regrets that the mothers find themselves having inherited, while their daughters play on. A recurring image is that of failing light, when "a schlubster linesman will unfurl / an offside flag that signals some vague threat. . . ." Muldoon currently works as Howard G. B. Clark Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, where he has written sport-themed poems in the past. He penned a dedication, "All the Way," for the opening of a new Princeton gridiron-football stadium in 1998. . . . In other literary news, Parade magazine notes that Theodore S. Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) in 1920 managed the soccer team for his high school in Springfield, Massachusetts (Earl Swift, "We Celebrate Dr. Seuss"). The magazine contains a picture of Geisel (middle name "Seuss") with 17 other boys and one football. . . . For unpoetic reactions to the on-pitch poetry of Arsenal's Thierry Henry, see the quotations from Frank Kermode and U.K. poet laureate Andrew Motion (Tim Adams, "Thierry's All Gold," The Observer [U.K.]). | back to top

• • •

  • Guadalajara, Mexico | 10 February . . . Jalisco Stadium hosts a much-hyped encounter tonight between the under-23 men's teams of Mexico and the United States (Elisabeth Malkin, "Mexican Honor and Olympics on Line vs. U.S.," New York Times). The Mexican under-23 side makes preparationsAt stake is a spot in the Olympic Games in Athens. The hype, naturally, has occurred "south of the border"—the phrase signifying the perspective from which we write. The game will not be broadcast, except on closed-circuit television, in the United States. But there is plenty of attention in Mexico, which has ready recall of the 2–0 defeat to the U.S. in the 2002 World Cup round of 16. Malkin leads off, perhaps overdramatically:

    For Mexico's beleaguered people, Tuesday's soccer match between Mexico and the United States in Guadalajara is about much more than winning a place in the Summer Olympics in Athens. ¶It is about national honor. ¶To many Mexicans, soccer has become a proxy for all the indignities the country has suffered at the hands of the United States in almost two centuries of independence. . . . In Mexican eyes, the United States now alternately bullies its southern neighbor or ignores it—all the while building a wall to keep out Mexicans.

    While emphasizing the importance of the match—"es el más importante de mi carrera," says Mexican midfielder Luis Pérez in an agency report ("México y Estados Unidos disputan el boleto para los Juegos Olímpicos," La Jornada, 9 February)—the few Mexican sources we checked did not indicate that it had cosmic significance beyond football. TV Azteca commentator José Ramón Fernández sets the stake as "un día importante y crítico para una nueva generación de futbolistas" ("México debe ganar," tvazteca.com.mx), but the reference is to futbolistas, not to the nation as a whole. That supporters of Mexico at a first-round match in Zapopan chanted "Osama, Osama" during the U.S. anthem could be taken as a show of respect. Mexico knows that the home advantage will be critical. | back to top

  • Havana, Cuba | 9 February . . . The phenomenon of Diego Maradona receives another exposition (Gabriele Marcotti, "Tuning In to the Surreal Voice of God," The Times [U.K.]). Maradona sometimes appears in vests that show off his Ché Guevara tattooAfter bringing us up to date on Maradona's doings—an occasional commentary gig on Biscardivenerdi on Italy's La7 network—Marcotti dissects the archetypal Maradona: Maradona as trickster, religious figure (see other accounts of the "Hand of God" church) and iconoclast:

    [S]ections of his fanbase—whether consciously or unconsciously—secretly entertain the notion that he harbours some form of divinity. How else can one explain his immense nature-defying gifts? He is a Christ figure, crucified by football's Herods, Sepp Blatter and João Havelange. And, like Christ, his message is not always easy to understand, though one day all will be revealed. Of course, this school of thought ignores the fact that Maradona does not walk on water or heal the sick and, at least for now, he's come up short in the business of delivering salvation. . . . Perhaps the explanation is simpler. Maradona is the slutty Jezebel to Pelé’s girl next door, absinthe to wine coolers. | back to top

  • Tehran, Iran | 8 February . . . Through a photo essay in the New York Times Magazine we Niloofar Bassirmeet Niloofar Bassir (Nazila Fathi, "Beckham's Kid Sister," photography by Newsha Tavakolian, available through 14 February in the "Lives" section of the magazine's home page), a 19-year-old who quickly puts one in mind of Jesminder Bhamra of Bend It Like Beckham. As with Bhamra's retreat in the home of her Punjabi Sikh parents, one can see Beckham in various triumphant poses on the wall of Bassir's room. Bassir can braid her hair like Beckham, but must keep it covered in public. Only female fans can watch her compete in uniform. | back to top
  • London | 6 February . . . 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.' " | back to top
  • Gyôr, Hungary, and Guimaraes, Portugal | 4 February . . . That Miklós Fehér died as he did, during a live television match for Fehér's jersey is displayed at his funeral procession in Gyôrhis team, Benfica, recalled the similar-seeming death of Marc Vivien Foé the previous summer in FIFA's Confederations Cup. Fehér, 24, who had played 25 times for Hungary's national team, died on 25 January after his heart "simply stopped beating" (Rob Hughes, "A Death Brings Fear to the Field," International Herald Tribune). "Feher, by all accounts a placid and pleasant man," Hughes writes, "had come on the field as a late substitute. The seconds were ticking away when Feher was shown the yellow card by the referee. Feher smiled, then bent over with his hands on his knees. He tumbled back." Fehér's death, without any other explanation, also becomes linked with the intense physical demands placed on professional footballers and related abuses. Hughes continues:

    [T]here is, surely, cause for someone in overall authority to offer more than the condolences that came rapidly enough from FIFA. . . . With the interminable inquiry into supplements used by Italian clubs such as Juventus [see gleanings entry for 19 December 2003], with the highly suspect coincidence of unexplained deaths of several soccer professionals in Romania, there must be urgency among the medical committees and the administrators who increase the number of tournaments and the profits of the global game. | back to top