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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. | back to top
• • •FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE, 24 MARCH 2004
Slovakian referee Lubos Michel was among three to visit Sierra Leone on behalf of UEFA.
Amid these events, in which football maintains a seemingly ambiguous influence, Hughes accompanies referees Lubos Michel (Slovakia), Anders Frisk (Sweden) and Markus Merk (Germany) on a UEFA-sponsored mission to beleaguered Sierra Leone, recovering after the end of civil war in January 2002 (see also the account on UEFA's website, and the BBC World Football program devoted to the visit on 3 April). UEFA helps fund work of the International Committee of the Red Cross in reuniting children with parents and protecting them in future conflict. The traumatic effects of war are apparent in Hughes's account:
On March 17, [the referees] took turns changing into their uniforms in the Red Cross Land Rover, and officiating at a game between 14-year-olds of two refugee camps, Gerihun and Jembe. ¶When Jembe opened the scoring, the boy who scored the goal ran to the corner flag, calling his teammates to him. There, he turned, pretended that he had a machine gun in his hands, and "mowed down" his pals, who fell to the ground. ¶The villagers, standing in front of their mud huts on the edge of Jembe camp, laughed at the children's celebration. It was an innocent act from children in a society that has lost all innocence, but few of those who were there were shocked by the boys' playful exhibition.
For additional reading about a possible role for football refereeing in violent societies—specifically within Sierra Leone—see Paul Richards, "Soccer and Violence in War-Torn Africa: Soccer and Social Rehabilitation in Sierra Leone," in Entering the Field: New Perspectives on World Football, ed. Gary Armstrong and Richard Giulianotti (Oxford: Berg, 1997), 141–57, especially 150–52. | back to top
• • •LONDON, 14 MARCH 2004
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. | back to top
• • •MADRID, 11 MARCH 2004
Members of Real Madrid form a circle during training on Thursday. Flags at the Santiago Bernabéu were also lowered to half-mast. See the story on Real Madrid's website.
In five or more years of covering wars I have ended up sitting on a variety of [football] terraces, in some of the most blighted parts of the world, all of which seem to conjure traumatic childhood memories of the South Bank at Upton Park in its pre-seating days. I remember filing into the stadium in Freetown, Sierra Leone, shortly after British forces had beaten back a rebel offensive. There I watched the Royal Marines, who had spent most of the past three months on a ship, soundly beaten by a makeshift local side that featured, wearing trainers, half a dozen internationals.
Another curious pairing between sport and self-destruction includes the prominence given the Greek Olympics in ancient times (John Noble Wilford, "When the Games Began: Olympic Archaeology," New York Times, 9 March), for which "nothing was allowed to stand in the way. When it was time for the games, armies of rival cities usually laid down their weapons in a 'sacred truce.' In 480 B.C., while the Persians were torching Athens, there was no stopping the foremost games at Olympia." Sports as diplomacy is often cited as a positive, as in the rapprochement between India and Pakistan, in which cricket is doing its part in a much-anticipated series between the two countries (Scott Baldauf, "Is It Peace or War? India and Pakistan Back at Cricket," Christian Science Monitor, 9 March). Pushpesh Pant, professor of diplomacy at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, says the series includes "a bit of religion, with the hero worship of the players. It's a bit of politics, with two great rival nations seeing who is the better. It's a bit of a lottery, so that with a little talent, even a poor street worker might be able to break away from poverty."
Unclear is where these linkings leave us. As for the bombings in Spain, the perpetrators have been variously identified as the Basque separatist group ETA (Euzkadi Ta Askatasuna, meaning "Basque Homeland and Freedom"), or al Qaeda, or a splinter group. Football has, in part—as Ball has recounted ("Basque Ups and Downs," ESPNSoccernet.com, 22 October 2002)—helped fuel the notion of Basque distinctiveness. Yet there were thousands in Bilbao earlier today, silently standing in protest of the morning's killings. It appears that people have the capacity to compartmentalize sport as a realm of fancy and the carnivalesque, and to turn to it when the urge strikes to feel young, or to state, subtly, that reality could be much nicer. | back to top
• • •SAN JOSÉ, COSTA RICA, 5 MARCH 2004
Maribel Domínguez celebrates afterward (AP)
What we earned today was another four years of support [from the Mexican federation]. We live in a culture where you have to win to get support. . . . The players deserved this win. They do not get any pennies for this. It has no value financially for them, but emotionally these are tattoos that stay on your heart forever. (Mark Zeigler, "U.S. Women Joined by Mexico in Nailing Down Trip to Olympics," San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 March)
Domínguez has seven goals in the CONCACAF qualifying tournament thus far, with a final against the United States tonight. (Both teams already have earned the confederation's two spots in Athens.) The youngest of nine children growing up near Mexico City's federal district, Domínguez credits her mother with hiding her football shoes and taking her to training when her father, who did not like football, was not around (Blane Bachelor, "Mexico's Dominguez Overcomes Long Odds," USA Today, 4 August 2003). "Yo era feliz en los campos" ("I was happy on the fields") Domínguez tells El Universal. At 25 she is already Mexico's all-time leading scorer and with the WUSA's Atlanta Beat was one of the side's most popular players. Local Spanish-language publication Estadio dubbed her "Mari-gol," and children posted her picture on bedroom walls (Michelle Hiskey, "Newspapers Make Sport(s) in Spanish," Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 17 August 2003). | back to top
• • •LONDON, 4 MARCH 2004
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. | back to top