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China issued this stamp of Workers' Stadium as part of a series commemorating the 1989 Asian Games.
Iraq has been the story of the event until today, but Sepp Blatter and FIFA minions stopped the presses before the tournament by declaring officially that China had invented football. Tsu chu or cu ju is the alleged progenitor, dated to the Qin Dynasty (220–206 B.C.E.), if not before, and placed in the kingdom's capital, Linzi. The goal of tsu chu was to kick a ball through an opening into a small net, which was fixed onto erected bamboo canes. "Thank you China as the birthplace of football," Asian Football Confederation secretary-general Peter Velappan proclaimed at China Football Expo 2004 ("FIFA Boss Hails China as Football Birthplace," People's Daily, 16 July). "Football started in China and the sport's future belongs to Asia. Now I will ask the [Chinese Football Association] to work with FIFA and AFC to establish a museum and further establish related courses in college." Now that the question of football's beginnings has been put to rest, we can all sleep fitfully.
Beyond the Asian Cup, Asia's place in the world game continues to come to prominence. Efforts of Thailand prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra to acquire a 30 percent stake in Liverpool football club fell through (see Michael Elliott, "The Appeal of the Familiar," Time Asia, 17 May), but Thai liquor baron Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi closed an endorsement agreement with Everton. Everton home and away shirts this season will bear the two-headed elephant logo (right) of Chang Beer (see Amy Kazmin, "Thai Brewer Signs Landmark UK Football Deal," Financial Times, 7 July). The agreement allows Everton to gain valuable exposure in the Far East, while Thai footballers will travel to Everton academy for training. The more radical $112 million deal between Liverpool and the Thai government, which would have been paid for through a national lottery, was seen as a bit too bizarre. Kazmin writes that "the scheme provoked vehement opposition from Thai social conservatives, consumer groups and other critics." Hearts FC of the Scottish Premier League, meanwhile, have also been pursuing links with Thailand, with commercial deals and player exchanges part of the conversations (Paul Kiddie, "Hearts Out to Thai Up Talent," Edinburgh Evening News, 8 July). Such initiatives might or might not please the ever-present Blatter, who spoke before the Asian Cup about the advantages of European clubs lending talent to Asian leagues, rather than the reverse. The idea will be up for discussion at a FIFA meeting in October (James Kynge, "Send Football's Young Stars to Play in Asia, Says FIFA Chief," Financial Times, 17 July).
Players may not be exported from Europe to Asia in great numbers, but their images have become familiar. The BBC World Service in June broadcast a program ("TV Invasion"; direct link to the audio is available here) chronicling the influence of television in Bhutan, where legal broadcasts began in 1999. The launch of a domestic broadcasting concern and cable TV followed from the 1998 World Cup final, watched by thousands on a big screen in Bhutan's National Square. Football's attraction to the Bhutanese and to Himalayan cultures has become common knowledge through the Bhutanese-produced, lama-directed film The Cup, and through the 2002 documentary The Other Final (see The Global Game's interview with director Johan Kramer). But the BBC documentary—as well as a similar program for the U.S.-based Public Broadcasting Service ("Bhutan—The Last Place," Frontline/World, May 2002)—presents a sobering view of daily habits and liturgies interrupted by the TV-fueled interest in the West. The programs are full of depressing comments, such as that from Tintin Dorji, son of Bhutan's cable entrepreneur: "When we had no TV, I used to play with my dog a lot. But now I prefer to watch television." "When football is on, people now stay up very late," says Deychan Dema, who works in the offices of Sigma Cable Service (Orville Schell, "Gross National Happiness," Red Herring, 15 January 2002). Internet service was also inaugurated at about the same time as television. Now, says Kinlay Dorjee, "Suddenly we find ourselves stuck in front of so many screens! It has become a kind of compulsion, so that we feel it was almost like ignoring God, or Buddha, to not answer our screens!"
John Kerry, unabashed Patriot: The presumptive nominee took time in Fargo, North Dakota, to show his zeal for the gridiron football Super Bowl between New England and Carolina. (AP)
[E]ven if soccer moms were fanatical about the sport, politicians would still steer clear of it. That's because there's a deep anti-soccer strain in this country. Thick-necked football coaches have spread a nasty form of agitprop. They claim that soccer players are guys too cowardly to tackle a running back.
Unfortunately, these yokels have wielded disproportionate influence on the American mind. The popular sports shock jock Jim Rome, for instance, routinely denounces the game. To quote almost at random from him: "My son is not playing soccer. I will hand him ice skates and a shimmering sequined blouse before I hand him a soccer ball."
Foer also includes the characterization of Republican and ex–Buffalo Bills signal-caller Jack Kemp that "soccer is a European socialist" sport. The contretemps about Kerry and football gained momentum in the July issue of FourFourTwo (p. 39), which printed a picture of the nominee with his Yale side under the headline, "The Democrat's a Right-Winger." Magazine correspondent James Burnett writes that Kerry was known as "The Camel" for a loping gait, or as a diddler for being indecisive in attack. Still, these unsavory images do not dissuade Kerry organizers—on a webpage devoted to organizing Latino supporters—from invoking the world game's fund-raising potential: "[I]f a house party doesn't suit you, have a beach party! Have a soccer game! Have a 'Beat Bush BBQ'!" The pulse of the nation, however, might be best reflected by the following high-level exchange on the "Big Soccer" bulletin board:
Richie: If you can find out if [Kerry] still digs soccer then I would change my vote from bush to kerry. I would vote for any canidate [sic] that digs soccer even the frenkenstein [sic] monster Kerry.
655321: I'm voting for him anyway . . . but it'll have nothing to do with soccer. I mean, Bush used to love cocaine, but I'm not letting that keep me from voting Democrat.
Richie: He loved coke really? I loved coke I would vote for anyone who dug coke. So I guess I will vote for him after all. :-)
Haitians love the Brazilian team, as they demonstrate following a victory in the 2002 World Cup finals. (AP)
As for Copa América, and some of the sides involved, hosts Peru advanced to the quarterfinals, losing to Argentina. Peru last hosted the competition in 1957, and the 2004 edition marked something of a turning point following some 20 years of armed resistance led by Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and Tupac Amaru guerrillas. (See also the website of Peru's Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación and of the related photo exhibition, "Yuyanapaq: Para recordar.") This year's event was spiced by a one-day nationwide strike called midway through the event by the Confederación General de Trabajadores del Peru (CGTP), the country's largest labor organization. Protesting the free-market policies of the continent's least-popular leader, President Alejandro Toledo, the action resulted in 76 arrests, although the Associated Press characterized the strike's impact as minimal (Monte Hayes, "Peruvians Largely Ignore Call for Strike," 14 July). The government mobilized 93,000 police to make its views clear; former president and opposition Aprista Party leader Alan Garcia, however, supported the strike. More disruptive was the shutdown of Aero Continente, one of Peru's two major air carriers, when its insurance contract was not renewed. At least one journalist—the BBC's Tim Vickery—had to change his travel plans.Football spectacles in Latin America always seem to raise the specter of the past,
ReVista magazine spotlights Chile and the Chilean national stadium in its spring issue.
The National Stadium . . . is clearly a cultural icon of the nation. As a site of traumatic memory, the Stadium thus poses unique opportunities as well as challenges. With its 80,000-seat capacity, the Stadium is the site of the most important soccer matches in the country (and a World Cup site in 1962), immensely popular musical concerts, and other athletic and cultural events. It is extremely "inhabited." Tens of thousands constantly come and go through the stadium's gates. The fate of the Stadium as monument does not risk the physical, social and cultural relegation common to many conventional historic monuments.
Nor will the monument assume the quality of some static, impenetrable granite object commemorating fallen heroes. Too often, writes Chilean cultural scholar and critic Nelly Richard, a monument represents "the nostalgic contemplation of the heroic; the reification of the past in a commemorative block that petrifies the memorial as inert material." In the stadium, citizens will travel in and through the monument, making relegation, distance, and inertia far more difficult. Locating the accounts of victims and their families within the monument necessarily engages the representations of the past atrocities with the vibrant, emotional lived experiences of the present.
Mexico's ignominy occurred on 2 October 1968 when, 10 days before the start of the Olympic Games, government forces opened fire on student protesters in the La Plaza de las Tres Culturas at Tlatelolco in Mexico City, killing several hundred (see Tim Weiner, "When the Olympic Games Turned Political," New York Times, 24 July). Luis Echeverría, the interior minister in 1968 and later Mexico's president, was indicted on 23 July for his alleged role in authorizing additional murders of demonstrators in 1971. In between, of course, Mexico hosted the World Cup finals. But, according to Weiner's article in the Times, some historians date the end of Mexico's one-party rule to the events of 1968. The change culminated in 2000 with the election of current president Vincente Fox, who has his own problems.Colombia, which finished fourth in Copa América, nearly had to surrender the tournament in
Yet another photo of besparkled South American terraces, this time from Once Caldas. (www.oncecaldas.com.co)
Finally, ties between the United States—which turned down a Copa América place to concentrate on CONCACAF World Cup qualifying—and its Latin neighbors have been in focus. Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl concluded the magazine's four-part series on globalization in sports by contrasting the efforts of the National Football League and Major League Soccer to win over non-American fans ("Football vs. Fútbol," 5 July). MLS, of course, has accepted Jose Vergara's proposal for Chivas USA, to be based outside Los Angeles. Wahl writes:
The plan is rich in irony: MLS will be creating its own regional type of globalization by harnessing the power of globalism's supposed bugbear, fervent nationalism. In the most multinational of sports, Chivas's appeal is simple: It has never signed a non-Mexican player in its 97-year history. "We want to spread the passion of being all [Mexican] nationals," Vergara says, "and, of course, of always giving everything you have. That's how Mexicans play—and how Chivas USA is going to play."
Vergara certainly seems forward-thinking, attracted in the near-term by the 9.5 million people in Los Angeles County, of whom 45 percent are Latinos. Vergara also has been cited for uplifting women in the Mexican workplace, having created business and self-empowerment training centers solely for women. "In Latin American countries we have wasted women in the workforce because of our macho education," Vergara tells Wahl ("Have Ambition, Will Travel," SI.com, 30 June). Certainly Chivas will encounter cultural differences in its new venture. An interesting distinction likely will come in the area of branding. As the Financial Times noted recently (John Authers, "Why Mexicans Mix Cement with Football," 8 July), Chivas currently wears the logo of Cemento Tolteca. Other Mexican clubs, too, are endorsed by cement makers, well aware that "in Mexico, and in much of the rest of the developing world, people buy cement one bag at a time, usually from small hardware stores. That means it must be sold and marketed as a consumer product, not in bulk from business to business, as it is in developed economies." Women sometimes decide what cement to buy, showing again that preconceived notions often mislead.