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Stadiums are supposed to be like parks, giving people of various classes a chance to rub shoulders, but the new Soldier Field extends the social stratification present in all American stadiums to a new and distressing extreme. Inevitably, there will be frigid and windy winter days when bundled-up fans in the grandstand will look across the field to see, in the suites, the masters of the universe lounging comfortably in shirtsleeves. | back to top
Ten years ago, before the United States turned Qatar into an aircraft carrier with sand, the Qataris hosted the Asian zone qualifying round for soccer's 1994 World Cup. Three American journalists went off into Doha, looking for souvenir gewgaws to buy, and they stopped at a store with a sign that said "Sporting Clothes." They asked if they could buy jerseys for any of the competing teams—in this case a historically fractious bunch made up of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, and both Koreas. (Iraq's soccer mission was led that year by the not-then-yet-late Uday Hussein.) The man behind the counter shook his head.
"Sorry," he said. "All we have is Michael Jordan." | back to top
You don't scream at Zinedine Zidane for wandering across the park, because Zidane probably knows what he is doing. You don't tell Roberto Carlos to mark his man. So the galacticos play their own game, like the mythical children on the sandlots of long ago who litter the essays of Jorge Valdano, Real's sporting director. Zidane is free to dribble as if he were still a 13-year-old on Marseille's Place Tartane. | back to top