Spain’s big two lead the way once again, and a renegotiation of contracts mean a new influx of cash, but are certain regions over-reliant on this trend continuing?
May 19, 2012
“At Camp David for the G8 Summit, European leaders took a break to watch the overtime shootout of the Chelsea vs. Bayern Munich Champions League final. Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, the President, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, French President François Hollande react during the winning goal.” (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
“The background here is that over the last 25 years almost every big-name Brazilian player has been lured across the Atlantic, which has come as a blow to national pride. After every disappointing performance from the national team, the call has usually come for more home-based players to be selected – the very players who, six months later, are then also transferred to Europe.
So far, Neymar has bucked the trend. He has become a symbol of the new Brazil, the emerging power growing in confidence and economic strength. The country’s development is exemplified by the fact that there is enough money around for Neymar to receive a European-style salary. ”
“Since 1979 we’ve had a survey of how Belgian people feel,” De Winter said. “The Walloons have always felt Belgian, the Flemish hadn’t. That shifted in 1986 in the Flemish community: a jump in 15 percent from feeling Flemish to feeling Belgian. There was no other event in that period that might have triggered it.”
“In 2005, Ajax made a concerted effort to try to distance itself from the Jewish image. (Among other things, it stopped making a “Hava Nagila” ringtone available for download on its website.) Why? Because the quasi-cultural identification had been adopted by its hooligans, some of whom draped themselves in Jewish symbols when fighting with other fans or the police. What’s more, whenever Ajax faced teams with supporters with far-right tendencies, it faced a barrage of anti-Semitic abuse, including chants of “Hamas! Hamas!” and hissing meant to emulate gas chambers. The club’s campaign had limited success.”
“The player stands in the centre and must pass the ball off whichever rebound board is flashing in the quickest amount of time. It’s a real test of reactions, agility and passing accuracy.
And to add to the space age feel, every movement of player and ball is mapped by the sensors, with the data instantly available to download to an iPhone app.”
“In a city where parks and public spaces are rare, and crowds typically are associated with danger, there was a festive normality to the occasion. There was even — albeit in the V.I.P. section in the stands — a large contingent of women and children, whose public entertainment options are almost nonexistent.”
“Progress is nice. Progress is encouraging. And when it comes in the form of 66,452 fans packed into a stadium, progress can be loud.”
Retired soccer stars have taken up all kinds of unlikely jobs, but AC Milan onetime defender Kakha Kaladzetakes the prize for the most unpredictable career change. The former captain of Georgia’s national soccer team, and a little bit of a national sex symbol, Kaladze has been nominated to become the Georgian minister of energy and natural resources.
Kaladze’s surprise nomination came as Georgia’s prime-minister-to-be, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who today got back his Georgian citizenship, announced the final members of his proposed cabinet, with Kaladze given the country’s power switch.
With disarming honesty, Kaladze himself conceded the point. “Honestly speaking, I have no experience in the energy sphere,” he told reporters after Ivanishvili’s announcement.
“So why is life so tough for the road team in South America? One explanation is that it is a mighty long road. Distances are vast in South America, and traveling around the continent can be tiring. At the end of the journey, the visiting team is often met by an intimidating atmosphere – and conditions that may not be to its liking.”
“When the former Germany coach rejected US Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati’s overtures in 2006, BigSoccer’s USMNT section filled with threads befitting the book He’s Just Not That Into You. Fans went through the four stages of grieving – 1) denial, 2) self-doubt, 3) anger, 4) acceptance.”
“n Italy, they refer to him as the trequartista. In Argentina, he’s the enganche. In England … ”
“Britain’s distrust of zonal marking is a bizarre feature of the national footballing identity and the last bastion of British boneheadedness in a country that is finally seeing the benefit of deep-lying passers and embracing formations other than 4-4-2. ”
“In the last two years, Americans have been exposed to elite soccer on a very regular basis, which has allowed us to appreciate the sport and develop a savvy about it in a way we could not before.”
“We are building a team to be one of the best in Europe. To become big, you need to sign players now and that is what we are doing. Obviously, we believe in our targets and objectives, and we are really confident that the dreams are going to come true.”
By Thomas Ang
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a late goal to complete Real Madrid’s comeback for a win over Manchester City on Tuesday. There is no doubt about the importance of the goal, but in its wake there have been questions about how the ball managed to find its way past Kompany and Hart. Was it Kompany’s fault for ducking? Was it Hart’s fault for failing to save a shot that came so close to him? Was Cristiano lucky? Kompany’s response to the questions has been that the striker deserves full credit for the goal.
GIF of Cristiano’s goal in question, generously supplied by Josh Anderson
I’m not the biggest Cristiano fan (still won’t refer to him by only his last name), but the science suggests Kompany is correct. Cristiano Ronaldo’s shot changed its spin in mid-flight to produce a downward dip greater than possible through gravity alone. The shot should have been impossible to execute, and therefore nothing could have prepared either the defender or keeper for the sublime shot.
“The club needs a guaranteed source of income, and we have the ideal conditions for hydro power.”
When the £100m-plus complex is opened for pre-season before the 2014-15 campaign, it will include the City Football Academy and contain 16 full-size football pitches, a Fifa regulation indoor pitch and a bespoke training, medical and operational facility. City say that the project has included consultation “across five continents and more than 30 elite sport development centres” and has a “98% approval rate” among the local community.
“I realised that the political context had got worse since the 2010 World Cup. I tried to ignore it but I wanted, as a national coach – you may call this Utopia – to make Catalans and Basques feel good about supporting a Spanish side … to unite even the most sectarian and nationalist. The thought of using football to help unite [Spaniards] is something that makes me feel happy.”
The U.K.-based Guardian newspaper has a thriving books section and maintains its own bookstore for its publishing wing. Readers might be surprised to discover that the most popular book is about soccer, entitled I Am the Secret Footballer.
The author, writing anonymously, is a professional soccer player in the twilight of his career who tells-all about his rise up the ranks of soccer in England, his excessive spending, and a lot about the WAGs (Wives and Girlfriends), including some juicy tidbits about sex in swimming pools and infidelity. The more tender moments of the story relate to the author’s crippling depression and his criticisms of how fame corrupts relationships.
The Guardian has ingeniously published a video of the secret footballer juggling in full spandex and a hoodie, but the clip gives away a little bit (juggling styles are very personal, and anyway some fans suspect he is midfielder Jimmy Bullard.) It is a brilliant marketing ploy.
Much of the story has been written about before in other sports, but here is a tasty morsel for the writing world: the author is considering writing novels. While we haven’t been dazzled by his prose, it’s worth watching the shelves. Anthony Bourdain’s bold forays into writing and graphic novels prove that anything is possible, right?
Two goalless draws, misfiring new strikers, a Mancunian Van Persie wondergoal. All the ingredients are there for the overzealous pessimism that has surrounded Arsenal in recent years to thrive as we settle in this new season. The Premier League has only been back for two weeks and already that one irrational thought is ringing in the back of Arsenal fans’ minds: “What if Arsenal actually never score again without Robin Van Persie?”. Naturally the goals will come, but what will be more interesting to see is who will be taking charge of the scoring responsibilities.
Argentine announcer Andrés Cantor doing what he does best, “Gooooooal.”
Yahoo! recently reported that one of the reasons that Univision dominates its English-language competitors when it airs the same exact soccer match is that many Americans actually prefer to watch the games with Spanish commentary, even if they don’t understand any of it.