On November 29, 2009, I unleashed my three-year old son Junito on the world of soccer and proudly chronicled his exploits. The task was simple enough: mold the greatest ever player for Real Madrid. We’ve all enjoyed the ups and downs, cried at the false early retirement, and were happy to see him come back stronger than ever. And had fun on Vimeo and Youtube. Sadly, though, it must end. Today.
There’s two problems: (1) Junito’s talent and (2) Me getting in the way. Continue reading “Junito: An Unexpected & Abrupt Ending” »
Don’t you just love stereotypes? I’m half-Mexican and fair-skinned, which has given me a unique window to know what white folks think of Mexicans and vice-versa. The general consensus is that Mexican Coke is better than American Coke, and that people can’t even agree to disagree about the rest but I can dance salsa quite well as long as it’s not with your daughter.
Luckily, I’ve gotten in touch with both my “roots” quite recently. Continue reading “Some Hot & Spicy Mexican Content” »
Life isn’t all sunny days and lollipops. Sometimes, it rains on our parade. Sometimes, a player for the US national team doesn’t get that ticket to the World Cup. Here are a few stunning displays in either friendlies or World Cup qualifying by US players that didn’t add up to a tournament invitation.
Shed a tear for these poor guys. So close, yet so far. Continue reading “Friendly Ire: Past USMNT Near Misses” »
I assure you, dearest and most loyal of readers, that the above image is not a fake. The name. The birth date. The location. The fixture. It’s all true. Melvin Arana, known in these parts as “Junito”, is officially unretired and….his first ever competitive game looms large.
What does that mean for our family, Junito and the soccerverse at large? Perhaps nothing. Perhaps everything. Continue reading “Junito: You Kant Have It All (All the Time)” »
International fandom is often looked down upon, not surprisingly. For centuries, we’ve clung to the nation-states based on geography as the cornerstone of individual and collective identity. We were born in X place. We are citizens of X place. We belong to, and praise, X place. For the last century, sports followed society and ergo fans followed teams based on geography.
Enter the 21st century. Technology, such as cable TV and the internet, has allowed individuals to follow and love clubs regardless of geographic location. Soccer has grown in the US thanks to a solid domestic league but also the exposure of the top European teams. Yet, there’s still a problem: the top games, Champions League fixtures, are played on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons at about 2:00 central time in the US. They are played on work-days. Even worse, the timing means a fan can’t take a super long lunch.
Oddly, and purely coincidentally, these fixtures have started to coincide with a unique strain of illnesses causing fans to miss work on said dates and at said times. Here’s a helpful list of these emerging illnesses: Continue reading “Top Ten Mysterious Illnesses that Afflict American Fans During Champions League Fixtures” »
The US men’s national team currently has a friendly scheduled vs.
the Ukraine. (No article: here’s why) As a team that narrowly lost to France in a two-legged playoff, it promised to be a stern test for the team. However, the recent violence in political developments have raised the specter that the game may be moved and/or even called off. Despite a recent peace deal signed last Friday, nobody knows if the other side will respect it. The President has left the country and the PM has been released, but will the loyalists put down their arms?
We decided to ask a sample of US soccer fans what they thought about the game and this highly volatile situation. Continue reading “Ask An American Soccer Fan: Pending Ukraine Friendly” »
Jack Lang has written a fantastic article at about Soccer Portuguese. Check it out here. He first got the joga bonito bug while playing with Brazilian expats in France, but has since polished his Portuguese with trips to stadiums throughout Brazil. A few, if any, of you may recall that I wrote a series on Soccer Spanish a few years back which turned into the modestly successful An Illustrated Guide to Soccer & Spanish (Plug: available at Amazon and iTunes). I also have dabbled in Portuguese a bit (I lived in Lisbon for a brief spell many a moon ago).
Jack’s piece was perfect for soccer fans with the travel bug who also enjoy learning a second language. It inspired me to compare and contrast Soccer Spanish and Soccer Portuguese for your reading pleasure. No worries, no need to take notes like during the Real Academia PROHIBIDA lecture series from ’09. Just sit back, read and enjoy. Continue reading “Soccer Spanish Revisited: Bridging the Iberian Divide” »
It’s simple math. A major sports tournament at an exotic locale looms. A journalist gets on an online travel website, looks at the price for a hotel in a city during a regular summer month, then they look at the price for that same hotel during said sporting tournament. The numbers don’t add up! One is bigger! Outrage! Anger! Businesses then get slammed for trying to “profit” from the influx of tourists. It happened in South Africa. Should we be surprised that Brazilian hotels will be more expensive this summer?
Never fear, though, because Dilma is here! The Brazilian government has stepped in and investigated whether the price surge reflects a “cartel-like” situation. A special committee has been created to monitor said price surges. So, everything’s fine, right? The state will solve all our problems? Can’t Brazil just follow the Latin American trend and amend its Constitution another time to include a universal right for fair hotel rates during World Cups?
A closer look shows that the problem-solver is actually the cause, not the savior, for the problem. Continue reading “Every World Cup Article Ever Written: Stupid Price Hikes!” »
FIFA has awarded the World Cup to Qatar in 2022. Newsflash: Qatar is a pretty hot country. This past summer, Ecuadorian striker Chucho Benitez died from heart failure shortly after signing and playing for a Qatari club. Many construction workers have died toiling away in the heat. Qatar is a “subtropical dry, hot desert climate.” Summer temperatures can reach up to and over 40 degrees Celsius, which translates to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, during June, the average temperature is 105 degrees Fahrenheit. There’s little rain and little cloud-cover.
As part of its bid, Qatar included some stadiums with magical floating roofs (ahem, “solar clouds”) that looked like spaceships and, surprise surprise, are impossible to actually build. FIFA has promised that the Qatar World Cup will be during the winter. But, then again, FIFA has promised to combat corruption and Sepp Blatter is perpetually running for office “one last time.” For this post, I operated on the assumption that the tournament will happen in the summer and scoured FIFA’s website for an extreme weather policy.
The results were not pleasant. Continue reading “Qatar 2022: Will FIFA Learn Anything from the Australian Open Debacle?” »
I’ve already written about third party ownership. In the best light, it’s a way for poorer countries and clubs to pool risk and invest in players. Regardless of your opinion, it’s a product of the transfer system: as long as clubs exchange lots of money to get players, folks will try to get a slice of that pie. Sometimes it’s shady agents. Sometimes it’s shady family members. Sometimes, with creative contracts, it’s the players themselves.
The English FA banned third party ownership, even though Chelsea has recently been investigated by the Guardian for alleged links with a Portuguese agent and suspicious tax-haven shell companies. That situation, though, is still developing and opaque. Today, I’d rather look at the juicy details from the Neymar transfer, which have come to light thanks to a soci lawsuit (and led to the resignation of an FC Barcelona President). Continue reading “The Neymar Transfer Third Party Party” »