The Least Enlightening Thing Written About the World Cup

The World Cup is a large party and, sadly, has come to an end. I wasn’t able to write as much as I would have liked due to events in my personal life (disclosure: I am not a robot), but some trends popped up. First off, I felt like we read the same story with slightly different takes over and over. Favelas! Protestors! Folks with enviable but still modest reporting budgets flew to Brazil for a few weeks, interviewed a few people, and cobbled together some stuttering attempts at long-form journalism. These were smart people with occasionally bright insights, but you can only hear the same song so many times. Furthermore, Brazil has a burgeoning middle class, excellent universities, and plenty of great academic papers on race relations, poverty, and homelessness. Who wrote Pedagogy of the Oppressed? Yes. A Brazilian.

Still, of course, a good journalist can condense an academic paper into digestible form. There’s also the foreign perspective that can allow us to see big picture issues accepted as facts of life by locals. Like, for example, a slow as molasses legal system and the impossibility of filing for bankruptcy and being done within a decade. The lack of access to credit at reasonable rates (anything over 9% is f’ing usury dawg) has squeezed the middle class when coupled with inflation, and the squatter rights laws have created a perverse incentive to never enter the formal, above ground economy for many. However, most pieces were of the “what does this tournament mean to you, the local?” variety. They felt more superficial and contrived than illuminating. There was an arms race among “journos” to find the most dangerous neighborhood and oppressed group to faux interview some cats and chill while waxing on soccer before uprooting and ignoring any meta factors. “Thank for the caiprinha, nice to meet you for 90 minutes, try not to die a grisly death before turning 25!”

Yet, for all the tiredness and unoriginality of the “I was there” prose, the least enlightening thing written this World Cup was about soccer statistics. Continue reading “The Least Enlightening Thing Written About the World Cup” »

The Short Kiss Until a Few Months Later…..

Days after the World Cup draw, in response to the US’ group, a sharp editor at the New Yorker astutely observed that “we are all in the group of death.” In case you hadn’t noticed, things have gotten quiet in these parts, odd given that I write about soccer and the whole world is paying attention to soccer. Here’s why: unlike the US team, a beloved relative has not advanced to the knockout rounds from our collective humanity’s group of death. Like a Geoff Cameron clearance, the result was shocking, sudden and unexpected. (Unlike Cameron, this person cannot be replaced by Omar Gonzalez)

I’ll be MIA for a few months. But, luckily for you, my anal ass pitched himself to some great mags and sites early, so you’ll have lots of my copy to read. Enjoy as best you can (and go US!). Continue reading “The Short Kiss Until a Few Months Later…..” »

Racism and Dark, Scary Places (like World Cups)

Four years ago, I booked my travel to South Africa for the World Cup without much knowledge at all of the country. Almost immediately, warnings began flying in about the terrifying danger that awaited in Johannesburg. Google didn’t help, as I was greeted with articles telling me to beware of everything from airport security to the threat of robbers armed with assault rifles dragging me out of my car.

“You really should think about not going.” Continue reading “Racism and Dark, Scary Places (like World Cups)” »

Tactics Talk: Hodgson’s Overreaction Edition

I always love it when one of the top UK soccer writers turns his or her attention to the US national team. Why? Because their often unbiased and well-trained eye will point out obvious, painful truths and occasionally reasons for optimism. One of the best things we forget as US fans about US players and the US team is we give a good effort for the full 90 minutes. Coaches often complain that certain players from South American countries that will zoom in and out of games mentally, or turn off completely on defense or at the 60 minute mark. Not Yanks. Be proud.

Thus, I’ve decided to return the favor by looking at the English team as objectively as possible. Continue reading “Tactics Talk: Hodgson’s Overreaction Edition” »

Hungover Dispatches from Brazil: Rio Edition

Futfanatico regrets to inform you that, with out modest budget, we were only able to send two correspondents to Brazil for this World Cup. The really smart and educated one totally flaked on us. No response to emails. No phone calls. Nada. Unfortunately, the other one, who we later found out made up most of his references (he even admitted to impersonating one over the phone), sent us this. We have edited it best we can, but, alas, you can only mold a pile of shit into a different shaped pile of shit. Enjoy as best you can. This may be a series. We will be running some guest posts from Tahir Duckett, the handsomer, more athletic, and older brother of Bilal Duckett (of the NE Revs), but purely as a guest writer capacity.

I.

“On assignment.” Is there a sweeter phrase in the entire English language? Getting paid to work to really go on vacation and all I have to do is type some words. Fucking sweet. Oh, I forgot – nice to meet you. I am “GonzoBra”, the correspondent for this tight-fisted soccer site known as Futfanatico. I’ll be slamm’in some keyboards for y’all from Brazil throughout the World Cup, but I do have to issue a disclaimer: this shit is gonna be edited. In fact, this introductory paragraph was entirely redone three times. Here’s a break down of my opening lines that were excised: FIRST: The Bro has landed in Brazil, land of [OMITTED], [OMITTED], and brews. SECOND: The Bro has landed in Brazil, land of [OMITTED], [OMITTED], and brews.

So my editor is kindof an old fucktard who read the first paragraph and said: no misogyny. I was all, there’s none of that in here. Then I Googled the word “misogyny” and realized I’d confused it with “masochism.” Whoops. Then, despite checking out a few definitions, I was still a bit perplexed. I didn’t see how any of the first draft was masogynistic. He basically laid it down: no objectification of women. At first, I thought – why the fuck is anybody going to read this if there’s none of that? But, alas, bros got me by the balls. I need somebody to sign off on these per diems and expenses.

But, like, yeah, my proper introduction: I am GonzoBra. What kind of bullshit name is that? Well, I was told to use a pseudonym because, as you’ll see, I maybe kinda get into some legal problems from time-to-time. I came up with this name because, like, 90% of my bros call me “bra” and my editor told me to read up on some Hunter S. Thompson. He sent me paper books (dinosaur) and even some photocopies of old Rolling Stone (ancient) magazine articles. I chuckled to myself, seeing as I know about copyright laws – who’s Mr. barely legal now, Mr. Anal Editor?

So, short story long but now short again, I didn’t have time to read all that shit. I just Googled Hunter S. Thompson and saw that he did some drugs, stalked some loser politicians, went on an epic mancation to Vegas, and did some more drugs. He also wrote things pretty last minute – a man after my own heart. Thus, I came up with Gonzo not from the name “Gonzalo”, but from the name for the school of “I was there” journalism arguably perfected by Hunter. The “bra” also can mean “Brazil.” Based on my two weeks in Portugal while an undergrad, you say “Brazil” like BRA-Zeal. More on that later. Welcome aboard. Continue reading “Hungover Dispatches from Brazil: Rio Edition” »

Top Ten World Cup Topics That Need To Be Written About

With so many smart and funny people writing about the World Cup, you’d think there’d be no stone left unturned. Sadly, though, my brief glimpse at the internet, using the latest in AskJeeves, Lycos, and AltaVista search engine technology, found some gaping holes. There are so many interesting topics that have yet to be written about that they are too countless to name (at least all of them). These are topics that cry out for David Brooks to write 500 words about. Yet, for now, we only hear silence and read nothing.

Thus, I’ve sorted, prioritized, and compiled a list of the ten topics which we need some savvy columnist to write about. Don’t be afraid,dear potential writer – I know this is totally uncharted waters, but we’ve got your back. Please, please write these articles! Continue reading “Top Ten World Cup Topics That Need To Be Written About” »

The Awesome World Cup Preview that Does Not Preview the World Cup & Instead Looks at Transgender Athletes

World Cup! Party! Protest! Oh, wait. While the world spins its wheels on injuries, tactics, previews, and groups of death – one particular group lingers in the shadows, both of society and sport. I refer to transgendered individuals. I know that everybody with a modicum of intelligence already dislikes FIFA, but, hey, why not kick a horse while it’s down?

Basically, I looked at FIFA’s regulations and practices in regards to gender, trying to see just how things work for the transgender community. It was not pretty. Continue reading “The Awesome World Cup Preview that Does Not Preview the World Cup & Instead Looks at Transgender Athletes” »

Wall Street Journal Seriously Lowers the Bar for Soccer “Coverage”

Just when you think the trite “Soccer sucks” narrative in the US media has turned into “MLS sucks”, the Wall Street Journal lowers the bar even further. Jonathan Clegg, an Englishman, has decided that new soccer fans “are welcome”, but he derives the “soccer obsessives.” Or, rather, American soccer obsessives.

I’ll just be taking a quick look at his thesis and what’s wrong with it. Namely, everything. Continue reading “Wall Street Journal Seriously Lowers the Bar for Soccer “Coverage”” »

An Open Letter to Potential World Cup Brand Partnerships

It’s this weird thing about writing regularly about soccer and/or operating a website: every four years, my email inbox gets flooded with countless offers to synergize brands by mutually adding value and enhancing identity. Did you just understand the second half of that sentence?

I didn’t. But, I’m happy to say, I am totally 100% game to do whatever this summer. Continue reading “An Open Letter to Potential World Cup Brand Partnerships” »