Some Quick Tips for Soccer Stadium Etiquette

After decades of darkness, soccer has grabbed a solid foothold in the US. In recent times, more and more fans have grown enamored of the beautiful game. However, many have only seen the game on TV. They have questions about what to do and what not to do when going to games. Some harbor preconceived stereotypes and prejudices. Some are just worry-warts.

Luckily, as a fan who has seen games on four different continents, I’ve got two very easy rules to follow. Continue reading “Some Quick Tips for Soccer Stadium Etiquette” »

The Third Party Ownership Double Standard

This past weekend, the Brazilian national team beat Argentina 2-0 in a friendly in Beijing. With players based in Europe and South America, why on Earth did they travel so far to play one another? After all, the two countries are neighbors on the same continent. The simple answer is, of course, money. The more complicated answer lies in the CBA’s recent dealings.

Reuters (Andrew Downie to be exact) had an excellent article in 2012 about the CBF (Brazilian Federation) and its decision to sell friendly rights to ISE, a sports business corporation. Based on the terms of the deal, the CBF got a guaranteed payment of about two million per game. A fixed payment with no worries about gates – sweet deal, right? The devil is in the details, though. ISE got the right to pick the opponent and the venue.

And this business model, third party playing rights for national team friendlies, is even more worrisome than for individuals. Continue reading “The Third Party Ownership Double Standard” »

You Will Once Again Find My Writing Elsewhere…

Dearest reader,

You shall once again find my writing far from home – the lovely soccer TV show Soccer Gods (Mondays at 10 on the Fusion channel) has a corresponding site which has graciously agreed to host my slightly edited brainfarts on Mexican soccer. This is a regular thing. No, we’re not married – but we’re very canny about our Facebook relationship status. I’m also not reciprocating your pokes or your 2am “DTC” messages. Don’t be jealous. Just read these gems. Continue reading “You Will Once Again Find My Writing Elsewhere…” »

Long Overdue But Totally Unexpected Paraguayan Football Update

Every now and then, we like to give you, the reader, an esoteric South American soccer update. In today’s news, we looked closely at happenings in Paraguay, your favorite loser from the “War of the Triple Betrayal” err “Alliance.” Some pretty hysterical legal happenings have caught the headlines, but a more sobering fact got buried. Continue reading “Long Overdue But Totally Unexpected Paraguayan Football Update” »

Yet Another FIFA Fail Post

FIFA has this odd balancing act: on the one hand, they want to closely control major tournaments and host countries so that they can make a ton of money. On the other hand, when problems arise in world football, they want to shrug their shoulders and say it’s not their business or responsibility. Basically, FIFA can’t fix a problem if it doesn’t want to.

And this double-standard is evident when you look at FIFA’s stance on police and government intervention. Continue reading “Yet Another FIFA Fail Post” »

I think, therefore I Playstation – Andrea Pirlo’s Unauthorized Gamer Diary

If you haven’t read Andrea Pirlo’s excellent biography, you must do so. Right now. As Michael Cox pointed out in a review, “footballers’ autobiographies are rarely interesting.” (Except for Zlat) However, Pirlo has released a pearl of a book. I usually skim footballer biographies looking for potshots, but Pirlo’s candor and detail drew me in. Mad credit to Pirlo for being Pirlo, and the ghost/co-writer Alessandro Alciato, and translator Mark Palmer.

However, there is one major flaw in this book: they excised the detailed entries related to his epic PS2 FIFA battles with Alessandro Nesta. Luckily, I used all of my colossal weight in the eBook and soccer writing sphere to get my hands on said excerpts. And here they are, for your reading pleasure. Continue reading “I think, therefore I Playstation – Andrea Pirlo’s Unauthorized Gamer Diary” »

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…..” »