Posts Tagged "Soccer"
For some people, the dramatic 122nd minute goal (the latest goal in Women’s World Cup history) by Abby Wambach against Brazil to send the game to penalties will be their favorite sports moment ever.
You can have your Kirk Gibson, you can have your Michael Jordan against the Jazz and you can have your Miracle on Ice. For me, it was another soccer moment.
My favorite sports moment is the Landon Donovan goal against Algeria in the 2010 World Cup. I was watching it alone in my house, in Spanish (we didn’t have cable).
The USA needed to win the game in order to advance to the knockout stages. Not tie and, obviously, not lose. The USA, of course, went on to play horribly. Tied 0-0. Into the 90th minute. Into extra time.
Algeria goes on the attack and almost scores but Tim Howard is in the right position and makes an easy save. Throws the ball down the field to Donovan. Counterattack, USA.
Donovan streaks down the field. Passes to Altidore. Back to Donovan. To Dempsey. Shot. Save by Algeria’s goalie. Time ticking down.
Out of nowhere, Donovan is there. Coolly slips the ball into the corner. Goal. 1-0. Pandemonium.
Ian Darke says “Go, go USA!” and “You cannot write a script like this” and lets vuvuzelas do the rest for seemingly forever (really less than 30 seconds). That is the call that pretty much everyone I know heard on ESPN.
Meanwhile, cut to me, alone, in my house, running around like a madman while Andres Cantor, hoarsely, screams “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!” Cantor! Hoarse! Who would have thought such a thing possible?
Donovan, the most hated and most respected American soccer player to Mexican soccer fans everywhere* just scored one of the most dramatic goals ever.
Wambach’s goal will likely prove to have more impact on the overall results in the tournament. With Germany and Brazil gone the United States can easily win the whole thing. The United States men were never going to win the World Cup.
But I had grown up wishing to play for the United States men’s national team. I lived and died with the Gold Cup, the Confederations Cup, the World Cup Qualifying for the men’s team. That was my team in many ways.
Anyway, I will never forget that moment watching the United States play soccer, thousands and thousands of miles away in a language I speak only a few words of**.
My favorites sports moment. Ever.
*Cantor is Argentinian but I would think that he is best known among Mexicans and Mexican-Americans for his work on Univision. I could be wrong, of course. We need a 10,000 word profile in the New Yorker on Cantor.
** Sorry high school Spanish teachers!
It’s one thing to have a fierce rivalry in sports with another team (or club, depending on what part of the world you’re in). But when it turns to violence, then you’re losing sight of the fact that it is just sports.
In Scotland, the fierce rivalry between Celtic and Rangers (which has religious origins and a number of other things that I don’t fully understand and so can’t fully explain) took a turn to the despicable when Rangers fans sent the Celtic manager and high profile supporters bombs.
The devices were sent in the weeks after a tumultuous match between Celtic and fierce Glasgow rival Rangers, two clubs with a history of sectarian conflict. The packages were intercepted before reaching their targets and did not explode.
Detective chief superintendent John Mitchell of Strathclyde police said, after initial suspicion that the packages may have been a hoax, forensic tests showed they were “viable devices.”
“They were definitely capable of causing significant harm and injury to individuals if they had opened them,” he said.
While police didn’t discuss the motive behind the mail bombs, sectarian tensions in Northern Ireland and Glasgow are regularly played out between Celtic fans, who are mostly Catholic, and Rangers fans, who are mostly Protestant.
This is scary stuff that someone can attempt to kill someone for merely being a manager of a rival squad — or even just being a fan.
There are a few things that I’m pretty sure that I know more than 95% of the general public about. One of those few things is soccer.
So it is pretty blindingly clear to me when people who know nothing about soccer parachute in to have discussions about the sport — it almost always happens surrounding the World Cup*.
The latest is example is Alex Pareene of Salon criticizing Mike Allen of Politico about something Allen wrote about Qatar and Russia getting the World Cups in 2018 and 2022. Qatar beat out the United States, quite shockingly.
Allen’s post is odd because it comes months after the vote. And doesn’t really include anything that could be considered, well, news. Pareene didn’t make any of these points but did point out a few reasons why people say Qatar is such an odd choice.
Lots of people consider Qatar a poor choice for the World Cup, but not because it’s not America. Or because they are secretly pro-terrorist! Or because Mossad said something bad about them in a secret cable! It’s considered a poor choice because it is a tiny nation with no soccer team of its own. Also it’s a desert with high summer temperatures and they pump absurd amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. And it’s full of foreign-born indentured servants with very few rights. And you’re not allowed to drink booze in public. But “being two-faced in the War on Terror” is pretty far down the list of reasons why this might be a bad idea.
South Africa was a controversial choice, but things largely went off without a hitch.
Qatar will be a different beast because of the heat. And the fact that the stadiums aren’t built yet. And the fact that the country may have trouble with so many fans converging on the small country.
Not to mention the fact that the United States is one of soccer’s biggest untapped markets. And unlike the other large untapped market (China), FIFA doesn’t have to worry about human rights violations with the United States**.
And there is a track record of success for the World Cup in the United States. The 1994 World Cup had the highest attendance ever — still, to this day. The United States already has the infrastructure in place to host such an event. The common argument for the United States is that it could host the tournament in two weeks if necessary because of the large amount of stadiums with infrastructure in place.
Hell, look at how many of the largest stadiums in the world are in the United States.
What’s my point? Well, there really isn’t one. Except that if you’re going to write about something, make sure that you know what you’re talking about. Or, if you’re a journalist like Mike Allen, talk to someone who does know what they are talking about. There are dozens of soccer journalists in the country who could have given him the necessary perspective.
* Or when there is a riot. But that is something that is outside of soccer, really.
ESPN soccer writer David Hirshey is a lifelong Arsenal supporter.* Arsenal and Tottenham are both in northern London and so their fans are not on the friendliest terms.
This is only exacerbated by the fact that Arsenal won their last trophy in their rivals’ stadium, White Hart Lane.
Hirshey, along with a friend who is a Tottenham supporter, headed to White Hart Lane to see the struggling Tottenham side take on Stoke City (a team near the bottom of the Premier League standings**).
Here was his column about the day, featuring this:
Although the neighborhood surrounding White Hart Lane is down on its luck, the cherry blossoms lining the road along with the brilliant sunshine and summery temperatures had put Spurs fans in a festive mood. They were in full voice, singing “Glory, glory, Tottenham Hotspur — and the Spurs go marching on” with the kind of gusto that belied the spiritually depleting loss their team had suffered only four days earlier.
Emma thought it might be a good idea if I lip-synched the words just to fit in, but I told her that would be sacrilege and instead remained resolutely mute. It got worse when we stopped for a beer at a local pub named the Bell and Hare, where we were greeted by a sweaty mob bellowing “Yiddo, Yiddo” in honor of the club’s defiant Jewish heritage.
“How can you hate your own people?” Emma asked over the din.
“Bernie Madoff is Jewish,” I explained, “and I’m not a big fan of his, either.”
Gotta say, I don’t think that you’d see anything like this from a Yankees fan going to Fenway Park.
Anyway, a cool look at the intense fandom of English soccer fans — one that doesn’t involve any hooliganism.
* Over there they say fans are “supporters.” I will use the two terms interchangeably because I feel like it. So there.
** The would say that Stoke City is at the bottom of the table instead of standings. Whatever.
As unrest travels throughout the Middle East and Africa, governments are trying to do whatever they can to head off the protests. In Syria, this includes making sure large groups of people don’t gather — including soccer.
The New York Times reports:
According to a brief statement by soccer’s world governing body FIFA: “The Syrian football federation announced Monday that it had indefinitely postponed the domestic football league at a time when the country is roiled by political unrest.”
The Times links this to a mob at a soccer game in Cairo with a club team from Tunisia and one from Egypt.
In Egypt, the riot was prompted by a referee’s call.
With the game tied at 1 and Club Africain leading 5-3 on aggregate, Algerian referee Mohamed Meknoz disallowed a Zamalek goal for offside 3 minutes into injury time, prompting the violence. The match was abandoned soon after.
“CAF reiterates its call to all National Associations, clubs, players and supporters to help enforce and promote the spirit of fair play in all CAF competitions,” the statement added.
I wonder if we will see this spread across the Middle East, soccer leagues shutting down as governments try to stop unrest from toppling even more governments over the next few weeks and months.