Tag Archives: world cup 2014

Go Easy on Neymar

One year ago today, Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez transformed an otherwise uneventful neymar headbuttround of World Cup play – two relatively boring games, one of which featured the already-eliminated English national team – into a global referendum on biting.

In the second half of Uruguay’s group-stage match against Italy, television cameras caught Suarez nibbling the shoulder of Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini, who later tweeted a picture of the bite marks. “These are just things that happen out on the pitch,” Suarez said after the game. “It was just the two of us inside the area, and he bumped into me with his shoulder.” (He has since grudgingly admitted that his collision with Chiellini led to the “physical result of a bite.”) The international sports media rushed to denounce Suarez. In the Daily Mail, a reliable source of sanctimonious soccer analysis, Ian Ladyman argued that Suarez “has a dangerous mind that can never be rewired.” Deadspin’s Billy Haisley dedicated nearly 2000 words to Suarez’s long history of “acting like a shithead.” FIFA banned Suarez for nine games, ruling him out of the 2015 Copa America, which kicked off earlier this month in Chile.

Memories of #bitegate came flooding back last week, after another high-profile indiscretion triggered yet more media outrage. On Thursday, Brazilian superstar Neymar was sent off for head-butting Colombia’s Jeison Murillo in the aftermath of his country’s 1-0 Copa America loss to Colombia. According to tournament officials, in the tunnel after the game, Neymar confronted the referee who had sent him off, fuming, “You want to make yourself famous at my expense, you son of a bitch?” The Mail mocked Neymar’s “red card shame.” Columnists lined up to denounce his “petulance” and “immaturity.” CONMEBOL, the South American soccer confederation, suspended Neymar for four games, which means he will miss the rest of the Copa America.

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Bastian Schweinsteiger, Public Relations Gott

Bastian Schweinsteiger has taken to Facebook to apologize for singing a few lyrics from a profane Bayern Munich schweinifan chant at a party to which at least one guest brought a smartphone.

In a video that surfaced over the weekend, Schweinsteiger stands on a chair, claps his hands, and leads a rousing chorus of “BVB, sons of bitches.” Then some people in the background start chanting, “Bastian Schweinsteiger, fussball Gott,” and the camerawork quickly deteriorates. Which is a shame, because I would love to know whether Schweinsteiger joined in the second chant. Did he, after drunkenly insulting Borussia Dortmund, proclaim himself a soccer God? Sadly, we’ll never find out.

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This Article Does Not Contain Fantasy Premier League Tips

The official Fantasy Premier League game has returned for the new season. This is not necessarily goodfpl news.

This year, the opening day of the fantasy football season, which always kicks off long before any actual teams take the field, marks an important milestone in the transition from the high drama of the World Cup to the rather less dramatic mid-July horse-trading of the summer transfer window. (The online football community seems to think that this transition should be carefully stage-managed, lest anyone suffer the psychological letdown that can accompany the end of major tournaments.) Earlier this week, Germany beat Argentina in the World Cup final; the memory of Gotze’s winning goal is still fresh, and pictures of German players consuming alcohol in interesting ways are still surfacing on the Internet. And yet the Fantasy Premier League is already open for business. For better or worse, it’s time to move on.

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For Better Or Worse, It’s That Time Of Year

The ink has barely dried on the media’s last few attempts to make sense of the joint goal-iest World enner valenciaCup of all time, and football fans are already moving on. The tournament was terrific (9.25 out of 10, according to Sepp Blatter), but let’s be real here — July is all about the summer transfer window.

Yesterday, Ecuadorian striker Enner Valencia, whose gravity-defying leaps made him a star in Brazil, underwent a medical at West Ham; he’s expected to sign a contract later this week. In other words, while the rest of us reveled in Germany’s midfield dynamism and Holland’s speedy counterattacks, Sam Allardyce spent the last month scouting the South American Andy Carroll. Welcome back to the Premier League, everybody. Welcome back.

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David Brooks on Soccer, Baseball and Life

In today’s New York Times, David Brooks wrestles with one of the most fundamental questions of our time: “Is life more brookslike baseball, or is it more like soccer?” Brooks makes a couple of reasonably good points about soccer – that winning is all about controlling space, that the sport doesn’t lend itself to statistical analysis – and then quickly transitions to his usual faux-philosophical rambling. The article contains classic Brooks-ian pronouncements like “awareness of the landscape of reality is the highest form of wisdom” and “genius is in practice perceiving more than the conscious reasoning.” It is monumentally stupid. Enjoy! 

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A Few Notes On Day 1 Of The Round of 16

Brazil needs to calm down. Brazil’s players don’t merely sing the national anthem; they bellow it with aneymar manic intensity I find slightly disturbing. After opening day of the tournament, many fans hailed the pre-match a capella performance as a moving example of the squad’s patriotic spirit. But in recent games, the emotional screaming has begun to seem indicative of a serious problem: Brazil’s inability to exert steady control over matches it should win. The size of David Luiz’s eyeballs dramatically increases as he passionately howls the anthem, but Luiz remains a sloppy defender prone to stupid mistakes. And if Luiz Gustavo continues to hack opposing players with the same enthusiasm he brings to each rendition of “Hino Nacional Brasileiro,” he will eventually get sent off. The team needs to relax. At the moment, it feels like only a matter of time before a Brazilian player high on nationalistic fervor tries to bite somebody.

Neymar is a seriously cool customer. Unlike his teammates, Neymar seems completely immune to the manifold pressures associated with playing football in a stadium full of expectant Brazilians. If he’d missed his penalty and Chile had won the shootout, Neymar probably wouldn’t have made it out of Belo Horizonte with his head intact. And yet he was still confident enough to pause for some cool but unnecessary stutter steps in another ridiculous run-up.

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How Do You Say “Laser-gate” In Russian?

Fabio Capello has blamed Russia’s embarrassing exit from the 2014 World Cup on the meddlesome fan who akinfeev laserpointed a laser at keeper Igor Akinfeev’s face mere seconds before Islam Slimani headed the goal that sent Algeria to the next round. “You can see that in the footage,” Capello said after the game. “This is not an excuse – it is a fact.”

The laser incident isn’t the first time a fan has tried to hobble a player at this year’s tournament. Earlier this month, Ghanaian witch doctor Nana Kwaku Bonsam (aka Devil of Wednesday) claimed he placed a curse on Cristiano Ronaldo’s knee. Ronaldo started all three of Portugal’s games, but he played poorly and scored only one goal. That’s a fact. You can see it in the footage.

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A Lousy Video About The Offside Rule

If you’re new to soccer and confused about the offside rule, don’t go to Slate.com for help. I’ve enjoyed Slate’s offsidecoverage of the 2014 World Cup – a new podcast, a regularly updated blog, etc. – but this video, which promises to “clear up your offsides confusion for good,” is pretty awful.

It assures viewers that, without the rule, soccer would be “mayhem, chaos, a catastrophe” but never explains why. (For one thing, strikers would crowd the opponent’s goal, waiting for long balls to be hoofed into the penalty box.) And it repeatedly uses the word “offsides” instead of “offside” — a common mistake, but still.

By the way, if you want to see the offside rule in action, watch a rerun of Italy’s 1-0 loss to Costa Rica. The toothless Italian offense seemed as confused about the rule as the legions of soccer newbies Slate is failing to educate.

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I Hope This Was A Joke

Yesterday was bad. But England isn’t this desperate:

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I guess it’s easy to say that a coach “deserves to be part of the debate.” After all, what does that even mean? That someone at the FA should say the words “what about Steve Bruce?” and then quickly change the subject? That Bruce merits at least an interview? That we all ought to tweet about him just to see what happens?

In others news, Harry Redknapp says Roy Hodgson should remain England manager and that in the future, the team should try to emulate Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool. For some reason, he didn’t mention Steve Bruce.

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Does Brazil Hate Football?

Brazil is hosting the Confederations Cup, an eight-team tournament that serves as a kind of warm-up for the Worldbrazil protests Cup, which kicks off in about a year. Brazil is also hosting a series of increasingly controversial demonstrations: in the last week, Brazilians have taken to the streets to protest everything from high bus fares to government corruption to the construction of football stadiums.

These protests represent a rare phenomenon: the news story that gets as much coverage in the New York Times (bastion of high-quality journalism) as on ESPN Soccernet (The Worldwide Leader in Misplaced Commas) and the BBC Sports website (employer of Alan Shearer). Football has always influenced world politics – read Simon Kuper’s Soccer Against the Enemy – but, truth be told, the Times’ hard news and ESPN’s football analysis almost never overlap. This is an unusual situation, and it’s generated some interesting contrasts.

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