The Cultural Politics of Football in Contemporary Britain

By | March 31st, 2012 | No Comments

Author, scholar, and journalist David Goldblatt is probably best known for his sacred text of football studies: The Ball is Round: A Global History of Soccer. On Thursday, March 15 (The Ides of March!), Goldblatt shared work from his new project — a sort of mini-Ball is Round book on the cultural politics of football in Britain after 1989.

In an engaging public talk at the Department of History at Michigan State University, Goldblatt used the upcoming European Championships in Poland/Ukraine and the London Olympics, to explore the changing relationship between football, Britishness, and Englishness in the age of devolution.

The spontaneous popular theater of the Euros, he argues, carves out an arena for England’s traveling fans to declare their “Englishness.” Fans’ rejection of the Union Jack in favor of the flag of St. George and their performance of particular national songs are cases in point. In the case of the 2012 Olympics, Goldblatt notes that there will be no “England” in the tournament because the International Olympic Committee, unlike FIFA, deals only with sovereign states. (Britain has four members in FIFA: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.) The formation of the British Olympic football team thus becomes very contentious in a postdevolution context, with only England firmly supporting it. A striking contemporary example of football’s singular significance for popular national identity.

Listen to Goldblatt’s talk here.


Ahora se vienen ellas! Now they are coming! Uruguay U17s

By | March 21st, 2012 | No Comments


Filed under: Players

Fair Play: The way to play the game

By | March 19th, 2012 | 1 Comment

By Simone Poliandri

It is always a surprising pleasure to witness episodes of fair play on the football pitch. What should be the norm rather than the exception entails placing a higher value on honesty than on winning a game or scoring a goal. This is exactly what midfielder Vittorio Esposito of Termoli Calcio did in the Italian National Amateur Cup quarterfinal return match against Torres. After being unjustly awarded a penalty kick, Esposito missed it intentionally, thus earning the opponents’ respectful cheers as well as those of all footballers and lovers of the sport. For the record, Termoli won the game 1-0 and advanced to the semifinals on a 3-2 aggregate.

As we still witness countless unsportsmanlike episodes like diving and faking injuries among professionals in all leagues and international competitions, Esposito’s gesture represents both a breath of fresh air and an example that many of his more famous and better paid colleagues ought to emulate. Way to go Vittorio!

Goal of the Week: Tandem bicycle!

By | March 16th, 2012 | 1 Comment

By Simone Poliandri

The recent matchday of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League, played on March 6-7, saw the Korean side Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma host the Japanese team Nagoya Grampus in an exciting game that ended 2-2. Trailing until the very last second of stoppage time, the home team tied the game in the 93rd minute with a spectacular double-bicycle-kick play in which Brazilian forward Everton Santos assisted Brazilian midfielder Héverton Durães Coutinho for the goal that sent the home fans nuts and the Japanese ones into silent desperation.

Goal of the Week: South African bicycle

By | March 1st, 2012 | No Comments

By Simone Poliandri

Orlando Pirates striker Benni McCarthy scored the winning goal against Maritzburg United with a spectacular bicycle kick in the 75th minute. The game, played at Orlando Stadium on Sunday, February 25, saw Pirates prevail 1-0. The win placed Pirates level with second-placed Kaizer Chiefs on 33 points, just three behind leaders Sundowns in the Premier Soccer League of South Africa. McCarthy dedicated his fabulous goal to ailing former president Nelson Mandela.