Goals galore from South Africa, courtesy of MattMzansi’s YouTube channel. Because you can’t win if you don’t score.
Celtic-Rangers. Liverpool-Everton. Roma-Lazio. Boca-River. Fla-Flu. Kaizer Chiefs-Orlando Pirates. Mohun Bagan-East Bengal. Wait, what was that last one?
Mohun Bagan vs. East Bengal is “one of the greatest, and most overlooked, football rivalries in the world,” says Kelly Candaele, director of Goal Kolkata, a documentary film set to explore the history and culture of a highly charged Indian rivalry. The film tracks players, team officials, and fans of both teams before, during, and after a recent derby played in front of 120,000 spectators at Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata (Calcutta).
The new trailer (see above) features new footage and interviews filmed in November 2013. It includes important interventions by Indian sport scholars, such as Kausik Bandopadhyay (West Bengal State University) and Boria Majumdar (University of Central Lancashire), who flesh out the origins of the rivalry and shed light on its larger social, political, and economic significance.
Goal Kolkata promises to teach us much about football culture in India while also engaging with broader Bengali and Indian history. For more information about the film and ways you can help support its completion, go here.
The Garrincha of futbology, David Goldblatt, admits he’s neither Brazilian nor a Brazilianist as he begins his recent public lecture at Pitzer College in California.
Then, like Garrincha, he feigns left, goes right through through Brazil’s World Cup history, pivots on slavery, Lusotropicalism and GINI coefficients, does a give-and-go with Mario Filho, dribbles around Benedict Anderson, reaches the Maracanazo touchline, and delivers a cross into the Vinegar Revolt of 2013.
Eduardo Galeano has written that “in the history of soccer no one made more people happy” than Garrincha. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that in the field of futbology the same is true for David Goldblatt.
On Sunday, January 5, Eusébio died of heart failure in Lisbon at the age of 71. Born Eusébio da Silva Ferreira in 1942 in what is today Maputo, Mozambique, he became the first African player to acquire global fame. Portugal has declared three days of national mourning in his honor. As per Eusébio’s wish, his coffin was carried to the center of the pitch at Benfica’s La Luz Stadium in an extraordinary ceremony on Monday (see video above). Fans created a memorial that enveloped his statue outside the stadium.
The striker’s standing in the game’s history was celebrated in two excellent obituaries published in today’s New York Times (read them here and here). Many would agree though that the most poetic tribute to Eusébio comes from Eduardo Galeano (click here to listen to the author read it).
Like most African boys, Eusébio grew up kicking makeshift footballs in the streets. As a teenager, he failed a trial with Desportivo, Benfica’s Mozambican subsidiary, because he showed up without proper boots so he joined rival Sporting instead. His big break came when he scored twice against Ferroviara de Araraquara from Brazil, which was touring Mozambique. José Carlos Bauer, the Ferroviara coach and a former member of Brazil’s World Cup team recommended Eusebio to Bela Guttmann, the legendary coach of Benfica. Guttmann was an ardent believer in overseas players and a globetrotting emigrant himself.
In 1961 Benfica signed Eusébio for £7500. Fast and strong, he had that rare combination of mobility, long-range shooting ability, and a striker’s instinct close to goal. These qualities, according to David Goldblatt, made him “perhaps the archetype of the modern football player.” He won 7 league titles , 2 Portuguese FA Cups, and a European Cup. In 1965 he was crowned the best player in Europe, three decades before Liberian striker George Weah, and was top scorer in the 1966 World Cup with nine goals.
He was idolized in Portugal and throughout Africa. His statistics spoke volumes: 317 goals in 301 matches with Benfica; 41 in 64 for Portugal—a record Cristiano Ronaldo has yet to surpass. Together with Pelé, Eusébio was instrumental in elevating the status of black players in world football. He “destroyed the nonsense that Africans could not play soccer—or rather could not learn to harness individual flair for the good of the team,” wrote Rob Hughes in the New York Times. He also exemplified how African labor benefited Portuguese football by providing athletic talent at affordable prices and making it more cosmopolitan.
“Eusébio represented a confident, glamorous, mobile new Africa on the world stage,” Sean Jacobs and Elliot Ross noted in their poignant tribute for Al Jazeera America. “But his remarkable historical achievement was to be the face of not one but two emerging continents. He helped, in his own way, to reshape the idea of Europe itself.”
This post draws on material from my book African Soccerscapes: How a Continent Changed the World’s Game (Ohio University Press, 2010).
Eusébio – Um Jogador de Todos os Tempos (documentary
, in Portuguese)
Farewell Eusébio by Sports Illustrated’s Planet Fútbol
“Remembering Eusebio’s brief time in the NASL” by James Tyler with Shep Messing
Guest Post by Khaya Sibeko (@KhayaSibeko1)
JOHANNESBURG—On October 30, 2013, Leepile Taunyane, South Africa’s legendary football administrator, died at the age of 85. It would not be an exaggeration to compare his passing to the burning of a national archive.
Born in Alexandra, Johannesburg, Taunyane grew up playing football in the streets and then joined Rangers in the early 1950s, a club known for its technical prowess and feared for its lineup stacked with ex-convicts. After hanging up his boots, in the 1960s Taunyane started a career as a football organizer and served as principal first at Alexandra High School and then at Katlehong High.
His administrative career saw him involved in every major transformation in the South African game. Taunyane worked with Bethuel Morolo at the South African Bantu Football Association and then with his successor, George Thabe. In the mid-1980s, an era of massive political and social upheaval in apartheid South Africa, Taunyane led the Transvaal affiliate of Thabe’s Africans-only organization to throw its weight behind the National Soccer League. A precursor of today’s Premier Soccer League, the NSL was a new, racially integrated league launched in 1985 as a break away league from Thabe’s NPSL. Taunyane became the NSL’s first president.
In a recent City Press article, Premier Soccer League and Orlando Pirates chairperson, Irvin Khoza honored his mentor: “I was his student when he was a teacher. He recruited me at the tender age of 14 to become a member of the Alexandra Football Association. We later rubbed shoulders in the national league and federation structures. Dr. Taunyane personifies the values that govern my decision-making and actions, consciously and unconsciously.”
Taunyane was “the last of the Mohicans” of football administrators of a venerable generation. Even when others around him found the temptations of post-isolation football too much to resist, Taunyane remained a diligent and incorruptible servant of the beautiful game. It was no surprise when, a few years ago, the PSL bestowed the honorific title of Life President.
It is not enough to celebrate and award titles, of course. By publicly recognizing Taunyane’s great legacy, local football administrators should strive to follow his exemplary managerial conduct. That would be the best way to remember and honor a “son of the soil” who spared neither time nor energy in the service of football and education.
Undoubtedly, the gods of South African football have placed Taunyane alongside Bethuel Mokgosinyane, Solomon Senaoane, Dan Twala, Albert Luthuli, Henry Ngwenya, George Singh and so many elders of the distant past, men whose efforts shaped our football in the era of segregation and apartheid. Without the contributions of men like Taunyane, South Africa would never have hosted the 2010 World Cup and the PSL would not be among the ten richest leagues in the world.
We play therefore we are.
That, in essence, is the sentiment that motivated a group of disaffected Red Devils’ fans opposed to Malcolm Glazer’s $1.5 billion takeover in 2003 of Manchester United to quit Old Trafford and form a new club: FC United of Manchester.
Punk Football, a terrific and profoundly humanistic new documentary film, chronicles FC United’s dramatic 2012-13 campaign which brought them to the brink of promotion to the North Conference League—five levels below the glitz and glamor of the English Premier League.
We are introduced to FC United supporters, officials, players, and coaches who explain what it means to be a community football club owned and democratically run by 2825 co-owners, each holding one voting share. FC United’s manifesto makes it clear this is football by the people, for the people. Football for the working class. “FC United seeks to change the way that football is owned and run, putting supporters at the heart of everything,” states the club’s website. “It aims to show, by example, how this can work in practice by creating a sustainable, successful, fan-owned, democratic football club that creates real and lasting benefits to its members and local communities.”
Around the time of the film’s release, construction began on FC United’s new 5,000-capacity stadium. After wandering for years playing home matches at rented grounds, most recently at Gigg Lane in Bury, members raised more than £2m through a share scheme, and secured additional funding from Sport England, the Football Foundation, the City of Manchester, and Manchester College. (Click here for a recent news story about the stadium.)
The extraordinary story of FC United putting people and poetry before profits is beautifully told in this brilliant documentary. Don’t miss it!
On October 3-4, Alex Galarza spoke at the Rethinking Sports in the Americas conference at Emory University about the history of Club Atlético Boca Júniors’ Ciudad Deportiva (“sports city”), a gargantuan urban project hailed in the 1960s as a harbinger of national progress and modernization that later became known as the “fraud of the century.” Galarza is a doctoral student in history at Michigan State University and co-founder of the Football Scholars Forum. This paper is part of ongoing doctoral research funded by the Fulbright Program and a FIFA Havelange Scholarship.
The scholarly gathering in Atlanta provided ten early career scholars and graduate students with a chance to present new research papers and receive feedback from peers and senior scholars. Participants read and commented on pre-circulated papers, which made for lively and engaging discussions. Chris Brown, an Emory History PhD student studying sport in the Brazilian Amazon, organized the conference with support from Dr. Jeff Lesser of the Emory History Department and Dr. Raanan Rein, Vice President of Tel Aviv University. Several Football Scholars Forum members shared their work and ideas, including keynote speaker, Brenda Elsey, as well as Rwany Sibaja and Ingrid Bolívar.
The video of Alex Galarza’s presentation on the Ciudad Deportiva reveals the intertwining of sport, politics, and society in postwar Buenos Aires. The Ciudad was profoundly shaped by the idea that popular consumption of fútbol and leisure were integral components of citizenship and national progress. This helps explain why Argentina’s national government and Buenos Aires’ municipal authorities subsidized the project and integrated it into the city’s master plan. The general public, not just Boca supporters, invested an impressive amount of money and faith into the undertaking. While the initial success of the Ciudad speaks to the changing ways in which porteños viewed modernity and consumed leisure, the project’s monumental failure in the long run sheds new light on the nature of political and economic change in Argentina after Perón.