Talent Selection

How good is high school talent scouting for football? The star system used in college recruiting seems to have good validity in predicting an NFL career. SBNation: … The chance of a lesser-rated recruit being drafted in the first round is nowhere close to what it is for a blue-chipper. Consider this: While four- and …

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The Human Trial of Perseverance

Perseverance isn’t flashy. It isn’t really highlight material. Illustrations of perseverance don’t necessarily make for exciting television. So I don’t blame you if you didn’t hear about the Guilder Rodriguez story. Who is Guilder, you ask? Why, he’s the 31 year-old utility infielder who plays Major League Baseball for the Texas Rangers. Only thing is…Guilder …

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FC Kansas City NWSL Champions

On Sunday, FC Kansas City defeated Seattle Reign 2-1 to win the 2014 National Women’s Soccer League championship. Playing at the Reign’s home ground of Starfire Sports Stadium on an artificial surface, FCKC’s solid tactical organization, relentless collective defense, and excellent finishing proved decisive. The league’s best teams put on an entertaining and well-played spectacle …

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Top Women Players Fight for Equal Playing Fields at 2015 World Cup

Elite footballers, coaches, and advocates are threatening to sue FIFA and the Canadian local organizing committee for gender discrimination at next year’s Women’s World Cup. An international group that includes the last two FIFA Players of the Year, Nadine Angerer (Germany, @NAngerer) and Abby Wambach (USA, @AbbyWambach), is demanding organizers switch the six venues from …

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Boyzzz Khumalo: From Soweto to Michigan

Thabiso “Boyzzz” Khumalo grew up in Soweto, South Africa, around the corner from the homes of two Nobel Peace laureates: Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Like so many boys in the land of apartheid, he spent every moment of free time playing soccer and dreaming of becoming a professional player overseas. Unlike most of …

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Spotlight Africa: After the 2014 World Cup

I chatted about the 2014 World Cup with Assumpta Oturu on KPFK Pacifica Radio‘s Spotlight Africa program. We analyzed Brazil’s historic collapse, Germany’s youth development policies, club versus country loyalties, African teams’ performances and what can be done to improve their results in global football. Listen to the entire July 19, 2014, show here. Tweet

Brazil 2014: World Cup Politics

The day before the magic kingdom opens in São Paulo, WKAR’s “Current State” host Mark Bashore interviewed me about the politics of the World Cup. We discussed FIFA profits and institutional reform, special World Cup laws and extraterritoriality, nation-building, development, civic protests, and what the future holds for Brazil, on and off the pitch. Originally …

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World Cup Music: “Afri Can”

An antidote to Shakira and Pitbull! “Afri Can” is a charity single by Replay GH, a Ghana-based group featuring Zed Ay Kay (Replay GH), Fuji, Farid, and Gustav. It brings together influence from the five African countries that have qualified for the Brazil 2014 World Cup: Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Algeria, and Ivory Coast. According to the artists, “the …

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How Africa Developed Europe

African national teams in the 2014 World Cup will rely overwhelmingly on Europe-based players. Here are the exact numbers according to the preliminary lists recently released by FIFA: Cameroon: 26 out of 28 Ivory Coast: 26 out of 28 Nigeria: 25 out of 30 Ghana: 25 out of 26 Algeria: 25 out of 30 The …

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Imbiza: A Digital Archive of the 2010 World Cup

Recently, I spoke with Liz Timbs, the creator of Imbiza 1.0: A Digital Repository of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Imbiza (http://imbiza.matrix.msu.edu) is an open-access web-based project that uses a highly modified theme on a WordPress framework.  Objects contained in Imbiza were catalogued and preserved using KORA, the digital repository and publishing platform …

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Hofstra Soccer Conference Round-up

For as long as I can remember, soccer in the United States has been referred to as the “sport of the future.” Last week’s “Soccer as a Beautiful Game” international conference at Hofstra University buried this notion once and for all.  Hofstra history professors Stan Pugliese and Brenda Elsey did a marvelous job organizing the …

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Something Happening Here

So goes the start of a well known Buffalo Springfield song at the height of the Vietnam War. I had started another blog earlier today and let it settle before going back to edit. Looks like it will have to set a little longer as I read or viewed several powerful presentations today that I …

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Beyond Vuvuzelas and Samba

Listen to “Beyond Vuvuzelas and Samba: Lessons from South Africa 2010 for Brazil 2014,” a lecture I delivered at Brigham Young University’s David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies on March 5, 2014. The talk analyzes the political, economic, and cultural dynamics of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and its similarities to the …

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Addio Grande Joe!

Joe McGinniss had a love affair with soccer. The award-winning author and journalist died on March 10, 2014, of prostate cancer at the age of 71 (read an obituary here). I got to know Joe pretty well in the late 1990s while he was writing The Miracle of Castel di Sangro, one of the very first commercially …

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The beautiful (Zambian) game in a beautiful (Chinese) stadium

The latest Cowries and Rice podcast features Michigan State University History PhD candidate Hikabwa Decius Chipande discussing China’s stadium diplomacy in Zambia. Intriguingly, the enterprising hosts of the podcast, Winslow Robertson and Dr. Nkemjika Kalu, contacted Chipande in Lusaka after reading his “China’s Stadium Diplomacy: A Zambian Perspective” post on this blog. In the interview (listen above), …

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What Can We Afford?

We stand at a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we …

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Goal Kolkata

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 …

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Futebol Nation: The Story of Brazil

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 …

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The end of snow?

Did you know that Sochi wasn’t able to hold test skiing events in February 2013 because the ski trails were brown and bare in certain areas?  (Sochi stored last winter’s snow under insulated blankets until this year just to make sure there would be enough snow for the Olympics.) Or that only about half of …

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Big Time Sports the Circus of Our Time

 Big time sports has become the ‘bread and circuses’ of our time. ‘Bread and Circuses’ was a phrase originating in Roman times by Juvenal who saw Roman citizens becoming concerned only with those two issues in life. The circuses referred to were games held to entertain the public, including gladiators and chariot races. Wikipedia suggests, …

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Football Writing Today with Jonathan Wilson

On December 5, Jonathan Wilson, journalist, author, and founding editor of The Blizzard, and the Football Scholars Forum convened for an online session devoted to independent fútbol writing in a digital age. Wilson fielded a range of questions from an international audience from five continents during a 90-minute conversation that blended English pragmatism and fútbol …

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Punk Football for the Working Class

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, …

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International Conference Celebrates 150th anniversary of the English Football Association

150 years after Ebenezer Morley and alumni of several elite schools founded the Football Association at the Freemasons’ Tavern in Great Queen Street, London, the Football 150 academic conference celebrates this historic anniversary. The gathering of soccerati takes place on 2-4 September at the National Football Museum in Manchester, UK. It is a joint project …

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