Racial Bias in U.S. Soccer Culture?

Is there an implicit racial bias in Major League Soccer and other U.S. leagues? A piercing SB Nation story this week grappled with the implications of a recent study‘s disturbing findings “that black players are 14 percent more likely to be called for cautions than their non-black counterparts.” The study by Paste magazine also found that …

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Força Chapecoense

  This video honors the Brazilian team Chapecoense and the victims of the tragic air crash that killed at least 71 people in Medellin, Colombia, on November 29, 2016. May they rest in peace. #ForçaChapecoense For further reading click here and here. Tweet

The AmaXhosa Maradona

Photo: http://www.stellenboschfootball.co.za   The story of Abongile Elton Qobisa, also known as the “Xhosa Maradona,” has not been covered by ESPN, SKY, SABC, or FIFA media. But Tarminder Kaur, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of the Free State in South Africa, is determined not to allow us to forget him. On October 26, the …

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Politics and Soccer in the Middle East

[View the story “Middle East Soccer Politics” on Storify]   The Football Scholars Forum opened its 2016-17 season on September 19, with a discussion of James Dorsey’s long-awaited new book, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer. A journalist and Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, …

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The Football Bard of Iceland Makes History

Guðmundur Benediktsson who? On Wednesday, June 22, the 41-year-old Icelandic announcer’s emotional call of Iceland’s winning goal against Austria at Euro 2016 went viral. The moment was immediately enshrined into the unofficial Hall of Fame of soccer broadcasting. Benediktsson is no ordinary broadcaster. He played for Iceland from 1994 to 2001 and has coached steadily …

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FIFA Appoints African Woman as Secretary General: A Preliminary Assessment

Fatma Samba Diop Samoura of Senegal, a career United Nations diplomat, was recently appointed by FIFA President Gianni Infantino as the world body’s new secretary general. “She will bring a fresh wind to FIFA—someone from outside,” Infantino declared. Listen to my radio interview with Assumpta Oturu as we discuss the significance of Samoura’s appointment and …

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Africa’s Premier League

Africa is a Country‘s film division is working on an intriguing fútbol project that I just supported on Kickstarter. What’s it about? Africa’s Premier League is a film that follows four fans—in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and DR Congo—as they live through the highs and lows of a football season as a way to explore …

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How We Speak Sports

  Image: Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C. Cross-posted from The Allrounder [First published on November 13, 2014] We don’t just watch sports – we speak and hear sports. To find out how language shapes our lives as fans, we asked some of our writers to tell us about the …

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FIFA, Blatter and Me (Andrew Jennings)

Nearly a decade ago, I devoured English reporter Andrew Jennings’s scathing investigation into “The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals.” Now, in a compelling BBC Panorama documentary, Jennings updates the story by digging deeper into FIFA’s most recent and spiraling crisis. The documentary takes viewers to FIFA headquarters in Zurich, and …

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Dreaming of a Sports City

The Football Scholars Forum, the online think tank based at Michigan State University, recently explored fascinating aspects of the long and complex relationship between fútbol and politics in the history of Buenos Aires, Argentina. In its second session of the 2015-16 season, FSF co-founder Alex Galarza, PhD candidate in History at Michigan State, shared a …

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The English Press and Germany: A History

The Football Scholars Forum opened its 2015-16 season on Wednesday, October 14, with a discussion of Christoph Wagner’s DeMontfort University PhD thesis entitled “Crossing The Line: The English Press and Anglo-German Football, 1954-1996.” Based on extensive archival research, “Crossing the Line” analyzes representations of Germany and Germans in English newspapers’ football coverage of key international …

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Blatteropoly: The ESPN Documentary

Exquisitely timed for release just ahead of the May 29th FIFA presidential election, ESPN aired an excellent E60 documentary on Sepp Blatter’s governance of world football. Jeremy Schaap’s piercing investigation deftly uses on-camera interviews with whistleblower Phaedra Almajid, ex-FIFA men like Giorgio Tognoni, Swiss government officials, and others to probe the murky bid process that …

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Juve and Me

[iOS users click here to listen.] Juventus, the Old Lady of Italian football, is in the Champions League final for the first time since 2003. In an interview I did a year ago with Austin Long for the Soccer Nomad podcast, I explain how I came to support the bianconeri in the mid-1970s despite being …

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African Enough To Play But Too African To Coach?

Foreign white coaches’ involvement in African football dates back to the earliest days of colonialism. Beginning in the 1960s, independent African states continued to hire many Europeans (especially from the Eastern bloc and West Germany) and South Americans to manage national teams and player development programs. This funny BBC video raises serious questions about this …

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African Football in the Media

This year’s Africa Cup of Nations is underway in Equatorial Guinea. RFI talks about African football and media coverage with Peter Alegi, an authority on the game in Africa and Professor of History at Michigan State University in the United States. [full text here.] Click below to listen to the interview. (iOS users click here.) …

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The Women’s Game: Global Perspectives

  Last Saturday’s 2015 Women’s World Cup draw in Ottawa briefly took the global media spotlight away from the men’s game. And from the players’ gender discrimination lawsuit against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association for staging matches on artificial turf rather than natural grass. The prominence of the women’s game in the sport-media-industrial complex happens so rarely, and tends to be so fleeting, …

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Petrodollars to the Rescue! Equatorial Guinea to Host 2015 African Nations Cup

The Confederation of African Football has announced that Equatorial Guinea will replace Morocco as host nation for the 2015 African Nations Cup, the continent’s oldest and most prestigious international tournament. The decision followed “fraternal and fruitful discussions” between CAF and Equatorial Guinea’s President Obiang, according to CAF’s official statement. Matches will be played in Malabo, …

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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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