Dictators and Soccer Short: Hitler Fandom Rejected by Schalke

July 10, 2014 — by Rob Kirby

Germany in the Brazil World Cup 2014 finals. The Brazilians are all rooting against the Argentinians, so there's a core fan base. But then word gets out Hitler once supported the German national team. Then people bring up the old taboo of Nazis hiding out in Brazil and then counter allegations of Nazis in Argentina. Public opinion sways rapidly against Germany (amnesia or foolish forgetful forgiveness had set in at some point over the last 60 years) and the country's PR department has to act fast. [Editor's note: The ongoing Dictators and Soccer series includes other installments on Kim Jong-il of North Korea, the Military Junta of Argentina, Nicolae Ceaușescu of Romania, Pope Benedict XVI of the Vatican and Mobutu Sésé Seko of Zaïre.] The German spin doctors swiftly publish incontrovertible evidence that Hitler never actually supported the German side. Far from it. In fact, in the one known Fürher

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Our Latest Belated Podcast Discovery: Howler Radio

July 10, 2014 — by Suman

We didn't discover the Guardian Football pod until just after WC2010, and didn't become a GFOP until 2012. Those two are now top our to-listen lists on a weekly basis throughout the year (and have been in daily rotation over the past month), and we regret we didn't start listening to them earlier. The latest podcast discovery that we regret we didn't come across earlier: we came across Howler Magazine's podcast (Howler Radio, but cross-posted to Slate's HUAL for the WC) until yesterday. Here is their last episode, which in addition to regular David Goldblatt (author of "The Ball is Round" and most recently "Futebol Nation: The Story of Brazil through Soccer"), host George Quraishi talks to New School professor Sean Jacobs about the African teams/FAs in this Cup (Jacobs is founder of the blog Africa Is a Country, a subblog of which is Football Is a Country): On today’s episode of Howler

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Historical Context For The Latest Luis Suarez Bite: Mauro Tassotti & Luis Enrique at the 1994 World Cup

June 25, 2014 — by Suman

With the latest Luis Suarez biting incident (which is a remarkable sentence) dominating World Cup discussion today, let's provide a bit of historical context. As is being mentioned in some news reports today about the possible repercussions for Suarez, the longest ban FIFA has given for a World Cup incident was the 8-match ban given to Italy's Mauro Tassotti after he broke Luis Enrique's nose with a vicious elbow in the 1994 quarterfinals. Let's go to the video: It can be argued that Tassotti's elbow was clearly a much more dangerous action than Suarez's (cf the discussion on yesterday's Guardian World Cup Football Daily pod). Via Enrique's wikipedia page: In the 1–2 quarter-final defeat against Italy, Mauro Tassotti's elbow made contact with [Enrique's] face to bloody effect, the action being of such impact that he reportedly lost a pint of blood as a result, but during the match the incident went unpunished –

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Klinsmann, Rainforest Conditioning and the 1953 Hungarian Golden Team

June 17, 2014 — by Rob Kirby

[Extreme conditioning, cribbed from 1950s Communist Hungary? After last night's 2-1 victory over Ghana in the coastal heat of Natal, that's the ideal method for Klinsmann and the U.S. team as they stare down the barrel of the Ruffhouse in Manaus, heart of the Amazon, against Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal. Enjoy the Cult Football at Large article here in excerpt or over at] It’s no secret that the U.S. Men’s National Team is not a favorite going into the World Cup in Brazil. The media has panned the team’s chances, pointing to its unfavorable inclusion in Group G—what some call the Group of Death, with some justification. The U.S. faces three big opponents in the group: Ghana in Natal on June 16, Portugal in Manaus on June 22 and Germany in Recife on June 26. Ghana has knocked the U.S. out of two straight World Cups. Portugal boasts Cristiano

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The Real Group of Death

June 12, 2014 — by Rob Kirby

[Editor's note: The good folks at asked for an article on the Real Group of Death, and Rob from the Cult Football crew gave it his take. Check out the excerpt below and the full article on the Vocativ site. Another article on Klinsmann and lessons to learn from the Hungarian Golden Team of 1953 to follow.] Fans salivate over the Group of Death that every World Cup inevitably thrusts upon unlucky heavy hitters cage-matched in the same group. This year, however, regional factions are debating which group qualifies as the real Group of Death for Brazil 2014. American media says Group G—Germany (FIFA rank: 2), Portugal (4), the U.S. (13) and Ghana (38)—holds the title, hands down. In England, tabloid headlines sound a different alarm: English Premier League high-scorer (and convicted biter) Luis Suárez leads Uruguay (7) with canines bared against Italy (9), England (10) and Costa Rica

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World Cup 2014: The Ads

June 6, 2014 — by Suman

Generally we're skeptical of modern corporate football, but the marketing creatives are good at what they do. These ads--which are really short films--are getting us hyped for the tournament to begin: The new 5min Beats video (AdWeek: "Did Beats by Dre Just Out-Nike Nike With This Incredible World Cup Ad?"):   The Nike one, which you've prob seen since it came out at the end of April (via AdWeek: "Nike Reaches High and Low in Perfectly Gleeful 4-Minute World Cup Spot"): In contrast with those cameos by current stars, this ESPN ad features a bunch of historical "cameos": Another ESPN segment--trying to get the the US public to believe in the USMNT: Finally, Nike does a fun one featuring the host country's celebrated Seleção--"Dare to be Brasilian":


World Cup 2014: Fixture List and Viewing Guide

June 3, 2014 — by Suman

Nine days until it all starts. In case you haven't bookmarked this (or an equivalent), here is ESPNFC's table of all 48+16=64 WC2014 fixtures (group stage+knockout rounds), including kickoff times, venues, and (US) TV coverage: Actually we've copied and pasted the table in below, but we've also done you the service of choosing one match per day (from the group stage) that you should plan your day around: (all times ET, and all games on ESPN unless otherwise noted) Thursday, June 12: Brazil-Croatia (4pmET) Friday, June 13: Spain-Netherlands (3pm) Sat, June 14: England-Italy (6pm) Sun, June 15: Argentina-Bosnia (6pm) Mon, June 16: Germany-Portugal (and also Ghana-USA later that day, at 6pm) Tues, June 17: Brazil-Mexico (3pm) Wed, June 18: Spain-Chile (3pm) Thurs, June 19: Uruguay-England (3pm) Friday, June 20: Switzerland-France (3pm) Saturday, June 21: Germany-Ghana (3pm) Sunday, June 22: USA-Portugal (6pm, again on ESPN--why not put this one on ABC??)   For the last

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