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 4 days of the group stage, there are 2 games played simultaneously at 12pmET and 4pmET each day. Which ones to actually watch will eventually depend on group standings and scenarios for who advances; here are some preliminary picks:

Monday, June 23: any/all?

Tuesday, June 24: Italy-Uruguay (12pm)

Wednesday, June 25: Nigeria-Argentina (12pm)

Thursday, June 26: USA-Germany (12pm)


Tell your wives, hide your kids, plan your long lunches, clear your DVRs. it’s going to be busy month.

ESPNFC’s full fixture list:

CommentaryEuro 2012EuropeItalySpain

The Great American TV Tune-In

July 4, 2012 — by Rob Kirby


Expect to see more soccer on American TV.

The trend of increasing U.S. TV soccer viewership continued with the 2012 European Championship, with Americans tuning in throughout the tournament but particularly for Spain’s 4-0 mauling of 10-man Italy in the final. As such, even new viewers could probably repeat the super-over-reported stat that Spain became not only the first country to win consecutive Euros but also the first to win an unprecedented three major international tournaments in a row, factoring in the 2010 World Cup. But since the achievement really is pretty phenomenal, we’ll repeat it, too.

Overall, the U.S. audience jumped 51% over that of Euro 2008. The surge is particularly striking when you consider that the numbers include no big-four broadcast network coverage, but rather just ESPN. (ABC and ESPN partnered in 2008.)

Top Viewership Numbers in Euro 2008 and Euro 2012:

Sun, July 1, 2012          ESPN      Spain vs. Italy 4,068,000
Sun, June 29, 2008      ABC         Germany vs. Spain     3,761,000
Sun, June 24, 2012      ESPN      England vs. Italy     2,968,000
Sun, June 10, 2012      ESPN      Spain vs. Italy     2,113,000
Wed, June 27, 2012     ESPN      Spain vs. Portugal     1,952,000
Sun, June 22, 2008      ESPN       Spain vs. Italy     1,911,000
Thu, June 28, 2012      ESPN      Germany vs. Italy     1,851,000
Sat, June 21, 2008        ABC         Netherlands vs. Russia     1,838,000
Sat, June 9, 2012          ESPN       Germany vs. Portugal     1,798,000
Sat, June 23, 2012        ESPN2     Spain vs. France     1,758,000

Considering the final week of the tournament coincided with Wimbledon, the Tour de France and various golf tournaments, the numbers actually mean something. It’s not like there was nothing else on TV. Some speculate that England’s entry into the quarterfinals helped garner the attention of their American cousins, or perhaps new viewers tuned in to learn what all the fuss was about with regard to Spain. Hard to know. Regardless, the objective data will make broadcasters and advertisers take note.

Over the course of 31 matches in the three-week tournament, an average of 1,300,000 viewers tuned in, versus the 859,000 viewer average in 2008.

Incidentally, these numbers reflect English language broadcast only. On Spanish-language TV, the final posted a 28% uptick in viewers, for an ESPN Deportes total of 1,125,000 viewers, making it the second highest-rated European soccer match ever on a Spanish-language sports cable network.

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Kicking Off Euro 2012, Part 4: Where To Go For Ongoing Coverage

June 8, 2012 — by Suman2


Part 4 of our Kicking Off Euro 2012 series: where to go for ongoing coverage over the next few weeks. We’ll try to be posting, but here’s where we’ll be going ourselves to keep up with the tournament:

Guardian Football: Our primary source for football news. Still anglocentric in its top headlines and most-read articles, but probably the least so of the English papers, Go directly to their Euro 2012 section (but also see below for a more detailed guide to their coverage).

ZonalMarking: The other site we’ll be visiting daily–the tactics blog run by Michael Cox, who also contributes columns to the Guardian.  He’s already posted team-by-team previews in his Euro2012 section, and will no doubt be posting match analyses daily.

If somehow we’re still hankering for additional commentary, we might drop in on the Euro blogs of FourFourTwo or In Bed With Maradona. We’ll probably call up and on occasion. And lately we’ve been reading a lot of Grantland–encouraged to see there are two preview pieces up.  Though neither are by Grantland contributor Brian Philips, who is one of our must-read football writers, and who also oversees the infrequently updated Run of Play–so we’ll also be looking for commentary from him and on there (or lacking those, certainly via his twitter).

But more on the Guardian and their Euro 2012 coverage.  They’ve got their usual stable of excellent columnists covering the tourney–we’ll be looking in particular for commentary from Sid Lowe commentary on Spain; Rafael Honigstein on Germany; Michael Cox on tactics; Barney Ronay on the absurd; and Jonathan Wilson on historical, tactical, and Eastern European analysis and arcana.

No doubt those guys will be among James Richardson’s guests on the pod. During the season, it’s Football Weekly, which we listen to religiously twice-weekly. But for Euros they go into hyperdrive and morph into “Euro 2012 Football DAILY”; that’s right, a daily dose of the pod.

The pod lands daily for the next three weeks!

In addition to their usual contributors, the Guardian has assembled an “Experts Network” for the tournament (“A unique collaboration with media outlets from around Europe bringing a local flavour and expertise to coverage of Euro 2012 on”)–see Part 2 of Euro 2012 gear-up for links to the resulting team-by-team previews.

There will be plenty of their idiosyncratic liveblogs (often penned, we hope, by Barry Glendenning)–not only for every match, but also a daily liveblog for the tournament news:

You will be able to follow live minute-by-minute coverage of every game in Poland and Ukraine, while we will also have a live blog every day throughout the tournament as well. Our writers will be on hand with updates, both here, on our Twitter interactive and on daily live webchats every lunchtime.

As our ever, we welcome and look forward to your thoughts, comments, accusations of lazy journalism and bias both on Twitter and in the comments section below the line. If there’s a better way of whiling away the working day that doesn’t involve breaking the law, we certainly can’t think of one.

The Twitter interactive is something we just came across: an interactive map, showing what and where their writers’ are tweeting. You can even filter by venue, group, or team:


Guardian Football's interactive Euro 2012 twitter map


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Kicking Off Euro 2012, Part 1: Calendars & Fixtures

June 8, 2012 — by Suman4


Part 1 of our Kicking Off Euro 2012 series: a couple nice interactive calendars–and below them, the full fixture list:

  • Actually, first off, for us US viewers, here is ESPN’s fixture list along with details of their television coverage.  The majority of matches are on ESPN, with a handful on ESPN2–and all of them will be available for streaming on! (Which is great not only for those of us without cable, but also because it means all the matches should be archived for replay after the fact–particularly helpful since kickoff times are 12pmET and 2:45pmET.)
  • Ok, on to the fancy interactive calendars.’s “tournament map” might seem  a bit dense at first glance, but that’s because there’s a lot of information there–it nicely gives you all the groups and fixtures in one view:'s Euro 2012 "Tournament Map" (click for larger image)


Click on the image above for a better view, but better to click thru for the interactive version on UEFA’s site–rolling over a given group, team, date or venue highlights those particular matches. Even better: clicking on a particular group, team, fixture or venue brings up a pop-up box with details and links to the rest of UEFA’s copious Euro 2012 coverage.  We’ll likely have this tournament map open in our browser the rest of the month.

(Some notes on the design: it’s a 2D matrix with dates across the top, groups/teams on the LHS, and venues on the RHS. Which highlights the rational design of the tournament: each group plays its matches in just two venues, and the group stage fixtures rotate through the four groups in order: first two Group A matches on the June 8, then Group B on June 9, Group C on June 10, Group D on June 11; then the second set of group matches (Groups A-D on June 12-15, respectively) and the third and final set of group matches (Groups A-D on June 16-19, respectively)).

  • As they did for World Cup 2010, has produced a beautiful and elliptical interactive calendar for Euro2012.  You can again view fixtures by team, date, group or venue, by rolling over the points on the inner perimeter.  It’s available in English or Spanish—and conveniently you can set your timezone for kickoff times.  By rolling over the segments in the outer perimeter, you can also bring up a map Poland and Ukraine with the venues, or a map of Europe with the competing nations:'s elliptical Calendario


Finally, here’s the full fixture list:

Friday, June 8
Warsaw, Group A: Poland v Greece (12pmET)
Wroclaw, Group A: Russia v Czech Republic (2:45pmET)

Saturday, June 9
Kharkiv, Group B: Holland v Denmark (12pmET)
Lviv, Group B: Germany v Portugal (2:45pmET)

Sunday, June 10
Gdansk, Group C: Spain v Italy (12pmET)
Poznan, Group C: Republic of Ireland v Croatia (2:45pmET)

Monday, June 11
Donetsk, Group D: France v England (12pmET)
Kiev, Group D: Ukraine v Sweden (2:45pmET)

Tuesday, June 12
Wroclaw, Group A: Greece v Czech Republic (12pmET)
Warsaw, Group A: Poland v Russia (2:45pmET)

Wednesday, June 13
Lviv, Group B: Denmark v Portugal (12pmET)
Kharkiv, Group B: Holland v Germany (2:45pmET)

Thursday, June 14
Poznan, Group C: Italy v Croatia (12pmET)
Gdansk, Group C: Spain v Republic of Ireland (2:45pmET)

Friday, June 15
Kiev, Group D: Sweden v England (12pmET)
Donetsk, Group D: Ukraine v France (2:45pmET)

Saturday, June 16
Wroclaw, Group A: Czech Republic v Poland (2:45pmET)
Warsaw, Group A: Greece v Russia (2:45pmET)

Sunday, June 17
Kharkiv, Group B: Portugal v Holland (2:45pmET)
Lviv, Group B: Denmark v Germany (2:45pmET)

Monday, June 18
Gdansk, Group C: Croatia v Spain (2:45pmET)
Poznan, Group C: Italy v Republic of Ireland (2:45pmET)

Tuesday, June 19
Donetsk, Group D: England v Ukraine (2:45pmET)
Kiev, Group D: Sweden v France (2:45pmET)


Thursday, June 21
QF1: Warsaw: Winner A v Runner-up B (2:45pmET)

Friday, June 22
QF2: Gdansk: Winner B v Runner-up A (2:45pmET)

Saturday, June 23
QF3: Donetsk: Winner C v Runner-up D (2:45pmET)

Sunday, June 24
QF4: Kiev: Winner D v Runner-up C (2:45pmET)


Wednesday, June 27
SF1: Donetsk: Winner QF1 v Winner QF3 (2:45pmET)

Thursday, June 28
SF2: Warsaw: Winner QF2 v Winner QF4 (2:45pmET)

Sunday, July 1
Kiev: Winner SF1 v Winner SF2 (2:45pmET)


Red Bulls Choke

November 5, 2010 — by Sean

Red Bulls Arena this evening, courtesy of cultfootball correspondent / resident stalker Amy Chiu

Well, our local team, the New York Red Bulls, have gone crashing out of the MLS playoffs even with the likes of Rafa Márquez and Theirry Henry on the roster. To be fair, Henry was injured and only came on in the last 5 minutes, when he mishit a ball lofted gently to his head whilst unmarked inside the six yard box. It would’ve tied the game. Henry would’ve been a hero, worth every penny. I couldn’t believe it. But first things first.

The Bulls were actually pretty fun to watch tonight. Sure they lack that killer last pass, and even if they made the right choice the person on the end of the ball usually stiffened up and turned it over. But there were some serious bright spots. Lindpere was solid as usual, and Dane Richards created some dangerous attacks up the right. Ballouchy in the center ran hot and cold. He’d get into good positions, but often waste the ball. And Tim Ream, left back and rookie born in the USofA, was also solid and has had a great first season. Potential USMNT call up for certain.

The real standout in the losing effort was 17 yr old Juan Agudelo. His movement wasn’t always the best, but he’s quick, has very good control, and plays patiently even right in front of net. He smashed a shot into the post at one point and was a general nuisance to San Jose throughout. By the way, it was his second ever game for the team. You can see he has the markings of a man set for European.

In other news: the ref was sub-par this evening. I’m not one to approve of whistling ticky tacky fouls, but players were barreling into each other, the ball nowhere near them, and the ref would let play continue without a blink. And John Harkes on the ESPN color commentary, sweet jesus what a mouth on that guy. He spent a good 10 minutes just venting about Márquez from a place of deep and long-standing resentment. The guy is like a drunk at the bar shooting off his mouth. Instead of providing well crafted, diplomatic insight into the good bad and ugly on the pitch, he’d rather rant about a tackle on Cobi Jones from a decade ago. He actually has some good things to say, but when you’re a paid sportscaster, it’s all about the delivery. (ps. we’re not paid, so we can be crap)