Must-Follow World Cup Pundits: Men in Blazers

If you’re not following them already — and if, as I’m assuming, you love everything about the World Cup and the U.S. team — be sure to follow Roger Bennett and Michael Davies, a.k.a. Men in Blazers.

The two pundits, Brits who are long-time U.S. residents, combine in depth knowledge of the sport with an immigrant’s love for U.S. soccer.

They are especially well informed about the transformation in style and attitude that U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has brought to the American side. (For more on that topic, see this WSJ interactive from earlier this month.)

Also, they are delightfully silly.

While I also follow The Guardian‘s World Cup Football Daily podcast and occasionally BBC 5 Live’s World Cup Daily, Rog and Davo, as they’re known, are so enjoyable because they’re lighthearted: They frequently weave in cultural references and inside jokes, and do not at all take themselves seriously.

Here are some of their recent podcasts.

You can also find their ongoing videos and other contributions on ESPN FC here.

They’re on Twitter at: @meninblazers.

Sample Tweet:

Embedded above and online here: their recent take on the U.S.-Germany game, and an audio podcast after the U.S.-Portugal match.

On England and the World Cup

Snips from “A Soccer Empire, Deeply Confused,” David Winner‘s contribution to the New York Times‘s feature on the World Cup and national playing styles:

Soccer has long been a bastion of a peculiarly 19th-century conception of Englishness the nation seems reluctant to relinquish. The game was born during the era of empire when the country’s elite public schools adapted earlier forms of violent folk football for the purpose of education.

Typical rustic folk games involved hundreds of drunken men from rival villages rampaging through streets and fields, trying to drive, say, a casket of beer (the proto-ball) into the crypt of a church (the proto-goal). The schools distilled such testosterone-fuelled rituals into new formats involving smaller teams, sober boys and sodden leather balls. Codified by the Football Association and later disseminated to the world, this style of soccer was never the so-called beautiful game; the original purpose of educators was to instill manly and martial virtues into future imperial soldiers and administrators.

And:

Just as adapting to their diminished, post-imperial status in international affairs has been a struggle, so the English are taking a long time to abandon the fantasy that, having invented the game, they should still expect to win the World Cup.

The truth — as everyone elsewhere noticed long ago — is that the nation has only once gone further than the quarterfinals of a major tournament played abroad (it reached the semifinals in Italy in 1990).

English soccer confusion, delusion and cloying nostalgia have become tedious. The time for the national team to adopt a bit of modesty and modernity — and to move to embrace change — is long overdue.

Read the whole thing.

(Via Amy Lawrence.)

This happened today

Yes, that’s me with Juventus, Fulham and Manchester United great Edwin van der Sar.

That is all.

My Favorite Moment from the Confederations Cup Final: Brazil Sings the National Anthem

Brazil beat world and European champions Spain 3-0 to win the Confederations Cup last night.

But really, the game was decided before the teams even kicked off.

It was hard to imagine Brazil losing, at home in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã stadium, after seeing this (video embedded below and online here):


HIMNO BRASIL by dm_505f34141e1f6

That, my friends, is not a team that is willing to lose on its home turf.

It wasn’t the prettiest game, to be sure, but the Seleção won through sheer determination. And, as the video demonstrates, incredible passion.

Euro 2012: English Commentary on GMM Grammy

For the record:

I wrote, in a earlier post, that the GMM Grammy Euro 2012 broadcast doesn’t offer English-language commentary.

But it does.

Simply click the button labeled “audio,” near the bottom of the remote*, two or three times to alternate between Thai and English.

Thanks to @tonygjordan for the tip.

(*The remote and AV cables are tucked under a flap in the GMM Grammy satellite box. I missed seeing these items at first.)

More on Thailand, TrueVisions, and Euro 2012

2012 06 07 euro 2012

To follow up on my earlier post: I have a story today at the WSJ‘s Southeast Asia Real Time blog that sums up the situation.

It begins:

The UEFA Euro 2012 football tournament in Poland and Ukraine kicked off Friday. In the run-up to the kickoff, though, the discussion among many fans in soccer-mad Thailand had nothing to do with who might win the competition, regarded by many as the world’s most important football tournament after the World Cup.

Rather, much of the chatter online was about whether subscribers to Thailand’s biggest cable TV provider, TrueVisions, would even be able to watch the matches at home.

(Image: via.)

TrueVisions Subscribers and Euro 2012 Games

The Bangkok Post reports today:

Cable television operator TrueVisions has failed to resolve its dispute with Euro 2012 Football Championship broadcast rights holder GMM Grammy.

About 2 million True subscribers saw Euro 2012 broadcasts from Channel 3, Channel 5 and Modernine TV cancelled last night during the tournament’s opening match between Poland and Greece at 11pm, and again for Russia versus the Czech Republic at 1:45am this morning.

The matches could be seen on terrestrial television but True blocked those stations’ broadcasts through its cable and satellite platforms. True showed alternative programmes instead.

We’re TrueVisions subscribers but got the GMM Grammy satellite box up and running prior to kickoff, thankfully. As I Tweeted on Thurs.:

Richard Barrow also has a tutorial, if you’d like to implement a similar setup.

Indeed, it turns out there’s no English language commentary or HD service. But the picture is decent, for standard definition.

More soon on this topic.

Off Topic: My Soccer Team Won Our League!

2012 03 21 team celebrations

Allow me to quickly boast about share the news that my soccer team here in Bangkok, BFC D’Pelican, beat a good Royal Bangkok Sports Club team 1-0 last night.

The victory took us into first place on goal difference on the last day of the season, and we were crowned the 2012 Chang International Football League champions.

It was a hard-fought game, but we got the clean sheet — always important to a goalkeeper like a me — and the win.

The achievement was all the more sweet for me given the great group of guys on the team and the fact that this was my first trophy-winning season in more than five years (!) of playing amateur soccer here in Bangkok.

The picture above shows us after the game.

Here I am with the trophy:

2012 03 21 np cup

And embedded below is a 12-second video of our post-match celebrations (also available on YouTube).

(Thanks to A for the pics, video, and ongoing support.)

Normal programming will resume shortly.

Bangkok Exhibition of Sport that’s like “Ice Hockey — Except that Players are Armed with Stun Guns”

How I missed this exhibition the other evening I will never know…

2012 03 04 taser ball

Today’s Bangkok Post reports:

The atmosphere was electric as a shocking new sport came to Bangkok.

Players took aim with electric stun guns at PAC Sports Centre as the Philadelphia Killawatts, Toronto Terror, San Diego Spartans and LA Nightlight battled it out in exhibition matches last night and on Friday.

UTB’s rules are similar to ice hockey — except that players are armed with stun guns that put out three to five milliamperes of electricity, with participants getting shocked dozens of times per match.

Police-grade tasers are not that much stronger and have been known to cause cardiac arrest and inadvertent death in their targets.

Eric Prumm, a cofounder of the four-team UTB league, said the stun guns hurt but are essentially harmless. The players, who have been recruited from the cream of the North American professional paintball circuit, have signed liability waivers resembling those in other contact sports.

The sport came to Bangkok as part of a marketing drive in Asia. Other exhibition matches are planned in Malaysia and elsewhere.

There’s more info on the sport’s official site, which includes this video (embedded below and on YouTube here).

(Image: Bangkok Post.)

(All emphasis mine.)