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Sports

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.

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Sports

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.)

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Sports

This happened today

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

That is all.

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Sports

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.

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Sports

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.)