Englands umulige drøm

Steve Mason foran Café Osborne”Jeg tror ikke på Englands chancer”, siger han til sidemanden, som omtalte han en elsket søn der havde skuffet ham en gang for ofte. Begge mænd er i midten af halvtresserne, at dømme ud fra deres begyndende rynker og grånede hår.

Vi befinder os på Café Osborne, et samlingssted for engelske fodboldsfans og andre med interesse for engelsk fodbold og god, billig øl. Caféen ligger under gadeniveau i Elmegade på Nørrebro i København, og er ikke er meget større end en dagligstue. Alligevel har 50 fodboldfans presset sig ind på de få kvadratmeter, flere af dem iklædt engelske landsholdstrøjer med de karakteristiske tre løver på brystet. Read more of this post

Football: Opiate of the masses or source of popular power?

Football is a psychological outlet. Many socialists claim it to be ”opiate of the masses”, as Marx did the Church. You should be shouting against injustice or oppression, but you end up shouting against the opposition football team. This is to some extent true.

But football is, or could be, much more than this, in no small part because of its worldwide appeal. Football’s appeal is in part down to its simplicity and the fact that it can be played without any cost. Throughout the world’s poorer countries, football is played with t-shirts as goalposts and with tied-together rags or anything else resembling a football as a ball. Football also has a capacity to transcend cultural and ethnic boundaries due to its universal and non-lingual character. Read more of this post

FC Copenhagen: From pipe dream to European success

Today FC Copenhagen is without doubt the most successful club in Denmark, arguably the most prestigious club in Scandinavia, has a dedicated and plentiful fan base, and is a budding force in European football.

Given the club’s recent success, winning three championships on the trot – the latest one 26 points ahead of second placed OB and 30 ahead of rivals Brøndby – and qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages, many people in Denmark and elsewhere see their success as rather straightforward and inevitable. Nothing could be further from the truth. Read more of this post

World Cup 2010: England play “one of the worst games ever” yet again…

So if all goes to plan in this World Cup, England will scrape through the group stage with unspectacular wins over Algeria and Slovenia and loose to Germany or Serbia in the second round, or France in the quarterfinals, on penalties. But perhaps this is being overtly defeatist?

I wrote this five days ago after England’s 1-1 draw with the USA. Apparently, I was being rather optimistic in my pessimism because England (and France for that matter) does not look like a team that has the will, or the skill, to progress.

Tonight’s goalless draw against Algeria must go down as one of the worst performances, or at least one of the most lacklustre, in recent history, although I guess the term “one of the worst” is becoming something of a cliché when talking of England’s performances in major tournaments (or in the case of 2007, 1993, 1983, 1977 and 1973 in failing to qualify for them).

Players like Gerrard, Rooney, Lampard, Cole, Terry, all valuable, world class players for their clubs were all made to look very mediocre indeed by an Algerian side whose captain plays for a mid-table French side. Read more of this post

World Cup 2010: The positive side of the World Cup

Having already dealt with the undeniable negative sides of the 2010 World Cup, such as human rights violations, unnecessary expenditure, and South African riot police charging peaceful demonstrators, let us look at the positive side of the World Cup for South Africa and Africa as a whole.

On the pitch, South Africa drew 1-1 with Mexico, having gone 1-0 up from a magnificent strike from Tshabalala. Ghana deservedly beat Serbia 1-0, with a both skilful and tactically adept performance. And although Nigeria expectedly lost 1-0 to Maradona’s Argentina, Algeria lost 1-0 to Slovenia, and Cameroon and the Ivory Coast are yet to play, the World Cup can therefore be seen as having been a relative success for Africa on the pitch so far. Read more of this post

World Cup 2010: Will England disappoint yet again?

Yesterday seemed something of a déjà vu for England fans: Enormous expectations ahead of a major tournament that were doused by personal error and underachievement. This time it was England goalkeeper Rob Green’s schoolboy error of a fumble from a seemingly harmless shot from Clint Dempsey that saw the USA earn a point, but there have been many other disappointments.

In 1950, an England team that was supposedly one of the best in the world shockingly lost 1-0 to the USA in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in what is probably the biggest upset in World Cup history and a premonition of things to come. Even the USA, a team of amateurs and semi-pro’s, hadn’t really believed themselves capable of winning, and had been out drinking the night before. Joe Gaetjens, a dishwasher by trade, scored the winning goal. Read more of this post

Afrika Kontakt kræver at den danske regering handler på Menneskerettighedskrænkelser i Sydafrika under VM i fodbold

Den danske forening Afrika Kontakt kræver i en pressemeddelelse, at den sydafrikanske regering og FIFA stopper med at bryde menneskerettighederne i forbindelse med VM i Fodbold, herunder stopper tvangsflytningerne og fratagelsen af fattige gadesælgeres levebrød. Afrika Kontakt kræver også at de mennesker der allerede er blevet flyttet mod deres vilje, eller som står til at miste deres indtjeningsgrundlag på grund af VM, bliver kompenseret for dette efter at turneringen er slut, ligesom foreningen beder den danske regering om at lægge pres på den sydafrikanske regering og FIFA for at disse krav efterkommes. Afrika Kontakt står langt fra alene med kravene om overholdelse af menneskerettighederne i Sydafrika. Ligesom Afrika Kontakt, kræver blandt andet Socialdemokraternes medieordfører, Mogens Jensen, at den danske regering siger klart og tydeligt til Sydafrika at det er uacceptabelt at der foregår overgreb på menneskerettighederne under VM, ligesom Amnesty International kræver at mennesker der enten har mistet deres bolig eller deres erhverv, som følge af disse tvangsfjernelser enten nu eller efter VM, får en tilstrækkelig kompensation. Read more of this post

World Cup 2010: The people’s game?

Just when I thought that the commercialisation of football and the disregard for its fans couldn’t get any worse, the unimaginable happened: Football’s “main event”, the World Cup that FIFA has branded the “people’s game”, is no longer available to all. In Denmark where I live, 21 of the games played at the 2010 the World Cup can only be seen on an obscure commercial channel called Canal 9 that was launched as recently as 2009 . This channel initially had TV-ratings so low that they couldn’t be measured, and only a fourth of the population can see it today. Football fans elsewhere find themselves in the same pickle as in Denmark: Brazilians will have to have access to five channels to be able to see all matches, including three commercial channels;   and Argentinians, Chileans, the Chinese, Colombians, the Japanese, Norwegians, the Portuguese, the Spanish and the Americans will all need to have access to at least one commercial channel to be able to see all the games of  the 2010 World Cup. Read more of this post

World Cup 2010: Hallow showpiece or hollow show-off?

There are three ways of looking at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa with less than a month to go until the opening ceremony – as a good business opportunity and as something that is meant to do South Africa and Africa proud; as yet another case of African leaders more interested in financially rewarding a small elite, and in the reputation of themselves and “their country”, than the well-being of their people; or as a bit of both.

In keeping with the first view, former president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, has said (in 2003) that “the successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup in Africa will provide a powerful, irresistible momentum to [the] African renaissance … [and] will send ripples of confidence from the Cape to Cairo – an event that will create social and economic opportunities throughout Africa” . Read more of this post

VM i Sydafrika nærmer sig

Ud over den næsten euforiske stemning der hersker i Sydafrika over at skulle afholde VM om under to måneder, er der desuden en forsigtig optimisme i forhold til holdets chancer i turneringen. Træner Carlos Alberto Parreira, der tidligere har ført sit fødeland Brasilien til VM-sejr i 1994,  har efter sigende været vred over kvaliteten af modstandere i optaktskampene, men mener at holdet stille og roligt er ved at spille sig i form og spille som en enhed. ”Alle på holdet ved at VM er lige om hjørnet, og forventningerne er høje fra vores tilhængere, så vi må spille som et kollektiv”, sagde Parreira således i et interview for nyligt. Read more of this post

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