Luca lægger linjen

UngetrænerDet småregner under træningen. Der står et net med bolde, vanddunke og kegler ved siden af banen, hvor der bliver trænet løb med bolden, hovedstød og spillet på halv bane.

Luca råber opmuntrende bemærkninger fra sidelinjen til en pige i en lyserød Real Madrid-trøje. Godt spillet, så er det nu, ind med den!

Luca er 13 år gammel og ungetræner, eller hjælpetræner som han kalder sig selv. Read more of this post

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