Where Unrest Fights Regret: A Reflection on Maradona

By Kizito Madu

The folly of youth is thinking itself invincible; so the adage of not declaring a man as having lived a happy life until he is on his deathbed still holds true mainly because of youth’s naïveté. Diego Maradona isn’t dead –in fact he’s full of life; recently recorded participating in a street fight after a night out—but he is an old man, and from his own words, he’s much older than his age suggests. In a recent interview with TyC Sports, Diego lamented that if he had not taken drugs, he would be a phenomenal player, adding “However, my daughters know that their old man - even though I am 53 years old - in reality it is as if I am 78 because my life has not been normal. It’s as if I had lived 80 years.”

There are two tragedies in this story: One of lost time and talent in the sense that the best player to ever bully and prance through a football pitch could have somehow been better, and the more funereal allegory of an ancient tragedy; the same characteristics that makes a hero endearing and admirable, become the cause of his downfall. Achilles with pride, Diego and grit. 

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All good things - The AFR Voice World Cup Final Special

All good things must come to an end, even heart-stopping endlessly entertaining World Cups. It’s time for the pod to sign-off for the summer too. We’ve recorded over 45 shows this season and few will be sweeter than this – the chance to reflect on a tense, emotionally draining but ultimately fulfilling World Cup final.

There’s a stream of praise for Mario Götze’s sumptuous winner, André Schürrle’s super-sub antics and, above all, the humble team ethic and youth development system that underpinned a richly deserved night of glory for Joachim Löw’s “Jungs”.

On the flip side, we mourn an evening of missed opportunities for an Argentinian side who were so nearly dragged over the line by their talisman of the tournament…and it’s not Lionel Messi.

As we turned the final audio page on the tournament we reflected on the World Cup as a whole – the goals, the games, the personalities, the shocks, the atmosphere and the Tim Howard memes that have made us weak at the knees and besotted with Brazil for the past four weeks.

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The Calm and The Storm: Lionel Messi’s Moment

By Anthony Lopopolo

When he was a kid, Lionel Messi used to take a one-hour siesta in the afternoon. He would sleep 10 hours a night. He wasn’t really bothered. 

He is still a pretty calm guy at 27 years old, by accounts of his teammates and those around him. “You see him warming up and he’s as calm as a kid who’s going to play on the field around the corner,” said Fernando Signorini, Argentina’s fitness trainer, in the book Messi: A Biography. The Maracanã, the World Cup final, is not exactly a game on a field around the corner, but it is his last frontier, the chance to be fully embraced by the country he left when he was 11, to share the same mantle as Maradona.

Messi understands this moment. “My hopes and dreams are being fulfilled due to the hard work and sacrifice of a team that has given everything from match one,” he wrote on Facebook. But this feels almost more about his own legacy than it does about Argentina.

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We’ve waited four years for this weekend - AFR Voice

And then there were two. With two equally compelling semi-finals from the opposite ends of the footballing spectrum now complete, we now know that it’ll be either Germany or Argentina taking a 6.1kg, 36.8cm high World Cup souvenir back home with them.

One side that most certainly won’t be in the Maracana on Sunday is the tournament’s generous hosts. Join the pod as they discuss how things went so horribly wrong for Brazil, the ruthlessness of a German side of have tasted big game defeats so frequently of late, and where the game in Brazil goes from here.

It may have not had all of the drama of the other semi, but nevertheless Argentina did just enough to make their way to the tournament’s final hurdle, and end Louis van Gaal’s reign as Dutch coach on a bittersweet note. With the world’s attention turning to Lionel Messi and the bizarre scenario of the little man being forced to forge his own legacy at the ripe old age of 27, the guys weigh up Argentina’s chances against Germany, and give some very much less than convincing predictions for Sunday’s showpiece event.

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Thought Trails: Copa América is coming to the United States in 2016. What does it mean?

“American fans would get to see the U.S. playing against teams like Argentina, Colombia, and Brazil in a tournament that matters. It’s huge, and shows some real 21st century thinking for the two regional federations to come together like this for the good of the game.” - Tom Mulroy

To celebrate 100 years of Copa América, the tournament is coming to the United States in 2016 with 16 nations representing North, Central and South America.

But what does it mean for the global game going forward?

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The Chosen Few x Ahmed Mounir

Football fans are known for the seemingly religious devotion with which they support their teams, but a recent a recent project by Egyptian graphic designer Ahmed Mounir takes that notion and runs with it. Selecting a number of the most prominent modern footballers, Mounir depicts them in a way that evokes classic religious symbolism, recalling the way in which Saints are often illustrated and revered. The collection is gorgeous, and was created in anticipation of next year’s Football Film Festival in Paris. Check out the rest of Ahmed’s work here[Posted by Maxi

A Monument to Losing: The Importance of World Cup Heartbreak

By Zack Goldman

No feeling is more coveted in football than World Cup triumph.

But, is there any one more fascinating—or important—as World Cup heartbreak? 

In any tournament, it’s only natural that the language and tone that we use to discuss the event is elevated and inflated.  This is especially true during the World Cup.  No matter how banal any loss may appear—it’s not just a loss.  It’s billed as a death.

It’s that moment when hearts, full of hope, founder—going down with the wreckage of a cup dream sailing smoothly only breaths earlier.  The moment when thoughts of “oh?” turn to “oh no” and then, emptily, just to “oh.”

That’s not to say achievements in the World Cup are only measured by winning the whole thing—or even winning games at all—but it is to say that there is something deeply sonorous and bleak that comes with being knocked out.

Yet, if one of football—and, indeed, sport’s—truest beauties is that it provides a vehicle for sharing the power of an emotion with others, then the importance of losing is the essence of that virtue more than victory.

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Predicting the future, one match at a time

Clairvoyants have been trying to predict the future with tarot cards for centuries, but this might be the first deck specifically created with football in mind. Want to know if your team will win a match? Curious as to whether your star striker can handle the pressure? Are you worried the Spirit of Pele might favor another team? If so, check out this deck created by Éramos Tantos Studio, a design firm based in Mexico City. 

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Reimagining the World Cup, by James Taylor

The World Cup is quickly approaching, with kick-off in Rio de Janerio less than one hundred days away. That said, there’s still plenty of time to remember and admire the past. In a poster series commemorating previous World Cups, Manhattan-based graphic designer, James Taylor, reimagined posters for each tournament, using era-specific design principles to illustrate the unique style of each World Cup. You can find the whole collection on Pennarello Design[Posted by Maxi

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