50 days. The time nears for the new king’s coronation

50 days until the World Cup kicks off in Sao Paulo. 50 days until the eyes of an entire nation turn towards a single individual. 50 days until the history books are rewritten. 50 days until immortality. [Art by Andy Gellenberg and Tobias Degel. Words by Maxi]

The Beautiful Game in Brasil: Photography by Christopher Pillitz

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Jonathan Reis: A Cautionary Tale for Would-be Ronaldos

By Kristian Heneage

For some players, their story is written on the pitch, hero or villain, infamy or inspiration, their career is defined by what they produce on the field. Brazilian striker Jonathan Reis has not been so fortunate. A player that seemed at one point destined to succeed compatriots Romario and Ronaldo as PSV Eindhoven’s star Brazilian, too much of his career has been spent trying to beat his demons rather than defenders. 

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Classic Clásico - AFR Voice Ep. 33

As things hot up in title races across the continent, things are getting especially spicy at the top of La Liga. This week we’ll be taking a look at what is being hailed as possibly the finest clásico of the century between Real Madrid and Barcelona, and why despite the result neither team are currently top of the league.

There’s been plenty going on across the Atlantic too, where Jermain Defoe definitely didn’t forget to pack his shooting boots when he got on that plane to Toronto, and David Beckham has released plans for a new stadium in Miami that wouldn’t look out of place in… Portsmouth.

With the World Cup now only 78 days away, there’s one team who couldn’t be much further from Brazil. Infamous for once losing 31-0 to Australia, American Samoa have been propping up the Fifa rankings for some time now, but with an ex-MLS coach now in charge of the side their fortunes are starting to change. The story is told excellently in the forthcoming documentary ‘Next Goal Wins’, which you can get a sneak peak of here.

We’ll also be taking a look at the latest controversy to hit Fifa, where issues surrounding the World Cup bid process continue to rumble on. With the FBI now involved, is the clock now ticking for world football’s governing body, and possibly Qatar 2022?

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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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Meet Tyroane Sandows. A promising talent rising through the ranks at São Paulo, except he’s South African.

São Paulo is one of the capitals of our beautiful game. This mega-city, boasting a population greater than 11 million, is home to Palmeiras, Corinthians and São Paulo, some of the nation’s most successful and popular teams. And it really is no surprise that we’ve seen a large amount of talent emerge from this part of Brazil, the likes of 2002 World Cup winning goalkeeper Marcos, Paulinho, Roberto Carlos, Luis Fabiano and of course Kaka, amongst plenty others.

This cycle will never stop and on this note, we introduce Tyroane Sandows, an 18-year-old attacker plying his trade with the São Paulo U-20 team. Unlike those illustrious names previously mentioned, Ty – as he’s called by his teammates – is not a local lad, having arrived six years ago from a city that is well over 7200km away, Johannesburg. Yes, Ty is South African.

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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

In Brazil, we all watch the World Cup

By James Young

It is a Thursday night in a bar on Avenida Amazonas in downtown Belo Horizonte, the day after Atlético Mineiro have beaten Independiente Santa Fé in the Copa Libertadores. 

“What about that pass from Guilherme to set up Jô’s goal?” I say to Thiago.

“Pure class. And Berola’s bicycle kick at the end!” says Thiago. 

“Magic,” I say. 

We both turn to Rafael, who is watching the girls go by.

“You’re very quiet,” I say to Rafael. 

“I don’t like football,” he says. 

“Not at all?”

“Not at all. In fact, I hate it.”

“Can’t be much fun, hating football in Brazil.”

“It’s not. It’s all anyone ever talks about.”

I turn to Thiago and get back to talking about football.

But Rafael is not alone. Although Brazilian history and football are inextricably intertwined, the idea of Brazil as “o país do futebol” does not always stand up to serious scrutiny. The average crowd in Serie A last year was just under 15,000, lower than MLS and only slightly higher than (gulp) the Australian A-League. Although clubs such as Flamengo and Corinthians point to market research surveys and boast of their 25 million or more fans, only a tiny fraction of those “supporters” have the means or the motivation to commit to regularly attending their team’s games. 

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