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As another summer winds to a close, club football returns to English cities and towns. And while much of what makes that significant happens on the pitch, the signs of the beautiful game’s return can be seen even more poignantly in the elements that surround the match.

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A Guide to the Past and Present of World Cup Powers

You know the hype is hitting its peak when there are more teams than days left until it all kicks off.

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City Slickers - AFR Voice - Ep. 40

After 10 months of highs and lows, twists and turns, head butts and slips, it’s over (well in the Premier League at least). Join us this week as we talk through Man City’s title win, Liverpool coming up just short, the continued emergence of yet another Belgian superstar, and all our favourite moments from what has been yet another superbly entertaining season in the English top flight.

Premier League aside, there have been some rather interesting developments elsewhere lower down the pyramid in football’s spiritual home. We’ll be taking a look at The FA’s idea to create a league for Premier League B-teams with the premise of helping to develop the nation’s young players. However, without consulting lower leagues and supporters before making the proposals, the governing body have opened themselves up to protest, and ridicule from their own members.

Elsewhere, the pod crew throw any pretensions of neutrality to one side as World Cup excitement builds, going through Roy Hodgson’s England World Cup squad with a finer toothcomb than passport control at Rio airport; as well as looking at a familiar, goal-hungry face in Germany’s provisional 30-man squad, and some more predictable omissions from the hosts’ roster.

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Remembering May 11

By Zack Goldman

Yesterday was a day of celebration in the Barclays Premier League, but it could, and should, have been so much more.

Manchester City won their second league title in three years with a 2-0 victory over West Ham United, who supplied a challenge con brio but sans any real threat to the champions.

As the clock hit 90, Eastlands drank in the sweet spirit of victory and a wave of sky blue spilled onto the pitch. City fans in replica shirts and silly hats cheered, hugged, took selfies, and attempted to shower their heroes with well-intentioned, but ultimately unwanted kisses.

Those sorts of scenes are always beautiful moments that encapsulate football at its most electrifying, with the distance between fan and hero collapsed and the impenitent thrill of victory on show.

But, this day, for many of us, the moment had a secondary significance—and one that should have been noted far more than it was.

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'Turn thy wheel': An Ode to The Football League's Final Day

By Zack Goldman

Every year, it seems the Football League’s final day is marked by the return of spring sunshine—and, coincidentally, along with it comes a fittingly resplendent kind of cacophony. Happiness and heartbreak, excitement and expletive, fate and faith all radiantly howled and yowled at once across the nation.

Contrasting emotions ring out against England’s mountains green, all because of our love of football—which, yes, we know is completely inane and insane, but is also that little bit more completely beautiful to us.

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The Brasil 2014 Collection by Wong Wong x Aloye

Only 8 countries have ever won the World Cup, a tournament that is about to turn 85 years old. Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Uruguay. 

To celebrate the champions, Aloye and Wong Wong have teamed up to create a series of kits for this summer’s upcoming World Cup. In addition to the 8 champions, homes of Aloye (Japan) and Wong Wong (United States) are represented in the lineup. If a nation has hoisted the cup, their shirt features chest pockets with stars embroidered above them, signifying the number of titles each respective country has won. Check out the full collection here.

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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