Let the games begin.
With only hours until the World Cup draw that we’ve waited years for - the World Cup draw which will effectively decide your team’s fate next summer - we thought it was a decent idea to offer a few tips that could come in handy while you struggle to maintain your composure. We can’t make any promises, but if you follow these tips, we’re sure you’ll make it through at least the first hour of coverage. After that, it’s on you.
With the World Cup kicking off in only a matter of months, it’s becoming increasingly clear how different the pristine stadiums are from the heart of the game in Brazil. After receiving an Editorial Fellowship from Getty Images, photographer Laurence Griffiths was able to document
football futebol in Brazil and what it means to the people in the favelas. From games until sunset to a 4-hour long pelada, watch the full feature from Griffiths here.
"We need more African and Asian [countries in the World Cup]. But instead of taking away some European, we have to go to 40 teams. We can add two African, two Asiatic, two American, one Oceania and one from Europe." - Michel Platini
Eric: My initial, even visceral reaction: “No! Stop ruining the game!” And I think that’s well-founded, considering the fact that Michel Platini and Sepp Blatter would be at the core of this effort. Should we trust them to act in the best interest of fans and the game in general? Hahahaha, I’m not answering that question. But rather than immediately reject and dismiss the notion, let’s talk about the bit of substance behind this idea.
Maxi: Exactly. People seem to zero in on this notion that a larger World Cup will necessarily dilute the talent level, but as we’ve seen during this qualification cycle, there are certainly teams who would add color to the World Cup, that are simply not going to make the cut. Portugal? Sweden? Maybe Mexico (ugh)?
At this point, Blatter and company have been focused on this idea of promoting soccer to those markets where the sport doesn’t maintain a cultural tradition. Whether it’s South East Asia or specifically the United States in the 1990s, there’s nothing inherently wrong in specifically marketing the sport and the World Cup as a way to grow the game. That said, going to 40 teams doesn’t exactly hit the mark. Sure, Israel or Armenia might be able to sneak into the World Cup, but does that really accomplish much in the way of expanding the sport, besides opening the gate to a few already soccer-obsessed fringe countries? In other words, if we accept that expanding the World Cup is a method to grow the sport, are an additional 8 teams the best way to accomplish that goal?
While it’s tempting - and easy - to focus on the negative aspects that plague the modern game, it’s important to remember the positive social change that soccer can bring; a fact that was made clear with the overwhelming success of a recent organ donation campaign that targeted Brazilian fans.
Under the banner of the "Immortal Fans" campaign, a variety of Brazilian clubs recruited local patients in need of organ donations to appeal directly to their set of fans through a variety of platforms, from print and television advertisements, to speeches made prior to kickoff. Each time, the fans emphasized their connection to the club: "I promise that your eyes will keep on watching Sport Club Recife. I promise that your lungs will keep on breathing for Sport Club Recife."
In a country not known for embracing organ donation, the campaign was an immediate success, tugging on the heartstrings of supporters, and leading to a remarkable increase in donations. Recife alone has signed up more than 57,000 new donors in the last 12 months while organ donations have increased by 54 percent in the city of Pernambuco.
We’re strong believers that soccer can bring positive social change, and this is one of the best examples we’ve seen. Check out the video below, but more importantly, make the jump yourself. If you’re in the US, you can learn more on organ donation here, while UK readers can click here for more info. Why not go for it? [Posted by Maxi]
He was a doctor, “O Doutor” even. He was a world class footballer, and a world class revolutionary who was the heart of soul of Brazil’s 1982 World Cup side. He also brought democracy to his club Corinthians, which had an echo effect throughout the country.
He helped create a brand of “hypnotic football, football as sorcery, impossibly languid and creative, as louche and seductive as Bowie and Jagger and Richards all rolled into one.” He was Brazilian futebol’s philosopher king, and while he is gone, his spirit lives on in his country. [Find more of Dan Leydon work here, and get it here. Posted by Eric.]
The player of the tournament was Neymar, but the smell of tear gas was just as unmistakable. Even though the actual gas did not pass into the stadium, one person wore a mask and real FIFA officials at the start of the Confederations Cup final scrambled for cover. These are the reports.
The damn thing stung the eyes, all the way over there, hundreds of yards away from the ring of small chaos around the Maracana where thousands of protesters clashed with police once more. There, Brazil beat Spain – the greatest team of its era – so convincingly that we all thought the era was coming to an end, and the parties outlasted the protests deep into the night on Sunday.
The beautiful game was put on hold; there were more important things at stake. With protests still at large and the nation on the cusp of chaos, a loss for Brazil could have been devastating. Uruguay were happy to supply the devastation, proving to be a worthy opponent and pushing Brazil to the brink of elimination.
In the end, it wasn’t a glowing series of passes that made the difference. It was a towering header from Paulinho that put Brazil in the Confederations Cup final. There are, of course, more important things for Brazilians to care about than kicking a ball, but the country can still come together with the hope of being champions. [You can interact with Ryu on twitter @Toksuede and check his Flickr. Posted by Eric]
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