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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Spanish football vs. Fans who watch games illegally

The message from La Liga: When you watch games illegally, you’re hurting your team. In mostly hilarious ways.

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Rayo Vallecano x Sausages and Caviar

Settled in the neighbourhood of Vallecas, Rayo Vallecano is celebrating 90 years of being a proud presence in Madrid that steps far away from the world of Galacticos. After their trip to see Union Berlin’s supporter and club culture, Jason and Kai went to Spain’s capital with help from our friend Dermot Corrigan to discover another loyal, local fanbase.

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Santa’s Sack - AFR Voice Ep. 19

This week’s show sees us a man down - and before you ask, no we haven’t sacked Ben for overseeing a series of poor pod performances (he’ll be back next week), but we will be discussing the goings on of a weekend of boardroom-based carnage in the Premier League. Where did it all go wrong for Andre Villas-Boas and Steve Clarke? Will they be stuck on the managerial merry-go-round for long? And with the January transfer window fast approaching, who’s next to join them?

Then it’s off to Europe’s top table, where we’ll be taking a look at the Champions League draw – the tasty looking match against Man City that Barcelona didn’t want, the prospect of two home games for Didier Drogba, and an Arsenal team looking to make sure we don’t get a sixth straight final that includes either Pep Guardiola or Bayern Munich.

We’re also stopping off in La Liga, where Atletico Madrid are doing everything they can to disrupt the established balance of power, Barcelona have broken yet another record, and Cristiano Ronaldo has now got something that not many players in world football can boast – his own museum.

This week’s feature interview sees us chat to journalist, broadcaster and Spanish football expert Guillem Balague about his new book, simply titled “Messi”. We’ll be talking about how he went about writing a book on the world’s best player, how he managed to speak to Messi’s friends, family and coaches to build a true picture of the man, and what makes the Argentine arguably the greatest player of all time.

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The Holiday Gift Guide for Football Fans
If there’s anything we learned from Arsenal fans after Mesut Özil moved to North London, it’s that buying nice things is the key to happiness. With the holiday season fast approaching, we’re just days away from that time of the year where people rush to malls and shove strangers. As much as you may enjoy that pastime, you could do better than that gift card.
To make the hunt for gifts a bit more digestible, we’ve compiled a list of a few of our favourite things. From art prints to books and gear, if you can’t find a present here, well, you might be tough out of luck.
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Art and Design


Does the fan in your life have a bit of empty space on their walls? If so, an art piece might fit the bill. Thankfully, there are an incredible amount of talented artists who love the beautiful game and make their art available for purchase. From Wong Wong’s World Cup-themed Thirty Two prints to Mark Yesilevskiy’s “Teams, Not Players" series, to Steve Welsh’s “A through Z” collection, Meen Choi’s collected portraits or Dan Leydon’s 1matchaday series, the options are plentiful, no matter what team or player you’re looking for. Also check out…
1. Chinatown Branch’s paintings of Old Trafford
2. Football Type: An in-depth look at typography in football
3. Daniel Nyari’s Neymar Print
4. Stanley Chow’s Scholesy
5. Luke Barclay Design’s World Cup Group Poster
6. DINKIT’s Football Coordinates Prints
7. David Sparshott’s World Cup jerseys
8. Ty Palmer’s Best XI Series
9. 11cannons’ Bergkamp in a Winter Wonderland

Books and Magazines


Is the fan you’re hunting for not an art lover? Do they already have their walls plastered over with David Beckham posters like we do? In that case, going the intellectual route and picking up a few books might not be a bad idea. Amongst our favorites this year were Robert Andrew Powell’s “This Love is Not For Cowards,” which chronicles a season with Ciudad Juarez’ Indios and simultaneously tells the story of modern Mexico, and Chris Anderson’s book, The Numbers Game, which offers an in-depth look at the developing field of statistical analysis in the game. Also check out…
1. Sid Lowe’s Fear and Loathing in La Liga
2. Chuck Korr’s Football v Apartheid
3. David Winner’s Brilliant Orange
4. Joe McGinniss’ The Miracle of Castel di Sangro
5. Eduardo Galeano’s Soccer in Sun and Shadow
6. Guillem Balague’s Messi

Of course, it’s not a bad idea to go the magazine route either. Over the past year or so, a number of grassroots magazines have come to life, each offering a staggering amount of quality content. We’re big fans of Howler, The Blizzard, and Rabona Magazine.

Lifestyle and Gear


Ok, fine. Art doesn’t work, and your target already has a library chock full of textbooks on the 1970 Brazil team and tiki-taka. In that case, awkwardly find out their shirt size, support creative entrepreneurs or order some new gear. Let’s work down the list:
1. The 3nil FC crew and Wunderkind wallet are glorious
2. When your team gets knocked out, support Brazil with this.
3. The LBF Winged Tee will glide you across the pitch
4. Black boots. The Mercurial Vapor IX's do it right.
5. Spain have a nice kit for the World Cup. Clean Sheet Co.’s interpretation is better.
6. The US Soccer Centennial kit. Celebrate 100 years in style.
7. The Brazuca, naturally.
8. The Dos a Cero Scarf from Howler.
9. Modern Anthology’s Foosball Bottle Openers.
If you’re confident, picking up a new jersey is a good shout. Just be sure to do a bit of research on this one, or you might end up giving a Real Madrid jersey to a Barcelona fan. Actually, on second thought, that’s not a bad idea. Just send us the video of your friend’s reaction.

The Philanthropic Option


We’re the first to admit that giving and receiving gifts is a wonderful part of the holiday season, but when you break it down to its core, the holidays are about doing good. Of course, that can accomplished in a variety of ways, and giving a well conceived gift is certainly a good route, but there are few things better than donating time or funds to a charity designed to benefit the less-fortunate. 
And while there are plenty of charities and causes that could use your support, there are a number of soccer-specific groups that are worth taking a look at. Instead of that new jersey, maybe do a solid and donate in your name or a friend’s to any of the following charities:
1. Street Soccer USA, a group using soccer to help the homeless transform their lives
2. Grassroots Soccer. who use the power of soccer to educate, inspire, and mobilize communities to stop the spread of HIV.
3. Little Feet, who help develop soccer-based infrastructure around the world
This gift guide is a product of Eric Beard, Maxi Rodriguez, Zack Goldman, Dominic Vieira, and the AFR Voice team wasting way too many hours on the Internet. Did we forget something? Send us your recommendations on Twitter or in the comments.

The Holiday Gift Guide for Football Fans

If there’s anything we learned from Arsenal fans after Mesut Özil moved to North London, it’s that buying nice things is the key to happiness. With the holiday season fast approaching, we’re just days away from that time of the year where people rush to malls and shove strangers. As much as you may enjoy that pastime, you could do better than that gift card.

To make the hunt for gifts a bit more digestible, we’ve compiled a list of a few of our favourite things. From art prints to books and gear, if you can’t find a present here, well, you might be tough out of luck.

Read More

Lille in the Limelight - AFR Voice Ep. 16

The show has cast a spotlight on a huge collection of leagues this season – La Liga, Serie A, MLS and even the top tiers in Afghanistan and Mongolia. This week, we finally uncork our coverage of Ligue 1 by getting a full lowdown from French football expert, AFR contributor and French Football Weekly editor Andrew Gibney. We’ll find out the latest on the hooliganism that recently blighted the league, salivate over Zlatan, hail the unexpected brilliance of Lille and try to make sense of the zero to hero national team.

The show’s main debate circles around an increasingly beleaguered Jose Mourinho – is ‘The Special One’ no longer special? Read AFR writer Nicol Hay’s fantastic article to find the spark of the discussion. We’ll also be profiling the dramatic rise of 21-year-old Basel centre-back Fabian Schär – from Swiss banker to one of the most promising defenders in Europe in the space of three years. And if you want to hear all about a very unlikely candidate for the most competitive league on the planet, this is the show to tune in to.

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Inside El Clásico

400 million watched, but only for 90 minutes. Even with the excessive coverage from the Spanish press, so much is lost in the build-up to one of the biggest spectacles in world football. With access a reporter could only dream of, FC Barcelona released a video of the scenes before and after the big match at the Camp Nou. The nerves, the fans, the hundreds of cameras, they’re all captured. Watch the full feature here. [Posted by Eric]

The Stagnant Inventors

When the urbane Anglo-French philosopher Joseph Barton posed a question on BT Sport about English footballers who had played in Serie A, the first thought was ‘why would anybody sign Franz Carr?’ Within a few days, the Welshman Gareth Bale had moved to Real Madrid and this prompted the wider question of why so few British players seem to make a positive impact at clubs outside the UK.

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AFR Voice - Uncovering the Homeless World Cup

AFR Voice is back for episode two of the season, and we’re throwing ourselves two footed into everything that the footballing world has to offer this week.

Did the Confederations Cup not quite do it for you tournament-wise this Summer? Then fear not - this week’s main feature focuses on the Homeless World Cup which took place in Poland last week. We’ll be speaking to AFR’s Amy Eustace who was out there volunteering – she’ll be telling us about the tournament, and the positive impact that it has on the lives of the people involved.

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