A look back before stepping forward

By Zack Goldman and Maxi Rodriguez

The Premier League season is upon us.

At long last, the world’s most popular circus of sport has returned, pitching a tent in our front yards and living rooms for the next nine months.

There will be passion, drama and genius painted on the pitch and the terraces, across the screens of our televisions and the pages of our dailies.

Premiership football will again return to Anfield, to Goodison, to Eastlands…

But let us not forget where it’s already been this summer.

From Los Angeles, to Sydney, to North Ferriby, the Premier League has traveled — and traveled in style.

Sold-out six-figure crowds abroad and domestic late-night television audiences turned out and tuned in to catch a glimpse of new signings and old friends, easing back into the whirlpool of club football after a summer spent in the deep end of the World Cup.

Overseas supporters, marooned a few flights and a few worlds away from their favorite clubs, could previously only root from afar and dream of watching their heroes play live.

This July, those dreams, for many, became reality.

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The persistence of legends

By Anthony Lopopolo

This time, Franco Baresi would play.

He was there with the Italians and the Portuguese, all legends from their country, descending on a pitch in Toronto.

For all of them — Roberto Baggio, Paolo Di Canio, Pauleta, Maniche — the chase of the game is gone, the roars faded, the final whistle blown. But on this Monday night the cheers were loud, and the fans cared and the goals mattered. It was only an 80-minute game, and you could forgive them. This was an aberration of so many kinds, and they all embraced and smiled at the end. It was a taste of the life they once had.

Baresi was here just a month ago with Milan Glorie, the globetrotting icons of the famous seven-time European champion. Then he did not play. He didn’t look like he could.

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First Aid Football - AFR Voice Ep. 35

This week, we look at some of the most important medical matters in the game. Ben gets to grips with first aid training specifically for the football environment, and interviews the professional instructor behind a course aimed at grass-roots player. We also report on the latest study that reveals the significant problem of depression and alcohol abuse that torments an increasing proportion of football players, both current and recently retired.

On the pitch itself, we lick our lips at some very enticing Champions League quarter-final ties, asking whether Manchester United’s ‘backs-against-the-wall’ approach plays to David Moyes’ managerial strengths, how Chelsea can replicate their 2012 heroics to stage another miracle recovery, and why two thirds of the pod fancy Atlético Madrid to just edge out Barcelona at the Calderón.

In the domestic leagues we cast our eye over the latest Premier League sacking – that of Chris Hughton at Norwich City. Is the late change fully justified or is simply closing the stable door after the horse has bolted? Meanwhile across the Atlantic, we gawp and gasp at an incredible first instalment of this season’s Cascadia Cup – a chance to admire Clint Dempsey’s goal splurge and - thanks to Eric Beard's #whereisfootball Instagram snap - inadvertently discover some sensational Portland Timbers merch.

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Common Sense FC - AFR Voice

We all love a good crisis here on the podcast, so it seems only right that this week’s show that we take a long hard look at the woes of Manchester United. After conceding a 94th minute equaliser against the Premier League’s bottom club, whilst employing tactics that use more crosses than a teacher marking a fiendishly difficult maths test, we’ll be discussing just what is going on at Old Trafford, and why things don’t seem to quite be going to plan for David Moyes.

We’ll also be taking a look at the problem that faces 3 in 5 Premier League footballers within 5 years of their retirement: bankruptcy. How does it happen to stars who seem to be set for life, and what sort of support is in place for those who get into financial trouble? If our rambling on this isn’t enough, then you can also watch an excellent short documentary on the topic right here.

Then it’s off to Brazil, where the likes of Gilberto Silva have started to campaign for an improvement to players’ rights. As the domestic league seems to be in a state of stagnation, we’ll discussing the emergence of the Common Sense FC movement, and what it hopes to achieve in the country that will be hosting this year’s World Cup.

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Welcome to Manchester, Mata
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It’s official. Whether we wanted to see this one happen or not, Juan Mata leaves London for nearly £40m to play for Manchester United. It’s time to forget those two and a half illustrious seasons at The Bridge and set a new stage alight, the Theatre of Dreams. Juan, the audience is all yours.
Art by Dan Leydon. The Mata print is available for purchase here.

Welcome to Manchester, Mata

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"Great Moments in Football History" by Oz

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Gunnar Be Interesting - AFR Voice Ep. 21

It’s a New Year, and with it comes a fresh new show to get 2014 rolling. This week we’ll be delving into some of the Premier League action from the festive season (as there didn’t seem to be a ball kicked anywhere else in Europe), as well as discuss the prospects of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the newest kid on the English top flight’s managerial block, as he dons some leather gloves, hoists his trousers up, and takes the reigns at Cardiff City.

At this time of year it only seems fitting that we also discuss something that has become quintessentially linked with January 1st, and we don’t mean New Year’s resolutions or optimistic gym sign-ups. We’re talking about the January transfer window which has been wrenched WIDE OPEN, and has already started to force the rumour mill into overdrive.

We’ll also be taking a look at Serie A, which returns from Winter hibernation this weekend with a tasty top of the table clash, and play with that hot potato that is the issue of the Winter break (or distinct lack of one on British shores).

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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

Minimalist Club Crests by Daniel Nyari

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