Call to Arms: Help AFR uncover the Best Writing in Football from 2013
If you’ve been with AFR for a while, you’re likely aware of our passion for great writing in football. Whether it’s from our own crew of extremely talented contributors, or from any of the countless journalists and bloggers across the world who keep the midnight oil burning, the value of independent journalism in sport is substantial.That said, while informative, compelling and innovative writing is plentiful across the digital sphere, the sheer wealth of content makes it fairly easy to overlook writing that deserves your attention.
With that in mind, we’re once again compiling a list of the year’s best writing in football, as we did in 2012 and 2011, albeit with a slight change to how we go about developing the list. Whereas in years prior, we created the list in-house or collaborated with a number of the most respected voices in the field, the truth is that while you might have missed a few pieces worth your time during the course of the year, it’s just as likely that we did as well. We’re celebrating the best our community has to offer, so what better way to do so than as a community?
What pieces moved you? Which articles caused you to step back and reconsider your assumptions? What works impacted you in unexpected ways?
Through Ryu’s Lens: Anything you can do…
There’s only one person more disappointed that Zlatan won’t be in Brazil than Zlatan, and that is Ryu Voelkel. The big man deceives, acting and performing in a way that makes him seem to be more than just that. Camera in hand, Ryu was in Stockholm to witness a battle between two greats.
Just when Portugal were comfortable, Ibrahimovic put them on the back foot. Just when Sweden were full of hope, Ronaldo silenced the stadium. The Swede did all he could, but could only watch as his counterpart did more.
Through Ryu’s Lens: Japan’s quick trip to Brazil
Japan already qualified for the 2014 World Cup, but first they flew to Brazil to represent Asia at this summer’s Confederations Cup. They brought style and quick-passing (aka Tokyo Taka) to the tournament, including an unbelievable match against Italy, which they somehow lost 4-3. They’re also on their way back to Japan already because there’s still plenty of work to be done, and Ryu was on hand for Japan-Mexico to witness what needs to be improved over the next year.
Through Ryu’s Lens: One for history, Croatia take on Serbia
“I asked the players: ‘Where were you born? Have any of you ever played in Croatia?’ The answer was no,” he said. “The players are so young they don’t know what we had and what we lost. They live today in a new world.” - Siniša Mihajlović
The atmosphere was tense and emotions were raw, but as Croatia met Serbia in Zagreb in a match that always seemed on the verge of boiling over, there was nevertheless one overarching sensation: hope. Relationships have been strained, to say the least, since the dissolution of Yugoslavia throughout the 1990s, and with that in mind, visiting fans had been banned from attending the pair of matches to avoid any confrontations. But even with increased security and nationalist chants raining down, Croatia managed to hold strong against Serbia, 2-0.
More important, though, was what took place after the match ended. Croatian and Serbian coaches, Igor Stimac and Siniša Mihajlović, long-time nationalist symbols with their own decades-long differences, met in the center of the pitch and embraced. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a reason for hope. Ryu was on scene for the derby and all the emotions surrounding it.
Through Ryu’s Lens: Beckham rises in Paris, Marseille falls
It was the grand derby, Le Classique between Paris St Germain and Marseille. PSG hoped to extend their lead in Ligue 1, and were somewhat fortunate to come away with a cool 2-0 victory. Beckham finally made his debut in France, coming on for the final 15 minutes and playing a chip that would lead to Zlatan Ibrahimovic grabbing the second for the French giants. Ryu was in town to see the derby, as well as Beckhamania jumping right into Zlatan’s arms.