The Best of Football Writing in 2013
This is the third year that The Best Football Writing list (2012, 2011) has come into existence. We’ve seen blogs come and go, as well as writers rise and get the recognition they deserve. 2013 was no exception, but the continued domination of social media in sport created a new landscape for writing. With a flood of information hitting us every day, it can be difficult to find the long reads amongst a pile of memes.
This year’s list was the hardest to compile, but there was hardly a shortage of quality writing. In fact, we were overwhelmed with tweets and emails recommending great writing in football. While we don’t know what’s in store in 2014, we’re proud to present The Best of Football Writing in 2013.
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List compiled by Eric Beard, Maxi Rodriguez, Zack Goldman, and Dominic Vieira.
Design: Luke Barclay and 3nil.
Photography: Ryu Voelkel
















Most Compelling
















January 1 – Letter from San Diego – Soccer in a Divided Region – Alicia Rodriguez
January 15 - The Disappearance of Daniele De Rossi - Thomas Høy
January 21 – The Americas’ Team – Jorge Arangure Jr.
January 27 – Bob Bradley – The American Who Stayed – Habib El Magrissy
January 30 – How Galatasaray lured Didier Drogba and Wesley Sneijder to Turkey - Amy Lawrence
February 2 - Interview with Marco Garcés, Head of Scouting for Pachuca CF - David Keyes
February 7 – Soccer’s New Match-Fixing Scandal – Brian Phillips
February 11 – Be Here Now – Kevin Koczwara
February 28 - What Mario Balotelli means for Italy (and Italy) - James Taylor
March 19 - How Soccer Explains Israel - Amos Barshad
March 19 – Friendly Fire – Brian Straus
March 20 - The Blood of the Impure - Laurent Dubois
March 25 - All Hail The Game’s Great Anarachist - Cristian Nyari
April 16 - Coping with the information overload of modern football  - Mike Ticher
April 16 - Unpaid Internships in Performance Analysis: My View - Dave Willoughby
April 25 – Clarence Seedorf’s Brazilian renaissance – Jack Lang
April 26 – My Juventus – Simon Kuper
May 1 – Brittney Griner, Jason Collins and the Sex of a Story - Jennifer Doyle
May 6 - When The Beautiful Game Turns Ugly - Wright Thompson
May 12 – Two Hundred and Three – Graham Macaree
May 13 – An early exit after 27 years: Sir Alex steps down in his own style – Anthony Lopopolo
May 17 – Cantera Dreams – David Keyes
May 22 – Australia’s Code Wars – Neil Sherwin
May 22 - Is Major League Soccer selling its soul? - Jeff Carlisle
June 6 – Livorno are keeping Communist football alive – Callum Hamilton
June 12 – Dribbling Man – Robert Andrew Powell
June 14 – How Garcia can reinvigorate Roma – Andy Brassell
June 18 - A Revolta do Vinagre - Chris Gaffney
June 23 – Incitement – Laurent Dubois
July 4 – Why soccer pundits need to learn to embrace uncertainty – Richard Whittall
Augus 8 - Dempsey: An African-Americanesque Reflection – Miriti Murungi
August 15 – Catalonian Hatorade – Elliott Turner
August 25 - Recolonization! – Maxi Rodriguez
August 28 – Once the midfield master on the field and now the manager, can Cocu start a dynasty at his PSV? – Mohamed Moallim
September 4 - On Gedion Zelalem, soccer potential and ‘American-ness’ - Jason Davis
September 5 – Explaining the “Union high school” – Keith Hickey
September 17 – The Global Theatre – Laurent Dubois
October 18 - Football clubs and assets of community value – Andi Thomas
October 21 – Diego Fagundez’s path to the USMNT starts with green card, now it gets messy – Ryan Rosenblatt
October 29 - Not Going Away; On The Cost Of Watching Football – Glen Wilson
November 15 - A Yellow Card – Brian Phillips
November 29 – Paul Pogba – Fergie’s biggest mistake in 26 years? – Jonathan Fadugba
December 1 - Piers Morgan, Mental Health And Football’s Culture Of Bullying - Greg (DFAFS)
December 3 – Soccer and Logic Don’t Often Mix – Yael Averbach
December 13 – Goodbye to Rory Delap, long-throwing destroyer – James Tyler
December 31 - The Masters of Universality – Michael Cox
















Most Creative
















April 4 - Why We Watch: Xavi Hernández, Football Fundamentalist - Linda Hui
April 19 – Completely serious exclusive preview: FIFA 14 – Andi Thomas
May 1 - Papal Indiscretions – Evaluating Pope Francis’s BsAs Club Selection - Elliot Turner
May 7 - The Hemingway Experiment: The Dangerous Winter - Will Parchman
June 23 - Alegria Do Povo ‘The Joy of the People - Layth Yousef
August 9 - Red, White, & Blue Steel - Brian Phillips
September 1 - Transfer Deadline Day With Marauding Arsenal Fans - Clive Martin
September 10 - Tadeuszt Rózewicz: Football and the Poetry of Silence - Alex Stuart
October 4 - Condemned to be Fulham - Joe Devine
October 9 - Social poet captures the beautiful game - Roger Bennett
October 17 - Manchester United’s 7 Deadly Sins - ManUtd24
November 23 - This is not José Mourinho - Nicol Hay
December 19 - Why We Watch: Jozy Altidore Before Dawn - Connor Huchton
















Best Storytelling
















January 15 - The Lion of Vienna - Mark Yesilevskiy & Matilda Hankinson
January 23 - Everyman a Herculez - Robert Andrew Powell
January 28 - Blessed were the cheesemakers: the glory days of Parma - Giancarlo Rinaldi
February 18 - American Soccer in 1985: The Failure in Torrance - Will Parchman
March 26 - Not just another game: When the USMNT played Mexico in 1980, everything changed - Noah Davis
March 29 - Freed of a Secret’s Burden, a Soccer Player Looks Ahead - Sam Borden
March 30 - David Rocastle: A Love Letter To The Gentleman And Arsenal Legend - Layth Yousif
April 10 - One man’s journey from Los Angeles to Real Madrid good-luck charm - Grant Wahl
April 21 - Act One: Trying to Fill His Shoes (the ones with cleats) - Robert Suarez
May 2 - From League One champions to devastated losers in a single minute - Zack Goldman
May 5 - Bobby Williamson on his time with Uganda - Alan Pattullo
May 20 - Jürgen Klopp rallies neutrals to support ‘special’ Borussia Dortmund - Donald McRae
May 30 - Maradona vs. Belgium - Craig Robinson
May 31 - Savo Milosevic: The Aston Villa Icon That Never Was - Chris Nee
June 3 - A game worth living for: Santa Maria Rivera’s story - Liviu Bird
June 17 - Return of the the Ahlawy - Andrea Luchetta
June 28 - The legends of Sao Cristovao - Gabriele Marcotti
July 18 - You are my Arsenal, my only Arsenal - Layth Yousif
July 18 - We Are The Resurrection - Mike Deri Smith
August 6 - The Life of a Non-Millionaire Professional Athlete - Clint Irwin
August 13 - Il Giocatore - Luke O’Brien
August 16 - Rejection, tragedy and billions of dollars - The story of FIFA - Christopher Dring
August 20 - Mario Balotelli has a talent that’s every bit as electric as his personality - Grant Wahl
August 23 - Sneaking into Argentina - Elliott Turner
August 30 - A Life and United - Unitedite
September 5 - I Am Zlatan Ibrahimovic: A Modern Fairy Tale - Simon Kuper
September 5 - The day Harry Redknapp brought a fan on to play for West Ham - Jeff Maysh
September 8 - This Ain’t A Football Song - David Hartrick
September 10 - Gianluigi Buffon: from depression to Italy’s record books - Marcus Christenson
September 10 - Mexico City Nightmare: A Father’s Worst Fear - John Godfrey
October 30 - Afghanistan United - May Jeong
November 2 - Her biggest save - Caitlin Dewey
November 8 - How Brazil’s longest suffering club escaped from the wilderness - James Young
November 19 - Meet Hannes Thor Halldórsson: Iceland goalkeeper, movie director - Jonathan Wilson
November 20 - Looking For Riquelme - Rob Brown
December 5 - The late Nelson Mandela understood the true power of sports - Jonathan Wilson
December 6 - Generation June - Wright Thompson
December 11 - The forgotten story of … Andrew Dettre and Soccer World - Joe Gorman
December 14 - Murder On Nitti Street. The Case of Re Cecconi - Alessio Loginov
December 19 - American Coach Bids Farewell To Egypt - Moustafa El-Chiati
December 24 - The Suarez Conundrum - Davy Lane

Best Research

March 4 - Pearls Of Wisdom Or Perils Of Wisdom? The Problem With Evidence Based Coaching - Chris Anderson
April 12 - The Unstoppable Rise of Shakhtar Donetsk - Vadim Furmanov
April 29 - Show Me The Money - Swiss Ramble
April 30 - Desert heat: World Cup hosts Qatar face scrutiny over ‘slavery’ accusations - James Montague
May 2 - How artificial turf could change the future of soccer - Charles Boehm
May 24 - European Soccer’s Biggest Star May Be a Song - Sam Borden
May 28 - Les Pieds-Noirs: Algeria’s Forgotten Footballers - Maher Mezahi
May 29 - Jonathan Wilson: Tactical Analysis Boom - Dominic Bliss
May 29 - Football Finance: The Case for Financial Fair Play - Richard Whitall
June 26 - Rise of Data Analysis in Football - Jack Coles
July 7 - New York City and the Rebirth of Supporter Culture - Jonathan Williamson
July 22 - Un Chien Andalou: Maradona’s Dog Days at Sevilla - Rob Doolan
July 23 - O Glorioso Benfica - Stolen from Africa - Mark Biram
August 12 - Boris Arkadyev – The Soviet Genius Behind Total Football and Tiki-Taka - Matthew Brown
September 11 - Why ‘Three Points for a Win’ is a loss for football - Nicholas Cholst
October 1 - Hate him or despise him, Diego Costa’s a star - Sid Lowe
November 1 - More Than A Game: How the Mostar derby illustrates Bosnia-Herzegovina’s divisions - Luke Ginnell
November 29 - World Cup seeding: How to play the game - Gabriele Marcotti
December 4 - Contrasting approaches to possession - Devin Pleuler
December 6 - How Qatar Came to Host the 2022 World Cup - Philippe Auclair
December 11 - The story of the Italian player who turned down €200,000 and became a hero - James Horncastle

The Best Writing and Presentation in Multimedia

February 5 - Football as a Religion: The Church of Maradona - VICE
February 8 - Football Vagabond: Derby of the Eternal Enemies - KICKTV
March 23 - The Not-So-Friendly U.S.-Mexico match - NPR’s Only A Game
March 24 - Soccer on the U.S.-Mexico border - XI Quarterly
April 29 - Derrière chaque victoire - Impact 2-0 Fire - Impact de Montréal
May 16 - The Oviedo Story - Copa90
July 18 - Soccer Morning: David Conn and American Ownership in the Premier League - NASN Radio
September 25 - Qatar: the migrant workers forced to work for no pay in World Cup host country - The Guardian
October 13 - An Unfair Game - The New York Times
October 25 - Robbie Keane: A Poem - Colum McCann
October 30 - Tottenham Hotspur get new stadium but local businesses lose out - The Guardian
November 6 - The Half-Time Hero - Howler Radio
December 17 - An Ode To Football - Musa Okwonga and The FA
As always, the best part about making this list is hearing about the great reads that we inevitably overlooked. If there’s a piece that you thought should have been included, please leave a link to it in the comments. 
If you enjoyed the list, please consider sharing it on Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else where fans of football and good writing can be found.

The Best of Football Writing in 2013

This is the third year that The Best Football Writing list (2012, 2011) has come into existence. We’ve seen blogs come and go, as well as writers rise and get the recognition they deserve. 2013 was no exception, but the continued domination of social media in sport created a new landscape for writing. With a flood of information hitting us every day, it can be difficult to find the long reads amongst a pile of memes.

This year’s list was the hardest to compile, but there was hardly a shortage of quality writing. In fact, we were overwhelmed with tweets and emails recommending great writing in football. While we don’t know what’s in store in 2014, we’re proud to present The Best of Football Writing in 2013.

Read More

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?

Send us an email, leave a comment below, send us a message on Twitter, or use the #BestFootballWriting hashtag. Help us celebrate our community and uncover the best writing in football from 2013. 

The Best of Football Writing in 2012

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Before we move forward, let’s take a step back.

2013 will bring new stories, and writers will continue to unveil value in the context of our day-to-day lives. But before we jump ahead, we really should take a step back. The internet is a wonderful place, but our constant consumption of content allows us to forget which stories were truly compelling, creative, well-researched, and told with conviction. For the second year in a row, I have compiled what I consider to be a list of the best writing in football. This year, I called upon some of the game’s most influential voices to reflect on how writing best interpreted, dissected, and brought meaning to the beautiful game.

Consider this project to be a sort of anthology. The games will be remembered in history, but our reactions and our stories could have been forgotten. Instead, they’re here.

View some of the best football writing that 2012 had to offer:

(Note: Titles in the PDF link to their respective URLs. For the sake of continuity and accessibility, we did not feature pieces that were only available offline or behind paywalls)

Thanks to the list’s contributors: Laurent Dubois, Richard Whittall, James Tyler, Gwendolyn Oxenham, Chris Mann, Tom Dunmore, Robert Langham, Musa Okwonga, Jeff Livingstone, Ed Malyon, George Quraishi, Maxi Rodriguez, Kevin McCauley, Elliot Turner, Dominic Vieira, and Stefan Bienkowski

Design by the amazing Dan Gribbon, of 3nil

Compiled by Eric Beard

Finally, thanks for your support throughout 2012. Here’s to another year full of vibrant conversation.

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Take the time to take a step back: Best of Football Writing in 2012
With the clock winding down on 2012, the days for reminiscing are rising to fruition. Last year, I decided to create a list of what I thought were the best pieces of football writing in 2011. This year, I’m doing it again, and I’ve called upon some of the most influential voices in football to reflect on how we best interpreted, dissected, and brought meaning to the beautiful game.
Why? Because I think it’s important. So many care about this game. So many spend countless hours reading about it, never mind actually watching matches. Tremendous stories are told. Some of the genius we witness gets meticulously unraveled. But the reality is that in 2012, the world of online writing has never been in a position of such prominence. At the same time, however, the internet should not leave such a tower of writings to be forgotten.
Consider this project to be a sort of anthology. The games will be remembered in history, but make no mistake; our reactions and our stories can be forgotten.
My challenge for you this weekend: show me that you are willing to remember. Email me [contact at afootballreport dot com], tweet us, or even use the #BestFootballWriting hashtag to share the pieces of writing that resonated with you over the past twelve months. The list will be completed in fine fashion this weekend and presented shortly thereafter, but I am inviting you to get involved. Here’s your chance to contribute to something that will allow people to remember.
[Written by Eric Beard. Design: Dan Gribbon. Photo: Ryu Voelkel.]

Take the time to take a step back: Best of Football Writing in 2012

With the clock winding down on 2012, the days for reminiscing are rising to fruition. Last year, I decided to create a list of what I thought were the best pieces of football writing in 2011. This year, I’m doing it again, and I’ve called upon some of the most influential voices in football to reflect on how we best interpreted, dissected, and brought meaning to the beautiful game.

Why? Because I think it’s important. So many care about this game. So many spend countless hours reading about it, never mind actually watching matches. Tremendous stories are told. Some of the genius we witness gets meticulously unraveled. But the reality is that in 2012, the world of online writing has never been in a position of such prominence. At the same time, however, the internet should not leave such a tower of writings to be forgotten.

Consider this project to be a sort of anthology. The games will be remembered in history, but make no mistake; our reactions and our stories can be forgotten.

My challenge for you this weekend: show me that you are willing to remember. Email me [contact at afootballreport dot com], tweet us, or even use the #BestFootballWriting hashtag to share the pieces of writing that resonated with you over the past twelve months. The list will be completed in fine fashion this weekend and presented shortly thereafter, but I am inviting you to get involved. Here’s your chance to contribute to something that will allow people to remember.

[Written by Eric Beard. Design: Dan Gribbon. Photo: Ryu Voelkel.]

Euro 2012 History of the Hosts: Poland

Poland and Ukraine: the unlikely duo. This is the first of a two part series by John Ray on the history of Euro 2012’s respective hosts, allowing fans to become familiar with the two nations that will soon be placed under a microscope. Read part two here.

When top-scorer David Villa lifted the European championship trophy in 2008 it was clear that Spain had exorcised (at least some of) their demons and a seismic shift in the international game was on the way. In addition to the rise of the Spaniards, there was the arrival of the eccentric Andrei Arshavin, the breathtaking play of the Dutch in the group stage, and the “never-say-die” Turks. The competition in Austria and Switzerland ushered in a new guard in Europe as the competition has continually done.

Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine is sure to shape the footballing legacy of more countries. Both the host nations have been long preparing for the tournament and the 6 new stadiums, particularly those in Warsaw, Lviv, and Gdansk, look to celebrate their heritage in theatrical perfection. The excitement is quickly reaching a fever pitch with the ITV “dreams” advert and the new Nike promotion building up commercial fervor, and the lull without domestic football has made us yearn for the competition all the more. Unfortunately, Euro 2012 has also been met with early controversy as their have been fears of the racist right rearing its repulsive head that has led numerous black players’ families (particularly Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s) to stay at home. The jailing of ex-minister Yulia Tymoshenko has been criticized and resulted in a number of leaders boycotting the event.

The ability to overcome these concerns and stage a successful event will make Euro 2012 a watershed moment for both these countries moving forward and will hopefully continue an era of relative success for both of these countries domestically. The tumultuous histories and recent heights of Poland and Ukraine must be illuminated in order to understand this year’s competition and the significance that it carries for the countries producing it.  We begin with Poland: From their escape of imperial rule in 1919, the destruction of the country in World War II, the rebuilding of the football team under the glorious tenure of Kazimierz Gorski in the 70s, and the lull until today.

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Help Us Compile the “Best of Football Writing in 2011: AFR and Beyond” List

A year is a long, long time. Tomorrow we’ll be posting the “Best of Football Writing in 2011” list. We haven’t done this before, but we figure if we’re going to do it, we might as well do it right. We’re 50 brilliant pieces deep at the moment, but a few perspectives can only go so far. If there was a piece of writing on AFR or elsewhere that you loved this year, please send it our way on twitter or via email (contact@afootballreport.com). We’re after pieces that hold a sort of timeless value. In the meantime, feel free to lose yourself in our archives.  (photo taken by Ryu Voelkel)

Help Us Compile the “Best of Football Writing in 2011: AFR and Beyond” List

A year is a long, long time. Tomorrow we’ll be posting the “Best of Football Writing in 2011” list. We haven’t done this before, but we figure if we’re going to do it, we might as well do it right. We’re 50 brilliant pieces deep at the moment, but a few perspectives can only go so far. If there was a piece of writing on AFR or elsewhere that you loved this year, please send it our way on twitter or via email (contact@afootballreport.com). We’re after pieces that hold a sort of timeless value. In the meantime, feel free to lose yourself in our archives.  (photo taken by Ryu Voelkel)

A New Season, A New Opportunity

With European football right around the corner once again, the canvas that is A Football Report is begging to be filled with brilliance more than ever.

The best young writers from all over the world have contributed and now you can too. Every continent has been covered, but not every voice. It’s time to share yours with the thousands that make up our intelligent audience of over 25,000 fans. 

This season, we want to share the canvas with you. We hope to feature the best of football insight and analysis. The sky is absolutely the limit…

If you’re interested in writing for A Football Report, then please email Contact@AFootballReport.com and include a writing sample and some info about yourself. Go on.

Cheers,

Eric

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