The LPFC Project by James Taylor

Every player has a different style, and graphic designer James Taylor decided to draw up those styles in the context of music.

LP stands for Long Play (i.e. vinyl records), and these album covers capture the greats in all their glory, from the Roger Milla Dance Party to Pelé. Find the full collection here. [Posted by Eric. Spotted at NTMG]

The Chosen Few x Ahmed Mounir

Football fans are known for the seemingly religious devotion with which they support their teams, but a recent a recent project by Egyptian graphic designer Ahmed Mounir takes that notion and runs with it. Selecting a number of the most prominent modern footballers, Mounir depicts them in a way that evokes classic religious symbolism, recalling the way in which Saints are often illustrated and revered. The collection is gorgeous, and was created in anticipation of next year’s Football Film Festival in Paris. Check out the rest of Ahmed’s work here[Posted by Maxi

A Monument to Losing: The Importance of World Cup Heartbreak

By Zack Goldman

No feeling is more coveted in football than World Cup triumph.

But, is there any one more fascinating—or important—as World Cup heartbreak? 

In any tournament, it’s only natural that the language and tone that we use to discuss the event is elevated and inflated.  This is especially true during the World Cup.  No matter how banal any loss may appear—it’s not just a loss.  It’s billed as a death.

It’s that moment when hearts, full of hope, founder—going down with the wreckage of a cup dream sailing smoothly only breaths earlier.  The moment when thoughts of “oh?” turn to “oh no” and then, emptily, just to “oh.”

That’s not to say achievements in the World Cup are only measured by winning the whole thing—or even winning games at all—but it is to say that there is something deeply sonorous and bleak that comes with being knocked out.

Yet, if one of football—and, indeed, sport’s—truest beauties is that it provides a vehicle for sharing the power of an emotion with others, then the importance of losing is the essence of that virtue more than victory.

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A Footballer’s Essentials
Gerrard can’t leave the dressing room without his armband. Zizou hit the pitch in his iconic golden boots. With a minimalist approach, illustrator TheLimeBath captures the essentials that the world’s best footballers need to control the game.
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Find more of The Lime Bath’s work here. Posted by Eric.

A Footballer’s Essentials

Gerrard can’t leave the dressing room without his armband. Zizou hit the pitch in his iconic golden boots. With a minimalist approach, illustrator TheLimeBath captures the essentials that the world’s best footballers need to control the game.

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Moments in Football

Richard Swarbrick is back. This time he’s taken his work off the screen, literally mending the art of football with the sound that surrounds the beautiful game. On an old record player, naturally. From Zlatan’s bicycle to Higuita’s insanity to Baggio’s disbelief, those legendary moments have been brought into a new light. Check out Richard’s Fantasista project and watch the video here.

"Zizou dances in Madrid" - by Dan Leydon
"I’ve never appraoched Zidane as a subject for illustration before. What always struck me about his style of play was his grace of movement. I wanted to show him in a quite skillful pose so I went with the behind the leg drag back. I even toyed with putting a pink tutu on him as a humorous nod to his balletic movements."
We’re delighted to feature Dan’s work on AFR. Find him on: Twitter / Tumblr / Etsy.

"Zizou dances in Madrid" - by Dan Leydon

"I’ve never appraoched Zidane as a subject for illustration before. What always struck me about his style of play was his grace of movement. I wanted to show him in a quite skillful pose so I went with the behind the leg drag back. I even toyed with putting a pink tutu on him as a humorous nod to his balletic movements."

We’re delighted to feature Dan’s work on AFR. Find him on: Twitter / Tumblr / Etsy.

Coming Home: Learning To Be An American Soccer Fan

By Jordan Brown, writing from Chicago

Watching last Tuesday’s United States Men’s National Team match against Guatemala, what struck me most—beyond the team’s confident performance—was the support in the stands. The stadium was a packed array of red, white, and blue. The atmosphere was fantastic; the crowd was active and loud, the American Outlaws section enthusiastic in both dress and volume. They also seemed so distinct from a European crowd, so uniquely American in the whole endeavor of support—the Dempsey big-head that got a top billing, the ‘Shot, Shot, Shot’ chant that came out a few times—hints of bombast and swagger, beer in the stands, questionable body paint all spake very American.

The antics weren’t a simulacrum of our European cousins, but instead showed an individual character, and I was suddenly aware that I wasn’t a part of it and dearly wanted to be. The match made me realize that for all my fervent interest in the Beautiful Game, when it came to my own nation’s expression of the sport, I have been an absent participant. It’s taken the week ‘till now for me to consider my situation, but I feel I’ve found a reason: for all the grassroots movement and growing national interest, most Americans are and have been Soccer Orphans.

In Luke Dempsey’s fantastic piece in Howler’s recent first issue, he discusses the difficult position of growing up a Manchester United fan in the West Midlands, home to of clubs like Aston Villa and West Brom—essentially not Manchester.

“If you’ve watched British football from early childhood, your loyalty is probably going to be about your father and which team he supported. I have an American friend who picked Chelsea when she came to the sport as an adult, because she had watched them lose the Community Shield in 2006 and ‘always likes to root for the underdog.’ Bless her.”

In two sentences, Dempsey effectively sums up the identity crisis facing American soccer fans. The America I grew up into is a land of many fathers, but I’d wager that very few of them supported soccer, much less any individual club with any ardor. And the other side of the coin Dempsey has tossed out is a good-natured, but still somewhat common view of the modern American support of European clubs—that it is more novelty than authenticity.

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The idea of Catenaccio, criticisms of calcio, and how wrong they are

By Kieran Dodds, writing from Cambridge

Saturday morning. I, still a wee lad, run downstairs as fast as my little legs will carry me. No weekend lie in for me. James Richardson and Channel 4 are calling. On goes the television. There’s the music! Generic 90s theme tune resounds through the living room. Except, there’s nothing generic about this at all. Gruff Italian man shouts ‘Campionato! Di Calcio! ITALIANO!’ in time to the music (I think he’s Italian, but I’m unsure, and certain that it doesn’t really matter). I don’t know what it means, but I’m positively exhilarated. The name ‘BAGGIO’ jerks its way along the screen and, a few seconds later… oh, it’s that sweet, eternal sound: either ‘GOAL LAZIO!’, ‘GOLAZZO!’ or ‘GOLACCIO!’ depending upon one’s disposition. And now, there he is. Oh, James Richardson. James, with your polished bald bonce. James, with your cappuccino and quaint Milanese bistro. James, with your crisp, hot-off-the-press edition of Gazzetta dello Sport. This is Football Italia. This is my childhood.

Italian football has come a long way since those halcyon days; days in which bonafide superstars like Zinedine ‘Zizou’ Zidane, Ronaldo, and – my personal favourite – George ‘Moved To Man City Before It Was Cool’ Weah plied their trade at Juventus, Inter and Milan respectively. The consensus is that Serie A has regressed since then; that not only can it not compete with the self-proclaimed Best League In The World (the Barclays Premier League, of course), but that it has also fallen behind La Liga, the Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and its other European rivals in the quest for continental superiority. Serie A, the critics insist, is some sort of mediterranean SPL in which: all fans are backward hooligans; all football is ‘that catanachio rubbish’; and all players and officials are crooked, looking to throw the next match – any match – in order to make a quick buck (or Lira, or Euro, or whatever bloody currency they use over there).

Oh, dear. How wrong they are. Ish.

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The legends try to take the spotlight for charity

The Euros are fast approaching, and football’s getting serious; though there’s still fun to be had. Real Madrid took on Manchester United in the Corazon Classic match, with club legends (and Dion Dublin) lining up for both sides. Keep an eye out for Zinedine Zidane, Fernando Morientes, Teddy Sheringham, Roberto Carlos, Andy Cole, Luis Figo, Dwight Yorke and Edwin van der Sar… it makes you dizzy just to think about it [posted by MG].

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