What a week! The group stage is over and knockout round begins today. For some of us, it has been a traumatic few days.
First, my beloved Unicorns — the amateur club I play on here in Berlin — lost our league championship by one point. A grave disappointment for me but, I realize, not necessarily for the entire country.
Then on Wednesday came something even more harrowing: Germany, the reigning world champion, was defeated by South Korea 2-0 and lost its chance at winning the World Cup. In the first round. The team finished at bottom of their group.
The sympathy flowed in from my friends abroad.… Seguir leyendo »
In the first round of the World Cup, there is a phenomenon called “the Group of Death,” which refers to a grouping of four teams that are roughly equal. It’s “deadly” because even a talented squad will have a tough time advancing to the next stage when facing so many similarly skillful competitors. In 2014, to my horror, England found themselves in such a situation, competing against Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica. Of course they got knocked out.
This year’s group of death features Poland, Senegal, Japan and Colombia, all of which are impressive and somewhat evenly matched. But I’ve been thinking about another group: the one I’ve taken to calling “the human rights group of death.”
When Russia, Saudi Arabia and Egypt were drawn to play against one another, it was difficult to imagine a cluster of countries with more brutal governments — even by the grim standards of 2018.… Seguir leyendo »
The World Cup is well underway. I know because I’ve been gorging myself on a visual diet of several games a day. Maybe you have, too. They’ve been pretty exciting, since many of the teams expected to sail toward the next round have instead been stumbling: Germany, the defending champions, fell to Mexico; France just barely edged past Australia; Spain, Brazil and Argentina all tied in their first matches.
But there’s been one thing that’s disappointed me: This surge of the less-favored countries hasn’t included any from Africa. The first four to compete — Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Nigeria — all lost.… Seguir leyendo »
The games have begun. The World Cup kicked off on Thursday week with Russia facing Saudi Arabia, during which the host country pummeled the Saudis in a match ending 5-0. But some of the biggest drama was resolved a day earlier.
On Wednesday, FIFA announced who will host the games in 2026 — two World Cups from now. The United States, Canada and Mexico prevailed over the other top contender, Morocco. In some ways, I was a little disappointed. Part of me had hoped that a second African country would have a chance to host the tournament. And Morocco’s unique culture — the food, the music!… Seguir leyendo »
Here we are again on the eve of the planet’s greatest traveling festival: Yes, it’s almost time for the World Cup. This event — every four years, 32 teams, one champion — is about so much more than what happens on the grass among 22 men. It’s about politics, economics, social issues. It’s about race and class and history. It’s about corruption and nationalism, fear and joy. It’s about everything. And I’ll be exploring all of this in Offsides, this twice-weekly newsletter that will run for the duration of the tournament.
Why am I writing this? Well, my attachment to this game has long been personal — my grandfather Julio Peter Abe coached the Ugandan national side for several years — and professional.… Seguir leyendo »
The story, about a mob of Arab men rampaging through the well-heeled streets of Frankfurt and sexually assaulting German women as they went, must have been irresistible — so irresistible that Bild, a popular newspaper, published it early this month with little scrutiny.
The problem, as the local police soon found, was that it was “completely baseless.” There was no record of any assault. The article relied entirely on interviews with a restaurant owner and one woman, whose motives for inventing these allegations remain unclear.
Bild retracted the article last week. No matter: The damage had been done, the fictitious tale having found many believers, either eager or fearful, among the German public.… Seguir leyendo »