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Futbol or Football, it’s all about us

Americans already have a "football" and so come into conflict with a majority of the world when our television broadcasters have to say "soccer" and assuage the confusion of US viewers when confronted by everyone else's "football." And ironic too, the sportscasters like to explain, compounding their error, because it's about the foot and the ball, unlike domestic football which is about using your hands to carry an un-spherical bladder. But this humor presumes another American overreach: "Futbol" incorporates "foot" and "ball" only if you speak English. In a preponderance of languages, futbol defines neither foot nor ball, and mimics simply the phonetic term used by the British, whose colonial representatives were responsible for spreading the game across the world. As long time English speakers, the Brits have no difficulty with differentiating football from American Football. But Americans didn't come by the term "soccer" on its own, which brings to light the other side to the complexity of FIFA's hope to standardize the World Cup experience. Americans are not alone in resisting globalization's attack on their cultural identity. A great deal of the world doesn't call it FOOTBALL either. To survey just the languages which share our Arabic alphabet, here's how others refer to what we call soccer: Sokker (Afrikaans), Fodbold (Danish), Voetbal (Dutch), Jalgpall (Estonian), Jalkapallo (Finnish), Labdarúgás (Hungarian), Calcio (Italian), Sepak bola (Indonesian), Putbol (Filipino), Peil (Irish), Pęl-droed (Welsh), Pi?ka no?na (Polish), and Nogomet (Croatian).

BBC: Vuvuzelas banned at many FutBol matches…

"Because they might be considered a WEAPON" And aside from that racist gratuitous raising of the Terrorist Specter out of its uneasy grave, there's the notion that it would make it where the people wouldn't hear public service safety messages. Unlike, of course, a large rowdy and NOISY crowd of the European version of Rednecks screaming, hollering and other activities which are usually the accompaniment to Drinking A Lot Of Alcohol. Those could never in any way drown out Public Safety Announcements, no sir!A growing number of Premier League clubs are following Tottenham's lead and banning vuvuzelas from their grounds on match days this season. Arsenal, Birmingham, Everton, Fulham and West Ham are the latest teams to have stated the plastic horns will not be allowed inside stadia. But they'll still sell English Beer, which is multiple times the strength of anything you'll find on the shelves in America. Drinking a quart of it could be equivalent to drinking a fifth of 80-proof whiskey. 30% alcohol content isn't the norm, but it's in the range of what's sold. And 30% = 60 proof, proof is double the percentage of alcohol by volume. Americans wouldn't be in the habit of making the mental conversions because here it's mostly used in relation to DISTILLED spirits rather than brewed. Many more Americans need to take in at least one AA meeting because that's who teach people what their drinking habits actually amount to. "but it's ONLY beer!" A lot of Brits need the Friendship of Bill W. as well. I shan't even mention Irish because that's just too easy.

Soccer offsides rule is agreement not to score behind your opponent’s back

The US pretends the International Criminal Court doesn't have jurisdiction over its war crimes, and thinks the same immunity should shield us from FIFA referees I guess.   The USA-Algeria match today was hard fought, admittedly team USA displayed an offensive edge. Rooting for Team Weasel Empire doesn't automatically make you a Nazi, but I'll be curious to hear firsthand accounts of the hostility our compatriots faced in the stands. The silver lining to a US victory is that eventually our sportscasters will have to apologize to American TV viewers about the constant booing whenever USA gets the ball. Vuvuzelas may turn out to be a fortuitous annoyance for Western broadcasters. They mask the dynamics of how the spectators are really responding. I was slow to realize what I was hearing during the USA-Algeria match, a consistent switch from boos to cheers whenever the ball changed hands. I'm surprised I didn't see more commentary about it. Honestly, the TV talking heads spoke of the US supporter presence being "huge," and didn't bat an eye at the eruption of disapproval when Landon Donovan scored the last minute goal to net a USA victory. The next match pits the US against Ghana, which sets up a plausible excuse for why the entire stadium will be cheering against the USA. Much as I'd like to see an African team advance, I hope the Americans survive, because the more American stateside see our athletes jeered and booed, the sooner our sorry imperialist swagger can face abrupt self-reflection. Eduardo Galeano's SOCCER IN SUN AND SHADOW offers a great explanation of the Offsides Rule. Simply put, it reflects the gentleman's agreement not to go behind your adversary's back. What sport is there to kicking at an unprotected goal?

Down to sports, empires are tribal

American World Cup viewers tuning in to watch their team face England on Saturday might be excused confusion about their adversary's flag. Instead of the British Union Jack, English fans waved a red and white standard usually only glimpsed in movies where knights fight dragons, crusades, or Braveheart.   That's the red cross of Saint George, dragon-slayer, minus the diagonal white-on-blue X of Scotland's Saint Andrew and the red X of Ireland's Saint Patrick. Where British dominion is concerned, natural resources and labor are commonwealth, assertion of athletic dominance is forever England. But the England team crest, with the three lions passant-guardant, dates to lionhearted King Richard, the early realm's warrior expansionist. Technically the heraldic cats are léopards, because the royal houses ruled in the language of the French, and these three show the empire's spots: Team England's badge invokes the era when "England" included the conquered Scotland, Ireland and Wales. As far as world onlookers cared, the first round pairing of USA versus England was an intramural match among conspiratorial members of the Coalition of the Willing. At best one could only root for the good cop colonizer. Early enough in the game, a score fumbled past England's goalie portended the Gods' ambivalence over the outcome. Like Olympic teams, the FIFA contenders are groupings of soccer all-stars whose day jobs mean playing side by side, for either Man United or Real Madrid apparently. It's hard to expect that team allegiances would defer to nationalism any more than to the federation's television revenues. The achievement of a tie for match USA - England guaranteed to string along the barely interested American TV audience. England, Scotland and Ireland were grandfathered into FIFA because, despite not being standalone sovereign nations, they originated the competition. Indeed Britain invented football, whose spread across the world is owed to European colonialism. Sovereignty is no small distinction when it comes to legitimizing sports teams. Taiwan and Tibet are not recognized by China for example, as the Korean halves reject each other, as the US might object to Puerto Rican or Hawaiian bids for succession. Today a pretense of sovereignty is enough to field a national soccer team. Take Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel, for example, and I needn't stop there. By what standard are they independent entities versus US client states? They have their own flags, for all the US cares, and I daresay American pride would be sacrificed for the political gain of either of these puppets excelling their master in sport. A success in sporting circles would only bolster the facade of their indigenous national sovereignty. Does it say something about the difference between contemporary empires and past, that the US doesn't need to stamp the red, white and blue unto its colonial projects? Nor dominate them in the arena? We can contrast America's far-flung possessions and occupations with the British Commonwealth, whose flags closely mimicked mother Britain's theme. But I'd like to clarify Ireland's representation on the British flag. The cross of St. Patrick whose outline

Eritrean footballers “abscond” in Kenya

The Eritrean Government denies that Eritrean refugees in Kenya are fleeing repression. But then, this is the THIRD national football team they've had gone missing. Maybe they're just partying and laying around drunk in a Nairobi hotel.

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