World Cup 2014: Belgium Is an Ascendant Soccer Power –

“We are here with the best teams on earth,” [coach Marc] Wilmots said. “You pay cash for any mistakes. I don’t know who plays beautifully. We’re not here to look at people and their performances. We’re here to win. We don’t have just 11 players; we have 23 good players. We can be very nasty and surprise teams.” Read on…®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

Stoppage Time in the World Cup Underscores Soccer’s Strange Rules –

Soccer is a game played over 90 minutes, divided into two equal halves, but stoppage or added time can turn out to be a ‘mirage’. When to blow the whistle is entirely up to the referee. This makes soccer exceptional among games played to the clock.®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news


The Multimillion-Dollar Minds of 5 Mathematical Masters –

“The Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics is the latest effort in…[Russian billionaire Yuri] Milner’s crusade to make science lucrative and cool in a society that much more often celebrates athletes, entertainers, politicians and business tycoons.”


Elderly Indian couple head to their ninth World Cup, BBC News, video & Business Line, article

A lovely little football story from Kolkata:

(Courtesy: Yakov Chandy)

For more details on Kolkata’s football passion:

At the World Cup, Doomsday Predictions Give Way to Smaller Hiccups in Brazil –

For all the doomsday predictions, the playing conditions at the 2014 FIFA World Cup across Brazil have been excellent. It is true that organizers are “toeing…the line between normal hiccups and a more irritating lack of preparedness” but this World Cup has been a great success thus far.

‘A Piece Of The Game Beyond The Walls: Brazilian Prisoners Manufacture Soccer Balls’,

The work programme is projected as a progressive innovation in a soccer-crazy country to ‘raise inmates’ morale, prepare them for life after prison and reduce severe prison overcrowding’. While some prisoners defend the practice as providing ‘relief from the daily tedium of life behind bars’, critics accuse the authorities of ‘trading off misery’ by enabling private companies to exploit vulnerable inmates as cheap labour. They also dispute the claim that hand- and machine-crafting footballs prepares the prisoners for life outside the prison.

‘How we play the game’, New York Times feature

Football or soccer is played in strikingly different ways in different countries, resulting in interesting football cultures. This integrated set of articles and period photographs — covering six countries, Brazil, England, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain — attempts to offer insights on how and why. It argues that “to understand what is happening on the fields in Brazil at the World Cup, one must learn a bit about each country’s history, and literature, and music, and regionalism, and economy – not to mention bicycles and pottery. If you look closely enough at the X’s and O’s, you just might find a national poem.”

“Notes on a Death: The Real Tragedy of Mohsin Shaikh”

Mukul Kesavan in The Telegraph

“…We should remember that Mohsin’s death was the epicentre of a larger ripple of violence. The Times of India reported that rioters attacked mosques and madrasas both in Pune and in Solapur, Satara and Raigarh. There were reports of attacks on Muslim bakeries and Muslim neighbourhoods.

“Why is this important? It’s important because one of the things we should be alert about in the aftermath of a decisive and divisive election is the way in which the result is received by political extremists and the thuggish fringe. In the wake of the BJP’s sweeping win, in the new world of the Modi sarkar, are violent Hindutvavadi sectarians testing the waters to see what they can get away with?”

Full story at the following link:

Counterview: Senior journalist who broke fake encounter of Sohrabuddin Sheikh “sent” to Dhanbad in “punishment posting”


With Brazil 2014 now in sight…

A philosophy Professor’s slightly over-written, but still very readable, essay on football and Liverpool:

A do-read tribute to Uruguayan football (and apologia for Luis Suárez):

And thirdly, “The Beautiful Language”:  a lovely title for an article on the vocabulary of football in Brazil, on “nicknames, analogy and lore.” What do they mean — cow-dribble, lettuce hands, chicken, flannel, “where the owl sleeps,” “by the smell of the mortadella” – or where does the name Galinho come from?

‘Killing a Patient to Save His Life’,

A page out of science fiction? Interesting — and apparently in the realm of practicality:

‘Apprehension and Apathy Compete With Excitement in Brazil’,

Brazil, which has won the football World Cup more times than any other country, is going through a strange run-up to the world’s most exciting sporting event, with protesters raising a host of relevant and troubling questions:

PEW Research findings:

A champion cricketer reflects on his method and approach, and looks ahead, Telegraph

Kevin Pietersen, exciting risk-taker, England’s former captain and top run-scorer, and a sportsman of integrity reflects on what worked for him, what went wrong for England in Australia — and what he has in mind for talented kids, cricketers of the future.

(Courtesy: N. Murali)

The Burden of Being Messi –

For Argentina, which has an easy draw in Group F, making it to the Round of 16 in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil should be a breeze — and ‘barring injury, [Lionel] Messi will have his moment’. Although a football great, he ‘has never won widespread devotion in Argentina’. Read this to discover why:

‘King Juan Carlos’s democratic legacy is rooted in cliche’, Miguel-Anxo Murado in the Guardian

‘The Spanish king had no choice but to champion democracy. We should remember the part played by ordinary people.’