Posts from ‘June, 2010’

Shakira – Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)

In the pause between the Round of 16 and the Quarter-Finals, the truly official, FIFA-approved official World Cup 2010 song. Shakira.

Ashley King interview

One morning last month, in Halifax, a very tired author sat down to talk to about the World Cup and gave some predictions…

John Doyle Interview
– Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

The argument against video technology

John Doyle
The Globe and Mail
Published on Monday, Jun. 28, 2010

Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, is one of the most powerful men in the world. He’s kind of like the Pope. As the Pope is to Roman Catholicism, Blatter is to soccer. He’s the boss. Unlike the Pope, though, Blatter is not believed to be infallible by everyone who follows soccer.

Mind you, there’s another connection between Blatter and the Pope. Blatter is steadfastly against the use of video technology in soccer. No video replay to determine if a player was offside. No little microchip in the ball to determine if it crossed the line. Arguing against Blatter and those who agree with him is rather like arguing about religious faith. Leave logic out of it. This argument is about intangible things. And as Blatter and others see it, the issue is about the soul of soccer. Does a “soul” exist? Not in a real, tangible way. Continue reading

Protest coverage: all live, all the time, all shallow

In the 77th minute of the pulsating World Cup game between Ghana and the U.S.A. – then tied 1-1 – the text crawled across the TV screen. G20 protests, violent clashes. Some people looked at their iPhone or BlackBerry. Some glanced out the window. Nobody moved.

It was happening, is all. The customary theatre of the protests. Without even seeing the footage we could all picture it – kids in black hoodies and bandanas throwing stones, breaking windows and, probably, setting a police car on fire. That’s precisely what it was, of course. Continue reading

The World Cup Thing In The Middle Of The G20 Thing, Part 2

John Doyle
The Globe and Mail
Published on Sunday, Jun. 27, 2010

To the Plaza Famingo on College St. on Friday afternoon to see Spain play Chile. This story is the World Cup Thing in the middle of the G20 Thing, part two.

The Flamingo is a sprawling place – dining, dancing and live entertainment. Salsa lessons are offered, a sign says. That’s not traditional salsa booming out of giant speakers by the door and everywhere inside. It’s crashing guitars and the throbbing beat of Latin disco. The mood, before you even enter, in broad daylight, is feverish, lightheaded. Continue reading

#1 on Macleans Bestseller List for 2nd week

For the 2nd consecutive week, The World Is A Ball is the #1 bestselling non-fiction title in Canada, according to the new Macleans Bestseller List. Never mind the G20 – the World Cup is on Continue reading

The World Cup Thing In The Middle Of The G20 Thing

John Doyle
The Globe and Mail
Published on Friday, Jun. 25, 2010

This is how it is here. See, the soundtrack in The Football Factory is reggae. Strictly so. If the game isn’t on – and games can be from any number of countries, most of the year – the music is reggae. It’s the way it is. Owner’s choice. Roots reggae. Pop reggae. Obscure, hard-thumping surreal reggae of the serious drugs variety. You notice it, and then you don’t.

It’s late Thursday afternoon, a day of warmth and dappled sunshine in Toronto. A group of young Japanese women are in the Factory, finishing their pints. They’ve had a few. And they are all slight, chic figures, looking just a little absurd waving their big pint glasses with their slim wrists. They clink them together, giggling. They are a little tipsy, and happy as the day is long. Behind them, on the wall, is a giant poster they probably don’t even notice. But I do. It features Bob Marley, toying with a soccer ball, over and over, in frame after frame. And it declares Marley’s famous phrase: “Football is part of I. When I play, the world wakes up around me.” Continue reading

Top Ten World Cup Wonders (So far…)

John Doyle
The Globe and Mail
Published on Thursday, June 24, 2010

On the cusp of the Round of 16, time to assess and nominate the great, weird, wacky and wonderful World Cup phenomena to date.

One: South Africa’s Siphiwe Tshabalala’s opening goal against Mexico. It was magic. After a tense, nervous first half, the host country burst into action and that goal, the first of this World Cup, was as sweet s sugar. A surging run, a beautifully weighted pass and the ball hitting the back of the net. I watched the opening ceremonies and opening game with bestselling South African writer Deon Meyer. He was quietly emotional for the longest time, explaining how much the World Cup meant to his country, how it had in an authentic way, brought a divided nation together. He was choked up when the TV showed Bishop Desmond Tutu dancing in the stands. Then he leapt to his feet, shouting, “Yes!” when the goal came. And it felt like the whole world, not just South Africa, was cheering. Continue reading

The Mercurial Man In The Middle of England/Slovenia

John Doyle
The Globe and Mail
Published on Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The best referee is the one who is nearly invisible during a game. Wolfgang Stark, a banker, is in charge of Wednesday’s key game between England and Slovenia and is one of those senior and experienced referees who is mostly invisible but has a history of controversy. Every now and then he does something spectacularly controversial. The luck of the draw means that he’s handling a game that could send England out of the tournament and, if segments of the English press are to be believed, cause a seismic shift in the way soccer is perceived in England. Continue reading

The G20 will come and go, but the World Cup will keep on going. Yes!

John Doyle
The Globe and Mail
Published on Tuesday, June 22, 2010

As I write this, Switzerland, down to 10 men, is trying to hold out against a rampant, never-ending Chilean attack. This guy Alexis Sanchez is a thing to behold. Poetry in motion.

The TV commentator has just said, “Dear me!” The referee, a Mr. Khalil al-Ghamdi of Saudi Arabia, has been described by the online Guardian as “a card-happy lunatic.”

The World Cup is in full swing. These are the best of times. Hereabouts, it’s everywhere. It’s not just in the bars and restaurants. Tiny TV sets with rabbit ears have been hauled from the basement or attic and are in corner stores or the dry cleaners. A crowd will form in seconds if one person stops on the street to peer through a bar window as a penalty kick is taken. There is mass groaning and eruptions of glee. It’s one of those rare times when you actually feel that the whole world is watching something, together. Oh, there’s this G8/G20 thing happening. That will come and go, and the World Cup will still be unfolding. Continue reading

Triumph of the Americas

John Doyle
The Globe and Mail
Published on Monday, June 21, 2010

Sunday, about 80 minutes into the Brazil/Ivory Coast game and just before the theatrical shenanigans, the TV cameras caught Zinedine Zidane in the stands. He was about to leave and was taking Luis Figo with him.

The two old warhorses of France and Portugal, and multiple great European club teams, left in the time-honoured manner of celebrities at big games – 10 minutes before the end, to dodge the traffic. Call me peculiar but I saw it as more than that. It was the symbolic exit of European power from this World Cup

Call me peculiar again, but I’m liking the Americans. Seriously, I am. Seriously, I am. The U.S. team has displayed the sort of grit, backbone and smarts that can take a team far at a World Cup. Twice coming from behind, twice displaying the sort of incandescent passion that bespeaks a united, well-organized ream. And once denied a victory by referee’s bad call. The U.S. is team to admire here. Continue reading

That old bulldog spirit

John Doyle
The Globe and Mail
Published on Monday, June 21, 2010

“On the day they were expected to produce their ‘finest hour’ to mark the 70th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s famous wartime speech, the Three Lions whimpered rather than roared.”

That’s what English tabloid The Sun declared on Saturday. It’s implausible that the mediocrities playing for England against Algeria the evening before had Winston Churchill or wartime on their minds. But The Sun did, and was not alone among English media outlets. The English supporters also tend to think of a World Cup campaign as a series of battles in a war to prove England’s superiority over cocky, preposterous foreigners.

The thinking is this: The foreigners are cocky, skilled even, but it is preposterous to think England’s bulldog spirit won’t win in the end. Two World Wars and one World Cup have proved that. Continue reading

RTE pokes fun at English TV World Cup coverage

RTE (Irish TV, equivalent of CBC) has sport making fun of English TV World Cup Coverage…

#1 on Macleans Bestseller List

According to Macleans magazine, The World Is A Ball is the Number One bestselling non-fiction title in Canada right now. Continue reading

Goalkeepers Are Us

John Doyle
The Globe and Mail
Published on Tuesday, June 15, 2010

So far this is a World Cup of goalkeeper dramas and traumas. A little respect for the guys, please.

England’s Robert Green making the most-mocked error in recent English history. Faouzi Chaouchi of Algeria gifting Slovenia a 1-0 win with that terrible fumble of a weak shot. Paraguay’s Justo Villar’s dramatic miss when he tried to fist away the ball and thus allow Italy’s Daniele De Rossi to inelegantly ram the ball into the empty net.

Italy too has a potential problem with Gianluigi Buffon. He has a back injury and had to be replaced at halftime in the game against Paraguay. During that game, Buffon cut a striking figure. All in white, but wearing black stockings in the cold and rain, and with ornate gloves, he looked improbably chic. Even the TV commentator on the feed used by the CBC noticed. He took a moment to say Buffon looked “resplendent.” Continue reading

Irish Eyes observe French opener

John Doyle
The Globe and Mail
Published on Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sometimes, enjoying the World Cup is just about personal grudges, the whimsy of the moment and utterly illogical likes and dislikes. It just is. Me, I hate France and like Uruguay.

So, my neighbours on a downtown Toronto street should be glad that Thierry Henry did not protest an alleged handball by Uruguayan Mauricio Victorino in the late stages of France’s 0-0 draw with Uruguay.

The neighbours were oblivious, of course. But, if Henry had made a fuss, I’d have been shouting, aiming a long, loud and very Irish series of insults at the TV screen. At him, Henry, the French player who twice used his hands to score the goal that guided France to this World Cup, not Ireland. Continue reading

Telegram Review

Very nice piece on The World Is A Ball by a first-rate young writer in St. John’s Newfoundland… Continue reading

Macleans Bestseller list

The World Is a Ball is # 2 on the Macleans Bestseller list, just out today (week of June 7th, 2010). Thanks to all bought, read & told their friends about it. Continue reading

Still more reviews…

Good, thoughtful & wise review of The World Is A Ball in The Irish Times.

Plus some sweet online notices by Philip Rappaport and Shaina Luck. Continue reading

U.K. edition now available

The U.K. and Ireland edition of The World Is A Ball is now available. Continue reading