Nike ad gets you pumped for the 2010 FIFA World Cup

Aside from hockey and baseball, futbol, or soccer as many like to call it, has to be the next sport in the world that always peaks my interest. And the World Cup in South Africa this year is completely worth getting excited for, much like this Nike ad has done for me. It’s quite possibly one of the best ads that most of North America will yawn at, so you should check it out.

If you’re not a soccer fan and this gets you curious about the sport at all, this summer is the time to check it out. Countries of the world with their best players going head to head in athletic competition? It doesn’t get much better than that.

David Beckham for dummies

I caught this article on The Guardian and found it pretty good. Being that the L.A. Galaxy are coming to Vancouver to play a friendly match against the hometown Whitecaps, it’s a little timely. Still, there are far more people in Vancouver who know about David Beckham[wiki] than in L.A.

I guess this is mostly for my American friends who don’t. And yes, this is about futbol, or in your case, soccer.

From Argentina to LA: everything you wanted to know but had forgotten to ask over the last 10 years

So, LA Galaxy have signed the world’s biggest and best footballer? Well, one of out two ain’t bad, etc.

What do you mean? Beckham has always been a very good footballer, but never a great. And certainly not fit to lace Ronaldinho’s boots.

Oh. Where did his story start? At his childhood team Manchester United – he made his debut in 1992, became a regular member of the squad in 1994 and a regular member of the team in 1995.

People keep mentioning Wimbledon. Was he into tennis as well? Er, no. On the first day of the 1996-97 season, he scored a goal from inside his own half – something Pele couldn’t even manage – away to Wimbledon. He was only 21 years old, and it changed his life.

How so? It put him on the radar of Posh Spice for a start, and it also led to him being anointed as English football’s next superstar.

What happened next? He starred in Manchester United’s 1996-97 title victory and had an excellent season the next year, but then he had a shocker at the 1998 World Cup.

Tell me more… He was dropped at the start, because the crackpot manager Glenn Hoddle reckoned he’d lost focus, and then, after returning against Colombia with a brilliant free-kick, h-

He’s good at free-kicks, isn’t he? Yep. Check these out.


The rest of the read is pretty good, too.

Taking in some FIFA U-20 World Cup action

Early in the second half

I was able to score a couple tickets to the FIFA U-20 World Cup tournament going on in Canada right now. Rebecca and I had really good seats, practically in the center of the pitch for the last half of the match between Scotland and Costa Rica. We would have seen more of the game, including the first game between Spain and Jordan, but we hit the 1PM showing of Transformers before hand. More about that another time.

Leaving the game When we got there, the score was 0-0, and the crowd was great. There was a great cheering section for the Scots, bag pipes and all. They had some great songs that they were singing as well, complete with kilts and accents. I loved it!

Not to be out done, Costa Rica fans had their fair share of support. What was brilliant was what the Scotland fans would yell in the midst of their cheers.

“COS-ta RI-ca!” clap, clap, clap-clap-clap. Instead of clapping, Scotland fans would yell, “SUCKS!” I was highly entertained.

Corner kick by Scotland Even though we only caught forty-five minutes of World Cup futbol, it was incredible. A Scottish player scored a goal on a bicycle kick, a fight broke out between the two teams in the middle of the half, and a streaker busted out onto the pitch with ten minutes left in the game. There was even some amazing snatch and dash of a game ball by one spectator where he casually caught the ball and hauled out of Swangard Stadium like his rear was on fire. The kind thing to do is to return the ball, if not mandatory, but I’m not sure if he was able to hold on to the souvenir.

The streaker, on the other hand, underestimated the width of the pitch and, probably, his blood alcohol level. Two-thirds of the way across, he gave up his all out sprint to walk his way over the to the other side. There was some mutual exchange of greetings between him and the security on the other side, but after pulling his pants up, his arm was pulled behind his back while he was forced out of the stadium.

Costa Rica player says thanks to the crowd I was slightly confused as to why I couldn’t get the bottles soda, that we got with our hot dog combos, with the caps left on them. That’s really useful when carrying a lot of food and drink, and I was told by the vendor that it’s against FIFA rules to leave the caps on. Talking about this over the weekend with friends, this made more sense. You can’t throw plastic bottles nearly as far when you don’t have a cap on it. Makes sense, but it caught me a little of guard.

The game was 1-1 going into two minutes of extra time. With just seconds left, Costa Rica was able to score an amazing goal that caught the Scotland goalie out of position. 2-1, final.

On the SkyTrain back home, a couple of Scotland fans, kilts once again, were still in great spirits and feeling pretty good. They asked a girl if she watched the game today. She asked what game they meant. Well, the football game, or soccer game, of course.

“Oh, I usually just pay attention to hockey.”

“What? Hoo-key?!!?”

We’re not all like this

I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the reason why grudges about all Americans being stupid, ignorant, stuck up, and all of the above exists.

Who said David Beckham’s arrival in America would attract no attention? Not only has the erstwhile galactico and England captain made it onto the US equivalent of GMTV and elicited praise from Sly Stallone, he’s attracted the attention of Jayceon Taylor, aka gangster rapper The Game.

Showing a not entirely cohesive understanding of the game Americans call soccer, the South Central-based rapper (Beckham’s new side, LA Galaxy, is his local club!) was not entirely effusive about the arrival of the face of Gillette razors in his hood.

“I’d kick David Beckham’s ass on any given day,” the Game said when asked about Beckham. “I’d just pick the ball up and kick the shit out of the stadium, game over.”

Quite whether the Game’s expletive was referring to the ball, Beckham, or simply the action he was planning to take against LA Galaxy’s Home Depot Center remains to be seen. But The Game was on less steady ground when a follow-up question was put his way.

When asked his thoughts on Beckham’s ability as a footballer he responded simply: “Pretty good”. [guardian]

Dear rest of the world,

All Americans are not like this. Please don’t let our piece of crap version of popular culture influence you. I dislike this junk just as much as you guys do. There are some of us who look past it and enjoy other things in life that is not related to MTV, reality TV, and tabloid media.

This guy, on the other hand, is a moron. Feel free to rip on him.

Thank you.

When Canada needs more Spanish speaking channels

I’ve discovered the UEFA Champions League[wiki]. They’ve been showing the games on TSN lately, and it’s picked up where the World Cup left off for me. Right now, Manchester United is taking on Benfica, and it is 1-0 Benfica in the first half.

When I used to have access to Univision, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to leave a futbol game on TV in the background at home. Spanish speaking announcers, as we all know, are some of the best sportscasters in the business. You don’t have to really watch the game to know that when the announers gets really excited, something is happening and you should pay attention. We could probably pay for extra coverage on cable for some wicked play by play in Spanish, but the greedy folks at Shaw already get enough of our money.

The TSN coverage and their announcers are pretty good though. I like it a lot better when they have someone doing the color commentary with a Scottish or Irish accent. For that reason alone, they could be telling me a load of crap about anyone on the pitch, and I’d believe them. I mean, they have that accent. They must know what they’re talking about, right? Well, at least that’s the feeling that I get because I’m so lacking on any knowledge about who is who in the sport.

The 2006-07 tournament[wiki] wraps up in Athens come May. Hockey, futbol, and then the baseball season kicks in. That’s good stuff. And if you don’t believe me, tell the other billion people who are all about the UEFA tournament.

Update: The Guardian has some great coverage of the Champions League on their site. Very much worth checking out.

Now they can act like they won the World Cup

Italy fans celebrating up and down Robson StreetIt was an amazing final. And to be completely honest, this is the first time that I’ve watched the final game in any World Cup be played, yet alone pay attention to one from beginning to end. The ’94 tournament in the U.S. got my attention, but my young mind got distracted half way through and never caught the final outcome.

I didn’t want Italy to win today[fifaworldcup]. I have not liked their style of play from the beginning of the tournament. Yes, I was cheering for the U.S.A. when they came up against each other, but during the entire match, their acting abilities of taking even the slightest nudge and turning it into a life threatening spectacle made me embarassed for futbol in general. It’s such an exciting game until faked dramatics steal the spotlight.

Out of the two teams in the final, this weighed heavy into picking my favorite, France, to take the match. Zidane[wiki] was going to retire, making this his final, professional appearence ever. France won the ’98 World Cup and took out the champs from last time around, Brazil, in the quarter-finals. They were hungry. Zidane would want to go out on top. It all seemed to make sense, right?

Zidane in today’s action.

Zidane scoring France's only goal in the World Cup finalWhat the hell, Zidane? All was far from lost for France, and you just lost control. Just minutes before he got that red card, we all saw what he could do with a header towards the goal. Buffon[wiki] made the save of the World Cup only to have it dimished when Zidane used that tool of the game as a weapon. I even said to Rebecca that it was almost a “Bertuzzi-esque move”, to which she replied that no one’s probably going to sue over it.

Shocking. I think I said “I can’t believe that just happened” about twenty times until the extra time expired. The penalty shootout didn’t even signify the end for France either, but the fact was that Zidane was gone. If France would have won, he wouldn’t have been there for the celebration. On top of that, there is no way that you can give him the benefit of a bad call by the officials. You have to give him credit though because in the end, he did go out with a bang.

And at the time of posting this, I can still hear horns honking and cheers for Italy in the west end of Vancouver.

Jose + 10

I’m still caught up in the midst of World Cup action.  Everytime the Adidas commercials come on, no matter how many times I have seen them already, I stop to watch.  The two little kids remind me of something I would do when I was their age, although it would have been with futbol players.  Probably something more like baseball or American football stars.  The tune in this commerical gets stuck in my head all the time.

Check out the first part of the series as well as the making of.

Man of the match

Jose FonsecaSure, he’s the most popular player in Mexico. He’s also one of the wealthiest now, being that he was apart of a $3.5 million transfer to join Cruz Azul[wiki] in La Primera División de México[wiki]. This is what you discover when you have your laptop in front of the TV while Mexico is playing the World Cup. It’s incredibly fascinating to find out how popular one person can be in another country when you’ve only heard their name twice.

With all that being said, Jose Fonseca[fifaworldcup] is really fun to watch. He’s one of those players where you can understand why he is so well liked, and it goes beyond simple good looks. Even though Mexico lost, the guy played his heart out, almost proving to the world that he’s worth the price. With only ten men against Portugal, he had the only goal, plus being named the man of the match. Not too bad.

Go Mexico!It’s when I watch these games and hear all the American grumbles of futbol not being entertaining that it confounds me as to all the arguments.

Jay Leno:
In Germany hundreds of soccer hooligans have been arrested for flipping over cars, starting fires and throwing bottles at police. How about they put that on TV? I’ll watch that over the World Cup. [newsmax]

David Letterman:
Are you excited about the World Cup? Of course not. You’re Americans. [nytimes]

It’s not entertaining enough to watch this sport? Are you kidding me? If it’s not the sense of national pride, then maybe you need to consider the ninety minutes of consuming the alcoholic beverage of your choice. And being Americans, one word: tailgating.

Drop that majestic sense of “entertain me” and become apart of the entertainment. Root, cheer, hollar. Do you hear those fans in the stands with their horns and drums and chants? That is the sound of people living and enjoying life. It’s a sport. A game. And if you think this just applies to the game of futbol, check out professional baseball in Japan. It changed my life and rediscovered my love for the game.

Guardian Unlimited Podcast: World Cup 2006

Guardian UnlimitedI have been subscribed to the podcast from the Guardian Unlimited[wiki] for the FIFA World Cup 2006 for the last few days(all Guardian Unlimited podcasts can be found here). For some one like myself, this is the perfect companion to everything World Cup. The information about each of the teams is golden, but you also get insights into the world of futbol as well, finding out more about the players, coaches, and officials involved.

It’s highly entertaining as well. In addition to Guardian reporters checking in from nearly every single match to give their reports and opinions, everyone’s personality gets a chance to shine. For instance, Sean Ingle’s adventures as a vegetarian in the heart of German sausage country and surviving a dog attack to his hind quarters has me checking in to see what’s going to happen to him next. You can also post your comments to their blog and call them up on Skype to chime in with your opinions.

The World Cup is getting closer to the half way point, so there’s still plenty of time to check it out. I should also mention that this comes from folks in the U.K., where futbol is a way of life for some. If you’re in the states and craving more World Cup action, this might be worth your time.

Never knew I liked the futbol so much

I don’t like calling it soccer. I do it anyway, but there’s a big part of me that wants to call it football. When I say that, I see Nile Kinnick[wiki], black and gold, helmets, persistant pain in my hip during my sophomore year of high school, shoulder pads, getting the full-back’s knee in the head, the fifty-yard line, and a blur of other images associated with professional and college leagues of American football(Go Chiefs! and Go Hawks!). I’m not the biggest supporter of the pigskin, but the game does lure in my attention from time to time, much to Rebecca’s un-amusement.

With the World Cup in full swing, I’m digging it. So I’m trying to distinguish the two through my hispanic roots, but it’s not quite there yet. In spanish, it’s “futbol”. The football I grew up with is “futbol Americano”. I had Univision on my cable package back in Iowa, so every weekend they were showing a game with that word “futbol” plastered all over the graphics. Futbol on Univision! Play-by-play in spanish! You bet I’m up for watching, even though 90% of what is said kinda flies right by me.

I’m trying to condition myself to have that difference through simple stressing of syllables. Futbol is soccer. Football is American football. Canadian football[wiki] is a little out of the realm of my interests right now, but amusing none the less. It’s when Costa Rica scored a goal against Germany that I yelped and realized, “I’m kinda into this.”

And by the way, the U.S. is ranked #5 right now, so what happened today against the Czechs?  Maybe I have a lot to learn about this sport, but it pained me everytime we sent the ball back to the goalie, not to mention sending it back to midfield from the attacking zone, past players who were at a stand-still, watching the action around them.  Is it that they are playing their position, zone, or what?  It was like watching a hockey team pass the puck around twenty times, looking for that perfect play to open up for a goal when they should just be shooting at the goal every chance that they can.  It was not good.