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January 14, 2015 at 5:20 PM

Good Soccer Reads: Fighting the power

The beginning of a new year is a time for change, of identifying areas for improvement. With that in mind, let’s begin this edition of Good Soccer Reads with Gabriele Marcotti’s column on the FIFPro World XI.

  • As Marcotti puts it in toward the bottom of ESPNFC story on the concentration of wealth and talent among the European soccer elite: “You may just be numb because you think it’s a normal state of affairs and it has always been that way.” It hasn’t, as Marcotti intelligently lays out, but it may be the new norm, and it may be trending even more in that direction — for better, for a select few, for worse, for just about everybody else.
  • For more of a nuts-and-bolts look at how modest clubs are trying to adapt to the new reality, Elko Born’s Blizzard essay on Johan Cruyff, Ajax and “struggle for the soul of Dutch football” is particularly strong — as Blizzard stories always tend to be. Ajax might not be a minnow in world football, given its rich tradition, but it certainly isn’t a juggernaut anymore. Charting the best path forward consumed some of the most famous minds in Dutch soccer and burned up more than a few bridges along the way.
  • More locally, here’s a fascinating read from Wes Carpenter in the Guardian: How soccer saved the Seahawks. With Seattle’s NFL franchise on the cusp of a move to Los Angeles, a soccer fan drummed up support. “Eventually word came: the stadium had passed by a mere 36,780 votes, a margin of 51% to 49%. … ‘There is no question the soccer vote was the difference,’ Mendoza says. ‘And Paul will tell you that. Without soccer there would be no Seahawks today.’”
  • For a preview of the 2015 African Cup of Nations, which kicks off this weekend, you don’t do much better than Jonathan Wilson’s in the Independent. Wilson covered the 2012 tournament hosted by Equatorial Guinea. He, and the event itself, make an unlikely return: “Back then, it was hard to imagine any circumstances under which I’d return, but now I’m on my way back because Equatorial Guinea, co-hosts three years ago, will be hosting the 2015 tournament at short notice after Morocco pulled out because of fears about the Ebola epidemic or perhaps, more accurately, the fear of what the perceived threat of Ebola could do to their tourist industry.”
  • Finally, I’m going to go throwback and recommend The Run of Play to anybody who’s never read it. The site hasn’t been updated in years, but archives of Brian Phillips’ brainchild and contain some of the most insightful soccer writing I’ve ever read.

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