soccer

Home fans make a difference in Germany

Featured image The German Bundesliga completed its regular soccer season this weekend. The last nine match weeks were played in almost entirely empty stadiums. Fans weren’t permitted entry. (If you heard crowd noise on television, it was solely for the telecast. The noise wasn’t heard by the players.) How did home teams fare without their fans? Poorly. The home team won 26 matches; the away team won 38 matches; and there were »

The EPL embraces BLM

Featured image There’s good news and bad news regarding the English Premier League. The good news, from my perspective, is that the EPL will resume its football season next Wednesday, June 17. The bad news is that all players will wear the words “black lives matter” on their jerseys. As I understand it, for the first 12 matches — those through June 22 — the names of the players on the back »

Squabbling threatens reopening of MLB and the EPL

Featured image The German Bundesliga, one of the world’s greatest sports league, will resume playing soccer this weekend. The games will take place behind closed doors. The English Premier League, an even greater sports league, has been cleared by the government to resume in early June, assuming certain conditions are met. But the matches will have to be played not only behind closed doors, but at neutral venues. Unfortunately, EPL clubs can’t »

All German stores to reopen this week, with soccer to follow soon

Featured image A week or two ago, it looked like German soccer would resume this coming weekend. That was the plan, but it did not receive approval from the government. Now, the government has approved a resumption of play in mid-May for Germany’s top two professional soccer league. Games will be played behind closed doors, with only around 300 people — players, coaches, referees, team officials and staff, broadcast crews — allowed »

German soccer set to recommence

Featured image The German Bundesliga is poised to become the first sports league I follow to go back to work. In fact, players are already at work. They are practicing in anticipation of matches to be played in early May. When the Bundesliga season came to a halt, teams had nine matches left to play. And, for once, there was a genuine race for the championship. Normally, Bayern Munich has the top »

Ex-soccer stars recover from Wuhan coronavirus

Featured image In early to mid March, the English Premier League was planning to keep playing soccer matches in front of spectators when it learned that Mikel Arteta, Arsenal’s manager, had contracted the Wuhan coronavirus. Shortly thereafter, the EPL postponed its season. The season remains on hold. Arteta’s case was of interest to me because, as a star midfielder for Everton, he was one of my favorite players. Therefore, I’m extra happy »

Euro 2020 to become Euro 2021

Featured image Euro 2020, the European nations’ soccer championship, will not take place this year. The competition, held every four years, has been pushed back a year. It will now take place in 2021 from June 11 to July 11. The tournament wasn’t scheduled to begin until June 12 of this year. By that time, there’s a good chance the virus will have subsided to the point that teams could compete and »

Does fan noise affect the games? A former player’s take.

Featured image For a while, it looked like major sports leagues and tournaments would proceed despite the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, but with no fans admitted. This plan ended when players, coaches, and referees were found to have been infected by the virus. I did watch one German soccer match played without fans. It was a Rhine derby between arch rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach and FC Köln (Cologne). Fans called this a “ghost match” »

Will soccer cause the coronavirus to spread to central France?

Featured image Italy is the European nation most affected by the coronavirus, so far. As of two days ago, more than 2,000 cases and seven deaths had been confirmed. Reportedly, a dozen towns, including Milan and Venice, have been placed on lockdown. Travel is permitted neither in nor out. Last Sunday, the two top-league soccer matches scheduled in northern Italy — one in Milan, the other in Bergamo — were postponed. Matches »

Wayne Rooney delivers

Featured image Wayne Rooney, one of England’s all-time great soccer players, has made a sub-specialty of the instant splash. He made one as a 16 year-old for Everton in 2002 when his late wonder goal against Arsenal ended the Gunners 30-match unbeaten run, making Rooney the youngest goalscorer in Premier League history at the time. “Remember the name, Wayne Rooney,” the match commentator instructed. Rooney was also an instant success in international »

What’s the difference between American football and English football?

Featured image The punchline to this joke was supplied 20 years ago by a soccer fan I met on my way to a match in London: American football, you get up, get dressed, and go to the game. English football, you get up, get dressed, get drunk, and go the game. Twenty years later, I’m not sure the joke applies. The difference may now reside in where you get drunk. In American »

Hate speech or over-exuberant sports taunting?

Featured image The most bitter local rivalry in British football is probably the one between Celtic United and Rangers, a pair of Glasgow teams that long have dominated Scottish soccer. Unlike the rivalries between, say, Liverpool and Everton or Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, the Celtic-Rangers rivalry has major sectarian overtones. Celtic is the team of choice for Catholics, Rangers for Protestants. Last weekend, Celtic defeated Rangers 1-0 in the League Cup Final. »

With Big Dunc in charge, it was better next time

Featured image As I was leaving Goodison Park looking glum after Everton’s loss to last place Norwich City two weeks ago, a female steward said to me, “it will be better next time.” I responded, in my Yank accent, “I don’t know when the next time will be for me, but it was a pleasure just to be here.” The woman, who had just heard 70 minutes of the foulest language sports »

It’s a grand old team. . .

Featured image On the train from Manchester to Liverpool (delayed half an hour until a driver could be found), I met a Bolton Wanderers fan who, like me, was on his way to see Everton play. He explained that an Everton season ticket holder friend had invited him to the match. Bolton Wanderers were a founding member of the Football League in 1888 (along with Everton). They have won the FA Cup »

Off to England

Featured image I’ll be in the north of England for the next week attending soccer matches, among other things. The highlight will be a last visit to Goodison Park in Liverpool. Everton will be moving to a shiny new stadium soon. I probably won’t blog while I’m away. However, I know that John and Steve will be dying for soccer news, so maybe I’ll file a match report or two. »

Nationalism and international soccer

Featured image International football, by which I mean nations playing other nations, has a strong and obvious nationalist component. The anthems of the two teams are played before the matches commence. Some players belt out the song with the gusto one would expect at a feverish nationalist rally. Fans paint their faces in the colors of their nation. Some countries come to a standstill the day their team plays. FIFA, the body »

Everton wins Copa America, and other soccer news

Featured image No, Everton, the football club, didn’t win the South American championship this weekend. Instead, it edged a Kenyan team on penalty kicks in its opening pre-season match. However, Everton, the soccer player, scored a goal and assisted on another as Brazil defeated Peru 3-1 to win Copa America. Everton was named outstanding player of the match and finished the tournament as its co-leading goal scorer. Everton probably will never play »