Entries in soccer (3)


Made in England

   The other day I watched Arsenal and Manchester City, arguably two of England’s finest football teams, go head to head. As I was watching the game, though, I started to wonder if I was indeed watching English football. 

   First of all, in the case of Arsenal, the largest shareholder on the team’s board is an American sports tycoon named Stan Kroenke. Kroenke is also the owner of the St. Louis Rams, an American football team. Manchester City is owned outright by the Abu Dhabi United Group, a sovereign wealth fund based in the U.A.E. The club had been previously owned by Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Prime Minister of Thailand. 
   Arsenal plays in the Emirates Stadium and is coached by Arsène Wenger, an Alsatian. Man. City is coached by Chilean Manuel Pellegrini. 
   Both teams are sponsored by airlines that are based in the Middle East.
   Arsenal’s kits are made by the German sporting goods giant Puma, while Manchester's uniforms are supplied by the American firm Nike.
   And if that wasn’t enough to make you scratch your head, consider this: Man. City’s two goals were scored by Argentines, Aguero and Demichelis; meanwhile, one of Arsenal’s goals was decided by Chilean Sanchez.
   Made in England, or merely played in England?
   Incidentally, I watched that “English" football game on Turkish television.

Big Balls

   At my soccer team's New Year's party last night, Vasily stood up to make a toast: "When men are in their teens and twenties, they play soccer. When they are in their thirties and forties, they play tennis. When they are in their sixties, they play golf. The older they get, the smaller their balls. I'm happy to say that all of us still have large balls."

   I interrupted our Moldovan captain: "Vasily, I have some sad news for all of you . . . This is difficult for me to say, but I'm afraid I won't be playing soccer anymore."


   "From next week," I said, "I'll be playing basketball, instead." 



   I neither shined nor puked on the pitch last night in my first soccer game in well over two decades (See Advice). 

   Our team played three matches--one against a group of North African graduate students, a second against a team of firemen, and a third against the staff of the university on whose field we practice.

   Let me tell you, I thought my heart would explode in my chest and today my whole body is sore as hell. (Must remember to sign up for a double hip replacement in fifteen years.) Still, it feels pretty damn good to be in this much pain. Looking forward to our next practice.