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Cultural Difference and Ignorance Surrounding Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez’s alleged racial abuse case may prove that football is not completely ready to go global.

The slave trade out of Africa, 1500-1900.

Earlier this summer, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates was on the radio show “Fresh Air” talking about his new book Black in Latin America. The host, Terry Gross, begins the interview by admitting how much she didn’t know about the slave trade outside the U.S. context. She is doubtless one of countless people (including myself) whose understanding of this global history is defined by the American experience of the slave trade, slavery, and emancipation. It is the narrative through which the discourse about race has been measured from subsequent liberation movements in the U.S. and abroad. Take for example the documentary Black Power Mix-Tape 1965-1975, a Swedish film by Goran Hugo Olsson, which is comprised of recently discovered footage shot by a small team of Swedish filmmakers running around America trying to make sense of it all.

Gates tosses out a few facts in support of this alternative history, which illustrates how little is known about the global history of race. One set of statistics is sufficient: the slave trade transported more than 11 million slave out of Africa. Of that number, less than 500, 000 went to the U.S. The rest were transported to the Caribbean and Latin America, with 4.8 million to Brazil alone.

There is a conservative assessment that 120 million Latin Americans are of African origin (conservative because this estimate is not measured by hypodescent, meaning having at least one drop of African blood in them, which would increase the number significantly). Today, Brazil has 134 categories of “blackness”, which of course have 134 linguistic descriptions, and as the Luis Suarez incident highlights, also numerous degrees of social acceptance. I’m not sure how many categories are used in Uruguay, but the slave trade and African Diaspora has played a significant role in the cultural development of Uruguay. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHRA), there are 190,000 Afro-Uruguayans in Uruguay, the majority living in Montevideo, where the seven-year old Luis Suarez and his family settled in 1998.

The allegations of racial abuse against Suarez are unclear. An attempt to understand the incident has set off a discussion of the linguistic and cultural differences that define race and racism around the world, particularly Latin America, but also England and continental Europe

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Joey Barton Watch

“It seems amazing that I could have ever influenced this glamorous world. But I’m getting used to it.” -Morrissey


Joey Barton: Outdoing Himself—Self-Transformation or Self-Amplification?

Joey Barton has been given more second chances than anyone in the game, but the retro futuristic footballer’s predisposition to destruction continues to flout the good will of others.
A preseason view shows thicker growth over the philtrum…

Newcastle’s return to the Premier League is news during these inaugural weekends of the season. After a fairly easy run in the Championship, they were back with many of the same faces. A club with rabidly loyal fans, a pathetic and disinterested owner, and a self-effacing manager, who exceeded his status as temporary proxy, could only be obscured by Joey Barton and his new toothbrush moustache. Upon scoring the first goal of a 6—0 win against Aston Villa, he celebrated with an apparent Nazi-like gesture.

A few years ago one could walk through the hipster neighborhoods of Brooklyn and see young self-serving men sporting beards inspired by the Taliban. The 1970s southern rock beard had already been the rage for months. Local Hasidic Jews with their beards and payes had done that look long ago. So where else was there to go in order to regain an edge?

Any stylistic appropriation can be made permissible if emptied of content with the exception of Adolf Hitler’s toothbrush moustache. No one has been able to pull this off unless one excuses an exiled former Ecuadorian president who called himself “the crazy one” and Robert Mugabe.

A year prior to Joey Barton’s attempt, the permissibility of the toothbrush moustache was the subject of an English comedian’s effort to test the power of comedy. What degree and magnitude of humor could negate the square inch symbol of genocide?

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Goal Celebrations and Jersey Stripping

 What feels better than scoring?

Andreas Iniesta’s celebrates his World Cup-winning goal. 


Clint, are you a fan of wrestling and in particularly John Cena? I’ve seen you celebrate using the same trademarks he uses!?

-It’s in reference to ‘you can’t see me’. I wasn’t doing it because the wrestlers were doing it, just ‘you can’t see me’ because I scored. -From an interview with Clint Dempsey

Stripping off the jersey after scoring a goal has been noted by many stodgy old commentators as one of the more foolish or brainless patterns of behavior. The automatic caution for the unnecessary excessive celebration could become costly for the team if the player picks up a second later in the match, or when the caution contributes to the accumulation of five yellow cards, triggering an automatic suspension for a season-defining match somewhere down the line. But the same foolishness and unfavorable outcome can be said of a player booked for an unnecessary foul.Managers have not banned jersey stripping, since it continues throughout the leagues year after year. The partial disrobing has only the occasional public critic compared to the far more common criticism of a brainless foul of equal punishment. The booked offense could be blatant, premeditated, and thoroughly avoidable, but it could also be accidental, a miscalculation, or the product of too much enthusiasm, and while certainly brainless, may not have been completely avoidable. Tearing off the jersey as quickly as possible like one who is about to have sex for the first time can’t be excused in the same way.Why do footballers do it? Is the moment’s magnetic pull of collective attention an opportunity to show off a chiseled, often hairless torso to fawning women and envious men? It is safe to say that such a display has now and again been driven by the motive. Yet this falls short of a comprehensive explanation even for the ego of these physical specimens, since many who strip off the jersey often wear an undershirt, even if it’s a tightly fitted one.

The undershirt provides some explanation. The rule does not state that one has to reveal skin to receive a yellow card. The stripping itself is the offense, not what is revealed. If necessary, the message will be taken up by governing bodies not referees.

Tamir Cohen celebrates his game winner against Arsenal.

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Saint Rooney The Persecuted

By God’s providence he was catch’d, with dark lantern and burning match.

Just about to light the prime, caught him in the nick of time.

“What shall we do with him!”

 “BURN HIM” –Prayer by the Bishop of the Edenbridge Bonfire Society

Contrition lies deeply wedged in Wayne Rooney’s throat. Following the public disclosure of his affair and his near departure from Manchester United, saying sorry clearly is not easy for him. In its place there is an admission of sorts, which comes a little late, as if it was forcefully wrung from him. Launching a verbal assault at a Sky TV camera while celebrating a hat trick, provided an opportunity for Rooney to issue an unprompted and expedient apology in an effort to preempt criticism and avert or minimize disciplinary action. But it was also meant as a gesture of personal growth and maturity that he hoped would be recognized in light of the recent past, regardless if the effort was carefully managed and scripted.

The apology moved quickly to sanitize the “foul-mouthed rant” by addressing his responsibility as a role model:

“I want to apologise for any offence that may have been caused, especially any parents or children watching. Emotions were running high and on reflection my heat-of-the-moment reaction was inappropriate. It was not aimed at anyone in particular.”

This didn’t help his case with the FA who issued and upheld a two-game ban “for the use of offensive, insulting and/or abusive language”. Rooney issued a statement after the failed appeal. Admittedly gutted, he went on to defend himself:

I am not the first player to have sworn on TV and I won’t be the last. Unlike others who have been caught swearing on camera, I apologised immediately. And yet I am the only person banned for swearing. That doesn’t seem right.

Rooney portrayed the incident as a common occurrence for which he chose to make an exemplary apology. Whatever, it was a poor defense. Not having the benefit of seeing the incident unfold on television is a thin excuse and requires us to uncomfortably stretch the benefit of the doubt. The speedy apology indicated that it didn’t take long for those who watched the ranting live to relay the truth of how bad it looked, regardless if one thinks swearing trivial—it’s not Libya after all, Rio Ferdinand said.

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Floating Thai Village Forms a Team

Koh Panyee, Southwest Thailand

A short video of its history.


Roman Abramovich Cares

Ruthless, autocratic, and seemingly aloof feed the opinion that the Russian billionaire cares little for the club, but this may not be the case.


My parents were very supportive of my youth soccer career. They attended nearly every game from Kindergarten through high school and made sure that I attended every practice. They organized pizza parties and help fund the team through materials and equipment. My father coached a number of my teams and my mother often made the team banners.

I can recall looking to the sideline and seeing my dad, red-faced, screaming “GET IT OWWWWWWWUT!!!!!!!!!!” at the top of his lungs, repeatedly; what we were doing on the field made him a madman until we cleared the ball out of our defense. At ten years old, this could take a while.

Occasionally, I’d catch him throw his clipboard down into the ground, not unlike Arséne Wenger does with a water bottle. I can’t explain how, but in the heated moments, my father’s glasses would fly off his face like a bird with a broken wing. He wasn’t tossing them like he did the clipboard, so my only guess is that it was from the radiating pulses of the fit originating in his temples.

When the game became too intense, my mom couldn’t watch. If we were taking a penalty kick she would turn around and walk a straight line away from the field until it was over.

More often, I’d also catch my mother on the sideline contorted into a position as if she was just about to kick an invisible ball. Her weight distribution wasn’t right, but she created a well-mapped conversion of what was taking place on the pitch. She was feeling and visualization what we should do or were about to do. This was her version of “Get it out”.

Deeply invested in the game, her contribution was to enact a series of desired motions and silent physical expressions.

Not unlike Roman Abramovich. The Russian seldom speaks to the media, remains inconspicuous, and at times prefers his yacht (who wouldn’t) to the owner’s box. When present, his shadowy public support has been interpreted as indifference or as a waning interest in his plaything. But there is sensitivity and emotional connection in that disconcertingly cuddly face. Now and again we see it.