The Run of Play is a blog about
the wonder and terror of soccer.
We left the window open during a match in October 2007 and a strange wind blew into the room.
Now we walk the forgotten byways of football with a lonely tread, searching for the beautiful, the bewildering, the haunting, and the absurd.
So it’s easier to get dropped from your national team than it is to get a yellow card these days. And that’s all to the good, in my opinion. I hate it when referees try to inject themselves into the game. I prefer it when nature, and the intensive care unit, are allowed to take their course. Seriously, just let the players play until full time rolls around, or until they’re incapacitated with injuries that could have been avoided if you occasionally sent someone off. Either way, there’s no need to go occasionally sending people off.
Everyone who’s making a big deal about this is just jealous of Manchester City anyway.
Well, in the spirit of Bert van Marwijk, who’s learned to do the right thing at precisely the moment when it’s no longer especially inconvenient, I come to direct your attention to my various good deeds.
Over at Slate, I have a new piece about the fake Togo national team, the troubled history of the real Togo national team, the troubles facing African soccer, and trouble, generally speaking. At the risk of sounding like I’ve just banned Nigel de Jong from my side, I break out some details that haven’t been discussed much in the Western media and try to put the scam in the context of the Cabinda attack, Togolese politics, and FIFA’s dissolution of the Fédération Togolaise de Football. Whether you’re a fan of hoaxes or a serious-minded student of political corruption in West Africa, this is the juxtaposition of those two themes for you. Have a look.
Also: This will be an ongoing project, but I’m guest-curating a Pelé Week-inspired series on FreeDarko about Hakeem Olajuwon and the mid-’90s Houston Rockets. Some of the best young basketball writers on the planet are contributing, and it’s going to be a fun buildup to the start of the NBA season and the launch of the new FD book on October 26. Hakeem got his footwork from playing goalkeeper as a kid in Lagos. This is totally up your alley. Check it out.
Run of Play picks up again this week as well, with a piece on the interpermeation of English and American soccer culture, a thought on club morality, and 10 hot tips on how to shatter someone’s femur while still sort of getting to the ball first. Stay tuned.
by Brian Phillips · October 4, 2010