• Today’s Wall Street Journal has an intriguing piece about how FIFA has imposed tough measures against rough tackling and introduced the controversial Jabulani World Cup ball in an effort to foster creative play. The headline is even more curious: “How Conformity Kidnapped Soccer.”
Maybe I’m just going through some vuvuzela withdrawal on an off-day from the action, but it’s a good thing to go after cynical, bone-crunching defensive play. After the World Cup, I would presume those tactics will resume. While I’ve been pleased to see “waif-like wizards” such as Lionel Messi rise to the top both for Barcelona and Argentina, I’m afraid his exploits won’t go unanswered for much longer. The nature of the ultra-modern professional game is about winning by any means possible.
And if that means stopping the “beautiful game” in its tracks, then so be it. Brazil may still have great technical skill and players who can command possession at any time, but critics of Dunga’s coaching methods are growing louder about their team’s lack of its usual distinctive samba style. Above all, he wants to win, and he doesn’t seem to care what they think.
• The discussion about Title IX that I sparked at After Atalanta has digressed as I thought it might; I’ve been told in no uncertain terms that patriarchy exists by people who won’t identify themselves. If they say it, then it must be true?