Day: September 8, 2009

England’s Greatest Hope?

England beat the Netherlands 2-1 on Sunday evening to move into the final of the 2009 European Women’s Football Championships in Finland, where they will play Germany on Sunday night. Perhaps predictably (and exactly as they did when the under-21 team made similar progress during the summer), the English press have reacted hysterically to the news. Perhaps the most hysterical reaction came from The Guardian’s Richard Williams, who concluded – largely on the basis of one tactical revelation made in the aftermath of their semi-final match against the Dutch – that their manager, Hope Powell, would be as good a choice as any to succeed Fabio Capello as the manager of the England men’s team. Of course, Williams writes for a newspaper and therefore has an obligation to make statements that will encourage people to read the journal that employ him, but his claim does require some further examination. Powell has a UEFA Pro Licence, so there is no reason – if the qualification is worth anything – why she wouldn’t be able to cope with a managerial position within the men’s game, even if the position of England manager is beyond her for now. There may, however, be pressures placed upon her based not only upon her gender but also upon the colour of her skin, and it is worth bearing in mind that the goodwill engendered by...

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In Praise Of… The Adidas Tango

At the World Cup finals in South Africa next year, Adidas will celebrate forty years as the official supplier of match balls to the tournament. The company has become so intrinsically associated with the competition that it is almost impossible to imagine anybody else holding this position, but it is difficult to imagine that they will conjure anything up that is as simultaneously as modern looking and timeless as the Adidas Tango, a piece of design so flawless that it stayed in use for more than twenty years in various forms. Until 1970, it was up to the hosting nation to supply the balls for the competition. In 1970, however, FIFA awarded a contract for the supply of match balls to Adidas, who came up with the Telstar. Named as a nod to the first communication satellites, it was a distinctive black and white pattern that was designed to be easier to see on the television (although they did also supply an all-white version). The same ball was used at the 1974 World Cup finals (albeit it with minor adjustments), but by 1978 the time was right for a completely new design of football – the Adidas Tango. The Tango remained a thirty-two ball in the style of a “buckyball”, but with one notable difference. The ball had twenty geometric shapes called “Triads” printed upon it, with created ten...

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