Soccer, football, kicking a round leather thing down a field and preferably into a net…whatever you like to call it, this sport is set to take over Summer 2016. With 51 matches played by 24 teams of 11 men for a duration of 90 minutes, the important math all adds up to….1 TROPHY

 To the aesthete it is an art form, an athletic ballet. To the spiritually inclined it is a religion. – Paul Gardner
1.  The most coveted tickets in town. 
Sell your house, your grandmother, or your soul: for some, these coveted pieces of paper are worth more than all three put together. (Or just watch it on the TV).
Dr. Faustus in Counsel with the Devil, from Gent's translation of 'Dr. Faustus' by Christopher Marlowe (1564-93) 1648 from a collection of chapbooks on esoterica (woodcut), English School, (17th century) / Private Collection / The Stapleton Collection

Dr. Faustus in Counsel with the Devil, from Gent’s translation of ‘Dr. Faustus’ by Christopher Marlowe (1564-93) 1648 from a collection of chapbooks on esoterica (woodcut), English School, (17th century) / Private Collection / The Stapleton Collection

2.  Pre-match anticipation. 

Whether enjoying the South African scenery or placing those all important bets, there is no time so full of hope and optimism as before the tournament actually starts.

The Card Players (oil on panel), Lucas van Leyden / © Collection of the Earl of Pembroke, Wilton House, Wilts.

The Card Players (oil on panel), Lucas van Leyden / © Collection of the Earl of Pembroke, Wilton House, Wilts.

I fell in love with football as I would later fall in love with women: suddenly, uncritically, giving no thought to the pain it would bring. – Nick Hornby from Fever Pitch

 

3.  Team bonding.

United by matching outfits, locker room banter and team songs, something certainly smells like team spirit.  (Moustaches optional)

English International Football Team, 2nd January 1892 (b/w photo), English Photographer, (19th century) / The Illustrated London News Picture Library, London, UK

English International Football Team, 2nd January 1892 (b/w photo), English Photographer, (19th century) / The Illustrated London News Picture Library, London, UK

4.  Goooaaaallll!!!!

The stuff legends are made of. Heroes can be made in an instant as the ball hits the back of the net. And three goals? Move over Zeus, no-one is more revered than the hat-trick scorer.

Jupiter and Thetis, 1811 (oil on canvas) Ingres, (1780-1867) / Musee Granet, Aix-en-Provence, France

Jupiter and Thetis, 1811 (oil on canvas) Ingres, (1780-1867) / Musee Granet, Aix-en-Provence, France

The rules of soccer are very simple, basically it is this: if it moves, kick it. If it doesn’t move, kick it until it does.
– unknown

 

5.  Feigning injury.

On the losing side? Trouble getting hold of the ball? Feel like you need a good, clear, uninterrupted shot at the goal? Free kicks are awarded to fouled players after a nasty tackle. Fitness and fast feet aren’t the only skills that come in handy on the soccer field. For the aspiring actor, a little melodrama goes a long way in pursuit of that elusive free kick.

Marcel Marceau (b.1933) teaching drama (b/w photo), Lotte Meitner-Graf (1899-73) / Private Collection

Marcel Marceau (b.1933) teaching drama (b/w photo), Lotte Meitner-Graf (1899-73) / Private Collection

6.   Red card.

Soccer is a fast and furious game. Sometimes, foul play will occur. Or sometimes, you will run up against a player with the hidden acting skills of Robert de Niro (see previous entry)…and be shown the infamous ‘red card’ by the referee, sending the offending player off the pitch for the rest of the match.

Off! 1996 (linocut), Willie Rodger, Contemporary Artist

Off! 1996 (linocut), Willie Rodger, Contemporary Artist

I loathed the game, and since I could see no pleasure or usefulness in it, it was very difficult for me to show courage at it. Football, it seemed to me, is not really played for the pleasure of kicking a ball about, but is a species of fighting.
– George Orwell, English writer.

 

7.  “Football Punch”

The beverage of choice for the discerning soccer fan, celebrations and commiserations are often similarly washed down with a nice warm beer.

Bottle of Football Punch (mixed media), English School / National Football Museum, Manchester, UK

Bottle of Football Punch (mixed media), English School / National Football Museum, Manchester, UK

8.   The penalty shoot-out.

If the final whistle blows and the game is tied, the dreaded penalty shoot out will decide who wins. The most nail-biting, jaw-clenching, edge-of-your-uncomfortable-plastic-seat moment of the match, it all comes down to this.

The Goalkeeper, 1930s (colour litho), English School, (20th century) / National Football Museum, Manchester, UK

The Goalkeeper, 1930s (colour litho), English School, (20th century)  National Football Museum, Manchester, UK

In football everything is complicated by the presence of the opposite team. – Jean Paul Sartre, French philosopher.

9.   Winning celebration.

Never before, and never again, is it okay to show such an uninhibited public display of emotion. Hugging, crying, singing all make up the post-win euphoria. For those watching at home, a generous helping of no. 7 usually serves as accompaniment.

Old Man in Sorrow (On the Threshold of Eternity) 1890 (oil on canvas), Vincent van (1853-90) / Rijksmuseum Kroller-Muller, Otterlo, Netherlands

Old Man in Sorrow (On the Threshold of Eternity) 1890 (oil on canvas), Vincent van (1853-90) / Rijksmuseum Kroller-Muller, Otterlo, Netherlands

10.  Trophy.

According the former FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke, “Some say that the value is the equivalent of the Mona Lisa, and I think that’s right.” This 14 inch high, 18-carat gold trophy is the holy grail of soccer, and more importantly gives the winner four years of carte blanche over the phrase, ‘yes, but we’re better than you at football.”

Mona Lisa, c.1503-6 (oil on panel) Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) / Louvre, Paris, France

Mona Lisa, c.1503-6 (oil on panel) Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) / Louvre, Paris, France

Soccer is all very well as a game for rough girls, but is hardly suitable for delicate boys. – Oscar Wilde, Irish writer.

 

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On the Blog: 10 Iconic British Football Moments 

The National Football Museum in Manchester holds the world’s finest collection of football artifacts and archives, including the official FIFA Collection.

The 1966 World Cup Exhibition is being created in partnership with The Football Association (FA).  The exhibition will be jointly staged at the museum’s Manchester home (opening June 25 until January 2017) and Wembley Stadium (opening July 11).

 

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