Today the French national team will return to the pitch for their second international friendly in less than a week, but tonight it’s not about football. Just four days ago, while thousands gathered in Paris at Stade de France for the classic rivalry match; France vs Germany, a horrific scene unfolded just outside the stadium walls. Attacks around the city would claim the lives of over 125 individuals with many more critically injured, and leave the country in disbelief, shock, and fear.
In the wake of these horrific events, postponing football related activity would be an easy and understandable thing to do. The FA in Belgium in fact has done just that, cancelling today’s friendly with Spain due to the elevated threat of terror. The French team however has chosen to stand strong for their country, and as an act of defiance will take to the pitch, refusing to let terror win.
Tonight’s meeting will be so much more than a football match. It will serve as a symbol to the world that France will not be paralyzed by fear. That through mourning and pain the French people will immerge stronger. And it is testament to the power of community and solidarity in the footballing world.
As supporters, as players, as coaches we are connected by our love for the game. Rivalries only matter in so much that we have someone to play opposite of us. At the end of the day we are a footballing community. Clubs, boarders, even oceans cannot sever that bond. We play together, we learn together, and we mourn together. Tonight the footballing world stands strong with France.
Think you know a thing or two about football history? We'll see about that. Take our History quiz to test your knowledge and maybe learn a thing or two about the game you love.
In '99 Mia Hamm scored the final goal, breaking the tie during the shootout, and winning the World Cup for the US Women's national team. In a moment of pure ecstasy she tore off her shirt and dropped to her knees. The image of this celebration is one of the most famous soccer moments in history, and luckily for you its super easy to create! Here's what you'll need:
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Current Barcelona striker, Luis Suarez has made a name for himself as the "Dracula of football," after multiple biting incidents. Most recently he was banned from finishing the 2014 World Cup after taking a chomp out of Italy's defender. The internet blew up with memes, which provide a perfect Halloween costume opportunity. Here's what you'll need:
Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is known for taking his shirt of almost as much as he is for being a world class striker. In his down time he models underwear, works on his tan, and shows off his abs. The best part about this Halloween costume is there's not a lot of clothes to buy. Here's what you'll need:
English football star David Beckham and his former pop star wife Victoria (Posh) are pop culture icons. The couple are instantly recognizable, which makes them an easy option for a last minute Halloween outing. Here's what you'll need:
Saturday morning I settled into the the couch and flipped on the West Ham v Man City match. Just as the players were leaving the tunnel, heading out to the pitch, my boyfriend entered the room. “Why are those guys holding hands with little kids?”
I couldn’t help but laugh at his genuine concern and bewilderment. He has only recently been enlightened to the joy that is being a football supporter and apparently doesn’t pay much attention to the beginning of a match. When I told him players walk out with children at almost every match, and in basically every league all he could muster through his confusion was, “but why?”
Good question. I never really put much thought into it. I mean, I’ve been watching football since I myself was a child. I guess I had always just assumed it was a tradition of some sort. Kids from the local youth teams or underprivileged backgrounds, getting a chance to walk next to their would-be heroes. A sentimental “live your dreams, this could be you one day” type bit, but to be honest, I wasn’t really sure.
As it turns out, I’m not the only who doesn’t really know who, why or how these kids ended up standing out on the pitch. When I searched Google there were several blogs and forum conversations asking the same question, each with a different answer. Here is what I’ve deduced.
The kids are mascots, “match mascots.” And, as you’ve seen in nearly any football match, their job is to awkwardly escort a player or official out onto the field before the match. Simple enough. Most teams have certain criteria for the kids to qualify including age restrictions and even height.
There isn’t one definitive reason as to why this tradition started, but multiple benefits. Like I had assumed before, one positive to having match day mascots is that it is obvious quite the experience for the youngster. The feeling of walking out alongside a famous footballer in front of scores of cheering fans would no doubt be an unforgettable experience for anyone, but especially for a child who will grow up with a deeply instill enthusiasm for the game. It serves as a symbol of sorts, these football greats passing on their passion to the youth that will eventually take it over. How very touching… and sort of brilliant from a twisted marketing stance, because no doubt these experiences will impact the impressionable minds of youth greatly and foster a commitment to football unlike any other.
The moment you realize your favorite footballer is behind you.
Passing along love for the game is the sweeter side of keeping match day mascots, but there are other indirect benefits. Waiting in the same tunnel as your biggest rival, before you play the most important match of your life sounds like a sure way to cause a scuffle. But add a child to the scenario, and everyone stays on their best behavior. It is much more difficult to participate in lude, unsportsmanlike antics with the prying eyes of a child watching your every move.
So how does your kid become a mascot? It all depends on what club you’re supporting. For most teams a certain number of slots a year are reserved for the official youth league associated with that team. Many other mascot roles are filled by raffles, drawing, and sweepstakes. Then there are the clubs that fill those spots with those willing to pay a hefty price. Last December several British Premier League clubs came under fire over the excessive price tags attached to their matchday mascot packages. West Ham the guiltiest culprit reportedly charging £600 for its top mascot experience. Swansea, Leicester, and Crystal Palace are among a lengthy list of others that charge a significant fee to participate, while Manchester United, City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Aston Villa, and a few more offer the experience for free.
MLS teams have similar practices as those in Premier League offering various raffles, sweepstakes, and partnering with local youth teams and organizations. Here are a few links to different teams and their mascot requirements:
If you support football, aka soccer, in the U.S. you have been without a doubt harassed heavily for calling the sport the wrong name. Whether you refer to it as soccer, and get scoffed at by those who prefer the traditional name and are quick to lay out all the reasons why “American football” has nothing to do with feet. Or you choose to call it football, like the majority of rest of the world, and are instantly heckled for being a snob; there really is no way to win. Even in writing the first sentence of this commentary I struggled trying to decide which term to use first. As a soccer, yes soccer supporter in the US, I have been scrutinized heavily for use of both terms and am always a bit puzzled by the hostility.
I personally refer to the sport based off the culture I am surrounded by, which means soccer it is. If I were to move to England I would call it football. Not because I’m faking it, but because more people would understand me and we could carry on from there as friends discussing things that matter.
After all we are talking about the same game right? No matter what you or I call it, we both like the same game. So long as we know what each other is talking about I don’t see why it makes any difference to me if you call it what you wish. Tomato, tomato? I mean we call deep fried potato wedges fries in the U.S., in Great Britain they would be call chips, and what we refer to as chips would be referred to as crisps. Yes initially that might cause a touch of confusion, but as long as we get sorted on which of these we are actually talking about there is no need to riot.
Looking up the definition of football in the dictionary doesn’t necessarily draw a straight conclusion to help sort this out either:
Football: referring to a number of sports that involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball with the foot to score points. Unqualified, the term football is understood to refer to whichever form of football most popular in regional context of where the word is used: Association Football (aka soccer), American/Canadian Football (aka Gridiron), Australian Rules Football, Gaelic Football, or Rugby.
With so many sports falling under the "football code" it's no wonder Americans call it something else. In fact according to a paper published by sports economist Stephan Szymanski at University of Michigan, the confusion between differentiating multiple sports that were all being called football is exactly where the term soccer came about. And sorry England, but you are mostly to blame for the name's origin. Sometime dating back to the early 1900's Rugby Football was shortened to "rugger" at the same time Associated Football was reduced to "soccer," and for some time all these terms were used interchangeably. By the 1980's the U.S. had really clung to the term soccer, and Britain distanced itself from it. Essentially soccer is a British slang term for associated football that got adopted by they're annoying younger brother and is no longer cool to say.
There is no doubt heads will continue to butt over this one. This score will likely ever be settled, even if Americans do start calling it football. Because in reality no one wants it to be settled. It is fun to have conflict. It's fun to have rivals. If everyone is on the same team then there is no one to play against and that's no fun at all.
The beginning of the Premier League season is always a buzz with excitement, and a great deal of anticipation for the release and debut of new kits. Some shirts have already been “leaked” & released for months, while others have kept their shirts hush-hush only recently revealing them before the August 8th BPL kickoff. Well there is no hiding them now, the kits have hit the pitch and our grades are in…
Arsenal: Something about the hue of this red is quite obnoxious, just seems a bit off. Luckily the white sleeves do a fair job of pulling attention away from the harshness of the red jersey. Subtle striping makes the shirt a hint more interesting, and the simple text for the sponsor makes it much more palatable than many others in the league. Clean and classic Gunners, not a bad effort.
Aston Villa: Well there’s lots of stripes… Macron has not produced the most appealing kits in the last few seasons but they have taken a solid stab at this one. Maroon base and sky blue sleeves tackle the classic Villain colors, and the thin deep maroon horizontal stripes help mix up the monotony of solid colors. It is the sleeves and collar where I have to question the restraint of design. Three maroon stripes on the sleeves and color seems like a bit much. Even just two stripes I feel would have made the shirt look less busy. It is difficult to ignore the fact that there is a lot of text on this shirt, unlike Puma, Nike, or Adidas who have an emblems, Macron is text logo. Combine that with the other large sponsored text, and add the lines from the sleeves and color and it becomes a lot to look at. Sometimes less is more, and the appeal of this kit gets lost somewhere along the way.
AFC Bournemouth: There are a lot of firsts for Bournemouth here. Not only is this their Premier League debut, their shirts are the first to ever feature JD Sports on a football kit, and they are the first EPL club to have black and red stripes as their primary color scheme. Honestly with colors like black and red, it should be pretty difficult to mess up. There is so much potential for Bournemouth to have an insanely good kit, and this is their EPL first impression might as well try to impress… but it doesn’t. Okay JD Sports we get it, why put three logos on the shirt? (front & both sleeves). The vertical stripes are thick and boring, and the black part at the top seems out of place or the wrong size. What is it doing there? I will say it looks better on than it does in flat photos but overall the kit is, meh.
Chelsea: I’m gonna go right out and say it, the collar on this shirt is weird. I don’t get it. I think I would like it more if there wasn’t a button, the button looks useless and out of place. Also why is there red accents on this shirt? This shirt is okay. Nothing to write home about, and honestly very forgetful in the bunch, but enough to get by.
Crystal Palace: Why do I feel like I have seen this kit before? Oh because it looks like a knock off Barcelona jersey that they couldn’t get the colors quite right on. If we were looking at Away shirts I’d be able to give a little bit of extra credit, but on Home shirt alone this design is tiresome. It just looks like something that has been done some many times before that it could pass as the shirt for a number of teams which is not a good thing.
Everton: There are few clubs whose sponsor image actually adds to the appeal of the shirt, this is one of them. Not only is the Chang logo fairly aesthetically pleasing, especially compared to some other league sponsors (see Mansion logo on Crystal Palace) the sizing of the logo is perfectly done and doesn’t completely envelop the shirt. The color adds a tiny bit of uniqueness to the otherwise extremely classic design. Simple but clean blue and white make this shirt timeless Everton, proving less can certainly be more.
Leicester City: Though we are only taking a look at the home shirts for each team, hats off to Puma, the entire Leicester City kit series including the goalkeeper kits are solid work. The home shirt looks clean and effortless, makes a statement without being loud. Not particularly exciting (though the away jersey is), but I will trade excitement for a simple solid design any day.
Liverpool: Something is missing. The shirt looks fine, but tomorrow I will have forgotten what it looks like completely; besides the obvious fact that it is incredibly red. If it is any consolation it’s not terrible, but it’s also not great… it just is.
Manchester City: Google search football shirt and here it is. Dare I say this shirt is sexy. The collar is class, the white details add just enough, and the black sponsor text is not distracting. Everything looks like it is supposed to be there. Nike has truly outdone themselves and the City should be nothing short of thrilled with this sensational kit.
Manchester United: Perhaps the most overhyped kit of the 15/16 season, literally everyone saw this coming. The fact that Man United’s kit was one of the first leaked kind of made us lose our excitement for it once it hit the pitch. It good (better than the away). Traditional color scheme, classic Adidas three stripes down the sleeves, and nice thick white cuffs and collar make up a good looking shirt. We’d expect nothing less.
Newcastle: I like that Newcastle has pulled the blue from the crest to accent this shirt, but with such a large bold blue sponsor the extra diagonal lines cutting through the thick, black, vertical bars looks forced. I get the idea and it isn’t a complete miss, the nothingness of the shirts back however really seems to miss the mark. We’ll give the front a B-, the back a D+ and average the two out to a C.
Norwich City: I’m not sure where to even begin to describe my destane for this shirt. As if nauseating yellow teamed up with the toad green wasn't bad enough, Norwich City thought itself clever to conjure up two other kits with the exact same color scheme. I feel like someone, somewhere along the shirt development line should have raised the question of what happens when they play a team with a yellow and green kit? But regardless of the hideousness of the entire collection, this shirt can stand alone in its grotesque geometric glory.
Southampton: I like that Adidas put their logo in the middle of this shirt. I know it’s such a stupid minor detail but had it been on the right breast this shirt would have been awkwardly semetical. I’m also grateful that the vertical stripes run consistently on from and back, and that the sleeves have a blockier (is that even a word?) bit of red to break up the repetitiveness of the stripes. The shirt overall is pretty basic, but pretty good. A solid, non-offensive footballer kit.
Stroke City: Remember what I said about Southampton’s kit? Pretty much everything I said; the logo in the center, breaking up the vertical stripes, too much symmetry??? Take a look at Stroke City’s Home shirt for exhibit A of all those points. It looks like a Halloween referee shirt what was misprinted in red.
Sunderland: Mesh? I can’t recall the last time that mesh was used for anything more than the inner lining of some athletic shorts. Adding it to the sleeves, collar, and trim of this shirt really cheapens the shirt in my opinion. I do not think that adding black details was a bad call, but I think it has been some years since mesh and classy or cool found themselves in the same sentence.
Swansea City: Pulling off a predominantly white kit is a difficult task. Too little accents and the shirt looks dull, too much and it looks awkward and busy. So to attempt a predominantly white kit with an equally bold accent color such as copper is without a doubt a gutsy move. It nothing else, extra credit is awarded here for bravery. It certainly takes confidence to go for this one. The design itself is decent, and at the very least they its unique.
Tottenham: Is this a beauty pageant that no one told us about? What the hell is up with all the sashes this season? Or are they seatbelts in case you crash and burn like your shirt design? Of the seatbelt/sash designs this year, I would say the Spurs’ shirt is the best of the bad, but that doesn’t make it good.
Watford: Excited to rejoin the ranks of the Premier League elite, Watford has a lot to say and prove. Their kit should reflect pride and confidence and I guess in a way it does. After all they are the Hornets and their shirts very confidently portray a bee like vibe. If this was an attempt at satire, it isn’t very funny. We all hoped for so much more.
West Bromwich: Adidas, STOP. No. No mesh.
West Ham: Umbro had big shoes to fill after signing on to a five year contract replacing Adidas as West Ham’s kit provider. Luckily for the Hammers Umbro totally came through! It is helpful that claret and sky blue are a striking color combination in and of themselves, but with such contrasting colors it could be easy to get carried away. This kit shows great restraint, and eye for detail. The skyblue hoop around the color perfectly sets off the neckline, and muted club crest in neutral colors makes for a super crisp looking shirt.
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