As we compose this post, millions of soccer (or football) fans around the globe are glued to their screens, watching as 32 countries square off in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Whether you’d like to learn more about the sport, get a handle on the buzz around the tournament, or just take a break from the pumping adrenaline of the matches themselves, here are some of Pocket’s top stories and videos to feed your football fever.
Shaj Mathew, The New Republic
“Soccer is popular,” Jorge Luis Borges observed, “because stupidity is popular.”
Davin O’Dwyer, Slate
“Spain’s shocking exit this week provided a topical instance of the World Cup narrative neatly mapping to the real world.”
Brian Phillips, Grantland
Tracking back in Rio, through history, and calculating the cost of the Cup.
Chris Ballard, Sports Illustrated
The brave new world of American soccer fandom.
Alan Burdick, The New Yorker
“Exactly how much cheating goes on in soccer, or whether any team or player really does more of it than any other, is hard to quantify.”
Victor Matheson, FiveThirtyEight
“With a price tag estimated at $11.3 billion in public works spending alone, it will take more than just a trouble-free four-week tournament to justify Brazil’s heavy investment in hosting the World Cup.”
Mike Goodman, Grantland
“The fact is, Nerdy American Sports Fan, you know way more about soccer than you realize.”
Ken Bensinger, Buzzfeed
“How a swindling suburban soccer dad pocketed millions as he helped make the sport in the U.S. a booming success.”
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
“Now, I know, in America, soccer is something you pick your 10-year-old daughter up from. But for me and everyone else on Earth, it’s a little more important…”
Uni Friedman, The Atlantic
“In May, Stefan Szymanski, a sports economist at the University of Michigan, published a paper debunking the notion that ‘soccer’ is a semantically bizarre American invention.”
“Football is a great sport, but it could be so much better if it were run honestly.”
Jeff Himmelman, The New York Times Magazine
“In Argentina, the main resistance to Lionel Messi, beyond his uneven play for the national team thus far, is that he isn’t Argentine enough.”
Wright Thompson, ESPN
“At the same time Argentina hosted the 1978 World Cup, the nation’s dictators were waging their ‘Dirty War’ of repression, kidnappings and torture. As the tournament again draws near, ghastly memories are flooding back.”
Nate Silver, Five Thirty Eight
“It’s really hard to beat Brazil in Brazil.”
Brian Phillips, Grantland
“In late May, a Brazil-based memorial-diamond company called Brilho Infinito began selling a series of 1,283 diamonds made from the hair of Pelé, the most celebrated footballer in Brazil’s football-obsessed history, and widely regarded as the greatest soccer player of all time. ”
Sam Borden, The New York Times Magazine
“Jurgen Klinsmann knows that winning the tournament is not the only way for him to be considered a success. His time as the leader of American soccer will instead be judged with more nuance.”
Here’s to “the beautiful game”!