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TOPIC: football


Maestro Messi: Soccer As A True Art Form

The Argentine Lionel Messi is the personification of soccer sublime . He has come to move fans in ways that art lovers are moved by a painting.

This article was updated on Sep. 8, 2023 at 4:35 p.m.


BUENOS AIRES — Lionel Messi, that giant of soccer, is entering the twilight of his career by joining an American team, Inter Miami. He has received all the praise and glory anyone could in the world of sports, not to mention an ocean of publicity, online and offline, and all the money you could hope to earn. A while back, Marius Serra, a journalist with Barcelona paper La Vanguardia, counted 564 press articles on Messi in Spanish alone.

One is reminded of the "perfect beauty" evoked in one of Shakespeare's plays, mentioned in the novelist Stendhal's (1829) travel diary, Promenades dans Rome. Indeed, beside Messi's status as an icon for soccer fans from Buenos Aires to Bangladesh, is there an artistic dimension to this personage? His followers speak of him in superlative terms that suggest inspiration bordering on dizziness. That is how Stendhal felt viewing works of art in Florence.

One of his biggest fans is the Englishman Roy Hudson, a former footballer now based in Fort Lauderdale close to Miami. Recently he compared the exhilaration of watching Messi live to watching a Shakespeare play with the writer himself or watching Rembrandt paint. Millions of people living in Florida could now watch the greatest soccer player of all time, he said. In 2016, when Messi was in Barcelona, he compared him to the magician Houdini.

He has been a subject for at least two contemporary artists, Damien Hirst and Takashi Murakami. Hirst's triptych, Beautiful Messi Spin Painting for One in Eleven, sold for €448,000 for charity a decade ago. Though still young, he already boasts several biographies. One writer, Jordi Puntí, the author of Todo Messi, sees in him the concepts of lightness, speed, precision, visibility and multiplicity, which the Italian author Italo Calvino foresaw decades ago as shaping art and literature this century.

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The Rubiales Kiss & 11 Other Cases Of Football's Die-Hard Machismo And Sexual Aggression

A coach who trivializes a gang rape, a ballon d'or winner who is asked if she knows how to twerk, Spanish national team players chanting "bottle blonde..." When Luis Rubiales kissed Jennifer Hermoso without her consent, it was just the latest example of how the male-dominated sport hasn't changed with the times. In Spain, and beyond...

This article was updated Aug. 24 at 12:15 p.m


MADRID — By now, many have seen the image from Sunday night: After Spain's national team won the Women's World Cup, Spanish Football Federation chief Luis Rubiales kissed football player Jennifer Hermoso without her consent. Finally, after 24 hours of international media coverage and a request for explanations from Minister of Culture and Sports, Miquel Iceta, Rubiales has admitted in a video that "certainly" he made a mistake.

Still, the statement has been widely criticized after Rubiales downplayed his behavior and argued that it occurred in "a moment of extreme euphoria, without any bad intentions, without any bad faith, and what happened, happened. In a very spontaneous way, I repeat, without bad faith on either side."

It is of course a meaningless statement since it was Rubiales who kissed Hermoso after holding her face with both hands, something that the female player in the locker room right afterwards said she couldn't stop and didn't like.

What images you may have not seen yet, is another video that went viral showing Rubiales celebrating in the VIP box after the national team's victory by grabbing his genitals.

Late Wednesday, El Pais reports, the FUTPRO women players' union issued a joint statement with Hermoso to confirm that it would be representing her in the matter, calling for "exemplary measures" to be taken against Rubiales and declaring their "firm and resounding condemnation of conduct that violates the dignity of women." The Spanish women's league on Wednesday called Rubiales' actions "disgusting" and demanded his resignation.

This display of machismo by the president of the Spanish Football Federation is by no means an isolated case in a sport that, despite having modernized in many respects, continues to live in the past. COPE radio commentator Manolo Lama quipped that those who complained about Rubiales' kiss of Hermoso did so because they had not been kissed themselves.

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Why The Media Deserves A Red Card At The Women's World Cup

Coverage of the Women's World Cup has been more about the athletes' personal lives than sport. Once again, sexism in sport is on fully display.


The competition for the 2023 Women's Soccer World Cup, which began on July 20 and concludes on August 20 in Australia and New Zealand, has already caused several controversies. Days prior to the first match, the United Nations and the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) estimated that there would be an audience of two million people.

Despite initial enthusiasm for the “Unite for gender equality," the media once again showed its lack of interest, commitment and professionalism to strengthening international guidelines against discrimination.

Weeks before the opening match between New Zealand and Norway, the conglomerates of the Global North revealed what, apparently, is the only reason they have for promoting women's sport: monetary benefits.

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River Sin Barreras, A Storied Soccer Club Becomes A Model For Disability Inclusion

The River Plate sports club in the Núñez area of Buenos Aires, Argentina, is home to many sports, but renowned for its decorated professional football club, which is also making a name for itself for its inclusive policies.

For 20 years, the River Plate sports club in Núñez, Buenos Aires, Argentina has been working towards equal participation for disabled members and others. Their journey has been helped by cutting-edge strategies in social and sports inclusion, and improvements in accessibility.

When Tomás was 8 years old in 2013, he toured River's facilities with his father, Juan Pablo Chiappe. Both are fans and members of the Núñez club and, that day, a sign at an office caught their attention: "River sin Barreras" (River without Barriers). Tomás has a chromosomal duplication that can manifest itself similarly to autism. Until coming across that office, he had not been able to actively participate in the life of the club about which he was so passionate.

"We knocked on the door out of curiosity, and Liliana Plandolit, the former president of the club's Commission for the Integration of People with Disabilities — River sin Barreras — warmly opened the doors and asked us, earnestly, what Tomi would like to do at the club," Chiappe Sr. recalls.

They got Tomás involved in some of the club's activities and, with adjustments and support from River sin Barreras, he got hooked on tennis. Tomás also began participating in the Tu Lugar en el Monumental ("Your place at Monumental") Program, which is named after the River Plate’s stadium. With the program, disabled club members get a free season ticket and can go with a companion to every match.

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This Happened

This Happened — July 9: Italy Wins World Cup

Italy defeated France in the final of the FIFA World Cup on this day in 2006. The World Cup final took place at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, Germany, which was marred by Zinedine Zidane's red card.

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In The News
Marine Béguin, Sophie Jacquier, Valeria Berghinz and Anne-Sophie Goninet

Ukraine Gains On Bakhmut, France Riots Spread, Book Your Barbie’nB

👋 Halo!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Kyiv says it’s regaining territory in the Bakhmut region, more than 150 protesters are arrested near Paris as violent clashes spread after the police shooting death of teenager during a traffic stop, and you can now live out your life-size Barbie dream. Meanwhile, Jacques Henno in French daily Les Echos explores how global warming could change humans on a genetic level.

[*Bislama, Vanuatu]

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This Happened

This Happened — June 29: Brazil's First World Cup Victory

Brazil won their first World Cup on this day in 1958 which was hosted by Sweden with the final match held at the Rasunda Stadium in Solna.

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Raúl Cervera

A Mexico City Women's Football Club Brings LGBTQ+ Players On The Field

In Mexico City, the "Football, Sweat and Joy" football club is creating a welcoming space for women and LGBTQ+ soccer players to play and socialize.

MEXICO CITY – Amid the chaos of Mexico City, a group of women and gender non-conforming soccer lovers are building a community where every player can feel welcome.

Calling themselves 'Fútbol, Sudor y Goce' (Football, Sweat and Joy), the group began with a small group of people during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. Julieta, who had arrived in Mexico from Argentina shortly before the quarantine, wanted to find people who shared her passion for soccer and to build a community and a safe space to socialize and have fun.

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"In a WhatsApp group, Julieta wrote the invitation: if anyone was interested in forming a small soccer group to meet new people," says Yorely Valero, who was part of the first to join the group. "I am from Colombia and had been living here for some time. But the pandemic affected everything, so it was an excuse to both play and connect with more people."

A small group of people responded, and after planning for months, Julieta, Yorely, Yuki, Catalina, and Anne gathered for the first time on a small field in the Juárez neighborhood . It was March 2021. Word started to spread, and more people joined the WhatsApp group.

"In that group, we only added women and queer people. That was the premise from the beginning, because there are many other spaces for cisgender men to play. This space is for these other people who have often been excluded from playing," comments Yorely.

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Pierre Haski

Soft Power Or Sportwashing? What's Driving The Mega Saudi Image Makeover Play

Saudi Arabia suddenly now leads the world in golf, continues to attract top European soccer stars, and invests in culture and entertainment... Its "soft power" strategy is changing the kingdom's image through what critics bash as blatant "sportwashing."


PARIS — A major announcement this week caused quite a stir in the world of professional golf. It wouldn't belong in the politics section were it not for the role played by Saudi Arabia. The three competing world circuits have announced their merger, putting an end to the "civil war" in the world of pro golf.

The Chairman of the new entity is Yassir Al-Rumayan, head of the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. Add to this the fact that one of the major players in the world of golf is Donald Trump – three of the biggest tournaments are held on golf courses he owns – and it's easy to see what's at stake.

In the same week, we learned that two leading French footballers, Karim Benzema and N'Golo Kanté, were to join Saudi club Al-Ittihad, also owned by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund. The amount of the transfer is not known, but it is sure to be substantial. There, they will join other soccer stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Mariateresa Fichele

Beautiful Game, Sweet Dreams

Sometimes, a soccer win is all that a troubled mind needs.

I celebrated S.S.C. Napoli’s Serie A title win – the first in 33 years – in the psychiatric ward, in the unreality of hearing the city go crazy "outside" while we — i.e. the crazy and their de facto guardians — were locked "inside."

The next morning, upon waking up:

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Mariateresa Fichele

All Insurance Scam Roads Lead To Turin

Of financial hardship, staged accidents — and calcio rivalry.

“Dottoré, I’m having a horrible time. As soon as I get enough money for a ticket, I’m going to Turin to throw myself under a car.”

“Can you explain this to me? You’re telling me that not only you want to kill yourself, but that to do so, you have to go all the way to Turin?”

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In The News
Emma Albright & Ginevra Falciani

Zelensky Invites Xi, King Charles In Germany, Amsterdam v. British Lads

👋 Hyvää päivää!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where Volodymyr Zelensky formally invites Xi Jinping to Kyiv, top French banks raided in fraud probe, and Amsterdam is trying to keep British bachelor parties at bay. Meanwhile, Chinese-language media The Initium shines a light on the quiet emergence of China's gay senior community.


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