Egypt playmaker retires after Club World Cup
10 December ~ The FIFA Club World Cup, a big competition in the rest of the world but one European clubs and fans probably couldn't care less about, gets underway in Morocco this week. Those European supporters who do tune in will no doubt be looking out for Ronaldinho's return for Atlético Mineiro and Pep Guardiola's Bayern side (though Guardiola cited last Wednesday's away win at Augsburg as more important than any match in the forthcoming tournament). Other participants Raja Casablanca and Auckland City are hardly household names. But the real story of the Club World Cup will, or should, be Al-Ahly's Mohamed Aboutrika.
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The new WSC is out now, dispatched on the day of order from the WSC shop.
What's wrong with Youth coaching?
BT Sport's challenge to Sky
Decline of English keepers
Press ban at Newcastle
Fans in charge: Dons v Pompey
Player power in Brazil
The Stadio Renato dall'Ara, home to Bologna FC, is one of the most emblematic grounds in Italy. Built under the fascist regime, it was inaugurated by Mussolini in 1926 – he was the target of a failed assassination attempt during the event. Its tower, inserted into one of the main stands, symbolises the competition and athletes' resistance, and it makes of the Dall'Ara a unique venue. The 38,200-capacity stadium hosted games in both 1934 and 1990 World Cup finals.
6 December ~ As the draw for the 2014 World Cup approaches this afternoon, FIFA will be hoping it goes more smoothly than in 1982. Then, as this unfortunately low-quality video shows, the familiar (if slightly younger) face of Sepp Blatter struggled to cope as Scotland were drawn in the wrong group. Eventually they just went back and did it again.
6 December ~ Following their first victory at Old Trafford after 21 years, Everton will be aiming to end another winless streak on Sunday. They visit the Emirates Stadium, where they have never left with three points. The last time they did so at Arsenal's ground was at Highbury in 1996, when Graham Stuart and Andrei Kanchelskis scored to come back from an Ian Wright goal.
4 December ~ Among all the clubs with bog-standard striped crests, shines out this beacon of non-conformity, the rave lighthouse. Uruguayan rave culture was driven underground in the early 1990s by draconian laws forbidding the assembly of more than ten people at any one place, unless the individual had a doctor's note stating they suffered from separation anxiety. Read more
Barcelona vs Real Madrid
"Barcelona good, Madrid bad" is a pretty common idea among English-speaking football fans. Even those who question the Catalan club's "football philosophy", or its board's financial dealings with Qatar and Brazil, still often see Barça as purer than, and morally superior to, their rivals from the Spanish capital. This idea can be traced all the way back to George Orwell's Homage To Catalonia – and is just plain wrong, according to Sid Lowe's new contribution to the growing pile of English language books on Spanish football. Read more
The approved biography of George Best
Despite what Immortal would have you believe, George Best divides opinion in his home country. For each of the tens of thousands who stood reverently in the Belfast rain for his 2005 funeral, there is a counterpart embarrassed and infuriated by the constant scandals and drunken antics. It is a mark of his status, of course, that most people in Northern Ireland still care enough to have an opinion about Best – good or bad – and it is unlikely that Duncan Hamilton's "approved" biography will change what they think. Read more
The unknown story of football's true talent spotters
Shaun O'Connor arrived at the Potters Bar pitches to check on the progress of some under-12 players who'd shown potential, but when the referee for a neighbouring game between teams of under-9s failed to show, he volunteered to officiate. He was about to start a new job with Arsenal's academy and one eight-year-old, playing on the wing for Luton, caught his eye. Read more
Partizan pleasure, pain and paranoia
The collapse of communist-era structures had a profound effect on football in central and eastern Europe, but the ethnic wars in the former Yugoslavia created even deeper fault lines. Modern-day Serbia, which was home to Europe's best team 22 years ago, now has the continent's 25th best (or 29th worst, depending on your perspective) league according to the UEFA coefficients. Its historic powers, Partizan and Red Star Belgrade, perpetually battle for supremacy in a competition whose numbers are topped up by minnows from the country's provinces and capital's suburbs. Read more
Offer for iPhone and iPad users in November
6 November ~ Anyone heading to Stamford Bridge on Wednesday for Chelsea's Champions League match against Schalke will get exclusive free access to the latest WSC digital edition. In partnership with digital publishers Exact Editions, the When Saturday Comes app will be available to download for anyone with an iPhone or iPad in Stamford Bridge over the next three weeks, showcasing for the first time the latest ByPlace geo-location technology for the iOS newsstand. All you need to do is download the When Saturday Comes app from the App Store and open it up when in Stamford Bridge.
Extreme group to be banned from Bernabéu
9 December ~ Real Madrid's once-powerful Ultras Sur fans' group are suddenly fading. After a clash between rival factions over the control of the group, Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez is about to move them from their traditional spot in the south stand of the Santiago Bernabéu in order to create a "youth stand", while also banning 250 of their members. If it is finally taken, this will be a huge step towards the disappearance of one of the biggest and most extreme groups of its kind in Spanish football at the moment.
But confident of reaching last 16
9 December ~ Italy pay the price! was the front page headline in La Gazzetta dello Sport the day after the World Cup draw, an indication of how a group with Uruguay, England and Costa Rica was received by the country's football media. "Zinedine Zidane headbutts us again," the paper continued, comparing the Frenchman having drawn Italy as the floating European side in the draw to his assault on Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup final.
REDaction group launch petition
8 December ~ The Arsenal supporters' group REDaction have launched a petition to get their club to play a leading role in moving forward the campaign for safe standing. A recent survey of Arsenal fans showed that 91.5 per cent of them would back a safe standing trial at the Emirates but REDaction believe the campaign needs a high-profile leader to begin lobbying the authorities to make the changes. They say that it would give fans greeter choice and lead to an improved atmosphere. You can read more details about the petition sign it by clicking here.
Will put up with long balls in short term
7 December ~ I have to confess that I've been enjoying a nostalgic flashback or two since the appointment of Tony Pulis as the new manager at Selhurst Park. All these media mutterings about direct style and dogged spirit has put me right back there on the Holmesdale, quite possibly decked out in one of those multi-coloured Joe Bloggs sweatshirts and Naf Naf jacket, ciggie in hand and gleefully yelling "Ooof!!!" with the rest of them as Wright 'n' Bright, eyes trained on the sky, barge their way into the opposition penalty box.
Controversial arrangement in Netherlands
6 December ~ After claiming three consecutive Eredivisie titles, Ajax have competition this season in the form of Vitesse Arnhem, who currently lead the table by two points. They were championship runners-up six times between 1898 and 1915, in the days when the title was decided by play-offs. Since then the club have largely performed without distinction, and also flirted with bankruptcy on a couple of occasions, but a change of ownership in 2010 has brought an upturn in fortune and also plenty of controversy.
Pavel Vrba says emotional goodbye
5 December ~ The Football Association of the Czech Republic have got their man, but at what cost? Pavel Vrba officially began work as Czech national team coach on December 3 following an unusually emotional appointment process. As Viktoria Plzen coach, Vrba transformed a once-trophyless team into one of Czech football's major forces, leading the club to a cup win, two league titles and two Champions League campaigns since taking over in 2008. That success left his former employers understandably reluctant to release him.
Results and style below expectations
5 December ~ In the 29th minute of Wigan's match against Derby last Sunday, with the team already 3-0 down, the DW stadium reverberated with choruses "Coyle out". This wasn't a racket caused by impatience – it was down to dashed expectations. Though Wigan never reached the depths of the Championship, the football they have played this season was all too often uneven and predictable. Expectations of a return to the Premier League after a single season had been high, with the club being Championship's second biggest spenders in the summer.
Via New Statesman
4 December ~ Last Monday in Westminster the subject of football governance was discussed by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Mutuals. Representatives from organisations such as the FA, Premier League and Football League were present alongside members of Supporters Direct. It was a discussion that those who run football and the clubs didn't want to happen, and thus marked a significant turning point in the debate. It allowed a platform for the current methods of running the game to be challenged and viable alternatives to be explored, as Martin Cloake discussed in the New Statesman.
Football Research in an Enlarged Europe
4 December ~ A new survey has has been launched as part of the ongoing Football Research in an Enlarged Europe (FREE) project. The questionnaire, available in eight different languages, targets the "attentive public" of football-interested people. It is an academic exploration of football across carried being carried out by nine different universities across Europe and is supported by the European Union's research programme. To complete the survey, which should take around 20 minutes, please click here.