World Cup Rules! Part II: The Venue

Excitement during the game at Caffe Dello Sport
A clean, well-lighted place

The World Cup nears its full samba-swing. As the group stage concludes, Spain (this year’s France!), Italy (this year’s Spain!), and England (this year’s Italy!) have been ushered out as Costa Rica (this year’s Paraguay!) steps into the spotlight. And you have invited an Average American and Andrés Iniesta (a little heartless of you, but Andy could probably use a night out) to enjoy a match and, hopefully, increase the chance that you can watch Champions next season on ABC instead of Roja Directa.

This should do.

Our next step is to find a place to see the match. As PJ O’Rourke reminds us, the best place to host a party is someone else’s place. If you offer your place, other Average Americans might show up. They will budge Andy off the sectional, dust the linoleum with Chee-To dust and switch the HDMI from ESPNDeportes to EASports. They might even bring WAGs, who will leave your frozen pizza out to thaw into a soggy Frisbee while they chill wine coolers in your freezer.

Protein, glorious protein.

What about the Fellow Fan’s place? His friends will show up, too, but they’ll most likely be interesting, international friends whose sisters have adorable accents and little, WAG-size jerseys. And they’ll do you better than lukewarm wine coolers and Chee-Tos. If your friend, for example, is from Argentina, you will enjoy a wide variety of smoked meat products. If your friend hails from Mexico, you won’t go thirsty. But don’t ask them about it. You don’t want to propagate cultural stereotypes.

You enjoy myself!

A better option is to join a viewing party. There are viewing parties in almost all major cities; in fact, some people have suggested that the rush of red-white-and-blue painted bodies in goofy wigs and oversize sunglasses indicate a rising temperature in soccer fever among Americans. I demur. For one thing, most Americans will rush to any open urban space that promises fried food-‘n’a-stick and open containers of alcohol (Occupy the State Fairgrounds!) Half the Chicagoans in this photo, for example, think they are attending Jazzfest; about 40% are psyched for Bluesfest; and at least two-thirds are going to camp out for the July 3rd fireworks. Ring the White House to ask if anyone’s headed to “The Taste” and watch Valerie Jarrett outpace Arne Duncan from Pennsylvania Avenue to Columbus Drive.

An even better option is a bar. Bars are cool, because they are air-conditioned. Also, they have a variety of seating options so you can look as cool as you feel: the snug (where you stash the WAGs); the stool (where the international sisters perch); and the footrail (where you rest your aching feet after all that standing and ogle the barmaids. Sorry: barms’s. ).

Noooooo …

You want a viewing bar, but it’s got to be a good viewing bar. The VFW is NSFV. TGIF and BW3 are plausible, because they have lots of TVs and spinach-dip appetizers for the WAGs, but there is a risk that they flip the big screen to “TriviaTime!” and refuse to change the channel back. For an international sporting event, an international bar is best. There’s the charming Caffe Dello Sport in Boston’s North End. Oh, wait, maybe not. What about New York’s Manchester Pub, or Minneapolis’ Brits? Er. On second thought. Why not Chicago’s Café Iberico … oh, yeah.

So … ten o’clock, your place?




Categorized as Barcelona

By SoccerMom

SoccerMom obsesses over FCB and this blog instead of grading papers, burning dinner and/or raising her small children. She blames a Spanish husband and easy access to Hispanic-targeted cable sports channels for her football addiction and consequent failure as a professor, housekeeper and mother.


    1. Excellent article!

      To me the most important part is:

      “Here we find Enrique’s great dilemma. Be foolhardy and beg fate to spare Messi another injury? Or go down the potentially counter-productive route of limiting Messi’s influence?”

      Thankfully, this World Cup is proof enough that Messi could “mentally” get back to his old self again with Barca. But it’s largely a different scenario as well. Messi will play with reckless abandon because he knows that his legacy is largely dependent on his next few matches.

      For Barca the questions still linger. Will his body be able to take the grind of the next full season? Does asking him to do a lot more on the pitch help or hurt our team or Messi’s career.

      These are more questions of faith and physiology. His trainers know more about this than we do and still there can be no definitive answers.

    2. Very nicely outlined. It does also remind us that Messi indeed was not incompatible with Villa before the latter’s severe injury. Ibrahimovic? I’m sorry but that was mistake from the start (and I’m even Swedish!), unless Messi would be asked to put down the hard work Eto’o and Villa carried.

      Sanchez does carry this load, but the analysis suggests he is not as apt in the 9 position for Messi to play off. I don’t know. I seem to remember him doing well there during his first season (before HIS injury). Either way, we all seem to be in agreement that Messi needs to be part of the build up (again).

  1. Get us suarez,I mean….alexis is good but we expected him to explode like his udinese days,so far we haven’t seen it,only with chile. The guy works more on counter attacking teams like spurs,chelsea or even liverpool,but suarez can work more in a slower setup,remember his ajax days? There was a time he was compared to ronaldo remember?alexis is not a 100% threat like suarez,he goes missing in most of the big matches. Again we have enough wingers already and cuadrado could be added also.I think suarez will work,this is a new era,and i think lucho is iniciating this ”earn your place” method,just like bravo and ter stegen.

    1. Yes. A phantom scored the winning goal against RM, and is leading his World Cup national team through the tournament.

      I understand that people want to not rate a player. I get all of that. But Suarez? Clearly narratives have gone awry if you’re calling Suarez a “100% threat.” He isn’t. There was a lengthy period where he did nothing at all against teams that were top four in the Premiership table. If he was a “100% threat,” Liverpool might be Premiership champions.

      Culers inflate players who the club doesn’t have, and tears down the players that it does have. Meanwhile Precious Ones deteriorate right before our eyes, and nobody says a word. Xavi is done, Messi isn’t the player he once was (don’t let his goal totals fool you, as people say about the club’s record under Martino before it started plodding again) and Iniesta needs a new tack for his runs to nowhere.

      So when people want to REALLY discuss how to improve this club, it’s worth a discussion. Instead, it’s the same stuff, that Sanchez isn’t a “big match player,” etc. It doesn’t hold up.

      This doesn’t even get into the advocacy of this club buying a player who has suspensions for racism and multiple biting incidents in his past. Justify it all you like, but that notion, for me, is disgusting.

      But we have four months to contemplate such a folly, which is the length of Suarez’s suspension. Perhaps by then, his price will come down to something reasonable, then the only thing left to disgust me will be his very presence on the team, rather than how much the player cost.

    2. But it does hold up, doesn’t it? Just because Sanchez scored the winning goal in a league game vs Real, it doesn’t make him a big game player. Ibrahimovic too scored such a goal vs Real in 2009. Yet still he remains a choker.
      We had some pretty big CL matches in the three years he has been with the club. Sanchez scored in none of them. He has three goals and five assists in 24 European games, and at the age of almost-26 those are rather damning statistics. I mean, come now, name one game in three years where you could tell your friends afterwards, “Sanchez owned team X in that huge game yesterday.”

      I am in now way advocating signing Suarez. Hell no. But isn’t it time to accept the folly of signing Sanchez in the first place? We admitted with Fabregas. Why not Sanchez?
      Cash in a get it over with.

  2. For U.S. fans, how weird was it to be turned into a Madrista for about 25 minutes in the Portugal Ghana match. I resented how Ronaldo’s genius was kept in check by the constant bullying of the other team and came to think that Pepe was the most misunderstood and underrated CB in the world.

    Then, of course, the match was over and I came to my senses. I also knew that if Suarez came to Barca it wouldn’t be long before I would resent FIFA’s hypocritical suspension. But then again, do I want to turn into that person and have fans of other teams jeer cules for doing so?

    I have my team and my pride, and I don’t know why one has to come at the expense of the other so much these days.

    For these reasons, I urge the club to not:

    1) Embarrass me by letting Sanchez go for cheap.

    2) Get Suarez without a huge discount.

    1. I wouldn’t take Suarez on a free. Period. Maybe the club should include a contract clause that suggests the player not be paid during periods of suspension, which will be inevitable, as he is running one such incident a year.

      I can only repeat that I honestly canNOT believe anyone is advocating our club acquiring that player. Reckon it would be different had he bitten Messi or Iniesta. As it is, Chiellini is okay. He dives and whines anyhow, I reckon, so it’s okay.

      Might as well put in a bid for Pepe, while we’re at it. He’s a very high-quality CB, and Suarez will need a fellow maniac to hang with.

      Suarez needs help, not enabling. “Whatever you do is fine, as long as you keep scoring goals” is NOT the message that a club should be sending to a player who clearly has anger/impulse control problems.

      The only decision if this club signs him will be whether to turn in my soci card in disgust, or count the days when I can vote against the people who made that transfer happen.

    2. The problem with Pepe is that he did those things while wearing the RM shirt against us.

      And what he did when he kicked that Getafe player is much much worse than biting – you can actually seriously injure someone by kicking him with shoes with studs on the spine and the back of the head.

      I am signing Suarez if he is available for relatively cheap without a moment of hesitation and without any of the fake outrage I am seeing all over the internet. You get the best striker in the world, someone who is known to play with the passion and aggression we desperately need at the moment, and on top of that, he will have something to prove after this. His job is to score goals, not to be a saint and as long as he does his job I am fine with it (note that sitting out 4 months most definitely qualifies as “not doing his job” so that is unacceptable).

      P.S. Let’s do a thought experiment:

      It’s 1989 and I am telling you that Stoichkov has serious anger-management issues and something is going to happen if you sign him for the club. Something like stomping on a referee’s foot and getting a 8-game ban for that. Following your reasoning (assaulting the referee is just as bad as biting a defender’s shoulder) we should not have signed him (and it was known that he had such issues, there was a long history of such things prior to that). But would the Dream Team have been the same without him, and is the reputation of the club ruined 25 years later because he was part of the it? No, quite the opposite

    3. I would not sign Stoichkov. A club has to consider character in its signings. I also think you can’t compare stomping on a ref’s foot to a player with a history of transgressions. Long suspension for the Evra incident. Another long one for the Ivanovic bite. And now the Chiellini one. He either doesn’t learn, or can’t control himself. Either way, irrespective of one’s views on the morality of the club pursuing such a player, that behavior will cost the club.

      It also says, “As long as you score goals, it doesn’t matter what you do.”

      Messi, Neymar and Ronaldo take kicks, punches, get stepped on and take fouls of many kinds, all intended to put them off their game. They deal with that in the best possible way: by killing the other team with their ability. They don’t kick, or bite.

      This isn’t the first time Suarez has done this, and it won’t be the last. People won money betting on the fact that he was going to bite someone in this World Cup. It’s horrifying that you could place a bet on such a thing, but even more distressing that it was likely to come to pass.

      You can’t excuse it with passion, and “it’s not as bad as any other foul,” stuff that people are coming up with. For me, that stuff doesn’t hold water. I have been reading quite a lot on Suarez and his situation. I cannot find a single journalist writing about the sport who isn’t appalled. Same goes for commentators and other pundits.

      No, a collective shouldn’t shape one’s mind, but it does go to show the depth of the reaction, from a group that has seen a lot, pretty much everything.

      There is no possible argument that, for me, can be made for pursuing a transfer of that player. He will eventually hurt the team on the pitch, or in the dressing room. He’s had tantrums at Liverpool as well.

      He needs help, and now he has the time to get it.

      As far as Barça is concerned, no amount of goals is worth having a player with that kind of disciplinary record on the team, particularly at a time when things are delicate. There are young players coming up, in the first team and from the B team. Do we want them learning that you can behave pretty much any way you like, as long as you keep scoring goals?

      Not for me.

  3. Am not letting alexis’ charm get to me,suarez is a better player than alexis and having him on our team will be great,waiting season after season to let alexis click is exhausting for the team.Some people judge him cos he bites,but i’v never seen a player as loyal as he is towards his team.He is only hostile to opponents. Other team supporters ‘jeering’ us if buy him is pointless,he gets results.Drop him and you’ll see madrid pouncing on him like a mad dog.

    1. Judging from the reactions to the Madrid-based papers, which usually accurately reflect the view of the parent club, Suarez won’t be getting anywhere near RM. They are going to renew Benzema, as a matter of fact.

      If 21 goals and 15 assists is “exhausting” for the team, then people need an attitude check.

      “Some people” aren’t judging him because he bites. They are saying that he is a player who has anger and impulse control problems. He has forced Liverpool to, over the last few seasons, be without his services for dozens of matches. Even if he weren’t a time bomb, what would people say if he snapped in a Champions League knockout match, bit someone and reduced the team to 10? What would they say if Pepe pushed him over the edge, and he snapped and was suspended for 10 or more matches?

      I don’t care how loyal he is. Like any top player, he is loyal to his paycheck. Ajax, Liverpool, his next team. He will be loyal there, as well. Iniesta is loyal. Puyol is loyal. Xavi is loyal. They have their club in their heart, and would never, ever consider leaving it unless they could no longer help it. Messi is loyal, far more loyal than a player who could write his own ticket has an obligation to be.

      If Suarez were truly loyal to Liverpool, he would already have come out and said “These rumors are nonsense. My future is with Liverpool, and that’s that.” Instead he plays coy, like Fabregas with Arsenal and then us, dangling come and get me shoes over the edge of the precipice. That isn’t loyalty. That’s self-interest. And self-interest is fine. It just shouldn’t be mistaken for something other than what it is.

      Anyone who buys him will get 100 percent. They will also get a time bomb, and a public relations nightmare. The first is good, the latter two the club doesn’t need.

    2. while I agree he’s a great player, I think this whole “if we don’t get player X then RM will” is going to hurt barca a lot in the long run. it happened with ibra who blackmailed them by bluffing he’d go at RM, and it also spawned the whole neymargate. do we really want the team to keep spending unwisely just out of fear?

  4. Narrative One: Suarez for Alexis – In this case it’s a terrible deal. Alexis earned a spot next year, nor is Suarez going to necessarily be better. We already have a laundry list of unknowns for next year, lets keep a few aces in the hole of which, Alexis surely is one of them.

    Narrative Two: Suarez for a steal – Then I’m for it. He is mentally unstable, but 1. we probably all ought to be, 2. this can be fixed, 3. In the grand scheme of things it’s really not that bad.

    Most likely narrative: It’s not happening.

  5. I would rather Barca resign Ronaldinho, Marquez or Nolito than acquire Suarez in all true honesty.

  6. This talk about Suarez makes me think of a person buying a yacht while his house is on fire.

    It’s the defence that I’m concerned about. Sign two proper defenders (Hummels and Laporte for me–yes I have expensive tastes), then we’ll talk about everything else. As it is, I think we’ll end up with only Matthieu and call it the signing of the century.

  7. To me, it comes down to a question of morality and the greater of two evils. On the one hand, I would resent having Suarez play for Barca. On the other hand, I would hate to see Pepe and Perez win a treble next year.

    This ethical dilemma is, of course, perfectly illustrated in an Academy Award winning movie starring Jodie Foster as Agent Clarice Starling. She (i.e. Zubi) must decide whether to enlist the services of a captured insane serial murderer genius to catch another one. The result ends up being ambiguous in that they catch one serial murder and save the lives of many innocent women. In the end. however, they also end up with another serial murderer on the loose.

    So is another bite worth a La Liga trophy? That was, in essence, what agent Starling had to decide. The choice is also for each cule to ponder and ultimately hope that President Bartomeu, one of the greatest moralists of the 21st century, makes the same choice:

    Interesting note from IMBD: When Anthony Hopkins found out that he was cast as Hannibal Lecter based on his performance as Dr. Frederick Treves in The Elephant Man (1980) he questioned Jonathan Demme and said “But Dr. Treves was a good man.” To which Demme replied “So is Lecter, he is a good man too. Just trapped in an insane mind.”

  8. The board would be insane if they hired Suarez. Barcelona already has a dedicated luxury forward goal-scorer (messi). It’s the support act that needs to be strengthened. Further, if you’re spending 50 -60 mill, you want the complete package and Suarez ain’t there mentally. As mentioned above, imagine the distraction when he gets booted for biting, etc etc. No, no, no.
    Further, Suarez is not a better player than Alexis. Alexis showes for Chile just how great he is. Don’t downgrade him because he is prepared to work for the team and sacrifice his ego at Barca. That’s why, career-wise, it would be better for him if he left. He would be brilliant as the fantasy forward at liverpool.

  9. Everyone here tends to believe that Suarez snaps at any given moment like he’s programmed, I say you’re wrong, I think the media is Brainwashing us and it’s really clouding many judgment here.Alexis is a great player but this is a new era, if the club decides that he leaves then I’ll help him pass his bags.He scored 21goals yes, he plays better for Chile yes, why was he benched in the closing stages of the season? I guess it wasn’t because he was consistent..Alexis is no saint. like people portray him,he may have scored incredible goal against ATM and EE but that doesn’t mean he didn’t get his share of the flop. Work rate won’t win us anything, he works his ass off,in the end he blows more that he scores.There two Alexis: Alexis of Chile and Alexis of Barcelona, now the Chile Alexis is the better one and we are never gonna get our hands on that one. Am not saying Suarez is perfect but he better than Alexis. We can say whatever we like but the board makes the purchase and they’ve decided to go for Suarez case closed. like him or hate it’s pointless

  10. Personally I think that if he is available for a lower price, Suarez should be signed. If not him, then another real Point Striker. What I like about Suarez is that he has fire inside him. Can he be reformed? Absolutely. If Barcelona manages to do that, reform a black sheep like Suarez, it will be a symbol.

    We’ve been over and over and over again over this debate, but it’s interesting to note that even Messi said he works much better behind a striker.
    Neymar works much better in a free role with a reference striker to play off.
    Alexis has been transforming into an awesome snap-shooter, but the man is more of a ball-playing attacking midfielder or playmaker than a striker. He is fast and his instincts are razor-sharp, but the more I see of him, the more I think that him toeing the sideline is a wrong idea.

    I repeat myself, but those three could wreck havoc if they have a bit more space. I think about them in a free-flowing fluid formation with heaps of position-changing that could leave the opposing defence cross-eyed. As a matter of fact I wasn’t thinking about Suarez until a few days ago – I was actually thinking about Higuain. But if Suarez is available, then awesome. Just don’t sell Alexis.

  11. KEVINO reading an article written by an English tabloid on Suarez is like reading what writes about Barca. They have a biased opinion towards him kinda hatred thing

  12. I find it amusing when people talk about Sanchez as he plays for Chile or Udinese is different to him playing for us and then make no consideration about the fact that Suarez would have to adapt to playing for us.
    Yes, Suarez played for Ajax. I get that this should make it easier to adapt but it still doesn’t guarantee anything.
    He plays well with Liverpool, I know I know. Fernando Torres didn’t do badly at Liverpool either did he? Playing in oceans of space is much easier and while I believe that Suarez could adapt to us I also believe that people would be falling all over themselves if he got 20+ goals and 10+ assists next season. Alexis will also do that for no extra fee and no hassle.

    I’ve said plenty of times before that he is the perfect player for us in my opinion but I can’t ignore the problems that he comes with. I hate Pepe for what he does and while I don’t hate Suarez I can’t pretend that it doesn’t bother me. If he comes I’ll support him and hope that he controls himself.

    Someone above mentioned Stoichkov. It’s a funny one. I am a Barca fan because of Hristo Stoichkov. When I was young he was my favourite player by quite a distance. He was aggressive and had the most winning mentality of any player. Suarez has this mentality too but has a much longer track record of indiscretions than Hristo had. I don’t know.

    Assuming that the ban isn’t reduced and it looks unlikely to be, then we would be without him until the end of October and only then would he be allowed train with us. It would be after Christmas before we see any benefit of his transfer his fee would want to be reasonable enough as a 27, almost 28 year old and it won’t be reasonable, unless Liverpool go ahead and declare him for sale.

  13. According to Marca, Barca are still willing to sign Suarez if he first apologizes for the latest incident and then accepts an anti-biting clause in his contract… that is tragicomically hilarious.

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