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Category: General

A Brazilian Football Pilgrimage

Fabinhno makes keepie-uppie look insanely easy on Copacabana beach
Fabinhno on Copacabana playing keep-up
(courtesy Brazil Uncovered)

I came across Brazil Uncovered, a fantastic little blog by Doug Banks and Dan Osborne, a couple of days ago, and I’ve been enchanted reading the stories of their adventures ever since. This is how they describe their motivation for the trip:

We’re making a pilgrimage to Brazil to re-ignite our faith in football and rediscover just what made us passionate about the game in the first place. We’ll go to watch the players who can take your breath away with magical skill, meet the fans and try to find out just why it is that Brazilians live and breathe the beautiful game.

And what a trip that must have been — they find football wherever they go, and they report on it with an enthusiasm that belies the cynicism about the game than they express in the statement quoted above. I’d be willing to bet that the many people who are increasingly jaded by the antics of the professional game here in England would benefit from reading Brazil Uncovered too.

Stating the obvious

The head of the German football federation warned that stationing tanks around the stadiums at this year’s World Cup finals would destroy the friendly atmosphere the organisers want to create.

No kidding, Sherlock! :)

Quoted from a Yahoo Sports News article.

World Cup Trophy on tour

The Prize

It seems that FIFA are slowly cottoning on to our idea of an equivalent to the Olympic Torch for football. Two years ago, instead of being carried by athletes to the Olympic Games in Greece from, er, Greece, the torch made a tour of all the countries that had hosted the games. Well, this year, the World Cup trophy is being taken from country to country before it goes to Germany. It’s not just visiting the countries which have hosted the tournament, but the idea seems to be along the same lines…

For the first time in history, the inimitable FIFA World Cup Trophy will travel the globe in a whirlwind tour ahead of next summer’s festival of football. Neither the current trophy, designed and recently renovated by Italian sculptor and creator Silvio Gazzaniga, nor its predecessor the Jules Rimet Cup has ever before embarked on such an amazing journey.

Apparently there’s a 3D film that has been made to accompany the tour:

[The film,] exploring the almost mythical birth of the Trophy itself, will wow the audience with its tremendous effects and distilled football fever. From the heavens and molten beginnings, the Trophy emerges among the stars and is given a fictional ‘birth’ befitting its vaunted status in the real world.

Quotes come from the article The FIFA World Cup comes to the world on the FIFA website. No news on when it will reach London — but wouldn’t it be great if it coincided with the game in Battersea Park when The Ball begins its journey? The trophy will be in London on 23 March 2006, although no venue has been announced. The entire schedule can be found here

There is dough in Football

A loaf of bread made to look like a football
Use your loaf!

I always knew there was bread in football, but now there seems to be football in bread as well. Spotted this weekend in Hamburg.

Truce International

Seems like the project that Sven Goran Eriksson and Nancy Dell’Olio founded in 2002 has finally got itself a website. On it, they say:

“No matter where you go in the world, the language of football speaks for itself, transcending class, age, religious and gender barriers. High in the mountains on distant desert plains, on paradise beaches or arctic wastes — if you don’t speak the language you can always talk football.”

Sounds familiar…

Check it out at

Watch out!

According to the Independent, in an article titled Olympic Flame Hijacked by Anti-Capitalist Protesters:

“Eleanora Berlanda, the Italian 1,500 metres champion runner, was pounding the streets of the northern city of Trent bearing the torch when eight protesters, their faces hidden by scarves, burst through barriers along her route and grabbed at it.”

Click here to read the full article on the Common Dreams website

Hmm, I wonder what adventures await us…

An illustrated history of “The Ball”

The ball that we kick to the Opening Ceremony of the World Cup is always the official World Cup ball for that tournament. If we’d had the idea in 1974, these are the balls we’d have been kicking:

The Ball 1974: TELSTAR
According to FIFA, this was the first ball with 32 black and white panels to make it more visible on black and white television screens.

1978: TANGO
The Ball 1978: TANGO
Supposedly a more design representing “elegance, dynamism and passion”!

1982: TANGO
The Ball 1982: TANGO
This ball’s innovation was its waterproof design.

1986: AZTECA
The Ball 1986: AZTECA
The first synthetic match ball

The Ball 1990: ETRUSCO
The first ball with an internal layer of foam

The Ball 1994: QUESTRA
Designed to fly faster through the air

The Ball 1998: TRICOLORE
The first multi-coloured ball

The Ball 2002: FEVERNOVA
Radical restyling

The Ball 2006: TEAMGEIST
Apparently this is the most accurate ball to date — the seams on the official ball (not the replica pictured here) are flush to the surface and should cause less air turbulence as it flys

Globetrotter with Ball

Here’s another report, this time from the Thüringer Allgemeine (UPDATE: you can find the original German article here):

Globetrotter with football

The most attractive spin-off from next year’s world championship has got better still. Christian Wach, from England, proclaims the spirit of football and in Erfurt he met plenty of soulmates.

Instead of a diplomatic passport he has a football in his pocket. Instead of classy tweeds he wears baggy jeans and so is always up for a kickabout in the street. Christian Wach, from London, is an ambassador for football and this week presented his credentials to Erfurt’s privy council for world championship matters, the “Spirit of Football” association.

“I am a fan of football and not of any particular team,” he says, setting the record straight from the start. So: not one of England’s uncouth itinerant brawlers. Rather he’s a globetrotter in football matters and came on his fellow aficionados via their website, “” Hardly surprising: his website has the same name, apart from the hyphens.

“I shall be back for the big game”, he said yesterday, taking leave of his new friends. Meaning the 24-hour match on a specially created sand-pitch at Brühl which the Spirit of Football association hopes will be the high point of activity in Erfurt during the world championship.

In the meantime Christian Wach will be on his travels. In 2002 he made the long overland pilgrimage to that championship’s host country South Korea. The opening match in 2006 will likewise be the conclusion of a tour, a tour on which he — like the Erfurters — sees football first and foremost as the basis for friendship.

Four years ago he set up a match with Tibetan monks and kicked around with Uzbek children; this time Belgium and Switzerland are en route. He would like to play at Ypres, where in the First World War enemy soldiers took part in a historic match during a Christmas break in hostilities; and launch a friendly assault on FIFA’s headquarters in Zurich. Before he then moves to the opening game in Munich comes the match at Point Alpha: Spirit-of-Football v. spiritoffootball. Also early on his schedule is a making flying visit to London’s Hackney Marches where amateur players from 130 countries come together every weekend: exactly as per the Erfurt motto “Fans will be friends.”

Christian Wach, a multimedia specialist, turned his Korean trip into a film. It doesn’t just show the interview he gave to CNN in Seoul. We see him juggling in Red Square and kicking a ball over the Great Wall of China.

In Uzbekistan he made a detour to visit the grave of his grandfather. “He was born in America, my grandmother comes from Slovakia, and my mother from Germany. I’m just a human being.” It’s unlikely he will find traces of his forebears in Thuringia. His mother’s family hails from Mecklenburg.

Many thanks to John Taylor for the translation.

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“The Ball” on the Petersberg

Here’s a copy of some coverage that we (both Spirits of Football) were given recently in the Thüringer Landes Zeitung. Many thanks to John Taylor for a translation of the article. (UPDATE: you can find the original German article here)

“The Ball” on the Petersberg

At the Olympics it’s the blazing torch that’s carried across the world to its destination – for the world soccer championship it’s “the Ball” that’s kicked from Battersea Park, in London, to next year’s opening game in Munich. Kicked by football fans accompanying Christian Wach, from Bristol (UK), and by everyone, young or old, they meet en route.

Erfurters included: this coming year “the Ball” will dribble and bounce through Erfurt before coming to rest in Munich — for the fellow “Spirits of Football” from Erfurt and Bristol have joined forces. It’s both the name of Christian’s initiative — and the name of the Erfurt association set up by New Zealander Andrew Aris. He wants to make the capital a centre of sporting and cultural activity for the 2006 World Cup and, as reported in the TLZ, has secured prime minister Dieter Althaus as patron. Beach soccer and a beach cocktail bar to be built at Brühl are part of this — as is a 24-hour football marathon on the Petersberg with “the Ball” which should by then have arrived in Erfurt.

It will arrive covered in signatures, since all who join in can leave their mark on the leather, just like at the 2002 World Cup in Seoul. “Football knows no frontiers and is not bothered about borders, we play as ambassadors for international understanding”, says Christian explaining the idea behind his sporting enterprise.

In this spirit, “the Ball” travelled along the Great Wall of China in 2002 and was the focus of a friendly match with monks in Tibet who wore the shirt of their favourite team under their robes — and in 2006 is set to bridge the former German-German border at “Point Alpha,” between Hesse and Thuringia. “The wall and the frontier have gone as structures but not yet in the minds of men.” Christian and the footballers want to make a small contribution in this direction. And “in passing” offer proof in Germany that English fans are not all lager louts…

On a smaller scale football will bridge borders as early as tomorrow — in the Thüringerhalle on the initiative of Erfurt’s “Spirit of Football” activists. “Christmas 2005 — Fans into Friends” is the name of the sporting and cultural festival that runs from 4 to 11pm. Teams from Russia, Africa, Poland and Vietnam will try their skills against players from Rot-Weiss Erfurt, the Engelsburg Student Club and also the Thuringian Press Group (as reported in TLZ). A samba band is preparing an evening programme from 8pm on which also includes eastern dancing, a “buffet of cultures” with international specialities, and stalls at which clubs and associations with an international focus will present their work. The soccer victors will take their applause at 9pm, with Hartwig Gauder presenting the cups, and from 11pm there follows an after show party in the Engelsburg.

Info: Fans become Friends; tomorrow 4-11pm Thüringerhalle
Contact: (Erfurt) (Bristol)
Anette Elsner

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The Ball 2006

The Replica Ball 2006

Okay, so The Ball — or The Spirit of Football to give it its full title here on this site — has been unveiled. This is a replica of the mind-bogglingly expensive official ball, but anyway this is what it looks like, folks. Its name is Teamgeist, which translates as Team Spirit and makes me wonder if someone at adidas is coming round to our way of thinking… they’ve got the word “spirit” in it after all. Only another three words to get in there and it’ll have converged completely. Can’t wait to start kicking it!

The Ball 2018 left England on 25th March 2018 and travelled to the World Cup in Russia.

The Ball 2014 kicked off from England on 9th Jan 2014 and headed to the World Cup in Brazil.

The Ball 2010 left England on 24th Jan 2010 headed to the Opening Ceremony in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The Ball 2006 travelled from London to the Opening Ceremony in Munich, Germany.

The Ball 2002 was carried 7000 miles across Europe and Asia to the World Cup finals in Korea & Japan.