The Observer offers this enjoyable Dave Eggers essay on Americans and soccer, which comes from a forthcoming book called The Thinking Fan’s Guide to the World Cup (Abacus). I particularly enjoyed this riff on the sport’s “penalty-fakers”:
But diving in soccer is a problem. It is essentially a combination of acting, lying, begging and cheating, an unappealing mix. The theatricality of diving is distasteful, as is the slow-motion way the chicanery unfolds. First there will be some incidental contact, and then there will be a long moment – enough to allow you to go and wash the car and return – after the contact and before the diver decides to go down. When you’ve returned from washing the car and around the time you’re making yourself a mini-bagel grilled cheese, the diver will be leaping forward, his mouth Munch-wide and oval, bracing himself for contact with the pitch. But this is just the beginning. Go and do the grocery shopping and perhaps open a new account at the bank, and when you return, our diver will still be on the ground, holding his shin, his head thrown back in mock-agony. It’s disgusting, all of it, particularly because, just as all of this fakery takes a good deal of time and melodrama to put over, the next step is so fast that special cameras are needed to capture it. Once the referees have decided either to issue a penalty or not to our Fakey McChumpland, he will jump up, suddenly and spectacular uninjured - excelsior! - and will kick the ball over to his team-mate and move on.