2018-08-12 (Sunday)

Today, I learned that:

Although the FIFA World Cup 2018 was really a joyful event, one of the best ever, it is once more evident that the slow pace of changes in the rules of the game are detrimental to the temper of many people. So, as I promised in my post of 2018-07-10, here are my 2 cents to make football an even better game:

A very welcome addition to this year’s edition of the World Cup was the introduction of the video assistant referees (VAR) , which made quite a few games more fair than before. Even though it could have been used more often to decide about the outcome of a certain play, it surely made some important contributions to the justice of the games. Here is one such event:

KOR-GER

While the TV image shows a replay of a questionable first Korean goal scored in the final game of group F between South Korea and Germany, the American referee Mark Greiger has been summoned by the FIFA VAR group to revise the play which would result in a Korean lead against Germany in the 93rd minute of the game. He had previously cancelled the goal due to an alleged offside, but the review made him change his decision and confirm the goal. As a consequence, the reigning champion Germany was sent home after the group matches. See also the official match report in reference #1 below .

So, if the referee of the match is the almighty responsible to judge the outcome, even though he might be shown otherwise and still not change his mind, since we now have VAR, why not institute a system just like in the noble sport of tennis?

Most people are probably unaware that in tennis,  the chair umpire, the person sitting in their high chair proclaiming the score etc., is not the ultimately responsible for the outcome of the game. The highest authority, the referee, is rarely seen by the public, but if the players cannot accept the chair umpire’s decision, then they can appeal to the referee, who then makes the final decision. The article in reference #2 describes very well the ruling system in tennis, if you are interested read it through thoroughly.

As you can see from the match report of reference #1, in total there were 11 officials present in the game. My suggestion is, that in cases where there is a fully functional VAR system installed and working during the game, to change the ultimate decision from the referee to the person named as VAR in the match report, i.e. the responsible VAR person of the four mentioned there, and give them the ultimate authority, just as is the case in tennis. If no VAR is present, then of course the referee will still be the ultimate authority of the game.

Another thing that bothers me and many others is the way the extra time (often also referred to as stoppage time) is awarded. At the end of each half of the football game, it is decided how many minutes should be awarded to compensate for interruptions during the game, a very arbitrary procedure. Look at reference #3 which analysed all the games during the group stage of FIFA World Cup 2018. As you can see there, of all the 32 matches analysed, only one game was compensated sufficiently, even overcompensated. It was the game between Germany and Sweden which was 12 s longer than expected. (Maybe as a result of that, Germany also scored the winning goal in the final seconds of the game!)

The worst example of lack of playing time was in the game between Belgium and Tunisia, which should have been compensated by 21 minutes, but only gained 7 minutes extra. The solution is very simple:

Do like in ice hockey, basketball, etc. Stop the watch when no playful activity is going on. Institute 2 halves of 30 minutes each of effective playing time instead of the current 45 minutes halves and the game will be much more dynamic and fair!

There are more things to suggest, such as a more flexible system of substituting players and other matters, but that I will leave that to a future post.

Sydney, Australia, Harbour Bridge during sunset

Harbour Bridge at sunset in Sydney, Australia

This photo is the first in a series of beautiful, highly defined photos from around the world. In the first round of photos, I will present some of the cities which have hosted the Olympic Games over the years. The first photo shows Sydney, the biggest city in Australia, host of the year 2000 Summer Olympic Games. The photo shows a view of one of its landmarks, the Sydney Harbour Bridge. More about Sydney, the Harbour Bridge and the 2000 Olympic Games can be found in references #4, #5, and #6 below.

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Match report Korea-Germany

2: Officials in tennis

3: We timed every game, World Cup stoppage time is wildly inaccurate.

4: Sydney

5: Sydney Harbour Bridge

6: 2000 Summer Olympic Games

*: What did you learn in school today ?

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2018-07-10 (Tuesday)

Today, I learned that:

While I was attending the fantastic course about masterpieces of world literature at edX earlier today, you know the big and very elaborate e-learning site for millions of students, one of its videos showed how Alexander the Great spread Greek culture to the countries he had conquered, about 300 years BC. In this particular video, what most attracted my attention was when one of the lecturers, Martin Puchner, on site in Ephesus, on the current Turkey’s western coast, showed the large amphitheater with seating for 25 000 people that the conqueror had erected there. References 1, 2, and 3 give more details about the course, the video in question and also about Ephesus.

Coincidentally, I and my family visited Ephesus exactly 10 years ago today, on 2008-07-10. Besides the photo below of the amphitheater, there are some more pictures I took from this historical site. When we visited it, only 25 % had been excavated so far, hopefully it is more now, because it is really interesting stuff to see and hear about.

efesus1

This ancient amphitheater in Ephesus was erected by Alexander the Great, in his program to spread Greek culture to the world. It holds 25 000 spectators. Photo taken on 2008-07-10.

efesus2-5

Pictures from the ancient city of Ephesus. Besides the amphitheater, the glorious library in the lower right is well known. All photos taken on 2008-07-10.

Later today, our modern day version of popular theater, sports, will see billions of people attending the first of the two semifinals in FIFA World Cup 2018. After the tournament is over, in my next post I will give you my opinion about what needs to be done to improve football further, to make it even more dynamic and joyful.

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Masterpieces of World Literature

2: Alexander and the Dissemination of Greek Culture

3: Ephesus

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2018-06-23 (Midsommardagen)

Today, I learned that:

In the midst of the World Championships in football, which takes place in Russia, today is scheduled the game between Sweden and Germany. If we include the games played between the two countries when the biggest German nation was West Germany, this will be the 37th time the countries meet on the football ground, and the 7th time in official games, such as Olympic Games, World Championships or European Championships.

The last time Sweden beat Germany in an official game was in the World Cup 1958, held in Sweden. Tomorrow, we celebrate that exactly 60 years have gone since that game. For Swedes, it is a game to remember forever, not only because Sweden won the match and advanced to the final game, but also because of the marvellous goal made by the Swedish right wing player, Kurt Hamrin, in the last minute of the game. See reference # 1 for more about that World Cup and reference # 2 for a video clip of Hamrin’s feat.

Kurre

Two photos from Kurt Hamrin’s legendary slalom run against Germany in 1958, see the whole video sequence in reference # 2 below.

At the time of writing this post, the current leader in the chase for the Golden Boot, which is awarded to the player who scores most goals in the World Cup, is the Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. Implicitly, he is also the main character in today’s photo. It was taken on 2017-06-07 in the Latvian capital of Riga and shows football fans waiting outside Hotel Radisson Blu Latvija to catch a glimpse (and an autograph?) of the Portuguese squad, and of Ronaldo in particular. Thus the number of fans using shirt # 7! (Two days later, in a qualifying match for the 2018 World Cup, Portugal beat Latvia with 3-0, with two goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo. More about that game can be found in reference #3 below.)

CR7

Football fans outside Hotel Radisson Blu Latvija in Riga waiting to get a glimpse of the Portuguese squad, in particular jersey # 7, the superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, thus the multitude of fans wearing that shirt. This photo was taken on 2017-06-07, two days before the World Cup qualification game Latvia vs Portugal two days later. The result of the match was no surprise, Portugal won by 3-0, Ronaldo made two goals.

But since we are in Latvia now, we should remember that the three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) are celebrating their 100 years of the first independent from Russia, which happened at the end of World War I, in 1917-1918, just like Finland, see my post of 2017-12-06. If you became interested in knowing more about the Baltic states, see reference # 4 below. Reference # 5 is an interesting article from the Finnish Broadcasting Co. (in Swedish) about the activities there during this year of celebration.

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: 1958 FIFA World Cup

2: Kurt Hamrin scores 3-1 against Germany on June 24, 1958

3: Latvia-Portugal on 2017-06-09

4: Baltic states

5: Baltikum minns hundra år av självständighet

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2018-06-12 (Dias dos namorados)

Idag lärde jag mig, att:

I Brasilien firar vi idag ‘Dia dos namorados’, i översättning ungefär ”älsklingarnas dag’, alltså den brasilianska varianten av Alla hjärtans dag. I USA och Sverige firas ju denna kommersiella dag den 14 februari, men när affärsmannen João Doria i slutet av 1940-talet föreslog att den skulle införas också i Brasilien, så valde han den 12 juni. Orsaken till det var att imorgon den 13 juni är det Sankt Antonios dag, som är är känd som bröllopsparens skyddshelgon. Kommersen är likadan som i andra länder med hjärtan i olika storlekar, chokladaskar mm. I referenserna nummer 1 och 2 nedan kan du läsa mer om Dia dos namorados (på portugisiska) och Alla hjärtans dag (på svenska) och deras historia.

Apropå det så tänkte jag på några svenska ord i sammanhanget. De äldre uttrycken käraste och käresta är intressanta eftersom de inte bara byter ut den normala sista vokalen e (för män) och a (för kvinnor), utan använder också motsatt vokal i mitten på ordet. Men dessutom kan ju en tjej kalla sin favoritkille för det dubbla min käraste käraste, medan det motsatta bara blir min käraste käresta. På det fältet är kvinnorna före männen!

Fjäril

Den vackra brandgula fjärilen gömmer sig i busken bland dess röda blommor, foto taget 2018-06-07

Och dagen till ära är ovanstående bilds ledfigur en fjäril, i buskens högerkant. Om någon kan tala om för mig dess namn blir jag mycket tacksam.

Jag avslutar dagens inlägg med fyra bilder från Brasilien, två dagar innan fotbolls-VM 2018 inleds:

Copa18

Även om intresset i allmänhet inte är lika stort som det var vid tidigare fotbollsvärldsmästerskap så försöker affärerna att övertyga konsumenterna med olika kampanjer. Den store stjärnan Neymar Jr (längst till vänster) gör reklam för kaffe och erbjuder de olika tröjor han har använt i sin karriär medan ett varuhus tycker att brasilianarna ska glömma den förödmjukande förlusten mot Tyskland med 7-1 i hemma-VM 2014 och se på VM 2018 med en ny TV-apparat (längst till höger) som inte visat de bilderna. De båda mittbilderna visar intresset att byta bilder på sina idoler, genom användning av både trottoaren framför och utrymmet inne på apoteket. Foton tagna i månadsskiftet april-maj 2018.

(This post is entirely in Swedish, dealing with mainly the Brazilian variant of Valentine’s day, commemorated on June 12.  Also some pictures showing how Brazil is preparing for the World Cup 2018 in football, held in Russia.)

Tack för idag, slut för idag!

Refs.:

1: Dia dos namorados

2: Alla hjärtans dag

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2018-04-15 (Guldkantad söndag)

Today, I learned that:

On the Northern hemisphere there is spring in the air, finally after a harsh winter. And in Sweden, one of the traditions at this time of the year is that schoolchildren from all over the country sell a miniature flower, called Majblomman (“Mayflower”), with the proceeds being used to help children in need. This year’s flower is the one you can see in the header photo, a beautiful work of art with black and golden petals surrounding a mother of pearls. The creator, 13-year old Elina Hall, was inspired by a bumblebee. In the following image are all Majblommor sold since it all began, back in 1907. In reference #1 is an English translation by Google of an interesting page from Majblomman’s home page.

MB_Blomkort_2018

A collection of Majblommor, starting in 1907 and updated most recently with the beautiful bumblebee inspiration of 2018. Photo by Majblomman.

And exactly today, the same colours are so true to also reflect the outcome of the Swedish first division football derby between AIK and Djurgården, won by the former squad, with the nickname of ‘de guldkantade’, which means “the golden cuffed”. I wanted to tease a friend of mine who is a fan of the opponents and she hinted me (thanks Lady Godiva) about Majblomman. Could it be a coincidence? I do not think so, 2018 is going to be the year when AIK wins the Swedish championships once more! If you want to know more about my team, read my post from 2016-02-15, when the sports club celebrated its 125th anniversary.

That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Majblomman in English

*: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-06-27 (Mánudagur)

Today, I learned that:

According to hot news from Nice, the European Union has decided to accept Iceland as a new member state, replacing Great Britain, as a consequence of the result of today’s play-off game. Full coverage can be found in reference #1 below.

Stokkur

The geysir Stokkur, which erupts every 9 minutes, photographed on 2009-08-05.

… That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: England vs. Iceland 1-2

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-03-25 (Friday)

Today, I learned that:

The world of football is in mourning, the carousel master Johann Cruyff died yesterday. I was fortunate to see him in action on top of his career. My colleague Christer and I decided to test the Interrail pass (see reference # 1 below) during the summer vacations of 1974. We set out from Malmö on June 15, via Copenhagen, Hamburg (where we got involved in a traffic accident) and Amsterdam, and on June 19, there we were in Dortmund in the Ruhr gebiet. It is definitely one of the best beer cities in the whole world, which we could confirm personally, and in the evening we headed for Westfalenstadion, to assist the second round of group 3 in the FIFA World Cup, Sweden vs. the Netherlands.

The Dutch team had defeated Uruguay by 2-0 in the first round, while Sweden and Bulgaria ended in a draw, 0-0. So the Dutch were of course big favorites to win the match, and the only thing they did not do in the game was to score, in spite of all good passes and tricks delivered by their captain Johann Cruyff and his mates. Luckily for Sweden, the Swedish goal keeper was Ronnie Hellström, who was a virtual wall between the goal posts, so the match ended with another 0-0 draw. The match report can be seen in reference # 2 below. Holland ended up as vice champions of the tournament, Sweden were number five and Ronnie Hellström was elected the best goal keeper of the World Cup, which led to that he was hired by the German Bundesliga team Kaiserslautern, which he defended for 10 consecutive years.

waffles

Swedish waffles with fresh raspberries and whipped cream. The recipe (in Swedish) can be found on http://www.arla.se/recept/vafflor/

If you live in Sweden, maybe you have had your share of waffles today, since March 25 is nick-named “waffle day”. So why is that? The reason is semantic and has its origin in the following legend: The Feast of the Annunciation, contemporarily the Solemnity of the Annunciation, commemorates the visit of the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary, during which he informed her that she would be the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In Swedish, the official name of today is therefore “Jungfru Marie Bebådelsedag”, but since she is also named “Vår Fru” (literally Our Lady), the day is also named “Vårfrudagen”, which easily can be pronounced as “Våffeldagen” (i.e. Waffle Day). More information (in Swedish) can be found in reference # 3 below.

… That’s what I learned in school !

Refs.:

1: Interrail

2: 1974 FIFA World Cup Germany™ – Netherlands-Sweden

3: Vårfrudagen (Våffeldagen) | Nordiska museet

+: What did you learn in school today ?

2016-02-11 (Thursday)

Today, I learned once more that:

LeBron James2

LeBron James and Miami Heat playing Phoenix Suns in Arizona on February 11, 2014. Photo by Lena Rapp

How wonderful it is to see an elite athlete in action. The photo above  is a very good example of that. It depicts one of the very best basketball players in the world, LeBron James. Though currently playing in Cleveland Cavaliers, this photo was taken exactly two years ago, 2014-02-11, when his Miami Heat played Phoenix Suns in Arizona. LeBron made 37 points, thus being once more the main reason why his team won the game, 103-97. Miami ended up second in the NBA championship that year. My sincere thanks to Lena who shared her eyewitness photo with us. In the following I am going to discuss another aspect of that photo.

Although I am not particularly fond of the American way of living, I must admit that when it comes to sports, there is hardly a place where sports are taken so seriously, probably due to the huge amounts of money involved. As an example, last Sunday, there was the Super Bowl final, where Denver Broncos, against all ods, once more could raise the trophy. And once more, the number of people who watched the game on TV was record high. In fact, the last three years of Super Bowl have all reached more than 110 million American viewers on TV. It is the moment when TV commercials cost more to show than during any other program during the year.

Now back to the basketball photo above. As you can see, Miami Heat is using a black uniform, since they are playing away from home. When they play at home in Miami, their uniform is totally white. And from what I can understand, it is the same thing for other NBA teams, one uniform when playing at home and another one when playing away. In fact, I believe that such a rule applies to most, if not all,  of the professional team sports in USA. In Europe, it is different, a team tries to use its main uniform as much as possible, be it at home or away, and normally only using an alternatively coloured uniform in order to avoid being confused with the opponents.

Yet another difference is that in USA, it is always the time left of the game (or half, period, etc.) that is mentioned, not how long time has gone since the start. Compare North American icehockey with European icehockey in that sense.

Another interesting point is how the Americans name the order of the two teams in a game, always starting with the visiting team, and finishing with the home team. So for instance the NBA game above, in USA it is written Miami Heat vs. Phoenix Suns. In Europe, it is always the home team that is mentioned first.

So which is the favourite sport of an American in general? Of course, it varies according to region, age, etc., but how anyone can be a fan of such a dull sport as baseball is difficult to understand. I asked that question to an American friend once, and his sincere answer was: Of course it is dull and slow and so on, but it is perfect for me and my friends to go watch a game, bring a six-pack of beers, chit-chat about the important things in life and still not miss anything that happens in a game!

I still remember the first time I went to USA, in 1977. My host family said that the most popular sports among college girls was football, not American “football”, but what Europeans call football. And we have seen the results, the US female national teams have won many World Championships and Olympic Games in football (or “soccer” as they call it). To that I would like to add one more opinion about football. In 1995, Dan McCarthy, President of the electronics company Conceptronic, said that he used to train junior football teams on his spare time, and according to him it was the best of all the five major sports (American football, baseball, basketball, icehockey and football), because it was the only one that really permitted that the players took their own initiative, not being so tied up by the coach’s tactics in the other sports.

… That’s what I learned in school!

Refs.:

1: Miami Heat at Phoenix Suns 02/14/2014

+: What did you learn in school today ?