Where to watch soccer in America like you’re overseas

The Champions League concludes in May and the World Cup begins in June, making the early summer months the best times to access global soccer coverage. If you don’t have the right cable packages or simply want to take in as much soccer as possible, find a Fado or Tigin Irish Pub near you. These establishments are built around soccer and provide diehard American soccer fans with an enjoyable social atmosphere.

The first Fado Irish Pub opened in Atlanta in 1996 to serve a small community of English Premiere League fans in America. Since then, several other locations have opened around the United States and are gearing up for the most important dates on the world soccer schedule. A recent announcement from Fado said bars around the country will offer specials and live viewing of all 64 World Cup matches between June 12–July 13:

Soccer is the world’s most popular sport and this year, American sports fans are going to join the world’s largest sports audience in record numbers June 12 – July 13. There is, however, a distinction among soccer fans this World Cup over previous tournaments. Real fans watch the biggest soccer tournament in the world in a social atmosphere befitting the beautiful game. And, American soccer bars—once a small niche—will be ready to serve them in a big way.

Find a complete listing of Fado Irish Pubs on its website. (For some reason, the website doesn’t list its new Chinatown, New York location, but press releases acknowledge its existence.) To read more about the football festivities at Fado Irish Pubs across the country, click here



Violent soccer culture overshadows Juventus’ Scudetto

When it comes to sports in America, violent outbreaks are rare. Fans get a little rowdy in the stands, sure, but all-out brawls and even stabbings are infrequent occurrences in the stands.

It’s a different story in Italy, and  Paolo Bandini of the Guardian’s Talking Sport blog writes that recent fan violence overshadows Juventus’ third-straight Serie A triumph

No controversy directly involves Juve; it stems from the Coppa Italia final played Saturday, the day before Roma dropped a 4-1 decision to Catania that allowed Juve to clinch the league’s top spot. Saturday in Rome, an altercation involving Napoli and Fiorentina “ultras” – the term used to describe extreme fans who frequently resort to violences, threats and racist chants when showing support for their favorite clubs – resulted in gun shots and a wounded man. 

The man, 27-year-old Ciro Esposito, was a Napoli fan, and other Napoli supporters demanded the match be postponed in quake of rumors the victim had died outside the stadium. The game was played, but the impact of the gunshot on Serie A’s landscape resounds as Juve celebrates its championship:

The damage was already done. Rightly or wrongly, the lasting image of Saturday’s game was that of an angry ultra – one who has already served one five-year stadium ban for previous misdemeanours – putting his demands to a team captain.

“Ultras” have diseased soccer in Italy and other countries for quite sometime, but these extreme fans don’t live and die by their teams success. Typically, “ultras” have an agenda that is politically or socially charged. The blog Regista posted a detailed analysis of Italy’s various “ultra” groups in 2011, and much of the content of the article still rings true:

It’s immediately apparent that UltraS are interested in issues more significant than football, but due to their marginalised status, they choose the football stadium as the platform for spreading their views.

The authors of the post on Regista believe Italy’s recent fall from grace in European cup play is attributed to ultras in some way, and that in order for Serie A to regain its place among the top three leagues in the world, these supporters must be silenced.

Read the Guardian’s recap of the Coppa Italia violence and the Regista’s breakdown of “ultras” in Italy




Serie A falls in UEFA league power rankings

Credibility is earned in league play. Prestige and staying power is earned through success in European tournaments.

If that’s the current status of European soccer, then Serie A lacks the latter. While the race for the Scudetto was move competitive this year than in the past two seasons, no Italian teams fared well in Champions League competition. Of the three Serie A clubs that qualified, only Milan (which currently sits in eighth in the Serie A table) made it through to the knockout stages. Both Juventus and Napoli failed to pass through the group stage and joined Fiorentina in the Europa League, the equivalent of what the NIT is to the NCAA Tournament in Europe.

Milan was eliminated in the Round of 16 in the Champions League, and Juve advanced as far as the Semi-Final of the Europa League. But with no teams competing for a European title, Serie A’s standing in the UEFA league rankings has begun to falter.

Serie A dropped from fourth to fifth among all European leagues last week, according to UEFA, which serves as the governing body of European soccer. Though Italian teams struggled in European tournaments, Serie A held on to the fourth spot until Juventus was eliminated from the Europa League semis by Benfica, the recently crowned champion of Portugal’s top league. Now, Ben Gladwell of ESPN FC reports Serie A holds fifith place in the UEFA ranking:

Thanks to reaching their second straight Europa League final by virtue of a 2-1 aggregate win over the Bianconeri, Benfica helped Portugal rise above Italy to fourth in the rankings.

Although that does not mean any change in the allocation of berths in Europe for the next two seasons at least, it is nevertheless a further blow to Italian football, above and beyond Juve’s elimination.

Gladwell writes that this is the lowest Serie A has been ranked in the last 30 years, but in the 1990s, the Italian league returned to the top of the same chart — and even sported some champions of Europe in the process.

Read more about the updated UEFA league rankings on ESPN FC.


ESPN has the food for starving American soccer fans

With the 2014 World Cup slated to start in Brazil in about a month, ESPN held a press event in New York this weekend to promote its coverage of the largest soccer tournament in the world. The self-proclaimed worldwide leader in sports only owns the rights to broadcast the World Cup in the United States for one more tournament, as Fox Sports obtained the broadcast rights to the World Cup in 2018 and 2022. With that in mind, ESPN’s President John Skipper made it clear the network wants to make the 2014 World Cup a memorable one, not because of its champion or ongoing turmoil in the host nation, but because of how fans in America viewed it.

ESPN will broadcast every match in multiple languages across multiple platforms, including radio and online, and will devote significant amounts of its programing schedule to soccer-related content, according to Steve Lepore’s reaction to the press event on Awful Announcing. That’s because, as Skipper put it, an ESPN poll revealed soccer is the second most popular sport to watch:

ESPN will cover the World Cup like never before in this country, both before and after all 64 matches. Every night, live from the network’s base camp in Rio De Janeiro, they will air a 90-minute studio wrap-up show. While half of it will be traditional studio fare, the other half will be a dressed down, conversational show between both studio and game talent, just based on who’s available at that time.

With only one more chance to deliver the World Cup to an American audience, Skipper said ESPN’s plans for the 2014 World Cup could blow away fans who were impressed with the coverage of the 2010 tournament. If the level of competition is high as well, Fox Sports could have big shoes to fill when its contract begins in four years.

Read more about ESPN’s elaborate plans to broadcast the World Cup like never before. Additionally, check out the Telegraph’s videos that show the ongoing violence in Brazil.


Thirty and two too many? Juve’s Scudetto debate continues

After Roma’s 4-1 loss to Catania today, Juventus claimed its 32nd Serie A title in club history; however, some parties in Italy — including the league itself — say the Old Lady of Turin has just won its 30th Scudetto. In fact, it wasn’t long ago that the storied Juventus franchise was embezzled in scandal and relegated to Serie B, the equivalent of the minor leagues of Italian soccer.

In 2005 and 2006, Juventus was accused of participating in a match-fixing scandal called “Calciopoli” that involved several of Serie A’s top clubs hiring specific referees to officiate matches. Juve won back-to-back titles during the span of the scandal, and Serie A officials stripped the club of those two crowns and then relegated it. (Ironically, Italy won the World Cup at the end of the scandal.) Juve’s return to dominance in Italian soccer began in the 2011-12 season with its first of three-straight league titles and is due in part to the fact that many of the team’s top players at the time of “Calciopoli,” including goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, stayed with the team during its lone season in Serie B.

The club has deemed its most recent championship as its 32nd title on the team website, but based on Serie A history, it is only the clubs 30th title. When this debate was brought up after Juve’s championship last season, Matteo Bonetti of Bleacher Report summarized the aftermath of “Calciopoli” and how no Juve triumph will ever be celebrated without controversy:

Even though the most reputable Italian papers all congratulate Juventus on their 29 titles, Juventus fans defiantly hung up a giant banner proudly exclaiming the No. 31. The players even started chanting it and every celebratory garb handed out also had that number pasted on it visible for all to see. It’s unfortunate that yet another fantastic season by La Vecchia Signora has to be slightly overshadowed by this conflict, which is really just a crude reminder of the ashes of Calciopoli.

It’s a tradition in European soccer to sport gold stars over a team crest on jerseys to represent the number of league championships the club has won. Each star represents 10 titles. Instead of adding a third star to its uniform after the 2011-12 season, the club adopted the motto “30 sul campo,” which translates to “30 won on the pitch” and appeared below the crest. This season, Juve’s uniforms do not include a similar motto or the traditional stars. Now that the team has officially won 30 league titles, the club may choose to incorporate three stars above its crest during the 2014-15 season.

Read about Juventus’ most recent championship on Goal.com, and why Bonetti of Bleacher Report believes “Calciopoli” will never go away as so long as Juventus continues to uphold the titles it was striped of nearly a decade ago.


Juventus players, coaches, front office celebrate third-straight title

Image Courtesy Juventus FC and juventus.com

Image Courtesy Juventus FC and juventus.com

With Juventus off until tomorrow, this Sunday certainly did not have the feel of a championship Sunday in Serie A. That changed when Catania began to pull away from Roma in a 4-1 victory, giving Juve an insurmountable stranglehold on the league’s points race.

Juventus celebrated its 32nd Scudetto today in a hotel, not on the pitch, but that apparently didn’t diminish the players’ excitement. The club immediately began posting press releases to the team’s official website, including one story that eloquently sums up the team’s 32nd league title and adds some significance to the numbers 3 and 32:

The record-breaking feats of Antonio Conte’s Juventus take their rightful place in Italian football’s hall of fame. And not just for an achievement managed by only four teams in almost a century of Serie A history.

In one season the Bianconeri have relentlessly smashed record after record: 30 masterful victories, including 17 in a row at home, where we are unbeaten, and 12 consecutive wins in Serie A, including eight clean sheets – all in a row.

Several Juve players also sounded off today. Click the links to read reactions from team captain Gianluigi Buffon, top striker Carlos Tevez and team CEO Beppe Marotta. Click here to read the organization’s official remarks after clinching the league title today, or view a video of the team’s celebration.



Comfortably Champions: Juventus wins Scudetto in hotel lobby

For the 32nd time in in Juventus’ 117 year history — and for the third time in three seasons —  the club is champion of Serie A. But this title is unique from other previous crowns, and foreseeable any other title that will be award in the sports world this year.

This year, Juventus won the Scudetto on a day they didn’t play a match.

In a surprise occurrence, Catania upset second-ranked Roma 4-1 today, thus giving Juventus an eight-point lead in the Serie A table with only two match days remaining. Juve was not in action because it faces Atalanta tomorrow, but it now has an insurmountable points lead and will therefore be awarded the Scudetto at its next home match. (To put this in American context, Juventus is playing in the equivalent of a Monday Night Football match while all the other clubs play on Sunday. That’s how Juve won the title without playing.)

In light of Juve earning the crown, Jack Sargeant of of SB Nation recapped Juve’s third-straight championship season:

There’s no doubt that it’s a deserved title for Juventus, who, even despite Roma’s rise up the ranks, were always a cut above their competitors. The breakthrough of Paul Pogba, a shrewd summer signing of Carlos Tévez and crucial retention of Arturo Vidal has ensured they’ve managed to once again achieve an unparalleled level of domestic consistency, losing only twice all season.

There is no true postseason in Serie A, though there are tournaments in Italy during the offseason. The regular season title is the crown jewel. Interestingly enough, Roma and Juve still play each other May 9, meaning Roma could potentially dominate the league champs in its next match.

Doesn’t that mean a playoff system is necessary? That’s a discussion for another time. What’s more prevelant now is determining exactly how many titles Juventus has officially won in its history. Keep an eye out for a post detailing the club’s rocky history and magnificent recent turnaround.

Read a recap of Roma’s decisive loss on India Express and Juve’s fortunate triumph on SB Nation.