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Figo, Luis

Luis Figo

1972-

Portuguese soccer player

Luis Figo, a World Footballer of the Year, was in such demand that he was sold from FC Barcelona to Real Madrid of Spain's elite soccer league for $56 million in 2000. In his native Portugal, Figo has been compared to the great Eusebio.

Raised in Lisbon

Figo was born in the blue-collar Almada section of Lisbon, Portugal, and after competing for the youth team Uniao Futebol Clube Os Pastilhas, joined the club Sporting Lisbon at age 11. He made his debut for Lisbon's parent soccer club at age 16 and played for world champion national teams in the under-16 and under-20 age categories He made the national squad in 1991, thus earning his first international cap.

He became Lisbon's captain for the 1994-95 season, then signed provisional contracts with Italian Serie A teams Juventis and Parma. But FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association), the world soccer governing body, banned Figo from playing in Italy for two years, so the rising star signed with Barcelona of the Spanish league. Barcelona coach Johan Cruyff, himself a former World Cup star for the Dutch, converted Figo from a midfielder to a right wing. Figo and Barcelona prospered together. Between 1997 and 1999, Barcelona won the Cup Winners' Cup and the European Super Cup, consecutive Spanish league titles and

the Spanish Cup. Figo scored 30 goals in 172 games for Barcelona.

Though Portugal missed the 1998 World Cup, Figo's stock rose. He earned the Ballon D'Or (Golden Ball) Award from France Football in 2000 and a year later received the FIFA World Player award. His spectacular goal during Portugal's 3-2 comeback victory over England in the Euro 2000 tournament drew special notice. "Figo's run and long-range rocket into the top corner of the net was both spectacular and match-turning. Portugal appeared out of the match at 2-0 down when he struck," CNN-Sports Illustrated wrote on its Web site.

"A wide-ranging player who is happiest on the flanks, Figo has pace, stamina, strength, excellent close control and a deadly shot," wrote Mike Penner and Grahame Jones of the Los Angeles Times. "Add to that exceptional dribbling skills and a crossing ability that puts him on a par with England's David Beckham , and you have the complete player, one equally at home as a forward, playmaker or winger."

Controversy over Transfer Fees

By 2001, however, Figo was playing not for Barcelona, but for Spanish league rival Real Madrid. In late 2000, Figo signed a six-year contract with Madrid, which agreed to pay Figo $4 million a year, and Madrid agreed to buy out his contract by paying Barcelona a world record $56 million. In joining Madrid, Figo broke a promise that he would never leave Barcelona.

"The battle was as bitter and passionate as any Cup final," Jennie James wrote in Time Europe. "But if the accusation of treason and the veiled threats of revenge that followed Figo's defection seemed excessive, they were trifling compared to the price Real Madrid paid for him." The size of the fees, and their degree of legality have sparked political and legal debate around Europe. "In one of the most politically and emotionally charged debates ranging in Brussels, the European Commission and the soccer establishment are fighting over how much European antitrust and labor laws should apply to this sport," Philip Shishkin wrote in the Wall Street Journal. The record lasted but briefly. Real Madrid executive Florentino Perez, one year later, lured former French 1998 World Cup hero Zinedine Zidane from Juventus for $64.45 million.

World Cup Frustration

Portugal qualified for the World Cup in 2002, having advanced past the preliminaries for the first time in 16 years. The Portuguese were considered a serious contender, despite having to play the early round in Group D with host nation South Korea. The United States and Poland, each considered decided underdogs, were also in the group.

"Take a poll of the United States players and ask them which single player they are most worried about facing in the World Cup and the answer is unanimous: Luis Figo," said Los Angeles Times writers Mike Penner and Grahame Jones. "As reigning FIFA world player of the year and soccer's second-most expensive player of all time behind Zindedine Zidane, Figo is to Portugal what Zidane is to France. In a word, indispensable. If anyone can lead the Portuguese to the world championship they so desperately desire, it's the 29-year-old millionaire from a working-class suburb of Lisbon." Figo had helped real Madrid win the European Champions Cup in May, 2002.

Portugal, however, ran into a roadblock in its opening game when the U.S. bolted to a stunning 3-0 lead and held on for a 3-2 upset win. The Americans, wrote the Associated Press, "held under intense pressure from Portugal in the final 10 minutes of the first half and the first 40 minutes of the second, withstanding Luis Figo, the world's top player, and his talented teammates. The result was among the five greatest wins in U.S. soccer history." By contrast, the AP added, "the Portuguese looked as if they were playing with the weight of their shoulders." Portugal never recovered from the loss. It defeated Poland 4-0 but lost to South Korea 1-0 and went home.

Chronology

1972 Born November 4 in Almada, Portugal
1989 First played for Sporting Lisbon, at age 16
1991-92 Made Lisbon's starting lineup
1995 Signs provisional contracts with Italian teams Juventus and Parma, but FIFA bans him from playing in Italy for two years; signs instead with FC Barcelona
1995 Barcelona coach Johan Cruyff converts him from midfielder to right wing
2000 Registers only one assist in three games as Portugal drops two, including 3-2 defeat to United States, and fails to advance in World Cup
2001 Marries model Helen Swedin

Awards and Accomplishments

1989 Plays for Portuguese world champion under-16 team
1991 Plays for Portuguese world champion under-20 team
1996 Helps Portugal reach quarterfinals of European championships
2000 Helps lead Portugal to semifinals of European championships
2000 Wins Ballon D'Or (Golden Ball) Award
2001 World Footballer of the Year
2002 Real Madrid wins European Champions Cup

National Treasure

Figo, who is married to model Helen Swedin and has one child, is revered in his native Portugal. FIFA President Joseph Blatter, presenting the Footballer of the Year award in 2001, called him "the most unbelievable player from Portugal ever since the legendary Eusebio; he has the touch of an artist and the skills to be the most complete player ever." Still, Figo is past 30. In Real Madrid's 2-1 victory over Bayer Leverkusen of Germany for the 2002 European Champions Cup, he was substituted in the 61st minute (a regulation soccer game is 90 minutes) while Zidane and Spaniard Raul Gonzalez (generally known by first-name only) carried Madrid. Figo has learned to adjust, as have other aging stars. And, Phil Ball writes in ESPN's Soccernet Web site that he is prone to taking dives, in an attempt to draw foul calls from officials. "Great player though he is," Ball writes, "(He) continues to perfect the art of the balletic fall as if it were going out of fashion."

FURTHER INFORMATION

Periodicals

Shishkin, Philip. "Europe Faces Soccer Shootout over Transfer Fees." Wall Street Journal (January 3, 2001): B.8A

Other

2002 FIFA World Cup Korea Japan, Luis Figo Profile, RealMadrid.com, http:/fifaworldcup.yahoo.com (May 31, 2002).

"American Dream: U.S. Holds on to Upset Portugal 3-2 at World Cup." CNN-Sports Illustrated, http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/soccer/world/2002/world_cup/news/2002/06/04/us_portugal_gamer/(June 5, 2002).

Ball, Phil. "Red Card to a Bull." ESPN Soccernet, http://soccernet.espn.go.com/(January 22, 2003).

"Bests and Worsts from Euro 2000." CNN-Sports Illustrated, http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/soccer/world/2000/euro2000/news/2000/07/02/bests_worsts/(July 2, 2000).

"Figo, 2001 FIFA World Player." RealMadrid.com http://www.realmadrid.es/web_realmadrid (January 16, 2003).

James, Jennie. "More Money Than Sense." Time Europe, http:///.time.com/time/europe/magazine/2000/0807/football.html (August 7, 2000).

Penner, Mike and Grahame Jones. "Profiles of Key Players." South Florida Sun-Sentinel, http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/soccer (January 28, 2003).

Wallace, Sam. "Fatigue Blamed for Giggs' Loss of Form." Daily Telegraph (U.K.), http://www.dailytelegraph.co.uk/sport (January 11, 2003).

Whiteside, Kelly. "USA Notches Upset in World Cup Opener." USA Today, http://www.usatoday.com/sports/soccer/cup2002/games.2002-06-05-usaportugal.htm (June 6, 2002).

Sketch by Paul Burton

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"Figo, Luis." Notable Sports Figures. . Retrieved August 19, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/sports/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/figo-luis

Soccer

SOCCER

SOCCER. Despite its organized origins at East Coast universities in the 1860s, soccer—"football" in its birthplace, Britain—has never truly flourished in the United States. Crowded out of the national sports culture by the "American" sports of football, baseball, and basketball, soccer has also suffered from a succession of failed domestic leagues. Between 1930 and 1950, and again in the 1990s, the U.S. national team had some success in soccer's premier tournament, the World Cup. However, since the 1970s, women's soccer has been more important than the men's game in the United States.

Although Americans often think of soccer as a "foreign" sport, its American roots extend back to 1869, when the first organized soccer match in the United States was played between Rutgers and Princeton universities. In 1884 the American Amateur Football Association was formed, the first such organization outside Britain. Ten years later the United States became the second country in the world to introduce professional soccer. However, these impressive statistics disguise serious early difficulties that determined soccer's marginal role in American sports history. In the 1870s Harvard University opted for a rugby-style "handling game" over the "kicking game." As other universities followed Harvard's example, the handling game developed into the native form of football, at the direct expense of the game Americans (in a telling example of sporting exceptionalism) would call "soccer."

In the late nineteenth century soccer also had to compete with baseball. Although baseball derived from Britain's cricket and rounders, boosters utilized the Abner Doubleday myth to promote baseball as a native-born sport, nothing less than the "national pastime." As the ideology of American nativism accelerated during the 1890s, immigrants realized that playing and watching baseball was an ideal opportunity to demonstrate their allegiance to the United States. By contrast, soccer was viewed as un-American: ominously, the first professional soccer league of 1894 disbanded within months amid controversy over the importation of British players.

In 1921 the American Soccer League (ASL) was formed. The ASL benefited from the economic affluence


and increased leisure time that precipitated a general boom in organized sport during the Roaring Twenties. Crowds at ASL matches regularly outstripped those at games in the nascent National Football League. However, organizational ineptitude, a lack of native talent, and the Wall Street crash of 1929 all contributed to the ASL's demise in 1931. Andrei S. Markovits and Steven L. Hellerman have argued that, as in other industrial capitalist nations, American "sport space" was established and cemented between 1870 and 1930, and that the failure of the ASL sealed American soccer's long-term fate. The game would never attract the blue-collar base of players and fans that powered the "Big Three," baseball, football, and basketball.

Despite these domestic tribulations, in 1930 the national team reached the semifinals of the inaugural soccer World Cup. Twenty years later the United States recorded the greatest upset in World Cup history, beating England 1–0 with a goal by Haitian-born Joseph Gaetjens. Yet it was testimony to the parlous state of American soccer that, while the result was decried as a national disaster in England, it was barely reported in the American media. Having participated in three of the first four World Cup finals, the United States would not qualify again until 1990.

On a domestic level, organized soccer remained distinctly minor league until 1975, when the struggling North American Soccer League (NASL), founded seven years earlier, was transformed by the New York Cosmos' signing of Brazil's Pele. The greatest soccer player in history brought thousands of spectators through the turnstiles, and his presence (along with massive salaries) helped to attract other soccer superstars to the NASL. However, after Pele's retirement in 1977 it became clear that the NASL's sudden success was a mirage. Audiences tired of a sport in which fading foreigners (Italy's Gianni Rivera memorably termed the NASL an "elephants' graveyard") outnumbered and outshone the few, mediocre American players. The NASL collapsed in 1985.

The league did leave one distinctive legacy. By marketing attendance at matches as a family affair, the NASL helped to establish soccer as an amateur sport among the white middle class, even though this interest has so far failed to evolve into a fan culture for the professional game. By 1997 more than 18 million Americans were playing soccer in some form, particularly organized youth soccer, which flourished because suburban parents perceived the game as nonviolent, coeducational, and multicultural. However, soccer's "yuppification" has compounded its marginalization from America's mainstream sports culture. The soccer boom has largely excluded the working-class and African American constituencies that dominate the professional teams and fan cultures of the Big Three.

In 1994, the United States hosted the World Cup. Beforehand, international commentators expressed outrage that a nation with no significant soccer history or culture would be hosting the apex of "the world's game." However, the tournament proved a great success on and off the field. The United States registered its first World Cup finals victory since 1950 by beating Colombia 2–1, and gave a creditable second-round performance in the 1–0 defeat by Brazil, the eventual champions. Yet the tournament's success failed to translate to the domestic game. The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) secured the World Cup upon the condition that a new national league would be established, but by the time Major League Soccer (MLS) began in 1995, the cultural effect of the World Cup had already waned. Attendance and viewing figures for televised matches remained disappointing. Indeed, until the USSF can convince the networks that soccer—with its few, infrequent scores and single "halftime" break for commercials—is television-friendly, the Big Three will continue to dominate American sport.

After a disastrous display in the 1998 World Cup, the United States exceeded all expectations in the 2002 tournament by beating Portugal and Mexico during a run to the quarter-finals, where the team was unfortunate to lose 1–0 to Germany. However, despite this impressive achievement, the most positive development in U.S. soccer history has been the astounding boom in the women's game. Since the 1970s, soccer has been promoted as a sport for girls—an idea that remains anathema in the male-oriented soccer nations of Europe and South America. In 1997,39 percent of soccer participants in the United States were female. This base helped the United States win the first women's World Cup in 1991 and the first women's Olympics tournament in 1996. In the 1999 World Cup, the victory of the United States as host nation secured the highest-ever domestic television audience for a soccer match and made national heroes of players like Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Kuper, Simon. "Short, Dark, Americans." In Football Against the Enemy. London: Orion, 1994. Entertaining assessment of the state of American soccer among women, immigrants, and white suburbanites prior to the 1994 World Cup.

Markovits, Andrei S., and Steven L. Hellerman. Offside: Soccer and American Exceptionalism. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2001. Definitive sociological approach to soccer's troubled history in the United States.

Murray, Bill. The World's Game: A History of Soccer. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996.

Sugden, John. "USA and the World Cup: American Nativism and the Rejection of the People's Game." In Hosts and Champions: Soccer Cultures, National Identities, and the USA World Cup. Edited by John Sugden and Alan Tomlinson. Aldershot, England: Arena, 1994. Thorough account of how soccer has been perceived as "un-American."

MartynBone

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soccer

soccer, outdoor ball and goal game, also called association football or simply football. The first recorded game probably was that on a Shrove Tuesday in Derby, England, part of a festival to celebrate a victory over a contingent of Roman troops (AD 217). By 1175 the Shrove Tuesday soccer game was an annual event.

The sport remained popular for centuries in England under the name football. But the advent of rugby (1823) as a variant led to confusion. The London Football Association was formed (1863) to further the game that emphasized the kicking of the ball. This became known as association football and then, through abbreviation, as soccer. It was rapidly adopted in continental Europe, where it still generally goes under the name football. Other related sports called football are popular in countries including Ireland and Australia.

Soccer is the most popular international team sport, followed by vast, emotional audiences and associated at times with such events as the 1969 "Soccer War" between El Salvador and Honduras and oubreaks of mass hooliganism, notably by British supporters. It has long been secondary in the United States, though, where American football, a descendant primarily of rugby, dominates. Since the 1970s, American soccer has grown at many levels, from childrens' to collegiate; professional soccer, however, has achieved only sporadic success, with the birth and decline of several leagues as fan interest generally lagged. The most recent U.S. and Canadian professional league, Major League Soccer, played its first season in 1996 and now has 20 clubs.

International competition is regulated by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA; founded 1904), which sponsors the quadrennial (since 1930) World Cup competition and whose membership is larger than that of the United Nations. Soccer has been an Olympic event since 1900. The first Women's World Cup, in 1991, was won by the United States, where women's soccer has won more attention than men's; the women's competition was added to the Olympics in 1996. Sparked by these successes, a U.S. professional women's soccer league consisting of eight teams recruited from the best players worldwide began play in 2001, but it folded two years later.

The game is played on a grassy field usually 120 yd by 75 yd (110 m by 70 m). Centered on each end line is a goal, 8 yd (7.3 m) wide by 8 ft (2.4 m) high, backed with netting. A team consists of eleven players—traditionally a goalkeeper, two fullbacks, three halfbacks, and five forwards. Recent variants on these positions include the striker, a forward who remains close to the opponents' goal, and the sweeper, a roving defender. Play is continuous through two 45-min periods, and substitutions are severely limited. Overtime is played in case of a tie, and if no further scoring occurs, the match may be resolved with a series of alternating penalty kicks.

The object of the game is to advance an inflated spherical leather ball—about 28 in. (71 cm) in circumference—into the opponents' goal. The ball is kicked (often dribbled with short kicks) or advanced with other parts of the body, but only the goalkeeper may use the hands. Each goal counts one point. Penalties are various types of free kicks, depending on the infraction; a player may be ejected (without replacement) for a flagrant foul. Perhaps the greatest soccer player of all time is Brazil's Pelé; other modern notables have included David Beckham (England), Franz Beckenbauer (Germany), Diego Maradona (Argentina), and Zinadine Zidane (France).

See B. Glanville, Soccer (1968); T. Smits, The Game of Soccer (1968); A. Clues and D. Jack, Soccer for Players and Coaches (1980); J. Lever, Soccer Madness (1983).

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soccer

soc·cer / ˈsäkər/ • n. a game played by two teams of eleven players with a round ball that may not be touched with the hands or arms during play except by the goalkeepers. The object of the game is to score goals by kicking or heading the ball into the opponents' goal.

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soccer

soccer. See football.

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"soccer." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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soccer

soccer See football

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soccer

soccer see -ER4.

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soccer

soccerbalalaika, biker, duiker, Formica, hiker, mica, pica, pika, piker, striker •blocker, chocker, docker, Fokker, interlocker, knocker, locker, mocha, mocker, ocker, quokka, rocker, saltimbocca, shocker, soccer, stocker •vodka • polka •concha, conker, conquer, Dzongkha, plonker, stonker •Oscar • Kotka • Knickerbocker •footlocker •caulker (US calker), corker, hawker, Lorca, Majorca, Minorca, orca, porker, squawker, stalker, talker, walker, yorker •deerstalker • jaywalker • sleepwalker •streetwalker • hillwalker •shopwalker •Asoka, broker, carioca, choker, coca, croaker, evoker, invoker, joker, mediocre, ochre (US ocher), poker, provoker, revoker, Rioja, smoker, soaker, soca, Stoker, tapioca •judoka • shipbroker • stockbroker •pawnbroker • troika

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