Growing up in both the United States and Turkey has meant that football has had a place in my life from an early age. It was reading the European soccer results in the pages of the International Herald Tribune that taught me European geography and led me to pursue a degree in International Relations; it was pick-up soccer games that taught me the Turkish language and opened me up to the world of travel from an early age.
The summers of my youth in Turkey were three months of swimming in the crystal clear blue of the Aegean, prefaced by breakfasts of bread dipped in olive oil and followed by dinners of grilled köfte washed down with Gazoz, and nights of hide and seek with the kids of our neighborhood on the seaside. But before night fell, those carefree days were dominated by one thing: the late afternoon soccer match. Myself and the other boys from the neighborhood would meet at 6pm sharp in the parking lot behind our house. I would walk down the black top with a ball brought from America (since quality soccer balls were a small fortune in the Turkey of the early 1990s) under my arm. The teams would be chosen and we would play until the summer sun set, disappearing over the hills of Chios, the Greek Island just 45 minutes to the west.
There were times that I cried—like when I celebrated scoring a goal, only to be berated by everyone (at least on my team) for putting it squarely in the back of our own goal, marked by a green wooden telephone pole on the left and the biggest rock we could find on the right. There were times I celebrated—like after I dove to the left, landing hard on the asphalt, but saving the final shot of a penalty shoot-out to win the day (a la Tony Meola, as some kids would say). On those endless summer days we were Klinsmann and Dahlin, Jean Pierre Papin and Koeman, Dunga and Michael Laudrup—the boys of our summers, now long lost in the lore of football history to be replaced by Ronaldo (from Portugal) and Leo Messi; Rooney and Ibrahimovic.
I remember the thrill of running in any direction, desperate to hide, when an errant long ball triggered the alarm an ornery neighbor’s Infiniti sedan which had been unwisely parked in the lot on game day. I remember the fear of seeing a friend lying helplessly with blood streaming from his thigh, bitten by the night watchmen’s dog Charlie for encroaching on the canine’s territory after trying to retrieve a ball that had gone far into touch.
To this day I still measure time in relation to soccer—the months according to the stages of the soccer season, and the years according to the styles of soccer jersey in fashion: Adidas’ tre-foil design in the early nineties, giving way to their diamond patterns in the mid-nineties, and on to their three shoulder stripes in the late 90s. I hope this blog can serve as an inspiration to anyone wishing to follow their passion for the game by sharing it—and wearing it—with those who live it.
Along with my interests in the fashion side of the game I also focus on the politics of the sport in general. While completing my M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin I wrote my Master’s thesis on the politics of soccer in Turkey—the thesis may be viewed and downloaded at this link: http://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/handle/2152/ETD-UT-2011-05-3490. I also have an interest in geopolitics and enjoy traveling to cities in order to attend derby matches, where any number of social themes—globalization and the north/south divide, social and urban geography, gender roles, religion, historical identity formation, political representation, economic disparities and social class distinctions—all play themselves out on (and off) the field.
I have divided this blog into a few sections to make it easier on the viewer to see content that interests them. I have two visual sections of the blog, one for Stadiums containing pictures I have taken at the grounds—both large and small—that I have personally visited and another entitled Match Day Photos, which includes images from matches I have personally attended. The sections Politics, Football Travel Stories, and Non-Football Travel Stories are the literary areas of the blog. The Politics section approaches current events from the perspective of soccer when applicable, while the two travel story sections are just what they sound like. One contains first hand accounts of matches I have attended, the other contains travel writing pieces I have written from trips that I have taken in search of football shirts but without a specific focus on sport. The final section, Football Shirts, focuses on my collection of replica and match worn shirts that I have collected from all over the world—my own personal hobby.
I hope you enjoy the content here and if you would like to contact me regarding anything football or freelance writing related please don’t hesitate to comment or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll try to respond as quickly as possible. Thank you very much for your time and enjoy!
**All writing and images contained within this blog are the author’s (John Blasing) work and property alone unless specified otherwise. If you would like to use any of the content please be courteous and link back to this blog like the selections below. Thanks.**
Some of my work has appeared and been cited elsewhere, including:
Hao Hao Report:
The Huffington Post:
The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer: