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The Sunday Papers: some of the week's best sportswriting

It’s what bank holiday Sundays are made for. Before you launch yourself into a day of sport, enjoy six of our favourite pieces of writing.

Image: ©INPHO/James Crombie

1. “On the morning of Feb. 20, 2011, a man from Singapore walked into the central police station of Rovaniemi, Finland, a town that sits along the Arctic Circle. The man told officers that another Singaporean, Wilson Raj Perumal, was in Rovaniemi on a false passport. He offered no other information before leaving the station abruptly. Though puzzled by the seemingly random tip, Rovaniemi police put Perumal under surveillance. Three days later, they followed him to a French restaurant near the soccer stadium, where the local club, Rovaniemen Palloseura, had just completed a 1-1 draw. Officers watched as Perumal sat down with three Palloseura players.”

In a week where the latest developments in Italy’s match-fixing scandal rocked the footballing world, Brett Forrest‘s profile of Wilson Raj Perumal — the world’s most prolific criminal match fixer — for ESPN The Magazine could not have been more timely.

2. “In early May, after two months of fighting in Iraq, President George W. Bush gave his “Mission Accomplished” speech, announcing that major combat operations were over. For the Olympic campaign, the speech could not have come at a better time: the deadline for applications to host the 2012 Games was nearing. On May 15, Jowell put on a new suit from Liberty, purchased specially for the occasion, and set out for a private meeting with the prime minister. Jowell, who is short, with a broad, determined face, rehearsed her argument all the way to No. 10 Downing Street, where she was shown to the veranda outside the Cabinet Room. The wisteria was in full bloom. According to Jowell, Blair said, “Look, this is very difficult, and I don’t know if we can win it—there are too many uncertainties.” Plus, he didn’t want to have another fight with Gordon Brown.”

With London 2012 just around the corner, Vanity Fair’s Michael Joseph Gross details the city’s extensive campaign to win the games — and the £9bn price tab that comes with it.

3. “Some 2,000 chipper, ethnically diverse, and not wholly fit competitors, mostly high school and college students, mill around the bleachers, the Porta-Potties, the team tent area. The line for the waffle cart stretches nearly to the East River. One infield retailer does a brisk business selling championship lapel pins, while another is on its way to liquidating the Quidditch players’ ‘broom of choice,’ according to the brochure, a $55 handmade model dubbed the Shadow Chaser. Everywhere there are fans—dads wearing shirts that read PROUD PARENT OF A MCGILL QUIDDITCH PLAYER, alongside teens in capes and the crimson-and-gold scarves of Hogwarts. Only five years old, this grand tournathaddment of nonfantasy Quidditch will draw some 10,000 paying spectators. A Fox newscaster once called it ‘a cross between the Super Bowl and a medieval fair.’”

Ok, so technically it’s not a sport, but we were so impressed by Eric Hansen‘s feature on the Quidditch World Cup for this month’s Outside Magazine that we couldn’t bear to leave it out.

4. “It’s five past three in an Irish bar in the Balearics and a pharmacist from Kildare is about to enjoy the second happiest moment of her life. As a looping Irish header nestles into Peter Shilton’s net she jumps around the rapturous Irish throng and into the arms of the complete stranger next to her. A few years later she was enjoying the happiest moment of her life as she stood at the altar with that very same stranger.”

If you missed Miguel Delaney‘s brilliant oral history of Ireland’s Euro 88 campaign, click on the link and read it. Now.

5. “Micah True went off alone on a Tuesday morning to run through the rugged trails of the Gila Wilderness, and now it was already Saturday and he had not been seen again. The search for him, once hopeful, was turning desperate. Weather stoked the fear. The missing man was wearing only shorts, a T-shirt and running shoes. It was late March. Daytimes were warm, but the cold scythed through the spruce forest in the depth of night, the temperatures cutting into the 20s.”

American ultrarunner Micah True gained fame as one of the main characters in Christopher MacDougall’s brilliant “Born to Run” before his tragic death earlier this year. In the New York Times, Barry Bearak tells the story of his final run.

6. “As part of the documentary, Sol Campbell agreed to be questioned for his thoughts, and his belief that a country which is so obviously deficient in tackling a problem that is endemic of their society should not be gifted the opportunity to host such a prestigious tournament as the Euro’s is bang on the button. Promotion of the game in places untouched by FIFA’s hand is all well and good how can you hold such an event in a country where tourists fear for their safety? The answer is, of course, that you can’t but looking at racism in football introspectively, you have to ask if we are entirely guiltless ourselves.”

After seeing the shocking footage on BBC Panorama’s “Stadiums of Hate” documentary earlier this week, footballer David Preece penned his thoughts on racism in football and society for the Sabotage Times.

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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