The 1966 World Cup: When Britannia Ruled the Pitch

From deep in the LIFE archives, a series of photographic gems from one of the greatest-ever World Cups: the 1966 tournament when England won it all, on English soil.

With another World Cup upon us, LIFE.com journeyed into LIFE magazine’s archives in search of a way to celebrate the happy pandemic of what might be characterized as fútbol delirium now affecting billions around the globe — and discovered some photographic gems from one of the greatest-ever World Cups: the 1966 tourney when England won it all, on English soil.

The pictures we found, made by the late Art Rickerby, never ran in LIFE magazine, but they provide a unique look at the planet’s greatest sporting event during a fascinating period in its history. We also chatted with Alexi Lalas about the photos, and got some insights from a former pro footballer on the profound appeal of the “beautiful game.”

Not all of Rickerby’s photos from England in the summer of ’66, however, were of official World Cup matches. In fact, some of his best, most revealing work captured moments far from the sold-out stadiums in London, Sheffield, Manchester or Birmingham.

“Look at that shot,” Lalas says of English kids riveted by Brazil’s goalkeeper, Gilmar, leaping to block a shot during practice in Liverpool (slide #2). “There’s no way those kids ever forgot watching those players, that close. Their body language shows how thrilled they are. And no wonder! There’s something about watching practice sessions that’s totally different — and better, in a way — than watching a big game. I remember training at Oakland University in Michigan before the World Cup in ’94. The fans who came out to watch us might remember that experience more fondly than watching the game we played in the Silverdome in Pontiac. There’s a reason baseball fans go to batting practice and spring training — the chance of a real, authentic interaction with the players, away from the hoopla around a game.”

Of the third photo in the gallery, of Pelé in Liverpool, Lalas notes that the picture “really got me thinking about the aesthetics of the sport, and it’s a reminder of one attribute shared by most soccer players that helps explain why so many people adore the game. Namely — these guys are not huge. They’re not giants. They look, in a way, like you and me, and that guy sitting across the aisle on the train, or wherever. In Pelé’s case, you have probably the single most famous athlete on the planet at the time — but he’s not a seven-foot-tall basketball player, or a 300-pound defensive end. Still, seeing him here, there’s no question you’re looking at an athlete. The way he carries himself, his undeniable presence. Despite his unimposing stature, you can just sense his physical power.”

TIME brazil

Brazil’s Cellphone Networks Aren’t Ready for the World Cup

Brasilia - 2014 FIFA World Cup Host City Tour
Friedemann Vogel— FIFA/Getty Images The Estadio Mane Garrincha stadium in Brasilia, Brazil.

Don't be surprised if you're unable to text "Gooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaal!" while attending one of the globe's biggest sporting events

The inability to live-tweet games or take stadium selfies is the least of World Cup attendees’ worries.

Experts say the Brazilian government and telephone companies are so unprepared for the hundreds of thousands of people about to descend upon Rio de Janeiro and other cities that there could be mobile blackouts or jammed emergency calls, the Associated Press reports.

In the best-case scenario, calls will drop frequently and wireless Internet services will be frustratingly slow. The government was expected to invest in 4G mobile networks across the 12 cities hosting the soccer matches, but such plans never materialized.

“We’ve learned from the Confederations Cup, and put specific trucks outside the stadium to enhance the connectivity,” FIFA’s marketing director Thierry Weil said. “But at the end of the day, to be honest, having 70,000 in a stadium, where everybody wants to make a phone call at halftime, well, I’d say you better talk to your boyfriend or girlfriend ahead of the game.”


TIME Soccer

Landon Donovan Gets Cut from U.S. Soccer Team

The U.S. team's biggest star and highest scorer won't be going to the World Cup this summer

The U.S. men’s soccer team for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil this summer is set, and a familiar face is absent. When coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced the roster Thursday, 32-year-old Landon Donovan hadn’t make the cut.

The all-time leader in scoring and assists for the national U.S soccer team is also the only American player to reach the 50 goals/50 assists mark in either category. Over the past decade he’s helped pull the U.S. team out of mediocrity and into the limelight. That’s why many analysts are simply confused by the coach’s move.

But as TIME’s Bill Saporito notes, “Donovan’s omission from the roster, although shocking, isn’t altogether unexpected. When Klinsmann took over as U.S. coach two years ago, he warned the veteran players that their status was meaningless to him.” It didn’t help that Donovan took a four-month sabbatical last year while other players were working on their game.

Donovan has been very cordial about his dismissal, addressing his fans on Facebook by saying:

TIME world cup 2014

Landon Donovan Snubbed as U.S. Soccer Releases World Cup Roster

U.S. national soccer team player Landon Donovan.
Nacho Doce—Reuters U.S. national soccer team player Landon Donovan, one of the anchors of the national soccer team for the last decade, was cut Thursday by coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who reduced his 30-man squad to the mandatory 23.

Team U.S.A.'s 2010 World Cup hero won't be going to Brazil

Landon Donovan, who scored the game-winning goal for team U.S.A. in their 2010 World Cup match against Algeria, has been left off the roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

U.S. Soccer tweeted the 23-man roster Thursday.

Donovan, 32, has played for the U.S. in the past three World Cups and was the face of the national team for much of the past decade. He has played in more World Cup matches than any other player. U.S. manager Jurgen Kilnsmann kept Donovan out of the lineup during the U.S. exhibition game against Mexico in April, citing a knee problem.

Kilnsmann narrowed down this roster from a 30-man preliminary one he announced on May 12. Along with Donovan, Michael Parkhurst, Brad Evans, Clarence Goodson, Joe Corona, Maurice Edu and Terrence Boyd were cut from the team that will play in Brazil.

TIME world cup 2014

This Is How Much U.S. Soccer Players Make at the World Cup

Italy v USA - International Friendly
Valerio Pennicino—Getty Images Clint Dempsey celebrates the opening goal during the international friendly match between Italy and USA at Luigi Ferraris Stadium on February 29, 2012 in Genoa, Italy.

The glory of taking part in the world's largest soccer tournament isn't the only prize for U.S. soccer players named to the 23-person squad going to Brazil. A trip to the later rounds could mean a big payday, too

U.S. players who make the final World Cup squad will receive at least $76,000 each from U.S. Soccer, Sports Illustrated reports.

That’s just the starting point, however, for determining an individual athlete’s earnings at the competition. If the team manages to progress into the later rounds of the tournament, players like Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley could be in for a big payday, while those who don’t make the 23-person roster could get far less.

Read more at Sports Illustrated.

TIME The Brief

More Than a Game: Brazil Riots in World Cup Protests

Welcome to #theBrief, the four stories to know about right now—from the editors of TIME

Here are the stories TIME is watching this Friday, May 16:

  • Riots rock Brazil just weeks before the World Cup. The government is spending billions of dollars on the tournament, leaving protestors furious.
  • The FCC advanced new Internet rules that could allow content companies to buy a “fast lane” for their content.
  • Arkansas issues same-sex marriage licenses while Idaho puts them on hold.
  • Being pretty helps you get elected. A new study shows that participants could predict whether a female candidate would win or lose an election within a fraction of a second after seeing the candidate’s face.

The Brief is published daily on weekdays.

TIME Football

Sepp Blatter: Awarding the World Cup to Qatar Was a ‘Mistake’

Walter Bieri—Keystone/AP FIFA president Sepp Blatter attends a press conference at the conclusion of the meeting of the FIFA Executive Committee at the Home of FIFA in Zurich on Friday, March 21, 2014.

Sepp Blatter laments in an interview with Swiss TV the decision to pick the excruciatingly hot Gulf state as the 2022 host of the games, even hinting that political pressure from Germany and France was behind the selection

FIFA president Sepp Blatter says it was a “mistake” to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar because of the country’s excruciatingly hot summer weather.

World soccer’s most powerful man admitted, “Of course it was an error, but you know, everyone makes a lot of mistakes in life,” during an interview with Swiss television channel RTS.

Qatar’s 2010 designation as World Cup host has been controversial not only because of its extreme temperatures but also because of its allegedly reckless exploitation of migrant workers to construct the necessary facilities. Qatar denies any wrongdoing.

Blatter hinted that the pick of the Gulf state ahead of the likes of the U.S. or South Korea was due to pressure from Germany and France, with then French President Nicolas Sarkozy convening the Qatari Emir and UEFA president Michel Platini at the Élysée Palace in Paris.

“You couldn’t imagine the Swiss President doing that,” he said.


TIME Photos

Feel Good Friday: 21 Fun Photos to Start Your Weekend

From rocket launches to Conchita Wurst, here's a handful of photos to get your weekend started right

TIME brazil

Brazilian Police Clash With Protesters Ahead of the World Cup

Andre Penner—AP Hundreds of demonstrators protest against money spent on Brazil's World Cup preparations in São Paulo on Thursday, May 15, 2014.

Riot police in the Brazilian cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro fired tear gas at thousands of protesters on Thursday, as demonstrations against the cost of hosting soccer's World Cup resumed in Brazil

Riot police in the Brazilian cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro fired tear gas at thousands of protesters on Thursday, as demonstrations against the cost of hosting soccer’s World Cup resumed in Brazil.

Some protesters torched tires, blocked roads and hurled rocks, the BBC reports. Local media reported that 234 people were arrested within a 24-hour period.

Protesters argue that the tournament’s $15 billion tab should instead be used for social projects and housing.

The government argues that the event will bring economic benefits and downplayed the relevance of Thursday’s demonstrations by pointing at their coincidence with labor strikes.

“I’ve seen nothing that is related to the (World) Cup,” said Brazilian Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo. “There’s no reason to panic ahead of receiving 3 million Brazilian tourists and 600,000 foreign tourists.”

The World Cup kicks off on June 12.


TIME world cup 2014

Watch: How Brazil Is Beefing Up Security Ahead of The World Cup

A massive security operation is expected during the world’s biggest soccer tournament

With just one month to go before the FIFA World Cup begins in Brazil, recent violence in Rio de Janeiro and frequent protests throughout the country have raised serious security concerns for the soccer tournament.

Crime statistics released this week for the city of Rio show that street muggings increased 44 percent in the first four months of this year, as a local newspaper reports that police plan to distribute a brochure to soccer fans that includes tips on how to avoid being robbed. The recent crimewave has prompted state police to put an extra 2,000 police on the streets Monday, far sooner than they were expected to patrol the streets for World Cup duty.

But there have been significant efforts to make the country safe for the quadrennial soccer tournament. In Rio, a state-of-the-art command center is expected to handle emergency response management. Around 170,000 officers will be on hand to ensure security in the 12 host cities. And President Dilma Rousseff said earlier this year that she was prepared to deploy the military if needed.

Watch the video above for more on the security challenges that the South American country is facing.


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