On this week’s podcast, Pulitzer Prize-winning sports writer Jess Carter talks with Magdalena Eriksson about soccer — specifically, football in Sweden.
Though they didn’t grow up with the game, Carter and Eriksson did spend time together growing up and became fast friends. After their high school days in St. Louis, they were both offered basketball scholarships to play at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.
At the end of their college careers, Eriksson decided to enter the sport professionally, joining Chelsea as a player in January 2010.
Carter comes in as Eriksson’s executive assistant. While their relationship transcends sports, they do talk about it on the podcast.
Here’s what they say about soccer when they were growing up:
Carter: “The game’s played in the field. Everyone kicks. Everyone plays ball. Nobody tries to tackle people. That’s the main thing. We didn’t really know how to put our arms around or lift an object or give a back shove, or get in somebody’s way.”
Eriksson: “I like the tactical part. This is because I’m a very tactical player. I remember one game I was like ‘Guys, I’m just going to play a counter-attack. One player is going to catch the ball. Four are going to run back to the goal.’
Carter: “She’s playing out-of-bounds. And I’m like, ‘what are you doing?’ She’s laughing at me. She’s coming up to me with this big smile. ‘What are you doing? Look at me. I’m your assistant, I’m your assistant!’”
J: “You’re not my assistant.”
JE: “I’m the assistant.”
JE: “We’re just talking in the background. She’s one of the coaches of the games, so we’re just talking in the background.”
J: “You’re not my assistant.”
JE: “I am!”
JE: “She’s just playing away from my goal.”
JG: “We don’t get pushed. Nobody ever pushes me.”
J Carter: “She is like so one of the best players I’ve ever seen, that every time I look at her, it’s so strong. That she can do everything so well. It’s like a world away from when we’re playing in basketball. Now the whole concept of when is my direction, and when is my first step? Because my opponent moves, it changes the whole game.”
JE: “Soccer, as an American, is very controlled. It is not like in American football, where people kind of go at each other. It’s very controlled, and you follow the direction, but in soccer you can go for the ball. You can say ‘I’m going to run to the ball,’ and then you kind of run like crazy and just fall forward. And all this is huge.”
J Carter: “But we’re talking about a big difference between the two sports. When you play soccer you don’t hit each other. The soccer players, when they lose control, that’s when the elbows hit. They don’t touch each other at all. If a guy’s playing 10 meters away, it’s hard to hit him, because you’re so far away.”
JE: “We can run into each other. We can’t touch each other. If it happens we’re not going to hit each other. I don’t even know what you’re talking about when you talk about football and soccer.”
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