2021–22 UEFA Champions League

September 22, 2021


“The 2021–22 UEFA Champions League is the 67th season of Europe’s premier club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the 30th season since it was renamed from the European Champion Clubs’ Cup to the UEFA Champions League. The final will be played at the Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It was originally scheduled to be played at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany. However, due to the postponement and relocation of the 2020 final, the final hosts were shifted back a year, with Saint Petersburg instead hosting the 2022 final. The winners of the 2021–22 UEFA Champions League will automatically qualify for the 2022–23 UEFA Champions League group stage, and also earn the right to play against the winners of the 2021–22 UEFA Europa League in the 2022 UEFA Super Cup. …”
W – 2021–22 UEFA Champions League, W – 2021–22 UEFA Champions League group stage
Guardian – Champions League 2021-22 draw: group stage analysis and predictions


2021-22 UEFA Champions League Group Stage

September 11, 2021


The map is a standard location-map showing the locations of the 32 qualified teams in the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League Group Stage. There are several other aspects to the map page… 1). Groups A through H… At the very top of the map are the eight 4-team groups of the Group Stage, arranged with with each club’s home-country flag shown alongside. 2). Allocations vs. Qualified teams, by country… At the left side of the map page, Allocations (by member-nations) are shown, via a list of the top 41 UEFA Member-Associations in their current [2021-22] Country Co-efficient ranking. I stopped at 41 (out of the 55 total UEFA member-nations) because #41 is the current ranking of Moldova, and Sheriff Tiraspol of Moldova was the club from the lowest-ranked country to qualify for this season’s tournament. This is the first time a club from Moldova has qualified for the elite competition that is the Champions League. But it is not really any sort of fairy-tale story of a David making it into the realm of the Goliaths. …”
billsportsmaps


Bosman ruling

September 11, 2021


“Twenty years ago today, Jean-Marc Bosman won a court case that changed the game forever – but did the Belgian’s just victory actually do more harm than good? Dec. 15, 1995 is one of the most significant dates in football history. For some, it was the day on which footballers were finally empowered. For others, it was the day on which the game stopped being a sport and became a business. As with any dramatic shift in power, the truth lies somewhere in between. What is beyond dispute, though, is that the old system had to change. In the spring of 1990, Jean-Marc Bosman’s two-year contract with SA Royal Club Liegois was entering its final few months. The Belgian was offered a new deal that would have seen his weekly wage reduced by 75 percent. Unsurprisingly, Bosman rejected it. He was promptly placed on the transfer list. …”
The Bosman Ruling may have freed footballers from ‘slavery’ – but the elite now own football
W – Bosman ruling
W – Jean-Marc Bosman
YouTube: How the Bosman Ruling Changed Football


A World Cup Every Two Years? Why?

September 10, 2021



“This is soccer’s age of the Big Idea. There is an incessant, unrelenting flow of Big Ideas, ones of such scale and scope that they have to be capitalized, from all corners of the game: from individuals and groups, from clubs and from leagues, from the back of cigarette packets and from all manner of crumpled napkins. The Video Assistant Referee system was a Big Idea. Expanding the World Cup to 48 teams was a Big Idea. Project Big Picture, the plan to redraw how the Premier League worked, was a Big Idea. The Super League was the Biggest Idea of them all — perhaps, in hindsight, it was, in fact, too Big an Idea — an Idea so Big that it could generate, in the brief idealism of its backlash, more Big Ideas still, as the death of a star sends matter hurtling all across the galaxy. …”
NY Times


UEFA World Cup qualifying scores: Poland end England’s winning streak; Spain, Germany notch victories

September 8, 2021


Poland 1, England 1
“…In a night of relatively low drama most of the big guns of European football eased to a further three points, not least Germany, who looked impressive in swatting aside Iceland 4-0. An early goal from Serge Gnabry set Hansi Flick’s side on course for a win that takes them four points clear in Group J before Antonio Rudiger, Leroy Sane and Timo Werner found the net, the latter only after wasting a string of presentable opportunities. After two games in which they dropped points the visit of Lithuania came at a good time for Italy with new Juventus striker Moise Kean netting a first-half brace. Their lead in Group C had been looking precarious after a draw against Switzerland but they had Northern Irish goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell to thank as he saved a penalty that meant Northern Ireland held the Swiss to a goalless draw in Belfast. …”
CBS Sports (Video)
BBC – World Cup 2022 qualifying: Who is close to qualifying? Who are the surprise packages?
Guardian: Szymanski denies England as Poland snatch late draw after Kane’s opener
ESPN: England’s draw in Poland keeps Three Lions on track for Qatar 2022, but they’ll need complete performances to vie for World Cup


Spain Loses World Cup Qualifier For The First Time In 66 Matches, 2-1 Against Sweden

September 6, 2021


“The Spanish national team tasted defeat for the first time in 28 years in a World Cup qualifying match after they lost to Sweden 2-1 on Friday in Stockholm. Sweden came back from a goal down to defeat Spain who lost a World Cup qualifying match after 66 games undefeated. The defeat means that Spain have lost a World Cup qualifying game after 66 matches and 28 years. During this undefeated run, they also managed to win 10 in a row before the 2010 World Cup which they ended up winning. A defeat that Luis Enrique would not have excepted as his men had done well in the Euro 2020 having made the semi-finals where they lost eventual Champions Italy on penalties. …”
Republic World
YouTube: Sweden stuns Spain 2-1 in World Cup qualifier | WCQ Highlights | ESPN FC
UEFA: European Qualifiers: England and Belgium rampant, Sweden stun Spain


Fans don’t want legacy clubs dominating or state-funded clubs, so can football ever be happy?

September 4, 2021


“OK, so let me get this straight. We don’t want blue-blood clubs, like Liverpool and Manchester United, dominating for decades at a time and we are deeply suspicious of how enthusiastically these aristocrats embraced financial fair play (aka, Operation Drawbridge). When it comes to winners, we want to spread it around a bit — we like disruption. But we do not want these new challengers to be funded by oligarchs or sovereign wealth funds — unless it is our club, then it is completely fine — and we are not too keen on American investors coming over here and expecting to make some money. Is that right? If it is, many of you are going to be disappointed. But you will not be the only ones. …”
The Athletic


Case for the Planet: Football Needs to Think

September 3, 2021


“By any football club’s standards, 2020 was a catastrophic year. Pandemic-driven shortfalls caused by the absence of fans has left clubs across Europe cash-strapped. The continent’s superclubs are no exception. Last month, The Financial Times reported that Inter Milan are rushing to raise $200m in emergency funds to cope with a €102m loss last season. In Catalonia, the world’s highest earning club are in crisis, off-loading players and staff to mitigate the effects of amassing debt and an income shortfall of over €200m for the 2019-20 season. …”
Football Paradise


FIFA, Deemed a Victim of Its Own Scandal, Will Share $200 Million Payout

August 24, 2021


“Even as top soccer officials were still being arrested as part of a sprawling corruption investigation in 2015, lawyers for the sport’s global governing body and U.S. prosecutors began to embrace an intriguing premise: The soccer organization, FIFA, and its affiliates were not only the hosts of the scheme, the thinking went, they were also its victims. For prosecutors, the notion distinguished between the hijackers and the hijacked: It held individuals accountable for their crimes but spared the organizations and the sport that they had defrauded. For FIFA and its new leaders and lawyers, the framing had a bigger benefit: It protected against prosecution, and it offered the organization a chance to reclaim the tens of millions of dollars siphoned away by corrupt officials. Tuesday brought the payoff: Six years after a wide-ranging criminal indictment laid bare decades of corruption in global soccer on a stunning scale, and five years after those in power started pursuing a piece of the millions that American authorities were rounding up, the U.S. government approved the payment of more than $200 million to FIFA and its two member confederations most implicated in the scandal. …”
NY Times
W – Gianni Infantino
W – Sepp Blatter


The Parable of Inter Milan

August 21, 2021


“The first alarm rang in February, a warning from thousands of miles away. Jiangsu Suning was one of the mainstays of that strange period, five or six years ago, when soccer awoke — almost overnight — to discover that China had arrived, its pockets bottomless and its ambitions unchecked, intent on inverting the world. At first, Europe saw this new horizon as it sees everything: as a market. China’s corporate-backed clubs were, as Turkey’s and Russia’s had been years before, a convenience and a curiosity, a place where they could offload unwanted players from bloated squads. …”
NY Times


Forget the Tournaments, Football Is Already Home

August 20, 2021


“Football is obsessed with nostalgia. At no time is this more evident than during international competition wherein football cultures, nationalisms, and emotion blend into a heady liquor which draws in even the most casual of sports fans. It is no surprise, therefore, that in a football landscape dominated by human-rights-abusing petrostates and governing bodies who are both morally and financially corrupt, we are all (even those of us who weren’t alive then) drawn towards the seemingly ‘Golden Age’ of the game. In that pre-Sky Sports age of shorter shorts, baggier shirts, bigger haircuts, and, as some would like us to believe – better players – many people see the antithesis of the sterile and corporatised experience we have now. …”
Football Paradise (July 27, 2021)


UEFA Euro 1972 Final

July 27, 2021


“The UEFA Euro 1972 Final was a football match played at Heysel Stadium in Brussels, Belgium, on 18 June 1972, to determine the winner of the UEFA Euro 1972 tournament. It was the fourth UEFA European Football Championship final, UEFA‘s top football competition for national teams. The match was contested by West Germany and two-time tournament finalists, the Soviet Union. En route to the final, West Germany finished top of their qualifying group which included Turkey, Albania and Poland. After beating England over a two-legged tie in the quarter-finals, they progressed to the final after defeating tournament hosts Belgium in the semi-final. The Soviet Union won their qualifying group which included Cyprus and Spain, before beating Northern Ireland in the two-legged quarter-final and Yugoslavia in the single-match semi-final. …”
Wikipedia
EURO 1972: all you need to know (Video)
YouTube: West Germany v USSR: 1972 UEFA European Championship final highlights


EURO 2020: tactical trends

June 27, 2021


No team has pressed or had the ball as much as Spain but that did not help them beat Sweden in their opening game
“Thirty-six matches played, with 94 goals scored at an average of 2.61 per game. It is a ratio lower than the 2.93 recorded in last season’s UEFA Champions League, yet this is no surprise for the UEFA technical observers analysing the action at UEFA EURO 2020. Their reflections on the opening fortnight of action point to less risk-taking than in the European club competitions with a tendency towards three centre-backs and low blocks – arguably motivated by the wish to avoid early elimination. …”
UEFA (Video)
Tactical trends from the Euro 2020 group stages: What we’ve learned


Letting in the Uefa variant could be Boris Johnson’s next own goal

June 22, 2021


Billy Gilmour of Scotland vies with Mason Mount of England during the UEFA Euro 2020
“How encouraging to see Uefa masterminding a return of jeopardy to the Euros. Not in the football, you understand – putting four third-place teams through simply further deflates the group stages of an already format-compromised 24-team tournament. But threatening last week to take the final away from Wembley and move it to Hungary unless 2,500 of their dignitaries can swerve quarantine – well, this is the stuff of which perilous thrills are made. Not that a Budapest final wouldn’t offer something fresh: large numbers of openly racist and homophobic fans who are finally under investigation by Uefa for their conduct thus far during the tournament. …”
Guardian


Euro 2020 Power Rankings: France the Clear Favorite—but Then What?

June 11, 2021


“Five years removed from Portugal’s coronation just outside Paris, the next European Championship begins on Friday, and with it comes the quest for the 2016 host and runner-up to make amends and follow a World Cup title with another triumph—and for 23 other national sides to do something about it. France is as good if not better than it was when it lifted the World Cup trophy in Russia three summers ago, and after an extra year’s wait due to the pandemic, it’s out to confirm its status as the world and region’s preeminent team—it’s No. 2 FIFA world ranking notwithstanding. Before the competition begins, with Italy facing Turkey in Rome, we examine team form, ability and outlook based on the draw to rank the 24 contenders vying to be crowned European champion (group opponents listed in order of when they’ll play in the opening stage). …” SI – Jonathan Wilson, Guardian: At the Euros, winning teams can start badly. It’s how they respond that matters, ESPN – Euro 2020 preview: Picks, scouting reports, must-see games, biggest ‘upset’ teams and much more (Video)


How Euro 2020 Was Saved

June 8, 2021


“If Aleksander Ceferin has any say on the matter, there will never be another European soccer championship like the one that starts this week. And that decision has nothing to do with the coronavirus. Ceferin, the president of European soccer’s governing body, quickly listed the headaches that came with organizing this summer’s championship. Matches in 11 countries, originally 13, meant finding 11 cities and 11 stadiums capable of hosting them. It meant creating teams to run each site and arranging for dozens of hotels to house everyone who would go. But it also meant navigating legal jurisdictions and linguistic boundaries, tax laws and big politics as well as soccer politics, currency values and visa rules. And that was before the coronavirus made it all exponentially harder. …” NY Times, NY Times – Euro 2020: Schedule, How to Watch and More, UEFA Euro 2020 match schedule


Euro 2020: England and Spain Drop Big Names; France Adds One

June 4, 2021


“Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold was one of four right backs included in England’s final 26-man roster for this summer’s European Championship as Manager Gareth Southgate trimmed his roster hours before the tournament deadline. But after one exhibition game, he was out again. Alexander-Arnold, a late inclusion in England’s team, withdrew on Thursday, a day after sustaining a thigh injury in a friendly match against Austria. England and Liverpool confirmed that the young defender was out. … Instead, all four players made the team — at least initially. England is in a group with Croatia, Scotland and the Czech Republic. If it reaches the final, it could play as many as six matches at Wembley Stadium in London. …” NY Times, W – UEFA Euro 2020, Euro 2020 squads: Every confirmed team for the 2021 tournament, Guardian – Euro 2020: your complete guide to all 622 players


The Super League Thought It Had a Silent Partner: FIFA

May 22, 2021


“Tucked away in the pages and pages of financial and legal jargon that constitute the founding contract of the Super League, the failed project that last month briefly threatened the century-old structures and economics of European soccer, were references to one ‘essential’ requirement. The condition was deemed so important that organizers agreed that the breakaway plan could not succeed without satisfying it and yet was so secret that it was given a code name even in contracts shared among the founders. Those documents, copies of which were reviewed by The New York Times, refer to the need for the Super League founders to strike an agreement with an entity obliquely labeled W01 but easily identifiable as FIFA, soccer’s global governing body. …” NY Times


Money, Power, and Respect at the Champions League Final

May 10, 2021


“The grand spectacle is almost upon us. Real Madrid, the great but ancient empire of European soccer, have been swept aside for now; Paris Saint-Germain, the fast-rising upstart, have faltered in their ascent. As Chelsea and Manchester City, their respective conquerors, prepare to contest the third men’s UEFA Champions League final between two English teams, there is a sense that they are announcing another next great rivalry. … Now, Foden has been coached by Pep Guardiola for only a few seasons. Yet he is such an accurate embodiment of the Spaniard’s footballing philosophy—tactically versatile, endlessly fluid in his movement—that he seems to have been working with him since he was able to walk. … Both should be leading figures for their club for several seasons to come. …” The Ringer (Audio)


How the Super League Fell Apart

April 22, 2021


“For 48 hours, soccer stood on the brink. Fans took to the streets. Players broke into open revolt. Chaos stalked the game’s corridors of power, unleashing a shock wave that resonated around the world, from Manchester to Manila, Barcelona to Beijing, and Liverpool to Los Angeles. That internationalism is what has turned European soccer, over the last 30 years, into a global obsession. The elite teams of western Europe are stocked with stars drawn from Africa, South America and all points in between. They draw fans not just from England, Italy and Spain, but China, India and Australia in numbers large enough to tempt broadcasters across the planet to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for the rights to show their games. …”
NY Times
W – The Super League
CBS – European Super League collapse explained: What’s next? Real Madrid, Barcelona quiet; Premier League clubs out (Audio)
BBC – European Super League: All six Premier League teams withdraw from competition (Video)
YouTube: All six English clubs confirm plans to exit European Super League


Champions League’s Last 16 Will Be Quite Telling

December 16, 2020


“By the time the UEFA Champions League’s knockout stage begins, much could change. A winter transfer window will have come and gone, though with COVID-19 impacting club finances across Europe and some already having spent big in the summer, it remains to be seen how substantial the forthcoming moves will be. Barcelona will have held its club presidential elections, a pivotal moment for a giant in turmoil and one that could have plenty of say in how the club operates moving forward. Influential players currently out injured should return, and the form, fitness and focus levels of clubs will certainly vary to what they currently are. …” SI – Jonathan Wilson


Stuck in Soccer Limbo, in the Shadow of the World Cup

July 4, 2018

“An odd thing happened in December when soccer fans in Crimea, the disputed Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014, began trying to buy tickets to the World Cup. Some ticket seekers trying to make purchases through FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, encountered error messages on their computers. The problem, the president of Crimea’s soccer federation told reporters, was that FIFA still recognized Crimea as part of Ukraine. Fans on the peninsula feared that World Cup tickets had joined cellphones and credit cards on a list of imported items banned by international sanctions.” NY Times


Europe And South America Are Growing In Soccer Power — That Wasn’t Supposed To Happen

June 20, 2018


“If there’s been a dominant trend in the first week of the 2018 World Cup, perhaps it has been how well European nations from beyond the continent’s traditional giants have performed. Iceland, Switzerland, Serbia, Sweden, Croatia and Russia are all off to a strong start. This should be no surprise. Only two nations from outside Europe and South America have made the World Cup semifinals (the United States in the inaugural competition in 1930 and South Korea in 2002). In 20 previous World Cups, only 12 countries have reached the final — all from Europe or South America — and only eight sides have won the tournament.” FiveThirtyEight


Fifa’s Gianni Infantino hits rocky ground on 2018 World Cup eve

June 12, 2018

“The World Cup in Russia has sailed into view with a new Fifa captain at the helm, two and a half years since Sepp Blatter’s presidency crashed on the rocks of corruption and ethics breaches. Gianni Infantino seemed a callow, unlikely president when he was elevated to succeed the banned Blatter in February 2016 as, his tie slightly askew, he tapped his heart in wonderment at winning the vote of the Fifa congress.” Guardian


Nations League: The back-door route to Euro 2020?

January 26, 2018

“Is the Uefa Nations League a complicated irrelevance? Or, for some of the home nations, is it their best route to Euro 2020? England, Wales and Northern Ireland might baulk at that suggestion, given all three were at the finals in France in 2016, but would they all be entirely confident of finishing in the top two places in a five- or six-team group to earn qualification in the usual way? The Scottish FA is being more circumspect. With its focus sharpened by Hampden hosting four Euro 2020 tournament matches, it is selling Uefa’s new competition – one which will effectively replace most international friendlies – to sceptical fans as a way of ending what would be a 22-year absence from major finals. …” BBC (Video)


FourFourTwo’s 100 Best Football Players in the World 2017

January 19, 2018

“… No.26, Kylian Mbappe. Talk about bursting onto the scene: the teenager turned heads across Europe – and became the second-most expensive player in history – with his scintiliating performances in Ligue 1 and beyond. One football stats sage recently declared on Twitter that Kylian Mbappe is ‘the best teenager we’ve seen in the data era’. This is no time for another Proper Football Men vs Analytics Geeks debate – and in this case there’s no need anyway, as it’s a statement with which all parties can surely agree. …” FourFourTwo (Video)


FIFA’s Dirty Wars

December 21, 2017


“Toward the end of the 2010 World Cup, Julio Grondona made a prediction, or perhaps it was a promise, to a group of journalists in the gilded lobby of Johannesburg’s Michelangelo hotel, the five-star Italian-marble palace where FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, had established its tournament headquarters. Argentina had just been humiliated, 4-0, by the Germans, but Grondona wasn’t worried about the backlash. In 31 years as president of the Argentina’s national soccer association, he’d endured personal scandal, government turmoil, economic collapse, and the ardent passions of the beautiful game’s fans. ‘Todo Pasa,’ read the inscription on his big gold ring. All things pass—all things except, of course, Julio Grondona. ‘No one is kicking me out until I die,’ he told the reporters. …” New Republic


A Night in Belgrade With an Undercover Crowd Monitor: ‘Try to Act Casual’

November 7, 2017


“BELGRADE, Serbia — At the appointed hour, the man picked up his phone, sat down on the couch in his hotel, and dialed the number. ‘Yes, hello, I’m calling you on behalf of Fare,’ he said, dropping the name of a network based in London that fights discrimination in world soccer. ‘Just to inform you, I will be the matchday observer tonight in Belgrade. We have done some research. Of course, we all know it’s a high-risk match ….’ The match in question, set to begin a few hours later, was a Europa League contest last Thursday between Partizan Belgrade of Serbia and Skenderbeu of Albania. The person on the other line was the UEFA delegate assigned to supervise proceedings at the stadium. And the so-called risks? …” NY Times (Video)


Tottenham’s defeat of Real Madrid is a warning to Europe’s super-clubs

November 7, 2017

“It was one of the greatest nights in Tottenham’s history. It was better than beating Internazionale 3-1, probably the equal of those fraught nights in 1983-84 when Bayern Munich, Austria Vienna, Hajduk Split and Anderlecht were overcome on the way to the Uefa Cup. Almost whatever happens over the next three decades, it is safe to assume that in 2050 Christian Eriksen’s goal will still be included in the pre-match White Hart Lane montage as Danny Blanchflower’s voice, the crackle of time even more pronounced, explains once again that the game is about glory. …” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson (Video)


Tactical Analysis: Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 Real Madrid | Spurs Make A Statement

November 7, 2017

“Pochettino looked to take a secure approach of press as Tottenham didn’t always insist on disturbing the early phase of Real’s build-up. Tottenham assigned the pressing work based on a 5-3-2-ish shape, with Christian Eriksen slightly higher than the other two central midfielders. The Dane pressed Casemiro while Harry Kane and Delle Alli kept an eye on Real’s both center halves. The other defensive duty for Tottenham’s 8 was that they also had to maintained good access to Kroos and Modric. …” Outside of the Boot


The best and worst moments of 2016, according to WSC contributors

December 27, 2016

“From a sunny trip to Tow Law and many unexpected winners to a seemingly endless number of scandals, our writers’ give their highs and lows of 2016…” WSC – Part 1, Part 2


A Light On Hanoi

October 13, 2016

“When I tell a friend I’m going to watch Hanoi T&T FC play he offers up a derisory snort. I get my bike fixed and the local mechanic shakes his head and mutters something in a tone that suggests derision, a bartender laughs at me. I am clearly not in on the joke. Vietnam is a football mad nation but ask a Vietnamese person if they follow a team here and they blush. My Airbnb host in Ho Chi Minh City woke up in the early hours to cheer on Manchester United against Southampton, watching Zlatan Ibrahimovic score his debut Premier League goal.” In Bed With Maradono


The enduring bond between Torino and River Plate

September 12, 2016

river-torino
“When Lucas Boyé struck a looping wonder goal from the edge of the box on his Torino debut last month, he did much more than announce himself on the Italian football scene. The Argentine’s dipping effort – spectacular as it was – also carried the weight of history behind it. Boyé, after all, arrived in Italy from River Plate, the Buenos Aires club whose links to Torino go back more than half a century to the most tragic day in Italian football history, 4 May 1949. That was the day the Grande Torino died, an entire squad wiped out when the plane carrying them home from a friendly game at Benfica crashed into the Superga hillside overlooking Turin amidst the thick fog that hangs so often above the Po Valley.” the set pieces (Video)


Mythbusters: Why Critics of Robbie Keane Were Wrong

August 31, 2016

Robbie Keane will call time on his 18-year Ireland career having made a record 145 senior appearances for his country
“While Ireland basked in the love-in of an almost year-long Brian O’Driscoll farewell, his counterpart on the national football team hasn’t always enjoyed 100% support. But when the history of the Irish game is written, Robbie Keane will rightly be spoken of in the same breath as our retired rugby icon. After 18 years, Keane has decided to hang up his international boots and it’s only when he’s gone will we realise what we’ve missed.” Pom Mo Goal


2016–17 UEFA Champions League

August 28, 2016

maxresdefault
“The 2016–17 UEFA Champions League is the 62nd season of Europe’s premier club football tournament organised by UEFA, and the 25th season since it was renamed from the European Champion Clubs’ Cup to the UEFA Champions League. The 2017 UEFA Champions League Final will be played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. The winners of the 2016–17 UEFA Champions League will qualify as the UEFA representative at the 2017 FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, and also earn the right to play against the winners of the 2016–17 UEFA Europa League in the 2017 UEFA Super Cup. Real Madrid are the defending champions.” Wikipedia


Issue three of Póg Mo Goal’s magazine is available now (for free!)

August 20, 2016

“Irish website Póg Mo Goal has launched another edition of its superbly put together magazine, with contributions covering a wide variety of topics. The third issue of the magazine is available free in selected stores and online for a fee to cover shipping. It features 40 pages of excellent feature writing and beautiful photography and illustrations including an interview with the team behind YouTube channel COPA90.” backpagefootball, €5.99 – On Sale


Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland)

July 23, 2016

“… I have tried to make all the club crests on the map approximately the same size. From the original blank map I added lakes in Sweden and Finland, plus I also added flanking-edge areas not in the original blank map (in the Baltic States/Eastern Europe and in NE Netherlands). I did this because I had to tilt the original map to orient it in a more North-South axis. That was necessary because the original map’s focal point was the Norwegian Sea, not the Scandinavian Peninsula, and so Scandinavia-and-Finland looked distorted – until I tilted the whole map about ~20 degrees.” Bill Sport Maps


Euro 2016: Russia given suspended disqualification

June 15, 2016

russiavenglandviolence_getty
“The Russians have also been fined 150,000 euros (£119,000) following violent scenes at the game against England in Marseille on Saturday. The suspended disqualification and fine relate only to incidents that happened inside the stadium. There were reports of minor disturbances between rival fans in Lille on Tuesday evening. Russia play Group B rivals Slovakia in the city on Wednesday, while England fans are congregating there before Thursday’s match against Wales in the nearby town of Lens.” BBC (Video)

Is Russia exporting a new breed of football hooligan?
“Violence has been part of Russian football for many years. Clashes inside stadiums and organised fights away from them are common. But this weekend’s mass disturbances in Marseille have thrust Russian hooliganism into the international spotlight. The Russian Football Union expressed regret over the fighting and Russia’s sports minister described those involved as a disgrace. But other senior officials have praised the hooligans openly as ‘real men’. Meanwhile the fans themselves seem largely unrepentant, even proud.” BBC (Video)


Cristiano Ronaldo v Atlético: Will he score?

May 26, 2016

“Cristiano Ronaldo scored the last time Real Madrid met Atlético in a UEFA Champions League final, but can he do so again in Milan? UEFA.com picks out some key statistics.” UEFA


Is the integrity of international football under threat?

March 28, 2016

“Mid-March is upon us and the business end of the football season has arrived where we start to get an idea of the future destination of all the big prizes in both domestic and European football. As Sir Alex Ferguson famously remarked ‘It’s squeaky-bum time’. It also sees the arrival of the calendar year’s first worldwide international break where top level football across Europe takes a week’s break for a round of international matches. With 2016 being an even-numbered year and in addition a European Championships year for UEFA’s members, this batch of friendly matches has more of an edge to it than your traditional drab and half-hearted friendly international fixture that takes place prior to the start of the European league season in early August.” Outside of the Boot


What Is Brussels?

March 23, 2016

“What is Brussels? The images of Tuesday’s attacks are of a city in transit, a crowded metro and a bustling airport, banal sites of everyday movement—now turned into spaces of death. The city is much less legible and familiar than Paris. We learn of fragments of its geography—an immigrant neighborhood called Molenbeek and downtown subway station called Maelbeek—but what connects them? Brussels is many things at once: the de facto capital of the European Union, a contested site in the long-running conflict between Dutch- and French-speaking groups, and a city of immigrants, remarkably cosmopolitan and diverse—a crossroads of histories and conflicts. The city is a place, but we should also think of it as a project: imperfect, unfinished, but essential.” Slate – Laurent Dubois


The Downfall of Genoa

March 16, 2016

“From 1096 to 1797 the Republic of Genoa was one of the most powerful city-states in Italy and Europe. Alongside Venice, Pisa and Amalfi, it was one of the Maritime Republics, independent entities provided with a fleet of ships both for their own protection and to support their rich and extensive trade networks all over the Mediterranean Sea. During the 16th century Genoa flourished under the government of the admiral Andrea Doria (one of the two teams which in 1946 merged to form Sampdoria was named after him) but after reaching its peak the Republic fell in 1797, when Napoleone Bonaparte established the Ligurian Republic. In the 2014/2015 football season the region flourished much like it had in the 16th century: Genoa finished sixth on the table, with three points more than city rivals Sampdoria, who placed 7th but still qualified for the Europa League play-offs at the expense of the Rossoblu, who were denied a UEFA licence by the FIGC. Both Genoese teams outdid AC Milan and Inter Milan in the league table.” Stats Bomb


How wonderful life is: The joy of Watford’s world

January 4, 2016

“Even though I’m a Watford boy, I used to hold a season ticket at Tottenham Hotspur. I went between 1998 and 2003 with my dad, alternating with my brother Richard, who was there for Sol Campbell’s return. I was at the 3-5 defeat against Man United, and also the 1-3 loss in the Worthington Cup against Birmingham. Unpredictable, full of flair, and lots of foreign talent, Spurs were fine, but Man United won things, so I switched to them in 2003.” Football Pink


Are League of Ireland clubs finally leaving the quick-fix mentalities behind?

November 6, 2015

“This coming Sunday, November 8th, will see the curtain come down on yet another League of Ireland season as league Champions Dundalk battle back to back league runners up Cork City in the 2015 FAI Cup final. Despite the fact the domestic league here in Ireland has one of the longest off-seasons in Europe you will already find businesses being done by the majority of the twenty league clubs in preparation for 2016.” backpagefootball


1985 – Division One, Year Zero?

October 23, 2015

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“From the moment a shirtless Michel Platini gleefully paraded the European Cup trophy around the chaos-ravaged Heysel Stadium on May 29th 1985, English football had to face the stark reality that its existence would never be the same again. The tragedy in Brussels claimed the lives of 39 people when a decaying wall collapsed under the pressure of hundreds of fleeing Italians. The responsibility for those deaths – and the majority of the trouble witnessed in and around Heysel that day – was laid squarely at the foot of the riotous, out-of-control Liverpool fans. The events of that evening were shocking in the extreme, yet this was not an isolated incident; Heysel was a gruesome punctuation to a decade long charge sheet built up against the English. Certain rampant hooligan elements who attached themselves to English clubs (and the national team) had long since spilled over the Channel from domestic football to the continent. For some time, UEFA had been itching to censure English clubs for the behaviour of their fans abroad – the Heysel disaster finally provided them with the necessary gun from which to fire their bullets.” Football Pink


No goals in Paris, joy for City, Galatasaray, Malmö

October 23, 2015

“Paris Saint-Germain v Real Madrid ended goalless, Manchester City scored late to defeat Sevilla, and Galatasaray and Malmö earned long-awaited group victories.” UEFA


Platini and Blatter’s “thing between two men” defense explains why neither should be FIFA president

October 21, 2015

“This has not been a good month for Michel Platini. When September turned to October, UEFA president Platini was the clear front-runner to replace beleaguered FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who was supposedly planning to finally step down after the February 2016 FIFA presidential elections. Platini had it good. Europe had his back, so did many Asian and South American nations. Everything was rainbows and champagne, even though there were always plenty of questions about Platini’s past and candidacy. And then everything crumbled. It must have been devastating.” Fusion


A UEFA Champions League underdog you can hate: Meet FC Astana

September 30, 2015

“The team is funded by income from oil and natural gas interests. Its players have been seduced by high salaries to join the squad. Part of the team’s reason for being is to attract visitors to its country. In fact, the country’s president founded the club’s umbrella organization.” Fusion


Barcelona beaten 4-1, Juve problems continue

September 24, 2015

“Barcelona suffered a big shock and Juventus stuttered again while Real Madrid and Lyon impressed. We round up how the group stage contenders got on in Wednesday’s action.” UEFA


20 years since the Bosman ruling

September 20, 2015

“The transfer system in football wasn’t always the way it is today – a free market in the true sense of the phrase. In fact, for most of the 20th century, it was quite the opposite. Admittedly, we still retain some core features of the old transfer system. For example, contracts generally lasted anywhere between one and five years back then, and would normally expire on June 30th of any given year, which is more or less how it works today.” backpagefootball – Part 1, Part 2


Iceland’s place at Euro 2016 a result of calculated development, growth

September 10, 2015

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“Iceland’s ascent as a footballing nation, falling at the final hurdle of 2014 World Cup qualification before become one of the first to qualify for Euro 2016, has been one of the big surprises in recent years. However, looking at the infrastructure the tiny island nation has built, it seems like less of a mystery and more of an inevitability. Despite an average daily temperature hovering around freezing for nearly half the year, Iceland has been slowly creeping toward the upper echelons of European football since the new millennium. Seven of the squad that pulled off a historic double against the Netherlands, winning 1-0 away from home on Sept. 3 after a 2-0 victory in Reykjavík in October, also qualified for the 2011 UEFA Under-21 Championship.” SI (Video)


Wales, Iceland, and Wait, Who? Your Not-Quite-Last-Minute Guide to Euro 2016 Qualifying

September 8, 2015

“You know what’s not fun? Having to go a weekend without club soccer, yet this is the reality the gods1 of FIFA and UEFA have cast upon us over the next few days. But you know what is fun? International tournaments. You might remember exciting events such as last summer’s Women’s World Cup, when the USWNT kicked ass and Carli Lloyd finally became a household name. Or perhaps you recall the summer before, when Germany made David Luiz cry. If evoking either of those memories makes you yearn for the past, do not fret: After two summers of World Cups, the European Championships kick off in June 2016.” Grantland


How UEFA can fix Financial Fair Play

July 25, 2015

“It has been five years since Michel Platini promised to save European football from financial ruin. The introduction of the Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules gave fans hope that success in football would no longer be decided by how much money a Russian oil tycoon or Middle Eastern sheikh could throw at a club. But the rules in their current format are not stopping super rich clubs from spending eye watering amounts of money. Seven of the top ten transfers of all time have occurred in the last two years and financial experts warned against ‘reckless wage spending last summer, four years after the introduction of FFP. The rule make no attempt to improve the chances of well run clubs who see no benefit from living within their means.” backpagefootball


FIFA Inquiry Yields Indictments; U.S. Officials Vow to Pursue More

May 27, 2015

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“United States law enforcement officials declared in forceful terms on Wednesday that their broad investigation of FIFA had only begun and pledged to rid the international soccer organization of systemic corruption. The Justice Department, F.B.I. and I.R.S. described soccer’s governing body in terms normally reserved for Mafia families and drug cartels, saying that top officials treated FIFA business decisions as chits to be traded for personal wealth. One soccer official took in more than $10 million in bribes, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said. The schemes involving the fraud included the selection of South Africa as the host of the 2010 World Cup; the 2011 FIFA presidential elections; and several sports-marketing deals.” NY Times (Video)

FIFA: U.S. alleges corruption, indicts 14; Switzerland opens separate probe
“‘The indictment also alleges that corruption and bribery extended to the 2011 presidential FIFA election, and to agreements regarding sponsorship of the Brazilian national soccer team by a major U.S. sportswear company,’ U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told reporters in New York on Wednesday while providing details about the U.S. corruption investigation into FIFA officials and others. FIFA executives and others used bribes to influence where the 2010 World Cup would be held, Lynch told reporters Wednesday while providing details about the U.S. corruption investigation of FIFA. The 2010 World Cup was held in South Africa.” CNNN (Video)

Fifa officials corrupted football – US prosecutors
“US prosecutors have accused several officials from football’s governing body Fifa of racketeering, fraud and money laundering involving tens of millions of dollars over 24 years. Prosecutors said they had discovered a dozen schemes, including one awarding the 2010 World Cup to South Africa. Fourteen people have been indicted, with seven held in Zurich on Wednesday. Fifa president Sepp Blatter is not among them. Fifa still intends to hold its presidential election on Friday. However, European football body Uefa has called for the election to be postponed and said it would decide on Thursday whether to boycott the congress. Mr Blatter is seeking re-election and is favoured to win a fifth term.” BBC (Video)


Italy v Croatia: Boss Niko Kovac expects Uefa punishment

November 17, 2014

“Croatia coach Niko Kovac expects European governing body Uefa to punish his country following trouble during a Euro 2016 qualifier in Italy. The match ended 1-1 but was marred by crowd unrest as fans threw fireworks and smoke bombs on to the pitch. Referee Bjorn Kuipers was forced to twice stop the game and 16 Croatia supporters were arrested. ‘Of course Croatia will face sanctions, but there is no reason for any point deductions,’ said Kovac.” BBC


Season of firsts lays ahead for Gibraltar

August 29, 2014

“Since May 24th, 2013, the Gibraltar national football team have achieved many firsts, and have written their names into the history books. On November 19th of that year, Allen Bula’s squad represented the British colony in their first official UEFA fixture against Slovakia, earning a commendable 0-0 draw. Against the Faroe Islands in March of the following year, Roy Chipolina scored their first official goal in a 4-1 loss and three months later a strike from Kyle Casciaro earned Gibraltar a first official win against Malta. Next month, the national team will reach another milestone when they line up against Poland for their first official qualifier for Euro 2016 in France.” backpagefootball


Non monsieur: why Michel Platini’s 40-team World Cup idea is misguided

October 30, 2013

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“Another day, another wearying proposal to ruin football. This time it was Michel Platini, the Uefa president who long ago surpassed Sepp Blatter as the global game’s greatest nonsense machine, who shook the kaleidoscope of self-interest and came up with a proposal to expand the World Cup finals from 32 to 40 teams. More games! More countries! More fans! More money! More votes! Hurrah!” Guardian – Jonathan Wilson


UEFA charges CSKA Moscow over Yaya Toure’s racism claims

October 24, 2013

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“UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against CSKA Moscow after Manchester City’s Yaya Toure claimed he was abused by monkey chants from the stands in Wednesday’s European Champions League encounter with the Russian club. The Ivorian made his concerns known to the referee and said he was ‘furious’ after the Group D game at the Arena Khimki, which City won 2-1. But CSKA released a statement on its website denying there was any racist chanting and told CNN that UEFA’s match delegate wasn’t aware of any either. European football’s governing body UEFA told CNN it had no official comment to make on CSKA’s claim.” CNN (Video)


Is the Premier League providing corporate cover for ‘corrupt’ foreign owners and regimes?

August 6, 2013

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“‘In this meeting of a desperate UK economy with Abu Dhabi’s fortunes’ wrote David Conn in the Guardian this week, ‘there is a limit to the UK government’s disapproval over allegations of torture and flaws in the UAE legal system.’ But then domestic attitudes have always been a little on the liberal side when it comes to owners of Manchester City. Six years ago nobody in a position of much authority had anything very accusing to say about Thaksin Shinawatra after his £81million take-over of the club, save for the Thai authorities who spent a couple of years frantically posting out arrest warrants like junk mail over a catalogue of offences against the state.” Think Football

Jury remains out on Michel Platini’s financial fair play project
“For all of Michel Platini’s tough talk, conspicuous consumption has once again been the order of the day this summer from the gilded boulevards of Monaco to the fast-changing post-industrial landscape of east Manchester. Arsène Wenger has labelled the situation ‘a joke’. As Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur haggle over just how much the Spanish giants will pay for Gareth Bale and in how many instalments, the likely world record fee will add further to the volume of disgruntled muttering surrounding the implementation of the Uefa president’s financial fair play project.” Guardian


Financial losses, potential penalties put FFP’s development in a bind

July 13, 2013

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“In 2009 Michel Platini, the president of UEFA, announced that something was finally going to be done about the arms race in European soccer. With great fanfare it was announced that regulations, known as Financial Fair Play, had been agreed to limit excessive spending, especially by the notorious ‘sugar daddies’ — wealthy individuals who use their financial muscle to stockpile talent and effectively buy titles. Many soccer fans welcomed the initiative, believing that prudential regulation was long overdue in the light of the persistent insolvency of European clubs.” ESPN (Video)