Archive for the 'Europe' Category

Dec 02 2013

Profile Image of Vishnu Kadiyala

The Danish Fairy Tale

A friend of mine is a fan of F.C. København, the most successful Danish league side of the last 10 years. København have won 7 of the last 10 Danish Superliga titles, but are more famous for being a Cinderella team that beat Manchester United and drew Barcelona and Manchester City in the Champions League. Remarkably, however,  København is not the most successful Cinderella that Denmark has produced. That honor belongs to the Danish team that won Euro 1992 against all odds, which wrote a fairy tale that can rival any work by Hans Christian Andersen

The Champions

The Team that shouldn’t have even been there

European football in th 1970s and 1980s was dominated by the Germans and Dutch. These bitter rivals had won 3 of the 5 Euros held in that timespan, and were favored to repeat then dominance in the 1992 Euros. But qualification had to occur first. Sweden, as host country qualified automatically, while the Netherlands, Germany, France, England and Scotland qualified by winning their groups. The Soviet Union qualified, then ceased to exist as a country, but sent a team under the name “Commonwealth of Independent States.” The last team to qualify was Yugoslavia, who had beat out Denmark, Northern Ireland, the Faroe Islands, and Austria for a spot at Euro 1992.

But as so often occurs in football, fate had other plans. After the death of Marshal Tito, ethnic tensions had risen in the Soviet Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The various ethic groups started arming themselves, creating a very volatile situation. In mid 1992, Slovenia and Croatia declared independence, starting the Yugoslav Civil wars. During these conflicts, atrocities such as the last genocide in Europe occured, resulting in the breakup of Yugoslavia. In an effort to calm the situation, the United Nations passed Security Council Resolution 757, which banned Yugoslav participation in global evens. Part g of the resolution banned Yugoslav participation in sporting events

As a result, the Yugoslav team was disqualified from the 1992 Euros. Denmark, the runners-up in that group, were selected to replace them. Barring the disqualification of  the former Yugoslavia, Denmark would not have has a chance to write one of the most remarkable tales in soccer history.

The Danish Team

The Danish team, despite finishing runners up in their group, were actually a solid team. In the 1984 Euros, they had lost to Spain, the eventual runners up, on penalities in the Semifinals. The 1992 team boasted players such Peter Schmeichel, Brian Laudrup, Henrik Andersen, and Flemming Søgaard Povlsen, who all played in the major leagues of Europe. However, the most famous and talented player of that Danish generation, Michael Laudrup, had decided not to go to the tournament due to differences with the coach. Famously, Michael Laudrup though Denmark’s chances were so low that he decided to stay on holiday instead of representing his country

 

Laudrup must have regretted his decision

 

The Group Stages

Denmark was placed in a group with France, England, and Sweden (which was another stroke of luck-they may not have qualified from the other group). In the 1st game, they played England, drawing 0-0. In their second game, Denmark faced the host nation, Sweden, but lost 1-0 thanks to a goal by the Parma midfielder Tomas Brolin. At this point, qualification was still possible, but Denmark was last in their group, with only 1 point (France and England had drawn their first two games, so were ahead of Denmark but behind Sweden). At this point, qualification was not in Denmark’s hands; if England won their game by a small margin, Denmark would have been eliminated on goals scored and head to head results.

But Sweden defeated England 2-1 after falling behind early. It was now up to the Danes to determine their own destiny.

In the last game of the Group stages, Denmark faced France, a team brimming with talent. At that point, France boasted players such as Didier Deschamps, Eric Cantona, Laurent Blanc and jean Pierre Papin. During the game, Denmark took an early lead when henrik Larsen scored in the 8th minute. But Papin equalized for France in the 60th minute. As the clock ticked down, Lars Elstrup scored in the 78th minute.  With this goal, Denmark was through to the knockout stages.

The Knockout Stages

But what chance did Denmark have? They were drawn against the mighty Dutch team, who were mounting a strong defence of their 1988 championship The Dutch boasted players such as Ruud Gullit, Marco Van Basten, Dennis Bergkamp, Frank De Boer, Frank Riijkard, and Wim Kieft. Gullit, Van Basten, and Riijkard had formed the backbone of the famous Arrigio Saachi A.C Milan teams of the late 1980s, which had won back-to-back European Cups (a feat which has not been equaled since).   The Dutch were heavily favored, but football is a game of where any given team can win given the right circumstances.

Those circumstances were provided by Henrik Larsen, who gave Denmark the lead in the 5th minute. The Dutch equalized due to a Dennis Bergkamp goal, but Larsen scored again in the 33rd minute. As the clock was winding down, Denmark seemed destined for a famous victory. But Ruud Gullit scored with 3 minutes to spare, sending the game into overtime. Though both teams threatened, the match went to penalties. It was Peter Schemichel’s time to shine. The newly minted Manchester United keeper has just finished as runners up (to give this a little perspecitive, Sir Alex Ferguson had not yet won his first Premier League). The first Dutch and Danish penalties were scored, but on the second Dutch Penalty, Schmeichel was able to save van Basten’s penalty

 

The rest of the Danish and Dutch scored, so Denmark won5-4 on Penalties, eliminating the defending champions

 

The Final

Still, Denmark couldn’t repeat another miracle, could they? After all, they were facing Germany, one of the best teams in the world. The Germans had won the 1990 World Cup, and boasted future legends such as Matthias Sammer, Jürgen Klinsmann, Bodo Illgner, and Andreas  Brehme.  They had easily beaten Sweden 3-2, with Sweden’s last goal coming in garbage time. Again, the Danes were heavy underdogs.

 

Surprisingly, the Danes took the lead in the 18th minute- John Jensen, who was later bough by Arsenal solely because of his efforts in the final, scored a screamer with his left foot. It was the first real goal scoring oppurtunity, but the Danes had capitalized. But the German seemed determined to score. For the next 60 minutes, they laid siege to the Danish goal. shot after shot was on targer, with Schmeichel performing acrobatic saves to preserve the Danish lead. It seemed that the Germans would eventually be rewarded for their dominance

But the Danes had destiny on their side. During Euro 1992, one of the most touching stories was that of Kim Vilfort . Vilfort was a Brøndby IF player who was a solid if unspectacular player. Picked to replace Laudrup, he was one of Denmark’s few true offensive threats. However, Vilfort had a 7 year old daughter, Line Vilfort, who was striken with Leukemia. During the tournament, Vilfort had to twice leave the Danish camp because his daughter’s condition was deteriorating. However, he was sent back by his family to rejoin the team, and had scored one of the penalities in the shootout against the Dutch.

In pretty much the second actual chance for the Danes, Vilfort shot a low goal  in the 78th minute that evaded Bodo illgner and gave the Danes a comfortable cushion.. They weathered relentless German attempts for another 12 minutes, after which Denmark Were champions of Europe. Sadly, however, Line Vilfort would die soon after the tournament

 

 

Denmark’s victory at the 1992 Euros remains the most remarkable moment in the history of that championship. It showed how a team with no superstars could beat teams brimming with individual talent if they possessed defensive discipline, efficient counterattacking, and a healthy dose of luck. The Danes wrote the blueprint which Greece successfully followed in 2004. Yet, the Danish victory remains the most improbable result in the history of the Euros due to the fact that had it not been for Yugoslavia’s disqualification, the team would never have been in the tournament. Yet, Denmark were worthy winners, writing one of the unlikeliest fairy tales in the history of the game.

 

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Dec 01 2013

Profile Image of Kavin Tamizhmani

What’s Wrong with the England Team?

Boasting the likes of Rooney, Lampard, Terry, and others, it is difficult to fathom the lack of success for the English national soccer team. Since defeating West Germany in 1966 4-2, England has failed to win the Fifa World Cup. England has not reached the semifinal of a major tournament since Euro 1996 and in Euro 2012 they were defeated by Italy in the quarterfinals. Current coach of the England squad and former Manchester United great, Gary Neville, expressed his guarded optimism for the English team at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. He stated, “I don’t think anybody in the England set-up – fans, coaches, players or management – are saying we are going to go to Brazil and win it. When we qualified for the World Cup in 1998 in Rome by getting a draw, everyone thought it was the greatest result of all time (1).”

England squad line up for team photo before their World Cup 2010 qualifying soccer match against Ukraine in Dnipropetrovsk

Neville asserts that the English squad will always face unrealistic expectations by home fans, despite the fact that they have never won a World Cup in South America or in the United Kingdom. Paul Scholes supported Neville’s comments stating that England lacks in quality wins against established squads. Scholes says, “I always get the impression that, whenever England come up against a big nation like those, it is usually a signal that we are going to go out. They’re OK against the Polands and Ukraines — England will beat them all day long — but as soon as a top team comes along? Well…” Scholes goes on to lament the lack of quality players compared to Argentina and Spain.

Capello_flow2

Interestingly, some of the top talent described by Scholes and Neville perfect their craft in the English Premier League (EPL). They forget that the great Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano began their career at lowly West Ham United before joining more established clubs. Thus, although the EPL has come under fire recently for the lack of quality homegrown talent, the league is still widely regarded as the most challenging league in the world compared to Serie A or La Liga due to the physical nature of the English game. In spite of the production of great foreign players, why has this current crop of English players not lived up to their billing in tournaments?

article rooney

One primary reason for this ineptitude by England could be attributed to the lack of an identity for the national team. Although England does have superstars, who will be the leaders on the pitch and within the locker room? Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand argued “People talk about the identity of the English national team, well I’d like to know what it is. If you say ‘we’ve got an identity’, then what is it? Break it down, tell me what it is. If I said to you ‘what’s Germany’s identity as a national team? Resilience? Discipline? They’ve still got a bit of that, along with the new stuff – movement, retention of the ball, and so on. I just don’t know what ours is. I’m not even just talking about our first team. I’m talking about their under-21s, under-19s, under-18s and so on. If you look at any of their [Germany’s] teams, you would say they play the same way. Not just Germany, but Spain too. In ours, I don’t really see that (2).”

To try to solve the issues in the English squad, Ferdinand is involved in the Football Association Commission to try to revitalize the image of the national team. By implementing changes at a grassroots level, he believes England can once again compete at the highest level with other European powerhouses. With some of the game’s top youth academies, England has the potential to mold together a great squad. It may not be successful at this World Cup, but it remains to be seen what the national team’s identity will become in the near future.

What are your thoughts on what’s wrong with the England team?

If interested, there’s another great article in the New York Times discussing these issues.

 

1- http://espnfc.com/news/story/_/id/1633590/england-not-pressure?cc=5901

2- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/international/10468955/Manchester-United-defender-Rio-Ferdinand-claims-England-national-teams-lacks-an-identity.html

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Nov 21 2013

Profile Image of Ale Barel Di Sant'Albano

2013 Surely has been CR7’s year?

Unlucky Ribery, it looks like a champions league, Bundesliga title and a Pokal Cup will not be enough to help you win the historic Ballon D’Or.  After months of trying to figure out should Ribery win the prestigious award as his team won a historic Treble, or was Messi’s end to the 2012/2013 season enough for him to seal it, Cristiano Ronaldo shows up in the clutch scoring two goals in 38 seconds to send his nation to Brazil in 2014.

In addition the news that Fifa has extended the ballot voting period until the end of the month will allow those who want to change there previous decision, which ultimately, cannot be good news for Ribéry either. Ronaldo’s display was one that the football Gods can only dream of, one matched to Messi’s at the Santiago Bernabau in 2012, or Paolo Rossi in the 1982 World Cup final and even Diego Maradona’s touch of class against England. He was simply flawless.

He was taunted and booed by the Swedes the entire night. Every time he touched the ball, dribbled, lost possession or took a ridiculous shot on goal. His performance in Stockholm was one that represents the new Ronaldo, no longer a young arrogant player who when suffering with his feet, takes it out on his teammates, stops passing the ball, and simply beating himself up in the corner of the pitch.  He controlled the game on Tuesday, when Portugal was down and required a quick momentum change CR7 was there to make the difference. When Portugal rocked, he refused to allow them to tumble. He continued his impeccable club form on international duty. As Andy Brassell wrote “The scorecard may have read Zlatan 2 Cristiano 3 but the difference was much more appreciable. Ibrahimovic gives hope where there is none. Ronaldo makes the impossible possible.” Moreover, his hat-trick capped tying the all-time scoring charts for Portugal with 47 goals at the young age of 28.

Although I would still agree that so far in his career Messi has been the better of the two, as much as it pains me to say this, 2013 has been Cristiano’s year.

 

If you wish to watch a great documentary presented on ITV4 (U.K television) last month click here

[2]cr7

RONALDO’S INCREDIBLE NUMBERS… by Sam Stevens 

66 Ronaldo has scored an incredible 66 goals for club and country in 2013. That includes 56 goals in 46 games for Real Madrid and 10 in nine for Portugal.

8 The 28-year-old is the top scorer in the Champions League this season with eight goals, one ahead of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and two ahead of Lionel Messi.

1.20 Goals per game ratio for Ronaldo in 2013. And it gets better if you only look at this season. He has 31 goals in 21 appearances in 2013-14. That’s 1.48 goals per game.

16 The Portuguese is also the top scorer in La Liga this season with 16 goals in 13 matches. He already has twice as many as Messi.

47 Ronaldo equalled Pauleta’s national record of 47 goals for Portugal. The forward is closing in on Bobby Charlton and Thierry Henry’s records, but has a way to go before he catches Gerd Muller (68) and Pele (77).

5 Ronaldo has outscored the Premier League’s five biggest clubs in 2013. Liverpool (61), Man City (56), Arsenal (55), Man United (54) and Chelsea (54) have all scored fewer league goals this year than Ronaldo has scored in
all competitions.

225 Since joining Real Madrid, Ronaldo has scored 225 goals in 216 games for the club. In just five years he has already become Madrid’s fifth highest scorer and is closing in on Ferenc Puskas (242, right) in fourth. [1]

 

 



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Nov 07 2013

Profile Image of Kavin Tamizhmani

Diving in Soccer

Filed under Europe,FIFA,Uncategorized

post image

 

This is one of many posters denouncing that terrible act that is too often encountered in football, diving. Here, Ashley Young, a player for Manchester United is shown in a parody of Bruce Willis’s Die Hard in Dive Hard 2. Iain Mcintosh of ESPN Soccernet addressed the prevalence of diving in soccer today with this great piece. After the Real Sociedad versus Manchester United Match, Young’s recent antics brought diving right back to the forefront of discussion. Even after Sir Alex Ferguson and current United manager David Moyes have urged Young to not rely on these dirty tactics, he continues to be in the news for the wrong reasons since his transfer to United from Aston Villa.

In the English Premier League, Young is not the only prominent player to be accused of diving. The great Luis Suarez, an absolute magician who can conjure goals out of nothing for Liverpool, has been under fire for his dives. Compared to Young though, he is an absolutely brilliant actor. In fact, if there was an oscar awarded in football for diving, Suarez would be up there with the likes of Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets and Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo for performances like these.

suarez dive

While these acts happen, people point to better refereeing to remedy the situation, but it is not as simple of a fix as one would assume possible. Unfortunately, in these situations, the referee is put into a tight bind. Since player safety is always the utmost priority on their part, how can referees eliminate instances of obvious cheating? Macintosh suggests that to remove diving from the game we can completely eliminate it by playing the advantage in these situations as the most extreme solution. Interestingly, he also proposes the use of a panel to determine how to dole out retrospective punishment for these major offenses that can easily dictate the outcome of crucial matches from the Champions League to the World Cup stage. This panel would be well suited to asses the complaints made by teams to ensure that these incidents do not happen. By ignoring the situation, we only exacerbate the problem by permitting these acts to continue to occur. Players must realize that there are repercussions for their actions that often go unobserved because they occur in small instances over the course of matches. By having an committee in place overseeing these issues, soccer can once again be played like it was supposed to be as the beautiful game.

What do you all think about the best ways to tackle the complex issue of diving? I would love to hear your thoughts. 

 

4 responses so far

Oct 29 2013

Profile Image of Ale Barel Di Sant'Albano

The Racialisation of Football in Italy

The conversation in today’s class has spurned me to look into the racialization and politization of football in Italy. Both Italy and France share many similarities in that, football creates a huge platform for media attention. Football players in European countries often receive more media attention than politicians and for that reason they are often a representation of there countries. Like France, Italy is in an awkward position politically as there seems to be a power vacuum that has allowed a strong nationalistic right wing party to emerge. In Italy this is the Lega Nord.

polentata

 

The Lega Nord, is a political party that believes in clamping down on immigration by closing the Italian borders to Muslim immigrants and limiting the amount of African immigrants in Italy. Most recently, the leader of the party, Roberto Calidroli said ”I love animals, but when I see her, I can’t help but think of an orangutan” in reference to Cécile Kyenge, Italy’s minister of integration, at a recent festival organised by the Lega.  Kyenge is black, was appointed to the Cabinet in April, and Calderoli added that “maybe Kyenge should be a minister in her own country [sic] … she is only encouraging illegal immigrants to dream of success”.

download (1)

The article below demonstrates the recurring problem of racism in Italian football, it illustrates the racial history of Italy, where it began and how it has emerged into such a problem. But overall, it illustrates that the future of Italy revolves around figures such as Mario Balotelli and Cecile Kyenge. Balotelli with his exposure to the media could transform how the youth look at race in Italy, especially if he is to lead Italy far into the World Cup much like he did in Euro 2012.

Mario-Balotelli-scores-against-Germany

 

Must Read:  http://espn.go.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/9338962/when-beautiful-game-turns-ugly

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Oct 28 2013

Profile Image of Jordan Cirocco

UEFA President Calls for World Cup Expansion to Forty-Team Format

Responding to Fifa President Sepp Bladder’s recent call to expand the number of African and Asian berths to the World Cup at the expense of European and South American nations, UEFA President Michel Platini believes that the tournament should be expanded to a forty team format. This expansion to forty teams would allow for the number of African and Asian representatives in the tournament to increase without reducing the number of European and South American representatives.

Blatter believes that European and South American nations hold an unfair advantage in dominating the make-up of the tournament, despite the having fewer members associations of FIFA than other territories. Pushing towards globalization of the sport, Blatter would like to see the numbers of berths of a territory be more reflective of the number of  FIFA member associations [1]. With only 63 member associations of FIFA, European and South American teams will account for 18 or 19 berths at the 2014 World Cup. Africa and Asia, on the other hand, will only be represented by 9 or 10 teams in total, despite accounting for 100 members associations of FIFA. Blatter believes that, “This flawed state of affairs must be rectified. At the end of the day an equal chance for all is the paramount imperative of elite sport.”

UEFA President Michel Platini, who many believe will be the successor to Bladder as FIFA President, feels that expansion of African and Asian berths should not come at the expense of European and South American nations. Instead, the tournament should be expanded to a forty-team format, with eight groups, each consisting of five teams [2]. He calculates that the length of the tournament would be expanded by only three days with this format. While this would add more berths for under-represented territories, this idea could significantly lower the quality of competition by adding berths to territories whose nations do not have teams of similar quality to that of Europe and South America.

As explained by the Nick Ackerman of Bleacher Report, “Although one of FIFA’s more commendable ideas, both Blatter and Platini have to consider the competitiveness of adding eight teams to the current setup.” With the last World Cup taking place in South Africa, only one of the six African teams in the competition was able to advance past the group stages [4]. This success rate is much lower than for the European (6 of 13) and South American (5 of 5) representatives. Additionally, with European and South American nations dominating the top 12 spots in the current FIFA rankings, it can be argued that these territories deserve the most representatives based on merit [5].

While I believe that Africa and Asia deserve more representatives in the World Cup, I do not agree that it should come at the expense of European and South American nations. I feel that this change could significantly lower the quality of competition in the tournament. I would be much more in favor of expansion, even if this resulted in the inclusion of lower quality teams in the tournament. I believe this format could result in qualification by nations who have fallen short of qualification due to the current format. With a more realistic opportunity for qualification, I believe that these nations will strive to produce a higher quality team that is able to compete on the World Stage. However, until the quality of teams in territories such as Africa and Asia matches those of Europe and South America, it is hard to argue for the number of berths per territory to better represent the proportion of member associations within FIFA.
References

[1] http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/25/us-soccer-world-blatter-idUSBRE99O0Z820131025

[2] http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/10/28/uk-soccer-world-platini-idUKBRE99R02T20131028

[3] http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1827509-michel-platini-calls-for-world-cup-to-be-expanded-to-40-teams

[4] http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/archive/southafrica2010/matches/

[5] http://www.fifa.com/worldranking/rankingtable/

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Oct 20 2013

Profile Image of Ale Barel Di Sant'Albano

The ignorance and naiveté surrounding the valuation of Football Players

As we the fans have seen over the past decade or so, the valuation of football stars has sky rocketed to new heights, heights that too many fans, can never be reached. Nonetheless there seems to be a large correlation to big money spending and the outcome of that given player at a club. How much can we actually value a player? Clubs seem to be always spending money on the wrong transfers. For instance, Liverpool’s 60 million pound splurge on Jordan Henderson, Andy Carroll and Stewart Downing or Chelsea’s 50 million spent on Fernando Torres or my personal favorite Ricardo Quaresma astounding 30 million pound move to Inter, however in the past three years economists such as Simon Kuper have been trying to argue that the net amount spent on transfers bears little relations to where they finish in the league. While, on the other hand, spending significant sums of money on wages generally helps the clubs success rate.

 

most_expensive_flops_final

 

Using the average league position in the Premier league compared to the relative wage spending there have been accurate results to Simon Kuper’s hypothesis over the past 15 years.

 

Club Average League Position Wage spending relative to the average spending of all clubs.
Man Utd                   2                 3.16
Arsenal                   2

2.63

Chelsea

3

3.50

Liverpool

4

2.68

Newcastle

9

1.93

Aston Villa

9

1.60

Tottenham

10

1.34

Everton

10

1.41

Middlesborough

12

1.32

Leeds

13

1.70

West Ham

14

1.31

Blackburn

14

1.41

Fulham

16

0.92

Southampton

16

1.24

Sunderland

18

0.92

Man City

18

1.24

Wigan

19

                      0.59
Wimbledon

19

0.94

Birmingham

20

                      0.74
Leicester

20

0.88

 

 

Let’s use a manager I despise as an example. Rafel Bentiez during his time at Liverpool encountered a “host of poor overpaid players” as Carragher wrote in his biography. He was charged with the blame of buying Ryan Babel for 15 million euros, Jermaine Pennant for 9 million,  Andrea Dossena for 10 million and my personal favorites Alberto Aquilani and Robbie keane for 25 million a piece. In 2008 Benitez signed Robbie Keane, at 28 years old (debatably his peak) for an astounding 25 million euros. Keane had never had a season where he scored over 20 goals. Six months after bringing him to Anfield, Benitez sold him back to Tottenham for 15 million euros. For all the spending Benitez did, many of his true stars were homegrown talents like Sami Hyypia, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher.

In the six years Benitez spent at Anfield he spent a total of 164 million euros more than he received from transfers compared to Sir Alex Ferguson’s 40 million, yet in those years United won 3 titles compared to Benitez’s best 3rd place finish. The largest problem is that managers often pay for the name, not for the play, especially those that are new to a club and are desperate to make an impression.

robbie_keane_liv_782685c

Over the past decade football has taken to stats through the evolution of stats in US sports, in particular Baseball. Billy Beane, the Oakland As general manager commemorated in Michael Lewis’s Moneyball, who subjugated the failings of baseball’s player-trading market to turn the Oakland As into a consistent powerhouse in the American League, has managed to do so by spending the least money on salary in the Major League.

 

Beane has been so successful that the world has adapted his methods to suit there sport. From this Kuper has created golden rules how to approach the transfer market.

  1. A new manager wastes money on transfers: don’t let him
    2. Stars of recent World Cups or European Championships are overvalued: ignore them
    3. Certain nationalities are overvalued (Brazilians and Dutch, for example)
    4. Older players are overvalued
    5. Centre-forwards are overvalued; goalkeepers are undervalued
    6. The best time to buy a player is when he is in his early twenties
    7. Sell any player when another club offers more than he is currently worth
    8. Replace your best players even before you sell them

 

From these 8 points there is one team that immediately come to mind, teams that make profits, win a lot of matches and produce great players right before they become superstars: Udinese

 

The line between playing a successful brand of football and running a profitable business is often a daunting task when anchoring a club, but in the case of Udinese, it has always been “bianconero”. Ever since taking over the reins of the Friulani over 25 years ago, Giampaolo Pozzo has maintained a clear vision on how the outfit would operate.

Their scouting system is vast and spreads over countless countries, but their focus has always been in both Africa and South America, continents with a vast number of unknown players such as the Kwadwo Asamoah, Mehdi Benatia, and Alexis Sanchez’s of the world. Pozzo has developed this connection buy hiring locals in foreign markets in order to tap into local talents. In addition, he has realized that a small market club like Udinese is never going to be able to bring the revenue of a European supergiant so he recently purchased Spanish club Granada in 2009 and more recently English side Watford to expand the system further. Players can now gain experience in vastly different footballing landscapes before moving back to Udinese a more matured prospect.  He can take the most well rounded players who have gained experience across the world and therefore will be more appealing to potential suitors.

ITALY SOCCER SERIE A

Over the past decade Udinese have netted close to €350m from players. In the last year alone the sales of stars such as Gokhan Inler (15mill) to Napoli, Alexis Sanchez (40 mill) to Barcelona, Cristian Zapata (13mill)  to Villarreal, Sulley Muntari (13 mill) to Portsmouth and other amounting to over 150 million. Despite the sale of all there key players, the Friulani still consistently qualify for the Champions League preliminary round again last season, leapfrogging the likes of Inter, Napoli, Lazio and Roma.

 

Udine is a city of 100,000 in the misty mountains near the border of Albania and Italy. With crowds at the Stadio Friuli typically no more than 17,000, and the majority of ticket sales going to the local commune, Udinese’s game day money making is non-existent. As the Swiss Ramble, a soccernomics blog clearly states Udinese’s 2009-10 wage bill of €31m cannot compare with €230m and €172m at Internazionale and Milan. Only the club’s savior, Di Natale, has an annual salary over €1m; Sanchez himself was only earning €700,000 (he now earns 4 million with Barcellona.) Internazionale, Milan and Juventus, all finish the year with revenues of over €200m. At €41m, Udinese did not match a single Premier League club. Income from television accounted for €26m; Internazionale’s  in there treble season was €138m.

 Transfer Success

Name Bought Sold
Pablo Armero From Palmeiras 2010
Fee: €1m

 

To Napoli  2013

Fee: 13 m

Gokhan Inler From FC Zurich 2007
Fee:c. €600,000

 

To Napoli 2012

Fee: 13 m

Kwadwo Asamoah From Bellinzona 2008
Fee: c. €400,000

 

To Juventus 2012

Fee: 15 m

Mehdi Benatia Free To Roma 2013

Fee: 13.5m

Samir Handanovic From AC Rimini 2008

Fee: 800,000k

To Inter 2011

Fee: 16m

Mauricio Isla From Universidad 2007

Fee: 550,000k

To Juventus 2012

Fee: 17mill

Fabio Quagliarella From Sampdoria 2007

Fee: 7.5 m

To Napoli 2009

Fee: 18m

Udinese has created the foundations for every club to follow. Never to they overspend on transfers. They always buy youth, build players and then sell them when they are worth more than there value. Although this is an incredible model teams such as Chelsea, Juventus and Barcelona have to adopt this model in order to create a winning model. Udinese will never be able to win with this team, but they sure are an entertaining team to watch when the Serie A season starts up each August.

3 responses so far

Oct 16 2013

Profile Image of Rosa Toledo

L’impulsion de Luis Suarez

Filed under Europe,Uruguay

On écoute souvent des footballeurs qui sont suspendus pour avoir enfreindre un règlement. Après ce type de transgression, il y a des suspensions et des sanctions que suivre. Quelques footballeurs qui ont été réprimandé incluent Ashley Cole et John Terry. Mais récemment Luis Suarez a été à la front ligne de ce type de scandale.

 

Le 24 avril, Luis Suarez, l’Uruguayen natal de 26 ans, était suspendu 10 matches par la Fédération anglaise du football. L’attaqueur du Liverpool était suspendu après avoir mordu le bras défendeur du Chelsea, Branislav Ivanovic la saison dernière. Sa suspension était un grand scandale car le club des Reds a pensé que la sanction était trop sévère. Mais c’est incident n’était pas le premier de ce type et on doit se demander si ces types d’incidents continueront car le passé et la réputation de Suarez n’indique pas qu’il est capable de jouer sans attirer le drame. Autres évènements qu’on terminer avec sanctions et suspensions inclut :

  1. En 2010, « le pistolero » était suspendu 7 matches pour avoir mordu autre adversaire. En 2010, son indiscrétion a été amendée par son club et avec une sanction de 235,00 Euros.
  2. Il y a deux saisons, Suarez avait reçu autre sanction de 8 matches pour avoir insulté Patrice Eyra en le disant commentaires racistes.

 

La carrière turbulente du Suarez indique qu’il n’arrêtera pas d’être suspendu. Mais une chose est claire, Liverpool a besoin de Suarez. Même s’il était aussi clair que Suarez avait voulu quitter Liverpool pour joindre l’Arsenal, puisque Liverpool n’a pas accepté l’offert de l’Arsenal, il paraît que tout a été oublier est que l’équipe est plus qu’heureux de l’avoir jouer. Maintenant il paraît que le récent retour du Suarez, l’actuel deuxième meilleur buteur de Premier League, sera monumental pour les Reds.

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Oct 08 2013

Profile Image of Natasha Catrakilis

An Uneven Playing Field

I’ve lived in the United States for over ten years now, and yet somehow I still struggle to remember the name of my hometown’s American football team (give me a sec… oh that’s right, Atlanta Falcons – Rise up!). Being a Greek South African (born in SA, but 100% of Greek descent), my sports upbringing was dominated primarily by soccer (with rugby and basketball coming in close second). However, the stop-and-go pace of American football as compared to the rhythmic flow of “the beautiful game” has always deterred me from ever watching more than one full quarter of a game.

I’d be lying if I told you I knew which NFL team won the most recent Super Bowl or who the best quarterback in the league is right now. In fact I’d be lying if I told you I even cared. But there is one thing that I do envy about American football (the NFL in particular), and that’s the fact that, unlike most European soccer leagues, it embraces an even playing field.

I’m a huge fan of the underdog. Ask me which team I want to win in a match and (unless it involves my beloved Olympiakos) I’m almost always rooting for the non-favored team. Perhaps it stems from being both the only daughter and youngest child in a loud, obnoxious Greek family, but there’s something about an unforeseen victory by an underrated opponent that gives me the utmost satisfaction. With all this being said, those of us who are avid European soccer fans know that the chances of an underdog team ever winning a domestic league championship are slim to none.

If we take a look at the champions of both La Liga and the English Premier League since the start of the 21st century, we see both leagues are dominated by less than a handful of teams. Since 2000, Real Madrid and Barcelona have been the two most undoubtedly successful teams in La Liga (with the rare occurrence of Valencia breaking through El Clasico barrier). Real and Barça have won 32 and 22 titles, respectively, since the establishment of La Liga in 19291. In fact, no other club has won the title on more than nine occasions1.

In the EPL, a similar trend can be seen, although it is not quite as strong or as historically rooted.

spanish english

However, if we take a look at the winners of the Super Bowl over the same time frame, we see a trend that falls on the total opposite end of the spectrum. In the last decade, 9 different teams have won the Super Bowl.

super bowl

What constitutes for this stark difference in playing fields? In essence, it is the drastically different economies of the NFL and European soccer.

Firstly, the NFL’s revenue-sharing model is what makes it possible for the sport to survive in any size market across the US. The majority of the league’s revenue comes from TV broadcast deals, and that income, in addition to any revenue made from licensing deals, is shared equally among all teams in the league5.

Secondly, the NFL consistently rewards mediocre franchises with the most talented young prospects through a reverse-order draft2. Any team from any city has the same opportunity to compete, and in order to ensure this, the NFL has created a variety of mechanisms to prevent a free market for talent2.  Player movement and salaries are severely restricted: a rookie draft denies young players the opportunity to have teams bid for their services, a salary cap prohibits teams from spending over a certain amount of money on players, and a franchise tag forces teams to give up two first-round picks to sign each other’s most coveted free agents2.

On the other hand, European soccer leagues are financially fractured. It’s every team for itself, a strikingly capitalistic nature when compared to the NFL.  In La Liga each team has different sponsorship and TV deals, creating a dichotomy between the value of the big-market teams and small-market teams, and there is also no cap when it comes to how much a player is worth6.

This nonrestrictive structure of La Liga allows clubs like Barça and Real to operate on a financially higher level and thus make deals that other clubs could only dream of acquiring. Who could forget this year’s transfer of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid for £85.3million, making him the most expensive transfer to date3. The fee eclipsed the £80million that Real paid in 2009 for Cristiano Ronaldo, the second most expensive transfer in the league, but still the highest paid player, making approximately $20.5 million a year, while Barça’s star Lionel Messi comes in close behind with an annual salary of around $20 million4.

Basically, there are no limits to how Barcelona and Real Madrid can acquire talent. However, since they have the best players, they also have the most fans. With more fans comes more money, and with more money, they can afford to buy the best players. It’s a never-ending cycle that gives way to an uneven playing field, but we can’t deny that it generates some incredible soccer.

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Spanish_football_champions

2. http://www.policymic.com/articles/2087/the-drastically-different-economics-of-the-nfl-and-european-soccer

3. http://www.mirror.co.uk/all-about/gareth%20bale%20transfer

4. http://www.forbes.com/pictures/mli45igdi/11-lionel-messi/

5. http://basketball.about.com/od/nba-vs-nbapa/ss/Revenue-Sharing-And-North-Americas-Major-Pro-Sports-Leagues_2.htm

6. http://www.sportsgrid.com/soccer/european-soccer-teams-dominate-top-of-forbes-most-valuable-sports-teams-list/

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Oct 08 2013

Profile Image of Ale Barel Di Sant'Albano

The Europa League a complete waste of time?

europa-league1

What exactly is the Europa League? It’s a second tier competition meant for those “losers” that miss out of competing in the Champions league. It means less T.V revenues, it means playing on a Thursday night (less recovery for league fixtures) and it means that you have to have two full squads in order to keep up with the competition. The Europa League has two extra legs in comparison to the Champions league and the overall prize money for the winner is only 5 million euros compared to 35 million for just qualifying into the Champions league.

The key issue to me seems to be the lay over time between European matches and league matches. Ultimately, if you do not win league matches you do not get into the champions league, however, the way the system works, coefficients for champions league victories are practically the same for Europa league victories, meaning teams of leagues that focus on their domestic league such as Italy, get slaughtered to leagues such as Germany.

Italy has lost its additional champions league spot over the past two years for this exact reason. While Italian clubs have done better in the Champions League than the Germans, the Germans nonetheless, consistently have three teams in the late stage of the Europa league, so the question remains is it more important to have the strongest teams in Europe (e.g In 2009-10, German clubs outscored Italian clubs by 2.6 coefficient points even though Internazionale won the competition, a huge margin[1])? Or do we want to see well-rounded leagues?

Personally, I see a well rounded league as fiscally impossible, while we can have a stronger competition towards the top in leagues like the Portuguese Superliga, La Liga and Ligue 1, it seems pretty much impossible that six or seven teams could be challenging for a league title, except in a fiscally uneven playing field like England.

 

The main issue here is that many leagues feel very differently about the Europa league, as it offers no economic incentive. The Dutch, the Russians and the Italians are key example of this. Italians feel there is a sense of injustice, and it stems from the methodology of the coefficient. Germany, the argument goes, has only overtaken Italy by its strong performance in the Europa League, a competition that has traditionally been taken less seriously in Italy due to economic benefit. It is argued that teams such as Udinese, cannot afford to give it there all in the Europa league as ultimately there league performance outweighs the importance of Europa. It might be time for Michel Platini to sit down and reform the competition as a whole.



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