The tram jerked round the corner and the colossal Olympic Stadium burst into view – a facility purposefully developed for the 2012 UEFA European Championship that The Economist estimated had cost the Ukrainian taxpayer an astonishing $13 billion. We hopped off the Soviet era tram just as a faint blast tapped our ear drums. Shrugging it off, we walked towards the front gates as another faint explosion rippled the air around us. More unusual was the comprehensive security force flanking the entrances – half the national guard seemed to have descended onto the Ukrainian National Stadium for a routine league Football match on a Sunday evening.
Seville Through The Ages
Once a primitive slum populated by the city’s dropouts and Gypsies, Triana has become one of the most popular night-out spots in Seville. It still has the mystery and romance of the eras gone by but with improved safety and accessibility to the city folk on the “right side” of the river. Beneath the gaze of the belltower of the Real Parroquia de Señora Santa Ana run narrow streets criss-crossing but still somehow eventually converging on just one – Calle Betis.
To European eyes, the A-League appears very americanised. Each season 14 licensed franchises from across the federation (and one in New Zealand) compete for glory in the current highest tier of Australian domestic club Football across two leagues before the top 6 compete in a series of showdown matches until the ultimate victor is decided in the “Premiership” winner-takes-all grand final in an orgy of confetti and loud pop music. For 17 years the Football Federation of Australia (now rebranded as Football Australia) has produced a very corporate and media friendly package by granting licenses to entities that can demonstrate sound financial backing, are not funded by public entities, spend below the player-salary-cap and, intriguingly, present an image that is free of any explicit reference to any nationality or ethnicity in the fabric of its branding.
The Allam Legacy
This blog explores the curious nuances of Football fan behaviour around the world through the eyes of a typical fan. Our status as exiled Hull City supporters influences our branding and identity, but we seldom write about our club in favour of exploring the great stories that exist in world Football. However, there come major moments in your relationship with your club that warrant close attention, and in our case, publication.
Teruel Exists Pt 2
It’s a question I get asked surprisingly often whenever I visit lower-league sides. Nevertheless, this gentleman’s abruptness caught me off-guard. I asked him to repeat himself, and he pressed on with yet more enthusiasm; “are you a Football player?”
The would-be stand-up comic in me has a stock answer reserved for this question; do I look like a professional Footballer with a belly like this? My new friend laughed and doubled down with his own quick-witted retort. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. Look at this fat bastard over here” and he patted his pal’s tummy lightly. “that’s a proper beer belly”.
The Derbi Barceloní
By no uncertain terms, one giant of European Football has had an exceptionally poor start to the 2021-2022 season. It takes only seconds for the visitor to the Museum of Football known as Camp Nou to appreciate both the legacy as well as the monumental resources of FC Barcelona. So high is the global commercial demand for a slice of what the media brands as the Football club that embodies the Catalan spirit that “La Rambla del Barça”, a 150 walkway of sideshows, facilities and entertainment outside the actual stadium, accommodates bidding customers from the world over on any day of the week, regardless of whether or not there is a match to be played on the day of their visit.
The time would have been around 6pm. The final spots of daylight were fading quickly into the surrounding buildings. The sun had been kissing the horizon when we left the guest stadium in Bornos, but that had changed quickly in the bus ride back through the foothills of the Cordilleras Béticas. In the shadow of the Chapín, my two interviewees led me to an innocuous family bar.
European Super League – Are There Any Good Guys?
It’s raining outside, so I guess I’m not jogging tonight. Perhaps I’ll do some writing instead. But it’s tricky; has there been anything worth writing about in the world of Football recently?
Of course I’m being facetious. The European Super League proposal involving 12 big names in European club Football breaking away from their national Football associations and UEFA entirely that was pitched early last week was so outrageous that it even got people who don’t usually talk about Football talking about Football. Yet as quickly as the idea raised its head, it got shot in the neck by a horde of arrows fired from several million bows disguised as Social Media platforms. So quick, so clear and so vociferous was the public reaction at this concept that one by one the 6 English-based clubs implicated in the cartel (the appropriate name for this posse) all announced their subsequent withdrawal from the league in the matter of days. Now, the concept hangs as limp as a used piñata.