Own A Football Club For 46 Euros
The idea is simple-football fans all over the world pool their resources and buy a professional club. What may sound like a pipedream is already reality in England, where for the past few weeks more than 28,000 Internet users from 72 countries have been in executive control of English non-league outfit Ebbsf leet United – each of them paying 46 euros a year for the privilege. As members of the online project “MyFootballClub”, they call the shots on virtually all areas of the club from the outskirts of London. This takes in everything from team selection to planned player transfers. The decisions are reached by virtue of an online poll at www.myfootballclub. co.uk. Each member owns an equal share of the initiative’s 75% holding in the club and has only a single vote. The revolutionary campaign was kick-started by former BBC journalist Will Brooks. The fan of Premier League club Fulham was sitting at the bar of his local pub one day, complaining about the state of English football, which has seen his favourite team under the ownership of mega-rich Egyptian Mohamed Al-Fayed for over a decade. “I realised that those on a normal income have the same power to purchase a football club as a billionaire provided they pool their resouces,” says Brooks. The initiative, which aims to make a stand against the commercialism of English football, has now contributed in excess of 1.3 million euros to the coffers of Ebbsfleet United, albeit with a little commercial input of its own. For some time now, companies have been looking to capitalise on the new venture. Eurostar trains stop in Ebbsfleet en route from Paris to London, and Eurostar logos also adorn the club’s shirts. On top of this, sports goods manufacturer Nike will provide the club with equipment for next season. The choice of equipment manufacturer was, of course, made online. 91.3 percent of members voted in favour of the deal. Ebbsfleet’s dyed-in-the-wool fans have protested against Brooks and the club’s officials. They shake their heads when asked about the take-over. “How can tens of thousands of people from all over the world select a team?” says one doubter. Ebbsfleet’s coach Liam Daish, formerly a professional footballer with Birmingham City, proposes his team selection to the online users and hopes that they approve his choice of players in the online poll. “It’s the fan’s money that pays my wage and that of the players,” says Daish. “So it’s the fan’s right to decide which players they want to see.”
Blindness is no obstacle to playing football, as teams from Marburg, Dortmund, Stuttgart, St. Pauli, SG Ruhrgebiet, Chemnitz, SG Wurzburg-Berlin and Mainz are demonstrating. These teams are contesting the newly formed Bundesliga for blind footballers. The season started on 29 and 30 March, under the patronage of Germany’s former world-class striker Uwe Seeler. One half of the league will play their matches in Stuttgart and the other half in Berlin. In blind football, only five players per team take to the pitch, which measures 20x40m and is marked off by sideboards stretching along its full length. Matches are moved indoors in extreme weather conditions. The only sighted players are the goalkeepers, who alongside the coaches and a guide shout instructions at their team-mates. Ball bearings are inserted in the ball to make it audible. Much to the fans’ frustration, they are not allowed to cheer their players during the 50-minute games – otherwise the players cannot hear the ball approach.
Millonarios and America are the most successful clubs in Colombian football-the “Blues” from the capital city Bogota have won 13 national championship titles to date, while the “Reds” from Cali have won 12. The arch rivals met again recently in the championship. Millonarios triumphed 3-1 in their home stadium, but more exciting than the result was the fact that, for disciplinary reasons, the coaches of both teams were forced to sit in the stand rather than on the bench. Following the derby against Independiente Santa Fe, Millonarios’s coach Mario Vanemerak seriously insulted both the opposing coach Fernando Castro and also referee Hector JairoParra. The Argentinian was given a seven-match ban for improper conduct. Americas’s coach Diego Umana was banned from the bench for a mammoth eleven matches. During a match against local rivals Deportivo Cali, he had attacked opposing coach Daniel Carreno.
A huge football party took place in Argentina on 1 April when one of the country’s most famous clubs, San Lorenzo de Almagro, celebrated its centenary. The club’s history began in 1908 when a boy playing football in the Almagro neighbourhood of Buenos Aires was seriously injured by a tram. This was witnessed by Catholic priest Lorenzo Massa, who then decided to allow children and young people to play football in the backyard of his church provided they attended mass occasionally. The players were mainly the sons of immigrants and Creoles, and their team became so strong that they decided to form a football club. The first name proposed at the foundation meeting was Los Forzosos (“the strong ones”). Ultimately, however, those present opted for the second alternative – San Lorenzo -in honour of Father Lorenzo Massa. San Lorenzo has since won eleven Argentinian titles, and the best known players in its current squad are Andres d’Alessandro and Bernardo Romeo.
Family before football is the new motto of German coach Klaus Toppmoller.
After 28 turbulent months as coach of the Georgian national team, the coach is taking a break from football in 2008. “I’m 99.9 per cent certain that I won’t accept any job this year. I’ve become a grandfather and now I’d like to spend more time with my family. I’ll be 57 in August, an age at which you already hear of school friends passing away. So I’m going to take some time out,” said Toppmoller.
Bert van Marwijk has rounded off his coaching staff for the Netherlands national team. The former Dutch international players, Frank de Boer and Phillip Cocu, have been appointed assistants to the new Netherlands coach. Former Borrussia Dortmund coach Marwijk will take over the reins from Marco van Basten after the UEFA EURO 2008. Frank de Boer and Cocu will join third assistant Dick Voorn and current goalkeeping coach Ruud Hesp. “I’m delighted with this team,” explained the 55-year-old Marwijk. “Frank and Phillip can contribute invaluable experience, having amassed almost 220 caps between them. They always took responsibility on the pitch and now they’ll do so again.”
Although only three years have passed since Valery Karpin hung up his boots, the midfield maestro, seen as somewhat eccentric during his playing career, has already established himself as a very successful businessman in the real estate sector. Karpin was a professional for 17 years. After winning three Russian titles and the Russian cup with Spartak Moscow, the Russian played for Real Sociedad (1994-1996 and 2002-2005), where he ended his career in 2005 following spells at Valencia (1996-1997) and Celta Vigo (1997-2002). After finishing his career, he renovated a building in the centre of Vigo, which is now home to the offices of Valery Karpin S.L. He then brought his erstwhile team¬mate Michel Salgado – who also played with Celta Vigo and last starred as a defender for Real Madrid – on board and purchased an entire district of the northern Spanish port for renovation. It has not only been the town of Vigo that has benefited from Karpin’s real estate company’s projects. He has also become an active sponsor of the local sports scene. Among other things, he has lent financial support to a cycling team, a volleyball team, to the university rugby team, which is the oldest in Spain, and to the disabled swimmer Chano Rodriguez. “Each and every case is different. My aim is to offer as much help as possible, both to sport and also to the people behind it. I see it as a thank you for everything that this town has given me personally,” says Karpin.
On 13 April, Sergei Barbarez of Bayer Leverkusen joined Denmark’s Ole Bjornmose as the foreign player with the record number of appearances in the Bundesliga. The Bosnian Barbarez made his 324th appearance in Germany’s elite division against Stuttgart. Bjornmose played in the Bundesliga for Hamburg and Werder Bremen from 1966 to 1977. Barbarez, who had scored 95 Bundesliga goals at the time of going to press, made his debut in Germany’s top league for Hansa Rostock under coach Frank Pagelsdorf in the 2-2 draw with Karlsruhe on 17 August 1996. He went on to make a further 58 appearances for Hansa before moving to Borussia Dortmund in 1998. However, his spell in Dortmund was to prove somewhat ill-fated. After featuring in only 36 matches in two years, Barbarez left Borussia for Hamburg. The striker reached the pinnacle of his career at Hamburg, who were trained at that time by Barbarez’s mentor Pagelsdorf, and he finished as the league’s top goalscorer in 2001. The 36-year-old spent six years with the north German giants and made 174 appearances. When Hamburg chose not to extend his contract, Barbarez transferred to Leverkusen during the summer of 2006. Bjornmose and Barbarez are closely followed in the ranking of the foreign players with the most Bundesliga appearances by Pablo Thiam (311), Bum-Kun Cha (308) and Hasan Salihamidzic (306).
Be it Ferenc Puskas, Hugo Sanchez or Emilio Butragueno, no Real Madrid player has managed to better the total goals tally for the club set by record goalscorer Alfredo di Stefano (307 goals). However, 30-year-old Raul is only 17 goals away from this all-time best (as at 8 April 2008). During the 3-1 home win over Seville, the Real star scored his 290th goal in the Spanish giants’ white shirt, drawing level in the goals chart with club legend Carlos Santillana. Now only Di Stefano lies ahead of Raul, who made his debut for Real Madrid on 29 October 1994 and has since made 648 competitive appearances for the Spanish giants. The Real captain has shown particularly impressive goalscoring form in the UEFA Champions League. With 61 goals, he is the most successful goalscorer in the history of the competition that replaced the European Cup in 1992. The Spaniard’s 21 goals in 39 matches this season may well have propelled him back into the plans of national team coach Luis Aragones, who has continually opted against using the exceptional striker since October 2006. It remains to be seen whether the man who is also Spain’s all-time highest goal-scorer (44 goals in 102 matches) can make the sguad for EURO 2008 in Austria and Switzerland. A victory with the national team would be the crowning glory on what has been a highly successful career.