Football

Are you showing the game?

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JetAway (June 2010)

No matter where you are in Europe this summer, someone will be showing the World Cup. Daniel Ford selects 10 key matches and where to watch to them

South Africa v Mexico

11 June, Manchester

The poor old South Africans have had it in the neck ever since winning the right to stage the 2010 World Cup, but 11 June is the day when, after 80 years, football’s big celebration arrives in Africa. It’s Friday afternoon and the first match of the tournament – will there be an office open anywhere in Europe? Watch the hosts (the lowest FIFA-ranked side in the tournament) in the first ever Revolution (90-94 Oxford Road, Manchester. 0161 236 7470, www.revolution-bars.co.uk). With its swish bar and comfy seats, this smart vodka venue, opened in 1996, beats standing up in the Dog & Duck any day. Pre-book your World Cup burger and drinks on 0800 6300 800.

Post-Match Celebration Cry: Nkosi sikileli’ iAfrica!/God bless Africa!

Post-Match Celebration Drink: Springbok (half Baileys or Amarula cream combined with half crème de menthe)

URUGUAY V FRANCE

11 June, Paris

No one will be heading home early after the opening game, especially on a Friday night, so continue to soak up the atmosphere as the flair of the French takes on the rugged Uruguayans. Watch outside on the big screen with the locals in the beautiful surroundings of Place de l’Hôtel de Ville (City Hall Square, 29 rue de Rivoli, 75004 Paris). Situated near the Seine and surrounded by fine architecture, the square used to hold public executions, including that of Jacques Clément, the assassin of the French king Henry III, in 1589.

Post-Match Celebration Cry: Est-ce que Thierry Henry à utilise son pied maintenant?/Did Thierry Henry use his foot this time?

Post-Match Celebration Drink: Pastis

ENGLAND V USA

12 June, Paphos

Every four years England wait in hope of World Cup glory. Every four years they are disappointed. The disappointment might as well come in the sun at Aces (Ayias Anastasias, Kato Paphos. 00 357 269 36400, www.acesbarpaphos.com), a popular bar with English football fans. If there’s one game the Three Lions could lose in their weak group it’s this one, so make sure you get into the much-coveted position where you can see the game but still sit in the sun (the holy grail is to have some shade on the head, lots of sun on the rest of the body but no glare on the screen).

Post-Match Celebration Cry: Rooney!

Post-Match Celebration Drink: Anything

ITALY V NEW ZEALAND

20 June, Rome

The highest score in a World Cup match is 9-0 (Yugoslavia v Zaire, 1974). Can Italy go one better against the massively outclassed New Zealanders? Flann O’Brien (Via Nazionale 17, 00184 Rome. 00 39 06 488 0418, www.flannobrien.it) is a popular Irish bar for fans of English and Italian football, boasting numerous screens to watch the (no doubt) numerous goals in classic pub surroundings.Your main problem, however, will be getting the attention of the waiters.

Post-Match Celebration Cry:Dieci!/Ten!

Post-Match Celebration Drink: Grappa

SLOVAKIA V PARAGUAY

20 June, Prague

The Czechs didn’t make the finals but their former country-mates and now neighbours Slovakia did (for the first time) and the city’s large Slovak population will be aware that this game could decide who qualifies with Italy from Group F. In an area with a few sports bars dotted around, Sports Bar Zlata Hvezda (Ve Smeckach 12, Prague 1. 00 420 296 222 292, www.sportbar.cz) has a good mix of expats, locals and visitors, and claims to be the first of its kind in the city.

Post-Match Celebration Cry: Kde je Paraguaj?/ Where is Paraguay?

Post-Match Celebration Drink: Pilsner Urquell

SPAIN V HONDURAS

21 June, Benidorm

It’s unlikely that favourites Spain (4-1 to win the cup) will be shaking in their boots playing Honduras (1000-1), but at least they’ll be able to console their Central American opponents in the same language. The Winning Post (Calle Girona, Benidorm) is a big bar attached to a betting shop, selling cheap food/beer in basic surroundings but at least you can put a few euros on Torres to score first and Spain to win by more than four.

Post-Match Celebration Cry: Ole!

Post-Match Celebration Drink: Sangria if it’s a hatful, San Miguel if it’s not

GREECE V ARGENTINA

22 June, Crete

Despite the name, the locally owned and run Sky Sports Bar (Agios Nikolaos, Crete. 00 30 28410 82860) is a traditional venue in which to line up the ouzos as the Greeks look to topple Diego Maradona’s Argentina. When the sides met in 1994 Maradona’s manic goal celebration into the camera was later found to be fuelled by substances more than adrenaline and ended his World Cup career.

Post-Match Celebration Cry:Ouzo!

Post-Match Celebration Drink: More ouzo

AUSTRALIA V SERBIA

23 June, Ibiza

There are nearly 100,000 Serbians in Australia (Holly Vallance and Jelena Dokic among them), so who should they support? A young energetic bunch heads to Hogan’s Aussie bar (Carrer Bartolomé Vincente Ramon, San Antonio, Ibiza.www.hogansibiza.com) for cocktails and to mix with a sexy crowd in the heart of Ibiza.

Post-Match Celebration Cry: Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi! Oi! Oi!

Post-Match Celebration Drink: Cocktails

CAMEROON V NETHERLANDS

24 June, Amsterdam

One of the most attractive games in the group stages, this one will be attacking football all round. Expect plenty of goals as you merge into the sea of orange in Amsterdam. Join backpackers from around the world and locals in Belushi’s (129 Warmoesstraat, 1012 JA, Amsterdam. 00 31 206 231 380, www.belushis.com). The international nature of this bar means there will plenty of shots and strange-coloured liquids flying around, but try to keep one eye on the game. Based in the red-light district and attached to the Winston Kingdom nightclub, you won’t be short of after-match entertainment should the strange-coloured liquids start to kick in.

Post-Match Celebration Cry: Hup, Holland, Hup!/Go, Holland, go!

Post-Match Celebration Drink: Some more strange-coloured liquids

PORTUGAL V BRAZIL

25 June, Albufeira

The world’s big Portuguese-speaking derby. Who needs sun? Escape the heat and watch the game in Diamonds Sports and Karaoke Bar (Rua Alexandre Herculano 33, Albufeira. 00 351 289 542 952), then follow up what has to be the best clash of the group stages by belting out your favourite karaoke number to cheering football fans. Maybe.

Post-Match Celebration Cry: Goooooooaaaaal!

Post-Match Celebration Drink:Superbock

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Kick off Euro style

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JetAway December 2009

With Man United one of the favourites in the Champions League and the World Cup salivatingly close, JetAway asked footie fanatic Daniel Ford to educate us on Europe’s stars, stadiums and scandals.


The big concrete terracing at Akritas Chloraka (bottom of Cyprus Division 2) is baking hot so I’m sitting on a stray bit of cardboard. There are maybe 100 fans dotted around in the area where my cousin Lewis and I, and thousands of flies, have settled to watch the game against the second-placed side from Larnaca. Just in front of the children aiming toilet rolls quite accurately at the halfway line is a guy hopping about selling tickets. But whether they are for the match we’re watching (the turnstiles were unmanned) or for a raffle is unclear. About the same number of people are dotted around on the terraces behind the goal, a bit of concrete that seems to hang on the hillside. Well, actually, it does hang on the hillside, as the whole stadium is cut into a massive drop from what is little more than a village, situated a few miles from the tourist town of Paphos. The stadium is rubbish, the football is rubbish and youngsters from the home side’s youth team are throwing things at the opposition bigwigs who are sitting in front of me. But I adore every minute of it because I am a football lover.

I’m doing my mid-life crisis thing and living in Cyprus for a few months, running on the beach in the mornings, working in a bar in the afternoons and generally loafing about. Akritas Chloraka’s “stadium” is just a short walk up the hill from my local (where I drink not work). The other ex-pats in the bar can’t believe I can be bothered to trek up the steep hill in the ridiculously hot (winter) heat; copies of this morning’s Mail On Sunday have just arrived and the air-con is turned up high. They order more beers.

A couple of weeks later I jump in my Jeep and drive to the capital, Nicosia, to watch Cyprus hold Germany to a 1-1 draw in a European Championship qualifier. It’s become a habit: I get on a plane, I watch football and visit stadiums. I’ve seen the FIFA Five-a-Side World Championships in Hong Kong, wangled my way into a corporate box in Gothenburg while watching the England under-21s, marvelled at the mad Boca Juniors fans in Buenos Aires, strolled down the tunnel at Real Madrid, even managed an inter-island under-18 match while on honeymoon in Mauritius. Like football? Me?

So you’ll forgive me for believing that the greatest thing to happen in the travel industry was when jumping on a plane to Europe became easier than catching a bus to Huddersfield. Passport? Check. Toothbrush? Check. Football ticket? Check.

Today, when football fans scour the fixtures for matches to watch it’s not just the English leagues they check out – it’s open season on Spain, Italy, France, Hungary and beyond. Here’s some things I’ve learnt about European footie and where to soak up the atmosphere when the game’s over.

THE WORLD’S (SECOND) RICHEST CLUB

With a revenue of £257.1m in 2007-8, Manchester United would have been sitting at the top of the pile in Deloitte’s annual money-making list had the pound not fallen against euro in that period (Real Madrid got the top spot). Expect local rivals Manchester City to leap up from their current position of 20th when the new list is published early in 2010.

THE BEER SPONSORS

Dutch beer brand Heineken sponsors the UEFA Champions League so it’d be downright rude not to show a little support, don’t you think? Luckily for beer drinkers and football fans, Amsterdam is home to one of the most attractive sides on the continent. AFC Ajax, four times European Cup winners, built their reputation by developing home-grown talent (including one of the world’s greatest players, Johan Cruyff ) and gave birth to the phrase “total football”, where players change positions freely during the game. Sadly for them, a 1995 ruling in the European Court of Justice, commonly known as the Bosman Ruling, meant that players out of contract could move clubs for nothing, so the Ajax of the present can be summed up by the phrase “young, gifted and leaving”. Still, console yourself with the fact that the Ajax players you watch today will be the Barcelona and Inter Milan stars of tomorrow.

NAUGHTY, NAUGHTY

Oh dear, Milan football, where to start? Inter Milan (who play in the blue and black kit) and AC Milan (who play in red and black) both call the legendary San Siro stadium home, and both have histories littered with, shall we say, noteworthy events. Clouds hung over Inter’s European semifinal wins in 1964 and 1965 when the team were accused of bribing referees, while just over four decades later AC had points deducted in a similar scandal. Then there are the fans: in 2001 riot police had to stop Inter Milan supporters pushing a motorbike off the second tier of the stadium, and in 2005 a player was injured with a f lare, the same year racist chanting caused an Ivory Coast defender to attempt to walk off the pitch.

Some years earlier, the entire AC side walked off to try to force a replay in a European Cup quarter final that they were losing to Marseille when some floodlights failed. The match was awarded to Marseille and AC were banned from competing in Europe for a whole year.

WHERE’S THE BAR?

It’s certainly not hard to find a bar in Budapest. But boy will you struggle to find the best ones for a cold, post-match Dreher Classic. And it’s no wonder, because the best bars can be found in abandoned buildings, often move locations and are renowned for not advertising. You’ll have to ask a local. Or try the iconic Szimpla (Vll Kertész u 48; 00 36 1 321 5880). You’ll have less trouble finding Stadion Hidegkuti Nándor, which is just a couple of miles east of the river Danube and home to MTK Hungária, a club owned by Gábor Várszegi, a former rock star who gave up his musical career in Hungary to deal diamonds in Los Angeles. As you do…

ART IS FOOTBALL

The first time I went to Barcelona my art-loving companion made me walk a lap of the city admiring the influence of Gaudi and Miró. Then, in the evening, we circled the restaurants to find one Picasso used to frequent. It was mobbed so we ended up eating tacos in a small Mexican place instead. This is where it truly hit me what football means in this city. A group of fans we chatted to made it clear that the club not only represented their Catalan identity but also that football was about winning “beautiful”. The Picasso museum is the second most popular in the city. The first? Barcelona FC, of course, where art meets football.

Daniel Ford is co-author of A Football Fan’s Guide To Europe (New Holland, £14.99). He is pleased to report that Akritas Chloraka have been promoted to Cyprus Division 2 once more

TRAVEL INFO

AC Milan
San Siro, Via Piccolomini 5. 00 39 026 2281. To get there: Metro on Line MM1 (stop Lotto Fiera 2). Tram 16.

Ajax
Amsterdam Arena, Arena Boulevard 1, 1101 AX Amsterdam Zuidoost. 00 31 20 311 1444.
To get there: Metro Line 54 (stop Strandvliet). Buses 29, 59, 60, 62, 137, 158, 174, 175 (stop Bijlmer).

Barcelona,
Camp Nou, Carrer d’Arístides Maillol. 00 34 902 189 900.
To get there: Subway Line 3 (stops Maria Cristina, Palau Reial, Zona Universitària) or Line 5 (stops Collblanc, Badal).
Buses 7, 15, 33, 43, 54, 56, 57, 67, 68, 74, 75, 113, 157, 158, L12, L14, L50, L56, L62.
Trams T1, T2, T3 (stops Avinguda de Xile, Palau Reial, Pius XII).

Inter Milan (as AC Milan). 00 39 02 487 7761.

Manchester United
Old Trafford, Sir Matt Busby Way, Old Trafford. 00 44 161 868 8000.
To get there: Metrolink tram in direction of Altrincham (stop Old Trafford).
Train from mainline stations (stop Manchester United FC Halt).
Buses 17, 114, 115, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 257, 263, 264.

MTK
Hungaria Stadion Hidegkuti Nándor, Salgótarjáni út 12-14. 00 36 1 333 8368.
To get there: Metro M2 to Stadionok, then tram 1.

Paris St Germain
24 rue du Commandant Guilbaud, 75016. 00 33 1 4743 7171.
To get there: Metro Line 9 (stop Porte de St-Cloud). Line 10 (stop Porte d’Auteuil).
Buses 22, 32, 52, 62, 72, 123, 175, 189, 241, PC1.

Oh dear, it’s 9-0

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Equinox (South Africa) January 2010

It hurts to lose. But it really hurts to lose 9-0. Just ask Zaire, sub-Saharan Africa’s first qualifers for a World Cup finals in 1974.


 

“When I signed for my first club I was over the moon.” No, no, these are not the words of a top football player looking back on his earliest steps onto the ladder of stardom; they are straight from my mouth. Granted, I was eight at the time and my mum actually did the signing on my behalf in the local butcher’s shop, but the sentiment is still the same.

So there I was as usual, kicking the ball around on the steps at the back of our house; whacking it as hard as I could and trying to control it as it shot back at me off the angles when my mum told me the good news. Well, I could have wet myself. Maybe I did. Me? Signed for a proper club?

What she failed to tell me was that, somewhere between the pork chops, the lamb mince and the sausages, she’d actually signed me up for an under-12 team. Me and my friends, all aged eight, all the players in the teams we played against, aged 11. I think you might get the picture. It was boys against men, or at least little boys against boys who were not so little. Okay, I should come clean here: we did have one 11 year old in our team. He was called Tom. We all called him Big Tom. But what could he do, just one giant against many every week? We were like those munchkins in the Wizard of Oz, running around aimlessly, up against boys who had already started big school and were soon to have hair in places we could never even imagine.

Needless to say we got walloped every week. Lots of goals one week, and even more the next. We managed to hold one team down to six one week and I’m sure our parents applauded us off.

This is why I have a great empathy with the Leopards of Zaire, pictured here playing Yugoslavia in the 1974 World Cup in West Germany. Because despite the amazing acrobatic efforts of Illunga Mwepu (just how did he get into that position?) poor old Zaire lost the game 9-0. It remains, to this day, the heaviest defeat ever by a country in a World Cup finals match. (I just love that it’s a record between two countries that no longer really exist playing in another one that no longer exists).

Do you know how hard it is to lose 9-0? It’s pretty tough, it’s like losing 100-zip in rugby. The attacks have to be relentless and the scores have to keep on coming. Basically to lose 9-0 you have to be rubbish. Or eight years old.

Yet Zaire of 1974 were not exactly rubbish. Yugoslavia was their second match in the tournament but they’d only lost their first match 2-0 to Scotland, and they even recovered from their thrashing enough to keep a Brazil that included legends such as Rivelino, Edu and Jairzhino down to three goals. They had got to the finals – becoming the first sub-Saharan African side to ever qualify – by beating a good Zambian side and overwhelming the favourites Morocco.

So what went wrong? They can’t use my excuse of being too small because they were strong and fit, as well as skilful.

Well, it didn’t help that Mulamba Ndaye was sent off after 22 minutes and it can’t have helped that the Yugoslavian player in the photo, Dusan Bajevic, scored a hat-trick with goals in the 8th, 30th and 81st minutes. And it certainly didn’t go unnoticed that Zaire had a Yugoslavian coach, Blagoje Vidinic (and boy, did he get some stick).

But the truth probably lies in fear and money. Speaking about the game many years later, the acrobatic defender Mwepu told the BBC:

“Before the Yugoslavia match we learnt that we were not going to be paid, so we refused to play.”

He was right there. They might have eventually decided to turn up and put on their distinctive green and yellow kit but they certainly didn’t play.

There was also the threat of a certain Mobutu Sese Seko hanging over them. He might have showered them with gifts (a car and house apparently) when they qualified for the finals but the players can have been under no illusions as to how their country’s dictator could turn nasty when things didn’t go his way. You may recall 1974 was also the year Mobutu’s money (that he took from Zaire) brought Muhammad Ali and George Foreman to fight their famous Rumble in the Jungle in Kinshasa, so he certainly knew all about using the positive image of sport. But fear rarely brings the best out in sportsmen and so it was with the Leopards that day against Yugoslavia.

After the game the same man that had lent them use of his presidential jet to fly in style to away matches, asked his strong men to go and have a little chat.

“After the match, he sent his presidential guards to threaten us,” Mwepu remembers in the same interview.

“They closed the hotel to all journalists and said that if we lost 0-4 to Brazil, none of us would be able to return home.”

Well, return home they did, but with a record of played three, lost three, goals for zero and goals against 14, it’s fair to say it wasn’t to another new car and house.

It was left to Tunisia, Africa’s qualifiers four years later, to start rebuilding Africa’s shattered reputation. Thanks to their performances and strong showings in subsequent World Cups from the likes of Nigeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Senegal and others, 2010 will see Africa represented by six nations at a World Cup finals for the first time.

• The date of Zaire’s record-breaking 9-0 defeat in 1974 was 18 June, the same date that Cape Town will host a Group C match in 2010. DR Congo (Zaire) have not qualified for the finals in South Africa.

Review… TheBookseller.com

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28 September 2009

New Holland takes footie fans on a tour

by Graeme Neill


Football fans could be taking in Las Ramblas alongside the Camp Nou thanks to a new travel guide from New Holland.

A Football Fan’s Guide to Europe, by Daniel Ford and Bill Edgar, offers football fans a selection of European tourist sights to visit alongside facts and trivia about the continent’s top teams.

In the Barcelona listing, it has a short history of the current Champions League winners and two short biographies of two of their greatest players, Johann Cryuff and Ronaldinho. It also provides fans with a guide to the city, highlighting bars and the essential tourist spots, such as the Museu Picasso and Las Ramblas.

Steve Connolly, managing director of New Holland, said the book was a response to the recent successes of English teams in European competitions. He said: “European competitions have become so popular in the UK and across Europe. So football fans are travelling around more than they maybe used to, visiting places they haven’t been before and know little about.”

The book features more than 60 teams but alongside heavyweights such as AC Milan, Liverpool and Bayern Munich are lesser known European teams such as Debrecen in Hungary and Wisla Krakow in Poland. Connolly said: “There are so many more teams playing regularly in Europe than you would expect. We haven’t intended this as a thorough travel guide. It’s more a fun guide offering travel tips.”

http://www.thebookseller.com

Introduction

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The big concrete terracing at Akritas Chloraka (bottom of Cyprus Division 2) is baking hot so I’m sitting on a stray bit of cardboard. There are maybe 100 fans dotted around in the area where my cousin Lewis and I, and thousands of flies, have settled to watch the game against the second-placed side from Larnaca. Just in front of the children aiming toilet rolls quite accurately at the halfway line is a guy hopping about selling tickets. But whether they are for the match (the turnstiles were unmanned) or for a raffle is unclear.

About the same number of people are dotted around on the terracing behind the goal, a bit of concrete that seems to hang on the hillside. Well, actually, it does hang on the hillside, as the whole stadium is cut into a massive drop from what is little more than a village, situated a few miles from the tourist town of Paphos. The stadium is rubbish, the football is rubbish and youngsters from the home side’s youth team are throwing things at the opposition’s big wigs who are sitting in front of me.

But I love every minute of it because I am a football lover. And if you love football, you know going to a game is about way more than football itself. It’s about laughing at the opposition striker when he misses an easy chance (come on, that’s the best bit), the beer before the game (hang on, maybe that’s the best bit) and providing the perfect excuse for getting home late (sorry, that’s the best bit). It’s about discovering there’s a second division team called Akritas Chloraka just up the road from where you are staying and astonishing the locals that you even care. And strolling up the road to watch them, then following their results on the internet for years to come.

Akritas Chloraka are not featured in this book. But football lovers across the world are always looking for any excuse for a beer, a plane trip and a chance to laugh at the opposition striker missing a sitter.

So welcome to this offer of 26 countries, 49 cities and 61 clubs not a million miles from where you are sitting right now.Featuring clubs from Barcelona and Real Madrid to IFK Gothenburg and Lyon; cities from London and Milan to Villarreal and Haifa; and countries from the east of Europe to the west, north and south. They’ve been chosen for their footballing ability and the city’s visitability. And also because more of us than ever want to go away, watch a match and enjoy ourselves in a place that isn’t where our season ticket tells us to go and who to watch.

Of course there are some clubs missing. Is it anyone’s fault Uefa has expanded more than the Roman Empire? But hopefully this is a list to tempt your taste buds and stretch your Easyjet account.

 

Football, royalty and chatty taxi drivers

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London
Travel on London’s famous Underground on a weekend or weekday evening and it will be rare if you don’t come across a group of (mostly) men travelling to or from a game of football and singing out of tune. With 13 professional clubs, numerous non-league clubs, plus England internationals at Wembley, it’s unlikely you’ll go short of your football fix in one of the world’s great capitals.
With more tourist books on London than other cities have attractions, if you struggle for something to do while you are here then you are probably still in bed. Pubs? On every street corner. History? Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, the whole city. Theatre? Head to the West End. Museums, clubs, fashion, royalty, parks and football, this is a city that can offer it all. You want a chat with a Londoner? Get in a taxi. Drivers are paid to take you where you are going and give you their views on everything from politics to the national obsession, the weather. Fancy a kickaround? Put on your sports shoes and head to a park where you will find any number of casual games to get you puffing.
People have lived along this part of the River Thames, where London is situated, for thousands of years, and today more than 7.5 million people call it home. Famously the city grew as a collection of villages simply merged together, which is why you will find pockets of neighborhood life like other great old cities such as New York and Paris.
Among the city’s clubs you will find Arsenal and Tottenham to the north (along with Wembley Stadium), Chelsea and Fulham to the southwest and West Ham to the east, not far from the 2012 Olympic Stadium.