Archive for May, 2008

Pre-Euro 2008 News and Rumours

Posted in Football with tags , , , , , , , on May 29, 2008 by kemgooner

As I sit in my living room watching the third place match in the Toulan Youth Tournament it strikes me how much more I am going to enjoy this summer than last, football wise at least.  Last summer dragged by with never-ending transfer rumours that largely amounted to nothing, and waiting for the start of the new season to begin. This summer we have the Euros, the Olympics, and yes, never ending transfer rumours that will largely amount to nothing. However, some deals have gone through such as Alberto Gilardino leaving AC Milan for Fiorentina, and Chelsea signing Jose Bosingwa for 16.6 million, and some rumours must amount to something (right?!) such as the already getting long saga of Samir Nasri and if he will or will not be moving to Arsenal.

Apart from the transfer rumours we have also had the joy of watching and waiting to see who will be part of the Euros. Teams have now submitted their final rosters, and there are a few surprises.  One of these ‘surprises’ is the inclusion of Antonio Cassano on the Italian squad. Now most probably know what a loose cannon Cassano can be, but for those who do not take in his reactions to be sent off in Sampdoria:

However, while there have been plenty of moments like the one above in Cassano’s career, he is also a fantastic player who could be a wild card for Italy in the tournament. One thing for sure is all eyes will be on him when takes the field.

The other main shock when the squads were named was the exclusion of not only David Trezeguet from the French squad, but also AC Milan’s new boy Mathieu Flamini and Roma defender Philippe Mexes.  All three of whom have had great season’s domestically, and its really surprising that Domenech has left them out. However, none have ever seemed to be in Domenech’s favor in the past, so its not as surprising as it should be.

What makes Euro 2008 different from previous tournaments for fans in the United States? ESPN has deceided to show every match live over its family of networks. Yes, there is no need to pay for those annoying online streams anymore. Please try to contain your excitement, and check out this schedule of matchs here which will be useful for anyone planning on watching the tournament.

 Finally, if anyone is interested in writing about Euro 2008, the Olympics, or just their club’s news in general just drop me a note.

The Race for the Scudetto

Posted in AS Roma, Football, Inter Milan with tags , , , , , on May 13, 2008 by kemgooner
With one week left in Serie A few might have believed just weeks ago that only one point would separate Inter from Roma. Inter seemed to have it locked up after Roma’s surprising and disappointing draw with Livorno. But this season in Serie A has been a surprising one in general, with players deemed past it returning to the form that made them household names around the world, and with the struggles of AC Milan, who seemingly have finally got their Champions League place with their win against Inter, only to lose 3-1 to Napoli, and give Fiorentina the spot again.

 But onto the title race, one I very much doubted would even take place, but thanks to Milan, and now Siena we have one to talk about.  The matchups this weekend have Inter away to Parma, and Roma away to Catania, so not only is this a race for the title, it is a race to stay in Serie A.  All teams should be putting up a fight, and that will only make these two matches more exciting.  Ahead of the future deciding clash Parma have sacked manager Hector Cuper, and put their youth team manager Andrea Manzo in charge.  Now if this seems like a funny way to show your desire of staying in Serie A to you, consider that under Cuper, Parma has won just 8 points in 9 games.  That doesn’t make it less strange, just somewhat more understandable.  Other news leading into the weekend is that Roma has received a fan ban to keep their tifosi from travelling, because it was deemed to be too dangerous.  While the decision is laudable for the attempt at safety, Roma fans surely will not be happy with this decision to ban them, while Inter are allowed to take their fans to the Stadio Tardini without any ticketing restrictions. 

 So, who will win and become champions?  Inter seem to still be favorites in my book, even though they are slipping up, and will be without Cambiasso, who has been key for them all year.  Roma will be without Totti, Taddei, and probably Perrotta. Things just seem to be falling Inter’s way this week, but it will be up to the players on the field to determine who wins.   Both matches should be extremely exciting encounters, and something no football fan should miss. 

“Supporters” and “fans”

Posted in Arsenal, Football, sports, Welcome! with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2008 by GooneRC8

I grew up watching football both at the stadium and on TV. In fact, some of my earliest memories are from when the Chilean National Team played in international competitions. I remember the crowded room; 6 people in a tiny apartment celebrating and suffering the fate of ‘La Roja’. One memory stands out; I’m being held by my mother, who is protecting me from the sheer euphoria emanating from a post-goal frenzy. She was the only one who paid attention to me at such moments… she obviously wasn’t as fanatical as the rest of the people in the room.

When things are going well, the behaviour of all football aficionados is essentially the same. They go to the stadium, they love to brag about being the best, they get on the internet or buy the morning papers to find out about the latest news involving their beloved teams – You’d swear all of those interested in ‘the global sport’ are a homogeneous mass of invariable behaviour. But you’d be wrong. Just like you may think all brides and future husbands are the same if you only watch them during a wedding, people, even those who follow the sport closely, can be fooled by the seemingly die-hard attitude of the people who “the others” refer to as Glory-Hunters.

Football followers can be divided into a number of sub-species, but I think the most essential and definite line to be drawn is that which separates “supporters” from “fans”. The roles of these 2 different kinds of followers are very different, as is their behaviour both on and off the terraces. Nowadays, with high ticket prices, metro-sexual players, celebrities, and impressive stadiums, football has become (regrettably) fashionable. 75% of the people who watch football every week would agree that football is ‘just a sport’. And many of them are only “fans” when their team is enjoying the sweet taste of victory, whilst they suddenly ‘lose interest’, generally due to unrelated factors (yeah, right) when the team experiences a rough patch.

People from all over the world “randomly” pick a team to follow and stick with it as long as it is successful or has a chance of being successful. Because they don’t have a real link with the team, they team represents a choice, a bet, so to speak, that they want to win in order to brag about their good taste or prediction skills. And just like with these examples, there’s always a space to make a step back and say ‘I was wrong, I’ll change my prediction for next time’.

That’s exactly what’s going through the minds of those that switch from ManU to following the Chavs in a matter of months and without further remorse. This may seem to be completely ilogical for a real supporter, but for someone who does not feel a sense of belonging at a club, there really is nothing tying him up to the cause. Likewise, I know a couple of Arsenals fans who’d probably stop supporting the club if we started playing ultra-defensive football. This is because the sole reason they like Arsenal is because of the football they play, and should it stop, they’d stop feeling identified with the club. Sadly, this is not only a foreign phenomenon; many of the people who go to matches in England and around Europe think like this, as do many of the South American “clasiqueros” who only turn up for big games.

A supporter, in the other hand, is someone whose ties with a club are so difficult to torn apart that in all likeliness this person will feel represented by the institution for as long as it exists (and even ’til after it ceases existing in some cases). Supporters don’t go to the stadium to see if the team wins, they go to try and collaborate with the collective objective of actually helping the team obtain 3 points. They don’t go to watch a show or be entertained (even though it’s really nice when that happens), they go to help making sure that efforts of ‘their people’ are rewarded. Effectively, a football team is like a nationality – there are certain values that are inalienable to both the club and yourself, and that make this sport all the more interesting.

Football is, or used to be, a mean for the people to express themselves in an official stage where the superiority of one of the contestants could be proven over the other. Football makes the poorest soul wealthy, because it gives it something to lose. While the higher classes prefer to feel identified by what they own, those who do not own anything significant only have their honour (in the shape of their local representatives) left to lose. It’s a damn shame that those who are there to enjoy a show are now taking that away.

I didn’t become a supporter up until I met Highbury and its people. That’s when I truly became part of a community of people whose will for something that’s essentially out of their hands captivated me to the point of no return. I now know that irrespectively of what happens from now on, I’m condemned to die a Gooner, and to suffer or enjoy whatever happens to the pride of London for the rest of my life.

Fans can be turned into supporters, but first of all they need to learn that football, above all, is about identity and representation.

If football is just a sport, my heart is just a muscle.