The Battle of Bosphorus – The most intense derby in the world

By Vegard Lilleas

Galatasaray won 2-1 in today’s clash with arch rival Fenerbaçhe, thus claiming their 119th victory against the team from the Asian side of the Bosphorus strait. But the Kıtalar Arası Derbi is more than just a game of football. It’s known to be one of the most intense derbies in the world today and the history is both glorious and violent.

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It all started in 1934 when the two teams met in a “friendly”. Both teams were eager to win the game, hence many hard fouls caused the game to get out of hand, creating high tension both on the pitch and in the stands. Players started to fight on the pitch and in a matter of minutes the Taksim Stadium was overcrowded with spectators wanting a piece of the action. Scenes unfolding is said to have been warlike.

Galatasaray hails from the European side of the Bosphorus Strait and was started by students in 1905; one of them also gave their former stadium its name: Ali Sami Yen. “The Lions” is the most successful club of the two, winning over 80 domestic and European honors. Their most sensational achievement was winning the quadruple in the 1999-2000 season which included the UEFA cup victory over Arsenal.

Fenerbaçhe on the other hand hails from the Asian side of the strait and is the most successful team with 141 wins in the derby. “The yellow canaries” was founded in 1907 by a group of local men and is considered to be the common man’s team, while Galatasaray is considered to be the team of the highly educated and people from higher social strata.
The two teams are the most popular clubs in Turkey and together with Beşiktaş they attract about 95 per cent of Turkey’s football fans. They’re the ones creating the incredible atmosphere during the derby games. At least until the Turkish Football Federation introduced a ban against visiting supporters in the stadium during the derby.

This extreme measure had to be taken due to the extreme violence that occurred before, under and after the games.
Fans organized fights with knives, stones and pretty much whatever weapon they could get their hands on. As a result of these fights several fans have died, street riots became normal after games and there even was violent incidents other places in Turkey. This phenomenon was more common in the 1990s than in recent years.

But Galatasaray and Fenerbaçhe is more than football. They also excel in basketball, volleyball, water polo, swimming and apparently wheelchair basketball. The latter was actually the scene of quite an incredible incident recently.
In a wheelchair basketball game between the two rivals, large hordes of the teams fans started to fight and the police had to use tear gas to separate the brawling supporters. Some of the players on the court were attacked by the opposition’s fans before getting to safety.

The Turkish government introduced a law last year to prevent these kinds of altercations between fans to occur. Now, every fan is kept track of through their national ID numbers, thus giving the clubs the opportunity to ban those who are responsible for the fights. This law has received a lukewarm welcome from Turkish fans who’s claiming the law to be more controlling than preventive.

Either way, it looks like there’s going to be a while before visiting supporters can watch the Kıtalar Arası Derbi from the stands. The atmosphere is obviously affected by this, but the rivalry has reached an unacceptable level and needed to be dealt with.

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SC Corinthians wins Club World Cup after years with struggles

Sunday SC Corinthians could lift the Club World Cup trophy after beating Chelsea FC in the final. Chelsea, the presumably better side, didn’t manage to get a goal in, despite great chances. One goal from Paolo Guerrero was enough for the Brazilian side to win the tournament.

Written by Magnus Gamlem

Paolo Guerrero is one of many European stars that have joined a Brazilian side in recent years, and Sundays victory marks another upswing for Corinthians. The team have struggled in recent years, and they reached the bottom in 2007, when getting relegated from the top division for the first time ever.

A mixture between scams and false hopes sent the team into massive debt. In 2004 a Russian investment group called MSI, led by agent Kia Joorabchian promised a golden future and started by buying Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano to the club. Behind closed doors the club was used as camouflage for money laundering. It was discovered by Brazilian tax authorities and MSI and Joorabchian backed out, taking Tevez and Mascherano with them. The players were never owned by Corinthians, but by Joorabchian.

Corinthians is the second biggest club in Brazil, and have a massive amount of supporters, as one could see in Sundays final. The supporters backed them through the tough times in the second division and in 2009 they promoted to the top division. When Brazils economy started to blossom, so did Corinthians’. They marked their comeback with bringing Brazilian legend Ronaldo to the club and marketed every match after the signing with the chance to see Ronaldo for the first time in a Corinthians shirt. The stadium sold out every time, with tickets at 80 Euros each time. This along with other marketing strategies and a huge fan base, has led them to the top of Brazilian football.

Last year they won the Brazilian league, and earlier this year they won the Copa Libertadores. The Club World Cup trophy joins a growing list of victories for the club. “For our people, for our fans, who have a difficult life, it’s so important to show the world we can beat teams like this. And that we can be the best in the world. Just once,” Corinthians defender, Paulo Andre said after the match.

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Cycling – When doping was allowed

By Vegard Lilleas

We know doping as a remedy used by cheaters to achieve things they otherwise couldn’t. With the disclosure of Lance Armstrong’s highly sophisticated doping network in mind; doping has probably never been more prevalent than it is now, not to mention difficult to detect.
Nonetheless, doping has, in retrospect, a rather amusing history in the Tour de France: It was allowed from the very start in 1903 and up until the 1940’s.

The Tour de France was so strenuous for the riders that they only saw doping as a way to get through the race.
But it wasn’t blood doping, anabolic steroids or EPO riders took; it was in fact strychnine, nitro-glycerine, cocaine and alcohol.
Nitro-glycerine, which commonly is used to stimulate the heart after cardiac attack, was used to improve blood flow to and from the heart, thus improving the riders breathing.

Strychnine is a deadly plant venom that kills you within hours if you take a too great a dose, but in small amounts, strychnine affects the nervous system so that they constantly activates the muscles. It was actually considered a necessary drug to survive the extreme rigors of tough races.

Alcoholic beverages like cognac were commonly used to prevent dehydration. For a long period the organisers only allowed riders to drink two litres of water per stage, thus making alcoholic beverages an important aid for thirsty cyclists. Whether the effects were positive or not is an entirely different matter. An Algerian cyclist drank two bottles of wine during a stage and fell asleep under a tree. When he woke up he got back on his bike but managed to ride in the wrong direction. Not exactly performance enhancing in other words.

Furthermore, the use of cocaine based drugs was both common and effective. Taken in small amounts cocaine makes the user feel euphoric, energetic and mentally alert. In other words perfect for a tired cyclist; for example Henri Pelissier (picture). The Frenchman often consumed a delicious mixture of chloroform and cocaine to fight pain.

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Moreover, riders didn’t only cheat by taking drugs; they also took the train and hitchhiked with carriages and cars. It was also common to sabotage the competition by for example stealing their tools and puncturing their tires.

My guess is that cyclists with the best imagination also performed the best.

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Messi breaks 40 year old goalscoring record

«You can’t describe Messi, just watch him,» Pep Guardiola once told journalists trying to put the Argentinian magicians performance into words.

Written by Magnus Gamlem

And maybe that’s all we can do. It’s what every opposition side have done this year, watching him as he slides past player after player, scoring goal after goal. Last Sunday Lionel Messi broke a record no one thought was beatable – Gerd Müllers 40 year old goalscoring record.

In 1972 Müller scored 85 goals in one year. The German was known as the most natural gifted goalscorer the World had seen. After two goals against Real Betis and two against Cordoba CF, the little Argentinian now stands with 88 goals since the start of the year. 

An absolutely incredible amount of goals, and this time, as all other times journalists and others try to describe his achievements. Gerd Müller himself, was not disappointed after his record broke, but had one fault he wanted to point out about Messi.

«He doesn’t play for Bayern Münich», «Der Bomber» told journalists. Müller scored 398 goals in 453 matches for Bayern Münich between 1964-79. He was also a massive goalscorer for his national team with 68 goals in 62 matches. A record Messi will never be able to beat. 

After Messi took the record there’s been discussion whether the record is legit or not. Brazilian team Flamengo have claimed that club legend Zico scored 89 goals in 1979, while the Zambian FA says that it was never Müllers record to be broken, but rather Godfrey Chitalus 107 goal record from 1972.

FIFA is neither approving the record, simply because they have no such record in their system. They say that it’s all created by the media and nothing they care about. 

Whether it’s a record or not, doesn’t take away how impressive Messi’s accomplishment is.  7 January 2013, the Ballon d’Or is being handed out to the best player of the year. In the final three is Andres Iniesta, Cristiano Ronaldo, and of course, Lionel Messi. There’s probably something wrong with the vote counting system if Messi doesn’t claim the award for the fourth consecutive year.

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FIFA will continue to use goal-line technology

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By Adam Conway

The ongoing discussions about whether or not goal-line technology will be introduced into football look set to be put to bed. After unsuccessful tests in previous years, FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said that the technology will be used in future competitions, including the 2014 World Cup.

Personally, I have always sided with the argument that controversy adds a bit of spice to the game; that questionable decisions bring about interesting discussion and bad calls by officials balance themselves out over the course of a season. However, lately I have begun to warm to the idea of goal-line technology, to an extent.

The most common argument against goal-line technology is that to stop the match to review certain situations would disturb the flow of the game. That the introduction of this technology would only be the start of a complete digital age revamp of the game we love. This is an argument I can appreciate, but these days football as a business supersedes football as a spectacle.

An incorrect goal-line decision can cost a club millions. It can be the difference between qualifying for Europe or not, relegation or survival, even whether or not a club continues to exist has teetered on these types of decisions in the past. But, as I said, I welcome the introduction of this technology only to a certain extent.

I do feel that the overuse of modern technology can have a negative impact on the game, but when you take sports like American football for example, we can see it’s effectiveness. I use the NFL as an example for its efficiency. Each coach is permitted 2 challenges per game. If there’s a ruling on the field that they believe to be incorrect, they can challenge it, in which case the officials will review their decision by way of a video replay. The suspense and excitement that builds while awaiting big decisions brings about a different element to the game. It’s important for coaches to decide carefully when to use their challenges. Do they let nothing slide, or risk missing the opportunity to challenge calls later in the game? A similar challenge system could be introduced so that not every decision is reviewed, just those the manager feels necessary, providing he has not reached his limit.

Speaking at the Club World Cup in Tokyo, where goal-line technology is currently being tested, Blatter told reporters: “One of these two systems – we are not going to take both – but one of the two will be used at Confederations Cup and at the 2014 World Cup.”

The two systems Blatter refers to are “GoalRef” and “Hawk-Eye”. “GoalRef” uses an electronic coil inside the ball which sends a vibrating signal to the watch of the referee whenever the ball crosses the goal-line. This is probably the most effective way of implementing the technology, as it’s a split-second communication that wouldn’t require a break in play. The other, “Hawk-Eye”, relies on a number of high-speed cameras to cover a variety of angles, and has been successfully used in cricket and tennis for a number of years. The latter should only be introduced sparingly, perhaps with a challenge system similar to the one I mentioned previously.

The Premier League and English FA have backed the British-designed “Hawk-Eye” system, although UEFA president Michel Platini continues to remain stubbornly opposed to the use of technology of any form within the game.

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Music and Football Hand in Hand

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Just as there is football, there are songs about football. In the biggest sport in the world, it is unavoidable that music about the game, the clubs and the national team is created. Sometimes the players even try to make make music on their own, trying to prove they have a future in music. It goes without saying that not all the songs sounds exceptionally good.

Written by Magnus Gamlem

To kick it off, it is inevitable to not mention «Three Lions» by the Lightning Seeds from 1996 when talking about football songs. «Thirty years of hurt, never stopped me dreaming», the lyrics say, describing the England national teams failing to succeed in championships for the last 30 years. The song reached number one on the British charts – twice.

Perhaps the most famous football song in the world is «You’ll never walk alone». Originally writen for the musical Carousel, but made famous by Gerry and The Pacemakers and through the Liverpool supporters. Even though Liverpool have struggled on the field in recent years, this is something every other football club envies them. Here is a clip of the Liverpool fans singing the song before kick-off in a match against Barcelona. 

It didn’t help England to let New Order make the official song for the 1990 World Cup, because Germany won the trophy. On the other side, it did help New Order. They got their first and only number one hit in their home country England with «World in Motion». England player John Barnes stands for the player contribution, with a short rap. Some are glad it was a short rap.

So far in this article it may seem like football songs most often turn out good. That’s not exactly true, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Especially the rap genre is frequently used, and for some weird reason footballers think this is something they’re good at. Liverpool was praised earlier for their fans magical version of «You’ll never walk alone», the players on the other hand would have been better of without recording «Anfield Rap». Bruce Grobbelaar, who’s actually singing in the song, described it as the worst football song of all time. «It reaced the charts all over Europe. You have to be crazy to buy it!» he once said. Decide if it’s something for you by watching the video under.

Ryan Babel hardly succeeded while playing for Liverpool, but through the lyrics of his rap it way seem that he thinks quite highly of himself. The rap is in Dutch, but here are the first four lines translated to English.

Rapping is my hobby
Rappers don`t want trouble
I’m the Liverpool star those bitches are loving
I know what time it is – I’ve just bought a new watch

Feel free to watch a video of Babel raping under, but you really don’t have to.

Did you know that Carlos Tevez is the lead singer in Argentinian band Piola Vago? No? Well, he is.  The music is described as ‘shantytown cumbia’, whatever that is. Decide for yourself whether you think Tevez is equally good at singing, as at scoring goals.

 

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Football shirt history: Recreativo de Huelva, Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid

In recent years no one have contributed more to developing football than Spain. Now a days the best players come from Spain and they play the best football. Everyone is looking towards the country of the World Champions to learn. But over a hundred years ago, the Spaniards got a little help with getting into football.

Written by Magnus Gamlem

The Brits often claim to have invented football. Whether or not that is true is not important in this context. What is a fact is that is was people from Great Britain who first brought football to Spain. The oldest football club in Spain is Recreativo de Huelva, and was founded by two Scots named Alexander Mackay and Robert Russell Ross in 1889. The club has since its foundation played in white and blue shirts, the colours of the Scottish flag.

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In Bilbao football arrived not many years later. And just as in Huelva, the Brits introduced football to the Basque people. British workers from Southampton, Sunderland and Portsmouth in Bilbao formed Bilbao Football Club in the late 19th century. Also Basques studying in Britain was involved in getting the game popular in their home country. The Basque students started Athletic Club when they came back to Spain, using the English spelling of the word. The clubs merged into Athletic Club in 1902, and Basque students also went to found Athletic Club Madrid, later named Atletico Madrid. 

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When one of the students was told by Athletic Club to bring back 25 shirts from a trip to England, he nearly went back empty handed. Right before he left England he figured out that the shirts Southampton FC was playing with matched the colours that the City of Bilbao was using. He then bought 50 shirts from them and went back to Spain. The club which had played with blue and white shirts up until then, decided to change colours to the red and white stripes. The club didn’t need all 50 shirts, and since they had a close relationship with Athletic Club Madrid, they decided to give 25 shirts to them. And that’s why the two clubs to this day plays in red and white striped shirts. 

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