Iceland – coaching for the people

THE recent World Football Summit in Madrid, naturally, focused a lot on the upper echelons of European football. But one of the most interesting and warmly received sessions was about Iceland, presented by Stefan Gunnarsson, director of business development for the Icelandic FA. Iceland captured the imagination of European football fans in 2016 during the European Championship in France. As well as the fans’ distinctive and … Continue reading Iceland – coaching for the people

Geezers 1 Geysers 2: These island races

THE BRITISH are getting used to leaders making resignation speeches full of futile dignity. Frankly, Roy Hodgson could do nothing else after yet another failure by the England football team. That he had a carefully crafted speech, just minutes after the final whistle, demonstrated that he had clearly planned this should his grossly-overpaid gang of millionaires fall on their faces against “little” Iceland. Comparisons with … Continue reading Geezers 1 Geysers 2: These island races

Fans from the real game of the people

I’VE just returned from France and the European Championships. I was fortunate enough to be at Austria versus Hungary game in Bordeaux. After seeing TV footage of Russian and English fans fighting in the street and in the stadium, it was a relief to be among two sets of fans who were clearly enjoying the experience of being at a major competition. What’s really great about … Continue reading Fans from the real game of the people

Bordeaux Diary: The spirit of ’38, ’84 and ’98

THE morning after the night before. If you happened to wake up Hungarian, you also opened your eyes with a desperate need for coffee and headache pills. Apparently, Hungarian fans had really laid siege on the city centre of Bordeaux and also enjoyed Iceland’s shock 1-1 draw with Portugal. Euro 2016 was taking shape. Predictably, the English fans had dragged their country’s name through the … Continue reading Bordeaux Diary: The spirit of ’38, ’84 and ’98

Bordeaux Diary: Dressed in red, white and black

BORDEAUX got it right when it came to public transport. Just three euros per day on the tram system during Euro 2016. At Grand Parc station we bumped into an artist who was taking her painting of a ball disguised as a globe to an exhibition. She was hoping to find a buyer. “Bonne chance,” we said as she got off with her huge canvas. … Continue reading Bordeaux Diary: Dressed in red, white and black

Bordeaux Diary: Magyars and Rosbif

THE plane from Luton was full of football fans. No, not English supporters heading for a showdown with their Russian friends, but Hungarians travelling to Bordeaux in support of their team. There are plenty of Magyars in Britain, one of the issues being debated as the nation votes on its membership of the European Union. There was a man with a chicken on his head, another with … Continue reading Bordeaux Diary: Magyars and Rosbif

Euro 2016: It helps to win the opener…but it’s not a Brexit situation

DÉJÀ VU or just bad luck? Amid the sound of police sirens, argy-bargy between two sets of fans, stand-offs and inappropriate goading of terrorists, England kicked off their Euro 2016 campaign with a draw against unfancied Russia. “Russia’s identity crisis could make them England’s ideal opponents”, said one report ahead of the game. For most of the 90 minutes, that headline looked safe – England … Continue reading Euro 2016: It helps to win the opener…but it’s not a Brexit situation

Euro 2016: How globalisation is impacting national squads

THE GLOBAL nature of football and the open European market is underlined by host nation France’s squad for Euro 2016. When France kicks off the European Championship today, their squad will contain just five players that ply their trade in Ligue 1: Christoph Jallet and Samuel Umtiti of Lyon; Blaise Matuidi of PSG; Steve Mandanda of Marseille and Benoit Costil of Rennes. This development also … Continue reading Euro 2016: How globalisation is impacting national squads

Euro 2016: A boost for France? Maybe on the field.

SADLY, Euro 2016 may be the last great international football jamboree. There are a number of reasons, but with UEFA effectively breaking-up the franchise for 2020, taking the competition across the continent, it is arguable that the template may alter for future European Championships. Europe, as an economic zone, is troubled. Huge imbalances, tragic levels of youth unemployment, philosophical and practical questions about open borders … Continue reading Euro 2016: A boost for France? Maybe on the field.

Euro 2016: The toughest tournament to win

IT DOESN’T have a Brazil or Argentina, but the European Championship is now the strongest international tournament in the world. This might prompt protest in Zurich and from Mr Infantino, but the fact is, it is harder to win the Euros than it is the FIFA showpiece. UEFA are in danger of killing this stone dead with their plans for 2020, and it is arguable … Continue reading Euro 2016: The toughest tournament to win

Thank heavens for the Dutch: Reality restored

THE DANGER signs are already appearing: England were being listed among the favourites for Euro 2016 on the back of a 3-2 friendly win against World Champions Germany. But, in time-honoured fashion, the balloons were burst a few days later as the Netherlands, stricken by failing to qualify for the finals and the death of football legend Johan Cruyff, won 2-1 at Wembley. The timing … Continue reading Thank heavens for the Dutch: Reality restored