Soccer City: Caracas – amid the chaos

VENEZUELA is one of South America’s least successful football nations, but most importantly and of greater concern, it is currently one of the world’s most troubled places. Once an oil-rich country with one quarter of the world’s proven oil reserves, a period of reckless financial and political policy-making has left Venezuela in absolute chaos, an example of social breakdown and a reminder of what can … Continue reading Soccer City: Caracas – amid the chaos

Soccer City: Vienna – where intellectuals played

AUSTRIAN football has been dominated by Red Bull Salzburg in recent years, but the city of Mozart has a long way to go before it can match the record of Vienna, in terms of trophies won and influence on the game. Salzburg’s corporate football may represent the zeitgeist in being backed by the beverage company Red Bull, but despite having significant financial advantages from this … Continue reading Soccer City: Vienna – where intellectuals played

Soccer City: Frankfurt – aiming to be Fußballplatz

EINTRACHT FRANKFURT reached their first UEFA semi-final since 1980 when they overturned a two-goal deficit to beat Portugal’s Benfica on away goals in the last eight of the Europa League. Eintracht may not be regular European contenders these days, but the club played its part in one of the most famous matches of all time, the 1960 European Cup final which they lost to Real … Continue reading Soccer City: Frankfurt – aiming to be Fußballplatz

Soccer City: Bucharest – in need of a lift

IN the current football landscape, it’s hard to imagine that Bucharest, the capital of Romania, once provided the world with a European champion. It’s 33 years since Steaua won the European Cup, beating Terry Venables’ Barcelona on penalties in Sevilla. At the time, it was considered to have been a major shock, but it was no fluke, for Steaua were back in the final 1989, … Continue reading Soccer City: Bucharest – in need of a lift

Soccer City: Brussels – at the heart of Europe, but not football

BRUSSELS, of course, is at the heart of any discussion around Brexit. It has become a reference point and scapegoat for decades for those wishing to blame the European Union for everything from the shape of carrots to the number of foreign footballers in Britain. From a sporting perspective, Brussels has long since moved off the radar as a major footballing hub, although it spurned … Continue reading Soccer City: Brussels – at the heart of Europe, but not football

Soccer City: Helsinki – Nordic gem

AT THE end of October 2018, HJK were crowned Finnish champions for the sixth time in the last eight years and the 29thtime in their history. Football has to compete with other national pastimes in Finland, such as Pesäpallo, which is often referred to as “Finnish Baseball”, a fast-moving bat and ball game that was invented in the 1920s. And of course, there’s Ice Hockey, … Continue reading Soccer City: Helsinki – Nordic gem

Soccer City: Mostar – scarred and symbolic

ON July 11, 2018, HSK Zrinjski Mostar kicked-off the UEFA Champions League campaign in Trnava in an empty stadium – Slovakia’s Spartak were being punished by UEFA. The Bosnia & Herzegovina champions were beaten 1-0 and drew the second leg 1-1 in Mostar – the Champions League run was short-lived. Zrinjski won the Bosnia & Herzegovina Premier league in 2018 for the fourth time in … Continue reading Soccer City: Mostar – scarred and symbolic