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Archive for the category : Competitions

March 11, 2013

« Our story will become legend » : history & memory at Paris Saint-Germain

By Pymouss44 (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsLast week, one of this year’s star players at Paris Saint-Germain, Zlatan Ibrahimović expressed his surprise that he & his team received booing from the audience at the Parc des Princes at half-time. Mr Ibrahimović’s comments were along the lines of ‘this is odd, because before this year, the audience had nothing’.

Mr Ibrahimović’s surprise is itself a surprise. PSG was top of the League & Nancy was bottom. PSG was playing at home, in front of its supporters. It is fair to say that the crowd could be expected to feel, and perhaps express, some disappointment in view of such a mediocre result at half-time. (However, PSG went on to win the game, as expected, stayed on top, & the crowd seemed more pleased by the end result)
Mr Ibrahimović’s psychology might partly explain his comments. He is a very talented player, & thinks very highly of his own talent, too, as evidenced in his ‘autobiography’ _I am Zlatan_ (written by David Lagercrantz) & in numerous interviews. Conversely, he often seems to underestimate the talent of other players.

Post by : Dàvid RANC in the category : Competitions, History, Identities, Memory - No Comment

March 8, 2013

Memory, collective memory and football today

Guest contribution by Geoff Hare (Newcastle University, retired, now living in Edinburgh – geoff.hare[à] Geoff is the author of Football in France. A Cultural History (2003) and France and the 1998 World Cup (1998, co-authored with Hugh Dauncey).

When Professor Wolfram Pyta spoke to me in Besançon about the FREE conference on collective memory and European football to be held in Stuttgart, I immediately thought of the first European Cup Final I had seen, live on TV in full, in 1960. Real Madrid had beaten Eintracht Frankfurt by 7 goals to 3, a remarkable score by current standards. In my own memory it was a remarkable match and had an important effect in Britain at the time. Was this a false memory in view of the subsequent, and indeed still current status of Real as one of the great clubs of European football? I decided to investigate further before replying to the call for papers.

I was about to move to Edinburgh and the match had been played in nearby Glasgow, I soon re-discovered. I had forgotten that. I headed for the National Library of Scotland. The librarian dealing with my request for newspapers of the 1960s recalled his father telling him, as part of Scottish football’s folk memory, about the exceptional match he had seen at Hampden long before, far better than the football of the 1980s that the son had been brought up on.

Post by : FREE-TEAM in the category : Competitions, History, Memory - No Comment

January 29, 2013

The birth of the Panenka

Guest contribution by Didier Braun, the living memory of France’s great sports daily L’Equipe. Didier is the author of the daily column La lucarne’ and, more recently, of the wonderful book Mon armoire à maillots (‘My Cupboard full with Football Jerseys’), which will be worth a blog post in its own right. During Euro 2012 he wrote a memory piece about each of the 16 participating teams. The article below, published in the 12 June issue, was one of them. It echoes Borja García’s ‘deconstruction’ blogpost of April, completing it in a nice way.

1976, BELGRADE. – Like all legends, the legend of football is often written and embellished long after the facts. Today, the ‘panenka’ is part of the legendary narrative of the European Championship.

What is it? It is this cheeky, impertinent way of shooting a penalty whose finest technical description was given by Jean-Philippe Réthacker in France Football, on the day after a Euro 1980 qualifier between Czechoslovakia and France (2-0, on 4 April 1979), where Antonín Panenka fooled Dominique Dropsy this way that consists in

‘darting very quickly towards the ball, letting people expect a strong shot, stopping brutally when transferring weight onto the back foot, hooking the ball with a spoon-like shot, and using a sort of lob, whose slow, swirling trajectory completely fools the opposite goalkeeper’.

In this article, Réthacker was not referring to a ‘panenka’, but to a ‘dead leave’, an old stock phrase formerly used to illustrate the free kicks of Brasilian Didi and, further back in time, the French international player of Austrian descent, Henri Hiltl.

Belgrade, 20 June 1976. Sepp Maier has not forgotten.

It is in this way that Panenka, in the Belgrade final of the 1976 European Championship gave Czechoslovakia the title against the great team of the Federal Republic of Germany, master of the world since 1974 and holder of the European title since 1972. This was the first time that a major international victory was won on penalty shoot-outs (2-2, 5-3 on shootouts). Panenka was also the last player to take a shot. The great Sepp Maier has not forgotten.

But very few people talked about this novel technique on the spot. This was 1976, not 2012, when any prank is looped on TV, echoed by millions of clicks on the web, copied, pasted, tweeted, ‘youTubed’.

Post by : GUEST in the category : Competitions, History, Memory, Posts, Public Sphere - No Comment

July 3, 2012

The last man standing: A tribute to the goalkeepers

“The goalkeeper is the lone eagle, the man of mystery, the last defender. Less the keeper of a goal than the keeper of a dream.” – Vladimir Nabokov

Goalkeepers traditionally wear Number 1 in their jerseys. It is not a  coincidence. They occupy a very privileged but also potentially risky role in football. They defend the goal, and they face each and every member of  the opposing team who want to put the ball in his/her net. One cool move by the goalkeeper can boost the confidence of the team or one silly mistake can bring the whole house down. No one on the field stands so equally close to being a hero or a fool. As, Emrah Serbes, a popular Turkish author, writes in one his short stories, while other players chase the ball, goalkeeper is the only one that stands against it.

Post by : Özgehan Şenyuva in the category : Competitions, Identities, Posts - No Comment

June 19, 2012

Lonely Hearts

This evening there will be only eight left. Eight teams of the fifty-three that were lined up by UEFA’s member federations for Euro2012. That means that in 45 different, more or less football-crazy countries fans are orphans of their ‘own’ team. Which will of course not keep them from watching the remaining games. The question is: what side will they support?

Football, due to its fundamental design of binary opposition, systematically invites the spectator – even if his/her team is not involved – to take sides and express partisanship in order to enjoy the thrill of the game and respond to his/her individual and collective ‘quest for excitement” (to quote the famous expression coined by Norbert Elias). You can of course always pretend to be a ‘neutral observer’, appreciating each match on the basis of the technical skills and tactical know-how displayed by both teams. But football is about emotion, and without emotional involvement it’s much less tasty.

Post by : Albrecht Sonntag in the category : Competitions, Identities, Posts - No Comment

June 7, 2012

Poland welcomes Europe

A Polish response to the BBC in central Warsaw. (c) Borja García

Just hours before the kick-off of UEFA EURO 2012™, Poland is ready to welcome the rest of Europe to the first continental championships to be hosted beyond the ‘iron curtain’ in the EU era. Co-hosts Ukraine and Poland have been subject to serious examination since they were chosen as organisers by UEFA over what was considered the ‘safe bid’ presented by Italy. The latest attempt to look ‘under the carpet’ of these two central and European countries has been the recent edition of Panorama, an investigative news broadcast by the prestigious British public channel, the BBC. In this edition of Panorama, the authors exposed very crude examples of racist, anti-Semitic and generally discriminatory behaviours by football fans in Poland and Ukraine. Perhaps more worryingly, the documentary also accused the authorities of lack of action against the violents. Some commentators, such as former English international Sol Campbell have urged fans not to travel to Poland and Ukraine, whilst others have pointed their fingers at the BBC accusing the public broadcaster of sensationalism.

Post by : Borja García in the category : Competitions, Identities, Posts, Public Sphere - No Comment

May 10, 2012

Europe is red and white

On Wednesday a sea of red and white descended on the Romanian capital, Bucharest. Almost 20,000 Wally look-alike jerseys on the shoulders of the travelling fans of Atlético de Madrid and Athletic Bilbao, the two clubs contending the UEFA Europa League final. On the pitch the Colombian killer, Radamel Falcao, dominated the game inflicting a severe defeat on the young Basque lions. On the stands, a party with no incidents by the supporters of two of the most special football clubs in the Iberian peninsula.

Post by : Borja García in the category : Competitions, Posts - No Comment

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