2013 January | FREE

Archive the month of January 2013

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

January 22, 2013

A hand-shake

Third and final part of the little French-German blogpost trilogy on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty.

Bernard Chenez

Chenez is one of these cartoonists who are capable in no time to condense the essence of an event into a drawing, brilliantly highlighting its humorous, sometimes ridiculous aspects. And he is one of the rare masters of his craft who has devoted the largest part of his work to commenting on contemporary sport. For a quarter of a century already his cartoons have figured prominently in L’Equipe, many of them excellent editorials without words. Not surprising that this blog has already abused of his kind authorisation to use his drawings for non-commercial, purely academic purposes.

Caricatures, of course, use stereotypical shortcuts in order to be understood as quickly as possible by the largest number of readers. Eleven or twelve years ago, I asked Bernard Chenez whether we could have a talk about the stereotypes he used for national football teams. He welcomed me very nicely in his office at L’Equipe and, being confronted with a series of his own cartoons from previous world cups, admitted to being surprised how often he had actually given in to the temptation of always referring to the same, sometimes ‘cheap’ images: the Brazilian forward, obviously, portrayed as Samba dancer and the German defender, just as obviously, in a ‘Panzer’.  Concerning the latter, he said he wouldn’t use it any more, simply because it was utterly outdated. And he kept his promise: at the 2002 World Cup, German coach Rudi Völler was no longer driving a tank, but a … Mercedes!

While we were talking about football’s paradoxical power of both reinforcing national identities and bringing people together, he noticed that I had his latest “review of the sports year” with me and asked me to hand it to him to sign it. And, keeping the conversation, he drew the little cartoon below, adding a gently surrealist, but still meaningful text.

There could not be a better moment to dig this lovely hand-shake out of my archives than the 50th anniversary of a surprisingly successful and lasting treaty of friendship.

Post by : Albrecht Sonntag in the category : Identities, Posts, Public Sphere - No comment

January 21, 2013

Thirty years of hurt

Second part of our French-German blogpost trilogy on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty.

On 8 July 2012, the French evening news commemorated two major events in the nation’s recent history.

First it reported on the meeting of François Hollande and Angela Merkel in Reims Cathedral, 50 years after de Gaulle and Adenauer whose solemn celebration of reconciliation paved the way for the Elysée Treaty signed half a year later. Would they have spoken about it if the two governments had not decided to highlight the anniversary of an event that – unlike the milestone Treaty itself – is hardly remembered?

An entire special issue on one single match from 30 years ago.

Then it looked back with nostalgia at another French-German lieu de mémoire, probably much more present in the memory of its viewers: the ‘Night of Sevilla’ of 8 July 1982, when Platini’s wonderful team lost a truly memorable semi-final in the first ever penalty shoot-out at a World Cup.This match, which Platini does not get tired of describing as the greatest experience of his entire career, deserves to be remembered for several reasons.

First, for the sheer class of the game and the players. You’d expect that watching it today, after three decades, seven World Cups, the introduction of the Champions League and several seasons of Spanish delight, everything would seem slow, disorderly and hopelessly outpaced. Wrong. Even from today’s perspective, this is brilliant football (full match here, highlights here).

Post by : Albrecht Sonntag in the category : History, Memory, Posts - No comment

January 20, 2013

A friendly

Part one of a Franco-German blogpost trilogy on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty.

On 6 February, France will receive Germany for a friendly at the Stade de France. The match was fixed by the two federations – no doubt gently nudged by their respective governments – on the first available date following the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty signed by Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer on 22 January 1963.

True enough, the Treaty is a remarkable piece of visionary reconciliation, establishing a unique partnership that even has turned into something like friendship carried not only by governments but by large parts of civil society. Organising a ‘friendly’ seems to be a rather appropriate semantic choice.

Colombes, March 1931 - The first France-Germany.

Except that friendlies in international football between neighbouring countries are never really friendlies, are they? How could they be? In the fans’ and media’s memory, a century-old rivalry is always in the background. In the players’ mind, facing another European top-team is an opportunity to earn or justify one’s place in the team for the important World Cup qualifiers to come. For the coaches, it’s most of all an occasion to test tactical schemes and rotate in the team.

Post by : Albrecht Sonntag in the category : History, Memory, Posts - No comment

January 15, 2013

Does anybody remember the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup?

Guest contribution by Rainer Kalb, long-standing football journalist who has moved and mediated between France and Germany for over 30 years. Rainer, who is a hopelessly nostalgic Mönchengladbach supporter, was the German jury member of the Ballon d’or between 1980 and 2008.

Today even football experts need to think hard when confronted with the term ‘Inter-Cities Fair Cup’. How many of them would know that the first game of this first truly pan-European club competition was actually played several months before the opening fixture of the European Champions Clubs’ Cup? On June 4th, 1955 a local selection of the City of Basel lost 0-5 against a similar selection from London, while the first match of what became quickly known as the ‘European Cup’ – a 3-3 draw between Sporting Lisbon and Partizan Belgrade – only took place on September 4th that same year.

In early 1955, following the invitation of Ernst Thommen, who as vice-president of the Swiss Football Association had just successfully organised the 1954 World Cup, the leaders of twelve international cities known for their international trade or industrial fairs met in Basel. Their idea was to take benefit from the growing attractiveness and media echo of football to polish the image of their respective cities. From today’s perspective, knowing how long it finally took before advertisement and sponsoring fully entered the world of clubs and competitions, their idea might well be considered visionary.

London vs Frankfurt 1955 (courtesy www.flickr.com/ photos/footysphere/)

UEFA turned a cold shoulder on this competition, which was exclusively restricted to cities holding such fairs and which, in its early years, replaced club teams by representative city teams. For instance, the London team that beat Frankfurt in the first edition was composed by players from seven different clubs.

Among the founding members of the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup were London, Birmingham, Barcelona, Milano, Lausanne, Basel, Leipzig, Zagreb, Frankfurt, Cologne and Vienna (with the latter two finally withdrawing just before the launch).

Like the European Champions Clubs Cup the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup benefitted tremendously from the development of jet aircrafts and the equipment of stadia with modern floodlights, making evening games in mid-week possible. It had, however, a structural flaw: the business representatives had insisted on a scheduling of the matches that was simultaneous to the respective trade fairs. For this reason the first competition, despite only ten competing teams, lingered on for three years! When Barcelona, with a 6-0 against London following a 2-2 draw in London, won the first trophy on the 1st of May 1958, Real Madrid were already on their way to their third consecutive Champions Cup win (29 May 1958, 3-2 after extra-time against AC Milan).

Post by : GUEST in the category : History, Memory, Posts - No comment

January 8, 2013

Where have all the World Cup souvenir books gone?

When I was a young reader each World Cup was immediately followed by the publication of an avalanche of souvenir books. These albums, usually sold in prestigious hard cover editions with excellent photos from all major highlights and curiosities of the tournament, were officially signed by famous coaches or TV anchormen, sometimes even by active players, although it was plain to see that they had hardly written a line themselves. As the ghostwriters were mainly top-level sports journalists, however, the quality of the analysis was actually rather good.

When the Euro moved in 1980 from a five-day event with four teams to a real tournament with a group phase, it also became the object of such books, perhaps a little thinner, but no less lavishly illustrated. Each two years, these books were a favourite (and actually mandatory) Christmas gift from well-meaning parents or uncles.

YouTube killed the world cup book.

Today the World Cup souvenir book is a virtually extinct species. Like video killed the radio star, internet gave a lethal blow to the souvenir book. Why should anyone care for all these photos if you can have all possible highlights of all possible tournaments permanently available in YouTube clips?

Nostalgia put aside, I can’t help but think this is a pity. These books are beyond doubt the ones that I spent the largest amount of hours with in my childhood and youth. Unlike novels, their plot and narrative unfolded afresh at each reading; they told a story that had happened before our eyes and whose drama was magnified by hindsight. They gave a face to exotic places like El Salvador (1970) and Haiti (1974) and they produced intriguing statistics and records.

Post by : Albrecht Sonntag in the category : Identities, Memory, Posts - No comment

January 3, 2013

Whose memory?

One thousand pages on the fundamental elements of Europeanness. One thousand pages on concepts and events, pieces of art and objects of consumption, on all these things that made Europe into what it is today. One thousand pages, three volumes, more than 120 entries by authors from over 15 countries, and not a single word on sport (or pop music, or cinema, for that matter). How can it be that this remarkable collective endeavour of conceptualising and bringing together European Lieux de mémoire (1) suffers from such a large blind spot when it comes to mass culture?

So many pages...

In the third volume, this is particularly bewildering. Under the heading ‘Europe and the world’, this part of the series wishes explicitly to analyse how European influence has been received and acculturated by the world before being ‘re-imported to Europe in a different form’. Of course, colonialism, economic globalisation, racism, emigration etc. play an important role here, but what about football, the Beatles or the French film pioneers? Are these not relevant as cultural exports? Have they nothing to say about what it means to be European today?

Post by : Albrecht Sonntag in the category : History, Identities, Memory, Posts - No comment