2013 May | FREE

Archive the month of May 2013

May 27, 2013

How Kosovo won the Champions League final

Spectators of European top-level football are not really accustomed to spot the flag of Kosovo in Champions League fixtures. This is not surprising, given the fact that the Football Federation of Kosovo has not obtained membership status with UEFA and is therefore not allowed to line up FC Prishtina, winner of the ‘Raiffeisen Superliga Kosove’ in Champions League qualifiers or a national team in any competition.

In December 2012 FIFA allowed its members in an official communiqué to ‘play international friendly games’ with Kosovo, but took care to specify –with regard to the protests from its member association Serbia – that ‘matches should not be played with national symbols (flags, national anthems, etc.) and that the authorisation was valid for youth, amateur, women and club football’.

As a result, migrant players that would be eligible for Kosovo have no choice but to join another national team. In a recent World Cup qualifier between Switzerland and Albania, a total of nine players of Kosovar origin were lined up (three and six respectively). One of them, quirky Bayern midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, born to Albanian parents from Kosovo and grown up in Basel, famously played with three little flags – Swiss, Albanian and Kosovar – sewn onto his boots. Despite his already 25 caps for Switzerland (at age 21!), he also was one of the signatories of an open letter to FIFA president Sepp Blatter, requesting the right to field a national team.

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

May 13, 2013

Fergie’s times

Last week, the announcement of Alex Ferguson’s retirement dwarfed all other news on planet football. Was there a single European media who did not duly pay its tribute?

No need to reproduce here the list of all the titles and trophees or to add yet another analysis of what allowed him to reach such an outstanding longevity in the fast-moving football business (during Ferguson’s years at United, Real Madrid used 26 different coaches, Bayern Munich 18).

Ferguson's retirement makes the headlines.

It is interesting, though, to note that the twenty-year time span since his first championship win with United, corresponds to the two decades of accelerated internationalisation of European football, which we have called a ‘paradigm shift’ elsewhere.

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

May 3, 2013

The tempting parallels

‘Sprechen Sie Deutsch?’, L’Equipe asked its readers on Thursday morning, noting that this ‘might be helpful when following the Champions League final’. In his daily column, Didier Braun already announced, very tongue-in-cheek, for the eve of the final the inevitable wave of editorials likely to draw on the parallels between Germany’s domination of the Eurozone and the Bundesliga’s surprising hold-up on European football. He is right: editorialists and intellectuals love to establish such parallels. Of course, it is always tempting to interpret football as a mirror of politics and to establish links between what happens on the pitch and in international relations. Needless to point out that the temptation becomes irresistible when Germany is concerned.

L'Equipe and Le Point, both on sale on 2 May 2013.

It is understandable that media seek to exploit the symbolic potential of football, especially on a European level. And it is only natural that in the current political configuration Germany is the object of extrasportive allusions and references in the press. Especially when its main opponent on the pitch is Spain, another symbolic key player in both the economic and financial crisis and European football.

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