Posts tagged ‘France’

France Wins Box Seat

Everyone knows the story about the tortoise and the hare, well it may just be that France is the tortoise.

The nation was devastated when cross Channel rival, London won the rights for the 2012 Olympic Games, Paris having been in the running for the global event. However France may well have the last laugh.

It is in fact a Paris based company, Vinci, who currently operate the Stade de France who have won the lucrative contract to manage the London 2012 Stadium, as well as the Queen Elizabeth Park. Vinci, will be responsible for installing 21,000 retractable seats to allow spectators at West Ham United games to be closer to the action pitch side, while still maintaining a world class running track. The Stade de France is one venue where retractable seating has been a success in the main as the pitch is in fact slightly lower so that the seating remains tiered and close to the action.

It may just be that this French company can reap the rewards without the initial investment. Withs such strong rivalry between the two nations this is bound to be nice compensation for missing out on the Olympics in 2012.

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March 4, 2015 at 9:53 am Leave a comment

Searching For That “X” Factor

There is nothing better for a sporting tournament than when the host nation starts the competition well, and Australia have done that in the Asian Cup, winning both their opening games and scoring four goals in each. They are now assured a place in the quarter finals. That is before they play their last group game against their toughest opposition South Korea.

This is where the competition will start to get harder.

Despite this being the third Asian Cup competition that Australia has competed in, to many diehard fans and this writer it is still a competition that is a little underwhelming. However it is a competition Australia needs to be a part of and far better than what was on offer in Oceania.

Why is it hard to get enthusiastic about the competition as a whole? Is it because Asian football is currently going through a bit of slump? Based on last year’s World Cup which was only six months ago Asia had little to get excited about. All the Asian teams failed to progress from the Group stage and all failed to record a win. The coaches of Iran, Japan and South Korea all were sacked or quit; Australia had only just appointed theirs so that was never going to happen. To add to the misery one must also remember that the fifth best team in Asia, Jordan were thrashed by Uruguay in a play-off to get to the finals.

There is an argument that the gulf between those nations who qualified for the World Cup and the rest is what causes the lack of interest in the early stages of the competition. Without taking anything away from Australia’s performances which have been impressive, -although defensively this writer still has concerns – surely the Socceroos would have been expected to see off Oman and Kuwait? The same with South Korea, although they were less convincing than Australia in their victories. Iran were expected to beat Bahrain and Japan to beat tournament debutants Palestine. Iran would be expected to continue winning ways tonight against Qatar and Japan to do the same against Iraq. It is that predictability that makes the group stage hard to get excited about. The real competition comes alive when the Quarter Finals start; although one should never underplay the importance of momentum from the group stage, and Australia currently have that.

One cannot help feeling that the AFC have tried to run before they can walk with this tournament. In that there are too many teams who just aren’t up to a suitable standard. However the argument is that by playing at tournaments such as this one is an incentive to improve, creates interest, and the financial opportunity to improve. It is a very difficult balancing act.

With only sixteen teams competing at the Asian Cup there is little that the AFC can do to create more excitement and interest. They could cut the tournament back to being a ten team tournament, playing in two pools of five with the top two teams in each pool progressing and crossing over. The top teams playing the second placed team in the opposite group. Hockey has used a similar format very successfully. However one has to feel that to reduce the number of teams at the finals would be regressive; All the AFC can, and must do is work with the various associations in the region and try and raise the bar in terms of performances.

Sadly the same is true of the Asian Champions League. The group stages do not generate the interest that they should, as most of the big teams in the stronger leagues in Asia are almost always assured of progressing, because the weaker nations’ Champions are not good enough.

In the Asian Champions League 47 teams compete in the competition, many eliminated prior to the 32 team group stage. Yet those 47 places are not made up of the Champions of each of the 47 member associations of the Asian Football Confederation. Australia for example has three teams in that 47 when its league only has ten teams; nine in truth as Wellington Phoenix are part of Oceania and no one is sure if they would be allowed to participate should they qualify.

Surely the AFC would be better served to make this tournament one purely just for the Champions at this stage in its development? Have two tiers of competition. The lesser league’s Champions play off to win a second tier competition and that in turn wins them a place in the “main event,” the Asian Champions League.

Something has to be done to try and stimulate these two major tournaments in the region. Many will claim that they are both young competitions and will take time to get into the psyche of fans, but this is simply not true. The Asian Champions League – although it was called the Asian Champion Club Tournament in a previous life started in 1967. It folded in 1971 due to a lack of professionalism and was restarted again in 1985/86 as the Asian Club Championship, and in 2002 became the Asian Champions League. It has been around for a while in different guises and formats, but has it still not managed to capture the public’s full attention?

The Asian Cup commenced in 1956. It has been going for over 50 years, but even within Asia you can ask people which nation won which tournament an in what year and will struggle to find someone who knows. It should come as no surprise that in 15 tournaments Japan has won four, Saudi Arabia and Iran three each and South Korea two. Three of last year’s World Cup qualifiers have won nine of the 15 tournaments. Only Israel – who no longer compete under AFC – Iraq and Kuwait have been other nations to win the cup.

Iraq won in 2007, but you have to go back to 1980 to find another country outside of the four main winners to have lifted the cup. Which many may claim means that development is the issue. Yet is it?

In Europe, with their UEFA European Championship the dominance is similar, where Germany and Spain have been victorious on three occasions each and France twice. Their competition is four years younger than the Asian Cup, so there have only been 14 tournaments and eight have been won by three nations. However the remaining six competitions have been won by six different nations. Yet like Asia, Greece won in 2004 and one has to go back to 1992 to see a nation outside of France, Spain or Germany lifting the cup; Denmark being the victors that year.

So maybe it is nothing to do with development, maybe it is the way of the footballing world. However one cannot help feeling that the Asian Cup is still lacking something to capture the imagination and pull everyone in. The question is what is that something?

January 14, 2015 at 10:37 am Leave a comment

Federer Fulfils His Dream. Will he Revisit His Vision?

Switzerland have won their first ever Davis Cup and it is a fitting win for one of their great sporting ambassadors, Roger Federer.

There is no doubt that this will be a victory that Federer will savour. The 17-times grand slam champion had to stave off back problems during the weekend and also bounce back from Friday’s defeat by Gael Monfils. Federer was imperious on serve, although he made more unforced errors than the his opponent Richard Gasquet – 24 to 21 – but hit an incredible 62 winners, before wrapping up the match with a cunning drop shot to hand France a third defeat in their last three finals.

This victory will be sweet for Federer who has always been a fan of the Davis Cup and has urged the powers that be to give the tournament more credibility. It was he several years ago who asked the ATP World Tour is they could find a window each year where the Davis cup could be slotted in; he had already identified an ideal time. He then wanted the tournament to be taken around the world, to take tennis to the people. So that countries who rarely see the best players could host the tournament in a 7 – 10 day tournament, with nations playing each other in a world cup style knockout format. He managed to obtain support from the other top ranked players, but the powers that be rejected his approach.

So for Federer this would have been a special win, as he has always been quick to say how special it is to play for his country, and the only opportunities come in the Davis Cup and the Olympic Games; Olympic Gold is now the only honour missing from his trophy cabinet, having lost the London 2012 final to Andy Murray.  “I’ve been playing this game for almost 15 years and clearly I had never come as close than this past weekend, I’m happy I stayed calm and played a good match when I had to. I’m really happy for all the guys in the team.” The world Number two said.

Maybe now as a winner he will try again, and hopefully the powers that be will listen as the tournament would benefit from having total focus on it once a year.

November 24, 2014 at 10:48 am Leave a comment

Heroes and Men of Valour

Today the world reflects on those who served in the War to end all wars, and so we should. Sadly few lessons have been learned and wars still are being fought on the battlefields and in the minds of those who return from such conflicts.

At the time of the First World War Australia’s population was just around four million and a total of 416,809 Australians enlisted in the Australian forces, of which 32,231 were from Western Australia. Australia suffered its highest ever mortality rate, with 61,720 being killed and over 156,000 wounded, many of whom died within 18 months of returning home.

Sport has played a big part in keeping the sports up in war time. There was the famous rugby match played beneath the Pyramids in the Great War, as well as games of football between British and German troops during a ceasefire. In the second World War sporting events were used to keep everyone’s spirits up and war time internationals were held in Britain; caps of which are not on the official record.

According to Australian historians football, or soccer as it was then known, was regularly played by Allied troops at Gallipoli and also amongst Australian troops based at Lemnos in Greece in 1915. In fact Victorian Sports historian Dr Ian Syson has revealed that records show an extensive and co-ordinated soccer programme within the Australian forces – and there was even an Anzac “Ashes” series between Aussie and New Zealand troops. The prize was a silver razor tin case, containing cigar ashes from one of the soldiers who landed at Gallipoli.

There have been many sportsmen who deserve to be remembered for their heroics in the face of war. We thought we would share some with you.

Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse, VC and bar, MC, RAMC. He is a man begging to have a movie made of his life. He is one of only three individuals to be awarded the Victoria Cross and Bar (Two Victoria Crosses). Chavasse was medical officer of the 10th Battalion, the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment and was initially best known as an outstanding athlete at Oxford University, going up to Trinity College with his twin brother, Christopher, in 1904. It was there that Noel studied medicine and was a key member of the Oxford University athletics and lacrosse teams. He represented Great Britain in the 400 metres at the 1908 Olympic Games in London, finishing second in his heat which was not enough for him to qualify for the final.

Lieutenant General Sir Philip Neame, VC, KBE, CB, DSO, Chevalier Legion d’Honneur, Croix de Guerre (France), Croix de Guerre (Belgium). Neame is the only man to win a Victoria Cross and Olympic gold medal. He was a lieutenant in the 15th Field Corps of Royal Engineers. He was an outstanding sportsman at Cheltenham College, and was one of 14 old boys from the school to win the Victoria Cross. His Olympic gold medal came in the 1924 Paris Games in the four-man running deer team competition, when Great Britain won from Norway and Sweden.

From the world of football we have Second Lieutenant Donald Simpson Bell, VC. Donald Bell was the first professional footballer to enlist for the First World War, with the 9th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, and he is the only professional footballer to be awarded the Victoria Cross. Bell was a gifted all-round sportsman who played for Crystal Palace, Bishop Auckland and Newcastle before turning professional with Bradford Park Avenue in 1912. He died five days after the heroics that won him his Victoria Cross and many felt his efforts on that day warranted a second.

From the Equestrian sporting world came Brigadier General Paul Aloysius Kenna, VC, DSO. Paul was awarded the VC in 1898 after serving in Sudan and was killed at Gallipoli in 1915. He was thought by many at the time to be possibly the finest horseman of his age. In 1893/94 he was the top-rated polo player in the British Army in India. He was also a jockey and rode over 300 National Hunt and Flat winners before turning his attention to show-jumping. He led the Great Britain showjumping team on tour to North America in both 1910 and 1911. He was also selected to lead the Great Britain team at the 1912 Olympics. Unfortunately they arrived in Stockholm late, and performed very poorly. Kenna wrote an angry report to the British Olympic authorities on how British teams should be prepared and trained for future Olympics.

In Rugby League comes Second Lieutenant John ‘Jack’ Harrison, VC, MC. John Harrison was one of the greatest players in the history of Hull Rugby League Club. He first came to the attention of York but soon transferred to his native Hull, where he scored 106 tries in 116 matches, including 52 in the 1913-14 season, a club record that still stands to this day, and is unlikely to ever be beaten.

Rugby Union has contributed four Victoria Cross winners, three Irishmen and one Englishman.

Lieutenant-Commander Arthur Leyland Harrison, VC. Harrison, was a promising England forward who had people talking about a long and fruitful career following his two appearances in the 1914 Five Nations Championship. He played in the back row against Ireland and then moved into the second row against France, when England won 39-13.  He won his Victoria Cross posthumously for his part in the Zeebrugge raid of 1918,

The three Irishmen are remarkably all from the same Rugby club in Dublin, Wanderers, and are to be the subject of a documentary currently under production by Ashley Morrison called “Fight in the Dog.”

Robert Johnston was not only a team mate of Thomas Crean but also a great friend. The two played for Ireland and then toured South Africa together in 1896 with the British and Irish Lions when, like Crean, he decided to stay on. With the Boer War imminent they joined the Imperial Horse (Natal). Johnston was 27 and a captain when he was awarded his Victoria Cross at the Battle of Elandslaagte, Johnston was badly wounded and was nursed back to health by Crean.

Major Thomas Joseph Crean, VC, DSO. He was the Richie McCaw of his generation, although slightly more boisterous off the pitch, where he had a reputation as a hell-raiser. He was a key player in two championship-winning sides for Ireland. He trained as a doctor at the Royal College of Surgeons and received the Royal Humane Society medal for saving a fellow student from drowning in the sea,

Brigadier Frederick Maurice Watson Harvey, VC, MC.  Harvey played for Ireland against Wales in 1907 and France four years later, before emigrating to Canada and embarking on a career in the military.

These are just some of the men from sport who won the highest military honour, there were many other unsung heroes, from the world of sport and from all walks of life.

Today we talk of epic battles on the sporting field, and of heroes coming to the fore, but today of all days we should put those words in context and recall those who really fought in epic battles or any battle, for all are heroes for giving us the freedom to enjoy life and sport the way that we do today.

November 11, 2014 at 12:16 pm 1 comment

Champions to Receive Top Billing

An impending rule change in the European Champions League is set to make fans happy and also many of the successful clubs who are not necessarily one of the big name clubs in their national leagues.

Top seed status will only be given to the winners of the highest ranked leagues and titleholders. Currently UEFA ranks clubs based on five years of results which meant that national Champions such as Manchester City in the EPL Juventus in Serie A and Paris St Germain in France were placed among the teams seeded Number two.

Whereas clubs like Arsenal and Porto who finished fourth and third in their respective leagues in the season just past were seeded in the pot as number one ranked teams. This in turn meant that they avoided other top ranked teams such as Barcelona and Real Madrid. It was a case of the successful teams being protected and ensuring continued success and revenue.

The leagues that saw their teams given top seed status were Spain, England, Germany, Italy, Portugal, France and Russia.

The rule change that is due to be ratified by UEFA’s executive Committee in December has come about as fans failed to understand how the Champions of one of these top nations was in a lower seeded pot than the teams that came third or fourth.

Some would say UEFA could easily have resolved this problem by once more making the competition open only to those teams who are in fact crowned Champions of their respective leagues. However that is never likely to happen with the Champions League now generating more income than the World Cup.  This is however a step in the right direction and may prevent a lop-sided and almost predictable outcome.

October 12, 2014 at 12:38 pm Leave a comment

Support the Memory to A Champion

Two weeks ago we featured boxing fan Gary Luscombe on the show talking about the Johnny Famechon Statue Project, and it was pleasing to hear that following that interview Western Australian’s contacted Gary to support the project.

As Gary mentioned on the show it was decided at the unveiling of a Statue to Lionel Rose that a pledge was made to erect one in honour of Johnny Famechon in his hometown of Frankston in Victoria.

Famechon was born in France in 1945, and moved to Frankston in 1970 and has since called the bayside suburb home. He is still actively involved with the local community, including helping police run the Frankston Blue Light Boxing Club for young people.

He became WBC Featherweight World Champion on January 21, 1969 after he defeated Cuban, Jose Legra on points at the Albert Hall in London. He then defended his crown against Fighting Harada of Japan, defeating his famous rival again six months later. He retired with a career record of 56 wins (20 by KO), 6 draws and 5 losses, and was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in Los Angeles in 1997.

Sadly John Famechon was never able to enjoy the rewards of his career to the full as while in Sydney supporting Lionel Rose at the former Bantamweight champion’s book launch, he decided to have a workout and run back to his hotel. It was 4.30 pm on August 24th, 1991, and while crossing the road John was struck by a car and almost lost his life. He was in a coma for a week, doctors said that had he not been as fit as he was he may well have died. John is now partly paralysed down his left side, and his speech is impaired. He was told that he would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, but being the fighter that he is, he has again shown the courage and determination that made him a World Champion and he has defied the odds and is now able to get around with only the help a walking frame.

The project to erect a statue in honour of this great fighter had stalled and that was when Gary Luscombe came on board. There project still needs to raise funds to ensure the stature is completed and the goal is to reach the target by the end of 2015. As soon as the money comes in it is passed straight to the sculptor and another phase is completed.

Fans of boxing can by one of Johnny’s fights which will be recorded on the plinth of the statue for $1000 and memorabilia to raise funds is also available (Click here) all proceeds going to the fund to complete the statue.

When completed this will be only the third statue in honour of a boxer in Australia with the other being erected in memory of Les Darcy. TO stay up to date with the project and Gary’s great work like the Facebook page here.

October 7, 2014 at 8:44 am Leave a comment

Family Feud

On the 18th of September the CEO of the Football Federation of Australia, David Gallop, addressed the media at a press conference that was streamed via SBS on the “State of The Game.” He wore a badge on the lapel of his suit stating “We are Football,” and in the opening minute of his address he referred to the “Football Family.”

These two phrases are becoming cliches in Australian football as they are simply words that are not backed up with actions from the game’s governing body.

There are several interpretations for the word “family,” but most involved with the game envisaged the FFA’s usage to embrace the meaning that says in the Oxford Dictionary, a ‘group of related peoples or of objects having a common cause.’ Sadly the longer the phrase is bandied about at will by the game’s administrators, the further the meaning moves from such an interpretation.

Not The Footy Show ran a piece on this site (Football Cleansing a Step Too Far) in July about how the FFA’s National Club Identity Policy flew in the face of Australian Race law; advice having been sought by a lawyer in that field. This policy like many others introduced by the FFA are far removed from a family feel; there is little love or nurturing involved. They are the policies of a dictatorial head of the family.

Never was this more apparent than in the last 24 hours when the FFA threatened the Melbourne Knights football club, who have challenged them on this very policy, that they face the possibility of not being permitted to play in sanctioned competitions such as the Victorian Premier League, National Premier League and FFA Cup.

This is if the club opts to breach the identity policy, which prohibits registered football clubs from adding ethnic, religious, political or broad geographic symbols, words or imagery to their name, logo or jersey.

The Melbourne Knights are heading to the Australian Human Rights Commission where they have lodged a complaint under the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975. It is believed the FFA are still questioning the validity of the complaint, and are standing by their dubious policy. What caused the two to go head to head was the FFA chosing to ban the Melbourne Knights’ sponsorship deal with two Croatian community clubs for their FFA Cup match against Olympic FC on July 29.

Rather than sit around the table and try and sort the problem out as most ‘families’ would do, the FFA have threatened to expel the ‘child’ for standing up to the ‘father.’ They refused to even enter mediation on the matter.

This should be a warning sign to all clubs around the country, especially those with any links to a foreign past. All of these clubs, if they wish to hang onto that history and tradition should stand alongside Melbourne Knights. Just to make it clear how wrong this policy is an Aboriginal team could not be created and give itself a traditional name and play under the FFA’s new rules!

The Melbourne Knights should be commended for stating that they will not back down, and that they will pursue the matter through the Federal Court system if the need arises.

There will be some who will sneer at their stance, just as many players did when Jean Marc Bosman challenged the transfer system in 1995. Bosman was playing for RFC Liège in the Belgian First Division and his contract had expired in 1990. He wanted to move to Dunkerque, in France. However, the move fell through when Dunkerque refused to meet his Belgian club’s demand for a transfer fee, so Liège refused to let him go. His wages were reduced and he was no longer a first-team player. He took his case to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg and sued for restraint of trade citing FIFA’s rules regarding football, specifically Article 17. The decision went in his favour and banned restrictions on foreign EU players within national leagues and allowed players in the EU to move to another club at the end of a contract without a transfer fee being paid. One man changed the game for the best for others. Will it be the case of one club doing the same in Australia?

Sadly Bosman paid a heavy price. After winning his case, which took five years, he has allegedly now lost the money he won from the hearing and has descended into alcoholism and depression whilst living on social benefits. In fact in April last year he was sentenced to a year in prison for an alcohol related incident.

Bosman stood alone, just as it appears the Melbourne Knights are. Where are all the members of the family? Are they too afraid to stand as one against the father figure? Can the FFA ban every club that decides to stand up and be counted with the Melbourne Knights and defend what is fair and right in a truly ethnically diverse country?

Once again football clubs around the country have a chance to make their voice heard, once again they have the chance to stand as one and stop something that is simply wrong, and could destroy the history of the game as we know it. Yet those same clubs who suddenly have gone mute will continue to bemoan their lot, the lack of support from the FFA, the lack of funding, FFA Cup games being moved etcetera. Sometimes you have to stand up for what is right and with one small victory others will follow.

When the Melbourne Knights are victorious let us see how many then suddenly find their voices.

Whatever the outcome, one thing is for sure it is time to bin those “We are Football” badges because they are simply the sort of tack that comes out during US elections. They are a slogan not backed by actions. A five minute conversation with most of the people who wear them and you realise they are new to the game, and have absolutely no feel for its history or its passion. As for the “Football Family,” families have arguments, where both sides shout at each other and voice their opinions, but the lucky ones still sit down and eat at the same table when the dust has settled. The FFA do not appear to want to break bread, so this is no family. Where there is no respect there can be no love, no encouragement, no understanding, or forgiveness. So let us stop hiding behind slogans with no feeling or meaning. No one believes them anymore, except for maybe those who wear the badges and spout the words; who knows maybe this is how they justify what they are saying and doing is in fact right.

October 1, 2014 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

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