15
Sep

Fans of club in Brazil copy Japan’s post-game clean-up practice

While Japan didn’t win any matches in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, their fans won the hearts of many around the globe with their unique post-game ritual.

After every match, the Japanese fans stayed after and cleaned up their section of the stadium. It was a truly heart-warming thing to see. And it looks like one Brazilian club took notice and adopted this practice.

After Atletico-PR beat Vitoria 2-0 on Sunday, their fans stayed after the match to help clean up the Arena da Baixada. The club even gave the supporters 20,000 trash bags to aid their efforts.

We’re hoping this is a practice that catches on at stadiums around the world!

(H/T DirtyTackle)

14
Aug

Bundesliga lowers drawbridge to castle before German Super Cup showpiece

image

DORTMUND, Germany —

A few weeks ago, the Bundesliga invited FOX Sports to a two-night stay in the heart of Germany ahead of the German Super Cup. Having already booked my vacation in Germany for August just days earlier, I “sacrificed” myself for the good of the team. “Fine, boss, I’ll extend my stay in the country of my birth for two extra weeks. You totally owe me.”

After a brisk 14-hour journey from Los Angeles to Dusseldorf, I was greeted by our soon-to-be partners from the Bundesliga at the Hyatt Regency, a fancy hotel right on the Rhine. A couple hours later, we crossed a bridge over the Rhine for a nice dinner with former Germany internationals Jens Lehmann and Christoph Metzelder. Both played for Borussia Dortmund for several years and won a championship together in 2002, and here they were chatting with us for several hours over life lessons, cuisine and football.

Naturally, Lehmann commanded most of the table’s attention. He discussed at length the performance of goalkeepers at the World Cup and what made Manuel Neuer “the only truly world-class goalie today.” “The very best keepers,” he said, “they act, instead of react.” Anyone who saw Neuer play in Brazil this summer will know what Lehmann meant by this.

When I asked him to rate Tim Howard’s performance, Lehmann lauded the United States No. 1 for his record night against Belgium, but also said he was poor against Germany, blaming him for the lone goal of the match. Howard parried the shot straight to Thomas Muller — who buried the rebound — than out and to the side, he remembered. Tough critic, that man. Unsurprisingly, he’s an analyst right now for German television

image

Lehmann also gladly recounted tales of his days with Arsenal’s “The Invincibles.” He did not, mind you, care to discuss the night he received a straight red card against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League Final in 2006 with me, his perfect record in penalty shootouts, or Jurgen Klinsmann’s decision to drop Oliver Kahn in favor of him just weeks before the 2006 World Cup. “[Kahn] did not talk to me for four or five days after that,” Lehmann admitted with a sheepish smile.

And the fun didn’t stop there.

On Wednesday, I had an opportunity to meet, Christian Seifert, the longtime CEO of the Bundesliga, for a thorough presentation on what has made the German game so successful since the new millennium.

Seifert, as you would expect of a man in his position, was a remarkable speaker, with his heavy, amusing German accent shining through at times. Next to him on either side were the Bundesliga trophy — the “ugly salad bowl — and the FIFA World Cup. The real deals, in all their glory.

There were three main components to Seifert’s presentation; the Bundesliga’s ascendancy on the pitch, the economic stability of its clubs, and the extraordinary fan support and passion. They all combine to make the league as strong as it is today, he said.

 image

Several statistics jumped out at that may surprise some folks who don’t follow the league too much. For one, the Bundesliga’s recorded profit of €264 million in the 2012-13 season almost tripled that of the Premier League, which spends more than twice as much money on player salaries. A reason for this is German clubs rely much more on younger and cheaper homegrown talent — all part of the common strategy the clubs share with the German national team.

With an average attendance of over 43,500 fans per match, the Bundesliga is also the second-most attended sports league in the world, only behind the National Football League. And with 3.16 goals per game, it’s tops among the big five soccer leagues in Europe. These last two figures, specifically, explain why Seifert is so optimistic over the continued growth of his brand.  With FOX Sports securing its rights starting next season, there’s mutual excitement and an eagerness to work together to bring the Bundesliga to the mainstream American media.

After Seifert (and the trophies) posed for pictures, we were on to our next appointment. There was no time to waste as we had only several hours before the Wednesday’s German Super Cup final.

First, we stopped off at the BVB “Fan Welt,” a new, giant fan shop outside the stadium that we were told is “like the Amazon.com for Borussia Dormtund fans.” You could literally get everything there in black and yellow, including your own, personal BVB lawnmower. Yep.

image

We then stopped by the BVB youth academy a couple of miles away, where club legend Lars Ricken greeted us. Ricken, who famously scored in Dortmund’s 1997 Champions League victory over Juventus on his very first touch of the bench, gave us a tour of the facilities, which included the revolutionary “Footbonaut,” a robot used to test player’s reaction time and pass accuracy.

Ricken demonstrated the amazing training tool for us. The robot itself is a cage consisting of several dozen squares and ball machines on all sides. Much like a pitching machine, balls are spit out at random and the player has only a split second to gather the ball and hit it at the square that lights up, also completely at random.

Finally, we made our way back to Signal Iduna Park to watch the German Super Cup between Dortmund and Bayern. We know how the match went by now — the hosts won the preseason fixture for a second year running by completely overpowering a Bayern Munich side that was still noticeably lacking in conditioning and pretty much every other department on the day. The Yellow Wall did it’s job, too. Chants of “Zieht den Bayern die Lederhosen aus!” (translation: Strip Bayern of their lederhosen) rang through the night, as well as the orchestra of whistles that serenaded Mario Goetze when he was substituted on in the second half.

After the match, our whole group returned back to the bus, exhausted but mostly thankful for such an incredible experience and two days of fun-filled events in the hotbed of German soccer.

Images provided by Thomas Hautmann / FOXSports.com

19
Jul

Artist has Gotze what it takes sketching Germany’s World Cup hero

His extra-time goal against Argentina in the World Cup final sent the German nation into a state of hysteria, and now artist Heather Rooney has immortalized the face of Mario Gotze in a sketch.

Similar to Germany’s performance in the final, it starts slowly, but comes good at the end.

What a work of art — not unlike Gotze’s goal to win the World Cup.

Heather has drawn several other famous footballers, and you can see more of her brilliant work here.

18
Jul

Nike Soccer launches new app, route into the professional arena

As the football world directs its attention to the domestic season after a successful 2014 World Cup, fans of all walks of life can now chat with friends, create matches and access exclusive Nike products all through the power of Nike Football’s new app.

Nike Football’s app allows users to create micro-communities with the “Crew” option, giving them the chance to play pick-up games with friends and teammates to improve their skills. In turn, users can also set up a time and location for their rendezvous with the “Play” section thanks to its geo-tracking technology that allows members to set up matches around the world.

Per Nike’s official press release:

“A player’s community will increase in size as they connect with players in their area. This enables them to find more games, more often, against new opponents. It’s the ultimate way to play more and play better,” said Davide Grasso, Chief Marketing Officer for Nike said in a statement. “The Nike Football app puts players behind-the-scenes with Nike and their heroes. The app will deliver premium content, access to limited product and events before any of our other channels.”

And the fun doesn’t stop there.

The new app will also be the only way to earn a place at the Nike Academy — the U.K. based academy for young players, based at St. George’s Park National Football Center — like previous academy players such as Tom Rogic (Australia), Abdul Waris and David Accam (both Ghana).

The Nike Football app is available now on iOS and Android.

(H/T Nike)

15
Jul

Per Mertesacker leads Germany’s World Cup stars in funky dance routine

image

We already knew Per Mertesacker has moves like Jagger, so it’s no surprise that the Arsenal dance machine made a triumphant return at Germany’s World Cup victory parade.

The Gunners defender kicked off the celebrations in style by strutting his stuff down the green carpet, with the rest of his boy band backing him up with grace:

It should only be a matter of time before Mertesacker lands a spot on “Let’s Dance,” Germany’s version of “Dancing With the Stars.”

Thomas Muller on the other hand….

(Image: Reuters/ GIF: BVB Turkiye)

13
Jul

World Cup 2014 Final: Reactions to Germany’s fourth title

image

Germany won a thrilling World Cup final against Argentina with a late goal in extra time, becoming the first European country to win it in the Americas. It was a fitting end to a wonderful tournament, with more late drama giving way to one final moment of individual brilliance, this time coming off the boot of Mario Goetze.

Relive this great match in our very last World Cup social recap:

A shock just minutes before the game: Germany’s Sami Khedira couldn’t go after suffering a calf injury in warmups. On came Christoph Kramer for only his second international start. In a World Cup final. No big deal.

image

Gonzalo Higuain wasted the first huge chance of the game. Wide open with only Manuel Neuer to beat, Higuain woefully sent his effort wide of the post. He’ll come to rue that one.

Read More