16
Sep

Arsenal fans have jolly ol’ time in Dortmund before Champions League match

Arsenal have been drawn together with Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League group stage for the third time in the past four season, so perhaps it’s no wonder that Gunners fans are starting to feel completely at home in Dortmund.

Check out these Gooners making a bubble bath out of a fountain in downtown hours before their UCL opener:

H/T WAATP

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

5
Jul

GOOOOOOOOOOAL or GOAL? How hard does each World Cup nation celebrate?

Are you a fanatical or a silent celebrator? When your team scores a goal, do you go nuts, or will a simple fist pump do?

Thanks to the guys over at Quartz, we now have a breakdown of how the average fan celebrates their country scoring a World Cup goal. Their formula? The amount of extra o’s fans use on average in celebrating a goal on Facebook.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s Mexico who top the list ahead of a glut of South Americans, with a whopping 6.63 extra o’s on average. The United States can be found in the middle of the pack with 3.32 extra o’s celebrating the likes of Clint Dempsey and Julian Green bagging goals.

There are few surprises towards the bottom of the list, too. The United Kingdom (well, just England really), parted with just an extra 0.42 o’s in celebrating their World Cup 2014 goals. Mind, they did only have two to cry home about.

image

(HT: WhoAteAllThePies)

2
Jun

Brazilian soccer club’s organ donor campaign makes amazing impact

image

You really don’t have to do much to help save a life - all it takes is signing up to be an organ donor.

That’s exactly what Brazilian soccer club SC Recife has urged its fans to do for the past two years, and the impact their campaign has already made is nothing short of amazing.

According to the BBC, 66,000 fans have signed up for SC Recife’s special “Sport Donor” card, which can easily be obtained online. As a result, Recife — Brazil’s fifth largest city — has seen its waiting list for organs reduced to almost zero, and the influence can be felt all over the state of Pernambuco.

From the BBC:

"We used to perform from five to seven heart transplants a year, but last year we achieved 28… it was an incredible increase," says Fernando Figueira, director of heart transplants at Pernambuco’s Institute of Integrated Medicine.

"There is a very tight connection between the campaign and this rise."

A television ad titled “Immortal Fans,” which is also played before each of Recife’s home games at the Ilha do Retiro stadium, spearheads the effort. In the spot, supporters in need of transplants advocate for the cause by drawing on their mutual love for the club.

"I promise that your eyes will keep on watching Sport Club Recife," says one fan in need of new corneas.

"I promise that your heart will keep on beating for Sport Club Recife," says another, who requires a heart transplant.

The success of the campaign has been noticed around the world, and Sport Recife has even been contacted by Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona. The two clubs are thinking about adopting similar campaigns, according to Jorge Peixoto Peixoto, the Recife’s vice president for social programs.

H/T Deadspin

31
May

Japanese fans boost away attendance with cardboard cutouts

image

Japanese first division club Omiya Ardija doen’t have a huge fan base,  but certainly a creative one.

While Omiya’s home attendances rank among the lowest in the J-League year after year, a dozen or two of their most loyal fans traveled over 300 miles to a mid-week away game at Tokushima Vortis.

Perhaps ashamed of their small numbers, the group came up with a brilliant solution to boost their presence and undoubtedly the team’s morale — handmade cardboard cutouts!

As you can see, the attention to detail here is impeccable. Except for the whole “not having a face” thing. But the effort — from decking the cardboard fans out in jerseys, hats and even Hawaiian shirts, to handing one of them an actual drum — has to be applauded.

Plus, the cardboard still looks more realistic than what Italian Serie B side Triestina did a few seasons ago. Remember this?

(H/T and Images: Metro/Twitter)

5
May

Copenhagen fans take tifo game to whole new level

Stadium-wide tifos? That’s so ten years ago.

If you want to step your club’s tifo game up, take a lesson from FC Copenhagen. Ahead of their derby clash against rivals Brondby, the Danish side’s fans choreographed an enormously intricate, interactive tifo that will blow away any and all challengers. Literally!

Check it out:

First, the fans unfurl a giant banner picturing a cannon directed at Brondby’s home stadium, along with the message “The order has been given to shoot down the enemy.”

Then, a fan runs along the top of the banner with an actual ‘cannon ball’ attached to a fishing rod contraption, until said cannon ‘smashes’ into the rivals’ stadium. At that moment, the first layer of the tifo brilliantly drops away to reveal Brondby’s stadium on fire. For good measure, black smoke flares are set off as well. Finally, a third banner drops down with the message “Copenhagen is ours!”

Outstanding work all the way around, lads. Unfortunately, the derby ended in a draw, so Brondby technically got a share of the city after all.

H/T Washington Post

18
Apr

Wolves win over Rotherham nearly abandoned because of pitch invasions

image

Perhaps Wolverhampton fans should take lessons from Brentford fans on how to properly invade the pitch, because on Friday they almost cost their club the match for spending too much time on the field.

The Wolves defeated Rotherham in a wild 6-4 victory, but it wasn’t without frequent interruption.

The invasions started small…

…but slowly got more and more out of hand, and eventually resulted in two huge invasions in the final minutes of the match:

Luckily for the club and that obnoxious group of fans, the referee was incredibly patient, because the madness could have cost them the match.

Wolves have said they expect a fine, and condemned the fans, but let’s be honest: they’re just as excited as everyone who ran onto the pitch on Friday. After all, they’re going back to the Championship!

(H/T SB Nation)

11
Mar

Trabzonspor fans get Fenerbahce match abandoned

image

It’s well established that Turkish sides Fenerbahce and Trabzonspor don’t like each other very much, but hostilities reached a new high on Monday night. The home Trabzonspor fans caused their fixture against the Süper Lig leaders to be abandoned after throwing missiles onto the pitch without end.

The referee had already stopped the match twice — once in the 28th minute to allow police to deal with crowd violence and a pitch invader, then again shortly after play restarted — before he was ultimately forced to call the game off before halftime. The unruliness in the stands was simply too much to bear:

According to The Guardian, fans continued to clash with police in the aftermath of the match. The intense rivalry between the two sides started in the fallout of the 2010/11 title race, when Fenerbahce overturned a significant points deficit to steal the championship away from Trabzonspor on goal difference. Fener then became the subject of a high-profile match-fixing investigation that eventually saw club president Aziz Yildirim sent to prison.

Fan violence in the stands is nothing new in Turkish football, but perhaps  Trabzonspor officials should take a page out of their rival’s book and deal their fans an unconventional punishment: only let women and children attend the next home match.