Sunday, June 29, 2008

Adios and Aus Widersehen EURO 2008

FINAL SNOWDROPS FROM THE ALPS -
FOREIGNER FLARES
Too much was made of Germany’s Lukas Podolski gunning down Adios and Aus Widersehen EURO 2008.his country of birth, Poland.

This is a globalised world, where people emigrate and every country is to blame for not enforcing racial purity tests in their national teams. Why, here’s an eleven of perfectly acceptable turncoats from the Euro 2008 squads:

Ramazan Özcan - Austria
Mario Gomez – Germany
Ibrahim Affellay – Netherlands
Ricardo Cabanas – Switzerland
Ümit Korkmaz – Austria
Hakan Yakin – Switzerland
Piotr Trochowski – Germany
Gelson Fernandes – Switzerland
Samir Nasri – France
Karim Benzema – France
Zlatan Ibrahmovic – Sweden

BEER TODAY, GONE TOMORROWVienna’s Heute newspaper led on Monday with the claim that fans were revolting against the
Sub-standard ale on offer in the official Fan Zones. At €4.50 a glass, apparently there are few takers for Carlsberg, the Danish brew which bagged exclusivity rights for the tournament. It quoted one Conrad Seidl, ‘The Pope of Beer’ (I wonder how you get that title), dismissing Carlsberg, but also a fan from Italy, a country hardly renowned for its knowledge of amber nectar.

SO THAT’S WHYScrambling for an explanation for Italy’s penalty exit to Spain, Gazzetta dello Sport delved into departing coach Roberto Donadoni’s psychology and wondered if a visit Donadoni made to the Amish country in Pennsylvania while he played for the New York Metrostars had instilled him with too much serenity for the national team job…

GAME, SET & SNATCH
UEFA's Media Services helpfully provided hacks with the most indispensable release for the final: A potted biography of closing ceremony performer Enrique Iglesias. Shame on them though for omitting surely the two most salient points of Enrique's life story - that his dad is the legendary singer Julio Iglesias, once a goalkeeper on Real Madrid's books, and that Enrique fulfilled many an adolescent male's fantasy by getting Anna Kournikova in the sack.

DIMWITS ÜBER ALLES
Youth is wasted on the young. Two nubile female researchers for Switzerland's SF2 were the laughing stock of the thinking world last week for putting the Nazi-era 'Deutschland über alles' lyrics on screen for the Germany v Austria match, blissfully unaware of their political faux pas. While one can only wonder aghast how much the Swiss nation mentions the war and its questionable record therein these days, but for me, the Aryan airheads at SF2 were trumped by a Brit.

BBC online's senior football editor Phil Gordos admitted, in an article, that he “never knew Austria were once quite good at football”. Choking on my Sachertorte and Apfelstrüdel, I read how at the Wien Museum Gordos learnt for the first time about the Wunderteam, Hugo Meisl, 'The Whirl' and the iconic Mattias Sindelar. Given that Austria were the pioneers of total football, one of the world's top teams in the '20s, and that they reached the World Cup semi-final in 1954, Gordos' job description as a senior football editor defies belief. Or is the BBC merely now subscribing to Sky's 'Year Zero' view of football, (i.e. Premier League) statistics?

FOURTOY THE FALL GUY
Spare a thought for Alexandre Fourtoy, the poor sap who had to face the press to explain why a thunderstorm over Vienna made millions of TV viewers twice lose pictures of Germany v Turkey and miss the third goal. As the CEO of UEFA Media Technologies (sic), Fourtoy explained in layman's terms that "three micro (power) cuts of less than one millisecond" were to blame, "enough to cause our Master Control Room to reboot." UEFA are particularly red in the face having taken over the televising of the finals themselves for the first time, only to see their own International Broadcast Centre fail with its in-built protection system.

Despite the official blame being placed on Austria's electricity grid, "nothing to do with transmission or our partners Telekom Austria and Swisscom", according to Fourtoy, the millions who missed the goal and had an exciting second half interrupted, will blame those in charge of the pictures.

FREELOADERS 'R' USCould not get tickets for Euro 2008? You're just not hot enough. It seems tits will get you in, given the cameramen's almost pervy obsession with focusing on pretty Fräuleins at every match, but there are other means of bypassing the hordes of oiks they call fans to bag your seat at the big event.

For each match at the finals, UEFA has helpfully provided hacks with a list of VIP guests who have gained entry to the stadia. Composed of mostly politicians from the countries involved as well as local dignitaries, the official guest lists omit certain faces we have spotted on TV, such as Boris Becker, but do mention the likes of Ludomir Jahnatek, the Slovakian Minister of Economics, who got a freebie for Russia v Spain.

Desperate Housewives star Eva Longoria and tennis legend Roger Federer enjoyed comps to France v Italy in Zurich, but you would be hard-pressed to identify any other of the recipients of UEFA’s largesse:

EURO 2008 FREELOADERS BEST XI:

Tor Lian - President of the European Handball Association (Croatia v Turkey)
Milan Zver - Slovenian Minister of Education (Poland v Croatia)
Gabi Burgstaller - Wife of Salzburg regional governor (Greece v Russia)
Gerhard Loesch - Director, Hugo Boss France (Austria v Germany)
Marcio Braga - President of Flamengo FC (Holland v Russia)
Erwin Buchinger - Austrian minister for social security (Spain v Italy)
Marius Vizer - President of the European Judo Association (Holland v Romania)
HRH The Crown Princess of Brunei (Czech Rep. v Portugal)
Martin Kusej - Austrian Artist (Germany v Poland)
Luc Frieden - Luxembourg Interior Minister (Spain v Sweden)
Sintayehu Woldemichael - Ethiopian Education Minister (Croatia v Turkey)

Subs Bench: Faruk Özak - Turkish minister of construction (Germany v Turkey),
Amr Moussa - General Secretary of the League of Arab States (Spain v Italy)
HRH Prince Carl Philip - The Duke of Värmland (Russia v Sweden)
Adolf Ogi - Former Swiss Federal Councillor (Switzerland v Portugal)
Herwig Van Staa - Landhauptsmann of Tirol (Russia v Sweden)

But how wonderful to see that 78 year-old Viennese screen legend Maximilian Schell, star of Topkapi, The Odessa File and Krakatoa, East of Java, was at Austria v Poland.

HE'S MAD I TELL YOU"Everywhere on the streets and on the squares of the beautiful Austrian and Swiss cities, I've seen colourful supporters of the different teams strolling arm in arm discussing football and enjoying themselves no end. There are plenty of women in these crowds, which refutes once and for all the sexist reputation of our game." Thus spake UEFA President Michel Platini after the first round of Euro 2008.

Can't say fans of different teams have been "strolling arm in arm" everywhere, but there has not been any major issues of misbehaviour, it is true.
As for football's "sexist reputation", how could anyone think that were the case, as we have a FIFA President who called for women to wear tighter shorts and a Euro 2008 TV feed which zooms in on a sultry female fan every few minutes, and then a beery lard-ass male?



Incidentally, Platini's introduction to the official programme has a whiff of the white coats about it:



"Walking through town, you see the flags of different nations, and posters...television screens keep showing scenes that seem the same to the uninitiated...You hear snatches of conversation in which the same words keep cropping up...You can smell the aroma of grilled meat...Your mouth goes dry, all your senses react, you can feel the emotion...The drinks refreshing, there is music and singing; some people are even dancing in the corner...A football match is what all these people have come to see!" (c) UEFA President Michel Platini
FUSSBALL'S COMING HOMEProof positive at last that Austria caught the Fussball-Fieber (football fever). The country's clash with Germany was the tenth most-watched broadcast in Austrian TV history, with 2,190,000 viewers. Mind you, at No.2 is the first interview with ‘girl in the cellar’ Natascha Kampusch, No.3 Loveboat and No.4 Crocodile Dundee. The most watched programme of all time in Austria was the farewell edition of ‘The Peter Alexander Show’ in 1991. Herr Alexander, now 81, is a former WW2 P.O.W. who went on to become a popular singer, host and mimic of the Queen of England.

(c) Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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