We recently reviewed German commentary on how the Dutch economy is going to the dogs. Fair is fair: An analysis of current German economic problems from the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende (The Titanic or Germany) goes far to suggest that German comments about the failure of the Dutch “polder model” were an instance of the fabled pot calling the kettle black. (Now, to keep the chain going, I need to find some on-line article – maybe from the French press? – revealing current Danish economic problems.) (more…)
For those of you who live outside the “Old World” and so who may fail to grasp the fact: Yes, the currently on-going “Euro2004″ European football championship is a big deal over here, routinely re-directing daily life with its schedule of football broadcasts and calling forth floods of uniformly-colored crowds in central cities throughout the continent. So it should be no surprise when press coverage takes a step back from the “trees” of the action and results of individual games to contemplate the wider “forest” of what it all means. Often this stepping-back goes no further than attempts to find a secret formula to unlock football-championship success, which are interesting enough in themselves. But lately some analysts have gone even further than that. (more…)
Unprecedented! As is being reported today on Sport.cz, an on-line magazine owned by the Czech daily newspaper Právo, a group of Dutch firms operating in the Czech Republic are offering to pay the Czech national football team €4 million as a reward if they beat the German team tonight in the final qualifying round of the on-going Euro2004 football tournament in Portugal. Why would they want to do that? Well, the Dutch play the team from Latvia tonight, and must not only beat them to advance to the quarter-finals, but must also rely on the Czechs to win over the Germans to gain that result. But the Czechs themselves don’t have much motivation going into their game with the Germans; with two wins achieved, they are already assured of advancing, and in fact ordinarily could be expected to leave their key players out of the line-up tonight, to let them rest up for when the games start getting serious again. (more…)
That’s what I’m talkin’ about! News of an almost-miraculous Swedish by-product of the current Euro2004 national football championship in Portugal comes to us from (of all sources) the Flemish newspaper De Standaard. On Friday, 11 June, the automobile of 85-year-old Sören Gellerstedt gave out in a stretch of wilderness near Jokkmokk, a town some 900km north of Stockholm. And so he was stuck there, without food or water, waiting for someone to finally notice that he hadn’t arrived where he should have, that perhaps something had happened with him. The authorities eventually did notice this and sent out searchers to look for him, with dogs and even helicopters. But they eventually gave him up for dead after he had already endured out there for three days, and called the search parties back in.
Fortunately, Gellerstedt still had power for his car radio, and it was on that very same Monday when they were giving up on him that he heard that the Swedish football team had beaten Bulgaria 5-0 that evening. “That victory kept me alive,” he said, and the next day he was finally found by family members who had been willing to keep on searching even as the city/state search assets had given up.
Yesterday I ventured to suggest that the disorder being caused by English fans down in Portugal on the occasion of Euro2004 will stay within acceptable limits, among other reasons because of the authorities’ tacit policy of encouraging the substitution of alcohol consumption with dope. Later news reports make me not so sure anymore. In any case, there’s an excellent and entertaining description in the Guardian (and so in English: Man, oh man), by novelist Andrew O’Hagan, that examines the phenomenon of the societal cohort from which these folk spring, the British “lad” (a.k.a “bloke,” often “lout”), as observed especially through the prism of the “lads’ magazines” that have sprung up in the British press since the mid-1990s to cater to their attitudes and desires. (more…)
The Euro2004 European Football Championships are now well underway, with the first set of games completed last night, and the usual fears of violence among national team supporters that accompany such tournaments so far proving unfounded. Yes, there recently was some sort of confrontations with the police by English fans in Albufeira, as well as a German attack on rival fans in Porto, but the Guardian reports that Portuguese officials are playing down the seriousness of such incidents. (The British Home Office supplied here a useful explanatory phrase: “typical of the alcohol-fueled disorder common in Mediterranean resorts rather than orchestrated football hooliganism.”) Such assessments could well mean that the incidents were truly not serious – or they could ironically mean in the case of the English fans that authorities are desperately trying to ensure that the bluff of the European football association (UEFA) is not called, to the effect that the British football team would be expelled from the entire tournament if British fans misbehaved.
But let’s take the optimistic view that the confrontations in the fields outside the respective Portuguese sports stadiums are going along fairly peacefully. This could very well be thanks to a new policy wrinkle taken up by the Portuguese police, and reported in the German weekly Die Zeit (Learn from Holland): a green light for smoking dope. (more…)
Today we finish up our look at the Euro 2004 Group D (“Group of Death”) reactions, this time out of the German press. And there’s certainly plenty there – aided by the fact that the German on-line newspapers, helpfully, don’t follow the practice of enclosing their articles behind for-pay barriers once they get the least bit old.
Die Welt probably has the most complete coverage, headed by an article eloquently entitled Ausgerechnet Holland, or “Of All Teams – Holland!”, complete with a photo at the top of German national team coach Rudi Völler looking very anxious. (more…)
We’re back to Euro 2004 Group D: “Group of Death” analysis today, and it’s the turn of the Czech press, featuring an interview with Czech national team coach Karel Brückner, plus one with Czech team captain Pavel Nedved – plus more individual quotes from various figures. But the thing that I really wanted to show you I can’t, because it’s a copyrighted picture, capturing Brückner at the moment of last Sunday’s drawing, which appeared on the front page of Monday’s Mladá fronta dnes: He is shown there in Lisbon in his suit, with his FIFA badge around his neck, clutching his head in disbelief and amazement (although still smiling), and the caption reads “Ajajaj!” – which is Czech for Mexican, if you get what I’m saying. (more…)
As many of you know by now, the drawing for the Euro 2004 match-pairings was held last Sunday in Lisbon. Nearly every such football tournament, whether it be for the World Cup or for the European Cup, can be counted on to produce in its run-up the so-called “Group of Death”: i.e. the matching of four national teams in a preliminary group which are of such a high quality that it’s a shame that only two of them will be able to advance further into the knock-out stages of the tournament. (The international football organizations that run such tournaments – FIFA and UEFA, respectively – do their best to pre-cook such drawings with “seeding” arrangements. These are supposed to ensure that each group has a proper mix of teams that are expected to do very well and teams that are not. Of course, one aspect of the charm of such events is that at least one team which, prior to the tournament, had not really been expected to advance, actually ends up doing so, meaning that at least one team that had been expected to do so does not. This generally results in national embarrassment and gnashing-of-teeth, and always in a coaching change.)
Sure enough, the Euro 2004 tournament coming up next summer in Portugal has its own “Group of Death.” Appropriately, that is group D (for “Death”), in which the teams from Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and Latvia will play each other in a round-robin arrangement. Germany was the runner-up in 2002′s World Cup competition, only losing to Brazil; and the Dutch and the Czech teams are both highly regarded. (That’s true even though, strangely, both failed to qualify to play in that World Cup tournament in 2002. But the Dutch recently sent the Scottish team packing in a playoff with a 6-0 score. And it was the Czechs who defeated the Dutch and sent them into that playoff in the first place.) For its part, Latvia comes in last in the list of countries expected to win the European Cup compiled by those experts with their financial derrières on the line, namely the book-makers. Still, Turkey was a team that was supposed to be at this tournament, and the fact that they are not is directly attributable to the Latvian team (who no doubt caused substantial losses for the book-makers with their remarkable feat).
As it happens, I have the familiarity with the languages involved to shed some light on the domestic reactions to that “Group of Death” drawing from Germany, the Czech Republic, and the Netherlands. Let’s head off to the Internet, shall we?, on the hunt for football insights which go beyond the standard line of “Yes, it’s a tough group; and we can’t afford to underestimate Latvia.” The Dutch press will be first on our list. (more…)