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Deportivo FAS
15. marts 2013 21:50

Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?


When one refers to the rich history of Latin American football, it can quite safely be assumed than one is normally speaking of the disproportionate amount of influence a country as small as Uruguay has had, the speed with which the beautiful game took off in the early part of the 20th century in Argentina or of course the way Brazilian football has mesmerised us in the later part. In the northern part of the continent, particularly in Venezuela and Ecuador, the game has never really taken off to the same extent.

Indeed as Ecuador’s debut World Cup appearance came as recently as the first competition of the 21st century in Japan and South Korea, and their record at the Copa America is largely dismal, one could be forgiven for taking 2002 as a kind of year X for the quintessential banana republic.

It also follows logically to assume that Ecuador’s finest footballer would be a product of the country’s recent emergence, most likely Antonio Valencia, whose meteoric rise from playing barefoot in the humble surroundings of his dusty hometown Nueva Loja on the border with Colombia to the glitz of gracing a Champions League final against Barcelona in a Manchester United shirt has captured the imagination of his countrymen. Valencia seemingly personifies the rapid rise of Ecuadorian Football, with his tough no-nonsense style, his indefatigable work-rate and his pinpoint crosses.

Ecuadorian Football as a serious entity is indeed largely a recent phenomenon and alongside Venezuela their evolution from perennial minnows to realistic World Cup contenders in a short space of time is as admirable as it is difficult to account for.

Amazingly though, a hugely influential Ecuadorian player, not only in his own country, but throughout Latin America, began his rise to fame some half a century ago. The curious hybrid name inscribed on the Municipal Guayaquil stadium on Avenida de las Américas leaves a lasting reminder of a phenomenal athlete: Alberto Spencer.

Spencer’s mother was Ecuadorian, but his father was a Jamaican of British origin who worked in Ecuador on behalf of the Anglo-Ecuadorian Oil Company, a subsidiary of what is now known as BP, a company whose presence in Ecuador continues to cause consternation, particularly among environmentalists to this day.

The fact that many fans in the English speaking world have never heard of Spencer can be explained by two important factors: Firstly, unlike PelĂ©, Spencer never graced a World Cup, which of course is the greatest stage for any footballer to be seen. Secondly, like many of the great South American players of his day, he never made the trip across the Atlantic Ocean to play for Europe’s top sides. Players like Di Stefano, who starred for Real Madrid, were the exception and not the rule.

The production line of South American players has always been prolific, the fundamental difference in Spencer’s era was that holding onto the players was possible, thus creating something akin to a level playing field between the two continents. Indeed, in the 60s, the South American teams could quite easily go toe-to-toe with their European counterparts and on many occasions came out on top in the annual Intercontinental Cup games.

Spencer was born in AncĂłn on the Santa Elena peninsula. He began playing football as a small kid with his older brother Marcos, who years later would bring him along to Guayaquil club Everest. Everest saw Spencer’s potential and immediately gave him his debut. Spencer quickly racked up a century of goals for Everest, and was spotted by Peñarol staff while the Uruguayan club were playing on tour in Ecuador. They immediately signed him, and he became a hugely important player in Peñarol’s all-conquering sides of the 60s.

He won an amazing seven league titles with Los Carboneros (the coalmen), along with three Copa Libertadores and two memorable Intercontinental Cup victories.

He scored both at home and away as the Uruguayans dismantled Real Madrid in the Intercontinental Cup final of 1966. This feat didn’t go unnoticed with Europe’s top clubs, and Peñarol soon found themselves resisting the entreaties of Inter Milan. Whilst playing for Los Carboneros, Spencer went on to score an amazing 326 goals, justifying Peñarol’s stubborn refusal to sell him. Spencer holds the incredible record of being the all-time leading goalscorer in the Copa Libertadores. Spencer’s haul of 54 goals is not insurmountable, but surely to be beaten it would require an outstanding South American player to ignore the lure of Europe, with all it entails financially and in terms of prestige, to concentrate on achieving in his own continent. At this juncture that seems unlikely, though maybe in the future this may change, particularly with the emerging Brazilian economy.

A great number of fellow professionals from his era regarded him highly, with PelĂ© in particular alluding Spencer’s heading ability being the finest that he had ever seen. Curious then, that in the latter days of Spencer’s life (in 2004), when PelĂ© came to draw up (or put his name to) a list of the greatest living 100 players, Spencer was shunned in favour of a bizarre mishmash of manifestly PC selections aimed at including each of the World’s continents like El Hadji Diouf of Senegal, Hidetoshi Nakata of Japan, Hong Myong Bo of South Korea and Mia Hamm of the United States ladies team.

In time honoured gentlemanly Spencer style, when questioned about the matter, he declined to criticise the selections. This dignified response lies in stark contrast to Brazilian Gerson, who ripped up the list on Brazilian television and launched into an extraordinary rant about his exclusion.

Spencer was the first Ecuadorian player to score against England at Wembley in 1964. No mean feat considering that Ecuador’s national side have never played at Wembley. He scored the goal whilst representing Uruguay as a guest, something he did on a number of occasions in friendlies, whilst stating clearly that he would never abandon the country of his birth. He made 11 appearances for his homeland Ecuador, and continues to be revered there.

Indeed as a labour of love to his homeland, Spencer returned in 1970 to finish his career at Ecuador’s most emblematic club Barcelona of Guayaquil, where he added an Ecuadorian title to his illustrious list of honours before finally hanging up his boots. Such was the esteem in which he was held back in Montevideo, he was sent by the Ecuadorian government to remain there as honorary vice-consul at the embassy. He brought up his children in the Uruguayan capital and held the place in great affection.

A pervasive Eurocentric view (of the football world at least) is ever more difficult to resist as the economic gulf between the clubs of the two dominant football continents is more apparent than ever. Despite Neymar’s recent commitment to remain at Santos until the Brazil World Cup, realistically it is more a case of ‘when’ than ‘if’ he will one day play in Europe.

Equally it is sad in many ways that a player like Messi, who so clearly continues a distinguished tradition of Latin American No.10s, was uprooted and taken away from his own continent at such a young age, never representing his hometown club at senior level.

Spencer too, of course, was uprooted from his beloved homeland the moment his talent was discovered by the giants of Peñarol, but Spencer belongs in an era of more idealistic era of Latin American Football, when (Southern Cone) clubs aspired to keep their best players in order to prove their supremacy against their ex-colonial masters, rather than aspiring to supply Europe with players to ensure their own survival.

Peñarol indeed twice proved their supremacy against Real Madrid and Benfica in the 1960s, with Spencer’s goals playing a pivotal role. Little wonder then, that some four decades on, supporters of Las Manyas still hold banners and chant the name of Alberto Spencer, beyond any reasonable doubt Ecuador’s greatest ever player.

Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > SĂ€o Paulo

15. marts 2013 21:53

Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?

Igen en vanvittig fed artikel om Guadeloupe/Frankrig-forbindelsen. Bedste af de hidtil lĂŠste.

Overraskende mange franske profiler er skolet ad den vej eller har rĂždder derfra.

Godt nok er han ikke franskmand, men et andet og mere aktuelt eksempel er Tino Costa.
- Ja, modsat mange af de omtalte spillede den gode Tinazo rent faktisk pÄ Þen i 2 Är for sÄ at ryge til fransk sekunda-bold. En sand HC Andersen-historie om en vis grim Êlling.

Tillod mig i Ăžvrigt at kalde den spanske generation for fodboldhistoriens mest talentfulde, uden at det skal vĂŠre disrespektfuldt over for Brasiliens guldalder op igennem 60´erne.
EDIT: I bloggen om Englands forfald.
En gyser er at holde med flagermus og ulve.

FÞlg med pÄ Twitter (@VCF__Nordic) & podcast (Valencia Weekly).

Dette indlĂŠg er blevet rettet 15. marts 2013 21:54 af FrĂŠkFyr17
Deportivo FAS
15. marts 2013 22:44

Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?

Cool, PrÞver at finde lidt artikler med lidt baggrundsstof og lidt skÊvevinkler...sÄ fedt du syntes de er vÊrd at lÊse.

Jaeh i havde jo Angloma i Valencia, generelt har Frankrig jo gjort brug af deres oversÞiske besiddelser i en ÄrrÊkke mener Tigana var fra Mali i og Tressor var vist ogsÄ fra Guadeloupe back in the days...Det er jo lidt morsomt at Mitterand i sine memoirs skrev at uden Africa havde Frankring ingen Historie haft i det 20 Ärhundrede ....sÄ kunne man jo tilfÞje eller en VM og EM titler i fodbold....og Arsenal en rimeligt fodbold.

Spanien har jo en gylden generation og utroligt talentfulde spillere muligvis flere end Brasilien i 60´erne....dem Brasilien havde var i mine Ăžjne lidt bedre ...Djalma og Nilton Santos er jo stadigvĂŠk de bedste backs i historien - Didi overstrĂ„lede jo Di Stefano i Real og mĂ„tte smutte igen og betragtes stadigvĂŠk som en af de allerbedste midtbanespillere der har vĂŠret her nĂŠsten 60 Ă„r efter ..Vava var ogsĂ„ oppe i de hĂžjder - Garrincha er stadigvĂŠk den bedste dribler i historien ..og sĂ„ er der jo PelĂ©....sĂ„ det er vel sĂ„´en at Spanien har en uhĂžrt stor talentfuld bredde - men de har pt ikke nogen med kvaliteten til at blive omtalt om 40-50 Ă„r som nogen af de allerstĂžrste....mĂ„ske med undtagelse af Casillas....
Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > SĂ€o Paulo

Deportivo FAS
15. marts 2013 22:48

Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?


"We have more than eleven thousand tickets, come to SĂŁo Paulo and spend enjoyable moments, everything will end up good for your supporters."

The words came from AntĂłnio Carlos Corcione, a spokesperson for Palmeiras football directory. The year was 2010, and his aim was to lure those who supported Fluminense, the tricolor, the colourful sibling from Rio de Janeiro´s host of clubs, who back then was fighting to win its third BrasileirĂŁo. Most importantly, it provided one tip of the irony that took three years to find its counterpart.

Flu´s struggle stretched further than anyone would have predicted. The match against the VerdĂŁo, the Brazilian for big green, as Palmeiras is known and called around the country, came in the penultimate round of a lengthily competition, where consistency comes as an obvious appreciation. The palmeirenses had little to praise for: thanks to a quiet mid-table presence, their last show on the pitch would be nothing more than a see-you-next-year-wave towards their supporters. It should have been the case, but the torcida made sure it came down to much more than that.

A victory was vital for Flu. Coming back with a pocket full of three points from its travel to the most populous Brazilian city made sure that, in the following week, they only relied on themselves to end the season in glory. Curious enough, it seemed that even the Palmeiras fans hoped, in fact, wanted their team to be defeated. Why? Simply put, because a loss would keep the club that trailed Fluminense away in the standings. And that club was Corinthians, their neighbouring enemies, their arch-rivals, the sole name whose disgrace would rejoice the torcida alviverde. Hence the welcoming words spoken by Corcione.

Palmeiras had the chance to ruin their biggest rival’s aspirations to conquer the title. All they had to do was give the three points away to Fluminense.

"If it came down to me, we wouldn’t even enter the pitch, we would lose due to no-show."

It reached a point where Vlademir Pescarmona, the club’s football director, suggested Palmeiras could simply hand the defeat on a silver platter, only to withdraw from its stance days later, admitting it had been too much to say. In words perhaps, but it showed that his mind shared the torcida’s mentality. Even Luiz Felipe Scolari, their coach at the time, joked about not even knowing which team was he going to face.

One only had to throw a glance towards the stands on that match day, two Novembers back, to witness a stadium that seemed to cheer only for the visitor’s side: Palmeiras fans waving signs, asking their team to lose, while many others hugged the Flu’s supporters that had travelled all the way to the Arena Barueri, in São Paulo. In the end, everyone hailed the 2-1 tricolor victory. But throughout the match, the home crowd vigorously booed Dinei, when the Palmeiras forward opened the score, and insulted Deola, the alviverde goalkeeper, each time he stopped a Flu ball from going in. A week later, Fluminese would take the title, and most importantly (for the palmeirenses), it meant that Corinthians ended up second.

This was the middle sheet of a three-page story. The first one was written the year before, also in November, and by then it was Palmeiras who was fighting for the title and had to travel to Rio de Janeiro, to visit a Fluminense side who had spent 27 weeks within the relegation zone. The tricolor desperately sought to recover and rescue points that could let them stay among the 20 top teams of Brazilian football. This time around, each torcida managed to stick with its own team, as the controversy only came with a disallowed goal that prevented Palmeiras from equalizing. Luiz Gonzaga Belluzo, the then Verdão’s president, considered the match was “the realization of all the bad stuff there is in football, a fixed match”. For Fluminense, it came as part of a 11-game invincible streak that saw the club stay in the top flight and avoid relegation, when they had only 2% chance of doing so.

The last page of this story started writing itself on the 11th of November, one that also brought the other tip in of an ironic string that laced together another tricolor title. With Palmeiras mixed along in the process, of course.

Flu battled its way through the BrasileirĂŁo and managed to show up on top in the final rounds of the league, chased by the newly strong AtlĂ©tico de Mineiro, pushed by a rejuvenated touch of brilliance in Ronaldinho GaĂșcho´s feet. Three Sundays ago, a win was enough to secure the title, and once again in a duel with Palmeiras, which now played the role of the struggling side that desperately was trying to avoid relegation.

This 3-2 defeat was not greeted with the same cheers that, three years back, echoed through thousands of voices in the stadium. Now, the supporters tasted the sour part of the same result, which they had covered with sweetness in 2009, and once again, the torcida alviverde turned against its team. There was no SĂŁo Paulo rivalry behind this one, but rather an increasing frustration raised by the danger of being drawn along with Palmeiras to the SĂ©rie B – if they failed to avoid going under, it would be the second relegation in a decade. Instead of supporting a team that only four months back had won the Copa, the Brazilian cup, the fans instead started to threat the players, ravage some of the club’s shops in the city and spray graffiti messages throughout SĂŁo Paulo, asking for Arnaldo Tirone, the Palmeiras president, to resign.

The last words wrote themselves a week after on the pitch - an hour and a half throughout a bus drive pressed the full stop. Palmeiras was coming back from yet another trip to Rio Janeiro, from which they were left with only a point to carry within their luggage. This sole point, hand in hand with another one that fell on Portuguesa’s lap – a team which also fought against relegation – made the return trip to São Paulo look, and feel like, a ride back to the pit they had fallen in ten years ago.

It truly was. Irony, surely, was there until the end: the alviverdes only got that point after barely drawing against Flamego, Flu’s bittersweet rivals from Rio de Janeiro, same city where Portuguesa took the other dark point away, from their battle with GrĂ©mio, one that assured their survival in the BrasileirĂŁo.

Most of all, irony taught the VerdĂŁo how to hate Flu. Once again.

Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > SĂ€o Paulo

Deportivo FAS
15. marts 2013 22:57

Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?


I write this just days after Paraguay not only conceded to Venezuela at home for the first time in a World Cup Qualifier but suffered the ignominy of losing to the former whipping boys of South American football. At present Paraguay sit bottom of the CONMEBOL qualifying table level on points with Bolivia but holding a worse goal difference. It seems that for the first time since 1994 the albirroja won’t be present at the World Cup, the Paraguayan miracle looks to be over.

Miracle is no exaggeration for a country of just six million inhabitants and boasting the second highest level of poverty in South America (behind Bolivia) that has managed to reach the last four World Cups and the knockout stages of three of those tournaments (2006 the odd one out). In the 2010 qualification campaign they even finished ahead of Argentina full to the brim with incredible talent – Messi, Aguero, Tevez, Mascherano, Higuain to name but a few. Not bad for a team made up of players from Europe’s second divisions, South American leagues and local clubs such as Libertad and Cerro Porteño.

There are many factors that aided the Paraguayan revival from a battling side with the occasional success (between 1950 and 1994 they qualified for just two World Cups but did win two Copa America trophies) to one of the top eight sides in the world being knocked out by the eventual winners. Investment in youth and a golden generation are the start, but by South Africa 2010 the squad is totally different to the side that began qualifying for France in 1996. A more important factor is cultural identity mixed with the evolving culture of international football coupled with the change in format of the qualification system which has been crucial in the development of the smaller South American teams.

We’ll kick off with the latter point; before 1998 South American World Cup qualification was almost a nuisance for CONMEBOL and the two sides that always qualified, Argentina and Brazil. They would usually divide the continent into two or three groups with the major powers separated and try and get the whole thing done in a month or so as not to take up too much time. Since the new system in 1998 the number of countries who have qualified for the four World Cups is seven out of the ten (Venezuela, Peru and Bolivia missing out). It is widely agreed that this system has helped the less fashionable sides improve by playing constant competitive football over three years rather than scratching around for friendlies. There is no doubt that the qualification has got more competitive, in 1998 the average points won by the top five teams was 27.4 to 15.5 won by the bottom sides, in 2010 it was 30.4 to 19.2 a marked improvement by the ‘smaller’ teams. This undoubtedly helped Paraguay improve as they wouldn’t otherwise be able to get major teams to play in hot and humid Asunción in front of just 20,000 people. A major European side has never visited and with the association not blessed with the financial clout or historical pull of their neighbours they didn’t manage to play many major teams in friendlies during the twentieth century.

Maybe there was some luck involved with the timing of the change of format because 1998 happened to coincide with a real golden generation led by the exuberant JosĂ© Luis Chilavert and built on solid foundations with players like Chiqui Arce, Celso Ayala and Inter Milan central defender Carlos Gamarra. They had already played the 1994 qualifiers together and that wasn’t even their first competitive tournament having all been part of the side that qualified for the 1992 Olympic Games under the stewardship of Uruguayan coach Sergio Markarian. While this crop of players, like the Paraguayan sides after them, were built on a strong defence they also counted on Jose ‘Pepe’ Cardozo up front and the exciting teenager Roque Santa Cruz who had been snapped up by German giants Bayern Munich. The incredible part about the Paraguay story was that by 2006 most of this team had gone and when they recorded their best ever finish in 2010 there was nobody from this golden generation. So while there is no doubt the legends mentioned above gave Paraguay the foundation they needed, the question that needs answering is, how did the albirroja manage to get through the dreaded ‘transition’ phase and improve?

A key point here is the style of play used by Paraguay, throughout history they have been something of a defensive and battling team renowned for their ‘garra’ (guts) as they realize they can’t compete with the offensive and flowing styles of their two neighbours Brazil and Argentina. Over the decades international football, and arguably football in general, has become more defensive with tactical innovation and the professionalization of the game across the globe. An interesting stat relating to the World Cups is to look at the winning side’s goals per game since its inception in 1930. Between 1930-54 for example the World Cup winner scored on average 3.48 goals per game with only Italy in 1938 not scoring above 3.5 goals per game. From 1958-1990 when Paraguay reached just one World Cup the football was less attacking but a World Cup winner still scored on average 2.2 goals per game, Brazil 1970 of course the highest scorers. But since 1994 we have seen the game get much tighter, just 1.7 goals per game by the World Cup winners and the defensive trend is of course epitomized by Spain who needed just seven goals in seven games to win in 2010. With teams scoring less and counter-attacking football now the norm it meant the albirroja were suddenly in keeping with the tide and there were a whole host of coaches that could be effective with a well-organised defensive side. Anibal Ruiz was quite negative and counter-attacking but he got Paraguay to Germany with a goal difference of 0 over the 18 games.

There was a glimpse of hope with Gerardo Martino, a Bielsista, who wanted Paraguay to press hard from the front and overrun teams. While he had Salvador Cabañas it worked, but once the star forward was involved in the tragic shooting they had to change tack. He went to the ‘default setting’ for the landlocked country and as they scraped through the final qualifiers with some ‘GuaranĂ­ garra’ and in South Africa the now experienced group (with an average age of 29.6 years) were able to progress more thanks to their experience and organization, not their flair. One journalist called the World Cup the beginning of the ‘Guarani Apocalypse’ as another generation was coming to an end.

Sadly, he seems to be right as Paraguay look set to miss out on a World Cup for the first time since 1994 the only CONMEBOL side other than Argentina and Brazil to have qualified for at least the last four. They haven’t been able to get through this transition unscathed as the now ageing defence struggle to stop the likes of Guerrero, Messi and most recently Rondón. The miracle is over for now, but in January 2013 the U-20s side begin qualification for next year’s World Cup with players set to be called up from Benfica and Barcelona a new miracle might be on the horizon.
Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > SĂ€o Paulo

Deportivo FAS
15. marts 2013 23:00

Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?


On October 21, 1995, shortly before dinner US President Bill Clinton sat down at his desk at the White House. He wore a worn face, his brow creased by the pressures of three years as the most world´s most powerful man.

His Democrat party was on the rocks. For the first time in forty years the Republicans were in control of both Congress and the Senate.

Clinton knew he was up against it. Elections were just a year away.

But on this cold late autumn afternoon with the patter of rain tickling the windows behind him, the US President´s mind was temporarily elsewhere. In front of him lay an important piece of legislation that declared a national state of emergency. It awaited the ink of his signature.

Executive Order 12978 was an odd piece of legal directive. Its bold claim was to counter “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

But this sinister sounding danger came from afar, from a group of middle-aged greying men unbeknown to most Americans. Listed in the original document´s annex were four names, the order´s targeted villains. All of them were Colombian.

Around this time, several thousand miles away on the northwestern tip of South America, a football team, AmĂ©rica of Cali, were preparing for the continent´s most prestigious club competition, the Copa Libertadores.

It was a tournament they desperately wanted to win having lost in the final for three successive years in the mid-80s and this time too the Colombians were highly fancied.

Twenty years prior however the club had won nothing. Legend held that when the team turned professional in 1948 for the start of the first national Colombian football league, founder member Benjamin Urrea, a staunch opponent of the club´s conversion from amateurism, was so angered at the decision to turn professional that he cursed the team never to win a league title.

For the next 30 years with this noose around their neck, the club flirted between financial disaster and wandering the mid-reaches of the Colombian first division.

But it was in 1979 that all that changed. Urrea, tired of bearing the blame of AmĂ©rica´s winless curse joined with board members for a special pitch-side mass in which a signed document lifted the spell. AmĂ©rica´s psychological burden was broken, the club´s mind cleansed and that same year they won their first ever league championship.

This tale of redemption and the dark arts grabbed headlines and made a very good story. But it masked a quieter change that had taken place the very same year.

Miguel RodrĂ­guez Orejuela may not be the household name like that of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, but his influence on its nation´s football was just as great.

In 1979, Mr RodrĂ­guez bought AmĂ©rica of Cali football club. He was co-founder of the Cali drug cartel alongside his brother Gilberto. The two siblings were avid AmĂ©rica supporters and used the club to wash their drug money. It was this dirty cash that had such a pivotal role in influencing AmĂ©rica´s success and subsequent downfall.

The 1970s had seen a boom in cocaine use across the United States. Unscrupulous actors in the cocaine fields of Colombia began scrambling for control to satisfy the pocketed noses of their rich northern American cousins. It released a surge of violence that, in turn, led to an unparalleled level of human rights abuses.

A football club doesn´t exist in a bubble, its fabric is a product of the environment it is nurtured in. For AmĂ©rica, the wider tumultuous developments that started to shake Colombian society in the 1970s stamped an indelible print on the club. As Colombia´s World Cup ´94 coach Francisco Maturana later reflected: “Football is like an octopus, it touches all.”

Despite celebrating AmĂ©rica´s first league title in their debut year in charge, the RodrĂ­guez brothers weren´t satisfied - they wished to build a legacy.

They set about attracting some of South America´s top stars such as Argentina´s Ricardo Gareca and Julio CĂ©sar Falcioni and the Paraguayan Roberto Cabañas. With such greats they became all-conquering. But buying top players with narco-funds wasn´t enough.

In an interview four years ago, Fernando Rodríguez Mondragón admitted to a Mexican newspaper that his father Gilberto, acting alongside his uncle, had also “influenced” referees.

“AmĂ©rica was an almost invincible team that had waltzed through every stadium of Colombia, not only with the great players that they´d bought with the proceeds of drug trafficking, but also through influencing certain results,” said RodrĂ­guez.

He continues to tell of the methods the brothers used, the wining and dining of referees and the hotel bills the brothers footed.

These contacts stretched all the way to the top of football, indeed to the top of Colombian society itself.

AmĂ©rica won five consecutive Colombian titles in the 1980s and started to cement their name as one of South America´s giants.

Internationally it was trickier to influence results, but not impossible.

“I know that the Copa Libertadores was very difficult, but my father and uncle knew someone who was very friendly to them in the Confederación Sudamericana [Conmebol] – Teo Figosalinas.”

With Figosalinas as a go-to, América were three-times runners-up of the Copa Libertadores in successive years.

AmĂ©rica were not alone in employing such dirty tactics. With ´The Mexican´, Gonzalo RodrĂ­guez Gacha, in charge at BogotĂĄ side Millonarios and Pablo Escobar looking after the well-being of Nacional and MedellĂ­n there was an often brutal three-way tussle for control – of football, money and power. A city´s football team was a matter of pride and all three drug cartels understood their role perfectly.

When AmĂ©rica and MedellĂ­n clashed in 1989 in a crucial end of the season tie, Pablo Escobar took things to the next level. If you couldn´t bribe the ref or win him over with fine dining, then you´d have to kill him.

MedellĂ­n needed to win but despite being favourites, the game ended goalless. Escobar ordered the death of referee Alvaro Ortega and the season was cancelled.

The murder of a man over a game of football was indicative of how the narco-chiefs´ bloody recriminations had entangled itself around the neck of football.

But four years later, the death of the world´s most wanted man Pablo Escobar at the hands of the Colombian state, brought the Cali Cartel, the RodrĂ­guez brothers and their plaything, AmĂ©rica, to a world-wide audience. With the fall of the MedellĂ­n cartel, their illicit drug kingdom fell into Cali cartel control. And one person in particular was paying interest - US President Bill Clinton.

Late on that October afternoon in 1995 as Clinton readied himself to eat, he planted his signature just above the four ring leaders listed in annex one. All were Cali Cartel members and the first two names were Gilberto RodrĂ­guez Orejuela and Miguel RodrĂ­guez Orejuela.

The Colombian brothers, had, in fact, been already arrested, captured at their luxury Cali apartments four months previous.

But Executive Order 12978, later to become known as the Clinton List, was never just a simple manhunt for four drug dealers.

It was the most ambitious attempt so far in the United States´s controversial war on drugs, a black-list that intended to strangle the life out of all individuals and companies that had interests in the narcotics industry. By the mid-90s the Cali Cartel controlled an estimated 90% of world cocaine trade. The RodrĂ­guez brothers may have been captured but their empire still stood tall, powerful and untouched.

By association with the brothers, the football team was soon placed on the list. Their assets were frozen and no company wanting to do business in the United States would go near them. For the next 17 years they wouldn´t even be able to open a bank account.

But the RodrĂ­guez brothers were several steps ahead.

Through intricate channels of funding and hidden from Yankee lawmakers´ eyes, money continued to filter through to AmĂ©rica.

The Cali giants would go on to again lose in the final of the 1996 Copa Libertadores against River Plate but trophies continued into the start of the next century when they won three back-to-back Colombian championships.

It seemed Clinton´s mission had failed.

But there was a glimmer of success for Clinton´s early endeavours and that was to dent the swashbuckling pride of the Cali Red Devils.

In June 1997 América forward de Avila scored the only goal of the game to settle a crucial World Cup qualifier for Colombia against Ecuador. In front of stunned journalists in the press conference that followed, de Avila hit back at what he saw was the meddling of an arrogant gringo power in the internal affairs of Colombia.

“I want to dedicate this goal to all the people that for one or another reason are now denied their freedom. I dedicate it to Miguel and Gilberto Rodríguez,” de Avila announced.

The scandal drew mass condemnation from the Colombian establishment with its main mouthpiece, daily newspaper El Tiempo, calling for him to be axed from the team. De Avila narrowly survived but to this day he defends those comments and continues to support his “friends” the Rodríguez brothers.

AmĂ©rica took a hit and pressure to reform from outside mounted. But with successes on the pitch continuing, the football club´s directors steadfastly resisted and fans turned a blind eye.

Increasingly though they were suffering and by the end of 2009, America were in serious trouble.

Debt had mounted and, following more than a decade on the Clinton List, they had few friends and business contacts left. It was a slow suffocating death and, unable even to attract sponsors, their only regular clean income came from stadium receipts and merchandise.

In the Clausura championship of 2009 America recorded one win in 18 as the team slumped to the bottom of the table. They were saved from relegation because of a twist in the rules common in all South American league structures.

Like in Argentina, Colombian teams are only relegated on a three-season points average, allowing big clubs the luxury of a temporary blip in form. But, as in Argentina where River Plate bypassed this protection to fall through the relegation trapdoor in June 2011, six months later América also followed.

Fans suddenly took note at AmĂ©rica´s disastrous run and applied enough pressure on the management of the club, the Corporation Deportiva America (CDA), to force an extraordinary meeting in May 2010. The directors, many of who were implicated in the Clinton List, conceded some crumbs of power and a new entity was formed.

Supposedly it was the start of a democratisation process where New América (NA) would wrestle control from the old guard and clean up the club.

It failed miserably and AmĂ©rica´s final fall from grace could hardly have been more embarrassing. AmĂ©rica, once one of the mightiest sides on the continent faced a two-legged play-off against a second division team formed just nine years ago to save their first division skin. Both games ended 1-1 and thus, from the penalty spot, the darkest day in AmĂ©rica´s 84-year history was written. They were relegated.

As fans wept and eleven corpse-like bodies lay strewn across the pitch, in and outside the stadium, riots erupted. Throughout Cali that night 66 people were arrested while 12 others lay in hospital injured. In the capital BogotĂĄ, two hundred miles north, two neighbourhoods went on the rampage venting a boiling frustration at their club´s meteoric demise.

Willington Ortiz was AmĂ©rica´s star striker in the club´s 1980s heyday and is considered one of the best Colombian players of all time. He believes the squabbles between the CDA and New America are to blame for the club´s relegation.

“Those responsible for AmĂ©rica´s relegation are the managers, nobody else. The mess that the directors created by allowing two management structures both fighting against each other sent AmĂ©rica to the second division. They were fighting for power and for their own selves and ignoring what was going on on the pitch.”

Ortiz argues that AmĂ©rica´s excellent youth setup had long helped the club mask the economic problems but eventually the drain become too much – the ÂŁ5 million debt to creditors and tax authorities left the club with a black spot that nobody would touch.

The former América hero is understandably uncomfortable with questions during our interview about the Rodríguez brothers and, astonishingly, claims not to have known anything about the narco-lords involvement with the infamous Cali Cartel.

“Of course we knew the Rodríguez brothers, they were the bosses of the team. But during this time, we had no idea how they made their money. They led their lives and we never questioned where their money came from,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz never mentions that he himself was also included on Bill Clinton´s black-list due to business interests he once shared with a sister of one of the RodrĂ­guez brothers.

The interview ends and, as I leave, Ortiz hands me a flyer advertising the football coaching school he runs. He had been employed at Millonarios, the team he´d supported since he was a boy, but inclusion on the Clinton List had cost him his job. He now spends Saturday afternoons barking orders to seven-year olds.

Six games into the second division clausura season and América are riding high in fourth place. After winning the apertura championship on penalties they look a good bet for a swift return to the top-flight in December.

Wily ex-Colombia coach has done excellent job in reinvigorating AmĂ©rica´s fortunes, while fans too have broken no end of second division attendance records to add vocal weight and financial superiority to the Cali giant´s cause.

But while results on the pitch have been encouraging, problems off the field persist.

Guillermo Ruiz Bonilla is Colombia´s most respected football historian and author of several football books. He agrees that relegation was a wake-up call that has returned legions of fans to support AmĂ©rica in their hour of need, but 17 years on the Clinton List continues to strangle the club.

“Now the situation is improving. Relegation has revitalised the club and fans who used to stay away are now flocking to the stadium. This provides gate money which is clean and this, in turn, has started attracting wealthy local businessmen. We must remember this is the best supported club in Colombia.”

“But many of the leaders of America are on the Clinton List and they can´t get off it. The RodrĂ­guez brothers had such a network of business contacts and anybody who had a connection with them were put on the list.”

“New America was set up to try to democratise the club so that the club could escape the list but they had no money. There was a lot of distrust and lies and it failed,” Mr Ruiz says.

Earlier this year the club registered with league organisers Dimayor as a new entity – a PLC with 213 shareholders promising to inject over 5 million clean dollars into the club. It was considered a vital step in putting AmĂ©rica on the road to recovery.

Club president Carlos Andrade boasted the club would be free of its shackles by the year´s end and that work was also in progress to confront the yawning debt the club owed to its creditors.

But four months later, Andrade was gone. An extraordinary assembly was called and the whole board of directors resigned. Rumours of division and discontent had been rumbling away for months, but while this latest example of management infighting came as no surprise, in the background the ghost of the Rodriguez brothers haunts.

When a lucrative friendly with Boca Juniors was scheduled at the Miami Dolphins stadium for August this year, the AmĂ©rica delegation triumphantly emerged from the US embassy in BogotĂĄ waving visas for their trip. It was seen as recognition of the club´s recent efforts to sweep the deadwood out of the organisation and tidy up their books. Exclusion once and for all from the dreaded Clinton black-list seemed near.

But a few weeks ago the game was called off after the US Treasury stepped in and threatened the American football side with potential sanctions should they host the Colombians at their Sun Life Stadium.

The weight of AmĂ©rica´s controversial past remains to be released. Even if promotion is secured back to the Colombian top-flight a management team that continues to pick from the rotting carcass of their once illustrious club and the burden of Bill Clinton´s death warrant will surely hinder any return to the pinnacle of South American football that AmĂ©rica de Cali once proudly occupied.

Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > SĂ€o Paulo

Deportivo FAS
15. marts 2013 23:11

Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?


The modern day Colombian soccer player is increasingly appreciated in markets abroad. Major League Soccer has made Colombia one of its favourite places to restock or reload their franchises. Argentina is a launching pad where several Colombian players have achieved fame and idolatry. In Brazil, players like Freddy RincĂłn and Victor AristĂ­zabal are considered as individuals synonymous with their clubs at a time before it became hip to start signing Argentines.

Of course, let´s not forget the legacy left behind by Carlos Valderrama and the generation of players that kicked off the most successful, yet controversial epoch in the country´s footballing history. But through all the talk of who should be considered the greatest Colombian player of all time, there is one name that seems to have been lost in the mix when ´El Pibe´, ´El Tigre´, Faustino Asprilla and others are mentioned.

Willington OrtĂ­z.

"If Willington OrtĂ­z would have played in the World Cup in Italy, he would have been the king of world football"- EfraĂ­n "CaimĂĄn" SĂĄnchez

‘El Viejo Willy’ (Old Willy) was, and still is in the eyes of many Colombians, one of the greatest South American players ever. European sides courted him, and the all-star team that was the New York Cosmos wanted him alongside Chinaglia and Cabañas to help galvanize an XI that had saw PelĂ©, Beckenbauer and Carlos Alberto go into definite retirement.

Pure improvisation. Constant and fluid movement. Ambidextrous. Ortiz played as if he had choreographed everything prior to a match. His style was a direct reflection of how he lived and how the city of Cali’s liveliness and desire to celebrate at the drop of a hat was clearly symbolized. OrtĂ­z once said, "In order to live in Cali, you have to know how to dance." The former Millonarios star Arturo Segovia agreed, suggesting that the only other player he had seen do the things that OrtĂ­z did was PelĂ©; “It was as if he was dancing with the ball at his feet.”

Ortiz was a mixed bag of skills and talent that very few have seen in a Colombian player before or since. His ability to dribble as if the ball was tied to both feet combined with his pace and a penchant for finding the net were vital as he helped Deportivo Cali and América de Cali achieve success during his heyday. His capacity to maintain possession and shrug off defenders made him one of the toughest players in the game to stop.

Willington Ortiz was born in the Pacific city of Tumaco; a city which borders Ecuador and lies near the Pacific coast of Colombia. Tumaco is one of the more diverse cities in Colombia when it comes to flora and fauna; unfortunately it is also a city that has suffered the armed conflicts that have raged in the country for generations.

Ortiz was a youngster that would first start to make a name for himself with the Nariño Select side and was swiftly taken to Bogota to sign for Millonarios as a teenager. He would score on his debut in 1971 as the Embajadores defeated Brazilian side Internacional, and would quickly assert himself in the starting line up of a club that would end up winning the league title in 1972; the first of two league titles and two semi-final appearances in the Copa Libertadores for Ortiz. His performances would earn him a spot in the 1972 Olympic team where he would have the chance to play against eventual gold medal winners Kazimierz Deyna and Gregorz Lato of Poland. A year later, Ortiz would make his senior debut for Colombia in a friendly against Germany.

During the 1970’s and 80’s, Colombian football was, according to experts, ´held back´ in favour of tactical organisation and a more defensive style. It was an era when the influence of Osvaldo ZubeldĂ­a´s Estudiantes took hold, with future national coach and ZubeldĂ­a disciple Carlos Bilardo really putting the shackles on the individual capabilities of players. The defensive system was not without some success, and it was only fate that left the Colombians on the verge of World Cup qualification in 1974 when Ortiz’s goal would be the difference in a qualifier against Uruguay. However the CharrĂșas would defeat Ecuador 4-0 in a match that many in Colombia believed was fixed. Los Cafeteros, despite going undefeated in group play, would go down to Uruguay on goal difference, leaving them to watch the finals on television.

In 1975, Colombia would reach the final of the Copa América after beating Uruguay in the semis 3-1 on aggregate. That edition of the continental tournament was played home and away with no host nation. A Peru side featuring Teófilo Cubillas would end up defeating Colombia after they played a three match series in Bogota, Lima and, finally, Caracas.

After his seven seasons in Bogota, Ortiz would make the move to Deportivo Cali, where he was sold for the then-scandalous sum of $13 million pesos (US$7,219 in the modern currency exchange). Today, Cali fans still recall the outstanding match Ortiz played against River Plate in Buenos Aires when Los Azucareros won 2-1at El Monumental in the Copa Libertadores. While his time would be brief in the green of Cali, it would be memorable for Azucarero fans. His performance, in 1981, against a team that was the nucleus for the World Cup-winning side, left many in awe of his skills. Few gave Cali much of a chance - throughout their history an away match against River meant an automatic loss. Facing up to Fillol, Passarella, Tarantini, Gallego, Housemann, Alonso and Merlo amongst others in that squad, meant that the odds were against the team from Colombia. In the game itself, Ortíz’s skills had left River unbalanced and an intelligent tactical plan kept things on even terms. With a burst into space, Ortiz received the ball while travelling at full tilt, leaving Alberto Tarantini for dead. He cut towards the middle, leaving Ubaldo Fillol on his knees before scoring the eventual game-winning goal. Ortiz was at his prime and was doing it on South American football’s biggest stage.

With an international stage ready for Ortiz, disappointment arrived in 1983 when Colombian president Belisario Betancur decided that the country would not be fit to host the 1986 World Cup. Betancur highlighted that many individuals were without a home or without education, and money would be used to tend these issues before hosting a sporting event (as a side note, the money allocated to build homes and schools back in the 80´s have still not been accounted for and those homes and schools have not been built).

At club level, Willington would win various titles domestically, but would come up short in the Copa Libertadores. In the 1980’s OrtĂ­z was still the most functional and consistent player in the country, even if he was already in the latter stages of his career. He continued to shine at Deportivo Cali alongside Ricardo Gareca, Roberto Cabañas, Julio CĂ©sar Falcioni, Juan Manuel Battaglia and a young Antony D´Avila, but his 1983 move the other side of Cali caused a great deal of displeasure in the city. Despite the controversy of his switch, AmĂ©rica de Cali fans rejoiced as Ortiz and Battaglia combined for forty goals in their first year together as the Red Devils won the second of five consecutive league titles.

With the curtain closing on hi career, Ortiz suffered heartbreak in the 1987 Copa Libertadores final. With their goalkeeper Julio CĂ©sar Falcioni (now coach at Boca Juniors) already celebrating in the 119th minute, AmĂ©rica were seconds away from winning their first title. The deal was done and Colombia was at the cusp of seeing one of its own win the precious cup for the first time. In a span of seconds however, the cheers of AmĂ©rica fans seeing their side gain a 3-2 aggregate lead - after 300 minutes of play in Cali and Montevideo - would go by the wayside as Diego Aguirre’s late, late strike ensured that Peñarol would clinch their fifth cup in the final seven seconds of the third match played at the Estadio Nacional in Santiago. At the age of 35, it was a crushing blow for Ortiz and it would be the last time he would get that close to an international title. He retired a year later.

Of course, recognition and reverence have not come to Ortiz since retiring. When Millonarios were searching for a new coach in 2009, Ortíz was considered to take over the vacancy. However, the administration of Millonarios insisted very publically on seeing Ortiz’s resume in order to look at his qualifications. It was a tremendous insult to a player that was considered by many to be the greatest Colombian player to have ever worn the Embajadores jersey.

OrtĂ­z was also involved in politics and, in 1989, won a seat in the Colombian House of Representatives, although he would be mired in many controversies which would leave him on the verge of losing his seat

Despite the controversy, The Old Man of Colombian Football was one that really took the game to a new level in his country. Sadly, Ortiz walked away from football before he was able to fulfil the crowning achievement of his career - a World Cup appearance. In 1990, many thought that, even at 38, he would have been a major player for Colombia at a tournament in which Roger Milla proved age was not an issue.

Ortiz’s legacy within Colombian football was, and is, ubiquitous. Look at videos from his playing days and also look at the top Colombian players of the past three generations. They have many of his qualities as well as that true joy to play the game that he demonstrated on every occasion. He might have not have enjoyed the benefits that several other players received after him, but Ortiz was the star that blazed a trail for the Valderramas, Asprillas and Falcaos of this world to follow.

“Willington Ortíz was and is important to Colombian football and if he would have played abroad he would have been more a more transcendent figure. It should be made clear that Willington Ortíz meant to the Colombian national team that I coached the same that Diego Maradona meant to Argentina.”- Carlos Bilardo

Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > SĂ€o Paulo

Deportivo FAS
15. marts 2013 23:42

Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?

Everton, Rangers and the roots of Chile

The influence of British clubs Everton and Glasgow Rangers resonates through football in Chile.

Chilean president SebastiĂĄn Piñera wasn’t just playing nice when he emphasized the “deep historical roots” of the relationship between Chile and Britain on a recent European visit. From the Britons such as Thomas Cochrane who entrenched themselves in Chilean folklore during the struggle for independence, to Chile’s support of Britain during the Falklands War and the darker dealings between Augusto Pinochet and Margaret Thatcher, the two countries have always enjoyed warm relations. Even today, 4.5% of Chileans can claim British ancestry, and it is common to see Anglo-Chileans in nearly every sector of society, from politics to entertainment to finance to, you guessed it, football.

Unión Española starlet Kevin Harbottle, former Bradford City man Willy Topp and recently ousted federation president and FIFA delegate Harold Mayne-Nicholls are all recent examples of Anglo-Chileans to make their presence felt in the domestic game and abroad, but that does not come close to telling the full story of the English influence on Chilean football. While many countries can claim British ancestry when it comes to football, few have embraced it as much as Chile.

Part of the history is well known, as it shares a number of characteristics with the spread of football in South America and across the globe. The roots of the Chilean game can be traced back to British expatriates in the port city of ValparaĂ­so, similar to the communities that spread the game in Buenos Aires, Montevideo, SĂŁo Paulo, Rio and Lima. Likewise, it is little coincidence that football teams such as Wanderers, River Plate, Liverpool, Corinthians and Lawn Tennis (yes, Lawn Tennis) can be found in these cities.

Football in Chile can be traced back to 1880, just eight years after England and Scotland played the first-ever international match, and as was the case across the globe, brought to the country by British merchants and sailors. The local populace was drawn to ValparaĂ­so’s historic Cerro Alegre to see the ‘gringos’ play their strange game and assimilated it just as quickly as their counterparts across Latin America. The Mackay and Sutherland School on Cerro Alegre, one of many British schools throughout Chile (many of which exist even today) was the first to feature football, allowing it to spread to the upper and middle classes of ValparaĂ­so and nearby Viña del Mar.

Nine years after the game first appeared on the docks of ValparaĂ­so, English journalist David N. Scott founded ValparaĂ­so F.C., documented as the oldest football club in Chile. The club would soon change its name to Santiago Wanderers, which remains the oldest Chilean club still in existence (By that time there was already a ValparaĂ­so Wanderers, but they decided to stick with the Wanderers name despite being located over 100km from Santiago.)

In 1895, six years later, Scott was at it again as he played a key role in founding the Football Association of Chile, the precursor to FederaciĂłn de FĂștbol de Chile. Around the same time, he porteños, as the residents of ValparaĂ­so are known, soon found competition with their counterparts in the capital, Santiago F.C., a club that still maintains its legacy today as Santiago Morning after a 1936 fusion with Morning Star S.C.

All across the country British inspired clubs sprang up. Everton was founded by a group of Liverpudlians in Valparaíso and later moved to Viña del Mar, where they would establish themselves a force among provincial clubs. Scotsman Juan Greenstreet founded Rangers in the southern city of Talca in 1902 and Santiago Badminton FC as well as Green Cross established themselves as regular fixtures in the early days of professional football in Chile. With these new clubs came the Challenger Cup, the first competition to branch out from the regional leagues, even though teams from the Santiago and Valparaíso metropolitan areas still comprised most of the contestants.

Just as British economic influence started to dwindle in Latin America after the turn of the 20th century, so too did the British influence on the region’s football. While foreigners continued to play significant roles in shaping the economic and footballing fortunes of Latin America, local administrators started to lead the game in a their own direction in both fields. Prior to the Great Depression, Argentina rose to become one of the most powerful economies in the world, and the other Southern Cone countries such as Chile and Uruguay were not far behind.

Similarly, just as the Argentine Football Association became the AsociaciĂłn de FĂștbol Argentino, the Football Association of Chile evolved into the FederaciĂłn del FĂștbol Chileno, and as professionalism came into being in the 1930s, Chilean-founded clubs such as Colo Colo, Universidad de Chile and Universidad CatĂłlica rose to the pinnacle of Chilean football, from which they would never be dislodged. Meanwhile, clubs like Badminton and Green Cross underwent transformation, relocation and dissolution as Chileans began to embrace their own footballing identity.

Nonetheless, in a country that still prides itself on its British ties, Everton and Santiago Wanderers still play out the oldest derby in the land twice a year and you can still catch an Everton-Rangers match without having to pay over-the-top prices for a Champions League ticket. In a particularly special case, Everton’s links to its English counterpart remain as strong as ever, with top officials from the Merseyside club making their way to Chile to commemorate the Chilean club’s 100th anniversary in 2009. The Chileans reciprocated one year later, traveling to Goodison Park to face off against their namesakes in a preseason friendly, won 2-0 by the English side.

Though England and Scotland are not as dominant as they once were on the world scene, their influence remains evident throughout the world, and quite possibly more so in Chile than anywhere else. When shouts of “Ever forever!” ring out across the terraces at Everton’s Estadio Sausalito every weekend, the fans pay homage to their English heritage that in turn gave birth to an equally vibrant history in Chilean football.

Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > SĂ€o Paulo

Deportivo FAS
15. marts 2013 23:57

Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?

The copper lining of Chilean football

Throughout history, everywhere from art to currency to computers to food, copper has shaped the way we live in ways most of us don’t even think about. It even shapes the fortunes of your football team
.Well, at least if you live in Chile, the country that accounts for a third of the world’s copper production.

Looking at a map of Chilean football, you will find it littered with local derbies (clĂĄsicos), though one of the rivalries sticks out as peculiar. Separated by 600km of the driest desert in the world, Cobresal and Cobreloa play out El clĂĄsico del cobre, the Copper Derby, pitting two teams who live -and could very well die - with the Chilean copper industry, against each other.

Both clubs were founded in the late 1970s (Cobreloa in 1977 and Cobresal in 1979), but since then, the clubs have taken radically divergent paths, despite both existing under the auspices of CODELCO, the state-owned copper mining company.

Cobreloa, based in Calama, a city of 143,000, and inexorably linked to the immense Chiquicamata copper mine, emerged as the standard bearers for provincial football in Chile, reaching two Copa Libertadores finals and establishing itself as one of the dominant forces of Chilean football during the 1980s. Since joining the Primera DivisiĂłn in 1978, the club has never relinquished its spot, and has continued to be successful in the 21st century, winning both the Apertura and Clausura tournaments in 2003 and the 2004 Clausura.

Despite Cobreloa’s meteoric rise, playing in the Copa Libertadores just four years after its foundation, it remains very much under the control of CODELCO. Originally, the manager of the Chquicamata mine would select the president from a shortlist prepared by the club’s 16 board members, and even now, the president of CODELCO Norte (the company’s northern branch) must approve any president elected by the board. It should come as no surprise, then, that many of the presidents of the club have previously been part of the CODELCO operation in the surrounding areas, including the current club president, Juan George.

Cobresal, on the other hand, has lived and almost died with the fate of the tiny El Salvador mine and its eponymous mining encampment of 7,000 (which is not even considered a town). Naturally, the team has followed a fairly less distinguished track than Cobreloa. Like their counterparts to the North, Cobresal enjoyed a relatively successful run in the first division throughout the 1980s, even defeating their rivals in a 1986 playoff to earn their only Copa Libertadores berth to date, in which they won once and drew five times, failing to get out of their group. Cobresal arguably went one better in 1987, winning their first and only national title by beating Colo Colo 2-0 in the Copa Chile final, including a goal from a young Ivan Zamorano, who lit up the competition with 14 goals in 14 games.

Between 1980 and 1989 copper prices rose by 50% and continued to remain strong until declining back to 1980 levels in 1992, when Cobreloa won their last title for 11 years and Cobresal experienced its first relegation. Despite the economic shock Chile felt from mass privatizations under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet from 1973-1989; the copper industry remained tied to the state by law and was thus partially protected from the economic upheaval. Though it is imprudent to ignore the on the field factors, including playing staff such as Zamorano for Cobresal and HĂ©ctor Puebla - a 16 year servant of the club - for Cobreloa, the undiminished ties between the clubs and Chile’s vibrant copper industry (and the funds that link provided) were an unquestionable factor in the rise to prominence of both clubs.

However, a club that is deeply tied to an industry such as copper mining will also inevitably face some serious obstacles. In 2005, CODELCO president Juan VillarzĂș announced that the El Salvador mine would be scheduled to close in 2011, citing high operating costs, partly due to the remote location of the encampment, nearly 200km from the provincial capital of CopiapĂł. Because of this announcement people started to emigrate from El Salvador and in the 2008 Clausura championship, Cobresal averaged only 1,238 spectators in the top flight, the lowest attendance of any professional club in Chile, first or second division.

The sharp drop in copper prices after steady growth certainly did not help things during the global recession of 2008. Both Cobreloa and Cobresal battled relegation and were forced to sell off their biggest assets. Notable players such as Alexis Sanchez, Jean Beasejour, and Lucas Barrios came and went through the ranks of Cobreloa, while many of the footballers that ply their trade with Santiago’s biggest teams have kept the two clubs competitive for a year or two before moving on to greener pastures. While these kinds of moves are inevitable to some degree given the market for footballers both within Chile and throughout the world, they represent a far cry from the kind of power the clubs could wield during the booms of the copper industry. Furthermore, the additional financial doubts put the clubs at the whim of potential buyers and could seriously affect the clubs’ efforts to contend for honours in future.

Though Cobresal explored a number of options to keep itself alive, including merging with other clubs or transferring its operations elsewhere, its time in the remote location at the base of the Andes was extended in early 2010 when then-president Michelle Bachelet announced a revision of the state’s decision to close the mine. This decision effectively gives El Salvador and Cobresal a ten year lease on life, but when 2021 rolls around, the dedicated few who brave the hot, dry days and freezing nights to see their team take on the best Chile has to offer will have to add a football team to a long list of things to look for as their work in the desert grinds to a halt.

Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > SĂ€o Paulo

Deportivo FAS
16. marts 2013 07:47

Sv: Sydamerikansk fodbold i Danmark - hvad mener I?

Botafogo´s Jadson undergoes medical ahead of Udinese move - reports

Botafogo midfielder Jadson has reportedly undergone a medical with Udinense ahead of signing for the Serie A club.

The Fogão finally ended months of speculation by accepting a €2.5 million offer from Udinese this week, which O Globo reported on Thursday.

The 19-year-old is believed to have completed a medical examination and a physical test on Friday before flying back to Rio de Janeiro.

Jadson, who is a product of the Botafogo youth system, will continue playing for the club until the European summer transfer window opens on July 1.

The youngster has already made more than 40 appearances for the Alvinegro despite only being promoted to the first-team in 2012.

He was also a member of the Brazil Under-20 squad which participated in the South American Championship this January.

Flamengo director reveals Mattheus to Juventus deal is "almost certain

Flamengo director of football Paulo Pelaipe has revealed that the proposed transfer of Bebeto´s son Mattheus to Juventus is "almost certain".

Earlier this week reports suggested the Rubro-negro had agreed a €2 million deal with the Italian giants for the 18-year-old’s services.

Flamengo have now revealed that negotiations between the clubs and MFD, the agency managing Mattheus´ career, are at an advanced stage.

He told Lancenet: "There is only one document left, which will come from Italy, but the deal is almost certain."

Although the Rio de Janeiro club accepted an offer for Mattheus, the club’s board did attempt to renew his contract, which expires at the end of 2013, as they did with the likes of Rafinha, Rodolfo and Adryan.

However, Bebeto and MFD previously made it clear that the Brazil Under-20 star would not be extending his stay at the Gavea.

Mattheus was, of course, the inspiration behind Bebeto´s famous cradle-rocking celebration at the 1994 World Cup.

He has been linked with a move to the Serie A giants ever since the turn of the year, with previous reports claiming initial talks began in October.

YotĂșn set for Vasco debut against Volta Redonda

Vasco´s manager GaĂșcho affirmed in a press conference yesterday that Peruvian left-back Yoshimar YotĂșn could make his debut this Sunday.

The defender arrived at SĂŁo JanuĂĄrio this year, but his debut was delayed due to problems with the transfer documentation, which prevented him from being registered earlier for the Rio de Janeiro state league.

Manager GaĂșcho plans to bring him from the bench during the game against Volta Redonda tomorrow, rather than having him playing from the start.

He said:

"I want to make the most of both (YotĂșn and Sandro Silva) to help Vasco. YotĂșn joins the Peruvian national team next Monday, we have to work little by little. It´s not that he isn´t ready yet, but for this Sunday it´s better he comes during the game".

Yoshimar YotĂșn played for Sporting Cristal last season, and was named by Uruguay´s newspaper El PaĂ­s the best left-back in South America in 2012.

He has been loaned to Vasco until the end of the 2012 season, with an option to buy allowing the Brazilian club to make the deal permanent.
Brasil: Flamengo, Vasco, Fluminense, Botafogo (100% Carioca) Rio > SĂ€o Paulo


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