Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Inmortal # 2

The proximity of the world cup has brought back memories of my favorite player

I was six years old in 1994 and i remember crying when a 27 years old Andrés Escobar made that own goal against USA (i won't even link to it, it still makes me weep) and i remember crying even more when my mom told me he was killed, he was my favorite player form my favorite team (i've played as a centre-back since i can remember), he was a Nacional man through and through. He came from the youth program, played for the team that won the first libertadores for Colombia, and other than a brief stint in Young Boys in Switzerland spent all of his career playing for Nacional.

The first game i ever attended was a Nacional-América when i was 8 years old, which means that i never saw Andrés play live, my young age and his untimely death prevented it, the memories of watching him play on tv are hazy at best, but even if my memories of Andrés have deteriorated his image hasn't, if anything it has grown stronger, his funeral was attended by over 120000 people all clamoring for justice because his death represented everything that was wrong with Medellín in the early 90's, it made him go from being a man to be a part of the collective imagination of the people in this city, a reason for change, a hope for the future.

That's why the last time Nacional won a title, in 2007, the first chant was "Andrés, Andrés" and why 14 years old kids wear t-shirts with his name and image even if they never saw him play, he is off limits for any opposing fans, of course noone even considers sullying his name, he is the first name that comes up if you ask someone for Nacional best XI, Andrés Escobar is a myth among fútbol legends, it's just a shame that his death is the reason most people have ever heard of him.

Now enjoy his only international goal in Wembley against England.

video by siempreconusted

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Good Idea Ignored

For all the fuzz about the international board decision to stop experimenting with goal line technology, which don't get me wrong it was a stupid decision by them, there was something else that got my attention, in fact it wasn't even on their discussion, i'm talking about the use of spray by the referee.

Unless you follw Argentinian fútbol, you're probaly wondering what i'm talking about so a little backstory is in order, before the start of the 2009 season in Argentina there was a big debate about how to stop the players on the wall during free kicks to gain an advantage by moving closer to the ball, so they come up with a pretty simple idea, they will use a spray that marked the spot of the foul and where the wall should be placed, making the job of the referee easier. It didn't led to more goals as only one more goal was scored directly of free kicks in the 2009 season than in the 2008 season, however both players and referees expressed their believe that it helped make the game more disciplined and discourage cheating.

It was succesfull enough that CONMEBOL started using it in continental competitions and several other countries in South América followed, however FIFA which had previously stated that they would take it into account did absolutely nothing. Too bad as anything that helps the referee do a better job should be considered, but i guess helping the referee it's not FIFA's main concern.    

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Liverpool-Benfica: Analyzing Liverpool goal

Something weird happened in the game between Liverpool and Benfica, there was a goal in a free kick because a team used zonal marking instead of man to man in the box, what's the weird thing you ask? well the team that got scored against wasn't Liverpool they actually took advantage of the zonal marking instead of being victimized for using it.  

So let's try and see how they did it, by completely ripping off NBAplaybook.

First let's see how benfica lined up.

I signaled three different things, the first is the fact that Benfica lined up three people at the wall instead of two, because of the possibility that Gerrard may try to score from there, the second is the yellow arrow pointing at Di Maria who is covering absolutely noone, he should be either closer to the six yard box or farther outside waiting for the rebound, the third is the fact that there are six Benfica players in the six yard box, there are five Liverpool players yet Agger is completely alone.

Now, after the ball is played, Di Maria can't get to the ball and the players in the box are to far away to get to the ball before Agger.

Now Agger chooses to use his heel instead of hitting it straight, which was a nice technical gesture, but it gave the opposition more possibilities of blocking it, the other thing worth pointing out is that Kuyt is offside, however i don't think his involvement on the play merited for it to be called.

Now the video:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Who owns your Club? - Argentina

To continue with the series already started with Colombia i'll take a look to the owners of the club from the first division of Argentina.

All of the clubs in Argentina first division are owned by the supporters who have the right to elect the president of the club and overturn him if necessary, in fact the mere mention of a club turning in a plc provokes the anger of every supporter, this has lead to a more grassroots approach being more than fútbol clubs, they also field teams in other sports (Boca Juniors has a basketball and volleyball team, River plate also has teams in this sports, and several others clubs are associated with basketball, volleyball, futsal, swimming, amongst others) and for both male and female participants. Becoming a socio of a fútbol club can have other incentives besides supporting your club, as some of the clubs allow the socio to use the facilities for recreation, and if your kid is part of one of the youth programs they'll pay for their education.

However, not all is well in the Argentinian first division as the power given to the fans has been used by some people to take advantage of the system, in some cases presidents of different clubs have given free tickets to Barras Bravas (Argentina Hooligans) in order to gain their support for the elections and mantain power, this has empowered Barras Bravas and created a big security problem in the stadiums as they feel entitled to harras oposing fans without repercusion, which is helped by lax regulation by the Argentina goverment, this is at it's clearest when you watch the games on TV and see huge empty espaces between fans to avoid confrontation, more recently the power given to this "fans" has also lead to internas, fights within the Barras Bravas to achieve the power inside the group.

Another problem has been that even if for some clubs the grassroots projects are more integral for the make up of the club than the results of the fútbol club, for some presidents the only way to stay in power is through results on the pitch, leading to expend wildly in order to achieve them, leaving clubs in a dangerous financial situations when succes on the pitch is not achieved.

I think that's enough of an introduction, the following list of the clubs ranked by number of socios comes form a Lanacion article, there are usually two types of socios vitalicios, lifetime members that are mostly notable or important people to the club and don't have to pay, and regulars, who have to pay a fee to be a socio, the following has the sum of the two:
River Plate socios: 81.000.

Boca Juniors socios: 73.597

Independiente socios: 54.244

Vélez Sarsfield socios: 43.322

Rosario Central socios: 42.000

Estudiantes socios: 40.000

Racing Club socios: 38.629

Newell´s socios: 33.000

San Lorenzo socios: 30.823

10º Lanús socios: 30.500

11º Gimnasia socios: 26.889

12º Colón socios: 17.000

13º Atlético Tucumán socios: 15.000

14º Huracán socios: 13.530

15º Godoy Cruz socios: 10.400

16º Banfield socios: 10.000

17º Tigre socios: 8.500

18º Chacarita socios: 8.000

19º Argentinos socios: 7.000

20º Arsenal socios: 3.000
Any corrections please let me know, as my aim is to make this as accurate as possible. Next up México

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Who owns your club? - Colombia

In the spirit of what David Conn and pitchinvasion have written, i will start a series of articles detailing who owns the fútbol clubs of the first division of different countries, starting in my home country Colombia.

América de Cali (Cali) - América de Cali was owned by the Rodriguez Orejuela brothers of the Cali cartel, so when they were captured all of their companies, including América entered la lista Clinton (SDN List) and passed to the ownership of the DNE (Colombia's DEA) and the city of Cali, since then there's been a very real possibility that one of the biggest clubs in Colombia disappears. However, since last year the club left the SDN list, both the club and the city have started selling their shares in search of new owners, and both fans and coproprations can buy them, the city's aim has been for the majority to be bought by the fans, but a sugar conglomerate is rumored to already have bought a great share of them (i'll try to write a longer post on América later on, it's an interesting and sad story).

Atlético Huila (Neiva) - The owner of Hila is Orlando Rojas who is the owner of a licor company, however unlike the rest of clubs the main sponsor of the team is not a company of the owner, instead is a rice company called "Roa" which as far as i can tell has no relation with Mr. Rojas.

Atlético Junior (Barranquilla) - Junior is owned by the Char family, who are the owners of a chain of supermarkets called "Olimpico" and who boast a former minister and a senator among them, unfortunately they became involved in a political scandal in Colombia when a goverment program supported by senator Char was found to have been handing out money to influential people of the atlantic region (Barranquilla is located in this region).

Atlético Nacional (Medellín) - Atlético Nacional is a private organization owned by the organization Ardila Lule, the owner of said organization is the second richest man in the country who also owns Postobón (a beverage company) which as of this year is the main sponsor of both the league and the cup, this has lead to criticism by fans for conflict of interest by Dimayor (colombia's FA) to take decisions that may affect the club.

Chicó FC (Boyaca) - Boyaca Chicó was funded a little over 10 years ago by Eduardo Pimentel a former Millonarios player, whose claim to fame is having the record of red cards in a season, taht should tell you everything you need to know about him as a player, owner and manager, he started the club in the neighborhood of Chicó in Bogota, later moving it to Boyaca a year after gaining promotion to the colombian first division, Pimentel is highly renowed as the most outspoken and critical owner in the country.

Club Cortuluá (Tuluá) - Cortuluá is a nonprofit organization, they were funded in 1967 by a group of friends in Tuluá including former paraguayan player and manager Hernado Acosta, since i can't find evidence to the contrary, the owners seems to be the sons of that group of friends.

Cúcuta Deportivo (Cúcuta) - The owner of Cúcuta Deportivo is Ramiro Suarez, a former mayor of the city who enjoyed an inmense popularity when the team became champions with him in office, however since he left office there has been growing interest by the fans to make the club supporter owned.

Deportes Quindio (Armenia) - Hernando Angel is from Cali and he owns Quindio, that doesn't sit well with a lot of people from the city of Armenia as they want to see someone from the region to take over the club, in 2006 he tried to sell but nobody met his asking price so he kept it, as of saturday he is part of the Executive Board of Dimayor.

Deportes Tolima (Ibague) - Tolima is owned by senator Gabriel Camargo, whose main contribution to the league has been threatening to not field a team every couple of years unless the Dimayor helps him with the expenses, so far tolima has always fielded a team.

Deportivo Cali (Cali) - Deortivo Cali is a supporter owned club with general elections to choose the president of the institution and is also the first professional club in Colombia to own their stadium, the rest of stadium are owned by the town where they play.

Deportivo Independiente Medellin (Medellin) - Atlético Nacional biggest rivals are owned by a gorup of people with strong ties to them, notables among that group are Francisco Maturana who won the Libertadores with Nacional in 1989, and Juan Jose Pelaez who was second in the libertadores with Nacional in the 1995 edition, both of them were also managers for DIM before becoming owners, the current manager is Leonel Alvarez who score the last penalty kick for Nacional in the final of the libertadores in 1989. The former owner of the club was Jose Rodrigo Tamayo who is now in jail along with 11 former directors of the club, however the colombian justice has not taken actions against the club itself, as they were captured 5 years after leaving the club.

Deportivo Pereira (Pereira) - Corpereira is a nonprofit organization that owns Deportivo Pereira, i couldn't find anything in who are the shareholders of Corpereira.

Envigado F.C. (Envigado) - Envigado majority shareholder was Gustavo Upegui until he was killed by hitmen in 2006, he was linked to paramilitary groups but nothing was proved, so since then his family took care of the club with his son Juan Pablo Upegui being the Director of the club, Envigado is also partially owned by the city of Envigado with 25%-30% of the shares, so the club is especially focused on the development of the youth of the city.

Equidad FC (Bogota) - La Equidad comes from the same background as Chicó, as they started out very recently in Bogota playing in neighborhood tournaments before becoing professional, unlike Chicó La Equidad stay in bogota after making to the first division, which has made them one of the teams with less fans in the country, hawever the owner of the club don't seem to mind losing money in the team as long as it stays in the first division, becouse Equidad FC is owned by Seguros la Equidad, an insurance company, that has stated that the publicity coming from havin a team in the top flight more than offsets the loses that comes from owning the club, think Red Bull in a much much smaller scale.

Independiente Santa Fé (Bogota) - Santa Fé's ownership situation is a little confusing as the man that was supposed to be the majorityt shareholder, Armando Farfán, has quit the institution and no longer appears as the owner, so for what i can understand of the situation, Santa Fé doesn't have a majority shareholder, instead they are a private joint stock company.

Millonarios (Bogota) - Just like América, Millonarios has 13 first division tiltes, and just like América they got involved with drug dealers, however Millonarios 27% of shares were given to the DNE making them the institution with the largest share at the club, and has spent the last 4 years under they control, in that span they uncover the debt hidden under the money laundering. Millonarios almost was liquidated at the start of the year for a debt of 27000 million pesos (around 14 million dollars) but they sold properties in order to avoid it.

Once Caldas (Manizales) - Once Caldas is also owned by a nonprofit organization called Corporacion Deportiva Once Caldas, the most notable of the shareholders is Jairo Quintero who was the president of the club when the club won the Libertadores in 2004, he was elected for the chamber of representatives in the last parlamentary elections.

Real Cartagena (Cartagena) - Real Cartagena is run by the Promotora de Deporte de Cartagena de Indias funded by all of the members of the current board of directors of the club, the description for most of them in internet is fútbol entrepeneurs, so take that description as you want.
Those are the 18 clubs in Colombia's first division, a lot of different backgrounds and unfortunately pretty much every club has rumors of ties with drug dealers (there's a third team in the hands of the DNE: Unión Magdalena of the second division), leaving a lot to be desired about the regulation in Colombia. Any corrections please tell me, as some of this are based more in word of mouth than i'll like it to be.
Next up will be either Mexico or Argentina depending in how easy is to gather the information.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Hello, my name is Santiago.

I've started this blog with two objectives in mind, the first is to improve my english, you see i'm from Colombia so english is my second language and my grammar and spelling are poor to say the least (so far i've had to look up the spelling of six words), so i thought that the best way to improve them was to write as much as i can. The second reason is that i love fútbol (i can't call it soccer and the football spelling just feels weird to me) so it was only natural for me to start writing about it.

Now the focus of the blog is going to be a little off the field and more focused in the financial state of the clubs, and some of the scandals that had happened in the past, however i'll probably write about games and the performance of players once in a while.

So i hope you enjoy it.

P.S: In case you were wondering the picture at the top is Chile's keeper Roberto "Cóndor" Rojas in a game against Brazil, of whom i plan on doing a post later on.