Thursday, March 1, 2012

Here are Wednesday night's international friendly results in the build up to Euro 2012:

N Ireland 0 - 3 Norway
Rep of Ireland 1 - 1 Czech Republic
Slovenia 1 - 1 Scotland
Wales 0 - 1 Costa Rica
England 2 - 3 Netherlands
New Zealand 2 - 3 Jamaica
Latvia 0 - 0 Kazakhstan
Cyprus 0 - 0 Serbia
Georgia 2 - 1 Albania
Moldova 0 - 0 Belarus
Armenia 3 - 1 Canada
Hungary 1 - 1 Bulgaria
Denmark 0 - 2 Russia
Croatia 1 - 3 Sweden
Greece 1 - 1 Belgium
Germany 1 - 2 France 
Italy 0 - 1 USA
Poland 0 - 0 Portugal
Spain 5 - 0 Venezuela
Israel 2 - 3 Ukraine
 
 
Wednesday, February 29, 2012

All of the 16 teams participating in Euro 2012 are playing tonight in warm-up friendlies that will no doubt reveal a number of fringe players who will go on to feature at this summer's European Championships. Expect the likes of France, Spain, England and Germany to blood some of their best uncapped players this evening for what looks like a mouth-watering night of international football.

Here are the fixtures involving the 16 UEFA 2012 teams:
Spain v Venezuela  
Israel v Ukraine 
Greece v Belgium 
Denmark v Russia 
Croatia v Sweden 
Italy v United States 
Germany v France 
Poland v Portugal 
Republic of Ireland v Czech Republic 
England v Netherlands 

 
 

Photo (C) Jon Candy   
Wales play Costa Rica in remembrance of former manager and player Gary Speed.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's a big week of international football friendlies with many international managers getting their final opportunity to try out untested players ahead of June's Euros in Poland and Ukraine.

While there are still friendly matches penciled in for late May and early June, most national coaches will hope to have their Euro squads clear in their heads by the late spring and will therefore use this week's fixtures to try out a number of fringe players.

The two most mouth-watering fixtures must be Germany v France and England v Holland, the second of these matches originally scheduled to be played in August before the English Riots caused its cancellation.

In other key Euro 2012 warm ups, Poland celebrate the grand international opening of their new national stadium with the visit of Portugal, the Republic of Ireland take on an improving Czech Republic side, while Russia travel to Denmark.

But by far the most emotional of this week's friendly fixtures will be a match that doesn't involve any of the Euro 2012 qualifying teams, namely the match between Wales and Costa Rica. The match is a testimonial being played in memory of the former Welsh manager and international footballer Gary Speed, who tragically took his own life in late November 2011. Tickets to this remembrance match are priced at 10 pounds for adults and 5 pounds for children, with 10 percent of the proceeds going to charity.
 
 
Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The World health Organization (WHO) is proposing that this summer's European Championships should be a smoke-free one. 
The Polish office of the WHO wants Euro 2012 fan zones in Poland and Ukraine to ban smoking in a concerted attempt to promote a more healthy lifestyle amongst football fans.

In October 2011 UEFA placed a total ban on the promotion and sale of tobacco in relation to this year's tournament.

While the initial reaction to the WHO proposal has generally been positive, the final decision on whether to ban smoking in the Euro 2012 fan zones rests with the policy-makers in each of the eight host cities.
 
 
Monday, February 28, 2012

While the identity of the next England manager remains unknown, one thing the new boss will face is the realization that England have a severe shortage of experienced central strikers ahead of Euro 2012, with Darren Bent becoming the latest major casualty.

Aston Villa's Darren Bent would likely have featured in England's plans for this summer's European Championships in Poland and Ukraine but will now miss the tournament after rupturing ankle ligaments whilst playing for Aston Villa against Wigan at the weekend.

With Wayne Rooney set to miss England's two opening Euro 2012 fixtures through suspension, England may have to trust in a relatively untested forward line in Ukraine, with the likes of Daniel Sturridge and Jermain Defoe suddenly looking far more likely to travel to the tournament.

England face Holland on Wednesday evening and will use the opportunity to try out strikers Campbell, Sturridge and Manchester United's Welbeck against the Dutch.
 
 

 Photos: All rights reserved by Homeless World Cup Official 


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

While the UEFA European Championships kicks off in Poland and Ukraine in the summer many football fans are turning their attention to an alternative football tournament, where the stars don't drive sports cars and they certainly don’t hang around with supermodels. In fact, many of the stars of this year's tournament, which kicks off in October, don't even have roofs over their heads. Welcome to the 2012 Homeless World Cup.
One billion homeless 
It’s a truly shocking fact – there are more than one billion homeless people living in the world today. Sadly, more often than not, homeless people are frowned upon by the majority of those who are more fortunate than them in society. The homeless are often regarded as second-class citizens (and worse) by many cultures in which the ethos of the ‘me first’ way of life means that there is no place for somebody who does not even have a roof over their head. Many, ignorant of the real world, falsely believe that homeless people have only got themselves to blame for getting into their predicament. And yet there are as many different explanations for how an individual becomes homeless as there are days in the year.

Mercifully, there are those people out there that care enough about the plight of the homeless to actually do something about it.


World Champions Scotland 
The Homeless World Cup is an annual international football tournament, uniting teams of people who are homeless. It gives hundreds of individuals the incredible opportunity, we have all dreamt of at one time or another, of representing their country at football and, at the same time, does more than practically any other global project to highlight the status of the homeless around the world.

After a humble but none-the-less impressive beginning in 2003 in Austria, the Homeless World Cup has already led to grass roots projects in dozens of countries involving 25,000 homeless and excluded individuals. If all goes according to plan then this year’s tournament, which is being held in Mexico City from 6-14 October 2012, will have 73 nations participating for the title of World Homeless Champions, an honour currently held by Scotland.

The Headquarters of the organization behind the tournament is based in Edinburgh, and their raison d’etre is a simple but ambitious one: “The Homeless World Cup exists to end homelessness, so we all have a home, a basic human need.”

Their stated target, meanwhile, is: “to be the most reputable organisation to use sports as a means for social inclusion, involving one million players by 2012.” 

Changing lives for the better 

The impact for those involved in the various projects is, according to the organizers, “consistently significant year on year with 73% of players changing their lives for the better by coming off drugs and alcohol, moving into jobs, education, homes, training, reuniting with families and even going on to become players and coaches for pro or semi-pro football teams.” 

The Homeless World Cup now has many supporters around the world, and these include high profile organizations such as UEFA and the United Nations. Ambassadors include the legendary Eric Cantona and Chelsea star Didier Drogba, who says:

"The Homeless World Cup is an event that can change the life of anyone, not simply to help them become a professional footballer, but so that they can become a man, in everyday life. So that they can develop with regard to today’s society, which is not an easy society for everyone and that means above all developing values, human values, which I think are very important."


Achieving the seemingly impossible

Research carried out 6 months after each tournament shows that, on average, 92 per cent of those involved believe ‘they have a new motivation for life’, while 44 per cent ‘have improved their housing situation’.

As if to prove that anything is possible, if you are determined enough, two of the success stories involve a Scotsman and a Ukrainian: 

David Duke represented Scotland in 2004, cured his alcohol dependency, and in 2007 guided Scotland to the title of World Homeless Champions as Manager of the national team. 

Meanwhile, one of the stars of the 2004 World Cup was Yevgen Adamenko. His golden boot performance five years ago attracted bags of attention at home, and the talented Ukrainian went on to play professional football in his homeland.


Street soccer rules!

It goes without saying that the transition from street soccer player to professional footballer is quite some feat. Particularly when you realize that the rules of ‘Homeless World Cup Street Soccer’ are rather different to the XI-a-side version we are all so familiar with. Here is a brief run down of some of the official rules for this year’s tournament:

Players - Are male or female and at least 16 years old. 
In order to qualify for their national team they must have been homeless at some point after August 2011, in accordance with the national definition of homelessness or make their main living income as a street paper vendor or they are an asylum seeker currently without positive asylum status. They also qualify if they are currently in drug or alcohol rehabilitation and have been homeless at some point in the past two years. They are not permitted to participate in more than one Homeless World Cup tournament.

Teams  - Teams can be all male, all female or mixed with a maximum of 4 players per team on the court. This should consist of 3 outfield players and one goalkeeper plus 4 rolling substitute players.
Players are not allowed to participate in more than one Homeless World Cup, which makes the tournament democratic in a way that no other sport can boast.
 

Duration of Matches - Two halves of seven minutes each.  Homeless World Cup Court - Size of court: 22 m long x 16 m wide.
Goal size: 4 m wide x 1.30m high. 
 

Who will be champs in 2012?

Last year the title went to Scotland but Brazil are currently ranked as the best team in the world, having finished in the top three places in the last three tournaments. 
  

For more information about the Homeless World Cup either click here or follow the link below: 
http://www.homelessworldcup.org/ 
 
 
Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ukraine manager Oleh Blokhin has named his squad for Ukraine's key upcoming friendly against Israel in Petach-Tivka on February 29. Ukraine have been short on competitive matches due to the fact that they automatically qualified for this summer's European Championships as hosts.
Blokhin's side has two notable absentees Shakhtar Donetsk defender Dmytry Chygrynskiy and Ukrainian legend Andriy Shevchenko, who both have ankle injuries.

Harking back to past decades, the Ukrainian 20-man squad is largely built on players from Dynamo Kyiv, with only a handful of players such as Dynamo Moscow's Andriy Voronin plying their trade abroad.
 
 
Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Germany's manager Joachim Loew may be forced to call up a number of relatively unknown players for Germany's upcoming friendly with France on February 29. The German side, who are many pundits' favourites to win Euro 2012, have been hit by a string of high profile injuries recently, which threaten Loew's plans for Poland and Ukraine.

Germany face France in Bremen on February 29 in one of their final preparation matches before Euro 2012 gets under way on June 8. The current high profile injury list does not read well with key men out including Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski, Mario Goetze and Per Mertesacker. Arsenal's Mertesacker is likely to miss Germany's Group B showdowns with Denmark, Holland and Portugal after damaging ankle ligaments that could rule him out of action until the summer.

After facing France, Germany will also play friendlies against Switzerland in Basle on May 26 and against Israel on June 1 in Liepzig.
 
 
Monday, February 20, 2011

Stereotypes are hard to break. Ask somebody who has never been to England what London is like and they may well tell you that everybody is polite, wears a bowler hat, calls home from a red telephone box and drinks a dozen cups of tea per day. And what are the stereotypes of Ukraine? All Ukrainians drink vodka. The women are all blond. The men are all muscular. And it is very cold there...
For this very reason it is often necessary to bring in the PR boys and girls to shake up the perceptions of others. These are the latest promo clips that aim at creating a rather more upbeat and positive image of this beautiful country:
 
 
Friday, February 17, 2012

With many football fans put off from travelling to Ukraine Euro 2012 because of the reported high prices of accommodation, the message from More Than a Game is: shop around, be patient and don't panic. 

It has been our experience from all past major tournaments that local hoteliers will, of course, jack up their accommodation prices prior to a FIFA World Cup or a UEFA European Championships in the hope that visiting supporters will be willing to pay whatever is asked of them.

Many supporters will already have foolishly bitten the bullet and cashed out 300 euro per night for an apartment in Kyiv; others sadly will have abandoned their original plans to travel to the Euro tournament. But, for those fans who are yet to book any accommodation in Kiev, Donetsk, Kharkiv and Lviv, try to remember that many fans and corporate guests will cancel their hotels (as they always do) just prior to the tournament, freeing up thousands of rooms in the process that hotel and guest house owners will then struggle to fill.

While most sites on the Internet offering accommodation are still asking astronomical prices, there are sites such as www.hotelsukraine.com/ua/en where you will find the odd gem, especially if you are willing to base yourself in satellite towns close to the host cities during the tournament.

The best site we have so far found on the Internet for accommodation in Ukraine is run by travel experts TUI. Putting in a random search for 'Donetsk' for 3 nights between June 12-15, we found accommodation available for as low as 40 euro per night for two people sharing a double room in Donetsk. Try www.accom2012.com for the dates you are looking for and you may strike lucky. The company boasts that they have 32,000 places in Kyiv alone.

Euro organisers will also be providing extra accommodation options in 'tented cities' during the Euros. So, whether you manage to book your accommodation in advance or decide to leave it until you are 'on the ground' in Ukraine, there is certainly no need to panic about Ukrainian bunk beds....well not just yet anyway.