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The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games was officially closed tonight – I mean last night since this is already Monday, August 25. I didn’t really follow all the actions, not even watched a single game or any match perhaps. Not because I don’t like sports, and of course not by some reasons based on political or humanitarian (more…)

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The quarter final round of UEFA Euro 2008 is surely bringing more excitement to soccer enthusiasts or football-mania, with three legs so far already wrapped in some drama. And this is really what football is all about.

Firstly, opening the knock-out round, Germany convincingly defeated Portugal, one of the tournament favourites, with the final score was 3-2. As people might have been aware of, Portugal have showed impressive plays in the group stage although their “second level” team were surrendered to Switzerland on their last match there. On the other hand, Germany weren’t look too good, especially after the 1-2 defeat by Croatia on their second game, but finally managed to get through by a “light victory” (1-0) over Austria.

The second drama was when one of the previous perfect-point holders, Croatia, were beaten by a more and more impressive Turkey. Had a late goal in extra time that seemed to be their ticket to the semi-final, Croatia had to be disappointed when Turkey’s Semih Senturk scored a later equaliser goal, forcing both teams to end up the game with penalty shoot-out. And that was when the real drama happened. Turkey won by 3-1, thanks partly to the winning save by Rustu Recber the goalkeeper.

And just last night (or this morning in Sydney time), another drama happened. The Netherlands, as of another Euro 2008 favourite, which previously held the other perfect point record (3-0 over Italy, 4-1 over France and 2-0 over Romania), had to go home unexpectedly earlier after the Russian took care of them with 3-1. Previously, Russia themselves were not so impressive, particularly when they started their journey with 1-4 loss from Spain.

Now, there’s still one more game in this round, which is Spain versus Italy tonight (or early tomorrow morning in Sydney). Will Spain also become a proof of previously-impressive-teams inconsistency? Well, we’ll see about that. One thing for sure is that there’ll still be more dramas. Don’t you think so..? 😉

By the way, I’d like to share here as well, a blog around Euro 2008 made by Chris Paraskevas, a UTS Journalism student. It’s quite an interesting one with all the previews, coverage and analysis. And it is updated daily. Please, have a look (click the author’s name or just find it in “Other Links” on the right-side of the page). 🙂

The Turkey’s players celebrated their quarter final victory (picture courtesy of Euro2008.Com).

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A few days ago, or Monday night to be precise, just about when I was preparing to attend one of the Sydney Film Festival’s screening, a message appeared on my cell phone’s screen. It was from my father back there in Indonesia. He asked a short question: “Hey, did you watch Euro’s match last night?”

And suddenly, I was paused for a moment, and thinking: “Oh, God! How can I forget? It’s Euro 2008 final tournament already!”

Yeah, you’re absolutely right! This is about the famous European football (soccer) tournament, or what is formally named UEFA Euro 2008. It’s now being held in Austria and Switzerland, in eight cities, involving 16 final round teams. Even though it’s basically an ‘European thing’, don’t forget, it’s the second biggest sports tournament on planet earth, after the FIFA World Cup. Similar to the World Cup, it’s organised every four years, while both tournaments only separated by two years.

And you know what? In Indonesia, regardless our national team are participating or not, or even whether we’re having a bad or a promising year on our national football scheme, people are always crazy about both tournaments. Yeah, we’re probably one of the biggest football-fans nations in the world. I don’t know now, but usually in the past, sometimes when these tournaments came, some minor ‘negative effects’ might come along as well, such as productivity decrease, domestic/relationship problems, occasional gambling, etc.

But again, you know what? I may say we don’t really care about those. 😀 Besides that they’re just minor cases, there were also things that can be regarded as positive impacts too. One of them is this ‘unique passion’, which is arguably considered as some kind of good distraction for our people, especially those who’s having hard times in the low-level economy life.

Anyway, back to the real topic, the reply I sent to my father that day basically was: “Well, I actually forgot it. But it’s mainly because people or the media here are not the same as us on this, since soccer is not very popular here. Also, I’m not sure if there’s even live match on TV. So, no, I didn’t watch last night’s game, Dad. Too bad. But I’m gonna check it out tonight.”

So then, I checked it out and pulled back my big interest towards this tournament. And I was so glad that Tuesday night, because SBS was actually broadcasting the match of Group D’s Spain v Russia. And of course, I really enjoyed the thrill of watching the action of the Matador’s young guns – especially David Villa with his hat-trick – which finally defeated the Russians with 4-1.

I don’t know if this question would be relevant, but is that means Espana is my favourite in this tournament? Well, indeed, they’re one of the strong teams, along with Portugal, the Netherlands and so on, but the clue to my favourite was my father’s initial question. 😉

Umm… let me just make it simple to avoid confusion here: it’s the Germany (from Group B). To be exact, they’ve been my favourite team since over a decade ago in every Euro tournament (but it’s a different case in the World Cup though). Too bad, after the first great win, on the second game last night they were defeated by Croatia who consequently became the 2nd team that has officially secured its second phase place following Portugal (of Group A). But they surely still have big chance. So, I’d still say: “Go! Go, panzer!” 😀

Anyway, for those who’s interested, the tournament’s info can be easily found almost everywhere on the net right now. But most useful and interesting information – including match schedules, standings, reports and every other thing – can be found on the official website. And the following are just part of the interesting info on one of their fact sheets, which can be viewed completely on this link:

  • Some 8 billion viewers in all followed UEFA Euro 2004 on TV, a figure that is sure to be exceeded during UEFA Euro 2008.
  • The operational budget for UEFA Euro 2008 amounts to EUR 234m (CHF 386m).
  • 21,400 rooms in 408 hotels (220 in Austria, 188 in Switzerland) have been booked for the different target groups, making a total of 139,300 overnights.
  • 5,000 volunteers are supporting the Euro 2008 SA staff during the tournament. Each of the two main host cities, Vienna and Basle, requires 1,000 volunteers, while 500 are needed in each of the other six cities.
  • 4,500 extra trains will be in use during UEFA Euro 2008; 2,000 in Austria and 2,500 in Switzerland.
  • By June 2008, Euro 2008 SA had a staff of 450.
  • 100km of cabling has been installed for host broadcast operations.
  • For the host broadcasting operations, 21 correspondents and 16 ENG crews will be stationed with the 16 teams and produce live reports and video interviews direct from the stadiums and training grounds.
  • 30 cameras are covering the matches, including one helicopter.

(Note: Pictures courtesy of the UEFA EURO 2008 website)

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Let’s talk ’bout football, will you? Or soccer if you prefer to call it that way. And it’s not a surprise at all of course that I’m one of the so many people in the world who love this kind of sport. Love to watch the game (whenever I have the chance) and love to play as well – well maybe very occasionally.

And the part of football that I’d like to talk about right now is Inter Milan. FC Internazionale Milano SpA; that’s its formal name. No need to explain more about this club I guess, as there are heaps of info that you may find on it on the net.

It’s not that this club is currently the leading team in Serie A competition 2007/2008. Nor that it’s been taking the Scudetto (Serie A Champion) since 2006. It’s really the favourite club of mine since around 1994 that I wanna share and talk about in this occasion.

Well of course, whatever the reason is, it’s just OK to love such a great club like Inter. In fact, probably millions of football lovers in the world love this team. And I’m simply one tiny part of them. Part of a lot more people who love football and use to have their own favourite club(s) as well.

Actually, some of my friend here (I mean friends in Indonesia who probably had visited this blog) have already knew this as my chosen football club. But maybe not all of you, my friend, knew my reason to choose Inter as the favourite one.

It’s really as simple as this … In around 1994, when I was in my first year in college, I used to love the other great Italian football club, AC Milan. These two clubs are actually great contenders, and have this duel famously called Derby Della Madonnina – like the one that happen this weekend in Serie A. Yet, back to my previous story, as I then interacted with few more friends who really love football, I found out that many of them also loved AC Milan. So, not wanted to be called ‘trend follower’, I then switched my favourite to Inter Milan. It was just like that.

So, I might not a real Inter fans then, huh? Maybe. But maybe not. Who can easily tell a real fan out of so many fans in the world anyway. The members of ‘right wing’ fans club of Inter in Milan probably have their own marks.

Anyway, I must admit it’s just another part of ‘unimportant’ passion in my life that I have (since I unlikely will become a real sport’s fan). However, why don’t I just show you here a selection of Inter players that I consider as most favourites. Well, what do you think, my fellow football lovers? Aren’t they great players? And girls, aren’t they just good looking? 😉

The Line-Up:

Gianluca Pagliuca

Javier Zanetti – Laurent Blanc – Andreas Brehme – Roberto Carlos

Roberto Baggio – Juan Sebastián Verón – Youri Djorkaeff – Luís Figo

Christian Vieri – Jürgen Klinsmann

The Subs: Francesco Toldo, Walter Samuel, Marco Materazzi, Luigi Di Biagio, Álvaro Recoba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Adriano Leite Ribeiro

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