Soccer Trying to Make it in the Football World

In most countries, the name of the game sound alike. Words like football, fussball, futbol, futebol… don’t just sound the same, they are the same game. In the U.S., however, they call it soccer. Major League Soccer (MLS) as an American professional soccer league has been around for some time now.

Unlike other American major league sports, MLS does not dominate the sport’s public attention on global scale, nor its champion is crowned as the ‘World Champion’. MLS has been going through constant development. Did it gain significant public and media attention in the world football? No!

Soccer as the 2nd, 7th or 10th most popular sport in the U.S. doesn’t make a great difference, the American public will still follow the NFL, MLB, NHL or NBA. The world public would follow those leagues with same attention as they are world’s most prominent sports leagues.

In recent years with the globalization of media, the world sports scene has started to change; in that process, English football Premier League, promotes itself as ‘The Greatest Show On Earth’ and is in fact the world’s most popular and most watched sporting league, with a current worldwide viewership of half a billion people and media income for seasons 2007 to 2010 worth over $5 billion. If the world will watch football leagues like English Premiership or Spanish La Liga, who will watch the American major league sports other than domestic spectators? Will a part of the American public turn to watch overseas football leagues as well? Such questions made soccer be an issue in the U.S sports.

Every now and then, the MLS officials would wake up from the drowsiness of being in shadows of Top 4 American major leagues around the time when World Cup takes places and it becomes evident how immense the game of football is in the terms of world public interest, media attention, sponsors.

As the noise around World Cup passes, the MLS would fall back in drowsiness. It was not to be like that after the World Cup 2006 in Germany when the world public had clear picture of European football’s modern stadiums, multi-million player contracts… the world sports spotlight got a hold on football.

This time it’s not the MLS who is to take the initiative of promoting MLS, it’s the whole of American professional sports entertainment industry. It is an economic opportunity where the money revolving around the world football was too great to be missed or discarded.

In the summer of 2007, U.S. soccer attempted to take over the world football by storm by offering David Beckham a $250million contract, the most expensive football player contract in history of the sport, some described it as the deal to bring Beckham to America is thought to be the biggest in sporting history. MLS sent out a message to the world.

In the midst of summer when European leagues were between the seasons and the waters were still, MLS got the wanted exposure with news stories being dominated with the Beckham family moving to LA. Did the stories overtake the world football media and public attention in favor of MLS yet? No!

Is $250 million worth of exposure in the long run? Time will tell. Autumn came, European and international leagues are in full swing, the world sports news publish less articles about Beckham, LA Galaxy and the MLS. To make things worst, LA will hardly make the play-offs, giving the media less to write about.

In the league that has had an overall lost of more than $350 million in the first 8 years after its foundation (a BusinessWeek report from 2004), where at the present time only two teams, LA Galaxy and FC Dallas, are profitable with 3 additional teams expected to be profitable within a year, a $250 million one-player investment seems like a gamble. If so, what are the odds?

In recent years, several notable players chose to make the step away from the bigger leagues of Europe and South America for a financially good contract with teams from the Gulf countries. The headlines reported rich transfer deals, though there was no to little follow-up in media coverage of those leagues.

Not to be forgotten, prior to David Beckham’s arrival, MLS attempted to gain exposure with Freddy Adu, a player under the age of 16 that was crowned as the next Pel é. Adu received significant media attention, the world knew he’s playing for DC United of the MLS.

Many may or may not know that Adu, this past summer at the age of 18, signed a contract in Europe with Benfica FC – Portugal. Prior to joining Benfica, Adu spent some time during summer in the Man Utd’s training camp, Alex Fergusson did not give him the reason to stay.

Benfica paid to the club from Salt Lake City $2million for the player’s release note and Adu will receive $1.2million per year, solid but not the contract that tops the news. Adu was not on Benfica’s Champions League match roster against Milan on Sept. 18th, in compare a player like Messi at the current Adu’s age was already among the starting 11 for the football giant FC Barcelona. The MLS didn’t appear to have gained substantial attention for the sport with Adu, nor contributed to his development into the world dominant player as expected. Through history, some of the best players of all times played soccer in the States, including Pel é, Beckenbauer, Eusebio…

After the decades long attempts that did not give hoped results for the success of U.S. soccer, what difference Beckham’s playing (currently on a 6 week absence due to the injury) may makes now? Let’s have a brief look at the MLS, a professional soccer league that started in 1996 with more than 10 seasons of experience under way.

Logistics and facilities:

On the day of publishing this text, September 27th 2007, Beckham’s LA Galaxy is playing against the KC Wizards. SPORTiana.com, as the author of this text, had the insight in MLS through KC Wizards in the summer of 2006, a year prior to Beckham’s arrival in the MLS. At that time KC Wizard’s head coach complained about having himself and 2 more assistant coaches to run the team’s training, forcing him to leave several players from 26 man roster sitting on the bench because of not being able to have them all on the field during trainings at the same time.

The training facilities included one open-air field and the in-door field with gym used by the NFL team KC Chiefs, within the Arrowhead Stadium complex. The Wizard’s open air-training field was situated next to the fence aside KC Chiefs training fields.

Grass on the Wizards field was almost separated turfs on the ground as hard as a rock, a field where many players would pass on training in order to avoid injuries. A head coach, 2 assist coaches, fitness trainer… NFL stadium and facilities… small office space at the corner of a stadium… it would be quite a contrast to the clubs from leagues where Beckham previously played.

Players:

Majority MLS players come in the league as drafted college players. College soccer usually means player’s playing for a full ride scholarship with the first pro contracts signed at the age of 22 or so. In other countries, first pro contracts are usually signed at the age of 18, at the age of 22 the player is coming out of a 4 year contract and managers have a better understanding of a player’s capabilities in pro football.

This means college players are 4 years behind. By signing a first pro contract at the age of 22, they would come out of the 4 year contract at the age of 26, at that time, major world football clubs would rather invest their money in a 22 year old’s prospect who has also had 4 years of pro football experience. College players hardly pass over playing in the MLS (players’ first pro contract) on their way to better paid leagues as most foreign clubs would not sign a college league soccer player with no pro football experience at the age of 22.

Prominent American players like DeMarkus Beasley ($2million to PSV – Netherlands, currently for £700,000 with Rangers – Scotland) or Tim Howard ($4million to Man Utd – England, currently with Everton after being loaned), joined MLS directly from high-school without playing college soccer, just like Freddy Adu.

For an average football fan with the choice to watch a variety of matches, e.g. the giants of the game squaring up in domestic leagues like this past weekend when it was Man Utd vs Chelsea in England, Barcelona vs Sevilla in Spain, Roma vs Juventus in Italy, PSV vs Feyenoord in the Netherlands… Boca Juniors games in Argentina, Lyon in France… there’s little space for MLS.

A football fan wants to see the competitiveness, passionate fans, decades-long fierce rivalry between the clubs, tradition, the world’s best players, established players with reputation of playing for prestigious clubs, ultra-modern football-specific stadiums, most of which the MLS does not offer. The MLS needs to gain the interest of the American public and media in order to gain the same interest with the world public. Hard-working, attractive all-around players like Eddie Johnson of the KC Wizards or DC United’s Jaime Moreno, who proved their quality in this summer’s Copa America 2007 are the prototype players for a successful competitive league.

The MLS’s proposed soccer-specific modern stadiums for all clubs are a step forwards. German Bundesliga witnessed tremendous boost of public interest and media attention on domestic and global level prior to and after the World Cup 2006, with a legacy of great new and renewed old stadiums. The MLS ought to internationalize as much as possible, the English Premiership did it, when foreign billionaires started buying clubs, world class players arrived in even great number to make it the most watched and profitable football league in the world. Many writers have speculated on why football is not as popular in the U.S. as it is in some other countries, most of them point to the fact that the game does not have enough scoring. Changing rules of the game in favor of having more goals per game may be beneficial this time around.

Football is a powerful force, it already changed the North American major league sports philosophy, MLS clubs are competing in the Super League and the Copa Sudamericana, The New York Red Bulls new stadium will feature a full “European-style” roof, in 2007 MLS started selling ad space on the front of jersey (a floor of $500,000 per shirt sponsorship), following the practice of the international football.

As the Latin American immigration increases in the US, so is the interest in football. With football being the most popular recreational sport for both boys and girls, the MLS has potential. In 2006 Don Garber, MLS Commissioner, expressed his expectations for the league’s clubs to be profitable by 2010 overall. LA Galaxy’s merchandise sales through Beckham’s next 4 four years with the club may not top $600 million as it was during his time with Real Madrid, still an MLS player made onto the covers of Sports Illustrated magazine and gather a crowd of 66,000 spectators at a packed Giants Stadium.

In the words of David Beckham about his move to MLS: “I’m coming there to play football… I’m not saying me coming over to the States is going to make soccer the biggest sport in America”. It’s about taking one step at the time, if soccer aims to make it in the football world.

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Messi’s 200th Spanish League Appearance Celebrated by 4 Goals

It was hard to believe that the match between FC Barcelona and Valencia on 19th February 2012 marked Lionel Messi’s 200th Spanish league appearance. It hardly seemed any time at all since he had been a young 17-year-old making occasional first team appearances and showing what a talent he was going to be; but nobody thought that his talent was so big. Since his first appearance in 2004 he has matured immensely, but despite his talent he has remained modest and unassuming.

Valencia started the weekend nine points behind Barcelona, who themselves were 10 points behind Real Madrid. However, Real Madrid beat Racing Santander 4-0 on the Saturday and so Sunday’s match saw Barcelona 13 points behind their arch-rival.

It took a little while for the Barcelona players to really get into the match and the Nou Camp was silenced when Piazzi opened the scoring from Valencia in the eighth minute. However, that seemed to focus the players’ minds and they started to put together some worthwhile football for the Catalans.

Valencia are always a worthwhile opponent and a victory against them can never be taken for granted. Lionel Messi scored Barça’s first in the twenty-first minute to equalise and put Barcelona into the league just five minutes later. Barcelona was leading Valencia 2 goals to 1 at the break and when they came on again came close to making it three goals from some excellent play by Cesc, who got past four Valencia defenders only to hit the post.

It wasn’t until the 75th minute that Messi scored his third goal of the night and then almost 10 minutes later he made it his fourth. While it looked like that was all to be done on the night, Xavi scored a goal of his own in the last minute for a final score of 5-1 to Barcelona.

While Barcelona remained 10 points behind Madrid they now opened up the gap with Valencia. Realistically neither Barcelona nor Valencia had any chance of closing the gap and it already looked a dead certainty that Madrid would take the Spanish league, la liga, in 2012.

However, Barcelona still had the Copa del Rey final to play against Athletic Bilbao, and their win against Bayer Leverkusen meant they were likely to go through to the next round of Champions League, hoping that they would become the first team ever to successfully defend their title and win the Champions League for the second year in a row.

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Short Biography of Famous Soccer Player – Diego Maradona

His complete name is Diego Armando Maradona. He was born 30 October 1960 in Lanús, Buenos Aires. Maradona is an ex- Argentine soccer player, and now manager for team of Argentine national. He is regarded as a lot of people as the greatest football player of all time. His nickname is The King Pibe de Oro Golden Boy. He was chosen the greatest FIFA soccer player of the 20th century (an honor he shares with Pelé.

He quickly raised to prominence in the Argentinian soccer leagues, and became a foremost star. Diego Maradona is an icon in Argentina, much like Evita Peron. As a football player, he took his team to new heights and became a hero to sports fans- a lot of who referred to him as “San Diego.”

In club level, Maradona joined with Argentinos Juniors, Boca Juniors, Barcelona, Newell’s Old Boys and Napoli, setting world-record contract fees. While in his international level, participating for Argentina, he made 91 caps and scored 34 goals. Maradona played in four FIFA World Cup tournaments, including the 1986 World Cup where he became a captain for Argentina and caused them to their triumph over West Germany in the final. He won the Golden Ball award as the tournament’s best player.

Maradona is a very great master of the ball who makes use of his aptitude and flair at unbelievable speed. He could surpass defenders, score, and give out the ball. His multitalented skills make him unpredictable and very hazardous. Hardly any defenders can stop Diego in his heyday with no committing fouls, a fact which has caused him greatly over the years. His famous skills are in Dribbling, flair, creativity.

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How to Get Cheap Flights To and From Barcelona

Barcelona is a key tourist destination in Europe. The coastal town is the second largest city in Spain with a population of over two million people. Its prominence as a tourist destination heightened after it hosted the 1992 Olympics games. The city passenger volume also rose with the advent of cheap flights that saw many people afford regular travel especially across Europe. Anyone can now get the cheapest flights to Barcelona through price compare sites. The sites give you the cheap flights and airlines to connect to a given city.

If you are planning an economical trip for holiday, business or otherwise, the tips below will be of aid to you to get the best Barcelona flight.

Try and Target Off Peak Season

Targeting off peak seasons can at times be hard especially if you are traveling for specific reasons such as business. However, if you can postpone your travel or if you have a choice as to when to travel, you should try and target off peak seasons. Barcelona has its off peak season between January and March when there is winter. The winters in Barcelona goes as low as 10 degrees centigrade which is not too cold. At these seasons, you can get the cheapest flights to Barcelona from any destination. Some of the high season periods are between June and September. Barcelona weather is most conducive at this time and there are many festivals and entertainment activities within this season.

Get Your Travel Dates Early

One other way to reduce on the costs of your Barcelona flight is to plan your travel dates in good time. By planning your trip early, you can book well in advance and get better prices for your Barcelona flight. Early booking also helps you to take time in your fare comparison and even in better planning of your trip

Search For Best Rates From Fare Compare Sites

Once you have settled on the travel dates well in advance, you can get ahead and search through different fare compare sites. Fare compare websites helps you to identify the cheapest flights to a given destination. However, most Barcelona Flight operators offer only local routes, European routes and some routes to Northern Africa. Therefore, if you are connecting to or from other destination, you may have to take an indirect flight to get to Barcelona. This is a major limitation for travel to Barcelona and the authorities in the city are currently seeking of ways of expansion to accommodate more international flight destinations.

Get Low fare prices from in Cheap Flights Websites

Besides checking fare compare flights, you can check out fares from cheap flights operators within a given route. Cheap flights, also referred to as no frill flights, operate at the lowest costs so as to have the cheapest fares for a given route. The main cheap flights operators in Barcelona include EasyJet that plies routes such as Amsterdam, France, Italy and Germany. On the other hand, Vueling Airlines connects Barcelona flight travels to Italy, Portugal, France and Czech Republic. Local cheap flights include Iberia, Vueling, Ryanair and Spanair. By searching through the cheap flights that are offered in a specific route, you can get some of the cheapest flights to Barcelona.

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