Posts Tagged Sport

How to Stops Greeks From Fighting? Take Away Gambling Revenue

Posted by Noel on Monday, 29 March, 2010

Crowd violence in a semi-final soccer game between Greek clubs Kavala and Aris Salonica, has caused the country of Greece to suspend revenues earmarked for its professional soccer league, Super League Greece.

The revenues come from the state-controlled betting agency OPAP, which are worth a reported 40 million euros ($54 million) per year. This news is not necessarily surprising as Greek soccer has a poor record of crowd trouble and has been plagued by the problem again this season despite anti-violence advertising campaigns.

Hooligans

Hooligans!

There is a lot about this story that, for my fellow Americans, does not compute. When we have a (relatively rare) fight during a sporting event in one of our stadiums, a team of large men in yellow “Event Staff” jackets, breaks up the fight, kicks you out of the game and sometimes (if the fight is bad enough) will even give you a one way ticket to the local city jail for the night. So we don’t have fights, at least not usually. To have a story about soccer hooligans costing their sport “State Money” is one thing, but to find out that the specific line of money that is being cut is State controlled gambling revenue? That just makes an American turn around and leave the conversation.

eBay gambling

Gambling works a little differently in the States (by niallkennedy)

So for my fellows here in the States, I’ll try to make this story more palatable. While in the US, gambling is sort of frowned upon and limited to places like New Jersey, and California’s version of New Jersey, Nevada; in Europe, gambling is more like playing the lottery. It is just sort of something you do sometimes to test your luck and find a buck. As for hooligans and soccer fights, those are more like bar fights in the US. Young fans who have already had too much to drink go to a football match. Here they drink some more and sometimes, a group of equally drunk fans from the visiting team will be just hammered enough to say something upsetting to the young drunk fans from the local team. All parties being wasted and young enough that they have nothing to lose, start brawling. The same thing would likely happen in the US if not for the fact that beers cost $9.00 a pop and become harder and harder to get every time we do have one of our rare fan fights.

Right now the Greeks are trying to keep opposing fans out of the local stadiums, but that is just punishing the masses for the actions of a few. Instead the Super League would do well to take a page out of America’s book and raise the price of beer. Combine that with America’s no beer after the 75 minute mark and a no entering the stadium while “trashed” policy and many of the hooligans will lose heart for the fight quickly. Either way, I hope that the Greek teams are able to continue operations and find a solution.

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Explaining the Possible Soccer Strike

Posted by Noel on Friday, 19 March, 2010

Several sources are reporting that a severe disagreement regarding league structure means that Major League Soccer (MLS) could face a strike. In order to understand the strike, we need to look at what is meant by league structure.

Could a soccer strike be a good thing?

Image by SGFsoccer.com

The issue with the MLS structure can be explained fairly simply. Most people who follow sports have heard mention of the word franchise, as in, the “LA Lakers Basketball Franchise”.  This is because the four major professional sports leagues in North America (NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL) are “closed corporations” limited to a fixed number of teams, known as “franchises“.  With a few exceptions, these franchises enjoy geographical monopolies in major cities. Once an owner has control of a franchise he has the power within the framework of league rules, collectively agreed upon by the respective players union and the owners, to improve his franchise however he sees fit.

But the MLS is structured differently. The MLS is technically not an association of franchises but a single business entity. Though each team has an owner-operator, the team owners are actually shareholders in the league. The league, not the individual teams, contracts with the players.

With the structure defined, let’s look at both sides of this argument to show why it is causing a “strike-sized” disagreement.

The Players Side

The players union believes that the current structure limits the players ability to negotiate a new contract due to the lack of competing teams vying for the player’s services. The players can only negotiate with the league and the league decides where the players play. This system also restricts the players ability to switch teams or even choose the team for which they would like to play. Essentially, they are signing up to be an employee of MLS instead of an employee of one of its teams, so the league has much more control over where the player will play. The system controls costs and enables the league to keep parity in the MLS, but it does so, to some degree, at the expense of the players. This system also forces many of the best young American players to compete in Europe as the money is better overseas.

The Owners Side

Major League Soccer has had good years and bad years. It is still a fairly new league and the groups and individuals who own it feel as if they have been “propping the league up” through its infancy. To be fair many of them have, especially groups like AEG who were the first major investors in the league and who at one time were the owners of six of the 10 founding franchises. Part of the way that the current owners get money back from their investment is by selling off shares in the league to new ownership groups who then take responsibility for new teams, thereby helping to grow the league. As MLS is not well established like the NBA or the NFL, a new franchise is a risky investment. So a single entity is a much more enticing concept for potential new owners, as all owners split profits from a single pot. More owners means greater financial backing and a higher chance of success for an American pro soccer league, at least that’s how the owners see it.

Negotiating a Money Deal

by nicholasjon

Neither side is entirely wrong here and both sides are passionate about their argument, so a strike seems very likely. Where it ends up, only time will tell, but it will interesting to watch this unfold either way. I’ll do my best to keep you posted on the ins and outs.

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World Cup Expulsion Threat Proves Effective

Posted by Noel on Tuesday, 1 December, 2009
Brazil-Chile by andreasnilsson1976

by andreasnilsson1976

The Chilean National team avoided a possible expulsion from the World Cup yesterday, when one of the country’s club teams, the Rangers, dropped a court case contesting its disputed demotion to the second division of the national soccer league.

The dispute was over the teams relegation from the nation’s first division to its second division. Apparently the Rangers fielded six foreign players even though the league has a rule which limits teams to playing five. As the Rangers were winners of that game, the league removed three points from their season total, resulting in relegation.

Now, while it seems clear that the national league did the correct thing here as, innocent mistake or not, the Rangers violated a league rule, why did FIFA threaten to ruin the football hopes of an entire country over an internal matter? Did the national league asked for FIFA’s help? Don’t get me wrong, the court case is truly ridiculous, but it seems to me that kicking the National team out of the World Cup because a local club team is bickering over a case they can’t win, is overkill and frankly, also a bit ridiculous.

But hey, I guess it worked… of course it worked.