Belgium Belgium continues to have significant problems with racism, not confined to football. In February, the Charleroi defender Francis N’Ganga was abused at Club Brugge, and the Standard Liège winger Paul-José M’Poku complained of abuse in successive games at Lokeren and Brugge the same week. “This is unacceptable,” the Belgian FA chairman, Gérard Linard, said. “We are going to sit down with the Pro League to find solutions that work for everyone and tackle the real problem.” In May, 29 people were arrested after fighting broke out following a derby between Antwerp and Beerschot-Wilrijk that featured racist and antisemitic banners and chants, and last month several Standard Liège players, including M’Poku, were racially abused by fans of Kortrijk, the club escaping sanction on a technicality. In September, the Mechelen assistant coach, Frederik Vanderbiest, was banned for three matches and fined €1,500 for racially … [Read more...] about The ugly spectre of racism in football on the rise across Europe
Football league cup final
After 13 games, second-placed Leicester City are a point better off than they were in their 2015-16 title-winning season. The achievement of Claudio Ranieri’s side was supposed to be a one-off, but could Brendan Rodgers’ men repeat it? Here are four reasons why they might: FIXTURES: There are not supposed to be any easy games in the Premier League, but Leicester’s next four opponents, Everton, Watford, Aston Villa and Norwich, come close. The crunch will come around Christmas with a trip to Manchester City on December 21 and a Boxing Day visit from present leaders Liverpool but after that Leicester face West Ham, Newcastle and Southampton. And, significantly, their schedule is uncluttered by any European competition, while all their rivals must criss-cross the continent, adding to the risk of exhaustion and injuries. Oh, and Liverpool play in the FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar just before their trip to the King Power Stadium (although Leicester do visit Everton in … [Read more...] about Could football’s greatest ever fairytale be repeated?
It is a little over two years since Nuno Espirito Santo first grabbed Wolverhampton Wanderers by the shirt collar and gave this famous old club an almighty shake. In that time he has delivered a Championship title, a seventh-place Premier League finish with the scalps of many big clubs along the way, an FA Cup semi-final and now European football to Molineux for the first time since 1980. Add the Premier League Asia Trophy triumph from last weekend to the list and it has truly been a remarkable period of progress for this brilliant, brooding, football obsessive. Yet at the same time there remains a sense that Wolves’s journey, backed by ambitious owners Fosun, is only just beginning. So, as he prepares for Thursday’s Europa League qualifier at home to Crusaders, how does Nuno reflect on the last two years? “I didn’t know it was going to be like this. I came here on day one and I haven’t changed since then. Working and trying to improve, trying to find the … [Read more...] about Nuno Espirito Santo interview: ‘Wolverhampton ready to face any situation’ on return to European football
Matt Doherty is on a mission to extend his remarkable journey from the third tier to the Europa League group stages with Wolves. Doherty, the Wolves wing-back, first came into the team as a regular in 2013 when the club was in League One, following two successive relegations. But after promotion back to the Championship under Kenny Jackett, Doherty has since emerged as a crucial player in Nuno Espirito Santo’s revolution. Wolves finished seventh in the Premier League last season, reaching the FA Cup semi-final, and are now 90 minutes away from clinching a place in the Europa League group stages. “It would be unbelievable to complete the job, considering where we were a few years ago,” said Doherty. … [Read more...] about Wolves defender Matt Doherty motivated to ‘complete the job’ of journey from League One to Europa League group stages
FK Rad’s home stadium in the Belgrade suburb of Banjica is a strange, two-sided venue that comes to life whenever Crvena Zvezda or Partizan make the simple mile-long journey south for a derby in the Superliga. In March 2009 a visit for a match against the former had largely been spent ducking firecrackers thrown between the rival supports when, around an hour in, the tone shifted from tense to sinister. As the away side readied the dreadlocked Brazilian substitute Jeff Silva the projectile sparring stopped and the sound that replaced it, once experienced, does not fade easily from the memory. Silva’s introduction was being greeted by “monkey” noises from a sizeable minority of the home support and the shock to these naive ears cannot be registered on the same scale as the impact on the player who, just for a second or two, turned round and stared the bank of offenders down. It was a powerful, if profoundly unsettling, image and one that came to mind during … [Read more...] about Serbian football’s eye-watering racism problem shows no sign of abating