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National Competitiveness in Soccer

Canuck Oranje

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This may seem like a strange post at first; however, I think it is worthwhile applying a little different approach to the Canadian Competitiveness situation in Soccer. In my day job, I look a lot at industry competitiveness. The theory (cluster theory) in this area coming out of places like Harvard and U of T especially have suggested that the key differences between uncompetitive regions and highly competitive regions are two things.

Generally, the theorists claim that usually uncompetitive regions lack in having demanding local customers and lack intense competition. They also claim that these two pressures when combined with good supporting infrastructure and having favourable factor conditions (inputs), the result is superior competitiveness.

Based on this sketch of the business school theory, I thought it would be interesting to do a little benchmarking and I invite anyone to contribute what they find with regards to these two pressures in the elite soccer countries.

More specifically, I am interested in examples of intense competition for places on highly competitive teams and examples of how demanding fans are in some of these countries.

Up front I will say that I am speculating that the biggest deterrent to the development of soccer in Canada is lack of intense competition for places and the lack of a large base of demanding fans (not looking for stories of hooliganism).

Without, proposing any solutions, let the posts begin..

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Coaching Stress in Brazil

From Yahoo Sports and Reuters

Santos coach Leao to stay on after surviving frying

By Brian Homewood

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 15 (Reuters) - Santos coach Emerson Leao is to keep his job after surviving a process known in Brazil as frying.

A club spokesman announced that the former Brazil World Cup goalkeeper held a three-hour clear-the-air meeting with club president Marcelo Teixeira and it was agreed he would stay on.

"(Teixeira) was satisfied with the explanations given by Leao over remarks he made after the game (against Wilstermann on Wednesday)," the spokesman said.

"For this reason, he will continue to be coach of Santos."

Controversy erupted on Monday when Teixeira announced that goalkeeper Doni and striker Robson, two players signed on Leao's advice, would be leaving the club after only three months.

Brazilian media interpreted the move as the start of the "frying" process of forcing Leao to quit by making his position untenable.

Leao, who led Pele's former club to their first Brazilian championship title in 2002, criticised the decision after his team beat Bolivia's Wilstermann 5-0 in a South American Libertadores Cup match.

"Of course I was upset about it," Leao said.

"But I'm not the boss. And if I don't agree with what the boss is doing, then I have to leave."

Leao, who coached Brazil for eight months between 2000 and 2001, was credited with reviving the fortunes of Pele's former club and developing a generation of talented players including midfielders Renato and Diego and winger Robinho.

He also led Santos to the final of last year's Libertadores where they lost to Argentina's Boca Juniors.

Leao fell out of favour with directors this year for repeatedly substituting Diego and for failing to take Santos to the final of the Paulista (Sao Paulo state) championship, a prelude to the Brazilian season

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Management Stress in Brazil

From Yahoo Sport and Reuters

Rivelino resigns as Corinthians technical director

By Brian Homewood

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 5 (Reuters) - Former Brazil international Rivelino, the 1970 World Cup player famous for his so-called banana free-kicks, resigned as technical director of Corithians on Monday after six months at the trouble-hit club.

"I didn't have any backing, it's been very wearing and I preferred to leave," he told reporters. "It seems that I'm to blame for everything that goes wrong here."

Rivelino, who still wears his trademark moustache, took up his post on October 1 but said the club's financial problems had prevented him from signing the players he wanted.

"It was impossible to make certain signings, we lost various players because of this," he said.

Corinthians, who have won the Brazilian championship three times and were the winners of FIFA's only World Club championship in 2000, have made a dismal start to the season.

They failed to reach the knockout stages of the Paulista (Sao Paulo state) championship, a target which was seen as nothing more than a formality.

Commentators are predicting a tough time for the club in the Brazilian championship which starts later this month with a possible fight against relegation looming.

Rivelino oversaw two coaching changes in his brief stint at the club where he also spent part of his playing career.

Former Brazil full-back Junior, who was appointed with him as part of a double-act, left after only 10 days and his replacement Juninho Fonseca was fired only one month into the current season.

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Fans in the Netherlands

From Yahoo Sport

Flabby Feyenoord fans in new jersey protest

April 21, 2004

THE HAGUE (AFP) - Pudgy Feyenoord supporters have inundated the football club with calls after a presentation of a new body-hugging jersey left them worried the shirt would show off their beer-bellies.

After seeing Feyenoord striker Dirk Kuyt in a skin-tight club jersey at the presentation many complained that the Italian design shirt would show off their worst features.

Luckily for the flabby fans, a Feyenoord spokesman assured the Telegraaf newspaper that the club jerseys will be available in sizes up to XXXXXL this year.

"The biggest shirts are absolutely beer-belly proof," the spokesman said Wednesday.

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From my travels in Brazil, it seems most Brazilians have their own story about club loyalty and trying to have their children support their club. Fans in other countries no doubt, have similar stories. The following is something I found on a website that seems relatively new and offers fans to tell their story.


São Paulina Roxa

Amanda Costa

For generations my family seemed to be doomed to be Rio's football's supporters. My grandfather, besides being a first refree for the first division, was a Flamengo Fanatic (really Roxo) and being so, he used to take his 4 kids to every game he wistled, including Flamengo's, and many times, as my mum vividly remembers, they had to rush off the matches under strong verbal protests. For my grandfather fortune and life satisfaction, all his 4 kids became or Vasco or Botafogo's supporters (Flamengo's greatest rivals), so he made sure that something like this would never happen to any of his grandchildren!!! From birthday to Christmas, all the gifts he ever gave us, had Flamengo's symbles and colors on, from a simple watch to a hair ribbon. That he doesn't hear me, and rests in peace, but I always found it really annoying (red and black, with a black volture stamped on, is not exactly a girl's first choice for clothing). My brothers and sisters got the message, but being the middle kid that wasn't enough to make my mind.

I fell in love with the Tricolor Paulista when I was 11. It was the early 90's and they sure had a great team. Raí and his team mates were the best (not only Raí was the best but also the hottest, just ask any French women!) and they won the World Inter-Club Championship in 92 and 93. They were my first passion ever! Also, SPFC has always supplied the National Team with top level players such as Leônidas da Silva (the black diomond), Serginho, Careca, Raí, Juninho and more recently Cacá (ironicly now in Milan using red and black)

I never told my grandfather about my true love, but I always received his presents with a lot of love and respect. He died when I was 13, and recently, while I was cleanig up my closet, I found that watch he gave to each of his grandchildren. It was still in good shape, and made me remeber that not too long ago I tried to persuade my 10-year-old Flamengo-to-be nephew to buy a São Paulo's wall clock.

P.S.: Roxo means purple, and to be a Roxo supporter means you go or/and follow all your team's games, you have the complete uniforme, you are a fan's site/club member, you have a flag of your team in the living room, and is capable of crying, screaming, cursing, sweating like a pig, and turning really PURPLE in a tense match.

Amanda Costa

Brasília, Brasil

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Another Piece about Sao Paulo clubs. FYI. Sao Paulo and Rio are roughly 4 hours apart by car. This is exerpted from www.futebolthebrazilianwayoflife.com

Like in Rio, São Paulo's clubs are divided along social lines. São Paulo is the traditional club of the elite..... Corinthians are the team of the masses; the club was founded by members of the working class - a driver, a mason, a cobbler, and two painters..... In 1976, 70,000 Corinthians fans went to Rio's Maracanã to see them play a semi-final of the Brazilian championship - the largest away crowd in Brazilian history.

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On league competitiveness, I don't know if there is another that is as intensely competitive as Bundesliga-2 in Germany. With only 3 games remaining, the difference between being in a promotion spot to Bundesliga-1 and a relegation spot to the Regionaligas is a mere 13 points. The end result is that all teams still have something to play for.

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