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Editorial: The Changing Face Of Europe

Massive Attack

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In honour of Frank Yallop snubbing Fernando Aguiar, I thought I should post this article on the Portuguese League.


05/27/2004. (Disclaimer: Please note that the views expressed in this editorial are strictly those of the writer and not necessarily shared by this website.)

If respect is something that is earned, than the Portuguese league and its clubs should be the talk of the soccer world.

However, even the most casual fans of the game know that is not the case. If you were to browse your favorite website (besides this one) and try to find information or updated statistics regarding the Portuguese Superliga and it's clubs, chances are you will come up empty handed.

In fact, you have a better chance of finding out who led the Serie B in goals or coming across a statistical breakdown of Norwich City's season, before you find any information regarding Portuguese clubs.

The only reason that FC Porto has shocked Europe twice over is because their players are relatively unknown and the league they play in is considered, by the media, insignificant.

It was no surprise to me, or anyone else who follows the Portuguese league, that FC Porto was more than capable of winning the Champions League. They have a solid core of players and, unlike like some of the more celebrated clubs in Europe, are not just a sum of their parts.

Gone are the days of the late 1990s when clubs threw away truckloads of money to sign star players. There is still a list of clubs who have seemingly unlimited transfer funds but, compared to five or six years ago, that list has definitely reduced in size.

That being said, the European playing field is becoming increasingly more even. Hence, the FC Porto vs. Monaco Champions League final. This final did not happen by chance, these two clubs took on and beat the best in Europe. They proved that it is not about how much money your club has, but it's how you spend it that counts.

As the economic situation in European club football is changing, the media that covers the sport is not. England, Italy, Spain, Scotland, and to a lesser extent, Germany, France and Holland seem to gather the most media attention. So why was this season's Champions League final the least talked about in recent history? The reason is simple; the media simply does not know what to talk about because they know little about the two finalists and their expertise is not as diverse as it should be.

Ideally, it was supposed to be Manchester United vs. Real Madrid, or AC Milan vs. Bayern Munich or Juventus vs. Arsenal, not FC Porto and Monaco. But it happened, and as a result your favorite soccer media source was forced to dust off those Portuguese league media guides and do their homework because their collective ignorance had comeback to haunt them.

But the Portuguese league is not just FC Porto. There are many quality sides that play there and, on their day, are capable of beating anybody. For instance, last season Boavista (who finished eighth in Portugal this season) were one clean sheet away from reaching the UEFA Cup final in what would have been an all-Portuguese final.

These quality Portuguese sides are comprised of quality players, many of whom don't get the media attention they deserve until they are transferred to a major club.

The fact is, that most soccer fans would not have come to know Cristiano Ronaldo until he moved to Manchester United this past summer. But why? The talented teenager did not change his style of play when he moved abroad. He was a defenders' nightmare while at Sporting Lisbon, and given the Portuguese style of play, was even more entertaining to watch.

Had it not been for a Manchester United/Sporting Lisbon friendly match, in which Sir Alex Ferguson spotted Ronaldo last August, he'd still be playing in Portugal and nobody (outside of Portugal) would be mentioning his name, let alone chanting it.

It is the media's duty to provide accurate coverage of the World's most popular sport, and as of late, it has done a poor job. The fact that you are more likely to find news and notes on teams from Scotland before the Superliga is a direct example of how little respect the Portuguese league and it's clubs get.

Scotland, since the dawn of time, has been a two-team league. As a result of Wednesday's victory, FC Porto now has more Champions League titles (2) than all of Scotland put together not to mention Benfica's back-to-back triumphs in the early 1960's and four-second place medals.

I'm not saying that the Portuguese league is the best in the world, but it clearly does not get the respect it deserves from the media.

The fact that Scottish league, which is clearly inferior to the Portuguese league, gets so much coverage while the Superliga is found next to the obituary columns in the newspapers is appalling.

How many more trophies must a Portuguese team win before we see their league get the proper news coverage it deserves?

The Portuguese league is, at least, on par with the likes of France and Holland and should therefore be allotted the same coverage.

So editors from around the world listen up: the Portuguese league and it's clubs have stepped their level of play and are now among the top leagues in Europe, so either give them the coverage they deserve or don't cover the sport at all.

It's not just the Portuguese league that deserves more coverage as clubs from France and Holland are emerging as well. Due to the leveling economic situation in European football could give rise to an entirely new crop of superpowers and don't be surprised if either Ajax, Lyon, Panathinaikos, Fenerbahçe, Anderlecht or Sparta Praha are lifting the trophy next season. The face of European football is changing and the media needs to reflect these changes.

The most successful entrepreneurs are able to change with the times, perhaps the soccer media can learn from this philosophy.

While the likes of Sky Sports and ESPN may be household names (when it comes to covering soccer), so is garbage and it stinks when it gets old too.

Daniel Fernandes


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Guest Jeffery S.

Boy has Thunder Dan's English ever improved since he went to Greece. Gentlemen, take note, spinach -and playing a position where you don't have to head the ball- can do wonders for linguistic skills.

Appreciate the article M.A.. Sounds like it was tailor made for recent discussions on this board.

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quote:Originally posted by Jeffrey S.

Appreciate the article M.A.. Sounds like it was tailor made for recent discussions on this board.

No problem Jeffrey. Maybe this article will help wake up some people in this country (I doubt it though). Contrary to popular belief, people do play high quality soccer outside of England.

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