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Jazic looks to club in Russia


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Globe-trotting Canadian soccer player from Halifax looks to club in Russia

posted June 16 @ 14:15, EST

KINGSTON, Ont. (CP) - After club stints in Croatia and Austria, it looks like Ante Jazic's next stop may be in Russia.

The Halifax defender-midfielder has spent the last three years with Rapid Vienna. His contract just expired and the club's subsequent two-year offer called for a pay cut of almost 40 per cent. He turned it down, as did five or six of his teammates. "I'm 28 now, I have to go where I'm going to make a little more money and think about the future," Jazic said in an interview prior to Canada's World Cup qualifying game against Belize on Wednesday night.

Russian club FC Kuban is interested. The team isn't doing well in the standings, has ambitions and the funds to match, and is looking to buy players.

The club is located in the southern part of Russia on the Black Sea.

"Climate-wise it's supposed to be the nicest place in Russia, if there is a good climate in Russia," Jazic said. "Apparently it's supposed to be really nice.

"I'm taking it as an educational experience too. I went to Croatia and Austria, so why not Russia?'

He is scheduled to fly o Europe on Saturday night and meet with the Russians.

"Hopefully something else will come up too so I have options. But I definitely won't be in Austria next season."

That's a pity, in many ways. Jazic loved his time in Vienna, although his club has had financial troubles.

"I had a beautiful set-up. I know wherever I go now, I'll never have those accommodations. I had a flat right downtown, I had a car, everything."

Canadian millionaire businessman Frank Stronach, whose roots are Austrian, owns rival Austria Vienna.

Jazic says Stronach's club is known as the paycheque team, the Chelsea of Austria.

"He pumps so much money into Austrian football, it's ridiculous," Jazic said. "It's just too bad that money isn't going into Canadian soccer. He loves football."

Stronach has even bought a second division Austrian team, where he wants to develop young local talent in advance of the 2008 European Championships in Austria.

"Too had we didn't have a guy who was willing to do that in Canada," Jazic lamented.

Jazic's time with the Canadian team has been limited, partly through untimely injuries and partly because of a poor relationship with the previous coach. He has just seven caps, spread over six years.

But he is back in the fold and enjoying life under new coach Frank Yallop.

"We've been together for three weeks and I know back at my club team when we go away for two weeks for a training camp, after 10 days guys are just having runs at each other. But this has been like a vacation.

"When it's time to train, we're serious but off the pitch everyone's been getting along. I think a lot of team bonding has happened. We're all close and I think the future looks bright."

Home for Jazic "will always be Halifax," where his family and friends are. He plans to settle there once his soccer career is over.

He's single at the moment, which allows for the travel often needed from a pro soccer player.

"I've always said I'd sort my own life out before I let anybody else in," he said. "Because I don't know where I'm going to finish up. I happened to stay at Rapid for 3½ years but there was a chance I could have went to Japan. If you have family and kids, you couldn't really do that."

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I talked for quite a while with Jazic after the game about the possibilities of going to Russia. Although he stated in one article it was 95% sure, it didn't seem quite as much a done deal talking with him. He has to meet the team at their training camp in Mannheim (they must have some friendlies arranged in Germany as otherwise I don't see why they would train there). It doesn't seem to be a trial (the team probably extensively scouted him in Vienna) as he mostly needs to pass the physical but he wanted to make sure that the money was actually the same as the offer when it came to signing the contract. The way he was talking it seemed like this was such a good financial offer that he was slightly sceptical. He said that money is becoming tight in European soccer but that a lot of new money is flowing into the Russian league and that that is the place to be now (I told him this was due to oil revenues). He had also heard good things about the playing level. If everything works out he will be travelling to Russia on July 4th. As far as the team being relegated he said that was not a worry as they are only two points from being safe and have told him that they will be signing 6 established internationals during the break in the season. He didn't seem to know a lot about the city other than that he heard the weather was good there (Krasnodar is near the Black Sea just across from Turkey where Russia has its beach resorts and is quite warm, no stereotypical Russian winter there). He was asking me how far it is from Moscow which he had heard is a great city and how long it takes to fly there and didn't seem that happy to learn it is 2000km and a 2 hour flight. I told him that I would be in Russia during the summer and may come to Moscow to see him when he is playing one of the teams there (Kuban has already played in Yaroslavl this year) and would bring a Canadian flag. He thought that was cool and said I should try and contact him through the club and that he would try to get me tickets (a very nice gesture although tickets cost about $1.50 in Yaroslavl and in Moscow would probably not be more than $3.) He seemed like a really nice guy and I certainly hope things work out for him in Mannheim. I also mentioned to him the Russian soccer webcasts which means his family and fans (us) may be able to watch some of his games on the website of the Russian RTR television network.

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As far as Stonach goes, when I was recently in Germany I read an article about him with the title, A Frontal Assault on Austrian Football, which was highly critical of his tenure as president of Austria Vienna and of the Austrian soccer league. He has fired at least one coach per year with the club and there is also no player continuity. The club did not win the league nor Cup this year and has performed poorly since he has been there although many of the other teams are so weak that they still manage to stay near the top of the table. With the money he spends they should be winning the double every year. As league president he hired a prominent member of the far right Freedom Party (Haider's Party) to negotiate a tv contract for the league that was then rejected by the other clubs partly because they all hate Stronach so much. We could use his money but it would be nice if he would send it without becoming personally involved.

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I came to watch both games with a fresh and open mind cos' I am pretty much a virgin to Canadian football... ...I know quite a few of the players as I have followed the English and other European leagues all my life. But Jazic was someone whom I have never heard about until when I was doing some research while watching the team trained in Ottawa.

One player that I enjoyed watching was Jazic. I don't even know if left back is his natural position but he's pretty good at going forward.

Yup... ...money these days are pretty tight in Europe but lots of oil money are being poured into Russian sports. Football and hockey are the 2 main beneficieraries from the new-found financial resources.

It's always tough heading to a new culture and Russia and the Russian clubs are still somewhat mysterious for western import players to go play for and live in.

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quote:Originally posted by Grizzly

I also mentioned to him the Russian soccer webcasts which means his family and fans (us) may be able to watch some of his games on the website of the Russian RTR television network.

This would be worth it just for a chance to see the patented "Jazic Goal Celebration".



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Oil revenues are a big factor but also a lot of pro sports teams in Russia are owned by the mob. I have a friend who played pro basketball in Russia and he said just the whole sporting atmosphere is very different. He felt guilty being paid cuz' he knew where the money comes from but apparently the majority of players just accept it.

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If mob money bothered someone they probably wouldn't play pro-sports in at least half of the western European countries either. Soccer along with casinos are the two biggest money laundering rackets around. Why do the southern European leagues like Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey have so much money despite having much weaker economies than the Northern countries (which is not to say that there is no mafia interest in Northern European soccer either)? Could it be that the major European drug route passes through North Africa to the southern ports and that the dirty money from this trade has to be converted to clean money? Why does a small city like La Coruna that is also a major drug port just happen to have one of Europe's best teams? This double standard pisses me off. Sure there is mafia money in Russian soccer just like there is in many other soccer nations. There is also a lot of clean money being invested in sports particularly from oil profits, Russia produces roughly the same amount of oil as Saudi Arabia. Abramovic and some of the other Russian oil millionaires bought the formerly state owned companies for a song because they had connections but if you look at the how the western oil companies acquired their wealth there is little difference in the amount of corruption and dirty business that occured. Some of the actions of American oil companies and oil families like the Bushes make the Russian mafia look like choirboys.

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