Archive for the ‘Football Leisure’ Category

Here we are, on the first world cup Sunday (the Final is today in 4 weeks!), half-way through the first round of matches in the group stages, with 8 games under our belt.   There have been plenty of eye-raising and even hair-raising and downright shocking moments … here are my top headlines:

Red card goes to WC refsFIFA World Cup Referees …anything but world-class: Right from the very first match the official’s performance has been criticised and scrutinised and the spotlight yanked from the world cup players that so far have delivered a lively, high-scoring and entertaining tournament. After Mexico’s victory vs . Cameroon, despite several inexplicable officiating faux pas, I was seriously contemplating my own for of walk-out … watch less matches because of the horrible and seemingly acceptable lackluster officials. Luckily, Holland’s exhilarating performance and a handful of very high quality matches since — all without official interference, have turned the spotlight back on the players, teams, fans and the host. Let’s hope the next 56 matches are void of ANY officiating controversy.

van Persie goalDutch Treats: Look at the 8 WC final scores so far and the 5:1 tally stands out … a dismantling of the Spanish compliments of the Netherlands. Who’d have thunk it? Clockwork Orange, true grit, focus, bravery, believe and unprecedented unity come to mind. I said before the tournament that Spain might well have a tough time this WC, primarily based on its aging roster and a lack of hunger (after gorging at the ‘highest level of soccer’ buffet too long) to 4-peat (Euro 2008- WC 2010-Euro 2012- WC 2014), but surely no one expected this. Anyone who knows me, realizes I am not the biggest Holland football fan (mild understatement) but anyone who enjoys the beautiful game was surely licking their lips on Friday. I really hope this was just the beginning of the Oranje show and I’ll be the first to raise a cold glass of Crush to celebrate this Dutch revival.

Mexican Calm: I was thoroughly impressed with Mexico’s convincing 1:0 win over Cameroon … El Tri created plenty of scoring chances and looked like a completely transformed squad from the crew we saw struggling to even qualify to earn a ticket to the big dance. To me, even more impressive than the result, was the squad’s calm and collected, ‘chillin’ attitude after being literally robbed of 2 goals by atrocious officiating in the first half. No one lost their cool and led by Mexican mascot and skipper Miguel Herrera pulled together to still end up victorious. What role models and consummate professionals.

Costa Rican Miracle: Another day, another upset. The Costa Ricans surprised the world saturday with an inspiring come from behind victory versus footballing giants Uruguay. The South Americans who on paper have one of the strongest, experienced squads (even without Luis Suarez who did not play with a knee injury) took an early lead but got majorly out-played by the wily islanders. CR’s win gives CONCACAF member nations an impressive 2 and o record heading into upcoming matches for federation mates Honduras (today vs. France) and the US (Monday vs. Ghana).

Andrea Pirlo

Italian Youth: I know this may sound as an oxymoron, especially if comparing the likes of 35-year-old midfield maestro Andre Pirlo, goalie legend Buffon (36), defender Andrea Barzagli (33) and midfielder Thiago Motta (31), but the Italians looked young and fresh versus the crampy, limping English last night. While England took advantage of multiple water breaks and other interruptions to barely survive the rigors of the rainforest humidity, the Italians (who are also European and don’t play in the Amazon heat) looked rejuvenated and ready to run post match wind sprints. Who knows what’s in the Chianti but if your Italian bottoms up!

FYI … Dude, our world cup spirit dog, is taking Sunday off and will be back Monday with new World Cup 2014 predictions. 8 matches in, he’s picked 5 winners including correctly predicting 2 final scores!

Welcome to the 2nd edition of  World Cup 2014 predictions, compliments of Dude, our world cup spirit canine. Some of you may recall ‘Dude-stradamus’ , our Euro 2012 prognosticator and his knack for pick that tournament’s winners. We’ll as many of you saw yesterday, Dude is back to kicking butt like he did in 2012. He went 2 for 3 on 6/13, including picking the exact final scores for the Mexico and Chile matches.

Today is the only 4-match game day during WC14 so let’s see what tricks Dude has up his sleeves …


columbia1Colombia … a crazy talented squad even without the striker services of the talented Radamel Falcao. Falcao is still nursing his torn ACL, but Monaco teammate and attacking midfielder James Rodriguez as well as productive forward Teofilo Gutierrrez should easily carry the Colombians past the group stage. Unless you are greek or a lover of no offense, the Greeks offer a dull and methodical football style … this won’t work vs. Colombia. Dude is confident in a convincing Colombian victory.





Dude says it does not take a rocket scientist to predict the winner in this one. His favorite player is Freddy Mercury aka Luis Suarez and Cavani. Together they will crush the Costa Ricans who always look really strong in CONCACAF qualifying until they get tested by ‘real’ squads or the snow (LOL).




The 2nd epic match within the first three days of  WC 2014. We actually see this one going sort of like Spain-Netherlands (in terms of dominance) but in England’s direction. This is the first time I remember the English being underdogs and not hyping up their big tournament chances … it suits them well. Although they have a young, unproven squad I think they can dominate the Italians especially since we just heard that Italy’s goalkeeping legend Buffon is out with an ankle injury. Go England … make it count.


 Japan vs. Ivory Coast  [9PM DST start, ESPN2]

japan1We love Shinji Kagawa from his Borussia Dortmund days so hopefully we’ll see him dominating play for Japan. Cote d’Ivorie has Man City’s Yaya Toure in charge supported by ‘oldie but goldie’ Didier Drogba. This match-up looks even and Dude thinks we’ll see an entertaining scoreless draw.

It’s time for our first edition of  World Cup 2014 predictions, compliments of Dude, our world cup spirit canine. Some of you may recall ‘Dude-stradamus’ , our Euro 2012 prognosticator and his (in)ability to pick that tournament’s winners. We’ll Dude is back and has been sharpening his skills to provide you with invaluable insights and predictions for World Cup 2014. Dude was off yesterday but showed up this morning ready to do this thing and “pick em like he smells em”.

MEXICO vs. CAMEROON [Noon start, ESPN2]

Mexico winsMexico’s media darling Chicharito nee Javier Hernández Balcázar will do what he does for Premier League club Manchester United which is sit on the bench. The Mexican NT announced the buzz-worthy decision yesterday, but Dude thinks having the ‘little pea’ come off the bench as the ultimate WC joker will put Mexico on top … and keep them there.






spain1It’s a rematch of the 2010 WC final and the result should be the same. Spain still has the Dutch’s number and despite an aging Spanish roster, there’s way too much quality and strike power now including Athletico Madrid/Chelsea bound goal-getter Diego Costa. It’s known that Holland is looking to avenge its awful EURO 2012 campaign but they’ll have to wait until their second match versus the Socceroos.





chile1Chile’s strong WC qualifying results (3rd behind Colombia and Argentina) will translate to a strong world cup squad. Chile’s Alexis Sanchez successfully emerged from Lionel Messi’s shadow at Barcelona this season and the lightning-quick forward will be looking to lead Chile in Brazil. Juventus’ Arturo Vidal is the team’s big star but injury might keep him out of the first match. The Socceroos are an inexperienced bunch and seemingly the weakest of the country’s last 3 NT’s. Chile will win this one with ease.

Roughly 12 months ago, TRF covered the 3rd annual Kicking & Screening (K+S) soccer film festival in New York City. We were and remain fascinated by the idea of a festival dedicated to nothing but football films; full length features, shorts, foreign, home-grown, and many never publicly screened before. At the time, we had a chance to interview Rachel Markus, Kicking & Screening brainchild and co-founder, about the festival’s background, the features and short films being screened, and the detailed festival schedule. So, when Rachel emailed me a few weeks back asking about my participation at this year’s 4th New York festival, I wanted to make sure we included a ‘second act’ interview.

From left: Rachel Markus, K+S co-founder, film/production crew of Rise and Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story, Greg Lalas (second from right), K+S co-founder, and Alexi Lalas, former USMNT player and K+S film panel participant

K+S New York 2012 Highlight Reel

  • World Premiere of “1:1: Thierry Henry” (June 28), “Gringos at the Gate” (June 27) and Rivals: Celtic vs. Rangers
  • US premiere of ‘The Four Year Plan and ‘The Last Proletarians of Football’
  • Festival Runs June 27-30 at World-Famous Tribeca Cinemas
  • June 27 & 28 screenings sold out but tickets still available for June 29 & 30th
  • Marquee sponsor KICKTV will stream some of the K+S NYC films in the near future as part of its new YouTube soccer documentary channel
  • 10 soccer films including 6 features and 4 shorts from 9 countries. See the complete K+S NYC 2012 schedule here.
  • 4 nights, 4 themes: June 27 ‘Enemies Forever: Great Rivalries’; June 28 ‘Yes, I Can: The Individual Spirit’; June 29 ‘Secrets of Success’; June 30 ‘Soccer & Politics’
  • Each film night includes post-screening panel discussions with producers & directors as well as an after party at the Varick room
  • K+S’s chosen charitable partner for 2012 is the international soccer nonprofit Coaches Across Continents, which uses football to improve the health and well-being of disadvantaged children in developing countries.
TRF’s Q&A with Rachel Markus about the Kicking + Screening Soccer Film Festival New York City, June 27-30

TRF: It’s been nearly a year since TRF attended the 2011 K+S Soccer Film Fest in New York City and you guys are now back with the 4th, 2012 edition. What has happened at K+S within the last year?

RM (Rachel Markus): K+S has been extremely busy and closely involved in various national and international football film festivals. After a very successful K+S NYC last July, we hosted our inaugural ‘Rewind: K+S London’ football film fest (with a tremendous amount of guidance from UK football media legends Grant Best and Tom Watt) an 8 day fall event spanning dozens of films and uniting football heroes of past and present. In addition, we were asked to help curate football films for the Kerala (India) International Film Fest and ended up adding 7 renowned indie football selections to the sports film program.  While NYC and London will remain our two annual staple festivals we are always looking to work with cities with a strong soccer culture to host smaller, satellite festivals. For example, we previously did this in DC, were involved in a similar event in Liverpool, England and are planning a K+S Portland later this fall.

TRF: What are the main film fest highlights this year?

RM: This year we decided to theme each film night (5 total) and screen multiple features at one time due to an increase in fantastic film submissions we received. The first two nights include the highest profile films with ‘Gringos at the Gate‘, a feature on why US vs. Mexico has become the most fiery and socially significant clash in international soccer, and ‘1:1 Thierry Henry‘, a behind the scenes documentary into the French football legend’s move to the MLS’ New York Red Bulls. The Henry film in particular is sure to attract a drove of local Arsenal supporters and Red Bull players and staff.  Other incredible features include  ‘The Four Year Plan’, Queen Park Rangers’ future with new billionaire owners, and ‘The Last Proletarians of Football’, Sven-Göran Eriksson’s socialist-leaning revolution that led IFK Göteborg’s semi-pro squad to the 1982 UEFA Cup

TRF: Last year, we thought the post-screening panel discussions were riveting and very well attended. Are any panels planned for this year?

RM: The panels are definitely the most popular aspect of our screenings since film goers have a chance to meet the producer and directors behind the films as well as football personalities who show up. Several of the films’ directors including 1:1 Thierry Henry director, Austrian Verena Soltiz, will be there.

K+S founder Greg Lalas chats with Simon Laub and Sam Potter, producers of Soka Afrika, during a K+S NY Film Fest panel discussion

TRF: How many film submissions did you have for the 2012 New York edition?

RM: We had a record 50 submission including numerous short films. We ended up choosing 10 selections including six feature-length films and four shorts.

TRF: I know that Wednesday and Thursday are already sold out but if I can only make it to one other night of the screenings which one do you recommend?

RM: Friday or Saturday nights are good options, not only for soccer fans, but film lovers and any one interested in idea exchange and panel discussions.

TRF: We see that KICKTV is a new sponsor this year. Tell us more about this partnership.

RM: Sure. KICKTV, our marquee sponsor, is a digital network dedicated to soccer. Like the site says, it’s YouTube’s global headquarters to the beautiful game.  Ideologically, it’s a great fit for both entities and will help broaden the viewership and interest level of soccer films. We know they will soon launch a documentary-type channel on their network so many of the films we feature at K+S festivals will be available there as well. While we continue to value the New York Red Bull’s support and community partnership, we are really excited about what KICKTV will bring to the festival and the global soccer film enthusiast.

While TRF will not be able to attend the 2012 K+S NYC soccer film fest, we will continue to support this worthy initiative from afar and look forward to seeing some of this year’s content on KICKTV in the future.

UEFA Euro 2012 …

  • 16 of Europe’s and the World’s finest national football teams
  • 31 riveting football matches
  • 368 of the most talented footballers in the world
  • 16,000 miles traveled by all Euro competitors to reach the final in Kiev
  • 90 million — Cristiano Ronaldo’s current market value
  • 196 million in prize monies

Ready for more? Here’s the downloadable EURO 2012 tournament schedule complete with all 31 match pairings and additional Euro 2012 facts & figures

November 11, 2011 means different things to different people. To some, it signifies the Cosmic Portal Transit Date (hop aboard the train of ‘life’s true happiness’), others observe it as World Day of Interconnectedness (at 11AM be nice to and ‘connect’ with anyone and everyone), while others celebrate Nigel Tufnel Day, the fictional rocker from the world’s loudest band Spinal Tap, who loves to turn his amps up to 11 when he needs that “extra push over the cliff.”

To me, November 11 means two things; a great excuse for a delicious roasted goose dinner to celebrate The Feast of St. Martin (aka St. Martin’s day) and the chance to witness some of the most intriguing football fixtures spanning international friendlies, EURO2012 play-off qualifiers and 2014 World Cup (WC) qualifiers. Since this is a football and not a food blog, I’ll focus on the 11 matches, teams and players bound to make an impact on this historic day. If you are keeping count, Friday will feature 4 Euro qualifiers,  13 international friendlies, and a whopping 35 WC qualifiers played across 4 continents.

[11] Colombia vs. Venezuela (WC2014 qualifier): Colombian football has always intrigued me and I have always rooted for the traditional underdogs who’s last WC appearance dates back to 1998.

  1.  While the likes of Higuita and Valderrama are long gone, new phenoms include forwards such as Radamel Falcao and  Hugo Rodallega. Speaking of underdogs, Venezuela has never qualified for a world cup, and until its 2011 Copa America semi-final finish, has never finished better than 5th in any tournament. With a recent WC-qualifier win over the mighty Argentinians, this match should prove wide open, but in the end Venezuela will come up short by 1:2.

    Bad hair was a trademark of this Colombian football legend

[10] Republic of Ireland: ‘The luck of the Irish’ EURO2012 play-off draw saw the team from the Emerald Isle paired up against Estonia, by far the easiest (at least on paper) of the four play-off match-ups. After being cheated out of a World Cup South Africa spot based on Thierry Henry’s now infamous ‘hand of god’,  the footballing world is ready to see Ireland return to the world stage. With the Euro Championship in 1988 being their only appearance, colorful coach Giovanni Trapattoni and captain Robbie Keane are determined to a new page to the history books. I predict a 3:1 goal spread on aggregate across the two Estonia matches on the 11th and 15th.

[9] France vs. USA:  As U.S. soccer historian and avid soccer film collector Dave Wasser pointed out to me, the last encounter of these two was 1979, a 3:0 cake walk for France. Honestly, I don’t know if the U.S. is any better off than 32 years ago but at least ESPN2 found it worthy enough to broadcast. With all cynicism aside, it will be interesting to see how Juergen Klinsmann preps his men for the battle over frog legs. Thanks to Dave, here are a few clips from the 1979 encounter.

Keane is still Ireland's 'King of the World'

[8] Robbie Keane: The Irish National Team captain has made a recent move to LA but is still considered the ‘difference maker’ for The Boys in Green and their top international goal scorer with 51. With the LA Galaxy’s November 20th MLS Cup Final approaching, Keane will have to log more than 10,000 miles to compete in both Euro playoffs and the MLS match over the next 9 days. We’ll see how much juice is left in the tank by the time 2oth rolls around.

[7] Turkey vs. Croatia: I thought Turkey would have a much easier go of it in qualifying for EURO2012. While they did not stand much of a chance to top their qualifying group vs. the Germans, the talent-heavy side led by the iconic Dutch master Guus Hiddick has looked very ordinary and now faces Croatia in the 2 game play-off. Turkey might be the home side for the first leg match, but without Nuri Sahin they could well find themselves dominated by Tottenham Hotspur’s Luka Modric. Also look for some fireworks from Croatian and Bayern striker Olic as he looks to rebound from a slew of nagging injuries. I see Turkey finally getting its act together and claiming the EURO spot with a 2:1 aggregate victory over Croatia.

Klinsman scored 47 goals in 108 appearances for his country

[6] Juergen Klinsmann: I love this guy; love what he achieved as a player, love how he resurrected German soccer and made the entire country look like heroes in 2006, love that he made Jogi Loew a household name (well almost) and love the fact we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the US since his national team coaching appointment.I realize he’s already under fire for not winning much as U.S. coach thus far, but let’s look at France as the turning point. He’s taking his time, taking chances and believing in talented youth, much like he did with David Odonkor in 2006 when he shocked German football ‘experts’ with the speedsters’ world cup squad nomination. Go Klinsi go and take 4 points from the next two matches with France and Slovenia

[5] England vs. Spain: I am skipping ahead to Saturday’s clash of the Titans but would be remiss if I did not mention this classic match-up (12:15pm Eastern, Live on Fox Soccer) and the bragging rights a stake. While this might just be another friendly on paper, the two camps are taking matter seriously with England skipper Fabio Capello truly taking one for the team by missing his youngest son’s wedding also scheduled for Saturday. On the footballing side, I see England struggling to keep up with Spain’s high-powered offense and second to none team play. Spain 2, England 0.

Phillip Lahm sport's his country's new EURO2012 Home kit

[4] Ukraine vs. Germany: Germany can break its curse of loosing end-of-the-year international match by upending Ukraine in Kiev tonight (live on at 2:45PM Eastern).  While this will be a cold, maybe even close to zero degree affair, and stars like Schweinsteiger, Lahm, Neuer and Klose are inactive, ‘Die Mannschaft’ surely realizes the symbolism of playing in Kiev’s newly renovated Olympic Stadium and host of next summer’s EURo Final on July 1 (233 days and counting). Other match notables include Jogi Loew’s decision to feature the Oezil Goetze midfield duo (a first) and the DFB (German Soccer Federation) will unveil Germany’s EURO2012 kit.

[3] Mario Goetze: “Wir sind Deutschland” (we are German). Jung, dynamisch und erfolgreich (young, dynamic and succesful).” Dortmund’s Super Mario 2.0 is all that is good with German football … the domestic leagues are gaining international respect and pulling in record revenues; the German’farm system’ is sophisticated and extremely well-funded and ‘harvesting’ one bumper crop after the next (Mueller-Boateng-Reuss-Schuerle-Kroos-Pedersen-Goetze …); and the national team is winning (record EURO qualifying stats, solid friendly victory over Brazil this summer).

[2] Luka Modric: The Croatian midfielder and Spurs star was the most talked about English Premier League transfer that did not happen during the July-August transfer window. Modrić was heavily pursued by cross-town rivals, Chelsea who made an offer of £40 million ( £25 more than they paid for him) which was later rejected. He is a midfield marvel and was once dubbed the ‘Croatian Cruyff’ and at 26 has yet to reach his full superstar potential.

[1] Bosnia vs. Portugal: Bosnia-Herzegovina has a score to settle with Portugal after the Iberians edged the Balkan nation to a place in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa after winning the WC qualification play-offs. While Portugal boasts the more impressive roster led by Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani and Pepe, Bosnia’s 25 year old striker Edin Dzeko is currently in cracking form with Manchester City so maybe he can single handily carry his squad to Ukraine & Poland. I think this will be the upset match-up and Bosnia will outlast Portugal 3:2 on aggregate after the return leg on November 15th.

Portugal celebrates after securing a 2010 World Cup birth in a tense play-off with Bosnia.











So, to all the players and teams today competing for glory, pride, respect or honor, channel your inner Nigel Tufnel and remember to turn your amps up to 11 (on11.11) when that “extra push over the cliff” is required.

Staying connected with friends, family and football (soccer/fussball) are vitally important (sehr wichtig!) and over the past 3 years in particular technology has led the way in keeping us tuned in … think Skype, Vontage, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  On the ‘access to football’ side of things we have experienced a true Renascence and between cable/satellite/ and online streaming sources I can tune into virtually ANY Serie A (Italy), La Liga (Spain), Bundesliga (Germany) or Premier League (England) match.

Germany's only Bundesliga footie radio

However, my absolute favorite and 100% reliable source for German Bundesliga games is 90elf (90 eleven), Germany’s football/soccer radio, and THE source for live German language audio coverage of all Bundesliga games, German Cup (DFB Pokal) matches as well as select UEFA Europa League and Champions League fixtures featuring German clubs. Thanks to 90elf’s media & PR guy Martin Huelsmann, we recently completed a Q&A (Frage/Antwort) session explaining the who? what? where? when? of the station. I left the original Auf Deutsch (in German) and translated the essence for non-German readers. While the language barrier might keep you from enjoying 90elf coverage to the fullest, I contend listening to a Bundesliga game this way is the best method to learning Deutsch, or if nothing else, getting a true flavor of the beautiful game, German style … Enjoy!

90 sekunden, 11 Fragen (90 seconds, 11 questions)

Am Besten mit etwas 90elf Background starten: Wie lange in Betrieb? 90elf, Deutschlands Fußball-Radio,  überträgt seit August 2008 alle Spiele der 1. und 2. Bundesliga in voller Länge, einzeln und in der Konferenz, dazu den DFB-Pokal.

90-11 background: Germany’s soccer radio has been broadcasting since August 2008 including all Bundesliga (1st and 2nd division) games, in full length, individually or in conference  mode. Additional broadcasts include the German cup.

Warum gegruendet? Weil Fußball das beste der Spiel der Welt ist und in Deutschland für einen Spartensender bei König Fußball das größte Potential ist.

Why did you start/found the station? Soccer is the best game in the world and in Germany provides the best potential as a succesful niche station.

"Einfach Play Button klicken" (just press play) to hear live Bundesliga games

Hoererzahlen (historisch bis Heute): Mit über 2 Millionen Hörkontakten hat 90elf einen meisterlichen Auftakt in die Bundesliga-Saison 2011/2012 hingelegt und feiert damit gleichzeitig ein Rekordergebnis in seiner nun dreijährigen Geschichte. Zum Vergleich: In der letzten Saison wurde Deutschlands Fußball Radio pro Spieltag durchschnittlich 1 Million Mal eingeschaltet.

Listener statistics: Heading into the 2011/12 season, we registered over 2 million listeners, a new record in our short three year history. Comparatively, this is one million more than tuned into Bundesliga broadcasts last season.

Ausser Bundesliga-LIVE, was sind die LieblingsprogrammeGanz klar der 90elf-Bolzplatz, der interaktive Fußball-Talk auf 90elf in der Woche (dienstags, mittwochs, donnerstags 19.00 Uhr CET)  Hier kommen Fußballer, Experten, aber auch Fans zu Wort.

Besides the Bundesliga-LIVE broadcast, what are some other favorite programs? Clearly, our 90elf-Bolzplatz (training ground) show, featuring interactive soccer chats involving our experts, professional players and fans, is a big hit. It airs during the week – Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday- 7PM Central European Time.

Was is der ‘Fan-Favourite’ Lieblingsfeature auf der Webseite? Neben den Livestreams natürlich die Beiträge und Sendungen zum Nachhören, aber auch allgemeine Infos zum Tabellenstand und zum Programm.

What is the fan favorite/ fave website feature? The Livestreams and various on-demand programs and regarding. Also, anything related to the league table and stats.

Bitte erklaeren Sie das Verhaeltniss/Zusammenspiel zwischen 90elf und social media: Social Media ist gelebter Bestandteil unseres Programms: Wir binden die Hörer über Facebook & Co. aktiv ein, wo es geht. Bis hin zur Fankonferenz bei Facebook: Hier werden die User zum Programmdirektor und haben Einfluss zu welchem Spiel geschaltet werden soll und worüber gesprochen werden soll.

Please explain the interplay between 90elf and social media: Social media is a vital part of our programming and we try to connect our listeners at every turn through popular services like Facebook and our fan conference feature. The conference lets our listeners put on the ‘director’s hat’ and make decisions on which games are broadcast and what the play-by-play reporters should talk about.

Wie lauten die Zukunftsziele des Senders? Englisches Programming? Pay-per-view Abo/Subscriptionmodelle? Videos, Live-Stream oder andere Multimedia Formate? Mit der hohen Qualität unserer Berichterstattung sowie weiteren Live-Rechten und Übertragungskanälen wollen wir ganz klar auf die große nationale Fußball-Bühne. Mit den aktuellen  Zahlen  sind wir auf dem besten Weg dahin und haben die Qualifikation sozusagen erfolgreich bestanden.

What’s in 90elf’s future? Based on the high quality programming and reporting, we plan to take the station to the larger national soccer stage. The current fan interest and downloads give us the demand proof we need to move forward.

Das Prachtstueck des 90elf Fussball-Radios ist meiner Meinung nach der Moderatorkader. Wer gehoert den Bei Euch in die ‘Startelf’ ? Wer ist Mannschaftskapitaen? Kapitän ist Programmchef Fabian von Wachsmann, Chefreporter ist Tom Hilgers. Beim gesamten Kader gilt aber eigentlich: Der Star ist die Mannschaft. Aber natürlich freuen wir uns auch sehr, so einzigartige Reporterpersönlichkeiten wie Manni Breuckmann oder Günther Koch in unseren Reihen zu haben.

I am convinced the ‘crown jewel’ of 90-elf radio is your team of match reporters and commentators. Who comprises your top 11 and who is your captain? Our captain is program director Fabian von Wachsmann, chief reporter is Tom hilgers, and larger than life radio personalities Manni Breuckmann and Günther Koch are among our reporter ranks as well.

Letzte Frage: Der neue 90elf Fan hat nur 2stunden pro Woche Zeit fuer Euer Programming? Was ist eine ‘must listen’ Sendung oder Uebertragung? Beides: 90 Minuten Spiel und die restlichen 30 für den 90elf-Bolzplatz in der Woche, um keine Entzugserscheinungen zu bekommen.-)

Last question: What are the ‘must listen’ shows you recommend for a new 90elf fan who has 2 hours per week to spare? I say they listen to a 90-minute Bundesliga broadcast of their choice (or the conference option for all games in 90 minutes) and spend the other 30 minutes tuning into the ‘Bolzplatz’ broadcast.

Now that you have read this … you know what to do; check out, Germany’ go-to-source for Bundesliga radio broadcast action.

One of the really cool aspects of this week’s NYC Kicking + Screening Soccer Film Festival is discovering films and topics that I would otherwise never hear about, let alone watch. One of these gems is Friday’s short film selection ‘The Final Fax’, directed by German filmmakers Nico Raschick and Birke Birkner.

The 15-minute flick features Martin Sonneborn, editor of a German satire magazine, and his attempts to bribe eight members of the 24-member FIFA executive committee on the eve of the World Cup 2006 host country vote. Sonneborn’s bribe letter offers gifts, mostly eatable, in return for votes for Germany. The unthinkable happens and New Zealand delegate Charles Dempsey abstains from voting (after having been instructed to vote for South Africa), thus swinging the World Cup 2006 host decision Germany’s way. Here’s a ‘Frage und Antwort’ (Q&A session) we had with Nico Raschik (NR). We have kept the original in German and added English translations (in BOLD) for each question.

TRF: Wie lange machst Du schon Filme? How long have you been making movies?

NR: Ich arbeite seit 1999 beim Film und habe meinen ersten Kurzfilm und Musikvideo im Jahr 2000 gemacht. I’ve been working in the genre since 1999 and produced my first short and music video in 2000.

TRF: Was is Dein Bezug zur Thematik? Zum Fussball? What is your background and relationship to the film/topic?

NR: Ich selber war in meiner Kindheit sehr erfolgreicher Leistungssportler.  Aber man muß wohl kein Sportler, geschweige denn ein Prophet sein, um zu erkennen, dass es leider bei allem nicht mehr um Sport, um Fußball geht. Und nach unserem Film ging es ja weiter – ich meine, was macht eine FußbalWM in Katar? Growing up, I was always involved in competitive sports. But, one need not be a professional athlete or a prophet to recognize that sport, and in this case football, has taken a back seat (to corruption, politics …). Case in point, how did a football world cup end up in Qatar?

Als Regisseur geht es mir aber immer mehr auch um das, was drunter liegt. Ein Leitspruch, den ich bei dem Film die ganze Zeit im Kopf hatte, war,  „wenn es am schlimmsten ist, soll man tanzen „. Das zeigt sich dann eben in der letzten Szene, wenn Sonneborn mit dem Rücken an die Wand steht und 100 MIo zahlen soll…wenn es am schlimmsten ist, soll man tanzen. Im Sport sollt es spielerisch zugehen und um Leidenschaft – und die hat Sonneborn. Das sieht man in der kleinen Szene, wenn das Titanicteam gegen die Businesstypen spielen. Sie können bei weitem nicht mithalten – aber spielen mit Herz☺

In my role as a director, I am always looking for what is underneath it all, below the surface. One of the themes I kept on remembering as we were shooting was ‘when things are bad and the odds stacked against you, go ahead and dance’. The point is to remain light-hearted, yet focused. Sports should focus on performance and passion (and having fun while playing). 

TRF: Has Du und Deine Filme schon mal bei einem Soccer/Fussballfilmfest mitgemacht? Have you ever participated in a soccer film festivals? Have you produced other soccer films?

NR: Nein – wie ich schon sagte, geht es mir immer eher um etwas, was drunter liegt. Ich weiß, dass man jemanden von außen immer  gerne auf eine Sache festmachen mag: Du hast einen Horrorfilm gemacht – war doch schön, was ist dein nächster Horrorfilm? So ist es genauso mit Fußball, Komödie… Generell bin ich kein Fan zu sagen, hauptsache das Genre oder die eine Sache – ich bin ein Fan von Geschichten. Und diese Geschichte mußte einfach gemacht werden.

No. It is human nature to categorize everything and try to pigeon-hole someone based on what they have done before …’ you make horror movies, what’s your next horror film? I like to focus on stories and why certain stories must be told as opposed to specific genres.

TRF: Gibt es eine Zusammenfassung/highlights vom Kurzfilm? Summarize The Final Fax. What’s the main message?

NR: Es geht um Leidenschaft  wie beim Fußball – und wie man 2006 die dt. Mannschaft spielen gesehen hat, haben sie leidenschaftlich gespielt – das ist Sport, denn sie waren ja nicht die technisch besten oder auch drittbesten, aber die Mannschaft mit dem größten Herz.  Deshalb wohl in dem Film das Highlight: die Montage zwischen dem leidenschaftlichen (aber hoffnungslosen) Spiel von Sonnborn und den geldumhangennen Machtmenschen der FIFA. It’s all about passion. Persönlich mag ich aber die letzte Szene: wenn alles festgefahren scheint und Sonneborn eigentlich so unter Druck steht, dass er erfürchtig (wie alle anderen) vor den Funtionären mit der Macht hinknien müßte. Gib nicht auf, halt an deiner Überzeugung fest + wenn es am schlimmsten ist, soll man tanzen.

In The Final Fax, it’s all about showing the passionate but hopeless game played by the main character Martin Sonneborn pitted against the mighty and corrupt FIFA powerbrokers. And in the end, against all odds, with the all-powerful football officials and politicians breathing down his neck and making him beg for mercy, Sonneborn does not give up or sell out his believes. Remember, when things are bad and the odds stacked against you, all you can do is dance! Side note: This never say die attitude was put on display during the 2006 World Cup, when the German National Team played with a fire,passion and conviction that had not been seen in decades. They were not the best technicians but displayed the biggest heart. That’s my take-away for The Final Fax … heart, passion and conviction. 

TRF: Wie kamst Du an dieses Thema? How did you end up focused on this particular topic?

NR: So ist der Film nach einer realen Vorlage entstanden, als eine Satire auf die reale Satire, welche in der FIFA und Fußballwelt gespielt wird. Und das nicht als reines Abbild, sondern so wie aus der Sicht von Sonneborn erzählt. Denn Martin Sonneborn hätte ja ebenfalls einen ernsthaften Spiegelartikel schreiben können über Korruption im Fußball. Nur dann hätte doch jeder gesagt: langweilig, weiß ich doch. Und so hat er selber bestochen: mit einem Korb mit leckeren Würstchen und einer Kukuksuhr. Er machte Satire – und führte dazu, was er hätte sich selber nicht besser wünschen können: zur WM im eigenen Land. So sollte der Film auch sein und ich habe viele Originalzitate gesammelt und mehrere Ereignisse aus umfangreicher Reschersche zu der Geschichte verdichtet.

The film is a satire based on the satire of organizations like FIFA and other powerful football entities. What makes this film unique is Martin Sonneborn’s approach. As a publication editor, he could have chosen the high (boring) road  and written a serious article about corruption in football. The result would have been very predictable … ‘we know about corruption … boring’. Instead, he decided to turn the tables and be the one that lead the corruption and bribery efforts. His offer, a gift basket filled with specialties from the Black Forest and a Kukuclock , ultimately lead to the unraveling of the ‘business as usual’ FIFA and to a highly controversial 2006 world cup host.

TRF: Wo schon ge-screened? Has the film been shown before?

NR: Ich hab den Film in Berlin auf einem Festival gesehen – mit Martin Sonneborn. Das war nen schöner Abend. The Final Fax feiert allerdings be Kicking & Screening New York sein US Premiere. We screened the film at a festival in Berlin with Martin Sonneborn in attendance. That was a fun evening. The Final Fax will be celebrating its US premier at the Kicking+Screening soccer festival this week in New York.

This wraps-up our Q&A with Nico. Make sure to stop by the K&S Soccer Film Fest tonight (July 22) to check out The Final Fax and the evening’s feature presentation Soka Afrika. Also, thanks to Nico’s partner in crime, producer Birke Birkner, you can download the official Final Fax Press Kit (in German).

I woke up this morning thinking ‘I really love twitter’. Besides following hundreds of thousands of Women’s World Cup tweets over the past weeks granting me access to back stories, side stories, commentary, and players’ thoughts from Germany, I have to thank twitter (and Alexi Lalas) for ‘introducing’ me to the Kicking + Screening Soccer Film Festival.  A four-day festival dedicated to soccer films, most of them never screened before, right here in our backyard? Yes! I ventured to the K+S site, saw the amazing roster of films slated for the 3rd annual New York festival, July 20-23rd, and booked my flight. That was about a month ago, so it’s hard to believe the festivities are only a few days away.

Recently, I had the pleasure to chat with Rachel Markus, Kicking & Screening brainchild (along with Greg Lalas), about the festival’s background, the features and short films being screened, and the detailed festival schedule …

TRF: Rachel (RM), I am thoroughly excited about this Wednesday night’s K&S New York Soccer Film Festival kick-off and have been following your stories and updates on the blog and twitter.  For starters, I wanted to provide TheRealFutbol readers some more details, a ‘tale of the tape’ if you will, on K+S prior to the event and highlight the daily festival schedule. Let’s start with a bit of background.

RM: The Kicking & Screening Soccer Film Festival is an annual New York-based event that brings together soccer and film enthusiasts to celebrate the beautiful game as expressed on film. K+S provides a forum for filmmakers, artists, and writers to showcase their work.

The success of the inaugural 2009 sold-out K+S New York festival spurred not only a repeat in 2010, but also satellite festivals in Washington, DC, Houston, North Adams, Mass., and, most recently, Amsterdam. To date, the festival has presented seven U.S. premieres, a speaker series featuring respected bloggers, writers, and journalists from the soccer world, and a photo exhibit. In September 2011, K+S will return to Europe for the first K+S Football Film Festival in London.

TRF: The 2011 K&S Soccer film festival taking place at Tribeca Cinemas July 20th-23rd features 11 films including a US and World premiere. Please tell us more about the selections and the process.

RM: One of my biggest thrills of co-producing this festival has always been previewing the various film submissions. This year alone, we received 55 films from 25 countries including Pakistan, Indonesia, and South Africa. While the overriding theme is of course soccer we are very open about the specific twist or angle various filmmakers present. For example, several of the selections this year are not about specific games or rivalries but actually focus on behind the scenes soccer activities and in one case a referee’s dream turned nightmare.

In terms of the K+S 2011 NY screening schedule, we are excited to present 6 short films and 5 features (with a double feature planned for the last night) including the US premiere of “Rise & Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story” on Thursday, July 21st, and the premiere of “Match 64” on Saturday.

TRF: You mentioned including a ‘speaker series’ as part of past K&S festivals. Can you provide more details about what you have in store?

RM: We recently announced our speaker panel series for all four days and will have New York Red Bulls GM/sporting director Erik Soler and ESPN soccer analyst Alexi Lalas headlining this year. All panel discussions will be held at Tribeca Cinemas, after the evening’s screenings, and include directors, producers, and writers from the majority of K+S’s official film selections. The full panel discussion schedule includes:

  • “The Passion of the Game” — Wednesday, July 20: Gavin Sullivan, writer and producer of Argentina Futbol Club (feature selection); Rick Ball, writer, producer, and Manchester United fan
  • “Over There: The Battle for American Respect in Europe” — Thursday, July 21: Alexi Lalas, ESPN soccer analyst and former US national team star; Nick Lewis and Ranko Tutulugdzija, writers and directors of Rise & Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story
  • “Developing Talent or Trafficking Players? Player movement from Africa,” — Friday, July 22: Erik Soler, GM/sporting director of the New York Red Bulls; Simon Laub and Sam Potter, producers of Soka Afrika
  • “Pressure at the Highest Level” — Saturday, July 23: Daniel Gordon, director of Match 64; Mattias Löw, director of Rättskiparen

TRF: Who is your typical ‘K+S’ enthusiast? And what sort of a turnout to you expect this week? And, if I want to check out the festival, but can only come out one night, when should I go?

RM: Since its inception, we literally have had 1000s of soccer film fans come out and support the craft. Of that group, we have welcomed artists, filmmakers, professional soccer players, other athletes, sports commentators, journalists, underground film lovers as well as ‘regular’ folks who enjoy movies. Estimated attendance for K+S NY? We have had encouraging pre-event buzz this year and are definitely presenting the most impressive roster of films to date.  With that said, it would be great to sell 200 tickets for each nightly screening.  In terms of when to come to the festival, I would say purchase a 4 day pass but if that’s not feasible, there’s truly something for everyone.  From the perspective of the fans’ passion (Opening Night) to reliving that incredible chill of experiencing and watching World Cup victory (Closing Night), each set of films and panel discussions will be captivating.

TRF: We know that the screenings all take place at night, but can you please give us a run-down of the daily festival schedule and some more details on the venue?

RM: Sure.  Doors open at 6:30pm, and the Red Bulls Street Team freestylers will be performing before the films.  The film screenings begin a 7:30pm.  Immediately following the films, the discussion panels will be held in the bar/lounge area.  And of course, part of the fun of the festival is pre- and post socializing in the bar with fellow soccer enthusiasts, players, writers, and filmmakers.

TRF: Your website lists a very impressive list of festival partners and sponsors including the New York Red Bulls. We know that the Red Bulls are playing on Saturday before the last night of K&S screenings. Are you planning anything special? Encouraging folks to attend the game?

RM: Yes, we are very proud of the community and international support for the festival and especially excited about the Red Bulls partnership. As you mentioned, they play FC Dallas at Red Bull Arena (located in Harrison, NJ) on Saturday at 6pm and the team has designated a special promo code for all K&S event goers and is offering discounted tickets for Saturday’s game. Tickets can be purchased here using the promo code RBNYKANDS.

TRF: Lastly, when we spoke, you mentioned donating some of the K&S proceeds to charity. What a great idea, can you please elaborate?

RM: We have been working with charities since starting K+S three years ago and usually partner with a local organization. This year, we chose Soccer Without Borders which runs community-led, year-round youth development programs in under-served areas in the USA and abroad. Based in Berkeley, CA, Soccer Without Borders currently operates 7 year-round programs in 5 countries on 3 continents.

Rachel, thank you so much for your time, good luck with the K+S Festival and see you there.

When all this WWC madness first started less than 2 weeks ago, we teamed up with the Free Beer Movement guys to give you a drinker’s guide to successfully navigating Germany’s nine host cities and stadiums. For those of you just in the mood for a quick ‘brew-view’, we provided a ‘Sudsy Facts’ quick reference guide. Hardcore connoisseurs could check out various Bier options in Berlin, Dresden, Augsburg and the Sinsheim area in our part one feature. Well, we just concluded documenting the rest of the tour which includes a delicious blend of Pilsners, Altbier, Koelsch and Hefeweizen available within the city limits of our final five WWC venues. Check it out and tell us about your favorite cold one.