When Canadians play “the beautiful game”

The sport of soccer, or football as it’s generally known around the world outside of North America, is enjoying a huge increase in popularity in Canada.  In fact, although hockey seems to be a part of the Canadian genetic makeup, more young Canadians play soccer than do hockey.

The reason is likely due to the simplicity and cost of soccer. Unlike hockey with its multitude of pads, helmet, sticks, and skates, all very expensive equipment that must constantly be upgraded as a child grows,  football’s needs are few.  All it takes is a ball, a field and soccer boots.  Also soccer has become increasingly  popular among girls and women.  The sport has also become an important way for newcomers from around the world to integrate into Canada. Indeed it gives them an advantage as their countries of origin almost always have a much greater history and experience with the sport.

With a new professional Premier league starting in Canada to compete with the already existing top North American MLS league, there are more opportunities for newcomers to make their way as football professionals in Canada.

The Montreal Impact, the third Canadian team to enter the MLS league after Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps, each with team members from around the world is a reflection of the diversity in Canadian society today.

The atmosphere of Prague’s big Slavia-Sparta derby

This year was the first time since 1942 that Slavia Prague football club secured the double, meaning lifting both the league title and the domestic cup. The latter trophy
was celebrated by Slavia – who famously wear red and white – at their own Eden stadium following a 3:2 victory over their old foes Sparta Prague on the final day of the season.

Slavia, which was founded in 1892, has traditionally been the club of the elite of the Czech nation, including, actors, singers, filmmakers and other sports people. Among
the club’s best-known supporters have been President Edvard Beneš and Oscar-winning movie director Miloš Forman. Slavia’s greatest legend remains Josef Bican, who received a medal from the International Federation of Football History and Statistics as one of the most prolific goal scorers of the 20th century. The club’s strip has also been worn by Vladimír Šmicer, who lifted the Champions League with Liverpool.

This year’s domestic league title was Slavia’s 19th, with the club second in this respect behind Sparta (36 titles). Slavia cemented their domination of Czech football by also lifting the Czech cup and reaching the quarter-finals of the Europa League, where they lost to eventual winners Chelsea. In the following sound report you can enjoy the atmosphere of the most recent Slavia-Sparta derby, the biggest game the Czech league has to offer.

Soccer in Switzerland

Soccer is the most popular sport in Switzerland by far: 268’000 players are licensed, of which 8% are women. A visit to the third highest league shows the commitment and level of amateurs. On a rainy Saturday afternoon in May, the two Bernese clubs FC Köniz and FC Münsingen drew 1:1 in front of 375 spectators.

In addition, the two most important international football associations have their headquarters in Switzerland: FIFA and UEFA.

A World Record “Goal!” in Romania

The first ever official football match played on Romanian soil was hosted by Arad, in the west, on August 16, 1899. Romania’s national football team made its debut on June 8, 1922, in an away match played in Belgrade, against Yugoslavia, which it defeated, 2-1. Romania’s national football team has so far participated in seven World Football Championships. In 1994, Romania reached as far as the quarter finals of the FIFA World Cup in the USA. The leader of the so-called “golden generation” of Romanian football is Gheorghe Hagi.

Football fan galleries in Romania do not have a long tradition in performing football chants on stadiums. That’s why we have chosen to illustrate the sounds of stadiums with the “Goooal” shout by a famous Romanian sports commentator, Ilie Dobre, a former colleague of ours, at Radio Romania. Ilie Dobre has set several Guinness World Records for his extraordinary capacity to shout the word “Goooal” for tens of seconds, without respiration. Ilie Dobre has got, among others, a certification from the World Records Academy for setting a world record for the ”Longest shout without respiration, in studio”, (52.03 seconds).

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