Friday, October 31, 2008

1978 World Cup in Argentina was much criticized for political reasons – the rule of the Argentinean military junta and the cruelties of its rule. Argentina became World Champion, but not before conveniently winning the match with Peru 6-0. The game started suspiciously late, when other critical games were more or less decided, and finished with result providing the goal difference needed for Argentina to go ahead. The Argentinean-born goalkeeper of Peru – Ramon Quiroga - was the suspected coward. Well, was he? Nobody knows, suspicion remains.
Ramon Quiroga in 1978. Six goals in his net? Brazil out, Argentina in. The man born in Rosario, Argentina, not a bit sympathetic, or bribed, or whatever? Was it just Argentinean supremacy and a lucky day?
More contemporary Quiroga, still involved with football in Peru – he was, and may be is now too, a coach. Constantly pleading ‘not guilty’ for 1978.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

1974 World Cup was West German problem. On one hand players were accused of shameless commercialization: the stars demanded very lucrative sums, and the German Federation considered replacing them with another selection, presumably, more patriotic and less cynical. Commentators lamented the good old days of ‘pure’ football and predicted the end of the game killed by greed. Yet, the Dutch outdid the Germans in the money matters – see Cruiff above. On the field, there was the highly suspect round robin match between West and East Germany. The West lost and finished second in their group, which placed them in the easier semi-final group with Poland, Sweden, and Yugoslavia, instead of Brazil, Holland, and Argentina. West Germany ended as World Champions, but were severely criticized for under-performing and scheming. The old story of 1954 scheme against Hungary was recalled. Then, the shame of 1982 came… 1974 was hardly an incident.
It was to be the clash of political systems: Breitner (left) and Beckenbaur (right) ‘squeeze’ the East German player. East and West Germany met for the first time on the pitch at the World Cup 1974. The West was to win not only for political ‘rightness’ – their team simply was superior.
East Germany arriving in West Germany for the World Cup 1974. Long flight from Berlin to Hamburg. Translator in the middle? Sorry… hostess.
East Germany won 1-0. This is the winning goal, scored by Jurgen Sparwasser (blue shirt, in the middle). Ironically, Sparwasser defected to West Germany in the 1980s – after his football career was over (why not in 1974? He played for 1.FC Magdebourg, which won the Cup Winners Cup just then and he was a hot item. Mysteries, never mind.) The West Germans maintain the match was real – the political side of the game was very important. But… I thought in 1974 they deliberately lost and all my friends thought the same back then. See, it was not calculation to avoid Holland in the next stage – Brazil, as dreadful as it was that year, was the bigger worry. Both met in the winter before the finals, when Brazil was touring Europe as part of their preparation for the finals. In West Germany, in winter, on snowy pitch Brazil won. The Germans never played well against Brazil and generally lost. Losing from East Germany, the West Germans finished second in their round robin group, thus, avoided facing Holland and Brazil (Argentina was not a problem in 1974) in the next stage. The lost match opened the road to the title. Honest match? Politically important? For the East Germans may be. But it is one Germany today, so… it was ‘honest’ somehow.

Monday, October 27, 2008

USSR refused to play the second leg of the qualification deciding the last spot at 1974 finals against Chile. The first match, in Moscow, finished 0-0. Before the second, General Pinochet led the coup d’etate against the Socialist government of Salvador Allende. The Soviets refused to play for political reasons and Chile went to the finals by default, yet, was it only politics? May be it was – imagine the Soviets losing the qualification from a country with fresh right-wing regime. General Pinochet should go into football history with one fantastic sentence – well, at least it sound fantastic in English. He said to the team’s star – Carlos Caszely – ‘I know you are left-wing, but you are right-wing.’ The unintentional pun, so awkward in English, is the referral to the political views of the player and his post on the football field – the politically involved Caszely was Leftist, but his position on the football pitch was right-wing. What Pinochet really meant was more prosaic and may be more sinister – Caszely was not to be arrested for patriotic reasons. And it was not only Chile – Zaire and Haiti played at the World Cup 1974. What fun were the ambitions of the dictators of those countries… but it will be too long here, I am saving the story for another time.
‘El Chino’ (The Chinese) Carlos Caszely, the star of the strongest Chilean club Colo-Colo (Santiago de Chile). Although one of the most vocal opposing General Pinochet’s junta, he played for the national team in World Cup 1974. And in World Cup 1982. And more… he moved to Spain in 1973, supposedly for political reasons – played for Levante and Espanol (which in Catalonia is regarded somewhat right-wing club) until 1978. Then he returned to Chile and Colo-Colo. Either ‘El Chino’ with Hungarian-sounding name was really ‘left-wing, which is right-wing’, or General Pinochet’s regime was not as bad as pictured, or footballers have no morals and convictions, or his career was not going as well as expected, or he became home sick. Which reason was the true one?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

If everything was bad in club football, at least the World Cup was great. Was it? Critics were quick to point out scandals. World Cup 1970 was tarnished by ‘the Soccer War’ between Honduras and El Salvador. True, the conflict was not exactly because of football, but the war started with the qualification match between the two countries. The actual war lasted 4 days, but it had heavy consequenses for both countries. In football terms, it is somewhat even more wicked: El Salvador was advancing military and only international diplomatic intervention led to withdrawal. Correspondingly, El Salvador went to the World Cup finals… ‘the strongest always win’? Looks like it…
El Salvador reached for the first time World Cup final stage in 1970. Hardly the ‘Soccer War’ placed them at the finals – because Mexico was host and automatically qualified, the lowly CONCACAF had an open spot.
The other scandal in 1970 was the arrest of Bobby Moore in Colombia – he was accused of stealing, unbelievable story, but it was tense at the time. England went to Colombia as part of their preparation for the World Cup in Mexico. The arrest of Moore was and is regarded as deliberate provocation, aiming at weakening Team England, still the World Cup holders.
Bobby Moore and England against Czechoslovakia in World Cup 1970. England won 1-0, but Moore was not at his usual top form. His shaky performance was attributed to spending 4 days in Colombian jail for allegedly stealing a jeweled bracelet. He was proved innocent, but it is still believed that the Colombian trouble spoiled his form. Speaking of ‘alleged’…
Right of him is Czechoslovakian player, examplefying the wrongness of ‘old football’ – it will be awkward in English, but the Bulgarian saying was ‘he plays the letter Ф’ (F), that is, walking hands on hips around, and participating rarely in the game.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

International club tournaments were also under heavy criticism. The ugly inheritance from the 1960s reached new level at the Intercontinental Cup – Ajax Amsterdam refused to play and the European Champions Cup runners-up Panathinaikos replaced them in 1971. Next year Ajax played, but Cruiff received death threats in Argentina and had to be heavily guarded. In 1973 Ajax refused again and Bayern also refused in 1974. Liverpool refused in 1977. In 1978 the Intercontinental Cup was not contested at all, and in 1979 Nottingham Forest refused to play. In Europe the Cup Winners Cup was visibly in decline – what was meant to be the second important European club tournament failed to live up to expectations – the once upon a time shaky Inter-cities Fairs Cup was not only stabilized after renamed into UEFA Cup, but became much more attractive tournament for the fans. The reason was quite obvious: in domestic cup tournaments often little clubs won, thus reducing the quality of the international tournament and along with that – the sponsorship revenue. At the same time strong rivals of national champions were playing in the UEFA Cup. But the most acute problem emerged in 1974. The final of the Champions Cup between Atletico (Madrid) and Bayern ended in a draw after 120 minutes (regular time ended 0-0, and both teams scored a goal in the 30 minutes extra time). Under the rules, the match had to be replayed. It was the first time the final ended undecided, and the occasion revealed a complex problem. One side was commercial – what happens now? Were television stations to pay for broadcasting the replay or not? Advertisement and sponsorship? The fans? The final was scheduled for May 15 at the ill-fated (in the 1980s) Heysel Stadium, Brussels. The replay – on May 17. The attendance for the second game dropped alarmingly: from 65 000 at the first match to 23 000 at the second. Hardly a surprise – since finals were and are staged in the middle of the week, people simply could not afford to be absent from work another two days. The crowd at the replay was only 1/3 of the original attendance, leaving the feeling that replay was not generating public interest at all. Quite right, too – after spending their emotions during the first game, people could not bring themselves to the same level of enthusiasm. I remember my own reaction: so excited at the first game, I was hardly interested in watching the second. I was cold and indifferent. Yet, the replay, and not the first match was to decide the Cup winner.
The game itself was hardly a contest – Bayern won 4-0. The two games were dramatically different: the tough Spaniards of the first game did not exist in the second. The Germans, with their supreme physical condition, were fresh in the second match, as if they did not play 120 minutes of physical football less than 48 hours ago. Atletico was entirely exhausted, not even a shadow of the team, which almost won on May 15. It was obvious from the first minute that the replay was unnecessary formality. What the replay revealed in sporting terms was terrible: different training attitudes were to be decisive – for a physically fit and tactically disciplined team it was enough to outrun the opposition, not to outplay it. Dragging the match into extra time or replay, guaranteed victory – a victory achieved by exhausting the opposition, not playing better. After all, Bayern equalized the result in the first match by sheer will – the stopper Schwarzenbeck scored in the 120th minute, the last one! As for Atletico… the truth was, they were not the better team in the first game. They played ugly and calculated football. It will be enough to cite the Celtic fans opinion from the semi-finale opposing Atletico and Celtic (Glasgow): ATLETICO MADRID line-up according to Celtic’s fans: Thug; Psycho, Punch; Spit, Hatchet, Bludgeon; Hammer, Thump, Wallop, Gouge, Axe-Murderer.It was the first and last replay – after that year ties were broken by penalty shoot-outs. The commercial requirements were part of the reason for the change of rules, but not the only reasons. For years it had toyed with ideas for breaking ties in internatinal tournaments. None was satisfactory. At first it was a drop of coin – now, imagine how plausible would be to decide the World Champion by a game of chance. This rule was replaced by the replay – not really a solution and even more troublesome, for now commercial factors were involved. So, the shoot-out… and who likes that? Nobody. Tactical minded football leaves little chances the game to end with a winner – hence, finals are decided by chance… The logical question would be why playing at all.
Miguel Reina, Atletico and former Spanish national goalkeeper, desperately tries to clear the ball from Bayern’s midfielder Franz Roth. Never a national player, Roth will be instrumental in two more Bavarian wins of European Champions Cup, scoring important goals in 1975 and 1976. As for Reina, his name isn’t forgotten yet – but I am speaking of his son. Liverpool anyone?
Ramon ‘Cacho’ Heredia, the Argentinian central-defenseman of Atletico, was a key player in the first final match.
Heredia’s face says it all… the replay spelled doom for Atletico Madrid.
Ruben ‘Raton’ (the Mouse) Ayala and Ramon ‘Cacho’ Heredia moved from San Lorenzo (Buenos Aires) to Atletico (Madrid) in 1973. Only one foreigner was allowed to play by Spanish rules then. Why Atletico did not play Ayala in the final against Bayern, where Spanish rules did not apply, is a mystery. Both played for Argentina in the World Cup 1974. It was a disastrous performance by the Argentines and perhaps the only memorable impression came from Ayala – he was the player with the longest hair among the finalists: 45 centimeters long.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Given the severity of illegal activities, one expected corresponding punishments. Reality was suspiciously different: the media attention focused on Manfred Manglitz, Bernd Patzke, and Tasso Wild (Hertha).
Left to right: Wild, Patzke, and Manglitz, going to the hearing. The media focused on them.
But one of the most involved was Jurgen Neumann (Arminia) – he was rarely mentioned by the media. These four players received the harshest suspencions: Manglitz for life, the other three – for 5 years. Only two of them served their punishment in full – Manglitz and Neumann. The other 49 players received decreasing terms of suspensions and fines, or only fines. Almost all initial suspensions were reduced. The penalties were strangely small, given the involvement: 16 players from Eintracht (Braunschwieg), 15 from Hertha (West Berlin), 13 from Schalke 04 (Gelzenkirchen), 3 from VfB Stuttgart, 2 from MSV Duisburg, 2 from Arminia, and 1 from FC Koln. Practically only the shortest suspensions were served – some of the culprits did not miss even a month of playing. The German Federation may have been naïve, expecting players to honour the penalties, which were valid only in West Germany. Well, they did not – Patzke moved to Durban City (South Africa), where he finished his career. Zoltan Varga (Hertha) went to Aberdeen (Scotland) until his suspension ended, and returned to Hertha a year later. Reinhard Libuda (Schalke 04) went to play for Strasbourg (France).

But who was involved? Well, a very mixed bag. If Neumann was little known player, others were high profile players – Manglitz participated in the World Cup Finals 1970. Patzke was part of two World Cups – 1966 and 1970. Zoltan Varga was Olympic champion in 1964 with Hungary, and won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (which became the UEFA Cup) in 1965 with Ferencvaros (Budapest). Reinhard ‘Stan’ Libuda was a star of the West German team at the World Cup 1970. His teammate in Schalke 04 Klaus Fichtel was considered the rival of none other than Franz Beckenbauer. The goalkeeper of Eintracht (Braunschweig) Horst Wolter was also occasionally selected in the national team. These were established stars. Others were solid professionals or young players which became famous in later years: Volker Danner (MSV Duisburg), Wolfgang Gayer (Hertha), Dieter Burdenski (Schalke 04) became national players. Rolf Russmann (Schalke 04) was part of the World Cup winning team in 1974 and played in the World Cup 1978. His teammate Klaus Fischer also played in the World Cup 1978, and if his career did not coincide in time with the great Gerd Muller, Fischer would have played much more for West Germany. Klaus Fichtel, also a Schalke 04 player, was a World Champion in 1974 too. The two foreigners had different fate: Varga (who is interesting in two other subjects – foreign players in Great Britain and East Europeans playing in the West) played not only for Hertha and Aberdeen, but eventually moved to Borussia (Dortmund) and Ajax (Amsterdam), where he ended his career. The other Hungarian, Laszlo Gergeli (Hertha), was a nobody and his suspension for one year effectively finished his career.
Lazslo Gergeli still a Hertha player. Game over for him, though.
Zoltan Varga will be Hertha player again. Suspended in West Germany, he left long lasting fond memories in the hearts of Aberdeen fans. Who really suffered then? The penalties looked like a joke, or affected insignificant clubs and players. Those who disappeared from the football scene – Manglitz, Neumann, Gergeli – were old and near their careers anyway. Well, there were sufferers – although, unexpected ones. Schalke 04 was practically destroyed. In the beginning of the 1970s the club was quickly becoming potential rival of Bayern and Borussia (Moenchengladbach). It was exciting team and bright future was forecasted. The scandal and the suspensions of 13 players was practically the end: the club quickly sunk and eventually was relegated. Financial troubles rocked it too. Yet, Schalke 04 was rather minor participant in the result fixing scandal. From the players, Schalke 04 and West German star Stan Libuda probably suffered most – nobody forgave him and his reputation was ruined. His profile was the highest among all involved; he was much loved footballer… involvement in the scandal and defiance of the imposed penalty destroyed him: he never played again in West Germany, and after one year in France he had to quit football. In a sharp contrast, Hertha (West Berlin) seemingly prospered from the scandal – they avoided bankruptcy by selling their stadium ‘Plumpe’, remained in the Bundesliga and played their best football in the years immediately following 1971. The bribing scandal ended suspiciously – with more then a hint of glossing over and cover up.
Libuda in happier days: outsmarting the Bulgarian defender Milko Gaidarski at the World Cup 1970. West Germany won 5-2.
Schalke 04: the team of big promise in 1971 never recovered from the scandal. Standing, left to right: Becker, Fichtel, Pohlschmidt, van Haaren, Russmann, Scheer, Galbierz, Wittkamp, Cendic (assistant coach)Middle: Rausch, Sobieray, Gutendorf (coach), Vanderberg, Senger, Pirkner, Libuda, Lichtenfeld (trainer)Sitting: Fischer, Kuzmirz, Beverungen, Burdenski, Nigbur, Pfeiffer, Hausmann, Lutkebohmert, Wust

Saturday, October 18, 2008

In sharp contrast to the Soviet case, the West German bribery scandal in 1971 was heavily investigated and publicized. It was a heavy blow: the Bundesliga was only 7 years old and already corrupt, and on top of it – it was German corruption, something ‘unthinkable’. By today’s ‘standards of corruption’, the affair is almost laughable – it started with the effort of the president of lowly club to avoid relegation. But it ended with interesting results: 9 out of 18 Bundesliga clubs were involved; two clubs were expelled; one was ruined; 53 players were suspended and fined, some among them national players; few functionaries were banished from football. Well, at least the punishment was in line with German strictness… Not quite. The President of Kickers (Offenbach) – Horst Gregorio Canellas – decided to save the club from relegation and organized intricate system of bribing players and fixing results, which gradually involved other clubs as well.

Horst Gregorio Canellas
It was not simply the usual mania of an organizer to keep his pet at the top no matter what: West Germany did not have second division yet and relegation meant going to regional leagues, where semi-professional and amateur clubs kicked the ball around in front of few bored geezers. Going down spelled bankruptcy for a professional club: high payroll and small gates were the deadly mix. More or less, Canellas was driven by fear – he wanted to save the club from financial disaster. Soon Arminia (Bielefeld) discovered something fishy – they were also candidates for relegation, and Kickers was aiming largely to stay in Bundesliga at Arminia’s expense. At the end – funnily enough – Arminia ended at the safe 14th place and Kickers – next to last, 17th in the final table. So Arminia bribed and fixed better. Hertha (West Berlin), Eintracht (Braunschweig), Schalke 04(Gelzenkirchen), MSV Duisburg, FC Koln, VfB Stuttgart, and Rot Weiss (Oberhausen) gradually got involved in the scheme. Some were involved on high level, but others were not – only players were bribed from outside. During the investigation, strange things were uncovered: for instance, Hertha was heavily in debt and near bankruptcy. The club welcomed bribes in hope, or at least the players did. On the other hand, many players were incomprehensibly greedy, since they played for strong clubs. It was also a very mixed bunch: from stars to lowly nobodies, but almost entirely Germans. Only two Hungarian refugees were foreign culprits. More or less, the as most evidence were considered the actions of two players: the goal Bernd Patzke (Hertha) scored in his own net, thus fixing the result in favour of Armininia againt Hertha.
Patzke scores in his own net, looking innocent. Suspension? What suspension? South Africa is just a plain ticket away. The other was the goalkeeper Manfred Manglitz (FC Koln), who received money for allowing goals against Rot Weiss (Essen) and Kickers (Offenbach).

Manglitz can’t stop the ball… kind of. His career ended here. So penalties followed: Arminia and Kickers were expelled from the Bundesliga. It hardly mattered to Kickers, relegated anyway. Hardly any grief, though: these two clubs never made any strong contribution to the league. Six functionaries were suspended and fined – from those Canellas was the only one more or less banished from football. The rest of the punishment went to various players.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

After 1972 Zarya immediately went back to obscurity, finishing last in 1976 spring championship, but it was a year of yet another ill-fated reform of Soviet football, so there were no relegations in the spring, but only after the separate fall championship of the same year. Zarya was finally relegated in 1979, end of story. Only years later the truth was spelled out – Zarya became champion after bribing left and right. It was rumored at the time, but the officials were not only silent – Zarya players were numerous in the Soviet Olympic team in 1972:
The Soviet Olympic Team 1972. Zarya players with capitals.First row, left to right: A. Andriasyan, I. Sabo, YU. ELISEEV, V. KUKSOV, Yu. Istomin, V. ONISHTCHENKO, V. Kolotov, G. Evryuzhikhin.Second row: A. Ponomaryov – head coach, V. Pilguy, V. Kaplichny, O. Zanazanyan, O. Blokhin, A. Yakubik, E. Lovchev, E. Rudakov, S. Olshansky, R. Dzodzuashvili, G. ZONIN – assistant coach, V. SEMENOV, M. Hurtzilava. Since USSR run spring-fall championship, the Olympics came in the middle of the championship in progress. That may have been the reason for inclusion of the coach and the players from Zarya at the time: Soviets greatly preferred to select national players from the current leading clubs. Although the Olympic team finished 4th and was heavily criticized for the failure, a corruption scandal was highly undesirable for possible political implications. In any case, a scandal would have been internationally humiliating: the Soviets preferred to pretend normality.
A moment of Zarya – SCA (Rostov). V. Semenov in attack. A lot about the briberies is still unknown, but it is believed that Zarya bought the games with smaller clubs like SCA, the bulk of the Soviet league. So the title stays in records and the club history. Nothing happened, nobody was punished. It is curious, though – the Soviets tolerated high level corruption, but were punishing severely low level corruption. Zarya was small club, from unimportant city without high-placed influence and back up – ripe for ‘cleansing’ and ‘fight against unsocialist behaviour’.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Small leagues - big deal, who cares. Right? Big boys matter and they were alright, right? Wrong. Domestic football in Argentina and Uruguay was financial disaster since the 1960s. Corruption was well known feature of Italian football also from the 1960s. The Brazilian championship was plagued with corruption, back room deals, and instability from day one. The league was enlarged to accommodate big clubs finishing at the bottom and due to relegation. At one point the league had more than 40 clubs participating in cryptic championship. Big clubs forming concurrent championship, yet, somewhat incorporated in the national scheme, so it was hardly clear who was the ruling body and what constituted legal championship – at the end, every championship is legal in Brazil. The mighty British clubs were increasing debts and heading toward bankruptcy. The enormously rich Chelsea? A disaster in the 1970s, finally sold for 1 pound in the early 1980s. The ascent of Greek football, started in the 1970s, went hand in hand with heavy corruption, reaching to the top of the political system and government. Ah, Southern temperaments and British stubbornness to preserve traditional ways instead of adapting to the new realities… At least, everything was sound in the cooler climates north of France. And under the hawkish gaze of Communists behind the Iron Curtain. Hm… who should be first? The Soviets or the Germans? Soviets win after a flip of coin. Zarya from Voroshilovgrad (today – Lugansk in Ukraine) won the Soviet title. It was somewhat pleasant surprise. One has to remember that until 1960 no club outside Moscow ever won a title. The exception was 1944, if we count that: because the Second World War was still strong, there was no championship in USSR, but a cup tournament was organized in 1944. Mostly to boost moral. And for the same reason the winner was Zenit (Leningrad – now St. Peterburg)- the heroic Leningrad, a symbol of fighting spirit and resistance, appropriately won against the army club CDKA. Even the result is suspicious – 2-1, with 2 goals scored in the 35th minute (Chuchelov for Zenit; Grinin for CDKA). And again, in the name of moral and propaganda, the cup final is included in the list of Soviet championships. After that everything was back to normal – it was understood that only Moscow clubs should be champions (propaganda and ideology ruled). Dinamo (Kiev) was the first champion outside Moscow – in 1961. During the 1960s the situation shifted – instead of internal Moscow rivalries, the battle for the title became Moscow-Kiev, with Kiev taking the upper hand and occasional challenge from Dynamo (Tbilisi, Goergia). Zarya (Lugansk) was promoted to the 1st Division after winning the 2nd Division in 1966. Their most memorable moment until 1972 was in 1970, when the city apparently got new name – Voroshilovgrad. It was nice to see nobodies becoming champions in 1972, 5 points ahead (still the old system – 2 points for a win, 1 for a tie) of Dinamo (Kiev). There were no famous players in the squad, with the exception of Vladimir Onishtchenko, who got his first national team caps then, but he did not last in the club: originally a Dinamo (Kiev) player, he moved to Zarya in 1972 and was back in Dinamo by 1974.
Zarya or Zorya (the current spelling is in Ukrainian) 1972.
Vladimir Onishtchenko scoring for the national team (against France). The only player of notice from the champion squad.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

At the beginning of the 1970s, the mood was optimistic: new money and opportunities combined with total football were looking great. Yet, very soon an evidence of crisis was equally present – domestic championships suffered. Some countries reorganized their leagues – no matter what was said, it was depressing reduction of formats and clubs started to disappear. Austria ended 1973-74 season with the traditional format of 16 clubs league. Next season the league was ‘reformed’ and reduced to 10 clubs. Fiscal stability was required on one hand (and Austrians are strict about that to this very day). The other reason was the quality of football: it was clear that there were not enough good players for 16-team format. Financial stability with better competitiveness was believed to increase the quality of Austrian football. Well, the reform did not help – a string of mergers, name changes, and bankruptcies characterize Austrian domestic football ever since. Sponsor’s names were incorporated often into club names, to confuse the situation further. An example: the Innsbruck club, one of the most successful Austrian clubs, ended 1970-71 still FC Wacker. In the summer it merged with WSG Swarovski (Wattens) under the name FC Tirol. Other Tyrolean clubs protested and the federation ordered the new club to change the name – now it was SG Swarovski-Wattens-Wacker (Innsbruck), abbreviated to SSW Wacker. Under this name the club was champion next season. Since the world famous firm Swarovski was part of the venture, the future was to be… bright? In 1975-76 the name was changed to Swarovski-Schwarz-Weiss Tirol (Innsbruck) or SSW Tirol. Under this name the club finished last in 1978-79 and was relegated. The name changed to WSG Swarovski Wacker. In 1980-81, still in the second league, the club split to WSG Swarovski (Wattens) and SG Sparkasse Wacker (Innsbruck) (Sparkasse is a bank). Next year the Innsbruck club was renamed again to FC Wacker. In 1985-86 it was FC Swarovski-Tirol. In 1991-92 – FC Wacker again. Next season: FC Capillaris Tirol. In 1994-95 – FC Tirol. In 1997-98: FC Tirol-Milch. Today it is Wacker again, freshly renamed from Wacker Tirol on July 1,2007. At least the club stays in one city.
But here is the final Austrian table for 1973-74:
Austria 1973/74Nationalliga
1.VÖEST Linz 32 18 11 3 51-28 47
2.Wacker Innsbruck 32 19 8 5 57-21 46
3.SK Rapid 32 18 9 5 74-33 45
4.FK Austria/WAC 32 16 7 9 59-37 39
5.SK Sturm Graz 32 14 6 12 28-35 34
6.Donawitzer SV Alpine 32 13 7 12 51-48 33
7.FC Admira/Wacker 32 11 9 12 50-48 31
8.SV Austria Salzburg 32 10 11 11 35-35 31
9.Linzer ASK 32 11 8 13 38-48 30
10.Wiener Sport-Club 32 10 9 13 43-60 29
11.1. Simmeringer SC 32 10 8 14 49-47 28
12.Grazer AK 32 9 10 13 31-41 28
13.SC Eisenstadt 32 11 6 15 36-52 28
14.Austria Klagenfurt 32 8 11 13 33-44 27
15.Radenthein/Villacher SV 32 6 14 12 33-40 26
16.First Vienna FC 32 8 8 16 38-54 24
17.FC Vorarlberg 32 5 8 19 31-66 18

Compare to the current league:
Austria 2007/08
First Level (Bundesliga) Table:
1.SK Rapid Wien 31 16 6 9 57-33 54
2.RB Salzburg 31 15 8 8 53-37 53
3.LASK Linz 31 14 10 7 50-39 52
4.FK Austria Wien 31 12 12 7 38-29 48
5.SK Sturm Graz 31 12 11 8 52-34 47
6.SV Mattersburg 31 10 13 8 46-39 43
7.SV Ried 31 10 6 15 36-48 36
8.SC Rheindorf Altach 31 7 10 14 33-55 31
9.SK Austria Kärnten 31 7 7 17 21-51 28 [*2]
10.FC Wacker Innsbruck 31 5 11 15 29-50 26 [*1]

[*1] Wacker Tirol changed name to Wacker Innsbruck on July 1, 2007[*2] Pasching moved to Klagenfurt and changed name to Austria Kärnten

Financial stability somehow never came even for the big clubs. It is hard to support a club changing names almost every year. Gates are low, in part because of that. Old clubs sunk or disappeared altogether – Grazer AK, Wiener Sport-club, First Vienna FC and others.
It was not only Austria – Belgium and Scotland were early victims of the 1970s too. 1974-75 was the last traditional 1st division of 18 clubs. Low attendance, low game quality, bad stadiums, and financial difficulties urged the Scottish Federation to introduce reforms – instead of 1st Division, a new Scottish Premier Division was unveiled. 10 clubs. Today it is increased to 12, but did it solve any problems? Yes, the new name sounds grand…
Belgium, in contrast, did not reduce the league size – actually, the league was enlarged from 16 clubs in 1973-74 to 20 in 1974-75. Today – 18, the number established in 1976-77. But the clubs?
The final table of the last ‘small season’Season 1973-1974
First Division
1 RSC Anderlechtois 30 17 6 7 72 38 41
2 R. Antwerp FC 30 15 6 9 48 33 39
3 RWD Molenbeek 30 13 4 13 50 25 39
4 R. Standard de Liège 30 12 8 10 43 30 34
5 Club Brugge KV 30 13 11 6 61 43 32
6 RFC Liégeois 30 11 10 9 42 42 31
7 KV Mechelen 30 10 9 11 34 35 31
8 KSV Cercle Brugge 30 8 11 11 46 48 27
9 KSV Waregem 30 8 11 11 38 49 27
10 SK Beveren 30 7 10 13 24 30 27
11 R. Beringen FC 30 9 13 8 29 48 26
12 FC Diest 30 8 12 10 44 51 26
13 Beerschot VAV 30 8 12 10 36 47 26
14 Berchem Sport 30 7 11 12 33 45 26
15 K.Lierse SK 30 6 11 13 35 51 25
16 R. St.-Truidense VV 30 6 13 11 30 50 23

and the current season:
Belgium 2007/08Table:

1.R. Standard de Liège 27 17 10 0 51-17 61
2.Club Brugge KV 27 16 6 5 34-20 54
3.Cercle Brugge KSV 27 15 7 5 55-25 52
4.RSC Anderlecht 27 15 7 5 44-26 52
5.KFC Germinal Beerschot 27 14 6 7 40-24 48
6.KAA Gent 27 12 8 7 49-36 44
7.SV Zulte-Waregem 27 11 5 11 36-44 38
8.KVC Westerlo 27 10 8 9 38-28 38
9.KRC Genk 27 9 8 10 39-42 35
10.R. Charleroi SC 27 9 6 12 27-34 33
11.KV Mechelen 27 8 8 11 34-40 32
12.R. Excelsior Mouscron 27 8 6 13 31-37 30
13.KSC Lokeren OV 27 6 12 9 21-26 30
14.FC Verbroedering Dender EH 27 8 5 14 27-43 29
15.KSV Roeselare 27 6 9 12 29-47 27
16.RAEC Mons 27 6 7 14 30-41 25
17.K. Sint-Truiden VV 27 4 8 15 23-44 20
18.FC Brussels 27 4 4 19 22-56 16

After mergers, bankruptcies, movements, splits, and new amalgamations, one has to go to club histories and careful encrypting of the abbreviations to uncover what happened. Here the mergers were not only between clubs of one city – more often clubs of different cities merged. And later dissolved. And merged again. Take Racing White (Brussels), the Belgian champions for 1974-75. The details are too many to be traced here, but it was a club of previous mergers – Racing and White Star Club (the oldest of all incorporated). Before the start of their glorious season, they merged with Daring Club (Brussels), technically more famous club than Racing White. Main reason was low attendance. Legal reasons – rules of registration – forbid the new club to use the old record of Daring Club. And probably to preserve some coherence, in Europe the club was better known as Racing Club, but in Belgium it was R.W.D. Molenbeek (Brussels). Until 2002, when the club went bankrupt. Did it disappear? Not at all – it merged with K.F.C. Strombeek, located near Brussels, and became F.C. Molenbeek Brussels Strombeek, playing at the stadium of Molenbeek, in Brussels, but registered in Strombeek. Please, do not despair! FC Brussels is this club today – promoted to the First Division in 2004, and adopting the current name. Dead last too, as you can see above. End of story? Not at all. Group of fans formed and registered new club in 2003 – it is called… R.W.D. Molenbeek. It started in the 4th Brabant Provincial Division, the very bottom of Belgian football (Level 8). And keeping with ‘tradition’, the club absorbed another one in 2006, taking its place in Brabant 1st Division (Level 5). So… who won the Belgian championship in 1974-75? Where exactly those clubs play? To which city they belong?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Who was playing, mockingly asked many a critic, pointing at the adds on team’s jerseys.
Second row,left to right: Tresor, Franceschetti, V Zwunka, Carnus, Lopez JP, BosquierFirst row: Magnusson, Buigues, Skoblar, Keruzore, Kuszowski
Olympique Marseille or Michel Axel?
Advertising was nothing new to football, but so far had been reserved for billboards – permanent or temporary – on the stadiums. Adds on jerseys was felt to be too much, too commercial. It was weaker championships at first, so there was some justification for them – what else to do clubs not exactly getting big gates in France, Austria, Belgium? Only the pragmatic Germans introduced shirt adds from the big football countries at first, but by the end of the 1970s everybody was doing it and grumble increased. It was felt football clubs were becoming secondary appendages to commercial giants. Not football, but increasing sales of products was the priority.
At the end, an absurd conclusion was synthesized: Commercialization was killing football, but in order to survive, football needed commercialization.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The clubs were no better – they thought only money too. By the end of the 1960s the idea of international league came about. The culprits? The same clubs, which now are called G-14 and want the same: a big league of big clubs. It looked a bit more exciting years ago – the domestic championships were not yet deflated and with still scarce television coverage, one more tournament was not so bad. But it was – the idea was opposed, because it was going to affect immediately both domestic and international tournaments: the same fear as today. Television was not seen as a blessing even then: even big clubs opposed television coverage, because they still depended largely on ticket sales. Smaller championships felt particularly threatened – live coverage of the English championship took away from stadiums many fans in Holland. It was felt that big clubs were getting richer at the expense of smaller ones and the game in general – they started buying players for larger and larger sums, thus forcing smaller clubs to spend more, if wanting to compete, spending went out of control as a result and bankruptcy was coming. Almost every club was running big deficits. The situation was particularly bad in South America, where financial troubles were common feature already in the 1960s – most clubs had to sell and sell player after player in the hope just to exist. Good players were concentrating in the big clubs, which decreased competitiveness. In a increasing downfall, the small clubs were losing supporters, therefore, money, and had no hopes. The big clubs increasingly did not see any reason to play against small clubs, because such matches were sinking funds instead of increasing revenue. Players were more and more expensive in the same time – if Bosman Rule was not a good news, it was only a replay of the late 1960s. Jimmy Hill was the Chairman of the Professional Footballers Association since 1957 and in 1961 he successfully campaigned to have the Football League scrap the 20-pounds maximum wage. After that wages steadily increased and affected transfer fees as well. After 1970 transfer fees became ‘insane’ and raising. The scrap of the cap of wages was blamed for that and many clubs cried murder – transfers were leading clubs into bankruptcy. It was one thing to buy and sell stars, but quite another to pay 6-numbers fees for ordinary players. But who was to say what is a ‘real price tag’?
Jimmy Hill – he played for Brentford, Fulham, and Doncaster Rovers. Not much of a footballer, but he was influential and strong chairman of PFA and later – a legendary TV commentator. Like Bosman, he was blamed for opening the floodgates of commercial insanity, killing football. Wages soared and transfer fees soared, and clubs went bankrupt.
Jean-Marc Bosman – the virtually unknown Belgian football player, who changed the transfer system. A saint or a devil?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

An interesting one of Cruiff, dressed hippie-style, the ball, and the vault. Players were seen pretty much like Led Zeppelin, the rock phenomena of the same decade – fun, outrages, badly behaved, but fantastic performers. The fans loved them; the critics hated them. Yet, when the smoke cleared, Led Zeppelin were shrewd businessmen and bank vaults were constantly on their minds. They never said so, though… Cruiff did not either. He looked like a mellow hippie, happy to be on the pitch and play his fantastic football. Behind the façade – and even his chain smoking was part of the good myth: so many cigarettes and still running like a horse, a liberating image, contrasting to the ascetic idea of a footballer created in the 1960s – was the tough businessman.
Do you imagine payment for a goal scored in one’s own net? You should… World Cup 1974: Holland demolished Bulgaria 4-1, but Krol scored in the Holland’s net. Match over, Cruiff demanded payment for Krol’s goal. The team had a contract with a sponsor, who was to pay a bonus for every goal they scored. The contract did not say in which net, though, and Cruiff, the primary negotiator for the Dutch players went for the letter of the contract. The bonus was paid. Perhaps Holland should had scored another two goals in their own net…
But it was not only that: Cruiff played with different kit than the rest of Holland. He had personal contract with another firm.
World Cup 1974: The captains of Holland, Johan Cruiff, and Argentina, Roberto Perfumo, shaking hands before the start of the match. Note Cruiff’s kit.
Pleasant exchange of opinions between Neeskens and Maier at the World Cup 1974 final. Neeskens fitted with Adidas kit, as every other Dutch player, except their captain.

The transfer from Ajax to Barcelona in 1973. It was rumored for months, but both Cruiff and Ajax were evasive. It did not look sure thing, if one listened to the player – Cruiff hinted he was not moving. It must have been tough bargaining, because Barcelona bought another foreign player – the Peruvian star Hugo Sotil – before Cruiff. Spain lifted the old ban on foreign players that year, but only one foreigner was allowed to play. Buying Sotil did not make much sense, unless Cruiff’’s transfer was so tough to be actually uncertain possibility.World Cup 1978. Cruiff refused to play for Holland. He was not alone – many players did not want to play in protest of the brutality in Argentina, ruled by military hunta. Cruiff’s refusal went along at the time and only later the real reasons were unearthed: Cruiff wanted Holland to wear kits either made by Cruiff’s firm, or a firm Cruiff had personal contract with. Cruiff retaliated by refusing to play for national team.
He was hardly the only one. Most stars of the great Ajax have very few appearances for the national team. Much too often they refused to play for Holland. Breitner and Netzer quitted the West German national team in 1975 – they were outraged, because their girlfriends were not invited to official dinner given by the German Federation. From behind the Iron Curtain, those refusals were seen as expressions of freedom, but in the West such attitudes were severely criticized – rich and spoiled stars frivolously ignoring their duties. Some refusals seemed very whimsical indeed.
Colin Todt (Derby County) and Alan Hudson (Chelsea) simply did not show up for the English Under-23 national team match. They did not feel the match was important and did not see reason to join the team, preferring to do something else with their time – the explanation was along those lines. Apparently, the players no longer cared much for their country and their football.
The players were spoiled brats.
Colin Todt (Derby County) in more serious days – player of the year and eventually national player.
Alan Hudson (Chelsea) against Bobby Charlton (Manchester United). Responsibility vs frivolity. Considered one of the brightest hopes of British football in the early 1970s, Hudson quickly sunk into obscurity.