BBC BLOGS - Tim Vickery

Archives for December 2010

Team collective more important than individuals

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Tim Vickery | 13:00 UK time, Monday, 27 December 2010

When he was first making his name with Santos, former Manchester City striker Robinho often spoke of his big ambition to be elected Fifa World Player of the Year.

True, he was seeking to place himself in a tradition of some of his illustrious compatriots, but even so I always found it a depressing declaration. For what it is worth, my view is that far too much attention is given to these individual awards.

In some collective sports the star can make the team. But football is so fluid that it can only happen the other way round - the great player emerges when the collective balance of the side is correct. The team makes the star - and 2010 provides us with some compelling evidence...

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Winning is not everything in Peru

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Tim Vickery | 12:49 UK time, Monday, 20 December 2010

Just as a flower can grow on a dung heap, so one of football's most heartwarming stories of the year began with a depressing staple of the South American game - the mass brawl. It came in the first leg of the final of the Peruvian Championship.

The away side, San Martin, are something of a curiosity. They were set up by a university in Lima less than seven years ago and have very few fans. Last year, when I saw them in a Lima derby against Sporting Cristal, they had brought a grand total of 33 supporters across town - plus a dancing mascot dressed up as a tooth.

Why a tooth? Because the most animated fans of the club's tiny support base - composed of students from the university - are studying dentistry.

Despite the lack of backing, this fledgling club were crowned Peruvian champions in 2007 and 2008. Now, in 2010, they were going for a third title, up against Leon of Huanuco, who have fans but no titles.

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World Club Cup deserves respect

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Tim Vickery | 15:09 UK time, Monday, 13 December 2010

The champions of all the continents have congregated in Abu Dhabi for the annual World Club Cup - to the usual European indifference.

The great Brazilian left-back Roberto Carlos recently spoke of how, in 2000, he tried in vain to get his Real Madrid team-mates excited at the prospect of becoming world champions, but they treated it as a holiday. It did not endear him to fans of Corinthians, his current club, who won the title a decade ago.

Meanwhile, British football fans, it seems, can barely stifle a yawn about the competition, but I think this is unfortunate.

Everything started so positively. The roots of the current tournament lie in the annual battle between the champions of Europe and South America, started in 1960, which produced some epic matches in its early years.

Indeed, Pele believes his performance when Santos tore Benfica apart to win the title in Lisbon in 1962 as the finest of his career.

The British, though, only came to the party after Santos had given up on South America's Champions League. Instead, by the time Celtic and Manchester United won the European Cup, the Libertadores was in the grip of Argentine football at its most cynical.

There was little pleasure in facing Racing and Estudiantes, as Celtic and United did in 1967 and 68 respectively - just a long voyage to face stones thrown from the crowd and niggling opponents determined to remove all flow from the game.

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History teaches us that Fifa has changed little

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Tim Vickery | 14:44 UK time, Monday, 6 December 2010

A couple of weeks ago I was doing the translating when Dan Roan interviewed former Fifa president Joao Havelange at the Soccerex conference in Rio de Janeiro.

Still entirely lucid well into his 90s, the Brazilian was asked what needed to change in Fifa. "Nothing," he replied. "It's perfect. It's not because of one fact in 50 years [a reference to the recent corruption scandals] that we have to change."

It is impossible to agree.

The facts would appear to be not one but many. Hiding behind its status as a not-for-profit organisation, Fifa's lack of transparency is surely unsustainable.

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