Archive for the ‘Soccer’ Category

A-League

A-League Minor Semi Final 1st Leg - Mariners v Roar

The Hyundai A-League is the highest level of professional football in Australia. Having its inaugural season in 2005, it replaced the previous NSL (National Soccer League) that had operated since 1977. There are currently ten teams contesting in the A-League. Nine of these teams are Australian based, the tenth being based in New Zealand. Growing in popularity of the last eight years of competition, the A-League has become worthy competitors to the existing football codes in the NRL and AFL. The Current champions are the Central Coast Mariners, defeating the Western Sydney Wanders 2-0 in the Grand Final on the 21st of April 2013.

Format of the A-League

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The A-league is played throughout the Australian summer, between the months of October and April. The season is divided into two parts – the regular season and the finals round. The regular season is a round robin style tournament where each team plays each other three times and collects points as they go along. The team that finished with the highest number of points at the end of the regular season is crowned the A-League Premiers, and wins a place in the AFC Champions League.

The Finals Series is a knockout competition played between the top six teams from the regular season. From the 2012/13 season, the top two teams are automatically entered into the second round of competition, meaning that they only have to win one game to progress into the grand final game. The winner of the Grand Final match is crowned the A-League Champions. They receive a playoff spot to qualify for the AFC Champions League.

Debates over the League Format

In recent years there has been great debate over the format of the A-League. Purists of the game believe that the winners of the regular season should be crowned champions of the A-League, and a separate knockout cup style competition be played out along side of it. The argument is that it is far more difficult to win the premiership, and it seems unfair that a team that finished sixth may have the opportunity to win the final trophy. The difficulty with this proposition is that there needs to be more than 10 teams for a cup competition to be viable.

The expansion of the A-league, whilst has been attempted, has not always been successful. Teams like Gold Coast United and the North Queensland Fury have been introduced to the league and have since disbanded due to financial issues. Future aims for the league hopes to introduce a second division of the league, with promotion and relegation at the end of the season. Such visions, however, must be implemented slowly and with effective management, due to the relatively weak financial state of the league.

FIFA Football World Cup

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The FIFA World Cup, held every four years in various locations around the world, is football’s (soccer) largest international competition.  It has been awarded every four years since it’s inception in 1930, except in 1942 and 1946 due to the world war. Currently, Spain holds the world championship by beating the Netherlands in 2010.

Qualification for the World Cup Finals.

The format of the competition is quite complex, with over two hundred teams around the world fighting to qualify for the finals that are held every four years. The nations are divided into six continental zones called confederations – Africa, Asia, North and Central America and the Caribbean, South America, Oceania and Europe. Each confederation has their own qualifying tournaments, and the number of teams allowed to qualify from each confederation is set by FIFA based on the quality of the teams in each zone. In some cases, qualifying may intersect between two confederations, for example, where the fifth placing team from South America plays the first placing team from Oceania. After the qualification process, 32 teams remain to play in the finals.

In the history of the world cup, only eight different teams have won the competition. Brazil is the leader with eight wins, and is the only team to have played in every tournament. The other winners are Italy, Germany, Argentina, Uruguay (who where the inaugural champions), England, France and Spain.

Format of the World Cup Finals

The World Cup finals are divided into two stages – the group stages and the knockout competition. The 32 teams are divided into eight groups of four, and then the four teams play a round robin style competition against each other. The teams are then ranked primarily based on how many points they earn (three points per win, one point per draw and zero per loss) and secondarily on goal difference.

After the group stage, the top two teams from each group enter the knockout competition. The teams play single elimination games with extra time and penalty shootouts used in cases of drawn games. After the round of sixteen, quarterfinals, semi-finals and a third-place match (between the two loosing semi-finalists) a final is played, from which the tournament winner is decided.

English Premier League around the World

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The English Premier League (EPL) is arguably the biggest football competition in the world. With the games being televised to over 600 million viewers in more than 200 countries world wide, it is easy to see why it’s gained such a following. Australia is no exception to this, with hundreds staying up to horrific hours of the morning to support their favourite teams.

English Premier League in Australia

Not surprisingly, the teams that get the greatest following in Australia are the most famous and successful ones. This is a trend that follows the world, and Australia is no exception. Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool gain the greatest following as they are branded as the ‘Big 4’, with teams like Tottenham and Everton commanding the next block of fans. Manchester City has also gained resurgence in recent years after their success following the takeover from the Abu Dhabi United Group.

The following of the Premier League in Australia (and in most parts of the Asian continent) shows it’s great commercial value. Everywhere you go you will see team kits with EPL colours, and not only will you see them, they will be recognized – even by non-followers.

This level of recognition all over the world has a monumental impact on the game from a number of different aspects. The demand for quality is incredibly high, seen clearly by the uproar when EPL teams fail in international competitions such as the European Champions League. Other ways in which the league’s massive following affects the game is through the financial and marketing aspects. Each premier league kit is covered in branding and advertising material, and as each kit is sold, companies that are originally only based in the UK instantly become international companies. There are instances where overseas fans know and recognize brand names, but don’t understand what exactly the company does!

It’s clear that the expansion of the EPL has been hugely successful and has set the standard for all other competitions in the world. The English Premier League in Australia in particular has developed a somewhat cult following for the league, one I’m sure has only space to grow.

Playing Sport over 35

soccer

Association Football or ‘Soccer’ is the world’s most popular sport. There are over 240 million registered players worldwide and many more recreational football players.

Most football injuries affect the lower extremities, which are defined as the groin and pelvis, hip and thigh, knee, calf, foot and ankle. Research shows that most football injuries are caused by trauma, such as a collision with an opponent or landing awkwardly from a jump. Approximately one quarter to one third of all football injuries are due to overuse and develop over a period of time.

When reviewing the published literature on football injuries, the overall incidence of injury in football is between 9 and 35 injuries per 1000 hours of football in adults, and between 0.5 and 13 injuries per 1000 hours of football in adolescents. It is clear that the older the player, the more likely they are to get injured.

The research also shows that more injuries occur during competitive matches than occur during training. There is also a sex difference in football injuries with female players having a higher injury rate than males.

Outrageous Sports in Australia

New Zealand All Blacks

The All Blacks are known for the awesome display of complete manhood. The Haka continues to impress audiences all over the world.