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Every football match must take place somewhere

Whether it’s a local park that consists of 90% mud or the hallowed turf of Wembley Stadium, all matches have a location.

But for some teams, namely those with strong supporter bases all around the world, sometimes that’s not enough. In our day and age, nearly any team can make a meteoric rise up the football food chain and establish themselves as a ‘big club’.

As an example, let’s look at Manchester City. A club that 20-30 years ago was a relegation battler in the First Division. They would go up and come back like a yo-yo. They weren’t a mainstay in the top flight, and they weren’t even close to the financial powerhouse that they are today.

In fact, let’s fast forward a little bit to the end of the 2007/2008 Premier League season. They weren’t relegation battlers, but they were still hardly world-beaters. It was the last day of the season, nothing was on the line.

Middlesborough had come off a disappointingly uneventful season and also had nothing to play for. With City in managerial turmoil with Sven Goran Eriksson on the way out, City were smashed 8-1 by a Middlesborough side that with respect to players like Mark Schwarzer and Stewart Downing, was nothing special. Boro were relegated last season and have only come back up once since (2016-17).

But soon after that dark day, City were overtaken by Shiekh Mansour and ever since, he and his endless streams of money have turned Manchester City into a dominant football club.

From playing at Maine Road to the jaw-dropping Etihad Stadium, City have come a long way. Maine Road seated 35,000 fans but was consistently under construction, plainly designed and bluntly, nothing spectacular.

Now, they have the magnificent Etihad Stadium. A rich, strong club with 60,000 fans (most weeks anyway). It’s futuristic, sleek and above average for a standard Premier League stadium. It even has world class training facilities right next door for their stars as well as their youth academy players.

The point I’m getting at is this. Your stadium can go a long way to defining your club. If your stadium looks the part and has a fanbase that can back up your players on the pitch, it gives everyone a good idea who you are as a club.

Stadiums are a place where people can come together. It’s a place of unity for thousands of passionate fans. They are all united in the same cause. Bringing together tens of thousands of people to fight for one thing is what makes football unique and it’s what makes stadiums special.

It’s the place where magical moments take place. Etihad Stadium was the location for perhaps the greatest moment in Premier League history. Needing a win to take home the league title, City were 2-1 down to relegation threatened QPR. Manchester United, City’s old foes, were the only challengers and they were leading away at Sunderland.

Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero then scored to put City ahead in injury time, derailing United’s title hopes and creating the most iconic piece of commentary in world football. Martin Tyler’s ‘Agueroooooooo!’ call will forever in football folklore, as will City’s title win.

For Australians, it will be where John Aloisi scored the winning penalty against Uruguay in 2005 to send the Socceroos to the World Cup. A moment forever entrenched in the minds of Australian soccer fans.

ANZ Stadium was the location and regardless of what takes place in the future, it will always be associated with that infamous penalty.

As will Wembley Stadium with England’s 1966 World Cup win. Same goes for Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul for Liverpool fans after their heroic 2005 Champions League victory. Every set of fans will always hold a moment close to their heart.

And they will always remember when, who and most importantly, where.

All these moments are just that. Moments in time that are so significant to so many fans across the world. And they all take place somewhere.

A cauldron. A theatre. A stadium, where extraordinary and unforgettable moments happen all the time.

Caelum Ferrarese is a Senior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on micro policy within Australasia and industry disruptions at grassroots level.

FIFA and Mexican Football Federation’s Supercopa Femenil to encourage growth in women’s football

FIFA

With the financial support of FIFA, the Mexican Football Federation has launched the FIFA | FMF Supercopa Femenil (Women’s Super Cup) as part of its women’s football development programme.

The five-day U-15 tournament (between 3-7 August) organised in Toluca, provided 206 players across 12 teams from Nuevo León, Tlaxcala, Chiapas, Mexico City, Sinaloa, Jalisco, Veracruz, Guanajuato, Estado de México, Baja California, Chihuahua, as well as a representative team from the United States, with an opportunity to have their talents detected by scouts from both Liga MX, and the Mexican national teams.

FIFA will provide technical support, equipment and funding for two years, as well as education and empowerment through seminars for coaches.

The FIFA’s Women’s Development Programme aims to provide all 211 member associations with the opportunity to apply for, and access additional resources and specialist expertise to develop women’s football at a national level.

Member associations can apply for support across eight key areas of women’s football development during the 2020-2023 period. In addition to financial assistance to cover the costs in selected programmes, the FIFA Women’s Development Programme will also provide access to women’s football experts, additional equipment and technical support within FIFA.

“The Supercopa Femenil was born from the dream of bringing Mexican youth players to a competitive showcase for women’s football in our country, attracting the best academies that are supporting the development of players in this category. This has resulted in a life-changing experience to be scouted by national team staff, and those of Liga MX Femenil teams,” Lucia Mijares, FMF Technical Sports Development Director, said in a statement.

Andrea Rodebaugh, FIFA Women’s Football Consultant, added via FIFA:

“Observing the Supercopa Femenil in Mexico has been inspirational. Its implementation is helping strengthen pathways by showcasing talent, motivating players and coaches as well as sharing knowledge and unique experiences so that growth continues where needed. There is so much talent, potential and support from everyone in the FMF. I am very optimistic for the future.”

Karl Dodd, FIFA Women’s Football Expert, stated via FIFA:

“The Supercopa has been well organised and provides a great opportunity for players to gain experience playing against top teams in their age group. It also enables scouts to watch these players, and for coaches to undertake development workshops to further improve the positive impact they have on players, supporting their personal and professional development.”

EA Sports to be the title sponsor for all LaLiga competitions

EA Sports & LaLiga

Beginning from the 2023-24 season onwards, a new multi-year agreement between EA Sports and LaLiga will pave the way for new experiences, deeper in-game integrations, enhanced broadcast communications, and commitment to grassroots initiatives.

The one-of-a-kind, multi-year partnership will allow both parties to deliver groundbreaking experiences for global football fans, with EA SPORTS FC securing title naming rights for all LaLiga competitions.

In addition, the deal will see a complete rebrand of LaLiga with EA Sports including all logos, graphics, fonts and other visual elements, while also delivering new in-game integration, broadcast highlights, and joint commitments to supporting grassroots initiatives.

This new partnership will encompass the first and second divisions of LaLiga (Spain’s top professional football competitions), LaLiga Promises (the league’s annual youth tournament) and eLaLiga.

“EA Sports FC is committed to delivering the most authentic and immersive experiences in global football. Our innovative new partnership with LaLiga further elevates that ambition and solidifies both organizations’ position at the centre of football culture,” David Jackson, VP Brand, EA Sports FC, said in a statement.

“The visible reach and scale of this partnership is deeply exciting, as is the opportunity to deliver incredible experiences for fans through in-game innovation, interactive entertainment and grassroots initiatives.

“EA Sports represents the cutting edge of interactive football experiences while LaLiga is at the forefront of actual football competitions with unmatched in-person, broadcast and digital fan experiences,” said Javier Tebas, President, LaLiga. “We have been strategic partners with EA Sports for years and this expanded agreement is a commitment to providing the next level of innovation to all football fans, a fusion between the virtual and real worlds of football.”

With this partnership, EA Sports and LaLiga will deepen their collaboration. Both LaLiga and EA Sports are committed to grassroots initiatives to grow the game which will include increasing accessibility, upgrading facilities, and many more initiatives to truly immerse fans into the world of football.

“This partnership with EA Sports is set to truly transform the way football is enjoyed around the world,” LaLiga Executive Director Óscar Mayo said via EA Sports.

“Moreover the alliance demonstrates LaLiga is a global brand, evidence of the success of our league to connect with fans internationally.

“We’re thrilled to partner with a worldwide leader in football fandom to better connect our fans to their favourite clubs, players, and LaLiga competitions,” said Nick Wlodyka, SVP & GM, EA Sports FC. “The contributions from LaLiga to our EA Sports FC portfolio will be immense, not only from a visual aspect, but across technological and game development improvements, further blurring the lines between the real and virtual worlds of football.”

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