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Mark Viduka inducted into Sport Australia Hall of Fame

Viduka

Legendary Socceroo and National Soccer League Champion Mark Viduka has been honoured with an induction into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

Viduka, 46, joins fellow Socceroos Ray Baartz, Harry Kewell, Joe Marston MBE, Alfred Quill, Peter Wilson & Johnny Warren OAM MBE in the Sport Australia Hall of Fame.

The ‘V Bomber’ played 43 ‘A’ internationals for Australia, scoring 11 goals and captaining the side to their only ever knockout rounds appearance at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Viduka was born in Melbourne in 1975 to a Ukrainian-Croatian mother and Croatian father, and grew up playing at the junior ranks of Melbourne Knights (formerly Melbourne Croatia).

After spending a year at the Australian Institute of Sport in the early 90’s, Viduka made his senior NSL debut for the Knights in 1993 as a 17-year-old.

In his two full seasons for the club, he won both the Golden Boot and Johnny Warren Medal for the best player of the season, twice, and helped the Knights win their maiden title in 1994/95.

In 1995, a move abroad gained momentum and he was sold to Dinamo Zagreb in Croatia, to play for the biggest club in the homeland of his parents. The transfer money earned by the Knights enabled them to build a grandstand at their home in Somers St, named the ‘Mark Viduka Stand’.

Viduka then moved to Celtic and scored 25 league goals in the 1999/2000 season, comfortably winning the Golden Boot, and helped the side win the Scottish League Cup. He was voted the Players’ Player of the Season, and was then sold to English Premier League side Leeds United for £6 million.

It is in the famous Leeds United colours that some of Viduka’s most famous moments were created.

The highlight of his first season was a masterclass against Liverpool FC. Leeds won the match 4-3 against the Reds, with Viduka scoring all four goals for Leeds at Elland Road. He finished that season with 22 goals in all competitions, picking up where he left off with Celtic.

In his second and third seasons with Leeds, Viduka scored 16 and 22 goals respectively, with the side continuing to ply their trade in Europe. Viduka was transferred at the end of the fourth season to Middlesbrough for £4.5 million.

After the heartbreak of 1997 and 2001 World Cup qualifying, Australia had their best chance to end the 32-year drought of not making a Men’s World Cup. After losing the first leg 1-0 to Uruguay away in Montevideo, the Socceroos took Uruguay to penalties in the second leg after Mark Bresciano made it 1-1 on aggregate.

Heroics from Mark Schwarzer in the ensuing penalty shoot-out ensured the Socceroos would qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, and despite Viduka missing a penalty in the shoot-out, he expertly captained the national team to one of the biggest and most memorable nights in Australian sport’s history.

And after the 2008/09 season with Middlesbrough – and despite interest from brand-new A-League club Melbourne Heart, Viduka called time on his incredible career. An icon of the game, Viduka will forever be one of Australia’s and the NSL’s finest ever exports to the Premier League.

Paramount+ secures Premier League deal overseas

A-Leagues broadcaster Paramount+ has secured a three-year deal for English Premier League broadcast rights in Mexico and Central America.

A-Leagues broadcaster Paramount+ has secured a three-year deal for English Premier League rights in Mexico and Central America from the start of the 2022/23 season.

The new partnership will mark the end of pay-TV provider Sky Mexico’s reign as the only Premier League broadcaster in the region.

All 380 English Premier League matches will be streamed live through Paramount+ and ‘PlutoTV’ who is the aggregated streaming platform for Paramount+.

The contract covers Mexico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. It also includes Belize and the Dominican Republic but on a non-exclusive basis.

Paramount+, owned by ViacomCBS, has also secured a Premier League feed for its platforms featuring 24/7 coverage of the competition.

ViacomCBS launched Paramount+ in the US in 2019 with several high-profile soccer rights acquisitions. This included International matches, CONCACAF, UEFA Champions League, as well as top flight football from Italy, Argentina and Brazil.

The Premier League rights deal marks an expansion of operations in Central America ahead of moving into a number of additional territories by 2023, including the UK, Ireland, Germany and Italy.

Premier League Chief Executive Officer, Paul Molnar:

“We are very happy that ViacomCBS views the Premier League and our clubs as a vital part of their live sports offering,” he said.

“ViacomCBS platforms, including Paramount+ and Pluto TV, will be an outstanding home for the Premier League and we look forward to working together to showcase the league to new and existing fans throughout Central America and Mexico.”

Paramount+ has already made their mark in Australia, providing live coverage for A-League men’s and women’s competitions for subscribers to the platform.

ViacomCBS President and Chief Executive, Raffaele Annecchino:

“We know audiences around the world are passionate about sports, and especially about football. This partnership with the Premier League brings exclusive content directly to those fans, live for the first time on Paramount+ in Mexico and Central America,” he said.

“Live sports are an important differentiator for our streaming service, and as we’ve seen in the US and Australia, we are confident this will drive subscriber growth as we continue to offer the best mix of entertainment and now – live sports.”

LaLiga celebrates five years of international growth

LaLiga has celebrated five years of it's very own unique international structure that has driven worldwide expansion of the competition.

LaLiga has celebrated five years of it’s very own unique international structure that has driven worldwide expansion of the competition, turning the Spanish league into a world-leading reference for the sports industry.

The LaLiga Global Network program was launched in early January 2017, and is present in 41 different countries, with 44 on-site delegates and another 11 employees working from LaLiga headquarters in Madrid.

The program also has 11 international offices and two joint ventures in North America and China. The international expansion strategy has covered over 90 different countries, boasting an extreme amount of growth throughout a five-year period.

It is a big reason why more and more people around the world are falling in love with LaLiga football.

LaLiga executive director Oscar Mayo:

“Five years ago, we embarked on an ambitious mission to bring the entertainment and emotion of LaLiga to more fans around the world and to help grow football as a sport everywhere,” he said.

“We are very proud that LaLiga and its main protagonists, clubs, players, coaches, are closer today to more people around the world than ever before.

“That said, this is just the beginning, together with clubs and with the support of our new partner CVC, we will give our international efforts a massive boost.”

The internationalisation strategy has had a positive effect in the growth of the community within LaLiga facts across the globe, as the league now possesses 146 million followers.

LaLiga produces plenty of content, however what is unique is that the content is published in over 20 different languages across 17 different social media platforms, allowing discussions about the league to occur in many different places.

Out of all the top five leagues in Europe, LaLiga has the largest following. Even in recent years, the number of international activations organised by LaLiga has doubled, reaching 1,222 across more than 90 countries.

Mayo continued:

“When it comes to football fans outside of Spain, we always say that we would like to be everyone’s second most popular league, after their local league,” he said.

“National leagues are the true engine of football and that’s why LaLiga is sharing the recipe of its own success with leagues, federations and clubs around the world.

“The growing number of commercial partnerships around the world is a sign of the increasing relevance of LaLiga. Our commercial partner are a very important part of LaLiga fan engagement.”

La Liga has had 247% in the value of the competitions’ international audiovisual rights since 2013/14 and a boost to the value of the LaLiga brand.

The numbers confirm that Spanish football has captivated fans all over the world, whilst attesting to the success of the internationalisation process.

“We are on an exciting journey to entertain people around the globe. We will continue to make bold bets to bring Spanish football fans everywhere great entertainment and to introduce our competition to more people everywhere. We are only just getting started,” Mayo said.

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