Europe

Simon Evans tells the tale of how he co-wrote The Rough Guide to European Football

The Hungarian train conductor thought we were two very strange young men. Two Englishmen sat in a train travelling to see Videoton, UEFA Cup finalists in 1985, in a relegation play-off in Salgotarjan, a small ex-mining town in the depressed East of Hungary.

The reunification of Germany had big implications for football in the new country. Karsten Blaas explores how the game has developed since the Berlin Wall fell

At the end of last season, German football commentators were able to announce some rare good news from the east: all professional club teams from the formerly communist part of the country had avoided relegation. Hansa Rostock had successfully completed their Bundesliga campaign while Leipzig, Jena and Zwickau secured their places in division two. Energie Cottbus added some icing to the cake by winning promotion to the Second and reaching the cup final (which they lost).

Berlin may be Germany's capital but is a city of footballing minnows. Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger looks at the city's underachievement

Berlin is the most bizarre of the European metropolises, decadent and yet slightly provincial, megalomaniacal but isolated, both historically and geographically. People from Berlin are friendly, open and yet inaccessible, stuck up; they are proud of their city and its history, even though for the greater part of this century Berlin has been associated with two brutal regimes. What has that to do with football? Everything.

Alan Pattullo tells the remarkable story of a tiny club from Andorra's adventure in the UEFA Cup

A principality dug into the Pyrenees between France and Spain, Andorra is not the pastoral haven you might assume. Thanks to its tax free status it has been variously described as “a drive-in supermarket” and “a cross between Shangri-La and Heathrow Duty Free”. Not surprisingly, football too has managed to breach its borders, though the Andorran Football Association was only founded in 1994. Now members of UEFA, they will be playing in the next set of European championship qualifiers.

Spanish clubs have started to influence the results of matches by offering certain teams lavish incentives. Alex Simpson reports on this legal method of winning the league

When Hercules Alicante beat Barcelona in the game which all but scuppered the latter’s title hopes, the winning team were reported to have picked up $50,000 a man from rivals Real Madrid. Barcelona reciprocated by offering a $2 million incentive to Atlético Madrid in the title decider derby. Big bucks weren’t on offer in the relegation battle at the other end of the table the following week, but with the new TV deal kicking in, the stakes were equally high.

Pedro Nieto, President of Extremadura, the smallest-ever club to grace Spain´s top flight, hit on a novel way to ensure that the opponents of fellow relegation candidates took to the field equally motivated.

Although Yugoslavia's players are in other European leagues, the state of the game back home is in crisis. Simon Evans reports

Having spent decades just missing out on glory, the Yugoslavs looked set to finally make a decisive impact in a major tournament. Red Star Belgrade had been crowned champions of Europe and the national team – with stars such as Prosinecki, Savicevic and Stojkovic – was among the favourites for the 1992 European Championships in Sweden.

There has been a recent influx of African players into the Turkish league. David O'Byrne analyses their impact

We know all about the phenomenon of racial abuse at British football grounds and it’s tempting to assume that the same pattern exists elsewhere in the footballing world. In Turkey, where a resurgent economy has left the top clubs awash with cash and their fans eager for success on the international stage, the situation is complex but, on the whole, encouraging.

Hooliganism is getting out of control in Holland. Marcelle Van Hoof describes the latest incident that resulted in a supporter's death

On Sunday morning March 23rd around 50 Ajax fans met and fought with 200 of their Feyenoord counterparts in a field near a busy main road. In the fight which lasted only five minutes one Ajax supporter, Carlo Picornie, was so badly hit on the head with steel and wooden bars that he died.

Phil Ball and Juanjo Moran explain the Spanish model of the feeder club system

The Spanish league system is something of an oddity in Europe. There are basically three divisions worthy of note – The First, the Second A‚ and the Second B‚ after which there lies a morass of regional feeder leagues containing a hotch-potch of small town clubs, some forgotten bigger clubs, clubs who represent barrios (neighbourhoods), of larger cities that were once independent of the current conurbation, and some reserve sides.

Simon Evans explains why the bad old days of English football have come to be re-enacted every weekend in stadiums throughout the former Soviet Bloc

Attending a game in Eastern Europe for an English fan is a strangely familiar experience: you could be at an English Third Division match circa 1981 – the crumbling, half-empty terraces, stinking toilets, the alcohol, the drunks and the ‘boys’ staring each other out through fences topped with barbed wire.

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