Europe

The fizz went out of football for a lot of fans in Salzburg, thanks to an energy-drink billionaire. In this update, Paul Joyce reports on the lower-league alternative to a team drained of its colour

The acquisition of SV Austria Salzburg by Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz in April 2005 reduced the 1994 UEFA Cup finalists to a mere marketing trinket. “There is no tradition, no history, no archive,” stated officials of the renamed “Red Bull Salzburg”, who initially claimed that the three-time national champions had been founded in 2005. The violet-and-white colours in which the team had played since 1933 were jettisoned in favour of the red and blue of the energy drink’s tin cans. “I can’t play with a purple bull if the brand is called Red Bull,” Mateschitz stated bluntly.

Daniel Gray discovers that the past of Arsenal's recent opponents Dinamo Zagreb is far from ordinary

While the price of refreshments in their pristine Emirates abode is a more likely cause of protest for Arsenal fans than political events, for supporters of Champions League qualifier opponents Dinamo Zagreb the reality at home games is very different.  This manifested itself most in the final home game of last season, a 1‑0 victory over Hajduk Split on May 13, when, instead of indulging in the now traditional lap of honour, both club and followers celebrated Dinamo’s Croatian championship triumph by publicly lauding an alleged war criminal and demonstrating against his treatment.

Following their UEFA Cup run last season, Sorin Dumitrescu looks back on the finest hour of Steaua Bucharest, and one man in particular

Steaua Bucharest’s run in this season’s UEFA Cup brought the club to international attention for the first time since the 1980s, when they twice reached the final of the European Cup. Their triumph in 1986 against Barcelona was entirely down to one man, goalkeeper Helmuth Duckadam, who saved four penalties in Steaua’s 2-0 shootout victory. 

Is Russian football corrupt, internationally and domestically? That’s what Latvia’s captain was reported to have said and some clubs agree, as Dan Brennan reports

Ever since Stalin got together with Hitler to annex the Baltic states in 1940 as part of a secret carve-up, relations between Latvia and Russia have remained strained, something that 14 years of independence has done little to patch over. A Russian newspaper recently called for all good Russians to boycott Latvian tinned sprats – a culinary favourite since Soviet times – in protest at discrimination against Latvia’s Russian community. And August’s World Cup qualifier between the two countries in Riga threatened to spark a new international incident.

Arsenal fans worried that they hadn’t heard of Champions League rivals Thun shouldn’t be embarrassed. Paul Joyce explains the rise of the tiny Swiss side, with players whose annual salaries are less than many Premiership stars get in a week

Having hosted West Germany’s World Cup final victory over Hungary in 1954, the recently rebuilt Stade de Suisse Wankdorf witnessed its second “Miracle of Bern” on August 23. Nine years after gaining promotion from the semi-professional third division and a mere three years after arriving in the top flight, FC Thun 1898 became only the third Swiss side to reach the Champions League, by completing a 4-0 aggregate victory over Swedish side Malmö.

Strange brown envelopes at Genoa, ominous red ink at the bank for Torino, taxing times for Messina: it has been an angry summer in Italy, as Matt Barker explains

It’s difficult to know for whom to feel the most sorry. The long-suffering fans of Genoa who, still bleary-eyed from celebrating their return to Serie A after ten years, discovered that the club had been accused of match-fixing. Or maybe the Torino tifosi who, having survived a play-off against Perugia, were looking forward to life back in the top division, only to be told that Il Toro were to face charges of false accounting.

Why are French club owners smiling so much? That'd be the massive cash windfall they're getting from Canal Plus, says Ben Lyttleton

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas made a good point during the protracted negotiations with Chelsea over the transfer of Michael Essien. Not only did his club not want to sell their best player to a Champions League rival, he said, but they did not need to.

It's not just PSG's play that's foul, writes Dave Winter, it's their crowds as well

When the International Olympic Committee’s representatives visit Paris early this month to assess the city’s bid for the 2012 Games, you can be sure their hosts will keep them well away from a home match featuring the main Paris football team. It’s not just that PSG have been dire this season, finishing bottom of their Champions League group and struggling in the bottom half of Ligue 1. One whiff of the poisonous atmosphere at the Parc des Princes this season and the IOC would be straight on the blower to Seb Coe with some good news.

Ben Lyttleton looks at the corruption scandal rocking Turkish football

Turkey’s national coach Ersun Yanal has been forced to deny allegations that he received illegal payments for fixing matches when he was Ankaragucu coach four years ago. Yanal claimed the accusations against him, made by former Ankaragucu player Cafer Aydin, were part of a plot to oust him from his current post. Yanal is under fire for poor results since replacing Senol Gunes as Turkey coach. The side that finished third in the last World Cup are looking unlikely to qualify for the 2006 tournament: they are currently fourth in Group Two, eight points behind leaders Ukraine. “It is very clear that this has been done for certain purposes,” said Yanal. “I have never been involved in any such dealings.”

Referee Robert Hoyzer has caused chaos in Germany by admitting that he fixed matches for sex, money and high-value electrical goods, as Paul Joyce reports

Bribery scandals have rocked German football before, not least during the 1970-71 season when more than 50 players were discovered to have manipulated the outcome of Bundesliga matches. Few be­lieved, however, that the man in the middle could be involved in match-rigging until January 2005, when 25-year-old referee Robert Hoyzer admitted receiving €67,000 (and a plasma TV) for fixing the results of four matches, and attempting unsuccessfully to influence the outcome of two others.

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