Europe

The uses that organised crime groups have for football are changing, in both scope and style. Matthew Barker reports

Stories of organised crime latching onto football are nothing new. Illegal gambling rings, match-fixing, extortion, money-laundering – the globalisation of the game has seen a parallel growth in criminal activity.

Saul Pope looks at two footballers who may go on to represent their adopted countries, and the concerns this has provoked

With Euro 2012 qualification in full swing, Russia will be hoping to join close neighbours and hosts Ukraine at the finals tournament. If they manage to qualify, it will be the first time the two have appeared at a major tournament together. There may be another first, as both sides could feature naturalised black players – Senegalese defender Papa Gueye for Ukraine, and Brazilian forward Welliton for Russia. 

James Eastham takes up the story of a club with big backing but a low profile, currently making a big splash in Ligue 2

Data emerged a couple of years ago revealing that the French eat just under a billion tonnes of yoghurt a year. If some of those consumers are buying Danone, the nation is unwittingly contributing to the success of one of France's newest football clubs. Evian Thonon Gaillard made headlines in August when they won their opening three league games to briefly head the Ligue 2 table. Their start was all the more impressive because it came just a few short months after the club had taken its place in the second tier by winning last season's National (third division) title.

Bratislavia's oldest club don't seem to be missing their brief period of domestic success and European glory. James Baxter explains

Anyone who has registered MSK Žilina‘s progress to the group stages of this season's Champions League may also recall that the last team from Slovakia to get this far was Artmedia Bratislava, in 2005-06. But, while Žilina fans have been in bitter dispute with their club over ticket prices for home games in the competition, FC Petržalka 1898, as Artmedia are now known, are experiencing life outside Slovakia's top division and, so far, seem to be enjoying it.

Alex Anderson reflects on the unusual task he has set for himself, of going to watch every team that has reached a European cup final

I’ve seen 66 of them. That’s exactly two-thirds. There are probably some who’ve seen the lot though. Probably even more, like me, will have realised that “every European finalist” is as worthy of bagging ambition as “every League ground”, “every League champion” and “every club Neil Warnock’s managed”. No doubt, I’ll be far from alone in recognising it as worthy of that kind of on-the-autism-spectrum attention. But when the list hits 100 – and Fulham last season were number 99 – everyone will want a piece.

While Bosnia's national team continues to improve, their federation is under attack from fans, as James Taylor reports

Late at night on September 3, after Bosnia’s victory in Luxembourg, one of the presidents of the Football Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BFF), Bogdan Ceko, was attacked by unidentified assailants. This has nothing to do with safety in Luxembourg; it is an unsurprising symptom of the off-field troubles that plague Bosnian football.

Steve Bradley explains why the opening night of a new national stadium led to unnecessary embarrassment

Wednesday August 4 should have been a proud day for Irish football. With the covers lifted from Lansdowne Road to reveal the new 50,000-capacity Aviva Stadium, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) threw a housewarming party to celebrate. But the invite list and guests’ behaviour left a sour taste for some fans.

Paul Joyce reports on the growth of match-fixing at every level across Europe, and how the authorities are working to combat it

In November 2009, news broke of the biggest match-fixing scandal in European football history. With the support of UEFA, investigators working for the public prosecutors’ office in the German city of Bochum identified 200 matches in nine European countries where manipulation was believed to have taken place. The Bochum commission, codenamed Flankengott, had intercepted phone calls, SMS messages and emails from 200 suspects throughout Europe.

Sasha Goryunov looks at how attempts to improve youth development don't always have the desired effect

What attracted Zenit St Petersburg, runaway leaders of the Russian league, to Aleksandr Bukharov? It wasn’t his knee – which has a history of cruciate damage. It may have been his 16 goals in 23 games in 2009 for reigning champions Rubin. But those goals would have been insufficient without something else – Bukharov’s Russian passport.

A German-speaking club are enjoying unprecedented success thanks to a strong Italian influence. John Chapman explains

May 23, 2010, was a day that will be long remembered by supporters of Allgemeine Sportvereinigung Eupen. On that day, AS Eupen became the first team from the German-speaking region of Belgium to reach the Jupiler League. With a population of 18,000 and close enough to Cologne to make watching games in the Bundesliga attractive, it’s not obvious how Eupen could put together a team that would one day rub shoulders with Anderlecht and Standard Liège. The answer dates back to October 2008, when Eupen were five points adrift at the bottom of the second division, and the arrival of Antonio Imborgia.

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