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Sunday, July 17, 2011


It states in FIFA's Laws of the Game that a football pitch should have two sets of goalposts, and that they should reach a height of 8 feet, connected by a 24-foot long crossbar. Now, nothing lasts forever, and that goes for sets of goalposts as much as for anything else.

Even the goalposts at the Estádio Maracanã (or, to give it its correct name, the Estádio Mario Filho) have to be changed from time to time, but their changing doesn't always end up gaining a place in football legend. It did after they were reputedly changed in 1963, following a FIFA edict dating from 1959 which stated that sets of a goalposts used had to be changed from a square shape, like those used at the Maracanã, for example, to a round shape which was less of a danger to players who might collide with them. (Did FIFA use somebody to conduct experiments using square and round goalposts, one might ask?)

The Maracanã was the scene of the deciding match in the 1950 World Cup, when Brazil only needed to draw against Uruguay to lift the trophy. It was Uruguay, however, who came away with the spoils after a 2:1 win which stunned - and many say, changed - a nation; that nation, of course, being Brazil. The defeat also changed the life of Moacyr Barbosa, Brazil's goalkeeper that day, who afterwards was hounded by the Brazilian media (and a good percentage of the country's population at large) until the day he died, in 2000.

After his playing career ended in 1962, Barbosa ended up, ironically enough, working at the Maracanã in a supervisory capacity (not as a tour guide, as has been claimed elsewhere). Barbosa recounted the rather bizarre story of a set of goalposts to the writer and journalist Roberto Muylaert, who was writing a book on the former goalkeeper. (The book, "Barbosa - Um gol faz cinquenta anos" - in English, "Barbosa - A goal lasts for fifty years" - was eventually published a few months after Barbosa's death.)

Muylaert found it difficult to approach Barbosa about the story, which starts with Barbosa finding work at the Maracanã in 1963. Shortly after he began work at the stadium, it was said that Abelardo Franco, the  president of ADEG (Associacão Desportiva do Estado da Guanabara), the organisation responsible for the upkeep of stadiums in the Guanabara region, gave one of the sets of goalposts to Barbosa, who took them home and, allegedly, burned them whilst hosting a barbecue for his friends. (The organisation currently responsible for looking after stadia in and around Rio de Janeiro is the Superintendencia dos Estádios do Rio de Janeiro (SUDERJ)).

Barbosa was, unjustly, still being vilified by the Brazilian media and by sections of the general public, who blamed him for conceding the second - and winning - Uruguayan goal, scored by Alcides Ghiggia. Barbosa's burning of the set of goalposts was described in Muylaert's book as being akin to a "liturgy of purification". (Co-incidentally, Muylaert was in Montevideo interviewing Ghiggia for the book at the time of Barbosa's death.) Muylaert also wrote that there were no witnesses who could corroborate the story of, or photographs taken of, a scene which would have resembled those  featured in "documentaries about the Ku Klux Klan, full of gleaming reflections on people's faces."

A very rough translation of one of the passages in Muylaert's book reveals a potential reason for burning the set of goalposts."If there are no more goalposts, then there would be no goal, no game, no championship, no defeat, no terrifying silence at the end of the game, not the heavy and dramatic feet-dragging of the people leaving, interspersed with a few muffled sobs of grief, not only from the public but also from several players in the Brazilian changing-room..The aroma of grilled meat overcame the strong smell of burnt paint from the beams [goalposts]."  

Giving the set of goalposts to the ex-Brazilian international was certainly a very clever piece of psychology by Franco; their burning certainly helped Barbosa shed at least some of his demons. It did not, alas, help him get his good name back among the Brazilian media. 

The story of Barbosa and the set of goalposts only came to light when Muylaert launched what became the former international goalkeeper's biography in late 2000, and it caused a bit of a stir among the Brazilian media.

Muylaert recalls that "Milton Neves, a radio sports journalist, phoned me when I launched the book and said that he was sure that in his [home town] in the hinterland of Minas Gerais State, called Muzambinho, there were the goalposts of Maracanã final match, still in use. My answer was that there are two goal posts on a football field..."

"Another journalist from Rio....called Ruy Castro wrote in a newspaper in Rio that the story of the goalposts  "came from Mr. Muylaert's imaginative mind". I called Castro to clarify the subject, but his answer was 'I wrote about your book without reading it.'"

If that was so, then Castro's article could hardly be described as a piece of investigative journalism worthy of the name. As mentioned earlier, Muylaert found it "awkward" to approach Barbosa about the story at first, but Barbosa told it to him twice; the second time, the story was recorded, and matched the first version pretty much word-for-word. The second conversation was witnessed by another journalist, Claudio de Souza.

But did the burning of the set of goalposts given to Barbosa actually happen? Mylaert himself cannot verify that it did; along with people such as Ruy Castro, Barbosa's former international team-mate (and fellow World Cup runner-up Zizinho considered that the story was merely fantasy.

However, the doubters cannot disprove that the incident happened, either. In Muylaert's own words: "I don't know whether it actually happened; what I can prove is that Barbosa told me, with great emphasis, the same story twice on different sessions." And Muylaert should know what sort of man Moacyr Barbosa was; he spent a lot of time together with Barbosa while researching his book on the former Vasco da Gama and Brazil star before his death in April 2000, aged 79. That in itself should, one would think, be more than convincing enough. In any event, Barbosa's alleged burning of the set of goalposts has long since earned its place in Brazilian football folklore.

But what indeed of the second set of goalposts? Well, a man called Uriah Antonio Oliveira, who was a native of the small town of Muzambinho in the extreme south of Minas Gerais state, was apparently on good terms with the then Brazilian president, Juscelino Kubitschek, and the Mayor of Rio de Janeiro.

Oliveira was the brother-in-law of Muzambinho's mayor, Joaquim Teixeira Neto, and they both approached ADEG with a view to obtaining the set of goalposts as a kind of relic for the town. To their amazement, ADEG agreed (as long as someone would go and pick them up from the Maracanã), and two local lorry-drivers, Justimiano da Silva Coelho and Geraldo Tardelli, were dispatched to Rio to collect the goalposts from the Maracanã.

The lorry-drivers' run normally took them to São Paulo, and they initially thought that their employer's mental state had taken a turn for the worse by sending them to Rio and not charging for the service. When they found out the purpose of their being sent to Rio de Janeiro, they both felt honoured but also a little sad, because of the historical meaning of the goalposts.

The beams were brought back to Muzambinho, where they were used at a local football pitch (the Estádio Antônio Milhão), before being transferred to the brand-new Estádio do Anto do Anjo sometime in the 1970s.

They were in use there for a number of years, until a local farmer, Nivaldo Sandy, asked for a set of goals so that locals in the district of São Domingos de Baixo could use during matches there. And there they were brought, and used until they were apparently broken by a eucalyptus tree which fell on them (though when this happened is unclear). They were replaced shortly afterwards.

The goalposts are now held in the Sala Milton Neves in Muzambinho's Casa da Cultura. The sports hall in the town's "Culture House" is, indeed, now named after the self-same man who contacted Roberto Muylaert after the release of the latter's book on Moacyr Barbosa. Neves presents the Terceiro Tempo (Third Half) football programmes on both radio and TV for the Bandeiras network in Minas Gerais. And the story ends there, apart from need to point out that the paint on the goalposts is still that in which they were originally coated. Oh, and the posts do not, apparently, suffer from woodworm..


AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many thanks are due to Roberto Muylaert for his anecdotes regarding the above story. His book on Moacyr Barbosa, "Barbosa - Um gol faz cinquenta anos", published in 2000 and available only in Portuguese, is essential reading for anybody interested in the former goalkeeper. (A two-part series on the life and times of Moacyr Barbosa is being researched and compiled, and will be published on this blog in the coming weeks.)

Sincere thanks are also due to Rosilda de Fátima Tristão Santini from the  Casa da Cultura in Muzambinho for providing information with regard to the second set of goalposts.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Strange goings-on in one small corner of Central America abound, it seems. The Football Federation of Belize, originally suspended last month by FIFA, have had their suspension provisionally lifted, but only until 15/8/11. It is a long and winding story, but it means that the country's players will now be able to play the long-delayed second-leg of their 2014 World Cup Preliminary Round qualifier against Montserrat, though at a location, time and date still to be determined. 

It was all smiles for those involved with Belizean football in mid-June, when the  CONCACAF qualifying tournament for the 2014 World Cup kicked off in the small village of Couva in Trinidad and Tobago on 15/6/11, with a 5:2 away win for Belize against the nominal home side, Montserrat. (The game was recently featured on this blog.)

However, on 17/6/11, two days after the game against Montserrat (and two days before the second-leg was due to take place in Belmopan), the country's footballing fraternity was thrown into complete disarray following FIFA's suspension of the FFB due to "severe governmental interference" in the running of football in the Central American country. and the FIFA press-release confirming this contained the following:

"The FIFA Emergency Committee decided today, 17 June 2011, to suspend the Football Federation of Belize (FFB) with immediate effect on account of severe governmental interference. The suspension means that the return leg of the qualifying tie for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, due to be played in Belize on 19 June between the home team and Montserrat, has been postponed..

"On 8 June, the government of Belize, through the Ministry of Sports, informed the FFB that it was “not authorized to represent this Country in any local or international competition or in any other forum for football on behalf of the Government, People and Nation of Belize”, since it had “failed to meet the requirements for registration with the Council, as the National body for the administration of football in Belize”, according to the Ministry.

"Two days later, FIFA wrote to the FFB to inform them that this was a clear case of governmental interference and gave the FFB until 30 June to settle the dispute or be referred to the FIFA Emergency Committee for suspension due to a violation of the FIFA Statutes. However, the Belize government wrote to FIFA on 16 June saying the Belize police would “not be providing any services to the Federation with respect to the security of the visiting team and officials at the match” to be played on 19 June.

"Under these circumstances, and due to the interference of the government of Belize, FIFA cannot take the responsibility of letting the match take place. The match has therefore been postponed to a new date to be confirmed, but no later than 10 July 2011, provided that the situation is back to normal regarding the FFB and the suspension has been lifted by that date. In the event that the match cannot take place by that date, the national “A” team of Belize will be excluded from the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ preliminary competition.

"The suspension will be in place until the Belize government reverses its decision. Any action taken by the government against the office-bearers of the FFB will not be recognised by FIFA."
It was hardly the welcome home that the Belize squad had hoped for; they were in mid-air when the news of the national association's suspension broke. For some time before the game, there had been considerable discord between the FFB and the Belizean government, which did not recognise the authority of the local association.

For example, the government claimed that the FFB was not being democratically-run (now where have we - in relation to football - heard that before? Sepp?), that the association had ignored its own statutes by using a show of hands as a voting mechanism instead of a secret ballot, and that opponents of the FFB president, Bertie Chimilio, were being excluded from running for office within the organisation.
The FFB, the Belizean government alleged, had not met the criteria set down in law under the Sports Act of Belize which required that the FFB register themselves with the local National Sports Council, and found itself de-certified following a statement issued on 8/6/11 on behalf of Belize's Minister of Sports (and many more besides), John Saldivar, which alleged that the FFB had not supplied the NSC with the required documentation, and details of the association's finances.

According to local newspaper Amandala, Sections 19 and 20 of Belize's Sports Act formed the basis of the NSC's decision regarding the FFB's de-certification. The following paragraphs constitute the aforementioned Sections of Belize's Sports Act, Chapter 46 (Revised Edition, 2000):
"19.-(1) Subject to approval of its constitution by the Council, any organisation may apply for registration as a sporting organisation.
(2) The Council shall maintain a register wherein shall be entered the names and addresses of all registered sporting organisations and their office-holders for each year.
(3) Every registered sporting organisation shall in the month of January in each year submit a list of the names and addresses of its office-bearers to the Council.
(4) A sports organisation that has not been duly registered shall not be entitled to any of the privileges (including use of equipment and facilities), concessions or exemptions granted to a registered sporting organisation and shall not be eligible to participate in any competitions or functions held under the auspices
of the Council.
20.-(1) The Minister may make regulations for the purpose of carrying out or giving effect to the principles and provisions of this Act.
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of the powers conferred by subsection (1) the Minister may make regulations in respect of all or any of the following matters-
any matter required by this Act to be prescribed or in respect of which regulations are authorised by this Act to be made;
the registration by the National Sports Council of sporting organisations in Belize;
the procedure to be followed in any appeal against the decisions or actions of a sports committee or the Council and the scale of fees and costs in respect thereof;
supervision of the standards adopted by registered sporting organisations in the appointment of coaches, referees, umpires and judges;
the books to be maintained by sporting organisations in respect of moneys received and expended by them;
the participation in sports either in Belize or abroad of individual participants or teams of players purporting to represent Belize;
the selection of national sports teams to represent Belize; and
the quorum for meetings of the Council and the sports committees.
(3) All regulations made under this section shall be subject to negative resolution.
(4) Regulations under paragraphs (d), (f) and (g) of subsection (2) shall be made in consultation with the registered sporting organisations and shall not conflict with recognised international rules and practices relating to any particular sport or to sport in general."

Apparently, the FFB had regularly updated its constitution, but had not sent a copy of the (updated) document to the NSC since 2006; under local law, documentation must be supplied annually to the NCS. However, the FFB, through their legal representative, Elson Kaseke, claimed that they did not send details of their finances as they receive no government funding, and this was therefore not required under national law. He added that the NCS had also requested a copy of the minutes from the FFB's last general meeting.

According to the above excerpt from the Sports Act (2000), there is no mention of an exemption to disclosing details of an association's finances if said organisation receives no funding from the Belizean government. An updated copy of the FFB statutes, meanwhile, was finally delivered to the NSC only at the beginning of this month.

(The FFB were not the only sports organisation targeted by the Ministry; the NSC also informed the country's boxing, darts, domino, judo and tumblers' governing bodies that they were no longer recognised as being the national associations. The Belize Tumblers' Association, for the uninitiated, represents those resident in the country who are acrobatically-inclined.)

Saldivar's statement contradicted claims by the FFB's representative Alex Palacio who, when interviewed by local TV station CTV3, said that the FFB had originally registered themselves with the NSC on Holy Thursday, and went on to say that they had repeated the process on 1/6/11 after a request by the NSC's Acting Director, Patrick Henry, for more information. The next day, on 9/6/11, Henry issued a letter to the FFB which stated that they were no longer recognised as Belize's national footballing governing body.

FIFA tolerates no governmental interference in the organisation and day-to-day running of any of its 208 member associations, and has scarce done so for many a year. Bosnia and Herzegovina, for one, had been suspended earlier this year when the nation's government got involved in attempting to sort out problems relating to the local federation's policy of rotating its presidency between the Bosnian, Croat and Serb ethnic groups. FIFA were rather miffed, and suspended the Bosnian FA while banning all of the country's national and club sides from playing in UEFA/FIFA-sanctioned competitions. The ban was lifted at the beginning of June.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said this, according to a report carried by the local Channel 5 television station) on a visit to Belize in April when asked about the row between the government and the FFB:

"Let football [be] in peace. Let football work according to the statutes of football and these [are] statutes according to statutes of the international federation. We need the support of the government but the government should not and never interfere in the organization of our game and especially not in the statutes."

The then CONCACAF president, Jack Walker, was also due to visit Belize but had to call off at the last minute. Walker and Chimilio are (were?) apparently the best of friends, and one has relied on the other to remain in their position of power. Now that Walker has gone, the Belizean media have well and truly taken the gloves off and Chimilio is being hammered from all directions.

The question remains: did Chimilio, like the other delegates at the CFU congress in Trinidad in May, pocket US$40,000 which was handed over, allegedly donated for the good of football in Belize, by Walker and Mohamed Bin Hammam? And never mind that, why haven't FIFA applied to join the United Nations? After all, it allows no outside interference in its internal - and financial - affairs, and those of its members..

FIFA gave the FFB and the Belizean government until 30/6/11 to break the impasse, or the dispute would be arbitrated upon by the FIFA Emergency Committee. The deadline has passed and no progress has been made. It appears that the NCS will not view the FFB's submission until sometime this coming week.

Around the time of the Belizean government, whose Prime Minister, Dean Barrow, also met Blatter in April, de-certifying the FFB, a rival organisation, the NFAB (National Football Association of Belize) was being created in Belize City, with the organisation's first president, Michael Bleaze, and his executive elected by secret ballot, just as FIFA prefer it. "A new light in football will shine across Belize," Bleaze was reported as saying in Amandala.

In the midst of all of the brouhaha, a certain group of people have been left in the shadows - the Belize national team itself, an number of whom, if reports in the local media are to be believed, were refused transit visas to travel via Miami to Trinidad and Tobago for the Montserrat game as the FFB were no longer classified as the kings of Belize's footballing castle. It would have been a shame for the players involved in the first-leg victory against Montserrat if Belize were to be expelled from the competition, and for Deon Macauley in particular. Macauley became the first player representing Belize to score a hat-trick in international football when he netted his treble in Couva, and he faced the possiblilty of that feat being expunged from the record-books.

At least the game will now be played, though not in Belize, as FIFA put it in their press-statement released on Thursday past, "in order to avoid the risk of the Belizean authorities not providing security guarantees."

"The Emergency Committee has decided that, should the FFB not be able to definitively settle the issues at stake with the authorities by 15 August 2011, then the suspension of the FFB would be automatically reinstated," the statement concluded. In that case, the Belizean government and the FFB had better get their skates on and resolve the issue, which has long since reached the standard of a shambles and, for many Belizeans, a national embarrassment.

If not, the national side will be expelled from the World Cup before the CONCACAF second round group stage (should they beat Montserrat), which is to be held between 2/9/11 and 15/11/11. That is something which no right-thinking follower of football in Belize will wish to see, regardless of the name of the local football association or who is in charge of it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


At the time of writing, the group stages of the Women's World Cup 2011 are reaching their conclusion. Yet, there are those female footballers who will never come within a country mile of playing in such a tournament as their nations are not members of FIFA or, for example, UEFA. A couple of hundred or so of them came together in the last week of June to participate in the NatWest Island Games 2011 women's football tournament.

The women's competition has been an integral part of the Island Games since 2001, when the first tournament was won by the Faroes in the Isle of Man. The Faroese team went on to win the second and third versions of the tournament in 2003 and 2005. They then stepped aside to participate in FIFA-sanctioned tournaments, just as their male counterparts had done in 1990.

Since then, the competition had been the sole preserve of the Finnish archipelago of Aland, and the islands' women's team made it a hat-trick of triumphs this time round by winning the 2011 version (to go with their 2007 and 2009 triumphs), which, like the men's version, took place on the Isle of Wight. The final was held last Friday in Cowes, and the Aland girls comprehensively beat their counterparts from the Isle of Man by 5 goals to 1.

Jade Burden had actually put the Manx ladies who were freescoring in their winning of Group B earlier in the competition) in front inside four minutes, but by half-time, the Finns, winners of Group A, were 4:1 in front thanks to a brace from Adelina Engman, plus goals from Lisa Klingberg and Emma Liljegren. An own-goal by the hapless Stephanie Hall in the 57th minute put the gloss on a fine performance by the team from the Baltic archipelago.

The third-place play-off saw a confrontation between the Western Isles and Greenland, and the Arctic women's team achieved something that the Greenlandic men's team have not yet succeeded in doing - they finished in third place after a goal from Karoline Malakiassen with 15 minutes to go saw off the Hebrideans' challenge.

In total, ten teams took part this time, including the aforementioned four. As far as the minor placings were concerned, the hosts from the Isle of Wight finished fifth after beating Saaremaa 2:0. Gotland, who had finished bottom of a very tight Group C, finished seventh after beating the third team in Group A, Jersey, by the odd goal in three. Gibraltar, who had finished bottom of Group B and had failed to find the net while conceding 17 goals in the process, ended taking the wooden-spoon back to the rock with them after losing 5:0 to Hitra, who had finished a very distant last in Group A.

However, the glory this time round belonged to Aland for the third time in a row, and they must surely be among the favourites to capture the Island Games crown in July 2013, when the tournament takes place in Bermuda. The home team will be looking to win the competition for the first time after finishing in the bronze-medal position in 2005 and 2007. Bermuda did not take part in the 2009 tournament.

One team who will not be taking part is the side representing the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island. The island's women's teams finished runners-up to Aland in its only Island Games appearance, in Rhodes in 2007, but did not take part in the 2009 tournament, which was held in Aland. The island gave up its membership of the IGA this year, citing financial problems.

A summary of the results is to be found below.



26/6/11 Aland 5:0 Jersey (Shanklin)
26/6/11 Hitra 0:3 Isle of Wight (East Cowes)
27/6/11 Jersey 6:1 Hitra (Ryde)
27/6/11 Isle of Wight 1:1 Aland (Brading)
28/6/11 Isle of Wight 2:2 Jersey (Cowes)
28/6/11 Aland 6:0 Hitra (Cowes)
FINAL GROUP POSITIONS: 1 Aland (7 points); 2 Isle of Wight (5 points); 3 Jersey (4 points); 4 Hitra (0 pointS)


26/6/11 Isle of Man 9:0 Gibraltar (Shanklin)
27/6/11 Isle Of Man 3:1 Greenland (Ryde)
28/6/11 Greenland 8:0 Gibraltar (Cowes)

FINAL GROUP POSITIONS: 1 Isle of Man (6 points); 2 Greenland (3 points); 3 Gibraltar (0 points)


26/6/11 Gotland 0:0 Saaremaa (Ryde)
27/6/11 Saaremaa 0:2 Western Isles (Shanklin)
28/6/11 Gotland 0:0 Western Isles (Brading)
FINAL GROUP POSITIONS: 1 Western Isles (4 points); 2 Gotland (2 points); 3 Saaremaa (1 point)


30/6/11 5th/6th Saaremaa 0:2 Isle of Wight (Cowes)
30/6/11 7th/8th Jersey 1:2 Gotland (Ryde)
30/6/11 9th/10th Hitra 5:0 Gibraltar (Cowes)


30/6/11 Aland 6:1 Greenland (East Cowes)
30/6/11 Isle of Man 4:0 Western Isles (Newport)

1/7/11 Greenland 1:0 Western Isles (East Cowes)


1/7/11 ALAND 5:1 Isle of Man (Cowes)



RUNNERS-UP: Isle of Man
3RD: Greenland
4TH: Western Isles
5TH: Isle of Wight
6TH: Saaremaa
7TH: Gotland
8TH: Jersey
9TH: Hitra
10TH: Gibraltar


2001 FAROE ISLANDS/Aland/Jersey
2003 FAROE ISLANDS/Gotland
2005 FAROE ISLANDS/Aland/Bermuda
2007 ALAND/Prince Edward Island/Bermuda
2009 ALAND/Gotland/Isle of Man
2011 ALAND/Isle of Man/Greenland
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks once again go to Kay Batty from the IGA for granting permission to publish the statistical information contained in this bl.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


For most football players across the world, appearing at the World Cup Finals is just a pipe-dream. For a small section of the global footballing family, competing in a FIFA-sanctioned competition for their national team is an almost impossible dream. Their only option is to compete in the Island Games tournament, the latest version of which finished last Friday afternoon on the Isle of Wight with the hosts winning the competition for the second time after beating Guernsey by 4 goals to 2 after extra-time in what was, by all accounts, a thrilling - and fitting - final.

Three-times winners Jersey, meanwhile, picked up their fifth bronze medal in Island Games football competition earlier on Friday by thrashing Aland 5:1 in the third-place play-off.

The Island Games first took place in the Isle of Man in 1985 as part of the island's Year of Sport, and athletes from several islands across Europe took part in several sports, including 5-a-side football competitions for under-16s, which was won by the Norwegian island of Froya.

The Faroes senior side took part in, and won, the first two Island Games 11-a-side competitions before they went off and joined FIFA in 1990. Bermuda's under-23 side took part in 2007, when they picked up the bronze medal.

Twenty-two out of the twenty-five members of the Island Games Association, the governing body of what has, in recent years, become known as the NatWest Island Games, have taken part in the football tournament at some time or other in the tournament's history. Fifteen of them participated in the 2011 edition, which certainly proved eventful.

Gibraltar and Greenland, who have lobbied for FIFA and UEFA membership in the past, are regular competitors in the tournament, and were present again this time. The two competing teams with the smallest populations this time round were the Falkland Islands and Alderney, both of which have populations of around 3000 people. They met each other in the 13th/14th-place play-off, with the Falklands winning 3:0.

This was the fourth time that the Falklands had participated in the tournament, while Alderney were competing for the second time. Alderney's first tournament was in 2003, when they finished in 11th place after beating a team from the Estonian island of Saaremaa by a goal to nil. That victory finally put an end to what was surely the longest winless streak by a representative side in football history. Alderney have only ever won two "international" football matches; their only previous victory was a 1:0 victory against Guernsey back in 1920. They had no luck again this time, being soundly beaten in all of their three group games.

Meanwhile, trouble was brewing in Group A, and it was mostly involving the representative team from the Greek island of Rhodes. In their first game, a 2:1 victory against Greenland, they had two players sent off deep into second-half injury-time. Their next game was against Jersey, the eventual group winners, and they lost 2:0 after the injury-time red mist descended upon them once again. Rhodes had two players sent off in ten minutes' worth of injury-time; they also had eight players booked in normal time, and had to be escorted off the pitch at the end of the game.

After an emergency meeting of the Organising Committee, it was decided that the Rhodes team would be expelled from the competition and banned from the next two editions of the Island Games. This was not the first time that they had landed themselves in hot water in the history of the Island Games; they also had 5 players sent off in a game against Guernsey on their début appearance in the competition in 1999. On that occasion, they withdrew voluntarily and their games were expunged from the tournament records.

Menawhile, things were a lot quieter in the three-team Group D, which involved the Finnish archipelago of Aland, Saaremaa, and the Western Isles. After finishing with identical records at the top of the group, Aland and Saaremaa faced each other in a rather unique event - a play-off penalty shootout on what was originally designated as the football tournament's rest day. Aland finished top of the group and progressed to the semi-finals after winning the shootout 4:3.

Groups B and C were, in comparison, leisurely affairs as far as discipline was concerned, but goals were being scored by the bucketload in both groups, with 34 goals being scored in each group, which featured Alderney and the Falklands respectively. Unfortunately, only the Falklands netted a goal during the group stages, which saw the Isle of Wight edge out Gibraltar in Group B, while Guernsey topped Group C ahead of the Isle of Man.

After the play-offs for the minor places, the tournament reached the semi-final stage, where the Isle of Wight defeated Jersey 1:0, while Guernsey got past Aland in a five-goal affair.

Jersey went in at half-time in the third-place match 2:1 ahead of Aland, with all three goals coming in the last 5 minutes of the first-half courtesy of Luke Watson and Lee Bradshaw for the Jerseyans, with Peter Lundberg scoring on the half-time whistle for Aland. That was as good as it got for the Finns, with Watson, Jay Reid and Craig Leitch all netting in the second-half to put the seal on a comprehensive 5:1 victory for Jersey.

And so to the final, which took place at St. George's Park in Newport before an estimated crowd of some 2000 people and featured the hosts, the Isle of Wight, and Guernsey, and it was the Channel Islanders took the lead in the first five minutes through Ross Allen. Two goals in quick succession just after the hour mark from Charlie Smeeton and Ryan Woodford put the hosts in the driving seat, but Guernsey's Matthew Loaring set up extra-time with a strike 4 minutes before the end.

However, the Isle of Wight were not to be denied, and it was goals in each half of extra-time from Smeeton and Iain Seabrook, who scored the winner with four minutes to go, which delivered the island its second Island Games football title.

And so ended the twelfth edition of the Island Games football tournament in glory for the host island, with the next tournament, to be held in Bermuda in July 2013, already on the horizon, and very much on the agenda for most of the IGA members.

Below is a full summary of the results of the NatWest Island Games 2011 football tournament.



26/6/11 Rhodes 2:0 Greenland (Brading)
26/6/11 Jersey 2:0 Menorca (Cowes)
27/6/11 Greenland 2:3 Menorca (East Cowes)
27/6/11 Jersey 2:0 Rhodes (Newport)
28/6/11 Greenland 1:2 Jersey (Freshwater)
28/6/11 Menorca 3:0 Rhodes (Newport)*

FINAL GROUP POSITIONS: 1 JERSEY (9 points); 2 Menorca (6 points); 3 Rhodes (3 points); 4 Greenland (0 points)


26/6/11 Alderney 1:6 Gibraltar (Newport)
26/6/11 Isle of Wight 4:0 Ynys Môn (Newport)
27/6/11 Alderney 0:4 Isle of Wight (Cowes)
27/6/11 Gibraltar 6:3 Ynys Môn (Brading)
28/6/11 Alderney 0:5 Ynys Môn (Shanklin)
28/6/11 Gibraltar 2:3 Isle Of Wight (East Cowes)

FINAL GROUP POSITIONS: 1 ISLE OF WIGHT (9 points); 2 Gibraltar (6 points); 3 Ynys Môn (6 points); 4 Alderney (0 points)


26/6/11 Gotland 2:4 Isle of Man (Cowes)
26/6/11 Guernsey 5:0 Falkland Islands (Brading)
27/6/11 Isle of Man 6:0 Falkland Islands (Rookley)
27/6/11 Gotland 2:5 Guernsey (Freshwater)
28/6/11 Guernsey 2:1 Isle of Man (East Cowes)
28/6/11 Falkland Islands 1:6 Gotland (Ryde)

FINAL GROUP PLACINGS: 1 GUERNSEY (9 points); 2 Isle of Man (6 points); 3 Gotland (3 points); 4 Falkland Islands (0 points)


26/6/11 Aland 3:3 Saaremaa
27/6/11 Western Isles 0:2 Aland
28/6/11 Saaremaa 2:0 Western Isles

GROUP PLACINGS: =1 ALAND (4 points); =1 SAAREMAA (4 points); 3 Western Isles (0 points)


29/6/11 Aland 4:3 Saaremaa (Rookley)

FINAL GROUP PLACINGS: 1 ALAND; 2 Saaremaa; 3 Western Isles


30/6/11 13th/14th Alderney 0:3 Falkland Islands** (Shanklin)
30/6/11 11th/12th Greenland 1:0 Western Isles (Shanklin)
30/6/11 9th/10th Gotland 1:2 Ynys Môn (Freshwater)
30/6/11 7th/8th Isle of Man 2:2 Menorca***(Cowes)
30/6/11 5th/6th Saaremaa 0:4 Gibraltar (Brading)


30/6/11 Jersey 0:1 Isle of Wight(Cowes)
30/6/11 Guernsey 3:2 Aland (Brading)


1/7/11 Jersey 5:1 Aland (Brading)


1/7/11 ISLE OF WIGHT 4:2 Guernsey AET (Newport)

RUNNERS-UP: Guernsey
3RD: Jersey

4TH: Aland
5TH: Gibraltar
6TH: Saaremaa
7TH: Menorca
8TH: Isle of Man
9TH: Ynys Môn
10TH: Gotland
11TH: Greenland
12TH: Western Isles
13TH: Falkland Islands
14TH: Alderney


* Match between Rhodes : Menorca not played; Menorca awarded a 3:0 victory after Rhodes were expelled from competition because of violent conduct
** Both teams finished with identical records; penalty shoot-out was the method decided as to who would progress to the semi-finals
*** Won on penalties
**** Originally finished in last place (and out of the play-offs), the Falkland Islands were given a berth in a
play-off match against Alderney due to Rhodes' expulsion from the competition


1989    FAROE ISLANDS/Ynys Môn/Aland
1991    FAROE ISLANDS/Ynys Môn/Jersey
1993    JERSEY/Isle of Man/Aland
1995    ISLE OF WIGHT/Gibraltar/Jersey
1997    JERSEY/Ynys Môn/Isle of Wight
1999    YNYS MÔN/Isle of Man/Isle of Wight
2001    GUERNSEY/Ynys Môn/Jersey
2003    GUERNSEY/Isle of Man/Jersey
2005    SHETLAND/Guernsey/Western Isles
2007    GIBRALTAR/Rhodes/Western Isles
2009    JERSEY/Aland/Guernsey
2011    ISLE OF WIGHT/Guernsey/Jersey

NOTE: The first Island Games tournament, played under the title of the Inter-Island Games, was held in the Isle of Man in 1985 as part of the island's Year of Sport. It featured a 5-a-side football tournament for under-16s, which was won by Froya, with Ynys Môn/Anglesey finishing as runners-up and Orkney coming in third. The other competing islands, in order of final positions in the round-robin tournament, were Guernsey, Froya's sister island Hitra, the hosts Isle of Man, and Jersey.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many and sincere thanks to Kay Batty from the IGA for granting permission to publish the full results.