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Saturday, June 9, 2012


A sure sign that a major tournament is approaching is when official team songs, and those from various artists which are less than official, start springing up all over the place. It should be pointed out that the official team song is a dying breed; rather, there is an increasing trend for national football associations to "sanction" a song as its official ditty for a particular tournament. There is always a huge variety of styles, of course, not to mention a huge variation in quality. Here is a list of some of the best - and worst - from this time around. Judge for yourself which is which, and be warned, you might not like what you hear..

Poland's official Euro 2012 song, "Koko Euro Spoko" ("Koko Euro OK"; the word "koko" is apparently not used as a slang word for cocaine in Poland, as was claimed in various articles, but in this case refers to the singers' home village of Kocudza), is sung by a group of eight women, aged between 33 and 82 years old, who call themselves Jarzebiny and hail from the south of the country, singing all the while dressed in traditional Polish garb. The song is based on a traditional Polish tune, and has apparently been used by a Polish pharmaceutical company in one of its adverts, taking advantage that traditional music is not covered under Polish copyright law.

Remixes of the song, which was chosen after a SMS poll, organised at the beginning of May by the Polish FA and various media organisations such as the state TV company TVP1, abound on the internet. Like it or not, you may well be hearing plenty of it during Euro 2012 - the song will be played as the Polish team walks on to the pitch before each game at the tournament - and the chorus is infernally catchy as well.

Germany's official song, "Für Nichts Auf Dieser Welt" ("For Nothing In This World"), was recorded by Roger Cicero, a Berlin-born jazz musician who was the German entry at the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest, and is featured on Cicero's latest album, "In Diesem Moment" ("At This Moment"). According to the German general team-manager, Oliver Bierhoff, the music resembles how the Nationalmannschaft plays, using "creativity, enthusiasm and boundless energy - these are the qualities that the team shows on the pitch, exactly like Roger Cicero and his band on stage." Judge for yourself:

The Football Association of Ireland, meanwhile, always, always produce a team song for a major championship, from the sublime "Put 'Em Under Pressure" from Italia '90 to the slightly less than memorable "Here Come The Good Times" from the 2002 World Cup. Plenty more songs are released by artistes (again, of varying quality) aiming to cash in on the excitement around a major tournament. This time round, the Boys In Green, together with The Dubliners, The Coronas, Bressie and Damien Dempsey, have recorded a song entitled "The Rocky Road To Poland."

The song, sung to the melody of the old folk-song "The Rocky Road To Dublin," comes with the lyrics chosen from the submissions of thousands of listeners to Ray D'Arcy's (remember him from, for example, the "The Christmas No. 1" hit, performed together with Zig & Zag?) programme on Today FM. This effort is, to be frank, a bit bland, but it is a football song, so lyrical perfection and an original score are not always to be expected. It's also for charity, so that is at least one good reason to buy the CD.

Many artists try and put their work forward as being the "official" song of their particular country's association, and, just to reiterate, many an Irish artist has attempted to do the same. One song which in no way pretends to gain official recognition by the FAI is "We All Get Nil Together" by Il Trapps. Nothing wrong with a bit of humour/irony (or is that realism?), and when added to a decent melody, you end up with that thing of rarity: a real football song of rare quality.

Meanwhile, Russia's official song, "This Is Our Game, features an orchestra, half-a-dozen kids, a septugenarian on the piano and three vocalists, Alexei Goman, Alexandr Marshall and Alexandr F. Sklar, and is what one could call a typically Russian song with a jaunty air which resembles a reworked version of any Latin American national anthem you like. Not only that, it has a catchy chorus (music-wise, of course), so, if you, dear reader, are anything like your correspondent, you will be humming it before you know it.

The Danish team were treated to a modest little bit of flash-mobbing, organised by Danske Opbakning (Danish Support) before they set off for Poland a couple of days ago, a supporters' group sponsored (at least) by one of Denmark's leading banks. The Landsholdet appear in the video - but do not sing, though Liverpool's Daniel Agger gets to show off his tattoos - for their official Euro 2012 effort, "Vi Vandt I Dag" ("We Won Today"), which was penned and performed by fellow countrymen Nik & Jay. The song is still hovering around the lower reaches of the Danish Top 20, having reached as high as number 5.

There was no song contest in Denmark to decide which song would be put forward as the official song of the Dansk Boldspil Union (DBU), though the DR television station programme Aftenshowet has organised a competition for the best unofficial song (the first two songs at least are available to view on the internet via good old YouTube) to compliment Nik & Jay's piece, and should you decide to improve your Danish, here's the link to the competition:

England's official song, "Unbelievable!" is sung by ex-footballer Chris Kamara, with backing from Joe Public Utd, and the backdrop to the video looks like it was shot at an England Defence League meeting in a local pub in the depths of Kent. Apart from that, the song, a decent effort in itself, was recently officially "endorsed" by the FA, and was released in aid of the Marie Curie Cancer Care charity. Needless to say, there was a stampede of songs from artists claiming to have written the official number, but it was the song sung by Kamara, who - along with the new Liverpool manager, Brendan Rogers - climbed Kilimanjaro last year in aid of the MCCC charity, which won the FA's backing last month.

Several members of the Spanish squad, who you will no doubt recognise so there's no need to name them here, took part in the video for the team's official song, and added a little bit of, erm, backing vocals as well. The song in question is "Showtime 2.0" from Estopa, and was released in conjunction with the RFEF (Real Federación Española de Fútbol) and the AFE (Asociación de Fútbolistas Españoles), the Spanish players' union. Monies raised by sales of the song will go towards several projects using football as a tool to help (re-)integrate those living on the margins of Spanish society, and it's a pretty good little number to boot.

Holland does not have an official song this time round as such, but one which is being touted as such and features the national squad is actually an advert for a Dutch supermarket chain. The song, "Geef Oranje Vleugels" ("Give Oranje Wings"), sung to a familiar melody by Wouter Kroes and Ernst Daniël Smid, with a contribution from rapper Yes-R, and which features a large slice of Bert van Marwijk's team together with a cast of thousands in the advert,/video - delete according to preference - is probably the first semi-semi-official (for want of a better description) football song for a national team which features the word "shit." Now there's a word which would probably describe this song down to a tee.

Speaking of which, Wilfred Genee and Johan Derksen (accompanied by several Dutch pop "legends"), who now present the football chat-show Voetbal International on the Dutch commercial television station RTL7, have also released an album for Euro 2012 called "De Helden Van Oranje" ("The Heroes Of Oranje"). To get an idea of how the album sounds, have a go at one of the songs featured on same, "Nederland Is Helemaal Oranje" ("Holland Is Totally Oranje"). At least Dirksen, a former footballer, had the honesty to say that he despised the type of music they were singing; anyone who has ever been to anywhere outside Amsterdam on a Friday night will instantly know what he meant and, if they have any sense, dive for cover as soon as they hear this particular number..

There is also, by the way, an official UEFA song for Euro 2012, and it follows in the wake of efforts by artists such as Shakira, Dario G, Toni Braxton and E-Type down the years for football tournaments from 1996 on. "Endless Summer" by German artiste Oceana was selected by UEFA. Reviews of the song have been mixed, but it is infinitely more preferable than the efforts of the more internationally-acclaimed artistes mentioned earlier in this paragraph. In light of the recent rumbles about racism in Poland and Ukraine, "Let your love shine all around" might not be such an apt one-liner to take from the song, however.. Even so, the 30-year-old's song is probably the best number to have been chosen as a tournament's official song since Nelly Furtado's "Força" was chosen as the sound of Euro 2004.

If you feel up to it, dear reader, you should be able to get through the above little musical meander between a couple of games in the group stages, safe in the knowledge that it represents only a tiny fraction of songs released by has-beens, never-weres, never-will-bes and those looking for a way into the "big time", all in "honour" of Euro 2012. Whether you like it or not, you will be hearing a lot more of "Endless Summer" during the tournament..and, who knows, maybe even a little bit of "Koko Euro OK" from time to time as well. It may also be a springboard to success for Oceana, who has enjoyed only moderate success in her musical career thus far. Have a listen to all of the above - if you dare - and enjoy the football..
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Those fine websites Thee Bleacher Report and 101 Great Goals are in part responsible for the musical carnage that this article will create.
FOOTBALL BLOGGING AWARDS 2012: In an act of unapologetic, not to mention unashamed, self-promotion, Pat's Football Blog has nominated itself in the Male category of this year's Football Blogging awards, which will take place in Manchester in July.

To vote via Facebook, kindly go to the Football Blogging Awards page. To vote via Twitter, tweet to @TheFBAs, with your username and #Male (category). There are several categories, and it's up to you who you vote for, of course, but a vote for Pat's Football Blog will always be very welcome. After all, it isn't your everyday blog..

For more information on the awards, please go to:

Monday, June 4, 2012


The first half of June 2012 sees the start of a number of international tournaments; the 2012 OFC Nations Cup, held in Honiara, capital city of the Solomon Islands, has already reached half-way through the group matches, while the 2012 European Championship begins on 8/6/12. The Euros will, understandably, attract most of the media attention; however, alongside Euro 2012 and the OFC Nations Cup, another international competition is about to start - the 2012 Viva World Cup.

Many readers of this blog may know nothing about the competition or the organisation running the event - the NF-Board (New Federation Board), which was founded in Brussels in 2003, and its principal aim was to provide an opportunity for those nations, regions and communities which found themselves outside the jurisdiction of FIFA to compete against each other, both in friendlies and international competition. At the moment, 31 organisations are either full, associate or provisional members of the NF-Board.

The 2012 version of the Viva World Cup will be the fifth such tournament in the competition's history, and will take place in the Iraqi-controlled region of Kurdistan, running from 4/6/12-9/6/12. Nine teams will take part in total, and some of them will not appear very familiar to mainstream football fans. There will be a new name appearing on the trophy at the end of the tournament, as the winners of the four previous tournaments, Sápmi (representing the Sami people of Lapland) and Padania (a region in Italy) will not be competing due to various reasons.

Group A sees the hosts take on the Western Sahara and Occitania, which represents almost the whole of southern France, plus slithers of Italy and Spain, where the ancient Occitan language (better known in English as Langue d'Oc) is spoken. Most of the Western Saharan team has been drawn from within refugee camps in Algeria and in areas of the former Spanish colony which are not under Moroccan control (Morocco invaded the area in the late 1970s and had taken over most of the region by 1987), but held by the Polisario movement, which advocates an independent Western Sahara. Kurdistan, meanwhile, are expected to do well in their first VIVA World Cup.

One team which will not be totally alien to those following world football is Zanzibar, and they, like Kurdistan and Western Sahara, will be making their début in the competition. Zanzibar, of course, has long competed in the CECAFA (East and Central African Championship), quite often with distinction, until 2005, when the Zanzibar FA, founded in 1926, was removed from the CAF in 2005, only for it to be granted associate membership some time later. However, while Zanzibar's clubs can compete in African club competitions, the national team is unable to participate in FIFA-sanctioned tournaments, hence their membership of the NF-Board. They are to be found in Group B along with the ancient Swiss region of Raetia, and Tamil Eelam from north-eastern Sri Lanka.

Group C sees Northern Cyprus, the French region of Provence, and another team drawn from refugees, Darfur United, pit their wits against each other. Darfur United's players are all based in refugee camps in the east of neighbouring Chad, and the team was created late last year by i-ACT, an American aid organisation. Sixteen players make up the Darfuri squad, and the Darfur United website described the team as, well, more than a team: "Not only is Darfur United a team, it is also a movement – a movement to bring hope, inspiration, and joy to the displaced people of Darfur..When news of the project reached the camps, one representative said 'Now we are a part of the world.'"

Northern Cyprus, meanwhile, has had its own football governing body since 1955, but this has been more or less isolated from the outside world since the Turkish army's invasion in 1974. Turkish clubs played Northern Cypriot clubs in the early years of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, but this stopped after FIFA started handing out fines to TFF member clubs who travelled to Northern Cyprus (a country recognised only by Turkey) in the late 1980s.

The tournament will take place in and around the city of Erbil, home to over a million people and the Franso Hariri Stadium (also known as the Erbil International Stadium), which holds around 28000 people and is the second largest stadium in Iraq. It, and stadiums in Sulaymaniyah and the town of Pirmam, will be hosting matches during the tournament.

The group winners and the best-placed runner-up will go forward to the semi-finals, while the other teams will play in a series of classification matches and play-offs.

Please see below the fixture-list for the 2012 Viva World Cup. (Kindly note that there will also be a friendly match between a NF-Board Selection and an unknown team, which, your correspondent assumes, will be the team which finishes last in the competition and thus will not be taking part in the classification round. However, this may not actually be the case, and all will hopefully be explained in an article to follow at the end of the tournament.)


4/6/12 20:00 Kurdistan : Western Sahara (Erbil)
5/6/12 17:00 Western Sahara : Occitania (Pirmam)
6/6/12 17:00 Occitania : Kurdistan (Sulaymaniyah)


4/6/12 22:00 Zanzibar : Raetia (Erbil)
5/6/12 20:30 Raetia : Tamil Eelam (Erbil)
6/6/12 21:30 Tamil Eelam : Zanzibar (Erbil)


4/6/12 00:00 Northern Cyprus : Darfur United (Erbil)
5/6/12 22:30 Darfur : Provence (Erbil)
6/6/12 23:30 Provence : Northern Cyprus (Erbil)


7/6/12 18:30 (Venue TBA)
7/6/12 20:30 (Venue TBA)
8/6/12 10:30 9th-place team (??) : NF-Board Selection (Venue TBA)
8/6/12 17:00 (Venue TBA)


8/6/12 21:30 (Venue and semi-final draw TBA)
8/6/12 23:30 (Venue and semi-final draw TBA)


9/6/12 10:00 (Venue TBA)


9/6/12 11:00 (Venue TBA)


9/6/12 16:00 Loser SF1 : Loser SF2 (Erbil)


9/6/12 18:00 Winner SF1 : Winner SF2 (Erbil)


Franso Hariri Stadium, Erbil (28000)
Sulaymaniyah Stadium, Sulaymaniyah (15000)
Ararat Club Stadium, Pirmam (capacity N/K)


2006 Sápmi
2008 Padania
2009 Padania
2010 Padania
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The fixture-list was as taken from the VIVA World Cup website (stadium locations were researched by the author, so any errors are my responsibility!):

Thanks and appreciation go to Oswaldo Ugarte, Pablo Aro Geraldes and an anonymous representative of the Seleccion Occitana de Fotbòl.
FOOTBALL BLOGGING AWARDS 2012: In an act of unapologetic, not to mention unashamed, self-promotion, Pat's Football Blog has nominated itself in the Male category of this year's Football Blogging awards, which will take place in Manchester in July.

To vote via Facebook, kindly go to the Football Blogging Awards page. To vote via Twitter, tweet to @TheFBAs, with your username and #Male (category). There are several categories, and it's up to you who you vote for, of course, but a vote for Pat's Football Blog will always be very welcome. After all, it isn't your everyday blog..

Friday, June 1, 2012


The vast majority of the footballing world's attention is firmly fixed on the upcoming Euro 2012 tournament, but in one small (and largely ignored) corner of the globe, that is an irrelevance, for the time being, at least. In Oceania, the 2012 OFC Nations Cup will be held in the Solomon Islands from 1/6/12/10/6/12, and the tournament also doubles as the second round of OFC qualification for the 2014 World Cup, featuring the continent's top seven national sides plus the winner of the first round of matches, Samoa.

The OFC Nations Cup was due to take place in Fiji, but - allegedly , according to the website - due to an ongoing dispute between OFC general secretary Tai Nicholas and the Fijian authorities, the Fijian football authorities lost the right to host the tournament. The OFC, meanwhile, gave a more succinct reasoning for their decision: "The OFC Nations Cup was originally scheduled to be held in Fiji but the 2012 OFC Events Calendar went under review at the end of last year during which a number of factors were considered for all tournaments, including participation, logistics, finance and other matters."

The 2012 OFC Nations Cup tournament then opened up to bidding from OFC member nations, and two of them - New Caledonia, hosts of last year's Pacific Games, and the Solomon Islands - submitted bids. The right to host the tournament was awarded to the Solomon Islands at the end of March, and all matches will take place at the Lawson Tama stadium in the capital, Honiara. The stadium has a capacity of some 25000 people and is one of the largest in Oceania.

Group B is perhaps the most fascinating of the two and featuring three of Oceania's heavyweights - Fiji, red-hot favourites New Zealand, and the hosts Solomon Islands - and Papua New Guinea, who might just prove to be a handful. New Caledonia are expected to dominate proceedings in Group A, but Vanuatu and a resurgent Tahiti side might have something to say about that. Samoa, meanwhile, are expected to be the group's whipping-boys, but as their near-neighbours American Samoa showed during the first round of qualification, football is full of surprises.  

Please see below the fixture-list for the 2012 OFC Nations Cup. All kick-off times are local.


New Caledonia, Samoa, Tahiti, New Caledonia

1/6/12 12:00 Samoa : Tahiti
1/6/12 15:00 Vanuatu : New Caledonia
3/6/12 12:00 Vanuatu : Samoa
3/6/12 15:00 Tahiti : New Caledonia
5/6/12 12:00 New Caledonia : Samoa
5/6/12 Tahiti : Vanuatu


Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands

2/6/12 12:00 Fiji : New Zealand
2/6/12 15:00 Solomon Islands : Papua New Guinea
4/6/12 12:00 Papua New Guinea : New Zealand
4/6/12 15:00 Fiji : Solomon Islands
6/6/12 12:00 Papua New Guinea : Fiji
6/6/12 15:00 New Zealand : Solomon Islands


8/6/12 11:00 Winner Gp A : Runner-up Gp B (SF1)
8/6/12 15:00 Winner Gp B : Runner-up Gp A (SF2)


10/6/12 11:00 Loser SF1 : Loser SF2


10/6/12 15:00 Winner SF1 : Winner SF2

VENUE (for all matches): Lawson Tama Stadium, HONIARA
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many thanks, as always, to the OFC for the ability to publish the fixture-list. To find out much, much more on football in Oceania, kindly visit and be enthralled!

The website, meanwhile, can be found under
FOOTBALL BLOGGING AWARDS 2012: In an act of unapologetic, not to mention unashamed, self-promotion, Pat's Football Blog has nominated itself in the Male category of this year's Football Blogging awards, which will take place in Manchester in July.

To vote via Facebook, kindly go to the Football Blogging Awards page. To vote via Twitter, tweet to @TheFBAs, with your username and #Male (category). There are several categories, and it's up to you who you vote for, of course, but a vote for Pat's Football Blog will always be very welcome. After all, it isn't your everyday blog..
HELP BILLY WALK APPEAL: The Help Billy Appeal, ongoing since last year, aims to raise enough money to enable a young 3-year-old boy, Billy Douglas, who comes from a village just outside Belfast and who suffers from spastic diaplegia, to undergo an urgent and potentially life-changing operation. Should you wish to know more, Billy's plight has been highlighted in a recent entry here on Pat's Football Blog:

Or, of course, for those who might want to bypass the article and go straight to goal, the appeal's website address

Sponsors are currently being sought for post-operation physiotherapy for Billy - now there's an opportunity for all you business types out there to spread the word about your company's wares! Enterprise or no, if you can donate, please do so. If not, kindly post either link on your Facebook page (if you have one) and share, or tweet. Many thanks. An update will be posted here shortly.