Stoppage Time – International Football Blog is pleased to announce its award winners in four categories and the winners will probably not come as a shock to anybody. Nevertheless it is good to be able to celebrate the wonders of the past footballing year and 2012 has been a pretty special year.
The first category is for the Goal of the Year award and there were a couple of major contenders. However, one goal stood out above all others just for the technicality and the sheer splendor with which it was scored. Step up Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimović who secured a 4-2 victory in an international friendly match against England in November with this audacious effort.
Today heralds the official second birthday of Stoppage Time – International Football Blog and I am pleased to say that the number of visits to the blog has increased significantly over the last twelve months and I hope that the numbers will rise once again in 2012.
The first year of the blog, going from December 2009-November 2010 saw a decent number of 37,533 visits in its fledgling days. Since December 2010-November 2011 Stoppage Time had a more impressive 53,238 visits, an increase of 15,705 in comparison to its first year. Although these figures may not be as great as many more professional websites I am eternally grateful to all who have taken the time to visit this blog over the last couple of years, whether it may be just one sole visit or whether you’re a regular reader, I would like to express my gratitude to all who have made this blog what it is. After all, as a writer trying to convey a broader context of the game to those who otherwise would not show much interest in the game of football beyond their home shores I am still learning the art of writing but feel that the numbers shown have justified my reasons for getting involved in the Blogosphere in the first place.
I would also like to thank websites such as Soccer Blogs, The Guardian and BBC Sport for providing me with some much needed advertising over the last year or more. Special thanks goes to the BBC’s South American football correspondent Tim Vickery, who once included a link to my blog on one of his consistently fine articles regarding the Brazilian game, which provided my blog with its best ever single day’s figures over the last twelve months. Special thanks also goes to those contributors who have written to me regarding any of my work and whose input I value immensely. Without feedback from readers I would not be able to provide more of what readers would like to see on the blog.
Once again many thanks to all of you and here’s to another great twelve months of football.
The first ever Stoppage Time – International Football Blog football awards have been decided. The site had a vote to decide on four categories and the results are now known:
PLAYER OF THE YEAR 2010 – Xavi Hernández
The Spain and FC Barcelona midfielder came top of our Player of the Year poll with 45% of the vote and who could deny him such an accolade after a fantastic year in which he won a second consecutive league championship with his club and was influential in his country’s maiden FIFA World Cup triumph in South Africa.
COACH OF THE YEAR 2010 – José Mourinho
The now Real Madrid CF coach ran away with the Coach of the Year award having amassed an amazing 75% of the vote, his only challenger being Spain’s FIFA World Cup winning coach Vicente del Bosque who was a distant second. Mourinho helped Italian giants Internazionale FC win their third European Cup as well as a domestic Serie A and Coppa Italia double.
TEAM OF THE YEAR 2010 – Internazionale FC
The 2009-10 season was a special one in more ways than one for the Nerazzurri whose exploits have earned them the accolade of Team of the Year with a convincing 54% of the vote. The Milanese continued the flow of trophies in the latter half of the year by winning the Italian Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup under recently departed coach Rafael Benitez.
GOAL OF THE YEAR 2010 – Matthew Burrows
This goal has been an internet sensation and, as a result, came out top in our Goal of the Year 2010 category having accumulated a fantastic 56% of the vote. Glentoran player Matthew Burrows is up for the FIFA Ferenc Puskas Award for the best goal of 2010 in January and is a big favourite to come away with the big prize.
This is the second Christmas period that Stoppage Time – International Football Blog has been active and Peter Bein is looking forward to the second year of action. Therefore I decided that I would provide all readers of the website’s address on Facebook and Twitter:
We are also the Twitter website and it is possible for you to join us on this site:
Stoppage Time – International Football Blog wishes everyone a merry christmas and a happy new year. Please vote in our various awards for the year 2010.
It was on December 1st, 2009 when I posted my first ever blog on Stoppage Time and it is good to know that the novelty hasn’t worn off. Of course when one tries to cover the world of football it is difficult to keep up with every event as it happens but the intention is there on my part to provide a service dedicated to informing my readers about the world of football. When I was growing up there was a very limited service regarding football beyond the shores of the United Kingdom and I had to look far and wide to find out any information about the Beautiful Game. The football magazine World Soccer was and remains a Bible of the world game and that was the medium which gave me the buzz for following football outside of my homeland. In recent years the Internet has given a new lease of life to writing and the Blogosphere very much reflects this. Having been encouraged by a friend last year I finally decided, after much consideration, that I should give football writing a go.
As an inexperienced writer of any kind I was wondering if my reports would ever attract enough interest to sustain my enthusiasm for blogging. The response, in terms of traffic numbers, has given me a positive outlook as the blog enters its second year and I hope that the numbers will continue to grow. The highlight for me personally was the sudden explosion of hits that my blog attracted during the 2010 FIFA World Cup with nearly 25% of the year’s visitors to Stoppage Time coming during world football’s showpiece event. In all there have 37,517 visitors in the blog’s first year and I can only hope that the interest will keep growing, especially now that you can follow Stoppage Time on Facebook and Twitter.
So what do we have to look forward to in 2011? There are many international tournaments with the AFC Asian Cup kicking things off from January 7th in Qatar. The CONCACAF Gold Cup, North and Central America’s big international tournament, begins on June 5th with the Copa America starting in Argentina nine days later on June 14th. The FIFA Women’s World Cup will begin on June 26th and will take place in Germany where the hosts will want to win their third consecutive title following wins in 2003 and 2007. There are many qualifying matches still to go for the 2012 European Championships and African Cup of Nations so it will be as eventful as ever at international level. This will be complimented by the World Championships at Under-17 and Under-20 levels, the UEFA Under-21 European Championships and the 2011 South American Youth Championship all of which, I’m sure, will prove to be a great stage for the next generation to showcase their talents.
As well as the international game Stoppage Time will continue to focus on the club game in all continents. The Champions League brand, started off by UEFA in 1991-92, has been successfully copied in each continent and the blog will look at the latest news in all of the elite club competitions of each confederation, the winners of which go into the FIFA Club World Cup at the end of the year. Finally there will be more Away Days to report on and there will be a new feature in the middle of the year in which the blog will look at the world’s biggest and most successful football clubs.
But, of course, if you have any comments or ideas for the blog I will be only too happy to read and consider them. You can join the fan page on Facebook; just type in Stoppage Time – International Football Blog and you will be updated on the latest reports and you can leave your comments. Also you can follow the blog on Twitter where you can also reply to the various tweets. Go to http://www.twitter.com/StopTimeBlog
Finally I would like to personally thank everybody who has taken time out to read the blog and make it an enjoyable first year. Plus I would like to thank everybody who has helped advertise the blog on their websites such as BBC Sport, Soccer Blogs, Polish Football Scout and others who have helped add to the numbers visiting the blog. Hopefully Stoppage Time’s second birthday will prove even better than its first one and I personally urge you to tell your friends about the blog if they have any interests in world football. If you don’t believe me just consider the comments of the well-known football website In Bed With Maradona which published this in its article “The Football Sites You Simply Must Visit” earlier this year:
“If there’s a better football blog out there then IBWM would like to see it. Peter offers coverage of everything from everywhere. Brilliant. A real IBWM favourite.”
All the best and happy reading.
With only twenty four hours to go until the start of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa the excitement levels are beginning to reach fever pitch and no more so than with yours truly. This is the first World Cup tournament that I will be blogging about and there will something to write about on most days with the calendar for the next month taken up with 64 games in 32 days. It will be a fantastic showpiece for the African continent, which hosts the tournament for the first time ever, and Stoppage Time – International Football Blog will provide you with opinion and reports from the world’s biggest sporting event.
The first ever FIFA World Cup tournament that I remember watching on the television as a child was the 1986 event in Mexico and the memories of Diego Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’ goal followed by his wonderful second in Argentina’s 2-1 win over England are the most poignant in my mind. Four years later was, without doubt, the World Cup that I enjoyed the most in my life so far. Italia 90 may not have contained the most exciting football ever but, as somebody resident in England, it was a special mood which gripped the nation as the Three Lions unexpectedly reached the semi-finals only to lose via the lottery of penalty kicks and, thus, denied a place in the final in which, I have a feeling, would’ve seen England get revenge on El Diego and his petulant Argentina side. The 1994 tournament entered new territory and saw the United States of America host the event for the first time and, from a commercial point of view, was a success which has stood the game in that country in good stead ever since. However the final was pretty poor (only a tiny bit worse than the 1990 final between West Germany and Argentina in my opinion) and was only memorable in that Brazil won their first world title for twenty four years. The 1998 tournament was a decent spectacle and lightened up by a French side with the marvellous talent of Zinedine Zidane, whose two goals in the final against Brazil capped off the tournament in style. The 2002 tournament saw many shocks in the first jointly hosted event in Japan and South Korea. Japan made it to the second round while their Asian neighbours, unbelievably, made the semi-finals having knocked out Spain and Italy along the way before losing to Germany. It was, if anything, more surreal than anything but it did make a nice change to see new faces in the latter stages even if the eventual finalists (Germany and Brazil) gave that tournament a belated sense of normality. The most recent tournament in 2006 was a resounding success and for the hosts Germany it was very nearly a fairy tale triumph at home to match their 1974 competition win. Only eventual winners Italy denied the Germans the ultimate victory at the semi-final stage and the tournament will forever be remembered for a certain French player’s rush of blood when headbutting Marco Materazzi in the final. Now is time to put all of that behind us as we await this year’s spectacle in South Africa.
So what am I looking forward to the most? First of all it will be interesting to see, after all of the criticism dished out over the last couple of years, whether the event will be an organisational as well as a footballing success. I personally hope that the South Africans make a great job of it, especially after the number of critics increased after the tragic shooting of the Togo national team in January’s African Cup of Nations tournament in Angola. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has often been accused, more often than not justifiably so, of being more concerned in geopolitics and his decision to ensure that the FIFA World Cup went to South Africa after the setback suffered in the vote for the 2006 event is a case in point. But, no matter what the politics of the situation are, the issue of utmost importance now is that the tournament goes ahead and it succeeds. The country is fanatical about sport and this has been proven since the country’s return back into the international fold in the early 1990s by the hosting of the IRB Rugby World Cup in 1995 and the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2003. With the experience gained from the hosting of such events can the South Africans hope to re-assure the world that they are capable of hosting football’s world showpiece tournament whilst, at the same time, projecting itself as a wonderful country to visit.
Secondly I am looking forward to seeing all of the thirty two teams compete in what I hope and believe will be the most open tournament ever. Many people doubt that the likes of North Korea and New Zealand can get very far but this is the world’s biggest stage for countries of that level to shine and they may prove more difficult to beat than people realize. But even if, as expected, the lesser lights of the tournament get knocked out at the group stage there are still many teams who genuinely harbour realistic hopes of winning the tournament. European champions Spain are many people’s favourites and they may never have a better chance of winning their maiden FIFA World Cup but there will be a decent number of competitors who hope to deny them the title. Fron South America come the usual suspects Argentina and Brazil while the Europeans will depend on the champagne football of teams like Portugal and the Netherlands, the spirit and hard work of England, the ruthless efficiency of Germany, the organisation of Italy and the flair from France. The hopes of African football fans may rest on the shoulders of the Ivory Coast who have many good players plying thier trade in European club football whilst the hosts, although far from amongst the favourites to win, will have a very noisy crowd behind them, not least because of the Vuvuzela horns which will be blown at every opportunity by the fanatical South African supporters.
Stoppage Time – International Football Blog will be casting an eye over the whole tournament and we hope that you will stay with us on this very exciting footballing adventure. To get you in the mood here is the official FIFA World Cup 2010 anthem, entitled “Wavin’ Flag” by K’naan, which I’m sure you’ll become familiar with in the next four weeks:
“Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” was officially created on November 30th, 2009 with the first blog posted one day later on December 1st, 2009. After a slow start the numbers of visitors to the blog has increased every month since its inception. From December to April there was a steady increase in the amount of monthly traffic but the month of May has seen “Stoppage Time” reach the 2,000 barrier for the first time. This has been aided by links to the blog being included on the BBC Sport (http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport) and Soccer Blogs (http://soccerblogs.net/) websites, both of whom I would like to take the opportunity here to thank for their help in promoting my blog. To those people who are and have become regular visitors to “Stoppage Time” I would also like to thank you too for playing your part in the blog’s increasing popularity. Here are the figures for the first six months of the blog:
December 2009 = 339
January 2010 = 342
February 2010 = 386
March 2010 = 589
April 2010 = 850
May 2010 = 2,749
The first six months of “Stoppage Time” has covered many topics within the world of football. The draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa featured prominently at the beginning and, since then, the blog has continued to cover topics from within the club game as well as at international level. From the UEFA Champions League to the Copa Libertadores, the A-League to the J-League, Major League Soccer to the Triobet Baltic League, “Stoppage Time” will continue to promote the game from all levels and all regions of the world and to provide exposure to those levels of the Beautiful Game that, all too often, get ignored.
A popular feature of the blog is the “Away Days” section in which I travel to a random game and write a special piece about my experiences. Anyone who is familiar with the German football magazine “11 Freunde” will know of a monthly feature entitled “Auswärtsspiel” which sees many contributors venture to various games around the globe and this is a concept that I’ve shamelessly copied for my blog. So far I’ve reported from an FA Cup tie at English third-tier club Tranmere Rovers, been on the road with the Eintracht Frankfurt fan group “EFC 11-er” to Nuremberg and witnessed an exciting Polish league game on a bitterly cold afternoon in Wrocław. More recently I’ve reported on another big European night for Liverpool FC at Anfield and in a special “Cup Final Week” have been to two unlikely cup final match-ups in Scotland and Latvia. I hope to bring more such reports from places such as Madrid, Milan, Lisbon and Budapest, to name but four examples, later in the year.
From time to time the blog has also encouraged reader participation in various polls allowing people to vote on certain issues. In the first six months the blog asked who was the “Team of the Decade” in which the majority of readers decided that FC Barcelona was the best team in the 2000’s. There were also votes asking who would win the UEFA Champions and Europa League competitions and we had a novelty poll asking who was the biggest club never to be champions of Europe. At the moment we have a special poll asking who will win the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa so, if you haven’t done so already, PLEASE VOTE NOW!!
As ever if you have any comments or feedback please contribute as your input is and always will be invaluable to future developments on the blog. And, once again, many thanks for your continued support of “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” and encourage you to stay with us for the best in world football action.
To all of those people who have taken time out to read one or more of my blogs I would like to convey my appreciation and gratitude to you for reading my work. Having only started on December 1st, 2009, things are moving slowly in terms of expressing myself to a wider audience so if you know somebody who is interested in international football then please let them know about Stoppage Time. Next year there were be a lot more features and articles about the Beautiful Game. In the near future I shall be having a few days off for Christmas and the next blog shall be back on Sunday, December 27th with all the latest thoughts of the festive football played in England and Scotland.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND SEASON’S GREETINGS!!