St Pierre & Miquelon Football : An Archipelago’s Life with the Beautiful Game

St. Pierre & Miquelon football stands as a proud, if somewhat isolated outpost of the French overseas football landscape, lying in an archipelago off the North American Atlantic coast.

 

Consisting of a relatively small isolated population, lying 25km from Canada’s Newfoundland coast, St. Pierre & Miquelon has remained as an overseas department of France, retaining characteristics such as culture and an accents similar to those on the mainland of the Metropolitan European mainland. This also applies to the sports taking place on the island, including athletics, combat sports, rugby, hockey and of course football. This being an important and well participated part of community life on these islands. Despite the small population and limited resources, football has managed to survive and even thrive on the islands with plans to expand the islands football activities into the future.

 

Domestic Game ♦ International Football ♦ Football Development

 

History of St. Pierre & Miquelon

The reasons for the islands continued place as part of the French Republic came after an eventful and occasionally turbulent history in St.Pierre & Miquelon. Evidence of pre-historic activity exists on the archipelago, though they were uninhabited by the time of European exploration in the 16th century. From the beginning, and for much of it’s existence the islands were primarily used as a fishing area for European vessels, mainly for British and French sailors.

 

By the latter part of the 17th century, permanent settlements began to be established with Jean Talon writing in 1670 that the islands housed “13 fishermen and 4 settled people”. Following the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, the islands were ceded to British rule, though were returned to France with the Treaty of Paris in 1763 in exchange British fishing rights in the area. Following the turmoil in the aftermath of the French Revolution, Acadian settlers fled the islands before Britain transferred the remaining approximately 950 resident to Halifax, Canada for two years. This left the islands once again uninhabited until 1816 when the islands began to be settled permanently from fishermen, primarily from Brittany, Normandy and the Basque Country.

 

Settlement was focused on the island of St.Pierre due to the landscape creating a natural harbor for docking vessels, despite Miquelon having a better climate and better arable land. Waters around the islands remained treacherous, earning the islands the moniker of “Cemetery of Shipwrecks”. A local legend suggests that the 12km isthmus which connects the larger islands of Miquelon and Langlade was created from deposits collecting around past shipwrecks between the islands.

Smaller St.Pierre & larger Miquelon

However, the remote location and limited sea stocks left the local economy to struggle apart from boom period in the 1920’s following the enactment of prohibition in the United Stated. St.Pierre & Miquelon acted as part of a route for alcohol smugglers to import alcohol into the US. Al Capone, the well known protagonist in this was know to have spent time staying at the “Hotel Robert” on St.Pierre during this time.

 

This period would last until 1933 with the U.S. repeal of prohibition, though the islands would not be spared from drama with the the outbreak of WWII, with St.Pierre & Miquelon serving as a North American front for events in Europe. Following the German invasion of France, the islands came under control of the German allied axis Vichy Regime. However supporter of De Gaulle’s Free France movement staged a successful and peaceful coup on Christmas Eve 1941, being an initial success for the allied forces. Tragedy would also strike when the Free France corvette “Mimosa” carrying mostly men fro St.Pierre sank escorting allied convoys on 9th June 1942 with 65 loses.

St.Pierre in 1887

 

Following this into modern times, St.Pierre & Miquelon has began to prosper, diversifying from being islands of fishing into services, tourism and other areas. However, despite the proximity to France’s former territories in North America, St.Pierre & Miquelon have retained a metropolitan French identity, from culture, accents and sports, with football standing as a focal point of community activities on the Islands.

 

Domestic St. Pierre & Miquelon Football

Despite a limited population, St. Pierre & Miquelon has sustained three main football clubs on the archipelago. Two are based on the main island of St.Pierre, AS Saint-Pierraise (ASSP) founded on 11/08/1903 & AS Ilienne Amateur (ASIA) founded in 1953. There is also one on Miquelon, AS Miquelonnaise (ASM) being established in 1949 with founding club president Gaetan Detcheverry. At present ASIA stands as the largest club, with some 260 players on their books across the age grades. Behind them,  ASSP comes in with approximately half the numbers, with around 130, whilst ASM, on the less densely populated Miquelon have around 60 registered players.

 

ASSP were the forerunners of football on the islands, occasionally playing to touring vessels for  games. An early occasion of this was on July 5, 1921 when ASSP lost 7-1 to the crew of the visiting English frigate “Valerian”at parc à Nicolas, in a magnificent display by the English visitors. They would also play the first Winter time football on February 3, 1958, when a selection from the crews of two visiting warships “La Bourdonnais” and “Agenais” played ASSP. Described as a splendid game, ASSP won out 3-2. In 1977, former Chief Medical Officer of Saint-Pierre Hospital Lieutenant Colonel Lapeyre, brought a military team from Nantes on a three game tour, earning a win, a draw and a loss.

ASSP 1932 Team
ASSOCIATION SPORTIVE SAINT PIERRAISE 1932
1-MAURICE FORGEARD
2-MARCEL GIRARDIN
3-EUGENE BECHET
4-CHARLES DURUTY
5-PAUL POULAIN
6-GABRIEL JACACHURY
7-JEAN DEMINIAC
8-SIMON BOUVIER
9-GUSTAVE LAFITTE
10-MARTIN CARRICART
11- ¿…?
12-PIERRE LACROIX
13- ¿…?
14-MARC MORAZE
15-ALBERT BRIAND

 

The Bataillon de Joinville army sports team had three game tours of the islands winning all three games, both in 1972 and 1988 against A.S.S.P (4-1) & (4-0), against A.S.I.A (3-2) & (5-0) and A.S.M (3-0) & (9-0). The 1972 team featured players such as Jean-Christophe Thouvenel, later playing for Bordeux and France winning the league, cup and Olympic football gold with France in 1984

 

Occasions like the visit of FFF National Technical director Joseph Mercier for a month and a half on June 13, 1973, Mr. Desrémaux, Regional Football Advisor  for Normandy in 1976 also helped in the development of the game on the archipelago. Perhaps the most high profile was referee Michel Vautrot in for two weeks 1987, to help with a joint St.Pierre/Canada tournament on the islands, but also paid by the FFF to assist with a referee training course. Vautrot brought great experience as the top French official, refereeing the 1983 Intercontinental Cup Final, 1982 and 1990 World Cup’s include Semi Finals, the 1988 Euro’s final and the 1986 European Cup final. From this, Vautrot was named gendarme d’honneur by the company of St.Pierre & Miquelon.

 

Typically football is played during a summer season, to allow games be played outside of school schedules. This provides an added benefit to the quality of playing surfaces,as due to limited funding, artificial grass pitches are unavailable, and with a limited staff to maintain the playing pitches, the summer season better suits the upkeep of the available natural pitches. The French State offers assistance in this regard, providing funds for two maintenance contractors to work on the pitches.

 

ASIA can boast three pitches in St.Pierre with the club being based at the Louis Quedinet Sports Complex, with their main ground being the John Giradin stadium (Field of Honour) with a capacity of 1400 spectators. Giradin was part of the founding of the club in the 1950’s helping to open the stadium in 1958, a stadium which now bears his name. Also, John Giradin’s granddaughter would serve as the French National Assembly for St. Pierre & Miquelon and is now the Minister of Overseas Territories in the French Government. Louis Quedinet himself was inducted into the Newfoundland & Labrador football hall of fame in 2013.

 

There is also the Léon Mahé stadium which is a 9 a side pitch for junior players and a 5 a side pitch for toddlers. Léon Mahé was renowned for he his hard work in the development of children’s football, thus the ground now bears his name.Also, off shore on the small island of Ile aux Marins, ASIA has a guesthouse established by volunteers which features 20 beds and a playing field as summer quarters for young players to stay together, bond as in a more relaxed environment than the main island.

 

ASSP have one ground located in the centre of town, the Stade Léonce Claireaux located on Rue Georges Daguerre with a capacity of 500. This had previously been the site of the island’s cemetery, but became vacant in 1872, being too small for purpose, with the land later being leased to A.S.S.P from 1926. Both clubs on St.Pierre continue to improve facilities with A.S.I.A undertaking great work improvements to the posts and stands for spectators at the South end of the ground. A.S.S.P have also improved storage facilities at the ground to add to an already pleasant stadium.

ASSP Stade

 

Also located further south along the shoreline on Boulevard Port en Bessin, is the Sport and Cultural Centre. This ground features a surrounding Olympic track, however the pitch is not used by any of the football clubs on the island, instead being rented as a rugby playing pitch. Indoors there is a sports hall which is used for winter futsal among the islands teams. On Miquelon, ASM play at the Stade de l’Avenir on Route du Stade, with a capacity for approximately 200. It features a main playing field, and a smaller second field divided into two smaller pitches for youth football. These pitches are also served by a small clubhouse.

 

For competition on the islands, the main prize is the St.Pierre & Miquelon Championship, featuring the three senior teams, ASIA, ASSP and ASM. These teams all play a total of 16 games during the Summer season, with each side playing both opponents 8 times, 4 home and 4 away. The season itself is divided into 4 ‘mini-leagues’, so there is a constant competitive element throughout the season. At the end of the season, the leader in the overall league table is declare the winner of the championship.

 

For the 2017 season, the sponsored segments of the season were named the Coupe “Rotary Club”, “CAS EDF”, “Taxi Tan” and Coupe “Agricole Eco”. Further to this, the teams place in 1st and 2nd in the table play in a further game, at the home venue of the Championship winner, to contest the Archipelago cup, the grand final of the season. In this 2017 edition, the honours went to ASIA who complete the 14th league and cup double in the clubs history, winning the final 4-0 against St.Pierre rivals ASSP (Full Match here)
2017 Final ASSP 0-4 ASIA
 

 

Outside the local competition, team from St.Pierre & Miquelon often compete in Canadian competitions in Newfoundland. With the main senior competitions being restricted to Canadian teams (so they can represent the province at national level), St.Pierre & Miquelon teams have for a long time been permitted to compete in ‘B’, 2nd division or intermediate championships, where they have occasionally found success. In 1977, the A.S.I.A pupils team won the Newfoundland Cup for their age bracket, beating a St.Johns team 6-2. In 1978 two senior teams from the archipelago met in the adult intermediate final with A.S.I.A beating A.S.S.P 6-4 after extra time. 1979 A.S.M saw find success in this tournament beating Springdale in the final, being carried by Miquelon locals on their return home in celebration, winning the title again in 2012, beating Grand Bank GeeBees 3-1 in the final. A.S.I.A would also win the short lived “Premier’s Cup” in Newfoundland in 1984 before that tournament ceased.

 

As in many countries, women’s football had a later development on the islands. The first official women’s match took place on 07/04/1977 in a 2-2 draw between A.S.S.P and A.S.I.A at the Stade Léonce Claireaux in a 2-2 draw. The first foreign women’s team to visit was the Canadian team Grand-Bank from Newfoundland on 09/04/1977 to face A.S.S.P with A.S.S.P winning out 3-0 at the Stade Léonce Claireaux. Currently perhaps due to a North American influence on the French islands,  25% of players on the islands are female, higher than the European the average. This is also helped by the specific work done by clubs and coaches on the islands, which has seen recognition by the FFF, with A.S.I.A given the label “École Féminine de Football” in 2013, in particular for pre-teen female football development and again a Women’s Silver Football award in 2017 of the continued work and progress in this area.

 

 

St.Pierre & Miquelon National Team and International Representation.

Outside the domestic game, St.Pierre & Miquelon has also fielded a national team to compete in the 2010 and 2012 editions of the Coupe de l’Outre-Mer, a competition for teams representing France’s overseas territories, back with €900,000 funding from the FFF. However in these tournaments, work commitments forced many regular players to miss out, leaving St.Pierre & Miquelon to send a squad of student players who would be available for the tournament.

2012 St.Pierre & Miquelon Squad

2012 Coupe de l’otre Mer -St.Pierre & Miquelon Squad
 
Goalkeepers:
Olivier Morel (c) (ASM) 
Simon Hebditch (ASSP)
 
Defenders:
Rémi Audouze (ASIA)
Jean-Baptiste Borotra (ASSP)
Ivan Dos Santos (ASM)
Mathiaud Kevin (ASM)
Gary Urdanabia (ASIA)
 
Midfielders:
Xavier Delamaire (ASIA)
Maxime Gautier (ASIA)
Matthieu Demontreux (ASSP)
Nicolas Lemaine (ASM)
Aymeric Tillard (ASIA)
Tristan Girardin (ASSP)
 
Forwards:
Mickaël Lucas (ASM)
Olivier Blanchet (ASIA)
William Revert (ASIA)
Martin Disnard (ASIA)
 
> Coach:
Yannick Lafont

 

Although both campaigns featured very heavy defeats in all games against much more experienced, well funded and profession teams, there were occasional bright points. These included getting on the score sheet against French Guiana and New Caledonia, a team that reached the final of the OFC Nations cup, comfortably beating 2010 World Cup participants New Zealand along the way. Speaking about their tournament exploits to World Soccer, head coach Yannick Lafont said.

“We do not complain, we cannot bring quality, but we can bring good sportsmanship”

 

The suspension of the Coupe de l’Outre-Mer after the 2012 edition due to cost has left St. Pierre and Miquelon somewhat disconnected from the rest of the French footballing community and the wider international footballing world. However there are now initiatives to begin entering the champion club in the Coupe de France, which would again provide a wider outlet for the St. Pierre & Miquelon footballing community to have a reach beyond their corner of North America.

 

In the past there have been occasional exhibition games against other visiting football teams. During the 1970’s two high profile Scottish teams visited St.Pierre. A combined A.S.I.A – A.S.S.P team faced Ayr United at the Stade John Giradin on 04/07/1975, with the superior professional visitors winning out 14-0 in an excellent display. 1978 would see Queen’s Park of Glasgow also visit as part of a Canadian tour, this time with A.S.M players joining at the Stade John Giradin on 21/07/1978 to make it a complete combined archipelago team. In what was a more competitive game the home side still found themselves with a losing scoreline of 4-0. Tragically two Scottish players, Bernie Donnelly and David Ballantyne would die in a car accident just days later on this Canadian tour following this game.

 

On the opposite end of the experience scale, the most high profile game to take place in St. Pierre & Miquelon occurred in 1997, when a Variety Club de France side featuring Michel Platini visited the islands. Though Platini proved to be a little aloof, avoiding visiting the young people on the islands. However, it was a great occasion for the footballing community on the islands, despite a 5-4 loss in the game for the St.Pierre & Miquelon selection.
Match Stats & Lineups

Final Score – Variétés Club de France 5-4 St.Pierre & Miquelon
Venue – Stade John Girardin  Referee – Joël Quiniou  Attendance – 1,400
 
Lineups
Variétés Club de France St.Pierre & Miquelon
Xavier Perez Stéphane Audebaud
Thierry Blanchon    ⊕30 Gino Bonnieul
Bruno Blachon Jean-Noël DeLizarraga
Robert Buigues Denis Gauthier
Jean-François Domergue Desdouets Goénaël
Daniel Toti Gildas Morel
Bruno Germain Arrossaména Paul
Jean-Michel Larqué Franck Lebars
Gérard Bernardet Gaël Detcheverry
Michel Platini    ⊕19, 36, 71, 78 Stanislas Beck
Jean-Pierre Orts Xavier Dodeman
Jean-Paul Guemise Claude Michel
Patrick Valente Denis Rebmann
Victor Zvunka Arnaud Urdanabia
Eric Faisant Philippe Dodeman    ⊕75, 85
Lionel Tejedor Yannick Kello
Paco Rubio Jean-Pierre Plaa    ⊕23
Charly Thetard Miguel Tesnière
René Hamard  
Jacques Vendroux  VCF Own Goal ⊕19
   
Unused VCF Players

Michel Ennesser Serge Piovan
Eric Rolland Thierry Roland
Patrick Iriart Emmanuel Fraudin
Michel Brohan Gérard Morin
Daniel Vertelary Jean-Claude Derouet
Michel Bretagne Jean-Claude Colas
Joël Quiniou Jean-François Falcou
Pierre Ville  

St.Pierre&Miquelon v VCF


Footballing Development

For the underage football teams on the island, there is an opportunity to travel to Newfoundland in Canada to play in youth competitions. This typically happens crossing the 25km to their near Newfoundland neighbours, but occasionally games against teams from far parts of Newfoundland such as Stephenville are possible. Youth teams have also traveled further inland in Canada to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, but a lack of funding make such trips difficult and infrequent. The investment in facilities for youth football along with participation in these competitions has enabled recognition.

 

In 2016 ASIA organised a rally for 250 school aged players as part of a competition organised by the FFF, which resulted in 12 children and 3 adults being rewarded with a trip to see the Euros in Paris. Also ASIA was also awarded a “Youth Excellence” award by the FFF. This follows in a fine tradition on the islands coming from the likes of Clément Vallée, who worked for 60 years as a caulker at the St.Pierre port, but also made life long contributions to hockey, while both playing and refereeing football on the islands too. For this he was awarded the French National Order of Merit and Sports medal for his contributions.

 

These awards have helped bring further notice from the FFF to the efforts of the people on the islands. In the summer of 2017, 2 young ASIA club girls, Léa Sbeghen Lamiraud and Eloïse Michelins were selected from a group of 60 across the country to be invited from St.Pierre to join a scouting camp at the FFF centre of excellence in Clairefontaine in France further evidence of the developing level of skills and recognition of this by the FFF.

 

Much promise is being held for 15 year old Tommy Skinner who in 2017 left the islands to go to mainland France, in Loches to pursue dreams of becoming a professional footballer. He was selected among nine candidates to apply for a sports position from St.Pierre & Miquelon (Though most were for hockey). Now as part of school there is 4 hours playing time with his school while also training several times a week, with matches at the weekends, a much more sophisticate setup than can be expected in St.Pierre. The experience of Tommy shine a light on the difference between these to distant and distinct parts of modern France.

“Here, the landscape is different, people are different. Life is different… There, we all know each other. We say hello. Here, in the street, we do not look at each other.”

 

In contrast, while players move from St.Pierre & Miquelon to seek further opportunities on mainland France, through football, but also for education or to experience the metropolitan life, the reverse can be true for coaches. Though the FFF does not fun additional coaches, clubs on the the archipelago, many are recruited on a temporary basis to help the development of St.Pierre & Miquelon. One such coach, Mattieu Guillain from the Indre Football District on the mainland made the North Atlantic move to spend four months on the islands, working mainly with developmental versions of the game, such a the female teams and futsal. Speaking of his experience, it resemble that of many who spend time working with the game in St. Pierre & Miquelon.

“It was a pleasant four months, I wanted to travel and discover other football…There is a real fervor around football there!”

 

Looking to the Future

Though there is a strong vibrant footballing community on the archipelago, limitations due to climate, location and funding among other issues continue to remain a barrier to progress on the islands, despite the proud tradition of football and the amazing hard work of players and volunteers involved with the game. Visits like that of FFF president Noël Le Graët in 2015, give hope of federation support, unsure if any will materialise. Speaking at the 2012 Coupe de l’Outre-Mer, midfielder Stanislas Beck spoke of the ambitions for football development on the islands.
Noël Le Graët Visits

“… our progress depends essentially on the creation of good structures such as covered terrain. With this type of facility, we could raise the level in the archipelago and compete with other oversees teams. Without these infrastructures, we can not improve local football by bringing in coaches or Regional Technical Advisers on the archipelago. Indeed, it is impossible for them to work, at least in the medium term”

 

The occasional funding received is complimented by the community role these clubs play, offering club memberships, lotteries, community events which can help with fund basic running costs, but leave no room for a great expansion of infrastructure. However what is clearly evident is that the game on these islands is mostly fueled by the dedication of participants and passion for the game. It is this which has provided the great tradition of the game in St.Pierre & Miquelon and ensures it’s continuation as a integral presence in life in St.Pierre & Miquelon.

 

 

 


Great credit to Ludivine Quédinet for her tremendous help with this article, with out whom it would not have been possible to write. Also to Jeff Babstock for help with Newfoundland details.

It’s possible in translation that errors or omissions have occurred in this article, so if any errors are notice, please write and they can be corrected, with due credit given, of course.

Toute aide pour corriger les erreurs dans cet article est appréciée

 




Trying Times in Papua New Guinea Football

Despite recent on-field successes, turmoil now continues to reign within the structure of football in Papua New Guinea, with divisions and disorganization presenting problems for football in the country for the near future.

 

Promise and Problems

The hosting of the 2016 FIFA Womens U-20 World Cup and OFC Nations Cup in 2016 in Papua New Guinea had been seen as a show of confidence in football in the country, along with impressive performance from domestic and national sides in recent history. However internal strife, rebel leagues, unfulfilled seasons and personal squabbles have but football on uncertain ground.

 

The traditional top flight PNGFA FIFA backed league has run into troubles, with the championship season failing to be completed in 2017. Part of the blame for this was attributed to logistics, with the season start being delay due to the FIFA tournament being presented as a partial reason, along with issues of league payments with remaining teams. However the problems with Papua New Guinea football run much deeper.

 

Politics at Play

The initial division seems to stem from the election of FIFA Senior Vice President & OFC President David Chung as President of the Papua New Guinea FA. His election is disputed, primarily by Hekari United President John Kapi Natto. The dispute arises from accusations that Chung has used FIFA funds to support his reelection. Also Natto has accused Chung of wrongly discounting 12 pro-Natto votes from the election process, to boost the Chung candidacy. However Chung issued a statement, representing the OFC to deny any accusations of wrong doing.


 OFC President Chung

 

“The PNGFA and its Electoral Committee believe that the Congress and the subsequent election was held in accordance with PNGFA Statutes. The members who were suspended were subject to a clear and transparent process and were found not to be compliant to their member obligations in accordance with the PNGFA Statutes.”

 

“This was endorsed by FIFA and the High Court in Port Moresby following an application for an injunction by one of the suspended members where the High Court found they have no legal standing.” added Chung.

 

Football Divisions

Despite Chung clearing his name through official channels, this has failed to appease Natto supporters. As such Natto has taken 12 now suspended teams, including his own, and once OFC Champions League winners Hekari United, to his newly establish rival start up league, under the jurisdiction of the also newly founded FFPNG. Chung has tried to bring this league under the auspices of the FIFA backed PNGFA, but with dwindling team numbers, collapsing competitions in contrast to the relative success of the FFPNG run competition, the future looks challenging for Chung and the PNGFA.

 

The members of the FFPNG have offered a compromise to Chung, offering their support for a lifting of the suspensions and an official recognition of the FFPNG. If these demands are met, then the FFPNG could be willing to come back under the auspices of the official PNGFA. However with neither side seemingly wanting to cede ground, a split in national club competitions seem inevitable for the foreseeable future.
 John Kapi Natto

 

Future at the International Level

Despite the domestic problems, the position of Papua New Guinea football could be seen to be as prominent as ever. As mentioned, Papua New Guinea hosted the OFC Nations Cup and also FIFA Womens U-20 World Cup in 2016, bringing global footballing eyes to the country. The national side reached the final of the 2016 OFC championship. Also, as President of the OFC, David Chung has been appointed by FIFA President Gianni Infantino to a prominent position as Vice President withing FIFA, a position which Chung brings national pride to.

 

“I take the PNG flag to every meeting and make sure my colleagues know where I come from. I’m just say proud to carry the PNG flag around the world.
“This is for the first time in history of Oceania and the PNGFA to rise to this level.
“I’m just so proud to be a Papua New Guinean as I do this with pride,”

 

However, this pride in representing Papua New Guinea encounters problems when dealing with the national side. Players from the currently unrecognized FFPNG are ineligible for selection for the national team, including those from the likes of Hekari United. While this causes selection problems for the national team, it can also be platform to show tension, such as an incident in May where police were called to a PNG training session after people from the FFPNG arrived to the training venue. Coach Flemming Serritslev explained the issues.

 

“Some hooligans and officials from “Fake Football Federation” entered our pitch, entered out training, interrupted our training and we had to stop the training 45 minutes before schedule,”

Had to call the police to take care that everything went on in a good way – it’s unbelievable what is going on in this country when it’s about the national team.

 

Serritslev adding – “Unfortunately, I have to say, there are a few people who does everything they can to destroy the work of the national team.”

Hekari United win 2010 OFC Champions League

 

Future for Football in Papua New Guinea

Despite the potential in Papua New Guinea football, primarily to follow on from a very near penalty loss in the final of the 2016 OFC Nations Cup, the division which currently exist can only cause problems. The FFPNG, currently controls the strongest domestic league and teams, with promises of long term development plans for football in the country. Either the PNG can re-assume control, or the FFPNG can emerge as the sole player in domestic football, the best option seems to be a cordial union of the two.

 

For the benefit of all those involved with the sport in PNG, this solution is best coming sooner rather than later to realize the full bright potential of the game there.




Top 5 : Faroe Islands International Football Victories

Football in the Faroe Islands has a long history, which in recent years has produced a competitive national side which can be held as an example to other smaller nations throughout the world. From surprise, upset victories to more recent excellent competitive performances, the Faroe Islands have left a significant mark on the international footballing landscape. Here we pick 5 of the best Faroe Islands international football victories.

 

1: 🇫🇴 Faroe Islands vs 🇬🇷 Greece

2016 ECQ – (A) Res.  0-1) / (H) Res. 2-1

The most famous and impressive set of results in the relatively short history of competitive fixtures for Faroe Islands international football undoubtedly came against Greece during Euro 2016 qualification.. An historic win in Greece was followed by an as impressive victory in the return fixture on home soil. These two victories stand as landmark results in Faroes football history.


 

2: 🇫🇴 Faroe Islands vs 🇦🇹 Austria

1992 ECQ – (H) Res. 1-0


The result that launched Faroe Islands football into the international consciousness, was a 1-0 win against Austria in 1990, with Torkil Nielsen responsible for the famous goal. The match was played at ‘home’ in Landskrona, Sweden with no grass pitch available in the Faroes at the time. The Faroese amateurs toppling their Austrian pro counterparts for a maiden competitive victory triggered wild celebrations at home and set Faroe Islands international football on it’s way.

 

 

3: 🇬🇮 Gibraltar vs 🇫🇴 Faroe Islands

2014 Friendly – (A) Res. 1-4


Though only a friend match, it carries two significant historical notes. Firstly, the Faroe’s victory will stand as Gibraltar’s first official defeat in international football. Though, perhaps more importantly to the Faroese, the 4-1 winning results stands as a record win for the Faroe Islands national team, therefore matching a 3-0 victory against San Marino in 1995. Though winning away on the Mediterranean, with a record 4 goals thus making this result extra special.



 

4: 🇫🇴 Faroe Islands vs 🇦🇽 Åland Islands

1989 Island Games Final Match (H) Res. 7-1


In 1989, the Faroe Islands picked up their first piece of international footballing silverware, the 1989 Islands Games Football Trophy. The games, hosted by the Faroe Islands, were the first to feature a football tournament. The home team pleased it’s fans winning the tournament with a very impressive 7-1 victory over fellow Scandinavian opposition in the Åland Islands, in a high spot before joining UEFA in 1990. Bergur Magnussen’s 6 goal tally secured his place as tournaments top scorer, with the Faroe’s retaining the trophy in 1991


 

5: 🇱🇻 Latvia vs 🇫🇴 Faroe Islands

2018 WCQ (A) Res. 0-2


Finally, the most recent victory (at time of writing, 2017), was as accomplished as any on this list so far. Though others can be seen as upset results or triumph over ‘lesser’ teams, this 2016 victory over Latvia showed what a competitive side the Faroe Islands now are. Goals either side of half time in this excellent display show how far Faore’s football has come, 30 years since FIFA admission. With a history of fine results and a fine crop of talented players in this generation capable of results, such as against Latvia, Faroe Islands football has truly come of age.

 

 

Honourable Mentions

Though these are just a pick of many great results in Faroe Islands football history, there are many others worth of consideration.

In the final Nordic Championship the Faroes earned a 0-0 draw against a rookie Sweden side featuring the international debut of Zlatan Ibrahimavic, being kept scoreless on this occasion.

The entire 2004 Euros qualifying campaign feature many “almost” moments. leading late in Torshavn to Scotland before a late equaliser for a 2-2 result. Germany had two scares, being 0-0 in Torshavn until two goals in the final minute to break Faroese hearts. In the return fixture, Germany won 2-1, though not before the Faroe’s hit the post late in game, narrowly missing on a famous result. Finally losing 2-1 to Iceland in Reykjavik after a 90′ minute Iceland goal, though the campaign showed much promise.

Finally, the Faroes have success with all Baltic states, holding wins over Estonia, Lithuania and the aforementioned Latvia, along with Canada, Kazakhstan, and European rivals Iceland, Luxembourg, San Marino, Malta, Gibraltar and Liechtenstein.


Complete list of Competitive Faroe Islands Victories

 

 12/9/90  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands  1-0  🇦🇹 Austria
 25/5/95  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands  3-0  🇸🇲 San Marino
 11/10/95  🇸🇲 San Marino  1-3  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands
 30/4/97  🇲🇹 Malta  1-2  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands
 8/6/97  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands  2-1  🇲🇹 Malta
 24/3/01  🇱🇺 Luxembourg  0-2  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands
 1/9/01  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands  1-0  🇱🇺 Luxembourg
 9/9/09  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands  2-1  🇱🇹 Lithuania
 7/6/11  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands  2-0  🇪🇪 Estonia
 14/11/14  🇬🇷 Greece  0-1  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands
 13/6/15  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands  2-1  🇬🇷 Greece
 7/10/16  🇱🇻 Latvia  0-2  🇫🇴 Faroe Islands

🇫🇴 Best Faroe Islands Win

 
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Uzbek Classico : Pakhtakor Six Stuns Neftchi

Pakhtakor Tashkent have given their season a much needed boost following a thoroughly impressive 6-0 victory against major rivals Neftchi Fergana in week 17 of the Uzbek top flight season. A record result in this fixture.

 

Slow Burner

In what was a competitive first half of action, neither side was able to get a foothold in the game and break the deadlock, with Pakhtakor perhaps being most guilty of failing to make the most of their opportunities with some wayward attempts on goal.

 

Speaking in a Pakhtakor press conference after the game, Pakhtakor manager and Georgian legend Shota Arveladze, spoke of the change in how his side approached the second half.

“We played well in the first half and created many dangerous moments, but could not score. In the second half we played faster and more accurately. As a result, we accomplished the plan.”


Pakhtakor Coach – Arveladze


Second Half Surge

With added intensity from Pakhtakor in the second half, the goal floodgates opened. Akhmedov opened the scoring after 53 minutes with a brilliant individual effort, beating several defenders before keeping his composure to finish a fine piece of play.

 

Further goals were not long in coming with Sergeev (’60, ’64) and Bezerra (’78, 87) adding quick fire doubles to the score sheet, all the more impressive for Thiago Bezerra on debut. Vladimir Kozak complete the rout in the final minute to leave home fans delighted among a crowd of 6155 at the Pakhtakor Markaziy Stadium. Also of note, Sergeev’s first effort was Pakhtakors 1700th goal in the Uzbek top flight, a national record.

 

Victory carried extra emotion for those involved with Pakhtakor, coming on the weekend anniversary of the 1979 Dniprodzerzhynsk air disaster which claimed 17 Pakhtakor players and staff among the total 178 victims. This victory is another fine tribute to add to those paid by the club this week to remember those of the 1979 Pakhtakor team.

’79 Team Remembered

Much Work to do for League Progress

This result could prove pivotal for both sides as it moves Pakhtakor closer to the top in fourth, just one point away from third place and only a further point away from second . In contrast Neftchi now solidly occupy the relegation playoff position, now six points away from safety, and with the second half performance against Pakhtakor, it is hard to see cause for optimism for the Fergana based fans.

 

Next weekend Pakhtakor will look to build on momentum, traveling to face 12th placed Dynamo Samarkand in a crucial game, with only six points separating 2nd to 9th place in the league. For Neftchi, they will be desperate for points, though a home fixture against a Navbahor Namangan side without a win in their last three presents an opportunity for this.

 

With most places in the league still in the balance, next weeks games could have a serious impact on how this season’s Uzbek Oliy League shakes out, but for now the Pakhtakor faithful are sure to be happy following this result. For Neftchi, there is still much to do to save their season.

Next Fixtures-

18/08/17 – Dynamo Samarkand vs. Pakhtakor Tashkent

19/08/17 –  Neftchi Fergana vs. Navbahor Namangan

 


Pakhtakor – Neftchi – 6:0 (0:0)
12 August. Tashkent. Pakhtakor stadium. 6155 spectators.
Referee: Aziz Asimov (Tashkent).
Pakhtakor: Lobanov, Kozak, Simic (c), Azamov, Khoshimov, Akhmedov, Iskanderov (Ismatullaev, 85), Bezerra, Nurullaev (Ibrokhimov, 68), Karimov (Kanuk, 80), Sergeev.
Neftchi: Yusupov, Tursunov, Kapadze, Muzaffarov, Tuychiboev, Rakhimov, Namozov (Abdulkhoqov, 46), Ismoilov, Saidov (Khakimov, 29), Shogulomov, Khaydarov (Mamazulunov, 78).
Goals: Akhmedov, 53 – 1:0. Sergeev, 60 – 2:0. Sergeev, 64 – 3:0. Bezerra, 78 – 4:0. Bezerra, 87 – 5:0. Kozak, 89 – 6:0.
Yellow Cards: ♦Khakimov, 51. ♦Ibrokhimov, 67. ♦Kanuk, 86.
Red Cards – 






Western Sahara Football – A Sahrawi Sporting Identity

Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Southern Provinces, Sahara Occidental or simply Western Sahara. Even defining what name to give to this region presents just the first of the many hurdles to overcome before one can begin to understand the complicated state of Western Saharan football.

 

Expressing Sahrawi Football Identity ♦ Current Tensions ♦ Moving Forward

 

Football in Western Sahara

On the face of it, football in Western Sahara can seem to be quite a straight forward affair. Jeunesse Massira play in Laayoune (ES:El Aaiún; FR: Laâyoune), the largest city in Western Sahara. They play in the Moroccan football system, spending most of their time in the top flight even reaching four cup semi-finals, most recently in 2005. It’s importance to Moroccan football is seen by the cities hosting of the 2016 Moroccan Cup final in the city’s “Stade Sheikh Mohamed Laghdaf” stadium.

 


This narrative would be disputed by those supporting the POLISARIO, (Frente Popular de Liberación de Saguía el Hamra y o de Oro), who’s aim is the self-determination of Western Sahara and to break from their perceived occupation by Morocco, previously through armed struggle but since a 1991 ceasefire has put focus on diplomacy and among other things sporting representation through the likes of football. Their narrative would suggest that Morocco’s occupation is illegitimate and that football is being used as one of many tools to legitimize Moroccan control in the area.

Stade Cheikh Laghdaf

 

This can been seen in the origins of the Jeunesse Massira team itself. It was originally founded in 1977 in the central Moroccan city of Benslimane, centered between Rabat and Casablanca near Morocco’s coastline. The team was originally named “Auxilliary Forces of Benslimane” reflecting the connection to the Royal Armed Moroccan Forces who established the team, much like the connections seen in Eastern European teams of the time and RAF Rabat, whom provided the inspiration for establishing a similar team in Benslimane. Football has been strong in Spanish Morocco with Atlético Tetuán appearing in the Spanish 1951/52 La Liga campaign, recording a 4-1 home win against namesakes Athletico Madrid and a 3-3 draw with Real Madrid.

 


In 1995, the decision was made for this team to move it’s base from Benslimane to Laayoune in Western Sahara. Morocco had been in dispute over the territory with Mauritania following Spain’s ceding of control in 1975, with the latter removing it’s claims in 1979 following conflict with the POLISARIO. Morocco had strong control in the region surrounding Laayoune until 1982 before advances, in the form of a series of sand berm constructions, particularly in 1984 and 1985 gave Morocco significant control in the wider region. A referendum planned to take place in 1992 following a ceasefire never materialized and so the majority of the region continued under de facto Moroccan control allowing for the establishment of a football team in Laayoune.

Sahrawi fortification

 

This could be used to reflect the growing Moroccon control in the region as reflected in the change in the teams name to “Jeunesse Massira” with Massira being the name given to the “Green March” where up to 300,000 unarmed Moroccans marched across the border to occupy areas of Western Sahara vacated by the Spanish. The teams somewhat artificial existence is shown by an absence of local crowds at games, with support made up from mostly from the friends and family of security forces in the region. The moving of a Moroccan team into Western Sahara could be seen as a metaphor from the movement of Moroccan people across the border in 1975.

Expressing Sahrawi Football Identity

However, while Moroccan influence was expanding into Western Sahara, and into Western Saharan football, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) were seeking to take their own foothold into the footballing world. Many teams have represented the Sahrawi people throughout the years, with the first games being recognized by the Sahrawi Football Federation as having taken place in 1984 against Algerian league sides. The difficulties with political instability along with an almost total lack of resources made organizing fixtures a challenge for the Sahrawi Football Federation.

 

Western Sahara lineup vs. Esperanto

 

The prospects of development for Sahrawi football were given a boost when in 2003, Western Sahara was accepted as a member to the NF-Board, an organisation set up to help organised football for regions unaffiliated to FIFA. Though unable to attend any of the early tournaments organised by the NF Board due primarily a lack of funding, in 2012 they received financial help from the Kurdish organizers of the 2012 Viva World Cup allowing the team to travel to Erbil.

 

From this a transition occurred from the previous “Western Sahara XI” sides, a selection which had lost to a Galicia selection 2-1 in 2011, into a fully fledged Sahrawi National Football Team (nicknamed The “Dromederies”) to compete as Western Sahara into the future. The then Sahrawi Minister of Youth and Sport, Mohamed Moulud Mohaed Fadel officially announced the establishment on the 25th of March 2012. Following official backing and logistical support from Kurdistan, Western Sahara could finally compete on the international stage at a time when other sporting en-devours were being made in the region such as the introduction of the “Sahara Marathon”.

 

The Viva World Cup would prove to be a relative success for the debuting Western Sahara team. A decision was made to send players from the Tindouf camps rather than those based in Europe, and following trials a team of 20 was given five days to train before making the journey to Kurdistan. Though losing their group games to hosts Kurdistan (6-0) and Occitania (6-2), a main cause being explained that players were slipping due to not being used to playing on grass. The placement round games would see improvement with wins against Darfur (5-1 : Their first in competitive football) and also against Raetia (3-0) before losing a more competitive rematch against Occitania to finish in 6th place overall in their maiden tournament. However, with disorganization within the NF Board halting any further tournaments being organised to date, Western Sahara made the switch to CONIFA to be it’s home for the foreseeable future.

 

There is precedent for football outside of FIFA to be one approach used by nations who have gone on to successfully receive international recognition which has boosted their case for self determination. A similar approach was seen in North Africa by Algeria, who used a touring ‘national’ side to represent Algeria (Then part of France). This was to help to legitimize the Algerian statehood movement known as the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) team representing the Algerian resistance movement, also known informally as the “eleven for independence” in English.

 

On the eve of the 1958 World Cup, Algerian native players left Switzerland for Tunisia to join up with the FLN side including Mustapha Zitouni and Rashid Makhloufi, a league winner in 1957 with St.Etienne and with four French caps to his name. This team continued to tour until Algerian independence before it was succeeded by an official Algerian National team. In more recent times, teams such as Palestine and most notably Kosovo have expressed their national self determination through receiving international recognition through their football team, if not through total political recognition.

Current Tensions

Prior to this VIVA World Cup tournament, tragedy was to occur in the Moroccan controlled Western part of the region in the port city of Dakhla. SCC Mohammédia from Mohammédia, a port city just north of Casablanca, visited to face Mouloudia Dakhla recording a 3-0 victory. However reported tension and stone throwing as fans left the ground escalated as supporters left the stadium into riotous conditions. It was reported that “criminals” took advantage of the disorder to engage in attacks with knives, escalating to the point of five reported deaths, three civilians run over and two police officers with some 30 others wounded.

 

Similar tensions erupted south east of Laayoune earlier that year stemming from the originally peaceful Gdeim Izik protest camp which aimed to seek better treatment for Sahrawi people, though some also took the opportunity to call for Sahrawi independence. The African Union condemned the violence, saying “Forcible measures taken by Moroccan authorities to dismantle the camp and disband the protesters have regrettably resulted in the loss of lives and the destruction of property”, violence which spread throughout the region.

 

Morocco has also shown specific opposition to Western Sahara on a footballing front. Prior to the 2012 VIVA World Cup, Morocco attempted to contact Qatar Airways to have the team’s scheduled flights from Doha to Erbil suspended, though the Western Saharan team still arrived on schedule in Kurdistan. Morocco have also hosted two celebration exhibition matches in Laayoune in commemoration of the Green March for the 40th anniversary in 2015 and once again for the 41st in 2016, featuring on both occasions Argentine legend Diego Maradona. Others to feature in these games include former players of the year Rivaldo and George Weah in front of crowds of 30,000 people. This, tied to the city’s hosting of the Moroccan Cup final can be seen as how Morocco can also use football to boost recognition for their claims to this area.

 

Such actions are not limited to high profile football events. In 2016 at the u-20 L’Alcúdia hosted it’s annual International Football Tournament (also known as COTIF) near Valencia, a tournament which has showcased the likes of Raúl, Isco and Abel Hernandez in past editions, though it was here where tensions again showed. At the opening ceremony the introduction of the Moroccan team was greeted by whistles from the 10/11 year olds from a Western Sahara team competing in a concurrent children’s tournament. From this, the Moroccan team initially refused to attend the official reception from the mayor of L’Alcúdia, though this was later changed to a full withdrawal from the u-20 tournament, suggesting that they would not play if the Children’s team from Western Sahara was allowed to compete. COTIF president Eliseu Gomez stated that “nothing was done with bad will, the claim that they can not be together in an official place, it is the first time in 33 years that a team withdraws during the competition”. It shows the tensions of this conflict are far reaching.

 

Despite relinquishing ‘de facto’ control in the area in the 1970’s, Spain continues to play an active role in supporting the people of Western Sahara. Many Sahrawi moved to Spain in search of a new life, now being dispersed through the country. This has created a separate Sahrawi community based in Europe which helps to support those away from Western Sahara. However due to difficulties in communicating with and travelling between those based in the refugee camps in Algeria, this has created two separate Sahrawi organisations, though unity is the ultimate goal. At present the footballing unity is found but the winner of the RASD cup in Spain playing against the champion from the camps, in a champion of champions final.

 

Moving Forward


Things are never easy when it comes to football for Western Sahara. In 2015 The Western Sahara team was invited to play a friendly game against an “Esperanto Selection” during the 100th annual Esperanto congress in Lille, France, the first game to be played by an Esperanto side under fielded by the Esperanto FA. The first half went extremely well for Western Sahara, racing to a 4-0 lead. However at half time, the Esperanto players returned to their dressing rooms to find find their possessions had been stolen. Dealing with this, they did not return for the second half and the match had to be abandoned. Following this in June 2017, Western Sahara played there first fixture for almost two years against a refugee select team in Tindouf, playing out a 3-3 draw with Mohamed Boglaida (2) and Hamid Mohammed on the scoresheet.

Western Sahara v Esparanto

With the official establishment of a Western Saharan team in 2012 after a long legacy of football in the region, the challenges into the future remain in the logistics of organising players and fixtures for this team to grow and thrive as representation for Western Sahara, it’s people and it’s footballing community. With occasional friendlies for the national team, and the RASD cup providing an outlet for those away from their homeland, football remains a passion for Western Saharan people. The political conflicts in the region may take time to solve, and though there can be sometimes crossover into sport, the hope is that in this case football can rise above all and bring people together in a peaceful way, simply for the love of the game.

 


Credit to those at RASDSport for help in the research of this article and to @ditikisahara  for very helpful contributions also.

 

Note:All efforts have been made to ensure accuracy in this article, though with potential errors, particularly in translation errors. However if an error is notice, please contact and any error will be happily corrected.