Tag Archives: Soviet Union

Pinochet and the King of the square metre

Caszely

Damiano Benzoni

On July 5th, 1950, Carlos Caszely was born in Santiago. A Chilean forward of Hungarian descent, he would win five league titles and three cups of Chile with Colo-Colo between 1970 and 1985. His ability in the box would gain him the nickname el Rey del metro cuadrado, the King of the square metre. In 1973 he played the Copa Libertadores final against Independiente: after two draws in Avellaneda and Santiago, the match was solved in a desempate in Montevideo. Independiente won 2-1, scoring the decider in extra-time, but Caszely had scored his side’s equaliser in the first half and became the competition’s top-scorer. He would play 49 times for the national team, scoring 29 goals. He was voted best player in the 1979 Copa América, when Chile lost in the final against Eugenio Morel and Julio César Romero’s Paraguay. At the 1974 World Cup, in the opening match against the hosting nation, West Germany, he became the first ever player to receive a red card, as the card system had just been introduced by FIFA. Continue reading

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Step’anakert is well worth a match

The Step’anakert Stadium – Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/blackwych/

Damiano Benzoni

The two teams enter the field, their flags ahead of them. On the right the home teams’ red, blue and orange tricolour with a white zig-zag chevron, on the left the seven alternate green and white stripes with a red canton depicting a white hand and seven stars, the flag of the guests. Then, the teams align themselves for the national anthems. The green jerseys of Abkhazia sing Aiaaira, “Victory”, while the red jerseys of the hosts Nagorno-Karabakh sing Azat ow ankax Arc’ax, “Free and Independent Arc’ax (or Artsakh)”, referring to the ancient name of their nation when – between 189 b.C. and 387 A.D. – it used to be a province of the Kingdom of Armenia. On the terrace, some supporters hold a banner: UEFA, we also want to play football. The two squads are the national teams of two de facto independent unrecognised countries. Two countries fighting to have their sovereignty recognised by the international community. Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh mutually recognise each other and have such agreement with two other post-Soviet breakaway republics, South Ossetia and Transnistria. While Abkhazia is also recognised by Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Nauru, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, Nagorno-Karakakh isn’t recognised by any UN member. Continue reading

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Under the shadow of five rings

Photo: David Byrd

Damiano Benzoni

They already got underway yesterday, with the football tournament, tomorrow they’ll be off to their official start: the Olympic Games of London 2012 will see more than ten thousand athletes from all over the world competing with each other. Two hundred and five flags will parade at the British capital’s Olympic Stadium, representing all the nations involved in the event. The parade is traditionally opened by the Greek delegation, which will be led by its flag-bearer Alexandros Nikolaidis, two-time Olympic silver, one-time European champion in taekwondo and first torch-carrier at the Beijing 2008 Games. The Olympic Committees will then parade one after the other in alphabetic order, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The Parade of Nations – as of tradition – is closed by the hosting delegation, and the last flag-bearer will be the Scottish track cyclist Chris Hoy, four Olympic golds. Between Iceland and India four athletes should parade without a national standard, walking behind the five rings of the Olympic flag instead. Continue reading

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