Monday, July 30, 2012

Shevchenko goes into politics.

Andriy Shevchenko, first among goal scorers in his part of the world, is leaving soccer to become a politician.
He gave Ukraine a victory over Sweden with two sharp, superbly angled headers in Kiev during the Euro 2012 tournament last month. But those goals — taking him to 48 in 111 national team appearances — were the last of a career that made him one of the best, and richest, strikers of his time.
The mind, as we saw in Kiev, was still sharp. But the body was telling him to go before he deteriorated further still. His back was aching, his thigh was strained. And after he suffered a kick to his knee, not even Shevchenko could lift Ukraine to another victory.
So what does a revered former player, one enriched by his moves to Milan and to Chelsea and then back to his first club, Kiev, do with the rest of his life? “Probably I will shock all of you,” Shevchenko announced via the Dynamo Kiev club Web site. “My future will not be linked to football in any way. It will be linked to politics, I hope for your support.”
He may get it, if the voters in Ukraine can separate one Andriy Shevchenko from another.
In soccer, Shevchenko was absolutely singular — a tall, lithe, ruthless finisher of chances and half-chances from the left wing or center forward.
In politics, he has a namesake, an already established deputy in the Verkhovna Rada, the Ukrainian Parliament. The other Andriy Shevchenko is 36, the age that the former soccer player will turn in September. The older Andriy has taken a more conventional route to his seat in Parliament: He is a journalist who studied political science and economics at Kiev Mohyla Academy, then won fellowships to Yale and Stanford universities in the United States.
While the soccer star was still on A.C. Milan’s payroll, the other Shevchenko was actively involved in the 2005 Orange Revolution in Ukraine.
That is not to say that the player was unaware of the populist powers of being involved in “the People’s Game.” His boss at Milan, a godfather to Shevchenko’s first son, happened to be Italy’s prime minister at the time, Silvio Berlusconi.
And when Berlusconi sold Shevchenko for £30 million, then around $43 million, it was already clear to see that Ukraine’s finest sharpshooter was troubled by the injuries that came with the kicks around his legs.
Italian defenders had knocked Marco van Basten, Sheva’s predecessor in Milan’s red and black colors, out of the sport through accumulated injuries to his ankle. Berlusconi, then and now willing to sell a striker if he thinks he has already extracted the best out of the player, took the money from Chelsea’s Russian owner, Roman Abramovich.
The decline was apparent to all but the oligarch. Shevchenko could still do the job, as he showed in Kiev a month ago, but in short bursts of exceptional timing and sniper-like sensing of a target.
But this Shevchenko — Andriy Mykolayovych Shevchenko, to use his full name — had long possessed an eye for life’s biggest opportunities.
His family moved, when Andriy was 9, away from the poisoned air that reached their village from the fallout of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The Shevchenkos moved to the coast around the same time that the parents of the then-unborn tennis player Maria Sharapova also relocated from nearby Belarus.
One aftereffect from the disaster might be in the toughening of people, some of whom came back with a will to change society. Or maybe it is just the region — part of the old Soviet bloc — that persuades people to strive for fame and fortune in sports and then public service.
Sergei Bubka, the soaring pole vaulter, served four years in the Ukrainian Parliament before concentrating his efforts in sports and Olympic administration as well as the Champions for Peace movement in Monaco.
The heavyweight boxer Vitali Klitschko founded his own political party, known as Udar, which in Ukrainian means punch. Klitschko is campaigning now for a seat in the October general election.
And that, Shevchenko said, will also be his starting point. “I plan to support the social sector and sport,” the soccer player announced Saturday. “After all, my main slogan is a healthy mind in a healthy body.”
That adaptation of quote by the Roman poet Juvenal — “mens sana in corpora sano” or sound mind in a healthy body — is all around us right now in the Olympics.
If Shevchenko carries it out with the touch that gave him a total of 321 goals in 648 games in a professional career that spanned 18 seasons, he will be some politician.
His mentor in sports was Valeri Lobanovsky, the former coach of Dynamo Kiev, who also led the U.S.S.R. national team at the same time. Lobanovsky had dissident inclinations, but primarily lived for soccer, and among his charges was Oleg Blokhin, a winger-turned-manager who also has served in Parliament. Whippet fast and a dead-eyed finisher, Blokhin returned to take charge of the Ukraine team in time to see Shevchenko eclipse his scoring record. Blokhin had scored 42 times in 112 games for the Soviet Union between 1972 and 1988.
He sounded a bit touchy when asked if Shevchenko would be in the Euro starting lineup. “Only teamwork will bring success,” Blokhin responded. “Names do not play football. If they did, I could be playing now.”
But Shevchenko did play and did score when no one else could for Ukraine, and now has retired, one game shy of the 112 games that Blokhin played for his national team.
He follows him into politics, but again goes his own way. The first to know where this Shevchenko’s leanings lie included pupils at a summer school, where he appeared Saturday together with Nataliya Korolevska.
Korolevska, formerly a supporter of Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister whose jailing angered European political leaders, has a new party called Ukraine Forward.
“I decided to join the team of Nataliya Korolevska,” Shevchenko said, “because it is a party of the future, a party of young leaders. I want to fulfill myself in politics and share the experience I gained in Europe and do something for my country.”
A former player, taking fresh aim.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Olympics Soccer 2012: OG Will Be Better Than Euro 2012

The 2012 London Olympics are officially underway, though for those following the football at this year's Games, action had already started prior to the opening ceremony.
The Olympics represent a different style of tournament compared to what we're used to seeing in world football—namely with the fact that the competition centers around players under the age of 23, with nations only able to include three players over that age.
For some, this will possibly turn them away from engaging with the tournament and following the competition as closely as they would have originally done. In fact, many will say that they preferred the recent 2012 European Championships to the 2012 London Olympics because it featured more talent and more skill, as well as boasting the biggest names of football.
However, it simply isn't true.
The 2012 London Olympics are not a step down from the European Championships, nor are they to be considered as a "secondary" tournament. 
In fact, I want to say that this year's Olympic Games will be better than Euro 2012—starting with the fact that football's biggest names are not present in the tournament.
At Euro 2012, we know the players. We know the likes of Arjen Robben, Wayne Rooney and Fernando Torres—we watch them week in and week out in their respective domestic competitions and have seen them on our television screens for as long as we can remember.
Won't it be nice then to see players that we haven't seen or heard of before? Won't it be nice to be impressed by the talent of some of Brazil's and Uruguay's youngsters—players we most likely won't see play again in the future? The fact that all the big names have gone—well, most of them anyway—allows the stage open for a new young talent to make a name for himself at the Olympics. The fact that there is no Messi or Rooney could allow the opportunity for a previously unheralded 21-year-old striker to set the world on fire and send clubs right across the world into turmoil to try and sign him for the upcoming season.
Sure, the same thing can happen at the European Championships, but it isn't as likely to take place as it is at the Olympic Games. 
Also, just on that, won't it be nice to watch a football match without a commentator referring to who is better, Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi?
Neither player will feature at the tournament, so hopefully we shouldn't have to hear people delve into their reasoning behind the superiority of one player over another like we did at Euro 2012.
It's also like that entire countries and not just players will be afforded the opportunity to shine and be represented like they never have been before.
The likes of Senegal, Gabon, Belarus, Honduras, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates aren't going to qualify for the European Championships or the FIFA World Cup, but they are all present in this year's Olympic Games football tournament.
People associated with those countries now have an opportunity that they may never get again to cheer their team on—an opportunity that they certainly won't ever have at Euro.
I also know what the overall counter argument to this is: letting nations and players like that in to the tournament will reduce the overall quality of football being played at the tournament. The fact that there aren't those "big-name" stars will reduce the quality of football—making it boring and frustrating to watch. 
However, if you actually sit down and watch the likes of Brazil and Spain play, you'll see that there isn't an absence of talent—rather, there's an abundance of it at the Olympics.
There is so much talent oozing out of these sides that there will not be a drop-off in the quality of football being broadcast. You're unlikely to notice a real change at all, and if we were to take the argument further, you could also say that technically there is the potential formore attacking play and talent to be exhibited at the Olympics.
With younger, more raw players on hand, we're more likely to see something out-of-the-ordinary and unexpected than the tika-taka, possession football that we witnessed at Euro 2012. The players are more exciting and more open to trying something new—which can only mean that we could witness some incredible things at the Games.
All in all, you'd have to argue that the 2012 London Olympics are not a drop-off from the 2012 European Championships.
They provide a better opportunity for both players and countries, and we're in fact more likely to see incredible talent and skills at the Games than we ever were at Euro 2012.
There are fewer big names, fewer big countries, less boring football and a better chance to win more people over as to why football is the most brilliant game on the planet.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

OG 2012 in London

The Britain's hopes of a golden start to the Olympics suffered a setback when cyclist Mark Cavendish failed to land a medal.
The sprinter began the day as one of Team GB's best hopes for a gold and thousands of people lined the route of the men's road race through Surrey into central London.
While the 250km route was packed with spectators, the Games' organisers Locog launched an investigation into empty seats at venues on the Olympic Park. In the Aquatic Centre - which saw a surprise visit by the Queen - there were hundreds of empty seats despite all public tickets having been sold.
A Locog spokesman said: "We are aware that some venues have empty seats this morning. We believe the empty seats are in accredited seating areas, and we are in the process of finding out who should have been in the seats and why they weren't there."
Cavendish missed out on a podium finish amid dramatic scenes, coming in almost a minute behind the leaders.
However, the disappointment of Cavendish's defeat could be shortlived as Hannah Miley prepares to contest the 400 metres individual medley at the aquatics arena. She is seen as a genuine medal hope after winning silver at last year's World Championships.
Cavendish told the BBC of his frustration at other teams' "negative tactics" which blocked his efforts. But he added: "We may not have won a medal but I'm completely proud of my team and completely proud of my country."
Despite the blow, spirits remained high following Friday night's spectacular opening ceremony. A UK TV audience of 26.9 million people watched the ceremony, the biggest TV audience in the UK for 14 years, according to the BBC.
The Queen - who stole the show after making her movie debut alongside James Bond before supposedly parachuting into the stadium - said she was delighted to have taken part.
Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle won international plaudits for the ceremony. Germany's Bild newspaper raved: "A gigantic spectacle. What a show!" Australia's Sydney Morning Herald said it was "an unforgettable start" and "breathtaking".

Thursday, July 26, 2012

“Elegant Support” by Olga Alonova within EuroFashion

Within EuroFashion Project a bright Ukrainian designer Olga Alonova held her art-installation “Elegant Support” on the location of Mystetskyi Arsenal. The designer engaged to her project the wives of Ukrainian football players Tetyana Alieva, Olesya Guseva, Kateryna Gay, Iryna Kucher, Yulia Voronina, Sniegeanna Garmash, Victoria Konoplyanka, Valeria Mykhalyk, Inna Yarmolenko and Alla Seleznyova, as well as celebrities Iryna Turbaevska, Olga Navrotska, Yulia Kavtardze, Maria Sobko, Tana Vorzheva, Illya Chichkan and MC Rybik.
The project “Elegant Support” is the result of the cooperation between the designer and a young artist Sasha Chichkan. The presented collection dedicated to the coming football season is based on collage, the top trend of the season. The collection is based on the prints of the portraits of each player of the National football team.
According to the designer, a true woman will try to have a feminine, elegant and bright look even at the stadium. Olga Alonova stated that they have been creating the collection wishing success to Ukrainian football players on the best European football arenas.
A Founder and the Head of Ukrainian Fashion Week Iryna Danylevska mentioned that Olga Alonova always finds diverse interesting forms to present her creativity. The designer doesn’t limit herself to catwalk shows only, but also creates other exciting projects.

The basic theme of the project is the support of Ukrainian Football players by their wives, who have faith in their potential and are trying to pass them a part of warmth and faith wearing T-shirts with their portraits. The art-installation finished with a photo-session of the charming wives of Ukrainian footballers.