football

The last time an Albanian prime minister visited Belgrade, the Iron Curtain was just descending across Europe, rock and roll had yet to be invented and Pelé was just six years old.

In this context, the decision of current Albanian premier Edi Rama to delay his planned trip to Serbia by a mere two and a half weeks may not seem hugely significant. But Rama’s postponement comes after a spat triggered by an episode bizarre even by Balkan standards and in the wake of subsequent attacks on Albanian property in Serbia. Read more

The Indian Super League, the country’s new professional football league, kicked off last weekend. Sceptics who doubted its pulling power were proved wrong as Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium packed out for the first game.

In a nation where cricket is tantamount to a religion, few expected football to have much appeal. But the ISL – backed by media group Star India and IMG-Reliance, a partnership between the sports management group and Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man – has captured the attention of the public, the players and the sponsors. Will it last? Read more

Once the first indigenous president of an impoverished country with an Indian majority has established his authority, tripled the size of the economy and is poised to win a third mandate, what else is there to do?

Sign up as a midfielder for a professional club for next season.

That is what Bolivia’s President Evo Morales recently did with Sport Boys, a team based in Warnes, outside the eastern city of Santa Cruz, once a bitter hardline opposition stronghold to his government.

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By David O’Byrne of bne in Istanbul

Turkish football is no stranger to empty stadia, with the football authorities regularly ordering matches to be played behind closed doors as punishment for the misbehaviour of fans and players alike. But the April 20 derby match between fierce Istanbul rivals Fenerbahce and Besiktas was different. Read more

Say goodbye to the Anzhi dream team. Two years after Suleiman Kerimov (pictured) splashed out millions of dollars – and luxury cars – luring stars like Samuel Eto’o and Roberto Carlos to his native Dagestani football club, the club’s oligarch backer is tightening the purse strings.

Anzhi’s annual budget will be reduced from $180m to $50-70m, while Eto’o and other big-name players will be sold off in an effort to cut costs and improve the club’s competitive standing. Read more

Real Madrid and Barcelona are known for their annual gladiatorial contest for Spanish football supremacy.

Now the two clubs have become pawns in a proxy war among Middle Eastern airlines for global recognition. Read more

As Sir Alex Ferguson steps down after one of the most successful football managerial careers of all time, the numbers machine is kicking into gear – trophies, win-loss records, you name it.

The thing is, Manchester United FC is a statistician’s nightmare. A famous Guiness beer ad from a few years back said that 98 per cent of Man U fans had never been to Old Trafford, the club’s stadium. It’s not clear where that little factoid came from.

But one thing is for sure: in terms of its fans, Man U under Fergie has become one of the world’s leading emerging markets football clubs. Read more

Leonid Fedun, the billionaire deputy chief executive of Lukoil, is considering taking his Spartak football club public in what could be the first ever Russian football IPO.

Investors should not get carried away. Football is not a particularly profitable business and even the most successful clubs tend to live beyond their means. Read more

Football leagues around the globe draw heavily on foreign imports as both players and coaches. But as ambassadors?

In China, where the sport is struggling to escape the taint of match fixing and bribery scandals, the masters of the football world have decided that their best representative is someone who has never played in the country’s league: David Beckham. Read more

Football is far and away the most popular sport in Indonesia and, with the domestic game in a sorry state, clubs from the English Premier League are looking to cash in.

In the latest round, Arsenal have just announced that they will play a friendly match against a national team in July, marking the team’s return to the country after a 31-year absence. Read more

Football bosses are not normally ones to mince their words, but Brazil’s new coach really surpassed himself on Thursday. Luiz Felipe Scolari, or Felipão (Big Phil) as he’s known, has only been in the job a few hours but he’s already managed to spark a national scandal, it seems.

At a press conference to announce his appointment, the former Chelsea manager was asked about the pressure the Brazilian team would be under to win the World Cup on their home turf in 2014. Read more

So, Qatar Airways will appear as the main logo on FC Barcelona’s shirts from next year, replacing the Qatar Foundation.

That means Doha’s state-run carrier will go head-to-head with Dubai’s Emirates, which sponsors Arsenal, and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad, which sponsors Manchester City, in yet another battle ground for regional aviation supremacy: football sponsorship. Read more

The debacle at Warsaw’s National stadium – where a Poland-England match had to be scrubbed on Tuesday night because the brand new ground failed to close its roof despite a deluge of rain – tested the talents of Polish and English Facebook and Twitter jokers.

The most popular photo shared online seemed to be a black-and-white one of men in flippers trying to kick a ball, but the football fiasco points to a deeper problem with Polish infrastructure. Read more

Vladimir Putin has been holding forth about what Russia will gain by investing billions of dollars in preparations for the 2018 World Cup. Apart from boosting investment in infrastructure, the football will have a positive impact on the health of the nation by encouraging people to quit smoking and drinking and play sports instead. Or so he says. Read more

With Carlos Slim as their new striker, leading Mexican soccer clubs Pachuca and León are pondering a listing in the stock exchange.

Forget Manchester United’s listing on Wall Street, the two Mexican clubs would be the first  to be floated on the Mexican stock market. Read more