Sports and Hobbies in Portugal

Called The Beautiful Game, the Portuguese are ardent futebol fans. From club matches to the national team, everyone has a favorite player and team that they follow with great devotion.

Futebol

The game requires speed, dexterity, endurance and strategy. Portugal’s Cristiano Renaldo is arguably the best player in the world and José Marinho is widely recognized as a gifted manager.

For pro players, making the national team is the pinnacle of success. Many professional footballers play internationally for other teams; for example Renaldo plays for Real Madrid. As qualifying for the quadrennial World Cup approaches, players are named for the national team. Below the national team is club play. Premeira Liga, with 14 teams, is the premier league and the Segunda Ligafields 22 teams.

Every town and region has a host of amateur leagues, as well as college and school teams ranging from five-a-side to full teams. Naturally you can find a group of kids (or adults) kicking the ball around wherever there’s a bit of open space.

Futsal

Futsal, 5-a-side indoor football, is played on a hard surface. There are several leagues divided into divisions. 1a Divisão is the top league.

All the rest

  • Athletics: Portugal has a number of top long-distance runners and has done well at recent Olympic Games in London and Beijing; there are also a number of top cross-country runners from Portugal
  • Canoeing: Portugal has many top Olympians in this sport; kayaking and canoeing are popular sports for tourists and locals alike
  • Cycling: Volta a Portugal is the annual professional long-distance race; cycling tours and mountain bike trails are widely available in all regions
  • Martial arts: Jogo do Pau is a traditional stick fighting martial art dating from the Middle Ages (fencing and judo are also popular)
  • Motorsports: Rallying, motorcycle racing and A1 Grand Prix are popular spectator sports with some races (Rally Madeira and Lisboa-Dakar) receiving international attention
  • Bullfights: Portuguese bullfights differ in style from the Spanish customs, notably the bull is not killed in the ring; running with the bulls, as in Pamplona, Spain, is popular in the Azores
  • Golf: the Algarve has great courses and many of Portugal’s top pros play in the region
  • Airsoft: known as paint ball in the U.S., the game is popular around the country
  • Watersports: surfing, windsurfing, kite surfing and sailing are all popular, especially in the Algarve
  • Portugal is considered to have some of the best waves in Europe, most notably around the central coastal town of Peniche. Recently, the largest wave ever surfed was recorded in Nazaré, about 30 minutes north of Peniche.

Hobbies

Textiles

Portugal’s traditional needlework and fiber arts began in nunneries and as cottage industries. The fine linens, rugs, lacework provided a livelihood for many families and grew to be celebrated for craftsmanship. Portuguese textiles are well known the world over.

  • Embroidery: Portuguese embroidery is highly sought after with its intricate stiches and rich colors; styles vary by region, with the best known examples coming from Madeira and Castelo Branco; white embroidery (white thread on white cloth) is also popular with modern needle workers
  • Rug making/tapestry: Arraiolos in southern Portugal is famous for its pure wool carpets; designs are similar in motif and style to Persian rugs; Portalegre is well known for its finely detailed tapestry with as many as 25,000 stitches per square meter
  • Knitting: Portuguese knitting is popular with knitters everywhere; also known as continental knitting
  • Crocheting/lacemaking: fine thread crochet lace and bobbin lace making developed as another way to make ends meet in poorer families; well known styles include secret, love secret and Loulé lace
  • Weaving: the region of Serra da Estrela is well known for its thick, dense waterproof blankets (mantas); 100% wool, the blankets are dye and chemical free

Folk dancing

Traditional Portuguese folk dances, typically slower-paced than those of their Spanish neighbors, reflect the courtship and marriage customs of their native regions. Well-known dances include: fandango, vira, corrinhdo, chula and viranda. To dance well, time, practice, stamina and instruction are needed.

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Prospects of Newcastle in the 2007-2008 English Premier League

Without a doubt, the appointment of Sam Allarydce, Big Sam, as the new gaffer or manager for Newcastle for the 2007-2008 season had been greeted with cheers by the Toon Army. With his growing reputation of grooming of Bolton Wanderers that were challenging for Europe and giving the Big Four of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, it is widely expected that Newcastle would finally challenge for Europe at least.

In the off season, Big Sam has radically transformed his Newcastle squad; making wholesale changes to his team and moulding it into his own image. Let take a closer view on the 2007-2008 squad below.

At the back, with Irish Number 1 Shay Given in goal, Newcastle is usually in safe hands. In front of him, there are the ever improving England U21 Steven Taylor and new recruit the Czech David Rozehnal, Newcastle has improved a previous weakness. Another indicator was the release of Craig Moore, Oliver Bernard, Alan O’brian and Titus Bramble from defence shows his determination to cut the dead wood from the team. Plus the transfer of or the addition of Geremi from Chelsea, Claudio Cacapa from Lyon, Jose Enrique from Villarreal and Habbib Beye from Marseille to the likes of Steve Carr, Peter Ramage and Celestine Babayaro , Big Sam has rebuilt up the defence and his options at the back.

As for midfield interestingly enough, Allardyce has allowed the likes of Kieran Dyer, Scott Parker and Nobby Solano to leave St James Park. These three players have been the main stay of previous Newcastle midfield. In came Joey Barton from Manchester City and Faye from Sam’s old club Bolton. Looking at it, it could be a wise move on Big Sam’s part as Dyer had his injuries, Solano is getting older in age and Parker may not be in his mould of a player. Furthermore, with exciting youngsters such James Milner and Charles N’Zogbia added with the experience of Nicky Butt, Emre and Damien Duff, Big Sam has a strong midfield to choose from for every match. Only concern is the addition of Barton may test his abilities to the fullest as he had been a problem player at City.

Up front, what more can be said of a front line of Micheal Owens, Mark Viduka from Boro, Alan Smith from Manchester United, Obafemi Martins and Shola Ameobi. A combination of youth and experience. The major concern of Allarydce would be the health of his strikers at his disposal especially Owen’s. Without a doubt, with Viduka and Ameobi, Sam may be trying to play a big-small combination up front if Owen is fit.

So far the performance have been encouraging though the recent defeat to Derby away is a wrong step down. Newcastle is current in 10th position, winning 2, drawing 2 and losing 1. At the moment, Newcastle is a team in transition as Big Sam is still moulding his teams to his ideals and playing styles. It can be strongly concluded once the team is consolidated to the playing style of Big Sam and gotten used to each other, performance should improve.

It can safely be concluded that Newcastle should be strongly challenging for a European Spot come end May 2008 with the current team and Big Sam’s abilities.

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Zinedine Zidane

Zinedine Zidane, the monk-like fantasista – heir to Platini’s throne as France’s greatest ever player, is also widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the game. Maybe slightly overrated in some quarters when labelled with the ‘Greatest Ever’ tag, his achievements and trophy haul are certainly second to very few. For a time he was also the most expensive player in the world, costing Real Madrid a huge £46m. During his playing days Zidane became one of world football’s true superstars, and much loved players – his global fan base was (and still is) exceptional. From Europe, to North Africa (the origin of his roots) and the Middle East, to Japan – Zidane, was the man.

Zidane was born to Algerian immigrants who firstly moved to Paris, but eventually settled in La Castellane – a suburb with a huge North African community in France’s southern town of Marseille. It was here that Yazid Zidane was born in 1972. Yazid, his birth name, is what he was known by to his friends and family. The young Yazid looked to replicate his idol; Olympic Marseille’s very own fantasista, Uruguayan Enzo Franchescoli, by teaching himself tricks and repetitively juggling a football until he was better than most of the boys in the area. In a neighbourhood high in crime rate Zidane had to become tough, though this was mostly focused through Judo – something else he showed an early talent for. But it was football that won the youngsters heart. After school he would gather with the other boys from his tower block, in ‘Place Tartane’ – an 80 x 12 yard clearing in the middle of the housing complex, which served as a makeshift football pitch. By 13 years old his talent was such that he was spotted by a scout for Cannes who proclaimed: ‘I’ve found a boy who has hands where his feet should be’. After initial scepticism he was allowed to join the club’s ‘centre de formation’, leaving home and his family in the process to lodge with a club director’s family.

By 16 years old he was making his league debut versus Nantes. Then, playing the same opponents two years on, he scored his first senior league goal in a 2-1 win. Remembering the promise he made the young Zidane upon scoring his debut goal, the president rewarded him with a brand new Renault Clio. Unfortunately for the 20 year old Zizou, the Va Va Voom factor wore off pretty quick as Cannes were relegated the very next season. His skills didn’t go unnoticed however and with an offer coming in from Bordeaux, Zidane moved South for approximately £300k, where he would be reunited with his junior international team mate and close friend Christophe Dugarry. They formed part of an exciting new team that made waves in Europe as well as at home, winning the Intertoto Cup in 1995 and finishing runners-up in the UEFA Cup. It was during this period he also made his national team debut in 1994, coming off the bench whilst France were 2-0 down against the Czech Republic, and scoring twice. The press went wild – the new Platini had arrived. People outside of France were now beginning to take notice of Zidane’s attributes. The then Premiership Champions Blackburn Rovers coach Ray Harford expressed an interest in the midfielder, only for Blackburn’s owner Jack Walker to refuse, famously stating: ‘Why do you want to sign Zidane when we have Tim Sherwood?’

Zizou was a relative late bloomer on the world stage. He was already aged 24 when gaining his first major move – Juventus paying a modest £3.2m in 1996 to take him from the Bordeaux side that had starred (particularly against AC Milan) in the previous seasons UEFA Cup. Juve had chosen to snap him up before the summer’s Euro’96 competition in case of any value increase. But after his poor, lacklustre performances during the tournament, they probably saw their new commodity depreciate in value – leading Juventus president Gianni Agnelli to cuttingly remark: ‘is the real Zidane the one I’ve heard so much about, or the one I’ve been watching?’ To be fair to Zidane, he had just completed a mammoth 65-match season. Then on the eve of the Euros, he suffered a car crash. His arrival in Turin signalled more ‘new Platini’ comparisons. But after a difficult period of adjustment to the new league, murmurs of disappointment could be heard throughout the Juve faithful, leading Zidane to announce: ‘I’m Zinedine Zidane and it’s important that the fans understand that I can never be Platini, on or off the pitch.’ He was right. Zidane was a totally different character to the former Juventus number 10, and what’s more that shirt at Juve now belonged to Del Piero. Zidane’s squad number at La Vecchia Signora was 21 – an alien number to a fantasista, however after the frosty start in Turin his performances started to resemble a true fantasista. With winning goals against championship rivals Inter, and by helping Juve secure their second Intercontinental Cup in November versus River Plate, Zidane silenced his doubters. The win was made even sweeter for Zidane as he faced his teenage idol, Enzo Francescoli. The Uruguayan fantasista was ending his career back at the club where he had shot to fame. For Zidane, life couldn’t get any better.

Only it could.

That trophy was the first major of his senior career and sparked a remarkable winning period which would see him collect nearly every major trophy the sport had to offer during an incredible career. His stay at the Turin giants saw him win the Scudetto twice, a UEFA Supercup and another Intertoto Cup. During the same period with France he collected the 1998 World Cup and then followed it up with the European Championship in 2000. The only major trophy which evaded him was the Champions League. He had finished runner-up twice with Juve and now it seemed like his Holy Grail. It was probably a major factor in his decision to leave Juventus in the summer of 2001, when Real Madrid came calling and splashed out a whopping £47m for his services. The Real president Florentino Perez was embarking on his first galactico project, signing the best players in the world. And at this time, nobody was better than Zidane, having also picked up the greatest accolades any individual player could win – the Ballon d’Or in 1998, and World Player of the Year in that same year, whilst also collecting it in 2000. In 1996 when he arrived at Juventus he may have been labelled as an inferior model to the great Platini, but in 2001 he was leaving having certainly surpassed him.

In Spain, Zidane won the watching Bernabeau faithful over instantly. They adored his velvet touch and instant control. His mastery over the ball reminded their older followers of their glorious players from the past – not least their greatest ever player, Alfredo Di Stefano, who’s number 5 shirt Zidane now wore (the number 10 shirt was taken by Real’s first galactico, Luis Figo). The similarity would be greatly enhanced by the end of that season, when Zidane inspired Madrid to reach the European Cup final in Glasgow – scene of their infamous 7-3 victory in 1960 versus Eintracht Frankfurt from Germany. During that match the great Di Stefano was at the peak of his powers, scoring a hat-trick. Real’s modern day number 5 couldn’t quite emulate three goals, but scored what is considered the greatest goal in European Cup final history – a tremendous volley with his left foot (his wrong foot) from the edge of the penalty box, to lead Real to a 2-1 win over Bayer Laverkusen…from Germany. He had completed his Holy Grail.

Zidane won further trophy’s whilst in Spain, adding a La Liga championship, a UEFA Supercup and another Intercontinental Cup to his now bursting trophy cabinet. He also claimed a third World Player of the Year award in 2003, making him the joint highest ever recipient (alongside Ronaldo).

Zizou was more than a collection of awards though. To watch him play during his peak was like watching the top ballet star perform, albeit in football boots, such was his elegance and technique when controlling and gliding with the ball. His signature move, the roulette, looked like a graceful pirouette performed in the middle of a clumsy mob, leaving his midfield markers dumfounded and kicking fresh air. His attributes led Michel Platini to observe: ‘Technically, I think he is the king of what’s fundamental in the game – control and passing. I don’t think anyone can match him when it comes to controlling or receiving the ball.’ Brazilian coaching legend Carlos Alberto Parreira put it rather more bluntly, though non-the less complimentary, simply labelling him: ‘a monster!’

Unlike many of the other legendary fantasisti, Zidane wasn’t a great goalscorer, never reaching double figures in Italy or Spain. However, he was most definitely a scorer of great goals. More importantly he was a scorer of decisive goals in big games, especially on the international stage. He scored twice (two identical headers) in the 1998 World Cup final, when France beat Brazil 3-1 to win their first ever (and only) World Cup. During Euro 2000 he scored a sublime free-kick in the quarter-finals versus Spain, then, followed it up scoring a Golden Goal in the semi-final win versus Portugal. Euro 2004 saw a poor French performance but Zidane provided one of the highlights of the competition when scoring twice (a free-kick and a penalty) in injury time, turning a 1-0 defeat into a 2-1 victory versus England during the opening group game. Cementing his place as a legendary World Cup performer in 2006 Zidane scored the winner, another penalty versus Portugal in the semi-final. He then scored (another penalty) again in another World Cup final, giving France an early lead against Italy in what was his final match as a professional footballer (he had announced his retirement from the game before the tournament). Sadly for him, France lost that game. Even sadder was the fact that Zidane wasn’t able to stay on the pitch until the final whistle – having received a red card. Unfortunately for Zizou, red cards also form part of his legend.

As a playmaker Zidane’s expression was all in his creative flair and artistry. However, during his career he was no stranger to some unsavoury incidents on the football pitch. Zidane was sent-off a massive 12 times during his career (including five times at Juventus and twice whilst at Real Madrid) – mostly for retaliation. These violent flashpoints were in direct contrast to his perceived cool persona as he glided around the field, though his brooding, often moody stare also served as a warning; he was a player who would not be bullied. His response to provocation was first noted during his younger days at Cannes. Whilst he never started any trouble, he knew how to take care of himself. As Richard Williams deftly puts it in his excellent book ‘The Perfect 10’, he would respond: ‘in a way that might be expected from a boy formed in a tough quarter of a hard-nosed city, where an injury might be repaid with a headbutt’. Fast forward 18 years and Marco Materazzi was living testament that age had not mellowed Zidane’s own sense of personal justice – a flying headbutt to the Italian’s chest in response to alleged provocation during the 2006 World Cup final. His last act as a professional footballer.

Many forget however, that this was not Zizou’s first red card during a World Cup tournament. Indeed during France’s triumphant World Cup victory in 1998 it is very easy to forget, in all the hysteria of his two headed goals in the final, that he was briefly a French villain. During the second group game versus Saudi Arabia, the balding fantasista inexplicably lost his cool and stamped on the back of the Saudi captain whilst he was lay on the ground after a challenge. It left the watching world mystified, as this time Zidane’s brand of personal justice seemed to come without any direct provocation. The French poster-boy was given a two match suspension, putting ‘Les Bleus’ campaign in jeopardy – the then captain Didier Deschamps summing up the nervous feeling of the nation: ‘I know he’s impulsive, but he’s put us all at risk’. Indeed without Zidane, the French struggled (eventually winning) in their last-16 tie versus Paraguay – which is testament to the effect Zizou had on the national team. This would become a worrying noticeable feature of all the French teams for the next decade; such was Zidane’s stature and ability. With him, they were world beaters, without him they looked also rans. During qualification for the 2006 finals, the French (without Zidane who had announced his international retirement in 2004) almost failed to qualify. Zidane (along with Thuram and Makelele) answered the call to help out his country and was immediately reinstated as captain. In doing so he instantly rejuvenated the French who went on to reach the (ill-fated) final of the tournament – along the way knocking out previous and future champions Brazil and Spain, with Zidane in imperious form and winning the competition’s Most Valuable Player award.

So with this fantasista, we had the beauty and the beast. The grace and the violence. Taking the rough with the smooth, he was one hell of a player – maybe Parreira had described him best after all…he was a monster!

Bio

Born: 23rd June 1972 in Marseille (France)

Height: 1.85m / 6ft 1″

Career

1988-1992: Cannes – 61 apps / 6 goals

1992-1996: Bordeaux – 139 apps / 28 goals

1996-2001: Juventus – 151 apps / 24 goals

2001-2006: Real Madrid – 155 apps / 37 goals

Totals: 506 app / 95 goals

1994-2006: France – 108 caps / 31 goals

Honours

World Player of the Year: 1998, 2000, 2003

Ballon D’Or: 1998

FIFA World Cup: 1998

UEFA European Championship: 2000

UEFA Champions League: 2002

UEFA Supercup: 1996, 2002

Intercontinental Cup: 1996, 2002

Serie A Champions: 1997, 1998

La Liga Champions: 2003

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La Liga Rules for Non-European Players

La Liga or La Liga BBVA is the top-level professional club football competition in Spain. It is considered one of the most popular as well as competitive domestic leagues throughout the world, with English Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1 being other most viewed national leagues. Just like every football league in the world, La Liga is also guided by specific rules as prepared by the Spanish football authority in alignment with the FIFA guidelines. Let us now take a closer look at the La Liga rules for the non-EU players.

Rules for Non-European Players in La Liga

According to the rules in La Liga, a club playing in the top division Spanish football league is not allowed to recruit more than three non-EU players. The same figure is 2 for the second division football clubs (LigaAdelate). The clubs in the Segunda Division B are not allowed to recruit any non-EU player. The clubs relegated to the second or third division are, however, permitted to retain the non-EU players until their contracts expire.

According to a decision adopted by the Spanish Federation, the teams playing in La Liga and the second division football in the country should make an optimum use of the rules and construct their squads with the foreign payers as many as permissible by the authority.

Citizenship for Foreign Players

As per La Liga rules, the players can claim citizenship of Spain from their native lands. A non-European player can apply for Spanish citizenship. However, he must play for five years in Spain in order to be eligible for Spain citizenship. Furthermore, the players arriving from Caribbean, African and the Pacific counties (commonly referred to as ACP countries) are not included in the non-EU category due to the Kolpak Ruling.

Arsenal

From La Liga, we will head our way towards English Premier League side Arsenal. Fondly called as the Gunners, they are one of the most successful Premier League sides in England. Currently managed by Arsene Wenger, Arsenal have their own home ground at the Emirates Stadium. They have produced some of the big names in the world football and attracted several top-tier players to London.

Achievements by Arsenal

Arsenal has a good number of silverware in their collection. The club has won Premier League titles 13 times. They won their last Premier League title in 2004 and currently lead the league table to make it 14 in their profile. They have won FA Cup 12 times in their history and lifted FA Community Shield.

Arsenal honors are not limited to only achievements within domestic field but also extended to international level. They have won UEFA Champions League as well as former UEFA Europa League (Former UEFA Cup). They are also the winner of FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup. In 1994, Arsenal wrapped up UEFA Cup Winners Cup.

Arsenal has several stars on their board. They brought German International Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid on a club record deal in summer of 2013.

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