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September 04, 2006

Not watching us spank Andorra

Saturday's match (or should that be mis-match) between England and Andorra was the first England competitive international I've failed to watch live since a game against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in October 2002 - not including, of course, the bit of England versus Sweden in the World Cup which I missed due to an obstinate Greek taxi driver.

I'd just got settled into Notos to listen to it on the radio when I was hit by a double whammy. First, the Radio Five Live stream was UK restricted for the event. It hadn't occurred to me that the FA might consider there was an overseas market for English language England match commentaries that wouldn't be best served by letting the BBC stream the games. Secondly, Claire rushed back to let me know she had spotted a taverna on the corner of the harbour with the game on. So I downed my beer - not before England had scored twice I hasten to add - and rushed off to find the screen showing the game

To no avail.

Claire might have seen the teams lining up and a caption clearly showing England, but whilst I was looking all I saw in every taverna was a match on NET featuring the Olympiakos b-team or someone.


So my view of the match looked pretty much like this.


Whilst watching the goals tick in via text, I amused myself by trying to find out the kind of things that Motty would be spouting on BBC One back home. Did you know that the Andorran motto is "Virtus Unita Fortior" for "Virtue United is Stronger"? That Andorra enjoys the highest life expectancy in the world, and that it uses the Euro even though it is not a member of the EU? And that Andorra only joined the United Nations in 1993? Or that if Old Trafford had been full, a capacity crowd would have exceeded the total population of Andorra which is estimated to be between 67,000 and 69,000?

Still at least it was one game where the statistics really did say it all.


I did get to see one Euro2008 qualifier though. When I got home we endured enjoyed watching Greece grind out a one-nil away victory. In a group where you would think that Hungary, Norway and bitter rivals Turkey would also all hope to qualify, it was a very good three points against Moldova. Or Moldavia as the Athens Times insisted on billing them, which isn't quite the same thing at all.


On Sunday we could also have watched the Brazil - Argentina match in London, which was being shown here on NET. There was an interesting article about this fixture in The Guardian this week pointing out that it was the shape of things to come. Brazil and Argentina will be staging a lot of friendly matches in Europe over the next few years, which is great news for European armchair football fans, but maybe not such good news for their fans back home. I remember there was a bit of a fuss in the British press when England played Argentina in Geneva, about how much extra it had cost England fans to travel to Switzerland rather than having the fixture in England. Imagine the fuss if England vs Scotland was being staged in Japan just because the TV money was more lucrative.

Of course, the biggest sporting event of the weekend here was the world basketball championship final on Sunday. Sadly, after the heroics against the USA on Friday, the final was one game too far for the Greek team, who were soundly beaten 70-47 by Spain.

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