26 March 2009

What happened to Portuguese football?

I picked up a copy of 'Champions' at a bookstore cafe yesterday. It had an interesting article about the Portuguese league. The article headline has this silhouette of Cristiano Ronaldo in red and white.

The point of the article is that the Portuguese league is at a low point with no future or profit. The best players being sold and the clubs not going far in the Champions League or UEFA Cup. For example, Benfica's early exit of the UEFA CUP after losing Olympiakos 5-1 Benfica in the group stage. That was their 3rd straight defeat in the group stage this season.

With all the fanfare, it turns out Ricardo Quaresma is only in the top 10 list of expensive player transfers.

The most interesting quote was from Manuel Cajuda coach of Vitoria Guimaraes. He had said that 'UEFA needs to shut us [Portuguese clubs] out until we fix our problems.'

I thought the most interesting stat they reported was stadium attendance. The Benfica stadium Da Luz has a capacity of 65, 000. The games only get full if it's against a big rival like FC Porto. The average attendance of a Portuguese stadium is less than the average of a stadium in Germany and England. Should have written the numbers.

Petit had said this in a TV interview to Hallo Bundesliga last fall, in 2008. I saw it on GolTV. It was a 'one-on-one' segment with FC Koln new signing Petit, from Benfica. He spoke in Portuguese. When he was asked what the main difference is between the Portuguese league and the Bundesliga, he said that it was the stadium attendance. That the big 3 club stadiums in Portugal get sold out only when they play against the top 3.

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