Nicolas Anelka

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Posted by bender 04/11/2009 @ 18:08

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News headlines
Sunderland Survive As Nicolas Anelka Grabs The Golden Boot -
Nicolas Anelka grabbed the first with a fine individual goal just after half time, Sunderland equalised through Kieran Richardson before Chelsea won the game with goals from Salomon Kalou and Ashley Cole. Kenwyne Jones headed home a late consolation...
Anelka eyes Cup Final glory -
Golden Boot winner Nicolas Anelka has hailed the way Chelsea have bounced back from their Champions League heartbreak - and vowed to blast the Blues to FA Cup Final glory. The Frenchman's wonder goal in Chelsea's 3-2 win against Sunderland on Sunday...
World Top 23: Chelsea's Anelka Grabs 5th Place, Luca Toni Drops -
Chelsea forward and France international Nicolas Anelka (pictured) was all brilliance yesterday against Sunderland as he concluded a remarkable season with a goal (the 25th) to see his side to a 3:2 away win and grab the 5th place in the FTBL World Top...
Chelsea winger Florent Malouda recalled to France squad - The Canadian Press
But Malouda's sparkling recent form for Chelsea in its three-pronged attack alongside Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba means he now gets another chance to win his place back in Domenech's team. Domenech also called up Patrick Vieira,...
Nic: New boss must continue work -
by RivalsDM Nicolas Anelka urged Guus Hiddink's successor to continue his good work at Chelsea as the Blues won their final home game under his charge. Hiddink will return to his full-time role as Russia coach after Chelsea's FA Cup final clash with...
France unveil squad for Eagles - NEXT
Barcelona's Thierry Henry and English Premier League Golden Boot winner Nicolas Anelka are among the players Domenech named at a press conference on Monday evening. The Les Bleus squad includes three goalkeepers, eight defenders, seven midfielders and...
Anelka's agent rules out Stamford Bridge exit - ESPN
By Soccernet staff Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka seems unlikely to leave the club in the summer after his agent insisted he was happy at the club. The France international has found himself on the bench following the arrival of Guus Hiddink as interim...
Sunderland 2-3 Chelsea - Morning Star Online
However, it wasn't until just before half-time that the London side seemed set to take the lead when Nicolas Anelka had a shot smartly saved by Marton Fulop and Florent Malouda crashed his shot against the bar. Anelka, however, wasn't going to be...
Anelka alcanza a Cristiano Ronaldo como máximo goleador en Inglaterra -
El delantero francés del Chelsea Nicolas Anelka alcanzó al portugués del Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo, a la cabeza de la tabla de máximos goleadores de la Premier League inglesa de fútbol, con 18 tantos, tras marcar el domingo ante el Blackburn...
Nicolas Anelka scores a fantastic goal for Chelsea, beating two men before blasting into the top corner from the edge of the box. Superb stuff and Sunderland will be getting a little nervy now, although they are safe at the moment....

Nicolas Anelka

Anelka with Chelsea

Nicolas Anelka (born 14 March 1979) is a French footballer who plays as a striker for English Premier League side Chelsea and the France national team.

Anelka began his career at Paris Saint-Germain but soon moved to Arsenal. He became a first team regular and won the PFA Young Player of the Year Award the following season. Real Madrid signed him for £22.3 million in 1999, a record fee, but he did not settle in well and returned to Paris Saint-Germain in a £20 million deal. Despite regular first team football in Paris, Anelka set his eyes upon the English Premier League once more; he went on loan to Liverpool in January 2002 but joined Manchester City for £13 million for the start of the 2002–03 season.

After three seasons in Manchester he moved to Fenerbahçe for a season before returning to England to join Bolton Wanderers– in deals worth £7 and £8 million respectively. He transferred to Chelsea from Bolton for a reported £15 million in January 2008. As a result, he became the most paid-for player in football history having commanded more than £85 million in transfer fees.

Anelka has played many times at the international level and won his first international honours with France at Euro 2000, and won the Confederations Cup the following year. His failure to settle at club level limited his international appearances, but he returned to the national team for the Euro 2008 competition.

Anelka started his career at or around Paris Saint-Germain as a youth player and was said to have great potential for striking a ball and set play goals. In February 1997, at the age of 17, he joined English Premier League club Arsenal for a fee of £500,000 under newly appointed manager Arsène Wenger. Anelka scored the his first goal for Arsenal against Manchester United in a 3–2 home win. His first team opportunities were limited in the 1996–97 season, but in the 1997–98 season he broke into the first team, after a long-term injury to striker Ian Wright. Anelka was a key player in Arsenal's "Double" win, of both the Premier League championship and the FA Cup trophy that season. Anelka scored the second goal in Arsenal's 2–0 win over Newcastle United in that season's FA Cup final.

A player with exceptional pace, he won the PFA Young Player of the Year Award in the 1998–99 season, but Arsenal failed to defend their Premiership title and made little progress in the UEFA Champions League, while Anelka wanted a better salary. Fans turned on the striker amid transfer speculation and a perceived lack of enthusiasm, giving him the nickname "Le Sulk". In all he made 90 appearances for Arsenal, scoring 28 goals.

He transferred to Real Madrid C.F. in the summer of 1999 for £22.3 million pounds. Anelka began brightly, arriving as a record signing to the Madrid side. He had initial success, but soon fell out of favor with fans, fellow players, and new coach Vicente del Bosque, at one point receiving a 45-day suspension for refusing to train. Despite eventually returning to favor and figuring in the successful capture of the 1999-2000 Champions League campaign (he scored vital goals in both legs of the semi-finals against Bayern Munich), he was surplus to the requirements of the club.

Anelka signed a professional contract at Paris Saint-Germain, a return to the club at which he used to play as a youth player, in a transfer deal worth £20 million. After eighteen months, Anelka returned to the English Premiership in January 2002 with Liverpool on a short term loan deal until the end of the season. He contributed to Liverpool's late push to come second in the league but manager Gérard Houllier decided not to offer him a permanent deal after the end of the season in favour of signing his future Bolton team mate El Hadji Diouf. Nevertheless, he was placed 96th in the 100 Players Who Shook The Kop. Anelka opted to join newly promoted Manchester City F.C., and the £13 million fee paid by manager Kevin Keegan was a club record.

In January 2005, the speculation ended when Manchester City announced that Anelka had completed a £7 million transfer to Turkish team Fenerbahçe. Anelka helped the Turkish club win the league title in 2005. In August of that same year, there was considerable speculation in the press that Anelka was being courted by Newcastle United for a return to English football, although the transfer never came about. Anelka stayed on at the Turkish club where he played with them in the UEFA Champions League, but they finished bottom of their group.

During the summer transfer window of 2006, press reports once again linked Anelka with a return to English football. Portsmouth F.C. manager Harry Redknapp was allegedly willing to either pay £8.2 million to bring the striker to Fratton Park, or take him on a season long loan.

On August 25, 2006, Bolton Wanderers signed Anelka on a four-year deal for a club record of £8m. Anelka made his debut for Bolton against Watford on September 9 2006. He finished the 2006-07 season as Bolton's top scorer with 11 goals.

During January 2007, Anelka stated that he would be willing to leave Bolton Wanderers for a return to former club Arsenal. However, Anelka pledged his future to Bolton Wanderers in July 2007, following talks with manager Sammy Lee. Anelka later said he would reluctantly consider leaving the club if Bolton's poor start to the 2007-08 season continues. However, Anelka signed a new four year contract with Bolton Wanderers on August 30, which would expire in 2011.

On January 11, 2008 it was confirmed that Anelka would join Chelsea for £15 million, making him not the most expensive player but the most paid for player in footballing history, with £87 million having been spent on his services since he left Paris Saint Germain for Arsenal in 1997. Anelka made his debut for Chelsea against Tottenham Hotspur on January 12, 2008. . He scored his first goal for Chelsea on January 26, 2008 in the FA Cup 4th-round against Wigan Athletic, and scored his first league goal on February 2 against Portsmouth F.C.. He did not score again for Chelsea during the 2007-2008 season . This was generally attributed by fans to Avram Grant's prevalent use of him from the substitutes' bench, and, when so, in a wing position instead of his preferred central role.

In the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final, Anelka's seventh and decisive penalty was stopped by Edwin van der Sar, ultimately resulting in Manchester United winning the Champions League. On August 3, 2008, Anelka scored 4 goals against AC Milan in a 5-0 friendly win.

With Didier Drogba injured at the beginning of the season, Anelka made a very impressive start to the 2008/09 campaign. So far, he has scored 23 times -- 14 of which in the Premier League, making the Frenchman the first player to reach 10 goals in the competition in 2008/09. For this, he was awarded with a Barclays Golden Boot Award on 14 November 2008. Anelka scored his first competitive hat-trick for Chelsea against Sunderland, in a 5-0 home win on November 1, 2008, and followed this up a week later with both goals in a 2-0 away win at Blackburn to ensure Chelsea remained at the top of the Premier League, before scoring twice again the next week against West Brom. He has established himself as an important member of the squad and has maintained his place in the team despite the return to fitness of Drogba. As of 22nd February 2009, he is the top scorer in the Premier League with 15 goals after scoring the winner in a 1-0 away win against Aston Villa. He scored another hattrick against Watford in the FA Cup 5th Round to earn Chelsea a 3-1 victory at Vicarage Road. .

Anelka came on as a substitute in the Euro 2008 qualifier against Lithuania on March 24, 2007, and scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory. Following his performance, Anelka was praised by Raymond Domenech: "It is the Nicolas I like to see... when he shows these qualities, he is a candidate for a permanent place." He also scored in the 2–0 victory against Ukraine on June 2, 2007, and is now one of Raymond Domenech's first-choice strikers, forming France's number one attacking partnership with Thierry Henry.

Anelka featured in the France squad for the Euro 2008 Championships in Austria and Switzerland . Anelka started France's first group game against Romania, but was substituted after 72 minutes . He did not start either of France's remaining two games in the tournament against Netherlands and Italy, coming on as a substitute in both games . Anelka is well known for his butterfly celebration in which he places both of his hands together and flutters his hands. This is because his daughter's favourite insect (or animal) is a butterfly.

Anelka is married to Barbara Tausia, a Belgian choreographer, and enjoys playing tennis in his free time. He acted in the 2002 film Le Boulet as a footballer named Nicolas. He has stated that, when he retires from football, he would like to work in the film industry because he has a friend in the business. He said: "I have a friend who's a producer, who makes lots of films. He recently did Asterix. So it's already agreed that I'm going to do other films. It helps to know actors and producers. It's different to football and it's something I enjoy very much because there's no ball. I like pretending to be somebody else, it's fun." After discussing religion with some childhood friends, Anelka converted to Islam in 2004 in the United Arab Emirates, taking the Muslim name of Abdul-Salam Bilal. Initially, Anelka considered leaving European football to play in the UAE: ""I am ready to stay here and to play for a club in the Emirates. I am not keen to go back to England or France." However, this did not come to pass and he briefly moved to Turkey instead.

To the top

Premier League

The Premier League trophy

The Premier League is an English professional league for football clubs. At the top of the English football league system, it is the country's primary football competition. It is contested by 20 clubs, operating a system of promotion and relegation with The Football League. The Premier League is a corporation in which the 20 member clubs act as shareholders. Seasons run from August to May, with teams playing 38 games each. It is sponsored by Barclays Bank, and is therefore officially known as the Barclays Premier League.

The competition formed as the FA Premier League on 20 February 1992 following the decision of clubs in the Football League First Division to break away from The Football League, which was originally founded in 1888, and take advantage of a lucrative television rights deal. The Premier League has since become the world's most watched sporting league. It is the world's most lucrative football league, with combined club revenues of around £1.4 billion in 2005–06, which are expected to rise to around £1.8 billion for 2007–08 due to media revenues. It is also ranked first in the UEFA rankings of leagues based on performances in European competitions over the last five-years, ahead of Spain's La Liga and Italy's Serie A.

A total of 42 clubs have competed in the Premier League, but only four have won the title: Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers, Arsenal, and Chelsea. The current champions are Manchester United, who won their tenth Premier League title in the 2007–08 season, the most of any Premier League team.

Despite significant European success during the 1970s, the 1980s had marked a low point for English football. Stadiums were crumbling, supporters endured poor facilities, hooliganism was rife, and English clubs were banned from European competition following the events at Heysel in 1985. The Football League First Division, which had been the top level of English football since 1888, was well behind leagues such as Italy's Serie A and Spain's La Liga in attendances and revenues, and several top English players had moved abroad. However, by the turn of the 1990s the downward trend was starting to reverse; England had been successful in the 1990 FIFA World Cup, reaching the semi-finals. UEFA, European football's governing body, lifted the five-year ban on English clubs playing in European competitions in 1990 and the Taylor Report on stadium safety standards, which proposed expensive upgrades to create all-seater stadiums in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster, was published in January of that year.

Television money had also become much more important; the Football League received £6.3million for a two-year agreement in 1986, but when that deal was renewed in 1988, the price rose to £44m over four years. The 1988 negotiations were the first signs of a breakaway league; ten clubs threatened to leave and form a "super league", but were eventually persuaded to stay. As stadiums improved and match attendance and revenues rose, the country's top teams again considered leaving the Football League in order to capitalise on the growing influx of money being pumped into the sport.

At the close of the 1991 season, a proposal for the establishment of a new league was tabled that would bring more money into the game overall. The Founder Members Agreement, signed on 17 July 1991 by the game's top-flight clubs, established the basic principles for setting up the FA Premier League. The newly formed top division would have commercial independence from the Football Association and the Football League, giving the FA Premier League license to negotiate its own broadcast and sponsorship agreements. The argument given at the time was that the extra income would allow English clubs to compete with teams across Europe.

In 1992 the First Division clubs resigned from the Football League en masse and on 27 May 1992 the FA Premier League was formed as a limited company working out of an office at the Football Association's then headquarters in Lancaster Gate. This meant a break-up of the 104-year-old Football League that had operated until then with four divisions; the Premier League would operate with a single division and the Football League with three. There was no change in competition format; the same number of teams competed in the top flight, and promotion and relegation between the Premier League and the new First Division remained on the same terms as between the old First and Second Divisions.

The 22 inaugural members of the new Premier League were Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea, Coventry City, Crystal Palace, Everton, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Oldham Athletic, Queens Park Rangers, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, and Wimbledon.

As of the end of the 2007–08 season, there had been 16 completed seasons of the Premier League. The league held its first season in 1992–93 and was originally composed of 22 clubs. The first ever Premier League goal was scored by Brian Deane of Sheffield United in a 2–1 win against Manchester United. Due to insistence by FIFA, the international governing body of football, that domestic leagues reduce the number of games clubs played, the number of clubs was reduced to 20 in 1995 when four teams were relegated from the league and only two teams promoted. On 8 June 2006, FIFA requested that all major European leagues, including Italy's Serie A and Spain's La Liga be reduced to 18 teams by the start of the 2007–08 season. The Premier League responded by announcing their intention to resist such a reduction. Ultimately the 2007–08 season kicked off again with 20 teams. The league changed its name from the FA Premier League to simply the Premier League in 2007.

The Premier League is operated as a corporation and is owned by the 20 member clubs. Each club is a shareholder, with one vote each on issues such as rule changes and contracts. The clubs elect a chairman, chief executive, and board of directors to oversee the daily operations of the league. The Football Association is not directly involved in the day-to-day operations of the Premier League, but has veto power as a special shareholder during the election of the chairman and chief executive and when new rules are adopted by the league.

The Premier League sends representatives to UEFA's European Club Forum, the number of clubs and the clubs themselves chosen according to UEFA coefficients. The European Club Forum is responsible for electing three members to UEFA's Club Competitions Committee, which is involved in the operations of UEFA competitions such as the Champions League and UEFA Cup.

There are 20 clubs in the Premier League. During the course of a season, which lasts from August to May, each club plays the others twice, once at their home stadium and once at that of their opponents, for a total of 38 games. Teams receive three points for a win and one point for a draw. No points are awarded for a loss. Teams are ranked by total points, then goal difference, and then goals scored. At the end of each season, the club with the most points is crowned champion. If points are equal, the goal difference and then goals scored determine the winner. If still equal, teams are deemed to occupy the same position. If there is a tie for the championship, for relegation, or for qualification to other competitions, a play-off match at a neutral venue decides rank. The three lowest placed teams are relegated into the Football League Championship and the top two teams from the Championship, together with the winner of play-offs involving the third to sixth placed Championship clubs, are promoted in their place.

As of the 2009–10 season qualification for the UEFA Champions League changes. The top four teams in the Premier League qualify for the UEFA Champions League, with the top three teams directly entering the group stage. Previously only the top two teams qualified automatically. The fourth-placed team enters the Champions League at the play-off round for non-champions and must win a two-legged knockout tie in order to enter the group stage. The fifth-team automatically qualifies for the UEFA Europa League, and the sixth and seventh-placed teams can also qualify, depending on the winners of the two domestic cup competitions. If one of the cup winners qualifies for Europe through their league position, the sixth-placed team in the Premier League will qualify for the Europa League. If both of the cup winners qualify for Europe through their league position, the sixth and seventh-placed teams in the Premier League will qualify for the Europa League. Cup runners-up will not qualify for Europe unless they do so through their league finish. A further place in the UEFA Europa League is available via the Fair Play initiative. If the Premier League has one of the three highest Fair Play rankings in Europe, the highest ranked team in the Premier League Fair Play standings which has not already qualified for Europe will automatically qualify for the UEFA Europa League first qualifying round.

An exception to the usual European qualification system happened in 2005, when Liverpool won the Champions League, but did not finish in a Champions League qualification place in the Premier League that season. UEFA gave special dispensation for Liverpool to enter the Champions League, giving England five qualifiers. UEFA subsequently ruled that the defending champions qualify for the competition the following year regardless of their domestic league placing. However, for those leagues with four entrants in the Champions League, this means that if the Champions League winner falls outside of its domestic league's top four, it will qualify at the expense of the fourth-placed team in the league. No association can have more than four entrants in the Champions League.

The Premier League was recently promoted to the top of the UEFA rankings of European leagues based on their performances in European competitions over a five-year period. This broke the eight-year dominance of the Spanish league, La Liga. The top three leagues in Europe are currently allowed to enter four teams into the Champions League. The UEFA president Michel Platini, had proposed taking one place from the top three leagues and allocating it to that nation's cup winners. This proposal was rejected in a vote at a UEFA Strategy Council meeting.

In the same meeting, however, it was agreed that the third-placed team in the top four leagues would receive automatic qualification for the group stage, rather than entry into the third qualifying round, while the fourth-placed team would enter the play-off round for non-champions, guaranteeing an opponent from one of the top 15 leagues in Europe. This was part of Platini's plan to increase the amount of teams qualifying directly into the group stage, while simultaneously increasing the number of teams from lower-ranked nations in the group stage.

The Premier League is the most lucrative football league in the world, with total club revenues of over £1.4 billion in 2005–06 season according to Deloitte, making it 40% above its nearest competitor: Italy's Serie A. Revenues have increased to approximately £1.8 billion in the 2007–08 season, when new media rights deals started. Based on November 2007 exchange rates, £1.8 billion converts to a gross annual league revenue of about US$3.7 billion. For the past few seasons, the Premier League's gross revenue (£1.4bn) has been the fourth highest for any sports league worldwide, behind the annual revenues of the three most popular North American major sports leagues (the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association), but ahead of the National Hockey League.

In terms of world football, the Premier League clubs are some of the richest in the world. Deloitte, who annually release figures on club revenues through its "Football Money League", listed eight Premier League clubs in the top 20 for the 2005–06 season. No other league has more than four clubs in this table, and while La Liga rivals Real Madrid and F.C. Barcelona take up two of the top 3 places, no other Spanish clubs are listed in the top 20. Premier League teams have dominated the list for many years, and even topped the list for almost a decade until the 2004–05 season. After the Premier League's new TV deal went into effect, the league-wide increase in revenues is expected to increase the Premier League clubs' standing in the list, and there is a possibility that a Premier League club will be top of the list.

Another significant source of regular income for Premier League clubs remains their revenue from stadium attendances, which, with the 2005–06 average attendance of 34,364 for league matches, is the fourth highest of any domestic professional sports league in the world, ahead of Serie A and La Liga, but behind the German Bundesliga. This represents an increase of over 60% from the average attendance of 21,126 recorded in the league's first season (1992–93). However, during the 1992–93 season the capacities of most stadiums were reduced as clubs replaced terraces with seats in order to meet the Taylor Report's 1994–95 deadline for all-seater stadiums. The 2005–06 figure is lower than the Premier League's record average attendance of 35,464, set during the 2002–03 season.

Television has played a major role in the history of the Premier League. The money from television rights has been vital in helping to create excellence both on and off the field. The League's decision to assign broadcasting rights to BSkyB in 1992 was at the time a radical decision, but one that has paid off. At the time pay television was an almost untested proposition in the UK market, as was charging fans to watch live televised football. However, a combination of Sky's strategy, the quality of Premier League football and the public's appetite for the game has seen the value of the Premier League's TV rights soar.

The Premier League sells its television rights on a collective basis. This is in contrast to some European Leagues, including Serie A and La Liga, in which each club sells its rights individually, leading to a much higher share of the total income going to the top few clubs. The money is divided into three parts: half is divided equally between the clubs; one quarter is awarded on a merit basis based on final league position, the top club getting twenty times as much as the bottom club, and equal steps all the way down the table; the final quarter is paid out as facilities fees for games that are shown on television, with the top clubs generally receiving the largest shares of this. The income from overseas rights is divided equally between the twenty clubs.

The first Sky television rights agreement was worth £191 million over five seasons. The next contract, negotiated to start from the 1997–98 season, rose to £670 million over four seasons. The third contract was a £1.024 billion deal with BSkyB for the three seasons from 2004–05 to 2006–07. The league brought in £320 million from the sale of its international rights for the three-year period from 2004–05 to 2006–07. It sold the rights itself on a territory-by-territory basis. Sky's monopoly was broken from August 2006 when Setanta Sports was awarded rights to show two out of the six packages of matches available. This occurred following an insistence by the European Commission that exclusive rights should not be sold to one television company. Sky and Setanta paid a total of £1.7 billion, a two-thirds increase which took many commentators by surprise as it had been widely assumed that the value of the rights had levelled off following many years of rapid growth. Setanta also hold rights to a live 3 pm match solely for Irish viewers. The BBC has retained the rights to show highlights for the same three seasons (on Match of the Day) for £171.6 million, a 63% increase on the £105 million it paid for the previous three year period. Radio Telefís Éireann broadcast the highlights package in Ireland. Sky and BT have agreed to jointly pay £84.3 million for delayed television rights to 242 games (that is the right to broadcast them in full on television and over the internet) in most cases for a period of 50 hours after 10 pm on matchday. Overseas television rights fetched £625 million, nearly double the previous contract. The total raised from these deals is more than £2.7 billion, giving Premier League clubs an average media income from league games of £45 million a year from 2007 to 2010. They also receive smaller amounts from media rights for the domestic cups and in some cases substantial amounts from media rights for European matches.

The TV rights agreement between the Premier League and Sky has faced accusations of being a cartel, and a number of court cases have arisen as a result. An investigation by the Office of Fair Trading in 2002 found BSkyB to be dominant within the pay TV sports market, but concluded that there were insufficient grounds for the claim that BSkyB had abused its dominant position. In July 1999 the Premier League's method of selling rights collectively for all member clubs was investigated by the UK Restrictive Practices Court, who concluded that the agreement was not contrary to the public interest. The BBC's highlights package on Saturday and Sunday nights, as well as other evenings when fixtures justify, will run until 2013. Television rights alone for the period 2010 to 2013 have been purchased for £1.782bn.

Promoted as "The Greatest Show On Earth", the Premier League is the world's most popular and most watched sporting league, followed worldwide by over half a billion people in 202 countries, generally on networks owned and/or controlled by NewsCorp or Setanta Sports, who also own the UK and Ireland match broadcasters. In the United States coverage is shared between Fox Soccer Channel and Setanta Sports North America; NewsCorp sometimes buys pitch-side advertising boards with the Fox Soccer Channel logo replacing that of Sky. In Australia, Fox Sports (Australia), owned by News Ltd, shows the games with a Viewers Choice option for up to five live games and up to nine games live on any given game-week.

The Premier League is particularly popular in Asia, where it is the most widely distributed sports programme. For example, in the People's Republic of China, matches attract television audiences between 100 million and 360 million, more than any other foreign sport. Due to this popularity, the league has held three pre-season tournaments in Asia, the only Premier League affiliated tournaments ever to have been held outside England. In July 2003, the FA Premier League Asia Cup was held in Malaysia, featuring three Premier League clubs, Chelsea, Newcastle United and Birmingham City, and the Malaysia national team. In 2005 the Asia Trophy featured a similar format, held in Thailand and featuring the Thailand national team competing against three English clubs—Everton, Manchester City and Bolton Wanderers, the last of which won the trophy. In 2007, the Barclays Asia Trophy was held in Hong Kong and featured Liverpool, Portsmouth, Fulham and the Hong Kong FA Cup winning team, South China, with Portsmouth winning the competition.

The FA has faced difficulty fighting internet copyright infringement. In an effort to stop the broadcasting of streams of live games on the net they have hired NetResult, a company that specialises on protecting trademark rights online.

One of the main criticisms levelled at the Premier League is the increasing gulf between the Premier League and the Football League. Since its split with the Football League, many established clubs in the Premier League have managed to distance themselves from their counterparts in lower leagues. Owing in large part to the disparity in revenue from television rights between the leagues, many newly promoted teams have found it difficult to avoid relegation in their first season in the Premier League. In every season except 2001–02 (Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers and Fulham) at least one Premier League newcomer has been relegated back to the Football League. In 1997–98 all three promoted clubs were relegated at the end of the season.

The Premier League distributes a small portion of its television revenue to clubs that are relegated from the league in the form of "parachute payments". Starting with the 2006–07 season, these payments are in the amount of £6.5 million over the club's first two seasons in lower leagues, although this rose to £11.2 million per year for clubs relegated in 2007–2008. Designed to help teams adjust to the loss of television revenues (the average Premier League team receives £45 million while the average Football League Championship club receives £1 million), critics maintain that the payments actually widen the gap between teams that have reached the Premier League and those that have not, leading to the common occurrence of teams "bouncing back" soon after their relegation. For some clubs, including Leeds United, Nottingham Forest, Bradford City, Leicester City, Southampton and Charlton Athletic who have failed to win immediate promotion back to the Premier League, financial problems, including in some cases administration or even liquidation have followed. Further relegations down the footballing ladder have ensued for several clubs unable to cope with the gap.

Nigerian football officials have claimed the increase in popularity of the Premier League and subsequent world wide media coverage is having a damaging effect on the national leagues of other footballing countries, with Nigeria being a recent example, citing lower domestic attendances when games clash with Premier League fixtures, and the drain of young talent being lured to the Premier League by wage offers no local club can hope to match. On the other hand, one could also argue that the money that comes into these clubs paid for their footballing exports, and the inspirational effect of watching the Premier League on local desire for playing football, is of local benefit. In an extreme case of worldwide influence, after the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final, seven people died in Nigeria after clashes between rival supporters of Chelsea and Manchester United.

The current Premier League trophy was created by Royal Jewellers Asprey of London. It weighs 4 st (25 kg; 56 lb), and is 76 cm (30 in) tall, 43 cm (17 in) wide and 25 cm (9.8 in) deep. Its main body is solid sterling silver and silver gilt, while its plinth is made of malachite, a semi-precious stone. The plinth has a silver band around its circumference, upon which the names of the title-winning clubs are listed. Malachite's green colour is also representative of the green field of play. The design of the trophy is based on the heraldry of Three Lions that is associated with English football. Two of the lions are found above the handles on either side of the trophy—the third is symbolised by the captain of the title winning team as he raises the trophy, and its gold crown, above his head at the end of the season. The trophy has borne several names on its face since it was first created, when it read "The F.A. Premier League". The one Manchester United lifted in 2006–07 read "The Barclays Premiership", while the 2007–08 trophy simply read "Premier League". From the 2008–09 season onwards, the trophy will read "Barclays Premier League".

For the inaugural season of the Premier League, clubs were obliged to supply their own match balls, which were usually provided by the clubs' kit manufacturers. In 1993, the Premier League came to an agreement with Mitre for them to supply the league's teams with their match balls. Mitre supplied balls to the Premier League for seven years, starting with the Mitre Pro Max (1993-1995) and then the Mitre Ultimax (1995-2000).

The 2000–01 season saw Nike take over as match ball supplier, introducing the Nike Geo Merlin ball, which had been used in the UEFA Champions League. The Geo Merlin was used for four seasons before being replaced by the Nike Total 90 Aerow, which ran for another two seasons. The 2004–05 season also saw the introduction of a yellow "Hi-Vis" ball for use in the winter months. Next came the Nike Total 90 Aerow II, which featured an asymmetrical design to help players judge the flight and spin of the ball. Most recently, as of the 2008–09 season, the official ball of the Premier League is the Nike Total 90 Omni, which features yet another pattern in dark red and yellow and a modified panel design.

A total of 42 clubs have played in the Premier League from its inception in 1992 and the end of the 2008–09 season. Two other clubs (Luton Town and Notts County) were signatories to the original agreement that created the Premier League, but were relegated prior to the inaugural Premier League season and have not subsequently returned to the top flight. For a list of all clubs past and present see List of FA Premier League clubs and an amalgamated table can be found at All-time FA Premier League table. For a list of winners and runners-up of the Premier League since its inception, and top scorers for each season, see English football champions.

Seven clubs have been members of the Premier League for every season since its inception. This group is composed of Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur.

The following 20 clubs will compete in the Premier League during the 2008–09 season.

Premier League clubs have almost complete freedom to sign whatever number and category of players they wish. There is no team or individual salary cap, no squad size limit, no age restrictions other than those applied by general employment law, no restrictions on the overall number of foreign players, and few restrictions on individual foreign players — all players with EU nationality, including those able to claim an EU passport through a parent or grandparent, are eligible to play, and top players from outside the EU are able to obtain UK work permits. The only area where the Premier League's player registration rules are more restrictive than those of some other football leagues, such as those of those of Belgium and Portugal, is that academy level non-EU players have little access to English football by law. Also, clubs competing in the Champions League or UEFA Cup must comply with UEFA's player-eligibility rules for those competitions.

At the inception of the Premier League in 1992–93, just eleven players named in the starting line-ups for the first round of matches were 'foreign' (players hailing from outside of the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland). By 2000–01, the number of foreign players participating in the Premier League was 36%. In the 2004–05 season the figure had increased to 45%. On 26 December 1999, Chelsea became the first Premier League side to field an entirely foreign starting line-up, and on 14 February 2005 Arsenal were the first to name a completely foreign 16-man squad for a match. No English manager has won the Premier League; the four managers to have won the title comprise two Scots (Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United, ten wins) and Kenny Dalglish (Blackburn Rovers, one win)), a Frenchman (Arsène Wenger, Arsenal, three wins) and a Portuguese (José Mourinho, Chelsea, two wins).

Over 260 foreign players compete in the league, and 101 players from England's domestic leagues competed in the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea and Japan. At the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, the Premier League was the most represented league with more than eighty players in the competition, including 21 of the 23 players in England's squad.

As a result of the increasingly lucrative television deals, player wages rose sharply following the formation of the Premier League. In the first Premier League season the average player wage was £75,000 per year, but subsequently rose by an average 20% per year for a decade, peaking in the 2003–04 season, when the annual salary of the average Premier League player was £676,000.

The record transfer fee for a Premier League has been broken several times over the lifetime of the competition. Prior to the start of the first Premier League season Alan Shearer became the first British player to command a £3 million-plus transfer fee. The record rose steadily in the Premier League's first few seasons, until Alan Shearer made a world record breaking £15 million move to Newcastle United in 1996. This stood as a British record for four years until it was eclipsed by the £18 million Leeds paid West Ham for Rio Ferdinand. Manchester United subsequently broke the record three times by signing Ruud van Nistelrooy, Juan Sebastián Verón and Rio Ferdinand. Chelsea broke the record in May 2006, when they signed Andriy Shevchenko, from AC Milan. The exact figure of the transfer fee was not disclosed, but was reported as being around £30 million. This was eclipsed by Manchester City's transfer of Robinho from Real Madrid on 1 September 2008 for £32.5 million.

David James holds the record for the most Premier League appearances, overtaking the previous record held by Gary Speed of 535 appearances in February 2009.

Players in the Premier League can compete for the informal competitions of Goal of the Month and Goal of the Season. Other titles players compete for include the top-scorer for a season. Former Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United striker Alan Shearer holds the record for most Premier League goals with 260. Shearer finished among the top ten goal scorers in 10 out of his 14 seasons in the Premier League and won the top scorer title three times. During the 1995–96 season he became the first player to score 100 Premier League goals. Since then, 14 other players have reached the mark, with Nicolas Anelka being the most recent when he scored against his former side Bolton Wanderers in December 2008.

Since the first Premier League season in 1992–93, 13 different players have won or shared the top scorers title. Thierry Henry won his third consecutive and fourth overall scoring title by scoring 27 goals in the 2005–06 season. This surpassed Shearer's mark of three titles which he won consecutively from 1994–95 through 1996–97. Other multiple winners include Michael Owen and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink who have won two titles each. Andrew Cole and Alan Shearer hold the record for most goals in a season (34) – for Newcastle and Blackburn respectively. Cole's record came in the 1993–94 season, while Shearer's came in 1994–95, both of which were 42-game seasons. Shearer's mark of 31 goals from a 38-game season in 1995–96 was equalled in the 2007–08 season by Cristiano Ronaldo, a mark which surpassed the record of most goals by a midfielder in a season.

Manchester United became the first team to have scored 1,000 goals in this league after Cristiano Ronaldo scored, in a 4–1 defeat by Middlesbrough, in the 2005–06 season, having been the first team to have conceded a Premier League goal following the League's inception. Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool are the only other teams to have reached the 1,000-goal mark. The highest-scoring match to date in the Premier League occurred on 29 September 2007 when Portsmouth defeated Reading 7–4.

Only Ryan Giggs of Manchester United has scored in all 17 Premier League seasons.

The National Division of the FA Women's Premier League is the Premier League's female counterpart. Most of its clubs are affiliated with Premier League and Football League sides; however, teams are semi-professional; no professional teams have existed since Fulham returned to semi-pro status in 2003. The league comprises 12 clubs, operating a system of promotion and relegation with the Northern Division and Southern Division. The champions of each are promoted to the National Division, and the bottom two National Division clubs are relegated.

Since forming in 1993 the Women's Premier League has been dominated by Arsenal, who have won ten of the fifteen league titles. The women's game has a much lower profile than that of the Premier League, with Women's Premier League teams typically playing matches at grounds owned by non-league men's clubs.

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Avram Grant

Grant with Chelsea.

Avraham "Avram" Grant (Hebrew: אברהם "אברם" גרנט‎; born Avraham Granat on 4 May 1955) is an Israeli association football manager, most recently at Chelsea. Grant has spent the majority of his career coaching and managing in Israel, winning a number of national league and cup victories with different teams, and also managing the national team for a time.

Grant moved to England in 2006 to become Technical Director of Portsmouth FC before being appointed Director of Football at Chelsea in July 2007. Two months later, in September 2007, following the departure of José Mourinho, Grant was appointed manager of Chelsea. Despite steering the team into the Champions League final, the League Cup final and contesting the Premier League title to the last day, his contract was terminated at the end of the season.

Grant's professional coaching career started at age 18, in 1972, as youth coach of his home-town team, Hapoel Petah Tikva. In 1986, After a 14-year spell in this job, he was promoted to first team coach, leading the club to two Toto Cup victories, in 1990 and 1991, thus bringing Hapoel Petah Tikva back to the top of Israeli football after nearly 25 years. During this era Petah Tikva fought regularly for the championship against Shlomo Sharf's Maccabi Haifa. In his last season in Petah Tikva, Grant lost both the championship and the Israel State Cup within 3 days to Maccabi Haifa, in a chain of events which is commonly known in Israel as "the Double robbery". The next year the club won its first major title in 30 years, by winning its second-ever Israeli cup.

The following season Grant moved to coach Maccabi Tel Aviv winning Liga Leumit (then the top division) in his first season with them, with a 13-point advantage over the second place team. Maccabi Tel Aviv lost out closely in the final of the Israeli cup and was thus denied a historic double. The cup was won by Maccabi Tel Aviv under Grant's control, however, in 1994, followed with another championship in 1995.

Following this, Grant moved to Hapoel Haifa for what has been described as a short and unsuccessful spell, finishing fourth in the Israeli championship. Grant returned to Maccabi Tel Aviv between 1997 and 2000, although this period was less successful than his previous one at the club, winning just the Toto Cup in 1999.

Grant moved to Maccabi Haifa in 2000, where he coached until 2002. There, he led the team to great success, winning the Israeli Premier League in 2001 and 2002, as well as the Toto Cup in 2002, whilst narrowly missing out on the Israeli cup, to miss winning the treble. In 2001 the club participated in the 2nd qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League competition against the Finnish team FC Haka. Despite winning both legs (1-0 and 4-0) with an aggregate score of 5-0 the club did not progress further. The use of Walid Badir as a substitute in the final ten minutes of the second leg while under suspension caused disqualification on the grounds of "culpable negligence" and FC Haka proceeded to the next round against Liverpool.

After leaving Haifa in 2002, Grant became the youngest team coach of Israel, replacing the former Denmark coach Richard Møller Nielsen. The team participated in Group 1 of the UEFA Euro 2004 qualifying round but finished third and so did not take part in the finals in Portugal.

Although not qualifying for the 2006 World Cup, Israel finished third in their qualifying group behind winners France and runners-up Switzerland. Israel missed on qualification to the finals, despite remaining undefeated in the group with four wins and six draws.

Grant is known in Israel for giving a chance to young players in almost every club he coached, such as Alon Hazan and goalkeeper Raffi Cohen in Petah Tikva, Avi Nimni and Itzik Zohar in Maccabi Tel Aviv, Gal Alberman in the Israeli team, and many more. Grant famously did not include Israeli star Eyal Berkovic in the national squad during 2005, saying he wanted to create "a younger team", but, nonetheless, retaining 34 year-old Avi Nimni. In 2007, Berkovic described the way Grant became Chelsea's manager as "disgusting" and "disrespectful". Another known critic of Grant in Israel is Shlomo Sharf, who was Israel's coach during most of the nineties.

Grant, as is also the case with another coach from Petah Tikva, current Israel coach Dror Kashtan, is considered one of the most successful Israeli coaches. He has a reputation of a lucky winner in Israel, which caused the invention of the frequently used humorous term 'Hatachat shel Avram'. This means 'Avram's Ass', a reference to the allegedly large amount of luck Grant enjoyed during the 2006 World Cup campaign.

Congolese forward Lomana LuaLua, presently of Al-Arabi Sports Club, stated that it was Grant's encouragement and emotional support that kept him from ending his career after the loss of his son Yoshuha to pneumonia. Grant was director of football at Portsmouth F.C. during LuaLua's stint at the club.

In October 2005, Grant announced that he would step down from the national team as his contract was due to expire in June of the following year. Subsequently, he took up the position of Technical Director at Portsmouth in June 2006, overseeing Harry Redknapp's side.

A personal friend of Roman Abramovich, on 8 July 2007 Avram Grant was appointed Director of Football at Chelsea FC. After the departure of José Mourinho from Chelsea on 20 September 2007, Grant was assigned the manager's role, with Steve Clarke, and later Henk ten Cate (on 11 October 2007) as his assistants, and becoming the first Israeli to manage an English football club.

A number of Chelsea fans did not take well to Grant's appointment. They protested Mourinho's departure, holding banners at games, which read "Mourinho - The Special One", and chanting Mourinho's name. Chelsea stated that some of the protests directed towards Grant constituted abuse of a racist nature. Bruce Buck, chairman of Chelsea, claims they have received points of view which are racist and anti-semitic. Buck stated: " unfairly smears the reputation of the vast majority of the Chelsea fans who rightly do not want to be associated with such activity." . However, many Chelsea fans felt their objections against Grant being appointed as the team's manager are justified, citing his "lack of expertise at the highest levels of football" and Grant's lack of a formal UEFA qualification as manager. Several unnamed Chelsea players have been quoted as saying Grant's methods are "25 years behind the times" and "Chelsea deserve a bigger coach than him. Grant does not have the quality to coach a team like this. When we play big opponents we will suffer because of him." At least one member of Grant's coaching staff told friends that they will consider leaving the club if there is no further change in management.

Grant faced his first game only 3 days after taking up the manager's role, losing 2–0 to Manchester United on 24 September. At his first UEFA Champions League match as a coach (with Chelsea and in general) he led Chelsea to a 2–1 away win over Valencia, replicating one of Mourinho's most celebrated wins. Chelsea went on to register a 16-game unbeaten run under Grant, including beating Manchester City 6-0 in one of Chelsea's biggest wins. Subsequently, Grant was offered and signed a four-year contract with Chelsea in December 2007.

In January 2008, Nicolas Anelka from Bolton Wanderers, Branislav Ivanovic from Lokomotiv Moscow, and Franco Di Santo from Audax Italiano were added to Grant's team.

In February, Chelsea reached the 2008 League Cup final, its first competition final under Grant's management. They lost 2-1 to Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium on 24 February, with an extra time winner from centre-back Jonathan Woodgate. On 8 March, at Barnsley, Chelsea were eliminated from the F.A Cup 1-0. On 23 March, Grant secured his first win against one of the other big four clubs when Chelsea came from behind after two substitutions that were ridiculed by Chelsea fans to beat Arsenal FC 2-1. On 26 April, Grant got his second big win when Chelsea beat Manchester United 2-1, to pull Chelsea into a tie at the top of the Premier League with two games remaining in the season. They eventually finished the season in second place, as the team had done the previous year.

Grant was chosen as Premier League Manager of the Month in April in his first season as Chelsea's manager.

On 30 April 2008, Grant's Chelsea beat Liverpool 3-2 (4-3 on aggregate) to advance to the UEFA Champions League final, something they failed to achieve under former manager José Mourinho. Chelsea drew 1-1 with Manchester United in the final only to unluckily lose out on the UEFA Champions League trophy in a penalty shootout which United won 6-5. Chelsea had the opportunity to win the trophy but John Terry slipped on his team's fifth penalty clipping the ball off the post and wide.

Three days later, at around 6pm on 24 May 2008, Chelsea announced in a statement on its website that Grant's contract had been terminated with immediate effect. Grant later revealed that he turned down the opportunity to return to the club in his former role as director of football. Just as his predecessor José Mourinho had done, Grant completed his period as Chelsea manager without losing a single home game in the Premier League.

Grant is married to Israeli television personality Tzofit Grant. They have a son and a daughter.

Grant's father, Meir Granat, was born in Mława, Poland and deported with his family by the Soviet secret police to Kolyma, Siberia during the Second World War. After War was over he left Poland, escaping postwar anti-Jewish pogroms in Poland. His mother, Aliza Nisan, is an Iraqi Jewish immigrant who met Meir in Petah Tikva. Most of his father's family were murdered during the Holocaust.

Days before the 2008 League Cup final, it was Grant's father's 80th birthday, and Avram bought tickets for Meir to go to Wembley to watch his son's first final as a manager. Grant said that Meir is his biggest idol because he is so optimistic even at 80, and even after surviving the Holocaust. On 20 February 2008, Chelsea Football Club announced that Grant had received anti-Semitic death threats from unknown sources. One of the packages sent to Grant's home was said to have contained a white powder, that after investigation was proved to be harmless, and one of the notes said that Grant would "die a very slow and painful death". There were also threats of a sexual nature outlined against Grant's wife.

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Fenerbahçe S.K.


Fenerbahçe Spor Kulübü (English: Fenerbahçe Sports Club), (pronounced ), commonly known as Fener , is a professional sports club based in the district of Kadikoy in Istanbul, Turkey. The name of the sports club and its sea side beautiful district derives their names from a famous lighthouse located in Fenerbahçe district of Kadikoy (the Turkish word fener means "lighthouse", while bahçe means "garden"). Fenerbahçe is one of the most popular sports club in Turkey, its football section is the most popular for the fans. Fenerbahçe's football team currently plays in Turkcell Süper Lig. They are nicknamed The Yellow Canaries (Turkish: Sarı Kanaryalar) and play their home games at Fenerbahçe Sukru Saracoglu Stadium in Kadikoy.

Fenerbahçe is a multi-sports club therefore it also professionally competes in basketball, volleyball, athletism, swimming, sailing, rowing, boxing and table tennis with many honours won in each branch. The club is also one of the major contributors for Turkish represantatives for the Olympic games.

Fenerbahçe was founded nearly a century ago in the province of Kadiköy in Istanbul. The founders were Mr. Nurizade Ziya Songülen, Mr. Ayetullah and Mr. Necip Okaner. This group of individuals founded the club secretly in order to keep a low profile and not get into any trouble with the strict Ottoman rule. So strict in fact that the Sultan, Abdulhamit the 2nd, forbid that the Turkish youth may not set up a club nor engage in the game of football played by the English families that was watched in envy.

Ziya Songülen was elected the first president of the club, Ayetullah Bey became the first General Secretary, and Necip Okaner was given the post of the General Captain. The lighthouse situated on the Fenerbahçe cape was a big influence on the design of the club's first emblem, which sported the yellow and white colors of daffodils around the lighthouse. The kits were also designed with yellow and white stripes. The emblem and colors of the club were changed in 1910 when Topuz Hikmet redesigned the badge and changed the colors to yellow and navy, still seen today. Fenerbahçe's activities were kept in secrecy until a legislation reform in 1908, when, under a new law, all football clubs had to register to exist legally. Fenerbahçe joined the Istanbul League in 1909, finishing fifth in their first year. The first line-up included Ziya Songülen, Ayetullah Bey, Necip Okaner, Galip Kulaksızoğlu, Hassan Sami Kocamemi, Asaf Beşpınar, Enver Yetiker, Şevkati Hulusi Bey, Fuat Hüsnü Kayacan, Hamit Hüsnü Kayacan, and Nasuhi Baydar.

Fenerbahçe played against the staff of the Royal Navy that occupied Istanbul during the Turkish War of Independence. Some British soldiers formed football teams that were named after the players' speciality, for example Essex Engineers, Irish Guards, Grenadiers, and Artillery. These teams played against each other and against local football teams in Istanbul. Fenerbahçe won many of these matches.

The Turkish Football Federation founded a national league in 1959, which continues today under the name of the Turkcell Super League. Fenerbahçe won the first tournament, beating Galatasaray S.K. 4-1 on aggregate. The next year, Fenerbahçe participated in the UEFA Champions League for the first time. They qualified through a 4-3 win over Csepel SC. They lost their first round game to OGC Nice 1-5 in a playoff game after drawing on aggregate. Fenerbahçe became the most successful Turkish club of the 1960s, winning five out of 10 leagues. They were also runners-up three times. In the 1967 Balkans Cup (a competition set up for clubs from Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Turkey, and Yugoslavia that existed between the 1960-61 and 1993-94 seasons), Fenerbahçe won the cup after three matches against Greek club AEK Athens FC, making them the first Turkish club to win a non-domestic competition. This success would remain unparalleled by a Turkish club until Sarıyer G.K. and Samsunspor won the cup many years later in the 1990s.

The 1970s saw Fenerbahçe win four more league titles. The decade also saw the first non-Istanbul club and a club outside of Fenerbahçe,Beşiktaş J.K., and Galatasaray S.K. to win a league title. Trabzonspor went on to win four titles during the decade. Fenerbahçe won three titles in the 1980s, a period where each club in the "Big Four" won at least two titles Galatasaray S.K. and Beşiktaş J.K. dominated the Turkish League during the 1990s, combining to win nine out of 10 times. Fenerbahçe's only Turkish League success during the 1990s came in the 1995-1996 season under Carlos Alberto Parreira.

Fenerbahçe won the league in 2001, denying Galatasaray a fifth consecutive title. They followed up the next season with a runners-up place behind Galatasaray with new coach Werner Lorant. The next season, however, did not go so well as Fenerbahçe finished in sixth place with Ariel Ortega in the squad. Despite this, that season is memorable to many Fenerbahçe fans due to a 7-0 loss against arch-rivals Galatasaray in Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium on 2 Fenruary 1911. After firing Werner Lorant, they hired another German coach, Christoph Daum. Daum had previously coached in Turkey, winning the league with Beşiktaş J.K. in 1994-95. Fenerbahçe brought in players including Pierre van Hooijdonk, Mehmet Aurélio, and Fabio Luciano as a rebuilding process. These new players lead Fenerbahçe to their fifteenth title and third star (one being awarded for every 5 league titles won by a club). The next year was followed up by a narrow championship over Trabzonspor, winning the then record of sixteen Turkish First Football League championships. Fenerbahçe lost the title in the last week of the 2005-06 season to Galatasaray. Fenerbahçe needed a win, but instead drew 1-1 with Denizlispor while Galatasaray won 3-0 over Kayserispor.

Soon after, Christoph Daum stepped down as manager, and was replaced by Zico on 4 July, 2006. Zico began his reign by signing two new defenders, highly-touted Uruguayan international Diego Lugano, and fellow Brazilian Edu Dracena. Zico also signed two strikers, Serbian international Mateja Kežman, and another Brazilian, Deivid. Fenerbahçe's 2006-07 domestic season started off with a 6-0 win over relegation candidates Kayseri Erciyesspor. In the 32nd week of the Turkcell Super League, Fenerbahçe drew Trabzonspor 2-2, while Beşiktaş J.K. lost to Bursaspor 0-3, putting the former out of contention for the title. Fenerbahçe won their seventeenth Turkish Super League title in 2007, the most in Turkey.

Fenerbahçe started off their 2007-08 season by signing Brazilian international Roberto Carlos. The deal saw the defender come for free after his contract was not extended by Real Madrid. Young Turkish players like Gökhan Gönül, Yasin Çakmak, İlhan Parlak, Ali Bilgin, Turkish-English attacker Colin Kâzım-Richards, Turkish-Brazilian left back Wederson joined Fenerbahçe in the beginning of the season and Chile national football team captain Claudio Maldonado joined the team in January'08 transfer window.

On 11 January 2007 Fenerbahce S.K. was officially invited to G-14. G-14 is an association which consists of top clubs worldwide. Fenerbahçe S.K. is the only Turkish club that have been invited to this association. On March 2008, Fenerbahçe's record application was accepted by Guinness World Records Menagement Team, which envisages Fenerbahçe to have the most number of medal and trophy achievements on the planet with its 9 branches entirely, total of 1134 cups and medals.

In the UEFA Champions League 2001–02 season Fenerbahçe completed group stages with zero points. The only other teams possessing this record are MFK Košice and Dinamo Kiev. However, under Zico’s command Fenerbahçe has qualified from UEFA Champions League 2007-08 groups stage for the first time of club's history and beat Sevilla FC to become a quarter-finalist in 2007-08 season. So far, Zico also is the most successful manager of team's history in the European arena.

After successful scores both in local league of Turkey and international matches, Zico gained a new nickname from Fenerbahçe fans: Kral Arthur (means "King Arthur" in Turkish). For the team's nickname King Arthur and his Knights. Since 2000 Fenerbahçe S.K. improved club's finances with facilities, bringing world stars to the club such as Kennet Andersson, Haim Revivo, Ariel Ortega, Serhiy Rebrov, Pierre van Hooijdonk, Alex de Souza, Stephen Appiah, Nicolas Anelka and lately Mateja Kežman, Roberto Carlos ,Emre Belözoğlu, and Dani Güiza.

When it was first founded in 1907, Fenerbahçe had a large squad. One of these players, Galip Kulaksızoğlu, was the longest serving player of the original squad. He spent seventeen years at the club, retiring in 1924 after 216 matches. Zeki Rıza Sporel was the first product of the Fenerbahçe youth system. During his eighteen year career with the club, Zeki scored 470 goals in 352 matches, or 1.3 goals every match. Zeki was also capped for the Turkey national football team sixteen times, bagging 15 goals. Cihat Arman became the first in a long-line of long-serving goalkeepers at Fenerbahçe. Cihat played twelve seasons with the club, playing in 308 matches.

Lefter Küçükandonyadis was one of the first Turkish football players to play in Europe. Lefter spent two seasons in Europe, playing for ACF Fiorentina and OGC Nice before returning to Fenerbahçe. In all, Lefter scored 423 goals in 615 matches for the club, helping them to two Istanbul Football League titles, and three Turkish First Football League titles. Another player, Can Bartu, became the next big Turkish export to Europe. He was also the first Turkish player to play in a European competition final, doing so with ACF Fiorentina against Rangers on January 1, 1961. Can also spent some seasons playing for Venezia A.C. and S.S. Lazio before returning to Fenerbahçe in 1967. He was a four-time league champion with Fenerbahçe and scored 162 goals in 330 matches.

In recent decades, Fenerbahçe have gained an influx of foreigners who have helped the club to a joint-record of seventeen league titles. Among these include Uche Okechukwu, who after 13 seasons with Fenerbahçe and Istanbulspor became the longest serving foreigner in Turkey. During Uche's career with Fenerbahçe, he won two league titles and became a fan favourite. In more recent times, Fenerbahçe has been the home to Brazilian-born Mehmet Aurélio (Marco Aurélio), who in 2006, became the first naturalized Turkish citizen to play for the Turkey national football team. Wederson (Gökçek Vederson), another Brazilian-born naturalized Turkish citizen, was added to the squad in the beginning of the 2007-2008 season and now plays for Fenerbahçe and the Turkey national football team.

Since the club's foundation, Fenerbahçe has used the same badge, which has only undergone minor alterations.

It was designed by Topuz Hikmet (Hikmet Topuzer) who played left wing in 1910 and was made by Tevfik Haccar (Taşcı) in London. The emblem consists of five colours. The white section which includes the writing Fenerbahçe Spor Kulübü 1907 represents purity and open heartedness, the red section represents love and attachment to the club and symbolises the Turkish flag. The yellow middle section symbolises admiration and envy, while the navy symbolises nobility. The oak acorn leaf which rises from the navy and yellow section shows the power of Fenerbahçe. The green colour of the leaf shows the success of Fenerbahçe is imperative.

Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium is a football stadium in the Kadıköy district of Istanbul, Turkey.It is the home venue of Fenerbahçe S.K. It was inaugurated in 1908 and was renovated between 1999 and 2006, increasing the capacity. The Fenerbahçe Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium is rapidly becoming one of Europe’s elite football arenas. Fenerbahçe’s huge investments in top quality facilities since President Aziz Yıldırım’s election has been much appreciated by players and fans alike and the stadium has been the major part in this.

This style of stadium has never before existed in Turkey, as the stands are usually separated from the pitch by a running track. These stand include "corporate boxes" which have all been rented out from the club. These corporate boxes, equipped with TVs, Internet, work areas, dining facilities and many other luxuries, are the first of their kind in Turkey. The current total capacity of the stadium is 52.056. Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, was selected to host the 2009 UEFA Cup final.

Fenerbahçe has a huge leading profile over other clubs concerning trophies. Fenerbahçe S.K. has won many trophies at the currently active branches and at some other branches which have been discontinued.

During the Turkish War of Independence, Fenerbahçe played against many teams set up by the invading forces and injected morale to the Turkish people by winning those games. Fenerbahçe’s football team has many records which are still not broken. Yet the success is not limited only with the football team. At the Olympics, the first medal won by a Turkish sportsperson in a field outside of wrestling was Fenerbahçe athlete, Ruhi Sarıalp. In athletics, the only Turkish club to have won the European Championship is Fenerbahçe S.K.

The museum was moved from location to location and has been renovated on several occasions during the club's history. Most recently the museum was moved to Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium and opened on October 19, 2005.

Other club facilities include the social venue, the training complex, the club headquarters, the Dereağzı Metin Aşık camp facilities, the youth academy football centre, the sports hall, the Fikirtepe facilities, the college, and the swimming pool.

Since rebuilding the Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, Fenerbahçe's average attendances have been in the top in Turkey, though in the 2006-07 season Fenerbahçe's attendances fell slightly, to an average league attendance of approximately 39,425 which still is a much higher number of the capacity crowds that their arch-rivals Galatasaray and Besiktas have ever seen. Fenerbahçe's high attendance rates are unrivaled in Turkey and supporters create the most crowded and supportive performances of the Turkish League respectively.

Fenerbahçe have some supporters organisations as Genç Fenerbahçeliler (GFB), Kill For You (KFY), Antu/Fenerlist, UniFeb, Group CK (Cefakâr Kanaryalar), Vamos Bien and SUADFEB.

GFB is leader group of Fenerbahçe Supporters Society.

Founded in 2002. All members have been university students and located in Telsim tribune of Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium.

Group is an internet fan-base society founded by Metin Şen and Adnan Şen brothers who are sons of Fenerbahçe former president Ali Şen. Organizations have 33 international representations, 37 city representations and 50,000 members worldwide. Members are located in the Telsim tribune of Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium.

Group CK (Cefakar Kanaryalar) was founded in 1999. Group supports the team on all professional and amateur matches. Located in the Telsim tribune of Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium.

Fenatics was founded by English website and consists of Fenerbahce Fenatics across the world. Members are not just from English speaking countries and spread from the Americas through to Australasia. FENatics can be found mainly at European away matches.

SUADFEB (Suadiye Fenerbahçeliler Derneği) was founded in 2007. All members have been living at the Suadiye Neighborhood. Located in the Migros tribune of Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium.

Fenerbahçe TV (FB TV) is first sports club channel of Turkey The channel launched in 2004 over satellite (Free-To-Air on Turksat 2A located 42° East, 11804 V 24444 5/6), satellite network services and cable service.

Only official football achievements shown below.For achievements of all branches,see Fenerbahçe SK Achievements.

As of February 1, 2009; according to the official website.

Fenerbahçe's second biggest branch is men and women basketball teams. In 2006 Fenerbahçe's men basketball department was merged with Ülkerspor's department and women basketball department was sponsored by Aras Cargo. Although they were a weak team before this marriage, they won the championship twice after this event. The women basketball team is the most successful team of Fenerbahçe Sports Club. In last five years Fenerbahçe women basketball team won 13 of 15 cups that the team have competed.

Fenerbahçe's third biggest branch is men and women volleyball teams. In 2008 Fenerbahçe's men volleyball department won the Turkish championship.

Athletics is an important branch of Fenerbahçe Spor Club. Team has important athletes who have Turkish records. Halil Akkaş also member of Fenerbahçe Athletics branch and Eşref Apak was. American sprinter Justin Gatlin, Canadian sprinter Donovan Bailey and Jamaica born Slovenian sprinter Merlene Ottey were also member of the team.

Boxing is an important branch of Fenerbahçe Spor Club. Team has important boxers who have Turkish champions. Atagün Yalçınkaya, Gülsüm Tatar and Sümeyra Kaya also members of Fenerbahçe Boxing branch.

Rowing is an important branch of Fenerbahçe Spor Club. Team has the best rowers of Turkey.

Sailing is an important branch of Fenerbahçe Spor Club. Çağla Kubat; a famous model of Turkey, is also a sailor of Fenerbahçe Sailing Team.

Fenercell Mobile Network Operator of Fenerbahce S.K.

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France national football team

Shirt badge/Association crest

The France national football team represents the nation of France in international football. It is fielded by the French Football Federation and competes as a member of UEFA.

France was one of the four European teams that participated at the inaugural World Cup in 1930. In the 1980s, led by midfielder and captain Michel Platini, the team reached semi-finals at both the 1982 and 1986 World Cups, and won the 1984 European Championship.

France then reached an even higher status in international football by being especially successful at the end of the 1990s and in the 2000s; they won the World Cup as the host nation in 1998, and the European Football Championship two years later, while also placing second at the 2006 World Cup tournament. Midfielder Zinédine Zidane was particularly instrumental in achieving those honours.

France and Argentina are the only national teams which have won the three most important men's titles organized by FIFA: the World Cup, the Confederations Cup, and the Olympic Tournament.

France's first ever game was a 3-3 draw against Belgium in 1904.

They played in all three of the pre-World War II World Cups. Lucien Laurent scored the first ever World cup goal in 1930, in a 4-1 win over Mexico. They reached the quarterfinals in 1938 when they hosted the World Cup.

France came third in the 1958 FIFA World Cup, defeating Germany 6-3 for the bronze. France was beaten by Brazil in semi-finals, after central defender Robert Jonquet's injury and Pelé hat-trick. Striker Just Fontaine scored a record 13 goals in the tournament, doing so in just six matches. The team used mainly players and former players from Stade de Reims, such as Raymond Kopa, Robert Jonquet,Roger Marche or Just Fontaine, who was at the time one of the best teams in European football.

During the captaincy of Michel Platini France's World Cup performance markedly improved, finishing fourth in Spain '82, and third in Mexico '86. In both tournaments, they lost in the semi-finals to West Germany. The 1982 semi-final is unfortunately remembered by many for West German keeper Harald Schumacher's elbowing of France's Patrick Battiston in the face as the latter made a shot on goal. Despite severely injuring Battiston, Schumacher was not penalized. This was the turning point of the match: after leading 3-1, les bleus were eliminated in the penalty-kicks, after FC Nantes' defender Maxime Bossis saw his shot stopped by Schumacher. France were also knocked out in the semi-final 1986, again by West Germany. However, with Platini as skipper, France, as host nation, won Euro '84, as well as capturing Olympic gold in Los Angeles the same year.

France's most successful years were the late 1990s, the generation of Zinédine Zidane . This team started off well by reaching the semi-finals of Euro 96. After Euro 96, coach Aimé Jacquet adopted a very defensive strategy and made fans anxious because his team never seemed to develop a definitive offensive tactic. The press began to attack the team manager, calling his methods "Paleolithic" and claiming that the team had no hope for the upcoming World Cup which would be hosted in their home country. In June 1997 at the Tournoi de France, cries of "Resign!" could be heard from the stadium as the French team came in under Brazil, England and Italy. The media's distrust of Jacquet reached fever pitch in May 1998 when, instead of a list of 22 players meant to play in the World Cup, Jacquet gave a list of 28 players, causing the sports daily L'Équipe to write an editoral arguing that Jacquet was not the right man to lead the French team to victory.

Jacquet stepped down after France's World Cup triumph and was succeeded by assistant Roger Lemerre who guided them through Euro 2000. Zidane cemented his FIFA World Player of the Year form, scoring a direct free kick in the quarter-final against Spain and a golden goal penalty in the semi-final against Portugal.

In the finals, France defeated Italy 2-1 in a come from behind victory. David Trézéguet scored the golden goal in extra time after an equalizing goal from Wiltord in the 5th minute of stoppage time. This gave them the distinction of being the first national team to hold both the World Cup and Euro titles since West Germany did so in 1974, and it was also the first time that a reigning World Cup winner went on to capture the Euro. France held the top position in the FIFA World Rankings system from 2001-2002.

France failed to maintain that pace in subsequent tournaments. They suffered a stunning goaless first round elimination in the 2002 FIFA World Cup, possibly due in part to an injury to key playmaker Zidane. One of the greatest shocks in World Cup history condemned France to a 0-1 defeat to debutante Senegal in the opening game of the tournament. After France finished bottom of the group - only securing one point, in a 0-0 draw against Uruguay, conceding three goals and without scoring any - Lemerre was dismissed.

A full strength team started out strongly in Euro 2004, with Zidane scoring a free kick and a penalty to overcome a 0-1 deficit and defeat England in the group stage, but they were upset in the quarter-finals by the eventual winners, Greece. Jacques Santini resigned as coach and Raymond Domenech was picked as his replacement.

France struggled in the qualifiers for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, managing only 0-0 draws with Israel, Ireland, and Switzerland. This prompted Domenech to persuade "golden generation" members Claude Makélélé, Lilian Thuram and Zinédine Zidane out of international retirement to help the national team qualify. This was France's first successful World Cup qualification since 1986 (France received automatic berths in 1998 and 2002, as hosts and defending champions, respectively).

The team was greeted with modest expectations as it entered the World Cup tournament, with many arguing that despite the return of the three stars, its squad was too old to be competitive. They had a slow start in the group stage and were in danger of being eliminated after managing only 0-0 and 1-1 draws against Switzerland and South Korea, respectively. Though Zidane was forced to sit out because of accumulated bookings, France found their form and won their final group match, beating Togo 2-0 to advance to the knockout round. There, Zidane would score or assist in every game of the playoffs and his team upset heavily favoured Spain 3-1 in a come-from-behind victory to advance to the quarter-finals.

France eliminated defending champions Brazil 1-0 to advance into the cup semi-finals. Despite the score, France had thoroughly outplayed Brazil in the match, only facing one shot on goal, while Zidane created numerous scoring chances with his dribbles past Brazilian defenders and his free-kick to Thierry Henry resulting in the winning goal. The game made France the first team to have shut out the five-time champions in consecutive matches; Fabien Barthez was the keeper in both matches. Les Bleus now have a 2-1-1 all-time record against Brazil in World Cup finals play, having shut the Seleção out in the last three meetings (the 1986 match was decided 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw).

France emerged from the semi-finals winning 1-0 over Portugal. Henry was tripped inside the box and a penalty was awarded, which Zidane scored and it stood as the winning goal, as defender Lilian Thuram neutralized offensive threats from Portuguese stars Pauleta and Cristiano Ronaldo. At home, when news came of France's victory, there were mass celebrations at the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe.

France took on Italy in the final, in which the teams were level at 1-1 at the end of normal time. With extra-time failing to produce a victor, penalty kicks were required to settle the match. Italy won the shoot-out 5-3 to be crowned 2006 World Champions. The tournament's Golden Ball Winner Zinédine Zidane (playing his last professional match) scored the opening goal of the final (becoming only the fourth player to score in two World Cup final games), but his accomplishments in the finals were marred by his sending off (becoming only the fourth player to be sent off in a world cup final) for violent conduct when he headbutted Marco Materazzi with only ten minutes until extra-time.

France started its qualifying round for Euro 2008 on September 2, 2006 by beating Georgia in Tbilisi 3-0.The goal scorers for this match were Malouda, Louis Saha and Malkhaz Asatiani (own goal). They then took on world champions Italy 3-1 in Paris on September 6, 2006 with Sidney Govou striking twice along with Henry, but suffered an upset when beaten 1-0 by Scotland on October 7, 2006, their first European Championship qualifying defeat since they lost 3-2 to Russia on June 5, 1999. On October 11, 2006, France defeated Faroe Islands by 5-0. All the French strikers that played in the match scored. Goals came from Louis Saha, Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka and 2 goals from the Juventus striker David Trézéguet. France beat Lithuania 1-0 on March 24, 2007 with Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka rescuing an injury hit French side by shooting a wonderful long range effort.The injuries suffered by France were Louis Saha, Thierry Henry, Franck Ribéry, Patrick Vieira and David Trézéguet. France took on Ukraine on June 2, 2007 in Paris. Both teams were hit by injuries with France missing Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry while Ukraine missed their world-class striker Andriy Shevchenko. The game ended in a 2-0 victory for France with second-half strikes from Franck Ribéry and Nicolas Anelka, who scored his third goal in three matches. Then on June 6, 2007 France defeated Georgia in Auxerre by 1-0, with Samir Nasri scoring his first senior international goal. On September 8, 2007, in a much-anticipated rematch, France and Italy played to a 0-0 draw at the San Siro in Milan. Once again though, on September 12, 2007, France fell to Scotland and were defeated 1-0 after Landreau was caught off guard with a strike from Scotland's James McFadden adding another loss, but this time at the Parc des Princes in Paris. On October 12, 2007, their match with the Faroe Islands, was threatened with postponement after bad weather kept their plane from landing in the Faroe Islands; they had to spend the night in Norway. The next day, however, on 13 October 2007, the match went ahead as planned, albeit around 30 minutes after scheduled kick-off time with France taking just 8 minutes to open up a 2-0 lead; the match eventually finished 6-0 with strikes from Nicolas Anelka, Thierry Henry, and 2 goals from Karim Benzema just before half time. In the second half Jérôme Rothen and Hatem Ben Arfa completed the rout. With Italy's victory over Scotland on November 17, 2007, France only just, by 2 points over Scotland, qualified for Euro 2008.

Despite high expectations from followers of Les Bleus, the squad made a stuttering start to the 2008 European Championships, drawing 0-0 to Romania in Zurich and then finishing on the receiving end of a 4-1 mauling at the hands of the Netherlands in Berne. For the final group game, Domenech dropped Thuram and replaced him with Abidal. This proved to be a bad decision as Abidal looked out of his depth in the centre of defence and subsequently was sent off for a rash challenge on Luca Toni. France continued to play poorly and when they lost 2-0 to Italy, they came last of their group and failed to get to the quarterfinals.

France's performance at Euro 2008 effectively marked the end of its golden era stemming back to the team's World Cup win on home soil in 1998, which was followed by their triumph at Euro 2000 two years later in the Netherlands and Belgium. Only three players from those successful teams were selected in the final squad for Euro 2008 by French coach Raymond Domenech, with only Thierry Henry and Lilian Thuram earning game time, though their effectiveness and performances were soundly criticised by French football media. The third remaining player, Patrick Vieira, was initially named the team captain but was unable to take the field in any of France's Euro matches due to a thigh injury. The team's early exit from the tournament signalled the international retirements of Lilian Thuram, and Claude Makélélé; Willy Sagnol also announced that he would take time to contemplate his international future.

France's efforts were comparable to their disastrous 2002 World Cup campaign where they were also eliminated in the first round without winning a game. France bettered their efforts from 2002 by scoring a solitary goal in this tournament compared to their goalless campaign six years prior.

In the aftermath of the tournament, calls were made for the sacking of Raymond Domenech, and Didier Deschamps, captain of the 1998 World Cup and 2000 Euro championship teams, was sounded out as a suitable replacement. However, on July 3, at a French Football Federation high level meeting in Paris, it was announced that Domenech would be retained as manager.

France's campaign for 2010 World Cup qualification got off to a disappointing start with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Austria in Vienna on September 6, 2008. Speculation followed regarding the future of Raymond Domenech as team coach prior to the subsequent match, against Serbia four days later. There, with goals from Thierry Henry and Nicolas Anelka, France gained a 2-1 home victory. On October 11, France drew 2-2 with Romania after came back from 2-0 down. In 2009, France resumed their qualification with a back to back 1-0 win over Lithuania, thanks to Franck Ribéry as he scored the only goal in both games on March 28 and April 1.

Since the 1990s, the team has been widely celebrated as an example of the modern multicultural French ideal. On the 2006 French national team, 17 of the 23 players were members of racial minorities, including many of the most prominent players. The team featured players born in France's overseas departments and others who were immigrants or the children of immigrants from former French colonies. Zinédine Zidane is the child of an immigrant couple from Algeria; of the current squad Karim Benzema and Samir Nasri are also of Algerian origin. Vikash Dhorasoo — the first French player of Indian origin - played in the 2006 World Cup. Meanwhile, several players are of African and West Indian origin. Patrick Vieira immigrated as a child from Senegal, Bafétimbi Gomis has dual French-Senegalese nationality, and Claude Makélélé did likewise from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lilian Thuram is from France's overseas department of Guadeloupe. Thierry Henry is the son of parents born in Guadeloupe and Martinique, while Louis Saha, Sylvain Wiltord, and Pascal Chimbonda all have parents who hail from Guadeloupe. Finally, Florent Malouda was born in French Guiana. Moreover, some of the european players are also descendants of immigrants, for instance Mexes, Squillaci, and Mathieu Valbuena are Portuguese, Italian, and Spanish respectively.

The French national football team has long reflected the ethnic diversity of the country. The first african player playing in the national team was Raoul Diagne in 1931, the son of the first African elected to the French National Assembly, Blaise Diagne. In the 1950s, the first French national team reaching international success with a semi-final at the World Cup 1958 already included many sons of immigrants such as Raymond Kopa, Roger Piantoni, Maryan Wisnieski and Bernard Chiarelli. This tradition continued through the 1980s, when such successful players as Michel Platini, Jean Tigana, Luis Fernández, Gérard Janvion, Manuel Amoros or Eric Cantona were all of either foreign-born or overseas-born ancestries.

The multiracial makeup of the team has at times provoked controversy. In recent years, critics on the far right of the French political spectrum have taken issue with the proportional underrepresentation of white Frenchmen on the team. National Front politician Jean-Marie Le Pen protested in 1998 that the Black, Blanc, Beur team that won the World Cup did not look sufficiently French. In 2002, led by Ghanaian-born Marcel Desailly, the French team unanimously publicly appealed to the French voting public to reject the presidential candidacy of Le Pen and instead return President Jacques Chirac to office in a landslide. In 2006, Le Pen also resumed his criticism, charging that coach Raymond Domenech had selected too many black players.

In 2005, French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut caused a controversy by remarking to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that despite its earlier slogan, "the French national team is in fact black-black-black," adding "France is made fun of all around Europe because of that." He later excused himself for this comment, which he declared was not meant to be offensive.

The Zidane-Materazzi headbutt incident in the 2006 World Cup final and its aftermath served as a symbol for the larger issue of Europe's struggle to integrate its non-white immigrant population: even though both players denied it, international media speculated for days about the presence of a racist element in the exchange, observing that the Italian team contained no ethnic minorities.

The national team's overall impact on France's efforts to integrate its minorities and come to terms with its colonial past has been mixed, however. In 2001, France played a friendly match in the Stade de France, site of its 1998 World Cup triumph, against Algeria. It was France's first meeting with its former colony, with whom it had fought a war from 1954-62, and it proved controversial. France's national anthem, La Marseillaise, was booed by Algerian supporters before the game, and following a French goal that made the score 4-1 in the second half, spectators ran onto the field of play and caused the game to be suspended. It was never resumed.

Squad for FIFA World Cup qualification matches against Lithuania on March 28 and April 1, 2009.

Caps and goals as of April 1, 2009, subsequent to the FIFA World Cup qualification match against Lithuania.

Bold denotes players still playing or available for selection.

Bold denotes players still playing or available for selection.

Before 1955, players were selected by committee.

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Gérard Houllier

Gérard Houllier.jpg

Gérard Houllier, OBE, (IPA: , born 3 September 1947, in Thérouanne, Pas-de-Calais, France) is a French football manager. His past clubs include Paris Saint-Germain, RC Lens and Liverpool, with whom he won the UEFA Cup in 2001. He then guided Olympique Lyonnais to two French titles, before announcing his resignation on 25 May 2007. He also coached the French national team between 1992 and 1993.

Houllier is renowned as one of the most knowledgeable people in the game. He assisted Aimé Jacquet in the 1998 World Cup. Houllier was part of UEFA's and FIFA's Technical Committee, in the 2002 and 2006 World Cup finals. In January 2008, he was linked to the vacant manager's position at Newcastle United, a position later filled by Kevin Keegan.

Houllier entered Lille University to pursue a degree in English, but in the first year his father's serious illness forced him to drop out of full-time study and start work, eventually as a schoolteacher, while he completed his degree part-time. As part of his degree, he elected to spend a year in 1969-1970 in Liverpool as an Assistant at Alsop Comprehensive School, and while there he attended his first Liverpool F.C. match on 16 September 1969 — a 10-0 thrashing of the Irish side, Dundalk F.C.

He was a natural football player, and at the time French football was a mixture of amateur and professional players. Although he had become deputy headmaster of the École Normale d'Arras, at the age of 26 in 1973 he began his full-time managerial career as player-manager of Le Touquet.

Houllier later moved to Arras as youth coach, and Noeux-les-Mines as Head Coach where he won two consecutive promotions into the French Second Division before moving to Lens in 1982. He took the Lens team to promotion and qualification for the UEFA Cup before moving to Paris Saint-Germain in 1985, and PSG won the French title the following year.

In 1988 Houllier was appointed technical director and assistant to the French national team, under manager Michel Platini. He became manager in 1992, though resigning in 1993 after the team failed to qualify for the 1994 FIFA World Cup - which Houllier blamed afterwards on winger David Ginola failing to complete a pass to Eric Cantona to score. Houllier became an extremely unpopular figure in France, being blamed not only for the failure to qualify, but also for the poor results during Platini's tenure (Platini still being popular enough that the public were reluctant to blame him directly). However, he remained with the team as a technical director. In 1998 France won the World Cup and Houllier's contribution was recognised with the award of a special medal.

In 1998, Houllier was invited to become joint team manager (together with Roy Evans) of Liverpool Football Club. However the arrangement did not work well and Evans resigned a few months later, leaving Houllier in sole charge of the team.

Houllier began what he described as a five-year programme to rebuild the team, starting in 1999. That summer Paul Ince, David James, Jason McAteer, Rob Jones, Tony Warner and Steve Harkness were all sold, while Steve McManaman left on a free. At the same time seven new players, including Sami Hyypiä, Dietmar Hammann, Stephane Henchoz, Vladimir Smicer, Sander Westerveld and Djimi Traore were all signed. Also, Liverpool's training facilities at Melwood were thouroughly overhauled.

Restructuring a competitive team took a couple of years but eventually resulted in the successful 2000-01 season, when Liverpool won a cup treble of the League Cup, the FA Cup and the UEFA Cup as well as finishing third in the English Premier League. Liverpool added further shine to their treble achievement by winning the FA Community Shield (against Manchester United) and UEFA Super Cup (against Bayern Munich).

In October 2001, after falling ill at half-time of Liverpool's Premier League match with Leeds United, Houllier was rushed to hospital for an eleven-hour emergency operation when he suffered a dissected aorta. In his absence, caretaker manager Phil Thompson guided Liverpool to their best premiership season. Houllier returned to active management of the club after five months, but many Liverpool fans felt that he was never quite as effective a manager afterwards. The beginning of the end was perceived to be his decision to substitute a fit Dietmar Hamann, and bring on Vladimir Smicer away to Bayer Leverkusen in a UEFA Champions' League quarter-final. In a game balanced 1-1 with Bayer requiring 2 goals to win, Houllier took off the defensive midfielder and exposed the defence to endless attacks. Bayer were lifted by the German's exit as Smicer did little to help the defence. Houllier's unsuccessful summer signings of 2002, namely El-Hadji Diouf (Lens, £10 million), Salif Diao (Sedan, £5 million) and Bruno Cheyrou (Lille, £4 million), and his failure to make Nicolas Anelka's loan move permanent was blamed for the club failing to build on an impressive second place in 2002. Pundits have commented that Houllier's failure to replace creative talents such as Gary McAllister and Jari Litmanen was a main factor in Liverpool's poor performance in the 2002-03 season A lack of success in later seasons when Liverpool struggled to qualify for the Champions League despite very substantial investment in players, coupled with what was perceived as negative one-dimensional tactics and unattractive football, a poor youth policy, his constant comments of "turning corners" , and a lack of support from fans led to Houllier's departure from Liverpool F.C. on 24 May, 2004 . He left by mutual consent with the club.

Much of Houllier's youth policy was based on bringing in what he regarded as the best that France had to offer - after all, before he joined Liverpool, he was Head of Technical development of the French F.A., and so knew all the youth players. His purchases included most of France's 2006 winning Under21 European Cup team, including "French Gems" Anthony Le Tallec and Florent Sinama-Pongolle. He also claimed many of his signings are the "next Zidane" like Igor Bišćan, Bruno Cheyrou and Anthony Le Tallec. But most proved too slow mentally for the speed and physical presence of the English game, or just did not develop physically, in stark contrast to the quality of young talent Arsène Wenger was bringing in at that time at Arsenal.

Houllier's last purchase was Djibril Cissé, who arrived after Houllier departed for the sum of £14million and proved to be perhaps the most promising amongst a number of dubious signings. Although he was out for most of the first season with a broken leg, during the 2005-06 season, Cissé finished Liverpool's second highest goalscorer with 19 in all competitions, 6 scored in Champions League qualifiers, 2 in the European Super Cup and 9 in the Premiership, as well as Liverpool's first goal in their FA Cup victory in May 2006. After an alleged bust-up with manager Rafael Benítez, Cissé was loaned out to Olympique Marseille for the 2006/07 season. On 30 August 2006 Florent Sinama-Pongolle left Liverpool for a loan season with Recreativo de Huelva - the last of the French players to leave Merseyside.

On 29 May 2005, it was announced that Houllier had signed a two-year contract as manager of the champions of Ligue 1, succeeding Paul Le Guen. Lyon had just won their previous fourth successive championship and Houllier was hired to convert this domestic dominance to the European stage. Despite continuing this dominance of the Ligue 1, Lyon lost to AC Milan in the quarter-finals of the 2005–06 competition while they crashed out to the inexperienced Roma in the first knockout round of the 2006–07 season . Houllier also suffered the heartache of a cup final defeat (Coupe de la Ligue) to Bordeaux. In April 2007 however, Houllier won his 2nd successive (Lyon's sixth consecutive) Ligue 1 title after Toulouse's loss to Rennes.

The 2006/07 season proved to be his last with the club. On 25 May 2007, Houllier stepped down as boss of Olympique Lyonnais. A fractious relationship with outspoken chairman Jean-Michel Aulas, who was frustrated at the club's inability to convert domestic dominance into European success. An official statement on Lyon's website stated that Houllier asked to be released from the last season of his contract and that request was granted by the president. Houllier also said that that he needed a break after experiencing two seasons with Lyon.

Gerard Houllier had an unsuccessful stint as manager of his country France between 1992 and 1993. Despite looking near certainties to qualify for the finals France suffered ignominious failure when they lost their final 2 qualifying games (both at home) to unfancied Israel (2-3) and Bulgaria (1-2). Houllier infamously blamed French player David Ginola for this demise. Ginola had lost possession prior to the goal that won the game for Bulgaria.

On 25 October 2007 he stated that he would like to be considered for another International management job. He was linked with the vacant Republic of Ireland, England and South Korea manager positions.

Houllier has been awarded the Légion d'Honneur for his services to French football, and an honorary OBE for services to British football, along with fellow manager, compatriot and friend Arsène Wenger.

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Barbara Tausia

Barbara Anelka Tausia is a Belgian-born choreographer and dancer, She is the wife of french Footballer Nicolas Anelka and has followed her husband around Europe as he has changed teams.

Tausia began his music career as Vocal artist with France singer MC Solaar, the hip hop singer released the Album Cinquième As, she sang here the title "La La, La La". In 2003 was named as the singer of Italy Dance band Eu4ya, here released in 2003 the Ricchi e Poveri cover Sarà perchè ti amo and 2004 the Steam classic Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye and is also a dancer on a popular French TV show.

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Source : Wikipedia