Foreign imports continue to dominate transfer market in Cyprus

first_imgBy Andreas VouDESPITE having the highest number of foreign players in Europe last season, Cypriot football clubs are showing no signs of changing their ways with the great majority of new signings this summer having come from abroad.CIES Football Observatory’s annual demographic study for 2013 revealed that 64% of players in the Cypriot first division were foreign, the most of any other European league. This approach from the local football clubs has, over time, led to a devastating effect on nearly all aspects of Cypriot football, at both club and international level yet the island’s teams continue to add fuel to the fire.The transfer window for Cypriot football clubs only re-opened on July 1 but most have already completed a number of signings ahead of the new season.Five out of the 12 first division clubs have made over 10 transfers this summer. Doxa have made the most with 19, of which 17 are overseas players. Omonia have recruited 17, Salamina 15, while Ermis and Ethnikos Achna have made 10 apiece, of which over 75% are foreign.League champions APOEL are the ones setting the best example for the time being, with the signings of three Cypriot players including Giorgos Efrem from Omonia, and just one foreign import.It is deeply concerning that not even two weeks have passed since the opening of the transfer window yet a whopping 108 transfers have been completed by the 12 first division clubs. Just 25 of those signings have been Cypriot players meaning that 76.85% of all new recruits this summer are from abroad, far exceeding the league’s already sky-high average of 64%.But this is not down to simple mismanagement, it is a deliberate ploy. The Cypriot first division has been infiltrated and is now controlled by third-party companies and corrupt agents with the cooperation of leading figures within the football clubs. Their profit depends on a high turnover of players. It’s therefore little surprise that the Cypriot league also comes first for highest transfer frequency in Europe with an average of 14 transfers per club each season, and players switching teams every 1.8 years on average.The financial crisis cannot be used as an excuse either. Sure, it damaged the financial stability of most clubs but, if anything, the crisis was an opportunity for the teams to start from scratch, to invest in academies which would produce local players and create a sustainable system.Until not long ago, the Cypriot national football team, while never threatening to qualify for a major tournament, would prove a decent challenge for plenty of visiting nations in competitive matches. However, due to local players not being given the opportunities and experience at club level, the pool of Cypriots to choose from has decreased as has the quality. This has been reflected in the results which have seen the national team amass just four victories in the last five years.Unfortunately, however, as long as the system allows the clubs and transfer brokers to remain unregulated, the problem will continue. Clubs will continue to sweep deeper problems under the carpet while the select few reap the short-term benefits.The only measure brought in to try to change things has been the reduction on the limit of permitted foreign players per 25-man squad, to 15 from last year’s 17. However, it doesn’t seem to be making much of a difference.last_img read more

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2,000 Kids to Play and Cheer at Lucas Oil Stadium in Red Zone Games Debut

first_imgIt’s billed as the “Greatest Day Ever.” And why wouldn’t it be, as thousands of kids step onto the artificial turf at Lucas Oil Stadium to the cheers of 6,000 friends and family?Looking upward into the 67,000 seats, these young football and cheer teams canimagine what it feels like to wear an Indianapolis Colts uniform on game day.If they close their eyes, maybe they will hear the crowd’s thunderous applause.These are the Red Zone Games, where 7- to 12-year- olds play football and performcheer routines on the Colts’ perfectly manicured turf in an experience unique byanyone’s standards.  Red Zone Games is also the name of the Austin, Texas-based company whichorganizes these youth football events at NFL stadiums across the country.They arecoming to Lucas Oil Stadium for its Indianapolis debut Nov. 5, 2017.Red Zone Games began in 2012 at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas – home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. Since then, a thousand teams – comprised of 9,976 players and cheerleaders – have experienced the NFL sensation.When football is tossed around in Indianapolis, or any NFL town, talk is focused on aplayer’s size and weight and talent. But that’s not the case here. This event is not ultracompetitive, but instead focuses on community enthusiasm, family fun and the kids’overall enjoyment.“This event is not about finding out who’s the best 12-year- old and under team,”saysTim Bishop, Director of Red Zone Games. “If your number-one priority is proving howgood your team is, then this is not for you. These games are about having an amazingexperience while playing fun, safe football. It’s where every player gets to play at LucasOil Stadium.”Bishop frequently fields one particular concern: “We’re from a small town, where none of the kids on my team have played organized football. I don’t really have any greatathletes on my team. Won’t we just lose big time?”Though most of the teams who participate at the event are recreational teamsfrom small towns with little football experience, according to Bishop, the bracketsare adjusted to allow teams from smaller areas to play teams from larger areas and stillgive smaller area teams an equal chance at winning.“Most leagues have an age or weight limit,” says Bishop. “This is because they cancontrol most of the other variables and reside in a district of similar community size.Although this works for league games (even though you still get 42-0 games), this doesnot work for Red Zone Games where so many other factors come into play.”So how are final matchups determined? Without giving away his secrets, Bishop saystheir system has created thousands of fun, safe football games since 2012 where teamsfrom the smallest 1A or 2A towns have won just as many games as teams from largerareas. Matchups are “handpicked.”“Win or lose, playing and cheering in a Red Zone Games event is extraordinary asmost people only dream about playing in an NFL stadium,” says Bishop, who isplanning for up to 96 teams from Indiana and the surrounding states to compete thisNovember in Indy. If the accolades from the coaches in Texas are any indication, coaches here are in for atreat:• “My kids may not remember any other game this season, but they will rememberplaying in an NFL stadium for the rest of their lives,” says Bob Roberts, head coach ofthe West Austin Corsairs in Austin, Texas. • “It wasn’t about wins, losses or touchdowns, but more about what experience the kidstook away,” says Will Engleman, of the Kyle Invaders Youth Football in Kyle, Texas. “Wetold our players to dream big and keep putting in hard work!” • “I think it’s a great experience for young athletes,” says Ray Garret, of Overton YouthFootball in Overton, Texas. “They see that field and team all the time on TV, and then tobe able to play on it really encourages kids to play sports and stay active. Red ZoneGames is a great environment and well-organized.”This event is not solely for the kids. Parents and fans can also experience the euphoriaof the place with the Mom Football Throw competition, Dad Field Goal contests, and fantrivia. “It’s a dream come true to watch my sons play there,” says Val Gonzales, of Memphis,Texas. “Their dreams are to play there when they’re in high school.”Bishop summed up the event with what he hopes the kids will say: “Now that I’ve playedin an NFL stadium, what else can I achieve?”The Red Zone Games fact sheet• What: Beginner level football teams play against other beginner youth teams fromIndiana and surrounding states.– Six divisions ages 7 through 12 years old. – Cheer teams will perform on the 50-yard line about halfway between the Colts’horseshoe and the sidelines. Cheer routines can last up to three minutes and areperformed about every hour or two while the games are in progress.– Fans can enjoy front row seats and watch all of the day's activities. • When: Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017 – from 7a.m. to 9 p.m.• Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis• Team registration forms, fan tickets and more information: www.lorzg.com.Deadline for teams, cheerleaders and coaches to register is Oct. 5 2017.• Contact: Call/text Tim Bishop at (512) 771-5561 or via email at:[email protected]• Visit the Lucas Oil Red Zone Games Facebook page at:https://www.facebook.com/LucasOilRedZoneGames/last_img read more

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