Fun and Interesting Football Facts and Trivia

South Africa Guatemala WCup SoccerFootball is the world’s most popular sport. The statistics are there to prove it, case in point the 2010 FIFA World Cup where 3.2 billion people all over the world tuned in for at least a minute. That’s not including the reruns.

But even something as popular and well-loved as football isn’t a completely open book. There are things about it that even some of the biggest and most die-hard fans may not know of. Care to challenge yourself?

Check out the following fun and interesting football facts and trivia and see how much you’ve already got down your arsenal.

  • The largest ever football tournament happened in 1999 during the second Bangkok League Seven-a-Side Competition. No less than 5,098 teams competed with a total of 35,000 participating players.
  • It wasn’t until 1913 that goalies wore a different colored jersey from their teammates.
  • The earliest balls were made of an inflated animal’s bladder, often a pig, which is placed inside a leather case. They were easy to find and were durable enough at the time. It wasn’t until Goodyear discovered vulcanization that allowed for rubber balls to be used in sports including football.
  • It’s no secret that Europe is the most football loving continent and they’re pretty competitive about it too. So much that European Teams have reached every single World Cup finals, except in 1930 and 1950. That’s just twice since the FIFA World Cup began in 1930.
  • There are more FIFA member countries than there are in the UN. That would be 211 versus 193 nations.
  • Only Canadians and Americans refer to the sport as soccer. The rest of the world calls it football. But ironically, it was the British that first coined the word in early England as a result of a slang term that the youth would often use.
  • In a tragic incident in 1998, an entire team was killed by lightning during a match between the villages of Bena Tshadi and Basangana in Congo, Africa.
  • Even football clubs loved the British pop group the Beatles. The proof? There are about 27 professional football clubs that take a Beatles song as their nickname. There’s the Yellow Submarines of Villarreal, Spain to name one.

Any other interesting and fun football facts and trivia you think we missed? How did you score with this list?

Tony Bloom’s Charities and Foundations

tony-bloom-hoveBusiness and football aside, Tony Bloom is a passionate philanthropist too. He has built and co-founded two foundations each with their own goals and advocacies namely the OMS Foundation and the Bloom Foundation. Today, we get to know the tow.

The OMS Foundation, which stands for Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis, was founded by Tony’s wife Linda, an Australian-born psychologist. He is a massive supporter and a fellow trustee of the charitable institution that seeks to help patients with the condition make better informed decisions and improve their way of lives to take the disease under control and not the other way around.

Multiple Sclerosis, or MS for short, is a degenerative condition that targets the central nervous system. A rare disease, it affects only 0.035% of the entire world’s population with only 100,000 cases recorded in the UK alone. Based on statistics, it affects more women than men, aged 20 to 40 who live in cold regions and climates.

Although studies have been done regarding MS, no definite cause or cure has been found making it particularly difficult to treat. Moreover, its signs and symptoms which includes dizziness, fatigue, vision problems, balance problems, bladder issues, muscle stiffness, spasms, slurring, speaking problems, emotional instability and depression to name a few are unique per patient. Their combination, frequency and gravity can vary from one person to the nest. Plus, they occur in relapses. In order to raise awareness and funds for the charity, Tony ran the Brighton marathon twice, first during its inaugural run in 2011 and another in 2015.

Initially the Tony Bloom Charitable Trust, the Bloom Foundation was founded in 2011 with four other trustees namely Linda Bloom, Marcelle Lester, Marc Sugarman and Adam Franks. With headquarters in London and income from voluntary pledges, donations and investments, it seeks to fight poverty and its effects. Its target areas include the United Kingdom, the rest of Europe and the developing nations of Africa and Asia.

As stated in its charitable objects, their cause focuses on “the prevention or relief of poverty in developing countries by providing or assisting in the provision of education, training, healthcare projects and all the necessary support designed to enable individuals to generate a sustainable income and be self-sufficient; to promote and protect the physical and mental health of disabled and terminally ill children and soldiers disabled or made ill by conflict.” On that light, the foundation, led by Tony Bloom himself, has since offered and made grants to causes, projects and similar organizations with the same objectives.


The Role of Sports in Preparing for Adulthood

sportsSports mean more than just fun and games. It may sound a little far-fetched and unusual but these physical activities can hone not only the mind and body but also an individual’s personality, social skills and individuality. Apart from contributing to overall mental and physical health, it also plays an integral part in preparing children and teens for adulthood.

But how is this possible? How can something governed by physical activity and muscle coordination prepare anyone for the real world?

Leadership skills and teamwork are two important aspects to playing any kind of sport. This teaches kids cooperation, listening skills, compromise, understanding and initiative. It even demonstrates the concept of responsibility and giving credit as well as acknowledging the fact that people play different roles not only in these games but in life and society in general.

Sports also instill confidence and self-acceptance. It shows children and teens the value of acknowledging not only one’s talents but also that of others. It even allows them to accept one’s weaknesses and shortcomings while finding ways to improve them as time goes by. This helps them better understand not only themselves but others too.

Because playing sports will require stamina and strength, it requires players to be of optimum health. This in turn encourages them to practice and adopt a healthy lifestyle even at a young age. They will be introduced to the importance of exercise and good nutrition.

Also, let us not forget that sports enhances a number of vital skills such as focus or concentration, creativity and decision making which come at play in every game whether for plain leisure or competition. Most if not all of these activities require one to demonstrate quick thinking skills and problem solving abilities.

Because no one is born a master of any sport, it requires practice and constant improvement. This demonstrates and teaches kids and teens the value of persistence and hard work. It helps instill in them the fact that in order to achieve a goal, one has to dedicate time and effort in the long run.

Last but not the least, sports teaches children and teenagers (even adults) the concept of celebration regardless if it ends with victory or defeat. It demonstrates sportsmanship too and that in life you have to celebrate even the smallest of victories and to gracefully accept defeat treating it as a learning point instead of a negative thing.

You see, sports are a truly remarkable thing. Who knew these activities offer so much more?


How Tony Bloom Brought the Albions Home

tony bloom albion chairmanTony Bloom, the famed business magnate, successful investor and passionate philanthropist, has one more thing to add to his portfolio. We all know that he’s been the Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club’s chairman since 2009 but if we could add another item to the list it’ll have to be “wish granter”. Or Santa Claus? You decide.

But of all things, why this accolade? It has been a long and grueling twelve years for the Albions. Goldstone Ground in Old Shoreham Road used to be the club’s base for almost a century. From 1902 to 1997, it had admitted 22.9 million fans to 2,174 games. But in April 26, 1997, the last match was held. Brighton and Hove Albion F. C. may have beaten Doncaster Rovers but it was bittersweet. They had to officially say goodbye to their home.

Then chairman Bill Archer, his chief executive David Bellotti together with the support of the board of directors sold the Goldstone Ground to try and clear the club’s debts. It was a highly controversial move as it did not prove profitable at all and only left the Albions homeless since there was no planned alternative ground.

Thereafter, the team shared the Priestfield Stadium in Gillingham from 1997 to 1999. It was a goof 70 mile drive from the seaside resort town of Brighton. From 2000 to early 2011, they played at Withdean Stadium which was a general sports ground for various activities and events.

When Tony Bloom became a major investor and stockholder to the Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club in 2000, he already had his eyes on a goal. As a kid who grew up loving both the sport and the club and being born to a family of avid fans and supporters, he knew that he had to contribute something monumental. As he sat as chairman in May of 2009, he sought to follow through with all his endeavors

Tony Bloom’s first project was to bring the Albions home. He helped personally fund the construction and development of then Falmer Stadium. Designed by the London-based architects KSS Design Group and constructed by the Buckingham Group, it has been renamed as the American Express Community Stadium. Known more popularly as the “Amex”, it sits a maximum capacity of 30,750 people and is valued to have cost £93 million in total. It officially opened its doors in July of 2011 and signaled the end of a homeless football team after 12 long years.


Tony Bloom and His Charities

tony-bloom-with-lindaTony Bloom, esteemed and beloved chairman of the Brighton & Hove Albion F.C., has more to his sleeves than what people assume. Apart from being a businessman and successful investor, he has likewise put considerable amount of time in his charitable ventures namely the Bloom Foundation and the Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.

First known as the Tony Bloom Charitable Trust, the Bloom Foundation was founded by five trustees: Tony, his wife Linda, Adam Franks, Marc Sugarman and Marcelle Lester. Its charitable objects state its goals and efforts in “the prevention or relief of poverty in developing countries by providing or assisting in the provision of education, training, healthcare projects and all the necessary support designed to enable individuals to generate a sustainable income and be self-sufficient. To promote and protect the physical and mental health of disabled and terminally ill children and soldiers disabled or made ill by conflict. Such charitable purposes for the public benefit as are exclusively charitable under the laws of England and Wales as the trustees may from time to time determine.”

The foundation has successfully made grants to various institutions, causes and projects aimed at fighting poverty and its effects in Europe and the developing countries of Asia and Africa since 2011.

The OMS Foundation which stands for Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis was an effort began by Tony’s wife Linda who suffered from the condition some 15 years ago. Multiple Sclerosis is a degenerative neurological disease that affects the central nervous system. It chiefly disrupts the flow of information in the brain and between it and the rest of the body causing failure in several bodily functions, the first oftentimes being movement and vision.

It’s quite a rare disease too without an absolute known cure or cause. It occurs in relapses with frequency, timing and symptoms that varies from one patient to another making it particularly difficult to diagnose and treat. It’s most common signs would often include a combination of vision problems, balance issues, stuttering and speech difficulty, dizziness, fatigue, vertigo, muscle stiffness, spasms, bladder issues, emotional instability, depression and memory incapacity among others.

Both Linda and Tony Bloom has set up the foundation in the hopes of helping patients take control of their condition and guide them in making better informed decisions and lifestyle changes. Linda has fortunately gotten back in shape from someone who could not lift a pen to regaining her strength. The OMS Foundation wishes to do the same to others.


Cricket Not Football: UK’s National Sport

cricket-peteWithout a shadow of a doubt, the United Kingdom is one of the world’s biggest football nations. Quite surprisingly, however, it isn’t the country’s national sport. With superstar athletes and teams renowned all over the world and fans that are much too passionate, it’s no wonder why people would assume such.

But which sport holds the title? The answer is cricket. Surprised?

Cricket is a bat-and-ball game that has been around since the turn of the 16th century where it began as a children’s game mainly in England and Commonwealth countries. The name originates from the old English term “cryce” to mean a crutch or a staff. Today, it is played in over 120 countries all over the world.

Played by two teams of 11 players in grassy, large circular areas between 114 and 160 meters in diameter, the game involves using a flat bat, a small hard ball, and wickets. A player bats the ball and runs to score while the defenders can get a player out by bowling and hitting the wicket, catching a hit ball, or running the player out.

A cricket bat is often made of willow, fitted with a cane handle and a rubber grip and measures 38 by 4.5 inches. In contrast to baseball, the bat is flat and elongated. On the other hand, the ball is made of alternating layers of cork and wool covered in leather. It is 9 inches in circumference and weighs between 156 to 163 grams.

If football has FIFA, cricket has governing bodies too namely the ICC which stands for the International Cricket Council and the IWCC or the International Women’s Cricket Council.

The ICC governs over 70 member countries worldwide. It organizes the World Cricket Cup which occurs every four years. It likewise pays visits to its member countries, promotes the sport, maintains its code of conduct and qualifies umpires among others. The IWCC functions on a similar note and likewise holds world championships.

The United Kingdom is home to numerous renowned and celebrated cricket athletes. For instance there’s Alastair Cook who plays for Essex. At the age of 31, his highest score is a glaring 294. There’s Joe Root too who plays for Yorkshire County Cricket Club and England and currently second in the ICC rankings to Steve Smith.. At the young age of 19, he signed a 3 year contract after having been spotted at the Under-19 games.


Tony Bloom, the Falmer Stadium and the Amex

falmer-stadiumAnthony Grant “Tony” Bloom did more than what was expected of him ever since he sat as the Brighton and Hove Albion F. C. chairman in May of 2009. A self-professed football aficionado and supporter of the club, he wanted to give something that’s beyond mere support and so he thought: Why not give them a home?

It’s been a rough twelve years of no home for the club. It’s no secret that its original home for decades, almost a century even, was the Goldstone Ground located in Old Shoreham Road, Hove 4. The 26th of April in 1997 was the last game played in which Brighton beat Doncaster Rovers 1-0. From 1902 to 1997, it had admitted 22.9 million fans to 2,174 games.

To try and clear the club’s debts, then chairman, Bill Archer, his chief executive David Bellotti and the rest of the board sold Goldstone Ground in a feeble attempt to avoid bankruptcy. Unfortunately, the sale wasn’t that lucrative or profitable and it even left the Seagulls without a home as no alternative ground was planned and lined up. From 1997 to 1999, the club had to share the Priestfield Stadium in Gillingham which was a good 70 mile drive from Brighton. After which, they played at Withdean Stadium.

Tony was born in 1970 and grew up in a family of football and Albion fans. As he became one of the club’s major investors and stockholders, he saw the need and the thirst of fans for the Brighton and Hove Albion F. C. to finally have a home.

After buying majority share and succeeding Harry Dick Knight in 2009, Tony helped personally finance the construction and development of the Falmer Stadium located in Falmer, Brighton, East Sussex in England.

In December 2008, construction officially began. The KSS Design Group, London-based architects, was delegated to design the new stadium while the Buckingham Group was signed into the contract as the official constructor.

The keys were handed over and the stadium was opened to the public in July of 2011. It was then renamed and is currently known as the American Express Community Stadium or the Amex for short. Total construction was reported to have reached £93 million with a total seating capacity of 30,750. It was because of this that Tony Bloom became a much loved chairman by the club and its fans alike.