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Publication officielle de l’Association Internationale de la Presse Sportive OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL SPORTS PRESS ASSOCIATION SPECIAL 1/12 ISSUE

an educational experience to gain broad expertise, to be able to analyze facts and to form opinions WWW.AIPSMEDIA.com


PYEONGCHANG 2018

A CLOSER LOOK AT

PYEONGCHANG 2018 VENUES Under the “Compact Venue” concept, the Organizing Committee of PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games is busy preparing the thirteen competition venues for the 2018 Winter Games. Six new venues are being built (Jeongseon Alpine Centre, Alpensia Sliding Centre, Gangneung Hockey Centre, Kwandong Hockey Centre, Gangneung Oval and Gangneung Ice Arena). Three of the existing ones are being refurbished (two venues in Bokwang Snow Park and Gangneung Curling Centre) and the rest are being optimized for the flawless operation of the 2018 Winter Games. The Olympic and Paralympic competition venues are being organized in two clusters – the mountain cluster in PyeongChang and the coastal cluster in Gangneung. Eight snow competition venues will be located in the mountain cluster while there are five ice competition venues in the coastal cluster. Getting around will be very easy as all the venues will be within a 30-minute distance from the Olympic Stadium and the Main Media Center. In this issue, we will give you a closer look at the thirteen competition venues of PyeongChang 2018.

ALPENSIA SKI JUMPING CENTRE

Existing venue (since 1998) in Mountain Cluster

PyeongChang Mountain Cluster

Capacity: • Total 13,000 • 11,000 seats • 2,000 standing

Bokwang Snow Park (P, C)

Disciplines: • 4 ski jumping events • Men’s normal hill individual • Men’s large hill individual • Men’s team • Women’s normal hill individual

The Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre appeared in 2009 in the famous Korean movie entitled “Take Off” which was about the Korean national ski jumping team. When PyeongChang was announced as the host city for the 2018 Winter Games, the venue became an icon. Since its establishment in 1998, the Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre staged a number of international competitions including the FIS Continental Cup in 2009 and 2011. At these competitions, the coaching staff, FIS and IOC executives and other professional staff have all been very impressed with the beautiful and magnificent venue. As OBS(Olympic Broadcasting System) noted “This ski jumping platform will naturally be the landmark of PyeongChang 2018”, it is certainly expected to be the symbol of PyeongChang 2018.

PyeongChang Mountain Cluster Jeongseon Alpine Centre Yongpyong Alpine Centre

ALPENSIA CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING CENTRE Existing venue (since 1998) in Mountain Cluster

Capacity: • Total 7,500 • 4,500 seats • 3,000 standing

Disciplines: • 12 cross-country skiing events • 6 men’s events • 6 women’s events

The cross-country skiing course in this venue will be redesigned for PyeongChang 2018. The course was first developed in 1998 on a golf course and it’s the only cross-country skiing venue in Korea. The PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee (POCOG) is working in close collaboration with the International Ski Federation for designing the cross-country course for the 2018 Winter Games. During a site visit, OBS staff started calling the course “duck” because the course has two flipper-shaped uphills which will be challenging and a beak-shaped part as well. Inspectors also discovered the course used for the 1999 Asian Winter Games and decided to include it in PyeongChang 2018 competition course.


ALPENSIA SLIDING CENTRE

New Venue at the Alpensia Resort, Mountain Cluster, construction to be completed by October 2016

Capacity: Total 7,000 (1,000 grandstand, 6,000 standing) Disciplines: 9 sliding events (4 luge events, 3 bobsleigh events, 2 skeleton events) The construction for this new venue is slated for completion by October 2016. The track is 2,018 metres long as to represent PyeongChang 2018, and it offers incredible sliding stability as well as a derailing prevention system and impact absorbing deceleration system for safety. It is also designed to be energy efficient respecting POCOG’s plan to keep costs down. A world-class stadium, it will be used as a training venue for local and international athletes and to stage high performance competitions after the 2018 Winter Games. The Korea National Sport University has signed an MOU with Gangwon Province to takeover the operation of the Sliding Centre post Games.

Alpensia Sports Park

Gangneung Coastal Cluster

ALPENSIA BIATHLON CENTRE Existing venue (since 1998) in Mountain Cluster

Capacity:

Gangneung Olympic Park Kwandong Hockey Centre

Compact Venue Plan

• All Venues are located within 30minutes of Alpensia Sports Park

JEONGSEON ALPINE CENTRE

New Venue in Mountain Cluster, construction to be completed by October 2016

YONGPYONG ALPINE CENTRE

Capacity:

Capacity:

Disciplines:

Existing Venue (since 1998) in Mountain Cluster

BOKWANG SNOW PARK

Existing Venue (since 1995) in Mountain Cluster, to be refurbished by October 2016

Capacity: • Total 18,000 • 10,200 seats • 7,800 standing

Disciplines: • 10 freestyle skiing and 10 snowboard events • 5 men’s freestyle skiing events • 5 women’s freestyle skiing events • 5 men’s snowboard events • 5 women’s snowboard events

Bokwang Snow Park is located in a large sized resort with various sports facilities including ski slopes, a golf course and swimming pools. The resort has 19 slopes including 4 that have been approved by the International Ski Federation.

• Total 6,000 • 3,500 seats • 2,500 standing

Disciplines: • 4 alpine skiing events • 2 men’s events: giant slalom, slalom • 2 women’s events: giant slalom, slalom

This venue is located at the Yongpyong Resort in the Mountain Cluster. It was first established in 1998 and it has hosted the Men’s World Cup four times previously in 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2006. Also the Far East Cup is being held annually at this venue. Yongpyong Resort is one of the most popular winter resorts among Korean and Asian tourists, and is expected to accommodate even more after the Games.

• Total 6,000 • 3,500 seats • 2,500 standing • 6 alpine skiing events • 3 men’s events: downhill, super-G, alpine combined • 3 women’s events: downhill, super-G, alpine combined

The new Jeongseon Alpine Centre will be built for the alpine skiing competitions as part of the Mountain Cluster. The construction is underway for completion by October 2016. Visiting the course in May 2015, Vancouver 2010 downhill gold medalist and PyeongChang 2018 ambassador Lindsey Vonn commented “The site looks very challenging –per downhill, it’s very steep and has a lot of jumps which I really like. So I’m looking forward to seeing it with the snow on and actually being able to run the course.”

• Total 7,500 • 4,500 seats • 3,000 standing

Disciplines: • 11 biathlon events • 5 men’s events • 5 women’s events • 1 mixed relay event

Located in Alpensia Resort, this venue was constructed in 1998, and additional remodelling was completed in 2007. It hosted a wide range of national and international competitions including the 2008 Biathlon World Cup and the 2009 IBU Biathlon World Championships. It provides a good environment for biathlon as the snow lasts longer in PyeongChang, and the course is quite competitive. Despite that Korea has four distinct seasons annually, biathlon competitions are held in summer as well for continuous training. In-Bok Lee who is a member of the Korean National Team and who won gold medals in the individual, sprint and relay events at the 29th National Biathlon Competition, said about the venue “I have been to many biathlon courses before and the Alpensia Biathlon Centre offers one of the most challenging venues.” He is aiming to compete at PyeongChang 2018.


PYEONGCHANG 2018

GANGNEUNG CURLING CENTRE

Existing venue (since 1998) in Coastal Cluster, to be refurbished by October 2016 10

GANGNEUNG ICE ARENA GANGNEUNG HOCKEY CENTRE

New Venue in Coastal Cluster, construction to be completed by November 2016

Capacity: • 10,000 seats

Disciplines:

Gangneung Coastal Cluster

• 2 ice hockey events

This competition venue will be newly built as part of the Gangneung Olympic Park and will host the men’s and women’s ice hockey finals. Being part of PyeongChang 2018’s sustainability efforts, it has been designed to promote green environment. It’s located on a regenerated landfill area . Also, it will have solar panels and the use of geothermal energy will be maximized to maintain the indoor temperature at a certain level throughout the year and save power. In addition, the venue will feature a rainwater recycling facility that can store 820 tons of rainwater for later use.

New Venue in the Coastal Cluster, construction to be completed by October 2016

Capacity: 12,000 seats Disciplines: • 5 figure skating and 8 short track speed skating events • 4 men’s short track events • 4 women’s short track events • 1 men’s & 1 women’s figure skating events • 3 pair figure skating events

Gangneung Ice Arena will hold the figure skating and short track speed skating competitions and it will also be newly built as part of the Gangneung Olympic Park. The construction began in July 2014, and it’s expected to be completed in October 2016. After the 2018 Winter Games, it will accommodate various sports and community functions and be at the center of the commercial and public amenities development in the area. Korea has always maintained a high position in short track speed skating, and everyone in the nation is hoping development of this venue will contribute greatly to staying at the top as well as expanding winter sports in Korea. The physical design of this venue reflects Korea’s pride with the helmet-shaped roof and beautiful architectural lines. In addition, a training centre will be built underground for future athletes.

Capacity: • 3,500 seats

Disciplines: • 2 curling events

Since its construction in 1998, Gangneung Indoor Ice Rink has been used as a multisports facility and it has held a number of international competitions including the 2005 ISU 4 Continent Figure Skating Championships, 2009 WCF Women’s Curling World Championships and 2011 ISU World Figure Skating Championships. Renovations will take place from October 2015 for the PyeongChang 2018 curling events.

GANGNEUNG OVAL New venue in Coastal Cluster, construction to be completed by early 2017

Capacity: • 8,000 seats

Disciplines: • Total 12 events • 6 men’s speed skating events • 6 women’s speed skating events

KWANDONG HOCKEY CENTRE New Venue in Coastal Cluster, construction to be completed by October 2016

Capacity: • 6,000 seats

Disciplines: • 2 ice hockey events

The construction for this venue began in July 2014 and it is to be completed in October 2016. Its design is optimized for accommodating sports events. Since it is being built inside the Kwandong University, it will be used post Games as a multi-purpose sports facility for university students and local citizens.

Gangneung Oval will be newly built as part of the Gangneung Olympic Park, and will be located 13 minutes from the Coastal Olympic Village. The stadium is currently being redesigned and construction is expected to be completed by early 2017.


PYEONGCHANG 2018 NEWS UPDATE New Slogan “Passion. Connected.” Unveiled at the 1000 Days-to-Go Celebration sports in Asia and further throughout the world. The two words combined, “Passion. Connected.” expresses PyeongChang 2018’s vision to expand winter sports to a wider audience in Asia and open New Horizons for winter sports worldwide. The first two letters of the slogan “P” and “C” are also initials of PyeongChang and these letters will be used in various ways to deliver PyeongChang 2018’s key messages. For example: • “People. Connected.” for engaging people from around the world • “Possibility. Connected.” for offering more opportunities for winter sports • “Peace. Connected.” for promoting peace through sports “Passion. Connected.” is the new slogan for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The new slogan was revealed on 16 May 2015 at the 1000 days-to-go celebration held in Olympic Park, Seoul. From this point forward, the PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 and Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) will communicate its messages through this slogan in order to express the objectives and legacies of the PyeongChang 2018 Games.

In addition to the new slogan being unveiled, various events at the 1000 days-to-go celebration were held successfully under the title “Happy PyeongChang, Promise for 1000 days.” Through this celebration, POCOG promoted Korea’s first Olympic Winter Games and expanded public awareness about PyeongChang 2018. The celebration was filled with fun events and exciting performances, and it continued on the next day with a variety of public activities, lucky draws and promotions.

“Passion.” symbolizes PyeongChang 2018 as the stage for a global festival where people will exchange inspirations, experience the warm and unique hospitality of Korean people, and share the excitement of the Olympic Spirit. “Connected.” signified the openness of PyeongChang that all generations can participate from anywhere at anytime through Korea’s advanced technology and cultural convergence. It also showcases the meaning of a new beginning and opening New Horizons for winter

Also in parallel with the main event in Seoul, the Host and Venue cities joined to celebrate the 1000 days-to-go countdown. Gangwon Province operated a special train from Seoul to Chuncheon, the capital city of Gangwon Province, upon which winter sports stars shared their stories with younger athletes and sports fans. The cities of Chuncheon, PyeongChang, Gangneung and Jeongseon all hosted special events for residents to share the festive spirit and enthusiasm for PyeongChang 2018.

PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee Signs Seventh Sponsorship Agreement POCOG signed its seventh sponsorship agreement with Bae, Kim & Lee LLC on 21 April 2015. Bae, Kim & Lee LLC will offer legal services to the Organizing Committee. With this signing, PyeongChang 2018 has now achieved 42 percent of its sponsorship target of 853 billion KRW. Other local marketing partners include Samsung Group, Korean Air, KT Corporation, Youngone Outdoor (The NORTHFACE brand), Pagoda Education Group and Samil PriceWaterhouseCoopers. Among these Samsung Group, Korean Air, KT Corporation and Youngone Outdoor are Tier 1 Sponsors and the rest are included in Tier 3. POCOG is gearing up its marketing campaigns to sign on more sponsorships and aims to achieve 70 percent of the target by the end of this year.


Orlando Duque of Colombia dives from the 27.5 metre platform on the Saint Nicolas Tower during the second stop of the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, on May 17, 2015 in La Rochelle, France. 473792556, Vincent Curutchet/Red Bull via Getty Images

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The ‘Prague group’ of Young Reporters during the city centre visit organized by UEFA. L-R: Maria Pia Beltran, Fredderikke Amalie Muff, Sandra Pejic, Adela Silesova, Martin Mazur, Andri Yrkill Vallsson, Franziska Hanlein, Pawel Kapusta and Martin Charvat.

10 AIPS YR PROGRAM IN BAKU

By Riccardo Romani

30 AIPS YR PROGRAM IN CZECH REPUBLIC 9

By Keir Radnedge

EDITORIAL By Gianni Merlo

16 BAKU A UNIQUE AND POSITIVE EXPERIENCE By Charles Camenzuli 18

BAKU From Seoul to Baku, the shady business of refereeing By M. Schauhuber & U. Curty BAKU Sotomayor’s nephew is now Azerbaijan’s hero By Alexander Sotirov

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BAKU Archery keeps history of cursed football match alive By Karlo Tasler

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BAKU Kosovo pushes the borders in Baku By Martin Schauhuber 27

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BAKU the fast track to basket, Azeri style By Ugo Curty

BAKU The European Games were “Big in Baku”, and sports was only a part of it By Alexander Sotirov

38 The AIPS YR program, a worthy initiAtive

By Martin Mazur

39 CZECH REPUBLIC The AIPS Young RePoRTeRS exPeRIence oPened mY eYeS To The InTRIgueS of SPoRTS jouRnAlISm By Ana Magalhães 40

CZECH REPUBLIC Calm and foCused Thorup seeks hisTory wiTh denmark By Andri Yrkill Valsson and Frederikke Amalie Muff CZECH REPUBLIC Pione Sisto Denmark’s rising star By Frederikke Amalie Muff

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CZECH REPUBLIC Serbia: one team, two managers By Andri Yrkill Valsson

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CZECH REPUBLIC In Prague, Serbian hearts are beating faster than ever after U20 WC victory By Sandra Pejic

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CZECH REPUBLIC Old red cards haunt hOsts czech republic ahead Of their Opening game By Martin Charvat 50 52 53

CZECH REPUBLIC The amazing tale Of Jan Kliment By Martin Charvat

CZECH REPUBLIC HrubescH puts His team tHrougH training of a different sort By Pawel Kapusta CZECH REPUBLIC #KindHeitstraum: How dfb Have built a dream team in pictures By Franziska Hänlein


EDITORIAL

AIPS MAGAZINE Special issue Director of editorial board Gianni Merlo Members of editorial board Esat Yilmaer Nickolai Dolgopolov Executive editors Evelyn Watta Assistant executive editors Maria Pia Valls Beltran Sonja Nikcevic Editorial secretariat Elisa Chiapparini Art Director Carlo Pozzoni - Italy www.nordcapstudio.it AIPS MAGAZINE is the official publication of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) AIPS MAGAZINE 27029 Vigevano - Italy Via Marazzani, 7 magazine@aipsmedia.com 1007 Lausanne - Switzerland Av. de Rhodanie, 54 Artwork Nordcap Studio - Italy www.nordcapstudio.it Printed in Italy Roto 3 20022 Castano Primo - Italy Via Turbigo 11/B 2/07 Reg. Periodico 137/07 Reg. V.G. Registrato 26/02/2007 Subscription Four issues a year: 30 Euro PUBLICATION OFFICIELLE DE L’ASSOCIATION INTERNATIONALE DE LA PRESSE SPORTIVE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL SPORTS PRESS ASSOCIATION SPECIAL 1/12 ISSUE

AN EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE TO GAIN BROAD EXPERTISE, TO BE ABLE TO ANALYZE FACTS AND TO FORM OPINIONS WWW.AIPSMEDIA.COM

Cover: Design by Carlo Pozzoni/Nordcap Studio.

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By Roslyn Morris

YOUNG REPORTERS

HOW THE IDEA WAS BORN

T

he foundation upon which the AIPS Young Reporter Programs are built consists of a strong belief in the future and a mission to educate the young generations of aspiring sports journalists. Along with this, AIPS believes in the importance of shining media spotlight onto the events covered through the Young Reporter Programs. AIPS President Gianni Merlo was given the initial inspiration for the AIPS Young Reporters Program during the Athletics World Championships in Gothenburg in 1995 and Athens 1997, when 20 budding young journalists were given, by AIPS Athletics Commission and UEPS, the opportunity to experience a high level event and learn the trade from their senior colleagues. This philosophy was then put into place for the inital AIPS Young Reporters Program held in Shenzhen, China at the Summer Universiade Games in 2011. Supported by the Organising Committee of the XXVI Universiade, the City of Shenzhen and International University Sports Federation FISU,

AIPS invested in the future of sports journalism.This vision was then maintained in the Programs to come, including the FIFA U17 Men’s and Women’s World Cup, the UEFA U21 European Football Championships in 2013 and 2015, FINA and IHF World Championships. A new level of all-round training for young journalists was then set by giving them a look into the administrative and organizational side of sports, through programs such as those concurrent with the IOC Extraordinary Session, Lausanne, and the Sport Accord Convention and the AIPS Congresses in Sochi and Baku. KEY ELEMENTS Training is offered in print, photography, and online reporting. Young Reporters are required to participate in all training sessions and are given daily reporting assignments. Photographers and camera operators are required to produce both written and video/audio content, just as writtenjournalists will be required to photograph and produce video. Young Reporters undertake both general and specialised training in various


aspects of sports reporting and the coverage of major events. Topics covered include what makes a good sports story, how to tell it informatively and entertainingly, when to look for more background detail and why accuracy and fairness still remain the cornerstone of sports reporting. According to their specific interests, participants may specialize in areas of media such as print reporting (newspaper, magazine and agency), news and sports photography and Internet/new media. Stories, photographs, audio and video packages are published on the AIPS media channel and are made available, without rights, to media organizations worldwide. All training and course work is undertaken in English.

PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION AIPS provides a team of highly-skilled members as mentors, plus (generally) 2 support staff, as well as the AIPS President Gianni Merlo and an AIPS Executive Committee member to oversee each program. The AIPS team is complimented by a group of invited specialised experts who conduct seminars such as those covering important issues affecting the world of sport, including New Media, Doping in Sport, Illegal Betting and Sports Integrity, Women in the News. Depending on competition schedules the Young Reporters Programs also include a number of a high profile seminars focusing on the above issues.

The specialised seminars are complimented by morning workshops conducted by the AIPS mentors on, for example, the following subjects: 1. Reporting at a top event 2. The growth of social media 3. Covering a major sports event 4. Writing for broadcast 5. How to work from a Mixed Zone: operations, flows, access to athletes 6. In the field: working with cameras 7. Interviews v. profiles: capturing the personalities of sport 8. How to cover a press conference 9. New technology and the effect on the working journalist

BELOW: AIPS Magazine article on the first Young Reporters Program in Shenzen

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BAKU 2015 EUROPEAN GAMES

BAKU 2015 EUROPEAN GAMES

THE Program like magic By RICCARDO ROMANI, AIPS MENTOR

MAIN PHOTO: Fireworks erupt over the stadium during the Opening Ceremony for the Baku 2015 European Games. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/ Getty Images for BEGOC)

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BAKU 2015 EUROPEAN GAMES

is a bit

The AIPS Young Reporters and mentors visited the headquarters of Azerbaijan’s leading news agency SIA

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he Young Reporter Program is a bit like magic, it allows young journalists from all over the world, to be part of an absolutely realistic fairy tale, the dream of being a real reporter, at a real event, surrounded by an authentic and at times controversial environment, without the risk of paying for… printing delays. The YR Program is a well done experiment for blending cultures, ideas, inspirations and rules. Putting young enthusiastic journalists from Iran, Germany, Uganda, Uruguay and so on together in the same room is an experience which a famous ad campaign would not hesitate to define as “priceless”. The aim is ambitious: to teach the values of journalism ethics, the importance of fact checking, and overall the basics of work discipline. The mission is necessary now more than ever, with this profession constantly under attack. The program is the type of experience these young women and men will treasure for the rest of their lives. My very first assignment as a sport writer was at a boxing event. I was a young enthusiast and an absolutely unexperienced writer, convinced I was a sort of Howard Cosell in the making. Discovering the reality of the media world can be a brutal experience. It was the day after Christmas,

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BAKU 2015 EUROPEAN GAMES

the city was Rimini, the local hero was fighting a French champion trying to gain the European belt in the featherweight division. Before I left the office my boss told me: “Your deadline is midnight. At the end of the fight you’ll have twenty minutes to file the story. If you miss the deadline you’ll have to pay for any minutes of delay in printing”. I can now say that my boss did not have a degree in psychology. The experience went well. I was hoping for a quick KO and it did not matter if the loser was “our” guy. The fight went on for quite a while, instead. I missed the deadline by a few seconds, I fell in love with boxing and I made quite a few mistakes in

EOC President Patrick Hickey presents the AIPS YR Diploma to Ugo Curty, Switzerland

AIPS Young Reporter Steward Said, MALTA, with Patrick Hickey, EOC President

AIPS Young Reporter Sofia Tsikou, GREECE, with Patrick Hickey, EOC President

AIPS YR Ugo Curty interviewing EOC President Patrick Hickey.

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AIPS Young Reporter Tarana Khudabakhishova, AZERBAIJAN, with Patrick Hickey, EOC President

my story. When I first came on board for the Young Reporters Program my thoughts went straight to that night. I immediately thought how I wish I had a course like this one, back then. It would have made a huge difference. So I immediately decided to be part of it. Of course, for each program it is essential that every ingredient is in place. It is not just about good intentions. In the last couple of years the YR Program has grown because every player on the field has understood its importance. Federations are allowing the young reporters be freer to express themselves, Organizing Committees are becoming more accommodating, sponsors are less invasive. Independence and freedom of speech as pillars of the YR Program cannot be questioned at any time. Sometimes, when you teach journalism in a country where journalists can end


BAKU 2015 EUROPEAN GAMES

up in jail for their opinions, that independence is put at risk. But holding a program in a country with a flawed record in freedom of speech, make the course itself more valuable. In Baku in June a brilliant young reporter from Croatia asked me abruptly: “Why are you teaching us all this? When we go back home, I will pitch a story to my boss based on these principles and he will ask me: Are you crazy?”. I was very happy for that question, because that’s when I knew the program was working. I know “the real world”, I come from it. It is filled with old fashioned journalists looking for a quiet life, trying to make a living following a predetermined guideline. The essence of the YR Program is the negation of predetermined guidelines. On the other side, we try to give the youngsters the tools to enable their capacity of analyzing facts and formulating opinions, thinking completely out of the box. I am sure the life of the Croatian reporter won’t be easy once back home. But the seed has been planted. He will look into this profession with new energy and hope, trying to change the stereotypes that are eroding the fundamentals of this wonderful passion called journalism. Hundreds of young women and men around the world that will be able to do so thanks to innitiatives like the YR Program, will be the only chance for this profession to be rescued.

ABOVE: The AIPS Young Reporters were interviewed during their visit to the National News Agency SIA in Baku. BELOW LEFT: YR Steward Said from Malta interviewing 30 year-old Maltese Rebecca Camilleri after she finished second in the Women’s Long Jump in Baku. BELOW RIGHT: AIPS Young Reporter Ruslan Medelbek, Kazakhstan, with Patrick Hickey, EOC President

AIPS Young Reporter Merili Luuk, Estonia, with Patrick Hickey, EOC President

AIPS Young Reporter Petra Mihályi, Hungary, with Patrick Hickey, EOC President

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โ–ช

BAKU 2015 EUROPEAN GAMES

(L-R): Tarana Xudabaxsiyeva (YR, Azerbaijan), Sofia Tsikou (YR, Greece), Merili Luuk (YR, Estonia), Sonja Nikcevic (AIPS Educational Staff), Stewart Said (YR, Malta), AIPS Mentor Charles Camenzuli, Leman Seferli (YR, Azerbaijan), EOC President Patrick Hikcey, Alexander Sotirov (YR, Bulgaria), AIPS YR Program Chief Riccardo Romani, Ugo Curty (Switzerland), Karlo Tasler (Croatia), Martin Schauhuber (Austria), Petra Mihรกlyi (Hungary), Ruslan Medelbek (Kazakhstan), Arnold Ntambi (AIPS Educational Staff)

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BAKU 2015 EUROPEAN GAMES

A UNIQUE AND POSITIVE EXPERIENCE By CHARLES CAMENZULI AIPS MENTOR

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or many, Baku 2015 proved to be an experience within an experience. The first edition of the European Games was a challenging factor for many. For the group of young budding journalists selected for the AIPS Young Reporters Program the experience ended up being a unique and positive one. At times in our case it was not easy to have twelve different cultures, twelve different moods and attitudes and above all twelve different levels of aptitude and experience together in one room. However the challenge resulted in a program as rewarding as ever. First-hand experience in a multi-sport competition meant hours of prepara-

EOC President Patrick Hickey presents the AIPS YR Diploma to Martin Schauhuber (Austria).

AIPS Young Reporter Leman Seferli, Azerbaijan, with Patrick Hickey, EOC President

AIPS Young Reporter Karlo Tasler, Croatia, with Patrick Hickey, EOC President

AIPS Young Reporter Alexander Sotirov, Bulgaria, with Patrick Hickey, EOC President

tion, dedication and, at the end of the day, satisfaction with the final product. In life and in our world of sport it is never too late to learn and definitely for the Baku 2015 European Games the Young Reporters Program challenge was the perfect example. The day the Games were over, it was not difficult to make an assessment. The potential of our ‘to-be’ media colleagues was there. The development within their line of thought was evident after almost three weeks of work and production. The AIPS Young Reporters Program once again proved to give the desired results, and as for those who have sport media at heart these are the opportunities they need to grab and cherish. (L-R) AIPS Mentor Charles Camenzuli and AIPS Vice President and Sports Journalists’ Federation of Russia President Nickolai Dolgopolov.

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BAKU 2015 EUROPEAN GAMES

The introductory morning session of the Young Reporters Programe held in the AIPS Office at the Baku 2015 Media Village.

Program Chief Riccardo Romani addresses the Young Reporters during the first session of the Young Reporters Program in Baku.

AIPS Mentor Charles Camenzuli with the AIPS Young Reporters at the Baku Olympic Stadium during the closing ceremony of the 1st European Games (L-R): Martin Schauhuber (Austria), Merili Luuk (Estonia), Petra Mihaylí (Hungary), Arnold Ntambi (AIPS Educational Staff), Leman Seferli (Azerbaijan), Sofia Tsikou (Greece) and Ruslan Medelbek (Kazakhstan).

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BAKU 2015 EUROPEAN GAMES

From Seoul to Baku, the shady business of refereeing B Y M a r t i n S c h a u h u b e r & U g o C u r t y, A I P S Y o u n g R e p o r t e r S

A

s Teymur Mammadov and Valentino Manfredonia traded punches in the ring, some of the more cynical spectators already seemed to know the outcome. Of course they couldn’t. But when the referee raised the Azerbaijani boxer’s hand and the crowd erupted, it was the conclusion of a week of suspect judging. And although the slightly injured Italian Manfredonia did not want to get into any discussions, some neutral voices said he had been better. “I don’t have anything to say to the people who don’t believe in me. I have the gold medal, that is proof,” Mammadov said when confronted with these discussions by AIPS. Walking towards the mixed zone, we ran into a familiar

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face. Joshua Buatsi competed in the first European Games when he faced Mammadov in the first round of this Light Heavy tournament on June 18th. Seated around the ring, the observers could appreciate the Londoner’s technique and vivacity. There was a class of difference between him and the local boxer. This impression did not translate to the scoreboard as the judges granted Mammadov a large victory (3-0). “I feel that I deserved more than I got at the end of the fight, to me I won the fight,” confessed Joshua Buatsi. “It is his country and he got the decision. That is how it went.” The young man had a lot to say, a need to express himself. Unfortunately, we will have to content ourselves with his first quote, as “Josh” did not come alone to

talk to us. The British press attaché did her job perfectly, avoiding any start of polemic. Just before the interview, she dropped in Buatsi’s ears: “You know what is right and true.” He probably does but was not allowed to share it. During the interview, the press attaché kept answering personal questions directed at Buatsi himself. Pavel Silyagin is another of Teymur Mammadov’s “victims”. Russian U22 champion, he won the Light Heavyweight title at the AIBA Golden Gloves Tournament, which was held in last December in Serbia. One of the most promising fighters of his generation, Silyagin was smiling a few minutes after receiving bronze. Still, the Russian had an intimate conviction that his medal should have been made out of another metal. “He is from here, that is why he wins”, reckoned the boxer in a really genuine, yet touching, way. In basic English, the young athlete simply bore witness to what he felt was true. “If we [had been fighting] in another country, I would [have won]. It is not normal but he always wins in these kind of tournaments. A lot of people help him.”


BAKU 2015 EUROPEAN GAMES

The fact that Kamaladdin Heydarov personally facilitated the WSB deal speaks for itself. AIBA president Dr Ching-Kuo Wu denied all allegations, saying that the claims were “totally untrue and ludicrous”. An internal AIBA investigation found no evidence to support the BBC’s claims. But while Azerbaijan only won two Bronze medals at the London Olympics, they were involved in a scandal. The judges’ decision to award the win to Magomed Abdulhamidov even though he was knocked down five times in the final round was so ludicruous that it was overturned the next day and the referee Ishanguly Meretnyyazov was sent on the way back home. Gold medalist Teymur Mammadov of Azerbaijan stands on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Men’s Light Heavyweight 81kg final. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images for BEGOC)

To the purposely naïve question, “is some money involved?”, he answered while laughing and walking away. “Maybe”. Money makes the world go round. It is not the first time the oil-rich Azerbaijan was accused of finding suspicious ways to boxing glory. In 2011, the BBC uncovered a $9 million payment by an Azerbaijan company to the AIBA-organized World Series of Boxing (WSB), connecting it with alleged promises of two gold medals to Azerbaijan. While the money came from a private company, the Minister for Emergency Situations Kamaladdin Heydarov introduced the investor to WSB and, together with an assistant, helped as a translator during the deal – officially a regular business investment - according to BBC. Heydarov is a central figure in Azerbaijan. In a U.S. diplomat cable published by Wikileaks, he is said to be one of the richest and most powerful men in the country. The internal U.S. communication mentioned an opaque network of businesses and contacts. His “Ministry of Everything Important”, as called in the leaks, is even said to have its own para-military unit. The “Guardian” describes Heydarov as “one of President

Valentino Manfredonia of Italy starts to cry after losing to Teymur Mammadov of Azerbaijan in the Men’s Boxing Light Heavyweight (81kg) Final. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images for BEGOC)

Ilham Aliyev’s inner circle”. He is so trusted by the President that his son Tale Heydarov is the chairman of the London-based European Azerbaijan Society. Officially centered on raising awareness for Azerbaijan’s culture and businesses, it essentially is a lobbying firm that takes British and EU officials on luxurious trips in order to improve the country’s reputation.

The Azerbaijani technical official Aghajan Abiyev was also expelled from the games following the controversial fight for breaking his contract by communicating with his country’s team. The general secretary of Azerbaijan’s national Olympic committee is also the vice president of the country’s boxing federation – and he is part of the European Games’ organizing committee. Two lo-

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cal journalists – granted anonymity for obvious reasons – were willing to confirm his role at the European Games, but said they “don’t remember and don’t want to remember” what happened in London. Another fight that spurred discussions was the heavyweight’s quarterfinal, where a win equals a medal. After a boxer from Azerbaijan had received two warnings for excessive clutching, Greek referee Nikolaos Poutachidis refused to give him the third warning that would have equalled a disqualification - disregarding that the Azerbaijani repeated his actions at least three times. Oh, the boxer’s name? Teymur Mammadov. Yes, that Mammadov. This is not a new phenomenon. Boxing has had its fair share of scandals, the most noteworthy coming in the Seoul Olympics in 1988 when Ray Jones Jr. was cheated out of his gold medal against Park Si-hun. Although Jones Jr. pummeled his opponent for three rounds, the South Korean won 3-2 by split decision. While internal documents and even the referee of that final, Aldo Leoni, accused judges of receiving bribes, an IOC investigation only found that they had been “wined and dined”. The 1988 scandal even caused a change of the scoring system. After London, it was changed again - now, before every fight, three of five judges are chosen randomly to score the bout. Still, the European Games prove that questionable decisions are hard to get rid of. “Every judge scored a loss for our boxer in every round. It was definitely not that kind of fight. It’s all about politics, so what can I say? When things like this happen, how do I motivate my fighters to come down and train tomorrow?”, French coach John-Toni Dovi asked the media after his boxer Paul Omba

Biongolo lost to Abdulkadir Abdullaev (AZE). Of course Azerbaijan is not the only country profiting from questionable decisions – boxing has always and will always have them, by nature of the sport. But is the undeniably critical situation at the moment inevitable? Is this sport sentenced to a certain kind of fatality? The noble art has always represented an opportunity for young kids facing poverty to climb the social ladder. Boxing is a school of life that keeps them away from street criminality. “As long as powerful and rich countries will finance the AIBA, their boxers will benefit from supports.” This confession comes from one of the most famous boxing and martial arts journalists in Europe. The assessment is cold and brutal. The current situation within the AIBA could threaten boxing’s Olympic status in the medium term, especially in light of the IOC’s new Agenda 2020. The example of wrestling should be a tremendous point of comparison. In February 2013, wrestling was kicked

out of the Olympic program. The decision provoked an earthquake in this historic sport. More than the sport itself, the IOC was punishing the association – then FILA - for its political imbroglios and lack of vision for the future. “It was a huge crisis but the Olympic Committee pushed the Federation to improve,” analyzed Nenad Lalovic, a main figure of wrestling’s renewal. “It was not an attack towards the sport. It was a warning because we had strayed from the Olympic values.” On June 9th, AIBA announced the dismissal of its executive director, Mister Ho Kim, with immediate effect. Even if no proof was brought to light and the motives of the layoff were not clarified, the decision was probably motivated by the irregular way of management used by the South Korean official. In the official statement the AIBA President Wu declared his will for “the world of boxing to move in the new direction,” specifying that therefore a “new vision and leadership are paramount.”

Only time will reveal if the AIBA’s efforts will bring tangible results or if amateur boxing’s future will not be so different from today’s dark times. ABOVE: Teymur Mammadov of Azerbaijan (blue) and Valentino Manfredonia of Italy (red) compete in the Men’s Light Heavyweight 81kg final. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images for BEGOC). LEFT: Gold medalist Teymur Mammadov of Azerbaijan is interviewed in the I-Zone after the Men’s Light Heavyweight 81kg final. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images for BEGOC)

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From Cuba to Baku:

Sotomayor’s nephew is now Azerbaijan’s hero B

B Y A l e x a n d e r S o t i r o v, A I P S Y o u n g R e p o r t e r , B U L G A R I A

oxing is like a special type of dancing. It’s an absolute art. Looking at the brilliant footwork of the boxers on the ring, knowing that they have spent hours and hours working on it, is an absolute joy to behold. Pure artistry. One of the latest sporting heroes of Azerbaijan appears to be an expert in both. Lorenzo Sotomayor moved to Baku from Cuba in 2013 and he has already established himself as an complete fanfavorite. Besides dancing, he specializes in boxing. At the 2015 European Games in Baku he is fighting under a new name – Collazo. Translated from Spanish it means “shining star”. Talent runs in the family in the case of Azerbaijan’s shining star. He is the nephew of track and field legend Javier Sotomayor. The Cuban who has won absolutely everything still holds the record in high jump up to this day – 2.45 meters (8 feet and ¼ inch), as he is the only person in history to jump over 8 feet. Enough said. “A coach from Azerbaijan called me and that’s how it all started. I moved here and now every single day I thank God, because of it. I am enjoying my time here, even though I am not a local, I have lots of friends here. The people are fantastic,”

Sotomayor said. Lorenzo’s exotic background brought up nicknames, as fans and specialists quickly proclaimed him as the “Azeri Muhammad Ali”. In fact, the Cuban-born reveals that, that besides his uncle, his other hero is exactly Ali. “Back home in Cuba, Ali is an icon. All the kids boxing in the streets want to be like him. You know, float like a butterfly and sting like a bee,” are Lorenzo’s words after his first encounter on the ring at the European Games in Baku, reciting one of Ali’s most famous quotes. Sotomayor’s style of play is the same as his personality. Joyful and entertaining. Like most of the people in Cuba, where practically every boy wants to be a boxer when he grows up. At the age of 30 Lorenzo is still smiling like a kid, but also adds that he chose to compete for Azerbaijan

because of the better chance for him to qualify for the Olympics. “My dreams are big. Every day I pray to God for winning an Olympic medal. But for that I also have to work really, really hard. Because hard work pays off. Sooner or later everything pays off,” is what he said, before turning around and walking away with a big smile on his face, while at the same time his feet are tapping in rhythm. Dancing. On and off the ring.

Vincenzo Mangicapre of Italy (red) and Sotomayor of Azerbaijan (blue) compete in the Men’s Light Welterweight (64kg) Final. RIGHT: Collazo Sotomayor of Azerbaijan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images for BEGOC).

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Archery keeps histor football match aliv

B y K a r l o T a s l e r , A I P S Y o u n g R e p o r t e r , C r o a t ia

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rchery has its winners in the team competition. In the men’s category the gold medal was won by Ukraine and the women’s was dominated by Italy. The contest was held at a Tofiq Bahramov Stadium which usually serves as the home of the Azerbaijani national football team and FK Qarabağ. The venue was named after Tofiq Bahramov, who to this day is remembered as one of the most controversial referees in a history of football. Namely, he is the man

who marked the Wembley World Cup final 1966. England were playing against Germany, the result was 2:2 and the game headed into extra time. The home team was dominating, creating chances and then in 101’ minute it happened – England’s Geoff Hurst got a ball in the box and struck the crossbar. The ball hit the underside of the post and bounced down. Head referee Gottfried Dienst was not certain if it had been a goal, but Bahramov, who was linesman made a final decision:

“It was a goal”. Unfortunately for the Germans, his decision wasn’t as accurate as the archers ar his stadium almost 50 years later. Modern technology later showed that there was in fact no goal. In the 120th minute Hurst scored his third goal on the match and put a stamp on England’s win. But, it remains in the football books that the Azerbaijani assistant referee assured England their first and only World Cup title in history. An apocryphal story says that after the game, when asked why he insisted the goal stood, he replied: “Stalingrad!” Of course, with that statement he referred to the biggest battle of World War II, when Germany attacked the USSR which Azerbaijan was also a part of. When talking about Stalin, we should add that before Bahramov, the stadium’s name was Joseph Stalin Stadium and before him Oliver Bierhoff, Team Manager of the German National Football Team (C) accepts the Team of the Year Award on behalf of the German National Football Team with presenters Fabio Capello (R) and actor Henry Cavill. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images for Laureus)

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ry of cursed ve

Oliver Bierhoff, Team Manager of the German National Football Team (C) accepts the Team of the Year Award on behalf of the German National Football Team with presentersElique nos qui tenis dus. Feritate diam nonem. Nam ulles et, sum et, comni nimagni musamet acculpa deles molores edionet laut aut quae. Turesequas dolupid quibus

Vladimir Lenin Stadium. The venue was built in 1939. Natalia Valeeva, a 45-yeararcher from Italy’s winning team, has only the highest praise for the stadium. She compared Baku’s situation from 30 years ago with today’s situation. “Last time I was here in Baku, it was a

typical Soviet city. I expected to be going back to that city, but this is something completely different. I was surprised when I saw perfect organization and a nice Olympic village. Everything works like a Swiss watch”, said the experienced Italian. However, she did not know who the stadium was named after. Although the whole stadium is full of Bahramov’s photos, with the referee even having his own statue near the pitch, the men’s medalists

didn’t know who he was either. The exception was the coach of the Dutch team who won the bronze. He was the only one who knew Bahramov’s interesting story. Tofiq Bahramov lived from 29 January 1925 until 26 of March 1993. Because of the biggest mistake of his life, he is now the only person, except former Azerbaijani president Heydar Aliyjev, whose name graces a European Games venue.

Oliver Bierhoff, Team Manager of the German National Football Team (C) accepts the Team of the Year Award on behalf of the German National Football Team with presenters

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BAKU 2015 EUROPEAN GAMES

Kosovo pushes the borders in Baku B Y M a r t i n S c h a u h u b e r , A I P S Y o u n g R e p o r t e r , A u s t ria

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n a central square in Kosovo’s capital city Pristina, seven giant letters define the country. They are in front of a mall, beneath stairs leading down from the American school and the many Albanian flags flying before its entrance. A giant portrait of former military commander Adem Jashari is visible. The monument is surrounded by a mixture of Western modernity and allegiance to the young country’s violent past. A very Kosovo place. The letters spell out NEWBORN. About double a human’s height, they have been painted, sprayed on and repainted multiple times since they were unveiled on 17 February 2008, the day Kosovo unilaterally declared its independence from Serbia. On 12 June 2015 in Baku, another small

part of Kosovo was newborn. Sports. After struggling for Olympic recognition for decades, the Balkan country finally got to participate in the European Games, its first Olympic event ever. This is the story of how they made it. YUGOSLAVIA Long before the country’s independence, the Olympic committee of Kosovo was already established in 1992. Kosovo was a province of Yugoslavia, a time the Kosovars now call the “occupation”. After thousands of ethnic Kosovo-Albanians were driven out sectors like teaching, government, media and sports in 1990, they created parallel institutions. “It was very dangerous at that time, the Serbian government

MAIN PICTURE: Flag bearer and judoka Majlinda Kelmendi of Kosovo leads her team into the stadium during the Opening Ceremony for the Baku 2015 European Games (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images for BEGOC). BELOW LEFT: Aaron Cook of Moldova (Blue) and Arbes Jahiri of Republic of Kosovo. (Photo by Robert Prezioso/ Getty Images for BEGOC)

didn’t allow us to organize our National championships. They would stop us in one place, so we moved to another and organized them again”, Besim Hasani recalls. His name is synonymous with Kosovo’s efforts to join the Olympic movement. Elected president of the Olympic committee of Kosovo in 1996, he has held that position ever since. Besim Hasani has a politician’s demeanour. He knows which parts of the Kosovar story to tell. He talks about the women raped by Serbians, about the suppression of Kosovo-Albanians. He does not talk about the crimes committed against ethnic Serbs. He is a politician. WAR In 1998, all hell broke loose in Kosovo. 480 days of war between Serbian-Yugoslav forces and the Kosovo Liberation Army (UÇK) supported by NATO bombings left hundreds of thousands displaced and the country under United Nations governance. “Our ex-

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is slow. This is also its story. RECOGNITION Starting on its second day of independence, countries began recognizing Kosovo. “The goal was to be recognized by more than 50 per cent of the UN countries,” Hasani says. That goal was reached at the end of 2012, but the question remained: What would really be enough to be considered “recognized by the international community?” “Thomas Bach kept preaching patience,” Hasani says. Miro told him not to apply before he “received signals”. More waiting. On 1 September 2014, it ended. Hasani visited Miro at the IOC headquarters, where the Spaniard gave him a simple instruction: “Go prepare the application.” After the IOC Executive board decided to provisionally recognize the NOC of Kosovo and recommend recognizing Kosovo to the 127th IOC session, the last part was only a pectation was that recognition would go much faster after Serbia left,” Hasani confesses. How wrong they were. A letter to the IOC in 2000 was left unanswered, but Hasani managed to contact a person very important to his efforts: Pere Miró, the head of relations with national Olympic committees. This is also his story. INDEPENDENCE Miro told Hasani that in order to get closer to recognition, Kosovo had to promote the Olympic movement. Hasani clung to every straw he could find: After reading about a German school quiz about Olympic ideas, he organized a similar quiz for 130.000 schoolchildren from all over Kosovo. The committee’s president joined the three winning kids on their trip to the Sydney Olympics – his ticket into lobbying paradise. In Australia, Miro told Hasani about two criteria the Kosovo had to accomplish in order to gain recognition according to the Olympic Charta: Five national federations had to be recognized by their respective international federations and the country had to be “recognized by the international community”. A vague term. Just like that, the prospect of imminent IOC recognition slipped away.

The words newborn mark the center of Pristina, Kosovo (Photo by YR Martin Schauhuber)

First, the Kosovo had to become independent – something it did not do until 17 February 2008, when it declared independence from Serbia. The day the NEWBORN monument was unveiled. Eight long years of waiting without any palpable progress. Like in 1999, people expected things to move faster after the independence. Like in 1999, they were disappointed. The world of diplomacy

technicality. Still, it was a special day. On 9 December 2014, Kosovo became part of the IOC. “This was the happiest day of my life,” Hasani smiles. LIVING THE DREAM From that point on, Kosovo was allowed to participate in all events under IOC patronage. On a warm June night, judoka Majlinda Kelmendi marched into Baku’s Olym-

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pic Stadium, the Kosovo flag in hand, rewriting her country’s history. “For the first time, our athletes could parade with the flag on such a level,” Hasani recounts. He is a deliberate man. Emotions are hard to find on his face, but for one moment he opens up. “It was marvelous. It was marvelous.” If Besim Hasani would ever cry, this would be the moment. He doesn’t. Kelmendi was the logical choice to bear the flag. Ranked No. 1 in the world, she won the World Championships twice – for Kosovo in 2013, under the flag of the International Judo Federation in 2014. That competition was held in Russia, a country that has not recognized Kosovo and refused to let the judoka use Hassan Amzile of France (blue) and Naser Shala of Kosovo compete in the Men’s Light Welterweight (64kg) Round of the Baku 2015 European Games (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images for BEGOC).

to earn Kosovo’s first-ever spot on an Olympic podium. “I am incredibly proud. This medal is so special for me and my country,” the 22-year-old said. Medal or no medal, the other athletes benefit just as much from their experiences. In the case of Kosovo, Olympic founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin’s legendary saying hits home like nowhere else: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part.” 19 mostly young Kosovars have been given this chance in Baku. This is also their story. BUILDING BRIDGES “Participating in an Olympic event one day was just a dream, but now that the dream has come true it is not just a pleasure but also a duty for me,” says archer Hazir Asllani. Cyclist Qendrim Guri points out another advantage: “I will send the experience I gain in this competition to

other cyclists back home and they will get inspired by me competing here. I also learn new things here that I can teach them back home.” After decades of conflict, many Serbians and ethnic Albanians are – euphemistically spoken - not on the best of terms. In Baku, nobody cares. “We are cool with everybody. This is sports, we don’t do politics here,” Asllani firmly asserts. Bronze medalist Gjakova agrees: “Politics and sports should not be mixed up. There never are any problems with our opponents, no matter where they are from.” To Asllani, being on the big stage offers an opportunity to break down barriers: “Some countries think of us as different, but when they meet us, they see that we’re the same. Sports might help to change their view.” For some young Kosovars, sports can change more than just their view. “Since we don’t have Visa liberalization, this is the only way for the youth to find a window outside Kosovo,” Ardem Lila, the head of mission in Baku explains. That window might now take on the shape of the Olympic rings. Judo heroines Kelmendi and Gjakova openly say they are targeting medal in Rio 2016. “I’m working hard for it, so I really believe I will take it,” Kelmendi declares. If she doesn’t, somebody else will. And then it will be their story too. Bronze medalist Miryam Roper of Germany and Nora Gjakova of Kosovo pose on the medal podium following the Women’s Judo -57kg Finals. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images for BEGOC).

her colors and anthem. At the London Olympics in 2012, she competed for Albania as Kosovo had not been recognized by the IOC. Kelmendi would have also been the logical candidate to clinch the country’s first medal, but a training injury crushed those dreams before the competition even started. Still, judo delivered. The same day Kelmendi would have fought for medals, Nora Gjakova defeated Sanne Verhagen in the -57kg bronze medal game

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The European State of America in Baku

THE FAST TRACK TO BASKETBALL, AZERI-STYLE T

B Y U g o C u r t y, A I P S Y o u n g R e p o r t e r , S w i t z e r l a n d

he ends may justify the meaning. Nevertheless, sport’s beauty resides in its unpredictable fate. No matter what. The Azerbaijani are slowly learning this painful lesson during the first European Games. The Swiss David has torn down the (not so) Azerbaijani Goliath. Humble players in the regular basketball league, the Swiss girls’ team spirit moved (Alpine) mountains. Fighting for every ball, getting hit, they never gave up. Besides a huge intrinsic talent gap, the red-cross team cooled the basketball arena down under a boiling Baku sun (15-11). Azerbaijan: Dina Ulyanova, Aneika Henry, Renara Hayes and Tatyana Deniskina. The names of the women put down on the match sheet immediately attract attention. A quick check, informed us that the four players were not originally from Azerbaijan. Hayes, originally from Louisiana, and Henry, Jamaican born, are teammates at Atlanta Dream, competing in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), the female pendant of the worldwide-known NBA. The Georgia-based franchise is one of the best organizations across the Atlantic. The Dream has been part of the postseason hustle for the last 8 playoffs, winning conference titles in 2010, 2011 and 2013. Both women will be missing fives games from June 16th to 26th, and coming back on July 5th for a home clash against Seattle. The club announced on June 17th that they had hired two back-ups for the roster. Forward Cierra Burdick and guard Sydney Carter are well-known in the League. None of the contracts terms were disclosed. N°14 overall pick at the 2012 WNBA draft, Renara Tiffany Hayes was

Renara Hayes of Azerbaijan during the Women’s 3 x 3 Basketball Quarterfinal between Spain and Azerbaijan during the Baku 2015 European Games. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images for BEGOC)

elected in the rookie team of the year on her WNBA debut. Double NCAA champion (2009 and 2010), she confessed after their lost debut match in Baku that she never played 3-on-3 before in her career. Intypical North-American relaxed fashion, the player answered with a clear nonchalance. “I got invited to come and

play. So I came.” Basketball can be as simple as that. Unsurprisingly, Renara denied that her club may have received some money to let her, and her teammate, come to Azerbaijan. “We had a talk with the coaches; worked out few things. Of course, the coaches do not want any of their players to leave but they understood that it was a personal decision and respected it. They just wanted us to come back unharmed.” Even if the women salaries within the WNBA have nothing to do with the wages of Lebron and Co, the numbers involved must be astronomical. Hayes recognized that she would see her bank account fatten up, but “only if [they] won the gold.” There is no need to guess the draconian amount of the insurance policies, in case of injury halfway through the WNBA season. Beside the business aspect, the sporting issues seem far removed from Olympic values. How can an American citizen represent a European country just by filling out a form? In order of comparison, if Hayes had wanted to play for a Swiss team, her opponent of the day, she would have had to live 12 years in the country before obtaining the national citizenship. “I have the Azeri passport now. The process was very quick.” Renara Tiffany Hayes arrived in Baku two weeks ago, for the first time in her life. From a similar perspective, the same can be said for the other members of the Azerbaijani “national” team. While Dina Ulyanova might have grown up in Baku, Aneika Anna-kay Henry is, sorry was, Jamaican and Tatyana Deniskina is originally from the Russian Federation. Azerbaijan’s sport politics is not a new-comer. The state of Qatar became famous for its easy naturalization system, covering with the gold of talented sportsmen. The first notorious case was Kenyan Stephen Cherono, who ran 3000 m steeplechase in athletics. He changed his name to Saif Saaeed Shaheen after obtaining the Qatari citizenship and won the World Championship a year after, in front of his former compatriots. More recently, the heroic record of the national handball team, reaching the final in a World Championship organized in Doha created an earthquake in the sport environment. Of the 16 players composing the rosters, only 5 were born in the country, while the others came for all around the world. AIPSMAGAZINE | 27


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The European Games and sports was only B y A l e x a n d e r S o t i r o v, A I P S Y o u n g R e p o r t e r , B u l g aria

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he first ever European Games are already in the past. Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan  hosted the historical occasion and for 16 days (12-28 June) the Land of Fire was the beating heart of European sport. Big in Baku – 6067 athletes, 50 participating nations, a total of 253 events in 20 different kinds of sport, producing 844 medals. Big in Baku was one of the trends used on social media during the games. And it absolutely sums up what happened. The aim of the organizers was to make everything as massive and as huge as possible. Taking a look at the opening and the closing ceremonies completely confirms the trend. Just like any other tournament of this caliber, there was plen-

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ty of emotions – Cinderella stories, upsets, certain kinds of sports making their final push in the effort of becoming part of the Olympic movement and so on... From an entire sporting point of view the Russian Federation enforced a total domination, winning 164 medals. Azerbaijan ended up second with just 102 medals less, finishing with 56, while the Top 4 was completed by Great Britain (47) and Germany (66). But this is only from a statistical standpoint. Journalists and fans from all around the globe traveled to see the historical European Games, but a lot remains in question, as despite Azerbaijan’s good overall performance in organizing such a big event, there still isn’t clarity

for the nation that will host the next suchlike occasion four years from now. Baku 2015 was big. Actually it was so big, that most probably the country will produce a bid for the 2024 Olympics. However, a lot remained outside of the public radar. Meters away from the new, shiny and high costing sporting venues, there were walls. Big walls. Making the contrast complete. What was hiding behind them? Any reasonable thinking person can quickly come up with an answer. A hint – some of the old and not-so-good looking buildings in the capital had new fake walls and windows, just so they don’t stand out. Politics and sports were mixed up before and during the Games. Big time.


AIPSBAKU MAGAZINE 2015 EUROPEAN 01.12 | FEATURES GAMES

were “Big in Baku”, y a part of it First a lot of human rights organizations pointed out the issues on the occasion in Azerbaijan, and for the past 20 days there were a lot of controversies, as big part of the home nation’s medal winners were naturalized and visited their new country for the first time days before the start. Baku 2015 was big. No doubt about that. And it was so much more than just sports. MAIN PHOTO: Fireworks explode above the stadium during the Closing Ceremony for the Baku 2015 European Games. (Photo by Robert Prezioso/Getty Images for BEGOC). RIGHT: Dancers perform during the Closing Ceremony for the Baku 2015 European Games at Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images for BEGOC)

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UEFA U21 CZECH REPUBLIC

UEFA U21- Czech Republic

The emerging of football a By Keir Radnedge, AIPS MENTOR

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â–Ş

g talents and media

The AIPS Young Reporters and mentors visited the headquarters of Cesky Rozhlas Radio in Prague.

S

MAIN PHOTO: Semi final match between Denmark and Sweden in Prague, Czech Republic. (Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images)

weden, beating Portugal to win the UEFA U21 Euro for the first time in Czech Republic, demonstrated the exciting emerging talent in football; simultaneously the AIPS Young Reporters Program at the tournament demonstrated precisely as much in terms of sports journalism. The finals tournament of the European under-21 championship takes place in a different country every two years, featuring eight national teams, and in Czech Republic, as in Israel two years ago, it provided an ideal context for further cooperation between AIPS and UEFA. Some 12 Young Reporters were nominated, eight of them from the eight competing nations. The only individuals without a team came from Azerbaijan, Iceland, Poland and Spain. Only one, Pablo Martinez from Spain, had attended a previous AIPS course. AIPSMAGAZINE | 31


UEFA U21 CZECH REPUBLIC

One specific logistical challenge arose which was new to the series of AIPS Young Reporter courses: All Group A matches were staged in the Eden (Slavia) and Letna (Sparta) stadia in Prague but the Group B games were several travelling hours distant in Olomouc and Uherske Hradiste. The final was then staged back in Prague. Hence the Program was launched with all the young reporters together in the Czech capital. They then split up with one half of the group staying in Prague with ‘their’ teams and other half heading off into Moravia. Evelyn Watta, Maria Pia Beltran and Martin Mazur – a welcome new addition to the team – led the Prague operation with Keir Radnedge and Andrea Giannini in Olomouc and Uherske Hradiste. Valuable in-course contributions, concerning

AIPS Young Reporter Ana Magalhaes PORTUGAL

ABOVE (L-R) UEFA President Michel Platini and AIPS Young Reporter Declan Warrington, UNITED KINGDOM; AIPS Young Reporter Edoardo Cozza , ITALY; AIPS Young Reporter Eric Persson, SWEDEN. BELOW (L-R) AIPS Young Reporter Frederikke Amelie Muff, DENMARK; AIPS Young Reporter Pablo Martinez, SPAIN.

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AIPS Young Reporter Andri Yrkill Valsson ICELAND

radio production, came from David Naert and Tomas Kohout. All 11 non-English members of the group – Declan Warrington was the one English graduate - had good command of spoken English and coped, with greater and lesser success, with the challenge of writing in it. All worked hard to rise to the challenge and several were delighted to find how well they adapted to the demands of video-course-work. All understood the significance of that sector of the work to their long-term careers in the profession. As usual, the course skeleton comprised theoretical and broadcast-practical issues in the morning in lecture rooms equipped with videoprojection screen. Afternoons and evening involved reporting set-piece training and media sessions plus matches (reporting, mixed zone, press conferences). UEFA, as in Israel in 2013, proved an exceptional working partner with Thomas Giordano and his team all genuinely interested in the operation and development of both the course and


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AIPS Young Reporter Pawel Kapusta POLAND

AIPS Young Reporter Saleh Mehdizade AZERBAijan

AIPS Young Reporter Sandra Pejic SERBIA

AIPS Young Reporter Franziska Hanlein GERMANY

the individuals involved. One of the most important features of support from UEFA was the provision of press officers and other related staff being available to explain their work to the YRs and offer significant insight into not only tournament but federation operation. The Czech Republic football association also took a significant interest in the course and provided valuable support. Local organising chairman Petr Fousek took time out to spent time with, and answer questions from, both groups. Finally, the Young Reporters all welcomed the opportunity to meet UEFA president Michel Platini who presented their graduation certificates on the course’s successful conclusion.

L-R: UEFA President Michel Platini and AIPS Young Reporter Martin Charvat, CZECH REPUBLIC

The Young Reporters: The Young Reporters were divided into two groups: one followed matches in Group A held at the Eden (Slavia) and Letna (Sparta) stadia in Prague, the other was assigned to Group B games in Olomouc and Uherske Hradiste.

Prague: Frederikke Amalie Muff (Denmark), Andri Yrkill Valsson (Iceland), Sandra Pejić (Serbia), Martin Charvát (Czech Republic), Franziska Hanlein (Germany) and Pawel Kapusta (Poland).

Olomouc/UH: Declan Warrington (UK), Ana Magalhaes (Portugal), Eric Persson (Sweden), Edoardo Cozza (Italy), Saleh Mehdizade (Azerbaijan) and Pablo Martínez (Spain).

ABOVE: Young Reporter Pawel Kapusta from Poland recording the UEFA U21 finals preview (with the microphone on the right) with the YR representing the semifinalist countries (LR) Frederikke Amelie Muff (Denmark), Eric Persson (Sweden), Franziska Hanlein (Germany) and Ana Magalhaes (Portugal).

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â–Ş

L-R: On their knees:: Ana Magalhaes, Saleh Mehdizade, Eric Persson,Martin Charvat. Standing firts row: Keir Radnedge, Evelyn, Watta, Franziska Hanlein, Michel Platini and Martin Mazur. Standing second row: Pablo Martinez, Andrea Giannini, Sandra Pejic, UEFA EC Member Avraham Luzon, Pawel Kapusta, AIPSMAGAZINE | 35 Frederikke Amelie Muff, Andri Yrkill Valsson, Edoardo Cozza, Declan Warrington.


UEFA U21 CZECH REPUBLIC

ABOVE: Fredderike Amelie Muff from Denmark (LEFT) and Franziska Hanlein from Germany (RIGHT) record stand-ups in front of Prague’s Eden Arena with a SkyTelevision cameraman.

ABOVE: The introductory session of the AIPS/UEFA Young Reporters Program in Prague with the AIPS Young Reporters, mentors and UEFA’s Thomas Giordano. BELOW (L-R) Andrea Giannini (mentor, Italy), Martin Charvat (Czech Republic), Edoardo Cozza (Italy), Martin Mazur (mentor, Argentina), Pawel Kapusta (Poland), Keir Radnedge (mentor, UK), Eric Persson (Sweden), Fredderikke Amalie Muff (Denmark), Franziska Hanlein (Germany), Pablo Martinez (Spain) and Sandra Pejic (Serbia).

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MMEDIATELY BELOW (L-R) Fredderike Amelie Muff (Denmark), Eric Persson (Sweden), Franziska Hanlein (Germany), Ana Magalhaes (Portugal) and Pawel Kapusta (Poland). DOWN: The YR visited the national Czech TV Channel. YR Martin Charvat interviewed well-known Czech TV journalist Vladimir Drbohlav.

ABOVE (L-R) Young Reporters Martin Charvat (Czech Republic), Edoardo Cozza (Italy) and Franziska Hanlein (Germany) during the introductory session in Prague.

ABOVE: Mentors Andrea Giannini, Keir Radnedge and Martin Mazur. ABOVE RIGHT: ABOVE RIGHT: AIPS Young Reporter Pawel Kapusta (Poland) recording a stand-up.

ABOVE LEFT: Eric Persson (Sweden) and Andri Yrkill Vallson (Iceland). ABOVE RIGHT: Andri Yrkill Vallson and Franziska Hanlein recording a stand-up with a SkyTelevision cameraman.

ABOVE (L-R) Petr Fousek, Local Organising Committee Director of the UEFA 2015 U21 European Championship and UEFA’s Thomas Giordano. AIPS Interim Secretary General Evelyn Watta presenting the AIPS Book to Petr Fousek. AIPS Europe’s David Naert conducting a radio workshop for the Young Reporters.

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The AIPS YR program, a worthy initiAtive BY Martin Mazur, AIPS MENTOR

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he more you know about the Young Reporters program, you question why there are not many initiatives like this in journalism. Thanks to the vast network of AIPS, young journalists from all over the world have the chance to be part of big events and carry out specific duties in all possible areas around the dynamic media industry: writing, editing, photography, social networking, radio and video. All this comes condensed in a couple of weeks that also include a radical improvement in writing articles and reporting in English. With a firm interest in providing a solid foundation for the future, as multiplatform journalists will have an advantage over the ones that are not. Young Reporters thus becomes a sort

of itinerant university pegged around major sporting events, or one that transforms other important competitions, which are not considered mainstream in the global scale, a real journalism postgraduate that provides top coverage.

“The more you know about the Young Reporters program, you question why there are not many initiatives like this in journalism.” The UEFA U21 Euro in the Czech Republic also welcomed an extraordinary group of sports journalists that took part in the Young Reporters Program, which is something almost poetic. The tournament that for decades has been the launching pad for young-

sters that would later become world stars, from Rudi Völler, Manuel Sanchís or Laurent Blanc, to Luis Figo, Fabio Cannavaro or Andrea Pirlo, also left us 12 names that have a bright future ahead in journalism: Frederikke Muff (Denmark), Ana Magalhaes (Portugal), Martin Charvat (Czech Republic), Andri Valsson (Iceland), Pawel Kapusta (Poland), Pablo Martínez (Spain), Eric Persson (Sweden), Franziska Hänlein (Germany), Sandra Pejic (Serbia), Declan Warrington (England), Edoardo Cozza (Italy) and Saleh Mehdizade (Azerbaijan). Just like players such as Jannik Vestergaard (Denmark), John Guidetti (Sweden) or Emre Can (Germany) will become important names in European football in a few years time, these Young Reporters will also follow through their growth. At the same time, the U21 Euro has all the UEFA standards and rules, which proves to be a perfect experience for young journalists that can be part of a sort of replica of the senior UEFA Euro, but in a relaxed atmosphere. Being a mentor to these young ambitious colleagues means trying to leave a mark, strengthen their virtues and help them overcome their weaknesses. Also, as in any other experience abroad, covering the UEFA U21 allows us to make friends and have a laugh over meals and integrating English, customs, languages and traditions of so many different countries represented. Besides the activities strictly related to logistics and match coverage, radio L-R: AIPS Young Reporter Martin Charvat (CZECH REPUBLIC) and AIPS Mentor Martin Mazur.

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H

aving the opportunity to cover a sports event like the UEFA U21 Euro is a great achievement for every journalist. Doing that at such a young age - 22 in my case - is beyond by wildest dreams. I arrived in the Czech Republic with high expectations and I returned to Portugal with them fully passed. It was a privilege to learn from such great journalists, who are role models of what I want to be in future. Today, I still have a lot to learn, but I am better and well prepared journalist than I was one over a month ago. One of the best things about this project is the opportunity to explore all media areas. I enjoyed writing articles on various topics as much as I loved the stand up’s in front of the camera and the excitement while editing the videos. The mixed zones were particularly interesting, the nearness to the players, experiencing and recording their “mixed” emotions and even the “elbow fights” with my colleagues angling for the best interview spot. The adrenaline of rushing

The AIPS Young Reporters experience opened my eyes to the intrigues of sports journalism BY Ana Magalhães, AIPS YOUNG REPORTER, PORTUGAL to beat the deadline and writing in a foreign language was the primary challenge. Simply writing in English and writing news in English are two things quite different. I improved in the first one and started to learn how to do the second, which will be a huge advantage for me in my journalistic career. I was excited to have the chance to keenly report on the Portuguese team in Olomouc, the trips to Otrokovice, for the teams training base and to Uherske Hradiste, where they played the three group stage matches. The two hours trips for a 10-minutes press conference was testing. But I turned it around and used the time on the Ana Magalhães (in red) with Eric Persson (Sweden), Saleh Mehdizade (Azerbaijan) and Edoardo Cozza (Italy).

and TV broadcasting, video production and editing, developing story ideas, and follow-up of press conferences or mixed zones, the AIPS, teaming up with UEFA, also offers the Young Reporters unique career experiences. In Prague they visited the offices of top media organizations like DNES, the biggest newspaper in the Czech Republic, talked to the journalists on print and online coverage; walking inside the historical studios of the Czech Radio and understanding how they work nowadays; testing themselves in front ofKalas the camera the state-of-theTomas of Czechin Republic. (Photo Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images) artbystudios of Czech TV, and also un-

derstanding other useful details such as working times, budgets, long-term objectives of online radios and websites. Any journalist from any part of the world would immediately identify with the Young Reporters Program, because it is a reflection of where we all began but at the same time tackles the current issues of our profession and allow us to understand the upcoming challenges of sport journalism, and how its future in the long term. Despite the significant growth that most journalists show after taking part in such a program, not many media companies have understood the impor-

road to write the articles and edit videos; each single minute counted. It was also good to know how an event of this magnitude is organized. From the UEFA media office to the Local Organizing Committee, there were hundreds of people working hard to make the tournament a success. Debating and learn from them was very important. Players, coaches and tactics are not everything we need to be aware of. Personally, the gains from the program put together by AIPS and UEFA was immense and as important as the professional lessons. I knew young - and “old” - reporters from all over the Europe, with different views and experiences. I now have important contacts in various countries, which can be really useful in the future. Even better, the ties with my national colleagues were strengthened, and I cannot stress enough the role of the volunteers, who guided us through the venues. The hardest part was saying goodbye. I can only thank AIPS and UEFA for providing this wonderful experience, which I sincerely hope to see, repeated for many years. If I were given another chance to experience a similar adventure, I would make a wild dash for the airport.

tance and benefits of investing time by sending their journalists to such program. Therefore, the AIPS initiative, thanks to the president Gianni Merlo and the AIPS executive Board involved in making the Young Reporters Program a reality, is not only enriching but also inspiring experience. Not so many years from now, many journalists meeting at major sporting events, will have the invaluable benefit of having been part of the Young Reporters, a fantasy tale in which sports journalism always ends up victorious.

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Calm and focused Thorup seeks history with Denmark

B Y A n d r i Y r k i l l Va l s s o n , A I P S Y o u n g R e p o rt e r , I C E L A N D

A N D F r e d e r i k k e A m a l i e M u ff , A I P S Y o u n g R e p o r t e r , D e n m ar k

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hen Danish coach Jess Thorup and his squad face Sweden in the semi-final at the U21 Euro in the Czech Republic tonight, it will be the preliminary highlight of Thorup’s relatively short career as a national coach. Born in 1970, Thorup began his playing career with OB in 1989 and won the Danish title the same year. He was at OB for seven years before playing in Germany, Austria and Norway, but ended his career with Esbjerg in 2006, where he scored 71 goals in 240 matches. Immediately afterwards, he became an assistant coach for the club and held that position for five years, before taking over as head coach from Ove Pedersen in 2011. “He is not the one who yells the loudest, neither as captain or coach, but he rather works with having quality in what he says, and that is what gives him the respect”, Ove Pedersen says about his old captain and later assistant coach at Esbjerg. This description is very accurate. Thorup is the essence of calm. There is a something unwavering about him when he sits behind the microphone at press conferences, when he smiles at questions he will not answer and when he is standing on the sideline on the pitch. This calm attitude has brought him far. After replacing Pedersen in Esbjerg, Tho-

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rup quickly became successful. He took charge when the team got relegated from the top league, but immediately got promoted in his first year as head coach. The following season, he won the Danish Cup with Esbjerg, their first title since 1979, and was eventually chosen Coach of the Year 2013 in Denmark. Then, the Danish Football Association came knocking on his door. Thorup is a choice that they undoubtedly are very pleased with, seeing the Danish team being the most scoring during the qualification before the tournament, where they didn’t lose a match. In fact, Thorup has only lost 2 of 22 games in charge of the Danish team, one in a friendly against Switzerland and then the game against Germany in the group stage in the Czech Republic. His track record is remarkable, a 59% winning ratio.

“He’s good at handling us young players, he says the right things at the tactics meetings...” Furthermore he clearly has a talent for working with young players, being respected and liked by his team. ”He’s a good coach”, defender Frederik Sørensen tells AIPS Young Reporters. ”He’s good at handling us young players, he says the

ABOVE: Players of Denmark celebrate after UEFA U21 European Championship Group A match between Denmark and Serbia at Letna Stadium, Czech Republic. (Photo by Matej Divizna/Bongarts/Getty Images)

right things at the tactics meetings, and he prepares us well before matches, and I think that’s important. He has a good tactical understanding and he is good at preparing the games for us, so we know exactly what we need to do when we enter a game.” The Danish Football Association has an official approach to the style of play, which is implemented at every level of the national teams. Ball possession is the key word, and Thorup’s team has proven their ability to play with many quick passes in the style, that somewhat resembles what you find in Spain. But Thorup has put his own personal spin to the style: Good attacking might win games but it’s defending that brings titles. “During the entire qualification and also in Prague he operates with two full backs who can defend, Jonas Knudsen and Alexander Scholz, while other [Danish coaches] built the teams up around more playing defenders. He [Thorup] definitely has built a strong back line, where the primary thing in a


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defender is, that he can defend”, says Pedersen. Saturday night this concept has to prove the ultimate test – to beat the Swedish neighbours who time and time again have shown that they are more than capable of playing the roles as the “comeback kids”. If Denmark manages to qualify for the final it will be the biggest achievement of Danish U21-football, which will even occur on a special date, as tonight’s game takes place 23 years and a day since Denmark won EURO ‘92 in Gothenburg, their biggest achievement in football history. “It is huge of course. That was a part of what I dreamed of when I got the job a few years ago. To get to the final stage of a tournament, and to take part in building up what we have now and get to the semi-final. We build up a core of players that the Danish national team hopefully will benefit from in many years to come, also at the senior level. I am both very satisfied and proud of that”, Thorup said at the press conference before the game, calm as ever.

Head coach of Denmark Jess Thorup is seen before UEFA U21 European Championship semi final match between Denmark and Sweden at Generali Arena on June 27, 2015 in Prague, Czech Republic. (Photo by Matej Divizna/ Getty Images)

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Pione Sisto

Denmark’s rising star B Y F r e d e r i k k e A m a l i e M u ff , A I P S Y o u n g R e p o r t e r , D e n m ar k

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he history of Pione Sisto, one of the most remarkable players in the Danish U21 squad, begins far from a small country in North Africa. It was under the bright sun of Uganda twenty years ago that the Sisto’s parents –with South Sudanese origin– decided to flee the unstable region. Their destination: Denmark.This 5,000-kilometer travel would be the dramatic first part of an inspirational journey of their then newborn son Pione. The Sistos settled in the small city Skive in Jutland, a place Danes count as somewhat provincial with its mere 20,000 citizens. The 20-year old, short attacking-midfielder represented Denmark for the first time in the UEFA U21 Euro opening match against the Czech Republic (scoring the winner), and just three days later he was in the lineup against Germany. “It feels strange, because I feel like I have already had my debut (he was with the Senior team squad that played against Serbia in the Euro qualifier on June 13), but in fact it was only yesterday”, he said the day after his third national team appearance on the pitch. He added that it “felt fantastic” and that he was relieved that all the paperwork that preceded his Danish citizenship finally had come through. And although his Danish passport might be less worn, Pione is Danish through and through. He fluently speaks Danish with the soft rural dialect that is so characteristic for his hometown area, and even if in his own words he says he knows where he comes from, he feels Danish at heart. This heart started to beat faster when he played football with his older brothers in his back garden in Skive. “I have always loved football”, he said in an exclusive interview with AIPS media. Sisto started to play football in the small club FC Tjørring at the age of seven. An

early age to start, but to Pione this did not matter. “It brings me so much joy to play, and that has driven me in many of the situations where football can be rough.” he reckoned. He is renowned for his passion and he does not necessarily need a coach to train, he also enjoys practicing on his own. Sometimes his manager Glen Riddersholm from FC Midtjylland even has to remind him to take time off. “Basically I find it super interesting to play football and to improve and to work with your skills, because the better I am the more fun it is”, he says with a wide smile. The hard work attitude has taken him far. He left Skive and moved to another city, Herning, where his football career is blooming. He played an impressive season in the Danish Superliga and scored the winning goals in the game that secured his club FC Midtjylland the national title in May this year. This was even despite being injured during the spring. It is clear to onlookers that the journey does not stop here. His talent is simply too big. Though he is sincerely and charmingly humble (for instance when stating that he “probably” is the only family member who has had a professional football career) and FC Midtjylland has a fond place in his heart after spending many of his formative years there, he dreams of playing outside club football outisde Denmark. It is no secret that FC Midtjylland has received and declined several offers regarding Sisto, and though he is cryptic about what will happen in the next transfer window, he has an answer at the ready when asked what the club of his dreams is: FC Barcelona, which also is home to one of his biggest idols. “Messi is doing pretty well,” he says and laughs as he so often does both when

talking to teammates and journalists. He still has not really got used to the fact that he himself has become an idol to many young players today. But he does have a piece of advice for those who dream of a career like his own. “My message is that happiness has to be the driving force, especially in down periods which inevitably will come,” he explains. And that is the way it is with Pione Sisto: he genuinely seems to let positivity be his driving force. No drama seems to bring him out of balance. Not the story of his dramatic past as an infant, which he feels, he has shared too many times at this point. Nor that people told him he started playing football too late. Or the long process and heaps of paperwork it took to get Danish citizenship. There are plenty reasons for him to smile when looking on his journey that started in South Sudan, brought him to the small town Skive and today makes him find himself in the national team camp in Prague “It has been hard work, but I have enjoyed the journey,” he said. No doubt there will be more chapters to be written in the inspiring story of the ray of sunshine that is Pione Sisto.

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Serbia: one team, two managers BY

A n d r i Y r k i l l Va l s s o n , A I P S Y o u n g R e p o rt e r , I C E L A N D

A

fter qualifying for the UEFA U21 Euro in the Czech Republic, Radovan Curcic was appointed the national coach of Serbia, leaving Mladen Dodic in charge of the junior team for the final tournament. In spite of that, Curcic closely follows his boys and admits it’s weird not to have any saying in their participation at the big stage after guiding them here. “It’s hard to watch the games from the stands. I was part of this group for the last two years and not being able to help or have any influence during the matches is a little strange”, admits Curcic. It may seem odd to have

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the national coach so close to the U21 squad in an important tournament, and although he knows the team in and out he is not officially bringing anything to the table. “I‘m not here to assist anybody. My focus is to watch how the players take on the tournament and see what they could have to offer for the national team. But if someone asks me for anything I‘m here to help”, says Curcic. He doesn’t think that his presence with the players on a daily basis adds more

ABOVE: LEFT: The Serbian Team during the UEFA European Under-21 in Prague. LEFT: Mladen Dodic, head coach of Serbia reacts during the UEFA European Under-21 in Prague, Czech Republic.

(Photo by Martin Rose / Bongarts

/ Getty Images). NEXT PAGE - MAIN PHOTO: Players of Czech Republic and Serbia arrive for UEFA U21 European Championship Group A match. (Photo by Matej Divizna / Getty Images).


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pressure on them to show something extra to impress him: “I don‘t think so. My presence here can only be an additional motivation for them to show what they can and to prove they have the quality for the national team. I don‘t believe I can be blamed for the loss against the Czech Republic”. He knows it‘s a do or die for Serbia prior to their last match in the group stage against Denmark if they want to qualify for the semi-finals, and, more importantly, get a ticket to the 2016 Olympics. Curcic is determined that the boys are up for the task. “It circles a lot around our mentality. When we are up against a stronger opponent, we play on our highest level. When we are playing a team that is closer to our strenght, we have more problems. Twice we had our backs against the wall on the brink of being eliminated in the qualifying round, but came back playing on our

highest level when it was neccesary”, he reckons. So what will happen next? “Now it really is neccesary (to win), and I think the defeat against the Czechs will wake the players up emotionally. They have to be clever in their approach for the game against Denmark and believe they can end up on top”, concluded Curcic, who will surely be biting his nails in the stands when Serbia face Denmark on Tuesday.

Radovan Curcic head coach of Serbia during the 2015 UEFA European U21 Championships Qualifier matches. (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini / Getty Images)

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Player of U21 are making heart to congratulate the younger colleagues for the World Cup title. (Photo by Srđan Stevanović and Miroslav Todorović).

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UEFA U21 CZECH REPUBLIC

In Prague, Serbian hearts are beating faster than ever after U20 WC victory BY

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S A NDR A P E J I C , A I P S Y o u n g R e p o r t e r , S E R B I A

aturday, June 20th will never be forgotten by Serbian fans. The greatest moment of the country’s football history was achieved today, as the U20 national team beat Brazil 2-1 and became new World Champions in New Zealand. When Staniša Mandić (Čukarički) and Andrija Živković (Partizan) scored the goals, far away, in Prague, at the hotel where the U21 Serbia team is staying, everyone was ecstatic. Players and staff watched the World Cup final together and cheered for their friends, who defeated giants Brazil with a late goal scored in the 118th minute. “It was very early in the morning, and in some moments, we thought that we were dreaming”, said Marko Petković (Red Star), captain of the U21 team. “It’s an unbelievable feeling and I thank them for that. Even though they are younger than

us, they showed to many generations how they should wear national colours and how to fight for Serbia. They made one half of success and now it’s on us to make another one and finish the whole story”, added Petković. But will this success become a pressure or a motivation for Serbia’s cances in the UEFA U21 Euro?  “This can’t be pressure for us, it can only be a satisfaction for even better success and motivation for hard games that are ahead of us”, the captain said. At Red Star, Petković is teammate of Predrag Rajković, who was the best goalkeeper in the U20 World Cup in New Zealand. “I was in contact with him through the whole tournament. He is great man and I am very happy for him. Serbia’s got a goalkeeper for future, and I am especially

happy because he is my teammate in Red Star, and I hope that I won’t have problems with goals conceded next season thanks to him”. The team in Prague also received the visit of Tomislav Karadžić, president of the Serbian Football Association. “This is a success that will hardly be repeated. This victory is very important because we defeated a big rival. Brazil has more registered players than Serbian population. I am very proud. Congratulations to everyone, from staff to players. This result is not random. Very hard and huge work which is invested through years is behind this success”, he said. Serbia celebrate after winning the FIFA U-20 World Cup Final match between Brazil and Serbia at North Harbour Stadium on June 20, 2015 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by

Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

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Old red cards haunt hosts Czech Republic ahead of their opening game B Y M a r t i n C h a r v a t, A I P S Y o u n g R e p o r t e r , C z e c h R e p u b l ic

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everal international games have been played since 16 October 2012, when the Czech Republic lost its qualifying match against Russia. Two and half years later, the U21 Czech team currently preparing for the European Championship still remembers that day. Then Tomas Kalas and Vaclav Kadlec were sent off and were unable to play the first match of the biggest football tournament in the Czech’s history. One red card lasting for such a long time, a sad record for Kalas now and Kadlec, two key players of the squad who will miss Wednesday’s game. “When it happened, I thought that it was going to be a long time until the home championship, but it lasted the blink of the eye”, said Czech coach Jakub Dovalil as he laughed off the issue. Kalas now plays Chelsea and Kadlec who features for Sparta Prague could play in the second group game against Serbia. Even if he has been working with this situation in order to find a plan B, he still feels the decision of UEFA not to erase red cards is tough. “I think, that every punishment should have two sections – educational and repressive. And this doesn’t have neither. Carrying the red card for 3 years is brutal in this category”, added Dovalil.

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Moreover, Kalas and Kadlec the best players of the home team will be missed more than any other. Ironically – both are the faces of the tournament. Another painful loss for the hosts is Matěj Vydra, top scorer of Watford in the Premiership. He was not allowed to come to the tournament, even if other players from Watford (representing England) are preparing in Olomouc. The head of Czech Football Association Miroslav Pelta tried to solve the problem with the English FA. Nothing happened. Without key players the tournament Ambassador Pavel Nedved thinks that Denmark could be the real surprise, the Czech’s chances he feels don’t look promising before the first match. But like many times in Czech history, this nation loves to be underestimated, because that‘s the time they can demonstrate

“I think, that every punishment should have two sections – educational and repressive. And this doesn’t have neither.” their real team effort. “Yes, it is a similar situation”, remembers Pavel Nedved, who reached the final of the EURO 1996 even if nobody thought it was going to be possible before the tournament.

ABOVE: Players of Czech Republic line-up before UEFA U21 European Championship match between against Denmark. BELOW: Vaclav Kadlec of Czech Republic. (Photos by Matej Divizna/Getty Images)


UEFA U21 CZECH REPUBLIC

final it will be the biggest achievement of Danish U21-football, which will even occur on a special date, as tonight’s game takes place 23 years and a day since Denmark won EURO ‘92 in Gothenburg, their biggest achievement in football history. “It is huge of course. That was a part of what I dreamed of when I got the job a few years ago. To get to the final stage of a tournament, and to take part in building up what we have now and get to the semi-final. We build up a core of players that the Danish national team hopefully will benefit from in many years to come, also at the senior level. I am both very satisfied and proud of that”, Thorup said at the press conference before the game, calm as ever. Head coach of Czech Republic Jakub Dovalil

Tomas Kalas of Czech Republic. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)

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UEFA U21 CZECH REPUBLIC

UEFA U21 CZECH REPUBLIC - top scorer of the tournament

The amazing tale of

Jan Kliment

B Y M a r t i n C h a r v a t, A I P S Y o u n g R e p o r t e r , C z e c h R e p u b l ic

D

espite the Czech team not qualifying for the semifinals of the UEFA U21 Euro, Jan Kliment made a huge breakthrough in his carreer. The 21-yearold striker, currently the top scorer of the tournament, was transferred from Czech minnows Vysocina Jihlava to German side VFB Stuttgart. Just 56 minutes in the match against Serbia (4-0) were enough for Jan Kliment. He scored 3 goals – the same he’d done in his 3 seasons in the Czech League, while he was playing (but mostly sitting on a bench) at Vysocina Jihlava. Kliment, calm and quite flegmatic, was

50 | AIPSMAGAZINE

the last option as striker for the Czech national team coach Jakub Dovalil: Matej Vydra couldn’t play, Vaclav Kadlec was banned, Michael Krmencik was injured and Stanislav Vavra was out of form. But Kliment showed his skills. “It‘s a payback for the hours in traffic jam”, laughed Dovalil, who traveled to every Jihlava‘s home match by the problematic Czech highway D1. Kliment still could end as top scorer of this championship tonight from the three goals he scored against Serbia. Swedish John Guidetti and Simon Tibbling and Portugese Mario scored twice.

After the hattrick against Serbia, experienced Czech defender Tomas Kalas (Chelsea) were full of praise for Kliment. “He is very patient, clever player. He enjoyed the celebration after win, that’s ok, but from that time, he is


UEFA U21 CZECH REPUBLIC

“He is very patient, clever player. He enjoyed the celebration after win, that’s ok, but from that time, he is working as before.”

working as before”, he said. Kliment’s character was also revealed, when someone reminded him that he had already scored one hat-trick in his profesional career. It was two years ago in the second round of the Czech domestic cup. “Oh, yes. Now, I remember that. But it was against some team from 4th division. You can’t count the goals, said Kiliment. According to the Czech tradition, Kliment had to pay something for the first goals in the national team to his teammates. “But, you know, it can’t be any large amount of money. You know, he is still in Vysocina Jihlava,” Kalas teased in reference to one of the poorest Czech teams. Their budget is around 1,8 million euro per season. From next season, Kliment could pay some more for his goals. Immediately after Czech’s exit, his agent revealed that there were 4 foreign clubs interested in Kli-

Jan Kliment (red) of Czech Republic in action during UEFA U21 European Championship match between Czech Republic and Denmark. (Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images)

Jan Kliment of Czech Republic. (Photo by Matej Divizna/Getty Images)

ment. The fastest were VFB Stuttgert, which ended 15th in last season’s Bundesliga. Kliment has signed a long-term contract till summer 2019.

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UEFA U21 CZECH REPUBLIC

GERMANY - UEFA U21 CZECH REPUBLIC

Hrubesch puts his team through training of a different sort B Y Pa w e l K a p u s ta , A I P S Y o u n g R e p o r t e r , P o l a n d LEFT: Horst Hrubesch, head coach of Germany looks on during a training session. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images). BELOW LEFT: The team of Germany line up before the UEFA European Under-21 semi final match against Portugal. (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

R

are indeed are the opportunities for fans to see the national team of a top football nation in the train station. Players in the major tournaments use any other means of transport to move

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from one city to another, often by aircraft. However the German national team at UEFA U21 Euro took a step back in time. Thus far the Germans had played all their games in Prague at the Eden and

Letna stadia. But the need to move to Olomouc for the semi-final against Portugal saw footballers used to use planes and luxury buses travelling by rail. Manager Horst Hrubesch was as precise as a station master about the journey: “We woke at 9am, at 10 we had breakfast, at 11 we left for the train station. Our departure time from Prague was at 11.39, arriving in Olomouc at 1.50. From the train station to our hotel took only 20 minutes... then we had lunch.” Defender Julian Korb added: “For us it was a little unusual but it was very pleasant journey. Now we are rested and ready to play our semi-final against Portugal.” Using the train made sense since the bus journey would have lasted more than three hours and, during tournaments and especially after a long and tough season, teams and their players need to save energy. Few teams have used public transport at major tournaments in recent years. One recent case was at Euro 2012 when the Czech national team travelled by train from Prague to Wroclaw in Poland. The Czechs’ interest in that tournament ended at the quarter-final stage where they lost... to Portugal. Germany have other plans.


UEFA U21 CZECH REPUBLIC

#Kindheitstraum: How DFB have built a dream team in pictures B Y F r a n z i s k a H ä n l e i n , A I P S Y o u n g R e p o r t e r , GE R M A N Y

E

very child has dreams but every young footballer has a specific dream - to win a title. The German under-21 squad at UEFA U21 Euro were no different so the German federation asked for old pictures of the players from their old amateur clubs, families, coaches and mentors. A vast collage was then created and entitled: Kindheitstraum (Childhood dream). Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich appreciated the word. He said: “The title is chosen very well because as a little boy you dream of playing a tournament like a World Cup or European Championship. It does not matter if it is a under-21 or an A-team competition.” Kimmich, 20, started his career at southern German VfB Bösingen and at 12 switched to the academy of VfB Stuttgart. His professional debut was with RB Leipzig in 2013-14. The defensive

midfielder finds the pictures entertaining. He said: “It is funny how the players looked like in the past. Kerem Demirbay is very amusing; I did not recognize him because of his haircut. As for Kevin Volland, he wore an ice hockey shirt.” Some 15 years span the pictures of yesterday and today. The DFB chose this theme to create a positive atmosphere in the Czech Republic and to engender team spirit. The players appreciated being surrounded by the theme everywhere in their hotel. Each player has his own childhood picture on his room door and photos hang from the lampshades in the rooms. The DFB describes the overall theme as personal, likeable and funny. Already the players are living one childhood dream, of being a professional footballer. Now they can make the other dream come

true. It just takes two more victories in the next four days. Joshua Kimmich of Germany. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)

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