Football in Karolia

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A football match in Säntjana

Football is, by attendance and economic figures, the most popular spectator sport in Karolia. The country has a men's and women's domestic league system, a mixed-gender single-tier league, and international teams, all of which have achieved success in competitions and are widely followed. The largest football clubs are amongst the biggest commercial organisations in the entertainment sector, with multi-billion korone turnovers.

National federation

KJL crest.png
The Karolijas Jalkpalli Liidu (Karolian Football Council, KJL) is the national football association in Karolia. It regulates all aspects of the domestic and international team games. The organisation is headquartered in Säntjana and is run by a President and various other elected officials. It reports to the Office for Sport and its administrative activities are publicly funded, although has an active commercial arm. It is also responsible for dividing up TV rights to the matches between broadcasters.

Crest

The KJL crest is comprised of a circular version of the national flag and the text 'Karolian Football Council' in Karolian and Romans, with three stars above. The five stars around the bottom were added in 2007 to acknowledge that Karolian women's teams have won the World Cup twice, and that these are equal to the men's team wins. However, the remaining presence of three stars above the crest is the source of some controversy. Officially these now represent the three divisions of the KJL: men's, women's and youth leagues. However as the stars previously represented the three men's world cup wins, some claim that this is still putting the men's team first in importance. A second camp wish for the stars to remain but for each team to wear the number of stars appropriate to them, and that therefore the women's team shirts should only have two. Others have suggested the controversy could be solved by having the stars represent the number of times Karolia has hosted the tournaments - but this would be invalidated when it hosts again.

Commercial significance

A replica Karolia national team shirt

Football in Karolia generates around 18 billion korone in business both within the game and in peripheral economic activities. The main sources of income are the sale of TV rights, merchandise and ticket sales.

Liiga 1 alone receives Kr3 billion from TV rights, most of which come from the private subscription sports channels. The Riikspreema matches sell for less as they feature the big teams in fewer matches, and thus tend to be shown more on the state broadcaster RTK's channels.

Ticket and merchandise prices

After sustained public campaigning and an outcry by supporters' associations (led by several prominent retired footballers) at consecutive price increases, the Liiga 1 and Liiga 2 clubs signed a voluntary agreement in 2009 to keep the cost of season tickets below an average of Kr100 per match, to provide 25% of the away seats at Kr75 or less and to cap any future price rises at the rate of inflation + 2%. Säntjana Linna, Säntjana Losse, Osmila, Känton 1880, FC Fontjäna and Kyor Linne also have a policy of pricing day tickets starting at Kr70 and with the most expensive non-VIP seat at Kr200. Clubs have been obliged by law to display to the public a breakdown of the cost of ticket fees. The KJL supported the agreement but warned that further limits to ticket prices might affect the ability to pay top overseas players, run academies and expand stadia. Liiga 3 and Liiga 4 tend to charge considerably lower for entry, whilst in Liiga 5 the average ticket price is just Kr50.

Merchandise, particularly replica kits, is another area in which pressure from the supporters has resulted in some clubs voluntarily agreeing to keep costs below a certain level. In 2010 the average cost of a home shirt for a Liiga 1-3 club without printing and other addons was Kr250; with printing, sleeve badges and other special features the average rose to over Kr350. In 2010-2011 Santjana Linna and Kyor Linne retailed a special 'champion player' edition of their home shirts for Kr500, which drew the criticism of the sporting press and fans. By contrast, for the 2014-2015 season Osmila produced their own kit which was retailed at just Kr180. The KJL has capped the cost of an undecorated national team shirt at Kr200, whilst ensuring that it is sourced and manufactured according to ethical environmental and labour standards.

International

Karolia national team colours.png

Men's team

Karolia first fielded an international side in 1904 for a friendly match against Mecyna, which they won 4-2. They were amongst the eight nations invited to participate in the inaugural World Cup in 1930, and although they did not reach the final the country was selected to host the following World Cup. Karolia has always been amongst the most prestigious teams in the world and have produced many famous players.

Karolia have also won the Uletha Cup [] times.

Current squad

The national team's manager will pick players for individual matches and tournaments, but the core squad as of 2015 is listed here.

Number Name Position Club (country)
1 Jaas Balos GK Säntjana Linna FC Karolia flag.png Karolia
2 Kriistjän Jökää DF Kyor Linne Karolia flag.png Karolia
3 Mikka Hiisinen DF FC Campo Verde 2band brasonia.jpg Brasonia
4 Juuvi Miekkulä MF
5 Janne Őtvapső DF
6 Pau di Vrëijas MF FC Vasireii Karolia flag.png Karolia
7 Siimo va'Morca MF Känton 1880 Karolia flag.png Karolia
8 Taräs Häätäkainen (C) MF Känton 1880 Karolia flag.png Karolia
9 Lani Pelgrannu FW FC Säntjana Losse
10 Maaris Őterä FW Säntjana Linna FC Karolia flag.png Karolia
11 Artuur di Fioraas FW Säntjana Linna FC Karolia flag.png Karolia
12 Joonas Riisto GK Kyor Linne Karolia flag.png Karolia
13 Torvo Häkkalinen DF
14 Laszan Magyi DF Osmila FC
15 Pikka Soomo DF
16 Leosi Saevoo MF Säntjana Linna FC Karolia flag.png Karolia
17 Terin Kantoonas DF
18 Aurii Laana MF Riispere Sausiide Karolia flag.png Karolia
19 Tommi Säkinen FW [Campista] 2band brasonia.jpg Brasonia
20 Holgan Voskoinan MF
21 Maart Paar FW
22 Kimi Rotskaren GK
23 Leiv Särä MF

History

Karolia faded somewhat from the international scene in the 1940s. However, winning the World Cup in 1958 restored the team's standing.

In the 1980s the men's national team were in one of their best periods of form and were playing with an exciting, pressing style that delighted the fans. The formation was nominally a 4-3-3 but was more like Total Football, where attacking midfielders and defenders would regularly press the opponents' goal, whilst strikers could run back and close down attacks. The success of many goals came from the use of as much of the width of the pitch as possible, with the ball being passed, run, or long kicked down the wings, then quickly crossed in to the midfield before the defenders could organise to mark the attackers, who would time their runs with great precision to beat the offside trap. It relied on great fitness levels and very fast reactions from the players, bu produced some spectacular goals.

In the late 2000s the national team switched to the 'tiki-taka' style with a lot of passing and a flexible midfield. This had mixed results as opponents learned how to counter it, and was less entertaining.

Current coach Tiimo Vasinen has returned to a more traditional style of formation, usually employing a sweeper in a 1-3-4-1-1 formation, with Saevoo and Őterä providing the same strike partnership up front as they do in Linna fixtures.

World Cup

The Karolian men's team has qualified for every WAFO World Cup and hosted it in 1934 and in 1986, the latter being their second of three wins alongside 1958 and 2002. They were runners-up in 2014, third-placed in 1978 and fourth placed in 1966.

Uletha Cup

Women's team

The Karolian Women's International team was founded in 1979, in order to participate in the inaugural Women's World Cup that year. They have won in 1987 and 2007, the former when the country hosted the tournament having re-used the stadia prepared for the men's tournament the previous year. Although the public were initially less interested in the women's game than the men's, Karolia began to embrace their female athletes' achievements, especially after their first World Cup win. Today there is as much a following for the women's team as the men and the crowds at international matches are just as large.

Current squad

Captain Liivia Särä is the sister of men's team midfielder Leiv Särä, both of whom wear 23 in the team. Riika and Kaariina Lets are also siblings.

Number Name Position Club (country)
1 Leja Kaasinen GK
2 Kiima da Ispelia DF
3 Riika Lets DF
4 Kaariina Lets MF
5 Celija Juutoi DF
6 Aulame MF
7 MF
8 MF
9 Pamina Saasvo FW
10 Lovisa Hapsalu FW
11 FW
12 GK
13 DF
14 DF
15 DF
16 Kara Saarelsiis MF
17 DF
18 MF
19 FW
20 MF
21 Saara Lautäkainen FW
22 GK
23 Liivia Särä (C) DF

Women's World Cup

The Karolian women's team won the World Cup in 1987 and 2007.

Women's Uletha Cup

Mixed (Intercup)

Karolia fielded a mixed-sex team for the inaugural Intercup tournament in 1992.

Domestic

The Karolian domestic league is divided into two separate divisions for amateur and professional teams. In the men's leagues the professionals are organised into 5 Liiga tiers, whilst the amateurs are in two national and seven regional divisions, the latter with between two and five leagues each. Women have four professional, one national and seven regional amateur divisions, and the mixed one national and five inter-regional.

The domestic season usually begins in September and runs until April-May.

Professional leagues (Men)

Liiga 1

Liiga 1 is the highest and most prestigious league in the system, comprised of 16 teams. It is a hugely popular and commercially significant entity nationally and attracts an international following. The biggest star players and the top clubs are to be found here.

Current teams in Liiga 1 for 2015-2016 season:

Admiraalitä Gorjee Football Fontjäna FC Känton 1880 Kyor Linne Lapise '96 FC Losse Säntjana Osmila FC
Osu Räänta FC Potlac S.C. Paliiso Riispere Sausiide Säntjana Linna FC Sebee Jalkpall Vasantan Sportklubbe FC Vasireii

Liiga 2

Liiga 2 is comprised of 18 teams and competes for promotion to Liiga 1. The clubs are generally as well followed as the average Liiga 1 side, however the budgets are somewhat lower.

Alafoldi Liivu Batosji Liidu Hoivapoo FC Jaarvemanti Klub Tooniemi Kanton Linn FC Laastvaljas JK Masval CC Parta
Pataari Pojhamei Football Raksa JK Samacja Linna Sienoo FC Taamrasid Union Kasmila Vai Sport Club JK Vaistor

Liiga 3

Liiga 3 teams tend to have smaller stadia and be less well-known. There are 18 teams in this division.

Aulamaed JK FC Century Kaupainen [[ Lors Sporting Maasano SC Masbar [[ [[
[[ Sport Baikov [[ [[ [[ [[

Liiga 4

All Liiga 4 teams are currently made up of professional players, however the budgets are a fraction of Liiga 1 and 2. 20 teams usually compete in this division.

Liiga 5

Liiga 5 teams may be semi-professional. Many sides in this league use grounds that are only able to cater for up to 500 spectators and may have only 18-20 players on their books. There are usually 20 teams in this league.

Amateur leagues

The amateur football pyramid is comprised of the top national league (sometimes referred to as Liiga 6), the second division national league (Liiga 7), and seven regional leagues with three tiers each (Liiged 8-10) as well as Saarmae which has its own division concurrent with the eighth tier. These are divided amongst (1) Säntjana, Osmila and Hiimamae; (2) Lapise and the south east coast states (3) Vasireii and Aeraasmaa; (4) Fontjäna and the western south coast (5) Gorjee and the Taamras (6) Känton and the Majos states and (7) Kyor and the plains states.

Riikspreema

The Riikspreema (National Cup) is open to all amateur and professional teams in Karolia and is played as a knockout tournament throughout the year, with the amateur teams playing from August and the professionals joining in December-January. In theory it is possible for a small amateur side to progress to the final, but historically all the winners have been from the top three divisions. The Cup has often been the stage for dramatic clashes and great upsets, notably Säntjana Linna's 1989 quarter-final exit on penalties at the hands of fourth tier side Raastale and the first-game defeat of Kanton 1880 in 2003.

Professional leagues (Women)

Women's football has expanded rapidly in the last thirty years to the point where it is almost as big as the men's game. Matches tend to be played either on Sundays or midweek, with the stadium sometimes being shared with a related men's team and sometimes being the clubs' own.

Liiga 1 Fimma

Säntjana Linna Fimma Säntjana Uusklubba Osmila Liidu JKF Kyor JKF Sebee Akademiia Samacja JKF


Liiga 2 Fimma

Liiga 3 Fimma

Riikspreema Fimma

Youth leagues

Karolia has a wide network of football schools and youth leagues at all levels. There are under-17, under-19 and under-21 international sides in regular competition, and these have contributed many fine players to the adult teams. Many adult clubs operate academies.