Desmond Kane looks to a month of football action - even though the season is over The prime European prizes have been salivated over and tucked away in trophy cabinets, the rosettes heartily handed out and the bunting stored away for safe keeping. The traditional football season in much of Europe is over. The French, Italian and Spanish leagues collectively drew their final breath last weekend, but there is life in the old sport yet. At several staging posts there is no respite for haggard coaches or a raft of floating players.
The month of June does not begin and end with the hyperbole of transfer speculation, new signings, managerial appointments or the renewal of season tickets in the main thoroughfares. A rash of World Cup qualifying fixtures will break out on Saturday as football continues unabated In other outposts, the club scene pounds on, giving credence to the belief that this truly is a sport for all seasons. The Fifa president, Sepp Blatter, has previously professed his enthusiasm for seasons in the sun, the chance for leagues to unfurl themselves regally between February and November.
The wisdom in keeping such a diary has not been lost on some. The year between a European Championship and World Cup finals prompts angst among some fans, a tedious void in life, but there is telling football to be found. The Confederations Cup starts on June 14. It is a dry run for next year's World Cup finals in South Africa. It is the chance to test out grounds such as Ellis Park in Johannesburg, and the Loftus Versveld in Pretoria.
It is a tournament spearheaded by the World Cup holders Italy, the European champions Spain and South American favourites of Brazil. The USA, South Africa, New Zealand, Egypt and Iraq are also involved. There is a danger of burnout for some players after flogging their bodies from early August until the closing week of May. Pre-season training starts in July. Teams in India traditionally compete for the Santosh Trophy, a tournament that was first staged in 1941.
The lesser lights of Scandinavia, those hardy souls in Finland, Norway and Sweden, use their prolonged summer solstice and sunlight hours productively. Adverse weather conditions makes it nigh on impossible to encourage games in northerly climes. A similar wintry grim scene grips Russia and the Baltic states, prompting summery affairs involving the Moscow triumvirate of CSKA, Spartak and Dinamo.
Such clubs tend to benefit when qualifying matches get underway for European competitions. The argument is that they are in full flight when other countries close down. The League of Ireland opted to switch their fixtures five years ago to dates when English and Scottish clubs are bereft of meaningful league games in an attempt to improve their lot. Major League Soccer meanders on in the USA, running from March to November.
The Confederations Cup is due to conclude with a final on June 28. Qualifying for the new Europa League is due to kick off on July 2. Football. They think it's all over? It never is. email@example.com