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MA57 Consulting

Life is not a sport for spectators


I have always been involved and committed in sport – as an athlete, coach, volunteer, researcher, communicator and spectator. My educational background is a master degree in Political Science and Physical Education and I have five chapters of my work life with different perspectives of sport. I have extensive theoretical knowledge and many practical experiences about the value of sport. My knowledge and experiences are obtained from youth education, higher education and research institutions, and the daily life of Danish and international elite sport.

For more than three decades I have worked with top athletes, coaches, high performance managers and researchers. In addition, I have worked with many municipalities, clubs, federations and organizations as well as some of Denmark’s largest private companies. Finally, I have many experiences as chairman and member of boards, voluntary organizations, federations, associations and public institutions. Today I have a number of collaborators whom I appreciate and which I solve different types of tasks for and along with. Because – Life is not a sport for spectators!

Blogs

Atalanta B.C. – from “lift club” to CL quarter-finalist

November 23, 2020

“The main explanations for our performance success are a systematic game concept, the ability to develop the individual players and the crew treatment at a very high level. We cannot afford to buy world stars like the big clubs as Juventus F.C., A.C. Milan, F.C. Inter, A.S. Roma or S.S. Lazio, but instead find potential top players both in – and not least outside – Italy. In addition, we must develop talented youth players in our academy, which is one of Italy’s absolute best. And we have been very successful in recent seasons. Today we have players from 12 different countries and players such as “Papu” Gomez, Ilicic, Zapata and Hateboer failed to fulfil their potential in other Serie A clubs – it has only really been redeemed here with us”. My good friend Jens Bangsbo is – as always – very precise when, over a double espresso at the restaurant “Cucina” on Mount San Vigilio outside Bergamo, he talks about Atalanta B.C.’s sporting achievements since head coach Gian Piero Gasperini took office in the summer of 2016. Bangsbo is now in his third season at the club, which last season reached the quarter-finals of football’s premier tournament: the Champions League.

Strong combination of theoretical knowledge and applied practice

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, Jens Bangsbo played over 350 matches in Denmark’s best football league, including for Kastrup Boldklub, Hvidovre IF, Lyngby Boldklub and Esbjerg fB. He’s a graduate of P.E. and math and has written more than 300 scientific articles and 25 books on football. And not least, he has managed to integrate the physical, technical and tactical elements of the game, both in the daily training and the club’s game concept. Bangsbo has also been associated with the Danish national football team for several periods as physical coach during the final rounds and has been coach and educator of the DBU, UEFA and FIFA. Today, Bangsbo is regarded as one of the world’s most competent experts in physical training in football. And the commitment to Atalanta B.C. is today combined with the job of professor in applied physiology at the Department of Sport Science and Nutrition at the University of Copenhagen.

An offensive and aggressive game concept

It was also as a physical coach that Jens Bangsbo met Gian Piero Gasperini at Juventus F.C. – Italy’s most winning club, both nationally and internationally. At the time, Bangsbo was a consultant for the club under legendary coach Marcello Lippi, while Gasperini served as youth coach at the same club. Gasperini and Bangsbo quickly found each other in conversations about the qualities and challenges of different game concepts. Gasperini has always been a believer in an offensive style of play that demands the individual players, both physically, technically, tactically and mentally. “It is far from coincidental that we have been the highest-scoring Serie A team in the last two seasons. Our formation is typically 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 with offensive, aggressive pressure on the opponent. This means that players have to deliver a very large running syllabus in every single game, whether we play at home or away. The game concept also means that all training sessions take place with very high intensity, which is far from suitable for all players. Football is a team sport, but training must be individualised to achieve the greatest possible impact. Therefore, we very often work with specific technical-tactical training in groups of 3-5 players. With us, players must fulfil the game concept – and not the other way around. Therefore, it also happens relatively often that the club buys players that we sell on relatively quickly or rent out, because they simply cannot honor the kind of football that Atalanta B.C. must achieve results on”, says the 63-year-old Bangsbo.

Physical and mental fatigue “just around the corner”

The offensive game concept of aggressive pressure on opponent and a high defensive line with 3 defenders and short distance between defense and midfield also makes in between Atalanta B.C. vulnerable. Not least against teams who master the counter-game at a high level, such as Liverpool F.C. “We have seen that in the first game of the season many goals have been scored against us, both in Serie A and the Champions League. That’s because our pressure game hasn’t worked quite as well as last season. And then we have made too many personal mistakes – it will be punished about the very best teams”, says Bangsbo. Among the reasons for Atalanta B.C.’s good results over a long period of time is according to Bangsbo that the club has been spared from injuries. “We have only used 14-15 players for almost a year, which is quite unusual in terms of the large number of matches we have played. However, we can now see several negative consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which extended last season and meant virtually no summer break. Many of our players are now both physically and mentally tired after a very large number of matches. It costs that the players have not been given the break their bodies are used to and need. For that reason, I may be a little concerned about the coming weeks as we have to perform in Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League. The decisive battle for qualification for the eighth-place final in CL will probably be the match against Ajax in Amsterdam”.

Conversations are the key factor to a very strong sense of community

Jens Bangsbo has worked in Italy for several years now, but has also been associated with clubs in both Greece and Turkey. “I love Italy and football – and not least the Italians’ attitude to life. It was a great experience for me and my family to stay here for three years. We felt welcome and Italians are generally open-minded and very passionate about the things that they find important in life. I have also experienced with Italian top coaches such as Lippi, Ancelotti and Gasperini that they are very adept at seeking advice and guidance from the professional experts who are part of their staff. Italian top coaches often have very high charisma, as is the case with Gasperini. And then they have a clear philosophy with the team’s game concept. In addition, I learn these years a great deal from Gian Piero’s crew treatment. He manages, through often long and in-depth conversations, both with the individual players, the team and the staff around the team, to create a very strong sense of community” continues Bangsbo, who has not set a date for the end of his cooperation with Gasperini and Atalanta B.C. “I have learned from a long life in football that things can change in a split second – also in Italy”.

You can read more with Atalanta B.C. on the website: https://www.atalanta.it


You can also read about Jens Bangsbo’s scientific articles and books on football here:

https://nexs.ku.dk/ansatte/?pure=da/persons/jens-bangsbo%2824839560-f889-42a6-9b73-97b69f101548%29.html

 

 

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«La bella momenti della vita» – about the values of life and football

November 2, 2020

Most Italians have a particular passion for art, design, fashion, gastronomy, wine and … football. For generations of Italians, this has given precisely the beauty and meaning of life: “La bella momenti della vita”, as the life-revelers of the boot country say with enthusiasm and glow in the voices. During these weeks I also enjoy life in and around Bergamo, which just six months ago was the epicentre in Europe of the COVID-19 pandemic. From my apartment in Bergamo’s old town, I have a view of the Papa Giovanni XXIII hospital, where doctors and nurses fought 24 hours a day to save lives. The images of military trucks driving coffins from the city’s hospital to the crematory are still to be found on my retina. Lombardy, Italy’s largest and richest region with a population of 10 million, was hit very hard by the covid-19 pandemic, with more than 70% of all cases of infection in Italy taking place here. And Bergamo in particular, which has a population of 120,000 inhabitants, reported more than 100 deaths a day for several weeks on the front pages of the world’s media. Slowly but surely, through curfews and very strict restrictions, health authorities manage to bring the situation under control, but everyday life will never be the same as before the outbreak and deadly force of the COVID-19 pandemic, either in Bergamo, Lombardy or other regions of Italy. Yes – maybe not in the whole world either.

Northern and Southern Italy are two different worlds

There is a big difference between prosperity, living conditions and mentality in Northern and Southern Italy. Rome has always been the capital of Italy and not least the country’s political and religious centre of Western civilization, partly as the capital of the Roman Empire and partly as the home of the Holy See. It was mainly industrialisation at the end of the last century that created great income and wealth disparities between the South and the North in Italy. Today, Northern Italy is rich, industrially well developed and dominated by private companies, while Southern Italy is poor, highly dependent on agriculture and with very high unemployment in several regions. Therefore, it is no coincidence that most, richest and most winning football clubs, both nationally and internationally, are located in Northern Italy. More than 3/4 of the Serie A clubs come from Northern Italy and only S.S.C. Napoli have historically been able to challenge the clubs in Northern Italy.

“The old lady” that no one gets close to

The biggest among Italian clubs is Juventus F.C. from Turin, which has won no less than 37 national Championships. Or more than twice as many as the two Milan clubs – A.C. Milan and F.C. Inter – both of which have won 18 national Championships. “The Old Lady,” the club’s nickname, has won the national Championship for the past nine seasons and there is no indication that any other club can prevent Juventus F.C. with world stars such as Bonucci, Chiellini, Ronaldo and Dybala winning the 10th Championship in a row when the bottom line is to be made up for spring 2021. In addition, Juventus F.C. have won two Champions League titles and three Europa League titles in recent decades. The national and international success of the Turin club has long been a thorn in the side of all tifosi in Milan – Italy’s second largest city with more than 1.3 million inhabitants. And now the two traditional clubs are being squeezed from a completely unexpected edge: Atalanta B.C. from Bergamo.

From “lift club” to Champions League quarter-finalist

Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio, founded in 1907 by a group of high school students, has played in Serie A for 58 seasons but never won the national Championship. And until a few seasons ago it was a “lift club” between Serie A and Serie B. But with the recruitment of Gian Piero Gasperini in the summer of 2016, a new era began for the club, which has also had well-known Danish national team players such as Jørgen Leschly Sørensen (1949-1953) and Flemming Nielsen (1961-1964) among the profiles of the club. It was with Flemming Nielsen on the team that Atalanta B.C. won the “Coppa Italia” in 1963 – the Italian Cup. Gasparini introduced a highly offensive and aggressive style of play with little Argentine Alejandro “Papu” Gomez as the focal point of midfield as well as Luis Muriel and Duvan Zapata from Colombia and Slovenian Josip Ilicic as hyper-dangerous strikers. The results were also absent, with the club becoming No 4 in the 2016-17 season and trailing No 3 in the past two seasons. And last season, the team scored as many as 98 goals, the highest number of goals in Serie A since 1948. With the top positions in Serie A Atalanta B.C. has also gained access to the Champions League group stage, thereby also securing a very substantial injection of capital for the purchase of players from the “top international shelf”. In terms of results, the debut in the Champions League in the 2019-2020 season also surpassed everything and everyone’s expectations, with only a few seconds separating the club from a place in the CL semi-final.

“Gli Azzurri” – the pride of the nation

Italy’s strong passion for football includes not only club football, but definitely the national team “Gli Azzurri” – the azure ones – who have won the World Championship four times (1934, 1938, 1982 and 2006) – second only to Brazil with 5 World Championships (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002). Somewhat surprisingly, Italy, where the goalkeeping legend and captain 42-year-old Gianluigi Buffon will play national no. 177 in a few weeks, have won only one European Championship, namely on home soil in 1968. Italy has often emerged as a nation with many political conflicts and conflicts between the individual regions of the North and South. Despite these conflicts and contradictions, the national football team has always been a national pride across the age, gender, political persuasions and economic hapitus.

The beautiful moments of life

On Tuesday night, Atalanta B.C. will meet one of the world’s best club teams: the national champions of England and the 2018-2019 CL-Champions from Liverpool F.C. in the CL group stage. And next Sunday there will be a special match at the “Gewiss Stadium” when F.C. Inter from Milan – presumably with Christian Eriksen as the substitute – will visit Bergamo. Unfortunately, due to the risk of infection, it is not possible, either for me or other spectators, to be physically present in the stadium. So I must instead follow the matches “live on TV” at one of the local bars. On the other hand, it is still allowed to enjoy a good dinner with wine from the Valcalepio district at “Ristorante Il Ducale”, visit the art gallery “Accademia Carrara” and buy a pair of shoes and new pants in one of the many fashion stores at “Via XX Settember”. A “peasant from Jutland” has also learned that life can consist of “beautiful moments”.

In my next blog I will tell you a little about the background to Atalanta B.C.’s sporting achievements in recent years with my good friend – and today assistant coach of Atalanta B.C. – Jens Bangsbo as the main source. 

You can get more information about Serie A here: http://www.legaseriea.it/en

In addition, the book by Jesper Ralberg & Mikael Sørensen: “Calcio Italiano – Culture, Politics and Economics” (2013) can be recommended.

 

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UEFA Champions League: The rich get richer and the poor get …

October 13, 2020

Next week, the first round of the UEFA Champions League group stage of the 2020-2021 season will be played. And for the first time since the autumn of 2013 with a Danish club – FC Midtjylland – among the 32 clubs, which are divided into 8 groups. 47 clubs from 40 nations in Europe did not manage to qualify for the group stage and thus have to wait another year to get through the “needle eye” to the at least DKK 225 million, which goes to all 32 clubs from 14 nations in the CL group stage.

FCM is a debutant in the CL group stage

FCM’s ranking as No. 102 on UEFA’s rankings indicates that the club’s qualification for the CL group stage and not least the accompanying capital injection is definitely not “everyday life” for the ambitious club from Herning-Ikast, which so recently 7 years ago was stumbling close to financial bankruptcy. The English rich man Matthew Benham, who is also the owner of the English Championship club Brentford F.C., at that time bought the majority of the club’s shares and thereby secured it financially. Subsequently, FCM with three Danish championships, one silver and two bronze medals and a cup title of 6 seasons has taken over FCK’s dominance in Danish football. The coming months and years will show whether FCM can also perform on the biggest international football scene: the UEFA Champions League.

Economic capital concentration in the major leagues

The cash flow in the UEFA Champions League is gigantic, according to the latest annual report from the international accounting and analysis company Deloitte. The total turnover in European football is almost DKK 220 billion and constitutes more than 80% of the turnover for all sports in Europe. And almost 2/3 of the turnover in European football is within the five biggest leagues: Premier League (England), La Liga (Spain), Bundesliga (Germany), Serie A (Italy) and Ligue 1 (France). The economic concentration in the major leagues has only gone one way since the turn of the millennium: Upwards. The economic growth is primarily due to astronomical TV contracts, both in relation to the national leagues and the two European club tournaments: Champions League (CL) and Europa League (EL).

Sale of TV rights = the financial success of club football

UEFA sells the television rights to the Champions League on multi-year contracts to a number of different broadcasters, which broadcast the matches on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in one or more countries. The individual CL matches are included in different packages, where some matches are “free”, while others are “pay-per-view” matches. The broadcasters also trade the rights between each other across national borders. The sale of television rights to the Champions League makes up the vast majority of UEFA’s total revenue. And these have almost doubled over the past 5 years, namely from DKK 11 billion in 2014 to DKK 21 billion in 2019. On the other hand, the financial turnover on match days from spectators, both nationally and internationally, makes up only 10-15% of the total turnover. The all-important reason why last season’s Champions League and Europa League were settled over one match, without spectators and within a few days from the quarter-finals until the final was not sporting, but purely financial. The substantial contributions to UEFA and the individual European top clubs from TV contracts and exposure of multinational sponsors were simply too great for CL and EL not to be completed.

European top clubs are owned by non-European capital

UEFA supports the concentration of gigantic sums in the five biggest leagues by distributing 70% of the payouts from the two European club tournaments – the Champions League and the Europa League – to these five football nations. The five biggest leagues are also pre-allocated 19 places – or 60% – out of 32 places in CL’s group stage. A significant explanation for this distribution is a latent threat from the strongest money clubs – Real Madrid C.F., F.C. Barcelona, ​​Manchester United F.C., F.C. Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain F.C., Manchester City F.C. and Liverpool F.C. – to go their own way in the form of a “closed tournament” exclusively for these clubs. The top European clubs, most of which are owned by investors from Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, the United States or other countries outside Europe, have had annual growth rates of 8-10% over the past decade and the individual clubs’ annual turnover is today at DKK 5-7 billion.

The richest clubs have a monopoly on sporting success

UEFA has gone to great lengths sportingly to accommodate the strongest clubs and today the Champions League is a “closed VIP party” for the richest, while smaller nations’ best clubs – in i.a. Denmark, Sweden and Norway – in the vast majority of cases must “just” qualify for the second best European club tournament: Europa League and from next season the third best European club tournament: Conference League. The enormous capital concentration of the top clubs in the five biggest leagues also has a number of sporting consequences. In the 2019-2020 season, no clubs from other than the top five leagues managed to advance among the top 16 clubs from the group stage. And on UEFA’s ranking, which is calculated according to the clubs’ results in the last 5 years of European club tournaments, there are only 3 clubs – F.C. Shaktar Donetsk of Ukraine (No. 12), F.C. Porto (No. 19) and S.L. Benfica (No. 20) from Portugal – among the 20 highest ranked clubs.

Inequality in European club football is growing

Developments in European football are unequivocal: the richest clubs in the biggest leagues are getting richer and richer. And the clubs in the smaller leagues – i.a. the Danish Superliga – gets (perhaps) a (marginally) larger financial turnover, but in relation to financial races among Europe’s strongest money clubs, the clubs from the smaller nations become poorer and poorer. The best players – also from Denmark – will naturally compete against the five strongest leagues and the concentration of top players is – and will in future be further – in relatively few clubs. It is thought-provoking that the second best series in England – The Championship – today has a significantly higher turnover than e.g. the best leagues in the Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal. In a “global and unregulated market”, the (few) strongest will always do best. And with capital transfers across borders and continents, inequality will (just) get bigger and bigger – especially in football, which has the entire world’s population as consumers.

You can get more information here:

 

 

 

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  • “Michael Andersen is one of Denmark’s most experienced and competent CEO’s with a lot of knowledges and experiencies from the international world of sports. In the period as CEO of Team Denmark, Michael renewed the organization, which gave our top-athletes, teams and federations the opportunity to achieve outstanding results in international topsport”
    Finn Lund AndersenCEO of AS3 – Public Sector (2013 -), Director of Human Ressources and Communication at Salling Group A/S (2007 – 2013) and Director of Human Ressources at TDC (1997 – 2007).
  • “Throughout recent years, Danish School Sports has undergone an exciting development as an organization. In this connection, we have made use of Michael Andersen’s extensive professional competencies and knowledge within school sports, strategy and organization. His work has given us new perspectives, both on our self-understanding and future potentials. We have greatly appreciated our collaboration and, not least, the way he has shown respect to us. I have always appreciated Michael’s honesty and his direct behavior”. 
    Finn Kristensen, Chairman of the Danish School Sports (2012 -) and Principal at at Hellebjerg Idrætsefterskole (2019 – ).
  • ”I know Michael Andersen from his time as CEO of Team Denmark. Michael was an incredibly skillfull manager who also had focus at the individual athlete. He took the time to going into the individual topics and challenges of the athlete and he was also very solution-oriented. Moreover, he is a down-to-earth person who is comfortable with being around ”.
    Maja Alm, orienteering – Denmark’s most winning orienteering runner with a total of 16 World Championship medals, including 4 WC gold medals in the sprint distance (2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018) and 3 World Championships in relay (2015 and 2016)
  • “Michael Andersen is an excellent manager. His human and professional skills enable him to quickly analyze the situation of human beings and teams, thus giving them the optimal coaching, which is the foundation of good performance. I have had the pleasure of the coaching both in the competitive situation and in a negotiating situation, and in both cases Michael’s analytical skills contributed to good results”.
    Kasper Hvidt, handball – European Championship (2008), 4 Danish Championships and 2 Spanish Championships. Today sports manager of “Astralis” – One of the world’s best Counter-Strike teams (E-sports).
  • “Michael Andersen has some unique skills in coaching and to advicing the individual athlete, teams and the federation. He is always very passioned and incredibly well informed. With considerered decisions and clear communication, Michael is able to manage even the most complex negotiations and difficult situations ”.
    Thomas Jacobsen, sailing – High Performance Manager at Dansk Sailing Federation (2009 -) and Olympic gold medalist (2000).
  • “Michael Andersen is one of the best managers I have experienced and been lucky to work with. He was a very active person in relation to optimizing relationships for me and my teammates, so that we were able to win medals at international championships such as the Olympics, the World Championships and the European Championships. In addition, he was a crucial factor when resolving conflicts – and exceptionally good at finding good solutions for both parts in conflicts. As CEO of Team Denmark, Michael has always been aware of our demands, wishes and needs as world-class athletes.
    Christinna Pedersen, badminton – Olympic bronze medal (2012) and Olympic silver (2016), World Championship silver medal (2015) and World Championship bronze medals (2013, 2014 and 2017).  
  • “Michael Andersen has a very high level of professional knowledge and a unique network of elite sports in the Nordic countries, both in relation to research institutions, elite sports organizations, federations and clubs. As editor of “Idrott & Kunskap”, Michael has been a great inspiration for developing the journal – from a Swedish journal to a Nordic journal and in the longer term an international journal with English as language. Michael is also a really talented writer with a great overview and insight into many different topics in international elite sports and research. It is also characteristic of Michael that he always prioritize the dissemination of knowledge from researchers to coaches to benefit of the athletes”.

    Christian Carlsson, editor – “Idrott & Kunskap” (2004 – )