Posted: 9/23/2016
Title: STJARNAN v IA : ICELAND v ICELAND

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       I was with my friend Igvar in Reykjovic near his indoor football skills school and we passed an ICELAND store which is a popular chain in many countries and headquartered in Deeside, North Wales with over 800 stores and 23,000 staff in UK alone. Quite funny I suppose.....but not to the Government of Iceland. The company has registered its name in many European countries where it does business.

       Iceland the country (written as ISLAND at home) wants to sue the supermarket chain 45 years after it began trading. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not happy. A spokesman for Iceland Foods said, " I am not aware that the use of the Iceland name has ever caused any confusion with Iceland the country". Retail conglomerate Baugur held a controlling stake in the grocer until its collapse in 2009, when its share was taken over by local banks Landsbanki and Gitnir, which was later aquirred by founder and CEO Malcolm Walker.

        Last summer many Scottish and Welsh fans bought the 5p ICELANDIC shopping bags to wear and support Iceland against England at EURO 2016 !! Bengthora Halldorsdottir ( female) a lawyer for Business Iceland commented " Is it fair to be able to trademark the name of a country without its inhabitants having any say in the matter?".

        Of course the country of Saudi Arabia is named after the Saudi royal family, but that's another matter altogether.

       To more pleasant matters and my last of 6 matches in six days. Halldor dropped me off at Samsung vollurinn (stadium) home of Stjarnan, (Star) a relatively young but ambitious club formed in 1960 in a fairly prosperous neighbourhood, where I was met by Victor the Operations Manager.(www.stjarnan.is) He took me on a tour of the facilities including the training pitches for the various age groups.  The President of Iceland is a supporter but I guess that he had business in New York at the UN General Assembly, this weekend,  but I spotted the Minister of Finance at half time at the match v visiters IA from Akranes, about 40 minutes away. Their women's team has won the league title twice in the last 5 years.

       Victor  was busy on match day so he handed me over to Pall Bragason and Andres Sigurdsson, both former chairmen, who gave me all the history. In 2014-15 in the UEFA Europa League campaign they had a great run. First beating Bangor City of Wales 8-0 on aggregate; Motherwell of Scotland 5-4; :Lech Poznan of Poland 1-0; before bowing out to Inter Milan 9-0. Last season in the UEFA Champions League they lost 1-4 and 0-2 to Celtic of Scotland. Andres spent 3 weeks and Pall 5 weeks in France over the summer at EURO 2016. Until completion of the new main stand they all sat or stood on a grass bank in all kinds of weather.

     In Motherwell the fans picked up the Scottish version of the Viking Thundercap...and the rest is history ...as the world watched their fantastic supporters in France this summer. The Stjarnan players are famous for their elaborate post goal celebrations, which are highly choreographed, depictions of landing a fish, diving, a human toilet, a human bicycle, a Rambo shooting spree and much more, which you can catch on social media.

      The pitch was in immaculate condition and with Andres and Pall preferring to stand up behind my seat we watched the team lose an early goal but fight back for a well earned 3-1 victory. Next to me was 8 year old Hrafnkell,(translates to a raven I think) Pall's grandson, sitting on his uncle's shoulders and shouting and clapping to support the Boys in Blue throughout the match. Great support from the fans for 90 minutes.  After 20 matches and with 4 remaining, they are in 4th place and fighting for a European place and some well needed revenue. A nice reception at half time with a glass of red wine and a table full of sandwiches and cookies.

       I had to leave the excellent Hotel Cabin at 4.30am for a ride to KEF Keflavic Airport 50 km away.  NO PROBLEM.....the hotel serves a buffer breakfast from 3.00am since there are many early flights. Never seen such hospitality before.

       BUT OF COURSE...THIS IS ISLAND....where hospitality is awesome.

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