The Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg is of course an independent state and charter member of the EU. It's main claim to fame is that it's the location of Radio Luxemburg. Also most U.S. geography students fondly remember it also being exactly 999 square miles. (OK, most US geography students couldn't even find, oh, something like CANADA on a map, so how could they find Luxembourg? But never-you-matter, obviously most Euros would also miss the intrinsic beauty of this scintillating factoid, as they only know the territory as a worthless 2,586 square kilometers, victims of the Bolshevist metric system. Thank God George Dubya Bush protects us from this horror! Can you imagine Peyton Manning passing for 400 meters?! First it's the metric system, then one-world government, and before you know it, we have to behave like a civilized nation and can't invade anybody we want. But I digress...)

Luxembourgers are a bit confused. The official language of the government, and the favored lingua franca of the intellectuals, like most egg-heads, is French. Most newspapers and books are in German, and more recently, TV and Radio in Letzeburgisch, a German dialect. Letzeburgisch is also favored by most residents in everyday conversation. All this means of course is that eventually the only language everybody will really speak is English, which should increase potential Abseits website readership.

The Germans seem a bit peeved about the whole linguistic situation, as every few years they invade and annex Luxembourg. (Nowdays they just "invade" to avoid taxes.) While this is just wrong, it does allow us to investigate the soccer scene as it relates to Abseits...

Soccer tradition started in 1906 when Jean Roeder founded a club in Esch-sur-Alzette, the country's second largest town, and then a major steel and mining center. This club was known as Cercle Sportif Football and Lawn Tennis, but is commonly known as FOLA Esch. The next year a rival was formed, Jeunesse Esch, who would eventually become the Bayern of local soccer.

In 1940, Germany invaded and then annexed Luxembourg. The country became part of the Gau Moselland, and all sports organizations were ordered to be "Germanized". All clubs were put into existing or new German leagues. This wasn't taken without some resistance. For example, in 1940 the players of FK Niedercorn (forcibly renamed from Progres) refused to give the Heil Hitler salute before a match against Differdingen. They all got a 3 month suspension. When the club president answered the authorities by saying "it's up to each individual", the whole club was banned.

From 1941-44, the Luxembourg clubs competed in the Gauliga Moselland, Bezirk West. It was essentially a Luxembourg league, with the addition of a club or two from Trier. The following clubs were represented:

FV Stadt Düdelingen (CS Stade Dudelange)
Moselland Luxemburg (CA Spora Luxembourg)
SV Düdelingen (US Dudelange)
SV Schwarz-Weiß Esch (AS Jeunesse d'Esch)
FK Niederkorn (Progres Niederkorn)

The highpoint was 1941-42, as FV Stadt defeated eastern division champ Eintracht Kreuznach (3-0,4-2) and won the combined Moselland title. This qualified them for the German championship. So on May 10th, 1942, in Luxembourg they hosted none other than the mighty Schalke! 18,000 fans packed the stadium, and FV Stadt gave a good account of themselves, losing only 0-2 to the eventual champion. They also had a nice run in the Cup, as they stunned VfB Stuttgart away 2-0, before succumbing 0-7 to 1860 München in the quarterfinals. 1860 would go on to defeat Schalke in the finals.

Needless to say, the performance of the Luxembourger upstarts didn't seem to impress the Nazi authorities, so five Dudelange players were drafted into forced labor brigades, and star defender Nico Britz was thrown in a concentration camp.

Upon liberation in 1944, the independent national soccer federation was restarted and an unofficial Coupe de la Liberation was organized. This was won by the restored Stade Dudelange (who would win the next 3 official titles as well.) Jeunesse Esch is the runner-away leader in championships (27 thru 2004), followed by Spora Luxembourg (11) and Stade Dudelange (10). Other multiple winners include Red Boys Differdange, Avenir Beggen, Union Luxembourg (6 each), FOLA Esch (5) and Aris Bonnevoie, F'91 Dudelange, Progres Niedercorn (3 each).

On the international level, Luxembourgers haven't exactly set the world on fire with their play. The national team has basically gone from one low to another.

The first international was in 1911 against France, a 4-1 loss. But in 1914, they got a good laugh, as they got their first ever victory 5-4...against France, who would continue their poor performance in WWI. In 1939, the 158th full international, Luxembourg hosted Germany in Differdingen. Luxembourg stunned the Germans 2-1. Now likely this was a "B" German squad, as on the same day, Germany played in Florence against Italy (also losing 2-3). But apparently this outraged Hitler enough to order the invasion of Luxembourg.

The next major success was in 1961, when Luxembourg stunned Portugal 4-2 in Eusebio's debut. However, since that momentous victory, they've only managed about 4 wins in the next 40 years. The most recent low was a 0-4 home defeat to Liechtenstein (!!) in the World Cup qualifiers in 2004.

There has occasionally been some worthwile players. Midfielder Nico Braun played for Schalke in the 1970s, and defender Jeff Strasser has played for Kaiserslautern in the 1990s and currently with Mönchengladbach.

(c) Abseits Guide to Germany :