Supporters can count on Dutch man of numbers

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Supporters can count on Dutch man of numbers
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4 pro···
NA v RANGERS
Supporters can count on Dutch man of numbers
OR a certain type of
spolis fan, the numbers
generated by the action
are almost more important than the action.
After tonighCssemi-finalagainst
Fiorentina, while most Rangers
supporters dream of glory or
drown sorrows, others will be
pondeling how the result affects
the team's UEFAcoefficienl.
The wealth and importance
of the Champions League has
shone light on the seeding
system used by European
football's governing body.
Draws and ran kings are
based on average points eamed
over five years' previous European campaigns, so success
breeds success. If Rangers win
the league and UEFA Cup, they
could be as high as pot 2 for
next season's Champions
Leagoe draw (depending on
events in other countries'
leagues), which would greatly
aid their hopes of reaching tl,e
knockout stages. The Ibrox
club have also done Celtic and
the rest of Scotland a favour by
helping to pull the country's
coefficient up to 10th.
With the importance of
these numbers to teams and
fans, you might assume UEFA
would have an amlY of fulltime statisticians updating daily
an in-depth website. But the
definitive guide to qualification
for Europe's richest sporting
event is run in his spare time by
a 55-year-old man from a small
city in Netllerlands.
Bert Kassies' homemade site
attracts millions of visitors a
year. The internet's power to
bring like-minded individuals
together has turned a hobby
into an empire. "I first got the
idea somewhere between 1985
and 1990," explains Kassies in
an interview conducted, appropriately, by emaiI. "At that time
I became interested why some
cOlmtrieshad more clubs in the
UEFA Cup than others.
"So I decided to write a little
computer program that could
calculate UEFA coefficients.
Butwithout the internet it was
The site has affected his
per.;onallife because of the time
it takes. "But as long as it's fun,
it is no problem, like all hob.lifRangel"'5·3C2L!EFA9upyictory, , .Ghr;~tia,,'v.efi:th;FiQfen;iXa <
bies." His friends occasionally
tease him, but are mostly just
~' o~~r,L!",orn.~~~~t-year;yvas !h,e,
'~..stri~er.,has SCP_~9 21 go~ls:in :7S-:
-first~in-fora Scottish sid~.in-Ita~y.- -c:~u.rop~anm~t.c_~es.
- _,,;_~
fascinated that such a simple
website attracts so many people.
-'. Fio_~ntina_~p\!e VYQrt:-e~efYhQme _lIItN~cho-Noyo-a,Q? na~i~YC(Jusi~:_,
,gameagai~st SCQttiihside:s,hayeboth
scored 14!imes,in 37 r
"This time of year is busy
II.1h'~tbrox'-:side are the-loweslUEFA competitio_n-Jl1a{Ches-~ -~,
because in all countries clubs
scoring left in the UEFACup, with III The Italians' retord home win
qualify for next year's [Euro12 goa~ in 13games.FiQrentin'ri;"
the"UEFiXCupwas a:6:'1.victory
pean] competitions," Kassies
, have.scQred 20.
<
•.againstlFEl(s6,Q,!!jn l)IQyember•
says. "But usually I don't spend
'fi~Ad~ian-Mulu, theRom"aMian
and their heavfest home defeat IS
more than a few hours per
strike:rih~s score9 six UEF~C~p~,Oby
both Grasshopperlurich
day [on the site], because of my
gQals this season' - onefewer >. and FCSO,halke04. . •..... ,. '
regular job and family life.
.~..than-Sect ROQbie__
Winter~tol
fi R~ngers' re~o;rd away-vjctor:YT~
"The only thing I need to do
. N",rw",y"s~r~nn Bergen,
an 8-0 wi.na'gaj~st,V,,\letlain 1983. '. is to input the match results .
The ranking pages are automatically generated by a compurely a private hobby. In 1996 Laboratory in the Netherlands, puter program. The large user
we got the first dial-up internet lives in Meppel, a small city base almost guarantees accuconnection to our home and halfway between Amsterdam racy. If! malce a mistake, I will
after a year or so I decided to and Groningen. He is mauied receive many emails within a
put the information on the with three children. Maradona few hours to correct me."
calculation of the UEFA is his favourite pl~yer and he
Kassies has resisted the
coefficients on a website,
has been an Ajax fan "since temptation to cash in. His
"It started with very few that remarkable night in 1966 simple, clear site, packed with
visitors,but it attracts nowadays when they beat Liverpool by tables, graphs, FAQs and wilas,
5-1 in the second round of the has just a few small Google
several millions each year."
Kassies, a systems designer Champions Cup". I didn't ask advertisements to pay for its
for the National Aerospace if he owns a potting shed.
upkeep. UEFA have not been
Big-match stats
0
in touch, perhaps happy to let
him do the hard work unpaid.
A community has grown on
the site'sforums. One of Kassies'
fondest memories of his hobby
is the day that a long investigation into "the details on the
rounding of the team coefficients that are used for seeding
of draws" was fmally resolved
to everyone's satisfaction.
As a statistician, Kassies
will have a keen interest in
both tonight's semi-finals. As
a Dutchman, he hopes Dick
Advocaat's Zenit 5t Petersburg
win the competition.
But football is not his life.He
has "just retired" from playing
volleyball and is a keen walker,
keeping
in-depth
online
records of his tours, replete
with maps and pictures. He has
another site, which records the
sunrise and sunset times in
Meppel. This is "somewhat less
popular" than the coefficients
site, he jokes - and unlikely to
overtake it any time soon.