Norwegian Christians have been facing a major schism after two clergymen were slated for trying to get God to intercede on behalf of their football teams. With Rosenborg BK and Vålerenga IF locked in a tight contest for the Tippeligaen title, Lars Sperre, who preaches at the Tempe church near Rosenborg's Lerkendal stadium in Trondheim, pledged to pray for his side as they battled for a 12th consecutive Norwegian title, saying: "Rosenborg are struggling and all who struggle need prayer." Meanwhile, at Vålerenga church in Oslo, priest Einar Gelius has been planning a special thanksgiving ceremony in anticipation of a successful end to the season for the team in his parish. "Things going well for Vålerenga gives many people a lift and we want to thank God for that," he said. Bishop Ole Christian Kvarme, who attends Vålerenga games with Gelius, had no problem with such plans: "I don't think praying for victory is strange to God." However, theology professor Jacob Jervell was less impressed. "Praying that your team will win is nearly blasphemy," he said. "I am a keen football fan myself and often say that in heaven Viking [FK] will win all their matches. But God is not a Viking supporter and it would never occur to me to pray for my favourite team."
You wait for a great Norwegian footballing story and then two come at once, courtesy of the newspaper Aftenposten. As if having theological arguments over Tippeligaen results was not enough, news has also filtered through that two third division sides in Norway have agreed the transfer of a player in exchange for his body-weight in prawns. Vindbjart sold striker Kenneth Kristensen to rivals Flekkerøy. Resigned to losing Kristensen to their rivals, and knowing that they were unlikely to receive any cash for him, the Vindbjart board decided on the novel transfer fee. "Kenneth was in top form when he left us in the winter but he has had a relaxed summer eating seafood on Flekkerøy," said chairman Vidar Ulstein. "I think this will be a good deal for us." The authorities at Flekkerøy were mystified by the whole business, but agreed to the novel scheme. "I had no idea if it was a joke or deadly serious," said Flekkerøy coach Rolf Guttormsen. "When I called the Vindbjart chairman he said that it was a bit of both but they wanted the prawns. So we had no choice."
From seafood to desserts, our next outlandish tale takes us to Belgium where the captain of RAEC Mons was dropped from the first team recently for the unforgivable crime of eating a French stick with chocolate spread for his lunch. Mons's Italian coach Sergio Brio was incensed when he discovered that 32-year-old Olivier Suray had been indulging his sweet tooth in the hours before Saturday's Belgian First Division game against R. Charleroi SC and promptly struck him from the team sheet. Mons went on to lose the home game 1-0, while Brio explained his decision to drop Suray saying: "It was a technical decision." Finally, a quickie from Brazil where second division Club América Minas Gerais have boosted flagging home gates by raffling jobs at their matches. The team gave away ten jobs, including positions as doctors, cleaners, construction workers, nurses and carpenters, at a recent game. "We really hope fans start to show up more, we need their support because we're facing relegation," said a club spokesman. "We thought this was a innovative and modern way to help the team and the fans."
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