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OleOle! A Beverly Hills company helps you follow the Euro Cup

June 19, 2008 |  7:00 am
France plays Romania in Euro 2008

Turn to any sports channel in the last few days, and unless basketball is on, you’ve probably been watching little men in shorts running around a field. That’s because we're in the middle of Euro 2008, a soccer football tournament that has, so far, featured such can't-miss matches as Sweden vs. Russia and Croatia vs. Poland.

So what could be better than gathering in the pub with a pint to watch Italy’s footballers dive and whine and kick all over the field? Why, watching it online, of course! Or blogging about it. Or reading other people’s blogs about it. Or blogging about other people’s blogs about it.

That’s the idea behind OleOle, a Beverly Hills-based football site founded by Doug Knittle, the founder of ticket seller RazorGator. He thought up the idea when he was at the World Cup in Germany and realized that this whole social media thing would work well with football fans, who are usually rather obsessive about their sport. The site launched last month, with the intention of "trying to deliver everything a football fan could want online," according to Chief Marketing Officer Tom Kuhr.

That’s quite a goal. OleOle is trying to accomplish it ...

... by having fans blog about the game and call in from the stadium with comments. They can create profile pages and discuss their favorite players and teams. The site also features live score updates, videos, photos and information about 6,000 club and national teams in 10 languages. If you’ve ever longed for someone to type "GOALLLSKIII” on your screen while you’re watching Russia play, this is the place for you.

To become a global football destination, OleOle also has been acquiring well-known football blogs from around the world. It now operates nine. They include The Lord of the Wing, a Scottish blog about Celtic FC; Harry Hotspur, an English blog about London club Tottenham Hotspurs FC; Boca Juniors Fans, a Spanish-language site about Argentina’s most popular team; two Spanish-language sites about Real Madrid (one is here, the other isn't up yet); and, perhaps most famously, Arseblog, the 6-year-old website about football club Arsenal. Some sources even say OleOle’s acquisition of Arseblog made its creator, Andrew Mangan, Ireland’s first paid full-time blogger.

No-name bloggers not listed above also contribute to the site. Some endow the games with a little humor, such as this Romanian blogger who updated fans on the Sweden-Russia game with such tidbits as “Kolodin shoots from far away. I think he's still hung over from the vodka last night. Why would any defender want to shoot from that far out?”  and “Another shot Russia! I can't type his name fast enough so I won't, but great job once again by him.”

It may seem strange that the site is based in Beverly Hills, or in the United States at all, given our sorry history with soccer. Indeed, Kuhr says, 26% of traffic has been from Britain, 33% from the rest of Europe, 9% from South America, and only 12% from the United States. Did David Beckham know that before he joined the L.A. Galaxy?

Still, Kuhr says L.A. is the perfect place for OleOle. First off, it's a relatively central time zone, meaning OleOle can work with both Asia and Europe. Plus, there's a great tech scene here with lots of social media and online advertising expertise. And then there's the matter of staffing a site that features 10 different languages.

"We've been able to find a great localization team here -- passionate soccer fans who are native speakers -- helping us manage translations and content in 10 languages and many more companies," he said.

-- Alana Semuels

Semuels, a Times staff writer, covers marketing and the L.A. tech scene.

Photo: A Euro 2008 match between Romania and France. Credit: Peter Klaunzer / Associated Press

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