Mourinho banned, players fined over red cards

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho was on Tuesday banned for one game with one game suspended by UEFA after two of his players received suspicious red cards in a Champions League game with Ajax.

“The Spanish club’s coach Jose Mourinho has been suspended from coaching activities for two UEFA club competition matches, of which the second is deferred for a probationary period of three years. He was also fined 40,000 euros,” read a statement on the UEFA website.

UEFA specified that the punishments were for “improper conduct”.

Midfielder Xabi Alonso and right-back Sergio Ramos were both sent off at the end of Real’s 4-0 win in Amsterdam last week after receiving their second yellow cards for blatant acts of time-wasting.

The dismissals mean they are banned for Real’s final ‘dead rubber’ Group G match with Marseille and Spanish press speculated that they had deliberately got sent off to give themselves a disciplinary clean slate in the last 16.

Alonso and Ramos were both fined by UEFA, while goalkeeper Iker Casillas and reserve keeper Jerzy Dudek were also fined after being captured on television apparently passing messages to them from the dugout.

Spanish international team-mates Alonso and Ramos were fined 20,000 euros each, with a 10,000 fine handed to Casillas and Dudek ordered to pay 5,000 euros.

“The red cards given to Alonso and Ramos stand, and they have therefore been suspended for one UEFA club competition match,” added UEFA.

Real, nine-time European champions, were also fined 120,000 euros over the incident. The club has three days to launch an appeal.

Tue 30 November, 2010
RSS Feed

Hayatou denies corruption claims

African Football Confederation (CAF) chairman Issa Hayatou on Tuesday rejected claims made in a British television documentary that he received secret payments from bankrupt marketing firm ISL.

Hayatou is one of three member’s of world body FIFA’s executive committee members – the others being Ricardo Teixeira of Brazil and South America’s Nicolas Leoz – accused by BBC’s Panorama of receiving money from ISL over a decade ago.

Panorama alleges that Hayatou received 100,000 Swiss francs (100,000 dollars) from ISL before the firm went under.

International Sports and Leisure collapsed in 2001 in a controversy over alleged kickbacks for TV rights contracts.

Hayatou told broadcaster France 24 that ISL had made a 25,000 Swiss franc “solidarity” payment “in the context of the organisation of the CAF’s 40th anniversary.”

He added: “We do not deny that ISL gave the CAF … 25,000 Swiss francs. Nobody is contesting that.

“We do not see that we are concerned by what the BBC is reporting – it is something dating back 16 years. Why did the BBC not reveal that 16 years ago if it had proof of corruption?”

And Hayatou said he had “no fears” that the affair would spill over and affect the attribution of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in Thursday’s secret ballot of FIFA’s 22-member executive committee.

England 2018 officials earlier Monday condemned the BBC programme, describing it as harmful to the country’s World Cup bid and accusing it of raking over “a series of historical allegations” not relevant to the current bidding process.

Hayatou insisted that: “I have no fears as far as I am concerned” and added that his conscience was clear.

He also said he did not oppose an investigation, as called for by anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International, into corruption concerns.

“If they want to hold an enquiry, who can stop them? We have nothing to hide – if they want to hold an enquiry then let them come and do so. The doors are open.”

Transparency International has called on FIFA to postpone the bidding contest pending an independent probe, warning that FIFA’s decision making processes face being discredited.

FIFA insists the ISL “investigation and case are definitely closed” following an investigation by Swiss authorities which did not convict any FIFA officials.

Panorama on Monday also accused a fourth FIFA executive committee member, Trinidad’s Jack Warner, of attempting to sell World Cup tickets on the black market, expanding on an earlier controversy.

Tue 30 November, 2010
RSS Feed

Leverkusen set to wear ski masks against Trondheim

Bundesliga side Leverkusen are set to wear ski masks for Wednesday’s Europa League game in Group B against Norway’s Rosenborg Trondheim with sub-zero temperatures expected.

The players trained with the masks on Tuesday in their final session at Lerkendal Stadium and have faced freezing temperatures since they arrived in Norway.

Leverkusen beat Trondheim 4-0 in the first leg on September 16 in the warmth of early autumn in Germany, but coach Jupp Heynckes expects very different weather in the frosty second leg.

“We expect incredibly difficult conditions,” said Heynckes.

“We will most likely have minus 15 degrees (celsius) and the ground will be frozen hard, the players will need to adapt.

However ex-Liverpool centre-back Sami Hyypia is expecting few personal problems coping with the intense cold.

“The cold is no problem for me, I am from Finland,” he said.

Tue 30 November, 2010
RSS Feed

Germany coach Neid cautious of World Cup rivals

Head coach Silvia Neid said Tuesday Germany’s women can afford to take nothing for granted when they defend their World Cup title on home soil in 2011, despite being handed a relatively easy draw.

Germany will face France, Nigeria and Canada in Group A of the 2011 Women’s World Cup which starts at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium on Sunday June 26 when the hosts face Canada.

“We are very pleased with the group,” Neid told German daily Bild after the draw in Frankfurt.

“But you certainly can not say that we are already in the quarter-finals.

“Under no circumstances will we take our opponents lightly.”

Having beaten Canada 5-0 in Dresden in September and Nigeria 8-0 in Leverkusen just last week, Germany captain Brigit Prinz said the goal is to defend the title they won four years ago in China at all costs.

“Both Canada and Nigeria can be difficult opponents and we can’t take anything for granted against them,” said the Frankfurt forward.

Having beaten Brazil 2-0 in the 2007 Women’s World Cup final, Germany’s main rivals from South America have been drawn in Group D against Australia, Norway and Equatorial Guinea.

The United States, who finished third in 2007 after beating Norway 4-1 in the play-off, are in Group C with North Korea, Columbia and Sweden.

England are in Group B with Japan, New Zealand and Mexico.

The final will be held in Frankfurt on Sunday July 17.

In football-mad Germany, the anticipation for the tournament is building and seven months before the tournament starts 370,000 of the 700,000 tickets have already been sold and organisers plan to sell-out every game.

“I’ve got goosebumps. As far as I am concerned, the World Cup can start tomorrow,” said national striker Inka Grings.

As European and world champions, Germany have considerable pressure on them, but Neid says her aim is to make sure her squad have fun as they look to win a third consecutive World Cup title.

“We must not let the expectations go crazy,” she said having coached her side to both the European crown in 2009 and the world title in 2007.

“We are working under enough pressure already.

“We have to have fun.”

The draw for the 2011 women’s World Cup to be held in Germany from June 26 to July 17:-

Group A

Germany

Canada

Nigeria

France

Group B

Japan

New Zealand

Mexico

England

Group C

United States

North Korea

Colombia

Sweden

Group D

Brazil

Australia

Norway

Equatorial Guinea

Tue 30 November, 2010
RSS Feed

Barcelona show who the special ones really are in La Liga!

Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho is known as the ‘Special One’ but last night Barcelona proved who the special ones really are.

Barcelona’s 5-0 mauling of their bitter-rivals showed that they are still top dogs in Spain.

Incredible

The Spanish champions were outstanding. We have seen them rip apart lesser teams in the past but they ripped apart their main rivals and deserved the incredible win.

This was not Panathinaikos or Almeria that Barca were facing but a team who are rated as one of the best teams in the world.

Character

Mourinho is looking ahead to Real’s next match against Valencia. He told Sky Sports: “We must have character,”

“You cannot cry when you concede four or five goals. You must be anxious to return to work and win the next match.

“I wish the Valencia match was tomorrow and not Saturday. After such a bad match you must go right back to work, play and win.”

Real Madrid under Mourinho is a work in progress and hadn’t faced a proper test so far this season. Last night was the acid test for Mourinho’s young side and they failed. They had looked imperious all season but Barca proved last night that they are not at the same level of the champions.

Brilliant

Real Madrid was really poor last night but it was because Barca were simply different class. Barcelona played their usual high tempo game. They play with the same style every game with the same verve and pace no matter who they are facing and they didn’t change their style just because they were facing their biggest rivals.

Barcelona are truly a joy to watch. I don’t think I have ever seen a team play like they do. There are almost no new words I can find to describe the experience of watching David Villa and Co.

Team

Barcelona as a team has been together for a long time. Real Madrid by contrast seems to sign numerous players every summer. They lack the consistency that Barca has. Real Madrid haven’t been together long enough to have the sort of spirit that runs through the Barca ranks. That spirit was shown when all the Barcelona players and coaching staff celebrated Jeffren’s fifth goal.

And Barca aren’t just a set of individual world-class players, they are a true team. Although Leo Messi gets a lot of plaudits, he is still humble enough to say that he thinks that teammates Andres Iniesta or Xavi should win the World Footballer of the Year. Barca isn’t just a one man team.

Real might have great players such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil but they are not yet a team unit. As Barca gained a greater grip of the game Ronaldo got more and more frustrated. In the end he hardly got a kick.

Coaches

Pep Guardiola vs Jose Mourinho was always going to be a fascinating battle and the Spaniard won all ends up. We all know Mourinho’s relationship with Barca and he was so desperate for a victory over the champions.

Mourinho was predicting victory, well just being his usual confident self. Guardiola was quieter and let his team do the talking. Guardiola got it spot on. He kept it simple by letting the players play their usual outstanding style.

Generation

The way Barcelona are currently playing they are coming very close to bettering the dream team, if they haven’t already. The likes of Messi and Xavi will go down as some of the best players to ever grace the Nou Camp.

Confidence

Even though they have been playing well this season the hammering of their nearest rivals will fill Barca with a vital psychological advantage over their rivals. Barcelona was behind Real Madrid before last season’s Classico and moved above them with a victory.

That victory gave Barca the mental edge over their capital rivals and enabled them to clinch the La Liga title. Although it’s a long season I can’t see Real stopping Barca from again reigning in Spain.

Madridista’s will have to wait a while to see the best of their team, as they need time to gel as a unit. Jose Mourinho will need all his strategic skills to help his players to recovery from this defeat. I wouldn’t be surprised if Barca now goes onto dominate at home and abroad.

Has Classico victory ensured that Barcelona will win the La Liga title?

Tue 30 November, 2010
RSS Feed

Australia promise World Cup revenue

A poor revenue report will not ruin Australia’s chances of hosting the 2022 World Cup, according to bid organisers.

A report analysing the revenue streams of each of the five bids by management consultants McKinsey gave Australia a 68 percent rating, the lowest of any of the bids.

The ranking was lower than a 100 percent evaluation for the United States, followed by Japan with 73 percent, South Korea’s 71 percent and Qatar’s 70 percent.

But Australian bid chairman Frank Lowy was quick to point out that the report was not the only factor in deciding who would host the event, while adding that a World Cup in his country has massive revenue potential.

“McKinsey are not voting,” Lowy said. “They are not the decisive factor.”

“We have a study we have produced and it does paint a different picture. It would be very profitable for FIFA to award the World Cup to Australia.”

“If you look at the growth of Asia, Japan, China, India in the last 10 years, what will happen in the next 10 years is unbelievably great in numbers of people, wealth creation, spendable dollars.”

“Those things are overwhelming, whatever McKinsey might say.”

The Australian bid team will make their final presentation to FIFA’s executive committee on Wednesday, but Lowy stressed that the presentation alone would not get their bid over the line.

“There are many deciding factors, but I think we have a credible, good, top bid, very seriously done,” Lowy said.

“When you build a house, do you say that the bricks are more important than the roof or the foundation is more important than the bricks? Our presentation is important but it is not the only factor.”

Tue 30 November, 2010
RSS Feed

Butt scores on Hong Kong debut

Former Manchester United and Newcastle midfielder Nicky Butt scored on his debut for Hong Kong club South China in a trial game on Tuesday.

The ex-England international found the back of the net via a free-kick during the second half to help his side draw level in their friendly against TSW Pegasus, but proceeded to hit the woodwork from the penalty spot six minutes later.

Butt’s penalty slip-up did not matter, though, as South China scored in injury time to win the encounter 2-1.

“I enjoyed the goal. It was a nice goal. If I missed, maybe Mr Lo would kill me,” Butt said, referring to South China chairman Steven Lo.

The 35-year-old came out of retirement to sign with South China on a short-term contract, although he did not rule out committing to a longer deal with the club.

“I enjoyed my time. There’s a lot of things we need to discuss. A lot of things are positive. Hopefully the fans enjoyed seeing me play. Everything’s good,” Butt said.

Butt was welcomed to the club by 8000 of the South China faithful on Monday, who cheered his every move in the trial game.

Tue 30 November, 2010
RSS Feed

Agbonlahor set for derby return

Aston Villa’s Gabriel Agbonlahor is set to return for his side’s English League Cup quarter-final away to city rivals Birmingham City at St Andrew’s on Wednesday.

The striker missed the 4-2 Premier League loss to Arsenal on Saturday because of illness but is now in contention for the last-eight clash.

Attacking midfielder Stephen Ireland is set to miss out with illness but centre-back James Collins is fit.

Marc Albrighton is also out following an operation to remove his appendix, while Nigel Reo-Coker, Steve Sidwell, Emile Heskey and Stiliyan Petrov all remain sidelined.

Meanwhile, Birmingham midfielder Craig Gardner could play against his old club if he passes a fitness test on an ankle injury, in a straight swap for the now injured Alexander Hleb.

Aston Villa and Birmingham played out a goalless draw when they last met in a league match at Villa Park in October.

Tue 30 November, 2010
RSS Feed

Putin not planning to visit Zurich – spokesman

Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin does not intend to visit Zurich to support his country’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup ahead of Thursday’s vote, his spokesman revealed on Tuesday.

“In the prime minister’s agenda on December 2 there are events planned in Kaliningrad where questions of public health will be discussed,” said Dmitri Peskov in comments reported by the website Gazeta.ru.

Peskov did not rule out Putin’s presence at the vote, but he could not be contacted in the evening.

Russian sports minister Vitali Moutko said that Russia’s 30-man delegation in Zurich would be led by deputy prime minister Igor Chouvalov, according to the Itar-Tass agency.

In 2007, as president, Putin was congratulated for playing a key role in the decision to award the 2014 Winter Olympics to the Russian city of Sotchi, after personally supporting the city’s candidacy in Guatemala.

However, according to an unnamed government official cited by Gazeta.ru, there was no need for Putin to make the trip to Switzerland.

“There was a significant number of members of the International Olympic Committee in Guatemala who were undecided (in 2007),” said the official.

“The FIFA members are less numerous and those that have to vote have already made their decisions. There’s no point in convincing them.

“We also have to be prudent so as not to risk being suspected of putting pressure on FIFA members.”

FIFA’s executive committee will on Thursday vote to decide which countries will host the World Cup in 2018 and 2022.

Russia’s rivals in the battle to organise the 2018 tournament are England and joint bids from Spain-Portugal and outsiders Belgium-Netherlands.

British prime minister David Cameron has already declared that he will be in Zurich to support England’s final presentation on Thursday.

Tue 30 November, 2010
RSS Feed

Serie A players agree on December strike

Serie A football has plunged into chaos after the Italian Players’ Association (AIC) called a strike for the weekend of December 11-12.

The strike comes after talks between the AIC and the league regarding a new collective bargaining agreement for players broke down on Tuesday.

An earlier strike planned for September had been postponed and talks were said to be progressing, but the latest setback means a full round of Serie A matches are now in doubt.

“From our side there was willingness and availability, we sought an agreement but no agreement was reached. A strike has been declared for December 11-12,” AIC vice-president Leonardo Grosso said.

The match between Juventus and Lazio is the highest profile fixture to be affected, while Inter Milan, AC Milan and Roma are also scheduled to play on the strike-affected weekend.

Serie A president Maurizio Berretta slammed the decision by the players’ union, branding it ‘irresponsible’ and ‘dangerous’.

“Today’s meeting was incredible, without precedence in history,” Berretta said.

“The union refused to listen to the intervention of the federation president, which included the issue of players outside the squad. At that point they got up from the table and left.”

“We are participating in a dangerous and absurd massacre. The footballers’ strike is an irresponsible decision and isn’t based in reason.”

The strike comes just a week after Scottish referees took similar industrial action to illustrate their displeasure with the poor treatment of officials by clubs and players.

Tue 30 November, 2010
RSS Feed