31 December 2004

Dunn Facing Six Month Lay-Off

Birmingham midfielder David Dunn will delay surgery to cure nerve damage in his back that has
lead to persistent back and hamstring problems. The surgery will sideline Dunn for six months
but the club want him to postpone the operation until May 2005.

Premiership Clubs Donate €1.4 Million

The Premierships 20 clubs have donated €70,000 each to the Indian Ocean earthquake disaster
relief fund. Everton, who are sponsored by Thailand based brewers Chang, have opened a disaster
relief fund of their own.

Aragones Calls Reyes a Gypsy

Spanish national team coach, the backward Luis Aragones, has called Jose Antonio Reyes a gypsy.
Aragones is already facing action by Spain's Anti-Violence Commission for racist comments made
in October to Reyes when talking about Arsenal team-mate Thierry Henry. In an interview with Madrid
based newspaper El Mundo when trying to disprove that he is a racist Aragones once again put his foot
firmly in his mouth :

"Reyes is ethnically a gypsy, I have got a lot of gypsy and black friends, I consider myself a citizen of the
world, I don't care about their skin colour. All I did was to motivate the gypsy by telling him he was
better than the black. I feel I have been the victim of a lynching. All I did was try to motivate Reyes
comparing him with Henry and making him see that he was better. I didn't use the term 'black'
with any racist meaning. I'm not going to forget what's happened. A section of the press in this country
has lynched me and I will not forget that my family have had a very bad time as a consequence of this."

Mourinho Hails Terry as World's Best

"For me, John (Terry)is the best central defender in the world. I know Sir Alex would say Rio Ferdinand
and I know Carlo Ancelotti will say Alessandro Nesta, but for me it is John Terry. Since the first minute
I arrived here, John has played at the same level. No ups or downs, no mistakes and he's been no less
committed whether he's played against Manchester United or West Brom. For him every game is the
same and every opponent is the same. The level of his performance is the same. He lifts the team and
he is an important voice on the pitch. He is absolutely amazing. I saw him play for the national
team - he doesn't just do it for us where he is skipper and has other responsibilities, his level was the
same for England. So for me, he is the most complete centre-half. The best one."

Mourinho also hailed Terry's leadership qualities :

"At some clubs the captain is the captain because he is the choice of the manager, in other clubs the
player is the captain because he is the player's choice and in another club he is the captain because
he has been there 10 years - but John Terry is all of those here."

Morientes Move on Hold

Gines Carvajal, the agent of Fernando Morientes, claims that his client did not tell newspapers of
Liverpool that he wanted to join the club :

"I can state categorically that Fernando has made no such declaration to either Liverpool's website
or to an English newspaper. There is a new coach (Luxemburgo) and we will see what he thinks of
the squad. I do not believe either the president or the club are going to sell a player without speaking
with the new coach."

Samuel's Real Nightmare

Former World Class defender Walter Samuel has admitted his form has suffered since leaving Roma
for Real Madrid :

"Playing for Real Madrid was a dream, but now I am living a nightmare. I have to admit that I have
not performed to the best of my ability and I have had to endure whistles from the fans which is
something I never had either at Roma or Boca Juniors."

Roma Extends Contract With Monaco

Monaco goalkeeper Flavio Roma has extended his contract with the club until 2008.

30 December 2004

Luxemburgo Confirmed As Real Madrid Coach

As we reported early Thursday morning, hours before anyone else, Wanderlei Luxemburgo has
replaced Mariano Garcia Ramon as coach of Real Madrid. Speaking at a press conference the
coach famous for his suits said :

"It's a very great responsibility for me but I'm not afraid of responsibility."

Arrigo Sacchi, appointed as a director at the club last week, was responsible for Luxemburgo's
arrival :

"We are bringing in a great Coach who is considered to be one of the best in Brazil. We believe
the team can return to playing attractive football, just as President Florentino Perez likes it."

and when questioned on the clubs tie with Juventus :

"They are the opponents I least wanted to face. Fabio Capello's side is like the boxer nobody
wants to get into the ring with. It will take time for my work to show through at Madrid, as
I am only a director and not the Coach. My job is certainly not to sell team jerseys!"

Despite the presence of 'vice president' Emilio Butragueno at the press conference. Clearly
Butragueno has little influence at the club but will remain a figurehead because as a former
player he is a useful political tool for President Florentino Perez.

Slowmario Denies Retirement

Brazilian legend Romario claims the press jumped the gun on quotes he made earlier this week :

"The press got confused by something that I said in Florianopolis a few days ago. I only said that
I wasn't in a very good mood for training anymore (yes, for like the past decade) but that I was
still deciding what I was going to do. That doesn't mean that I am going to stop playing now.
I want to make that clear. I am not going to stop playing now, I think that at least I will play
for six more months. I have a good chance of playing again for Vasco da Gama and to even wear
the number 11 shirt that no other player has used since I left that team."

Rooney Given Three Match Ban, Taggart Furious

Alex Ferguson has blasted the FA for charging Wayne Rooney for violent conduct after he pushed
Bolton defender Tal Ben Hiam in the face during the match on boxing day :

"The violent conduct charge bemuses me because every man and his dog would agree it was not
violent conduct. If it is violent conduct why are they charging Ben Haim? I can't understand it.
If it is violent conduct, Ben Haim should not be charged. He is being charged so they therefore
believe he is guilty of diving and bringing the game into disrepute. It was no more than a push
in the face, there was no swing of the arm or anything like that. The system is completely flawed.
The problem for us now is we can't really appeal because we are not allowed to be represented.
It is a closed section. So therefore they are telling you 'don't bother appealing, you are not going
to win anyway'."

Milan and Inter Under Investigation

The accounts of Milan and Inter are being investigated by prosecutors after a probe into accounts
fraud of Italian clubs. Earlier in the year finance police searched the offices of the 42 clubs in
Serie A and Serie B and well as the offices of the FIGC (Italian FA).

Chievo Sold

Luca Campedelli has sold Chievo to Franco Berardi, a financier from Brescia. Stefano Tacconi, who
kept goal at Juventus for what seemed like an eternity until the arrival of Angelo Peruzzi, is the
club's new President. Tacconi revealed it was his idea to buy the club :

"The deal has been done. It has been on-going now for at least six months. The idea to buy Chievo
was mine. Then Berardi took me to see his company – Chiari. It wasn't long before we were in
agreement. The club itself is healthy. The wage bill is bearable and the technical staff is serious about
what they do both on and off the field. We have no intentions of changing anything or anyone.
All we want to do is bring back the enthusiasm of a few years ago."

Luexemburgo To Quit Santos for Real Madrid?

A reliable source claims that Wanderley Luxemburgo will quit Santos and replace Mariano Garcia
Remon as coach of Real Madrid. Luxemburgo has won 5 Brazilian Championships, most recently
with Santos but has also involved in a tax fraud scandal and stood trial for forging his identification
documents in order to play for Brazil's U21 team many years ago.

29 December 2004

Bologna Want €10 Million for Meghni

Bologna have set a price of €10 million for Mourad Meghni. Dubbed the new Zidane the 20 year
old has yet to establish himself in Bologna's first team after four seasons at the club.

Rytter Floors Tomasson At Kafe Ketchup

Danish internationals Jon Dahl Tomasson and Thomas Rytter were involved in a scuffle at Kafe
Ketchup in Denmark, the same restaurant at which Stig Tofting was involved in a fight 2 years ago.

Rytter recalls :

"When Jon came to the restaurant, I immediately noticed that he was drunk. I don't remember
(how the argument started) as I was also drunk. It might have been that I am scoring in Germany,
which Jon is not doing in Italy. Unfortunately, it all went overboard after that."

Tomasson is reported to have spat at Rytter and he responded by dropping the Milan forward,
presumably with a punch. Tomasson telephoned Rytter to offer his apologies the next day :

"I am not used to drinking alcohol and, apparently, I can't control myself when I do that. I am terribly
sorry for what happened but it was not a real fight."

Udinese Confirm Milan's Interest in Jankulovski

Udinese chairman Giampaolo Pozzo admitted his club had discussed the transfer of Marek Jankulovski
to Milan but wouldn't reveal if a deal had been concluded :

"I won't sell anyone because there is a pact that involves the team, the coach and the players - we
want to make the Champions League, all together. Jankulovski will leave in June. Milan? I can say
they asked us about the player. They like him as do Juve and Inter."

Perez Confirms Robinho Interest

Real Madrid President Florentino Perez has confirmed the club want to sign Robinho in the summer :

"Yes, he interests us and we would ideally look to purchase in July (2005). Robinho would bring the
values we cherish in a player to this club and he is ideal for our sporting model."

Despite missing several weeks of the season due to his mother's kidnapping Robinho scored 21 goals
as Santos won the Brazilian championship.

Barca Not Interested in Anelka

Barcelona's vice-president Sandro Rosell has stated that the club have no interest in Nicolas Anelka.
Speaking on the club's list of potential targets :

"Anelka is not one of them. Edu could be one of them but he is just a name on the list. It is very far from
having real interest in him. The reason why Edu could be in all the lists in the world now is because he
is terminating his contract and it makes him more attractive for all the clubs. We'd need to speak to our
coach to find out who his targets are. I will let you know in one week as we will speak to Rijkaard about
the list and decide."

Rosell ruled out any big name signings :

"Anelka is not on our list basically because for Anelka a transfer fee would be asked and we are looking
for a loan not a transfer. I think with Anelka the reason why we will not go for him is from our technical
department, they think he is not the type of player we need. Our budget is zero because we invested
all the money we could invest following our business plan last summer. We have zero to invest this
Christmas but will look for some money to bring one or two players to Barcelona. Ideally, players that
will terminate their contract or whose clubs want to loan him."

28 December 2004

Berlusconi Reigns As Milan President

Silvio Berlusconi has been forced to resign as Milan president due to Italy's new anti-trust laws.
Berlusconi will bring an end to his 18 years as the club's president on January the 2nd 2005.
Berlusconi's son, Piersilvio, who already holds a senior position at the club, is expected to take over.

Ferrara Announces Retirement

Former Juventus captain Ciro Ferrara will retire at the end of the season :

"I am still under contract with Juventus but once this season ends I will hang up my boots. However
I will then begin a job as a club official for the Bianconeri."

Ferrara, who started as a right back at Napoli before forming a imposing and physical partnership with
Paolo Montero in central defence for Juventus, has won the scudetto seven times in his 20 year career,
twice with Napoli and five time with Juventus.

Ciro Ferrara Biography

Ljungberg Reveals Extent of Migraine Problems

Arsenal midfielder Freddie Ljungberg have spoken of chronic migraine problems that surfaced in
his early teens and have forced him to miss three of Arsenal's recent fixtures :

"It is worrying when it happens to me. I throw up and lose my vision and also lose all the feelings
in my hands. It is quite severe in that way, although I know what it is because it's something I've
had since I was 14 years old. When I got the migraine first of all it was really frustrating because
I was starting to play well. The doctor told me I had to be off for a week to ten days but I rushed
it a bit and had to take it easy for a week. The doctor told I'd been stupid and should have known
better but he told me that if I rest properly next time I shouldn't get another for two years or so,
like before.''

Valencia Forced To Pay Up For Sissoko

Auxerre have been successful in their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport over the transfer
of Mohammed Sissoko to Valencia. Under French league rulings players brought up through the
youth ranks are obligated to sign contracts with that team. Sissoko rejected Auxerre's offer of a
contract and joined Valencia. The Spanish champions must now pay Auxerre €1 million in

Tomasson Voted Danish Player of the Year

Jon Dahl Tomasson has been voted Danish footballer of the year by his follow professionals.
Tomasson was an integral part of Milan's championship winning team last season and
maintained his amazing international goalscoring record at Euro 2004. Tomasson is expected
to join Barcelona at the end of the season.

Serie A Stars Stranded by Tsunami

Several Serie A players holidaying in the Maldives have been stranded by the tsunami (tidal waves
caused by underwater earthquakes) that has killed over 55,000 people across the coastlines of
the Indian ocean in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the Maldives.

Nesta flew out early but Milan team-mates Paolo Maldini and Filippo Inzaghi, Juventus midfielder
Gianluca Zambrotta, Inter defender Marco Materazzi, Livorno striker Cristiano Lucarelli and Perugia
owner Alessandro Gaucci were stranded at the airport. Maldini said :

"We were already at the airport when the disaster struck so all we saw was the flooded landing
strip. We were fortunate to be on the other side of the island awaiting our flight."

Inzaghi added :

"I’m fine, even if obviously we were scared. Now there are around 300 people waiting in the
hotel lobby for transport."

Cristiano Lucarelli revealed he had a close escape :

"We saw this huge wave coming towards the beach so I grabbed my two children and ran
towards safety. Everyone is camped out in the lobby without electricity."

Dim Beckham Doesn't Understand Sacchi Role

David Beckham has spoken of his confusion following the appointment of Arrigo Sacchi as the
club's director :

"If I'm honest I don't understand it too well. I don't know why he has been called for. It's probably
because we need stability and a manager who will take decisions. Sacchi is a person with a lot of
football experience who could give good things to the club and to the players, but he doesn't know
the situation here. I've come from a team where the overall manager (Taggart) was the coach as
well and so this thing that has been created at Real Madrid doesn't seem normal."

Sevilla Striker in Critical Condition

22 year old German Hornos is in critical condition after his car hit a line of trees near his hometown
of Duranzo, Uruguay. Hornos suffered head and chest injuries, two of the other passengers were
unharmed while a third, a Penarol youth team player, suffered minor injuries.

Hornos is currently on loan from Sevilla to Valladolid. Both clubs sent representatives to be with the

Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido said :

"Everyone at the club wishes him all the best At this time, it is necessary to think about his life being
saved, with that risk still there, and after that we can talk about his recovery."

Doctor Eduardo Granda added :

"His general condition is serious. Undoubtedly, he is young and strong and when people are athletes
there is always a much better chance of recovery, but the situation is complex."

Henry Wins FIFA Award

Had FIFA not counted votes of all nations equally Henry would have won the FIFA World player of the
year award. Below is a breakdown of how the coaches of the top 10 ranked FIFA nations (as of November
2004) voted :

FIFA Ranking


1st Place

2nd Place

3rd Place

1. Brazil


Van Nistelrooy



2. France





3. Argentina





4. Czech Republic





5. Spain





6. Netherlands

Van Basten




7. Mexico





8. England





9. Portugal





10. Italy





And here's the top ten based on the above votes (5 points for 1st place, 3 for 2nd place and 1 for 3rd place) :


1st Place

2nd Place

3rd Place










































Van Nistelrooy















27 December 2004

L'Equipe's Best XI

L'Equipe, sister publication of France Football, have named their best 11 players of the past year :

GK : Buffon (Juventus & Italy)
RB : Cafu (Milan & Brazil)
CB : Carvalho (Porto/Chelsea & Porto)
CB : Terry (Chelsea & England)
DF : Zambrotta (Juventus & Italy)
CM : Deco (Porto/Barcelona & Portugal)
CM : Maniche (Porto & Portugal)
DM : Zagorakis (AEK Athens/Bologna & Greece)
AM : Ronaldinho (Barcelona & Brazil)
FW : Shevchenko (Milan & Ukraine)
FW : Adriano (Inter & Brazil)

Coach : Jose Mourinho (Porto & Chelsea)

Papadopulo Unveiled As Lazio Coach

Former Lazio player Giuseppe Papadopulo has replaced Mimmo Caso as coach.

Prandelli Ready To Return

Cesare Prandelli, who resigned as Roma coach to nurse his sick wife, says he will return to coaching
next season :

"Out of respect for Roma, I certainly won’t take up a position within this campaign. However, if
I received an interesting proposal for next year then I would say yes."

Morientes In Demand

Gines Carvajal, the agent of Fernando Morientes, claims that six clubs are chasing the Real Madrid
striker :

"Morientes now has four offers from different English clubs and two from French teams. We will have
to wait and see what happens, but he is very clear in his mind that he wants to play and wants to do
so in a great and competitive team. We're not considering a loan deal. What we want is a transfer.
He already went last season on loan for six months and he doesn't want to do that again."

Three of the clubs are Liverpool, the favourites for Morientes' signature, Newcastle and Monaco.

23 December 2004

Mourinho Rules Out Big Name Signings

Chelsea's arrogant genius Jose Mourinho has ended speculation linking his club with moves for
Joaquin and Defoe :

"If we do something it won't be a big buy. I don't need top, top, top players. Anyway, to get better
midfield players than we have got already, I wouldn't know where to find them. We would need a
stable player to give the midfield some help. Forget Joaquin, forget Defoe, forget big names."

Injuries Mount For Boro

Middlesbrough's defensive midfielder George Boateng, hailed by coach Steve McClaren as the clubs
best player this season, has been ruled out for two months with a broken toe. With Mendieta,
Parlour, Viduka, Ehiogu, Riggott, Christie and Parnaby all out Boro are expected to enter the
transfer market. Robbie Savage, the subject of a €3.5 million bid from Blackburn is the obvious

New TV Contracts For Dutch League

The Eredivisie (Dutch first division) have signed television rights totalling €210 million over three
seasons. RTL will show live matches on Fridays. Versatel have won the pay TV contract. Public
broadcaster NOS have lost the rights to highlights packages however NOS will pay €69.9 million
every season for radio broadcast rights. Ajax's general manager Arie van Eijden claims the fees
represent an increase of between 70-75% over the previous contract.

Barton & Tandy Fined For X-Mas Party Brawl

Joey Barton has been fined six weeks wages (€230,000) for poking a burning cigar into the eye
of team-mate James Tandy. Tandy has been fined two weeks wages for trying to set Barton's
shirt alight. 

22 December 2004

Once Caldes Coach Shot

Luis Fernando Montoya, the coach of Copa Libertadores Champions Once Caldas, is in a critical condition
after being shot by burglars at his home in Medellin, Colombia. Hospital manager Jorge Rojo said :

"He was taken to hospital with two gunshot wounds to his neck and his condition is critical. He will
recover from his injuries, but the after effects could be serious enough."

Caso Sacked

Lazio have sacked Domenico Caso. Under the former youth team coach Lazio made a bright start
but form has dipped in recent weeks and the club are in the relegation zone. Lazio president 
Claudio Lotito said :

"Our supporters can have a peaceful Christmas because I can assure them that Lazio will never be
relegated to the second division."

Paolo Di Canio is rumoured to take over as player/coach.

Barton Burns Team-mates Eye With Cigar

Manchester City midfielder Joey Barton poked a burning cigar into the eye of youth team player
James Tandy during the clubs Christmas party. Barton had been burning players arms with the
cigar when the 18 year old came from behind and tried to set the players shirt alight, it's at this
point that Barton turned around and stabbed the cigar into the players eye. Tandy's friends
retaliated by whacking Barton over the head with a bottle.

21 December 2004

Sacchi Appointed Director At Real Madrid

Arrigo Sacchi has been appointed director at Real Madrid. Sacchi, who refuses to coach due to
stress, will be in charge of the hiring and firing of coaches and players, the role he held at Parma
for the past two and a half years.

Sacchi started as coach of Parma in the lower leagues of Italian football before being hired by
club president Silvio Berlusconi, who had saved the club from bankruptcy in the mid 80's. Sacchi
and his start studded team spearheaded by the three Dutchman - Gullit, Van Basten and Rijkaard
routed Real Madrid 5-0 in the second leg of the 1989 European Cup semi-final beginning a period
of unprecedented success for the club.

Sacchi's 4-4-2 pressing and zonal marking tactics were a tactical revolution, much imitated and
admired by many coaches. After falling out with star striker Marco Van Basten Sacchi took over
as Italy coach in 1992. He lead them to the 1994 World Cup final but was criticised for making
Roberto Baggio a scapegoat for the team's penalty kick loss against Brazil in the final. He returned
to Milan in 1996 before brief spells in charge of Atletico Madrid and Parma. Just weeks into his return
to Parma he quit, claiming he could no longer handle the stress of coaching.

FIFA Give Spain Token Punishment

As expected FIFA have failed to take strong action against the Spanish football association following
last month's racist chanting during the friendly in the Bernabeu against England. Spain have been
fined €65,000 and warned a repeat could result in matches being played behind closed doors or
expulsion from International competition (highly unlikely).

Zajec Takes Charge At Porstmouth

Velimir Zajec has been appointed manager of Portsmouth in succession to Harry Redknapp. Redknapp
quit the club after chairman Milan Mandaric's appointed Zajec as executive director, believing it
undermined his authority.

19 December 2004

Totti Issues Warning

"I'm not happy playing for a Roma team that is already out of everything by Christmas. I'm happy
with the squad, but we are not playing the way I expected, and there are good reasons for that -
three coaches in a few weeks is not the ideal preparation. Now I'm looking for assurances from the
board. I'm not interested in my contract details. The most important issue is the project for
the future. Without one there is no point in talking."

When asked which clubs he would join he said :

"I would never go to Juventus or Lazio - my first choice would be abroad."

Totti also spoke of his treatment by Roma's volatile fans :

"The supporters want me to stay forever, but then they lay into me. I am the captain only when things
are going well. After we lost to Udinese, they insulted me in the street, calling me a mercenary and a
millionaire playboy. They shouted at me 'You're already thinking about playing for another club - get
out of here!'

18 December 2004

Van Nistelrooy Out for Six Weeks

Ruud van Nistelrooy is out for upto six weeks after scans showed he had an achilles injury.

17 December 2004

Robinho's Mother Freed

Kidnappers have released the mother of Santos' 20 year old forward Robinho after holding here for
five weeks. Robinho stopped playing during the kidnapping and is expected to join either Real Madrid
or Chelsea in the summer.

16 December 2004

Shilton Critical of Goalkeeping Standard

Former England goalkeeper Peter Shilton believes technical deficiencies and are to blame for the
embarrassing errors made by a host of Premiership goalkeepers :

"The modern ball has made it more difficult but I also feel goalkeepers should work that little bit
harder to compensate. There were people who used to wonder why I trained so hard when I was
a player. I liken it to modern golfers like Tiger Woods or Vijay Singh. They practise so much and
so intensely that they don't have any weaknesses. It makes the difference between winning the
tournament and finishing in the top three. Goalkeeping is the same. There isn't one goalkeeper
I can look at in the Premiership and say that he's the finished article. You can be good at stop
stopping but if you can't punch the ball then you will eventually be exposed."

O'Leary Extends Contract

David O'Leary has signed a three and a half year extension to his contract with Aston Villa, tying
him to the club until 2008.

Anti Violence Commission Come Down Hard on Racists

Spain's anti-violence commission have sent out a strong message, unlike FIFA and UEFA, by fining
two Albacete supporters €6,000 each for making monkey noises at Barcelona's Samuel Eto'o during
a recent league match. The pair were also given 5 month bans from sporting events.

15 December 2004

Referee Urs Meier has retired after reaching the 45 year age. Meier was made a scapegoat for
England's failure at Euro 2004 after rightly disallowing Campbell's goal against Portugal.

14 December 2004

Record Ban For Angulo

Valencia midfielder Miguel Angel Angulo has been hit with a monstrous 7 match batch for offences
against Bremen during the Champions League tie at the Mestalla earlier this month. Angulo was
sent off for a reckless foul on Bremen striker Vadlez, who had given his club the lead minutes after
coming on as a substitute then spat at Bremen's Tim Borowski as he left the pitch. Valencia were
also fined €26,000 for their part in a fracas that followed.

13 December 2004

Premiere Win World Cup Rights

Germany pay TV channel Premiere, the equivalent of Sky Sports, has won the rights to show all
64 games of the 2006 World Cup, to be held in Germany for a fee of around €25 million.
German TV channels ARD and ZDF have the rights to show 48 matches.

21 Month Nightmare Ends For Metzelder

Dortmund defender Christoph Metzelder made his appearance since March 2003 as a substitute in
a 1-1 draw at Hansa Rostock following a 21 month battle with achilles tendon injuries. Dortmund
looked set for a move to one of the European giants following strong performances for Dortmund
in their championship winning season (2001-2002) and the 2002 World Cup before injuries
put a holt to a promising career.

12 December 2004

Real Madrid Match Abandoned After Bomb Scare

Real Madrid's league match with Real Sociedad was suspended at 87 minutes following a bomb
scare at the Bernabeu. A tip off to Basque newspaper Gara claimed that a bomb had been
planted in the stadium and would explode at 21.00 CET. Basque separatist terrorists ETA are
thought to be responsible. The remaining six minutes plus injury time will be played on the
5th of January 2005. The match was tied at 1-1, Ronaldo and Nihat both scored stunning goals.

Shevchenko Delight At Ballon D'or Honour

Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko will be presented with the Ballon D'or in Paris on Monday after
seeing off the challenge of Deco and Ronaldinho to win the games most prestigious individual
prize :

"This year has been beautiful for me. I got married, I had a son, we won the league last season
and now I am being honoured which makes me very happy."

The award is based on the votes of European journalists. The top ten :

1. Shevchenko (Milan, 175 points)
2. Deco (Porto, Barcelona, 139 points)
3. Ronaldinho (Barcelona, 133 points)
4. Henry (Arsenal, 80 points)
5. Zagorakis (AEK Athens, Bologna, 44 points)
6. Adriano (Inter, 27 points)
7. Nedved (Juventus, 23 points)
8. Rooney (Everton, Manchester United, 22 points)
9. Ricardo Carvalho (Porto, Chelsea, 18 points)
10. Van Nistelrooy (Manchester United, 18 points)

Argentinean World Cup Winner Shot Dead

43 Jose Luis Cucciuffo, who played in defence for Argentina in their 1986 World Cup triumph, died in
while hunting near Bahia Blanco, south of Buenos Aires. Initial reports claimed that Cucciuffo was shot
in the stomach after a gun went off inside the vehicle he was travelling in with a friend but the police
are not treating the incident as manslaughter. Cucciuffo died on his way to hospital.

Porto Win Final IC Cup

Porto won the final Intercontinental Cup after beating Once Caldas 8-7 on penalties. Substitute
goalkeeper Nuno replaced Baia after the veteran left the field with an injury on 104 minutes.
The shootout went into sudden death before Colombian defender John Edwin Garcia blasted
over the bar, Pedro Emanuel made no mistake to seal the clubs second Intercontinental Cup
final victory (the first was in 1987). Maniche, who was named MVP, said :

"I expected this game to be a tough match like this but the last champions are the only champions.
I am so proud of that."

Redknapp Warns Chairman

Southampton coach Harry Redknapp has warned chairman Rupert Lowe not to meddle in team
affairs, something Lowe is notorious for :

"I'll talk to him about football. I'll talk to anybody about football but the minute you let chairmen
sign players you've got trouble. It is his club and he seems a nice man but how is he going to poke
his nose in? I can't see it. He knows I'm the manager and he knows the job I have to do. I'll buy
my own players, make my own decisions, good or bad, and he must get on with it. Once I've
identified the ones I want it is up to him to deal with them and see if he can afford them. If not,
then we move on to the next one."

10 December 2004

UEFA Give Green Light To Racists

UEFA, European football's governing body, have taken disciplinary action against several clubs for
racist behaviour but the worst perpetrators, Real Madrid, escaped with a paltry fine of €9,780.

Lazio will play their next European tie behind closed doors after a serious on incidents in a UEFA
Cup tie against Partizan Belgrade which included missile throwing, flares being set off, clashes
with police and a stabbing incident.

Partizan Belgrade were fined €5,200 after their fans threw missiles and set off flares. Olympiakos
were fined €65,000 for exactly the same incidents, during their Champions League match with

CSKA Moscow were fined €22,800 after their fans threw missiles at players during their Champions
League match against Porto on 24 November.

Club Bruges were fined €13,000 after their fans racially abused Utrecht players during the sides
UEFA Cup tie.

No action was taken against Real Madrid supporters tooted with swastikas caught on film giving
the Nazi salute.

French League Sign €600 Million Deal With Canal Plus

Canal Plus have paid €600 million in a three year deal for rights to show French league football
between 2005-2008. The deal represents an increase of €225 million over the current contract.

France Join The Race For Euro 2012

France have joined the race to host the 2012 European Championships. Italy and Greece have
also expressed an interest in staging the tournament. Croatia and Hungary and Ukraine and Poland
have submitted joint bids.

Spain Anti-Violence Commission Call For Action Against Aragones

Spain's anti violence commission have demanded that the Spanish Football Federation take action
against national team coach Luis Aragones following his racist comments against Thierry Henry.

Rafael Blanco, the general director of Spain' Sports Council, said :

"We think the coach is sincere (Aragones claims he didn't wish to offend anyone) however, his
behaviour was incorrect and it must be punished. The law is the same for everyone. The anti
violence commission seeks to condemn and combat racism with all means at its disposal."

Under article 76 of Spain's sports legislation misconduct can be punished by a fine, temporary
ban or dismissal.

8 December 2004

Redknapp Set For Saints

Harry Redknapp has replaced Steve Wigly as coach of Southampton less than a month after leaving
the Saint's bitter rivals Portsmouth. Portsmouth director Terry Brady warned Redknapp that he would
be committing the "highest betrayal possible" he added :

"The board would feel let down, It would give the impression he has been in negotiations for some
time and has used the appointment of Velimir Zajec as an excuse to leave the club. I've tried to
get hold of the chairman but he is in Belgrade and is unavailable but if this were true he would be

Redknapp left after Portsmouth Chairman Milan Madaric appoint Velimir Zajec as the club's director
of football.

Gerrard Wants Liverpool To Match Ambition

Steven Gerrard has commented on recent speculation linking him with a move to Chelsea :

"If we're moving forward and I'm successful at this club then I won't need to go anywhere else but if
things aren't looking good I'll have to see what happens in the summer. I'm 25 at the end of the
season and I think I've got six or seven years left in me at the top level to win things, so hopefully
the turnaround can happen quite sharpish. I'm in a difficult situation because I'm a fan myself,
I want to win things at this football club but I haven't got time on my side. I can't really wait three
or four years for the club to be turned around and to be made into a title-winning side. I'm hoping
that will happen from now until the end of the season and that, come the summer, we'll be in next
year's title race. I'm not giving up now but look at the table."

Gerrard explained his reasons for signing a new contract with Liverpool at the start of the season :

"I wanted to give the best chance to get back involved in the title race, and that's the reason
I decided to stay back in the summer. I didn't want to make a quick decision and leave the club in
the lurch. I wanted to try and help them turn it around this season. It would mean a lot more to
me to be successful at Liverpool. Everyone knows that. I've supported the club all my life. So
hopefully from now until the end of the season the club can show me that they are as ambitious
as I am and that we can win trophies together."

7 December 2004

Delio Rossi New Atalanta Coach

Atalanta have named Delio Rossi as the successor to Andrea Mandorlini, who was fired on Monday.
Delio Rossi lead Lecce to a respectable 10th place finish last season.

6 December 2004

Campbell Signs on With Arsenal

Sol Campbell has ended speculation about his future by signing a new contract with the club. Campbell's
contract was due to expire at the end of the season.

3 December 2004

Zidane Defends Spanish Racists

Zinedine Zidane has leapt to the defence of Spanish supporters following the recent racism chanting during
Spain's friendly with England, the Champions League match between Real Madrid and Leverkusen and the
league match between Barcelon aand Getafe.

"I really don't have the feeling that Spain is a racist country. I think that a big majority of Spaniards are
rather welcoming, rather tolerant. It would be stupid to say that Spain is a racist country."

"I think, however, that the people in question are a minority whose only goal is to wreak havoc, to be
in the limelight. It's their life. We have to fight them together but it will be difficult to get rid of them.
In Spain, you have so much media, television channels have such an impact, that when incidents occur
they are talked about a lot more."

Tevez Joins Corinthians

In a shock move Boca Juniors have sold Carlos Tevez to Brazilian side Corinthians for €13.50 million.
Tevez had been linked with a move to Bayern Munich for over a year but the Germans were unwilling
to meet Boca's evaluation for the player.

2 December 2004

Spanish FA Criticised For Response to Racism Claims

Spain's Sports Council (CSD) have criticised the Spanish football federation (RFEF) for their responce to
the racist chanting durings Spain's friendly with England. Rafael Blanco, director general of the CSD said :

"Some people have tried to minimise the incidents but what happened is intolerable in a modern and
democratic state like Spain and has had a damaging effect on Spain's image in the world and on
Madrid's bid for the 2012 Olympics." 

Blanco was also critical of Spanish coach Luis Aragones's comments about Thierry Henry :

"Aragones's declarations were ill-advised, incorrect and inopportune. He has recognised that and now
it is up to the Federation to take action. We will be monitoring the situation closely and will be asking
the Federation to get involved."

Aragones Looks For Sympathy

Spain's racist coach Luis Aragones claims his family want him to stand down as coach following criticism
over his training ground comments about Thierry Henry in October :

"I have been insulted by being called racist and nobody had called me that before. I have suffered a lot
 in the past few days. I have never thought about resigning from my position but my family have asked
me to leave the post. You are a slave to your words, but when I said what I said, I was in a private
environment. Then in places such as the English press, they have insulted me by calling me a racist.
I think it is wrong that they have been saying Spain is racist and that I am, too."