16 February 2005

Keane Takes Snipe At Diver Cole

In an interview with Manchester United's official magazine captain Roy Keane has
taken a snipe at Arsenal defender Ashley Cole after his theatrical dive in the box
during the clash at Highbury earlier this month :

"I wasn't quite sure what he was up to. If I had known, I might have reacted
differently. Before the game there was all this stuff about anti-racism and
anti-bullying but it would be a good idea to start wearing wristbands for anti-diving.
It's not just about foreign players because Ashley Cole is English but it's something
that has crept into The Premiership. Players are going down far too easily and it
seems to be getting worse."

Benitez Loses Patience

Rafa Benitez has, for the first time, publicly criticised the performance of his team
following their dismal display against Birmingham :

"I have come here to work hard and I expect everyone else to do the same. We
must accept the Birmingham game was bad and not the kind of performance we want
in future. I don't want to spend time here without trophies. It's not enough for me
to see my side play well in one or two games. I want consistency and that means
everyone working harder. I told the players this week that when I decided to join
this club I took it on as a challenge. I have not come to Liverpool to earn money.
We all have to accept responsibility and do everything we possibly can to make a
strong team, not only in the future but from now. After the Birmingham game I felt
very disappointed and it was the same the day after. I watched the video of the
match and analysed what happened. On Monday we spoke to the players and told
them we must change our mentality. You can't have a team which always plays
good sometimes and bad others. What makes it worse is we went into the
Birmingham game knowing Everton had lost earlier, so we had a chance to close
the gap."

Fletcher Sidelined

Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher could be out of action for two months
after a knee injury in the Manchester derby last week.

Wenger Wants Bergkamp to go out on Top

"There is no question that if he is playing like this at the end of the season he will
carry on. We don't change our attitude after every good game because we could
change it after a bad game as well. He wants to play on for as long as possible,
which I understand, but also what you have to respect is that we don't spoil the
end of his career. He has done so well for us over the years that I want to make
sure he is remembered as a true legend here. You never see him drinking, you
never see him out and, between 30 and 37, that will make a huge difference. He
will be 36 in May. To play up front at that age, you don't find that. I think he gets
rewarded for the quality of his life."

UEFA Warning For Clubs Who Fail Home-grown Quota

"The sanction is fairly simple. If you don't have the four and four (academy and
association) for 2008-2009 your squad (for UEFA competitions) will be cut by the
number of players that do not meet the criteria." - Uefa spokesman William Gaillard

UEFA define an academy player as a player aged between 15 and 21 who has been
registered for a minimum of three seasons with that club. An association trained
player is a player aged between 15 and 21 who has been registered for at least
three seasons by any clubs in the same association.

Hoyzer Tested Match Fixing Against Middlesbrough

Robert Hoyzer, the referee arrested on suspicion of match fixing, told TV Berlin that
he fixed Hansa Rostock's 3-1 pre season friendly victory over Middlesbrough as
a 'test'.

In the match report posted on the clubs website Middlesbrough described some of
the incidents :

"Job found the net with a carbon copy of his Carling Cup final goal only to be denied
by a lineman's flag that looked doubtful to say the least."

"David Rasmussen went down (winning a penalty) after Parlour appeared to win the
ball cleanly in the box."

Hoyzer is said to have received €1000 for fixing the match.

Deco Critical of Chelsea Tsunami Snub

Barcelona's Deco has alleged that his former Porto coach, Jose Mourinho, was
responsible for Chelsea players John Terry, Frank Lampard and Geremi's failure to
take part in Tuesday's football for hope match :

"All players really wanted to play in this game. It's certain that Mourinho had
something to do with them not coming."

Manchester United and Chelsea were the only major European clubs not to have
any players represented.

Mexes Banned for Six Games

Roma defender Philippe Mexes has been banned for six games after FIFA finally
responded to a case brought forward by his former club Auxerre. Mexes, who has
been a monumental flop at Roma, walked out on Auxerre at the end of the
2003-20004 season, claiming a clause in his contract meant he was free to leave.
Auxerre have been demanding compensation and a ban for the 22 year old

Madsen Banned for Knee to the Gut

Bochum forward Peter Madsen will be suspended for four weeks after being found
guilty of kneeing Dortmund defender Christian Worns in the gut during the
Bundesliga match at the weekend. Television footage was used to convict Madsen
after the incident was missed by the referee.

Panathinaikos Hire Mad Malesani

Panathinaikos have announced Alberto Malesani has replaced Sdenek Scasny as
coach. Malesani, known for his wild facial expressions and gesturing, made his
name at in 1997 Fiorentina playing 3-4-3 before moving onto Parma, Veron and
then Modena. Malesani's contract will earn him €1 million upto the end of next

Eto'o Named African Footballer of the Year

Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o has been named the African Footballer of the Year
for the second successive year. Chelsea's Didier Drogba finished second and
Bolton's Jay Jay Okocha finished third.

Zidan Guilty of Receiving Stolen Goods

23 year old Bremen striker Mohamed Zidan have been given a 60 day suspended
sentence and fined €670 for buying a stolen Claus Bech Andersen/Scanpix watch.
Zidan paid €330 for the watch valued at €20,000. He said :

"I've learned my lesson. It won't happen again. The next time I buy a watch I'll go
to a professional."

15 February 2005

Ronaldinho XI 6-3 Shevchenko XI

The stars were on show in the 'Football for Hope' match held at the Nou Camp in aid
of the victims of the Tsunami disaster. Ronaldinho and Eto'o got the game off to a
great start with early goals. Del Piero combined with former Juventus team-mate
Zinedine Zidane to score the first goal for the Shevchenko XI. Eto'o capitalised on
a hospital pass to give his team a 3-1 half-time lead.

As expected the big guns were substituted in the second half. The Cagliari duo of
Gianfranco Zola and David Suazo tied the score at 3-3 early in the second half
Thierry Henry made the briefest of appearances for Shevchenko's team before
Southampton striker Henri Camara grabbed a brace and set-up the final goal for
Cha Doo-Ri.

Chelsea Fine Gudjohnsen €60,000

Chelsea have fined striker Eidur Gudjohnsen €60,000 pounds after he breached the
clubs 2 am curfew. Gudjohnsen was stopped by police at 5.20 am on Sunday
morning after driving home from a night out.

Gudjohnsen Arrested

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said :

"At 5.20am on Sunday on the A3 southbound near Esher, officers stopped a car due
to the way it was being driven. The driver, a 26-year-old man (Chelsea striker Eidur
Gudjohnsen) was subsequently arrested on suspicion of driving while under the
influence of alcohol. He was taken to a south London police station and has since
been bailed to return on a date at the end of March."

14 February 2005

Passive Offside To Be Scrapped

In a rare moment FIFA President Sepp Bladder was been gripped by common sense
and suggested the controversial passive offside rule will be scrapped :

"Abolishing the passive offside rule would benefit attacking football. It would
simplify matters if the person receiving the pass was the only player who could
be flagged offside. I spoke to (Milan) Baros and (Jan) Koller about it and they think
it is a good idea."

The motion will be discussed in a rules meeting due to be held in Cardiff on the 26th of February.

Giggs Credits Yoga For Curing Hamstring Problems

"I feel as fit as I've ever been and generally I have managed to get over the
problems that I've had with my hamstring over the years. A lot of it is down to
being more experienced and knowing the injury better as I've got older. I rest now
when I feel that I need a rest and the manager has been great in that respect.
The other thing is that I've been doing yoga now for two years, which has definitely
helped me with my hamstrings and back."

"A few of us older players do it at the club with a yoga teacher. It's just about
stretching and getting myself in the right positions to strengthen my back and
hamstrings. It's been great for me and I don't think it's a coincidence that I haven't
really had any big problems in that area over that time." - Ryan Giggs

12 February 2005

Hoyzer Arrested

State prosecutor Michael Grunwald ordered the arrest of bent referee Robert Hoyzer
after two Croatian brothers who have ties with the Croatian mafia, were arrested
in connection to the scandal. The 25 year old referee admitted to fixing four
matches between May and October of last year.

Hozyer told Bild newspaper :

"I am afraid of jail as I know the Croats are dangerous. I have thought of committing

Hoyzer implicated other referees in the scandal after receiving money for persuading
them to fix matches in the lower divisions of the German league. Referees Felix
Zwayer, Dominik Marks and Jurgen Jansen are under investigation.

11 February 2005

Former Greats To Play in Charity Match

Former greats including Ruud Gullit and Peter Shilton, who won successive European
Cups with Milan and Nottingham Forest respectively, will play in a friendly match
in Indonesia to raise funds for victims of the Tsunami disaster. The match will be held
on the 28th of February in a 110,000 seater stadium in Jakarta. The proceeds will
go towards education funds for children in the province of Aceh, hardest hit by the
disaster. In a novel approach fans who make the largest donations will be able
to play in the last five minutes of the match.

Jean Tigana (France), Laurent Blanc (France), Gary McAllister (Scotland) and John
Aldridge (Ireland) are also expected to play in an 18 man strong team. Organisers
are hopeful Liberia's George Weah and Brazilian Bebeto will join them in a match
against the Indonesian national team which will be boosted by Singapore's Fandi
Ahmad and Thailand's Piyapong Pue On.

Christie Out For Season

Middlesbrough's injury prone striker Malcolm Christie has been ruled out for the rest
of the season with a broken foot. Christie, who had a history of injuries while at
Derby was signed by Middlesbrough in January 2003. In November of that year he
broke his leg and returned to action ten months later only to immediately re-injure
the same leg. Christie picked up the injury against Blackburn last week.

10 February 2005

DFB's €6 million Win Bonus is Safe

The DFB (German Football Federation) have promised every one of Jurgen
Klinsmann's players a €250,000 win bonus in they highly unlikely event the hosts
win the 2006 World Cup. The players will receive €50,000 for reaching the
quarter-finals, €100,00 for making the semi-finals and €150,000 for reaching the final.

Members of Germany's 2002 World Cup squad received €92,000 for reaching the

Maier Claims Klinsmann Has Geriatric Agenda

Former Germany goalkeeping coach Sepp Maier, who was sacked by Jurgen
Klinsmann for criticising his treatment of past it Oliver Kahn, has taken another
shot at the national team coach :

"Klinsmann wants to bring an end to Kahn but he will not manage it. The way he
is treating the elder players is the lowest of the low. I would have gone crazy if
someone said to me : 'You are playing really well but you are on the bench.
Lehmann has been on the bench at Arsenal for the past 12 games, plays once and
then he is in the national team. Oliver wants to be in goal for the 2006 World Cup
and that is why he is keeping quiet but deep down Klinsmann must know he cannot
win the World Cup without Kahn."

Reyes Duped on Spanish Radio

Arsenal midfielder Rose Antonio Reyes admitted he was unhappy with life at Arsenal
in a radio interview when talking to someone impersonating Real Madrid Vice
President Emilio Butragueno :

Cope Radio : So how are things at Arsenal?

Reyes : Not great

Cope Radio : We're obviously very interested in you. Raul recommended you

Reyes : That makes me happy to hear that

Cope Radio : So are you interested in Madrid?

Reyes : Yes it's great that Madrid are interested in me because I've always dreamed
of playing there since I was little. So hopefully I'll be able to play there.

Reyes and his representatives plan to take legal action.

BBC Pundits Lay Into Eriksson

In the post match analysis following England' s abysmal draw against the
Netherlands :

"It's amazing what you can see through Sven's specs, I must get a pair."
Gary Lineker

"I defy anybody to learn anything from that match. It was very bad, a night to forget
for England and the use of substitutes was scary, Andrew Johnson was hung out to
dry. He has been prolific through the middle with Crystal Palace, absolutely brilliant,
but wide right is not his position. It was crazy. It was crying out for Wright-Phillips
on the right, Stewart Downing on the left, take Michael Owen off and play Johnson
through the middle, with Wayne Rooney just off him." - Alan Hansen

"There were so many square pegs in round holes. I can't see how they will play that
in a competitive match. Perhaps he has looked at Chelsea this season. They've
played a 4-3-3 and they've ripped up the Premiership so maybe he thought it might
work but they've got Damien Duff playing one side and Arjen Robben on the other,
two players with genuine pace. We didn't have the personnel to make it work with
Downing on the bench." - Jamie Redknapp

Southampton's Graham Le Saux, who was excellent as the colour commentator,
criticised Eriksson on numerous occasions during the match.

9 February 2005

Eriksson's Tactical Limitations

England coach Sven Goran Eriksson once against showed his tactical limitations as
a coach against the Netherlands with a lame attempt at copying Jose Mourinho's
4-3-3 formation. The confused Shaun Wright-Phillips continually switched wings
with Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen understandably failed to shine as the
lone striker.

In the second half Middlesbrough's Stuart Downing was given a measly 30 minutes
on the left wing while Crystal Palace striker Andy Johnsen, who is almost certain to
surpass Michael Owen's best ever domestic tally of 18 goals (he has scored 15 so
far this season) was criminally employed on the right wing.

Defender Khalid Boulahrouz and winger Romeo Castelen shone in Marco Van
Basten's experimental side. Feyenoord's Dirk Kuyt struck the outside of a post
while Shaun Wright-Phillips wasted three first half chances. The game ended

Arsenal Threaten Cole's Agent With Legal Action

"We as a club have a fairly robust document which we have evolved over the years
with our lawyers. One of the clauses is a non-solicitation clause, where agents are
not allowed to destabilise players at our club. Every agent that we have dealt with
has signed. They have to otherwise the deal doesn't happen. If we're paying an
agent he will enter into an agreement to look after our best interests."

We expect him to abide by the contract. If they don't, it is up to us to either report
it to The FA or the Premier League. Or we could take civil action, if we so desire.
Up to now I'm pleased to say we've never had the necessity to take action but you
may have noticed we've always kept the players we wanted to."
Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein

Brescia And PSG Appoint New Coaches

Alberto Cavasin, who has been out of work since leaving Fiorentina last season,
has replaced Gianni De Biasi as Brescia coach while PSG's youth team coach,
Laurent Fournier, has replaced Vahid Halilhodzic.

Pompier Out for Season

Metz defender Bruno Pompier has been ruled out for the rest of the season after
dislocating his knee following a challenge by Nice's Victor Agali. Pompier will be out
of action for six months.

Barca Looking to Offload Argentinean Duo

Barcelona director of sport Tkixi Beguiristain has suggested there is no place at the
club for either Juan Roman Riquelme or Javier Saviola :

"We have still not spoken with Riquelme. We don't know his intentions and we
don't have any offers for him. It could be difficult for him to return because he is a
non EU player and we already have those places filled but we haven't discounted
anything yet."

"Regarding Saviola, he is not a player who can play on the wing, and is not a similar
type to Giuly. As for forwards, we have Eto'o who is the best in the league, and with
Larsson to complement him we have everything covered. We could not give that
role to Saviola."

Both players are currently on loan at Villarreal and Monaco respectively. Despite
4 goals in 5 matches in the Champions League Saviola has struggled domestically
while Riquelme has been arguably the outstanding midfielder in La Liga this season.

Vieira Disgust At Racist Chanting by PSG

During PSG's home tie with Lens the PSG fans subjected Lens black players to racist
abuse and held aloft neo-Nazi banners. Arsenal's Patrick Vieira, who was in
attendance, spoke of his disgust and was critical of FIFA for failing to act :

"I was shocked by what I heard at the Parc des Princes on Sunday. I really didn't
think there would be such incidents in France. You don't see that in England. It's
high time FIFA got involved in all this. It is getting worse and worse. The clubs have
to solve this problem. The federations must aid the clubs and FIFA must help the
federations. We all have to work together."

Eriksson Defends Cole

Sven Goran Eriksson has spoken in the defence of Ashley Cole following rumours he
met with Chelsea officials last week :

"As a professional footballer it must be your right to listen if some other work is
available. We don't live in a dictatorship, we're in a democracy. It's the same in
other professions but normally no problem. Loyalty is important but contracts end
and that is life in football"

Eriksson also met with Chelsea officials last year and was rewarded for his lack of
loyalty and incompetence as coach with a new, long term contract and a pay rise
by former FA Chief Executive Mark Palios.

Eriksson's comments promoted the following response form the Premier League :

"Our rules are clear. If it is proven that the rules have been broken then the guilty
parties are liable to be punished."

Hingis & Campbell An Item

24 year old former Tennis World #1 Martina 'Swiss Miss' Hingis has admitted to
seeing Arsenal defender Sol Campbell in an interview with Schweizer Illustrierte
magazine :

"I like Sol a lot. We see each other whenever possible but he has many matches
and I have my appointments as well. It is not easy for us both."

Former Tottenham defender Ramon Vega introduced the pair at an Adidas publicity
function last October. The couple attended the launch of the United Nations
'Year of Sport' in December.