Friday, November 30, 2007

George Best fivers

There were queues outside banks when £5 notes featuring George Best went on sale last year.

All one million notes issued as a tribute to mark the first of his death were snapped up.

It also emerged that forged copies of the notes were discovered two days before the official fivers were made publicly available, sparking fears that thousands of counterfeit Best fivers were circulating in Northern Ireland.

The first of the million genuine printed £5 notes, GB0000001, was given to Barbara McNarry, one of Best's sisters, and the note GB1000000 was handed to the late player's father Dickie Best.

Kaka wants to be a minister

AC Milan playmaker Kaka sees himself becoming an evangelical minister when he quits playing football.

"I would like that a lot," Kaka said in an interview.

"It's a difficult road - you have to study theology and deepen your study of the Bible."

The deeply religious Kaka nearly always raises both of his arms to the sky after he scores goals.

"An evangelical minister reads the Bible and conveys the duties," Kaka said.

"It's not so easy to apply to today's society things that were written thousands of years ago. But that's exactly the job of a minister - to make the teaching of the Bible relevant."

With 10 goals, Kaka was the top scorer last season when Milan won the Champions League.

After his team beat Liverpool in the final, Kaka revealed a T-shirt stamped with the words "I belong to Jesus."

Thursday, November 29, 2007

George Best Faberge egg

A precious egg to celebrate the life of legendary footballer George Best is on display at Belfast City Airport which has been re-named in his honour.

The egg was designed by Sarah Faberge, whose great grandfather Carl was famed for the precious jewellery he fashioned for the Russian tsars.

The eggs are worth about £10,000, and one of the George Best Faberge eggs has already made £28,000 at auction.

The money raised goes to the George Best Foundation which raises money for local football and research into liver disease and alcoholism.

Athletes of Christ

'Athletes of Christ', is a religious organisation that specialises in saving people from the streets (usually South American ones) and then turning them into evangelists.

A number of footballers are members - Kaká is a famous recruit, as is fellow Brazilian Edmilson.

As members, 10 per cent of their monthly salary is transferred to the church

The organisation is openly evangelistic, and exhorts its members (especially the more famous ones) to get into the world's changing-rooms and spread the word - to get more recruits.

van Gaal injured while pole vaulting

Legendary Dutch coach Louis van Gaal, in the running for England boss, is still recovering from ankle and fibula injuries sustained last weekend.

Van Gaal suffered the injures while attempting a pole vault during a reunion of a sporting academy in Amsterdam.

England fans give up World Cup hope

According to a new poll, just four per cent of the public believe the Three Lions can triumph in South Africa in 2010.

Only 13 per cent see England getting past the quarter-finals.

A survey by The Football Fans Census shows belief in the national side has plummeted after the failure to make Euro 2008.

Although 94 per cent of fans say it was right to sack Steve McClaren, a majority of the 3,000- plus people surveyed also want FA chiefs Brian Barwick and Geoff Thompson to share the blame.

Asked who was responsible for England’s failure to qualify, 45 per cent said the players, while 51 per cent blamed the manager.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

League One defender drives an Aston Martin

By the standards of League One, Leeds United are a wealthy club - the size of their support gives them a financial advantage over their rivals.

It is apparent in the composition of a side with a sprinkling of internationals, as well as with a glance at the players' car park: Frazer Richardson, for instance, may well be the only League One right-back with an Aston Martin.

Shepherd's seat removed

The capacity of St James' Park has been reduced by one this season.

The seat that used to be occupied by former chairman Freddy Shepherd has been ripped out and replaced by a television for Sam Allardyce, when he sits high up in the stands.

Malouda furious that he had to take a taxi

Chelsea star Florent Malouda launched an astonishing attack on his own club — because he had to take a taxi.

He furious Blues did not send a private jet to fly him back to London after he played for France.

Malouda said: “Chelsea isn’t like Lyon or Arsenal — they don’t send planes to pick up their players after international games.

“When we played Lithuania in Nantes on October 17, the Arsenal plane was full so I took a taxi to Paris — a four-hour drive.

“We got to the airport at 4.30am, took the first plane to London, slept for three hours then went to training.

“I couldn’t miss training if I wanted to play for Chelsea that weekend.

“The club doesn’t help you a lot — unless, I guess, if you are a star.

“I am sure when Andriy Shevchenko arrived here, everything was ready for him.”

Raul sleeping at altitude

Real Madrid captain Raul has been sleeping at altitudes of up to 25,000 feet in order to turn back the effects of ageing and fatigue on his tired limbs.

In the past sportsmen and women have put themselves in specially designed tents but Raul has gone a step further and has a specially designed room in his house.

The room has a revolutionary air-conditioning system which pumps out air containing lower than normal levels of oxygen and slighter higher than normal levels of nitrogen.

The result is an increase in red blood cells meaning oxygen reaches the muscles more quickly, delaying fatigue and speeding a player's recovery.

This season Raul has played more minutes and has been rotated less than any other outfield player at Madrid, apart from Sergio Ramos who is almost 10 years his junior.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Rooney sitting his GCSEs

Wayne Rooney has hired a private tutor to help him study for his GCSE exams in English and maths.

The footballer is having regular lessons after training sessions in a bid to catch up on his education.

The 22-year-old never saw the need to take any GCSEs while a teenage prodigy at Everton - but he now hopes to pass his exams next year.

A source said: "Wayne has had a lot of advice from his United manager Sir Alex Ferguson about how to fill his time away from football.

"Fergie said he should do something constructive. "

Wayne's girlfriend Coleen has also been encouraging him to get his head in the books.

"She did well at school and left with 10 GCSEs.

"If all goes to plan he will sit his GCSEs next summer in maths and English."

Fans hide explosives in their underwear

Violent fans who disrupted a Bucharest derby at the weekend had smuggled explosives in their underwear to manufacture flares in the stadium, the head of the city's riot police said on Monday.

Fans of arch-rivals Steaua and Dinamo threw flares and smoke bombs at each other and on to the pitch, as Saturday's match was halted three times in the opening 12 minutes.

'The fans hid gun powder and different other materials in their underwear and carried them into the stands,' police general Olimpiodor Antonescu told Reuters.

'So, they needed a few minutes to manufacture their flares and bombs and then throw them onto the pitch.' .

'66 England squad to get medals

The non-playing members of England's 1966 World Cup final squad, including Jimmy Greaves, Peter Bonetti and Jimmy Armfield, will finally receive winners' medals following a rule change adopted by Fifa.

The former sports minister Richard Caborn has led a campaign to have the contribution of the whole squad recognised.

Since 1978 all squad members have received winners' medals and yesterday Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president, said all squad members of winning teams from before then - or their families - would also receive medals.

The ruling means 122 players from squads between 1930 and 1974 will receive gold medals.

England's 2010 World Cup qualifying travels



Monday, November 26, 2007

Beckham will reach 100 caps

David Beckham will win his 100th England cap as the FA use the star's popularity to try to stem a fans' backlash.

England's first match under their new coach is set to be a Wembley friendly against Switzerland on February 6.

Fa bosses fear there will be a ticket boycott in the wake of England's failure to reach the Euro 2008 Finals.

And they will tell the next England coach that Beckham's name must be on the team sheet.

The game will be marketed as a Beckham tribute night as the LA Galaxy star becomes only the fifth England player ever to reach 100 caps.

An FA insider said: "With huge repayments to make on the new Wembley, the FA have been banking on the stadium being full for every game. That has been put in jeopardy by the failure to qualify.

"Ensuring Becks gets his 100th cap is a perfect marketing tool for the game."

Scotland stars played for nothing

Scotland players did not take a penny for their failed bid to reach Euro 2008.

SFA chief executive Gordon Smith has praised Barry Ferguson and Co for not attempting to cash in - now he hopes to broker a similar deal for the World Cup in 2010.

The players struck a deal with the SFA that saw them waive win bonuses and appearance fees in favour of a squad pot of around £1.25m, payable only on qualification.

Croatians went shopping at Harrods

English football can learn a lot from the fact that Croatia's players went shopping at Harrods hours before ending England's Euro 2008 dream.

Blackburn and England midfielder David Bentley admires the Croatians for their approach to a major international fixture because he believes it shows how relaxed they were and how much faith they had in themselves and each other.

"You have got to believe in yourself and be relaxed," said Bentley.

"You must treat football like it is your hobby, not your job, you should play it because you enjoy it.

"The Croatian team went shopping at Harrods before the game and the English public say: 'Look at them, they are not bothered.'

"But they had the belief in their head, the belief in each other, so they were just chilling out and relaxing, going out for lunch, because the football at night is an enjoyment in their life, it is not a hindrance.

"I have learned a lot from the foreigners in English
football.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sugar criticizes FA

The most stinging attack of the FA this week has come from former Spurs chief executive and Apprentice star Sir Alan Sugar, who has typically not pulled any punches in his assessment of the board.

"If they were a company, the shareholders could sue them for incompetent mismanagement. In commercial terms, it's like watching your mother-in-law drive your new Ferrari over the cliff."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Pensioner poses topless for her team

102-year-old pensioner Nora Hardwick posed topless in a nude calendar to raise cash for her local football team, Ancaster Athletic.

Pub regular Nora - who covered her chest with a strategically-placed scarf - downed a small glass of whiskey before getting her kit off.

She said: "I'd never done anything like it before - and I doubt I will again.

"I just thought 'go for it' and I'm so glad I did!"

Landlord at the Ermine Way pub, Donna Moodie, added: "Nora's such a good sport."

Vietnam reduces terms for match-fixing referees

A Vietnamese appeal court has reduced jail terms for three referees convicted of bribery and match-fixing, state-run media said on Friday.

The court also reduced the sentences of two other FIFA-standard referees and cut by half the jail term of a club coach.

All were involved in a series of scandals to hit Vietnamese soccer in recent years.

The referees and four soccer officials were found guilty of bribery and match-fixing by a Hanoi court in July.

Six of those convicted filed appeals.

Referees Pham Huu Loc and Truong The Toan, sentenced to four years in prison each, had their sentences commuted to suspended terms, the Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper reported.

A third referee, Le Van Tu, received a 15-month suspended term instead of two years.

A Vietnam Football Federation official told the court "to grant the defendants conditions so they can soon return to serve the nation's football development," the Tien Phong reported.

V-League referee Luong Trung Viet had his seven-year prison term cut to five years while referee Hoang The Dung had his term of 55 months reduced to 33.

Wembley considers changing turf

Wembley will consider replacing its substandard turf pitch with a harder-wearing composite surface after Wednesday night's decisive Euro 2008 qualifier left the national stadium's playing area resembling a park pitch.

Wembley is one of the few new stadiums in the world that uses a 100% turf surface, but with the grass plainly compromised by a lack of light in the 90,000-seat arena alternatives will now be considered.

The option being investigated is to install a pitch that incorporates synthetic fibres interwoven with the roots of natural grass, anchoring the turf and helping to stabilise the surface.

The sight of the Wembley surface cutting up during the warm-up on Wednesday was acutely embarrassing for Wembley and the FA, which has invested £757m in the arena without apparently ensuring a surface fit for international football.

The decision to host an NFL game at the stadium 24 days before the most important match of the international season has been blamed for the damage.

Despite round-the-clock work the pitch did not have sufficient time to recover.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Anthem gaffe 'lifted Croatia'

Croatia rose to the occasion in their crucial Euro 2008 defeat of England - after an apparent X-rated gaffe by an English opera singer at Wembley.

Tony Henry belted out a version of the Croat anthem before the 80,000 crowd, but made a blunder at the end.

He should have sung 'Mila kuda si planina' (which roughly means 'You know my dear how we love your mountains').

But he instead sang 'Mila kura si planina' which can be interpreted as 'My dear, my penis is a mountain.'

Henry is becoming a cult hero in Croatia, but denies he played a part in England's exit.

Snoop Dogg hires Beckham

Hip-hop star Snoop Dogg has hired his children the best soccer coach in the business - British sporting ace, David Beckham.

The rapper struck up an unlikely friendship with Beckham during the late 1990s, and decided to call in a favour from the star when he moved out to Los Angeles earlier this year.

He says, "David and I go back years. I asked him to come over and do me this favour as he is the one who has made everyone wake up and pay attention to soccer over here.

"He is terrific with my kids and they had a great time as he taught them how to shoot and score the perfect goal. That’s a partnership you never thought you would see - Snoop and Beckham."

And Snoop is so grateful to Beckham for teaching his kids Corde, Cordell, and Cori the basics of soccer, he has offered to return the favour and give young Brooklyn, Romeo and Cruz lessons in lyricism.

He adds, "I love soccer just as he loves hip-hop. He hasn’t asked me to teach his kids how to rap yet - but I’m there if he ever needs it."

Russians in a state of shock

Russian soccer fans were in a state of shock on Thursday after an improbable turn of events led to their team reaching the Euro 2008 finals.

Some still could not believe that Croatia, who were already assured of qualifying, upset England 3-2 at Wembley to hand the Russians a lifeline.

However, despite the happy ending, many Russians felt their team did not deserve their place.

'It was a shameful display,' Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov told reporters as he led a chorus of disenchanted fans.

'We must say thank you to Croatia for pulling us out of oblivion and giving us a ticket to the finals.'

The soccer-loving mayor said his city government team would fare no worse than the highly paid Russian professionals against the mostly amateur Andorrans.

'I would like to invite Andorra's national team to Moscow and play against our government team. I don't think the score would be any worse than it was on Wednesday night,' he said.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A wally with a brolly



Arsenal lose for the first time in 21 months

Holders Arsenal went tumbling out of the Uefa Women's Cup after a 3-2 home defeat by Olympique Lyonnais.

The French side went through 3-2 on aggregate following last week's 0-0 quarter-final first-leg draw in Lyon.

It was the Gunners' first defeat in domestic or European competition for almost 21 months since losing the 2006 Premier League Cup final to Charlton.


Penis goal

German newspaper Bild claims that a goal scored by Spanish origin player Mario Gómez in the Bundesliga last week was scored with his penis.

‘The first penis goal in the Bundes-league’ says the paper’s front page.

The goal opened the scoring for Vfb Stuttgart who went on to win against Bayern Munich.

Perhaps a better description of the goal would be to say it was made with his crotch.

The player said, ‘I scored with a large part, and it hurt me a lot’.

Chelsea set sights on India

Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon wants the club to become 'part of the fabric' of Indian football after visiting the region as a London ambassador.

Kenyon was one of a group of ambassadors joining the Mayor of London, Ken Livingston, on his trip to India and used the trip to meet up with PR Dasmunsi, the president of the All India Football Federation and a high-ranking government minister.

The pair met to talk about the possibility of working together in the future and Kenyon is keen to develop the relationship between Chelsea and the AIFF.

He said: 'We're not just coming in and going to a school or a tour.

'We want to see if we can be part of the fabric. We really want to become everybody's second club.'

Kenyon added on the official Chelsea website: 'The purpose of the talks was to get a better understanding of Indian football.

'The talks were very informative and both parties have taken some ideas away. We will have further discussions in the future about how Chelsea can potentially work to help develop Indian football.'

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The sexiest WAG

The People's Club, a website set up to try and take over a professional football club have polled their members to see who the sexiest WAG.

And it's good news for Abbey Clancy, the busty blonde girlfriend of Liverpool and England striker Peter Crouch, as she beat Cheryl Cole - wife of Crouch's England team-mate Ashley Cole - into second place.

Sadly, the poll won't make pleasant reading for poor old Victoria Beckham. Self-proclaimed top WAG Posh Spice, 33, limped in towards the bottom of the league at number 17.

Ronaldo would get Rooney sent off again

Cristiano Ronaldo insists he would repeat the controversial wink that followed Wayne Rooney's red card at the 2006 World Cup.

The winger was instrumental in his Manchester United team-mate's dismissal following a late tackle on Ricardo Carvalho when England faced Portugal in the quarter-finals.

Ronaldo, 22, makes the admission on his new DVD, Cristiano Ronaldo — The Boy Who Had A Dream.

Ben-Haim off on his hols

Tal Ben-Haim may be in for a bigger surprise than he thought when he picks up his holiday tickets from Joe Cole.

Cole promised his Chelsea team-mate a break for him and the missus if Israel got a result against Russia.

Ben-Haim duly delivered — and now Cole is ready to do the same.

He joked yesterday: “I’ve got him a few brochures for Clacton-on-Sea. He’ll have a great time!

“Seriously, though, I’m a man of my word. It started as a joke and he’ll probably say I don’t have to do it. But I’ll send him and his wife somewhere nice, even if I’m sure we can cut a few corners . . . ”

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Golan denied a Mercedes

The Israeli FA have refused some massive prizes for the result against Russia on the weekend, including a Mercedes car offered to goalscorer Omer Golan promised by an internet betting site.

“A Mercedes would be nice, a present for my dad,” he said.

The Israeli Football Association, however, stated that Golan would not be able to accept the gift because it was deemed to be “beyond the bounds of sportsmanship”.

“Only the Israel FA can give incentives to the players. Certainly they cannot be given by any interested third party and obviously this applies when the offer comes from a fan of a team which has a direct interest in the result,” they said in a statement.

To give an idea of the relative value of the Mercedes to Golan: his salary is approximately $200,000 per year - the car is worth $100,000.

Wenger wages war on the bullies

Arsene Wenger has joined a host of celebrities in posting video messages on YouTube to speak out against bullying.

The Arsenal manager recorded a 31-second clip for the Beatbullying organisation, calling on the aggressors to stop.

He said: "Life starts with respect. Stop bullying and treat people how they deserve to be treated - and how you would like to be treated."

Ben-Haim gets texts during the game

Tal Ben-Haim revealed how he was bombarded with text messages from Chelsea’s delirious England stars.

Blues’ England skipper John Terry plus Joe Cole, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Wayne Bridge even sent some during Israel’s epic win.

Defender Ben-Haim switched on his phone after helping his country seal the win which puts England back in the box seat to qualify for Euro 2008.

He said: “Of course I have had some texts from John Terry, Frank Lampard — all of them.

" I don’t want to say what was in them but the English players are very committed to your country as well. Now it is up to them.”

Monday, November 19, 2007

Arsenal forward in four-letter rant at Pearce

Theo Walcott turned the air blue in Milton Keynes after being told James Milner would take the 82nd-minute penalty he had won with a dazzling run.

The pair briefly wrestled for the ball before Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce gave Newcastle striker Milner the nod to seal England's 2-0 win over Bulgaria and their fifth successive qualifying win.

Pearce reckons Walcott's reaction shows he is coming of age.

He said: “The more he comes out of himself the better.

“The way he played I am not surprised he wanted to score. I'm sure James Milner has heard worse anyway.

“He is the penalty-taker and Theo knows that. If anyone was offended I apologise but I look at the reaction as a positive. A year ago he would not have put himself up for a penalty.

“Now he feels a real part of the team. He got me off my seat all night and was a real thorn in their side.”

Walcott, 18, admitted: “I was full of adrenaline and wanted to take it but I knew James would score.”

Wenger impresses himself

Arsene Wenger kept himself waiting at the post-match press conference following the 3-1 victory at Reading last week.

The Arsenal boss walked into the press room at the Madejski Stadium - but could not be heard over the sound of his own voice coming from TV screens showing an earlier interview on Setanta.

As reporters struggled to turn the sound down, Wenger quipped: "Just record this, it's very good."

Lehmann denies obscene gesture

Jens Lehmann has denied making an obscene gesture to Germany fans who called for local goalkeeper Robert Enke to replace him during their 4-0 win over Cyprus in Hanover.

TV pictures showing Lehmann scratching his temple with one finger have been interpreted as insulting by German media.

But the Arsenal keeper said: 'It's nonsense. I've never done anything like that.'

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Nine cities express interest in MLS expansion teams

With San Jose and Seattle already in, Philadelphia and St. Louis could be the next cities to join Major League Soccer.

MLS commissioner Don Garber on Friday listed nine cities as candidates for expansion, with the Philadelphia and the St. Louis at the top of the list.

"Our focus today is more than likely on those two," Garber said in his state of the league address at the National Press Club.

With the decision earlier this season that San Jose will begin play next year and Tuesday's announcement that Seattle will start in 2009, MLS has grown to 15 teams. Garber said the goal is to add a "16th by the end of the year."

He also said the league is seeking to have 18 teams by 2010-2011.

Bristol City manager decorates dressing room

Gary Johnson spends much of his spare time decorating the walls of the home dressing room at Ashton Gate.

But it is a flair for psychology, rather than DIY, that drives the man who is threatening to take Bristol City back to the top flight of English football after an absence of 28 years.

Johnson demands an ultra-positive approach from his players. His methods of achieving it include the use of photographs, lists, messages, tables and written challenges, all posted around the pegs where his team change for home games.

There are pictures of every member of the first-team squad, taken after a goal has been scored, amid the celebrations of promotion to the Championship last season or, in the case of the goalkeepers, making flying saves.

Eriksson DVD released

Sven-Göran Eriksson has made such an impact at Manchester City that the club have celebrated his first five months in charge by releasing a new DVD.

The Sven Revolution charts City’s transformation under the former England head coach, from the £40 million spent in the summer on stars such as Elano, the Brazil playmaker, to the 1-0 victory over Manchester United and subsequent success in the Barclays Premier League.

“I always had the feeling that this would be a very good football team,” Eriksson said.

The DVD, which goes on sale on Monday, includes several exclusive player interviews and even has footage of Eriksson at a tea dance.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Toon owner meets 'Beefy'

Newcastle United superfan 'Beefy' had a belly of laughs with Toon owner Mike Ashley.

Beefy - real name Keith Roberts, of Brockley Whins, South Shields, spotted the billionaire ahead of Saturday's Wear-Tyne encounter at the Stadium of Light.

Mr Ashley, once described as a "reclusive" before his takeover of United, had no problem mixing in with fans as he took his place in the away end.

And tanker driver Beefy said the owner was more than happy to pose for this mobile phone snap, recreating Beefy's famous pose.

The father-of-two said: "He was just one of the lads. He was just walking past in the ground on his way to his seat and I said 'Can I have my photo taken with you?'

"I lifted my top and he just said to me 'Well you've got your belly out, I'll have to get mine out'.

Russians angry over Israel support

England need Israel to avoid defeat against Russia, so it seemed like a good idea when the Times Online asked its readers to e-mail messages of support for the Stars of David before their crucial match in Tel Aviv on Saturday.

However, the website has now been be overrun by angry Russians who have taken offence at the lighthearted attempt to help England to qualify for the European Championship in Austria and Switzerland next summer.

Most of the messages are unprintable, but Dima, from Moscow, captured the mood of her nation with this message: “Shame upon every Englishman who sends messages to Israel with wishes of good luck in match Israel against Russia,” it read.

“You were defeated in Moscow in face-to-face match. Be honest, respect our success and respect yourself, your country and your players.”

Lucky 17

In Italy, the number 17 is considered unlucky.

Some Alitalia planes have no row 17, some Italian hotels have no room 17 and in Roman numerals XVII is an anagram of VIXI which translates into "I have lived" with the implication "my life is over" or "I am dead".

Italy play Scotland in a crucial Euro 2008 qualifier at Hampden Park tomorrow with kick-off at 1700 GMT - for the record, Italy have won four of their 11 matches played on the 17th of a month in the last 30 years.

McKenzie jumped over Minis

Duncan McKenzie, Leed's star striker in the '70s, jumped over a Mini Cooper at pitchside during his pre-match warm-up for no other reason than it seemed a bit of a giggle.

England women paid £40 a day

England women's footballers have criticised the Football Association after getting just £40 a day for the five weeks at the World Cup in China.

The team reached the quarter-finals but players claim fitness levels are now suffering as they work extra hours to claw back wages lost from their jobs.

"Two months back from China, people are still working to recoup the money,"
said Chelsea striker Eniola Aluko.

An FA spokesman said investment in the women's game had never been higher.

Alex Stone, who represents the FA on women's football, said: "The money that goes into women's football each year from the FA is currently at an all-time high - it's £4.5m.

"The point to make here is that the men's game has had a 100-year start on women's football and we hope in the not-too-distant future that the women's league will be completely different product."

Aluko maintains the women are not asking to be paid the same as the men but to receive similar financial help to their counterparts in the United States and Sweden.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Beckham's underpants

David Beckham is celebrating a personal triumph ahead of England's final qualification match for Euro 2008 after agreeing a £20 million sponsorship with Giorgio Armani.

The LA Galaxy player, who has played a full 90 minutes on only two occasions since his move from Real Madrid, will front 'Emporio SS08', an underwear campaign which will start in January.

Since his move to California last summer, Beckham and his wife Victoria have shared numerous dinners with the Italian fashion designer, forging a close relationship.

A source said: "The personal relationship was definitely instrumental to this deal. David and Giorgio get on very well so it was very much Giorgio's personal choice. But Armani also see this as a sound business decision – few individuals have a truly global reach that David can have."

Biggest drop in world rankings

Malaysia stood at a respectable 75th in the FIFA world rankings in August 1993, but the Tigers have steadily tumbled ever since.

At the last count, they were 166th, their lowest ever position, 91 places below their zenith.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Striker doubles for Prince Harry

Southend striker Matt Harold, who scored in the FA Cup against Rochdale at the weekend, is set to make a TV appearance as a double for Prince Harry.

The 23-year-old bears a remarkable resemblance to the Queen's grandson and believes "it ought to be quite a good laugh".

Intelligent WAGs

Michael Carrick's wife Lisa Roughhead has a university degree in business, Stewart Downing's girlfriend Michaela Henderson-Thynne is currently studying for a law degree, Melanie Slade has A-levels in psychology, maths and biology and Coleen McLoughlin has four grade As at GCSE.

The only one who really is a bit thick is - quelle surprise - Victoria Beckham.

No-one wants Neville's shirt

Phil Neville went to swap shirts on the night that Real Madrid came to Old Trafford.

He thought a Zidane, Figo or Roberto Carlos jersey would make a nice memento.

Knocking on the away team’s dressing-room door after the game, he handed over his shirt to a kitman and waited patiently.

Five minutes later his shirt was thrust back out. No one wanted it.

Website agrees Ebbsfleet takeover

Fans' community website MyFootballClub has agreed a deal to take over Blue Square Premier outfit Ebbsfleet United.

The 20,000 MyFootballClub members have each paid £35 to provide a £700,000 takeover pot and they will all own an equal share in the club.

Members will have a vote on transfers as well as player selection and all major decisions.

The deal is expected to be completed in a few weeks after a due diligence process and the website will purchase a 51% controlling stake, while also having the option to buy the club outright in the future.

The takeover is a landmark for English football, given the website's stated intention of involving the members so radically in the running of the club, particularly with team selection.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lizarazu hoping to compete in the Olympics

World Cup and Champions' League winner Bixente Lizarazu is hoping to compete for France in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics in the skeleton,

"I tried skeleton for the first time last December and it was lots of fun," Lizarazu said.

"I always dreamt of taking part in the Olympic Games so I'll try."

Drew Carey to be minority owner of Seattle team

Drew Carey's already proven himself to be a soccer nut, following the U.S. team internationally and regularly showing up to watch Los Angeles Galaxy games.

Now, the comedian and game-show host is financially invested in the sport.

Carey will be a minority owner in the new MLS expansion team in Seattle. The ownership group comprises Carey, Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen, Seattle Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer and Hollywood producer Joe Roth. Roth will be the majority owner.

"Starting in 2009, I'm rooting for my money," Carey said Monday.

The new franchise, which will begin play in 2009, was announced Friday and was to be formally introduced Tuesday. But Carey was at Monday night's Seahawks game against San Francisco at Qwest Field, which will be the home of the to-be-named franchise.

In August, Carey injured his arm on the set of "The Price Is Right."

Instead of going to the hospital, he went to lunch with Roth about the possibility of getting involved with the ownership group.

Carey pitched the idea of having a fan membership -- similar to FC Barcelona -- where fans have a say in the direction of the franchise, including voting for the general manager every four years.

When Roth agreed to the idea, Carey signed on financially.

"We're going to let the fans control who the general manager is and whether he is hired for a four-year period," Carey said.

"Adrian is going to be the general manager, and he's one of the owners, but four years from now ... they might vote him out."

Carey also had one other condition: The team will have a marching band.

Reading WAGs raise £105,000

The “Royal Families” – the wives and girlfriends of the Reading players – have handed over cheques totalling £105,000 to charity, the fruits of their endeavours over the past year.

Emily Shorey and Olga Gunnarsson have taken over from Karen Murty and Amanda Hahnemann as the leaders of the Reading WAGs.

It’s not a competition,” Mrs Shorey said.

“Yes, it is,” Mrs Gunnarsson retorted. “We want to do better than last year.”

CCTV footage shows Ferdinand brawling

A jury has seen film of Premier League footballer Anton Ferdinand allegedly hitting a man outside a nightclub.

The prosecution claims CCTV footage shows the West Ham defender in a brawl outside Faces nightclub in Ilford, east London, in October 2006.

Ferdinand, 22, denies charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and affray, at Snaresbrook Crown Court.

His co-accused Edward Dawkins, 28, of Beckton, east London, also denies similar charges.

Monday, November 12, 2007

David Betnley ?


Essien rescued for song launch

Michael Essien had a fiery start to the launch of his anti-racism single, Skin, at Madame JoJo’s last week.

The Chelsea midfielder had to be rescued by firefighters after he became trapped in his palatial Surrey home.

A power cut struck the area in the early evening, meaning that his large electric security gates were jammed shut, stopping Michael from going anywhere.

After trying every possible way out, an extremely embarrassed Michael called 999, and a fire crew rushed out to open up his gates so that he could drive to Soho.

“It was terrible, there was a power cut for about two hours,” he said.

“The fire brigade came because I had to be here tonight.”

Michael managed to make it to the event only an hour and a half late. He then took to the stage with the band Wills and the Willing to pose for photos.

But fans weren’t treated to any of his singing. Nor were they treated to an appearance from the other Chelsea star on the single, Didier Drogba.

Michael later took a group of friends, including Salomon Kalou and Frank Lampard, to the after party, but the boys were on their best behaviour, despite bottle after bottle of Dom Perignon coming their way for their non-footballing pals, the players had soft drinks.

Wright-Phillips has bust-up with photographers

Shaun Wright-Phillips celebrated his 26th birthday at Chinawhite last month, but the event resulted in a bust-up with photographers outside the venue.

Shaun had put the pain of being left out of the Chelsea squad to face Schalke 04 in the Champions League behind him as he and a group of fellow players, including Scott Sinclair, Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou headed to the club.

As well as the usual magnums of Belvedere vodka, Cristal and Laurent-Perrier champagne doing the rounds in their VIP area, the boys also ordered 80 shots of absinthe for them, the FHM models with them and indeed anyone in the club at the londonparties.co.uk night who came to say hello.

But after a friendly night on the dancefloor, which resulted in a hefty four-figure bar bill, things turned nasty as Shaun and his friends and cousins left.

Wright-Phillips upset a girl as he was running from the club and Shaun’s cousins were involved in an altercation with a photographer, which resulted in a camera being smashed on to the ground and the photographer offering to delete the upsetting images.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Celebrating a goal by gnawing on a carrot

Atletico Mineiro's Edmilson celebrated scoring against arch rivals America in the Belo Horizonte derby in 1998 by pulling a carrot out of his shorts and gnawing on it Bugs Bunny-style.

America, you see, are nicknamed "The Rabbits".

Edmilson's goal came in the 20th minute and he later admitted he had stuffed the carrot down his shorts before kick-off.

The referee told reporters that chewing a carrot that had been nestling next to a sweaty groin was disgusting but Edmilson was unabashed.

"Did I find it revolting to eat it?" he said afterwards, "Of course not. I don't find my own body revolting."

Soccer without shorts

In 1991 Nigeria turned up to play Burkina Faso only to find their shorts had been left behind in Lagos.

With the crowd growing restless and the referee threatening to award the tie to the home team, the Super Eagles took to the field in a makeshift shorts fashioned from cut-off tracksuit bottoms.

Unfortunately the seams of the tracksuits soon split apart leaving the players exposing what the Spanish FA described on another occasion as "their most private intimacies".

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mourinho has spat with a 12-year-old

Jose Mourinho has been involved in a playground spat with a 12-year-old boy.

The former Chelsea boss was not so special when he was forced to write a formal apology to one of his daughter's classmates after pulling the child's hair.

Mourinho, who prior to his dismissal from Chelsea this season had said he was more "serene" than ever, seems to have flown into a rage when his 11-year-old daughter told him about playground taunts that another boy had made, comparing her with her father.

Mourinho went into the playground at the £6,500-a-year school his daughter attends in Setabul, near Lisbon, on Wednesday afternoon and found the boy who had been taunting his daughter, Matilde.

He then appears to have pulled the 12-year-old boy by the ears and gave him a thorough dressing down, as other parents and pupils looked on in bemusement.

Mourinho, 44, was then hauled into the office of the headmistress like a naughty schoolboy and made to apologise to his tearful victim and his family.

Isabal Simao, the headmistress of St Peter's school, said Mourinho appeared truly embarrassed and later wrote to the boy and the school to apologise for his behaviour.

Man Utd reject Christmas Eve fixture

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that Manchester United rejected a request to play Everton at 8pm on Christmas Eve as "a non-starter".

The club were approached by Setanta, the TV company, who are screening the match live, to move the kick-off to the night before Christmas but it was dismissed out of hand.

"The club were asked to play and it was a non-starter," Ferguson said.

"Who wants to play on Christmas Eve? The players will be wanting to get their Christmas presents out for their children. That was an easy one to decide."

United will now play the match at Old Trafford at noon on December 23. Their decision to reject Setanta's request was backed up by Greater Manchester Police.

The issue of kick-off times being moved in order to satisfy the demands of television has become an increasing headache for clubs.

This weekend, only one Premier League match is kicking off at the traditional 3pm start on Saturday, with six out of ten games taking place on Sunday and one on Monday.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Ashley to sit with Toon army in away end

Newcastle's millionaire owner will join his club's fans in the away end at Sunderland tomorrow because he wants to wear his black and white shirt.

Mike Ashley will forego the pleasures of the directors' box at the Stadium of Light and join the 3,000 travelling Newcastle fans, because he did not want to cause problems for the hosts by wearing his top among the red and white supporters.

The sports retail entrepreneur likes to show his affinity to the Newcastle fans by wearing the same replica shirts that helped make his fortune.

His Sunderland counterpart Niall Quinn said he did not mind what Ashley wore, but there were concerns from police and club officials that some supporters would find it an inflammatory gesture in a game which is one of British football's most passionate.

Deaf striker

Lee Farrell cannot hear the fans’ cheers when he scores — which happens a lot for the deadly striker.

But it will not stop him celebrating with his Horsham pals if the Ryman Premier outfit beat Conference South side Maidenhead in the first round of the FA Cup on Saturday.

Lee, 24, was born deaf but never let it wreck his dream of playing football.

Lee started playing football at three with dad Graham before joining Rustington youth team, where he netted 375 goals in six years.

As a teenager he turned out for a pub team where he was spotted by the Sussex County League team East Preston.

Ten goals in six games for Horsham while on loan from Lewes earned him a full-time contract at Atspeed Stadium.

This summer he helped the Great Britain deaf squad to the finals of the European Championships.

He said: “I’ve turned things around. I used to be shy but football has helped my confidence.

“If I get criticism or abuse from other teams my answer is to go out there and score goals.

“Now I’m just two games away from the chance to draw Manchester United in the third round.”

Pele backs England's World Cup bid

England's hopes of hosting the World Cup in 2018 received a significant and timely boost last night when Pele, one of the most respected and influential figures in the game, offered his backing to any bid by the Football Association.

Pele said: "I would love to see the World Cup held here in England again. It has been a long time since the last one here in 1966. This is a good opportunity for England. You must fight for what you want to happen. Of course, it is a big question, but why not?

"It will be a tough fight, but all of England wants the World Cup to come back. It was a long time ago when I played in it here in England, but England is the capital of football and it would be fantastic if it came back here."

Pele, however, admitted England's chances might be hampered by the fact that European neighbours Germany hosted the tournament only last year, adding:

"When you consider 32 countries are involved, then it is very complicated, while England is very close to Germany, where the competition was last year. It could be too close, that could be the problem."

Ronaldo told to lay off the pies

Cristiano Ronaldo has been told by the Manchester United's nutritionists to lay off the pies.

The Portuguese winger admitted: "I dated a girl from Manchester and she showed me that steak pies and chips are very good."

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ireland's Superman underpants

Manchester City's Stephen Ireland has been warned as to his future conduct by the Football Association for pulling down his shorts against Sunderland.

Ireland, 21, celebrated scoring in a 1-0 victory by revealing a pair of pants bearing the Superman logo.

The FA reminded the Irish midfielder of his responsibilities and warned him that he faces a substantial fine if he does anything similar again.

Scotland's world ranking

Scotland's sole month when they were ahead of England in world rankings came in June 1995, when they ranked 21st, with England 22nd.

The Scots are currently enjoying their highest ever ranking (13th), a far cry from their hapless form of 2005, when they plunged to a record low of 88th.

England's best effort is a respectable fourth, which they achieved as recently as 2006, while their worst performance sent them dropping to 27th in 1996.

More balls please

During the 1941 Rio State Championship final, Fluminense only needed a draw and went 2-0 up, but then Flamengo got level in the 83rd minute.

Fluminense's players then took to hoofing balls into a nearby lake until they had run out altogether.

The ruse nearly backfired as Flamengo's directors sent their rowing team to retrieve the balls, and a considerable amount of time was added on, but in the end Flamengo couldn't find another goal and Fluminense retained the title.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Cort doesn't have enough scars on his face

Defender Leon Cort says he has joined Stoke on loan because new Crystal Palace boss Neil Warnock does not like his face.

Cort revealed: "He was saying things like I did not have enough scars on my face, so I knew my time was up."

Galaxy looking for a sexy manager

Los Angeles Galaxy are once again setting their standards high after the Major League Soccer side announced they are eager to recruit a world-class coach to replace Frank Yallop.

On the day that the club confirmed the departure of Yallop to the San Jose Earthquakes, team president and general manager Alexi Lalas said the club would apply the same thinking that led to the signing of David Beckham as they begin their search for a replacement.

With the likes of Jurgen Klinsmann, Jose Mourinho and former USA coach Bruce Arena - who resigned as New York coach earlier on Monday - currently available, Lalas admitted they are looking for a high-profile coach to lead the team for next season.

'All of the people that you mention are quality coaches and just like teams all over the world we would love to have them,' he said in a conference call on Monday evening.

'We are going to use this as an opportunity once again to push the envelope and once again do something that has not been seen in Major League Soccer.

'I think you would all agree that you have seen that in the past year on the field, now we want to do it off the field.'

Lalas said that the club would consider all and any coaches for the role, but indicated the club would like to find a big name that fitted its criteria.

'There certainly is interest in a high-profile, sexy type of candidate - not simply because this is the Galaxy and this is Los Angeles, but because we are looking to bring in somebody who can do something different with the Galaxy from the results we have come to know.'

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Beckham plays in charity game for wildfire victims

David Beckham, Anthony LaPaglia and several actors and retired players joined forces to raise more than $90,000 for the victims of last month's wildfires in Southern California in a soccer exhibition Sunday.

With England coach Steve McClaren watching, Beckham scored two goals and had three assists in 83 minutes in a 10-4 rout of LaPaglia's Hollywood United.

McClaren is trying to determine if Beckham is fit enough to rejoin the national team.

The game also was the last for Galaxy coach Frank Yallop, who announced his resignation to the players afterward, Beckham said.

The 83 minutes was the most that Beckham played since joining the Galaxy in July.

Reading squad shells out for fans

Reading players will subsidise the trip for fans visiting Manchester City on 24 November - partly because of the club's inconsistent start to the season.

The Royals squad, currently 12th in the Premier League, have donated £5,000 to supporters heading to Eastlands.

Reading captain Graeme Murty said: "We know that at the moment we are massively inconsistent.

"It's not easy to justify spending so much money to watch us perform and this is giving something back to the fans."

"I would be lying if I said that the poor start didn't enter certain people's thinking," said Murty, who is in his 10th season at the Berkshire club.

"It can't be good going to places like Fratton Park and coming out after a 7-4 loss wearing a Reading shirt.

"But more than that there has been a growing realisation among the players of how expensive it is, especially for parents who bring their kids to a game."

Warnock meets chairman in toilet

Neil Warnock is promising to bring sexy football back to Selhurst Park after a hastily arranged meeting with Palace chief Simon Jordan - in a toilet.

And Warnock insists he has the full backing of his colourful chairman who has given him assurances he will put his money where his mouth is.

Warnock said: "He is so committed to the club and his enthusiasm always rubs off on me when I have talked to him in the past.

"Even now I have just had ten minutes with him after the match - in the toilet actually, and I told him that people would start to talk.

Monday, November 05, 2007

James wants to drive a demolition derby

Portsmouth and England keeper David James has revealed he'd love to one day drive in a demolition derby race.

"My ultimate request would be to have a go at the demolition derby. I used to dream about it as a kid. I guess I'll be waiting for my retirement days before that dream comes true." he said.

Scotland Fans To Drink Five Million Pints Of Beer

Scots football fans are set to down an amazing five million pints of beer as they watch their side's do-or-die game against Italy.

Pubs and clubs expect the November 17 tie to produce the busiest day they have ever had.

Some are even drafting in staff from England to cope with the expected demand as our heroes face the Azzurri. The Scots must win to make the Euro 2008 finals.

At an average £2.20 a pint, that's £11million worth. Add on wines and spirits and the total spent on drink could reach £15million.

As D-day approaches, pub landlords are having to quadruple their booze supplies, double their staff and stock up on extra glasses.

Pub bosses last night said the big game is going to be the busiest day they have ever had as thousands of fans cram into bars for the nail-biting match.

A spokesman for Glasgow's Sports Cafe said: "It will be absolutely massive. This will be the busiest day in our history."

He revealed they are buying in six times as much beer as normal - 150 kegs - compared to a usual 25.

The popular boozer expects to sell 2400 pitchers of lager - in the whole of June they only sold 2000.

The pub chain are bussing up staff from their English bars and will have 90 on duty on the big day.

Arsenal women robbed

Arsenal Women's Premier League match against Watford had to be abandoned after a number of personal possessions were stolen from their dressing-room.

Cash, credit cards, passports and car keys were stolen and with the start of the second-half badly delayed the game was called off with the score at 0-0.

Their Borehamwood ground floodlights have to be turned off at 2145 BST.

"We called in the police and have notified the Football Association," said a Gunners spokeswoman.

"Watford were very understanding though, and hopefully we'll be able to re-schedule the match as soon as possible."

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Girls soccer coach suspended after exposing himself

A youth soccer coach went to the middle of a sports field in California this week after a contentious match. and pulled down his pants, exposing his buttocks to his opponents - a team of 14 and 15-year-old girls.

Several of the girls and their parents were offended by the action on Saturday and immediately called police, who plan to ask Sonoma County prosecutors to file misdemeanor indecent exposure charges against the coach from Petaluma, Windsor police Sgt. Steve Brown said.

The coach, who was not identified, was leading his team in an under-16 tournament game at Hiram Lewis Park.

The contest had featured physical play and "heated arguments," Brown said in a written statement.

After the alleged gesture, police officers spoke to the coach, who denied exposing himself, Brown said.

He said the coach had been suspended.

Prime Minister irritated by Sports Ministers comments

The sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe's attack on the financial excesses of the Premier League drew predictable ire from Chelsea and Manchester United this week, but it has emerged that the prime minister was among those irritated by his comments.

Downing Street sources have indicated that Sutcliffe's criticism of Premier League wages and ticket prices went down badly with Gordon Brown, who is thought to have been "annoyed" by both the timing and substance of his argument.

Factual errors in Sutcliffe's speech - he inflated Terry's weekly wage from £130,000 to £150,000, and said Chelsea were £250m "in the red" when their actual losses for the past two years are £220m - allowed the clubs to focus on detail rather than Sutcliffe's wider arguments, but it seems the prime minister has little sympathy for either.

The timing of Sutcliffe's comments about Terry, 24 hours after the government had thrown its weight behind the World Cup bid, is thought to have caused irritation, and Downing Street has little sympathy for the wider argument.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Best goal celebration - bar none

Football stars in bygone days used to simply shake hands after scoring.

Over the years they got to pulling a shirt over their heads.

But this celebration in Brazil has surely got to be the craziest.

Sao Paulo striker Leandro found a whole new meaning to hitting the bar when he clambered on to the woodwork to celebrate a 3-0 victory, which gave his side the League title.

Kart challenge for Sunderland

Roy Keane got his Sunderland players revved up for next Monday's Premier League trip to Manchester City by sending them on a go-kart racing challenge.

The Black Cats boss has been driven to distraction in recent weeks when results have not matched displays, and decided his men needed to hit the fast lane to boost spirits.

The Ireland legend stayed away from yesterday's event in County Durham - joking that it might have turned messy if he was shunted off by one of his players.

Keane said: "It's good competition. There's a few quid involved and I know they were desperate to win with there being money on the table!

"The people who went wanted to win and I like that sort of competition. It's not just like going to the pub to get p****d."

Prince William to woo Fifa

Prince William, the president of the FA, is to be used as a special ambassador in England's campaign to host the 2018 World Cup.

The Prince will be highly visible at key moments in the bidding process such as when the FA hand over bid documents to Fifa in 2009 and when Fifa delegates visit to inspect stadia.

"The Prince will be a huge asset," said one source last night.

"Firstly, because he is who he is second in line to the throne. Secondly, because of the type of personality he has. He is at ease at any event. If we are trying to present a modern-day image, he represents that. He shows that a monarchy can be up to date while understanding protocol. But he must be used sparingly."

Friday, November 02, 2007

Valderrama taunts referee with cash

Carlos Valderrama, assistant coach of Atletico Junior, was ejected from a Colombian league match on Wednesday after waving cash in the face of a referee for calling a penalty that helped end his team's hopes of qualifying for the playoffs.

The incident, condemned on Thursday by Colombia's soccer federation, touched off riots that injured 10 fans and resulted in the arrests of at least a dozen more in Junior's stadium in the Caribbean city of Barranquilla.

Valderrama lost his temper after referee Oscar Julian Ruiz called a penalty against Junior in the final minutes of the first half, in which Junior was leading America of Cali 1-0.

After Jorge Rojas converted the kick for America, Valderrama rushed from the sideline and began shouting obscenities at Ruiz, eventually pulling from his pocket a 50,000 peso ($25) bill he used to taunt the referee for allegedly taking bribes from the visiting squad.

An irate Valderrama, who captained Colombia at three World Cups during its heyday last decade, was escorted off the field by a dozen riot police while Junior's fans attacked America's supporters with sticks and other debris.

America went on to win 3-1, ending Junior's chances of qualifying for the league's eight-team playoffs.

Valderrama was unrepentant following the match, calling Ruiz a "thief" and saying he stole the match from Junior.

Ruiz, the only Colombian referee used in the 2006 World Cup, was shocked by Valderrama's actions.

"Carlos is my idol, but his behaviour really surprised me,'' Ruiz said.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Minister labels Terry's wages obscene

The sports minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, has labelled John Terry's salary "obscene" and accused Manchester United of setting ticket prices prohibitively high, claiming such moves took the game away from "ordinary working people."

"Good luck to John Terry but I think it is obscene to be on £150,000 a week," said Sutcliffe.

"People in the street cannot understand salaries like that.

Chelsea are £250m in the red and they may be able to cope with that but it's not the real world. £250m in the red is not sustainable."

However, Chelsea are understood to be furious with some of the figures quoted by Sutcliffe and are understood to have complained to his department that they are inaccurate.

It is thought Terry's weekly wage is closer to £130,000, while the club returned losses of £80m in the last financial year and £140m the year before.

And thanks to owner Roman Abramovich, their debts are minimal.

England manager now at Stevenage Borough

Almost seven years ago to the day, Peter Taylor was the England manager who made David Beckham captain of the national team.

Now, three weeks after being sacked by Crystal Palace, he's been appointed manager of non-league side Stevenage Borough.

Player burn-out

Football players' chief Gordon Taylor has warned that Steven Gerrard and other England stars are facing burn-out because of the demands placed on them.

Gerrard has started six games in the last 18 days, including England's trip to Moscow and Liverpool's to Istanbul ...

Oct 13th: Estonia (h)
Oct 17th: Russia (a)
Oct 20th: Everton (a)
Oct 24th: Besiktas (a)
Oct 28th: Arsenal (h)
Oct 31st: Cardiff (h)

"If that was a racehorse you would say that was too much and have the RSPCA onto you," Taylor said.

Lee apologises for booze binge

South Korea captain Lee Woon-jae delivered a tearful apology after admitting to a late-night drinking session with team mates during the Asian Cup in Jakarta.

Goalkeeper Lee, Lee Dong-guk, Kim Sang-sik and Woo Sung-yong left the team base to go drinking after Korea's shock 2-1 loss to Bahrain on July 15, the Korea Football Association (KFA) said.

'There is no room for excuses,' said a tearful Lee at the KFA headquarters on Tuesday.

'I was captain at the time and I will accept any punishment the association hands me.'

The KFA has issued a public apology on its website.

Aussies confident over bid for 2010 World Cup

Football Federation Australia chief executive Ben Buckley believes his organisation can put together a competitive bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

FIFA announced on Monday it was ending its rotation policy and Australia have quickly signalled their intention to bring the showpiece event to Oceania for the first time in its history.

They are likely to face strong competition, however, as England are weighing up a potential bid and China, the United States, Russia and Japan are also reported to be interested, while a joint approach from the Netherlands and Belgium could also emerge.

But Buckley was confident Australia can present a strong case to host the World Cup in 11 years time and insisted it was far too early to start making predictions about who will eventually be awarded the honour.

'We're confident in our abilities to put together a very strong bid and we think Australia would be a great place to host it,' he said.

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