Monday, December 31, 2007

Nigeria star robbed and kidnapped

Nigeria and Nice defender Onyekachi Apam was abducted and robbed at gunpoint in the city of Enugu.

Apam was released unharmed after a 45-minute ordeal but the three-man armed gang took his Honda Accord car.

Apam, who turned 22 yesterday, was returning from a church service when the incident took place.

He said : 'They forced me to lie down at the back of the car and then they drove off. I just thank God that I was not harmed in any way.'

Adriano unhurt after multiple pile-up

Adriano has escaped unscathed from a car accident in Rio de Janeiro, according to reports in South America.

The Brazil striker was involved in a multi-vehicle incident early this morning although neither the 25-year-old nor anyone else involved was injured.

Adriano was a reputed target for Premier League clubs including West Ham and Manchester City but will complete a loan move to Sao Paulo from Serie A leaders Inter Milan tomorrow.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Beckham honoured to be a gay icon

David Beckham has confessed that he feels honoured to be a gay icon.

He said "I'm very honoured to have the tag of gay icon.

"Maybe it's things like (the fact) I like to look after myself, I like to look smart and presentable most of the time."

He once wore a sarong on a night out with Spice Girl Victoria, and she heaped further humiliation on him when she confessed on TV that he liked to borrow her underwear.

Ex-boss's voice still used

Former Swindon boss Paul Sturrock's voice is still being used to greet callers to the club's automated switchboard, despite the fact he left for Plymouth in November.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Armed refs

A Malaysian referee took out his gun and fired warning shots in the air after a local soccer match turned unruly following the suspension of a player, a newspaper said on Tuesday.

The referee, who was also a policeman, ran to his patrol car to get his gun after players mobbed him for showing the red-card to one of them, the New Straits Times said.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Dean Ashton is NOT fat

England striker Dean Ashton has insisted his bulked up frame is not the result of too much of the good life during his long spell on the sidelines.

The 24-year-old said: "A lot has been made of my physique. I've been compared with an over-conditioned racehorse and a lot of people have had a surprising amount to say about the way I look.

“But I've worked really hard and, if people actually saw me in the flesh, they would realise I'm not that big and I feel as strong - and as quick - as I've ever been.

“There's not a lot of difference between my weight now and what it was when I got injured on England duty at the start of last season, but my physique has changed.

“I've got a lot more muscle and a lot less fat, so my body has changed, but I'm not sure how much other people outside the club are qualified to comment on that."

Lehmann's son verbally abused

Jens Lehmann's son has been verbally abused as the Germany keeper fights for his future at Arsenal.

He is ready to take anything thrown at him but admits he was furious when his lad told him what happened at a school rugby match.

Lehmann said: "I believe the prejudices are still the same. Most recently my son was called a 'bloody German Nazi' from a boy of the opposing team during a school rugby match. He was very sad."

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Beckham in knickerbockers

Former England football captain David Beckham has revealed that his taste for extravagant clothes started at an early age.

The LA Galaxy star said that as a young page boy he chose to wear knickerbockers, long socks and ballet shoes in preference to a suit.

"My dad gave me a little bit of stick, but I was happy," he said.

Arsenal pull out

The Women's Premier League year ended on a sour note with the champions Arsenal facing potential FA punishment and the wrath of Birmingham City after pulling out of yesterday's fixture against them.

The Gunners reported on Friday that they had 15 players unavailable due to either injury, illness, pregnancy or being out of the country for Christmas.

"We're on the floor here," said the manager Vic Akers, whose problems had mounted rapidly after fielding a team only two players short of full strength in the previous Sunday's League Cup semi-final against Liverpool.

Arsenal's predicament brought no sympathy from Birmingham's chairman, Steve Shipway, who said angrily: "This is the sort of thing that happens in a Sunday morning pub league. Arsenal have got a big enough squad to have fulfilled the fixture.

As well as costing us money and embarrassment at having to call the game off they've done a great disservice to women's football.

Shipway reckoned his club would be out of pocket to the tune of around £2,000, and the FA spokesman Alex Stone confirmed: "Arsenal will be charged with failing to fulfil a fixture and will have to put their case.

If they are unsuccessful, sanctions against them could include having to meet any costs incurred by Birmingham."

Monday, December 24, 2007

Keane in F-word storm

Roy Keane had to be thrown out of Steve Coppell’s office in an amazing F-word bust-up at Reading.

Sunderland’s fiery boss let rip with an amazing rant after being invited in for a Christmas drink following Saturday’s controversial 2-1 defeat at the Madejski.

A Reading player said: “It was incredible. Roy was absolutely steaming. And at the time no one had a clue why.

Roy would naturally have been disappointed at the way the game ended — but that is not our fault.

“He was invited into the gaffer’s office for a drink, which is the normal act of courtesy here.

“But, within 10 seconds of going in there, all hell seemed to break loose. He was fuming and really having a go at everyone in there as if it was his office at Sunderland.”

Reading boss Coppell was absent but Keane stunned backroom staff with his outburst which included accusing them of ‘disrespecting Sunderland’.

A club official was eventually forced to manhandle Keane out and into the players’ tunnel.

Sunderland were sunk by a controversial injury-time winner which — they claim — did not cross the line and puts the club into the Premier League’s bottom three going into a crucial phase of the season.

QPR are richest club in the world

Chelsea fans will be surprised to hear that they are no longer the country’s richest club.

In fact, they are not even the wealthiest in West London any more.

That honour now goes to unfashionable neighbours Queens Park Rangers after Lakshmi Mittal — the fifth most minted man on the planet — bought a 20 per cent stakeholding.

And with the Rangers board already boasting F1 tycoons Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore, it means the Championship’s bottom club have a fortune of more than £22 billion — even bigger than Real Madrid.

The three wealthy directors have pledged to splash the cash to turn Rangers into the game’s next big force.

And boss Luigi de Canio will be given an open chequebook to strengthen his squad during next month’s transfer window.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

South African power problem

The South African government is hard at work preparing for the 2010 World Cup.

It's getting new stadiums, infrastructure, and new city names.

Yet those in charge have a larger concern about power, and it's one that could bring the games to a halt.

World Cup 2010 government unit director-general Joe Phaahla said they were concerned about the weak supply of power especially during June and July which it was feared could disrupt the first World Cup to be held in Africa.

"We will not want to see blackouts during the tournament," Phaahla told reporters in Johannesburg.

This past June South Africa a cold front swept across large parts of the country, resulting in a record demand of electricity.

Phaahla has said that the government is planning to increase the infrastructure budget by almost 50% to ensure the power problem would cease to become one.

Champs auction trophies

MLS champions Houston Dynamo's latest promotion is to auction off their trophies.

If you’re a Dynamo fan with deep enough pockets, you can bid on the chance to do whatever you want with the trophies.

You just need to live within 40 miles of Houston, and be willing to spend an hour with the media on Christmas Day.

But amazingly, with less than 24 hours to go the auction has garnered just 7 bids, with the current price being $550.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Lineker's new girlfriend

Having just signed a new deal with the BBC for about £10million, ex-England striker Gary Lineker has been strolling in the Florida sunshine with a stunning model nearly half his age on his arm.

The 47-year-old Match of the Day presenter and his new girlfriend, model Danielle Bux,were enjoying a romantic break before he returns to Britain for Christmas.

The couple checked into a five star beachfront hotel where rooms cost £1,200 per night before taking a stroll allong the sands.

Miss Bux, a Welsh-born former air hostess, is believed to be Lineker's first serious relationship since he split up from his wife Michelle last year.

The 29-year-old beauty was with the former footballer on a break in Vienna earlier this year.

She has a five-year-old daughter from her relationship with former Coventry City player Adam Willis.

Blindfolded Arsenal

William Gallas organised a game between Arsenal's first team and the club's visually impaired side when he heard that the team existed as part of the club's community programme.

The first team wore blindfolds during the game, and used a ball equipped with a rattle.

"It was my idea," said Gallas.

"It was something I did with the French national team at Clairefontaine a couple of years ago and I found it a really good experience.

"Sometimes we forget how lucky we are, how fantastic a job we have. Sometimes we forget how lucky we are to have something as simple as our eyesight. When you see those kids play with such skill and precision, it's amazing."

The fact that all Arsenal's first team players took part in the game is a measure of how much respect Gallas commands as club captain.

"I didn't even mention it to the lads until after training," he said.

"I meant to say something beforehand but I forgot. Some players had appointments and other things to do, but they all stayed and gave their time to these kids. They were interested to see how it would be to be blind, or visually impaired, and try to play football. I don't know how they do it."

Friday, December 21, 2007

Curbishley in call to ban players' Christmas parties

Alan Curbishley believes that clubs should seriously consider banning players' Christmas parties.

The West Ham manager's comments came after the problems at the Manchester United players' party on Monday, after which Northern Ireland international Jonny Evans was quizzed by police over an allegation of rape.

The Hammers players also held their party this week, at the Sports Cafe in London, but Curbishley has put the future of such celebrations in doubt.

He said today: “I hope we've come out unscathed.

“I don't like Christmas parties for the players and I will have to seriously think about banning it next year, after what has happened in Manchester.

Fab's men won't learn English

Fabio Capello’s Italian coaching team have stuck two fingers up at the English.

The FA have spent £30million in hiring Capello, Franco Baldini, Massimo Neri, Italo Galbiati and Franco Tancredi.

But the new Three Lions chief’s pals want to snub living in England — and cannot be bothered to learn the lingo.

Capello’s No 2 Galbiati, 70, will play a crucial role in getting messages through to the players.
But Galbiati said: “Now I have got to learn English — it will be a real hassle. Maybe I’ll leave it to the others.”

Fitness guru Neri added: “We will only go to England during the squad get-togethers. We’re not dealing with a team with which you have to work on a daily basis.”

Capello’s assistants will rake in £1.5million but Neri expects FA chief executive Brian Barwick to bow to the demands.

That would mean only Capello and off-pitch assistant Baldini are on English soil permanently.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cole may face charges over two-fingered salute

The Football Association will examine all available evidence before deciding whether to take disciplinary action against Ashley Cole for an alleged two-finger salute to Arsenal fans.

Cole making the gesture at Gunners supporters who had jeered him throughout the match during their 1-0 Barclays Premier League defeat.

The FA today confirmed referee Alan Wiley did not include the incident in his post-match report so they will now turn to other evidence - including photographic and video material - before deciding whether Cole should be charged.


Find out what your name would be if you played for Brazil at BrazilName

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Danielle doesn't bear a grudge

Danielle Lloyd is obviously not a girl to bear a grudge - as she celebrated her birthday with both her boyfriend and her ex-fiance in tow.

The model arrived for her 24th bash at Faces nightclub in Essex with current beau Tottenham Hotspur player Jermaine Defoe.

Also at the pimps and tarts themed party was her ex-fiance Teddy Sheringham.

The former Miss Great Britain, who recently had her breasts enlarged to a DD-cup, has made something of a habit of dating footballers and enjoyed a romance with Charlton Athletic star Marcus Bent earlier this year.

Rooney's caffeine fix

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney will soon find it simple to get his caffeine fix after his fiancée Coleen McLoughlin tracked down an industrial coffee maker and snapped up the £3,000 machine as a Christmas present for her man.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Shevchenko is the biggest transfer flop in football history

An online poll of fans has voted Andriy Shevchenko the biggest transfer flop in football history.

The Ukraine striker, signed by Chelsea from AC Milan for £30 million and a weekly wage of £120,000, received 2,857 of the 6,677 votes cast.

In second place was £28.1m Manchester United dud Juan Sebastian Veron with 1,069 votes while Sergei Rebrov, who joined Tottenham in 2000 for £11m, came third with 635 votes.

Beckham's obsessive compulsive disorder

David Beckham has revealed the extent of his obsessive compulsive disorder.

The former England captain reveals: "In our house in Spain we used to have this big rug that when you hoovered it, you could do it in lines like Wembley.

"Victoria used to catch me after the kids had gone to bed doing the hoovering and it would all be in perfect lines."

New England boss supported Germany in '66

England's new soccer boss Fabio Capello has a guilty secret... he supported Germany in the 1966 World Cup Final.

The former Real Madrid and AC Milan coach, who was 20 at the time, taunted his English cousin Giorgio Callighan throughout the tournament.

Mr Callighan, who played football with Fabio during visits to his Italian relatives as a teenager, revealed: "I took a lot of stick. I visited northern Italy many times as a child, but I only really got to know Fabio in 1966 when England were in the World Cup.

"All the Italians supported Germany against England at the time, including Fabio of course. I got a lot of stick because I was English.

"I don't think Fabio had anything against England. It was just that everyone in Italy supported the Germans because there were a lot of Italian players in the German league at the time."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Toast your team's initials

Footy fans are snapping up toasters in club colours which brand slices with their team's initials at the touch of a button.

Ipswich Town was the first club to stock the £45 novelty appliance and sold out in two days.

Now they are on sale at Premiership side Reading with a host of other top clubs also interested.

Ipswich's head of retail Elaine Hull said: "I knew it would be a winner as soon as I saw it."

Inventor Duncan Bardsley, whose Tinbone firm makes the toaster, said: "They are great fun."

Coventry backers promise £20m

Coventry City have avoided the 10-point penalty that would have accompanied entering administration after Ray Ranson, backed by the investment company Sisu Capital, completed a takeover for the Championship club 35 minutes before yesterday's 4pm deadline.

The agreement, under which Ranson will supplant Joe Elliott as the chairman, should safeguard Coventry's short-term future and also ease fears that Iain Dowie, the manager, might step down.

Ranson plans to restructure Coventry's estimated £38m debt to ensure that financial commitments are met and significant funds, believed to be up to £20m, have been promised to deliver progress.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Hi-tech football tells referees when it crosses the line

It's the technology that could be the final word on arguments between football supporters and could end constant griping by managers over disputed goals.

Hi-tech footballs fitted with special chips that tell officials whether a ball has crossed the line could soon be a regular feature at Premiership football matches after they were successfully trialled in a match in Japan.

Tests during the tournament's opening matches show the system is working and officials must now decide whether to approve the technology for wider use.

Wires embedded in the pitch around the goalmouth emit a magnetic field which can detect the presence of a specially-designed ball fitted with a sensor.

The football can then be tracked its exact position around the pitch.

An encrypted signal is then sent to a watch worn by the referee to let them know whether the ball has crossed the line.

An earlier prototype of the technology was first trialled at the Under-17 World Cup in Peru in 2005 but proved too inaccurate to be rolled out any further.

Coach to drop fat players

China coach Vladimir Petrovic is fed up of overweight players ruining his chances of leading his team out in the World Cup.

A physical examination last weekend during a national team training camp in Guangzhou revealed that nine of the 22 outfield players were too flabby.

"The excessive fat will seriously affect their mobility and speed," Petrovic said.

"I hope they reduce it as quickly as they can."

Petrovic has vowed that the players who do not lose the weight will be dropped from his side and miss the World Cup Qualifiers.

The coach has a history of being strict on fatties after he relegated one striker to the bench and sold a defender for being overweight when he was managing Chinese Super League (CSL) club Dalian Shide in 2005.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Posh takes Becks to a Sin City strip club

David Beckham and wife Victoria certainly spiced things up during their recent stop in Las Vegas - with a visit to a Sin City strip club.

The married couple spent three hours in a private room at Spearmint Rhino, one of the city's most famous lap dancing clubs.

The pair, who were at the venue to celebrate the birthday of a Spice Girls makeup artist, sparked chaos when they walked in with customers scrambling to get a look at the famous pair.

Victoria's spokesperson confirmed: "(They) did go to a strip club with a group of friends to celebrate one of the friend's birthday."

McClaren wins something

It was never likely that ex-England coach Steve McClaren would win many trophies, but several weeks after he was sacked he's got one ... the 'Foot in Mouth Award'.

He fought off tough competition from U.S. President George W. Bush to win a dreaded 'Foot in Mouth' award on Tuesday from the Plain English campaign.

He won the award when he uttered this beautifully crafted sentence about Wayne Rooney, "He is inexperienced but he's experienced in terms of what he's been through."

Capello wants to bring his assistants too

Fabio Capello should be confirmed as England's new coach today — but last night lawyers were still haggling over the cost of his four Italian assistants.

While the FA board have no objection in principle, they are concerned by the mounting cost, particularly as board members are pushing for the addition of an Englishman to the coaching staff.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Serial WAG

Jermain Defoe and model Danielle Lloyd made their first public outing as a couple last night as they went to see Shilpa Shetty perform in Miss Bollywood in the Royal Albert Hall.

Their night out will come as a blow to Defoe's former fiancée Charlotte Mears, who's been left devastated by the Tottenham and England star.

Sources say Defoe dumped Mears a couple of months ago and soon started seeing her pal Danielle, who once dated Teddy Sherigham.

He also asked Mears, 22, to take all of her belongings out of their Hertfordshire home and then changed the locks so she couldn't get back in.

The source says things are getting so serious between Defoe, 25, and Lloyd, 23, that he's now planning on moving her into the house he was making a home with his former fiancée.

Capello and hairy shins

If you have got hairy shins then it is best not to show them to prospective England boss Fabio Capello.

He is quoted as saying: "When a man crosses his legs and the trouser rides up to show hairy shins, it offends my eyes."

Naming children after yourself

The late Liverpool and England defender Emlyn Hughes named his two children … Emlyn and Emma Lynn.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Luton able to pay wages

Luton will be able to pay their players again after their 1-0 FA Cup win over Nottingham Forest secured a big-money third round tie against Liverpool in January.

The Hatters have had to stop paying wages since the club was plunged into administration earlier in the month.

Liverpool vow to protect players

Liverpool will beef up security to protect players and their families after skipper Steven Gerrard became the sixth Anfield star to be targeted by thieves in just 19 months.

Gerrard's wife Alex Curran was confronted by four burglars at the couple's mansion last night.

She was left shaken but not injured in the incident - which took place as Gerrard played in the 4-0 Champions League win in Marseille.

A spokesman for Liverpool FC said the club was shocked to hear the news of Ms Curran's ordeal.
He said: "Our first concerns are for the welfare of Alex, Steven and the family.

"The club takes this extremely seriously and we will be looking at ways to provide cover for the players' houses while they are away with the club on domestic and international duty."

A Merseyside Police spokeswoman said four men entered the property in Formby, Merseyside, just before 9.30pm and stole items of jewellery.

Smell like Rooney

Wayne Rooney is to launch his own brand of toiletries - the Man United and England star will launch a toiletries range, also including shower gel and deodorant, next year.

He was approached with the plan after he backed fiancée Coleen McLoughlin as she started her perfume range earlier this year.

A source said yesterday: “He likes this idea. But it certainly won’t be anything too poncy - he would never hear the end of it at United.”

Man United fans stabbed in Rome

Five Manchester United fans, including a 16-year-old boy, have been stabbed ahead of the club's game against Roma.

Violence erupted between a group of 50 rival fans on a bridge near the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.
Police used two baton charges to disperse the fans and arrested two British nationals.

The last time the two teams met in April, 11 fans were taken to hospital after violence in the stadium. The stab injuries are not said to be serious.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Chinese players injured in knife attack

Chinese police have detained a taxi driver who attacked two young soccer players with a knife after they refused to clean up vomit in his cab after a night out.

Wang Lin, a 22-year-old former striker from relegated Chinese Super League club Xiamen, was unconscious in hospital in Shenyang, capital of the northeastern province of Liaoning, after surgery for multiple stab wounds.

His friend Cao Chen, a former China youth international, was also injured but has been discharged from hospital.

OBE honour for Giggs

Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs has collected an OBE from the Queen for services to football.

The 34-year-old Cardiff-born former Wales captain, who made his Old Trafford debut at 17, collected the award at Buckingham Palace.

Giggs, who was given the day off to attend the ceremony by club boss Sir Alex Ferguson, said: "It is a very proud day for me and my family."

FA announce 'One FA Cup' £1 ticket deal

The Football Association have launched an initiative to let children watch selected FA Cup third-round games for just £1.

Six matches have been selected for the 'One FA Cup' promotion, where adults attending as either a home or away fan will be able to buy a child's ticket for a pound.

The FA are funding the initiative and have chosen matches based on geographical location which also feature sides from various levels.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Player controls ball with buttocks, sparks riot

In Peru, Efrain Viafara, a midfielder for Sport Ancash, created an uproar when he used his buttocks to trap the ball.

His bit of unorthodox skill was interpreted as a mocking act by Universitario players, who chased Viafara.

Fans began to fight in the stands, then poured onto the field before the referee abandoned the game.

Reds fans selling fake steward bibs

The rumour that has swept through Marseille ahead of the crucial Champions League clash against Liverpool tomorrow is unusual.

According to local reports, "sources in Liverpool" have warned French authorities that visiting fans will trigger security chaos not just by circulating forged tickets, but also by selling replicas of Marseille stewards' bibs - L'Equipe today reports that 1,000 such replicas are believed to have been produced.

Arsenal bus gets lost

Arsenal's team bus got lost on the way to the Riverside yesterday - then their Premier League hopes took a damaging wrong turn.

The league leaders arrived for their pre-match warm-up just an hour before kick-off after turning off the A19 and heading for Darlington instead of Middlesbrough.

If only they had noticed that Boro are sponsored by a sat-nav equipment company.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Beckham teaches Snoop's soccer-mad children

When football fan and gangsta rapper Snoop Dogg decided his children should learn the beautiful game, their reaction was – as he might say – cool.

They refused to practise unless dad could persuade his buddy David Beckham to provide the coaching.

The former England captain spent several hours with the rapper and his sons Cordé, 13, and Cordell, ten, and daughter Cori, eight, at their Los Angeles home, teaching them free kicks and dribbling tricks.

Barwick to offer England job to Mourinho

Jose Mourinho will be offered the job of England head coach this week on £6million a year — but the Portuguese manager was last night considering his options after a counter-bid from a major European club.

Football Association chief executive Brian Barwick was on the verge of finalising a four-and a- half-year deal worth more than £27m last night, with the former Chelsea boss in Lisbon waiting to take a private jet to London.

His agent, Jorge Mendes, spoke with Barwick on Friday night about the details of the FA's offer and negotiations are believed to have gone well.

Mourinho is reported to have said: 'I have decided I will go to England if they want me. I am going away on holiday now, but if everything goes well, I can be in England on January 1.'

The appointment of the charismatic Portuguese coach would stagger the football world, but the FA know he will be popular with the media, players and supporters, who all believe that he is the right man to restore England's tarnished international reputation.

A source close to the England team said yesterday: 'I spoke to Jose last night. Fingers crossed this happens. I know all the England players will be delighted.'

Redknapp anger at crowd 'abuse'

Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp hit out at the "filth" and abuse directed at him by Aston Villa fans during his side's 3-1 win at Villa Park.

Redknapp was seen to be involved in exchanges with Villa fans in the enclosure behind the Pompey dug-out.

He said: "You've got people saying stuff behind you with little kids shouting filth. I didn't bring my kids up to talk like that.

"Do we have to keep standing there and accepting that?"

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Tough schedule for Africans

African countries will have to play their first four qualifying matches for the 2010 World Cup finals on successive weekends, FIFA confirmed on Friday.

The first group phase of the qualifiers begin at the end of May and conclude in September.

The four weekends of June will be used for the first four rounds of group matches, presenting a potential logistical headache for teams having to criss-cross the continent.

Poor flight connections, which often turn traveling to international matches into multi-day and multi-stop expeditions, are likely to cause consternation among coaches.

Man United to wear retro shirt

Manchester United have been given permission by the Premier League to wear a one-off 1950s shirt to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Munich air crash — but insist they won't make any money from the move.

United have been criticised in the past for 'exploiting' supporters by constantly changing their home and away shirts.

But the strip to be worn by Sir Alex Ferguson's players when they face Manchester City at Old Trafford on February 10 — four days after the anniversary — will not be sold to the public and will not even be photographed before the game in a bid to stop replicas being produced.

The Premier League have given United permission to wear the shirt even though it will contravene regulations by not carrying their Barclays logo, not having the names of the players on the back and not carrying squad numbers.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Portsmouth's wearable steroid shirts

Portsmouth are the only English club to latch on to a trend that was the talk of the rugby World Cup — ionized shirts, or 'wearable steroids' as the marketing bods soon dubbed them.

Developed by New Zealand kit firm Canterbury, the 'IonX' shirts are made from a fabric that contains a negatively charged electromagnetic field.

This means the process of ionisation, which produces electrically charged atoms long understood by former Eastern Bloc scientists to improve sporting performance, can occur in the body during training and even competitive matches.

It is claimed to increase blood flow and oxygen levels, leading to improved performance.

Portsmouth seem to think it has an effect.

Paul Bell, the club's commercial director, said: 'It's something we believe is delivering a tangible, positive effect on our players.'

Portsmouth are so keen they have done a deal preventing other Premier League sides from using IonX for 'the immediate future' — thought to be several seasons.

Striker gets Player of the Month award and wins a shed

Barnet striker Liam Hatch has shown he has all the tools to make it to the big time.

And now he has a place to keep them after the Football League's first-ever Player of the Month won a shed put up by league sponsor Wickes.

It was not practical to deliver the building to the club's training ground, so Hatch was presented with an IOU by Barnet fan Adrian Singer.

Asked how he felt about winning the shed, Hatch said: "The other players tell me that I should live in it."

Policeman attacked with flare

Rioting Red Star fans badly burned a plainclothes policeman with a flare during a league match at the weekend in horrific scenes that alarmed Europe's football authorities.

Two Serb supporters were arrested after the 1-1 draw with strugglers Hajduk Kula, with police treating the case as attempted murder and the accused men facing jail sentences of up to five years.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bolton fans held in Serbian hotel

Hundreds of Bolton Wanderers fans have been detained at a Belgrade hotel ahead of the club's Uefa Cup tie.

Serbian police have held the supporters at the Hotel National amid security fears after trouble involving Red Star Belgrade supporters last weekend.

The club said the fans, on an official trip, are being held without reasonable explanation and it has expressed its "frustration and disappointment".

Bolton face Red Star in a Uefa Cup Group F match this evening.

Chelsea star's orgy probe

Claudio Pizarro is being investigated by Peruvian football chiefs for allegedly taking part in an orgy.

The Chelsea striker’s future with Peru hangs in the balance as a result.

Captain Pizarro was named, along with some of his international team-mates, in a TV programme which claimed players took women into their hotel rooms and drank long into the night.

It is claimed the incident happened just days before Peru were trounced 5-1 by Ecuador in a crucial World Cup qualifier on November 21.

Pizarro, capped 45 times for his country, denies the allegations in private and insists he has done nothing wrong.

Albanian chief accused of 'selling' Euro qualifiers

Albania's soccer team has been branded a 'mafia group' by Prime Minister Sali Berisha while the country's culture minister accused the President of the National Soccer Federation of 'selling' two Euro 2008 qualifiers.

In a letter addressed
to UEFA last month and made public earlier this week, Culture Minister Ylli Pango called upon the sport's governing body in Europe to investigate 'clear suspicions that both matches might have been sold by the President of our National Soccer Federation'.

'This is clear evidence that he is using our national soccer team's matches for his own interests, insulting the feelings of its fans and supporters,' Pango wrote.

'Therefore, I kindly invite UEFA to investigate both matches,' he added.

lost 4-2 at home to Belarus and 6-1 away to Romania in the last two Euro 2008 qualifiers.

Otto Baric resigned after the unsuccessful campaign.

108 game unbeaten streak

Asec Abidjan of the Ivory Coast went 108 matches unbeaten between 1989 and 1994.

When their winning streak did eventually come to an end - via a 2-1 defeat by SO Armée - the backlash was immediate: they crushed their next opponents 11-0.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Nightclub bans player for sake of career

A Sunderland night club has banned Black Cats teenager Anthony Stokes after manager Roy Keane said it could ruin his career.

In an outbreak of responsibility, Wylam Leisure, the owner of The Glass Spider, has banned Stokes from its premises for the sake of his nascent career.

According to Keane, Stokes “can go as far as he wants” in football, although his praise came with a hefty caveat.

“He could be a top player or he could be playing non-League in five years,” the manager said.

Chelsea stars junk food habit

Florent Malouda has revealed Chelsea's millionaires are allowed to eat junk food as long as they serve up top performances on the pitch.

Spurs boss Juande Ramos has become the latest foreign coach to tell his players to clean up their diet since arriving in English football.

But France winger Malouda, who joined for £13.5million from Lyon in the summer, claimed the Stamford Bridge stars can still snack away.

"The people at Chelsea don't control what the players eat," he said.

"You can help yourself to whatever you like, drink Coke or anything, and it is up to you to prove yourself on the pitch.

"I hate Ronaldo"

Google have delivered some not-so-great news for Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo, who has worked hard to turn around public bad feeling after his spat with Wayne Rooney in the 2006 World Cup.

The internet search engine revealed "I hate Ronaldo" was one of the most popular searches in 2007.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Police probe Drogba laser attack

Police have confirmed there is an ongoing investigation to find the West Ham fan who shone a green laser into the face of Chelsea striker Didier Drogba during Saturday's Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge.

A police spokesperson said: "When the matter was brought to the attention of officials it was not possible to identify the person or persons responsible but we will continue to try to do so."

It is now likely the club will assess closed-circuit TV tapes in a bid to track down the identity of the fan whom Drogba labelled 'stupid' after the game.

Beckham makes surprise appearance

David Beckham made a surprise appearance at the opening of the Spice Girls reunion world tour in Vancouver.

The football ace saw wife Victoria for the first time in three-and-a-half weeks after jetting back from New Zealand where he was on tour with his team LA Galaxy.

Posh Spice confessed she was nervous about her husband seeing the show.

Victoria said: "David turned up today but he hasn't been at any of the rehearsals because he's been away working so I'm nervous about what he's going to think about the show.

"He's not even seen any of the costumes."

The show at the General Motors Place in Vancouver marked the start of the sell-out Return of the Spice Girls Tour and coincides with the group's Greatest Hits album.

Relegated 2 years after being champions

Corinthians, one of Brazil's most popular clubs and champions two years ago, were relegated after drawing 1-1 at Gremio in their final game on Sunday.

Winners of FIFA's Club World championship in 2000, they began the day one point off the danger zone but were overtaken by Goias, who beat Internacional 2-1 with a three-times taken penalty.

Corinthians finished 17th in the 20-team first division with 44 points from 38 games.

Relegation came almost exactly three years after Corinthians signed a controversial partnership deal with London-based Media Sports Investments (MSI).

Although MSI initially spent lavishly on new signings, the relationship soured last year and the investments dried up.

This year's squad was based largely on players brought in from second and third division clubs.

Coventry to be put into administration

Cash-strapped Championship outfit Coventry are currently negotiating a takeover which they anticipate will be completed shortly, but they revealed in a statement this afternoon they had 'filed in court notices of intent to go into administration'.

The statement continued: 'This is merely a legal process protecting the Bank and its creditors and should speed up the potential takeover of the Club and therefore take Coventry City into a solvent financial situation.'

The Sky Blues are 14th in the table but are in a perilous financial state with estimated debts of £38million.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Beckham Effect takes hold Down Under

They're calling it the Beckham Effect, the extraordinary, almost immeasurable response David Beckham's whistlestop tour Down Under had in both Australia and New Zealand.

The soccer superstar, visiting both countries for the first time and borne along on a wave of fan hysteria, drew 80,000 to the match between the MLS's Los Angeles Galaxy and the A-League's Sydney FC last Tuesday and 35,000 - a national record - to Saturday's match with the Wellington Phoenix of New Zealand.

They were massive crowds for exhibition games, games with little lasting meaning, and it was Beckham's presence alone, the singular drawing power of one of sport's hottest properties, that filled stadiums in Sydney and Wellington.

In New Zealand, where soccer is a minor sport, thousands queued at Wellington Airport to glimpse Beckham on arrival, an estimated 18,000 - mostly school children - attended the Galaxy's only training run on Friday.

Hundreds kept vigil outside the team's downtown hotel for the three days of Beckham's stay, satisfied to see the England player from a distance, barely daring to hope for a wave or an autograph.

In Sydney, the reaction to Beckham's visit was similar - crowds at Sydney Airport, crowds at his hotel. Hundreds turned up at a downtown department store to see Beckham launch his new range of perfumes for men.

And unlike many sports superstars - happy to be kept at arms length from fans - Beckham didn't disappoint. At every media call he said the right things, behaved with a winning charm and humility that helped win over even his hardest critics.

Redknapp's belt confiscated

On Wednesday afternoon, Harry Redknapp found himself in a bleak interrogation room at Chichester Police Station, in West Sussex, under arrest and being asked to remove the belt from his trousers.

"I think they were worried I'd hang myself," he said, sombrely.

When he wanted to use the toilet, he had to do so in the company of a policeman.

Redknapp had his fingerprints taken,along with a sample of his DNA, before he was bailed to reappear at a police station in February as part of an ongoing investigation into corruption in football.

Sir Bobby recommends 5 none-English managers

Former England manager Sir Bobby Robson will recommend a list of five men for the national team job to the Football Association - and none of them are English.

Robson is among a group of senior figures in the domestic game who will be consulted by FA chief executive Brian Barwick over who should succeed Steve McClaren after the team's failure to qualify for Euro 2008.

His list consists of Aston Villa's Northern Irish boss Martin O'Neill, Russia's Dutch coach Guus Hiddink, former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, Italian Fabio Capello and Frenchman Gerard Houllier.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Ferguson's son arrested for assault

Sir Alex Ferguson's son Darren was arrested for allegedly assaulting his estranged wife outside the Manchester United manager's mansion, it was disclosed today.

Darren Ferguson, 35, who is player-manager of Peterborough United, was held after an alleged row with 28-year-old Nadine Ferguson on the front drive of Sir Alex's £2 million house in Wilmslow, Cheshire.

It is not known whether Sir Alex was at home at the time of the incident on October 23.

A spokesman for Cheshire Police said today: "We were called to an address in Fletsands Road, Wilmslow in October after an allegation of assault.

"A 35-year-old man was arrested, questioned, and was released on bail until December 6 pending further enquiries."

Coleen's junk food shopping

Wayne Rooney's fiancee Coleen McLoughlin popped out to the local shops in Prestbury and ran up a £45.29 bill on 28 packets of crisps, a pasty, five fudge bars, two Rustlers chicken sandwiches, Dairylea lunchables, a frozen chicken and beef dinner and a multi-pack of Red Bull.

A customer said: "I hope it's not her weekly shop because it didn't seem like the ideal diet for a top sportsman."

QPR players learn Italian

QPR boss Luigi De Canio is working hard to learn English - but his players are meeting him halfway.

The Italian coach has been forced to use a translator to get his message across in training so far.

But that might not be necessary for too much longer - because the Rangers squad are picking up the lingo of their boss.

On-loan striker Rowan Vine revealed: "The manager's team talks and training sessions are in Italian, and I'm starting to understand a few words. Perhaps before too long I'll be giving an interview in Italian!"

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Blackburn unveils male cheerleader

Blackburn unveiled their new signing on Wednesday night - a male cheerleader by the name of Andrew.

The club weren't revealing anything else about their new recruit yesterday.

He certainly had more fancy moves than Rovers, who were reduced to 10 men when Ryan Nelsen was sent off.

Pub football case ruling delayed

The High Court has reserved judgement in a test case about whether an English pub can use foreign satellite equipment to show live football.

Lord Justice Pumfrey and Mr Justice Stanley Burnton are expected to deliver a verdict in the next few weeks.

The case was brought by the FA Premier League against Karen Murphy of the Red, White and Blue pub in Hampshire.

Ms Murphy was showing live matches through a Greek broadcaster called Nova, which charged her about £800 a year - compared with the £6,000 that she would have had to pay Sky for the service.

Sumo champion apologises after being caught playing football when he was too ill to wrestle

Troubled sumo champion Asashoryu returned to Japan on Friday with bows and apologies for secretly playing football when he said he was too ill to wrestle.

"I am deeply sorry for the trouble I have caused," the firebrand Mongolian told a news conference.

"I did something wrong. I will do my best not to stray from the path again."

Asashoryu was banned in August and fled to his homeland after after he was caught on video heading a ball into a goal while supposedly out of action with a back injury.

That outraged the fans of a sport where ritual and respect for tradition is almost as important as who wins the brief bouts between the nearly naked giants in the sumo ring.

The 150 kg (330 lb) wrestler was banned for two tournaments, triggering clinical depression and a trip home to Mongolia to recuperate.

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