Monday, June 30, 2008

Argentina World Cup win fixed

Colombian drug barons helped hosts Argentina fix a crucial match at the 1978 World Cup, according to a recent book.

It's claimed that Peru's players, as well as the referee and linesmen, each received $50,000 ahead of their match against Argentina, who needed to win by four clear goals to reach the final at the expense of bitter rivals Brazil.

There have always been suspicions about the match, which Argentina won 6-0, before going on to beat Holland 3-1 in the final.

Fernando Rodriguez Mondragon says in Son of the Chessmaster 2 that his uncle, Miguel Orejuela, joint head of the Cali cartel in the Seventies, told him he set up a meeting in Lima between the two countries' football associations which was also attended by representatives of Argentina's military junta.

As well as the bribes, he alleges the Argentine contingent paid $10m to the Peruvian Football Federation and sent a $100m consignment of wheat to Peru, which was suffering a food crisis.

Ronaldinho rejects Manchester City move

Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho has dealt a devastating blow to Manchester City's hopes of signing him by revealing he wants to stay at Barcelona.

City's Thai owner Thaksin Shinawatra was desperate to pull off a major transfer coup by landing Ronaldinho and was believed to be ready to pay him £200,000 a week.

But the 28-year-old has held talks with Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola and assured him that he is ready to clean up his act and fight for his future.

Ronaldinho's brother and agent Roberto De Assis is still in dialogue with City but the chances of the deal are fading.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Asprilla held after machine gun attack

Former Newcastle United star Faustino Asprilla has been arrested in his native Colombia accused of spraying security forces with machine gun bullets.

The striker, who was a hero in Kevin Keegan's first spell as manager of the club, has been placed under house arrest on charges related to illegal possession of weapons and criminal damage.

He is accused of spraying a privately-run security checkpoint with a machine gun near his farm in south-western Colombia.

The security post was struck by 29 bullets Asprilla has denied the charges and his lawyer, Carlos Sanchez, said he would appeal.

The owners of the guard house say that Asprilla, 38, reacted violently when a security guard refused to let Asprilla's friends, three women and a bodyguard, pass. No one was hurt.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Heart problem stalls Thuram deal

Lilian Thuram's proposed move to Paris St Germain collapsed today when it emerged the veteran French defender has a heart problem.

Thuram played for Barcelona last season but was not offered a new contract by the Nou Camp club.

He was expected to link up with PSG but the move is now on hold pending further tests.

Thuram held a press conference this afternoon at the Parc des Princes at which he was expected to announce news of his move to PSG.

"If I'm holding this press conference, unfortunately it's not to announce my becoming a PSG player," said Thuram.

"But to tell you that that the doctors have detected a heart problem.

"It seems that it is the same problem that my brother had and which cost him his life on the basketball court."

The 36-year-old claimed he was completely unaware of the problem and that medical tests two years ago when he signed for Barcelona had revealed no sign of it.

"It's a complete surprise to me," added Thuram. "I hope that everything will continue as before."

PSG coach Paul Le Guen admitted it was a big blow but did not rule out signing the former France captain in the future.

"I'm disappointed for him," he said. "It's a real shame. But we're just going to have to wait and see."

Thuram will wait until the full results of his test, which should take about a month, before deciding whether to call time on his 17-year career.

Premier League names youngest ref

The Premier League has appointed Stuart Attwell as its youngest ever referee.

The 25-year-old from Nuneaton has been promoted to the list of top flight officials after just one season in the Football League.

Premier League referees' chief Keith Hackett said: "Last season week-in week-out he produced consistent, high quality performances.

"Under pressure he remained calm and showed a great deal of maturity when managing players."

Attwell has been fast-tracked through the refereeing system, having started in 1998, and was promoted to the National List of Referees in 2007.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

World Cup '66 win was fixed

The World Cup of 1966 was "fixed" in favour of England, claims ex-FIFA President Joao Havelange.

The 92-year-old believes FIFA deliberately chose English referees to influence several games in Alf Ramsey's side's favour.

In an interview with the Folha of Sao Paulo newspaper, Havelange said:

'In 1966 English referees were called in to the games between Brazil against Portugal and Brazil against Hungary.

'The Germany against Uruguay game also had an English referee and England vs. Argentina had a German referee. They managed to get to Pele. They only had German and English referees in the games of Brazil.

'Isn't this strange? The same thing happened in Germany in 1974.'

The Folha newspaper then asked: 'Then you believe there was interference in favour of the home teams in the 1966 and 1974 Cups?"

Havelange replied: 'Exactly.'

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

BMW stops production during game.

Car-maker BMW stopped production at all its German factories while the Euro semi-final against Turkey was being played.

Up to 1,000 vehicles will not be built, more if it goes to extra time.

The European Robot Football Cup

Scientists from across Europe have created teams of "cube robots" to play football against each other.

The European Robot Football Cup was held in Linz from June 15-22 and, like Euro 2008, matches were played in both Switzerland and Austria.

The eventual tournament winners: Slovenia.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Solano in gun controversy

Former West Ham, Newcastle and Aston Villa midfielder Nolberto Solano — who is currently without a club after being released by the Hammers — caused controversy this week when he was pictured on the cover of the most-read Peruvian sports daily in the build-up to their match against Uruguay.

Solano is shown pointing a gun at the Uruguay shirt.

The picture didn’t help bolster Peru’s chances - they lost 6-0

Ronaldo's agent to net £10m

Cristiano Ronaldo's agent, Jorge Mendes, stands to earn an astonishing £10million if he can engineer the Portugal winger's world record £70m move from Manchester United to Real Madrid.

Mendes, known as 'The Octopus' because of the number of moves he has a hand in, can expect the huge commission if he clinches Ronaldo's exit from Old Trafford.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Pele robbed

Former Brazilian football star Pele has been robbed by an armed gang while on his way to his seaside home.

As many as 10 people were reported to have been involved in the robbery, but Pele was unhurt in the incident.

He was on his way from the city of Sao Paulo to a house he owns on the coast when the robbery happened at the entrance of a tunnel.

The robbery took place earlier this month, but details have only just emerged.

Police say there is frequent traffic congestion in the area, and that gangs from a nearby favela (shanty town) often take advantage of this to stage robberies.

According to the newspaper Estado de Sao Paulo, Pele's car was surrounded by 10 armed men who took his gold necklace, a mobile phone and a watch.

Pele was in the passenger seat of his car.

According to his spokesman, when the gang recognised the former player they gave the driver back some items they had taken from him.

The former Brazilian football star was not so lucky, as the gang then decided to flee on foot with his valuables.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Premier bosses in dug-out blackout

The TV plug is about to be pulled from Barclays Premier League dug-outs in a move to stop top-flight managers berating match officials as they leave the pitch.

Bosses will find it far more difficult to argue from next season when all TV monitors will be removed from the technical and tunnel areas.

Managers and their assistants will therefore no longer have access to slow-motion replays as ammunition against referees and their assistants over controversial decisions that go against them.

Swiss railways change colour

Switzerland's national railway has told its workers to stop using their normal orange reflective vests after confused Dutch soccer fans started following them on to the tracks.

A railway spokesman said the changed strip had been prompted by an incident in the Swiss capital Berne when a group of Netherlands supporters followed a worker on to the lines after mistaking his uniform for their traditional orange dress.

"We have now given out yellow vests to all our staff who have to work on or cross the tracks in Basel, where the Dutch fans are now based," Oliver Tamas said.

"It has raised a few eyebrows but we think it's a necessary measure to ensure the safety of our guests."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Swiss TV in German anthem blunder

Swiss television has made an embarrassing error during live coverage of the European Championship football match between Germany and Austria.

The national channel SRG ran subtitles to Germany's national anthem including the obsolete first verse - ignored since the fall of the Third Reich.

"Deutschland, Deutschland ueber alles" or "Germany, Germany above everything", was popular under the Nazi's rule.

Germany adopted the third verse as its anthem following unification in 1991.

The error was described as "inexcusable" by a spokesman for Swiss Text, a subsidiary of SRG, responsible for subtitling services.

According to an interview in the Swiss newspaper Blick, the spokesman said two young sports editors were at fault, and that the mistake was a result of poor research.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Croatian boss pens team song

Croatian boss Slaven Bilic is an interesting character.

As well as knocking England out of qualifying for Euro 08, he speaks four languages, and is a qualified lawyer.

He also wrote the national team's Euro 2008 song and played guitar on it with his rock band Rawbau.

Lyrics go something like this:

We were together in 98′
World has heard of us
And still the bronze medal shines
When we beat Japan, Holland, Romania, Germany
And now, 10 years later
Again the same hope, same dream
We have the tickets

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monkey picks Austria to win

A monkey at a German zoo has tipped Austria to win today's Euro 08 game between the two sides.

The monkey's fellow zoo-dwellers have a 2-0 record so far with their predictions : a porcupine correctly tipped Germany to beat Poland and an Arctic fox forecast the defeat by Croatia.

First player to compete after a kidney transplant

Croatian striker Ivan Klasnic is set to become the first player to take part at a European Championship after a kidney transplant.

Croatia have already qualified for the last eight, and coach Slaven Billic is set to make several changes.

In January 2007, the German-born Klasnic suffered kidney failure and, after the striker's body rejected the kidney donated by his mother he again underwent surgery to replace the rejected kidney with one from his father.

Nine months later, the 28-year-old made returned to football with his club Werder Bremen.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Soccer and smoking

When Paul Gascoigne, the troubled England star, was revealed to be a smoker before the `98 World Cup, his manager, Glenn Hoddle, was asked why he wouldn't force his main offensive threat to quit.

"Ossie Ardiles was on 40 a day when he won the World Cup with Argentina," Hoddle said.

"It didn't bother Ossie and it doesn't bother me."

Newcastle owner makes players pay

In a development that illustrates the austerity now in force at Newcastle United, members of the first-team squad will be obliged to pay for their own club suits from the beginning of next season.

Mike Ashley, Newcastle's owner, did not become a billionaire through needless extravagance and, having wiped out the club's £70million debt last summer, he is now implementing a series of cost-cutting measures.

A soaring wage bill is being tackled, and younger, hungrier players are being pursued in the transfer market.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dutch welcomed with orange tulips

The Netherlands got a special welcome when they arrived in in Berne for EURO 2008 ... 11,000 orange tulips had been brought in to spruce up the streets of the Swiss capital.

The Dutch play all three of their Group C games in the city, and to make them feel welcome, city officials have decorated the centre of town with pots of orange tulips, grown to order by the Holland flower service.

Mayor Alexander Tschäppät and Dutch ambassador Edo Hofland laid out the first pots, with the latter saying: "We would like to thank the people of Berne for welcoming us."

Friday, June 13, 2008

Polish PM wanted to kill ref

Poland's prime minister said on Friday he felt like he wanted to kill Howard Webb when the English referee awarded the injury-time penalty that allowed Austria to snatch a 1-1 draw at Euro 2008.

The late equaliser on Thursday meant Poland had to settle for one point from their first two games in Group B.

'As the prime minister I have to be balanced and collected,' keen soccer fan Donald Tusk told reporters.

'But last night I was speaking very differently about the whole thing, I wanted to kill.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Chelsea appoint Gene Hackman as manager

Ronaldo named after Reagan

Ronaldo is a relatively rare name in Portugal.

His parents named him after former US president Ronald Reagan because he was his father's favourite actor, and not for political reasons.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The best part about playing for England

Ronaldo pictured with Real official

Cristiano Ronaldo has been pictured meeting a Real Madrid 'official' earlier in the year adding fuel to Manchester United's claims that the player has been 'illegally tapped up.'

He's pictured with Real’s fitness coach Walter Di Salvo, who quit Old Trafford for Spain

Real boss Ramon Calderon is furious at Sir Alex Ferguson for linking Madrid with former Spanish dictator Franco.

The Real supremo said: “It seems grotesque to talk about Franco and the occupation of Portugal. It wasn’t a very fortunate thing to say.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Czech goalkeeper on ferris wheel

The Prater Ferris Wheel in Vienna, made famous in The Third Man, has been transformed for the Euro '08 tournament.

It now features an eight-armed, 42 metre high, image of Czech keeper Petr Cech.

Syrian anthem played for Lebanese

Saudi Arabian football authorities are investigating an error that led to the Syrian national anthem being played before a match against Lebanon.

Several Lebanese players were visibly angry when the wrong anthem was played before Saturday's game, reports say.

Lebanon went on to lose the match in the Saudi capital Riyadh, 2-1. Syrian influence in Lebanon remains one of the most divisive issues there, although rival factions were recently persuaded to form a unity cabinet.

Officials at the stadium quickly realised their mistake, and eventually played the correct national anthem before the World Cup qualifying clash.

Ronaldo risks losing £25m

Cristiano Ronaldo risks blowing a £25million jackpot with sponsor Nike if he moves to Real Madrid this summer.

Manchester United, who will report Real to FIFA next week for their public pursuit of Ronaldo, are working on a complicated image rights deal with the club's kit manufacturer for a 'CR7' range in an attempt to appease the winger.

United's non- executive director Bryan Glazer, who was closely involved with the deal for shirt sponsor AIG, is in negotiations with Nike over a contract that could be worth another £100,000 a week to the Portugal winger.

The contract is expected to run concurrent with his existing £120,000-a-week package at Old Trafford and will effectively top the £200,000 a week on offer at the Bernabeu.

Ronaldo, who has changed his signature simply to 'CR7', can market baseball caps, T-shirts and shorts around the world to capitalise on his growing status.

Monday, June 09, 2008


Massive alcohol consumption at Euro '08

Euro 2008's two opening matches passed off without serious incident in the stadiums although there were disturbances in Basel and four people were temporarily held in custody, police said on Sunday.

'Massive alcohol consumption led to a series of incidents of shoving and some fighting but they did not have any serious consequences,' Basel police said.

Twelve people were taken to a special temporary jail in the city for either vandalism or aggression towards officers, four of whom were held in custody, police said in a statement.

Around 20 people had to make use of a sobering-up facility and roughly 200 were treated for minor injuries and problems with their blood pressure, the statement said.

Authorities in Geneva said about 60,000 people flocked to the fan zone at the Plainpalais in the city centre and just under 30,000 attended the match between Portugal and Turkey at the Stade de Geneve.

No serious incidents were reported, police said. Two people in an inebriated state were temporarily taken into custody and one insulted some French police officers and threw some liquid at them, they added.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Hurst backs Germany

World Cup winner Sir Geoff Hurst is backing Germany in the European Championships and will be cheering them on at a glittering soccer festival on Saturday night.

"I don't mind admitting it, they are a great footballing nation. And Germany's a great country as well," said Hurst, who scored a hat-trick against Germany in the 1966 World Cup final.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Cantona returns to Manchester

Eric Cantona has returned to the city where he became a hero - starring in a new film about a football fan.

Cantona, recently voted Manchester United's greatest-ever player in a poll of the club's fans, is playing himself in 'Looking for Eric'.

And Cantona, who spent six seasons at United and proved the catalyst for their domestic revival, revealed his delight at being back in his adopted home.

"I want the world to speak even more about the Manchester United fans after this film," said 42-year-old Cantona.

"Many of my best memories are from when I was at the club and in Manchester. I'm very proud the fans still like me.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Polish coach blasts newspaper

Poland coach Leo Beenhakker yesterday apologised after a Polish newspaper printed doctored photos of him holding the severed heads of Germany's coach and captain.

Beenhakker said sorry to the German people on behalf of his team ahead of Sunday's Euro 2008 clash between the two countries. The Dutchman said the article was an "awful thing" done by "weird and dirty and sick people".

The picture provoked a strong reaction in Germany, but their coach Joachim Loew said he had too many other things to worry about.

"What was in one newspaper is not representative... Polish and German fans were together celebrating the match at the World Cup two years ago," said Loew.

Several Polish papers played on the troubled history between the two neighbours, using images of Loew and skipper Michael Ballack, but Beenhakker said: "I hope I can speak in the name of many Polish people and in the name of the Polish team.

"We want to say that we apologise to the German people for what was on the front page of a certain paper in Poland. It was an awful thing, and we want to totally distance ourselves from these weird and dirty and sick people who think they have to represent Poland this way in relation to Euro 2008."

"Expert" McClaren

Steve McClaren's first big job as a BBC pundit will be as an "expert" on Croatia - the team that got him sacked as England head coach.

McClaren lost twice to Croatia in the Euro 2008 qualifiers but McClaren will be one of BBC Five Live's pundits for their opening game with co-hosts Austria in Vienna on Sunday.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

All Blacks welcome 'bubbly' Keane

New Zealand rugby union coach Graham Henry says Sunderland football manager Roy Keane has been a cheerful presence during his time with the All Blacks.

Ex-Republic of Ireland and Manchester United star Keane is spending a week with the rugby team in the build-up to their Test against Ireland on Saturday.

Keane has hooked up with the All Blacks as part of his Uefa Pro Licence coaching course.

"Roy has been great. Great to talk to, very bubbly," said Henry.

Sven's hotel bill is £350,000

A hotel in Manchester is sad to see Sven-Goran Eriksson leave Man City for Mexico after he racked up a £350,000 bill.

The Swede had been staying in the £1,250 a night penthouse suite at the city centre hotel since September.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Moyes wins Rooney book libel case

Everton manager David Moyes has accepted substantial libel damages over claims made in Wayne Rooney's autobiography "My Story So Far".

The writ had claimed the publication "injured his professional and personal reputation" and caused him distress.

Moyes had objected to the account of how Rooney came to leave Everton and sign for Manchester United.

Speaking after the hearing Mr Moyes said he was glad that his name "had been fully cleared in this matter".

Ian Monk, spokesman for Wayne Rooney, said that all the costs and damages were being paid by the publishers HarperCollins.

Solicitor Edward Parladorio, for Moyes, told Mr Justice Eady, sitting at the High Court, that in the book his client was accused of "a serious breach of trust towards a young player under his management".

He said Moyes was accused of leaking a private and confidential conversation about the star's intention to leave Everton to a local newspaper, the Liverpool Echo.

Mr Parladorio told the court that the allegation was "wholly untrue".

Pre-tournament drug tests all negative

All 16 teams at Euro 2008 have been given a clean bill of health after pre-tournament dope tests, organisers UEFA said on Tuesday.

Director of communications William Gaillard told a media briefing that eight to 10 players from each squad had taken part in the out-of-competition testing programme and all had returned negative results.

Gaillard said full details of the programme, which for the first time included blood and urine testing, would be announced at a news conference ahead of the opening match on Saturday.

Throughout the tournament two players from each team will be randomly selected for dope testing after every match.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

No sign of terror threat, says Austrian Minister

Austrian security forces have seen no indications there might be a large-scale attack at Euro 2008, Austria's Interior Minister Guenther Platter said on Tuesday at the opening of a police intelligence exchange centre.

"When I think of the scale of Euro 2008 -- 6,000 people alone went to watch the Italian team train -- it poses a huge security challenge," he said at the centre's opening ceremony.

"We are extremely well-prepared and have seen nothing to suggest any large-scale security scenario."

Up to five million fans are expected to attend the finals being co-hosted by Austria and Switzerland, whose police forces will be supported by foreign colleagues.

Mourinho: 'I'm not special any more'

Four years on from his infamous Chelsea unveiling, Jose Mourinho began his tenure as manager of Internazionale this morning by insisting that he no longer wants to be known as "special".

Asked at his first Inter press conference whether he still considered himself lo speciale - the Special One – he insisted: "I am Mourinho – that's all".

"I have arrived at a special club and I believe I am a great coach but I don't want to be special," said Mourinho, before quickly insisting that this did not mean he would not be tempering his outspoken approach to management.

"I don't change - I am the same person as I was before, with the same mission and the same passion for my work.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Wayne and Coleen's big day

It is the most expensive celebrity wedding deal ever to be signed by a glossy magazine – but the £2.5million Wayne Rooney and Coleen McLoughlin will receive will pay for a mere fraction of their extravagant dreams.

The footballer and his fiancee are matching that figure from their own pockets, as the full cost of their lavish ceremony at the elegant Italian resort of Portofino looks set to reach an eye-watering £5million.

The bill includes close to £1million on pre-wedding celebrations, £400,000 to book Coleen’s favourite band, Westlife, and £200,000 on her dress.

She has even spent £85,000 on trips to New York for dress fittings.

Five private jets will fly 64 guests from the UK to the four-day celebrations, which include a lunch aboard a luxury yacht, a masked ball and champagne breakfast every morning.

The main ceremony will take place on June 14 at Villa Durazzo, part of the stunning 16th Century Castello Brown, which boasts panoramic views over the Italian Riviera; while the reception will be held in La Cervara, a 700-year-old former abbey.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Gazza rushed to hospital strapped to a wheelchair

Paul Gascoigne's sister yesterday begged fans not to buy him a drink after another desperate incident in the life of the troubled ex-footballer.

Anna Gascoigne warned anyone helping her brother to get alcohol: 'You are killing him with your kindness.'

The 41-year-old former England star is on a spiral of self- destruction battling drink, drugs, bulimia and depression.

Gaunt and dishevelled, he cuts an increasingly pitiful figure.
On Saturday, he fell over at King's Cross station in London and was unable to get to his feet.

After drunkenly arguing with police, he was strapped to a wheelchair, put in an ambulance and taken to University College Hospital but discharged himself after treatment.

Miss Gascoigne, 42, called for her brother to be locked up under the Mental Health Act and added:

'I'm begging his friends and strangers, please don't give him a drink. If he offers you money to get a drink, don't take it.

'People like Paul. He is a hero and they go up to him and want to buy him a drink, which I understand.

'But what they don't know is, every person who buys him a drink, or gives him a drink, or sells him one is contributing to his death.

Anna Gascoigne is calling on her brother's fans not to buy him drinks, warning their kindness is killing him

'Please stop. Please leave him alone.'

Eto'o attacked me, Cameroon journalist alleges

A Cameroon journalist has alleged Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o assaulted and injured him during a fracas at a news conference on Friday.

Radio Siantou reporter Philippe Bonney told Reuters the Cameroon international had headbutted him in the face and said he would file a lawsuit against the striker.

The fracas took place when Cameroonian journalists decided to walk out of a news conference ahead of Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Cape Verde to protest at the team's refusal to grant interviews to local reporters.

"I cannot let this go unpunished," Bonney, who said he had suffered a facial injury, told Reuters.

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