Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hooligan fears mean Aberdeen face three games in three days

Aberdeen's pre-season plans have been thrown into chaos after Dutch football hooligans caused the cancellation of their final tour game against Go Ahead Eagles.

Police feared a repeat of violent gang fights that terrorised the town of Deventer a week ago and insisted the match is moved forward to Friday night.

This leaves the Dons with three games on successive nights, against Eredivisie side Vitesse Arnhem tonight, amateur outfit Rietvogels tomorrow and Go Ahead Eagles 24 hours later.

Dons boss Jimmy Calderwood said: "We now face a daunting triple-header because police won't allow Go Ahead Eagles to play us on Saturday, which is a real blow to our preparations.

"But if we didn't take the game on Friday we would have 10 days without a match before the season starts against Inverness, which isn't ideal either."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fan offers testicle for new player

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Midfielder sentenced to 60 hours community service

Natahan Dyer, a midfielder for Championship club Southampton, pleaded guilty at Portsmouth Magistrates' Court to a charge of non-dwelling burglary and was ordered to carry out 60 hours of community service.

The 20-year-old said he was ashamed after he admitted rummaging through bags belonging to staff at the Bar Bluu club on Southsea seafront on February 28, but denied stealing any of the items during the incident, which involved four other men.

Chairman of the Bench Christopher Malone also ordered Dyer to pay a total of £392.50 compensation to the four victims as well as £65 costs.

He warned Dyer that if he did not complete the 60 hours of unpaid work satisfactorily within a 12-month period he could face imprisonment.

The court was shown CCTV footage which captured Dyer and four others rummaging through the bags as they left through a back exit from the club.

The footballer had been given VIP treatment at the club which that night hosted R'n'B star Kano.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pompey's Africa landing aborted

A plane carrying Portsmouth's footballers to Nigeria for a pre-season trip had to abort its landing in Abuja.

The pilot of the Airbus 319 abandoned the descent after failing to gain clearance from the control tower.

The team were instead flown around for half an hour in stormy conditions before a successful landing was made.

Pompey defender Linvoy Primus said: "We were just above the runway when the pilot suddenly pulled the plane out of the landing and back up in the sky."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Michael Owen's mumps

Michael Owen's preparations for the new season are in his own words "three weeks behind", after he contracted mumps.

Initially diagnosed as a virus, the case of mumps saw him forced to withdraw from England's post-season friendlies against the USA and Trinidad & Tobago.

From the NHS Direct website:

"One in four men who catch mumps over the age of 12 may develop inflammation of one or both testicles. This can be very painful, especially if it affects both testes."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Football Culinary Challenge

UK football arenas are aiming to create spectacles on the plate, as well as the pitch, and are vying for a coveted trophy this autumn.

The Football Culinary Challenge pits hospitality chefs from different clubs against each at a final at the Birmingham NEC in January, giving the winner the accolade of best cook on the terraces.

But the contest more than just an excuse for culinary puns from the commentators.

It's as serious as any football rivalry, with hospitality chefs competing as fervently as if they were going for FA Cup glory itself.

The best chefs from the FA's Football League teams will enter the contest of ten clubs, all sporting their team colours, and will be challenged to prepare a three-course Michelin-star style feast fit for the FA chairman in only 75 minutes.

The contest is symbolic of how food at football grounds has gone gourmet ... it's a far shot from the soggy-bottom pies of old

Gordon Banks career advice

Gordon Banks glittering career was ended at 34 by the car crash that cost him an eye.

Any regrets?

"None. I enjoyed it so much, I'd go through everything again."

"The only thing I wish I'd done better was drive more carefully."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Huckerby's wife is "too old"

New San Jose Earthquakes signing Darren Huckerby's dinner might have been with the dog when he returned from an interview on American TV.

When asked: "Do you have a famous girlfriend - anybody we can help promote?"

The former Norwich and Coventry striker replied: "I am married but it is a bit late for her - she is too old."

Monday, July 21, 2008

Williams injured for Unicef match

Robbie Williams says he is "gutted" that a knee injury will stop him from playing in the rematch of a Unicef charity football event he organised.

The first Soccer Aid match, at Old Trafford in 2006, pitched the singer as captain of an England XI against Gordon Ramsay's Rest of the World side.

Each team will be made up of 11 celebrities and five ex-professionals.

"Being able to help so many people through Soccer Aid was one of the true highlights of my life," he said.

"I'm gutted that this time around my knee isn't up to it so, unfortunately, I'm out of the game."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Players help subdue man on flight

An American Airlines flight from Boston to Los Angeles was diverted to Oklahoma City on Friday after a passenger stripped, put his clothes back on and then tried to open an emergency exit door before being subdued by members of a pro soccer team and others, the FBI said.

American Flight 725, a Boeing 757 with 151 passengers and seven crew on board, arrived in Oklahoma City at 1:35 p.m. local time and was back in the air an hour later on the way to Los Angeles, said Tim Smith, a spokesperson for American Airlines.

The passenger was removed from the plane in Oklahoma City and was undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, FBI spokesperson Gary Johnson said.

Members of the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer were among those who grabbed the passenger near an exit door, Johnson said. Tie wraps were placed on the man, whose name was not immediately released, he said.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

World Cup prostitution plans condemned

Plans to legalise prostitution for the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa have been criticised by religious groups and opposition parties.

The local authority in Durban wants legalised adult entertainment venues during the tournament.

But African Nazareth Democratic Movement (ANDM) president Thokozani Hlatshwayo said the proposal was "against the word of God". Opposition parties fear that, if introduced, it could become permanent.

The youth wing of the Inkatha Freedom Party and the main opposition Democratic Alliance have condemned the suggestion.

An additional concern is Aids - some five million people in South Africa are HIV-positive - making it one of the world's worst-hit countries.

Durban's municipality said Germany had many adult entertainment centres during the World Cup in 2006, which were very popular with visitors.

It said while prostitution was illegal in South Africa, it could not ignore the fact that the sex industry thrives during major events like the World Cup.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ronaldo's £10K night out in LA

Injured Cristiano Ronaldo has been resting his crocked ankle - by going on a bender at an LA club.

The Manchester United striker, recovering from an ankle operation, splashed out more than £10,000 on wine, vodka and bottles of Cristal champagne after arriving at trendy nightclub Villa with two friends.

Ronaldo and his mates were met by four models, who sat with him at a private table in one corner.

As the booze flowed, the 23-year-old got into the party spirit.

He even threw his crutches to the ground and tried to dance on his uninjured foot - although it turned into more of an ungainly shuffle.

So he ripped open his white shirt instead - as the models squealed with delight.

Manchester City looks to feng shui

Manchester City are turning to feng shui in a bid to help them become successful on the pitch.

Magic crystals have been buried under the Eastlands turf and reception areas, offices and the club shop have been filled with lucky fortune trees, three-legged monkey toads and buddhas.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Player retires to enter priesthood

When he was playing professional soccer in Chile, Chase Hilgenbrinck would seek comfort in the churches to satisfy his spiritual needs and remind him of childhood Sundays spent at Holy Trinity in his hometown of Bloomington, Ill.

Even after moving back to the United States last Christmas to play Major League Soccer -- a dream of his, but just one of them -- Hilgenbrinck felt the pull of his religion.

"I felt called to something greater," Hilgenbrinck said.

"At one time I thought that call might be professional soccer. In the past few years, I found my soul is hungry for something else.

"I discerned, through prayer, that it was calling me to the Catholic Church. I do not want this call to pass me by."

Hilgenbrinck accepted the calling on Monday when he left the New England Revolution and retired from professional soccer to enter a seminary, where he will spend the next six years studying theology and philosophy so he can be ordained as a Roman Catholic priest.

"It's not that I'm ready to leave soccer. I still have a great passion for the game," he said.

"I wouldn't leave the game for just any other job. I'm moving on for the Lord. I want to do the will of the Lord, I want to do what he wants for me, not what I want to do for myself."

Giggs awarded honorary degree

Manchester United footballer Ryan Giggs has been awarded an honorary degree for his contribution to sport and charitable causes.

Giggs, 34, was made a master of arts by the University of Salford in a ceremony at the Lowry Theatre.

Collecting his award, he said: "I'm really pleased to accept this degree.

"I grew up in Salford and it's been a big part of my life for 30 years, so it's great to be a part of Salford University now."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Brian Clough workout

Brian Clough's pre-season workouts were nothing ordinary.

He once assembled his Nottingham Forest squad:

"Right, lads," he said.

"To the nearest tree and back."

Confused silence.

Then someone piped up: "But there aren’t any trees in sight."

"Well bloody find one!"

The players charged off in different directions.

Delia Smith abused by fans

It is normally a place to swap recipes and discuss the perfect poached egg, but TV cook Delia Smith’s website has been hijacked by simmering soccer supporters.

The veteran culinary writer has been forced to wipe clean the community forum page of Delia Online after angry Norwich City fans used it to air their grievances against her, as chairman of their club.

One, using the name ‘Delia Mugabe’, went as far as branding her an ‘old trout’.

The Norwich fans are furious that Delia, 67, and her husband, Michael Wynn-Jones, the club’s controlling shareholders for 12 years, have rejected a £20 million takeover offer by Peter Cullum.

The millionaire businessman had promised to invest in new players but Delia, herself worth an estimated £22 million, turned him down.

‘Delia Mugabe’ wrote: ‘Delia, you old trout. Stick to what you know and leave the football to the people that know best.’

The disaffected fan also made reference to the barrage of criticism that Delia faced earlier this year from other celebrity chefs over her book How To Cheat At Cooking, which offered people the chance to make their own dishes in a fraction of the time but using ingredients such as tinned mince and frozen mashed potato.

He wrote: ‘A title for your next book – how about How To Cheat Norwich Fans Out Of The Club That Is Rightfully Theirs?’

Monday, July 14, 2008

Player sacked for being too fat

St Patrick's Athletic have sacked high-earning midfielder Michael Keane for being too overweight.

The 25-year-old, who takes home a weekly wage in excess of €3,000, was summoned to Richmond Park on Thursday and informed that he was being let go as he had failed to adhere to an ultimatum set down earlier this year regarding his physical condition.

Keane is now set to appeal the decision, with the matter destined to go through the Eircom League's legal channels.

If successful in fighting his case, Keane will look for the Saints to pay out the remaining 18 months of his contract, which would amount to more than €200,000.

Keane received a letter from the club earlier this year instructing him to lose weight and was given a target to aim towards.

Failing to meet that goal was the reason offered for his dismissal.

In his defence, the player will argue that he hasn't missed a training session during his time with the club.

Should the Saints survive any appeal decision by Keane then it could prove to be a landmark case.

The PFAI fear that other clubs would use it as a reference point for removing players from their wage bill.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Three countries on 2010 standby

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has spoken to three countries about hosting the 2010 World Cup if a natural catastrophe forces it away from South Africa.

Concerns are mounting about South Africa's preparations for the hosting of the tournament.

"I have spoken to three possible, not only possible, but three associations and countries that would be able to stage the World Cup.

"They need one year (to prepare)," Blatter said, although he would not reveal the three countries.

On Tuesday South Africa decided to drop the Port Elizabeth stadium from next June's Confederations Cup, as it will not be ready in time.

World Cup preparations have been plagued by stadium construction delays, security fears, transport problems and the possibility of power outages.

Last week Blatter said that world football's governing body had a "Plan B" should South Africa not be able to stage the World Cup.

Football stars launch Goal4Africa

Some of the biggest names in football have joined a campaign to raise funds for charity ahead of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Germany's Michael Ballack and England's Steven Gerard were among those taking part in a charity match in the German city of Munich to launch Goal4Africa.

Fans are being asked to donate money every time their team scores to fund education and development in Africa.

The campaign hopes to raise more than $90m (£45m) by 2010. Saturday's match was organised by former Dutch international Clarence Seedorf and Brazil striker Ronaldo.

World Team Two, skippered by Ballack, defeated Seedorf's World Team One 9-6.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ref banned for drinking on the job

A prominent international referee has been suspended for alleged alcohol abuse after he had to be helped off the pitch at a Belarus league match.

Sergei Shmolik was escorted off the pitch, ostensibly because of back pain, at the end of Saturday's match between Vitebsk and Naftan.

The stadium crowd were stunned by Shmolik's peculiar behaviour. The referee was hardly moving by the end of the match, which ended in a 1-1 draw, as he officiated the game from the centre circle, refusing to go to his pocket for any cards throughout.

Shmolik then waved to the crowd as he staggered off the pitch, brushing off an official's attempts to prop him up.

The 43-year-old was later taken to the hospital for tests, which showed high levels of alcohol in his system.

The Belarus football federation said Shmolik's case will be subject to a disciplinary committee.

"I haven't seen a drunk referee before. It's just beyond my comprehension," said Belarus national coach Bernd Stange, who was at the game.

A Belarus Football Federation spokesman said: "We cannot comment until the end of investigation into what happened in Vitebsk. At the moment Shmolik is suspended from his refereeing duties."

Rooney's agent banned

Paul Stretford, Wayne Rooney's agent, has been fined £300,000 and banned from working as a football agent for 18 months.

The punishment follows a disciplinary commission's investigation into Football Association charges relating to how he acquired the right to represent the Manchester United forward - then with Everton - in 2002.

The independent commission found Stretford, the founder of the Proactive Sports Management agency, guilty of seven of the nine charges made against him, including those relating to improper conduct in the "making of false and/or misleading witness statements to police and giving false and/or misleading testimony to Warrington Crown Court" during a court case examining the circumstances in which Rooney joined Proactive.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Mido shapes up

Middlesbrough striker Mido is determined to make his critics eat their words.

The striker has lost two stone thanks to a gruelling summer fitness regime in a bid to be in tip-top shape for the start of the new season.

The svelte 25-year-old is a shadow of his former self thanks to twice daily workouts which have helped him tip the scales at a fighting weight of 14st.

Mido was forced to issue a grovelling apology to Boro fans after an injury-ravaged first season at the club saw the Egypt international balloon to a hefty 16 stone.

Boss Gareth Southgate revealed: "Mido has been working with one of our fitness coaches in Egypt for the past four weeks. It was something he organised and he's come back in great condition."

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Player reveals transfer details on Facebook

A footballer has been told to look for a new club after he unwittingly revealed to more than 2.7million people on Facebook that he was in secret talks with a Premier League team.

Ashley-Paul Robinson, a 19-year-old winger at Crystal Palace has angered the club's bosses after posting a message on his profile saying he was having a trial at Fulham.

The south London club's furious manager Neil Warnock said today that Robinson should 'look elsewhere to further his career', after embarrassing the team.

On Saturday, Robinson, from Beckenham, Kent updated his status on the site to say: 'Ashley-Paul is goin fulham on monday. If i pull dis of im on dis ting!!!'

But instead of just being visible to his 198 Facebook friends - he unintentionally allowed the entire London network of the social networking site to view it.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Bin Laden family in bid for Newcastle

A wealthy construction company run by the family of terrorist Osama bin Laden has emerged as a shock front-runner to buy Newcastle United, a source with links to the club claimed last night.

The Saudi Binladen Group, whose chief executive is Osama's half-brother, Bakr bin Laden, and which was founded by their father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Laden, is said to be considering a £300millionplus deal to buy the club and then carry out a lucrative redevelopment of St James' Park and land surrounding the ground.

Although the Bin Laden family publicly distanced itself from the founder of Al-Qaeda years before he claimed responsibility for the September 11 atrocities in 2001, any takeover would be football's most controversial yet, as well as taking the number of foreign-owned teams in the Premier League to 10, or half of England's biggest clubs.

Player denies football blackmail

A former Manchester City youth player has denied blackmailing a top Premier League footballer.

Goalkeeper Ashley Timms, 22, pleaded not guilty to demanding £15,000 from the unnamed player.

Mr Timms, of Middleton, Greater Manchester, is charged with making an unwarranted demand for money from the player with menaces.

Judge Andrew Gilbart QC at Manchester Crown Court set a trial date for 11 August.

He also upheld a previous ruling not to name the Premier League player.

Mr Timms was granted an extension of his bail and ordered to report to a police station twice a week.

He was also ordered not to have contact with a prosecution witness.

The Manchester-born goalkeeper is currently without a club, having flitted between sides since he was 17.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Yobo's brother kidnapped

Gunmen in Nigeria have kidnapped the elder brother of Nigerian and Everton football star Joseph Yobo, police say.

Norum Yobo was seized at a hotel in Port Harcourt, a spokeswoman said.

No group has yet claimed responsibility and no ransom has been demanded.

Everton football club said it would do all it could to help Joseph Yobo, who is on holiday in Lagos.

Kidnappings, frequent in the oil-rich Niger Delta region of the country, have mostly ended with a ransom payment.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Midfielder claims TV quiz honours

Notts County midfielder Neil MacKenzie is doing his bit to help dispel the myth that all footballers are stupid.

The 32-year-old has made football history as the first player to appear on Channel 4 quiz show Countdown.

And MacKenzie is proving a hit on the show, winning five episodes in a row, shooting to the top of the leaderboard.

"He's proving to be a strong contestant and has a broad vocabulary which is essential to do well," said associate producer Kate Horton.

MacKenzie was encouraged to enter by his mother, who is a regular viewer of the show.

On Monday the midfielder will continue his reign in the Champion's Chair and is aiming for a sixth win.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Crocodile-infested moat

In 2003, Romanian fourth-division team Steaua Nicolae Balcescu found themselves in a quandary: Romanian leagues chiefs were threatening the club with expulsion following a series of pitch invasions and violent outbreaks.

Chairman Alexandra Cringus came up with the 'innovative' concept of creating a moat surrounding the pitch, packed with fully-grown crocodiles.

"This is not a joke," insisted Cringus.

"We can get crocodiles easy enough and feed them on meat from the local abattoir. The ditch is planned to be wide enough that no one could manage to jump over it. Anyone who attempted to do so would have to deal with the crocs. I think that the problem of fans running on to the pitch will be solved once and for all."

Cringus planned to create the moat far enough from the pitch to prevent players falling in.

Local authorities are considering the club's proposal.

Dabo launches vitriolic attack on 'cowardly' Barton

Ousmane Dabo last night labelled Premier League hooligan Joey Barton a coward and called on Newcastle to sack him.

Former Manchester City midfielder Dabo was left with horrific facial injuries after Barton struck him from behind and reigned blows on him during an incident at the club's training ground at the end of the 2006-07 season.

This week Barton was handed a four-month suspended jail term after pleading guilty to the attack at Manchester Crown Court.

And as Barton's current club Newcastle try to offload the errant midfielder, Dabo revealed that his attacker still has not apologised.

Dabo - now with Lazio - said: 'I almost lost an eye,' he recalled.

'It was a terrible day but now I am happy with the outcome.'

Barton admits he attacked me, struck me from behind and beat me when I was unconscious.

'He admits he behaved in a cowardly way, and he is a coward.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Euro 2008 faced terror threat

Euro 2008 was the target of a credible terrorist threat, Swiss defence minister Samuel Schmid said in an interview published on the final day of the tournament.

Schmid, also his country's sports minister, said that security forces had acted on information that 'certain preparations had been carried out for an attack'.

The defence minister gave no precise details but said the incident was not related to a previously reported case involving vague threats made on a website.

'I am talking about new evidence that we obtained during the tournament,' he said.

'The matter was taken up by the border authorities, police and secret service and there was no concrete problem after that.'

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