Wednesday, December 28, 2011

All the latest Transfer Gossip across Europe


With the January transfer window opening in a matter of days, let's take a look at the latest transfer rumours to be making the headlines, as clubs across Europe get a one last chance this season to shuffle their squads in a final push for success, whether it in the form of trophies, UEFA Champions League/Europa League qualification, or simply to maintain their status in their respective leagues.
As the clock ticks down here is the most recent transfer gossip to be doing the rounds!

Blackburn, Fulham, Bayer Leverkusen, Manchester United, Manchester City, Lille, Olympiakos, Bolton, Chelsea, Everton, Barcelona, New York Red Bulls, Dijon, AC Milan, Liverpool, Racing Club de Avellaneda, Paris Saint Germain, QPR, Arsenal, FC Köln, Olympique Lyonnais, Fiorentina, Tottenham, Spartak Moscow, Lokomotiv Moscow, Anzhi Makhachkala, Watford, Montpellier, Newcastle, Sochaux, Malaga, AS Roma, Leicester City, Doncaster Rovers, Derby County, Middlesbrough, Nottm Forest, West Ham, Valencia, Swindon Town, Huddersfield and Bournemouth..........are all caught up in transfer gossip as we speak.

Here is a round up:

Blackburn boss Steve Kean expects the green light to bid £2 million for unhappy Fulham striker Andy Johnson (right) today - and make him one of the first signings of the winter transfer window. QPR are also keen, but the 30-year-old is not a priority capture for them just now - Daily Mirror and The Guardian

Bayer Leverkusen are desperate to take Dimitar Berbatov back to the Bundesliga and have been in contact with the Manchester United striker - Daily Mail

Manchester City could fuel the rivalry with Manchester United by snapping up two of their best up-and-coming youngsters Ravel Morrison and Paul Pogba.
Both Pogba and Morrison, both 18 years-old are out of contract at the end of season and City are best-placed if neither players agrees a new deal - Daily Express, Daily Mail and footballpress.net

Manchester City are also rumoured to be lining up a £25m swoop for Lille's Eden Hazard (right), who will be immediately loaned back to France for the remainder of this season - skysports.com and The Guardian

Bolton Wanderers defender Gary Cahill has agreed in principal to join Chelsea in January - footballpress.net

Bolton boss Owen Coyle will swoop for New York Red Bulls and USA defender Tim Ream as a replacement for Gary Cahill - Daily Star

Bolton hope toalso sign Josh McEachran on loan from Chelsea, after sending back the unwanted Gaël Kakuta, who's now heading for Dijon - The Guardian

Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas insists Chelsea will not be trying to buy Everton's Jack Rodwell when the transfer window reopens.
The Blues were this week linked with a £20million bid for the midfielder, who made his senior England debut last month - sportinglife.com

Chelsea are facing an unexpected battle to keep Oriol Romeu less than six months after signing him. Barcelona are said to want to bring the midfielder, who has broken into Andre Villas-Boas' first team, back to the Nou Camp as a replacement for Serie A-bound Seydou Keita in summer - Daily Mirror

Liverpool target Teo Gutierrez (right) has been made available by his club - but only if his £8m valuation is met. The Racing Club de Avellaneda (of Argentina) forward has been attracting the attention of a number of clubs across Europe and the impending eight game ban Luis Suarez is facing has heightened Liverpool's thoughts of adding another striker to their squad - talkSPORT

AC Milan have dismissed reports that Brazilian star Alexandre Pato has asked for a big-money move to Paris Saint Germain. The forward admitted yesterday that his relationship with Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri is not ideal, and that has only increased speculation of a €50million (£42m) switch to France - skysports.com and Daily Mirror

Manager Arsene Wenger is set to consider offers for Arsenal trio Marouane Chamakh, Andrey Arshavin and Sebastien Squillaci as he looks to make way for possible additions to his squad next month - Caught Offside

Andrey Arshavin appears to be closer than ever to leaving Arsenal with Chelsea among the clubs who could be keen on him - Metro

Arsenal will only make loan signings this January but are preparing a £30m summer spending spree on FC Köln striker Lukas Podolski, Fiorentina midfielder Juan Vargas (right) and Lyon midfielder Yoann Gourcuff. Poldolski and Gourcuff would cost the Gunners a combined fee in the region of £15 million pounds, with Vargas' fee expected to be around £10 million - footballpress.net

Tottenham will consider a move for Blackburn defender Chris Samba when the transfer window opens next week, after missing out on Gary Cahill - Daily Mail

Roman Pavlyuchenko's agent claims the Tottenham Hotspur striker is prepared to join Anzhi Makhachkala unless he receives a better offer in January. The 30 year-old forward is unhappy with his lack of playing time and has been linked with a return to former club Spartak Moscow, along with rivals Lokomotiv Moscow and Queens Park Rangers - skysports.com and sportinglife.com

Blackburn are lining up a bid for £5m-rated Watford striker Marvin Sordell - Daily Star

Montpellier owner Louis Nicollin has ruled out selling striker Olivier Giroud (right) to Newcastle United after claiming the club are 'too small' for the striker. Giroud is reportedly a target for Newcastle in the January transfer window as Alan Pardew seeks to boost his attack after a move for Sochaux's Modibo Maiga collapsed. The French international has also been linked with the likes of Arsenal and Malaga - skysports.com

Tottenham's 25 year-old defender Vedran Corluka looks set to join Italian giants AS Roma - Daily Star and The Sun

Olympiakos have been linked to a move for Manchester United goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak - The Guardian

Middlesbrough are keen on landing Nottingham Forest striker Ishmael Miller. The 23-year-old only moved to the City Ground in the summer, when Forest paid West Bromwich Albion just over £1million - skysports.com

Queens Park Rangers manager Neil Warnock has ruled out a bid to sign former Arsenal midfielder Alexander Hleb in January. Hleb has spent the first half of the season on loan at Wolfsburg from Barcelona, but the Bundesliga club will not be extending the arrangement - sportinglife.com

Leicester City boss Nigel Pearson insists will not be 'held to ransom' in the January transfer window amid reports he has made a bid for Doncaster Rovers striker Billy Sharp (right). Foxes boss Pearson is keen to improve his squad in the New Year and reports claim that Leicester have offered £3million for Sharp - skysports.com

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce is keen on bringing Valencia defender Ricardo Costa to East London - skysports.com

Derby County manager Nigel Clough is hoping to release several members of his squad during the January transfer window. Midfielder Stephen Pearson, currently on loan at Championship rivals Bristol City, and goalkeeper Stephen Bywater could be among the first to leave the club in the New Year - skysports.com

Swindon Town will give Leon Clarke to Huddersfield on a free after he fell out with manager Paolo di Canio, but have turned down Bournemouth's £500,000 bid for winger Matt Ritchie, whom they rate at £2m - skysports.com and The Guardian

Thursday, December 22, 2011

What not to buy a man for Christmas!


Last week I posted an article on 'What not to buy a woman for Christmas!'

It provoked quite a reaction, so I have reversed the roles and written an article for women on what not to buy their man for Christmas.

So ladies, if you’re trying to figure out what to buy the guy in your life for Christmas, it might be good to check out this list of things identified as the absolute worst things you can buy for him. Some of these might be a little surprising but see for yourself. If you avoid the things on this list, you might end up buying him something he’ll actually enjoy. You might be taken aback by the mere fact that some of those unwanted Xmas gifts appear on both sexes lists!

Here’s what NOT to buy your guy for Christmas this year........in no particular order!

1/ Hair Treatment.

Don't add insult to injury! If your man's hairline keeps recessing like the tide of a Norwegian Fjord then chances are good that he knows about it. He is probably not happy about this natural phenomenon either, but giving him 'Rogaine' even beautifully wrapped by your goodself this Christmas is definitely not the solution.

2/ One Month Gym Membership.

Yes, yes, yes he has put on a few pounds since you two got together, and then add into the equation all the traditional Christmas fayre and festive parties attended in December - and you can be sure he knows it!
Motivating him to get in shape with a one month gym membership is a bit passive aggressive and a huge turn off. Unless he is asking for the membership as a gift, don't do it.

3/ Back Hair Shaving Kit.

Yes, they do exist. It is basically a razor with a telescope extension designed for back hair removal. Even if he could use some back grooming, don't make this a stocking filler.

4/ Sports-related gifts.

It's okay if you follow the Gunners and he's a Spurs fan. But buying him a club shirt with Sol Campbell printed on the back is just downright unacceptable.

5/ A Puppy.

Giving a living thing as a present without notice is never a good idea.
Yes, puppies make cute gifts, but unless you're planning to feed and walk the little guy every day, it's best not to show up with a barking present. A puppy is something that needs to be talked about first, and picked out together.

6/ An 'Old-Fashioned' cologne/after-shave.

What man wants to smell like a 1980's throwback?
'Denim,' 'Brut,' 'Tabac,' 'Insignia' and 'Saxon' or any other 'out-dated' fragrances are a major no-no for almost all guys.
Girls, would you really want him wearing them anyway?

7/ Turtleneck top.

It's uncomfortable and out-of-style.
You might get away with it if he is planning a ski trip in the next month.

8/ Tickets to the ballet or a Justin Bieber concert (something that you want to see).

Making him sit through four hours of 'Swan Lake' or a Justin Bieber concert isn't cool. Yes, it's an activity to do together, but it's only fun for you. Ladies save this one for your girlfriends.

9/ A book that is meant to improve your relationship.

There's no better way to make your guy insecure and offend him than by giving him a self-help guide or a book that implies that he needs to improve his skills in the bedroom. What man wants to spend his Christmas thinking his woman isn't satisfied?

10/ Bath products.

What guy is seriously going to use bath salts and scented candles? That's why men buy the 3-in-1 shampoo/conditioner/body wash - so they can shower with as little effort as possible.

11/ Skinny jeans.

Many men think they're too tight. Plus, what guy wants to wear the same pants as his wife? Unless he's part of the hipster scene and wears them already.

12/ Underwear with unusual themes or supposedly witty sayings.

Men's underwear with 'funny' sayings or designs are super cheesy and a waste of money. To buy a product of any sort with phrases such as the following are truly naff:
"Food has replaced sex in my life, now I can't even get into my own pants" or "Happiness is like peeing in your pants. Everyone can see it, but only you can feel it,"

13/ Grooming products.

Facial cleanser, deodorant and nail clippers give your man the message that you want him to change the way he looks, or equally could be interpreted as quite simply 'shape up or ship out'............ouch!

14/ Vacuum cleaner.

This is not a present any man would appreciate. Don't think that buying a Vacuum will change his bad habits of leaving his stuff everywhere. Buying him a vacuum for Christmas is the equivalent of him buying you a vacuum for Christmas.

15/ Socks.


You're probably thinking, "Everyone needs socks." We'll keep this simple: you're not his mother!



The clock is ticking and Christmas will be here before you know it. Now that you know a few of the things you should not purchase, how do you know what would be a great gift?

It is the season of giving, so why not start with the most extravagant choice? Ask any man what tops his wish list, and he will say that it's a state-of-the-art television with crisp picture and surround sound for his sports, movies and shows.

If he's not up-to-date on technology, then you need to get him the newest iPad tablet on which he can peruse the Web, e-mail, watch TV shows and movies and do just about everything else! For a personalized touch, engrave his name or initials on the back.

Ray-Ban Aviator glasses. Not just for pilots and policemen, these sunglasses are a classic staple, are flattering on just about anybody and can be worn all year round.

People all over the world were touched by the death of Steve Jobs, and this critically-acclaimed and best-selling book is an intense and fascinating look at the life of one of this greatest businessmen and pioneers of our time.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. If your guy owns a PlayStation then this is a must. Already one of the smash hits (literally) of the season, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is the most recent installment in this extremely popular series of video games.

It may seem cliché, but a beautiful scarf remains a great gift, and a classic Burberry cashmere one just can't be beaten.

Sony MiniDV Video Camera. With a DV video camera like one from Sony, it's easy to import your home movies to a computer for editing and burning to DVD.

Finally, how about the Cyclone II Foosball Table. The Tornado series of foosball tables is widely considered to be the Cadillac of table soccer, and they're certainly built to last. The rods glide beautifully, and the unit as a whole is made to withstand even the toughest, most vigorous foosball play. It may be expensive, but he'll never outgrow it.

Good luck ladies!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What not to buy a woman for Christmas!


It’s that time of year again, when thoughts turn to Christmas and that annual dilemma of what to buy friends and family.

Buying Christmas presents for your partner however, can prove even more of a minefield, especially if you are the kind of man that finds gift buying an ordeal.

Be wary of the kind of Christmas present you choose for your beloved, as giving an inappropriate present could spell the end of a beautiful relationship!

Although giving gift certificates and money may be a good gift idea in some cases, it is also advisable to give some sort of other small item attached with it. You want your wife to feel that you put some thought into her gift. Don't give gift certificates to places like bowling alleys or a day driving a souped up car around a racing track (unless she is a car fanatic). The gift is supposed to be for her — not you!

Unless you know that your gift is going to be well received avoid buying anything that implies a flaw. This could include a self-help book, bathroom scales, a set of cookbooks, a style guide, exercise equipment or a Wii fit!

Chore-related or practical gifts may seem just the thing, but avoid gifts like vacuum cleaners, blenders, irons, brooms, toasters and saucepans etc, unless such an item has been specifically requested. Christmas is for the buying of personal gifts — ones that are thoughtful, meaningful, possibly intimate, sometimes fun and in some cases indulgent.

Do not give your partner any item that you charge to her credit card. She wants you to pay for her gift. Not only that, you don't want her to know that you got that beautiful gift at a bargain basement price. Make her believe that you were willing to pay top dollar and that no amount is too much for you to spend on her.

Let's face it – shopping for girls is not easy. There are tons of resources out there telling you what to buy and where to buy it. I thought I'd take a different approach and point out some gifts I'd suggest you steer well clear of this Christmas. Here’s what NOT to buy your wife or girlfriend for Christmas this year.........

1/ P-Mate.

What weirder way to let her know you care than to give her the ability to pee standing up. Yes, yes, yes, it's hilarious that this product exists, but it's for hiking, camping or for women with hip problems. So as funny as it may be when you place the order on a drunken night of online shopping, it probably won't be as much fun explaining this one on a sober Christmas morning.

2/ Facial Hair Remover.

These things, hilarious as they may be, are all the rage right now among women. They apparently do work for all sorts of things, but women don’t generally react well to guys suggesting they use them. You may think you’re being clever in getting her a useful tool to use in her never ending quest for beauty, but she’ll think you’re telling her she has a moustache and a unibrow.

3/ Gel inserts for her bra.

.....it equates to receiving a gift certificate from your partner for a penis enlargement. How festive! If 'she' wants a boob job then pay for her to have one, but not in some dodgy back-street underground surgery, by a half-baked surgeon, in a country better known for brewing lager than performing breast augmentation.

4/ Acne or Wrinkle Creams.

We see women spend ridiculous amounts of money and time on facial creams, exfoliants, complexion repair treatments, 'age-defying' lotions and all the other things they gobble up on a regular basis. Some of us might get the bright idea to get a girl some of this stuff for Christmas, thinking it’s normal and apparently appreciated. We’d be wrong. Getting a girl anything but scented lotions is like saying she needs some work done, and she’s not likely to appreciate that very much.

5/ Playboy Playmate of the Month Necklace.

She likes jewellery and she likes things that are personal, like her birthstone and you of course love Playmates, so a 'Playmate of the Month Necklace' with her birthday month is the perfect gift right? Okay, let’s start over. Do you want her to find your stash of magazines and then bin them? No? Okay, then don’t buy this for her.

6/ Promise Rings.

Yes it’s pretty and sweet and she'll totally love it, but if you’re not planning to give her an engagement ring by Valentine’s day or at least by next Christmas you will have one bitter, disappointed woman on your hands. Women will tell you that Promise Rings are just a promise to love her forever, but the truth is you’re basically saying: "I promise to get engaged soon, I’m just saving up for the the £5000 version, so for now, enjoy this."
If you want to do the jewellery thing, just stick to an elegant necklace and/or some earrings, but definitely do not give your partner pieces of jewellery that belonged to ex-wives or past girlfriends.

7/ Ceiling Mirror.

A bedroom ceiling mirror may seem like an awesome idea at first, but do you really want her to get a good view of your hairy back or black moles? Plus don’t actively encourage her to call you a pervert. The bonus? She might actually love this if she’s into decorating, but if you’re banking on it going up over the bed, you might be disappointed when you come home and see it above the dresser.

8/ Nono Razor.

Whether or not she enjoys personal grooming, she probably doesn’t want to hear from you that she should shave her 'nono'. We understand that this was a thoughtful gift because of its Thermacon technology that gently transmits heat to the hair and can be used frequently to eliminate rashes and ingrowing hairs. It's just.......well, it’s just wrong to buy one of those things for your partner.

9/ Bikini Wax Kit.

This says "I don’t like the way your whole crotch looks, and I’d like you to change that for me." Not exactly the romantic message you want to send to a girl at Christmas, is it? A gift certificate to an expensive, full service salon/spa that also offers bikini wax services is a better bet. You never know, while she’s there, she may decide on her own to go ahead and trim the grounds.

10/ Nose Hair Trimmer.

As odd as this sounds, it’s happened more times than should ever be counted. Usually as part of a bigger package, lazy guys make the mistake of not accounting for the unisex nature of travel kits. It’s bad enough that you’re handing your girlfriend a totally insincere, last minute 'gift,' but having a nose hair trimmer as part of the deal is like a slap to the face — something you should probably expect if you try this one.

11/ Tickle His Pickle.

How-To sex books are probably not very kosher as far as Chanukah gifts go. Seriously save this for a less spiritual holiday, even Valentine’s Day is a little risky.......besides it’ll probably backfire when she lets you know who REALLY needs tips. Ouch!

12/ A Divorce.

Yes, I have heard of this happening and I think it is both a cruel and psychopathic way to behave at Christmas. If you are going to end the marriage, don't ruin Christmas and scar her for the rest of her life by handing her a set of divorce papers. Get it over with at least a month before or after Christmas. At least then she can buy her own Christmas present.



The clock is ticking and Christmas will be here before you know it. Now that you know a few of the things you should not purchase, how do you know what would be a great gift?

Be a good understudy to your partner. Listen carefully to what she says. Pay attention to the things she enjoys and the way she spends her time. Does she enjoy weekend breaks, being pampered, reading a good book, going to the movies, eating out or crazy outdoor activities?

You might even try asking her to give you a list of things she would like for Christmas. (Note: wives/girlfriends/partners, if your other half asks you to make a list of things you would like for Christmas, please do it. Don’t respond with, "If you don’t know what to buy me for Christmas, I am certainly not going to tell you.")

Men, with a little investigative work you can uncover some helpful hints that will guide you in your gift buying.

If all else fails and you are still at a loss it isn’t against the rules to ask her to accompany you on a shopping spree, to find the perfect gift.

Good luck guys!

Friday, December 09, 2011

All The Latest Transfer Gossip


After a busy week in Europe, as the final Champions League group games were completed, and with the traditionally busy Christmas fixture list on the horizon, clubs across Europe are hard at work as they plan ahead for the second-half of the season.

Players will come and go in January, as clubs wheel and deal in the transfer window. There are numerous reasons why clubs and players move in the New Year. Some clubs may be be strapped for cash, others may be struggling in their respective leagues while others may boast an array of injured players and feel the need to freshen up their squads. Players themselves on the other hand may find they are surplus to requirements, maybe they are not playing on a regular basis for their clubs or have fallen out with their boss. They may also be out of contract in the summer and need to find a new club, or perhaps they are quite simply looking for more money!

AC Milan, PSG, Manchester City, Chelsea, Ajax, LA Galaxy, Valencia, Tottenham, Arsenal, Juventus, West Ham, Blackburn, Spartak Moscow, Aston Villa, Schalke, Olympique Marseille, Bayern Munich, Villarreal, Wolfsburg, Lazio, QPR, Birmingham City, Stoke, Newcastle and West Brom, Wigan, Napoli, Nottingham Forest, Crystal Palace, Cardiff, Burnley and Sheffield United are all caught up in transfer gossip as we speak.

Here is a round up:

AC Milan vice president Adriano Galliani remains hopeful the club can agree a loan deal for Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez despite reported interest from Paris St Germain - footballpress.net and sportinglife.com

Chelsea and Manchester City are thought to be monitoring Ajax full-back Gregory van der Wiel (right), who says he will not sign a new contract at the club. The 23-year-old is also wanted by Valencia - The Sun and The Guardian

Chelsea
boss Andre Villas-Boas has dismissed reports linking midfielder Frank Lampard with a move to LA Galaxy. Lampard appears to have fallen out of favour with Villas-Boas in recent weeks, fuelling suggestions the 33-year-old may be on his way out of Stamford Brigde and perhaps heading across the pond to ply his trade in Major League Soccer - skysports.com

West Ham boss Sam Allardyce has confirmed his interest in signing wantaway Chelsea striker Nicolas Anelka. owever, Allardyce, who worked with Anelka at Bolton, admits he is keeping tabs on the striker's situation, although he concedes he would only move for the 32-year-old on a free transfer in the summer rather than next month - The Sun and skysports.com

Spurs, Arsenal and Juventus are all reportedly interested in Chelsea's out-of-favour defender Alex - Daily Star and football.co.uk

Blackburn Rovers midfielder Steven Nzonzi is wanted by Spartak Moscow, with Arsenal, Chelsea and Aston Villa also thought to be interested in the £7m-rated Frenchman - The Sun and The Guardian

Bundesliga side Schalke are keen to hijack Arsenal's interest in FC Köln's Germany international striker Lukas Podolski, 26. Schalke want to sign Podolski as a replacement for former Real Madrid man Raul, 34, who is contracted to the club until next summer - talkSPORT

Croatian international Ivica Olic (right) looks set to leave Bayern Munich in January. The 32 year-old Bayern forward is being tracked by Villarreal, Wolfsburg, Juventus and Lazio - skysports.com and sportinglife.com

Already tracked by several European top clubs and ready to leave Olympique Marseille, Ghanaian international André Ayew is now a primary target for Chelsea. The London club are thought to be ready to offer in the region of £10 million for the 21 year-old winger in January - footballpress.net

QPR midfielder Alejandro Faurlin is believed to be attracting interest from Napoli and two other Premier League clubs - Daily Mail

Meanwhile, Neil Warnock's side have joined Stoke, Newcastle and West Brom in the chase for Birmingham City defender Liam Ridgewell - Daily Mirror

Arsenal and Tottenham will be the clubs battling for signing Belgian international centre-back Jan Vertonghen from Ajax in January. The 24 year-old is currently on a deal with Dutch club until June 2013, and might decide to wait until the end of the season to leave - Metro and footballpress.net

Premier League sides West Brom and Wigan are both lining up moves for Nottingham Forest defender Luke Chambers, who is out of contract at the City Ground in the summer - Daily Mail

Stoke City are planning to offer £3m for Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha (right), and are looking at Blackburn Rovers winger Junior Hoilett as well. Enoch Balotelli, the 19-year-old brother of Manchester City's understated forward, might join the pair at the Britannia. Balotelli has been training with the Potters for a few weeks - The Guardian, The Metro and skysports.com

Aston Villa are holding talks with goalkeeper Brad Guzan over a new contract. The 27-year-old United States international is set to step into the breach tomorrow at Bolton, following an injury to Shay Given. His contract expires next summer and boss Alex McLeish is confident he can come in and make an immediate impact - skysports.com

Championship duo Cardiff and Burnley are chasing Sheffield United's Matt Lowton. The 22 year-old who can play at the back or in midfield has been an ever-present in the United side this season - skysports.com

Monday, December 05, 2011

Sócrates - Brazilian and World Football Legend



Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira, born 19th February 1933 in Belém do Pará, Brazil died on Sunday, aged 57.

Sócrates had been admitted to the Albert Einstein Hospital in São Paulo with food poisoning, and was on a life-support machine with septic shock when he passed away in the early hours of the 4th December 2011. He leaves a wife and six sons.

It was the third time in four months he had been treated at an intensive care unit since alcohol abuse caused gastrointestinal bleeding secondary to portal hypertension (causing his stomach to hemorrhage). By far the most common cause of this is cirrhosis of the liver, and Sócrates was known to be both a heavy drinker and a chain smoker.

However less than a fortnight ago he insisted he was not dependent on drink.
He told SporTV: "I never had many problems with alcohol because I was not addicted. All the time I interacted with alcohol as if it were a partner, but I never had withdrawal symptoms. I spent long periods without use. I do not feel like drinking. It is five months since I put a drop of alcohol in my mouth. I do not miss it. Obviously you have to change some of your behaviour and avoid risky situations, so to speak. In my case, it is easy. I have no addiction. For those with addiction it is much more complicated."

He began playing football professionally in 1974 for Botafogo in Ribeirão Preto, but spent the majority of his career from 1978 to 1984 with Corinthians in São Paulo.

He also played for Italian club Fiorentina and the Brazilian clubs Flamengo and Santos towards the end of his career,

An astute passer and reader of the game, Sócrates had a uniquely nonchalant playing style, using the backheel to telling effect and scoring memorable goals with both feet.

Sócrates was capped 60 times for Brazil between May 1979 and June 1986, scoring 22 goals. He played for, and captained, Brazil in the 1982 World Cup in Spain. In Spain the world fell in love with Brazil's incredible football, with their precise, brilliant passing under the command of the maestro Tele Santana.
Socrates was part of a golden Brazilian generation of players who included Zico, Falcao, Júnior, Oscar, Cerezo and Eder.

Brazil lost 3-2 to Italy in the quarter-final in what is often described as one of the all-time classic World cup matches. Brazilian fans and journalists recognized that this team was indeed excellent. What happened to Brazil in 1982 was similar to what had happened to Holland in 1974 and Hungary in 1954 - the best team in the competition failed to win the tournament.

Sócrates also appeared in the 1986 World Cup held in Mexico, where Brazil lost to France in a quarter-final penalty shoot-out. it was the last time he would wear the famous yellow shirt.

He was nicknamed 'O Doutor' - The Doctor - as he graduated as medical student during the early years of his football career.

Former Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, who trained Sócrates with the national team in 1983-84, told Reuters: "He was the most intellectual of the players I worked with, intelligent, objective and he had opinions that were his own and firm about anything and mainly politics. He was a genius on the field. He marked a generation with the technical quality and intelligence of his football.....He was one of the great icons of that (1982) team that marveled the world."

He retired from professional football in 1989, at the age of 35.

In 2004, Socrates made a memorable cameo for English amateur side Garforth Town for 12 minutes in front of a club-record 1,000 people at Wheatley Park against Tadcaster Albion, in a 2-2 draw.

Pelé named him as one of the Top 125 Living Footballers in March 2004, and World Soccer named him one of 100 best footballers in history. In October 2008, Sócrates was inducted into the Pacaembu Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame.

After retiring as a player he practised medicine at Ribeirão Preto, and also worked as a media pundit.

Just when he was fighting to stay away from the drink, those many years of alcohol abuse finally proved to be his nemesis. The complications from years of drinking have cut his journey short, the journey of one of the most outstanding, iconic footballers in our history.


Sócrates
Career history:


1974: Makes professional debut for Botafogo Futebol Clube in Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo.
1978: Joins Corinthians, going on to play almost 300 games for the club.
1979: Makes Brazil debut, going on to win 60 caps and score 22 goals.
1982: Captains Brazil in the 1982 World Cup, but they fail to make it past the second group stage.
1983: South American Footballer of the Year.
1984: Joins Italian side Fiorentina.
1986: Returns to Brazil to play for Clube de Regatas do Flamengo in Zona Sul, Rio de Janeiro.
1986: Plays for Brazil in the World Cup, but they lose in the quarter-finals to France on penalties.
1986: Retires from international football.
1988: Joins Santos Futebol Clube in Santos, São Paulo.
1989: Returns to Botafogo Futebol Clube.
1989: Retires from professional football.
2004: More than a decade after retiring from action, he agrees to a one-month player-coaching deal with English Northern Counties East side Garforth Town.
2008: Inducted into the Pacembu Brazilian Football Museum Hall of Fame.


Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira, Rest in Peace.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Gary Andrew Speed, MBE - 1969 - 2011


It is always so very sad to write about the death of someone, particularly when it is a relative or friend, but in this instance although I have no personal association with Gary Speed, other than having watched him play from the stands, I personally wanted to pay my respects to a true gentleman and a model professional.
It really does put the game of football into perspective........everything else pales into insignificance when the reality of such a tragedy hits home.

Gary Speed with his wife Louise

The news of his death has been broadcast by the media continuously over the last 24 hours, and it is hard to add to all the touching, heartfelt sentiments of those people who were closest to him, his family, his friends and his fellow professionals in particular.

Gary was born at Mancot, in Flintshire on the 8th September 1969.
He attended Hawarden High School as a child. and supported Everton FC as a youngster.
Gary began his playing career with Leeds United as a trainee, signing a professional contract on the 13th June 1988 and making his first-team debut at the age of 19. His playing career spanned 22 years and he won 85 caps for Wales between 1990 and 2004, before he took on the mantle of Wales national team manager on the 14th December 2010.

At midday on Saturday the Wales manager Gary Speed was live on the BBC's Football Focus programme discussing his future plans for the side. On Sunday morning the 42-year-old was found hanged at his home in Cheshire having 'apparently committed suicide.'

Speed's death came a day after the former Liverpool footballer Stan Collymore spoke candidly about his battle with depression. Speculation surrounding Gary's death has included the possibility that perhaps he himself was suffering this horrendous mental illness.
It has also been 'alleged' that a national newspaper was going to release an article today regarding a very private matter relating to his personal life, but I must reiterate this is purely 'rumour' and nothing more. There is no substance whatsoever to this allegation.

Tributes for Gary have been pouring in since his death. Here are just a few of them:

BBC Sport's Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer, who played alongside Speed at Newcastle, told BBC Sport: "Gary was a magnificent person, bright, fun and a wonderful family man - he lit up every room he walked into. I am proud to have been his friend and will miss him dreadfully."

Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs, who played alongside Speed with Wales for 13 years, said he was "totally devastated."
"Gary Speed was one of the nicest men in football and someone I am honoured to call a team-mate and friend."

Former Wales team-mate Dean Saunders said: "I just can't believe it. I spoke to him last week. We roomed together all of our careers with Wales. I just can't get my head around it. It's incredible. He's so level-headed. You never saw him down in the dumps. He was just a really nice fella. I'm just thinking about his wife and his lads."

Another former Wales teammate, Robbie Savage, tweeted: "The world has lost a great man in Gary speed I'm devastated spoke to him yesterday morning why ! Why Why !! I'll miss him so much x"

A statement from the Welsh Rugby Union said: "Wales has lost a great sportsman, a true gentleman and a man who was working extremely hard and succeeding to deliver a bright future for Welsh football."



Sincere and heartfelt condolences go to his wife, Louise and sons Tommy and Eddie.

It goes without saying that the sport of football will truly miss Gary, but without a shadow of doubt his memory will live long in the hearts of fans all over the world.


Gary Speed
Career History:


1988: Signs with Leeds and makes his first-team debut aged 19.
1990: He makes his first appearance for the national side on 20th May 1990.
1992: Wins the Football League First Division Championship title with Leeds.
1996: League Cup finalist with Leeds.
1996: Joins Everton for £3.5m.
1998: Joins Newcastle for £5.5m.
1998: FA Cup finalist with Newcastle.
1999: FA Cup finalist with Newcastle.
2004: Joins Bolton for £750,000.
2004: League Cup finalist with Bolton.
2004: Retires from International football.
2006: First player to make 500 Premier League appearances.
2007: Joins Sheffield United on loan.
2008: Joins Sheffield United permanently for £250,000 and moves into coaching.
2010: Retires from playing, appointed Sheffield United manager in August.
2010: Awarded MBE for his services to football.
2010: Confirmed as the new Welsh national team manager on the 14th December 2010
2011: Last game as manager of Wales, 12th November 2011, a 4–1 win against Norway.


Gary Speed, Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The World's Richest Football Club Owners


#5 – Silvio Berlusconi – AC Milan

In 5th Position, is Silvio Berlusconi who was born in Milan in 1936. He has been an Italian politician and a businessman who served three terms as Prime Minister of Italy, from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006, and 2008 to 2011. Berlusconi is also the controlling shareholder of Mediaset, the largest broadcasting company in Italy, and owns a controlling stake in Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, the largest Italian publishing house. He has been the owner of Italian football giants AC Milan since 2006. According to Forbes, Berlusconi is Italy's third richest man, with his net worth believed to be in the region of $7.8 Billion.

Under his ownership AC Milan won the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup. In 2007 he signed the gifted Brazilian Alexander Pato for €24 million and in 2009 he brought the legendary David Beckham to play for Milan on loan from MLS side LA Galaxy. Despite being one of several Italian clubs at the centre of charges of match fixing and corruption in 2007, Milan managed to maintain a strong squad of players with a wealth of experience and the likes of Clarence Seedorf, Alessandro Nesta, Massimo Ambrosini and Gennaro Gattuso are all still playing under Berlusconi. Last season they finally came out of the shadows of their fierce city rivals Internazionale, and were crowned Italian Serie A league winners for the eighteenth time in their illustrious history.

Silvio Berlusconi has an extensive record of criminal allegations, including mafia collusion, false accounting, tax fraud, corruption and bribery of police officers and judges. His leadership was also undermined by sex scandals. After losing his majority in parliament amid growing fiscal problems related to the European debt crisis, Berlusconi officially resigned as Prime Minister on the 16th November 2011.

#4 – Roman Abramovich – Chelsea

In 4th position is Roman Abramovich. In June 2003, Roman Abramovich bought the companies that control Chelsea Football Club in London at a cost of £140 million, completing what was then the biggest-ever sale of an English football club. The club immediately embarked on an ambitious programme of commercial development, with the aim of making it a worldwide brand on a par with footballing dynasties like Manchester United and Real Madrid. Over £100 million was also spent on new players.

In 2004-05 Abramovich has been alleged to be involved in various wrongdoings by many people. It is also alleged that, at one time, then Russian president Boris Yeltsin himself provided Abramovich with protection from prosecution for various criminal activities ranging from stealing diesel fuel to illegally acquiring Sibneft at a staged contest. Nonetheless, many of the allegations against Abramovich are unproven and he has never been convicted of any crime in any world court.

Under his ownership, the 45 year-old Russian has done marvelous things for Chelsea. In Abramovich's second season at Stamford Bridge José Mourinho was recruited as the new manager and Chelsea ended the following season as Premier League champions, for the first time in 50 years. Since the takeover the club have won eight major trophies – the Premier League on three occasions, the FA Cup three times and the League Cup twice. They also reached UEFA Champions League Final for the first time in the history of the club in 2007-08. Despite José Mourinho's success on the field a feud developed between Abramovich and Mourinho off of it. It is alleged that Roman actually forced him to buy Andriy Shevchenko for a then British record transfer fee of around £30 million (€35.3 million), when Mourniho did not want to buy him. This along with murmurings of discontent about Abramovich's meddling and interfering in his work as manager, ultimately led to Mourinio leaving the London club in September 2007. However in the 2009-2010 season Chelsea won for the first time in their history the Premier League and FA Cup 'double' under Carlo Ancelotti's stewardship and Abromovich’s rule.

It is argued that Abramovich's involvement with Chelsea has distorted the football transfer market throughout Europe, as his wealth often allows the club to purchase players virtually at will. In January 2011, Spanish footballer Fernando Torres completed his move from Liverpool to Chelsea on a five-and-a-half year contract for an undisclosed fee reported to be £50 million, which set a new record for a British transfer and made him the fourth most expensive footballer in history.

Abramovich has become the world's greatest spender on luxury yachts, and had been linked to five yachts in what the media have called 'Abramovich's Navy.' He also owns a private Boeing 767, an Airbus A340 and three Eurocopter helicopters. It is said that the aircraft and his yachts are fitted with radar to detect missile threats, and different defensive counter-measures. Abramovich has recently boosted his security staff to a 40 person 'private army,' making him one of the best protected businessmen in the world.
Prior to the financial crisis, he was considered to be the second richest person living within the United Kingdom. His net worth is $13.4 Billion.

#3 – Amancio Ortega Gaona – Deportivo La Coruna

In 3rd position is Amancio Ortega who owns the Spanish side Deprtivo La Coruna. He is also known as the 'Fashion Kingpin' who founded a retail company named Inditex Group, parent company of the Zara chain. He owns 59.29% of the Inditex Group (Industrias de Diseño Textil Sociedad Anónima) which includes the brands Zara, Massimo Dutti, Oysho, Zara Home, Kiddy's Class, Tempe, Stradivarius, Pull and Bear/Often and Bershka and has more than 92,000 employees. His net worth is $31 Billion. In 2011 Forbes ranked Ortega as Spain's richest man, Europe's second richest man and the seventh richest man in the world.

His Deportivo side were relegated to the Spanish second división at the end of the 2010-11 season, after twenty consecutive seasons in the top flight of Spanish football - La Liga, finishing in the top half of the table in 16 out of 19 seasons. As a result, the club has been a regular participant in European competitions, playing in the UEFA Champions League five seasons in a row. Even though they are not up there with the Spanish and world giants in Barcelona or Real Madrid, Deportivo La Coruna boast a proud footballing history since they were founded back in 1906.

Ortega however keeps a very low profile and there are practically no photographs of him.

#2 – Laxmi Mittal – Queens Park Rangers (QPR)

In 2nd Position is the Indian born Laxmi Mittal owner of Queens Park Rangers (QPR), who recently got promoted to the English Premier League by winning the Coca-Cola Championship last May.

The 61 year-old lives in the UK and is the richest man in India, Asia and the United Kingdom. He is presently the sixth richest individual in the world with a net worth of $31.1 Billion. He is the chairman and chief executive officer of ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaking company. Mittal is an independent director of Goldman Sachs, member of Board of Directors to Goldman Sachs Media/Film IP Group and a member of the Board of Directors of European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company.

He currently has a 54% share holding in QPR and looks likely to purchase further shares in the West London club, now that they are competing in the English Premier League.

#1 – Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed – Manchester City

.....and in first position is Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan owner of English Premier League club Manchester City. The 41 year-old is a United Arab Emirati politician and a member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family. He is known as a 'trillion dollar man.' In 2007 he was appointed as the Chairman of the Emirates Investment Authority, the sovereign wealth fund of UAE. His net worth is approximately around $555 Billion. None of the above four mentioned compare to Sheikh Mansour in the wealth stakes!

Since the day he arrived as the owner of Manchester City, he changed the entire future of the club by splashing the cash on many high profile players. He first bought in Carloz Tevez, Joleon Lescott, Gareth Barry and Emmanuel Adebayor. Prior to the start of the 2010–11 season, City completed the transfers of Jérôme Boateng, Yaya Touré, David Silva, Aleksandar Kolarov and Mario Balotelli. James Milner signed during the first week of the season and Edin Džeko joined the club during the January 2011 transfer window. The spending didn't stop there and this season he went out and spent more than a $100 million on Sergio Aguero, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri.

Under his ownership, Manchester City prospered last season by winning the FA Cup and bringing silverware to Eastlands for the first time since City's League Cup triumph back in 1976. They also finished third in the Premier League and in doing so gained automatic promotion into this seasons financially lucrative UEFA Champions League. At the moment no other rich tycoon football owner is even near to him when it comes to finances. He is known as the 'Jackpot of Manchester City' and he truly is.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kaylyn Kyle - Canadian Soccer Babe





Kaylyn Mackenzie Kyle was born on the 6th October 1988, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewanis. She is a Canadian International footballer who plays her club football with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the United Soccer Leagues (USL) W-League.

Kaylyn has represented Canada at U-17 and U-20 level and senior level.
In 2006 she participated in the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Russia. In 2008 she represented Canada at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Chile.

Kaylyn won her first senior cap for the Canadian national team against the United States, at the 'Four Nations Tournament' in China on 16th January 2008, and was a member of the senior squad that won the 2010 CONCACAF Women's Championship beating the hosts 1-0 in the Final in the Estadio Andrés Quintana Roo, Cancún, Mexico.

The 23 year-old midfielder also represented Canada this summer at the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany.

Kaylyn last competitive international match was in Canada's penalty shoot-out victory over Brazil in Guadalajara, Mexico on the 28th October 2011, as Canada claimed its first Pan American Games gold medal in women's soccer.

The 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup will be the seventh FIFA Women's World Cup, and in March 2011, Canada won the right to host the event.

Follow Kaylyn on Facebook and Twitter


Friday, November 11, 2011

All the latest Transfer Gossip across Europe


With international football top of the agenda this week and next, top flight clubs across Europe are able to take a well-earned break from domestic football.
However the transfer rumour mill door continues to revolve, as clubs look to strengthen their sides. Whether it be this January or next summer clubs across Europe are constantly planning for the future, and today some of the biggest clubs in Britain and Europe are the subject of transfer speculation.

Liverpool, Barcelona, Anzhi Makhachkal, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Valencia, Sochaux, Tottenham, Newcastle, Rennes, New York Red Bulls, Arsenal, West Brom, Villarreal, Chelsea, Blackburn Rovers, Napoli, AC Milan, Fiorentina, Wolfsburg, Rosenborg, Espanyol, Fulham, Celtic and Glasgow Rangers are all caught up in transfer gossip as we speak.

Here is a round up:

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish's has been linked with a move for Barcelona striker David Villa. Reports in Spain say the 29-year-old striker is unhappy at Barcelona and has fallen out with Lionel Messi - The Guardian

Liverpool who were looking at Sochaux midfielder Ryad Boudebouz (right) in May are back in for for the Algerian international. Expect a bid in January - The Guardian

There is also reported interest from Liverpool in Barcelona star Seydou Keita. Russian giants Anzhi Makhachkala, are also keen to land the Mali international - skysports.com

Real Madrid are looking tempt Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic into making a big money move to the Bernabéu next Summer. The Seriban, who signed a new deal early last season, will have just two years left on his contract at the end of the season - football.co.uk

Manchester United are running the rule over Valencia defender Adil Rami (right) as Sir Alex Ferguson plans for the eventual replacement of both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. Sources in Spain have confirmed the English champions’ interest in the Valencia defender. Rami is thought to have a buy-out clause of €25million in his contract, well within reach for the Red Devils. The Frenchman only joined Valencia in the summer, moving from Lille, the side which he helped to last season’s Ligue 1 title - insidefutbol.com

Alan Pardew’s Newcastle has made a dream start in the Premier League this campaign and are now preparing to bolster their attacking options by signing Tottenham duo Jermain Defoe and Roman Pavlyuchenkov, both 29, for £20million in the January transfer window - european-football-updates.blogspot.com

Arsenal have entered the race to sign Rennes' 6ft 3in midfielder Tongo Hamed Doumbia, The 22 year-old is rated at £8million - Daily Mail and footylatest.com

New York Red Bulls defender Tim Ream has spoken out on interest from two English Premier League sides. The 24-year-old has been linked with Arsenal, while West Brom are also believed to have asked the American to head over to the Hawthornes on trial. Ream has been in fine form for New York Red Bulls, profiting from playing in the same side as the likes of Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez - insidefutbol.com

Villarreal are keen to bring in teenage Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku, 18, on loan in the January transfer window - Daily Mirror

France International midfielder Yann M' Vila (right), 21, who Arsenal made an unsuccessful £20 million bid for on transfer deadline day in August, says he is prepared to leave Rennes - but not until after Euro 2012 - Metro and Daily Mail

Blackburn Rovers and West Ham are thought to be considering a move for Manchester City defender Nedum Onuoha - The Guardian

West Ham are ready to throw caution to the wind and snap up the lesser known Ferdinand, Rio and Anton's cousin Kane. The 19 year-old Southend midfielder will cost £500,000 - The Sun

AC Milan are weighing up replacing their summer signing Taye Taiwo with Barcelona full-back Maxwell. The 26-year-old has failed to cement his place in the first-team since his move from Marseille in the summer, while Maxwell has found opportunites at Camp Nou few and far between since leaving Milan's great rivals Inter for the European champions two years ago - goal.com and insidefutbol.com

AC Milan are stepping up their efforts to pip Arsenal to the signing of Fiorentina midfielder Riccardo Montolivo. AC Milan have put together an offer of €3 million for the Fiorentina midfielder. Fiorentina are keen to prevent losing Montolivo on a free transfer in the summer and may accept a cut-price deal for the 26-year-old - sportmediaset.mediaset.it

Chelsea have been linked with Wolfsburg striker Mario Mandzukic (right). The 25-year-old Croatian joined Wolfsburg last year for a fee of €8M from Dinamo Zagreb. Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas is known to be on the lookout for more striking power to add to his squad, especially given that Nicolas Anelka is heading for the exit door and could soon be joined by Didier Drogba - insidefutbol.com

Napoli have played down speculation linking Slovakian midfielder Marek Hamsik with a move away from the club by revealing they expect him to sign a contract extension at the Stadio San Paolo - skysports.com

Rosenborg defender Mikael Lustig would be willing to discuss a move to Celtic, with the Bhoys one of a number of clubs chasing his signature. The Swedish full-back is set to become a free agent in the New Year and his imminent availability is attracting plenty of interest. Premier League outfit Fulham are also known to be in the running, while Spanish side Espanyol are keen to bolster their defensive options.

Glasgow Rangers are considering signing India international strikers Jej Lalpekhlua and Sunil Chettri in the hope of opening up a new market in the subcontinent. The duo will arrive in Glasgow before the end of the month for a trial with Ally McCoist's side - Daily Record

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Congratulations to Nathaniel Clyne - named Football League Championship Player of the Month for October


Clyne with his 'Player of the Month' award

Crystal Palace defender Nathaniel Clyne was this week named 'npower Championship Player of the Month' for October 2011.

Clyne who was voted the Club's 'Player of the Year' last season picked up the award ahead of Birmingham's Chris Burke, West Ham's Kevin Nolan and Southampton's Rickie Lambert.

The 20-year-old right-back only made his first appearance of the season on the 15th October, after recovering from a pre-season foot injury, but helped Palace keep five clean sheets throughout the rest of the month, and the Eagles did not concede a goal with him in the side.

Palace manager Dougie Freedman, who was nominated for manager of the month after taking Palace into the play-off places, lost out to Birmingham's Chris Hughton but was pleased for Clyne.

Freedman said: "I am delighted Nathaniel has won this award for October. He suffered the disappointment of a pre-season injury but typically worked hard to get back to full fitness. He came back into the side at Watford and has been part of some excellent defensive displays in the league."

Academy graduate Nathanial Clyne in action for Crystal Palace

The Player of the Month judging panel comprises of Sky Sports Football League expert Peter Beagrie, Football League Head of Communications John Nagle, BBC Sport's Mark Clemmit and npower Head of Sponsorship Emma Collins.

Peter Beagrie said: "Another product of Crystal Palace's prolific academy, Clyne was a pivotal part of his side's miserly defence during October."

Emma Collins added: "Crystal Palace had a superb record during October and Nathaniel played a big part in their success. His energy and desire to get forward also made him a real attacking threat as Palace strengthened their grip on a Play-Off spot.
I'd like to congratulate Nathaniel on behalf of npower, and wish him the best of luck for the rest of the season."


Huddersfield Town striker Jordan Rhodes has been named 'npower League 1 Player of the Month' for October.
Rhodes netted nine goals in six games to help the Terriers to second place in the table.

Aldershot Town striker Danny Hylton has been named 'npower League 2 Player of the Month' for October.
Hylton netted six goals in five games to help The Shots push towards a League 2 Play-Off spot.

Birmingham City manager Chris Hughton is the 'npower Championship Manager of the Month' for October.
Hughton led Blues to an unbeaten month with four wins and a draw during October.

Huddersfield Town manager Lee Clark is the 'npower League 1 Manager of the Month' for October.
Clark led his side to second in the table with five wins and a draw during the month.

Crawley Town manager Steve Evans is the 'npower League 2 Manager of the Month' for October.
Evans led the Reds to second in the table with five wins and a draw during an unbeaten month.

The judging panel for the 'npower Manager of the Month' awards comprises of former Charlton Athletic manager Alan Curbishley, Sky Sports Football League expert Peter Beagrie, Football League Chief Operating Officer Andy Williamson, BBC Sport's Mark Clemmit, League Managers Association Deputy CEO Olaf Dixon and npower Head of Sponsorship Emma Collins.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Racism in Football.....neither clever, nor funny but hardly avant-garde!


Racism is nothing new in football. This week, though, it is news in football.

Racism in association football is the abuse of players, officials and fans because of their skin colour, nationality, religion or ethnicity. Some may be targeted (also) because of their association with an opposing team. However, there have been instances of individuals being targeted by their own fans.

Here in England, Chelsea's John Terry is battling accusations of racism this week after his team's weekend loss to Queens Park Rangers.

As of now, Terry is still the captain of the England international squad, but the issue is quite serious, with both the Football Association and police launching investigations.

In the latest contentious episode of Terry’s career, video posted on the Internet appeared to show Terry (right) directing a racial slur at Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during last Sunday’s game. The issue could again throw into question Terry’s suitability as England captain.

Terry has been in trouble on and off the field throughout his career. He regained the armband only this year after being stripped of it by England manager Fabio Capello in February 2010. He allegedly had an affair with the former girlfriend of Chelsea and England team-mate Wayne Bridge.

Rio Ferdinand, the older brother of Anton and Terry’s longtime defense partner for England, took over as captain only to relinquish the position 13 months later.

Terry was also fined by the club after he and three teammates drunkenly abused American guests at a hotel the day after the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001.

Less than two weeks ago, Liverpool's Luis Suarez was accused of racist abuse against an opponent, Manchester United's Patrice Evra.
With the English FA expected to seek Manchester United's permission to speak with Evra, as it launches its investigation into the Frenchman's allegations, one post-match witness from the Anfield players' tunnel said the defender had remained "very angry" 20 minutes after the game, when he and Alex Ferguson visited the match officials' office to report that Suarez had called the player a "n****r" at least 10 times during the 1-1 draw.

It might be weeks or months before we know exactly what happened. Until then, it will be hard to judge these incidents in their historical context.

Racism in football is rife right across all of Europe, in many forms, and has been so going on decades. It is just that it seems to be more prevalent in Eastern Europe at present, and with next years European Championships scheduled to be jointly held in Poland and the Ukraine, these are worrying times. All the major footballing nations across Europe have been subject to periods of racist (and sometimes fascist) behaviour over the years, including the likes of France, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.

The worldwide governing bodies of the game, along with the players need to set an example to the supporters, because the fans do not need much incentive to light the blue touch paper, and use racist behaviour as a means of provoking a sharp reaction on and off the field.

However you only need to look at recent incidents this year to show that this type of abuse is gathering momentum, despite several high profile campaigns over recent years to rid the game of this virus!

If society cannot behave itself away from the game, then the job of controlling hundreds of thousands of football fans every week is a futile one.

Here are several high-profile examples of controversial racist incidents not directly fan related:

The Player:
Lazio striker Paolo Di Canio (right), found himself in trouble with the Italian football authorities in December 2005, after giving an alleged fascist salute in their Serie A match away to Livorno.
According to Italian news agency ANSA, Di Canio made the gesture to the visiting Lazio supporters while he was being substituted.
Games between Livorno and Lazio are always tense because of the political leaning of the clubs' supporters. Livorno have always had a strong left-wing following, while Lazio supporters have links to the far right.
ANSA said Livorno fans waved communist flags with the hammer and sickle emblem, while Celtic crosses (a popular symbol for the neo nazis especially as the swastika is banned) were spotted in the Lazio enclosure.

It is not the first time Di Canio's politics have landed him in hot water. In March 2005 he was fined 10,000 euros for giving a fascist-style salute at the end of the Rome derby two months earlier.
Di Canio denied any political significance but the Italian football league's disciplinary commission ruled his gesture had "unequivocally recalled a precise political ideology which could have provoked a violent reaction from fans".

The Player:
Also in 2005 Serbian striker Nenad Jestrovic became the first player to be dismissed in a Champion's League match for alleged racist comments while his side, Anderlecht of Belgium, played against Liverpool earlier in the month. UEFA banned him for three matches.

Former Manager, TV Analyst and Newspaper Columnist:
On the 21st April 2004, Ron Atkinson resigned from ITV after he was caught making a racist remark live on air about the black Chelsea player Marcel Desailly: believing the microphone to be switched off, he said, ".....he [Desailly] is what is known in some schools as a fucking lazy thick n****r". Although transmission in the UK had finished, the microphone gaffe meant that his comment was broadcast to various countries in the Middle East. He also left his job as a columnist for The Guardian "by mutual agreement" as a result of the comment.

Society:
In Dec 2010 the Pizza Hut restaurant chain was accused of racism after asking a group of black professional footballers to pay in advance for their meals.
The demand was made as a table of white youngsters seated nearby were allowed to settle up after eating.
Five AFC Bournemouth players were stunned when a duty manager told them to pay up front because of "the way you lot look."
When they refused, staff claimed they were being "disruptive" and called the police.
Officers arrived at the restaurant but took no action after the players, including first-team regulars Anton Robinson, Liam Feeney and Marvin Bartley agreed to leave.

Pizza Hut were forced to apologise to the League One stars and admitted they had been treated "very shabbily" but insisted there was no racism.
However, midfielder Mr Robinson, 24, said later: "The only thing that was different was the colour of our skins."

So with players, television presenters and society unable to control their vile tongues, it is no surprise that the fans of the game continue to use racism to further stoke up the fires that already smoulder!

Here are some incidents of racist behaviour by fans that have all taken place in 2011 alone, right across Europe.

The Fans:
15th October 2011: Corsican nationalists have accused the French Football League (LFP) of racism as the fall-out from a brawl that marred the end the second division match between Bastia and Lens continues. Three players – Gilles Cioni of Bastia and Lens duo Gabriel Cichero and Samba Sow of Lens, were sent-off towards the end of the 2-2 draw at the Stade Armand-Cesari.
As the players made their way off the pitch, fighting continued in the tunnel, and Cichero – a Venezuelan international defender – is alleged to have kicked Bastia director Alain Seghi in the face, breaking his nose, cheekbone and eye-socket.

September 2011: England's Ashley Young was targeted by Bulgarian fans (right) not because he is a great player - one who has illuminated the early stages of the English Premier League season with Manchester United - but because he is black.
However, the actions of a minority in the international match in Sofia in September showed that, for some countries, attitudes that seem out-of-step in today's multicultural world are still prevalent. Bulgaria's German coach Lothar Matthaus, who has since been sacked, was so embarrassed by the fans' behavior that he publicly apologized after the match.

April 2011: Real Madrid striker Emmanuel Adebayor has said nothing can be done to stop racism in football after he was targeted by Tottenham fans during his side’s Champions League win over Spurs. The on-loan Manchester City man scored twice in Madrid's 4-0 win at the Bernabeu but was singled out by the travelling fans following his three-and-a-half-year spell with Tottenham Hotspur’s rivals Arsenal.
The Tottenham fans are reported to have sung a derogatory chant about Adebayor's parents.

March 2011: A German teenager admitted throwing a banana onto the field in the direction of Brazil soccer star Neymar during a friendly with Scotland in March. First it was believed that the notorious Tartan Army, Scotland’s raucous rooting section, had flung the fruit, which caused all manner of controversy. When the teenager came forward, the Scottish Football Association demanded an apology, saying; "Scotland supporters are known for impeccable behaviour." Everyone had a good laugh over that quote.

January 2011: Kenny Dalglish's job as Liverpool's new short-term manager this week will include investigating a racism row involving the club's academy players. It follows an allegation that Crystal Palace's players were subjected to racial abuse during their FA Youth Cup fourth‑round tie at Anfield. One player said he was "disgusted" by what he had heard.
The Football Association contacted Palace for a full account of what happened and to ascertain whether they intend to make an official complaint.

The FA may also ask to speak to Dan Pringle, one of the players involved in the 3-1 defeat for Palace. Pringle expressed his dismay on his Twitter account after the match, saying: "Disappointed with result but really disgusted with the racism from Liverpool throughout the game. Disgraceful."

When he was contacted by several Palace supporters he later clarified that he was talking about Liverpool's players rather than the crowd.

Liverpool reacted with surprise, not least as they had several black players in their team. A club spokesman said: "We didn't receive any complaints either during or after the game and nothing was mentioned by the referee."

There have been many high-profile incidents of racist behavior towards players in recent seasons. Here are some examples of racist behaviour by fans going back to 1988.

August 2010: The Lokomotiv Moscow soccer team sold Peter Odemwingie, who is half-Russian and is a Nigeria international, to West Brom in the transfer window in August, with some Lokomotiv fans displaying an offensive banner on his exit. Their fans celebrated during the next game with a banner (below) showing a banana and the message: "Thanks West Brom."

"It's a minority group but it's really sad - I have a good relationship with the club but this is a big disgrace," Odemwingie told BBC Sport.
The 29-year-old explained that black players are regularly subjected to insults in the Russian league but said the authorities do not act.
"Some fans treated me well at the club - only a group of supporters have shown how narrow minded they are to the world," Odemwingie said.

From BBC Sport: The Russian Football Union’s (RFU) disciplinary body held a board meeting on 25th August 2010, but opted not to fine Lokomotiv and Sorokin, who is also the Russian Football Union’s director general, who insisted that the banana banner was not "racist."

Racism seems particularly endemic in Russian soccer, "The supporters' attitude to black players in Russia is appalling, it's totally abysmal," Keir Radnedge of World Soccer magazine told CNN.
"Not only is there racism towards black players in Russia, but there is an inter-racial side to things, where players or fans from countries that formed part of the former Soviet Union get targeted as well."
Zenit St Petersburg - Russia's most fascist and rightwing club, virulently racist, they won't even let non-whites on the team and have admitted this publicly.

February 2010: A racist football fan was banned from matches for three years yesterday after abusing striker Darren Bent's mother. John Davison, 26, called Shirley Bent a "n****r" as he walked past her on the way to watch her son play for Sunderland at Wigan Athletic.
John Davison, 26, called Shirley Bent a "n****r" as he walked past her on the way to watch her son play for Sunderland at Wigan Athletic. He was also fined £170 and ordered to pay Mrs Bent £50 compensation.

African star Samuel Eto'o (right) has been targeted on several occasions.
October 2010: While playing for Italian side Inter Milan, play was halted for three minutes after Eto'o was abused by supporters of Sicily-based Cagliari.

February 2006: While playing for Barcelona, the Cameroon striker was so incensed by chants from Real Zaragoza fans that he walked off the pitch.

April 2009: Internazionale's Mario Balotelli, an Italian footballer of Ghanaian descent, was subjected to racial abuse from Juventus fans. They were handed a one game home fan ban as a result

March 2008: Black players of French side Marseille - including André Ayew, Ronald Zubar and Charles Kaboré - were targeted by the fascist fans of Russian side Zenit St Petersburg.

24th March 2007: In a match between France and Lithuania, a racist banner was unfurled by Lithuanian supporters. Directed against France's black players, it represented a map of Africa, painted with the French flag colors (blue, white and red), with a slogan of "Welcome to Europe"

13th January 2007: The FA charged Newcastle player Emre Belözoğlu with "using racially-aggravated abusive and/or insulting words", referring to an incident during the 3-0 defeat by Everton at Goodison Park on 30th December 2006. Emre was, on the 16th February 2007, accused of more racist behaviour, this time against Bolton's El Hadji Diouf. However, on 1st March 2007, it was revealed that Diouf would not be pursuing his claim. It was also later revealed that Watford player Al Bangura had released a statement declaring that he was the victim of racist abuse from Emre. On the 19th March he was cleared of the charges relating to the Everton game.

No smoke without fire in my opinion!

March 2006: Two Eastern German soccer teams in the fourth division, FC Sachsen Leipzig and Hallesche FC, had just drawn 2-2 on 25th March in Halle, and the fans weren't happy.

Leipzig's Nigerian midfielder Adebowale Ogungbure was walking off the pitch when hooligans ran up to him, spat at him and called him "Dirty n****r," "Shit n****r" and "Ape." He ignored it and walked on. Then, when he passed the main stand and heard fans making whooping monkey noises at him, he decided he'd had enough. He put two fingers above his mouth to symbolise a Hitler moustache and stuck out his right arm in a Nazi salute to the crowd.
Given their behavior, one might think they would have appreciated the gesture and even returned it. But a Hallesche FC supporter attacked him from behind with a corner flag and another grabbed him in a stranglehold. Ogungbure pushed them away as a teammate intervened and dragged him towards the tunnel, to the safety of the changing rooms.

January 2006: After racist chants one weekend in stadiums in Italy and Spain had brought African players to tears, the European Union and soccer's governing body planned to get tougher on soccer's major problem.

On soccer pitches across Belgium the following weekend, players wore a black and white stripe on their faces. In Italy, an anti-racism banner was unveiled before the opening whistle of every top Italian league and Italian Cup match.

The measures, organized by the Belgian and Italian leagues, followed a shameful weekend of racism in European soccer. The week before Messina's Ivory Coast defender Marc Zoro threatened to walk off the field after fans of his team's opponents, Inter Milan, repeatedly hurled racial epithets at him.

Two Espanyol fans were suspended for abusing Barcelona's Cameroon goalkeeper Carlos Kameni. Kameni has been a regular victim of racial abuse from a section of the club's radical fans as well as opposing supporters at other grounds in Spain. Meanwhile the Brazilian midfielder Fredson, were subjected to racist chants in Madrid by fans of opponents Atletico Madrid.

November 2004: An large explosion of racial abuse in European soccer was seen and the return of a problem once thought of as a relic of the game. But has it really ever been away?
The recent increase in reported offences has once again turned the spotlight on the uglier side of the beautiful game and raised the question: Are these latest sickening outbursts just copycat incidents or is European soccer still rife with racists and xenophobes?

Racist taunting aimed at Partizan Belgrade's black players overshadowed the Serbian side's 2-2 draw against Lazio in Rome to plunge the game in Europe into another race shame.
Lazio’s hardcore Ultras (right), notorious for their xenophobic and racist views and their support for the former right wing regime in Yugoslavia, targeted Cameroon striker Pierre Boya in particular, during the explosive UEFA Cup Group E clash.

Two days later following the incident in Rome. Real Madrid's Champions League match against Bayer Leverkusen was marred by racist chanting by Spanish fans with Bayer's Brazilian defenders Roque Junior and Juan the target of abuse from Real's Ultra Sur hooligan element during the 1-1 draw. The Spanish giants became the subject of an investigation by UEFA as a result.

Also in November 2004: The specter of racism then reared its ugly head in the English Premiership when Birmingham City striker Dwight Yorke was abused by a Blackburn Rovers supporter, as he warmed up on the sidelines with his fellow substitutes during the match.

January 1988: Mark Walters debut for Rangers FC. Walters became the first black player in Ranger's history, making his debut on 2nd January 1988, in the Old Firm derby match with Celtic at Parkhead, Scotland.
Celtic fans marked the occasion by throwing bananas and making monkey noises, with some even wearing tuxedos — or "monkey suits" — to the match. During the same game, in defence of Walters, Rangers’ fans, responded with an 'unconscious' racist song, singing "I’d rather be a darkie than a Tim" (Tim being a slang term to describe a person of Scots-Irish catholic decent). The match commentator seemed oblivious to the racial implications: He commented - "Well the game was slightly held up while some assortment of fruit was removed from the pitch. You can see it there, just in front of The Jungle."
The Scottish Football Association chose to remain silent on the incident.

It was in the mid-1980s that German football club St. Pauli's transition from a traditional club into a "Kult" club began. It was also during the 1980's when the club first became associated with the Skull and Crossbones symbol.

The deal is St. Pauli is no ordinary team. This is an anti-racist, anti-fascist, pretty much anarchist soccer team which represents a shall we say bohemian area of Hamburg home to prostitutes, squatters and activists of the left wing and anarchist persuation. Opposition to fascism, sexism and homophobia has actually been included in the club constitution.

More than 20,000 fans regularly pack the home stadium, and the club has the largest proportion of female fans in German football.

The ugly cloud of racism appears to hang like a shadow over soccer, particularly in Eastern Europe, but with the Euro 2012 finals in Poland and Ukraine on the horizon, a campaign to ensure that such behavior is stamped out in stadiums is gathering pace.
Rafal Pankowski heads Poland-based organization 'Never Again,' which works closely with European football's governing body UEFA and Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE). Their collective aim is to challenge racism in Eastern European soccer, with particular emphasis on next year's co-hosted tournament.

"Unfortunately it seems racism is deeply rooted in the culture of soccer, especially in Eastern Europe," Pankowski told CNN. "Of course it's a broader problem, affecting countries such as Spain and Italy, but it is a real issue in Eastern Europe.
"We appreciate the steps and initiatives that UEFA are taking, but we are still a very long way from eradicating the problem and it's just not something that can be eliminated overnight."

Earlier this year, 'Never Again' published a report called "Hateful" which documented the number of racist incidents in Poland and Ukraine.
It detailed 195 individual incidents of racist and discriminatory behavior in an 18-month period from September 2009 to March 2011, a figure that underlines the amount of work that still needs to be done.

A slap on the wrists, puny fines and meaningless five-minute delays to matches will not deter the racists, but what will?

The relationship between 'race' and football takes a number of forms. It has long been the case that a number of fans have used Saturday afternoons at football matches to air their racial prejudices but it is now recognised that this minority of racist fans is only part of the problem. What is also important is how members of minority groups can become involved in football as players, coaches or spectators, the interest they take in football and whether in certain areas they feel excluded.

The UK was the first country to make a concerted effort to rid the game of racism, at least in its most obvious forms, with the founding of the ‘Let’s Kick Racism out of Football’ campaign in 1993, followed two years later by the launch of ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ in the north-east of England, and the Football Unites, Racism Divides project in Sheffield. FURD is now centrally involved in international campaigns against racism in football, through the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network.

Racism is not a problem of football's making. It is society's problem. Yet it is an issue the game cannot afford to sideline. It presents it with responsibilities - and new opportunities.
The game’s ruling bodies - and clubs and players as its ambassadors - have a responsibility to protect and promote its image as the game that unites the world. They must act wherever necessary to ensure people can watch and play free from prejudice and abuse.
They also have an opportunity to make a positive contribution to creating a better society.