Friday, 21 November 2014

FIFA panel member charged with fraud in Cayman

A member of FIFA's financial monitoring panel has been charged with fraud in a criminal investigation in his Cayman Islands homeland.
A Cayman anti-corruption unit has charged Canover Watson with money laundering, fraud and breach of trust amid a probe into a 2010 contract to supply local hospitals with a swipe-card billing system.
The 43-year-old Watson is the former chair of a health authority board in the British Caribbean territory. He issued a statement denying any wrongdoing after being questioned by investigators in August.
Calls to Watson's Grand Cayman home went unanswered Thursday. He is due in court on Tuesday.
Watson was temporarily suspended from FIFA's eight-person audit and compliance committee in September pending the outcome of the Cayman case. The panel scrutinizes FIFA's $1 billion-plus annual revenue and commercial contracts.

NFF mum on Keshi's future

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has remained tight-lipped on the future of out-of-contract Super Eagles head coach, Stephen Keshi, despite meeting on Wednesday in the wake of the country's failure to qualify for the 2015 Afcon.
The NFF executive committee met on Wednesday night after Nigeria's 2-2 draw with South Africa in a 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match at the Akwa Ibom Stadium in Uyo, but did not mention if there is a decision reached to give Keshi a new contract or not.
But the football federation agreed that Shaibu Amodu resumes as the technical director of the NFF while Emmanuel Ikpeme will assist. Both men are expected to resume duties immediately, according to the NFF.
The NFF executive committee also announced that it will be sending the like of Amodu, Nwankwo Kanu, Garba Lawal, Yisa Shofoluwe, Austin Okocha, Ann Chiejine, Florence Omagbemi, Edema Fuludu, Dahiru Sadi, Siji Lagunju, David Ngodigha as well as five coaches from the Nigeria Professional FOotball League (NPFL), Paul Aigbogun, Kelechi Emeteole, Salisu Yusuf, John Obuh and Ladan Bosso "on a two–week, intensive training programme in the United Kingdom."
The NFF explained that the 17 persons will undergo training "to improve the quality of coaching, match–reading and backroom analysis." However, from the list Keshi or any of his backroom staff are pencilled down for the programme.
The NFF has also constituted a Technical Study Group which former Nigeria international, Okocha, will head.
Others in the study group include Benedict Akwuegbu, Celestine Babayaro, Michael Obiku, Darlington Omodiagbe, Finidi George, Taribo West, Tijani Babangida, Kashimawo Laloko, Henry Nwosu, Peter Rufai, Dominic Iorfa, Nwankwo Kanu, Dahiru Sadi, Gbenga Ogunbote, Mutiu Adepoju, Florence Omagbemi, Mercy Akide-Udoh, Ann Chiejine, Eucharia Uche, Salisu Yusuf, Alloy Agu and Benedict Iroha.
The Technical Study Group, according to the NFF, is expected to focus "on getting talented Nigerian players into the developmental leagues in Europe for the purpose of creating a pool of future Super Eagles’ players, and work hard at getting more Nigeria–born footballers in Europe to commit to representing fatherland."

Chelsea will run away with title - Howard

Chelsea will run away with the Premier League title but could struggle to remain undefeated until May, according to Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard.
Chelsea have won nine and drawn two in their first 11 games and already have a four-point lead over Southampton, and an eight-point advantage over third-place Manchester City.
Howard told ESPN that he doesn't foresee any team catching Jose Mourinho's men for the title.
"Man, they're like a buzzsaw," Howard said. "I think they are going to run away with it. Do I think they'll go undefeated? No, but they'll go mighty close.
"They're just strong front to back, like I've almost never seen before, quite nearly flawless. But credit to them, Jose Mourinho came in last year and continued to build and build and build, and this is what it was for. It was for the team that he puts out right now."
Howard also said that he believes the start of the current Premier League season, which sees the likes of Southampton, West Ham and Swansea in the top five, is unlike any he can remember.
Everton sit 10th in the table after 11 games but Howard remains confident that they can move up in the games to come.
"I think we got off to a slow start, but this season seems to be so crazy compared to the other ones," Howard said. "Everton's a good team, we've got a really good squad of talented, talented players.
"We're going to be OK. We play a great brand of football. We're a tough match for any team so I'm not worried about us at all."
Howard dismissed questions that Everton's extra games in the Europa League this season have contributed to a slower start in the Premier League.
"Our manager Roberto Martinez has a great plan in terms of how he feels he wants to rotate the team," Howard said. "We're on top of the group in Europe, so we look forward to those games.
"Of course it's tough on the squad. You have to look after yourself a little more in terms of physically and getting a lot of rest because you're playing Thursday-Sunday, but we've not found it as a distraction at all.
"That's a simple excuse a lot of clubs use. Not for us, though."
Everton return from the international break with a game against West Ham at Goodison Park on Saturday, and Howard said they "would like to always fancy our chances at home," despite praising his opponents' recent run of form.
"Hats off to West Ham, they've had a brilliant start," Howard said. "Certainly, a little bit unexpected, but they're there on merit. They've played really good football this year.
"They've been tough, they've put it to opponents. They've scored goals and they've been resilient at the back, which is the recipe for winning games. But they'll be on our patch and we're going to try to make them suffer a little bit."

Rodgers reveals Sturridge woe

Liverpool are launching a medical investigation after Daniel Sturridge suffered the ninth injury of his career in his left thigh.
The England striker has been ruled out for another six weeks with the second injury of this nascent season to the same thigh.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers previously blamed England for aggravating Sturridge's injury but he has now gone public in his concern about the recurring problem.
"We reckon it’s his ninth injury on the same thing from previous clubs here and there," said Rodgers.
"So there seems to be an underlying issue somewhere. Our medical team are looking into it, the latest scans show a slight tear just below where he had a previous injury.
"Daniel is very disappointed and so are we. It is hugely disappointing to be without a player of his quality. Most players you will find want to play through an injury to get on to the field and when the incident happened in training it was through quite an innocuous action.
"He just flicked the ball and instantly felt the pain, it wasn’t a shot or anything that looked as if it might be serious."
There have been suggestions that Liverpool could pay a fee to cut short Divock Origi's loan back to Lille, but Rodgers has instead put pressure on Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert to produce goals in Sturridge's absence.
"For the time being we just have to focus on the players we do have," Rodgers said. "We have to make the best of what is available.
"You could say it presents an opportunity for the guys who have been on the sidelines for a while. We have an exciting period of games coming up, we have to ensure we go back to our basics and be really hard to beat, we need to be strong and aggressive.
"Most of all we want to make an impact in front of goal, now there’s an opportunity for some players who didn’t think they would get a chance."

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Bayern Munich to have £20m more a year for transfers after repaying loan

Bayern Munich have managed to repay the €346m loan used to build the Allianz Arena in just nine and a half years. Photograph: Christof Stache/AFP/Getty Images
Bayern Munich are likely to have about €25m (£20m) extra a year to buy players after paying off the cost of building the Allianz Arena. The club is set to top €500m (£400m) in turnover for 2013-14.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the Bayern CEO, told the Bundesliga champions’ club magazine the 25-year loan on the stadium, which cost more than €340m (£272m) to construct, had been paid off 16 years ahead of time.
“We have financed the entire stadium privately,” he said. “For that we took exactly €346m into our hands in 2005 with a financing plan to 2030 – so 25 years. Now we have paid off the stadium completely after nine and a half years.“
This means Bayern will have more money to buy players, according to the calculations of former club president Uli Hoeness a few years ago. Rummenigge did not give an actual figure but confirmed: “The revenues from the Allianz Arena can soon also be invested in the quality of the team.”

FIFA to review World Cup corruption report

 FIFA will further review the 2018 and 2022 World Cup corruption investigation, putting the status of hosts Russia and Qatar back in question.
FIFA says American prosecutor Michael Garcia and ethics judge Joachim Eckert want Domenico Scala, the independent chairman of its financial monitoring panel, to study Garcia's 430-page report.
Scala would then recommend details of the confidential dossier for discussion by FIFA's executive committee.
Scala, a Swiss businessman, got the unexpected duty Thursday after Garcia and Eckert met in Zurich, capping a chaotic week for FIFA.
Garcia appealed Eckert's decision last week to close the case against Russia and Qatar.
FIFA's executive committee, including members implicated by Garcia, meets Dec. 18-19 in Marrakech, Morocco.
FIFA says Garcia has formally opened proceedings against some individuals, whom it did not identify.

City receive Kompany lift

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany appears to be closing on a comeback after he was cleared to return to training.
The 28-year-old defender suffered a knock in City’s Champions League loss to CSKA Moscow earlier this month and was forced to sit out the 2-2 draw at QPR a few days later.
Kompany also pulled out of Belgium's European Qualifier against Wales last week, but the club have revealed pictures of him back in training, raising hopes of a return against Swansea at the Etihad on Saturday.
Manager Manuel Pellegrini might decide not to take a risk on the player's fitness, instead saving him for the crucial visit of Bayern Munich on Tuesday.
In four games in the competition so far, City have claimed just two points and need a positive result to maintain their interest in the competition.
City are hoping playmaker David Silva can recover from a knee injury in time to face the German giants as he took part in light training last weekend.
But striker Edin Dzeko and left-back Aleksandar Kolarov are both expected to be out until next month with calf injuries.

Radamel Falcao: Manchester United striker suffers new injury

Manchester United's Radamel Falcao has suffered a new injury but dismissed questions over his long-term fitness.
The striker, 28, is yet to complete a full game since joining United in September and will miss Saturday's trip to Arsenal with a calf problem.
"There are a lot of stories circulating that are pure speculation," he said.
"It detracts from the credibility of the media that there is so much speculation and that so many falsehoods have been written about it."
Falcao, on loan from Monaco, has scored one goal in five appearances for United.
"I feel well and I hope to come back to the pitch soon," said Colombia international Falcao, who missed the World Cup with a knee injury suffered in January.
"It is disappointing that I can't play, but I have to be calm and recover because that is important to help the team when I return to the games."

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Manchester United to sell Angel Di Maria to PSG to fund Gareth Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo transfer deal

Manchester United are ready to sell Angel Di Maria to PSG in order to fund a raid on Real Madrid for either Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale.
Di Maria has talked up an exit from Old Trafford in recent days, having hinted that he regretted not joining PSG in the summer, before saying he fancies a switch there one day.
And now reports say United would be willing to flog the Argentine to the French club, with Louis van Gaal looking to raise funds for a push for Ronaldo or Bale.
Either player would likely cost in excess of £90million, but United are looking to land a star name who has a real connection to the Premier League, and could spend big.

Van Gaal says Messi and Ronaldo do not deserve to win Ballon d'Or

Louis van Gaal is expecting neither Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Ballon d'Or but feels one of Germany's World Cup-winning squad would merit the award more.
The Barcelona and Real Madrid stars are favourites to be crowned on January 12, 2015, but the Manchester United manager feels the pair do not deserve the honour.
Messi, a four-time winner, was handed the Golden Ball at the World Cup after helping Argentina to the final while Ronaldo, a two-time winner, lifted the Champions League with Real Madrid.
But Van Gaal feels a member of the triumphant Germany squad would be more worthy victors, with Toni Kross, Philipp Lahm, Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Gotze all nominated.
"Most of the time it is always the well known players [who win the Ballon d'Or]," he told MUTV.
"It is more for the football world and outside world than for other things I believe. I think it will be Ronaldo or Messi but I want to say that you have to win something.
"The best thing to win is the World Cup. I hope it shall be a German player because they deserve it.
"The level of the Bundesliga matches is also very high so I think it should be a German player."

Fifa whistleblower Phaedra Al-Majid fears for her safety

Fifa whistleblower Phaedra Al-Majid says she will "look over my shoulder for the rest of my life" after making allegations of corruption against Qatar's successful 2022 World Cup bid.
A two-year investigation has cleared the Gulf state of wrongdoing.
Now Al-Majid, whose testimony was not regarded as reliable, says she is paying the price for speaking out.
"I've been introduced to a whole new culture of paranoia, fear and threats," Al-Majid told BBC Sport.
"I will always look over my shoulder for the rest of my life."
Qatar's World Cup organising body has always "vehemently" denied all allegations of wrongdoing.

2015 Nations Cup: Nigeria fail to qualify for finals

Reigning champions Nigeria will not defend their title in Equatorial Guinea after failing to qualify from Group A.

In Wednesday's final round of matches, Nigeria were held 2-2 by South Africa in Uyo, meaning they finished outside of their group's top two automatic qualification spots with eight points - a total that also put them out of the running to be the best third-placed team.
South Africa had already assured their place at the tournament, which will be played from 17 January to 8 February, and only one spot is still outstanding.
Congo, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea and Mali all claimed their tickets to the continent's showpiece event with their results on Wednesday.
Nigeria went into the game against South Africa with their fate in their own hands - win and they would claim second spot in the table and a place in the finals alongside group winners Bafana Bafana.
But the Super Eagles blew their chance to prevent a troubled campaign from turning disastrous, even though they fought back from two goals down to finish with a draw.
The writing was on the wall for Stephen Keshi's side, who have been plagued by both on and off the pitch problems, when Tokelo Rantie scored a goal either side of half-time to put the visitors firmly in control.
Sone Aluko pulled a goal back on 68 minutes and Nigerian hopes were raised further when South Africa's Renielwe Letsholonyane was sent off.
In added time Aluko levelled the scores but it was too late for the home side and they once more miss out on playing in Equatorial Guinea, as they did when the country co-hosted the tournament in 2012.
Instead, the runners-up spot in the table - and a place in the finals - was secured by Congo, who beat Sudan 1-0.
Igor Nganga struck the only goal of the game after 63 minutes.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Daley Blind injury BLOW! Dutch star could face battle to feature in Arsenal clash

MANCHESTER UNITED have suffered yet another injury blow ahead of Saturday's clash with Arsenal.

Their versatile star suffered what appears to be a knee injury during the Netherlands' Euro 2016 qualifier with minnows Latvia.
Blind collided with an opposition player during a full blooded challenge and had to be withdrawn before the 20-minute mark.
Louis van Gaal will be distraught with the sight of his midfield lynch-pin added to his already sizeable list of injuries, and could herald the return of fellow summer signing Ander Herrera.
Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Rafael, Michael Carrick and Jonny Evans are just a few of the injured Old Trafford stars.
The injury could also mean Van Gaal can't continue with his makeshift centre-half pairing of Blind and Paddy McNair that earned a clean-sheet against Crystal Palace.
McNair and Tyler Blackett have just ten Premier League appearances between them, but could face the might of Alexis Sanchez and his Arsenal team-mates should Blind be sidelined.
Blind isn't the only fresh injury worry for United's boss. He must also consider David De Gea's dislocated finger, and the possibility of recalling Anders Lindegaard after six-months without a competitive appearance.

Police mount huge security operation for Scotland v England following intelligence of pre-planned disorder

Police in Scotland are mounting one of their biggest ever security operations for a football match for Tuesday’s fixture between England and Scotland after receiving intelligence of “pre-planned disorder”.
There were 230 arrests when the two countries last played in Scotland back in 1999 but the fixture at Wembley last year passed off without any significant problems and England fans have had a virtually unblemished record in recent years.
Ch Supt Andy Bates has revealed that Tuesday’s friendly match has still been given the highest possible Uefa security risk rating and that police have already been warned of potential trouble.
“We’ve intelligence to suggest there will be some pre-planned disorder,” Bates told the Daily Record. “It’s been given a risk category of CIR, the highest you can give a game.
“Over the years, England have had problems with their travelling support in particular and that is what we have to be alive to. We have to be on top of our game to be sure it doesn’t become a problem. We have intelligence that both sides will be involved in this.
“There will be an increase in the numbers of officers deployed to this game. The whole purpose of this is to disrupt any hooligan activity.
“It’s a fair assumption that some England fans will try to get tickets for the Scotland area and our operation will also be focused on that." Around 5,000 England fans have bought tickets for Tuesday's game, with the Football Association personally issuing those tickets before the game at a city centre venue. That is something the FA do to members of their official England Supporters' Travel Club for every away game. Indeed, the FA and England fans been widely praised for the steps that have been taken to help ensure virtually no problems at matches, whether home or away, in recent years.
The FA has also been liaising with their counterparts in Scotland and it is understood that it has not been made aware of any intelligence that would suggest problems with their fans. Police from England will also be in Glasgow to assist their colleagues in Scotland.
More than 20,000 Scotland fans were in London when the two countries met at Wembley last August, with the only arrest being for a Scotland fan dancing naked in Trafalgar Square. There will be an alcohol ban on Scottish trains for the day of the game, although British Transport Police have not deemed it practical to impose similar restrictions on trains arriving into Scotland from the south.
It is understood that all leave has been cancelled for police officers working in Glasgow, while officers from Dundee and Edinburgh will also assist with the operation. The Euro 2000 play-off at Hampden Park between England and Scotland 15 years ago was marred by incidents both at the ground and in the city centre.
“We’re monitoring the situation through a number of sources,” added Ch Supt Bates. “We’re confident we know what is going to happen. We will have a spotting operation on the go. It will involve people from the UK Football Policing Unit from down south who will support the operation and identify their own supporters.
“We’re not talking about riots in the city and across the country, but pockets of disorder. It’s our intention to identify the people involved and to destroy any plans they may have.
“There will not be many of my officers wanting to take the day off. This is as big as it gets. This is what we joined for, to be involved in events like this. We anticipate arrests, but not as many as in 1999. It’s a high-risk game with an increased risk. That’s what you would have with an Old Firm game.
“We will deal with whatever comes in front of us. The operation has been running for a few weeks and it will be ramped up from Sunday onwards.
“If you want to enjoy a game of football, we will let that happen. If there’s intention to cause disorder, we will catch those responsible.
“We’ll be using officers from down south who have been policing England games for many years. They bring a lot of skills and experience with them.
“If we identify these risk groups of supporters, we will be having conversations with them, letting them know we know what they’re up to and will not be letting them out of our sights. We have been successful with this in the past.
“Scotland has played host to a number of high-profile international events this year and has been praised for the welcome it gives visitors.
“I will not allow our reputation to be marred by a minority who use football as cover to cause disorder.”