Rabu, 06 Februari 2013

Match-fixing: How criminal gangs cash in on football

Europol Press Conference
By Stefan Coerts from The Hague

Fans, journalists, players and coaches across the world often refer to football as "the beautiful game" when they discuss the sport they so dearly love.

However, football is encountering more and more difficulties to live up to its fabled reputation as the latest scandal rocked the game on Monday.

The European Police Office revealed at a press conference in The Hague that a major investigation involving police teams from 13 European countries has uncovered an extensive criminal network involved in match-fixing. A total of 425 match officials, club officials, players and serious criminals from over 15 countries are suspected of being involved in attempts to fix more than 380 professional football matches.

Worryingly, among the suspicious games in this case are World Cup and European Championship qualifiers, Champions League clashes, and several top-flight game s across Europe, thus underlining the significance of the problem. Match-fixing happens anywhere, investigators claimed, from the lower-profile leagues right to the very top of the game.

The main betting syndicate believed to be behind the scandal has primarily been betting on the Asian market, but its tentacles are spread across Europe and links were found to Russian-speaking and other European crime organisations.

Hungarian investigator Bajan Nemeth explained how the head of the Singapore-based syndicate has a number of people below him who are tasked with organising the bribing of match officials, club officials and players.

"The Hungarian syndicate member, who was one of five men immediately below the ringleader, was in direct touch with referees who could attempt to influence the result in games where they were in charge all across the globe. Accomplices would then place place bets online or by phone with bookmakers in Asia," Nemeth said .

More than 2 million in corrupt payments were claimed to have been made by those involved in rigging the 380 games, with the biggest payment made to an individual being a sum of 140,000.

A costly investment? Not so much. Profits gained from match-fixing can be as high as 700,000, a sum alleged to have been made by the gambling syndicate on an Austrian game back in 2009.

Scandal German referees raised concerns over Robert Hoyzer's integrity in 2005

Another popular, and slightly more advanced scheme, is where the crime syndicate uses seemingly legitimate companies to arrange international friendlies for often cash-strapped national football associations, offering a fee in exchange for the right to organise friendly matches. With many international friendlie s taking place without Fifa sanctioning, the front company is in charge of picking a referee, giving themselves the chance to appoint a corrupt official.

"Every member association is responsible for organising and supervising football in its country," Fifa spokesman Wolfgang Resch told ESPN last year. "The control of referees and officials falls into it."

The adage "anything can happen in football" suddenly has a completely different meaning. One of the most unpredictable sports in the world? Not for the people in charge of certain criminal organisations.

The Europol probe follows on from a string of match-fixing controversies since the 2005 Bundesliga scandal, as countries such as Turkey, Greece,Zimbabwe, South Africa and South Korea have all been rocked by comparable scandals. The 2006 Calciopoli scandal, although unrelated to gambling syndicates, which saw Juventus relegated, and the likes of AC Milan, Lazio, and lat er Inter, implicated involved the influencing of refereeing designations. Another betting controversy erupted in Italy in 2011, while Javier Tebas, vice-president of La Liga, stated in January that a number of games in Spain had been rigged in recent years.

Can match-fixing be stopped, though? Europol's investigation surely seems to suggest it is a battle that can be won if fought with the right weapons.

Nevertheless, Europol director Rob Wainwright's fears that the recent findings are just "the tip of the iceberg", are an indication that a long and tough fight could be on the cards.

For now, football's reputation has taken a serious hit, and Fifa, Uefa and every other football association should heed the warnings found in the Europol case.

Selasa, 05 Februari 2013

Matthaus shocked at match-fixing revelations

Lothar Matthäus
Germany legend Lothar Matthaus has admitted that he was shocked to hear revelations that 380 matches in recent years are under suspicion of match-fixing.

The 150-cap former international believes that such activities denigrate the name of the sport which he loves.

"Football is played around the world, and there is always some black sheep trying to take advantage of this beautiful sport illegally," he told Sky Germany.

"I have never been involved with such things because I have always believed in the positive side of football. But you can see what is happening all around the world of football."

A profit of around 8 million was allegedly made by the betting syndicate, which is believed to be based in Asia.

Injury rules Song out of Cameroon game

Alex Song profile pic
Barcelona midfielder Alex Song has been ruled out of Cameroon's friendly with Tanzania on Wednesday with a knee injury.

The 25-year-old former Arsenal player had been due to take part in the game in Dar es Salaam but he will now not travel.

Song has felt a twinge in his left knee and as a precaution, he will not be travelling with the Cameroon squad," said a statement on Barca's website, fcbarcelona.com.

Song has won 36 caps for Cameroon, but is yet to score for his country having made his debut in 2005. He was recently voted the worst La Liga signing of the season so far by readers of Spanish magazine Marca, along with Luka Modric.

The injury blow follows news that Cameroon will also be without striker Samuel Eto'o, who is struggling with a back problem.

Cameroon have endured a disappointing 12 months, culminating in their fai lure to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations, which is currently taking place in South Africa.

Senin, 04 Februari 2013

Karpin 'unaware' of alleged doping at Real Sociedad

RPL: Valeriy Karpin - Spartak
Former Real Sociedad midfielder Valeri Karpin says he was "unaware" of doping at the club despite claims by former a president, Inaki Badiola, that it existed.

Badiola, whose reign lasted from January 2008 to the following December, claimed on Monday his former club had been purchasing illegal substances for a six-year period from 2001 until 2007.

However, former Sociedad player Karpin, who was at the Basque outfit between 2002 and 2005, has refuted the claims.

I cannot answer anything on that. Im not aware of whether the team used doping or not, commented the current Spartak Moscow coach.

Do I believe the club doctors supplied banned substances to the players? No.

It was time for a change, says Willian

Anzhi Makhachkala winger Willian says it was "time for a change", after completing a move from Shakhtar Donetsk in January.

The Brazil international moved to Russia for a reported 35 million fee and signed a contract until 2017 with Guus Hiddink's side, and although many believes the switch was financially motivated, he insists that was not the case.

"I've earned quite a lot of money in Donetsk," the 24-year-old told Sport Express.

"With Shakhtar I also won a set of titles not only in Ukraine but in Europe also. I felt comfortable there. But the time for change has come."

The Corinthians winger also revealed that conversations with the club's owners over their long-term ambitions helped to sway his decision.

"My conversation with Anzhi owner Suleiman Kerimov decided everything," Willian said.

"After that I decided to join Anzhi. The club management are not only thinking about short-term gains, th ey really want to create a serious football infrastructure in Dagestan, to lift the game in the republic to a higher level."

Willian appeared 140 times for his former club Shakhtar, scoring 20 goals in total.

Minggu, 03 Februari 2013

Willian completes 35 million Anzhi Makhachkala move

Willian - Shakhtar
Anzhi Makhachkala have announced on their official website that they have completed the transfer of Willian from Shakhtar Donetsk for 35 million. The Brazil international has signed a contract until December 2017 with the Russian side.

Anzhi coach Guus Hiddink was keen to add some fresh blood to his squad as the Dagestan outfit are gunning for the domestic title, and he had earmarked Willian as the perfect addition.

Shakhtar were keen to hold on to the attacking midfielder, but had no other option but to accept Anzhi's offer as they triggered the 24-year-old's release clause.

"There is a club willing to pay the release clause in his contract, and Willian agreed to move. There is nothing I can do," commented Shakhtar boss Mircea Lucescu earlier this week.

Willian will join Anzhi at their training camp in Marbella on Saturday, but will have to wait for his official debut until the Russian league resumes after the winter break.

Anzhi currently sit second in the table with 41 points from 19 games, trailing leaders CSKA Moscow by two points.

M'Vila France ban reduced by four months

Yann M'Vila
Rubin Kazan midfielder Yann M'Vila can dream of featuring at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil again after his France ban was reduced by four months on appeal.

The former Stade Rennais star was initially banned until June 30, 2014, but he will now be available for the national team again from March 1, 2014 after successfully appealing his punishment.

"Yann M'Vila's suspension from all national teams from Nov. 12, 2012 until June 30, 2014, with a suspended period from March 1 to June 30, 2014, is now confirmed," the French football federation (FFF) said in an official statement.

M'Vila was one of five France Under-21 players who were handed bans by FFF after visiting a nightclub ahead of the decisive European Championship qualifier against Norway last year.

The 22-year-old had previously received a warning for his behaviour at Euro 2012.

Drenthe seals Alania Vladikavkaz switch

Royston Drenthe - Everton
Alania Vladikavkaz have confirmed on their official website that they have secured the services of former Real Madrid winger Royston Drenthe on a free transfer.

The Netherlands international had been without a club ever since leaving Everton last summer after an unsuccessful one-year loan spell, and will now be looking to get his career back on track at the Russian outfit.

Drenthe, 25, has signed a contract with Alania until the summer of 2016.

"We hope that he will become one of the team's leaders. We did not only bring him in for his fine technique and pace, but also because of his personality," head coach Valery Gazzaev commented on the move.

The left-footed winger came through the ranks of the Feyenoord youth academy, and joined Real Madrid in the summer of 2007 after impressing at the European Under-21 Championship.

He has since had temporary loan spells with Hercules and Everton.

Sabtu, 02 Februari 2013

Willian delighted to sign for Anzhi Makhachkala

Willian has spoken of his pleasure at signing for Anzhi Makhachkala from Shakhtar Donetsk for a reported 35 million fee.

The 24-year-old had previously been strongly linked with a move to either Chelsea or Tottenham, but he elected to join the Russian side instead.

"I'm happy to be with Anzhi!" he told his new team's website. "This is a club with serious infrastructure and big goals.

"They have a strong team managed by one of the best coaches in the world. I'm sincerely happy to become a football player for the Dagestani team."

The Brazilian international will provide yet more attacking talent in a side that already has the likes of Samuel Eto'o, Lacina Traore and Mbark Boussoufa at its disposal.

Willian also spoke affectionately of his former club Shakhtar Donetsk, but admitted that "now it's time for a new step in my life".

"I spent five and a half years in Donetsk. There were great people and great rela tionships within the squad. We won numerous titles and I wish success to my former team-mates."

Anzhi are currently second in the Russian league, but with no fixtures until March they will focus their attention on their Europa League clash with Hannover in February.

Ireland duo Pilkington & McGeady ruled out of Poland friendly

Anthony Pilkington, Ireland
The Football Association of Ireland has confirmed that neither Anthony Pilkington nor Aiden McGeady will feature in Wednesday's friendly with Poland at the Aviva Stadium.

Norwich City attacking midfielder Pilkington had been expected to make his Irish debut in midweek, but was forced off injured after just 24 minutes of the Canaries' Premier League tie with QPR.

Scans confirmed that the 24-year-old picked up a hamstring strain, with Pilkington taking to Twitter to express his disappointment.

"Gutted I can't meet up with the @FAIreland squad tomorrow because of my Hamstring strain! Hopefully get back fit and get in the next squad," Pilkington tweeted.

Aiden McGeady watched from the sidelines on Thursday as Spartak Moscow beat Bunyodkor Tashkent 2-1 in a mid-season friendly due to an ankle injury.

An FAI press release stated that the winger will "remain at his club for further treatment", while also adding that "an upd ate will be issued later today should the manager decide to call in any replacements".

Willian completes Anzhi Makhachkala move

Willian - Shakhtar
Anzhi Makhachkala have announced on their official website that they have completed the transfer of Willian from Shakhtar Donetsk for 35 million. The Brazil international has signed a contract until December 2017 with the Russian side.

Anzhi coach Guus Hiddink was keen to add some fresh blood to his squad as the Dagestan outfit are gunning for the domestic title, and he had earmarked Willian as the perfect addition.

Shakhtar were keen to hold on to the attacking midfielder, but had no other option but to accept Anzhi's offer as they triggered the 24-year-old's release clause.

"There is a club willing to pay the release clause in his contract, and Willian agreed to move. There is nothing I can do," commented Shakhtar boss Mircea Lucescu earlier this week.

Willian will join Anzhi at their training camp in Marbella on Saturday, but will have to wait for his official debut until the Russian league resumes after the winter break.

Anzhi currently sit second in the table with 41 points from 19 games, trailing leaders CSKA Moscow by two points.

Jumat, 01 Februari 2013

Press prevented Zenit move, says Abate's agent

Ignazio Abate - AC Milan
The agent of AC Milan defender Ignazio Abate has said a transfer to Zenit Saint Petersburg would have happened had the press not become involved.

The Italy international was widely linked with a move to the Russian giants during the January transfer window, but ultimately remained with the Rossoneri.

"I think the fact that the move was leaked probably stopped it," Andrea D'Amico told Calciomercato.

"In football, news should only be spread when a deal is actually completed," he added.

Abate played all 90 minutes of Milan's last competitive fixture, a 1-0 away win over 10-man Atlanta in Serie A.

Close but no cigar: The deals that collapsed on deadline day

Peter Odemwingie - Nigeria
Transfer deadline days are among the most manic times in the footballing calendar. It turns rational reporters into raving lunatics, has fans crossing their fingers for a new faces and makes a mockery of coaches who agree to last-minute signings they would never dream of sanctioning at any other time.

However, despite the flurry of activity, not every deal on transfer deadline day was completed, and there were a few high-profile moves which looked on the cards only to fall apart at the last moment.

The most comical of Thursday's near-misses was Peter Odemwingie. In what will go down as a deadline day classic, the West Brom striker rocked up at Loftus Road without the Baggies' permission to talk to QPR in a desperate attempt to force through a transfer. His club had already rejected several bids. And so he waited outisde the ground for a transfer to come to fruition, but to no avail. The next time he turns up to training with his team-mates, it might be just a little awkward ...

Another last-gasp failure was Pajtim Kasami's temporary swap to Pescara from Fulham. Not for the loan move itself collapsing, but for his agent Mino Raiola's reaction to why it fell through. He furiously fumed to La Gazzetta dello Sport: "There was no [internet] connection to finalise the deal. F*** off. You can't do transfers in this s*** hotel."

Another deal that remained unsealed - once again involving Fulham - was Maarten Stekelenburg's loan move to Craven Cottage from Roma. The goalkeeper landed in London expecting to spend the next five months in the Premier League, having fallen out of favour at his Serie A side. However, the Giallorossi failed to find an adequate back-up and the deadline day deal fell through, leaving Stekelenburg to make what must have been a frustrating flight back to the Italian capital. The Netherlands international told sport-promotion.nl: "I really wanted to play for Fulham because it is a beautiful club and the Premier League is not bad either, to be using an understatement."

Everton's 10 million move for Leroy Fer was one of the more surprisingly implosions in January. The fee had been set with Twente, the terms had been agreed, the medical had been undertaken... and yet, no move occurred. What exactly happened is up for debate, with reports ranging from medical issues cropping up to the Toffees trying to renegotiate the fee after everything was concluded. Talks are rumoured to be renewed in the summer, but for now at least the move is a goner.

Finally, Aiden McGeady looked set to end his exile from the British Isles on Thursday, with Wigan set to sign the Republic of Ireland winger for 5m from Spartak Moscow. However, the Latics either failed to convince McGeady to join the relegation-threatened side, or the Russian club simp ly refused to part with their player for the price tag on offer. Roberto Martinez said late on deadline day: "It's not going to happen. Aiden is a phenomenal footballer, but is a footballer that is playing his football in Russia. I don't think that's going to change."

Samba passes medical ahead of QPR move

Christopher Samba
By Wayne Veysey Chief Correspondent

Christopher Samba has passed a medical ahead of his proposed move to QPR, Goal.com can confirm.

The former Blackburn Rovers defender is set to complete his transfer from Anzhi Makhachkala to the Premier League strugglers on Thursday after QPR activated his release clause, believed to be in the region of 12.5 million, on Wednesday.

Harry Redknapp has been desperate to reinforce his defence following the departures of Anton Ferdinand and Ryan Nelsen this month and had previously been linked with a move for Fulhams Brede Hangeland.

The former Tottenham manager, who has already added South Korean left-back Yoon Suk-Young to his squad, revealed his interest his interest in the giant centre-back before his sides midweek draw with Manchester City.

"I think Chris Sambas going to sign which is a massive signing for us," Redknapp told Sky Sports News. "Thats a key one really. Other than that theres not too much else at the moment. Ive lost Ryan Nelsen so I need to get a replacement for him so were lucky weve got Samba in.

"I think [the medical] went okay as far as I know. That happened last night so it shouldnt be a problem."

Samba attempted to force through a move to QPR in the 2012 January transfer window but Blackburn rejected his transfer request before letting him leave for Anzhi the following month.

Once Sambas move has been rubber-stamped, Redknapp is set to turn his attentions to strengthening his strike force, with West Brom forward Peter Odemwingie and former charge Peter Crouch his top targets.

Kamis, 31 Januari 2013

Willian has agreed Anzhi move, says Lucescu

Willian - Shakhtar
Shakhtar Donetsk coach Mircea Lucescu has confirmed that Willian has agreed a move to Anzhi Makhachkala.

Rumours circulated earlier on Thursday that the Dagestan outfit were interested in signing the Brazilian, who has recently attracted the attention of both Chelsea and Tottenham.

However, it seems that he has set his sights on a switch to the Russian Premier League after his release clause was triggered.

"This is personal decision, and we must respect it," Lucescu told Sport Express.

"There is a club willing to pay the release clause in his contract, and Willian agreed to move. There is nothing I can do.

"To tell you frankly, I tried to convince him to stay because I think his decision is hasty and not thought out well enough. He is like a son to me.

"He came to Shakhtar almost as a child and leaves us as a 24-year-old man. I told him he would have achieved more with us when we said goodbye.

"Why did he not listen to me? I guess he was under huge pressure from his agent and his relatives that wanted to get everything at once."

Selasa, 29 Januari 2013

Redknapp: QPR looking into Crouch and Samba deals

QPR manager Harry Redknapp
QPR boss Harry Redknapp has admitted interest in signing Peter Crouch and Christopher Samba, but suggested both deals would be difficult to conclude.

Crouch played under Redknapp at Tottenham but has recently fallen out of favour at Stoke, while the 65-year-old is a long-term admirer of former Blackburn centre-back Samba.

"These are two players whose names have been mentioned but at the moment we're not close to doing anything," Redknapp told reporters.

"Crouch's name came up in a meeting with the chairman but I don't think Stoke want to sell him.

"On Samba, again the chairman is dealing with this. At this stage I don't think that's a goer.

"I like Christopher Samba and he is a very good player but at this stage I don't see him leaving Russia. Things can changes but at this stage we're not close to doing anything."

Jumat, 25 Januari 2013

Eduardo aiming to win trophies with new club Flamengo

Carlos Eduardo - Rubin Kazan
Flamengo's new signing Carlos Eduardo has declared that he wants to help his new club win titles.

The Brazilian has arrived at the Engenhao on an 18-month loan deal from Rubin Kazan and is looking to get his career back on track after failing to adapt to the demands of Russian football.

While being presented to the media, Eduardo did his best to endear himself to the club's fans while revealing his aim is to win trophies with Flamengo.

"My goal is to return to the Brazil national team, however, first I want to help Flamengo win something," he told Lancenet.

"Flamengo are one of the biggest clubs in the world. The fans here are great and they were a key factor in my decision."

Eduardo endured a torrid time in Russia as he failed to get back into the team following a serious knee injury that required surgery.

"The coach at Rubin Kazan was afraid to play me after because I still felt a lot of pain. In 2012, as a result, I barely played. The year did not work out well for me."

The former 1899 Hoffenheim player will don the number 10 jersey for h is new side and could make his debut in two weeks' time.

"I have recovered well from my injury, but I have to improve my physical part. Despite doing two workouts a day, it is not the same when you do it at training," he added.

I think in two weeks I will be back to my ideal weight and I could be ready.

Spartak Moscow agree transfer for Rubins Salvatore Bocchetti

Salvatore Bocchetti - Rubin Kazan

Spartak Moscow have announced the signing of centre-back Salvatore Bocchetti from Rubin Kazan, subject to the passing of a medical.

The Italian had been expected to move back to his homeland, with both Juventus and Napoli both interested, but the player has elected to remain in the Russian Premier League.

Should he pass a medical examination at the beginning of next week, the Italian will sign a contract with Spartak," a statement on the capital club's website read.

The 26-year-old started his career at Ascoli, and after spells at Lanciano and Frosinone, made his name at Genoa.

He made the move to Russia in 2010, and made over 50 appearances for Rubin.

Since making his international debut in 2009, Bocchetti has won five caps for the Azzurri.

Rabu, 23 Januari 2013

Real Madrid & Barcelona continue to dominate football rich list as Manchester City enter top 10

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  • Real Madrid crowned as world's richest club for eighth year in a row
  • Top-six placings remain unchanged
  • Clubs from five different countries in top 20
  • Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund & Napoli climb most places - five
  • EPL has most representatives
  • Italy continue to struggle
  • Combined revenues grow 10 per cent
Real Madrid and Barcelona once more dominate footballs rich list as the Spanish duo are still miles ahead of their rivals from England, Germany, Italy and France. According to the 2012 Deloitte Football Money League, published on Thursday, the Liga giants remain the only clubs with annual revenue over 450 million.

Real Madrid top the Football Money League for the eighth year in succession, thus equalling Manchester Uniteds dominance in the top position during the first eight years of the Money League, and became the first club in any sport to surpass the 500m revenue thres hold in a single year.

"It is an impressive achievement for Real Madrid to have surpassed 500m in revenue in a single year. Real have led the way in the phenomenal rate of revenue growth achieved by the games top clubs," Dan Jones, Partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte said.

However, the reigning Spanish champions are being chased hard by arch-rivals Barcelona, whose growth in 2011-12 leaves them only 17m short of the 500m mark. Even though the Catalans couldnt quite match their on-pitch success from 2010-11, the club enjoyed 32.3m (seven per cent) revenue growth.

Uniteds failure to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League in 2011-12 meant they were unable to prevent a Spanish one-two for the fourth successive year, but Sir Alex Ferguson's side remain the proud number three in the rankings.

For the fifth successive year, the clubs comprising the top six places in the Money League remain the same.
< br />"An unchanged top six emphasises the fact that these clubs have some of the largest fanbases and hence strongest revenues, in both domestic and international markets," Jones commented.

The Money League top 20 again comprises clubs from the big five European leagues, seven of which come from the English Premier League, while Italy have five teams in the top 20, and Germany four. Spain and France, meanwhile, have to settle for two representatives each.

"Its always interesting to see the disparity between the top two in Spain and the rest of the league. There are no other Spanish clubs in the top 20. A key change that would improve the overall state of finances in Spanish football would be a collective broadcast deal. It sounds like the Spanish government have put collective payments on the agenda on that level which, if it happens, can only help with the competitiveness of the division," Mark Roberts, Senior Consultant within the Sports Business Gro up at Deloitte, stated.

The top 10 consists of teams from only four leagues, as Ligue 1 sides Olympique de Marseille and Olympique Lyonnais sit only 16th and 17th respectively.

Manchester City (seventh) are this years joint highest climbers, along with Borussia Dortmund (11th) and Napoli (15th), moving up five places and claiming a top 10 position for the first time.

"Citys Premier League title winning season combined with participation in the Champions League, helped drive 51% revenue growth to 285.6m, the largest absolute and relative growth of any Money League club," Austin Houlihan, Senior Manager in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said.

As pointed out before, the English Premier League has the most representatives, and this situation seems unlikely to change any time soon.

"The Premier League still has the most representatives in the top 20 of the list. Clubs will get another 20-30m from the new broadca sting deal so in the future there will be more English clubs challenging for those positions. The most there has been in the list is eight but I think we could be seeing as much of half of the list represented by the Premier League," Roberts pointed out.

Italy's future on the other hand seems far less rosy as their facilities generally don't match their reputation.

"The poor financial performance of Italian clubs goes back to their matchday revenues. Juventus have benefitted from their new stadium, which increased their matchday income by about 20m. For the Milan clubs and the Rome clubs, the stadia is a limiting factor on their revenue generation. They simply dont have the facilities and dont get the gates to compete with matchday incomes in other countries. Italy has gone to collective selling of broadcasting and that is a positive start in improving that," said Roberts.

The combined revenues of the worlds 20 highest earning football clubs have grown 10% on the previous year to reach 4.8bn in 2011-12.

"The combined revenues of the top 20 clubs have quadrupled since we began our analysis in 1996-97," Jones explained.

Whilst eight of the top 20 clubs experienced a drop in revenue in 2011-12, in most cases this was due to less successful on-pitch performances in European club competitions, rather than wider recessionary impacts.

"Combined, the 20 Money League clubs contribute over one-quarter of the total revenues of the European football market. The top 20 can be expected to generate over 5bn between them in 2012-13."

'Zenit need to up bid for Abate as AC Milan step up chase for Balotelli' - agent

Ignazio Abate - AC Milan
Ignazio Abate could leave AC Milan if the defender's valuation is met as the Rossoneri are looking to free-up cash for Manchester City forward Mario Balotelli, according to the full-back's representative.

Zenit St Petersburg coach Luciano Spalleti is said to be interested Abate, who he knows from his time in Serie A when coaching Roma.

The defender's agent claims Spaletti has tabled an unsatisfactory offer for the 26-year-old, but hinted that a higher bid from Zenit may change things as the San Siro outfit seek to bring in Man City attacker Balotelli.

We thank Zenit and Spalletti for their interest, but the lad will remain in Italy with Milan, Claudio Pasqualin told Personal Press.

If Zenit raise their offer, then maybe something will change, considering Milan are looking for cash to take Mario Balotelli."

AC Milan are pushing for Europe in Serie A having risen to sixth place after a slow start t o the season.

Stade Rennais confirm sale of M'Vila to Rubin Kazan

Yann M'vila
Stade Rennais have confirmed they have agreed to sell Yann M'Vila to Rubin Kazan, with the deal set to be completed on Wednesday night.

The 22-year-old has been touted for a move away from the club for some time, with Premier League sides Tottenham and QPR thought to be at the front of a long list of admirers, before the Ligue 1 club made an announcement on their official website

"Stade Rennais FC, Rubin Kazan and Yann M'Vila have reached an agreement for the permanent transfer of the French international. After undergoing a medical, the Rennes midfielder will join the Russian club officially on Wednesday evening," the statement read.

Earlier, Rubin's vice-president Kamil Ishakov admitted the player was close to sealing a switch, but for the ironing out of the final details of the deal.

He told Sport-Express: "M'Vila attracts many European clubs. In England, clubs such as QPR, Fulham and Arsenal have, like Rubin, made concrete proposals.

"[But] Negotiations are currently in our favour. There are still some details, including the final results of the medical visit which takes place in Rome. Once the results are published, all will be decided. It is possible that he could sign the contract tonight."

Ricardo Centurion set for summer Anzhi switch

Ricardo Centurión, Racing
Racing Club midfielder Ricardo Centurion is set to join Anzhi Makhachkala this summer, the Argentine outfit has revealed.

The 20-year-old starlet has courted interest from some of Europe's leading clubs in recent months, including Italian giants AC Milan, but Racing president Gaston Cogorno has confirmed the Argentina U20 international is now set to make a move to Russia.

In the coming days, we are traveling to Russia to finalize the deal," Cogorno told Radio AM 750.

"Anzhi are very strong in Russia, and they are playing in the Europa League. Their Sporting Director explained that the club plans to continue growing.

Cogorno also praised the conduct of the youngster, tipping him to enjoy a bright future.

Since he's been with the team he has behaved really well Hes an excellent professional and we believe he has great potential.

As part of the deal, Centurion will remain in Argentina until the Summe r.

He will move for a fee believed to be in the region of 7.5 million, making him Racing's record transfer, eclipsing Maxi Moralez' 7m move to FC Moscow in 2007.

Selasa, 22 Januari 2013

Anderlecht sign De Zeeuw on loan from Spartak Moscow

Demy de Zeeuw, Spartak
Anderlecht have brought Spartak Moscow midfielder Demy de Zeeuw to Belgium on loan for the rest of the season with a further option to buy him permanently in the summer.

The Netherlands international will provide competition in the centre of midfield at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, and commercial manager Herman Van Holsbeeck was happy his side have brought a player of his ilk into the team.

"We are thrilled to have a player of the calibre of De Zeeuw to Anderlecht," he told reporters at a press conference.

"He is an ex-international and has all the < span class="hps">qualities to
strengthen our midfield."

Anderlecht are currently eight points clear at the top of the Jupiler League as they look to secure back-to-back domestic titles.

Sabtu, 19 Januari 2013

Capello: You can't copy Barcelona

Fabio Capello

Fabio Capello has said that it is pointless trying to copy Barcelona and it would be a mistake to do so.

Many teams have tried to play like the Blaugrana because of how dominant they were under former trainer Pep Guardiola, who guided them to 14 trophies in four years, and now current boss Tito Vilanova.

However, the Russia coach believes that only Barcelona can play in the manner that they do because of the players such as, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi, at their disposal.

Capello told reporters: Tactically the new benchmark is Barcelona, but if you try to copy the style it is a big mistake because you can only play that way with Barcelona players.

Former England coach Capello did go on to say that while you cannot replicate the way the Catalan giants play in full, you can emulate some parts of their game.

He added: But there are some aspects you can copy, the defensive style. When you lose the ball you go forward together to win back the ball quickly, never go back, never return to midfield.

They lose the ball, they go forward. For me this is something new. But you need players with the talent of [Andres] Iniesta or [Lionel] Messi, because it is otherwise impossible to adapt this style of football.

Kamis, 17 Januari 2013

Russia boss Capello wants England reunion at 2014 World Cup

Fabio Capello

Russia head coach Fabio Capello is relishing the opportunity to face former side England at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The 66-year-old was speaking at the Football Association's 150th anniversary celebration on Wednesday, in his first visit to England since his sudden resignation as manager in February 2012.

However, the decorated Italian insists that there are no hard feelings between himself and the English governing body and he hopes his Russia side are drawn against the Three Lions in Brazil.

"We are all friends now. It was very good to come back and see the people I used to work with. I have no problems with anyone," Capello told reporters.

"I like coming back to London. I have a house here and I have been back a few times.

"I can't talk about what happened with England, but I am enjoying my life with Russia and my hope is that we play England in Brazil at the World Cup. That would be very good."

Meanwh ile, chairman of the FA, David Bernstein, reiterated that relations between Capello and the governing body are positive, despite the rift over John Terry's racism row that led to the Capellos departure.

"It was very nice to see Fabio again and it was tremendous to see him here talking with Roy Hodgson," Bernstein said.

"When he left I made the point very clearly that it was done with dignity and professionalism. I respect him enormously. There was a great deal of warmth when we met each other, which is the way it should be.

"It wasn't the best day for anybody when he left. It's always the same when you part from somebody; there's a long gap and you don't quite know how things are until you get back together again. But we've done it now and there was no tension."

Senin, 14 Januari 2013

Sevilla appoint Emery as Michel successor

Unai Emery - Valencia
Sevilla have wasted no time in appointing Unai Emery as their new coach following Michel's dismissal earlier on Monday.

The Basque trainer has agreed an 18-month contract with the Andalusians and will take charge of his side's Copa del Rey clash against Zaragoza on Wednesday.

Emery has been unemployed since he was sacked by Spartak Moscow in November following the Russian giants' humiliating 5-1 home defeat to arch-rivals Dynamo.

Prior to his spell abroad, the 41-year-old made his name at Almeria, where he took the club to La Liga at the first time of asking in 2007, before guiding them to a ninth-placed finish in Spain's top flight a year later.

His work did not go unnoticed as Valencia named him as Ronald Koeman's successor in 2008, but despite finishing in a Champions League place in each of his four seasons, he was axed by Los Che in the summer.

Sevilla sit 12th in the table, having accumulated 24 points from 19 matches so far this term.

Sabtu, 12 Januari 2013

Vagner Love set for CSKA Moscow return

Vágner Love - Flamengo x Grêmio
Vagner Love is set for a return to CSKA Moscow, after his contract with Flamengo was cancelled by mutual consent.

Following the Brazilian giant's recent signing of Elias, the 28-year-old was reported to have called for a meeting with a delegation of team officials, according to Globoesporte.

Love was understood to have emerged from the discussions deeply disillusioned, and returned to training only to bid farewell to his team-mates, informing them of his intention to return to CSKA.

Flamengo's official website has since confirmed the striker's departure, bringing to an end his 12-month stay at the club.

The forward scored 13 goals in 36 league games for Urubu, but was unable to fire his team to any silverware.

'It's complete nonsense' - Anzhi dismiss Beckham links

David Beckham

Anzhi president Konstantin Remchukov has dismissed reports linking David Beckham with a move to the Russian club - branding the speculaton as "complete nonsense".

The former England captain has been linked with a number of clubs since ending his five-year spell with MLS side Los Angeles Galaxy, one of which has been the Chechnya-based outfit.

However, Remchukov has moved to deny any interest in the veteran midfielder, suggesting the idea has not even been considered by the Russian club.

A note about Anzhis interest in Beckham - its complete nonsense, Remchukov tweeted on Friday.

An idea like this hasnt been floated even once.

Beckham is said to be mulling over his options as he seeks out one last challenge to end his career and has been linked with moves to teams in France, Asia and Australia.

And his management company say he is considering "a number of serious proposals" from a "host of c lubs" but warned it is "early days in the process".

Jumat, 11 Januari 2013

Racism is killing football, says Christopher Samba

Christopher Samba
Anzhi Makhachkala defender Christopher Samba has claimed that the issue of racism is "killing the game".

The Congolese defender moved to the Dagestan club in January 2012, and found himself the victim of prejudiced chanting from the stands in Russia.

AC Milan star Kevin-Prince Boateng recently walked out on a match after being greeted with monkey chants, and Samba feels the Ghanaian was right to do so.

"Some Zenit St Petersburg fans have made bad statements about not wanting black players in their team, and I was a victim of the racist incident at Lokomotiv Moscow," he told The Guardian.

"I admire [Boateng's] club and team-mates who supported him, but those chants were disgraceful; it is sad to see this it is killing the game.

"It is very difficult for players to know what to do. Playing on shows strength in a way, but it can also se em like we are avoiding the problem."

Anzhi have made the headlines in recent years due to their riches and ambitious transfer policy, and Samba says he believes in the project that the club have been building.

"The owner is doing everything for us to be happy," he continued. "He listens to any problem, he is very kind, he has a big heart.

"The owner is trying to give the people some joy creating this football team."

Kamis, 10 Januari 2013

M'Vila 'moving towards' switch to England or Russia, say Rennes

Yann Mvila (Rennes)

Rennes general manager Pierre Dreossi has admitted that the club's in-demand midfielder Yann MVila wants to leave the Ligue 1 club.

The France international has attracted interest from Arsenal and Tottenham in the past, while QPR boss Harry Redknapp is said to be very keen to bring him to Loftus Road in January in order to bolster his sides chances of avoiding relegation - though Goal.com exclusively revealed the player is not keen on a move to the Premier League's bottom club.

Dreossi explained that the club will not stand in MVilas way should they receive an acceptable offer, with Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg also said to be monitoring the situation.

"It's possible [he'll leave] if we get some interesting offers," he told radio station RMC.

"He wants to leave, but if it doesn't happen, it will be next summer. It's no catastrophe.

"He missed out on a t ransfer last summer. If there's an interesting opportunity for everyone, we'll find a solution."

"It is all moving towards England or Russia."

M'Vila, himself, also confirmed his desire to seek a new challenge, after growing stale at the Breton club.

He said: "The club have received offers. I want to go but the deal has to be right for everyone. If it isn't, I will stay until the end of the season."

Rabu, 09 Januari 2013

Izmailov leaves Sporting for Porto; Lopes moves in opposite direction

Hertha BSC Berlin vs Sporting Lissabon, Maximilian Nicu,Marat Izmailov ,Europa league(Getty Images)

Marat Izmailov has signed for Porto from Sporting for an undisclosed fee.

The midfielder inked a two-and-half-year contract with the Portuguese champions in a deal that sees full-back Miguel Lopes move in the opposite direction.

With Tottenham Hotspur chasing Joao Moutinho, as revealed exclusively by Goal.com, coach Vitor Pereira did not want to leave his side short of numbers in midfield and swooped for the Russian international.

The 30-year-old said that the Dragoes heritage was a big factor behind him deciding to make the move from their Liga rivals, and added that he wants to help the side build on their illustrious history.

I have spent almost six years in this country and Porto have won the title practically every year, he told reporters.

Everybody knows that Porto are a great team with a big, strong structure. Their results are better than those of any other Portuguese club.

I hope to win trophies at Porto and to progress as a player and person.

The Porto president Pinto da Costa added that he feels Izmailov will add some depth to their squad.

Izmailov will strengthen our squad. Luckily, we have a strong team, but it's not just about 11 players. I think Marat will get a feel for our playing style and will appreciate our club spirit.

Meanwhile, right-sided defender Lopes has made the move in the other direction, agreeing a two-year deal at Estadio Jose Alvalade.

Senin, 07 Januari 2013

Uzbekistan football federation wins 2012 Fifa Fair Play Award

Uzbekistan logo
The Uzbekistan football federation have won the 2012 Fifa Fair Play Award.

The award is a result of the good behaviour of the Uzbek national team and the country's club sides participating in AFC competitions during the past year.

In second place was Turkish side Eskisehirspor because of their sporting behaviour in the Europa League qualifying games against St Johnstone.

The Scottish side nominated the side after Dede returned possession to St Johnstone when an opponent was injured, and the welcome reception the Turkish club gave to their opposition during the away game.

As a gesture of good will, St Johnstone arranged complimentary transport to the stadium from a sports bar that had been opened especially for the visiting fans.

The games were the first time either club had reached that stage of European competition for over a decade.

Jumat, 04 Januari 2013

Time for football to follow AC Milan and Boateng's lead in the fight against racism

Kevin-Prince Boateng - Milan
By Kris Voakes Italian Football Writer

It is not the first time it has happened on an Italian football field, and no betting man would suggest it will be the last. On Thursday, a group of Pro Patria supporters bellowed racist gestures towards three black AC Milan players. The Rossoneris decision to walk off and bring an early end to the winter friendly was a no-brainer, but it was refreshing nonetheless to see them do it.

It took just 26 minutes before it had become too much for Kevin-Prince Boateng, who halted a run down the left flank, picked the ball up and volleyed it in the direction of those ignorant souls who had mercilessly heckled him and his colleagues. After a quick consultation between the irate Boateng, his Milan team-mates and the match referee, the Ghanaian stripped off his shirt and headed for the tunnel, with everyone else following.

The incident begs a series of questions, with the mos t pertinent being as to why, in 2013, we still have racists blighting our societies and our football experiences. Another is how on earth it has taken so long for a game to be stopped as a result. Milans gesture was a magnificent one, but now it must be used as a precedent.

This correspondent has been present at football matches, in Italy and elsewhere, and there have been, at times, incidents of monkey chants or similar being directed at black players. As recently as November, I was present as Panathinaikos Quincy Owusu-Abeyie was subjected to such treatment every time he touched the ball against Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico in the Europa League. Samuel Etoo was targeted away to Juventus in 2011 when playing for Inter, with songs likening the striker to oft-victimised African beggars on the local transport network.

The incidents are far too numerous to mention all of them, but what is most concerning is the complete lack of attention given to each one. At grounds where such disgraceful scenes occur, fellow supporters simply turn the other cheek, players of all races and backgrounds just get on with the game, TV commentators continue to report the events on the field and give no mention to the bad news emanating from the stands. What Milan did on Thursday needs to be taken as an example of a future vision.

The Rossoneri coach Massimiliano Allegri could not have been more right in his summing up of the situation after the abandonment. Italy has to improve in this regard, and become a more civil, educated and intelligent country, he said, but the bel paese is not the only land that needs to be cleaned up when it comes to racism.

England, Spain, Russia and many other countries have seen such regrettable occurrences on their shores too, but not since Messinas Marc Zoro stormed off against Inter in 2005 have we observed actions such as those seen from Milans players in Busto Arsizio.

With a small four-figure crowd present on Thursday, the news became big enough. Now the reactions need to be the same in competitive fixtures. Imagine the pressure that would build up on clubs, authorities and fan groups if a title decider or a cup final was halted early and the results awarded on the strength of disorder in the crowd.

Some have argued that it is unfair on the well-behaved majority if they dont get their moneys worth, but continued walk-offs would surely help to encourage people to report and turf out the racist troublemakers. The protagonists will continue to believe they can get away with it until they finally become suitably ostracised for their unbearable behaviour.

Piara Powar, executive director of the FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) network, has called for the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) to take strong action.

"We salute Kevin-Prince Boateng for his act ions and his team-mates for their support," said Powar.

"Italy, as much as any country in Europe, has a serious problem of racism. Football infrastructure is in need of renewal and at serious odds with the changing nature of Italian society.

"We look forward to strong action by the FIGC."

Boateng and Milan need to be celebrated for their actions, but now we all have to take their lead. More players need to refuse to continue, more authorities need to tackle the problem, and more fans need to seek out stewards and police as soon as they hear even the slightest of racist slurs. Enough pointing of fingers, enough asking others to sort it out. Lets sort it out together.

Milan have made the first step down the road, now the rest of the football fraternity must follow.

Follow Kris Voakes on

Rabu, 02 Januari 2013

Valdez: I gave my word to stay at Valencia

Nelson Haedo Valdez - Valencia

Valenciastriker Nelson Valdez says he wants to stay at the club despite only being at the Spanish outfit on a temporary basis.

The forward joined Los Cheon loan this season from Russian side Rubin Kazan and has stated he wishes to continue next term at the Mestalla but the decision lies with the club's sporting director.

I have the desire to continue here but we must talk about it and there are topics that we must speak with Braulio Vazquez about, he told reporters.

Valdez netted three goals in 20 appearances for Rubin but is enjoying a return to Spanish football having found himself more involved in the first team.

On my part there is no problem. I have already given my word to stay and the rest Braulio should sort it with my representatives, said Valdez.

The attacker is confident Valencia's indifferent start to the season will not prevent them from reaching their target of European football next term.

He added: "We are better than many teams but we have to prove it on the field and not on paper. We have to correct the mistakes of the first round and reach the Champions League."

Los Che have an option to purchase the Paraguay international when his loan spell runs out in the summer.