One of the good guys

Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta has given £200,000 to Albacete, his boyhood club, to help save them from imminent relegation.

The 29-year-old played for the club prior to joining Barcelona when he was 12. The club owed money to players for unpaid wages, and failure to pay it would have resulted in automatic relegation.

Step forward Iniesta, who is the largest shareholder at the club and who injected £400,000 into the club two years ago.

Something similar happened last year when Santi Cazorla, Juan Mata and Swansea player Michu attempted to raise nearly £2m for their former club, Real Oviedo, who were struggling in the fourth division.

Fans behaving badly (part one)

After being relegated from the Primera Division a fortnight ago fans of Independiente finally lost patience last week and threw chairs and a desk at the club president after a clear-the-air meeting turned sour.

Independiente, who have won the Copa Libertadores title a record seven times, are one of the biggest clubs in South America.

A meeting with supporters and president Javier Cantero seemed like the perfect opportunity to build bridges but when fans were unhappy with the discourse, the meeting descended into chaos

Cantero was asked about transfer funds for next season, to which he replied that there would be little cash available.

The news was not what fans wanted to hear, though, and a group promptly rushed the stage, hauling chairs and then a desk at Cantero who was forced to flee into a side room.

Fans behaving badly (part two)

Still, it could have been worse for the Independiente fans, at least they still have a club to support. The same, for the time being, cannot be said of CSKA Sofia’s followers, after the Bulgarian club were declared bankrupt and now face the prospect of being demoted to the amateur leagues.

Debt-ridden CSKA will play in the amateur championship next season if they fail to merge with another first division club in time for the start of the league on July 20.

The 31-times Bulgarian champions said in a statement that the club have transferred their 6.5 million shares to coach Hristo Stoichkov.

News of the club’s plight prompted an immediate and violent response from several hundred of their supporters.

Fans laid siege to the Bulgarian football union’s (BFU) headquarters on Saturday, some throwing stones and smashing windows.

“A thousand supporters demonstrated in front of the BFU headquarters, and around 60 or 70 of them committed acts of vandalism,” said Pavel Kolev, a spokesman for the BFU.

Shouting “Mafia!”, fans then briefly blocked traffic at one of Sofia’s main intersections before heading to the CSKA Sofia to vent their anger against the club’s owners.

Success story

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has lifted his ostrich-like head from the sand to declare the Confederations Cup football tournament a success.

This despite clashes between police and protesters near most matches that caused a number of fatalities and hundreds of injuries.

As hosts Brazil were beating Spain in Sunday’s final of the 2014 World Cup warm-up tournament, police officers were firing tear gas canisters and stun grenades outside Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium.

Blatter says the competition was “such a success despite … of all this unrest and protests.”

Which is a bit like saying that the Titanic’s maiden voyage went smoothly, were it not for the fact that it crashed into an iceberg and sank.

Many of Brazil’s anti-government protesters expressed anger at the lack of investment in public services compared with the billions of dollars being spent on next year’s World Cup.

But Blatter says, “the social unrest is now resting. I don’t know how long but it is now resting.”

About a year Sepp, would be my best guess.

Goal of the day

Neymar, the undisputed star of the Confederations Cup, adds another memorable goal to his growing collection in Sunday’s final against Spain.

Save of the day

There’s been much discussion about David Luiz’s best position: a ball playing defender or a defensive midfielder, no one can quite decide On the evidence of this save, it looks like his talents would be best employed as a goalkeeper.

Quote of the day

“It is simply not true that the World Cup is taking away public money that could be used for other things. No-one organises the World Cup today just as a stand-alone investment. If you increase the level of roads, health, public transport, hotels, that doesn’t just disappear afterwards. In Brazil it’s part of an overall development programme of the Brazilian government that goes far beyond the World Cup.”

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke denies suggestions that the money invested in the 2014 World Cup could have been better spent elsewhere.

Points deduction

Ethiopia have been docked three points by FIFA in World Cup qualifying after they fielded an ineligible player in a game against Botswana.

FIFA said Ethiopia forfeited its 2-1 win in Botswana on June 8 because Minyahile Beyene played in that game when he was suspended for receiving two yellow cards in earlier qualifiers. FIFA has awarded the match to Botswana 3-0.

The punishment means Ethiopia are only two points ahead of South Africa and three ahead of Botswana. Ethiopia is not guaranteed a place in Africa’s final playoffs for the World Cup going into the final round of Group A games in September.

The Ethiopian Football Federation is unlikely to appeal the punishment having already admitted that Minyahile should not have played in the match.

Ethiopia beat South Africa 2-1 at home in its latest game on June 16 and thought they had qualified for the 10-team playoffs, which will decide Africa’s five countries at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.

FIFA is also investigating two other African countries – Togo and Equatorial Guinea – for allegedly fielding ineligible players in World Cup qualifying, which could throw two other groups into turmoil.

Togo could forfeit the 2-0 win over Cameroon in Group I, which would put Cameroon ahead of Libya. Equatorial Guinea could forfeit points to Cape Verde in Group B.

Delusions of grandeur

Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge has praised his manager Brendan Rodgers and believes the club can challenge for honours under him.

The former Swansea boss has attempted to transform Liverpool’s style of play since arriving at Anfield 12months ago. No longer do the players talk in terms of a playing style or tactics; no for them it’s all about a ‘philosophy’.

“With the philosophy that the manager has, we should be challenging for honors,” Sturridge told the official club magazine.

“I think it’s going to be great for us in the future and we can move forward. I think we did things last season, both prior to me coming here and then with my help, to deliver some better statistics than we have had in previous years in terms of goals and attacking play.

“It’s exciting to be part of that philosophy and the new regime that the manager is forming for us to move forward as a club.

“It’s the reason why the manager signed me and Philippe Coutinho as well as the players he signed at the start of the season,” he continued.

“The aim was to help the team get back to where it belongs.”

Seventh place last season: mission accomplished.

“We’ll all be doing everything in our power to make sure that Liverpool is a club that is challenging for Premier League titles because the fans have been waiting for that for a long time and hopefully next season we’ll be in the running.

”

Lest we forget, despite this new revolutionary philosophy, Liverpool finished 28 points behind the champions Manchester United.

“When you play in the Premier League, everybody’s goal is to lift that trophy, to have the celebrations and to know that you’ve succeeded and been a champion over everybody else in the division. So the main aim for next season and the seasons ahead is to try and help the team do well in the Premier League. I’m sure with the philosophy that the manager has, we’ll be able to do that.”

Ah, that word again. It’s interesting that Sturridge cites the desire to win the Premier League as his main goal. He has, after all, left two clubs, in Manchester City and Chelsea, who on paper, look better equipped to realise that ambition than his present employers. But, moving to a club simply because they pay  you more money, is not really most people’s idea of a philosophy.

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