Hibernian striker Leigh Griffiths has staked a strong claim to be considered one of the least intelligent people currently earning a living from football, and when you look at the competition that is some claim.
In response to a tweet, Griffiths told Zak Iqbal to go “back to your own country”.
Griffiths is now facing disciplinary action over the racist comment. Did he think he was sending a private message via the very public medium of Twitter, or did he simply not care that he would now be tainted as a racist?
The player – who is on loan from Wolves – later apologised for the tweet, which he admitted was “out of order”. Out of order? When a toilet doesn’t work it is ‘out of order’; when a footballer posts a racially offensive message it is contemptible and unforgivable.
Hibs said the player realised that “despite the provocation”, his language had been “unacceptable”. Wolves said they were “angry and disappointed”.
Lothian and Borders Police said they had been made aware of the matter and were carrying out initial inquiries.
Griffiths – a Scotland international – has now restricted access to his Twitter account, which has almost 13,000 followers.
In a statement, Hibs said: “The player supports the club and the whole of Scottish football in its stance against racism, bigotry and anti social behaviour.
“The player will be subject to a disciplinary process which will be a private matter between the club and the player.”
A Wolves spokesman said: “Wolves are aware of an alleged racist comment made on Twitter last night by Leigh Griffiths.
“The club condemns such comments in the strongest possible terms and are extremely angry and disappointed.
“The player is currently on loan at Hibernian FC and is likely to remain there for the rest of the season.”
And possibly longer.
Sign of the times
Deportivo La Coruna president Augusto Lendoiro has said he is “ashamed” that the club has sought protection from its creditors using Spain’s Ley Concursal measure (comparable to going into administration) and has pledged to repair Depor’s damaged finances.
Like many Spanish clubs Depor are currently labouring under huge debts – in their case, approximately €99 million.
“This makes me sad and ashamed, but there was no other option,” Lendoiro told a press conference later that evening. “Between 85% and 90% of the debt is with the government and banks.”
Ignoring calls to step down, the 67-year-old, who oversaw the emergence of the title winning sides of the 1990s and early 2000s, said he would play his part in the renewal of the Galician outfit.
“This is a different stage, but I see myself with the strength to continue,” Lendoiro said. “The club is viable. I would give high marks to my management of these 25 years at Deportivo. I expect to stay here day to day.”
The decision to enter ‘Ley Concursal protection’ had been heralded in advance by Lendoiro at December’s club AGM, and he has been criticised for letting the situation drag on for so long.
The club’s most recent accounts say it owes €37 million to the Spanish tax authorities, who have reacted by embargoing its TV revenues.
Goal of the day
David Villa skips past a defender by the byline before dinking a chip over the advancing goalkeeper in Barcelona’s 5-0 win over Cordoba.
Save of the day
An astonishing double save by Angelo Campos for Peru’s under-20 side against Uruguay.
Quote of the day
“It comes from the person in charge of the team and it is all about what he thinks and believes. What I have to do is train more and be as driven as possible to make my return. My toughest battle is with myself and regaining the coach’s confidence.”
In the battle of wills between out-of-favour Iker Casillas and Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, the Spanish keeper shows that he will not blink first.
He can’t buy a friend at Chelsea, but judging from a recent Marca poll, Rafa Benitez remains on somewhat better terms with Spanish supporters.
Benitez is the surprise first choice among Real Madrid supporters to replace current incumbent, Jose Mourinho, should the Portuguese leave at the end of the season.
Presumably, most of those votes were cast before back-to-back home defeats to QPR and Swansea respectively.
The poll has shown the 52-year-old receiving 21.4% of the votes in the poll, with current Germany boss Joachim Loew coming second with 19.5%.
And the surprise name in third was Michael Laudrup, current manager of the Swansea side that intensified the hostility towards Benitez from Chelsea supporters.
The level of contempt for the Spaniard is showing no signs of abating and Chelsea Supporters Group chair Trizia Fiorellino has warned that worse will follow unless results improve.
“I think if we don’t perform and we go a goal down it could get really nasty,” she said. “If he keeps on losing games then this will continue.
“The fans are in turmoil.”
The poor lambs.
“There are those that won’t accept Benitez at any price, and you have those that feel the current situation is not doing the team any good and feel that they should just accept it until he has gone,” she continued. “That has caused arguments in the stands and scuffles. A couple of people came to blows [on Wednesday]. It was a really sad state of affairs.
“He [Benitez] isn’t helping himself with the fans by not making changes. Previous managers did, but he doesn’t seem to want to and that smacks of arrogance.
“I know five people who have season tickets they have paid between £700 and £1,200 for them and they say they are not coming back until he is gone. And I understand why they are doing that. They love the club but hate what they are doing. It’s them making their own protest and I admire them for that.”
Multiply the price of a season ticket by a million and you’ll have the amount of money Roman Abramovich has pumped into the club since he took over less than 10 years ago. £1200 is the kind of sum that the cleaners on Abramovich’s super yacht find behind the sofa.
Modest to a fault
Never one to let others blow his trumpet when he can do it himself, Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has claimed his coaching methods have improved Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and José Enrique.
The Liverpool manager says his ability to develop players was one of the reasons he was hired by Fenway Sports Group. He doesn’t mention that the other one was because he was cheap.
“It is all about the materials. I am not a magician. I will be able to improve players – that is my work and I have confidence in that. If I look at the first six months, I believe there has been improvement in a lot of the players. I will be able to rinse everything that I possibly can out of them, but the bottom line is about talent. If you don’t initially have that then it can be difficult.
“That is also why I was brought in here, because we will get talents and we will try to maximise what we can out of players.
“You look at Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and José Enrique since the start of the season and we have added value back to them. Absolutely. That is the job of the manager and the coach, as well as winning games.”
Well, at least he’s getting part of the job done.
With reports claiming that Rodgers predecessor, Kenny Dalglish, will soon be appointed to an ambassadorial role at the club, it will be interesting to hear what he makes of the claims that these players have improved since he left the scene.
One player Rodgers was unable to improve was playmaker Nuri Sahin who has returned to Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund just months after he joined Liverpool.
After his Liverpool debut, Rodgers said of the new signing: “[Sahin] is a master technician, he’s hungry and he wants to prove himself.”
Where did it all go wrong?
Money’s too tight to mention
Rodgers was also bemoaning the lack of money he has to spend relative to his Premier League rivals.
Although looking at the league table with Liverpool currently sandwiched between West Brom and Swansea, surely the £42 million he has spent on the likes of Daniel Sturridge, Joe Allen and Fabio Borini, will eclipse the combined spending of those two sides.
“My job is to improve players in every aspect of their game and that is something we will look to do because we don’t have the resources of the top clubs who are out there paying big money,” the Liverpool manager said. We won’t have that. So we have to find the difference through coaching.
“We will always be governed by budget, always be governed by restrictions on certain things within the club because if you haven’t got the money you can’t spend it.”
One of the reasons Liverpool only have a limited budget is that they have finally reached agreement with previous owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett over the terms of the club’s sale.
The American businessmen lost control of Liverpool in what they claimed was an ”epic swindle” by directors and a bank in October 2010, when the club was were bought for £300 million by the Fenway Sports Group.
”All claims and allegations made against Messrs Broughton, Purslow and Ayre have been withdrawn by Messrs Hicks and Gillett and all legal proceedings between the parties concluded,” Liverpool said in a statement.
“The parties have now agreed a settlement (the terms of which are confidential). All claims and allegations made against Messrs Broughton, Purslow and Ayre have been withdrawn by Messrs Hicks and Gillett and all legal proceedings between the parties concluded.”
Stupid Bastia fans
Bastia have been banned from playing at home for three games and given a suspended two-point deduction after supporters of the Ligue 1 club were involved in a series of violent incidents.
The club have already served one match of the ban when they beat basement side Nancy in Gueugnon, eastern France, last month after they were banned from using their own ground pending the ruling.
The Corsican side will now have to play their next two home matches, against Stade Rennes and Evian Thonon Gaillard, at a neutral venue.
They were also fined €30,000.
A two-game ban and the suspended deduction were imposed after a linesman was hit by a missile during the home League Cup quarter-final against Lille in November.
The promoted club were barred from playing at home for a further game after fans threw fireworks outside the Furiani stadium as Bastia’s 2-1 league defeat by Marseille was played behind closed doors.
Without wishing to make light of the trouble caused by Bastia fans, there is a funny side to them ensuring the ban will be extended due to events that took place at a match where none of them were actually present.
Anzhi Makhachkala chairman Konstantin Remchukov has described reports linking David Beckham with a move to the Russian club, as “complete nonsense.”
“A note about Anzhi’s interest in Beckham – it’s complete nonsense,” Remchukov tweeted on Friday. “An idea like this hasn’t been floated even once.”
Which must make the former England player the only high profile player that Anzhi have not tried to sign in recent years.