Banned for life and beyond

Former Zimbabwe coach Sunday Chidzambwa, now seeking to clear his name in the Asiagate match-fixing saga, has been warned by FIFA he faces further sanctions if he persists with a court action he brought last week.

Chidzambwa was given a life ban by the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) for his involvement in the national team throwing matches in Asia between 2007 and 2009 in return for cash payments from Asian gambling syndicates. The former coach was accused of being one of the ringleaders, along with Method Mwanjali of Mamelodi Sundowns and BidVest Wits defender Thomas Sweswe, who have also been banned for life.

With Chidzambwa already serving a life ban from football, one wonders what additional punishment FIFA can impose. Ban him from football in the after-life?

Fallen great

Former Romanian international Gheorghe Popescu has received a three-year suspended prison sentence from Romania’s Appeals Court for his part in a corruption scandal that has tainted Romanian football.

Popescu, one of Romania’s all-time greats, who represented his country 115 times and was a member of the side that reached the 1994 World Cup quarter-finals, was found guilty along with his seven co-defendants of fraud, tax evasion and money laundering.

They were accused of not declaring the full amount of transfers of players from their respective clubs to foreign teams from 1999-2005 and had all been acquitted in their first trial in April.

By avoiding a jail term, Popescu got off relatively lightly compared to some of his co-accused.

The former executive president of Dinamo Bucharest, Cristian Borcea, was sentenced to seven years in prison while the majority stakeholder in Rapid Bucharest, George Copos, was sent away for five years.

According to prosecutors, the undeclared parts of the transfer fees were paid into personal bank accounts in the Virgin Islands and in Holland.

Fans rally round

Financially crippled Spanish club Real Oviedo have turned to their fans in a bid to avert bankruptcy.

As one of many clubs struggling to survive in the country’s economic crisis, Oviedo need to raise nearly €2 million by November 17 to stave off legal writs that would force it out of business after 86 years.

But thanks to a enterprising scheme to raise funds which involves selling shares in the club at reduced prices – and a successful social-media campaign, the third-division club is halfway toward reaching its target.

”There is a lot of excitement to save the club. All of us, from the fans all the way to the town mayor, are going to do what it takes to pull through,” fan Jose Garcia Ordonez told The Associated Press. ”The effort is coming from people with financial problems like so many are facing in this country. With 30, 40 euros they are doing what they can so that one day we can tell our children how we saved 86 years of history of the club of our parents and grandparents.”

Oviedo opted to issue new shares at a price of €10.75 down from €60 euros at its initial offering 20 years ago.

Current shareholders were slow to invest, but the offer took offer when it was opened up to the general public.

Thousands have bought shares as a plea to help save the club spread across Twitter, and even Real Madrid President Florentino Perez has agreed to buy €100,000 worth of shares.

The club initially restricted the share offer to existing owners, and only 194 individuals responded, but since the process was opened up ordinary fans have bought in for €750,000 euros – surprising the club’s economic adviser, Jorge Sanchez.

”A week ago I wouldn’t have believed we had a chance to reach (2 million),” Sanchez told the AP. ”I am beginning to see the glass half full.”

Anyone wishing to help save the club by purchasing shares, can do so here.

Euros to expand

Theo Zwanziger, the former head of the German Football Association (DFB), said that UEFA intends to press on ahead with plans for the Euro 2020 finals to be hosted across the continent.

UEFA president Michel Platini envisages 12 countries hosting the expanded tournament which will feature 24 teams, up from the current 16.

“Michel Platini has told me his plan in a personal discussion,” Zwanziger told Bild. “But it still needs to be ratified by the executive committee.”

According to Zwanziger the plan foresees 12 countries hosting matches, with the countries chosen as seeded nations based on their UEFA ranking at the time and whether they have qualified for the competition.

If Germany qualified for the tournament they would play their group games at Berlin’s Olympic stadium, according to the newspaper.

The Frenchman said UEFA was waiting for feedback on its proposal, first announced at the end of Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, and it would be a one-off.

“If the idea is appealing to them we will enter into details to see how we can organise a Euro in several European cities but only in 2020 mind you,” Platini told reporters in St Petersburg after a meeting of UEFA’s executive committee last month.

Platini has said the bigger competition in 2020 will be too costly for single or joint bids. Given the current state of the European economy, he has a point.

Satire alive and well

Levante have published an ironic statement on its official website praising its players’ behavior during and after the Liga match against Real Madrid, using almost exactly the same wording as the visitors used on Monday.

Spanish media reported that Real defender Pepe and Levante captain Sergio Ballesteros had been involved in a confrontation near the dressing rooms that had to be broken up by security staff. The match, which Madrid won 2-1, was played in atrocious conditions more suited to water polo than to football.

Levante’s statement is as follows:

“1) The behaviour of all of our players and technical staff was exemplary during the course of the match, which was held in harsh conditions for playing football, and we overcame it with professionalism, dedication and sportsmanship,”

“2) At the end of the game, the attitude and behavior of the players, coaches and members of the travelling party were correct and blameless, as it had been at all times.

“3) We would like to highlight the performance of our players and technical staff during yesterday’s spectacular match, for their dedication, fight and competitiveness. We would also like to express our gratitude for the unconditional support of the fans who were cheering on the team the whole game despite the rain.

“4) Levante will continue with its philosophy of defending the values that have made our 100-year-old club loved and respected by Spanish football.”

That statement came just four hours after Madrid published the following:

“All of our players and coaching staff behaved in an exemplary fashion during the course of a match which took place in conditions which made playing football very difficult and which our team was able to overcome in a professional, dedicated and sporting manner,” Real said on their website.

“At the end of the match the attitude and behaviour of the players, coaching staff and members of the expedition was at all times correct and beyond reproach,” the club added.

“We reject the accusations in some sections of the media regarding supposed provocations by our player Pepe towards the home team’s dressing room.

“Our player’s behaviour was at all times exemplary, like that of the rest of his team mates.

“This club will continue to defend at all times the values of sporting behaviour and respect that should guide the world of sport.”

Goal of the day

Lovely flick to set up a volley which is then lashed home by Orlando Pirates’ Sifiso Myeni in their 1-0 win over Free State Stars.

Keep the home fires burning

The nights are drawing in, the onset of winter imminent, but Russian football no longer enjoys the benefits of an extended mid-season break, so travelling Zenit St Petersburg fans resorted to extreme measures to keep themselves warm after Sunday’s game at Lokomotiv Moscow. They set the stadium alight.

Mercifully, the fire brigade arrived to douse the flames and there were no casualties.

Quote of the day

“Chelsea are not run by John Terry. I don’t know how I can prove it to you but it’s not true. My club is run by Roman Abramovich.”

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck explains that John Terry does not run Chelsea; he just acts like he does.

Repeat winner

Paris Saint-Germain forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been named Swedish Player of the Year following his performances in 2012.

The striker scored 28 goals in 32 Serie A appearances for Milan in 2011-12, before leaving the Rossoneri for PSG, where he has continued his prolific form, netting 10 goals in 10 league appearances so far this season.

“It’s proof I have had a good year and that I keep developing as a player. I hope to stand here and say the same thing again next year,” the PSG star said on receiving the award.

Considering it was the seventh time he had won the award, barring a loss of limb, a win next year seems a formality.

Ibrahimovic’s supremacy is reminiscent of that enjoyed by Dimitar Berbatov in Bulgaria. The Fulham forward has won his country’s Player of the Year award on seven occasions. That was until last year, when a disenchanted public relegated him to second place behind the country’s Prime Minister, and occasional lower league footballer, Boyko Borisov.

Bad boys

Estonian international Oliver Konsa has been arrested on suspicion of dealing drugs and has been suspended by his club.

Konsa, 27, has played with the national side 20 times but was not in the squad for two international friendlies against Oman and the United Arab Emirates this month.

The striker was arrested by police on Monday with three others suspected of distributing cocaine. Konsa has not yet been charged.

Nomme Kalju, Konsa’s club who are 2012 Estonian champions, suspended the player immediately.

“It is very sad. We are shocked by this news,” said Nomme Kalju sporting director Sergei Terehhov.

The arrest comes just days after former Everton footballer Michael Branch was sentenced to 7 years in jail for drug dealing.

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