Good Kompany

Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany, a rare voice of sanity among the knee-jerk opportunists that regularly pass judgement on English football, has dismissed calls for the introduction of netting to protect players, saying fans should not be treated “like animals”.

Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand was struck by an object as he celebrated Robin van Persie’s winner in their 3-2 victory over City on Sunday.

While the coin was still in mid-air, Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor was calling for netting to be installed in stadiums.

“I hope actions will be taken but let’s not forget where football has come from and how far it has come”, Kompany said.

Belgium international defender Kompany, 26, condemned Sunday’s incidents at Etihad Stadium, but called for the authorities to retain perspective.

“It is never a good thing to happen, not just for Manchester City or Manchester United, but for football,” added Kompany, speaking to Football Focus.

“I would definitely say we need action on prevention but keep treating fans as human beings and not animals that have to be behind cages.

“I do think we should take action against these incidents and I have heard a lot of suggestions about putting up nets and everything.

“But the fact we are able to put people outside of cages is something that makes the English game so much more special.”

Super League emerging

Leading Russian clubs in favour of the creation of a new ‘Super League’ including teams from neighbouring countries, believe the new competition could be launched as soon as 2013-14 and has the backing of UEFA.

The replacement for the Russian Premier League is primarily aimed at attracting more interest in the competition and consequently increasing the clubs’ revenue to help them meet new UEFA financial fair play rules.

Representatives of Zenit St. Petersburg, Anzhi Makhachkala and the Russian Premier League also backed the plans.

UEFA “has said it will allow the unification of championships,” CSKA Moscow president Evgeny Giner stated, adding he expected the European governing body to allow the countries involved to keep their current quotas in European competitions.

“We need to make it so there is fan interest, sponsor interest, TV interest,” Giner added.

Head of the Russian Premier League Sergey Pryadkin spoke to the R-Sport agency: “It’s possible all 16 Russian [Premier League] clubs will compete and all 14 Ukrainian [top flight] ones.”

“Then we will have to think about creating a second group or some sort of other option,” he added.

Meanwhile, the president of Ukraine’s champions Shakhtar Donetsk, Rinat Akhmetov, has stressed the club will consider the country’s club interests first when making a decision on the issue.

The plan does not have the unanimous support of Russian clubs with vice-president of Terek Grozny, Khaidar Alkhanov, calling the plans a “crazy scheme”, adding that leaving the Russian Premier League would be unpatriotic.

Pep talk

Rafael Benitez says he would be pleased if Chelsea win trophies this season, then Pep Guardiola takes over from him in the summer.

The caretaker Chelsea boss was speaking after watching his side defeat Monterrey to earn a showdown with Corinthians in Sunday’s Club World Cup final. The result takes Benitez to the threshold of a second Club World Cup triumph – two years ago his brief spell in charge of Inter coincided with them winning the trophy.

It was the prospect of this double success that prompted Manchester United manager, Sir Alex Ferguson to snipe: ”Rafael Benítez is very lucky because on his CV in two weeks he could have two world championships and nothing to do with the construction of the teams involved.”

Guardiola is currently enjoying a sabbatical after winning his 14th trophy in four years as Barcelona coach in May. However, he has been frequently linked with Chelsea and is reportedly the man that club owner, Roman Abramovich, believes can add some style and panache to go along with the silverware.

“Guardiola has a fantastic record,” Benitez told BBC Sport. “If he comes and we’ve won a lot of trophies, I’ll be very pleased.”

When asked how he would feel if owner Roman Abramovich asked him to leave at the end of the season, Benitez said: “When I decided to come, I knew I was signing a contract for six or seven months so I was not thinking about more after these seven months.”

Benitez has had a hostile reception since taking over at Stamford Bridge, but the 52-year-old believes he can win over fans.

“I understand the feelings of the fans because of the rivalry between both clubs (Liverpool and Chelsea),” he said.

“After the improvement of the team, the way I will play [and] the style I will have, I think a lot of fans will say: ‘Maybe we were too hard and we have to give him the chance to bring the confidence back to the team and the fans’.”

Corinthian spirit

While Benitez struggles to win over a sceptical Chelsea crowd, his Corinthians counterpart, Tite, is basking in the adulation of an adoring public as he seeks to bring the Club World Cup back to Brazil for the first time since Internacional were victorious in 2006.

The Club World Cup is largely ignored in Europe; seen as no more than an unwelcome mid-season distraction. But in the rest of the world the tournament is taken very seriously indeed, not least in Brazil, where 15,000 fans turned up at the airport just to see the team off. Up to 30,000 fans have travelled to Japan for the tournament.

There’s a good piece about how much this means the team’s supporters here.

Even by Brazilian standards, the fervour of the Corinthians fans is legendary. Part of the folklore of Brazilian football is Corinthians fans “invasion” of Rio in 1976, when at least 75,000 made the journey to watch their side beat Fluminense in the Maracana.

Stiffer sentences?

UEFA president Michel Platini may appeal to increase the player bans and £65,000 fine imposed on Serbia for racist abuse and violent conduct.

The fine is less than the £80,000 Denmark’s Nicklas Bendtner was given for revealing sponsored underpants.

UEFA proposed more “drastic” measures than those imposed by their independent control and disciplinary panel.

FA General Secretary, Alex Horne, was unhappy with the size of the punishments.

“We are disappointed with the sanctions levied by UEFA with regards to the racist behaviour displayed towards England’s players,” he said.

“Let’s be clear, racism is unacceptable in any form, and should play no part in football. The scenes were deplorable and we do not believe the sanction sends a strong enough message.”

Kick It Out chairman Lord Herman Ouseley described the sanctions against Serbia as “paltry” and wants more severe action.

“If necessary games should be stopped and sections of the crowd who are behaving badly should be shown the door,” he told BBC Radio 4.

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand tweeted “UEFA are not serious at all on racism. Fines do not work. They have zero impact on federations, clubs, fans and players.

“UEFA need to talk to this generation. They don’t seem to be up to date on this issue. Harsh punishments are needed as a deterrent.”

Indeed, as Ferdinand implies, there is a real danger that the people running the game will be deemed out of of touch by the those on the receiving end of the abuse.

No fans

A Bastia official has started a hunger strike after the French club were barred from playing at home until further notice because of a series of violent incidents, the Ligue 1 side said on Friday.

“Outraged by the decision, Jo Bonavita, responsible for the logistics at the club, has decided to start a hunger strike this morning in the light of the sanctions imposed by the LFP,” the club said on their website (www.sc-bastia.net).

Fans threw fireworks outside the Furiani stadium on Wednesday as Bastia’s 2-1 Ligue 1 home defeat by Marseille was played behind closed doors.

The ground had been closed for the visit of Marseille after violence at the game at neighbours Ajaccio in October.

Meanwhile, the president of Bastia has hit out at the French Football League the ban was imposed.

“It’s difficult to have a reaction as we’re simply left gob-smacked and speechless by the Disciplinary Commission’s decision,” said Bastia president Pierre-Marie Geronimi. “The club won’t let itself be pushed around. We’ll appeal against the decision. We’ll go to the French Olympic Committee (CNOSF) and we’ll take our case to every possible court and body.”

Despite the ban, Geronimi appeared confident that the forthcoming match against Nancy will take place at the Stade Armand Cesari.

“There’s no question of us not playing our game against Nancy, which will be a very important match in terms of the relegation battle, in our stadium,” he said, before telling radio station RMC: “It’s great to say we can’t play at Bastia, but the gentlemen on the Disciplinary Commission need to tell me where we can play and how we get there. We’re not magicians. If they’d said to us: ‘You have to forfeit the game against Nancy’, it would have been the same.”

Goal of the day

Chelsea eased into the Club World Cup final with a comfortable 3-1 win over Monterrey. Juan Mata’s goal was well-taken, but it was the clever backheel assist from Oscar which opened up the defence.

Quote of the day

“We’re in a different place than where we were when Beckham came in six years ago, it will always be important to sign players with name recognition, but it’s not an absolute must-have.”  

Vice-president of Major League Soccer, Todd Durbin, signals a change of direction for the league in the post-Beckham era.

No one likes a bad winner

Sao Paulo’s president Juvenal Juvencio claimed the Argentinian side Tigre had been intimidated by the atmosphere in the Morumbi stadium and denied that guns had been produced.

Tigre refused to return for the second half at the Morumbi stadium, claiming their players had been attacked by gun-toting security staff in the dressing rooms during the half-time interval.

But Juvencio says that no weapons were produced and that the visiting players had simply lost their nerve.

He said: “They were there with their tongues out with fear because we had 67,000 fans in the stands. They knew they were to going to concede many more goals in the second half, so they decided to leave.

“There were no guns as they said. Tigre is a small team – nobody had heard of them 15 days ago.

“We will celebrate twice: the Argentinians’ runaway was our biggest victory.”

Money for old rope

Liverpool’s former director of football Damien Comolli has been explaining the thinking behind the club’s decision to allow former manager Kenny Dalglish to spend £110 million on the likes of Andy Carroll, Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing, Luis Suarez and good old Jordan Henderson.

With the exception of Suarez, none of the new buys could be said to have justified the money lavished on them, but Comolli says it would be premature to pass judgment just yet.

“First of all, you need to look at the big picture,” he said.

“We did 26 deals and to think we wouldn’t make any mistakes in such a huge number of deals in and out would be totally unrealistic.

Mistakes will be made, of course, but when one of them costs you £35 million, then that becomes the picture.

“I do not think we made any mistakes on the players going out and whether we made mistakes on the players who came in, time will tell,” said the unrepentant Comolli. “I am very uncomfortable for players to be judged after six, eight or even 12 months. Sometimes it takes two or three years.

“In two or three years you can say, ‘Damien and Kenny, you were wrong’. Or you can say, ‘They just needed time’.”

Comolli also shed light on the deal that took Fernando Torres from Anfield to Stamford Bridge.

“Chelsea kept bidding higher and higher [for Torres], until we got to a point where the difference between their first and final bid was double,” Comolli said.

“They [FSG] asked me what the risks were and I said that if things don’t go well you’ll lose something on Andy, but it is difficult to measure whether you will make money if things go well because Liverpool aren’t a selling club and he could be here for ten years.”

And there was me thinking it was the fans who were deluded…

 

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