Not taking it lying down

Napoli have condemned the actions taken by the National Disciplinary Committee this morning, having been docked two points after two of their players failed to report a match fixing approach.

As well as the two-point deduction, Napoli have been fined €70,000 and seen their captain, Paolo Cannavaro, and vice-captain, Gianluca Grava, banned for six months for failing to report in incident of alleged match-fixing back in 2010 before a game against Sampdoria.

Former goalkeeper Mattia Gianello is alleged to have approached the pair before the match in Genoa in order to pre-arrange a result.

And although the two senior players refused his advances, they have still been banned for ‘objective responsibility’.

“The President Aurelio De Laurentiis, the coach Walter Mazzarri and the the whole team are confident that no violation can be attributed to SSC Napoli,” a statement read on their official website.

“While not entering into the obsolete and outdated principle of ‘objective responsibility’ and reserving any comments and any legal action, SSC Napoli does not agree with the decision of the National Disciplinary committee.

“Any decision must be made before the start of the League or at the end of it. Since the date of this incident there has been time to evaluate and decide.

“We are confident that in the two degrees of judgement, we will be warranted true justice.”

Gianello was banned for three years and three months.

Appeals are expected.

Fans but no fans

After a fans’ group wrote an open letter to the club demanding that they refrain from buying black and gay players, the Zenit St Petersburg head coach, Luciano Spalletti, has preached a message of tolerance and alluded to the demand as “stupidity”.

Zenit were the only top-flight Russian team without a black player until this summer, when they signed the Brazilian striker Hulk and Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel for a combined €80m. Their arrivals went down like a lead ballon with some of the club’s less enlightened supporters.

“Tolerance for me is most of all the ability to understand and accept differences,” said Spalletti. ”Furthermore, being tolerant means that you fight against any kind of stupidity.”

He also promised that the club would support local initiatives to combat xenophobia and racism.

“The club will support such initiatives and use every opportunity to contribute to this work,” Spalletti said. “I can personally assure you that I will do everything I can to help those who seek to explain to people what tolerance is, and the need to respect other cultures and traditions.

“I think that Zenit has proven through its work that the club understands what tolerance is, and what it means to have tolerant behaviour. The team has gathered players from different countries and ethnic groups who work together to achieve a common goal, and work well. Their combined efforts bring tangible results. We’ve all worked together to achieve important results.”

Goal of the day

Santi Cazorla’s pass found Theo Walcott and the Arsenal striker’s clinical finish was a timely reminder to Arsene Wenger of his striking talents.

Quote of the day

“Yes, of course. In sport you have to have motivation and seek the best for your club and make the right investments at the right time. We hope to become the best in Europe and even the world. We want to win the Champions League.”

Asked whether Jose Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo are top of Paris Saint-Germain’s wishlist, Saud Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, a leading figure in the club’s ownership structure, replied in the affirmative..

Shedding the pounds

Ronaldo has lost 17 kilograms in three months as part of a television reality show.

Over the past three months the ex-striker, now a member of Brazil’s 2014 World Cup organising committee, went through a series of physical exercises and dietary training, all aired every Sunday on the Medida Certa (Ideal Measurements) show.

This is what Ronaldo looked like when he first appeared on the show.

“I have problems with the weighing scales. It’s a real trauma,” he said when the show began in September.

“I have already tackled many challenges and this one will not be easy. Those who have already tried to lose weight know that. But I am getting on with it in high spirits.”

But on Sunday night in front of a live television audience, Ronaldo tipped the scales at 101 kilos (and his waistline was down from 107 centimetres to 93 centimetres.

“We chose Ronaldo to show people that you can have done sport your entire life [but] if you stop and lead a sedentary life, your body will suffer,” according to his physical trainer, Marcio Atalla, who coordinated the exercise programme.

Here is the more svelte version after his three month fitness regime.

Shanghai surprise

The China careers of former Chelsea strikers Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka are in doubt amid fresh reports of unpaid wages at Shanghai Shenhua.

Local media have reported Frenchman Anelka’s management is in talks with the Chinese Super League club to cut short his contract, while Ivory Coast striker Drogba has been linked with a move back to Europe.

Drogba signed a two-and-a-half year deal reportedly worth around $300,000 per week in June, but the Oriental Sports Daily said last week the 34-year-old was owed wages in the wake of a long-running equity row at the club.

Meanwhile, a Shenhua spokesman confirmed that Anelka was in talks with the club regarding his playing future.

Ultimately, Shanghai’s loss may not be much of a loss at all.  The club’s ninth-placed finish in the 16-team competition was hardly the return the club was expecting from two high profile, and even higher paid, signings.

The man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo

Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri has explained why he wants to sign veteran midfielder David Beckham.

The 37-year-old former England captain is out of contract having parted company with MLS outfit Los Angeles Galaxy, after helping the club to win the 2012 MLS Cup.  

Monaco are admirers of Beckham, and Ranieri hopes he agrees to play his football at the Stade Louis II.

“He would be helpful in all aspects for the development of the club”, Ranieri was quoted as saying by Maxifoot.

“He could convey his passion for the game to our young players, showing that even though he is 37 years-old, he continues to improve and be a professional.

“All young players don’t just need an experienced coach, but also role models in the dressing room.”

Not sure about role models, but having Beckham will certainly bring a model quality to the dressing room.

Let he who is without sin..

Liverpool forward Suso has been fined £10,000 for a comment he posted on Twitter, the FA said on Tuesday.

Suso was responding to his team mate Jose Enrique posting a photograph of himself getting his teeth whitened.

“What the f*** is he doing? This guy is gay…he does everything except play football,” tweeted Suso, who accepted the charge that he had brought the game into disrepute.

Looking on the bright side, at least he has picked up the language of the English dressing room pretty quickly.

An FA statement read: “Following an Independent Regulatory Commission hearing on Monday, Liverpool’s Jesus Fernandez Saez (Suso) has been fined £10,000 and warned as to his future conduct for a comment posted on Twitter.

‘The charge, which the player admitted and requested a paper hearing, was that he acted in a way which was improper and/or brought the game into disrepute in that the comment was posted on his Twitter account and included a reference to a person/s sexual orientation and/or disability.”

Nouveau riche

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo has accused Jean-Michel Aulas of having “an inferiority complex” as he responded to the Lyon president’s criticism of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The Sweden striker caused controversy late in the first half of PSG’s 1-0 win in Sunday’s meeting between the sides when he stamped on Lyon defender Dejan Lovren’s head.

Deliberate or not, who can tell? But, if you were to hold a sweepstake on the player most likely to stamp on an opponents head, no one would complain if they picked Ibrahimovic’s name out of the hat.

Aulas was convinced of the Swede’s guilt, describing the incident, somewhat melodramatically, as a “massacre”.

But Leonardo said in L’Equipe: “Who is Aulas to judge? What is he doing? I do not understand, does he also work for the league’s disciplinary committee?

“All he wants is to distract from his team’s bad result. We dominated Lyon, especially in the second half, that is the reality.

“You could say Aulas is seeking to justify this defeat. But do you know what it shows, in my eyes? An inferiority complex.”

Oh dear. All that unearned money that was dropped in his lap has gone to his head.

Here’s the incident that has caused so much controversy.

Not on the list…

Kosovo’s Football Federation (FFK) are to push for full membership of FIFA after receiving only partial acceptance from football’s governing body.

Last week, Kosovo, which is not a FIFA member, was given permission to play friendly matches at “youth, amateur, women’s and club football” level.

It was a breakthrough but a minor one as it made no mention of the Balkan state being permitted to play friendly internationals at senior level against member FIFA nations.

FIFA had agreed in principle last May to allow Kosovo to do just that but pulled back following opposition from Serbia and UEFA President Michel Platini.

Kosovo has been out of world football since declaring independence from Serbia in 2008 since it is not recognised by the United Nations.

“The FIFA Executive Committee decision is an important decision because it recognises Kosovo’s role and participation in international football,” said FFK President Fadil Vokrri in a statement sent to Reuters.

“We will make the best out of it for the good of our players, teams and clubs.

“But that decision is disappointing and not fully satisfactory because it seems to exclude the top national team for unexplained reasons.”

Kosovo have not previously requested full FIFA membership but that will now change.

“The FFK will present its request for affiliation to FIFA which is the logical step since the majority of the United Nations member states, 97, have recognised Kosovo,” the FFK said.

“One hundred and eighteen of FIFA’s 209 member associations represent countries and territories having recognised Kosovo, meeting the criteria defined in… the FIFA statutes for the affiliation.”

 

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