Worldwide ban

FIFA has banned South Korean international Choi Sung-kuk from playing professional football anywhere in the world for his part in a match-fixing scandal.

Choi was the highest-profile player charged last year for his involvement in fixing K-League matches.

The winger, who appeared in 26 international matches for South Korea from 2003 to 2011, was given a lifetime ban by the K-League and handed a suspended 10-month prison sentence.

League officials said on Friday that FIFA, the world governing body, had extended the ban to all of its member nations.

The ban comes after the player attempted to resuscitate his career by joining Macedonia’s FK Rabotnicki during the winter, only to see the move collapse after the Football Federation of Macedonia (FFM) rejected the late registration application.

Civil war

Fighting between rival fans at a game in Colombia has left 11 people injured. Amid the violence, a police officer lost a finger.

Police said they have detained 135 people, with three people reported to be in a serious condition in hospital.

Fans from America and Deportivo Cali clashed before, during and after the game in the city of Cali. The violence occurred despite pledges from both sets of supporters to respect a peace pact. You wonder what might have happened if they hadn’t been getting on so well.

Last Sunday, one man was shot dead and nine people were stabbed after fans of Medellin rivals Atletico Nacional and Independiente fought each other and among themselves.

Police reported 315 arrests and confiscated more than 450 knives at the time.

To an outsider, that scale of violence is not so much a football riot and more like a civil war.

Mayor of Cali Rodrigo Guerrero said before the America-Deportivo Cali game that he would no longer permit matches to be played on Saturday nights.

Guerrero said that when matches are played in the evening it is necessary to use about 1,000 police officers to secure the ground and surrounding areas. This results in an increase in reported crimes across the rest of the city, especially at weekends.

Gunner spared the military

Arsenal’s South Korea striker Park Chu-Young has been told that he can defer his compulsory national military service by 10 years.

According to reports, the Military Manpower Administration of South Korea have announced today that Park’s 10-year residency visa from Monaco means he can delay his military service until 2022.

All South Korean men have to serve 2-3 years in the military, so Park was expected to start his service within the next 18 months.

However, his military career will not now commence until he is 37, by which time he will be fit only for a sedentary office job. In which case, all that time spent sitting on the bench will not have been entirely wasted.

Goal of the day

Athletic Bilbao’s Fernando Llorente scored the opener in his side’s 2-1 Europa League win over Manchester United, with a stunning volley.

Work til they drop

After the defeat, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was full of praise for Bilbao and in particular their coach Marcelo Bielsa.

“I think that they could do very well [in the Europa League],” said Ferguson. “What we have seen tonight and last Thursday is a team whose work rate is higher than anyone I have seen in Europe, and that takes you a long way.

“Apart from the fantastic work rate, they have some good qualities also. It’s not just their work rate getting them where they are at the moment – they’re showing some very good combination football and I think they can go the whole way. I think there is a very good chance they could win it.

If there was one moment which highlighted the difference between the two sides it came when Bilbao full-back Andoni Iraola, full of attacking verve, skipped through a static United defence as if they weren’t there.

So close…

Manchester City were knocked out of the Europa League by a spirited Sporting Lisbon side. City came agonisingly close to when goalkeeper Joe Hart’s goalbound header was tipped away by Rui Patricio.

Don’t try this at home

Trailing Oympiakos 1-0 on the night, 2-0 on aggregate, and time running out, Ukrainian side Metalist Kharkiv were given a lifeline when they were awarded a penalty.

Up stepped Marko Devic, who with 12 minutes remaining, thought now might be the ideal time to try out the Panenka he’d been working on in training.

Watch the clip until the end and see the furious reaction of one Kharkiv fan. Mercifully for Devic, Kharkiv scored twice in the last ten minutes to secure passage to the quarter finals.

Peru travails

Peruvian first division club Universitario have had their president Julio Pacheco suspended for two years on Thursday.

League body ADFP said Pacheco had presented fraudulent documents to the Peruvian Football Federation (FPF) during an investigation into the club’s finances.

Universitario will, therefore, become the first club to go into administration following a emergency government decree aimed at helping clubs avoid bankruptcy.

The FPF, meanwhile, confirmed the reinstatement of San Martin, one of the few clubs with stable finances, who had quit the first division in protest after a players strike three weeks ago.

ADFP president Luis de Souza Ferreira said a majority of the other 15 first division clubs had voted in favour of San Martin’s reinstatement.

A majority of Peru’s clubs are heavily in debt and struggling to pay the players wages – hence the recent strike action.

According to local reports, the clubs owe a combined total of more than $100 million in taxes and other debts like pension fund contributions.

When the players went on strike, the clubs responded by fielding junior teams on the opening weekend of the championship, but San Martin boycotted their match at Melgar, who were awarded the points, and announced they would be dissolving the club.

It wasn’t us

Juventus have released a statement stating that defender Leonardo Bonucci and midfielder Arturo Vidal were not involved in a fight during a night out in Turin.

A report in Tuttosport claimed that the pair were caught up in a brawl on Sunday night, but the Turin club has vehemently denied any such rumours.

The incident is alleged to have taken place on Sunday night following the Bianconeri’s 0-0 draw against Genoa and although the players were present, the club claim that reports of Vidal becoming violent towards a group of men provoking him are false.

“Following an article published in a daily newspaper concerning Arturo Vidal and Leonardo Bonucci, Juventus Football Club wishes to state that the players in question have no involvement in the described events,” the statement reads.

“The club will therefore support them in any potential legal action taken to protect their image and integrity.”

Flare players

Footage of an amazing display of pyrotechnics has emerged from a game that took place in Turkey last Sunday. In the SuperLiga match between Eskişehirspor and Bursaspor, the home fans protested against a recently imposed ban on flares.

They unfurled a giant banner punctured with holes, through which flares were held aloft. The one-word question on the banner read: “Problem?”

If you want to know what it felt like being under that banner, take a look at this.

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