Didn’t we have a lovely time…

Bangor City’s Les Davies has been included on a 32-man list of players nominated for UEFA’s best player in Europe award.

The long-list was drawn up by one selected journalist from each UEFA member country voting for their five best players.

A single nomination from a Welsh journalist, was enough to earn Davies’s place. Dave Jones of the Welsh Daily Post was the man responsible  and he was happy to explain his decision.

“Les is an outstanding striker whose reputation has rocketed in the last couple of seasons,” explained Jones of the 27-year-old part-time forward. “Every time he plays for Bangor City in Europe he makes life hell for all defenders.”

It’s that kind of form that earned the striker the Bangor City Football Club Supporters Association Player of the Season award two years in a row.

A disbelieving Davies spoke on behalf of the rest of the world, when he admitted: “I wouldn’t have expected this in a million years.”

UEFA best player in Europe long list:
Aguero (Manchester City), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Balotelli (Manchester City), Blaszczykowski (Borussia Dortmund), Buffon (Juventus), Casillas (Real Madrid), Cech (Chelsea), Coentrao (Real Madrid), Davies (Bangor City), Drogba (Shanghai Shenhua), Fabregas (Barcelona), Falcao (Atletico Madrid), Hart (Manchester City), Ibrahimovic (AC Milan), Iniesta (Barcelona), Kagawa (Manchester Utd), Kompany (Manchester City), Lampard (Chelsea), Messi (Barcelona), Modric (Tottenham), Ozil (Real Madrid), Pepe (Real Madrid), Pirlo (Juventus), Ramos (Real Madrid), Raul (Al-Sadd Sports Club), Ronaldo (Real Madrid), Rooney (Manchester Utd), Silva (Manchester City), Torres (Chelsea), Y Toure (Manchester City), van Persie (Arsenal), Xavi (Barcelona).

Justice ahoy!

FIFA has appointed former U.S. attorney Michael J. Garcia as the head prosecutor to investigate allegations of corruption in world football.

One of Garcia’s first tasks will be to review a Swiss court document on a World Cup bribery scandal and assess the behavior of FIFA President Sepp Blatter and other senior officials in the affair.

Garcia was appointed by FIFA’s executive committee. He will have the authority to open new investigations into other cases, including claims about the executive committee members awarded hosting rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

FIFA also selected German judge Joachim Eckert to chair the judging chamber of its ethics court.

The annoncement comes on the day that Blatter confirmed that world football’s governing body has adopted a new code of ethics.

‘Thou shalt not get caught’ is the new motto. No, not really, Sepp is looking to clean up football, although responding to calls that the best way to achieve that was for him to resign, Blatter was defiant.

“It’s not enough that somebody in the press says ‘resign, resign’. If somebody wants that then he has to lodge a demand before (FIFA) Congress. If they don’t want me any longer… I will go quietly but I remind you that I was elected by Congress,” he said.

Looks like we’re stuck with him.

Keen as mustard

Fabio Capello admits he cannot wait to get started in his new role as Russia’s head coach.

The former England boss is set to complete the formalities of his move to Moscow in the next few days following successful talks. He is expected to sign a six-year deal worth quite a lot of money.

“If everything is completed in the best possible way, as the announcement from the Russian Football Union states, I will be happy and proud,” he said.

“If, as I believe the case will be, all goes as planned in terms of the contract, it will be a splendid adventure.

“Russia is a great nation.”

When he was appointed England manager in December 2007, Capello said the role would be his last, describing it as the ‘the final crowning’ of his managerial career.

He’s obviously changed his mind since then and for a reputed £35 million, who can blame him.

Rangers latest

Rangers have asked the Scottish Football Association to convene an arbitration panel to rule on a dispute with players who left Ibrox under TUPE regulations.

After Rangers were forced into liquidation, Charles Green’s consortium set up a new company and bought assets from the previous company, including the contracts of the playing squad.

However, several players refused to allow their contracts to be transferred and left Ibrox on free transfers, citing their right to quit under employment law, specifically TUPE regulations.

Several players have already found new clubs with former captain Steven Davis agreeing to join Southampton and Steven Naismith moving to Everton. Steven Whittaker has signed for Norwich, while Kyle Lafferty moved to Swiss club FC Sion.

It seems unrealistic that these players will return to play for Rangers, now that they reside in the bottom rung of Scottish football, but the club will be hoping for financial compensation.

Meanwhile, Green has embarked upon a charm offensive with UEFA in the hope that an accommodation can be reached with several European clubs to whom Rangers owe money.

Green told Sky Sports News: “Part of the conditions for the newco to meet SFA membership is that there are certain old club debts to European clubs.

“It is not inconsiderable – it is about £3million that has been accumulated as part of the historical baggage.”

“Historical baggage” in a nice little euphemism referring to money Rangers owe for players they had previously bought, but not fully paid for.

Green said the newco was having to “suffer the sins of the fathers” but added: “What I want to go and say to these [European] clubs, as well as UEFA, is that we are here for the long haul – we want to be honourable.”

Well, the only honourable thing to do would be to pay your debts. All this talk of suffering the “sins of the father” does tend to ignore one salient fact. Namely, that without the father there would be no son, no Ibrox, no training ground, no assets, no supporters and of course, no debt!

Green also said he wanted the clubs and UEFA “to recognise these are not my debts, this is a gesture” and for them “to work with us where we can come to some amicably agreeable settlement and move forward together as friends”.

In other words, he doesn’t want to pay.

Men behaving badly

In a week when several Premier League footballers have brought their profession into disrepute, up pops Emmanuel Frimpong to further lower the tone.

The Arsenal midfielder has been warned about his future conduct by the club after becoming involved in a Twitter row with a Tottenham fan.

On Sunday, he tweeted: “if you going church today Pray For me Giving today A Miss”, Frimpong then retweeted a response from a Tottenham fan, who replied: “I prayed you break your arms and legs”.

Frimpong, in keeping with the conciliatory language favoured by professional footballers, responded by calling the user a “Scum Yid”, a comment which he later deleted.

An Arsenal spokesman told the Daily Telegraph: “Emmanuel Frimpong has been reminded of his responsibilities and has deleted the comment.”

Until the next time…

Twitter wars

Police are investigating racist comments made against footballer Ashley Cole on Twitter, just days after his team-mate John Terry was cleared of racism.

The investigation involves the now-infamous “choc ice” tweet, which Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand replied to by stating: ”I hear you fella! Choc ice is classic hahahahahaha!!”.

The incident comes after Chelsea captain Terry was cleared of a racially aggravated public order offence at Westminster Magistrates’ Court last week. Cole spoke as a defence witness on behalf of Terry.

The term “choc ice” is understood to mean “black on the outside, white on the inside”.

A spokeswoman for Derbyshire Constabulary said: “We have received complaints from members of the public regarding alleged racist comments made on a social networking site. These concerns will be fully investigated to establish whether any criminal offences have been committed.”

It’s just as well the United Kingdom is a crime-free country and has no major sporting events to police in the near future; otherwise the public might be concerned that this investigation was a waste of police time and resources.

Ferdinand later tweeted: “What I said yesterday is not a racist term. It’s a type of slang/term used by many for someone who is being fake. So there.”

Hopefully, this is the last we’ll hear about this particular affair.

The rich list

Forbes have published their annual list of the wealthiest sporting institutions and as was the case last year, Manchester United come out on top with a valuation of $2.23 billion. Not bad for a club that can no longer compete in the upper end of the transfer market and were reduced to scouting for players from the lower reaches of English football.

Despite their current cash flow crisis, United are deemed to be worth $300 million more than second-placed Real Madrid, with MLB’s New York Yankees just behind in 3rd spot.

It’s a peculiar list, reflecting income rather than wealth per se and bears no relation to the actual financial muscle of the respective clubs. For instance, there’s no sign of mega-rich Manchester City, but Arsenal, who now effectively operate as a feeder club for the Qatari-backed Premier League champions, are in 10th spot, making them after United, Real and Barcelona, the 4th richest football club in the world. Try telling that to Arsene Wenger when he waves goodbye to another of his big-name players this summer.

The other three football clubs in the top 50 are Bayern Munich, placed just outside of the top ten at eleventh, Milan coming in at 27th on the list, with European champions Chelsea at 45th.

Forbes Top 10 teams:

1. Manchester United (football) – $2.23 billion
2. Real Madrid (football) – $1.88 billion
3. New York Yankees (MLB) – $1.85 billion
4. Dallas Cowboys (NFL) – $1.85 billion
5. Washington Redskins (NFL) – $1.56 billion
6. Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB) – $1.40 billion
6. New England Patriots (NFL) – $1.40 billion
8. Barcelona (football) – $1.31 billion
9. New York Giants (NFL) – $1.30 billion
10. Arsenal (football) – $1.29 billion

It never rains…

The Asian Football Confederation has provisionally suspended its former president after an internal audit brought new charges of financial wrongdoing against the disgraced Qatari official.

Mohammed bin Hammam is currently fighting FIFA’s lifetime ban from the sport after he challenged Sepp Blatter for the presidency of world soccer’s governing body last year. Bin Hammam, accused of trying to buy votes in the election, has appealed his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

The latest sanctions against Bin Hammam come after a year long audit revealed “infringements” regarding the “execution of certain contracts” and tampering with AFC bank accounts, the Asian football body said in a statement released late on Monday night. Bin Hammam is suspected of bribery, acts of conflict of interest and ”accepting gifts and benefits,” the AFC said.

It’s certainly not looking good for his CAS appeal.

Power, corruption and lies

On the subject of Blatter and bribery (the two often appear hand in hand), the FIFA chief has moved to clarify remarks he made yesterday about Germany winning the vote to host the 2006 World Cup.

In the interview with Swiss paper Sonntagsblick, Blatter alluded to possible malfeasance in the way that Germany secured the requisite number of votes.

“World Cups being purchased? There I am reminded of the vote for the 2006 World Cup, where somebody left the room at the last minute. And so suddenly instead of 10-10, the vote stood at 10-9 in Germany’s favour,” Blatter was quoted as saying, although the actual final vote was 12-11.

In Tuesday’s letter to Bild, Blatter said he wished to put his comments into context.

“I wanted to say that one can always find a pretext to doubt the legality of a decision,” he said.

“It shows that with a World Cup hosting vote, you can always find a pretext to spin a conspiracy theory. Even in connection with Germany, which delivered a perfect World Cup, a summer fairly tale of which the whole country can be proud.”

He added: “I don’t believe in conspiracy theories, but only in facts. As long as there is no concrete evidence to hand, one must and should stick by the legality of the vote.

“This applies to Germany just as much as for other countries. That is the core of my message.”

Meanwhile, a member of the German parliament has called for Blatter to be stripped of an honorary award he received in 2006 for services to the country.

The Bundesverdienstkreuz (Federal Cross of Merit) is Germany’s highest award for individuals deemed to have served the country’s common good.

“Sepp Blatter represents endemic corruption at FIFA… therefore this award should be withdrawn,” Reinhard Buetikofer, a German MEP for the Greens, told newspaper Die Welt.

Time to move on

Barcelona’s new coach Tito Vilanova has attempted to play down the controversy over the lifting of Jose Mourinho’s and his bans after last year’s infamous eye-poke incident.

Pep Guardiola’s former assistant was poked in the eye by Real Madrid boss Mourinho during a melee on the touchline at the end of last season’s Spanish Super Cup between the sides. It resulted in a two-match Super Cup suspension for Mourinho and a one-game ban for Vilanova. However, Spanish federation president Angel Maria Villar lifted the punishments as part of a general amnesty

“What happened in that game, that is still being talked about a year further on, I am tired of it,” Vilanova told a news conference.

The ruling prompted an angry response from Barcelona with club spokesman Toni Freixa saying Mourinho’s actions could not be allowed to go unpunished.

“The one-man panel imposed a sanction, the president decided on an amnesty (for us), and I accept it. It has worked this way for many years,” Vilanova added.

“The biggest punishment the two of us will have are the images, that people will be able to see for many years.”

Vilanova was asked if there was any lingering bad blood between him and Mourinho.

“Mourinho has already greeted me at the Bernabeu in the league (since then), and I don’t think we have a bad relationship,” he said.

Those of you who like to set your watches by Mourinho feuds, must wait until August 23, when the first leg of this year’s Spanish Super Cup, the traditional seasonal curtain-raiser, takes place at Camp Nou between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

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