Brazil keeper on trial for murder

The trial of Flamengo goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes, charged with orchestrating the kidnapping and murder of an ex-girlfriend, has opened in the town of Contagem.

Bruno, who was captain of the Flamengo team that won the Brazilian championship in 2009, is accused of ordering the kidnapping his former girlfriend, model Eliza Samudio, before killing her, cutting her up and feeding her remains to dogs.

The deceased had earlier been involved in an ugly custody battle with Bruno, which resulted in him being convicted of kidnapping and sentenced to 4 and a 1/2 years in jail.

Bruno now faces a second trial on charges he ordered his ex-girlfriend’s death.

The lawyer representing the player said he remained confident that his client would walk out a free man.

”Bruno is tired of being in prison,” lawyer Rui Pimenta told O Globo. ”He is ready to walk out and go eat some rare barbecue.”

The defence’s argument is that there can be no murder charges because Samudio is, in fact, alive. Pimenta says he will produce proof that Samudio is living in Eastern Europe.

All of which bodes for an captivating, albeit supremely depressing trial.

Political football

A proposal by Croatia coach Igor Stimac that acquitted generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac perform an honorary kick-off at the start of a World Cup qualifier between the two nations on March 22 in Zagreb has been greeted with fury by Serbian officials.

Short of the Pope kicking off an Old Firm game, it’s difficult to imagine a more incendiary gesture to mark the start of a football game.

Serbia coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, a Serb born in Croatia, said Monday his team would boycott the match if the two are allowed on the field.

”I believe that neither FIFA nor UEFA will allow that they take the starting kick-off,” Mihajlovic said. ”However, if that happens, we won’t play the match. That’s the only way they can defeat us.”

On Friday, the two generals were freed by the U.N. tribunal for the former Yugoslavia of charges of being responsible for war crimes against Serbs during a 1995 Croatian military offensive that resulted in hundreds of dead and hundreds of thousands expelled.

The decision to release the two – hailed in Croatia and denounced in Serbia – further strained relations between nations that fought a war in the 1990s.

Croatian football federation President Davor Suker, a former team-mate of Stimac, said the coach ”needs a spanking” for the proposal.

”We have to lessen the tensions and that’s how we have to behave,” Suker said. ”We have to show that we are a civilized state. We have to show respect toward Serbia.”

With diplomatic skills like that it’s a wonder that Stimac hasn’t been consulted for his thoughts on the current crisis in Gaza.

Unlikely peace maker?

On the subject of the Israel-Palestine conflict, advice on the issue has come from an unlikely source. Joey Barton, last seen berating the “sad little men” running the FA after they refused to include the first game Marseille played after he moved to France on loan from QPR as part of his 12-match ban, has shared his thoughts on the current situation.

More surprisingly is the fact that he retweets some politically sensitive comments, name-checking the likes of Noam Chomsky, and questioning the western media’s conventional wisdom on the issue.

Yes, one does find the Israelis’ position highly hypocritical…” he tweets.

Coming to a head

The strained relationship between Fernando Llorente and Athletic Bilbao deteriorated further on Monday as player and club differed in their accounts of his failure to attend a scheduled press conference.

Relations between Llorente and club president Josu Urrutia have deteriorated since the striker declined to extend his contract last summer.

He had been due to appear at the regular post-training press briefing alongside teammate Jon Aurtenetxe, but the left-back faced reporters alone.

Athletic used their official Twitter account to announce that “as well as Aurtenetxe, Fernando Llorente should have appeared, but Llorente refused to go out”, but the player said he had already agreed to do a TV interview at that time and could not be in two places at once.

The incident happened after Llorente had been criticised by some Bilbao fans and journalists for acknowledging cheers from Real Madrid fans during Saturday’s 5-1 defeat at the Bernabeu. That came as Madrid’s Ultras directed anti-Basque chants at Athletic players.

The striker was also criticised on Twitter for posing for a photo with international teammate Iker Casillas in the dressing-room after the game.

“It is all nonsense,” he told Telebilbao. “When I came out to warm up, the stand where I was gave me a big round of applause. I wanted to make a gesture of appreciation because they know that things are not going well for me at the moment.

“They know me from the national team, and it was a gesture of affection. The insults to Gurpe and Susaeta came from a different area of the stadium. I am totally against those chants – no team-mate deserves them.”

Goal of the day

Prior to last night’s visit of Stoke City, a well-drilled West Ham defence had only conceded one goal from a set-piece so far this season. That changed with this cleverly worked goal from Jonathan Walters. Note the decoy run by Peter Crouch and the subtle NFL-style block by Charlie Adam. Not exactly a thing of beauty but one has to admire the attention to detail.

Here’s the goal reviewed and dissected by Gary Neville.

Quote of the day

“Raymond Domenech is incompetent, sour, has an oversized ego and should not interest anyone. He is and always has been a bad coach, and criticism from him does not affect me.”

Robert Pires responds to claims made by former France coach, Raymond Domenech, in his forthcoming book  All Alone. 

Hell hath no fury…

Domenech’s biography appears to have spared no one’s blushes with the former French coach particularly critical of the rebellious players (“bunch of imbeciles”) who refused to train at the 2010 World Cup.

It’s reasonable for the vilified Domenech to offer his side of the story and pleasingly, for those of you who like to see their laundry washed in public, there are a number of scores to be settled.

We learn that during half-time of France’s match against Mexico, Anelka (“an enigma” who “does nothing for others”) had told Domenech: ”F*** off, look after your s***** team alone.”

“I was less shocked by the insult than by the fact he used it towards me,” Domenech wrote. “It broke a barrier of positions, ages, hierarchy…. Anelka had killed the squad.”

It was this confrontation which led to Anelka being sent home, which in turn caused the players to refuse to train the following day. Le Sulk inspired the sulk.

Samir Nasri is dismissed as a “symbol of selfishness,” Karim Benzema, an “arrogant” person and Franck Ribery a “diva”.

“Ribéry doesn’t like Gourcuff, that’s for sure. Before the Uruguay match I told Gourcuff: ‘You have the keys to the match, it’s down to you,’” Domenech says. “The worst thing was Ribéry’s look. Maybe I’m exaggerating but in his eyes I saw hatred, contempt or jealousy.

“He’s the same as Anelka and Henry, everything revolves around their belly buttons. When things go wrong, they’re the first to jump ship. A senior player warned me about Ribéry in 2008; and me, I gave him the keys [to the team]. What a moron I am.”

Domenech may well have been out of his depth and clearly he did not command the respect of his players, but if a fraction of what he says is true, then controlling this wayward, but talented bunch, was always going to be an impossible task.

Welcome to hell!

Manchester United managed to evade a throng of animated Galatasaray fans as they arrived in Istanbul for tonight’s Champions League clash. The players were bundled out of the airport via a rear exit, leaving hundreds of vocal, but largely peaceful fans to vent their frustration against the local police.

Meanwhile, following their arrival and transfer to their hotel, there was no respite for the United players. One enterprising Galatasaray fan filmed himself allegedly phoning up the hotel pretending to be the brother of Ashley Young.

When he was put through to the winger by the receptionist, he shouted down the phone: “Welcome to hell!”

Men behaving badly

It hasn’t taken Raheem Sterling long to learn the Liverpool way. The 17-year-old has been interviewed by Merseyside Police in connection with an alleged attack on a woman earlier this month.

Jamaican-born Sterling was not arrested and the police admit that investigations are ongoing.

“Merseyside police can confirm that a 17-year-old male from the Woolton area was interviewed under caution following a report of an assault on Friday, November 2,” a police spokesperson told the Daily Mirror.

A 27-year-old woman received slight injuries during the incident in the Liverpool 8 area.

“The investigation is ongoing and no formal action has been taken.”

The Mirror reported that Liverpool declined to comment on the police report. Too busy printing up the T-Shirts no doubt.

Finally…

Stiliyan Petrov has thanked the Aston Villa fans for their support as he continues with his fight against leukaemia.

The Villa supporters have taken to singing the Bulgarian’s name in the 19th minute at each match – Petrov wore the number 19 shirt.

The former Celtic man told the Birmingham Mail: “I’m on the edge of starting crying every single time (they sing and applaud). I really appreciate it.

“The fans have been very supportive from the start until now. It’s already been eight months I’ve been on treatment.

“I still get cards and messages and the turnout at the charity game was just unbelievable. But that’s Villa fans for you. They love the club and the players.”

Petrov tries to attend as many Villa matches as possible but admitted: “I’ve got another priority at the moment. I’m in remission and had quite a lot of chemotherapy.

“I’m in a consolidation phase at the moment. I’ve got a few more cycles to go. It’s been a long road and it’s been tough.

“From the start, I knew it was going to be hard. I didn’t know it was going to be that hard. At the end of this road, you become an even better person.”

Petrov added: “People say ‘live every day as if it is your last’ and I enjoy seeing my family, wife, kids, mum, dad, brother.

“I am battling hard. So far it’s going well which is a positive thing.”