Peru in chaos

Peru’s football chief Manuel Burga has been summoned by FIFA to explain why the country’s first division championship kicked off in a state of chaos over a wage dispute.

Peruvian Football Federation (FPF) general secretary Javier Quintana revealed on Monday that Burga had travelled to FIFA’s Swiss headquarters to explain the bizarre opening to the season.

“The players union has been in communication with FIFA over the things happening in Peruvian football, so Manuel Burga has been summoned for tomorrow in Zurich to allay those worries,” Quintana was quoted as saying on the local website www.rpp.com.pe.

The players union SAPAF called the strike after rejecting a plan from the league organisers ADFP for clubs to refinance their debts. Consequently, some teams fielded junior players for the opening weekend.

SAPAF chief Francesco Manassero told Blanco y Negro radio: ”They gave us no way out. If we let them decide the amount (of the debts) and how much they should pay us were going to be waiting until the end of time. We cannot allow the players to be mistreated.

“Here it seems normal to owe four or five months wages and to want to refinance that in two years.”

The clubs have responded to the strike action by playing hardball with one, San Martin, who won the title three times between 2007-10, promising to shut the club down.

The San Martin board refused to send juniors to play against Melgar in Arequipa, forfeiting the points.

“(On Monday we) will withdraw from the championship and the club will be closed,” general manager Alvaro Barco told the El Comercio’s website (www.elcomercio.pe).

“We feel the players have turned their backs on us.”

More bad news for Suarez

Liverpool have been accused of undermining “efforts to combat racism in football and the wider society in general” with their handling of the Luis Suarez controversy.

The report, details of which can be found here, delivered to the club and the manager, Kenny Dalglish, claimed that Liverpool presided over the “worst incident of racism in football seen in recent years”.

All of which will do little to placate angry Liverpool fans (or employees), but it may serve a useful purpose if it manages to draw a line under the whole sorry business.

Job on the line?

Tonight could be a significant moment in the career of Andre Villas-Boas as his misfiring Chelsea side travel to Italy to face Napoli in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Rumours of dressing room dissent and some disappointing results and performances have weakened his position and Villas-Boas admits he doesn’t know if he will still be in a job if they fail to beat the Italians.

“It’s not up to me to decide that, you have to ask that question to the right person,” he said, referring to owner Roman Abramovich.

Still, it’s at times like this, when the chips are down, that one find out who one’s friends are, so step forward Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini.

“They have problems, have not won a game for some time and it is clear that they are in trouble,” said the Italian.

“It is true that Napoli are a side who are able to score anywhere, but to go to London with Chelsea obliged to overturn the result of the first leg would give [coach Walter] Mazzarri’s team a great advantage.

“At Stamford Bridge, Napoli would be lethal on the counter-attack.”

With friends like that…

Changes afoot

Liberia have fired their Italian coach Roberto Landi just a week before they begin their campaign to qualify for next year’s African Nations Cup finals.

Landi was in charge for less than a year, but just two wins in eight games including a defeat to a below-strength Nigeria side, sealed his fate.

Thomas Kojo has been appointed as caretaker manager for the first round, first leg qualifying match at home to Namibia next Wednesday.

The game is part of the qualifying schedule for the 2013 finals, which of necessity has been abbreviated. When CAF decided to shift the competition to odd years to avoid clashing with the World Cup finals, they opted for another tournament next year rather than a three-year wait until 2015.

The shortened qualifying process means that those countries who qualified for the 2012 finals will only have to win one two-legged tie to reach the 2013 finals. Running concurrently with the African Nations games, will be qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup, in what promises to be a busy 12 months for the continent’s sides.

Pep talk

Barcelona playmaker Xavi says he expects coach Pep Guardiola to sign a new deal with the club.

Guardiola’s existing contract with the Catalans expires at the end of the current campaign and the former Spain international has yet to give any indication as to whether he will sign an extension.

Xavi remains optimistic that Guardiola will still be at Camp Nou next season.

“The coach has given us a great security,” the midfielder said. “He is the key. We’d love him to renew because we are very happy with him. We have to wait because, after all, it is he who must decide. But he will renew.”

If you can’t beat ‘em…

On the subject of Barcelona, a side in Germany have been described as Bundesliga’s answer to the European champions, as a result of their thrilling tiki-taka style of play.

Borussia Monchengladbach have risen to second in the table behind reigning champions Borussia Dortmund, and have done so playing some glorious one-touch football.

Their climb up the table is all the most astonishing when one remembers that a year ago, when coach Lucien Favre was appointed, they were lying 18th and seemingly on course for relegation. Now, they are the talk of Germany.

Inevitably, such a transformation has not gone unnoticed by Germany’s bigger clubs. Last month, Bayern Munich were beaten to the signature of Marco Reus by rivals Dortmund, and determined not to miss out again, the Bavarian outfit have made a bid for highly-rated Brazilian full-back Dante.

Club sporting director, Max Eberl, who along with the departing Reus will also lose Roman Neustaedter to Schalke this summer, is desperate to persuade Dante to stay at ‘Gladbach.

“I can report from our talks with Dante and his advisors and we have been in close contact for a long time now. We want to extend Dante’s contract and we are heading in the right direction to achieve something big and therefore be able to offer Dantesporting potential. Dante is an important player in our side,” Eberl was quoted as saying in an interview.

To get an idea of the kind of football ‘Gladbach have been playing this season, take a look at this compilation of some of their better moments.

Pele backs coach

Pele believes it is vital that Brazil stick with coach Mano Menezes if they are to have any hope of winning the World Cup on home territory in 2014.

Pele, who famously tipped Colombia to win the 1994 World Cup and also stated that England’s Nicky Butt was the best player at the 2002 World Cup, is clearly not as good a judge of football as he was a player. Nonetheless, this being Pele, we still listen to his pronouncements with the deference reserved for three-time World Cup winners.

“The good thing is that the coach has got our backing and that we’re giving him time to get his philosophy across,” the legend  told FIFA.com.

“If you change the coach, then the new guy goes and changes the players and that’s not good.”

“You have to remember that Brazil have a tremendous responsibility because they’re at home and the fans will be expecting an awful lot of them.”

Goal of the day

Istanbul Buyuksehir’s Edin Visca scored a curling effort in his side’s 2-1 defeat to Bursaspor.

Quote of the day

­“Anzhi want to become a super-club, which isn’t easy to do. Of course, the very best footballers have to be gathered here. But we don’t want to just buy expensive players. We’ll try to acquire only those, who’ll be able to bring benefit to the club. That’s what the strategy and philosophy of Anzhi would be, I think.”

New Anzhi Makhachkala coach Guus Hiddink explains why it’s not easy creating a ‘super-club’. Especially in Dagestan.

Finally…

Cesena have become the third Serie a club to have hired a third coach of the season after Daniele Arrigoni was fired and Mario Beretta appointed in his place on Tuesday.

Arrigoni was only hired in November to replace Marco Giampaolo, with whom Cesena began the campaign.

The coaching change was the 13th this season in Serie A with Cesena, along with Palermo and Cagliari, account for 6 of those changes.

Elsewhere, the other changes have seen Roberto Donadoni take over at Parma and Stefano Pioli replaced Pierpaolo Bisoli at Bologna.

Inter’s Gian Piero Gasperini lasted only five official matches before Claudio Ranieri was brought in, although he too looks to be living on borrowed time.

Genoa replaced Alberto Malesani with Pasquale Marino, Lecce swapped Eusebio Di Francesco for Serse Cosmi and Fiorentina ditched Sinisa Mihajlovic and replaced him with Delio Rossi.

Arguably the biggest surprise was at Novara, where Attilio Tesser, who had led the club to successive promotions, was sacked in favour of Emilio Mondonico.