Terry to sport anti-racism armband

UEFA will ask John Terry to wear an anti-racism armband in Chelsea’s Champions League match against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday.

This is not a ruse to humiliate Terry, tempting though that might be  - the equivalent of forcing him to sit in the corner with a dunce’s cap on – but part of a Europe-wide week of action by Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE).

Terry, in case you have been living on Mars for the past year, was found guilty of racially abusing Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand Rangers by an independent FA panel defender during a game at Loftus Road. Terry received a £220,000 fine as well as a four-match domestic ban – though he remains eligible to play in European matches.

UEFA confirmed:  ”The captains will be asked to wear a ‘Unite Against Racism’ branded armband.”

Looking at events across Europe in recent weeks there is still much work to be done when it comes to combatting racism and the Action Week aims to:

• Increase public awareness of the discrimination in football
• Create a united front by bringing together everyone in football
• Develop ideas and new practices that challenge exclusion The 31-year-old former England captain is still eligible to play for the club in Europe, however.

In England, a similar campaign by Kick It Out has faced criticism with high profile players such as Rio Ferdinand and Jason Roberts, and more than 30 other players refusing to wear the organisation’s T-shirts during the weekend in a protest against what they claim is a lack of progress.

Communication breakdown

Meanwhile, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says he has resolved his dispute with Rio Ferdinand over the defender’s refusal to wear a ‘Kick it out’ T-shirt.

Speaking after Manchester United’s 4-2 win over Stoke City, Ferguson said: “I am disappointed. I said yesterday that the players would be wearing it in support of the PFA [Professional Footballers' Association] and that every player should adhere to it. And he goes and lets us down. We will deal with it, don’t worry.”

He later added: “I spoke to the press about it. It is embarrassing for me. He will be dealt with, no doubt about that.”

Ferguson has enjoyed a long and illustrious career at Old Trafford, but his longevity cannot solely be attributed to the success he has enjoyed on the pitch. Like all great survivors he can be pragmatic when the need arises. This was one such occasion. Having belatedly realised that the unedifying sight of a white manager telling a black employee how to deal racism, might not go down too well in the current climate, the United boss wisely backtracked.

Although Ferguson stopped short of saying sorry to Ferdinand, this is probably as close as we’ll ever get to an apology from the famously cantankerous Scot.

“I’ve spoken to Rio. There is no issue,” said the United boss.

“There was a communication problem but it has been resolved.

“He felt I should have spoken to him on Friday and I didn’t anticipate that he’d have a problem wearing the shirt.

“My advice is to him is that I always feel a union is stronger than an individual. It’s important he airs his grievances to the right people, to the PFA or the FA.

“As a manager you lay down policy and you don’t want that ignored and that’s where my anger came from on Saturday. There are no lingering problems and we move on.”

The numbers game

Lionel Messi’s latest hat-trick – his 9th in 2012 –  in Barcelona’s cavalier 5-4 victory over Deportivo La Coruna, takes his tally for the year to 71 goals (in just 54 games) and puts him in with a chance of setting a new record for the number of goals scored in a calendar year.

Only Pele on 75 goals in 1959, and Germany’s Gerd Muller on 85 in 1972, lie ahead of the preposterously prolific Argentinian who, with more than two months of the year remaining, must feel confident of smashing the existing record.

Provided he stays fit, Messi has 15 matches (13 for Barca and 2 for Argentina) in which he can surpass Muller’s total; given his recent strike rate that should be a formality.

Messi has now scored 44 league goals for Barcelona in 2012, beating Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 43 La Liga goals in a calendar year (2011).

Here’s his latest demonstration of brilliance

Life ban

When does a ban from all football grounds mean a ban from all football grounds? Very rarely, if the experience of Aaron Cawley is anything to go by. Banned for five years from all grounds in Britain when he was 16, the 21-year-old Leeds United fan saw his ban extended two years ago after repeatedly breaching the terms of his exclusion.

Still, never one to let the small matter of a ban get in the way of his desire to spread mayhem under the guise of supporting Leeds, Cowan was in attendance at Hillsborough on Friday night to watch the Yorkshire derby game against Sheffield Wednesday. The sensible thing to do would be to keep a low profile. The idiotic thing to do would be to do anything that might attract attention. No one, surely, would be stupid enough to run onto the pitch and attack the opposing goalkeeper. Step forward Cawley, who was spotted by millions encroaching on the pitch before slapping Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland on Friday night.

Cawley claims he was so drunk he cannot recall the incident, although he had little difficulty telling a magistrate’s court precisely how much he had drunk over the course of the day. Justice was swift and the pitch invader has been jailed for 4 months; a relatively light sentence when one considers that only last week a man was sentenced for six months for swimming in the river Thames in a bid to disrupt the Boat Race.

Writing on Twitter, Angela Smith, the Labour MP for Penistone and Stockbridge, also criticised the sentence.

The MP, a Sheffield Wednesday fan, wrote: “16wks prison sentence for assaulting a goalkeeper & breaching a banning order? I am quite frankly astonished! #justicenotdone.”

Leeds United said the club intended to ban him from its Elland Road stadium for life. Let’s see how that one works out.

Quote of the day

“I do not have a problem with Mourinho. On the contrary, I have learned a lot from him. It is my passion to stand on the pitch on a daily basis. That’s why I opted to return to France to form myself as a coach.”

Zinedine Zidane, who left Real Madrid to pursue his own coaching ambitions, denies reports that he and coach Jose Mourinho did not get on with each other.

Mugger mugged

Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci escaped unscathed from an attempt to rob him at gunpoint by punching his attacker in the face.

The Italy international was leaving a Ferrari dealership in Turin with his wife and baby when he was approached. A man held a gun against his head and demanded Bonucci hand over his expensive watch.

In one of those ‘don’t try this at home’ moments, Bonucci reacted to the assailant grabbing his watch by punching him in the face. The man jumped onto the back of a moped being ridden by an accomplice, at which point Bonucci started chasing the bike on foot.

The mugger, stunned by the reaction of Bonucci, reportedly shouted: “What are you doing? Are you mad? I’ll shoot you.”

Bonucci wrote on his Facebook page: “A few days ago an unpleasant incident occurred.

“I am not a hero, but I simply found myself in the wrong situation at the wrong time.

“It all happened in a matter of seconds and it came from an instinctive reaction and certainly not an attempt to emulate the superheroes you see at the cinema.”

Pep talk

Former Bayern Munich striker Luca Toni has claimed that Josep Guardiola has questioned him about life with the Munich club, fuelling speculation that he could succeed Jupp Heynckes at the Allianz Arena next year.

Heynckes is expected to stand down from his post at the end of the current campaign, despite having led the Bavarians to a perfect eight wins from eight games in the Bundesliga, and in the process setting a new record goal difference for this stage of the season of +24 goals.

As to whether we should give credence to Toni’s claims, well, he and Guardiola did play alongside each other at Brescia between 2001-2003.

“He inquired and asked me questions”, Toni told Bild.

Toni also suggested that Bayern Munich and Guardiola would be a perfect fit.

“I think Bayern are a club that would suit his mentality”, said the striker. ”Everything would be perfect for him in Munich.”

Life ban for match fixers

The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) has banned for life 15 players and officials involved in the country’s seemingly never-ending match-fixing scandal.

They include several high profile figures including former ZIFA chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya and coach Sunday Chidzambwa, who took Zimbabwe to the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in 2004.

A further 16 players have been cleared, while the fate of 70 others has yet to be decided.

“Today will go down as a sad, depressing day in the annals of history of the game in Zimbabwe,” said Justice Ahmed Ebrahim, a former Supreme Court judge who was chairman of the independent panel investigating the case.

Those banned were accused of accepting money from a betting syndicate to throw matches between 2007 and 2009.

During that time Zimbabwe lost to Jordan 2-0, to Thailand 3-0 and to Syria 6-0 in Malaysia in tours arranged by Rushwaya.

Current ZIFA President Cuthbert Dube said that these bans were just the start of the process to clean up football in Zimbabwe.

“We will not step down until we clean up football,” he said.

Despite ZIFA’s assertion that the bans would take effect immediately and pending FIFA’s endorsement, Thomas Sweswe — one of those named – turned out for his South African club Bidvest Wits on Friday night, while on Saturday Chidzambwa — who coaches South African side Black Leopards – was on the bench for his team’s 2-0 loss to Orlando Pirates.

Once, twice, three times a lazy…

Chelsea winger Gael Kakuta, who is currently on loan at Dutch side Vitesse, has been warned about his timekeeping by manager Fred Rutten.

The France Under-21 midfielder was due to make his Eredivisie debut at the weekend against NAC Breda, following an injury to Renato Ibarra, but was left out of the side as punishment for his lateness in reporting to training. Not once, but three times already during his brief time at Vitesse.

“Normally I’m easy with these things and I would warn him again,” Rutten told reporters. ”But this was the third time already.

”That’s not smart of him. I’ve warned him before and this time I left him at home.”

The 21-year-old midfielder has spent the majority of his Chelsea career out on loan and judging from a recent interview with L’Equipe, he seems unlikely to be returning any time soon.

Kakuta said: “My decision is final. This is an important time in my career. It’s better for me to leave the club [Chelsea] and find one where I could play more matches. I need to play.

”

Indeed. Although turning up for training on time would be a start.

He added: “In hindsight, I think the Ligue 1 will do me good. Marseille are one that I like. In France, Marseille is up there with Lille and Lyon, two of three clubs that I’m interested in most.”

Finally…

Genoa have fired manager Luigi De Canio a day after a 4-2 defeat to Roma in Serie A.

Club president Enrico Preziosi confirmed the move to the ANSA news agency, adding that talks were under way to hire Luigi Del Neri as a replacement. Del Neri has earned a reputation as a coaching firefighter brought in to clean up the mess of others and were he to be appointed at Genoa it would be his 19th managerial appointment. Lack of bandwidth prevents me from listing his previous posts.

Genoa led Roma 2-0 after just 15 minutes Sunday but went on to lose 4-2.

De Canio was hired in April to replace Alberto Malesani and he helped Genoa avoid relegation at the end of last season.

It’s the fourth coaching change in Serie A this season. Rest assured, it won’t be the last.

Incidentally, Roma’s first goal in the aforementioned game was scored by Francesco Totti. It was his 217th in Serie A, making him the third most prolific scorer on the Italian league’s all-time list.

Totti had been tied with Giuseppe Meazza and Jose Altafini on 216 goals. Silvio Piola holds the record with 274 goals, followed by Gunnar Nordahl with 225.