Troublemakers

UEFA have handed PAOK Salonika and Rapid Vienna a suspended one-year ban from European competition after supporters from both clubs were involved in violent confrontations that delayed the kick off of last week’s Europa League qualifier.

The European body’s control and disciplinary panel have accepted the recommendation of Greece’s sports prosecutor which also included a punishment of playing three matches behind closed doors and a fine of €150,000. The Austrian side were fined half that amount and like PAOK will have a suspension hanging over them for the next three years.

The punishment means that should they qualify for the group stages of the competition, PAOK will play their three home matches behind closed doors.

Rapid complained after the match of the “unimaginable hatred” from Greek supporters, who bombarded the visitors with missiles, including molotov cocktails, as they arrived at the Toumba Stadium. The Rapid fans responded by throwing flares at the PAOK supporters, who then spilled onto the pitch. Luckily, it was at this point that the police decided to intervene. Had they not, one shudders to think of the consequences.

Zero tolerance

Europe is not the only place beset by the ugly spectre of hooliganism as Brazilian officials say that they will no longer tolerate fan violence.

Mindful of the image Brazil would like to present to the world as it prepares to host the World Cup in less than two years time, the country is setting up a specialist police investigation centre to deal with cases of hooliganism.

“We can no longer tolarate violence … this is not an example of (the image) we wish to project at the World Cup. We must act with rigour,” Marta Rocha of the civil police authority told O Dia.

The news came in the wake of several outbreaks of violence at club level, including 21 knuckle duster-wielding fans of Fluminense arrested on Sunday for attacking two fans of another local side, Vasco da Gama.

Last week, a Vasco fan, Diego Leal, was killed by fans of Flamengo and last April a Flamengo fan, Bruno Saturnino, was beaten to death by rivals from Vasco.

These deaths have formed a grim backdrop to domestic Brazilian football in recent years and while it’s heartening to see the authorities finally acting, the horse, as a recent study revealed, bolted some years ago.

Blink and you’ll miss it

Icelandic striker Aron Johannsson created a bit of Danish Superliga history by scoring the fastest hat-trick in as Aarhus beat Horsens 4-1.

He broke a 15-year-old record belonging to Ebbe Sand, scoring in the 32nd, 33rd and 36th minutes to complete his hat-trick in 3 minutes 50 seconds. Just to rub salt in the Horsens wounds, Johannsson added a fourth from the penalty spot on 48 minutes.

Incidentally, the fastest time to score a hat-trick in the history of football is a scarcely believable 90 seconds, a record set by Tommy Ross playing for Ross County against Nairn County on 28 November 1964.

No one likes him

QPR midfielder Joey Barton has seen his dream move to Marseille collapse. No reason was given for the move being called off, although one cannot rule out the possibility that someone on the Marseille coaching staff, finally got round to watching his best bits on youtube.

The 29-year-old is currently without a squad number at Loftus Road having been handed a 12-match ban following his sending off at Manchester City in the final game of the season.

The news will come as a blow to Barton, who tweeted  hopefully on Monday: “Hopefully, QPR and Marseille can finalise the deal in the next few days. My heart is already in the Vélodrome…

Twenty four hours later the prolific tweeter had this to say:

“Doesn’t look like this Marseille thing is gonna happen now. ‘Whatever doesn’t kill you make you stronger’ #heartbroken.

“Been forced to go back training with the kids and fellow Taliban members at 2pm today…”

The fearless warrior brandishing his trusty sword of truth was clearly hit hard by the news. “Maybe this is time to dumb down and be dishonest. It seems to take you a long way in this game…” he lamented.

Alternatively, he could just put the phone down and keep his thoughts to himself.

Quote of the day

“Speculation, that’s all it is. All the talk about Bale and Real is speculation. Spurs’ partnership with Real Madrid does not cover this sort of thing.”

Amid fears that Spurs are to become a feeder club for Real Madrid, a Tottenham source assures ESPN that the club’s recently signed partnership with the Spanish champions does not include a first refusal on Gareth Bale.

Hard times

Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani has admitted that the club will not be re-signing Kaka.

The Rossoneri sold the Brazilian playmaker to Real Madrid in the summer of 2009 for a fee of €65million, but he has struggled to produce his best and is now deemed surplus to requirements at Santiago Bernabeu.

However, as the cupboard is bare, a return to Milan is a non-starter.

“We were waiting on the opinion of a well-known Spanish economics expert, and that’s now arrived,” he told the Milan Channel.

“The operation is closed because there are too many risks.”

If there’s an economics expert in Spain, where has been hiding for the past five years? Probably in one of the multitude of empty holiday villas dotting the Spanish coast line, I’d imagine.

Banner headlines

Borussia Dortmund and police are investigating the appearance of a banner proclaiming solidarity with an outlawed right-wing group on the Westfalenstadion’s Sudtribune terrace.

The banner displayed the words “Solidariät mit dem NWDO” (“Solidarity with National Resistance Dortmund”), Der Westen reported. The NWDO, which had strong ties to Germany’s right-wing NPD party, was recently outlawed.

Dortmund’s fan liaison officer, Sebastian Walleit, said the club had “good video footage” of the banner and those holding it, and had already identified two of them. A spokesman for the city’s police told Der Westen: “We have opened investigations.”

According to Dortmund Radio 91.2, those identified would be banned from stadiums throughout Germany.

On a Dortmund-related theme, the German champions have announced that they generated record revenues of €215.2 million for the 2011-12 financial year.

The results show how far the club has come since 2002 when it was close to bankruptcy before recovering in 2005.

Commenting on the club’s latest financial performance, which included a €39 million profit for the year, Watzke said: “That’s a reputable result. We continue to grow and see additional growth potential.”

Shanghai surprise

Former Chelsea pair Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka could be sold by China’s Shanghai Shenhua due to an ongoing equity stake row among the club’s shareholders.

Chairman Zhu Jun, who holds a 28.5 per cent stake, would only pay his share of the club’s daily running costs if his demands for greater control were met.

Zhu currently controls the club along with five state-owned enterprises after becoming a shareholder. The agreement was that if he invested £15million over two years, his stake would increase to more than 70 per cent. In fact, Zhu  has invested £60 million of his own money in the club in the past 5 years, but the promised transfer of shares has not yet materialised.

“It is annoying and has had a bad effect on many of our tasks,” a club official said. “The biggest problem is that the operation and financing work of the club cannot be carried out normally.

“The equity stakes issue has become the biggest bottleneck for the development of Shenhua.”

As the man who controls the purse strings, Zhu pays the £250,000 weekly salaries of Drogba and Anelka. If he chooses to withhold his money, then no one else at the club is in a position to pay them. Still, as both players insisted they were not in China for the money, that shouldn’t be a problem, should it?

World Cup probe

Michael Garcia, the newly appointed joint chairman of FIFA’s Ethics Committee, has confirmed that Russia and Qatar will come under fresh scrutiny for the manner in which they were awarded the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Russia scored a victory to host the competition in 2018, while Qatar, a country with no discernible football heritage, trounced all other candidates to stage it in 2022.

Not content with examining the World Cup hosting issues, Garcia said the Ethics Committee would also be looking into the relationship between FIFA and its former television rights marketing partner, ISL.

Even the conduct of FIFA President Sepp Blatter would come under scrutiny, he said.

“The more important the person involved is, the more important it is to examine them as well,” Garcia commented.

Day dreamer

CSKA Moscow have made a big money offer for Sporting Lisbon striker Rick van Wolfswinkel.

A Bola reports that the Russian Premier League side have submitted an €18 million bid for the highly rated forward and are awaiting a response from him.

The Dutch striker has asked for more time to make up his mind and will sleep on it. A decision is expected within the next 20 years or so.

 

This article is from

World Soccer – The unrivalled authority on the game of soccer around the world, World Soccer calls upon journalists from the globe's great soccer capitals. The best writers, analytical features and the ability to deliver the inside-track on domestic and world football have made World Soccer an institution.

Subscribe to World Soccer in print » | Read the digital edition »