Paying the price

Siena have agreed a plea bargain and will start the Serie A season with -6 points, but club president Massimo Mezzaroma believes they are paying for the actions of individuals.

The Bianconeri were charged with indirect responsibility for sporting fraud, after Fillippo Carobbio confessed to his actions in the calcioccommesse scandal.

“We are paying for a single rotten apple in our midst,” Mezzaroma said on Siena’s official website.

“The plea bargain was accepted as a technical formula that will allow us to close the sporting trial and turn over a new leaf.

“Now this penalty has to become an extra motivation for everyone. We will prove on the field that we deserve to stay in Serie A even with this initial weight holding us back, thanks to our values and capacity to overcome difficulties.

“We will be even more united to defend the Serie A dream.”

Last season, Siena finished 14th, with 44 points. 44 – 6 would have left them with 38 points, still two points clear of relegation. Further encouragement for them in the increasingly warped world of Italian football comes with Atalanta, who started last season with a 6 points deduction, yet still managed to finish 12th.

Cheats do sometimes prosper.

Goal of the day

Sao Paulo’s veteran keeper Rogerio Ceni has only just returned to action after six months out with a shoulder injury, but it hasn’t taken him long to get back into his stride.

In over 1000 matches for Sao Paolo, Ceni has notched up over 100 goals, with the latest coming against Bahia in the Copa Sudamericana.

Quote of the day

“I think they jeer me and they boo me because they must be scared of facing a player like me. They fear me, but that doesn’t affect me. I’m just hurt because we lost and we are going home. I can take the abuse … but I think it was a total lack of respect from the crowd to boo when we were trying to sing our national anthem. I think those things should not happen.”

Luis Suarez has yet to come to terms with, nor understands the origins of, his unpopularity in Britain.

The Chinese way

In a sign of the changing face of world football (and indeed the world economy), Internazionale say that a consortium of Chinese investors is to become its second largest shareholder.

In a statement Internazionale Holding, the parent company, said the group would acquire a stake but that the Moratti family would retain overall control. Having chucked hundreds of millions of euros at the club down the years, I suppose that’s the least they deserve.

More interestingly, the club revealed that it would build a new stadium in partnership with a unit of China Railway Construction to be completed in 2017. The location of the new stadium has not yet been decided, the statement said.

The club confirmed that Kamchi Li, Kenneth Huang and Fabrizio Rindi would become members of the board of directors as a result of the investment.

Calling it a “new phase in the life of the club”, Inter said the move was “aimed at expanding its presence in the Asian markets to raise new resources for the enhancement of its international future development and winning perspectives”.

In non-business-speak, that translates as ‘all the money is in China these days’.

Food for thought

Boca Juniors captain Rolando Schiavi has apologised after he complained that the team had been served “food fit for rats” in a Venezuelan hotel.

His apology came as Boca arrived home two days late and at the wrong airport following a pre-season tour to Colombia and Venezuela.

“I apologise for my over-the-top and irresponsible words which were made in the heat of the moment, when I was tired,” said Schiavi in a new tweet. “I regret what I wrote so I have deleted it.”

Boca were supposed to leave the Venezuelan city of Puerto La Cruz on Monday night along with fellow Argentine club All Boys, but a mix-up over their chartered flight meant they only departed on Wednesday.

Clearly, the frustration of being unable to return home got the better of Schiavi, who tweeted: “They’ve taken us to a fourth-rate hotel, with lots of damp, dirty sheets and food fit for rats.”

Argentine media said the flight finally left on Wednesday only to be diverted to Cordoba when it reached Argentina due to fog at Buenos Aires.

Not exactly an ideal preparation for their opening Argentine championship match against Quilmes on Saturday.

Staying put?

The will he-won’t he saga of Neymar appears to have been resolved for the time being, and it looks like he won’t – be moving to Europe that is, at least not in the next couple of years.

Neymar will not move to Europe until at least 2014, according to Santos president Luis Alvaro de Oliveira Ribeiro.

“It is impossible for Neymar to leave Santos before 2014,” Ribeiro told Catalan sports daily Mundo Deportivo. “When I sign a contract I fulfil it, and the player wants to do the same.

“I do not think of a player as a product, but as a human being. What Neymar generates for Santos over all the years he is here would more than compensate for him leaving for free. Neymar is happy here, and we will not give up persuading him to stay. Neymar will be in charge of his own future in 2014.”

Ribeiro reminded European clubs that they needed to accept that Brazilian clubs could now afford to keep their stars at home.

“In Europe, they have to understand that there is another world on the other side of the Atlantic,” he said. “Our economy is growing, which is not happening in Europe.

“For example, [Diego] Forlan has just moved to Brazil from Inter, and [Clarence] Seedorf from Milan. It is not like in the past. Today, we are leaders. Neymar earns now in Brazil the same as he would in Europe.”

I’m not sure that the arrival of two players in Brazil, both in the twilight of their careers and neither in great demand in Europe, heralds a significant shift in the economic balance of power in world football, but hanging on to Neymar for a couple more seasons certainly shows a slight tilt.

Anyway, speaking of the man everyone predicts will be the next big thing in world football, here’s proof, from last night’s Olympic victory over New Zealand, that for all his extravagant talents, Neymar is still mortal.

Money problems

It all appears to be going pear-shaped for Malaga amid reports the La Liga club is unable to pay his or the players’ wages while their Qatari owner looks to sell his stake.

Marca report that owner Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nassar Al-Thani – a member of the Qatar royal family – wants to sell up after only two years. Meanwhile, the players, under coach Manuel Pellegrini, continue to train for the new season, despite not being paid.

The club have denied that they are in financial peril, arguing that they are restructuring in the hope of complying with UEFA’s Financial FairPlay rules. It’s unclear how not paying your staff, would help in that regard.

The situation is obviously far from ideal.

“It’s impossible to ignore what’s going on,” club captain Weligton told a news conference after training.

“There are kids who play with my son who are asking me about it, who are crying, who ask if the team is going to be relegated to Segunda B,” added the Brazilian.

“It’s a difficult situation to deal with after everything that has happened, the big signings, the big player presentations.

“We were all expecting more signings, more surprises, believing that the team would continue to be in fashion. But now we don’t know why all this has come to an end.”

No one does.

On the move

One man who doesn’t seem prepared to wait to find out why it has come to an end is Santi Cazorla, who looks set to complete a move to Arsenal.

Cazorla, did not join his team mates for training at the Rosaleda stadium on Thursday, prompting speculation that  he was on his way.

Weligton, who revealed the players had held meetings to discuss the situation and were trying to get answers from the club, appeared to confirm that Cazorla was on his way.

“It’s clear to us that we are about to close the sale of a player and with the money we could resolve part of the big problem that we have,” he said.

Cazorla, who joined Malaga from Villarreal last summer, featured for Spain at the 2008 and 2012 European Championships.

His move would make everybody happy: Malaga would gain some much needed cash, while Arsenal would gain another diminutive, tricky midfielder.

Calling it a day

Former Brazil and Real Madrid full-back Roberto Carlos has officially ended his playing career, the Anzhi Makhachkala player has confirmed.

It brings to an end an illustrious career, which included World Cup success, Champions League success, multiple domestic successes, but despite all these triumphs arguably, the moment he will be best remembered for, took place at the Tournoi de France in 1997.

Once you’ve scored a goal like that you’ve got a fairly good claim on all future long range free-kicks. Despite, having lots of practise, the Brazilian never came close to emulating his stunning Tournoi effort.

Anzhi Makhachkala coach Guus Hiddink paid tribute to the player, who joined the Russian Premier League club in February 2011.

“Roberto had been a world class player, but unfortunately he doesn’t play any more,” said Hiddink.

“Fortunately, Roberto will now take up a role to develop this club for the good of the game in the Dagestan region and the whole of Russia.”

You can imagine when he was growing up in Garca, Brazil, that his ultimate ambition would be to take up an ambassadorial role for a club in Dagestan.

The 39-year-old said he was planning a farewell game against his former club Real Madrid.

“We had met Real president Florentino Perez and discussed such a match between Real and Anzhi,” he told a news conference.

“We need to set up a date that suits both clubs. I would like to have my farewell to be played in Makhachkala.”

Little prospect of that happening, not since UEFA declared the city unsafe to host European football.

Double standards?

World champions Japan have escaped FIFA censure despite the coach of the women’s football team admitted he had told his players not to go for the win in order to avoid topping the group.

Japan’s 0-0 draw with South Africa in Cardiff meant that they finished behind Sweden in their group, and will now meet Brazil in Cardiff, rather than face an arduous trip to Glasgow.

“It was a different way of playing compared to the usual game, but the players were on the same page as me,” he had said.

“I feel sorry we couldn’t show a respectable game, but it’s my responsibility, not the players, why the game was like that.

“It was important for us not to move to Glasgow.”

An admission which is sure to go down well with the city’s tourist board.

In the wake of the expulsion of 8 badminton players from the Olympics after they tried to lose their group games in the hope of ensuring an easier draw, you would think that the governing body would take a dim view of Japan’s approach.

Let’s hear what FIFA has to say.

A FIFA statement read: “The chairman of the FIFA Disciplinary Committee (Marcel Mathier of Switzerland) has this afternoon reviewed comments made by Japan’s women’s head coach Norio Sasaki at the post-match press conference, following the conclusion of their Group F match against South Africa in Cardiff yesterday afternoon.

“Following this analysis, there are no sufficient elements to start disciplinary proceedings.”

Other than the frank admission that they weren’t trying.

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