China crisis

China has turned to former England captain David Beckham to promote the image of football in the country, which has been hit by a match-fixing scandal and an exodus of international players from the country’s premier league.

In his new role, Beckham, who joined French club Paris Saint-Germain in January, is expected to help bring Chinese Super League (CSL) to the world stage and promote the game.

“I am honoured to have been asked to play such an important role at this special time in Chinese football history,” Beckham said in a statement released by IMG.

“I’m excited by the prospect of promoting the world’s greatest game to Chinese sports fans as I’ve seen firsthand the growing interest in football there.

“This is a wonderful sport that inspires people across the world and brings families together, so I’m relishing the opportunity of introducing more fans to the game.”

Considering he is English and plays in France and speaks not a word of any of the languages of China, one wonders what Beckham can do for the country’s ailing football business.

“2013 marks the 20th anniversary of professional football in China and the special ambassadorship of David Beckham will attract global attention to Chinese football and the CSL,” an unidentified CFA official was quoted in the statement.

“While in China, he will attend the CSL and visit Clubs to get a deeper insight into football in China.

“He will also help us to inspire and motivate many children to participate in this beautiful game.”

Being David Beckham would appear to be enough.

Same old chestnut

Rangers should be integrated into English club football in the next few years alongside rivals Celtic, according to Rangers chief executive Charles Green.

Green said Wales has set the precedent and were likely to have two clubs in the English Premier League next season if Cardiff City were promoted to join Swansea City.

He said he believed that the two big Glasgow clubs should be admitted to the English game – and leave their junior sides to play in Scotland.

“The parents would play in a different league, I believe that would be England,” said Green, when asked where Rangers saw themselves in five years’ time.

The alternative for Rangers would be to play in a cross-border European league, he added.

The idea of the Old Firm clubs playing in England has been around for a number of years and has been consistently rejected in the past by Premier League clubs, who reason that two additional places for the Scottish duo would result in two fewer places for them.

Rangers, who still draw crowds of 45,000, are rebuilding from the fourth tier of Scottish soccer under new owners after their former parent went bankrupt last year.

In the short-term, a planned restructuring of Scottish football should give Rangers a quick route back towards the top of the Scottish game, Green said.

Green said they could be invited to join a new 12-team second tier from next season.

“If there is a cherry-picking of the twelve, there is no way they wouldn’t pick us,” he said.

Harsh justice

Aleksandar Dragovic has every right to feel hard-done-by this Monday morning.

Aleksandar Dragovic is Basel’s 21-year-old Serbian centre-half Aleksandar Dragovic is still struggling to come to terms with his bizarre dismissal during his side’s 2-1 win at Servette.

Dragovic was sent off after heading Basel 2-1 ahead midway through the second half

The Serb ran down the touchline in celebration of his goal, before thrusting an arm into the air which caught the referee’s attention.

The Austrian, given a second yellow card after the referee interpreted his behaviour as being provocative to the home supporters, was sent off amid chaotic scenes, with his team mates having to restrain him.

“I had a bet with our assistant coach. If I scored with my head, I would have to run around the field,” he told reporters. “The gesture was aimed at him, not the Servette fans.”

Watch Aleksandar Dragovic’s unfortunate sending off below.

Winter wonderland

UEFA president Michel Platini has proposed Qatar share the burden of hosting the 2022 World Cup, adding that the tournament must be held in the winter to avoid the problems with the soaring summer temperatures.

With summer temperatures topping 45 degrees Celsius, concerns have been voiced at how Qatar will stage the World Cup ever since the tournament was awarded to the country in December 2010.

Platini admits that switching the tournament to winter would face considerable opposition from the powerful clubs of European football, who would have to manipulate their domestic calendars to accommodate the competition.

“I am in favour of Qatar under two conditions,” Platini told Bild.

“Because of the heat the World Cup will need to be held in the winter. With over 40 degrees (Celsius) playing football is impossible and for the fans it would also be unbearable. Also, the neighbouring emirates must be included so that the World Cup is staged throughout the entire region.”

If Platini has reservations about the heat and concerned about the country’s ability to host the finals, one wonders why he cast his vote for Qatar in the first place.

Goal of the day

Diego Forlan (remember him?) strikes from long range for Internacional against Esportivo.

Quote of the day

“As part of our transition, we also implemented a new transfer strategy, ensuring we bring in talented players on sensible contracts that provide value to the club.”

Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre confirms that the days of spending £35 million on an unproven striker, are a thing of the past. Ayre was speaking at the publication of accounts which showed Liverpool had recorded a £40.5m loss in the 10 months to 31 May 2012 – an increase of its net debt to £87m.

Over the limit

On-loan Juventus striker Nicklas Bendtner has received a police caution for what he has described as “a mild case of drink driving”.

Perhaps that similar to a marginal offside case. It doesn’t exist. Either you drink over the limit or you don’t.

Bendtner, 25, was allegedly driving down the wrong way of a one-way street in Copenhagen when he was apprehended.

The Denmark international took to his Twitter account to apologise for his actions.

He wrote: “Dear friends, I was booked for a mild case of drink driving last night. It was a quiet night but I am very very sorry to all my friends and fans. It is not OK to drink and drive. I take full responsibility.”

Amusingly, the entry prior to his confession read: “A tough morning/at it again.” Presumably, he was referring to his attempts to regain full fitness, but maybe he was already back on the beer.

Bendtner, who is on loan from Arsenal, has failed to score for the Bianconeri in nine appearances. He is set for a return to the Emirates at the end of the season. Where they will once again undergo the onerous taslk of trying to find a gullible club willing to help pay a share of his wages.

Argy bargy

A terrible weekend off the pitch in Argentina reached a nadir with the fatal shooting of a man who had involved in fighting between supporters of Gimnasia and Nueva Chicago.

Police sources identified the victim as Julio Vizaci after he was hit by a bullet to his abdominal area and taken to San Martin hospital, where he died.

Meanwhile, an 11-year-old is in stable condition after being injured in the same clash.

There was further trouble at the match itself with police firing teargas to separate rival fans.

Saturday’s incidents were preceded by violence between River Plate and Tigre supporters the previous week, when 14 people were wounded, including three critically.

The violence spilled onto the pitch at one top flight match when one of the players got smashed in the face by a policeman’s baton.

The match between Newell’s Old Boys and Belgrano saw scenes of violence when the fans in the corner of the stadium started to brawl and throw missiles.

As the police moved in to calm down the situation, players ran over to confront the officers, one of whom smacks Belgrano’s Gaston Turus on the head with their baton.

You can see the incident here.

Roman’s Empire

On the pitch, Juan Roman Riquelme made his long-awaited comeback, In Boca Juniors 3-1 defeat to Union de Santa Fe.

The playmaker recently returned to his boyhood club after previously leaving in controversial fashion last July, and he expressed his delight at playing again.

“I was fortunate enough to play the full 90 minutes and it felt good to play again. I felt really tired for a few moments, but I’ve already recovered,” Riquelme was quoted as saying by Ole.

“We could not record the victory we wanted, but there are still many games to go. We wanted to play well, but it didn’t work out. Let’s hope we put in a good performance on Thursday.”

Head coach Carlos Bianchi, meanwhile, was quite pleased with Riquelme’s return, but stressed that the 34-year-old cannot turn things around by himself.

“Roman did whatever he could do,” he said. “Not a single player in the world can turn things around all by himself. I am satisfied with his performance.

“I did not expect him to last for the full 90 minutes. We’ll have to wait and see how he reacts. We should not forget that he hasn’t played for eight months.”

Finally…

Auxerre, currently in Ligue 2, are under scrutiny by French football’s financial watchdog and have until the end of the season to find extra funding or face possible relegation.

Auxerre president Gerard Bourgoin was interviewed by the National Directorate of Management Control (DNCG), last week at the headquarters of the Football League for about 1 hour.

Bourgoin presented the club’s draft recovery and recapitalisation plans, whilst the DNCG informed the club that it has until the end of the season to complete its recapitalization, with a decision on possible sanctions reserved.

The club was estimated to be €16.33 million in debt last June and has since made significant cuts to playing staff, but Bourgoin is still looking for €5-10 million in investment, from private investors or municipal authorities.

It’s a steep fall from grace for a club that won the French league title back in 2005 and who finished 3rd as recently as 2009-10. They currently sit in 9th position in Ligue 2.

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