Stories we could not make up.
One of the more bizarre transfer stories of an increasingly surreal summer suggests that terrorist organisation, Al Qaeda, have threatened Tottenham over their failure to sell Gareth Bale top Real Madrid.
The reports on Calciomercato suggest that news agencies picked it up from Abu Dhabi media, with quotes attributed to Ahmed Al Dossari, leader of a Yemeni faction of Al-Qaeda. What appears to have annoyed him is Tottenham’s intransigence combined with their traditional support among the local north London Jewish community.
“Unscrupulous merchants. Jews who will be punished for their greed by the wrath of God and by the sound of arms.”
I suppose the rest of us should breathe easy now that the once feared terrorist group has nothing better to worry about than the transfer of Gareth Bale.
God (or Allah) only knows what the Al-Qaeda would have made of Barcelona’s recent trip to the Middle-East.
In their latest attempt to show that they are indeed more than a club, Barcelona have decided to try and solve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Well, why not? If they can overcome a three-goal deficit to Milan in the Champions League, then sorting out decades of enmity and resolving a seemingly intractable political dispute, should be a piece of cake.
Barcelona were making a brief stopover in Israel and the Palestinian territories en-route to a pre-season tour of Asia. Israeli President Shimon Peres was on hand to greet the visiting players and in the process inadvertently kicked a ball straight into the midriff of a startled Lionel Messi.
Earlier, the players visited revered Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City and listened to speeches by top dignitaries, including Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu.
On Saturday, they visited the occupied West Bank where they paid a visit to Jesus’s birthplace in Bethlehem, met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and held a training clinic with young Palestinian children.
The original schedule had included a friendly match against a side comprising equal numbers of Palestinian and Israeli players in Tel Aviv but the neighbours could not agree on arrangements for the fixture.
If they can’t agree on that…
With friends like this…
Cristiano Ronaldo has claimed the moral high ground by refusing to comment on Jose Mourinho’s jibe that he doesn’t rate as highly as Brazil’s ‘true Ronaldo’.
In what appeared to be a veiled dig, Mourinho said that he had trained “the true Ronaldo, not the other one, Ronaldo the Brazilian” in his time as assistant at Barcelona.
Ironically, the pair will come face-to-face on Wednesday when Mourinho’s current side, Chelsea, meet his former club, Real Madrid, in the final of the Guinness International Champions Cup in Miami.
“Some things in life are not worth commenting on and this is one more for obvious reasons,” Ronaldo told a news conference in Los Angeles.
“I prefer to remember the good things from coaches. I don’t spit on the plate from which I eat and I don’t speak about people who say bad things about me.
“We are going to face Chelsea, not their coach. It is another warm-up game and we hope to win it so we can start La Liga in the best manner possible.”
This isn’t the first time that Mourinho has insulted the prolific forward. Six years ago, during his first spell with Chelsea, when Ronaldo was a Manchester United player, the coach branded his compatriot a “liar.”
He said: “It’s a game where a kid had some statements not very . . . not showing maturity and respect, maybe difficult childhood, no education, maybe the consequence of that…”
Ronaldo’s father Dinnis, a council gardener, died from kidney problems after a long battle against alcoholism. His mother Dolores took jobs as a cleaner and a cook to make ends meet and Ronaldo grew up in a tiny, tin-roofed shack.
In contrast, Mourinho was born into a comfortable middle-class existence in Setúbal.
Yet, of the two, only one has consistently shown any class.
Transfer saga rumbles on
Manchester United have confirmed they have turned down a second bid from Chelsea for striker Wayne Rooney.
Rooney, 27, is the principal transfer target for new Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho but he has seen his latest offer, believed to be in the region of £30 million, rejected.
A United spokesman told Press Association Sport: “A bid was received yesterday and immediately rejected. Our position remains that he is not for sale.”
It comes just under three weeks after Chelsea had their first bid rejected, with the club denying they had offered David Luiz or Juan Mata in part exchange.
New United manager David Moyes has continually insisted that Rooney is not for sale, though this has been interpreted by some as a ploy to force the striker to submit a formal transfer request.
So far he has not spoken about claims that he asked to leave at the end of last season, nor on the interest from Chelsea. However, The Times claims that Rooney could make his desire to leave Old Trafford official before the end of the week.
Let’s hope so; this, along with the Bale and Suarez sagas have rumbled on far too long now.
A report on doping in German sport since the 1950s, which media reports say contains allegations of systematic use of banned substances, will be made public, the German government has confirmed.
The report says West Germany organised a programme of doping in the 1970s and 1980s, much like its East German neighbour, according to leaks in the media. There have also been allegations that many members of the West Germany team which defeated Hungary in the 1954 World Cup final took illegal substances. Likewise, three members of the side which finished runners-up to England in the 1966 World Cup tested positive for ephedrine – although FIFA was told at the time that the players inadvertently ingested the drug in an over-the-counter cold remedy.
“The Interior Ministry has a strong interest in a complete clarification and assessment of the history of doping,” ministry spokesman Philipp Spauschus told a news conference on Monday.
“The Federal Institute for Sport Sciences will today publish the researchers’ final report…on its website and then the Federal Institute for Sport Sciences will do a specialist assessment and then there will also be a political assessment.”
The report, commissioned by the Federal Institute and prepared by Berlin’s Humboldt University, was completed in April. Its content had previously not been officially made public but some of it had leaked to the media.
According to the Sueddeutsche newspaper on Saturday, the report says that by the 1970s at the latest West Germany was actively involved in experimenting with performance-enhancing drugs such as anabolic steroids, testosterone and EPO, financed by taxpayers’ money.
Unlike neighbouring East Germany, West Germany was never suspected of state-backed doping but rather seen as a country with individual doping cases.
Spauschus said Germany took the fight against doping very seriously.
“Combating doping is, of course, primarily the sport industry’s responsibility but the German government supports it to the extent that this falls within its responsibility and campaigns for clean sport that is free of manipulation and uses taxpayers’ money for this purpose,” he said.
“We support the national anti-doping agency for example and are providing it with around 3.5 million euros in 2013 alone.
“We certainly take the issue very seriously and the federal government primarily supports the fight against doping by providing financial means.”
Goal of the day
A lovely one-touch passing move culminating in a deft lob from Marseille’s Matthieu Valbeuna against Sampdoria.
Quote of the day
“I didn’t see anything strange during the final against West Germany. We didn’t know any better than that West-German players were always bigger and stronger than us. They were developed better physically, but everybody always said that was because they drank more beer.”
Johan Cruyff attributes Germany’s formidable fitness to them drinking plenty of beer.
Argentina’s tax chief says his agency has unearthed more fraud in football including about 150 efforts to buy and sell players in ways that bypass taxes and launder money.
Tax chief Ricardo Etchegary highlighted the case of Fernando Gago, who was transferred from Valencia to Argentina’s Boca Juniors. He also noted Teofilo Gutierrez, a Colombia international sold by Mexico’s Cruz Azul to Argentina’s River Plate.
Echegaray said that many players are traded between three or more clubs to keep the countries involved from collecting taxes on million-dollar deals, but warns that with countries now freely exchanging tax information, the chances of wrongdoing being exposed has increased significantly.
Turkey gets all-clear
There is no systematic doping in Turkish football, FIFA said on Monday after launching an investigation following a spate of failed drugs test among the country’s track and field athletes.
World football’s ruling body explained in a statement that it had contacted the Turkish FA which agreed to reassess the samples taken over the past year.
“In total more than 600 samples were reassessed and the initial findings have shown not one single suspicious result,” FIFA added.
“FIFA is very satisfied about those findings. We took the decision to investigate further because of the very alarming reports in the media,” said chief medical officer Jiri Dvorak.
“The outcome is clear, there are no signs of systematic doping in Turkish football.”
The Turkish Athletics Association announced on Monday that 31 athletes had been banned for two years for doping violations.
Goalkeeper Mauricio Viana played the last few minutes of a Chilean league game, even saving a last-minute penalty, unaware that he had suffered a perforated intestine.
Viana was injured in a clash with rival forward Omar Zalazar in the 78th minute of Santiago Wanderers match against Audax Italiano, the club said on their website.
There was no obvious injury and the 22-year-old Brazilian-born goalkeeper played on, saving a penalty taken by Cristian Canuhe in the 89th minute to earn his team a 0-0 draw.
However, afterwards he complained of severe pain in the dressing room and underwent emergency surgery after it was diagnosed as a perforated intestine.
Wanderers said the operation had gone well and Viana was expected to recover in around four weeks.
Here’s the penalty save Viana managed to pull off.