World Cup match fixed?

Chris Eaton, the former FIFA security expert, has raised new fears about match-fixing, by claiming at least one 2010 World Cup match has been investigated.

Only one, I hear the cynics cry. And given revelations of recent months, who can blame you.

In an interview with Channel 4 News, Eaton also claimed a player from the Championship had reported concerns to the corruption unit.

The World Cup game under investigation, according to Eaton, was a Group B fixture between Nigeria and Greece at South Africa 2010.

Nigeria midfielder Sani Kaita was sent off in the 33rd minute after kicking out at an opponent. His side were 1-0 up at the time but Greece went on to win  2-1.

FIFA deny investigating any games from the tournament and Channel 4 News were unable to get a comment from Kaita or his agent.

So, either Eaton is lying or FIFA are not taking the allegations seriously. I know who I’m inclined to believe.

Sour grapes?

John Herdman, coach of Canada’s women’s Olympic team, has complained about the “bizarre” decisions made by the referee in Canada’s dramatic semi-final defeat to the United States.

Herdman was upset with referee Christiana Pedersen after she awarded a controversial penalty to the USA with the score standing 3-2 to Canada.

Pedersen awarded a free-kick to the United States after penalising Canda keeper, Erin McLeod, for time-wasting, claiming she took more than six seconds to put the ball in play. She may have done, but it’s rare for the rule to be invoked, even rarer for it to be applied in the closing stages on the semi-final of a major tournament. It was, as North Americans would say, a big call.

The resulting free-kick struck  defender Marie-Eve Nault on the chest and arm, but any contact seemed entirely accidental. The referee thought otherwise and awarded a spot-kick, which Abby Wambach slotted home to make the score 3-3.

“It’s a shame that in such an important and even game that the ref had such an impact on it,” said Canada skipper Christine Sinclair, who suffered the heartache of scoring a hat-trick, and yet still ended up on the losing side. “We feel cheated. It’s a shame that in a game as important as that, the ref decided the result before it started.”

The referee came in for a huge amount of criticism, some of which, it has to be said, overstepped the mark somewhat.

“She could have done a better job,”  said a tearful Melissa Tancredi. “A way better job. This is the semi-finals. We’re supposed to be professionals and they should act like one too. I feel robbed. That’s all I can say. I said to her: ‘I hope you can sleep tonight and put on your American jersey because that’s who you played for today.”

“I just don’t think any of us could believe what happened, honestly. We didn’t want to leave because we couldn’t believe what happened. That was our win. That was our game to have, and it was just taken away.

Travelling in style

Meanwhile, in the other women’s semi-final, Japan defeated France 2-1 to reach the final and in the process, earned a travel upgrade for their flight back home.

You may recall that the Japanese women’s team, reigning world champions lest we forget, had to travel economy class en route to London, while their male counterparts enjoyed a relaxing trip to the Olympics, flying in business class.

“The Japan Football Association is trying to work something out,” coach Norio Sasaki told Kyodo News.

“When we came here we came in premium economy and there wasn’t a problem,” he said.

“The problem is when we go back there will probably not be enough business seats available. If that’s the case we will be in premium again.

“If you look at the way we played then you will see that we are very patient and would put up with economy.”

So a welcome upgrade for Japan, but for the Spanish man’s team of whom so much was expected, a downgrade befitting their Olympic efforts: they were last seen outside the port of Calais, trying to hitch a lift south.

Paying the price

Luis Milla, coach of that disappointing Olympic effort, has been informed that his contract will not be renewed by the Spanish football federation (RFEF).

The RFEF contacted both Milla, who led led Spain to the European under-21 championship title one year ago, and physio Juan Carlos Martinez on Tuesday to say neither would be offered a contract extension.

“The RFEF would like to publicly thank them both for their work since they were hired in 2008 and 2009 respectively,” said
the statement.

Spain, one of the Olympic tournament favourites, lost their opening two Group D games 1-0 to Japan and Honduras, dashing
their medal hopes, before being held to a goalless draw by Morocco.

Under-19 coach Julen Lopetegui will take charge of the side for next month’s European Championship under-21 qualifiers against Switzerland and Croatia, the RFEF said.

Another one bites the dust

Juventus have suffered another blow after his assistant Cristian Stellini resigned from his position due to the ongoing investigation into match fixing in Italy.

Stellini was with Juve coach Antonio Conte at former club Siena, and both are currently under investigation relating to their time at the Bianconeri.

While Conte was charged with failing to report an instance of match fixing at the end of the 2010-11 season, Stellini faces a more serious charge of sporting fraud.

He accepted a plea bargain this week that sees him banned for two years and six months, and subsequently handed in his resignation.

“The events of the last month have deeply affected me,” Stellini said in a letter published on the Juventus website to club President Andrea Agnelli.

“In a short space of time I went from member of the technical staff of the champions of Italy to a cause of turmoil for those I worked with.

“Whatever the evolution of the legal situation I am in, I feel it is only right to show a professional attitude and release this weight from Juventus which fell on to the club’s shoulders due to my time elsewhere in my career.

“I think it is right to dedicate all my time and efforts to clearing my position in these matters, which are exclusively about me and not those I simply shared a locker room with.

“I therefore tend my irrevocable resignation as technical assistant at Juventus.”

Not only have their Juve’s coaching staff been under investigation, but so too has defender, Leonardo Bonucci, for allegations relating to his time at Bari.

The prosecutor in the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) investigation has requested he receive a three and a half year ban, while another Juventus player, Simone Pepe has been recommended for a one year suspension for failing to report the alleged fixing of a match.

A number of other teams have already been punished while others – including Siena, Sampdoria, Bologna and Lecce – are facing points deductions as part of the investigation.

At times, the prosecutor poring over the grimy evidence in the Calcioscommesse scandal, must feel like Diogenes seaching for an honest man.

The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated

Nigeria’s assistant coach, Daniel Amokachi, has expressed dismay at news doing the rounds that he has been shot and fatally wounded while in London for the  London Olympic Games.

Amokachi, who was a visible face at the national team’s training on Monday evening, said he has been inundated with calls about his safety and told all well meaning Nigerians that he is very well, healthy and in Nigeria for preparations for the international friendly on August 15 against Niger.

Nigeria’s head coach Stephen Keshi was amused by the reports, which were carried by social media.

“Our guys should always clarify such reports from us before rushing to social sites and making family members and friends to be unduly jittery,” he said.

On the move

Spanish international Santi Cazorla has completed his move from Malaga to Arsenal. The 27-year-old has joined the club at a pre-season training camp in Germany.

Cazorla said: “I’m so excited to be joining one of the greatest teams in Europe and also in the Premier League.”

But first, a soell at the Emirates. Kerboom tish!

“I’m so happy to be joining Arsenal,” he added. “This is a club with great players, a fantastic stadium and huge support.

“The club has one of the best managers in football and their style of play is recognised and admired all over the world.

“I will do my best to help Arsenal challenge for trophies and make all the supporters happy.”

Former Gunners captain Fabregas, who spent eight years in north London, stated on Twitter” “I’m so happy to hear that my mate Santi Cazorla is finally a gooner. Top guy, special player. A great signing! Come onnn!”

You win some, you lose some

Meanwhile, another of Fabregas’ Barcelona team-mates has spoken enthusiastically about the possibility of Arsenal midfielder, Alex Song, moving to Camp Nou.

At least former Gunner Fabregas had the decency to not join in the Catalan chorus of praise for Song, who appears to have emerged as the latest Arsenal player coveted by Barcelona.

“I know Song from seeing him play, and from playing against him,” said Iniesta. “Technically he is a very good player and is also very strong physically too.

“If he comes it would be because he has the qualities to play here, there is little doubt about that, and we’d welcome him.”

As Goldfinger stated: “Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action”

Last week it was Barca’s Sergio Busquets who enthused about Song, now it’s Iniesta turn. We await the third instalment before anotehr inevitable departure from Arsenal to Barcelona.

Quote of the day

“Rio Ferdinand has tweeted me and says he will hook me up for a trial so I am looking forward to that. I went to Old Trafford once, we didn’t talk extensively about me coming there, but Rio is going to set the meeting up and I will talk to Sir Alex Ferguson.”

The world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, believes that he is good enough to play for Manchester United.

Finally…

A coroner said the evidence points to “an apparent natural death” following an autopsy performed on Columbus Crew midfielder Kirk Urso on Monday.

The 22-year-old Urso was pronounced dead at 1:50 a.m. Sunday at Grant Medical Centre after collapsing at a  Columbus bar and restaurant.

“It’s leaning toward an apparent natural death, but we don’t know why,” Gorniak said.

She said the autopsy revealed no trauma to Urso’s body. The coroner’s office  will also examine what Gorniak referred to as “heart changes.”

“What that means is we saw some changes with his heart but we don’t know what it is until we examine it underneath the microscope,” she said. “So it could be something or it could be nothing. But it’s not definitive as a cause of death right now.”

Toxicology tests will also be undertaken after a call provided by police to the Columbus Dispatch, recorded an unidentified female saying: “Officers are with him. It’s a very drunk person who fell down and now he’s unconscious.”

  • DJ

    Be careful what you wish for. Had there been “better” officiating, Tancredi might have been sent off for persistent fouling, and certainly would have received a straight red card for stomping on the fallen Carli Lloyd’s head.