John Terry on trial

John Terry’s long-awaited court case has has begun and judging from the early exchanges it promises to be an X-rated NSFW week at Westminster Magistrate’s Court.

The England defender is charged with a racially-aggravated public order offence – an allegation he denies. He is accused of  racially abusing QPR defender Anton Ferdinand, the brother of his erstwhile England colleague, Rio.

There’s a Twitter feed covering the trial if you’re that interested. But if you don’t want to lose your faith in humanity, let alone Premier League footballers, I’d recommend you give it a wide berth. It’s not just the language employed by the respective parties (‘industrial’ is the modern day euphemism), but the sheer banality of the exchanges that is quite depressing.

The Chelsea skipper is expected to claim that he was simply sarcastically repeating words he thought Ferdinand had accused him of using. Although given that Ferdinand didn’t accuse Terry of saying anything at the time, this does seem self-contradictory.

If found guilty, Terry could be fined up to £2,500, although the damage to the player’s lucrative commercial deals would likely be far greater. The damage to his already-tainted reputation would be minimal.

Without wishing to pre-judge, examining the evidence, both the spoken testimony in court and the video footage available online, we can make one or two deductions. Is Terry guilty of the charge? Probably. Is he a racist? Possibly. Is he an idiot? Unquestionably!

Technology latest

While Sepp Blatter basks in the reflected glory of the IFAB’s decision to approve the use of goal-line technologies, doubts emerge as to the cost of implementing the approved systems.

Kofi Annan was one of the first people to congratulate Blatter. Well, there were probably others, but as they weren’t former secretaries of the UN, then they don’t merit a mention.

The FIFA president wrote on his official Twitter page: “Just got a phone call from Kofi Annan with his congrats on ?#GLT? and football’s ability to connect people.”

Say what you like about Blatter, but when it comes to name-dropping he has few peers.

As for the cost of introducing the new technologies, well it looks like it could prove to be an obstacle for all bar the wealthiest leagues.

The president of the French professional football league (LFP) welcomed the decision to introduce the technology, but he almost choked on his croissant when told of the cost.

“Good sense has finally prevailed,” Frederic Thiriez told AFP.

“However, it’s still not satisfying because the prohibitive cost of the technology envisaged by FIFA will prevent their use in most competitions.”

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke estimated the cost of goal-line technology at between $150-250,000 (121-201,000 euros) for each system.

Thiriez believes that an alternative exists that would not only be cheaper, but would provide additional assistance to the match officials.

“The solution we proposed, that’s to say the use of video footage by the referee like they do in rugby, would cost an awful lot less (than the GLT),” Thiriez said.

“It would also allow the referee to oversee other game situations, such as goals scored by a handball for example.”

Goal of the day

Anderson’s second in Santos’ 4-0 win over Gremio was a powerfully-struck right foot shot from outside the penalty area.

Quote of the day

“I only play for Real Madrid.” 

Tottenham’s coveted midfielder, Luka Modric, reveals where he’d like to play next season.

Fans call for new beginning

While Rangers continue their fight to be admitted to the Scottish First division, a prominent supporter group has stated that the club should be made to start life in the bottom tier of the Scottish Football League.

In a statement released on its website, the The Rangers Supporters Trust said: “The Rangers fans have made it very clear that we wish the club to resume playing in Division Three.

“This has been communicated to both the board and the manager of our club and they are entirely supportive. This is the correct solution and one which means the club will forever be beyond reproach. The tactics being employed by the SPL and SFA in order to deny Rangers the opportunity to do so are outrageous.”

The desire to wipe the slate clean and start afresh is admirable, but it’s not going to go down well with the club or the power brokers of Scottish football.

The newco Rangers are fighting desperately to enter the First Division, while two other interested parties, the Scottish FA, and Scottish Premier League claim that the financial implications of making Rangers start in the Third Division would be disastrous for Scottish football as a whole.

Meanwhile, another fans group, the Rangers Fans Fighting Fund, has been informed by the club’s new owners that it will have to find £50 million if it wishes to buy the newco. That figure would represent an astonishing and barely credible 900 per cent profit for the Charles Green consortium on their initial £5.5m investment.

A representative from Rangers Unite asked at a meeting last week: “What would you see as an exit price?”

Director Imran Ahmad replied: “On a bad day the club is worth £50m.”

That figure seems highly optimistic, especially when one considers that Rangers boss, Ally McCoist has advised the club’s supporters to refrain from buying season tickets because he “didn’t know which players would be there or where we would be playing”.

So, we have no guarantee of who will be playing, no guarantee of where they will be playing, and no guarantee that anyone will be watching. All yours for £50 million…on a bad day.

Didi the man

Didier Deschamps has reached agreement with Noel Le Graet, President of the FFF, for the former Marseille boss to become the next coach of France.

Both men are to hold a joint press conference on Monday at the federation headquarters at 1530 BST.

Deschamps, who captained France to their 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 triumphs, was quickly installed as favourite to succeed Blanc after he left his post at Marseille by mutual consent last week.

The 43-year-old guided Marseille to one Ligue 1 title and a three successive League Cups in as many years, before stepping down at the end of last season.

Deschamps faces a tough campaign to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, with France drawn in the same group as World and European champions, Spain, Finland, Georgia and Belarus. A tough challenge indeed, although a piece of cake compared to the challenge of unifying a famously volatile and fractious squad.

Desert storm

Holding the 2022 World Cup in the desert was always going to create a number of logistical problems.

There’s been talk of playing the finals in winter and of playing the games in air-conditioned stadiums, and now comes the suggestion of playing the matches in the middle of the night.

The problem with playing in the more benign winter conditions is that it would mean the finals would be staged in the middle of the European season. The problem with the air conditioned stadiums is that the technology to cool a stadium in the heat of the desert has not even been invented yet. And let’s not even go into the environmental impact of such plans. Happily, no such problems exist with the idea of moving the kick offs back a few hours.

FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce, aware that it was positively inhumane to expect footballers to run around in the heat of the Qatari sun, has suggested a compromise, which would see matches kick off at 10pm local time. Coincidentally, that’s a television-friendly 8pm BST, which obviously would go down well with the Western European media companies who actually provide the bulk of the funding for the tournament. That is indeed a very happy compromise.

Boyce told the Press Association: “Anything should be considered to try to alleviate the severe heat conditions. We have heard that there is an intention to provide air conditioning in the stadiums but we should also look at anything that will improve spectator comfort and player comfort. People cannot play in 50 degree heat so if that’s to be one of the compromises then that’s something we will have to look at.”

Taking it seriously

While Stuart Pearce builds a side around Swansea’s finest, some of the other countries at this summer’s Olympic football tournament are taking it very seriously.

Last week Brazil named a strong-looking squad as they look to win the one tournament that has always eluded them and now Uruguay, twice a former winner, have selected a squad packed with international experience.

Liverpool duo Sebastian Coates and Luis Suarez are among those included, as is prolific Napoli striker Edinson Cavani.

Uruguay squad:
Martín Campana, Leandro Gelpi; Ramon Arias, Sebastian Coates, Alexis Rolin, Emiliano Albin, Diego Polenta, Matias Aguirregaray; Maximiliano Calzada, Egidio Arevalo Rios, Diego Rodriguez, Gaston Ramirez, Nicolas Lodeiro; Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, Abel Hernandez, Tabare Viudez, Jonathan Urretaviscaya.

Going going Ganso

Paulo Henrique Ganso has played his last game for Santos, according to the player’s representative Delcir Sonda, but talk of a move to the Premier League appears premature, for the time being at least.

Ganso has been in dispute with the Sao Paulo club over a new contract and the 22-year-old has rejected their latest improved offer.

“This is definitive, Ganso won’t play for Santos anymore. And yes, he may join Internacional,” Sonda told Radio Estadao ESPN. “I am negotiating with Santos to buy his full rights.”

“Ganso is upset with the club. They put together a project for Neymar but forgot about Ganso. He wants to leave but stay in Brazil for at least another year.”

News of his availability will alert a number of European clubs, but Santos have not given up hope of him returning to the club after the Olympics.

Santos’ manager Muricy Ramalho told Lancenet: “You’ll never want to lose Ganso, but he has to decide where he wants to play. We want him to have a good performance in the Olympics and then return to us”.

Finally…

Benfica say Eusebio is recovering and responding ‘well’ to hospital treatment as the former Portuguese legend recovers from a stroke.

The 70-year-old Eusebio has been in a Lisbon hospital receiving treatment since suffering a stroke at the Euro 2012 finals.

Eusebio da Silva Ferreira was named one of FIFA’s 10 best football players of all time in 1998. He is best known for his remarkable performances for Benfica and Portugal throughout the 1960s.

If you’ve got a few spare minutes, put the kettle on, make yourself a cup of tea, and take time out to enjoy this lengthy tribute to the great man.

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