Turkish champions cry foul!

Turkish champions Fenerbahce are to appeal against their exclusion from this season’s Champions League over a match-fixing investigation.

The Turkish Football Federation (TFF) decision, under pressure from UEFA, announced on Wednesday that they will be replaced by Trabzonspor, the league runners-up last season on goal difference.

“Our club will apply to the TFF Arbitration Board to suspend and annul the decision to bar it from the UEFA Champions League,” Fenerbahce said in a statement to the Istanbul Stock Exchange.

“With this decision, the TFF has bowed to the unlawful approach of UEFA,” Fenerbahce said on its website.

And, in a remark that is unlikely to endear them to European football’s governing body, the club claimed they were been made scapegoats because of UEFA’s failure to deal with match fixing.

“Has Fenerbahce, and in a sense Turkish football, been made a scapegoat to cover up UEFA’s failure in the fight against match-fixing and gambling?”

Nasri’s parting shot

New Manchester City signing Samir Nasri has risked the wrath of Arsenal fans, by suggesting he was joining a club with “more passionate” fans.

“Arsenal have good fans but not that passionate since they moved from Highbury,” he said on completing his move from the Emirates. “City fans are really passionate. When we played against City, the crowd was amazing. That’s what I want.”

I guess the chance to double your wages was just a bonus then.

Nasri thanked former Arsenal legend, Patrick Vieria, who now works as City’s football development executive, for persuading him to move north.

“Patrick is a legend in France,” he said. “When a player like this tells you Manchester City is the place to be, that it is the club of the future and wants to win everything, you have to listen to this.”

That’s Vieira crossed off the Arsenal fans’ Christmas card list then.

Goal of the day

Benfica took the lead against FC Twente in their Champions League qualifier, courtesy of an overhead kick from new signing Axel Witsel. 

Save of the day

The key moment in Arsenal’s Champions League victory over Udinese may well have been this astonishing penalty save from keeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Strike 1!

Spain’s football league is “optimistic” of reaching a deal to end a players’ strike after holding lengthy talks with players’ representatives.

The strike over unpaid players’ wages delayed the start to the Liga – the first delay to the season in 27 years.

“The important thing is that we have been here bringing the positions closer together,” said the president of the Professional Football League (LFP), Jose Luis Astiazaran.

“I hope we will be able to cancel this strike, if we have the capacity and opportunity to reach a deal.”

The players also sounded hopeful that a deal could be struck.

“We have been working many hours and those hours have led to advances,” Luis Gil, spokesman of the Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE), told reporters. “I think we are working very hard. We will be here as many hours as it takes.”


An agreement was reached Thursday after the players’ union and league returned to meet again. The season will officially get under way on Friday with a second-division match between Girona and Elche.

Strike 2!

The news from Italy is not so good as the League refused to sign an agreement over players’ rights, three days before the scheduled start of the Serie A season.

Stalemate beckons as the Italian Players Union (AIC) has already stressed it will not play at the weekend if the League does not sign the agreement.

“The League’s general assembly has rejected the agreement with the players by a large majority, 18 votes against two,” League president Maurizio Beretta told reporters.

AIC president Damiano Tommasi reiterated his members would only play if the agreement was signed.

“At the moment, we aren’t in a position to play,” he told reporters. “The League’s demands are spurious and I don’t see that this is going to change.”

No sign of any compromise there then.

Van der Graaf generates anger

The hooligan problem which has dogged Dutch football in recent years appear to have spread to the lower leagues. A league referee Edwin van der Graaf, who showed six yellow cards to home team Oss in its 4-3 loss to Almere City on Friday night, was the victim of this shameful attack from an unlikely source.

Match fixing

South Korea’s K-League has imposed a lifetime ban on 40 footballers over their involvement in a match-fixing scandal.

Last month, prosecutors indicted the players for allegedly taking bribes in return for trying to rig the results of games or bet on games after learning their outcome would be fixed.

The league says some of those given bans could eventually be rehabilitated because they came clean after their wrongdoing before they were arrested.

Rain stops play

It never rains but it pours. No really. In Toronto heavy storms caused the abandonment of Toronto FC’s CONCACAF Champions League game with FC Dallas.

The match was halted at half-time as lightning forced the game to be postponed.

Here’s the scene from Toronto’s BMO Field at the height of the storm.

And here’s some dramatic footage of the Toronto skyline as the storm raged across the city.


SocratesSpare a thought for Socrates, the former Brazilian footballer who is recovering in hospital after being treated for a stomach hemorrhage.

The 57-year-old captained the 1982 Brazil team, a side regarded by many as the best not to win the World Cup.

Socrates, who has earned a reputation as a bon viveur since retiring, was an imposing midfielder in his heyday.

Here are a couple of his goals from the 1982 finals.

Firstly, he lashes home from outside the box against the USSR.

The second clip comes from the epic 3-2 defeat to Italy, an all-time World Cup classic. Socrates collects a beautifully-weighted pass from new Iraq coach, Zico, and leaves Dino Zoff looking foolish by beating him at the near post.