Topless women campaign against Euro 2012 prostitution

One of the few work safe photos of the protest.

Women’s group Femen have staged a topless demonstration at Kiev’s Olympic Stadium to protest what they say are attempts to legalize prostitution during the 2012 European Championship.

Members of the group chanted slogans and displayed banners criticizing tournament organizer UEFA.

Femen spokeswoman Inna Shevchenko claimed UEFA is “trying to influence our government” to legalize prostitution during the June 8-July 1 tournament.

“Today we want football fans and (UEFA President) Michel Platini to forget about playing with their balls because we must be aware of Ukraine’s social problems and the fact that Ukraine will become a Euro-brothel,” said Shevchenko.

“We are sure that UEFA has an interest in the development of sex tourism here and the sale of sexual services during Euro-2012. This tournament is not only about football. It risks being a humanitarian disaster,” Femen organiser Anna Hutsol told Reuters.

The women were eventually dragged away by police, hundreds of whom had rushed to the scene  to monitor the situation.

O’Neill the chosen one

According to the BBC, Martin O’Neill has agreed to become the next manager of Sunderland.

He is understood to have met Sunderland’s owner and chairman Ellis Short on Thursday evening in London to negotiate a deal.

The Northern Irishman has asked for assurances there will be money to spend and needs to discuss the exact make-up of his backroom team, but his appointment is regarded as a formality.

If not the best, certainly the biggest team of the year

Players from Spain dominate the shortlist revealed for the FIFA FIFPro World XI 2011, which will be announced on January 9, with players from Barcelona and Real Madrid accounting for almost half of the 55-man shortlist. If there are 55 players on the shortlist, one wonders how many made the long list.

If you have a spare hour or two, here’s the ‘shortlist':

Goalkeepers:
Gianluigi Buffon (Italy, Juventus), Iker Casillas (Spain, Real Madrid), Manuel Neuer (Germany, Bayern Munich), Víctor Valdés (Spain, Barcelona), Edwin van der Sar (Holland, retired, formerly Manchester United).

Defenders:
Eric Abidal (France, Barcelona), Dani Alves (Brazil, Barcelona), Ricardo Carvalho (Portugal, Real Madrid), Ashley Cole (England, Chelsea), Patrice Evra (France, Manchester United), Rio Ferdinand (England, Manchester United), Vincent Kompany (Belgium, Manchester City), Philipp Lahm (Germany, Bayern Munich), Lúcio (Brazil, Internazionale), David Luiz (Brazil, Chelsea), Maicon (Brazil, Internazionale), Marcelo (Brazil, Real Madrid), Alessandro Nesta (Italy, Milan), Pepe (Portugal, Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Spain, Barcelona), Carles Puyol (Spain, Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Spain, Real Madrid), Thiago Silva (Brazil, Milan), John Terry (England, Chelsea), Nemanja Vidic (Serbia, Manchester United).

Midfielders:
Xabi Alonso (Spain, Real Madrid), Gareth Bale (Wales, Tottenham Hotspur), Sergio Busquets (Spain, Barcelona), Cesc Fabregas (Spain, Barcelona), Andrés Iniesta (Spain, Barcelona), Kaká (Brazil, Real Madrid), Frank Lampard (England, Chelsea), Nani (Portugal, Manchester United), Mesut Ozil (Germany, Real Madrid), Andrea Pirlo (Italy, Juventus), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Germany, Bayern Munich), David Silva (Spain, Manchester City), Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands, Internazionale), Yaya Touré (Ivory Coast, Manchester City), Xavi (Spain, Barcelona).

Forwards:
Lionel Messi (Argentina, Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal, Real Madrid), Wayne Rooney (England, Manchester Utd), David Villa (Spain, Barcelona), Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon, Anzhi), Sergio Agüero (Argentina, Manchester City), Neymar (Brazil, Santos), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast, Chelsea), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, Milan), Luis Suárez (Uruguay, Liverpool), Radamel Falcao (Colombia, Atlético Madrid), Edinson Cavani (Uruguay, Napoli), Karim Benzema (France, Real Madrid), Mario Gómez (Germany, Bayern Munich), Robin van Persie (Holland, Arsenal)

Goals of the day

The best individual performance in Thursday’s Europa League ties, came from Ricardo Quaresma who scored twice in Besiktas’ 3-2 win over Maccabi Tel-Aviv.

Here’s his first, a stunning volley to open the scoring.

And here’s his second, scored in the second minute of injury time.

Ronaldo takes World Cup role

Ronaldo has been officially unveiled as one of three members of the new 2014 FIFA World Cup local organising committee (LOC). He wasn’t literally unveiled; there isn’t a large enough piece of material to manage that.

The two-time World Cup winner stated he will be the “voice” of the committee and will work unpaid.

“I have accepted this challenge, which for me is a big honour,” he said. “This World Cup does not belong to FIFA,  the (CBF), the committee or the government. It belongs to the people who should be made to feel proud of hosting the World Cup. I will do my best to create the best World Cup ever.”

Ronaldo will work alongside Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Ricardo Teixeira and one other member, who has yet to be appointed.

“Now is the time for reconciliation and to concentrate on making the 2014 World Cup the largest and most beautiful tournament of all time,” said Teixeira. “And who better to help us do that than a fantastic player who is an idol all over the world.”

Spoken like a politician, which of course he is.

Lack of transparency

Well, that didn’t take long. Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) has cut its ties with football’s world governing body because two of its key recommendations have been ignored.

The news is a blow to FIFA who have placed great store in their links to the agency.

FIFA have employed Mark Pieth leader of the Independent Governance Committee that will oversee reform of the organisation. However, TI claim that his independence will be compromised because he is being paid for his work by FIFA.

TI had also recommended that there should be an examination of past scandals but Pieth has refused to embark on a retrospective investigation.

Pieth reacted angrily to Schenk’s comments, claiming it was common practice for companies to pay for outside auditors to evaluate their business practices.

“We can’t start asking audit firms to do their job for free just to make sure they are independent,” said Pieth. “What you’ll get is something quite pathetic.”

I suspect that this will not be the last we’ll hear about this little set-to.

Knife crime?

The number of people cautioned or sentenced for carrying a knife or offensive weapon has fallen by 16 percent since 2009, Government figures have revealed. If police are wondering where the weapons have gone they could do worse than a quick sweep of Stamford Bridge.

A seven-inch knife was discovered in a Chelsea dressing room by cleaning staff, leading to an internal investigation at the club. The blade was found in the changing area used by the club’s youth teams, but the club have cleared all the players of involvement.

A Chelsea spokesman said: “A knife was found on the premises at a time when only cleaning and building contractors had been on site. The club has determined that it did not belong to any player or staff member as the
area was sealed off and we are satisfied it is not a matter of concern. The matter is closed.”

I’m sure there’s a perfectly logical explanation for the find. In the wake of Ashley Cole shooting a student earlier this year, you’d be foolish not to carry a weapon for self-defence when you set foot in the club’s training ground.

Spitting feathers

A Brazilian player has been banned for 10 matches for spitting an at opponent while his coach was suspended for five games for insulting the referee and refusing to leave the pitch after being sent off in the same game.

Fluminense striker Rafael Moura was suspended by Brazil’s disciplinary tribunal on Thursday after he was caught on camera spitting at Flamengo’s Renato Abreu at the end of an eventful derby between the two sides in early October.

The tribunal said that Fluminense coach Abel Braga refused to leave the pitch, despite requests by the police, and at the end of the match, ran on to the field and insulted the referee.

Political football

Indonesia’s football federation (PSSI) has come under under pressure after a breakaway super league threatens the participation of top Indonesian clubs in regional events.

Rival administrators revived the defunct Liga Super Indonesia, which kicked off Thursday after disputes between clubs and Liga Prima Indonesia, the country’s official top league registered with the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI).

Eleven of the 24 original Liga Prima clubs boycotted the officially-sanctioned 24-team competition, some saying too many clubs were playing, others citing inadequate salaries and conditions. They have been joined by 7 others in the Super League.

The split in the country’s top clubs could hurt Indonesia’s chances of competing in the Asian Champions League and the AFC Cup championships in future years.

Asian Football Confederation rules for those events state that clubs are required to compete in the top domestic league approved by the national association, theoretically excluding Liga Super’s 18 clubs.

FIFA threatened the PSSI with sanctions this year over poor management and an attempt to usurp the former PSSI chairman Nurdin Halid.

Finally…

Brazil’s 2002 World Cup winner Rivaldo has quit Sao Paulo after the club extended the contract of controversial coach Emerson Leao for another year. Clearly, the club wasn’t big enough for the both of them.

Despite his departure, not to mention his advanced age of 39, the ‘Ol Man Rivaldo said he planned to keep on rollin’ along

“I would like to inform everyone that as from Saturday, which will be my last training session, I will no longer be part of the Sao Paulo squad,” he said on Twitter.

“The directors told me officially that I’m not continuing in the club next year.”

“It’s not my farewell from football as I still have a lot of wood to put on the fire, I plan to continue my career until the end of 2012.”