Atletico apologise for sick chants

Atletico Madrid have apologised to the family of Antonio Puerta after fans chanted offensive slogans about the deceased Sevilla midfielder during a La Liga game between the two Spanish clubs.

Puerta died in August 2007, three days after collapsing during a match against Getafe. Atletico fans chanted “Oh, oh, oh, Puerta’s feeling dizzy” on Sunday at the Calderon.

“Atletico Madrid profoundly regrets the chants directed against … Antonio Puerta,” the club said on their website .

“Our club expresses its deep revulsion at such chants and apologises to the famiy of the deceased footballer, to Sevilla and to football in general,” the statement added.

“We support respect in football and we hope that these actions are not repeated either in our stadium or at any other field.”

TV rights and wrongs

In what may turn out to be a landmark legal judgment, the EU courts have ruled that current Premier League broadcasting rights are against the law.

The case was brought by a pub landlady against the Premier League over its broadcasting restrictions. Karen Murphy, who owns the Red White and Blue pub in Portsmouth, had been fined £8,000 for using a Greek decoder to screen live matches.

In its judgment, the European Court of Justice ruled: “National legislation which prohibits the import, sale or use of foreign decoder cards is contrary to the freedom to provide services and cannot be justified either in light of the objective of protecting intellectual property rights or by the objective of encouraging the public to attend football stadiums.”

The result is something of a Pyrrhic victory for Ms Murphy, as she will be unable to screen matches in her pub without the permission of the Premier League. Given her decision to drag the league through the courts, I suspect her application might be sitting in a Premier League in-tray for a number of years to come.

However, for the armchair viewer who watches matches at home, the number of options has now multiplied and BSkyB’s monopoly is rendered obsolete. The implications for the clubs could be significant. In the absence of  a monopoly, TV rights may decline in value which is bad news for the clubs but even worse news for the real beneficiaries of television’s recent largesse: the players and their agents.

Chelsea property for sale?

For sale: Large spacious property in one of London’s most prestigious postcodes. Located a stone’s throw away from some of London’s finest shopping streets, the property would benefit from some cosmetic improvement, especially the toilets.

Chelsea have confirmed that they have made an offer to buy back the parts of Stamford Bridge sold to supporters in the 1990s. That would enable the west London club to sell the site if it finds a location to build a new ground.

Thousands of supporters share the freehold to land as part of the Chelsea Pitch Owners (CPO) initiative set up in the Nineties to protect the club from property developers. Under the proposal the club’s owner Roman Abramovich will buy back the freehold for £10million. Small change for a man of his means.

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck insists there is no immediate plan to move but wants to remove this obstacle so that the board can react quickly if a good site becomes available. Letters of proposal were sent and will by now have reached CPO shareholders.

Buck says the club had explored the possibility of redeveloping its near-42,000-capacity stadium but that every idea had been impractical or too expensive.

Chelsea hasn’t given up on that but Buck says “we’re doubtful that we could do something at a reasonable cost.”

“We have not made the decision that, yes, Chelsea want to move,’ said Buck. “More significantly, we are looking at whether our stadium might be the right size.”

Looking at the several thousand empty seats when Chelsea played Bayer Leverkusen last month, I think it might be.

Tale of the Russian oligarchs

If you have ever wondered where Roman Abramovich’s got his money from, then you could do worse than follow the court case taking place in London involving the Chelsea owner and a former business associate. The  Chelsea owner is being sued by a fellow Russian, Boris Berezovsky for in excess of $5bn (£3.2bn).

The Guardian carries some useful background material to a case that may shed some light on how someone like Abramovich went from relatively humble beginnings to billionaire status within the space of a few short years.

Going out on a limb here, but I think it would be safe to assume that he didn’t get there by hard work alone.

Goal of the day

Lucas Garcia’s opened the scoring for Ceahlaul in their Romania Liga 1 game against FC Brasov.


International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound says that FIFA is not being transparent about the extent of corruption within the organization and lacks the will to clean up the sport. Tell us something we don’t know Mr Pound.

Having led the IOC’s inquiry into the Salt Lake City bidding scandal, Pound knows what he’s talking about. He believes FIFA is in the midst of a deeper crisis and needs to act quickly to retain its credibility.

“FIFA has fallen far short of a credible demonstration that it recognizes the many problems it faces, that it has the will to solve them, that it is willing to be transparent about what it is doing and what it finds, and that its conduct in the future will be such that the public can be confident in the governance of the sport,” Pound said. “At the moment, I do not believe that such confidence exists or would be justified if it did.”

Radio blackout

Several weeks into the new La Liga season and radio stations are still being denied entry into Spanish stadiums due to an ongoing dispute with the Spanish League (LFP), the clubs and Mediapro, the company that owns the right to broadcast live matches.

The Spanish League are demanding stations transmitting games should pay a fee while the broadcasters themselves refuse to do so, citing the Spanish Constitution which governs the right to freedom of information.

A statement issued on Monday night and agreed to by all radio stations stated: “The Spanish Association of Broadcasting (AERC) has decided that if radio stations are not allowed into grounds next weekend, then it plans to file a lawsuit against the first and second presidents of each club and the LFP.”

You couldn’t score in a stadium

Two Bayern Munich fans were kicked out of the Rhein-Neckar-Arena after they were caught having sex during the club’s match with Hoffenheim at the weekend. The game may have finished 0-0, but at least someone scored.

“I thought it did not look right,” a reporter told Bild. “They had absolutely no inhibitions. Both pulled their pants down and went at it.

“The people around them apparently were not disturbed.”

However, stewards in the ground were not so blase about the pair’s behaviour and they ordered them to stop.

The couple co-operated at first but carried on again at the half-time interval and were ejected from the stadium under threat of arrest for public indecency.

Drink when you’re winning

Russia coach Dick Advocaat will allow his players to go drinking next week provided they qualify for the Euro 2012 finals.

Two years ago, the Russian media claimed some of the national squad were drinking and smoking a hookah pipe ahead of a 2010 World Cup play-off second-leg tie in Slovenia. They subsequently lost their play-off match.

Asked on Tuesday if the team would be allowed to smoke a hookah pipe ahead of the Slovakia match, Advocaat replied: “They could smoke it next week [after playing Andorra]. Then, they could also drink what they want, I wouldn’t mind.”

I’m sure the players’ clubs will be pleased to hear that.


David Beckham almost came to blows following LA Galaxy’s 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake at the weekend.

The former England skipper approached Salt Lake manager Jason Kreis at the end of the game, apparently upset at Kreis’ criticism of the referee.

“Apparently [Beckham] thinks he’s the only one who can yell at referees,” Kreis said afterwards. “He wanted to continue [the discussion] after the game.”

I bet that move to Paris can’t come quickly enough for Beckham. At least there, he’ll receive the respect he thinks he deserves.