Match fixing latest

Italian Serie A clubs Lazio and Genoa, lower league side Lecce and eight players have been referred to a disciplinary tribunal over allegations of match-fixing in the 2010-11 season, the Italian football federation (FIGC) has confirmed.

Among those charged is Lazio captain Stefano Mauri, who was among the eight players who were accused of “sporting fraud” by FIGC after it stuied reports by investigators in the town of Cremona. The hearing is due to take place on July 24.

The matches under investigation are Lazio’s final two games of the 2010-11 season when they beat Genoa 4-2 at home and Lecce by the same score away.

The three clubs were reported for “objective liability” and could face points deductions next season.

The other players mentioned were Mario Cassano and Carlo Gervasoni, who were playing for Piacenza at the time, Alessandro Zamperini, who was with lower league Fidene, Omar Milanetto, who was at Genoa, and Lecce’s Massimiliano Benassi, Stefano Ferrario and Antonio Rosati.

Mauri and Milanetto were both detained for one week last year by prosecutors investigating the case.

Cassano and Zamperini are already serving five-year bans imposed last year over separate cases.

During investigations last year, Cremona prosecutor Roberto Di Martino said there was an “absolute superabundance” of evidence about the Lecce-Lazio match.

He said gamblers had appeared to win some 2,000,000 euros on the game and paid 600,000 euros to bribe the players.

Is there any end in sight for Italian match fixing scandals?

Iraq in the clear

FIFA has cleared Iraq of fielding overage players at the Under-20 World Cup following anonymous claims, hours before Iraq were scheduled to face Uruguay in the semi-finals.

FIFA says it received emails “from unidentified persons … by which allegations were made that players of team Iraq would not comply with the age limit.”

FIFA says it found no irregularities and was not further investigating the matter after verifying its data with the Asian Football Confederation, “which provided the requested information regarding the players in question as well as the pertinent supporting documents.”

Only players born on or after Jan. 1, 1993, are eligible to participate in the Under-20 World Cup.

Crisis? What crisis?

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has refuted claims that English football is in crisis amid concerns of the paucity of talent coming through the ranks.

After a disappointing summer that saw both England’s Under-21 and Under-20 sides crash out at the group stage of both their respective European Championship and World Cup campaigns, questions have been raised regarding the state of the national game.

The senior team recently dropped to 15th in the FIFA world rankings but Neville, who is a member of Roy Hodgson’s coaching staff, feels there is no great cause for concern.

“We’ve got to be careful,” Neville told The Times. “When people talk about the DNA of English football, we’ve got one. We work hard, we’re organized, structured, resilient, hard to beat. Not bad qualities.”

Neville then proceeded to list a number of performances which he believes epitomised those traditional English qualities. Unfortunately, in none of these matches did England emerge victorious. For all the pluck and stubbornness on display, there was precious little technical merit to admire, nor any tactical innovation to celebrate. Indeed, citing these predominantly backs-t0-the-wall efforts does, if anything, highlight England’s plight.

“Go back over the last 20 years,” he added. “Last year Italy, even though you can argue they performed better than us, didn’t beat us.

“Portugal in 2004 and 2006 didn’t beat us. In 1998, Argentina, we were down to 10 men for 70-odd minutes, and they didn’t beat us. In 1996, Germany didn’t beat us. So let’s not give away what we’re good at.

“People say we don’t have a DNA? Give me a break. We have a DNA as a country – British standards, the British legal system, solidity, structure, organization, that never-say-die spirit.

“We’re not arrogant, we’re the first to take the mickey out of ourselves and be down on ourselves. We’re trying to take the best of that and add a higher level of flair and technical ability.”

However, Neville was keen to stress that improvements were being made in England, citing the development of players in certain positions.

“We’re producing a different type of centre forward – Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge,” he added.

“Our fullbacks are no longer Gary Nevilles. They’re Kyle Walkers, Ryan Bertrands, Luke Shaws, who think as wingers. We’re producing a better quality of player.”

Even if this is true and many would question the veracity of such a claim, one is forced to conclude that if England are improving then they are doing so at a slower rate than virtually every other nation.

Falling on his sword

Leonardo has stepped down from his position as sporting director of Paris St-Germain and will leave the club at the end of August.

The suave former Brazil midfielder, 43, was handed a nine-month ban after he lost his cool and pushed a referee – the ban was later extended to 13 months after the Brazilian appealed against the original sentence.

PSG said: “We regret his choice but respect his decision and wish him all the best for his future career choice.”

Leonardo was filmed using his shoulder to make contact with referee Alexandre Castro in the tunnel after being angered by Thiago Silva’s red card in PSG’s 1-1 draw with Valenciennes.

He appealed but was then banned from all official duties until 30 June, 2014.

The French champions were also given a suspended three-point deduction for the 2013-14 campaign.

A club statement said:  “Leonardo has informed Paris St-Germain of his desire to resign from his position as sporting director at the end of the current transfer window.

“We thank him greatly for his important contributions towards the project of building a top European club in Paris.”

Leonardo, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 1994, denied barging the official but was found guilty of pushing him. He had claimed that another official accidentally pushed him into Castro, although the video footage of the incident did not back up this claim.

Neymar no more

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge says Bayern Munich chose not to sign Neymar as they feared he would struggle to adapt to life in Germany and therefore opted for Mario Gotze.

The Bundesliga champions’s new coach Pep Guardiola had earmarked both players as potential reinforcements, but eventually decided to snap up the former Borussia Dortmund star for €37 million.

“We had a clear idea of what kind of player we wanted to sign and discussed this with Pep,” Rummenigge, the chairman of die Roten, was quoted as saying by Sport Bild.

“There were really only two players out there who fit the bill and were realistic transfer targets. One was Neymar and the other was Gotze.

“The eventual decision was made during a meeting in Zurich when the weather conditions were abysmal. I told Pep to glance outside and he asked me why.

“I then told him to imagine a Brazilian leaving his native country in 30 degrees celsius, only to arrive here when it’s minus six.

“Additionally, he does not speak the language and the German culture is nothing like the warm atmosphere South Americans are used to. That would all be pretty difficult for such a young player.”

In the end, Neymar chose to join Guardiola’s former club Barcelona

Goal of the day

It may have only been a friendly match but one can’t but fail to admire the technique displayed by Hervin Ongenda with this deft lob against Sturm Graz.

Quote of the day

“I don’t know why Sabella refuses to call me up. Maybe he is afraid of me.”

Carlos Tevez tries to understand why Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella has not picked him for the national team.

Busy day

It’s been a busy day for Tevez. There were reports that he had been told to lose lose weight by his new club Juventus, although he laughed off the claims.

“I’ve not yet arrived at Juventus and there are some that claim I am overweight and have to lose six kilos,” Tevez told reporters in Argentina.

“But I have not yet been weighed. It makes me laugh to hear certain things. Juventus have not told me anything in this sense.”

Better news for the Argentinian came after he was cleared to start the season with the Italian club after he had his community service order rescinded on Wednesday.

District Judge Bridget Knight accepted there were circumstances beyond Tevez’s control in his inability to fulfil the terms of his order, saying: “This is only a technical breach. It is not, I repeat not, a case of a footballer thumbing his nose at a court order.”

Tevez’s legal team argued that as he had been sold by City, he was not responsible for his inability to comply with the order.

“I would like to thank the court for its understanding,” Tevez said.

“I appreciate their help and assistance in this case.

“All I want to do is continue my career in Italy with Juventus and I am looking forward to a new chapter.”

Like father like son

John Terry’s father was charged today with carrying out a racist attack on a man after a fight in the City of London.

Ted Terry, 59, was charged was racially aggravated assault after he was arrested earlier this year following the incident on Fenchurch Street in London.

The Terry family has had previous run-ins with the law, with former England captain John Terry cleared of racially abusing fellow footballer Anton Ferdinand last year.

The defender had denied making the comments to the Queens Park Rangers player during a match at Loftus Road the previous year.

John Terry had previously been arrested following a fight at a nightclub in 2002, but was later cleared of four charges, including affray and wounding with intent.

John Terry’s mother Sue, 55, and mother-in-law Sue Poole, 59, were cautioned for shoplifting from Tesco and Marks & Spencer in 2009.

His father was given a suspended prison sentence in 2010 after pleading guilty to dealing cocaine.

Clearly, the apple hasn’t fallen far from that particular tree.

Role model?

Bayern Munich are to offer defender Breno the role of youth coach if he is allowed to leave prison on day release.

Breno, 23, who signed for Bayern for €12 million in 2008, was sentenced to three years and nine months’ imprisonment for arson in July 2012 after he set fire to his own house in September 2011.

However, he could now be released from Stadelheim prison on day release due to his good behaviour, and Bayern are keen to give the Brazilian some responsibility within the club.

“[Bayern president] Uli Hoeness has been in contact with the director of the Stadelheim prison for a while now. It seems that Breno has behaved very well there,” Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said in Die Welt.

“We are really hopeful that he will get a sort of day parole. He could leave the prison from eight in the morning until eight in the evening. He needs to have a job for that. That would also be in our interest. He could possibly work in our youth department. The foreigners’ registration office has to approve as well.”

Breno, who, according to media reports, has already verbally agreed a three-year deal with Sao Paulo which will come into effect after his sentence is completed, would not be the first convicted footballer to pursue a profession within the game while on day release.

Suleyman Koc is currently able to play for German fourth-tier side SV Babelsberg after being released under a similar scheme in the summer of 2012. Koc had been sentenced to three years and nine months’ imprisonment for being part of the “Machete gang”, who robbed casino slot machines in Berlin.

“That’s great news, an important step for him,” Koc said of Breno to Die Welt. “I keep my fingers crossed that he now hangs on and seizes his chance. I know what he is going through right now.”

There was also the case of Maxim Molokoedov, a convicted drug smuggler, who earlier this year was has offered a contract by Chilean club the Santiago Morning, with whom he had been training under a special permit.