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Losing it

Luis Suarez has admitted he “completely lost it” when he took a chunk out of Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic.

Speaking in his home country of Uruguay, Suarez apologised once more to Ivanovic and described how a red mist descended after he had given away a penalty in the game against Chelsea.

Suarez said: “The incident with Ivanovic – I know I made a mistake, it was me, my fault, and he did not do anything to me.

“I was angry because I had given away a penalty for hand ball. I was the cause of the penalty against my team – I saw red and completely lost it. I can’t really explain it and I am so sorry.”

Despite his declaration of remorse, the striker said that he was still suffering for his actions.

And there was still a sense of hurt mixed with his apology, when he swiftly added: “But still people can be very cruel, and the reaction was amazing.”

Suarez also reiterated his desire to play for Real Madrid, when he openly wondered about the chance to form a lethal partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo at the Bernabeu.

“Of course I would like to play with Cristiano Ronaldo – he is a great player. You never know, but it is complicated,” Suarez said.

“At the moment he is in Madrid and I am in Liverpool and I do not know what is going to happen.”

Well, we know one thing for certain: Ronaldo is not going to be playing for Liverpool any time soon. But, while Suarez continues to flutter those eyelashes at Real Madrid, the prospect of the Uruguayan moving to Spain becomes ever more real.

Have boots, won’t travel

Togo midfielder Alaixys Romao has decided not to play Friday’s World Cup qualifier in Libya because of safety concerns.

Togo were the targets of an attack during the 2010 African Nations Cup in Angola when gunmen ambushed their bus in the Cabinda province, killing three members of the squad and forcing them to withdraw from the tournament.

FIFA have moved Friday’s Group I qualifier to Tripoli after clashes between protesters and a militia killed at least 31 people on Saturday in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, where the game was initially scheduled to take place.

However, Romao said the move was not enough to convince him to play.

“I’m about to take off from Lome to come back to France,” Romao, who plays for Olympique Marseille, said on Twitter.

“After having been through a traumatising experience in 2010 at the African Nations Cup in Angola, I don’t want my family to live with that stress again,” added the 29-year-old, who has 50 international caps.

“Tripoli or Benghazi, what’s the difference? I will change my mind only if FIFA’s officials who have made the decision come with us.”

Russia ready

Russia’s preparations for the 2018 World Cup have taken another step forward after President Vladimir Putin signed off on the so-called ‘World Cup Law’ that has caused so much debate.

Under the rule, FIFA or its nominees must give written approval for any trading or advertising within two kilometers of any stadium on match days.

Russia currently operates a blanket ban on the sale of alcohol at sporting events, but this will be lifted for the World Cup. The sale of alcohol was one of the main sticking points behind Brazil’s implementation of its own World Cup Law for next year’s tournament – finally approved, after much wrangling, by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in June 2012.

“On the days on which sports competitions are held, trading activity on the territory of the stadium and in other places where events are taking place, and also within a radius of two kilometers around stadiums, may take place only with the official written consent of FIFA or persons nominated by FIFA,” said a Russian government statement.

The punishment for violations is not specified. Although in Putin’s Russia, the mere existence of the law will dissuade the vast majority of people from even thinking about breaking it.

Financial Fair Play?

Malaga will not play in Europe next season after the Court of Arbitration for Sport [CAS] turned down the club’s appeal of its UEFA ban.

Last December UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body [CFCB] issued Malaga with a two-season ban [one year suspended] from all European competition “due to the presence of significant overdue payable balances”. After the club’s accounts were found to be in better shape, the suspended year was lifted in May, however the initial one year ban remained.

The CAS decision now means that Malaga will not take up the place they say they have earned in next season’s Europa League.

The Qatari-owned club released a statement on Tuesday expressing the club’s dismay at a ruling they insist is unfair.

“Malaga Club de Futbol cannot compete in the Europa League next season, despite having achieved qualification on the pitch, after having been informed today of the ruling by CAS, who confirmed the punishment imposed by UEFA,” the statement said.

“The Martiricos club, who are to receive the final argument of the denial of their appeal by CAS, maintains its posture of having fulfilled all the parameters asked for under ‘Fair Play’. Proof of that is that it cannot participate in European competition next season, despite having achieved a 2013-14 UEFA license.”

The club statement went on to say that the judgement was “without precedent in the football world’s judicial-sporting realm” but that all legal avenues had now been exhausted and they would have to abide by the decision.

Malaga director general Vicente Casado has argued throughout that his club has been made a scapegoat by UEFA. Recent irate tweets from owner Abdullah Al-Thani have been, at least in part, due to frustration at what is seen as official bias against his side.

And, when one looks at the obscene amounts of money being thrown around by some clubs in recent years, most notably Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, and Chelsea, one has to wonder what precisely is the point of the Financial Fair Play rules. If it is intended to introduce a modicum of financial sanity and responsibility to European football, then it has clearly failed before it has started.

Goal of the day

Sweeping break from Australia and Tim Cahill arrives at the far post with a thumping header to put Australia 2-0 up in their crucial World Cup qualifier against Jordan.

Quote of the day

“It is grotesque. Their leg has been pulled. They let a coach go without having another one lined up. People should know that when Mourinho renewed his contract [just 12 months ago], there was a compensation clause for both parties, worth one year’s salary [about €12 million]. But now the conclusion is that Madrid is without a coach and the coach, he has a team. Mourinho is laughing at everyone.”

Former Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon believes that Jose Mourinho has made the club a laughing stock.

Tit for tat

There are feuds and then there are clasico feuds that rumble on even when the season has finished.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has joined Jose Mourinho in accusing Barcelona players Xavi and Andres Iniesta of sour grapes after the pair criticised the impact the former Madrid coach had upon Spanish football.

Last week Xavi criticised the Portuguese coach’s style of football and declared he “has left no legacy for the future”, while Iniesta said the new Chelsea boss had “damaged Spanish football” due to his confrontational style.

Mourinho hit out at Iniesta during his unveiling at Stamford Bridge yesterday, saying: “I damaged Spanish football by being the coach who broke Barcelona’s dominance.”

And Perez, speaking during an interview with Marca TV, backed up his former coach.

“I understand why Xavi and Iniesta are angry with Mourinho, they haven’t beaten us in any of the last five games,” he said.

“It’s not a good strategy to criticise your opponent when you don’t win.”

Fair enough, but what about when you finish 15 points above them? Surely, then, one can gloat.

“Mourinho ended Barca’s period of always beating Madrid, he was right when he said that.”

Employees of both clubs must be on some kind of Google alert, because no sooner had Perez finished uttered those words than Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas replied.

“Madrid ended our hegemony?” he told radio station Onda Cero. “We have just won the league by 15 points.”

A statement which should end the debate, but with these two clubs, it will no doubt mark an escalation of the phoney war.

Devil in disguise

Celtic striker Anthony Stoles has been accused of attacking an Elvis impersonator,leaving him with a bust nose and three broken teeth.

Tribute act Anthony Bradley, 49, says he was attacked “out of nowhere” in a Dublin nightclub by a man who other clubgoers later told him was 24-year-old Stokes.

Police in the Irish capital last night said they were treating the attack as “vicious and unprovoked” and confirmed that Stokes is the alleged attacker.

Bradley said: “I’m as well as can be expected. I had to go for surgery to correct my nose. It was an unprovoked attack. I’m still in shock.

“It came from nowhere. This guy wasn’t even involved and he stepped in out of nowhere and decided to involve himself.”

He said he only found out who his alleged assailant was when other witnesses identified him.

He added: “I didn’t even know him because I am not a football fan.”

Anthony added: “I was gigging first and then I went to see a band I know who gig in Buck Whaley’s. We decided to go down to the VIP and that’s when that incident occurred.

“I’m still in shock. It doesn’t make sense at all.”

A nightclub spokesman said: “A drink was spilled on Anthony Bradley’s coat.

“Words were exchanged between two groups. There was some altercation. The bouncers were straight in, separated them and turfed Stokes out.”

A Celtic spokesman said: “We believe the police are carrying out an investigation. We would, therefore, not be able to make any comment at this stage.

“However, when that investigation is complete, we will conduct our own inquiry into the matter.”

Behave yourself

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli has told striker Mario Balotelli to put his teammates first by avoiding controversy during the Confederations Cup in Brazil.

Balotelli, who was sent off in Italy’s 0-0 draw in a World Cup qualifier against the Czech Republic last Friday, was understandably, the centre of attention when Italy arrived in Brazil ahead of their Confederations Cup opener against Mexico on Monday.

His dismissal in Prague was the 22-year-old’s sixth of his career and he vented his fury by punching and kicking the wall of the players’ dugout.

“Players need to have greater tolerance at times,” Prandelli said Monday.

“If there is a problem he has to remember that it has to be resolved by the group.”

After initially Balotelli eventually apologised for his dismissal, or at least, his reaction to it, which showed, if nothing else, that he cares.

After the game the forward tweeted: “Write whatever you want, but in the Confederations Cup cheer for another nation. I tell you that from my HEART. (And watch the game again. ALL OF IT.)”

However, the attacker recanted by the following day.

“… Good morning … Yesterday my reaction wasn’t right, I apologize … SORRY … To my team … I have to learn … Still … ,” he tweeted.

Given the abuse he frequently receives from his fellow Italians, it is a wonder that Balotelli bothers playing for the national team at all.

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