Trap shown the door

Manager Giovanni Trapattoni has left the Republic of Ireland by mutual consent following Tuesday’s defeat by Austria in a World Cup qualifier.

The Football Association of Ireland announced his departure on Wednesday after a meeting with Trapattoni and assistant boss Marco Tardelli.

Ireland are fourth in European qualifying Group C and six points off a playoff place with two matches remaining after a disappointing campaign that included a 6-1 home loss to Germany and this month’s defeats to Sweden and Austria.

“The Football Association of Ireland, Giovanni Trapattoni and (assistant) Marco Tardelli today announced that following an amicable meeting this morning, they have parted company by mutual consent,” the association said in a statement.

In his five years in charge, Trapattoni guided the Republic to the finals of Euro 2012 and a play-off defeat in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

“I want to thank everyone in Ireland who has given us their support during our time here, which has always meant a lot to us,” said Trapattoni.

“We leave this country with emotion because we understand the Irish supporters who have a well-deserved international reputation and they have our utmost respect.”

That respect may not be reciprocated with many Irish supporters unhappy at the selection policy and the one dimensional tactics employed by the Italian.

Tributes for Trapattoni have been trickling in, with Robbie Keane the focal point of Ireland’s play in recent years, and a player who, regardless of form, seem assured of a place in the side, sorry to see the Italian go.

“He has been a credit to his country and he has carried himself the way a man of his stature should,” said Ireland’s leading goalscorer.

“We’re a small nation and I think people get carried away sometimes and expect us to qualify all the time,” he said.

On the contrary, most people would happily settle for a bit of entertainment.

Caving in

The French government is considering scaling back its controversial 75% rate of tax on high-earners following claims by  Ligue 1 clubs that it will cripple the sport.

President Francois Hollande was elected on the back of a vow to tax all revenue over €1 million at 75%, but the measure has still not been implemented amid strong resistance from France’s wealthy institutions and individuals.

The move would affect around 100 footballers, whose clubs have argued such a tax would deter big-name players from playing in France.

However, Le Parisien reports that Hollande’s ministers are reconsidering their position on the issue, with talks reportedly being held to limit the amount employers would have to pay as a result of the tax to a percentage of their overall revenue. The paper claims French Football League (LFP) representatives are arguing that the ceiling be set at 2-3%, which would save Paris Saint-Germain some €30 million on their original tax bill.

“We’re waiting for the conclusions of the study group, but it’s true that there are football clubs whose equilibrium is fragile,” Economics Minister Pierre Moscovici told RMC, though he denied suggestions football would receive preferential treatment. “It will be a general measure. It’s not possible to just make a rule for football clubs.”

LFP president Frederic Thiriez, who has campaigned from the outset against the new tax, welcomed the prospect of a compromise but remained wary as to how the situation will eventually be resolved.

Thiriez said: “I think the work we have been fully committed to has borne fruit. The government has understood there is a problem. That’s the positive side of things. But as long as there is no definitive position from the government, I will remain extremely cautious.”

Compensation claim denied

FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke has ruled out any compensation being paid to Europe’s top leagues if the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is switched to the winter.

He also brushed off calls from Karl-Heinze Rummenigge, head of the European Clubs Association, to postpone next month’s decision on a switch to allow for further debate.

FIFA’s executive committee will vote on rescheduling the tournament at a meeting in Zurich on October 4.

It follows an acknowledgement by the organisation’s president, Sepp Blatter, that it may have been a mistake to award the event to Qatar.

There have been suggestions that Europe’s big leagues would demand compensation for any disruption caused to domestic seasons if the World Cup was switched to winter, but Valcke said: “No. Compensation is a word you should never use.”

Asked about the call to delay any vote, he said said a decision will be taken “in principle” by FIFA’s executive committee, and after that he will work with football’s stakeholders to work out the changes to the international calendar.

“We then have to finalise the agreement with the different parties – as long as all of these are not finalised it’s not a firm, final decision, he added”

Valcke also stressed that there was no intention of taking the tournament away from Qatar.

Fans warned

The English Football Association has issued a statement warning fans against using the term ‘Yid’, a derogatory term for Jews, in chants at matches.

The FA says the abuse has been ”clouded” by fans of Tottenham, who has traditionally drawn support from the Jewish communities in north London, calling themselves the ”Yid Army.”

In its statement the FA reiterates its commitment equality and inclusion in football and to confronting and eliminating discrimination of every kind.

The statement goes on to recognise that “language is a complex issue: the use and meaning of words is constantly evolving. This means that, over time, sometimes neutral words or phrases can come to be understood as offensive; and, similarly, words or phrases previously considered as offensive can become more acceptable.”

The FA also recognises that “many minority communities have sought to reclaim historic terms of abuse such as this as a means of empowerment. The process of empowerment through reclaiming language is complex and can often divide opinion within the same community.”

According to their statement, the FA “is aware that there are sections of fans at certain clubs who describe themselves using the term, or variants of the term, ‘Yid’. Those fans claim that use of the term is a ‘badge of honour’ and is not intended to be offensive. ”

Determining that using ”Yid” is inappropriate at matches, the FA is encouraging fans to avoid using it in ”any situation” or risk criminal prosecution.

In November 2012, Tottenham fans were told by Metropolitan Police that no action would be taken against the club as they agreed ‘Yid’ chants are not anti-Semitic.

The response of the Spurs crowd, at that time, was to chant: “We’re Tottenham Hotspur, we’ll sing what we want.”

Unfortunately, that sually that meant singing vile songs about Sol Campbell.

Afghan success

Afghanistan has won its first international trophy, beating India 2-0 in the South Asian Football Federation Championship.
The Afghans, who were a founding member of the Asian Football Confederation in 1954, have a long but not-so-ilustrious football history, but only recently re-emerged on the world scene after decades of war and internal strife. When the Taliban ruled from 1996-2001, they severely curtailed sports, and stadiums were appropriated to stage executions of their opponents.

On Wednesday, Mustafa Azadzoi put Afghanistan ahead in the first half and Sanjar Ahmadi doubled the lead in the second.

The success was revenge for  the 4-0 drubbing to India they suffered in their first ever appearance in the final in New Delhi in 2011.

Afghanistan, who are ranked 139th in the world compared to India’s 145th, were seen as favourites to win the final after they defeated hosts Nepal 1-0 in Sunday`s semi-final.

When it was over, the players draped Afghan flags on their shoulders. They then held hands and started to dance in a circle in celebration.

Missing in action

Peru and Schalke winger Jefferson Farfan is under investigation after reports that he spent Sunday partying ahead of a World Cup qualifier. 

Peru were beaten 3-2 by Venezuela yesterday, but Farfan had already returned to Germany amid claims about that he stayed out late drinking.

The Peruvian football association have launched a formal investigation into the reports, not least because Farfan has previous form for such behaviour. 

And the association’s secretary Javier Quintana was quoted by Bild as saying: “We are investigating it, but at present we cannot give any information.”

Farfan, who signed his Schalke contract extension last season, did play in last week’s qualifier against Uruguay.

 He even managed to score a late consolation goal in the 2-1 defeat at the Estadio Nacional.

Farfan has spent five years with Schalke, while his club’s general manager Horst Heldt said: “For us, Jeff is very solid. I cannot imagine [him doing] that.

“But maybe there are other laws that prevail when you are with the national team sometimes.”

Goal of the day

Clever flick from Panama’s Gabriel Torres in his side’s World Cup qualifier against Honduras.

Quote of the day

“I think nobody is worth paying that amount of money for. What is crazy in this kind of situation is the media and the club – the club are desperate to buy big names. There is a lot of pressure on him. I know that Zidane played for Real Madrid and they [the fans] whistled against him. Zidane is one of the best players in history.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the latest person to question the wisdom of Real Madrid breaking the world transfer record to sign Gareth Bale.

All present and correct

There was bizarre incident after the half0time break of the World Cup qualifier between Macedonia and Scotland on Tuesday, when French referee Fredy Fautrel blew his whistle to start the second half, unaware that the home side’s goalkeeper was not on the pitch. Fortunately, the official realised his mistake and halted the game until the missing Tomislav Pacovski arrived on the pitch.

Given their recent form, one wonders how long it would have taken for Scotland to have taken advantage of Pacovski’s absence.

Glass half empty

A number of countries earned their place at next year’s World Cup finals, among them Holland, although Louis Van Gaal’s side were forced to work hard for the points against unfancied Andorra.

After a goalless first half, two strikes from Robin Van Persie secured the win to enable the Dutch become the first European team to book their ticket for next year’s tournament. However, the disappointing performance left Dutch legend Johan Cruyff fearful for the team’s chances next summer.

“We should be happy if we survive the group stages at the World Cup. We will have done a good job if we reach the knockout stages,” the 66-year-old told RTL Late Night.

“It’s really not that hard to judge the teams that will be at the World Cup.

“I saw Brazil play at the Confederations Cup. They will crush Holland. We only stand a chance against them if we can keep up football wise.”

Cruyff’s comments should not be taken in isolation; they represent the latest chapter in a long-running and highly entertaining feud with Holland coach Louis Van Gaal. The origins of the dispute are contested, although Van Gaal claims that he first angered his mentor when he was forced to leave a Cruyff family meal at short notice on learning of the death of his sister. Cruyff denies the claim, responding: “Van Gaal must have Alzheimer’s if he wrote something like that.”

Matters deteriorated when Van Gaal replaced Cruyff as coach of Barcelona, with the new man frequently complaining about his predecessor undermining him via the Catalan press.

The attempt, in 2011, to appoint Van Gaal as Ajax’s technical director, without first consulting Cruyff, kept the pot bubbling. Now we have a World Cup to look forward to.