Match fixing latest

Torino goalkeeper Jean-Francois Gillet has been banned for three years and seven months as the seemingly endless Italian investigation into match-fixing continues.

Gillet, who has won nine caps for Belgium, was one of 20 individuals suspended in relation to two matches involving Bari in Serie B in 2008 and 2009, where he was playing at the time. At 34, the decision could mean the end of his career.

The charges relate to Bari’s matches against Treviso, on May 11 2008, and Salernitana, a little over a year later.

Two players, William Pianu and Nicola Strambelli, have been cleared. The other players received bans ranging between six months and four years, the FIGC said.

Bari, who now play in Serie B, will begin next season with a one-point deduction, subject to appeal.

The investigation has been conducted separately from that involving Lazio captain Stefano Mauri, who is set to learn his fate later this month.

Nouveau riche

Napoli president Antonio de Laurentiis has described Paris Saint Germain’s offer for Napoli striker Edinson Cavani as ‘absurd,’ as the striker completes a move to the French champions.

PSG announced the signing on Tuesday after the Uruguayan completed a medical, though De Laurentiis says that he would have vetoed the sale of the 26-year-old if there was not already a 63 million euro contract clause in place.

“Without Cavani’s clause, I would not have considered selling him,” De Laurentiis told reporters. “It is a matter of principle. You cannot buy everything because it’s not good on an ethical level.

“The problem with these clubs is that they are owned by businesses that are run by presidents who will pay absurd figures.

“As for Cavani, each year I had to increase his price. It got so high, to a point where it was more than what Bayern Munich made for winning the Champions League.

“Then he began telling me he wanted to leave, so I told him to put forth the release clause. I’m sure Real Madrid, Manchester City and Chelsea would never have spent 63 million euros.”

Oh, I wouldn’t be so sure.

Europa League not good enough

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said it would be a big disappointment if he won the Europa League, months after his predecessor Rafa Benitez led the club to the title.

Chelsea were knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage last season, causing them to drop into the Europa League which they won by beating Benfica in May.

 “I don’t want to win the Europa League,” Mourinho told the BBC on Tuesday.

“If I win the Europa League it will be a big disappointment for me because I don’t want to play in it.

“I don’t want my players to feel the Europa League is our competition.”

Mourinho said the Champions League was a priority.

“That’s the only European competition we have to play and that’s the European competition we have to give our best,” he added.

The comments could be interpreted as a veiled dig at former manager Benitez, who was in interim charge from November and won the Europa League, but who was never never a popular figure in his short time at Stamford Bridge, and who never got on with Mourinho when the pair were rivals in the Premier League.

Benitez’s Liverpool won the Champions League in 2005 and reached the final in 2007, beating Mourinho’s Chelsea in the semi-final on both occasions.

Mourinho, who left Real Madrid at the end of last season, said he will do what he can to get the best out of Fernando Torres, who has struggled to find his form since joining for £50 million in 2011.

“Good players in big clubs, they are always under this pressure,” said Mourinho.

“The only thing I can promise is that I give everything to my players and I try my best to perform the best I can. He will get from me that support that a striker needs to feel more confident.

“But, at the end of the day, it’s up to them and is their responsibility. Fernando has to cope with that.”

Tough love it is then.

Another one bites the dust

After losing out to Bayern Munich on Thiago Alcantara, Manchester United look set to be turned down by Cesc Fabregas, with the midfielder saying he wants to stay at Barcelona.

The former Arsenal man, who was frequently overlooked last season, will have been reassured to hear that he remains part of coach Tito Vilanova’s plans for the forthcoming campaign.

Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova said: “Cesc has received offers from other clubs. I talked with him and he told me he wants to stay. His dream is to triumph here.

“We’re very happy to have Cesc. I’m conscious that he has received offers, but he spoke to me, says he’s happy, no chance of leaving.

“He knows there is competition for places here but his decision is to stay. I am relaxed about the situation.

“It is a good sign that the club gets offers for our players. It shows we have players other teams want. But Fabregas wants to stay.”

United boss David Moyes is now expected to turn his attention to his former club, Everton, and look to lure Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini to Old Trafford.

Goal of the day

Charleroi’s Giuseppe Rossini produces a wonderful overhead kick against Virton.

Quote of the day

“When I was in New York, Pep visited me for two days. He is my friend and I need him close to me. But after the surgery and during the two months recovery period he did not visit me any more. I expected more from him. He acts like that.” 

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova responds to Pep Guardiola’s attack on Barcelona president Sandro Rosell. The bad blood between Guardiola and Barcelona looks set to continue.

Boy from Brazil

Chelsea have apologised after Ramires missed matches with Brazil following a mis-communication over an injury which has led to question marks over his international future.

Brazil Football Association president Jose Maria Marin questioned Ramires’ commitment following the midfielder’s absence from the friendly matches with Russia Italy in March.

A Chelsea spokesman said: “Contrary to media reports, Chelsea Football Club can confirm that Ramires was not available to play for Brazil in friendly matches against Russia and Italy in March of this year due to injury.

“The left adductor muscle injury was confirmed following an MRI scan and he underwent treatment at Chelsea FC’s medical department from March 17 to March 28.

“Throughout this time information was relayed to the Brazilian national team doctor in the usual way and the treatment was agreed between the club and national team.

“However, Chelsea FC would like to apologise that it was not made clear when Ramires would be able to report back to the national squad.”

Marin suggested Ramires’ absence was due to his wife hosting a dinner party. Which, if true, would go down as one of the all time great excuses for not turning up for a game. Right up there with former Romanian international Florin Raducioiu who, during a brief spell with West Ham, once missed a match because he had decided to go shopping with his wife at Harvey Nicholls.

Little Luis latest

Liverpool have included Luis Suárez in their 28-man squad to tour south-east Asia and Australia despite the striker being keen on a move away.

Suárez, who will miss the start of the season as he completes a 10-game ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in April, has reiterated his desire to move in recent weeks.

However, Liverpool have insisted the Uruguay international is not for sale and have named the 26-year-old in their touring party.

Liverpool are due to take on an Indonesia XI in Jakarta on 20 July. They will then face Melbourne Victory in Australia on 24 July before wrapping up the tour against Thailand in Bangkok on 28 July.

Liverpool’s managing director Ian Ayre said it is the club’s job to “convince” Suárez that he has a future at Anfield.

“I don’t think anyone will be against him at this point,” said Ayre. “He only needs to do what he did last season and everyone will feel he’s in the right place and he should carry on getting the support that he deserves and gets from Liverpool.

So more diving, biting, stamping, racially abusing opponents and he will have Liverpool’s wholehearted support. No change there then.

Appeal fails

UEFA has confirmed that Turkish sides Fenerbahce and Besiktas remain banned from European competition next season as a result of match-fixing allegations.

Last month, UEFA announced that Fenerbahce had been banned from next season’s Champions League and Besiktas from the Europa League as a result of the allegations.

Both clubs had appealed the punishments but UEFA’s Appeals Body ruled on Monday that the bans would be upheld. However, Fenerbahce, whose ban saw them excluded for a total of three seasons, with the third suspended for a period of five years, have seen their sentence commuted to two seasons.

A UEFA statement read: “The UEFA Appeals Body today announced its decisions following the appeals lodged by Besiktas JK and Fenerbahce SK related to the two decisions passed by the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body (CDB) on 21 and 22 June 2013, respectively.

“The UEFA Appeals Body carefully analysed the statements and documents submitted by Besiktas JK and Fenerbahce SK related to their specific cases, as well as the statements and documents submitted by the UEFA Disciplinary Inspectors appointed to each case, and reached the following decisions:

“Besiktas JK has had their appeal rejected. Consequently, Besiktas JK is not eligible to participate in the 2013-14 UEFA Europa League.

“Fenerbahce SK has had their appeal partially admitted. Consequently, Fenerbahce SK is excluded from participating in the next two UEFA club competitions for which they would qualify, including the 2013-14 UEFA Champions League.”

The clubs are still able to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Franchise holder

David Beckham hopes to make an announcement later this year about his plans to launch an MLS expansion franchise.

The former England captain, who spent four years on gardening leave at LA Galaxy before finally retiring after a short spell at Paris Saint-Germain last season, visited Miami last month to examine the option of founding a new team in Florida.

The 38-year-old had a clause in his contract from his time as a player at LA Galaxy giving him the option to take up ownership of a club in the MLS for a set fee of $25 million.

Beckham was joined on that visit by Bolivia-born billionaire Marcelo Claure, who tried unsuccessfully to launch an MLS franchise in Florida in partnership with Barcelona back in 2009. For some unfathomable reason, a Beckham-backed franchise is seen as a better prospect than one led by the world’s most admired club.

“It will be in a few months maybe but it’s important to get it right,” Beckham is quoted as saying in The Sun. “This is a big decision where I’ll have my franchise and how I’m going to do it. It’s something I’m excited about.”

There is not currently an MLS franchise in Florida, nor any of the closest dozen or so states in the region. The last time the state had any MLS franchises was in 2001, the year both the Fort Lauderdale-based Miami Fusion and the Tampa Bay Mutiny folded.