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The great deception

Romario has criticised the 2014 World Cup preparations, claiming FIFA and the Brazilian government were misleading the Brazilian people by saying the country will host the greatest tournament of all time.

To be fair to the people of Brazil, at least the ones who weren’t actually born yesterday, I don’t think many of them actually believed that to be the case.

Romario was speaking in the wake of last week’s meeting between FIFA chief Sepp Blatter and Brazil President Dilma Rousseff, at which Blatter assured the world that the 2014 World Cup would be “the most extraordinary” tournament of all time.

“It was a shame to read the newspapers and see that the federal government has united with FIFA to make the greatest World Cup of all time,” Romario posted on his Facebook page. “It’s a troublesome lie. It won’t be the greatest and we will be embarrassed.

“The federal government is deceiving the people. President Dilma is being deceived or is letting people deceive her.”

Romario also expressed his concerns over the misuse of public funds and overspending in work related to the tournament.

“It will be the greatest heist in the history of Brazil,” he said. “Then I’ll want to see if the people who were smiling in the photograph in that meeting will want to show up again. Brazil is a circus and you already know who the clowns are.”

Banana republic

Anzhi Makhachkala have expressed their disappointment over an “idiotic” banana throwing incident involving recent signing Christopher Samba.

The Congolese defender had a banana thrown at him from the stands after Sunday’s defeat to Lokomotiv in Moscow.

Samba picked up the banana and threw it back.

“I hope this incident will become a example of how not to behave for those children who saw it at the arena,” he said afterwards.

Lokomotiv president, Olga Smorodskaya, a former graduate of the ‘See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil’ school of public relations, pleaded ignorance of the incident.

“There were no incidents at the stadium on Sunday,” Lokomotiv president Olga Smorodskaya said. “I was watching our fans during the match with great attention. They conducted themselves exemplary during and after the match.”

Russian Premier League spokesman Sergei Alekseyev said the league would do whatever possible to “change the situation” with regard to the country’s appalling record of racism, but that legal action was not always possible.

“The stadium in itself is a democratic environment,” he said. “The police can seize flares, but how can they seize fruit?” he asked.

Immediate Impact

Newly established franchise, Montreal Impact, attracted an impressive 58,912 fans to the Olympic Stadium for their 1-1 draw with Chicago Fire on Saturday, in their first ever MLS home game.

Although not quite a league record (that remains 61,316, for the MLS Cup 2002 in Foxborough between New England Revolution and LA Galaxy) the huge crowd, coming on the back of the 47,000 who attended the CONCACAF Champions League quarter-final first leg between Toronto FC and Galaxy two weeks ago, indicates there is a huge appetite for the sport in Canada. Arguably, a greater appetite than can be found south of the border.

There’s an interesting article on the growth of football in Canada and how it compares to the situation in the United States.

Beware Greeks bearing grudges

The Athens derby between Panathinaikos and Olympiakos was abandoned on Sunday after serious rioting broke out between home fans and the police. The start of the second half was delayed by 45 minutes as fans fought running battles with police and was subsequently called off altogether.

Police announced that 57 people had been detained and a further 20 arrested, while nine police officers were injured, two of them seriously.

Ironically, no Olympiakos fans were allowed to attend the game  for fear of trouble.

Apparently, the violence was partly incited by the fact that Greek police invaded the Panathinaikos Ultra’s ‘Gate 13′ clubhouse earlier in the week. Although the febrile mood manifest throughout Greece in recent months, has always appeared capable of igniting any existing tensions.

“We dedicated several thousand personnel to policing the game and we faced, beginning two hours before the game started, escalating attacks,” police spokesman Athanassios Kokalakis said.

It was all to little avail as hundreds of fans, some carrying clubs and bars, attacked the police and set fire to sections of the stadium. Inside and outside the ground, firebombs filled with petrol, liquid ammonia and sticks of dynamite, were thrown at the police in what was a day to forget for Greek football and indeed Greece itself.

Iran legend in car crash

Asian football leaders have offered their “thoughts and prayers” after Iranian football great Ali Daei was involved in a serious car accident.

A statement from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said: “The AFC wishes Iranian legend Ali Daei, who was involved in a car accident on Saturday, a speedy and full recovery.

“We stand ready to assist Daei, who is a true icon of Asian football. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family in this difficult time.”

According to a PressTV.com report the crash occurred Saturday night when Daei, manager of Iranian club Rah Ahan, was travelling in a car with his brother and a club coach.

Doctors in hospital in Kashan said Daei was “in a stable condition” after undergoing surgery for head injuries and would remain in the intensive care unit.

The 42-year-old Daei is credited with being the world’s top goalscorer in international football. He scored an astonishing 109 goals in 149 international games.

Goal of the day

Real Madrid’s 11-game winning run came to an end courtesy of a stunning fee-kick by Malaga’s Santi Cazorla which earned the visitors a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu.

Goal of the day that never was

Referee Diego Arbel is in hot water this morning after his performance during the San Lorenzo v Colon match, in the Argentinian top flight on Sunday.

With San Lorenzo leading 1-0, Colon were on the attack only for the linesman to bring play to a halt when he flagged for offside. Colon forward Federico Higuain crossed the ball for Ariel Garce to flick into the empty net as players from both sides ambled away from the play to take up their positions in readiness for the free-kick.

Arbel, though, had other ideas though, choosing to ignore his linesman and opting instead to award a goal to the vistors. Cue outrage among players and spectators.

The ‘goal’ proved to be crucial with the game ending in a 1-1 draw.

Ghana fire coach

Ghana’s Football Association has fired Black Stars coach Goran Stevanovic.

Stevanovic leaves after losing the 2012 Nations Cup semi-final to Zambia, the sole competitive defeat his side suffered during his 14-month reign.

“I asked one question – if there is any chance I can stay – and they answered no,” he told BBC Sport.

“I am surprised because I think that reaching the semi-finals is not a bad result.”

“Everybody knows that our loss against Zambia was the first in a competitive game.

“I remember the Brazil game, England game and they were all very good games. In football there is a lot of stress and it is unpredictable. I am more surprised, I am not disappointed. It is normal in our lives.”

Like London buses

You wait hours for one and then along come two at the same time. After more than 25 hours playing time in a run which stretched back to October 19, Fernando Torres finally scored a goal. In fact, he scored two in Chelsea’s 5-2 FA Cup win over Championship side, Leicester City. Not the toughest opponent the Spaniard has faced this season, but a goal’s a goal and for Torres, a brace constitutes a deluge.

Here the goal that ends Torres’ scoring drought:

And here’s Torres’ second:

Finally…

A lovely gesture from Real Madrid whose players sported ‘Get Well Soon Muamba’ & ‘Animo Abidal’ shirts before Sunday’s game against Malaga.

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