Balotelli warning

Italian Referee’s Association president Marcello Nicchi has warned Mario Balotelli that he will be sent off if he leaves the field to protest about racist chanting.

“Everyone is free to express their own opinions but there are rules. Whoever leaves the field to make a protest, without warning the referee or without being substituted will be sent off,” Nicchi told Italian news channel SkyTG24.

“Less importance has to be given to this phenomenon as a media event and more importance from what can be done realistically, be tough and uncompromising with the idiots who sing these shameful chants.”

Earlier this week, Balotelli said he would leave the field if he was racially abused by fans again, after being repeatedly being targeted by opposition fans in Italy.

“If it happens one more time, I’m going to leave the pitch, because it’s so stupid,” he said.

Although, in the light of Nicchi’s comments, one wonders whether he might rethink this decision. Especially as the promise of a red card is more likely to encourage rather than deter idiotic supporters from racially abusing him.

Then again, what would happen if all the other players walked off in sympathy with Balotelli? Would the referee be willing to send them all off?

Roma supporters were the latest to taunt Balotelli during their goalless draw with Milan on Sunday, which was suspended for two minutes by referee Gianluca Rocchi while players and the stadium announcers tried to halt the abuse.

“I was about to leave the pitch on Sunday but they are going to think that I wanted to leave because maybe we had some difficulty with the game,” the Italy striker added.

“I said it’s better we play and then we talk, but if it wasn’t for this reason I was going to leave the pitch.”

Robot wars

The Brazilian government says that some of the robots they have commissioned for next year’s World Cup will be ready for the Confederations Cup in June.

The company iRobot said Brazil signed a $7.2 million contract, which included the small 30 unmanned ground vehicles which can provide surveillance, bomb removal and other law-enforcement missions.

The Confederations Cup is the first of a series of high profile events Brazil will host, including the World Cup and the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The equipment being purchased by Brazil includes a type of multi-use robot ”that has proven useful for a variety of law enforcement applications, including the inspection of potentially dangerous areas and objects, the removal of suspicious devices and the detection of chemical and explosive agents,” according to iRobot.

”The purpose of these robots is to keep the operator and other people safe while an investigation is being conducted,” iRobot told The Associated Press.

So, if you’re in Brazil next year and you see a slow moving object inching through the crowds barking out robotic orders, rest assured it’s one of these. Of course, if it’s wearing an England kit, there’s a good chance that it’s John Terry.

Prank backfires

Stoke striker Kenwyne Jones opened his locker today to find a ‘huge bloody pig’s head in his clothes at training’, it has been claimed by his girlfriend.

Jones failed to find the attempted prank remotely amusing and allegedly smashed the windscreen of Glenn Whelan’s car with a golf club.

Defender Brek Shea later tweeted an image of a pig’s head from what appears to be the club’s changing room.

Jones’ girlfriend Kissa Abdullah was furious when she found out, sending out a series of tweets.

“Big men acting like kids a pigs head is not a prank its just disgusting!!!!! Wtf??? I don’t get how was that sup 2 be funny!!!! Really???”

“They put a huge bloody pigs head in his clothes at training. He warned them 2 keep out of the banter of else! u kno the rest.”

She later added: “Listen 4 all those who don’t get it lay the f! back! Where I come from that’s not anywhere close 2 funny! Esp not knowing religious beliefs”

“It just takes a minute to be sensitive to someone’s beliefs no one says u can’t have a sense of humour but let it be a joke! This wasn’t!”

Blatter recognised

FIFA president Joseph Blatter has been given the title of ‘citizen of the city of São Paulo’.

The idea was proposed by Workers Party representative Reis, but both the government and the opposition supported the proposal.

The honour will be officially bestowed on June 10, when Blatter will be in Brazil for the Confederations Cup and to talk about the 2014 World Cup.

Reis dismissed accusations that Blatter has been involved in corruption, saying: “All of that (accusations of corruption) might even be true, but this title is linked to FIFA’s authority.”

He added: “He is the biggest authority in world’s football and though it was good to pay tribute to him.”

Blatter has been president of FIFA since 1998, when he succeeded João Havelange, who recently resigned as honorary president of the footballs organization amid a corruption scandal. If corruption really is no barrier to honours in Brazil, then Havelange must be in line for a lifetime achievement award soon.

Lap of honour

Rafael Benitez is refusing to be say whether he will take part in Chelsea’s lap of honour at the end of their final match of the season at Stamford Bridge against Everton on Sunday.

It will be the final game in charge for the ‘Interim One‘, concluding a broadly successful campaign, which at times was overshadowed by the antipathy shown towards him by a vocal minority of Chelsea fans. Despite Wednesday’s Europa League triumph, Benitez is not expecting a softening of attitudes on Sunday.

“I will try to concentrate on the game, enjoy, hopefully, the game and see what happens after,” said Benitez, who said he had received messages of congratulations from fans through his website.

“What I can guarantee is that I will try to win the game. That is the main thing.

“It’s always important to finish well. We have been working so hard during the season that it would be a pity if we cannot guarantee top three.

“It’s a really good group of players and I think the club will add some new players. I said the other day it could be £100million, but I don’t know. It could be £50m, it could be £20m, it could be £200m. I don’t know but I’m sure they will try to improve, like every club.

“And I think the team will be much better because they will have more experience and new players coming in and pushing.”

Goal of the day

Wonderfully worked tiki taka-style move culminating in a volleyed finish from Flamengo’s Elias against Campinense.

Quote of the day

“Neymar told us that he just wants to sign for Barca. There are other proposals but he has a preference for Barca. There is no official Madrid proposal for Neymar, but we know that this offer will come.”

Santos vice president Odilio Rodrigues has confirmed that Neymar wants to join Barcelona.

Beck and call

Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has told David Beckham “the door is open” if he wishes to continue a relationship with the club.

Beckham, 38, announced his retirement on Thursday and will hang up his boots after featuring in PSG’s final two Ligue 1 games of the season.

Al-Khelaifi has previously spoken of his desire to keep the former England midfielder at PSG in some capacity.

“He’s very interested in being involved. He believes in the project, he loves the club,” he said.

“He’s been here nearly six months, and only announced yesterday that he’ll be retiring. We have time to discuss things.

“We’ll be talking for the next two weeks, and I honestly hope that we can reach an agreement. I told him the door is open. We’ll see if we can sign a deal. I hope we can do that.”

Reports in the French media have said Beckham could take an ambassadorial role for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, as well as serving as a figurehead for PSG, not to mention the similar role he currently performs for Chinese football.

Could this be the future for Beckham? I’d like to think so.

Tackle of the day

After winning the Turkish league, Galatasaray decided to say thank you to fans by inviting supporters to watch the team train, but it backfired for striker Didier Drogba.

After ten minutes of the session, a man broke through the barrier holding back fans and approached the Ivory Coast striker. Unfortunately, as he neared his target the fan slipped and went careering into striker. Drogba, who has a reputation for falling over under the merest hint of a challenge, somehow manages to stay upright.

Ironically, 24 hours earlier Drogba had been enthusing about life in Turkey.

“I’m already in love with Turkey and Turkish people, I’ve been playing against many teams in the country and they were always respectful despite me playing for Gsk [Galatasaray],” he said.

“Thats why I can’t and will never change my opinion about this beautiful country.

“Stupid people are all around the world it’s up to us to educate them.”

Goalkeepers are different

Goalkeeper Pablo Migliore, who is out on bail after 40 days in prison on charges of perverting the course of justice in a murder investigation, has parted ways with his club San Lorenzo

The 31-year-old, team captain until his arrest on March 31, rescinded his contract saying he did not want the club to be affected the ongoing trial.

“We reached an agreement to rescind the contract. I don’t want San Lorenzo stained by a personal problem of mine,” Migliore told reporters.

“I’ll sit down with my family and see what I do with my life,” he added after a meeting with club president Matias Lammens on Thursday night.

“It was difficult for Pablo to stay on at the club given how the (judicial) case developed,” Lammens said.

“We’ve managed a good departure (for Migliore). There would have been an uncomfortable situation for everyone (otherwise).”

Migliore is suspected of helping an alleged high-ranking member of Boca Juniors’ hard core fan group wanted by police for his alleged role in the death of a man who died in 2011.