Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water

Liverpool forward Luis Suarez has reopened the painful wounds surrounding last season’s ugly feud with Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.

For those of you with short memories, and given his latest outburst, one can only assume that Suarez is among them, The Uruguayan was handed an eight-match ban for using the term “negro” in reference to Evra. To compound that, he refused to shake the United defender’s hand the next time the two clubs met.

Suarez was speaking ahead of his return to Old Trafford as captain of Uruguay at the London Olympic Games.

“People at the club are sure that it was a way that Manchester United used to put me out of the team and stop Liverpool,” said Suárez.

Yes, it was all part of a cunning plan to stop Liverpool’s imperious march to 7th spot in the Premier League. The all-powerful Manchester United cabal that runs English football was never going to let that happen.

Suarez continued: “I had to go to Manchester in a taxi for the trial. I got up at seven in the morning and I came home at nine at night. I was exhausted, I was so tired. I wanted to cry, and kick all the things around me.”

So, just another day at the office then.

Speaking to RR Gol, Suárez said: “It was so hard what happened to me. I don’t show my emotions on the field but outside I do – and I cried a lot with all the Evra stuff. The trial [disciplinary hearing] week was so complicated for me. My wife and I cried a lot during that week.”

Here and here are a couple of pictures of Suarez not showing any emotion on the field.

As for the handshake that never was, guess what, that too was a conspiracy concocted by the English media.

“The media in England showed the moment when I passed in front of him but they didn’t see that he had his hand low before. Only the media in Uruguay and Spain showed that I wanted to shake his hand. But in England, Manchester United have this political power and you have to respect that and shut your mouth.”

If only you would Luis, if only…

Olympic fever?

On the subject of the Olympics, the organisers of the London 2012 games have admitted that they are reducing the capacities for some of the football matches due to lack of ticket sales.

Organisers LOCOG said more than one million tickets were left unsold, but that figure has been cut in half by reducing capacity at several venues. If they continue cutting the capacities they’ll soon be able to call it a sell out and a rip roaring success.

The top tiers of stadiums will be curtained off to hide the empty seats and spare the blushes of the players.

Many of the unsold tickets are for the women’s football tournament. In Britain, unlike the rest of the world, there is simply no great appetite for women’s football – as illustrated by the attendance at last season’s showcase FA Cup final, which attracted just 5,000 spectators.

One of the other factors that may be deterring people from buying tickets – especially from overseas, is the appalling weather Britain has endured this ‘summer’

“At the risk of sounding a little bit like a father about to issue their kids off on an outward-bound trip, let me make the obvious point that we are a northern European country,” said Games’ organiser Lord Coe.

“People do need to be wearing the right footwear, the right rain-proof clothing and sun-screen.”

Which for anyone from the UK, is standard summer attire.

Blatter under attack

Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness is pleased to see that Sepp Blatter coming is under scrutiny following the latest corruption scandal to engulf football’s governing body.

Hoeness has called for the FIFA president to step down, in the wake of the revelation that his predecessor Joao Havelange had accepted bribes from media company ISL.

“At last a number of people dare to attack him, including some members of the international press,” Hoeness told reporters.

“I don’t think that the situation will calm down for him. A fresh start within the organisation is only possible without him.

“I like the DFB’s stance on all this, and Bayern fully support the DFB. The net around Mr Blatter is slowly closing. I can’t see him staying in his position as FIFA president until the end of his term.

“People are only now reacting like this because he had gathered nothing but friends around him. You can’t expect the people who have always benefited from his dealings to attack him.

“However, I don’t think he’ll survive in office after all this.”

A defiant Blatter yesterday claimed that it was up to FIFA’s Congress to call for him to go and that until that happened, he had no intention of stepping down.

One wonders though, were more of football’s powerbrokers were to come forward to demand his dismissal, would Blatter’s position become untenable? Remove the mask of invulnerability and we are left with a septuagenerian dictator whose patronage no longer carries any weight.

Goal of the day

Nemanja Tomic set Partizan Belrgade on the way to a comfortable 4-1 Champions League 2nd round, 1st leg win over Valetta, with a lovely curling chip, struck with the outside of his foot.

Stories we couldn’t make up

Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta is reportedly plotting a return to the Camp Nou helm, and his campaign for election has been accompanied by a promotional video.

Nothing wrong with that, you’d think. That is, until you see the video. It’s fronted by porn actress, Maria Lapiedra, who tries to give Laporta a helping hand – no, not that kind – by suggesting that his virility will bring glory to the club.

Sample lyrics include:

The man who brought glory and honor and victory, prestige and value.
The man who punched the Whites with that 6-2 win.
The man who moved my bed, with Catalan fury, manhood and love.

It’s fair to say that current Barcelona chairman, Sandro Rosell, will not be losing any sleep over the impact the video might have.

It’s probably NSFW, but you could always say you were undertaking some research into the politics of Catalonia.*

*Laporta and Lapiedra have worked together before. She threw her support behind his Catalan Solidarity for Independence party in 2010. Her appearance earned ridicule from rival parties. Lapiedra’s politics do seem somewhat confused. She once appeared, naked and painted in the colours of the Spanish flag, in a video urging people to cheer for the Spanish team.

Photo of the day

Chelsea have been linked with Porto’s Brazilian striker Hulk, but their former manager, Andre Villas-Boas, who coached the Brazilian at Porto, may be able to persuade the forward that his future lies at Tottenham. Now, wouldn’t that a coup to endear him to the Spurs faithful.

Here, you can see the pair enjoying a chat at Brazil’s pre-Olympic hotel in St Albans.

The king is dead, long live…who?

Having lost their talismanic striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Paris Sainter-Germain, Milan have, in the words of their CEO, Adriano Galliani, vowed to replace him with a champion.

“A champion will arrive in attack,” he told Sky Sport24. “There is time until August 31.”

That’s great news for Milan fans who will now be excitedly discussing the possibilities in the cafes and bars flanking the Piazza del Duomo.

One can picture the scene:

” ‘A champion’ he said.”

“Are you sure? It sounded like champignon to me. Perhaps we are signing a mushroom.”

“No, it was definitely champion. Who could it be? Messi? Ronaldo? Cavani would be perfect. He knows Serie A. Perhaps Kaka is returning? Tevez would be good, when he’s in the country. Even Van Persie.”

So you can imagine the disappointment when the ‘champion’ in question turns out to be none other than Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko. Technically, he is a champion, although as 4th choice striker at the Etihad, his contribution to City’s title success was not exactly stellar.

Sead Sušić, who acts as one of Edin Dzeko’s representatives, says a move to San Siro is a possibillity.

“Dzeko to Milan is more than just possible. There has already been made contact and it they will proceed,” Sušić, is quoted as saying on SpazioMilan.it. “We’ll see what happens in the next few days. Dzeko really likes Serie A and Milan. It would be a wonderful experience for him.

“It’s now evident that Milan need a replacement for a striker like Ibrahimovic. And Dzeko is definitely a good candidate. The percentage of Dzeko joining Milan? I will just say that it’s very possible. 70%? Yes, that seems alright.”

Quote of the day

“What you need in a team are leaders – ideally one leader – team players and individuals. We need individuals such as Robben and Ribery. However, these players must understand they’ll never make it on their own.”

Matthias Sammer tries to convince Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben that football is a team game. If someone had told them 20 years ago, the message might, just might have got through. That horse has surely bolted now though.

Another story we couldn’t make up

Fulham have been forced to issue a denial that Clint Dempsey has been sold to Liverpool, after a report on the Reds’ owners’ website claimed the forward had joined the club.


A post on Fenway Sports Group’s website  said Liverpool had “added Clint Dempsey to a team that came within a game of winning the FA Cup”.

The website report was later removed.

A Fulham spokesperson told BBC Sport: “It is totally not true. We have not received any bids.”

Free power

Chelsea have struck a deal with Russian energy company Gazprom that will see “global energy partnership” that will help reduce the club’s deficits

The deal will run for three years with Gazprom paying Chelsea’s gas and electric bills. The European champions gave no indication as to the value of the deal, saying it was “commercially confidential”.

But, that won’t stop is discussing the deal. In a period when clubs are trying to find all kinds of loopholes to conform to UEFA’s Financial FairPlay rules, it seems reasonable to speculate that what Chelsea are being paid will bear little relation to the the actual size of the bills. They could leave the Stamford Bridge floodlights on all year round and it wouldn’t come close to the figure that Gazprom are paying.

UEFA’s rules state clubs must not accept inflated sponsorship deals from “related parties”. Chelsea’s owner, Roman Abramovich, sold his controlling stake in the oil company Sibneft to Gazprom for £8.4 billion in 2005 and UEFA rules define related-party transaction as including those with “significant influence” over clubs’ sponsors.

“Significant influence is the power to participate in the financial and operating policy decisions of an entity, but is not control over those policies,” the rules state. “Significant influence may be gained by share ownership, statute or agreement.”

Say what you like about these Financial FairPlay rules, but they have provided a boon for creative accountants.