How to break the rules

Paris Saint-Germain are in “advanced talks” over a new sponsorship deal with a Qatari bank.

It is believed the Qatar National Bank, already a sponsor of the club, is on the verge of agreeing a bigger deal which, according to AFP, would be worth around €100 million-a-year.

If concluded, the deal would see the bank’s name replace Fly Emirates on the club’s shirts and would also include a naming rights deal for the Parc des Princes stadium.

“We’ll follow the rules,” chairman Nasser el-Khelaifi said recently. “Mr Platini [UEFA’s president] said we’ll need to be creative. We have a few ideas.”

Expect to read more about this kind of ‘creativity’ in the coming years as clubs come up with increasingly preposterous justifications to comply with UEFA’s Financial Fairplay rules.

I don’t know why they bother with the charade of shirt sponsorship; they might as well walk out with jerseys sporting the word: ‘Loadsamoney’.

Mourinho to sue

Jose Mourinho has filed a civil lawsuit against Marca editor Roberto Palomar for making defamatory comments in an article about Real Madrid coach.

The journalist published a scathing critique of Mourinho on September 17, – touched upon in Wednesday’s World Soccer Daily – where he referred to the Portuguese coach as “the type of person who leaves after causing a car crash”.

Unhappy with the choice of words, Mourinho has subsequently decided to take legal action against the Spanish newspaper.

“This expression is objectively vexatious and the use of it was completely unnecessary to achieve the objective of the article,” a statement from Mourinho’s legal representatives reads.

“Mourinho is fully aware of the importance of the right of freedom of expression, and has not and will never take legal action against rightful criticism.”

Mourinho previously took legal action against El Pais journalist Charles Bouvier for calling him a “Nazi Portuguese”.

Aussie rules

In the wake of Alessandro del Piero’s move to Sydney FC, Michael Ballack and Emile Heskey are the latest big-name players (or in the case of Heskey, just big) to venture to Australia in search of one last pay packet.

Ballack is poised to join Western Sydney Wanderers, picking the Australian A-League newcomers over offers from the Middle East and US.

The former German international, who turns 36 next week, has opted for the Australian side in a one-year deal worth in excess of Aus$1 million.

“Michael is excited by the prospect of coming to a great city like Sydney and being a part of a new project in an emerging football country,” the The World Game site quoted a source as saying.

“He has kept himself very fit and obviously the match fitness will come quickly from that.

“He will certainly be in Australia for the first game (October 6) and over the next few days the finer details will be sorted out.”

Football Federation Australia’s head of the A-League Damien De Bohun could scarcely believe that a player of Ballack’s calibre would consider playing in Australia.

“There’s all sorts of rumours flying around but the fact that someone like Ballack would even contemplate coming to the A-League is huge,” De Bohun said. “Four or five years ago that wasn’t a conversation people were even prepared to have.”

Four of five years ago, Ballack was an established German international. Even two years ago he was a key member of the Chelsea side that won the Premier League and FA Cup double. The fact that people are now having the ‘conversation’ is less a reflection oN the growing strength of the A-League, and more an indication of the WANING powers of a once-great player.

Heskey, meanwhile, about whom the word great is rarely applied – lest we are referring to his girth – is reported to be set for a medical with Newcastle Jets. Were he a prolific goalscorer and 7 goals in 62 international appearances indicates he most emphatically is not, then we could have used the ‘Goals to Newcastle’ pun.

Failing to find a club this summer, Heskey said: “As has been reported, I did receive a number of offers during the transfer window but didn’t feel like any of them were the right opportunity for me at that time.”

How many of these offers came from professional football clubs is unknown.

Goal of the day

Oscar’s second in Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with Juventus was a beauty. The shot from the edge of the penalty area was unstoppable, but  the first touch that took away from two defenders was even better.

Desperate times…

With Cameroon looking in danger of missing out on a second consecutive African Nations Cup finals, a delegation from the country is to travel to Russia in an attempt to persuade Samuel Eto’o to return to international colours.

Seems a sensible idea, although the fact that the Cameroon authorities are unable to decide who, and how many people comprise the delegation, one wonders about the likelihood of it succeeding in its aim.

Football technical department director Manga Ongene is expected to feature in the delegation alongside representatives from the presidency, the prime minister’s office, the ministry of sports, the football federation and also roving ambassador and veteran striker Roger Milla.

“The delegation is too big,” a member of the technical department told, adding “we could send at most three people. What is the role of the presidency in the mission, just like the prime minister’s office and even Fecafoot whose officials are at daggers drawn with Eto’o.”

The Anzhi Makhachkala striker refused to play against Cape Verde last month, over concerns about the “amateurish and poorly organised” national team set-up.

I’m sure when half the population of Cameroon turns up on his doorstep sporting ‘Please come back Sam’ placards, those concerns will evaporate.

Ambulance chaser

If Rafa Benitez worked in the legal profession I think we know what kind of lawyer he would turn out to be and could be fairly certain that much of his working day would comprise the pursuit of ambulances

No sooner had the opportunistic Spaniard put himself in the frame as a potential successor to Brendan Roders at his former club Liverpool, than he expresses interest in becoming Milan coach, should they sack Massimiliano Allegri.

Allegri has come under pressure due to Milan’s poor start to the season, although even your typical goldfish would be able to see that there might be a connection between the club’s poor start and their decision to sell off their best players during the summer.

Reports in the Italian press are claiming that Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani is an admirer of Benitez, and has targeted the Spaniard as Allegri’s successor should results not improve in the next month.

Benitez’s agent has spoken about the speculation and admitted his client would consider an offer were one received.

Manuel Garcia Quilon told “It’s not true that Benitez has offered himself to Milan.

“If Milan called us then we’ll talk because we listen to everyone – both in Italy and abroad.

“If the Rossoneri should call, then Benitez would listen to their offer and evaluate it carefully.”

And as soon as he realised that there was no money to spend, the offer would be summarily rejected.

On the move?

In news that will alert a number of Premier League clubs, Spanish centre-back Sergio Ramos is reported to be seriously thinking about leaving Real Madrid.

The Spain international is believed to be looking for a way out of Santiago Bernabeu amid reports that his relations with Jose Mourinho have broken down.

Spanish TV show Punto Pelota claims the player is fed up with Mourinho’s habit of criticising the same (mainly Spanish) players, while praising others (mainly non-Spanish). Moreover, as the man who is thought to represent the greatest challenge to the coach’s authority, one can see why Mourinho would shed few tears if he left.

Mourinho’s decision to leave the World and European champion on the bench in the Champions League clash against Manchester City could well be the final straw for the defender.

Sergio Ramos joined los Blancos in a €27 million move from Sevilla in the summer of 2005 and has made 233 La Liga appearances for los Merengues, scoring 28 goals in the process.

Super Mario

It’s been a while since we heard about Mario Balotelli. After exploding onto the English football scene like a firecracker, the Italian forward has kept a relatively low profile this season.

Apparently, though, he has had another bust-up with Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini over his lifestyle, which resulted in his omission from the squad for Tuesday’s Champions League defeat at Real Madrid.

A source told the Daily Star (take with a pinch of salt, if you wish): “Mario Balotelli is in the bad books on two fronts – a very late night out after the Stoke game and his refusal to stop smoking. He and Mancini had words on Monday afternoon and it led to him being dropped from the squad.”

Balotelli is probably no worse than many other young footballers with too much money and too much time on their hands. Where he differs from his peers, though, is not in his outrageous lifestyle (notwithstanding the house burning incident), but in his desire to draw attention to that lifestyle by posing for passers-by carrying camera phones.

Quote of the day

“We only hear about Barton because of his scrapes… his bad behavior on the pitch. I don’t know the player and I don’t know the man, so I can’t say more. But it’s easy to imagine that the referees here will send him off for the slightest foul. If he plays like he played in England – in England they forgave him for certain things – they won’t be so lenient in France. When you play at Marseille the atmosphere is electric. The fans will be pushing them. But in France you don’t get away with playing dirty. That could be a problem. I’m not say it will be. But it could be.”

Former Marseille legend Jean-Pierre Papin fears the worst for Joey Barton.

Hope for Afghanistan?

The first professional football league in Afghanistan kicked-off on Tuesday to a packed stadium of supporters eager to follow the progress of the players, many of whom were found via an X-Factor-style talent show.

Players were voted on the teams by a jury and by the television audience. In the end eight teams, one from every region, with 18 players each were found.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved today. I’m proud that we managed to organise such an event and I would like to send more positive messages, not only about today.” said APL commissioner Said Shafir Gawari.

“Most of the Afghan population are young people. They’re under 25. We would like to bring our message to the majority of Afghans, and to the world, that Afghans can play together, and that we have teams composed of different tribes, of different ethnicities.

Ethnic tensions were at the root of decades of violence that has torn apart Afghanistan and was exacerbated by the Soviet invasion of the country in 1979.

“If you look at the Kandahar team, they are not only composed of Pashtuns. They are Hazaras and other ethnicities too,” continued Shafir Gawari.

The eight teams will meet during a group phase which produce semi-finalists and eventual finalists for a total of 16 matches, all televised across the country on two of the leading networks.