Bin Hammam exposed

Former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam, who last week saw his lifetime ban from football overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, faces fresh scrutiny after a report claims he abused his position as head of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).

The Qatari used AFC bank accounts to conduct his personal affairs, according to an audit obtained by the Associated Press.

These allegations stem from an audit prepared by the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers. The report depicts a man who was running Asian football like a family business, negotiating contracts on his own and mixing his personal and AFC bank accounts.

“It is highly unusual for funds (especially in the amounts detailed here) that appear to be for the benefit of Mr. Hammam personally, to be deposited to an organisation’s bank account,” the audit said, according to AP.

The audit stated Bin Hammam received millions of dollars from individuals linked to AFC contracts and spent tens of thousands of dollars on items such as a honeymoon for his son and dental work, haircuts and cash payments for his family.

Payments were also made to Asian, African and Caribbean football officials, including US$250,000 to Jack Warner, former head of the Caribbean Football Union and the CONCACAF. No explanation was given for these payments and given the code of silence that surrounds past and present FIFA chiefs, it’s unlikely one will ever be forthcoming.

An in-depth analysis of the accountancy report can be found here.

Rangers wrangling continues

A dispute over media rights and a possible stripping of titles threatens to undermine Rangers’ hopes of Scottish Football Association (SFA) membership.

In what appears, superficially at least, to be a monumental case of biting one’s nose off to spite one’s face, the two parties are at loggerheads and unless someone budges then Rangers will not be granted a licence to play next season.

Rangers want the Scottish Premier League to drop their investigation into dual contracts and the SPL wants the SFL to hand over Rangers’ media rights.

The SPL also want an independent commission to rule on whether Rangers broke the rules during previous seasons by paying players with so-called side contracts.

But Rangers fear the commission could strip them of titles and believe they have already been sufficiently punished. Manager Ally McCoist has already insisted that the club will not accept the loss of any titles.

“I can assure every Rangers fan I will not be accepting any talk of stripping the club of titles,” he said “That is something we will never accept and everyone at the club shares this view.”

As the club hold the record for having won the most trophies in world football, one can understand why they don’t wish to relinquish this honour. After all, there’s precious little else for their supporters to cling on to these days.

McCoist is also unhappy that the SFA are demanding a transfer ban in return for membership.

“We’ve already had a 10-point deduction from the SPL, lost our Champions League place for finishing second last season, had a £160,000 fine, been refused entry to the SPL, been relegated to Division Three and lost most of our squad,” he said.

Regardless of where your sympathies lie on the issue of Rangers and how they have gone about their business in recent years, it’s difficult not to concede that they have paid a heavy footballing price for their misdemeanours.

Hoax fools Adelaide

Adelaide United have been left embarrassed, with the club admitting it offered a trial to a player who does not exist.

The Reds announced last week that two overseas players had been offered a trial, one of whom was supposed to be former United States youth international Dexter Rosales.

Portuguese striker Fabio Ferreira, formerly of Chelsea, was the other player in question.

“Their pedigree is good and we’ve got to cast the net far and wide, so they’ll come here on trial and we’ll have a look at them,” Adelaide United coach John Kosmina said in a statement.

Reds football director Michael Petrillo confirmed Rosales was due to train with the A-League club.

“Rosales has been recommended to us,” he said. “He’s paying his own way here.”

However, Adelaide acknowledged on Monday that Rosales had not arrived and the club had been fooled by an elaborate hoax.

“It has been a strange few days with all the speculation around this mystery man – it doesn’t look great from our end,” a Reds media spokesman told Sportal. “We’re not the first club to be given a false lead with a supposed trialist, but other clubs probably just don’t promote it to the world like we did.”

Whoever was responsible for the hoax did a thorough job on it. There was even a fake Wikipedia page – since deleted – detailing his former clubs as River Plate, Valencia and Ajax, but all three clubs denied any knowledge of his existence.

Given that the player doesn’t exist and would therefore not be turning up for training, one does wonder what the point of such a hoax might be.

Super Mario returns to training

Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli is set to return to training today and if reports are to be believed, he may well have a sore head on his return to the club’s Carrington headquarters.

Balotelli spent thousands in a record-breaking party at an Ibiza bar.

The Italian spent £4,000 on a VIP table for 20 guests before forking out thousands more on drink for the party.

Bar owner Wayne Lineker (brother of former England striker, Gary) took to Twitter to report on the night.

“Wicked night,” tweeted Mr Lineker. “His bill was the biggest anyone has ever had in 25 years in any Linekers.”

Police brutality

The Sri Lankan FA Cup quarter-final between SL Army and SL Police was abandoned midway through the second half on Sunday, after a number of spectators hurled stones at one of the linesmen.

Army were leading 1-0 when Ranil Sanjeewa headed home from a cross in the 53rd minute for Police.

However, the linesman disallowed the goal for offside and after some protests by the players which resulted in a stop in play of nearly three minutes, the match resumed with the score at 1-0.

The problems had only just begun though, as seven minutes after the resumption, Army were awarded a free kick, which angered a section of the fans, who began throwing stones at the assistant referee.

It’s unclear whether the miscreants were all off duty officers, but several of them have been offered placements by the London Metropolitan Police as they demonstrated the type of restraint the Met has come to expect from its’ officers.

Schurrle unhappy with Bayer

Andre Schurrle has been left disappointed with the behaviour of his club Bayer Leverkusen during Chelsea’s pursuit of the German international, and says he would have liked to have been given permission to talk to the Premier League club about a possible move.

Chelsea had a £16million bid rejected for the 21-year old and Leverkusen made it clear that they would not let Schurrle leave for any price.

“Chelsea’s interest was really concrete,” Schurrle told Kicker. “They would have been a very interesting option for me.

“I understand Leverkusen’s decision not to let go of me, though.”

Schurrle claims it was not so much the rejection of an approach from his club that riled him, but the fact that they were discussing the situation in public.

“However, there were a few things that annoyed me,” he continued. “I didn’t like that the entire thing was out in the open with all the details.

“I don’t understand why the club went public like that. It didn’t do anybody any good. I would have liked a bit more discretion and protection from Bayer.”

No doubt the club is thinking the same about Schurrle’s outburst. .

When a player starts to criticise his club or feels undermined by their actions, it’s invariably a bad omen. Don’t be at all surprised if Schurrle is not a Bayer Leverkusen player this time next year.

Quote of the day

“It is evident that things in football are really bad if they are nominating me again”.

Russia sports minister Vitaly Mutko reacts with refreshing candour to the news that he has emerged as a contender for the vacant post of President of the Russian Football Union.

Incredible Hulk

Brazil striker Hulk has moved to quell talk of a move to Chelsea, insisting he is focused on preparing for his country’s Olympic campaign.

“My future is in the hands of God. When it comes to transfers, I leave everything with my agent,” he said.

”I am focused on the national team.”

Well, if it’s up to his agent, then it looks like there’s a fairly good chance of a move to England. Only last month, his representative, Theodoro Fonseca, said that Hulk needed a more competitive league in order to strengthen his chances of making Brazil’s 2014 World Cup squad.

“Hulk has the desire to play in a better and more competitive league, with the thought of making Brazil’s squad at World Cup 2014,” he said, “The Premier League fulfills that requirement.”

Goal of the day

He’s Argentinian, diminutive, an uncommonly gifted young footballer and inevitably he’s already been dubbed the next Lionel Messi. Only time will tell if he lives up to that name, but Porto’s 19-year-old Juan Manuel Iturbe is not short on confidence as he demonstrated by waltzing through the Celta Vigo defence to score a wonderful solo goal at the weekend.

Don’t give up the day job

Carlos Tevez’s unexpected appearance as a caddie for fellow Argentinian, Andres Romero, during Sunday’s final round of the British Open, has elicted mixed reponses from the event’s organisers.

“I think we may need to look at this particular case,”  Royal & Ancient (R&A)championship committee chairman Jim McArthur told reporters on Monday.

“The strange thing for me was he never put the bag down so when he was standing on the green he was carrying the bag all over the place. It’s just absolute madness.

“Maybe it’s something we need to just have a look at,” McArthur added. “We do normally get a list of caddies at the beginning of the week and we take that into account.”

Tevez, who appeared to be enjoying his duties, was not able to inspire his friend Romero who carded an 82 and finished last in the event.

R&A chief executive Peter Dawson was amused rather than upset by Tevez’s appearance on the Lytham links course.

“It’s not for me to say anything about players’ choice of caddie as long as they behave in the best traditions of the championship and within the rules,” said Dawson.

“For all I know Mr Tevez may be a very experienced caddie. I’ve got no information as to his background.

Well, he’s certainly an experienced golfer. He got plenty of practice in his native Argentina during his self-imposed exile from Manchester City last season.

“But whether it’s the player’s fault or the caddie’s fault that the score was so high, I couldn’t possibly comment,” added Dawson.

“It was pretty interesting, I thought, because of the big crowd following the group, that golf fans and football fans may overlap a little more than I had realised. It’s not a bad thing, perhaps.”