Blueprint for the future

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli has called for radical reform to Italian football, comparing the football authorities to a local sports club.

Italian clubs have struggled in Europe in the last two seasons with the once pre-eminent Serie A now synonymous with match fixing scandals, run-down stadiums, dwindling attendances and violence among hardcore supporters.

“We have to ask ourselves what Italian football will be like in a few years’ time,” Agnelli told the club’s shareholders at a meeting in Turin.

“Many nations have experienced a decline but none have had such a sudden collapse. We are seeing a complete structural collapse and it can’t just be explained away as being part of the financial crisis.

“Football is evolving and it won’t wait for Italy. That is a fatal presumption.”

Agnelli was speaking after an another poor week in European club competition for the six Italian teams saw three clubs lose, two draw and only Inter, courtesy of a narrow 1-0 win over Partizan Belgrade, picking up three points.

Italy lost its fourth Champions League place to Germany this season and another bad season could see it plummet below the likes of France and Portugal.

“Club presidents, the media and general observers ask us if we support this or that candidate to lead Serie A or the Football Federation (FIGC),” Agnelli continued.

“Unfortunately, no one asks what needs to be done to fulfil these two important roles.

“What does Juve support? We support a structural reform of professional football … those who don’t condemn Italy to being marginalised in Europe and the world.

“Reform of the league, the number of professional clubs and the youth sector. Reform of the status of professional sports, currently governed by a law from 1981 – trademark protection, stadium regulations.

“Comprehensive reform of sporting justice, which cannot deal with investments worth millions of euros as though they were a dispute in a local sports club.”

Juventus have endured a fractious relationship with the Italian authorities in recent years, not least due to what they the club perceived to be a harsh and uneven punishment handed down for their part in the Calciopoli scandal of 2006. More recently, Agnelli has spoken out against the ban handed to Juve manager Antonio Conte for failing to report match-fixing.

Match fixing

As if to confirm the lingering sense of crisis that overshadows Italian football, Napoli have been charged over alleged match-fixing in a game against Sampdoria on the final day of the 2009-10 season.

The club, their former third choice goalkeeper Matteo Gianello and ex-footballer Silvio Giusti will go before the federation’s disciplinary committee after information was passed from a criminal investigation in Naples.

Sampdoria won the game and entered the preliminary stage of the Champions League.

Current Napoli defenders Paolo Cannavaro and Gianluca Grava have also been charged for failing to report the alleged fix.

The development is part of a wide-ranging criminal and sporting investigation into illegal betting and match-fixing in Italy which have already led to several arrests and bans.

Fall from grace

It was only a few months ago that Montpelier midfielder Yann M’Vila was one of the most coveted midfielders in Europe. A key component of La Paillade’s title-winning side of last season, M’Villa was a target for a number of Premier League clubs last season. Now, barely two months later, he faces the prospect of spending the rest of the season banished to the reserves, persona non grata.

Rennes manager Frederic Antonetti has intimated that M’Vila and team-mate Chris Mavinga may be ostracised for the rest of the season, following their behaviour while on international duty with France Under-21s.

M’Vila and Mavinga, along with Antoine Griezmann, Mbaye Niang and Wissam Ben Yedder, broke a curfew to go nightclubbing in Paris before the second leg of France’s Under-21 2013 European Championship qualifier against Norway.

They have already been suspended from international duty and now their club fate appears to look equally bleak.

“We can talk about betrayal,” Antonetti said. “I talked so much with them, but it was useless. I’m the first to suffer in this situation.

“I don’t know yet when they will return, but it couldn’t be until May 31. I won’t have confidence in them as men anymore and I can’t make the difference between the man and the player. That’s why I’m affected – more than I show.

“I made this decision to make them understand, but I don’t know if they do. I have doubts about that. I made this decision for the club too, they have to be professional. They’ll come back one day.”

Fans behaving badly

Riot police used pepper spray and stun grenades against hundreds of Greek fans who tried to break through a police cordon at a Europa League game Thursday. The young fans hurled rocks and gasoline bombs at the police as they tried to confront travelling Lazio supporters.

Three people were hurt and four detained from the violence that happened during and after the Europa League match at Athens’ Olympic Stadium. Before the game, police had intervened to separate rival fans.

The three injured fans were treated with first aid. Their injuries were not considered serious.

The incident is the latest in a series of violent episodes to have hit Greece. In August, the Europa League game between PAOK and Austria Vienna was marred by violence after fighting broken out between rival fans.

Goal of the day

Acrobatic effort from Vlad Chiriches in Steuau Bucharest’s 2-0 win over Molde.

Quote of the day

“There should not be teams like Celtic in the Champions League. We saw it last year with Chelsea. It was a very bad example for football and it is regrettable that they became European champions.”

Bernd Schuster believes that Chelsea’s Champions League success was bad for football.


Andy Warhol once made a film Sleep, which was one long continuous 6 hour shot of a man sleeping. As you can imagine, not a great deal happened and, of the nine people who attended the premiere, 2 left within the first hour. One can only assume that the 7 who stayed were already asleep by then.

Anyway, perhaps inspired by this avant-garde classic Australia’s Fox Sports has launched Heskeycam, which will follow Newcastle Jets striker, Emile Heskey, for the whole game against Melbourne tonight.

“One man, one camera” Fox Sports declares excitedly. “Watch every movement of the Jets’ English striker Emile Heskey as he looks to inspire his side to a win over a suddenly-resurgent Victory.

“Heskey Cam gives you it all: one camera, one hero; every pass, every run, everything Heskey does on the pitch, you’ll see it first with the Heskey Cam, the dedicated broadcast providing a rare insight into what makes Heskey so good.”

Or, if you want some real excitement, you could just watch Sleep.

Mancini defends tactics

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has defended the tactics he employed in the wake of Manchester City’s 3-1 defeat to Ajax on Wednesday.

He employed tactics? Most observers, on witnessing the ever-changing personnel and shape of the side that night, assumed the Italian had eschewed tactics in favour of a free form style of improvisation; a Bitches Brew of a performance that overturned conventional tactics, replacing them with an ever-shifting formation that at times moved from 4-4-2 to 3-4-3 to 4-2-4.

In the home of Total Football Mancini’s innovative cocktail resulted in Total Confusion, and prompted City defender Mical Richards to admit: “It is something that we have not worked on very much and it is the second time we have conceded after going to a back three. We will have to work on it. We are happy just to play, but I think the players prefer a back four.”

However, Mancini responded to Richards’ comments by reminding the player that top defenders should be able to adapt to different systems.

“If you are a top player it is not important what system you use,” said Mancini. “If you don’t understand a system like that, you cannot play for a top team. What Micah said is not important. He answered a question. I understand people want to write about it, but to me it doesn’t matter.

“Maybe Micah doesn’t know because it was his first game for two and-a-half months.”

Turkey shoot

Ricardo Quaresma has threatened to sue a board member at his current club Besiktas after he claimed the winger urinated on the kit man and then exposed his genitals to a female member of staff.

Turkish club Besiktas spent the summer desperately trying to reduce their wage bill, flogging the likes of Simao Sabrosa and Fabian Ernst off in a bid to slash the club’s budget.

The allegations were made by Ahmet Nur Cebi ahead of the club’s weekend clash against Trabzonspor.

Besiktas tried to offload Quaresma last summer as they strived to reduce their wage bill, but the Portuguese stayed put, despite being told that he wouldn’t be getting anywhere near the first team unless he agreed to take a pay cut.

According to reports, Quaresma agreed to reduce his salary, but Nur Cebi claims that the Portuguese winger only agreed to do so after it was reported to the board that he had exposed his genitals to a female staff member at the club’s training complex and urinated on the team’s kitman.

Quaresma and his agent, Jorge Mendes, are now planning to sue the 53-year-old businessman, with a defamation lawsuit said to be imminent.

Car trouble

According to El Confidencial, Brazilian forward Neymar ‘borrowed’ a car that retails for €220,000, drove home with it and then asked the car makers Audi to retrieve it from his house.

Neymar was attending an Audi event in Sao Paulo, where he signed a deal with the company which runs until 2016.

Neymar was promoting the launch of a new Volkswagen Golf, but he decided to take one of Audi’s R8 Spyder cars for a spin. And that was the last that was seen of him or the car as the Brazilian headed home, driving 90 kilometres to Santos.

 Upon arrival, Neymar phoned up Audi and asked them to collect the car.

Despite the incident, Audi have praised Neymar for having “grit and passion for what he does”.