Staying put?

Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney has no plans to force a move to Chelsea by handing in a transfer request. That news should bring to an end Jose Mourinho’s very public pursuit of the striker after the Chelsea manager gave Rooney a 48-hour ultimatum to go public if he still wants to leave Old Trafford.

Mourinho, who has seen two bids turned down by United, claims he was given ample encouragement to try and sign Rooney.

“We are not silly to try something if somebody didn’t start it,” he said. “So I think it is time for the good of everyone to finish the story. For one side, for the other side.”

“It depends on this [Rooney’s decision]. It depends on his reaction and his feelings. If now he doesn’t want to leave, we are out of the thing. But we need to know. We need to know what is happening.”

Pushed on why he had said Rooney had started the transfer saga, he made it clear that Chelsea had been encouraged to pursue the player.

“I know because I know.” The information, he said, had been passed to Chelsea because “he told somebody who is very important in his career”.

That could either be his agent or possibly the manager of his local Greggs.

With Rooney seemingly unwilling to ask for a transfer, Mourinho conceded that he will look elsewhere to boost his strikeforce.

“Yes, I would like. We are going to close another player if he is not coming.”

The other player is believed to be Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o, who has reportedly said his farewells to his Anzhi Makhachkala team-mates prior to his departure form the Russian side.

Refusing to testify

Two Lebanese match officials jailed in Singapore for accepting free sex from an alleged match-fixer have refused to return to the city-state to testify at his trial.

Assistant referees Ali Eid, 33, and Abdallah Taleb, 37, were deported in June after serving three-month prison sentences for accepting the services of a prostitute as a bribe from Singaporean nightclub owner Eric Ding Si Yang.

Another Lebanese national, referee Ali Sabbagh, testified for the prosecution last month while he was still in Singapore serving a six-month jail term.

Tan Kian Tat Jeffrey, an investigator from the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB), told the court that Ali Eid and Abdallah Taleb had communicated to him through the Lebanese Football Association and a Lebanese diplomat in Singapore their unwillingness to return to testify.

Ding’s lawyer Hamidul Haq told the court he would “vehemently” object to the admission of the written statements as evidence as “we don’t have the right to cross-examine them”.

The trial was abruptly adjourned to allow Ding’s lawyers to prepare for an “ancillary hearing” on the admissibility of the written statements.

Ding, 31, is accused – somewhat euphemistically of “corruptly giving gratification” to the three Lebanese football officials as an inducement to fix matches that they would officiate in the future.

He faces a maximum prison term of five years and fines of up to Sg$100,000 for each of the three charges – all of which he has denied.

Political football

St Gallen midfielder Kristian Nushi, who holds a Kosovan passport, will miss the Europa League playoff second leg at Spartak Moscow on Thursday because he was not granted a Russian visa.

“It is correct to say Kristian Nushi did not obtain a visa,” the Swiss club told Reuters.

The 31-year-old moved to Switzerland 11 years ago and has played in the country ever since.

 Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February 2008 and has been recognised by at least 100 countries including the United States and 23 of the European Union’s 28 members but crucially, as far as Nushi is concerned, not by Russia.

Russia, a United Nations Security Council veto-holder, has so far thwarted Kosovo’s hopes of joining the UN.

Kosovo, as a consequence, has not been able to join UEFA which only accepts applications from countries recognised by the UN.

UEFA was not available for immediate comment and St Gallen said they were undecided about whether to lodge a protest.

FIFA agreed in principle in May 2012 to allow its member associations to play friendlies against teams from Kosovo but then put the decision on hold following a protest from the Serbian FA.

In December, it agreed that teams from FIFA member associations could play Kosovo teams at “youth, amateur, women’s and club football” level but made no mention of full internationals.

Qatar conundrum

FIFA president Sepp Blatter says the mood within his executive committee appears to favour a switch to winter for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Blatter said that an October 3-4 meeting in Zurich should approve the change, and begin consultation on the best time for Qatar to host the tournament.

“I would be very much surprised, more than surprised, if the ExCo will not accept the principle you cannot play in summer in Qatar,” Blatter said. “What will be following, this would be then decided later.”

Blatter said consultations would involve leagues, clubs, national associations and players, through their international union FIFPro.

Qatar’s suitability in June and July was questioned even before FIFA’s board chose it in December 2010 in a contest in which it defeated rival candidates the United States, Japan, South Korea and Australia

However, Qatar’s World Cup organising committee has repeatedly stated its confidence in developing stadium air-cooling technology, though the committee also said it will change plans if FIFA formally requested it.

Now, some of the same FIFA board members who helped choose Qatar – are set to change the tournament hosting plan.

“Those that have taken the decision at the time, they knew there is problems with the heat. They knew it, because it was in the (technical) report,” Blatter said. “It was wrong to say, ‘Now we have to play in summer,’ because in summer you cannot play there.

“Therefore the ExCo now shall take the decision – and they will take it – that in summer you can’t play in Qatar.”

Blatter has previously suggested the month of November as a possible start for the tournament. The Premier League, one of the chief opponents of a winter switch, has countered with never in a month of Sundays.

Goal of the day

A stunning long range effort from Daniele De Rossi helped Roma to an opening day win over Livorno.

Quote of the day

“I have not met with Higuain. But I want to see this cut to see if I can sue the region of Campania and Capri. An actor, a footballer, and ordinary person – when they go to hospital they must be looked after well. I saw a picture of the wound and I am willing to ask my lawyers to ask for €100m in damages – a figure that I will donate to charity. Politicians must be taught a lesson. What does the mayor of Capri do? What about the President of the Region?

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis says he will try to sue the Campania region for €100m after Gonzalo Higuain cut his face falling off a rock on the island of Capri.

More than a club?

Barcelona’s latest promotional video for Qatar Airways features several of the club’s better known players including Gerard Pique, Neymar, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Lionel Messi and a brief appearance from Gary Lineker of all people.

The theme of the video is that Barcelona and Qatar Airways ‘unite the world’ although in what way they bring the world together is unclear. For many people, the sense of smugness permeating everything Barcelona touch, might well be a unifying force.

The meter is always running

You know how it is: you turn up to watch a match, a player falls ill and you get asked to play and inspire your team to victory. Well, for us mere mortals such a scenario never happens, but if you’re a former World Cup winner then you can write your own scripts. Retired France international Robert Pires was spotted in the crowd of a friendly match between Greek clubs Storm Rafina and AO Mykonos, and was asked to play the second half.

Despite carrying a few extra pounds from his playing days, Pires shows that he could still play a bit.

Here we go again

Verona have been fined €40,000 for a variety of misdemeanours caused by their fans during their Week 1 win over Milan.

The newly promoted outfit made sure their return to the top flight was a day to remember, but not necessarily in the way they would have liked.

The Gialloblu have been ordered to pay €40,000 after six flares were thrown on to the pitch, laser pens were aimed at opposing players and match officials, while a number of objects were thrown into the Milan section of the crowd as the home supporters left the stadium.

Milan, Napoli and Livorno have also been handed fines of €5,000, €4,000 and €3,000 respectively for various incidents as the new Serie A season got underway.

The website reported: “Hellas Verona have been fined 40,000 euros after their supporters, during the match, released smoke in the enclosure of the game; also to have, towards the end of the match, directed some laser beams towards the referee and the players of the opposing team.

“To have finally, at the end of the match as the crowd flowed from the stadium, launched objects of various kinds and uprooted some plastic seats at the supporters of the opposing team, without serious consequences.”

Verona confirmed on their official website,, that they will fight the fine

They said: “In reference to the fine established by the Sporting Judge Gianpaolo Tosel….Hellas Verona FC will file an appeal with the relevant bodies.”


Roma boss Rudi Garcia has escaped punishment for using his mobile phone on the bench during the 2-0 win over Livorno.

The French coach, who was oblivious to the rule forbidding coaches using mobile phones during matches, took a call from his assistant in the crowd to discuss tactical matters.

“Can I be fined? Really? I didn’t know using a mobile was not permitted,” Garcia said. “It’s different in France…”

Garcia, however, has not been reprimanded for the incident because the referee did not report the incident and football federation officials have also not mentioned it to authorities.