Fans behaving badly
A group of the Jerusalem-based Beitar fans have protested at the club’s decision to bring two Muslims from the Russian Chechen republic into the squad.
At the latest Israeli domestic championship’s game on Saturday, a group of Beitar Jerusalem supporters, reportedly known as La Familia, held up a banner reading “Beitar will always remain pure”.
To be fair to the club’s supporters, many of whom did not share this racist ideology, there were plently of dissenting voices from other parts of the ground.
Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon lined up with the latter group.
“I was shocked by the racism displayed in the Beitar Jerusalem stands yesterday against having Muslim or Arab players on the team. We cannot ignore these displays of racism which not long ago were directed – and are still being directed – towards the Jewish people,” Euronews website quotes his tweet.
The club’s supporters have a reputation for their right-wing political views, while the team remains the only leading one in the country never to have signed an Arab player, allegedly due to pressure form supporters.
The club’s owner, Russian-born billionaire Arkady Gaydamak, says he would bring the two Chechens, Zaur Sadayev and Dzhabrail Kadiyev from Russian Premier League side Terek Grozny to Israel anyway.
Gaydamak told Israeli Army Radio: “The small group of so-called supporters do not represent the general opinion of the Israeli public, and they should not be allowed to win,” he said.
Alisher in wonderland
Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov has told L’Equipe that former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry is urging him to buy the Gunners outright.
Usmanov, 59, holds a 29.9% share in the Premier League side after buying up former vice-chairman David Dein’s stake five years ago.
American businessman Stan Kroenke is the club’s majority shareholder, but Usmanov, reputedly the world’s 28th-richest man, would certainly have the cash to fund a takeover.
“I like many footballers, and I’m in contact with some of them. Perhaps my favourite of the last ten, 15 years is Thierry Henry. He’s pushing me to buy all of Arsenal’s shares, but I cannot predict the future,” the Uzbek-born billionaire said.
“When I had the chance to buy some shares and become one of the main shareholders in the club, I didn’t hesitate for a second. I was even ready to take total control. That wasn’t possible because certain people preferred to make a profit and create, using me, an outside enemy. I remain portrayed as a pirate, an enemy. They have won that game.”
Usmanov was full of praise for Arsene Wenger, claiming that the Arsenal manager had performed miracles to keep the club competitive whilst simultaneously selling its best players.
“For me, he’s one of the best coaches in the world, but it’s not easy for him,” Usmanov said. “I think he deserves that players are brought in at Arsenal when they’re needed.
“The best players, and not being satisfied with selling our best players to our rivals. If that happens, we can ask everything of him. But, today, he’s sacrificed. Because of the policy, and we’re all to blame. Everything’s in Mr Kroenke’s hands, and I hope he succeeds, even if he doesn’t go along with my ideas.
“The greatest achievement of Arsene Wenger is to have created two teams: the one that now plays for our rivals, and the one that is trying to be among the best in the Premier League.”
Unfortunately, for Arsenal, the team that Wenger sold is significantly stronger than the one he bought. Usmanov, though, would like to change all that.
“That’s why I say it’s not enough to merely flatter the coach, but to give him the possibility to buy the best players, superstars. But not just stars, but those chosen by Wenger.
“It’s unthinkable that the shareholders get well-paid while, for small clauses in contracts, we lose key players, symbols like Robin van Persie, Mathieu Flamini or Patrick Vieira. We should have increased their salaries when they started to be courted, started to look elsewhere. I don’t know why we didn’t propose that to them.”
Usmanov remains a frustrated outsider at the moment, unable to utilise his vast wealth on the club’s behalf.
“I would like to be useful for the club, and I can be. I understand football well, and can prove it, but I’ll never force myself on anyone. For the moment, Arsenal don’t seem to need me. But I remain convinced that Arsenal should have only one aim in every competition: first place and winning.”
Which would represent an improvement on the current aim, that of coming in 4th place.
It’s all go at Galatasaray at the moment. Last week it was Wesley Sneijder joining form Inter and now the Turkish outfit Galatasaray have revealed that they are in talks to sign veteran striker Didier Drogba from Shanghai Shenhua.
“Galatasaray Sports Club has begun official negotiations regarding the transfer of Ivorian professional football player Didier Drogba from FC Shanghai Shenhua,” the club said on its website.
The Turkish broadcaster CNN Turk reported on Sunday the Ivory Coast captain and former Chelsea player had already signed a one-and-a-half year deal with the Turkish club, but those reports could not be confirmed.
The Hurriyet newspaper reported that Drogba would be paid €7 million for the contract with a bonus of €30,000 for each match played. There would also be the option of an extra year at the end of the 18 months.
Drogba, currently on African Nations Cup duty with the Ivory Coast, is prepared to terminate his contract with Shanghai Shenhua, after a brief, but turbulent spell in China.
Drogba’s Shanghai team-mate Nicolas Anelka is another poised to return to Europe this January. The former French international is set to complete a loan move to Juventus.
The 33-year-old French striker underwent a medical at Turin’s Istituto di Medicina dello Sport centre Sunday morning, a statement from Juventus said.
The forward arrived in a private jet on Saturday and is due to be paid €600,000 for his five-month stay with a view to extending the deal by a further 12 months.
It’s getting ridiculous now. Lionel Messi scored more four goals on Sunday to become the youngest player to pass the 200-mark in the Spanish league and set a La Liga record with goals in 11 consecutive games
In Barcelona’s 5-1 win over Osasuna, Messi notched his 22nd hat trick and fifth game of four goals or more, and in doing so increased his La Liga total to 202 goals in 235 games. The 25-year-old became the eighth player to reach 200, joining Telmo Zarra (251), Hugo Sanchez (234), Raul Gonzalez (228), Alfredo di Stefano (227), Cesar Rodriguez (223), Quini (219) and Pahino (210). Zarra had been the youngest to reach 200, achieving the feat when he was 29.
Messi has 44 goals this season, including 33 in La Liga. He has scored in his last 16 starts overall and in a record 11 consecutive La Liga games, breaking the old mark of 10 he tied last season. Mariano Martin (1942-43 to 1943-44) and Brazil’s Ronaldo (1996-97) also scored in 10 straight matches, both for Barcelona. If he maintains his present strike rate, Messi is on course to score 60 league goals this season.
Meanwhile, while Messi continues to operate as if from a different planet, Cristiano Ronaldo is maintaining a scoring rate, which had it occurred at any time other than the Messianic era, would be regarded as astonishing.
The Real Madrid striker Ronaldo scored his 20th career hat trick in an 11-minute span as the defending champions beat Getafe 4-0. Ronaldo has 133 goals in 121 league appearances for Real and if he maintains his present rate, he will reach the 200 total in approximately 180 matches, some 50 or so fewer than it took Messi to reach the landmark.
Goal of the day
Athletic Bilbao thrilled neutrals with their sparkling play in the run to last season’s Europa League final, and this lovely move against Atletico Madrid, culminating in a strike from Oscar de Marcos, gave us a glimpse of what we’ve missed this season.
Quote of the day
“I have served the club well and deserve at least to have a prise (sic) now so I can plan my probably last move in England. Last season January window is when I should have handed in transfer request. Was one foot in Rubin Kazan – not for sale. Fulham. Not for sale. Newcastle. Not for sale. Wigan. Not for sale…Loyalty left 70 percent. the rest they stole out of my pocket thinking I was keeping money in there.”
WBA striker Peter Odemwingie does irony.
Back in the USSR
Despite what you may have read in recent months about the growing financial might of emerging economic powerhouses such as Brazil, it would seem that Europe remains the place where most of football’s money is concentrated.
CSKA Moscow’s new signing Vagner Love has criticised Flamengo’s new president and the board for presiding over a financial crisis at the club.
Flamengo failed to keep up payments for Love’s transfer to CSKA and the Russian side agreed a free transfer for the striker.
Only €3.5m was paid to CSKA in total, with Flamengo unable to fund the additional €6.5m required to complete the deal.
“The exchange of the Flamengo president has caused serious financial problems for the club,” said the player.
“That’s why when my agent offered me to return to CSKA I accepted almost immediately. Everything was done in just three days and I believe it is in everyone’s best interest.”
Until Love joined Flamengo in 2012, he enjoyed a hugely successful spell with CSKA where he scored 79 goals in 158 appearances.
Pot, kettle, black
Juventus coach Antonio Conte has been given a two-match ban for insulting match officials following the 1-1 draw at home to Genoa on Saturday.
Sporting director Giuseppe Marotta was banned for three weeks for a similar outburst and defender Leonardo Bonucci was given a one-match ban for his behaviour.
Juventus were furious at several refereeing decisions in the game, notably the referee’s failure to award them an injury-time penalty for handball against Genoa defender Andreas Granqvist (see below).
Conte, who has just returned from a four-month ban for his part in the Calcioscommesse scandal, ran onto the pitch, ranted at officials and later described the refereeing as “shameful”. Here speaks a man who should know.
Marotta, clearly forgetting the club’s less-than-glorious recent record when it comes to dealings with match officials, referred to the fact that referee Marco Guida is from the region of Naples. The referee, if he’d had his wits about him, could have replied: “Indeed, but you sir are from Turin.”
It’s not been a good week for Peruvian football: days ago the country was accused of fielding an over-age player in the South American Under 20 championship, and now, FIFA has provisionally suspended a Peruvian international for 30 days for failing a drugs test after a recent World Cup qualifier.
The player, whose name was not revealed, tested positive for a prohibited substance after a match against Bolivia in La Paz on October 12. Bolivia v Peru, the mind boggles when it comes to which illicit substance the player could possibly have tested positive for.
The world’s governing body has opened disciplinary proceedings and says the player has until the end of Monday to inform FIFA whether he wants to request a hearing.
FIFA and local organisers have cancelled an event celebrating 500 days until the start of the 2014 World Cup as a mark of respect to the victims of a nightclub fire that killed more than 230 people in southern Brazil on Sunday.
Organizers said they felt ”extremely sad for what happened” and expressed ”their sympathy to the families of the victims.”
The unveiling of the official World Cup poster was scheduled for Monday but also was postponed. The poster will be unveiled Wednesday after a meeting of the local organizing committee in Rio de Janeiro.
“Very sad to hear of the tragedy in southern Brazil. My condolences to the families of victims,” wrote FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke, who is scheduled to visit Fortaleza, Brasilia, Salvador and Rio de Janeiro in the center and north of the country.
Meanwhile, the third round of the Campeonato Gaucho has been postponed following the fire.
The Gaucho Football Federation has said the new dates for the cancelled matches would be announced early next week