Raising the profile

Sydney FC’s signing of Alessandro Del Piero has brought an immediate return after Italian pay-television broadcaster Mediaset Premium acquired rights to Australia’s A-League competition.

Mediaset has signed a deal through to at least the end of the 2012-13 season and will kick-off its coverage when Del Piero makes his Sydney FC debut at Wellington Phoenix on October 6.

Sydney FC last week announced a sponsorship agreement with Destination NSW which will see the New South Wales tourism organisation benefit. Indeed there is a growing feeling within Australia that del Piero raise the profile of the A-League in much the same way that David Beckham managed for MLS in the United States.

This piece seems to suggest as much.

Art imitating life

A Brazilian theatre company is touring the country with a new comedy production satirising preparations for the 2014 World Cup.

On the evidence of the past couple of years The Cup is Ours won’t be short of material. Indeed, if Brazil carries on as it has done the production will be seen less as a spoof and more a documentary.

The programme sounds similar to the mildly diverting Twenty Twelve, which in turn bore similarities to An australian show, The Games, which lampooned preparations for the 2000 Sydney Olympic games.

“We are making these criticisms because it’s obvious that there are a lot of things to deal with urgently. But if this Cup is to be a success, it will take a lot more than criticism,” the play’s director Flavio Nardelli told Reuters.

The comedy group hopes to take the play to all 12 cities which will host games from the tournament. Although given the state of the country’s infrastructure, they’ll be hard pressed to squeeze in all 12 in the next two years.

End of the road

One player unlikely to be representing Brazil in 2014 is former international striker Adriano, whose career may well be over after he told Flamengo officials he was unsure he wanted to continue playing football.

His performances, lack of fitness and surplus weight have been conveying that for a number of years, so it’s surprising that Flamengo were so slow to catch on.

Club director Zinho said Adriano is “confused” and “has doubts about whether he will continue his career.”

Adriano, who was cautioned for missing training on Saturday, wants to talk to relatives and close friends before making a decision about his future.

“I want to believe that he can still get back,” Zinho, a former Flamengo and Brazil player, said. “Adriano asked to talk to his mother, his friends and his agent before deciding what to do. He said he would consider whether he wants to try being a professional athlete again.”

Zinho admitted he was fearful for Adrian’s future if he stopped playing.

“I’m afraid of what can happen if he stops playing,” he said.

The omens are not good. Adriano made headlines in the past for an alleged drinking problem, a public fight with a girlfriend and a police investigation for alleged ties to drug lords in the shantytown where he grew up – although he was never charged.

Goal of the day

QPR’s Adel Taarabt cuts in from the left to fire in a long range effort from outside the box.

Set-piece of the day

Remarkably worked corner for Serbia Under-17 against their Moldovan counterparts sees the ball finally reach Andrija Zivkovic, who finishes with aplomb.

Quote of the day

“My contract has been annulled. Seeing it torn apart was the most difficult experience of my life. Fenerbahce lost a player but have won a fan.”

Just a fornight after fans unveiled a statue in his honour, Alex has confirmed that he has been released from his contract at Fenerbahce following a meeting with president Aziz Yildirim.

Barton Fink

Joey Barton, football’s great recidivist, has thanked his new club, Marseille, for making him feel at home and is now hoping to help repay them on the pitch.

“I thought that integration would be more difficult in French football, the French culture and way of life, but it was facilitated by the club,” he said.

“The staff and players have been incredibly welcoming. It’s like a family. Everyone helps everyone, people talk, say hello, are kind and friendly. Many clubs are not like that. Where I come from, there are many clubs where the players and the staff are separated from the rest.

“There are some very good players here, but when you want to be a big club you must have a team of 15, 16 or 17 players. All players cannot play every week and I hope to bring something different to the team and become an important member.”

Very true Joey, very true, not all players can play every week; some get to sit out for a 12-week stretch.

Barton also claims he’s been unfairly treated in England.

“It is difficult because my bad reputation, I find it a bit unfair,” he added.

“However, I hope that people in France, and here in Marseille, judge me on what I do here and not in relation to what they read.”

“The English media love to make headlines and dramatise”

Like they did here?

Death trap

One man was killed and another badly wounded in a shooting attributed by Chilean police to a feud between rival groups of fans of the Colo Colo football club.

The incident occurred in the capital, Santiago, home of Colo Colo’s Monumental stadium, and the dead man was identified by police as Claudio Andres Lincaqueo, who was the coordinator of the collective fan group.

The car in which Lincaqueo and two other members of the group were riding was cornered by another vehicle, whose occupants opened fire on the trio.

Police said that the attack appeared to be an act of revenge by one faction of the hardcore fan group, whose chief, Javier Figueroa, was knifed to death a few months ago outside a stadium in Rancagua.

Mourinho there for the long haul

It’s promises to be a long winter for Sergio Ramos after Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho said he has no intention of leaving the La Liga champions until his contract expires in 2016.

Mourinho was speaking amid claims that he was lining up a return to the Premier League., although he is adamant that he only has eyes for Madrid.

“I don’t think about other clubs, especially as I have a four-year contract with Real,” Mourinho said in an interview with CNN.

“I signed it and when I signed it, I signed it because I wanted to be at Real Madrid at this period of my career. I am not thinking about another club.”

The Portuguese also revealed that people regularly insult him and his children when he attempts to socialise.

“I hate my social life. I hate not to be a normal father who goes with his son to his football match and be there with the 20 other fathers watching the game,” he said.

“The people have to come for photos; the people have to come for autographs; the people have come to insult me; the people have to go behind the goal of my kid to insult a 12-year-old kid.”


Michael Ballack has retired from football, his lawyer has confirmed.

Ballack, 36, had been without a club since leaving Leverkusen at the end of last season, despite being linked with a move to the Australian A-League.

During an outstanding career saw him win the German Footballer of the Year accolade three times and played for his country 98 times, scoring 42 goals and captaining the side at five international tournaments.

In his statement, the former midfielder said: “At the age of 36, I can look back on a long and wonderful time in professional football which I would not have dared to dream about as a kid.

“It was a privilege working with top managers and fantastic players. I will certainly miss playing in front of 80,000 people, or scoring a goal. Recent months without playing professional football have, however, shown me that the time to end my career has come.

“I am looking forward to a new chapter in my life and thank my family and all the great people who have furthered, challenged, accompanied and supported me. They all have a great share in my success.”