Celtic blame Neymar for Scott Brown dismissal

A new theory is emerging as to why Scotland has stopped producing world class footballers. It transpires that Scottish players are playing a different game to the rest of us, adhering to their own rules and unique interpretations of the laws of the game.

According to Law 12 of the FIFA laws of the game, a player is sent off if he commits violent conduct.

“A player is guilty of violent conduct if he uses excessive force or brutality against an opponent when not challenging for the ball,” state the rules.

While the vast majority of the football world – barring a few stubborn pockets of resistance in England – accept that kicking an opponent off the ball constitutes violent conduct, last night’s Champions League match between Celtic and Barcelona, appears to show that in Scotland, such incidents are seen in an altogether more forgiving light.

Celtic boss Neil Lennon was furious with referee Stephane Lannoy for sending Brown off, and livid with Barcelona forward Neymar’s decision to complain about being kicked by his captain, but when it came to the perpetrator himself, he was strangely moot.

“I don’t think Neymar does himself any favours by the way he behaves at times,” Lennon said.

“So I don’t think I need to apologise to Neymar and I don’t think I need to justify the defence of my captain.

“There was a lot more going on in the game that warranted heavier punishment, so it was a game-changing decision,” he added.

“The sending-off is uncalled for and unnecessary. It’s very soft. I have looked at it; if there was any contact it was minimal.

“There’s no question it was a foul. The referee was going to book Scott for the initial foul. Then the tap, if you want to call it that – is it dangerous play? I’m not so sure.”

It’s bad enough that the players don’t know the laws of the game, but when it’s the managers too, what hope does Scotland have?

Brazil’s World Cup stadium woes

Work on one of Brazil’s 2014 World Cup venues has been suspended after a judge ruled there were safety concerns.

The Arena da Baixada stadium in the city of Curitiba is due to stage four matches during the World Cup. Refurbishment work on the stadium is already behind schedule.

Judge Lorena Colnago said workers were at serious risk of accidents. She ordered a new inspection be carried out before work could resume.

“Countless infractions have been committed, in various stages of the building process,” the judge from Brazil’s labour tribunal said.

She said workers were in danger of “being buried, run over and of collision, falling from heights and being hit by construction material, among other serious risks”.

There was further bad news for organisers when investigators said that more than 100 workers employed to expand Sao Paulo’s international airport were living in unsuitable accommodation near the building site.

In August, Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said he was worried about delays at five stadiums still being built for next year’s football World Cup.

The World Cup will be played in 12 stadiums across the country,with the opening game kicking off at a new stadium in Sao Paolo on June 12, 2014.

The decision to stop work on the stadium in Curitiba comes, coincidentally, on the day that FIFA produced it’s latest update on the work being done in Brazil. Each month the FIFA website provides a photographic progress report from around the country and the September edition will do little to alleviate any concerns they may have about the pace of progress.

You can see the latest images here. They comprise mostly shots of workmen standing around chatting in incomplete stadiums.

All World Cups are preceded by talk of unfinished stadiums, but the show always goes on, usually without hitch. The same will no doubt be true of Brazil, but they really do seem to be pushing it as close to the wire as is possible.

Greenpeace protest stops Champions League game

Tuesday’s Champions League match between Basel and Schalke was halted when protesters abseiled down the main stand and unfurled a huge banner in support of Greenpeace.

The banner read “Gazprom, Don’t Foul the Arctic” and the hashtag “FreeTheArctic30.”

The incident was particularly embarrassing for the watching UEFA president Michel Platini, as Gazprom not only sponsor Bundesliga outfit Schalke, but are also an official partner of the Champions League.

The Arctic 30 refers to the activists Russian authorities arrested in September, who were protesting Gazprom’s drilling in the ocean. Officers allegedly attacked the activists while holding them at gunpoint before they were held prisoner at embassies throughout the country, according to Jonathan Brown of The Independent.

The match, held in Swiss side Basel’s home field, was delayed for five minutes.

Mario Balotelli dive angers Ajax

Ajax players and offiicals were left fuming after conceding a controversial late penalty that cost them all three points in their Champions League encounter with Milan.

Leading 1-0 as the game entered stoppage time when Balotelli wrestled Ajax’s Mike van der Hoorn to the ground.

Only one person in the ground thought that Balotelli has been fouled by van der Hoorn, but unfortunately for Ajax, that person was the Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson.

“I felt pulled down by Balotelli and I think it’s clear that he has committed the foul and not me,” said Van der Hoorn.

“The whistle really made me angry. It has angered the whole team.”

His coach, Frank De Boer, was content with a point but unhappy with the way in which Milan had secured the point.

“What Balotelli did, was like a judo throw. I think it was an ippon,” De Boer stated afterwards. “Maybe the referee could have given a penalty to Milan earlier in the match, but this was certainly no penalty.”

“With Balotelli you know he can score from scratch and create theatre. That cost us two points.

“This point comes with a bitter taste. At the end of the day I can live with a point, but to concede with the penalty was disappointing. There are always moments of contact in the box. It’s about letting go at the right moment and Van Der Hoorn did that. It was ridiculous that penalty was awarded.”

Goal of the day

After good work from Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil shows incredible technique to steer the ball past Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

Cape of no hope

Cape Verde will not be reinstated in the World Cup after FIFA dismissed the  African nation’s appeal in an ineligible player case.

The ruling confirms Tunisia’s place in the qualifying play-offs. Tunisia will face Cameroon in a two-leg playoff on October 13 and November 17.

Cape Verde beat Tunisia 2-0 in a decisive group match last month, but fielded defender Fernando Varela, who was serving a four-match suspension for a red card in a previous qualifier. FIFA awarded Tunisia a 3-0 victory by default, reversing the standings at the top of the group.

Cape Verde can still take their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas). They had argued that Varela’s red card and ban should not have counted as the match had been declared void.

Varela was banned for four matches after being sent off in an earlier Group B game against Equatorial Guinea, which Cape Verde lost 4-3.

That result itself was overturned, and the game awarded to Cape Verde 3-0, after FIFA ruled that Equatorial Guinea’s Emilio Nsue, who scored a hat-trick, was not eligible to play.

Quote of the day

“It’s almost a farcical decision. It doesn’t matter to me which player or club is involved. How can you see those images and come out without punishment, on something [which] overtakes all professional behaviour? I think the decision is a disgrace… I think the FA has made the decision almost a joke. It looks incredible.”

Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas expresses his disbelief over the decision by the FA to not retrospectively ban Fernando Torres following the Spaniard’s scratch on Jan Vertonghen.

Michel Platini more concerned by slavery than timing of Qatar 2022

UEFA president Michel Platini has suggested that it would be “impossible” for FIFA to decide whether the 2022 World Cup should be moved from the summer at its executive committee meeting this week.

FIFA’s Exco, of which Platini is a  member, had been expected to announce a decision in principle on Friday that the World Cup should be moved from the summer to winter because of the extreme heat in the Gulf state.

But, it appears that the meeting may be somewhat anti-climatic, with several Exco members advising against acting in haste over such a monumental decision.

The Frenchman, who voted for Qatar to host the tournament and wants it moved to the winter, said: “There will be no decision. It is impossible.”

Fifa president Sepp Blatter refused to discuss the matter when approached on Wednesday and Platini added: “We must wait to see what proposal president Blatter will bring to the executive committee.”

The Exco will also discuss allegations Qatari companies had effectively employed slave labour in building the infrastructure that will allow the country to host the World Cup.

“I’m much more concerned about that than the discussion about summer and winter,” said Platini.