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Take the money and run

Portuguese Premier League club Uniao Leiria took to the pitch with only eight players for their match against Feirense on Sunday after 16 squad members refused to play after they had not been paid.

Feirense went on to win the match 4-0. But the result, and even their depleted starting line-up, was almost a sideshow to the main event which saw Malian midfielder Keita stealing a suitcase of money from the club just before the game started.

Leiria President Joao Bartolomeu explained the theft.

“Keita took possession of 6,000 euros that were in a suitcase, stole the money and ran away with his football kit still on,” he said.

“He had someone in a car outside (the stadium) waiting for him and we reported the incident to the police.”

Keita was expected to be a member of the the understrength team that faced Feirense, but clearly he had other ideas.

Roy wonder

The jury, it has to be said, is out, when it comes to the imminent appointment of Roy Hodgson as England manager.

I’m being somewhat charitable to the WBA boss, who has been approached to take charge of England ahead of their biennial summer shambles on foreign fields. Most of the UK press expressed surprise bordering on dismay at the decision, although many had spent months, years even, assidiously cultivating relations with the bookies favourite Harry Redknapp, so were never going to embrace a less media-friendly figure like Hodgson.

Spurs boss Redknapp, who must have been surprised to have not even been approached for the vacancy, was gracious in his praise for the new incumbent.

“If Roy takes the job I wish him all the best. He’s a great guy,” Redknapp said. “I’m sure he’ll be a big success. I still think England’s got some great players, I really do. I think there’s some fantastic players in this country, some young players coming through, some great experienced players.”

Hodgson reflected at the start of this season that if the FA ever came calling, he would need “the backing of the fans and the media”. Well, judging by the immediate reaction to his appointment, he has neither. But, there is an element of the self-fulfilling prophecy about all of this. The only people claiming he will be slaughtered by the press tend, by and large, to be the same members of the press who have declared him a failure before he’s even been appointed.

Match fixing latest

Turkey’s football federation said it is introducing a system of point deductions for clubs that have “attempted” to fix matches.

The federation head, Yildirim Demiroren, also said its disciplinary committee would decide within days on possible action against teams involved in 22 games tainted by the allegations.

Turkey has come under pressure from UEFA to resolve the match fixing scandal which has rumbled on for the best part of a year. Today’s announcement appears to show that progress is finally being made in a case that has seen 93 officials, including the president of reigning champion Fenerbahce, go on trial.

Demiroren said an independent ethics committee looking into the match-fixing allegations concluded last week there is no evidence that alleged attempts to fix games had altered the course of the matches.

He said the current rules, which punish match-fixing with relegation, were too harsh for attempts to rig games. Teams implicated in attempts to fix games will face a minimum deduction of 12 points, he said.

“Our aim is to make disproportionate sanctions more proportionate,” Demiroren said. “Match-fixing and incentive payments are being sanctioned severely. (But) attempts at match-fixing were not reflected on the field.”

Goal of the day

Santiago Silva scored the only goal of the game in Boca Juniors 1-0 win over Colon with a terrific overhead kick.

We’ve been having some problems embedding video into our pages in recent days, so if you cannot see the video, click here.

Daylight Robben and Ribbery

Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben looks set to leave the Champions League finalists amid reports that he recently came to blows with fellow forward Franck Ribery.

Robben and Ribery are reported to have fought in the dressing room after a discussion over who should have taken a free-kick during their Champions League semi-final victory against Real Madrid.

Phew! For a moment there, I thought the pair might have fallen out over something trivial. The flyweight encounter appears to have convinced the Dutch international to call off contract negotiations with Bayern.

Bayern’s president Uli Hoeness has confirmed that the forward’s future at the Allianz Arena is now in doubt.

Hoeness said: “All I know is that he was just about to put pen to paper, and now that has all been postponed.”

Sport Bild magazine claimed Ribery punched Robben in the face and pictures appeared after the game with latter sporting a cut under his right eye.

Bayern media director Markus Horwick played down the incident, saying: “whatever happens in the dressing room stays in the dressing room”.

Horwick clearly did not reckon with the outspokenness of the average Dutch footballer, and on Monday, Robben had already broken omerta when he told Kicker magazine: “Franck knows that he cannot do what he did. These are all things which are not positive and not pretty, therefore I need to consider everything really well.”

Volte-fa(r)ce

Carlos Tevez has announced that he wants to stay at Manchester City. Yes, don’t worry, you did read that right.

Tevez, who went AWOL for five months earlier in the season after falling out with City boss Roberto Mancini, has undergone one of the most surprising footballing U-turns since Wayne Roony decided he wanted to stay at Manchester United, just days after handing in a transfer request because the club lacked ambition.

I’m not sure what they’re putting in the water in Manchester, but the city is now producing loyal, Stepford-type model pros.

“This club has been building something special for the last few years,” the Argentinian told the Manchester Evening News.

“It was the project and the dream that made me come to City in the first place. I’ve been here since the start of that project and I share the same vision as Sheikh Mansour.

“He has always been brilliant with me and I want to repay his faith and stay here as long as it takes to make the project a success.

“I am an ambitious person. I want to work hard and win things with City. That’s all that matters to me, as a player and a person.”

At least Rooney had the decency to apologise when he was exposed as a self-serving mercenary.

Financial Fair Play

Real Madrid are the latest club to unveil a huge new sponsorship deal.

Adidas is set to break the record sponsorship with a new kit deal set be worth €300 million over the next eight years. Now that should certainly keep the Financial FairPlay Wolf from the Bernabeu door for the time being.

The deal will run until 2020 and will surpass the amount received by Barcelona from Nike, which in the duopoly of Spanish football, is all that really matters.

Spain denies match fixing allegations

The Liga de Futbol Profesional (LFP) has dismissed reports that it asked the Anti-Corruption Attorney’s Office to investigate suspected cases of match-fixing within the Primera Division.

The claim was made by  Cadena SER show ‘El Larguero’, Jose Ramon de la Morena, via his Twitter, while Cadena COPE alleged that Espanyol’s 3-0 defeat at home to relegation-threatened Sporting Gijon on Saturday was one of the games under investigation.

However, on Monday morning, the LFP issued a statement claiming that there have been “no irregularities” and denied that a complaint had been lodged with the Anti-Corruption Attorney’s Office.

“As things stand the LFP has not lodged any formal complaint about irregularities relating to the normal evolution of the first or second division championships in the current season,” the league said in a statement.

The statement added league officials had met up with representatives of the state prosecutor several weeks ago as part of their efforts to prevent “any situation developing which might be outside the bounds of legality”.

“As already expressed on multiple occasions the LFP is dedicated and strongly committed to the fight against competition fraud and will use all the means at its disposal to avoid it,” the league added.

Luxemburgo confronts ball boy

Former Brazil coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo was sent off following a row with a ball boy in Gremio’s match against Internacional.

He was apparently angry because the ball boy placed the ball for a corner to be taken by the hosts while Gremio’s defence were out of position.

As a result of the incident an unseemly scuffle involving several players, officials, police and reporters ensued.

“I regret the incident, I’m the one to blame,” a chastened Luxemburgo told reporters. “It all happened in the heat of the moment.”

Indeed it did. One does wonder whether there came a point in the fracas when Luxemburgo thought to himself ‘I’m a grown man brawling with a ball boy, this can’t be right’.

Here’s the incident.

Finally…

Dani Alves and Thiago Alcantara have apologised for their goal celebration after the young midfielder’s goal during Barcelona’s 7-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano.

After Thiago had scored the fifth goal of the game, he was accompanied by his Brazilian team mate in celebrating the strike, where they performed a dance number among themselves.

However, the celebration did not go down well with club captain Carles Puyol, who immediately ushered the pair back to their own half, while coach Pep Guardiola also condemned the players after the match.

“I want to apologize to the Rayo fans who felt offended by the dance. It was never my intention to offend anyone, I just wanted to have a good time,” said Alves.

“Because they told me once when I was a child that football was all about having a good time. Besides that, great job by the team.”

Thiago was equally contrite, stating: “I apologize if I have offended Rayo during the celebration. The emotions running through me made me make a mistake. It won’t happen again.”

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