Back in action

Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba has revealed that he played an impromptu game of football while on holiday, just two months after he suffered a cardiac arrest during an FA Cup tie last season.

The 24-year-old, whose heart stopped beating for 78 minutes following his collapse against Tottenham Hotspur in March, told CNN that he played while in Dubai in May.

“I was on holiday and I was staying in a hotel and there were quite a few footballers in the hotel as well,” he said.

“The staff of the hotel usually play against the visitors, so I was by the pool and heard they were playing football.

“Then I went across and saw other footballers playing and I told my friends and Shauna (his fiancee) – I told her, ‘I am sorry but I am going to play football’. She goes, ‘Are you sure?’ and I say, ‘Yes’ and I just went in there.

“I just went in through the groove and played for about 20-25 minutes. It was just playing like normal, it was just playing like I was training.

“It was great, I enjoyed it… it was just to get back into the groove and to get back into momentum, it was just great. But I just hope to God that I can get in there myself, with the 11 players on the pitch and to play would be fantastic.”

Good though it is to hear of his remarkable recovery, the prospect of him returning to play professionally, remain in doubt.

Piers Morgan, who conducted the interview for CNN, said via Twitter: “I played for 25 minutes and it felt great!” @fmuamba told me. Flying to Belgium docs next week to hear if he can play pro football again.”

Goal of the day

Forget goal of the day, this is the goal of the year, for that has how long it has taken Steward Downing to open his account at Liverpool. The 20-yard strike earned Liverpool a 1-0 Europa League win over Belarus side, Gomel, and Brendan Rodgers his first victory as Liverpool manager.

On the move

Rodgers had little time to enjoy that win before he was fending off questions about the whereabouts of defender Daniel Agger.

The Dane didn’t travel to Belarus, prompting speculation that he was in talks with Premier League champions Manchester City.

Apparently not, according to Rodgers.

“The plan was always for Daniel to stay behind,” he said. “Everyone knows his history of injuries. He came back to pre-season training after everyone else and is still not up to speed.

“He is fit, but I have to make sure he is up to speed before he plays, because everyone knows his history with injuries.”

Agger’s agent, Per Steffensen, was less forthcoming, telling Politiken: “He is not injured in any way. Only the club and the manager can answer why he is not in the squad.”


Jose Mourinho has expressed surprise at the decision by Stuart Pearce to exclude David Beckham from the British Olympic team. He’s a bit late to the party with this, but he was quizzed about the midfielder immediately Real Madrid’s 5-1 win over Beckham’s LA Galaxy side.

“There is something I don’t understand,” Mourinho said. “I know because I was also inside of that project: if now the Olympic Games are in London, it is because of him. It’s because of Sebastian Coe and other people, but he was the most important face of that project. I don’t understand why he’s not playing. I cannot understand.”

The Real Madrid coach referred to Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics, to illustrate what Beckham adds to a team.

“I think in a group of 18 players you have football qualities to give [and] human qualities to give, the Pierre de Coubertin ideal,” Mourinho said. “I think he’s one of the best professionals to express what is the ideal of Pierre de Coubertin. I’m so sorry he’s not there.”

Beckham was quick to return the compliment.

“I think he’s an exceptional manager,” Beckham said. “He’s an amazing human being as well. What he does for teams and what he does for players, individuals is very special. There’s not many managers that can do that.

“He’s a very special person and manager. I think what he’s achieved in his career, his very short career so far, is amazing.

“He was one of the first people to call me after I ruptured my Achilles. He kept in touch with me. It makes him a great human being.”

Mirror, mirror upon the wall…

French farce

Four France players issued either suspensions or a warning for their behaviour during Euro 2012 will not receive any bonuses, the country’s football federation has confirmed.

The French Football Federation (FFF) said that Samir Nasri, Jeremy Menez, Hatem Ben Arfa and Yann M’Vila would not be paid bonuses for getting through to the quarter-finals.

Nasri, who spent the entire tournament moping around like a bear with a sore head, was last week handed a four-match ban for shouting angrily towards television cameras during the side’s first group stage match and for verbally abusing a journalist after the quarter-final defeat to  Spain.

Menez received a one-match suspension for a row with captain Hugo Lloris in the game against Spain and for insulting the referee after the same match. Ben Arfa and M’Vila were both warned about their future conduct.

Meanwhile, the FFF said that other members of the Euro 2012 squad would receive a 25 percent cut in their bonuses.

It’s not all doom and gloom for France, though. Just think of all the money they’ve saved on bonuses and appearance fees over the past couple of years.

Juve complain of rough justice

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli has hit out at the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) in the wake of the match-fixing scandal which is undermining the club.

Conte, who is accused of failing to report alleged match-fixing involving Siena when he managed them in the 2010-11 Serie B season, is facing a year-long ban from football after a plea bargain was turned down by the prosecutor on Wednesday.

Conte’s proposal – which would have seen him serve a three-month suspension and pay a fine of €200,000 – was turned down.

In a statement on the club’s official website, Agnelli said: “The decision taken yesterday by the FIGC’s national disciplinary committee, which opposed a plea bargain that had already been considered and approved by the federal prosecutor, is testimony to the complete inadequacy of the sporting justice system and the Federation within which it operates.

“Once again, I detect an inability to interpret the requirements of today’s top-level professional game.

“Having chosen to make a plea bargain in order to limit the damage of an antiquated and contradictory system of sporting justice, one is confronted with a dictatorial system that deprives the club and its employees of any right to defend themselves and their honour.

“It is the respectability of individuals that is being put in danger and therefore it is up to them to have the final say on the decisions to be made, in the knowledge that Juventus will support them at every level of the judicial system.”

I think we can expect an appeal when the verdict is finally handed down.

Match fixing

Still with calcioscommesse, newly promoted Sampdoria will start their first season back in Serie A with a one-point deduction for match-fixing after its plea bargain was accepted on Friday.

That’s not going to go down well with Agnelli.

Serie B club Bari have been deducted five points and fined €80,000. Atalanta defender Andrea Masiello has been banned for a potentially career-ending 26 months for offences during his time at Bari.

Former teammates Alessandro Parisi, who is with Torino, and Marco Rossi, at Cesena, have been suspended for 24 months and 20 months, respectively.

It’s official

The Scottish Premier League on Friday announced that Dundee were now officially members of the top flight, replacing Rangers.

“At eight minutes past ten (0710 GMT) this morning (Friday), the member clubs unanimously approved the transfer of Rangers’ SPL share to Dundee Football Club,” a statement on the Scottish Premier league website said.

“Dundee FC is now a member of the SPL,” it added.

The transfer of the share closes the chapter on the saga that has seen Rangers name dragged through the mud over the last few months. The club went into liquidation earlier this year but attempts by new owners to join the SPL were rejected, consigning them to a fresh start in the third tier of Scottish football.

Chapter closed, but you can rest assured that it won’t be the last we’ll hear about it.

Local trouble

Meanwhile, across town, local rivals Dundee United were involved in an eventful Europa League qualifying third round encounter against Dinamo Moscow last night.

The match itself passed off in a relatively peaceful 2-2 draw, but off the pitch, matters got slightly out of hand as fans from both clubs clashed in the stands.

Violence flared in a stand in the first few minutes of the game, before police and stewards managed to separate the two sets of supporters.

BBC Radio Scotland’s match commentator Jim Spence told listeners: “There’s a real scrap going on in there. There’s a steward trying his best to get in among it and there’s about five or six policemen in there trying to stop it.

“I can see United fans in there and I have to say they are throwing plenty of punches and the Russians are throwing plenty of punches.”

Radio Scotland’s match commentator Allan Preston told listeners: “It seems to be the corporate end – it’s all shirts and ties. There are about 30 or 40 people involved.”

Probably unhappy with the prawn sandwiches.

Quote of the day

“There is not a single grain of truth in this allegation. This is an accusation that insults me…I felt, on this occasion, that I should make my position clear to the Manchester United fans. In regards to suggestions that I have praised the Glazer family because I stand to financially benefit from the proposed IPO, there is not a single grain of truth in this allegation. I do not receive any payments, directly or indirectly, from the IPO.”

Sir Alex Ferguson answers the question that some Manchester United fans have been asking: namely, will he benefit personally from the club’s forthcoming stock flotation.