Persona non grata

FIFA is refusing to comment on the Brazilian Senate cancelling a meeting with secretary general Jerome Valcke next week.

Lingering resentment towards Valcke over his criticisms of Brazil’s preparations for the 2014 finals, has resulted in the Senate commission’s chairman, Roberto Requiao, demanding an audience with the organ grinder and not his monkey.

“We do not accept FIFA’s caretaker. What was approved was a meeting with Blatter, not with his aide,” Requiao was quoted as saying by O Globo’s website.

“If it was up to me, he would get a kick in his backside.”

A quote that mocks Valcke’s advice to Brazil when he was asked about the delays in the passage of the World Cup Law.

FIFA had hoped that José Maria Marin, head of the local organising committee chairman, and the newly appointed FIFA Executive Committee member from Brazil, Marco Polo del Nero might help to heal the rift between Valcke and Brazil following a meeting two weeks ago. Fat chance.

It’s conceivable that the Senate’s refusal to do business with Valcke is also a pointed allusion to the diplomatic etiquette blunder committed by Blatter towards Brazil president Dilma Rousseff.

The FIFA president broke protocol by sending Valcke to a meeting with Rousseff in Zurich last November, when the president was expecting to be greeted by Blatter himself.

Could this be revenge for that snub?

A-League expansion

A western Sydney team will play in the A-League next season, Football Federation Australia chief executive Ben Buckley has confirmed.

Sydney is considered the heartland of Australian football, so the decision to create a new club in the city makes perfect sense.

“Yes, it has taken time to get an A-League club into western Sydney, but now the time is right, and I believe that the model is right,” Buckley said. “We intend to build a model that incorporates the community.”

“This is a major strategic investment from the FFA in the future of football.”

To back the initiative, Australian Prime Minister was in attendance to announce the provision of Aus dollars 8million in funding toward football in western Sydney.

Bomb kills football chief

The head of Somalia’s football association is among seven people killed in a suspected suicide blast in Mogadishu.

The Somali Prime Minister, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, was also present when the attacker struck, but he was unhurt.

The theatre closed in the early 1990s as Somalia descended into civil war and was only reopened last month, amid a new period of relative stablity.

Said Mohamed Nur, was among a group of dignitaries who had gathered to mark the first anniversary of the launch of Somalia’s national television station.

The Prime Minitser blamed the attack on al-Shabab militants who, until their expulsion by troops from the African Union last year, had controlled large parts of the country.

Time running out

Polish police are yet to update a proposed database of hooligans barred from attending Euro 2012.

“There’s no functioning list in Poland of individuals hit by stadium bans abroad, because the police have been too slow in setting it up,” Jacek Jezierski, head of Poland’s National Audit Chamber was quoted by AFP.

“To date, there haven’t been any agreements with foreign partners and there aren’t any legal norms for this.

“This could hamper police efforts to ensure security at Euro 2012, both inside the stadiums and out.”

Well, it’s certainly not going to help.

UEFA regulations prohibit any fan punished with a stadium ban from entering tournament stadiums throughout the month-long finals in Poland and the Ukraine.

Race relations, some good news

Porto have been fined by UEFA for its supporters’ “racist conduct” during a Europa League match against Manchester City.

The Portuguese champions were fined 20,000 euros after UEFA upheld City complaints complained that Mario Balotelli and Yaya Toure were the target of racist abuse during the English side’s 2-1 victory over the defending champions at Estadio do Dragao.

Coincidentally, in Russia, moves are finally afoot to try and stamp out racism and anti-Semitism in the Russian game.

Spartak Moscow owner Leonid Fedun said on the club’s website that he was unveiling an anti-xenophobia foundation.

“This foundation will first of all will conduct special public actions aimed at instilling a good atmosphere in the stands of Russian stadiums,” Fedun said. “So that the fans even during the most hard-core chanting don’t revert to national and race issues.”

He vowed that “every home game” would feature his anti-xenophobia drive.

Fedun also took a swipe at Zenit St. Petersburg for an alleged policy of refusing to sign black players, while criticizing the club for failing to stop its fans from provoking Spartak’s Nigerian striker Emanuel Emenike.

“Every club forms its own transfer policy,” Fedun said. “I want to accentuate something else: Whatever the composition of the club, no one releases it from the obligation of working with the fans to fight xenophobia in the stands.”

They come over here, they steal our jobs…

Tottenham Hotspur boss, Harry Redknapp has complained about the shortage of homegrown managers in the Premier League.

Redknapp has lamented the influx of so-called ‘big name’ managers from foreign countries.

“Of course if you give them a chance it shows you what they can do,” he told reporters. “As I have said before, the only way the young boys can get a job [in the Premier League] is to get a team promoted – Tony Pulis at Stoke has always said that.”

“He wouldn’t have got a chance in the Premier League unless he brought Stoke up and he done a great job.

“It is hard. People don’t give them a chance. They go for foreign managers, most clubs have got foreign owners now. They want big names. They read about big names and think, ‘oh that’s all right, we will bring him over’. And it is very difficult to bring people in.

“If you don’t get a chance to manage at the top you will never know.

“How do you know if you don’t give them a chance? You might be at a club and you might be very good but if you don’t bring them up because the players aren’t anywhere near good enough, you might still be a fantastic manager.

“But you might take over a team where you really don’t know what you can do with them.”

For someone whose native tongue is English, who’s been tipped to become the next England manager and who acts like a typical little Englander, Redknapp’s inability to come to terms with the English language remains a source of bemusement.

Goal of the day

Jungo Fujimoto’s deft chip for Nagoya Grampus Eight set them on their way to a 3-0 AFC Champions League victory over Chinese outfit Yianjin Teda.

Quote of the day

“The game is not about the man in green. It’s a disgrace. I couldn’t believe he called a penalty when the ball wasn’t in play. It seems like UEFA want a certain two teams in the Champions League final. Now I understand how Mourinho feels every time he comes to Camp Nou.”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes UEFA got the result they wanted following Barcelona’s 3-1 defeat of Milan in Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final.

Another day, another record

Barcelona’s victory ensured they reached their fifth successive European Cup semi final and only one team have managed that before: Real Madrid between 1956-60.

Inevitably, Lionel Messi managed to establish a couple of new milestones during the course of the game. His two goals meant he has now equalled José Atalfini’s record from the 1962-63 season for Milan with 14 goals in one European Cup campaign.

Messi’s brace in the quarter-final second leg took him to 51 Champions League goals, at 24 the youngest player to achieve the half century mark, and his total of 14 for the season, exceeds the previous mark held by himself and Ruud van Nistelrooy of 12.


Former Real Madrid great Jose Maria Zarraga, who helped the Spanish powerhouse to a record five straight European Cups, died Tuesday. He was 81.

His death comes just weeks after that of his former Real teammate, Marquitos, who died last month at the age of 78.

Zarraga played in midfield for the legendary Real team that won the European Cup every year between 1956-60, plus six Spanish league titles and one Intercontinental Cup.

Madrid says it will hold one minute’s silence in honor of Zarraga on Wednesday at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium ahead of the Champions League quarter-final against APOEL Nicosia.

Here’s footage of the 1959 European Cup final including Zarraga, as captain, lifting the trophy after Madrid’s 2-0 win over Stade de Reims.