Financial fair play

The French Sports Ministry has given its backing to a proposal that would end Monaco’s privileged financial status in French football.

The French Football League’s (LFP) administrative council ruled in March that all clubs participating in its competitions must be based in France for financial reasons by the end of the 2013-14 season or potentially face exclusion.

The decision only affects Monaco who benefit from foreign players paying no income tax, allowing them to offer bigger salaries, while the club’s own employer contributions are significantly less than those of their French counterparts.

Asked by the French Football Federation (FFF) to review the decision, the Sports Ministry ruled “the modification introduced by the LFP’s Administrative Council is in no way contradictory to the statutes of the FFF and is within their rights, even if it puts an end to a situation undoubtedly historical but little in keeping with current law.”

LFP president Frederic Thiriez sent a letter to club presidents reminding them of the scale of the difference between Monaco, who have already spent an estimated €134 million on new players since gaining promotion to Ligue 1 last season, and their top-flight rivals.

“In the hypothesis that next season Monaco will have an after-tax wage bill comparable to that of Marseille or Lyon, their social and fiscal advantage will be around €50 million a year,” wrote Thiriez. “It would go to €65 million if the 75% rate of tax on high revenues comes in.”

Looking at those figures it is not hard to see why the rest of France would like to see the loophole closed. Not least, because signing expensive foreign footballers, is to Monaco, what buying shoes was to Imelda Marcos.

Thiriez said Monaco could have eased the tension by strengthening their squad with purchases from French counterparts. However, of Monaco’s five summer signings, only 21-year-old Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, brought in from Valenciennes, has been bought from a French club.

“The situation is not new and we debated it at length at the league in 2003-04,” he added. “At that time, ASM had given a commitment to sign a maximum number of French players. But the problem has been considerably exacerbated by the financial crisis, the drop in TV rights in France, the arrival of a shareholder with apparently unlimited resources at the head of Monaco and, above all, a transfer strategy oriented 80% towards foreigners.”

Accident waiting to happen

Sunderland manager Paulo Di Canio is a “strange person” who has a lot to learn about the job, claims the club’s defender Titus Bramble.

Bramble, who will leave Sunderland at the end of the month, said the Italian coach was in danger of losing the support of his players.

“I’ve never played under anyone like him and I’ve played for some of the best managers around,” Bramble said in the Daily Telegraph.

“He thinks he knows everything but he has got a lot to learn.

“He’s a young manager trying to stamp his mark on things but he’s making some big mistakes… He was fine at first but he’s a strange person.”

And we haven’t even started on the Italian’s political beliefs.

Di Canio arrived at the club in February amid controversy surrounding those beliefs and later denied he supported the “ideology of fascism”.

According to Bramble, Di Canio’s confrontational man-management style has upset several players.

“He comes out in the media and hammers players and he hasn’t said a word to them. Imagine how Connor Wickham felt when he was told by his family what the manager had said about him (being too worried about how he looks) in the press.

“He’s never said anything like that to his face. He’s 19 and the manager is battering him in the media…

“He seems to be more worried about his image outside of the club, sounding good in the media, than anything else. It’s a dangerous game to play.”

Get the right one in

Another coach in the firing lane is Jose Mourinho, who was the subject of a sly jibe from his former employer, Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez.

Carlo Ancelotti is expected to quit Paris Saint-Germain shortly to take over at the Bernabeu. And Perez insisted the new man would be able to win the Champions League, something that proved beyond the capabilities of Mourinho.

But Perez said: “We’ll have a coaching team that will be equal to our objectives. We always want more. I will be spokesman and the driving force behind this demanding nature.

“We have grown, we have progressed and improved but we want more. We are back among the best and that’s how we’ll continue until we win our tenth European Cup.”

Not one to take such fighting talk lying down, Mourinho responded by damning Ancelotti with faint praise.

“Do Madrid need a peacemaker like Ancelotti? If they would describe me as a peacemaker rather than a coach I would feel offended… I don’t think Carlo deserves to be offended before he’s even started,” Mourinho told Punto Pelota.

“I hope that he gets the support that he deserves. Him or any other coach who will take over. It looks like Ancelotti will come in to take the reins and I wish him all the best.”

Mourinho did conceded that his departure from Madrid was best for all parties.

“If I would have stayed, I would have started next season with some problems from this term,” he added. “It’s in everybody’s best interest that I left. The players can have a fresh start and a new project.”

New man in charge

Everton have confirmed the appointment of former Wigan boss Roberto Martinez as their new manager.

An announcement on the appointment had expected since Monday evening when Wigan’s chairman, Dave Whelan, announced that the two clubs had agreed terms on a compensation package.

“Everton Football Club is today delighted to confirm the appointment of Roberto Martínez as its next manager,” a statement read on Wednesday. “The 39-year-old Spaniard joins from Wigan Athletic and has signed a four-year contract at Goodison Park.

“Mr Martínez will be officially unveiled as the club’s 14th permanent manager at a media conference on Wednesday afternoon.”

Everton chairman Bill Kenwright described the moment when he realised that Martinez was the right man for the job.

Kenwright said: “When David [Moyes] first came to see me, he sat down, and we were in a bad state. First words, he said we are not going down. Roberto’s first words, he will get us in the Champions League.”

Did you hear him right? Given that he oversaw the relegation of his previous club, are you sure he didn’t say “he will get us in the Championship?”

Martinez, who was a player and manager at Wigan, said it was the right time for him to move on.

“My period at Wigan has been 10 years, that’s a big part of your career and your life but I felt it was the right time to move on. The circumstances at the club are different now, they are going to be playing in Europe and trying to get out of the Championship as soon as possible,” he said.

“I felt it was time for a new man to take that on board. I wanted to look for a new challenge. From that moment on it became clear that the only club I would fit in at was Everton. That wasn’t a choice, it was a feeling.”

That, and the fact that your previous club has just been relegated.

Hell hath no fury…

Bayer Leverkusen have reacted furiously to being gazumped by Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund over their recent signing of Sokratis Papastathopoulos from Werder Bremen.

The Greek international defender was thought to be close to moving to Leverkusen before joining the Bundesliga runners-up late last month.

Leverkusen executive Wolfgang Holzhauser has hit out at Dortmund general manager Michael Zorc’s tactics over this and a potential move for Chelsea’s Kevin de Bruyne, recently on loan to Werder Bremen.

“I really do not care about Zorc’s statements (on De Bruyne). They have told a lot of stories all the way,” said Holzhauser.

“Back in January they even wanted to snap up our joint-manager Sascha Lewandowski without being in contact with us first. They have also lured away our youth players, and now they have taken away Sokratis Papastathopoulos, for next to nothing.

“Everyone in the Bundesliga, including Borussia Dortmund, knew we already had agreed personal terms with the player.

“Therefore it’s kind of like considering to make a new definition of the philosophy of Borussia Dortmund.”

It’s ironic that this story emerges now, just over a week after Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp beseeched neutrals to support his side in the Champions League final against ‘villains’ Bayern Munich.

Discussing the poaching of Dortmund’s players by Bayern, a frustrated Klopp said: “If that’s what Bayern wants … It’s like James Bond – except they are the other guy [the villain].”

Papastathopoulos, 24 played down his own role in the move claiming, with some justification, that he simply did what was bet for his career.

“It’s important for me (to confess) I have always been professional to Bayer Leverkusen. I did nothing wrong and money was not a factor in this case,” said Papastathopoulos.

“As I had to make a professional decision I felt (moving to) Borussia Dortmund would be best for my career. It was about my future career, and I’m sure I’ve done it the right way!”

Goal of the day

This goal has been compared to one of Neymar’s solo specials, but Avaí’s Márcio Diogo effort against Palmeiras is more reminiscent of a rampant bull let loose on a field of cows in heat.

Own goal of the day

This goal from Italy’s Serie D was all about the elements.

It brought to mind a similar effort from a year ago, when the Maccabi Haifa goalkeeper had trouble clearing his lines.

Quote of the day

“We have had an agreement with the club for some time. I have informed the person in charge. I assume that now everything is clear and I may switch to my desired club this summer. That would be the best for all sides. Dortmund are a fantastic club, and I will always adore them. 

I wish them the best for the future, but now I want a new challenge.”

Borussia Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski makes it clear that his days at Dortmund have come to an end.

How the mighty have fallen

Former Portuguese wonder kid Hugo Viana has signed UAE Pro League outfit Al Ahli.

The midfielder, 30, has agreed to a two-year deal at the Rashid Stadium following a successful season with Sporting Braga.

Once tipped to fly high,Viana will now play out his career in Dubai. It’s a precipitous fall for a player, who less than a year ago, was a member of Portugal’s Euro 2012 squad.

“We’re very excited to have him and he’ll add significant value to our team,” said Ahmed Khalifa, the Ahli chief executive. “He’s a good player who’s had a fine season in Portugal.

“We needed somebody in this position, someone capable of his performance and playing at his level. He will fit well into the team.”

Viana’s arrival is expected to signal the departure from Al Ahli of Ricardo Quaresma, another member of Portugal’s Euro 2012 squad. He joined the club in January, and like Viana, was once a player of whom great things were predicted. After flopping at Barcelona, Quaresma returned to Portugal where his form encouraged Jose Mourinho to pay €18.6 million to take him to Inter. The fact that the pair shared the same agent, Jorge Mendes was, presumably, just a coincidence. His time in Italy was an unhappy one, with him being awarded the Bidone d’oro award for the worst footballer in Serie A for 2008.

Viana’s career has been similarly underwhelming. It was back in 2002 that Newcastle manager, Sir Bobby Robson, gambled £8.5 million on the then 19-year-old midfielder. It was a strange signing, with the languid skills of the youngster an odd fit for the hurly burly of the Premier League. Eleven years on, as Viana prepares to continue his career in Dubai, it still seems a strange move.


Six Pro Patria fans have been jailed for the racist abuse which occurred during a friendly against Milan.

The game in January earned notoriety when Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng walked off the field following racial abuse from the opposition supporters. The Rossoneri had played just over 25 minutes of the game when the Ghanaian kicked the ball towards the opposition fans, took off his shirt before leaving the field of play.

Boateng and M’Baye Niang gave evidence in the case which will see six men spend between 40 to 60 days in prison.

Sulley Muntari was also due to testify but his failure to appear before the court sees him receive a €500 fine.

The ANSA news agency reports that one fan received a 40-day sentence after collaborating with authorities, while the other five fans received two-month sentences.

The fans were also fined a total of €10,000, plus trial expenses.