Banned from Brazil

Relations between Brazil and FIFA continue to deteriorate with the latest spat resulting inFIFA general secretary, Jerome Valcke, being banned from the country.

Asked about Brazil’s readiness to host the 2014 World Cup finals, Valcke claimed they needed a “kick up the backside” to be ready in time.

Already a contender for the title of the most-loathed man in Brazil, following his contemptuous treatment of the World Cup hosts, Valcke’s latest remarks not gone down well. Sports Minister, Aldo Rebelo, has decided that he is no longer welcome in the country.

“In light of these statements, which are inadequate and unacceptable comments for any type of relationship, the Brazilian government is going to send a letter to [FIFA president Sepp] Blatter telling him it no longer accepts Secretary-General Valcke as an interlocutor,” Rebelo said. “The secretary-general made an evaluation that does not correspond to the facts or the reality.”

World Cup legend-turned-senator, Romario, who has derided FIFA’s demands as an unjustified assault on Brazilian sovereignty, backed the decision to bar Valcke.

“When Valcke used the expression ‘kick up the backside’, I considered this misplaced and rude,” he tweeted. “But he is 100% right that Brazil is late. I still claim that FIFA are not above the sovereignty of Brazil and I will continue to fighting for the sovereignty of our country.”

AVB gets P45 as RDM takes over at CFC

When he reflects upon his brief Chelsea career, at least Andre Villas-Boas can take comfort from the fact that of the seven managers employed by Roman Abramovich since he bought the club in 2003, only he and Avram Grant were sacked personally by the Chelsea owner. Not much of a straw to clutch, but the small matter of his £8million pay off will ease the pain of rejection.

Roberto De Matteo takes over until the end of the season, but it is the identity of the long term successor that will occupy the mind of press and pundits for the coming months.

Jose Mourinho, the man who brought great success to the club, but also the person responsible for creating the Stamford Bridge cabal which ultimately made the Villas-Boas’ position untenable, is an obvious candidate for the vacancy. Would Mourinho, who continued to receive texts from his former players during the Villas-Boas interregnum, be prepared to cleanse the club of this mutinous faction? Well, if it meant getting one over on his former assistant, then he would do it with relish. The Real Madrid man may inspire great loyalty among former and current players, but his loyalty is to himself.

Technology debate

On the weekend that FIFA finally agreed in principle to the use of goal line technology, came another example of why many people believe its’ introduction is long overdue.

Trailing 1-0 to Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad striker Carlos Vela thought he had scored the equaliser, only for the referee to incorrectly wave play on.

Managers behaving badly

Speaking to the press after a typically fiery north-east derby encounter between Newcastle and Sunderland, Magpies boss Alan Pardew has apologised for his behaviour. Like a couple of overexcitable parents watching their kids from the touchline, Pardew and his Sunderland counterpart, Martin O’Neill, let their emotions get the better of them and had to be separated after they squared up to each other late in the game.

“I wanted to have a glass of wine with Martin but I’m told he’s gone,” said Pardew. “Silly things got said on the bench, it got out of hand and it was unsavoury but it happens,” he said. “It’s a passionate game but maybe I could have been a bit more grown-up about it. Maybe Sunderland’s bench handled it better. If one or two of us stepped over the line I’ll apologise for it. I’ve never done that before.”

Except he has. Six years ago, when in charge of West Ham, Pardew became involved in a similar bust-up with Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.

“I apologise if I offended Arsene. It was nothing personal, I was celebrating the goal,” he said at the time. “I want to sort things out. It’s not right for the image of the game.”

Not then, not now.

Another week another goal

Cristiano Ronaldo’s ridiclous scoring record for Real Madrid continued on Sunday, with the opening goal in his side’s 5-0 hammering of Espanyol.

Sunday’s effort was his 126th in 124 appearances for the Spanish league leaders and even more impressively, his 96th goal in 88 league matches. Last year, with 40 goals, he broke Spain’s all-time scoring record for a league season and in 2011-12 he is on course to surpass that mark. However, if you want to get some kind of context for Ronaldo’s scoring rate, then look no further than the rest of Spain. With 30 goals during the current campaign the Portuguese striker has now scored more goals than 12 top flight clubs have managed in La Liga all season.

Goal of the day

Miroslav Stoch has made a habit of scoring spectacular goals this season, and this weekend was no different. Here he produces a Zidanesque volley in Fenerbahce’s 6-1 demolition of Genclerbirligi.

Own goal of the day

Under no pressure at all, San Martin San Juan defender Diego Sosa kicks the ball into his own net. It was the only goal of the game in his side’s defeat to Estudiantes.

Quote of the day

“The truth is that I understand that it’s a very difficult profession, which requires dedication, commitment, discipline and teamwork, which is very different to what I do. I don’t have to answer to anyone except myself, but a footballer is like a soldier and has to bear huge responsibility both on and off the pitch. So, it’s been down to me to understand that and support Gerard whenever he needs it.”

Pop star, philanthropist and partner of Spain defender, Gerard Pique, Shakira discusses the warrior-like attributes required of a professional footballer.

Shooting his mouth off

Pique was a key figure during Barcelona’s 3-1 win over Sporting Gijon at the weekend.

Shown a red card by referee Carlos Velasco Carballo for hauling down Gijon’s Miguel de las Cuevas, Pique believes that the official was looking for an excuse, any excuse, to send him off.

“At half-time I told the referee it was a penalty on Keita and he kept that [in his head], I have a feeling of premeditation.”

Those remarks did not go down too well with the referees’ chief Victoriano Arminio, who called for Pique to face further sanction.

“Pique’s comments are unfortunate and very serious,” Arminio told Radio Nacional. “They make your blood boil, sportsmen must respect each other. His comments affect the state of refereeing and we will obviously report him.”

If footballer’s are indeed ‘soldiers’, then Piquet could be facing a court martial.


FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke has told the British football associations to let their players compete for Team GB at the London Games.

The Scottish, Welsh and Irish Football Associations fear that allowing their players to represent a British Olympic team will jeopardise their independent status in world football.

Valcke, though, claims their fears are unfounded and that the national associations’ obstinacy on this issue is unfair on those players who wish to participate.

“Let the players play. If they want to play, let them,” Valcke told BBC Sport.

“For the players, when you are 20, 21, 23, it’s a dream. And that’s what we have to respect.”

“You can always understand (the associations’ concerns) but you still hope … we should forget about these problems when you’re talking about an event like the Olympic Games.”

“There’s a team and this team should be composed by the four British associations. We finalised an agreement between the four British associations and FIFA. It took a long time – there was a lot of exchange of letters and things said, and a lot of words used in this period,” Valcke said.