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Heysel factor?

The former agent of Juventus legend Alessandro del Piero claims he rejected the chance of a move to Liverpool because of the Heysel tragedy.

Del Piero signed for A-League club Sydney FC on Wednesday, ignoring a late offer to join Liverpool.

“I think as a real Juventino, out of respect and remembrance for the massacre at Heysel, he said no to Liverpool,” Claudio Pasqualin revealed to TuttoMercatoWeb.

It’s difficult to know how much credence to give to Pasqualin. It will certainly won’t do the player’s reputation among Juve fans any harm, although the Del Piero was keen to stress that he chose Sydney because he wanted a “different” experience.

“Liverpool? When I said about the unthinkable clubs [who showed interest] I was also referring to Liverpool,” he said. “I needed something different in every way. I would like to live another 50 years to savour all football. The Premier League has always been a point of reference for every player … but I needed something different.

“It was very close, but this was the right choice.”

Refund required

Dimitar Berbatov’s agent is facing a demand to repay Fiorentina the money it spent in trying to secure the striker’s signature.

The Serie A club are unhappy after being snubbed by Berbatov during the transfer window, which saw the 31-year-old join Fulham from Manchester United. The club claim had paid for Berbatov and his agent to fly to Italy on transfer deadline day before first Juventus, and then Fulham hijacked the deal.

“Berbatov? The final lines of our press statement are just my thoughts,” Fiorentina sporting director Daniel Prade told Radio Blu.

“I’m glad that he did not arrive. We will request to his agent the money we paid for their flight to come to Florence, 100 per cent.”

Flattered by the comparison

Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho says he has no problem with Antonio Conte being described as the Italian Special One.

“I like that the fans call Conte the Italian Special One,” Mourinho told Tuttosport. “I feel honoured.”

“I like Conte a lot as a Coach. He is a bit like me. He knows what he wants and is a real winner. He has a lot of charisma.”

Jose has been called a lot of things in his career and now a Conte is one of them. Not sure what Conte will make of being called a Mourinho though.

Ultra violence

Hundreds of people stormed the headquarters of Egypt’s Football Association yesterday to protest a decision to resume league games despite an ongoing trial over the deaths of more than 70 fans following clashes in Port Said between fans of Al-Masry and those of Cairo-based Al-Ahly.

The protesters, mostly fans of Al-Ahly, attacked the building with flares and other missiles, witnesses said.

Nine policemen are among the defendants in the trial which opened in April.

Many believe the football riot in Port Said was planned either by the police or supporters of deposed president Hosni Mubarak.

The Al-Ahly ultras, who had been instrumental in the removal of Mubarak during last year’s Spring Uprising, had requested the football association cancel all league games until the trial was over.

Goal of the day

This goal came from the weekend but is such a fantastic strike that it deserves a wider audience. It’s a stonking volley from All Boys Martin Morel against Union.

Life in the old dog

Still in South America, Clarence Seedorf appears to be enjoying life at his new club Botafogo.

The veteran Dutch midfielder joined the Brazilian outfit earlier this summer and showed that he has lost none of his appetite for the game, scoring twice in his side’s 3-1 win at Cruzeiro. His first goal, a well-taken volley from an inch perfect cross offered a reminder of his enduring class.

The defeat completed a miserable day for Cruzeiro, after the Brazil federation’s disciplinary tribunal slapped with a six-match home ban following the eruption of trouble at their match against neighbours Atletico Mineiro last month.

In that game, at which away fans were banned, supporters hurled plastic cups and other debris towards the referee who asked for police to escort him onto the field at the start of the second half.

That led to the first two red cards as Mineiro midfielder Bernard picked up one of the cups to hand to the referee and was pushed by Cruzeiro’s Leandro Guerreiro and both players were dismissed.

The Foxes will have to play their Brazilian championship games at least 100 kilometres from their base in Belo Horizonte.

Three directors were banned for 30 days each for running onto the pitch to protest to the referee in the same match while midfielder Leandro Guerreiro, sent off for fighting, was suspended for two games. This, in a match where away fans were banned for fear of trouble breaking out.

Player fights back

The lawyer of former Cologne player Kevin Pezzoni has confirmed his client will take legal steps against those who intimidated him.

Pezzoni, 23, was released from his contract after being threatened by fans last Friday. The club felt they were left with no other option but to allow him to leave.

The Bundesliga 2 club has been accused of giving up in the face of violence, but Cologne’s chief executive Claus Horstmann defended the club.

“In this individual we had to decide this way,” he told kicker. “It is not a standard solution. But we decided in the sense of Kevin. Maybe we don’t know everything.”

In the face of the criticism, the club issued a more forthright statement denying that they had been influenced by the actions of the fans.

It read: “It’s absurd to assume we have given up in the face of the aggressive behaviour of individual disturbers. They have no influence on contract decisions made by board and management.”

Meanwhile Cologne supporters group Coloniacs (great name) released a press statement in which they distanced themselves from the attackers. They said that those responsible had “less brains than the folks over at Amsterdamer Straße”, the street where Cologne papers Kölner Stadtanzeiger and Express reside.

“Boundaries were crossed from persons who are not Cologne fans and can be not be Cologne fans,” they said.

Quote of the day

“I am not here to tell them what they can do or can not. They are not children and I am not a nursery or high-school teacher. I am here to help them, to guide them. Some things can trouble the group’s life, like the new technologies which isolate people, tend to make them selfish when they are supposed to share some time together.”

France coach Didier Deschamps is definitely old school when it comes to dealing with the players.

Setting goals

Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud has insisted that he has not set himself the challenge of replacing Robin Van Persie at the Emirates Stadium.

Which, given his less than stellar start to his Arsenal career, is probably just as well.

The France striker is settling into life at the Emirates following his summer move from Montpellier.

Giroud has failed to score in his three appearances in the Premier League so far and warned that he could need time to adapt to the English game.

“Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve needed some time to adapt, but in the end it’s worked out well,” Giroud told Le 10 Sport. “I’m a level headed person who needs something to aim for to move forward, but I haven’t given myself the task of replacing Van Persie.”

Olivier, if you’re looking for something to aim for, I’d recommend that net at the end of the football pitch, the one bordered by 2 goal posts and a crossbar. You can’t miss it…except you do quite regularly.

Turkish delight

Dirk Kuyt believes he can persuade Robin Van Persie to forego life in Europe’s fast lane, in favour of playing alongside him at his new club Fenerbahce.

“I could play a role in bringing Van Persie to Fenerbahçe, I’m going to try to bring him here, I have spoken to him about this many times and we were away on holiday together. 

”

Is that how transfers are these days? Lying on the sun lounger? Friends chatting among themselves?

The Dutch forward  

is clearly smitten with his new life in Turkey, and although he’s only been there for a few weeks he’s already talking about settling down there when he retires.

“Istanbul is a beautiful and relaxing city, they really look after me well here, I’m happy and have even thought about settling down here after my playing career,” he said.

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