No regrets

Controversial referee Cuneyt Cakir claims he has no regrets over sending off Nani in Manchester United’s Champions League last-16 tie with Real Madrid.

The Turkish official came in for criticism following his decision to show a red card to the Portugal international, in Tuesday’s second leg of the European encounter.

“I feel well and I don’t doubt about my decisions. The red card to Nani was right. People will realize about it,” he told Spanish newspaper AS.

Cakir has been the centre of a number contentious decisions in the past, being the man to send off John Terry in Chelsea’s Champions League semi-final at Barcelona last season and Mario Balotelli against Dynamo Kiev for a challenge on Goran Popov in 2011.

“In my last games, no decision against English teams was unfair. Which one was incorrect? The red card to Terry? Or Balotelli? I think I have no mistake in showing them the red card and sending them off,” he insisted.

He added,”It doesn’t make me feel sad. I don’t even think about it. I have received more critics other times and I always recover from that. I always try to do my job correctly and I’m on the right way. I have to keep doing properly.”

It should be noted that although these quotes appeared in AS, the Turkish Football Federation has denied that any interview with Cakir had taken place. 

Conspiracy theorists among you, and let’s be honest, football fans usually are, will be interested to learn that Cakir has sent off seven players from English teams, but never one against them.

United boss Alex Ferguson, who crawled from his trough of despair to discuss the referee’s performance, said that events on Tuesday night had caused him to lose faith in the game. But, presumably, given his reaction to a ruling not going his way, renewed his love for satire.

“It’s hard to keep your faith when you see what’s happened in the last few years,” said a somewhat melodramatic Ferguson.

“It’s the third time we’ve been knocked out by a referee’s decision and it’s not easy to take.

Asked about Cakir’s reputation as an official who does no favours to English clubs, Ferguson admitted he had his reservations.

“I was concerned. I said that to my staff,” Ferguson stated. “I had a big worry about it but it is gone now. There is nothing we can do about it.”

Except moan.

Financial rules are made to be broken

Financial Fair Play looms ever closer on the horizon and attention is most keenly focused on the arrivistes at Paris St-Germain.

Since their takeover in 2011 by the Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), the French club have embarked upon a lavish, oil-fuelled spending spree in a bid to fastrack their way into the elite of European football.

Credit to the Financial Fair Play website for unearthing this little gem Although the recently enriched French club hasn’t posted formal accounts for two years they have had to provide figures to the DNCG [the organisation that oversees club accounting on behalf of the Ligue de Football Professionel (LFP)].

Although the club made a loss of €5.5m, one item stands out among the myriad figures. ‘Other’ for €125m.  Without this rather handy windfall the club would have made a loss of €130m in the first season of the FFP Monitoring Period. That’s a bit like looking behind the sofa for some small change and emerging with €125 million. After the initial euphoria wore off, you’d know that something wasn’t quite right.

In January 2013, PSG announced that it had signed a huge deal with the Qatar Tourist Authority (QTA), amounting to €200m a year. When the deal was announced the club advised that it would be backdated – although no one really thought that a deal signed in January 2013 would be backdated to the 2011-12 season. Forgive us our naivety.

The question on everyone’s lips in recent years has always been whether European football’s governing body, UEFA, will come down hard on the new super rich clubs that have sprung up in recent years. PSG, who appear to be flagrantly flouting the new rules, seem to be the club at most risk of sanction. Here’s a thought, though: QSI, which owns PSG, employs Laurent Platini, who just happens to be the son of UEFA president Michel. So, can we expect UEFA to ban the French club from European competition? What do you think?

With friends like these…

Former Germany midfielder Michael Ballack has confirmed that he will play in one last farewell game.

Ballack retired in October last year and will host a testimonial on June 5 in Leipzig.

Ballack will be joined by stars including former team-mates and coaches in what will be called ‘Ciao Capitano’. Bayern Munich midfielder Schweinsteiger and Real Madrid coach Mourinho are already confirmed they will appear a match featuring a World side taking on a ‘Ballack & Friends’ team. In which case, I think we can expect it to be a five-a-side contest.

The former Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Bayer Leverkusen player told reporters: “I want to say goodbye in an honorable way to colleagues and fans and to thank those people who developed me, supported me and challenged me in my career.

“Of course I want to play a bit in both teams, but my fitness levels will decide that.”

It’s a testimonial Michael.

Ballack enjoyed an illustrious career at domestic and international level, picking up 98 caps for the national side, while also leading Germany to a World Cup final in 2002.

Germany coach Joachim Low has been invited to Ballack’s farewell, despite the pair falling out after the 36-year-old felt he had been unjustly treated in the twilight of his career.

He added: “I had a successful time with Low in the national team, even if there was tension at the end.”

Goal of the day

Lovely sweeping move culminating in an emphatic finish from Sao Paolo’s Jadson against Arsenal Sarandi.

Did he or didn’t he?

Though he might be enjoying an annus mirabilis in 2013, Tottenham’s Gareth Bale’s reputation continues to be undermined by his apparent propensity to dive.

Thursday’s Europa Leagut tie against Inter provided further evidence (damning, some would say) of the Welshman’s inability to remain upright when running at high speed in the opponents penalty area. Bale’s reward for his theatrics was not the hoped-for penalty, but another yellow card to add to his growing collection.

The irony is that on this and on many occasions, there is contact, which when combined with the pace at which he is running makes it difficult for him to stay on his feet. But, does this constitute a penalty? I’m not sure. What is clear is that Bale makes absolutely no attempt to evade the challenge and indeed leaves his leg trailing, making it impossible for the defender to avoid contact.

I’m recommending FIFA issue a new directive for incidents such as these: a penalty to the attacking team and a yellow card to the attacking player for diving.

Saint or sinner?

Quote of the day

To be fair, with this result, we would have asked him to get the yellow card (if he had not been booked) to be ‘clean’ for the last eight.”

Andre Villas-Boas admits that he was pleased to see Bale collect the booking that rules him out of Tottenham’s Europa League second leg against Inter, but clears his disciplinary slate should Spurs qualify for the next round.


Nice midfielder Valentin Eysseric has handed an 11-match ban for an appalling foul on St Etienne’s Jeremy Clement, the Ligue 1 club has confirmed.

“Valentin Eysseric, who was sent off at St Etienne last weekend, was suspended for 11 games by the French Professional League’s (LFP) disciplinary commmittee,” Nice said on their website (

Clement suffered a broken leg and will be out for at least five months following the tackle. It only seems fair that Eysseric, who did apologise for his reckless challenge, is out of action for a similar length of time.

Here’s the foul. Warning: not for the faint hearted.

Fans behaving badly

Palmeiras goalkeeper Fernando Prass was injured when team fans unhappy with a defeat in the Copa Libertadores confronted players at an airport in Argentina.

Prass had to be treated for cuts to his head and ear, but no one was seriously hurt in the altercation before the team’s return to Brazil.

The supporters, wearing jerseys from the team’s biggest fan group, faced the players while they were waiting to board their flight back to Sao Paulo after a 1-0 loss to Tigre.

CAccording to reports, Chile playmaker Jorge Valdivia had to hide near the airport’s bathroom, surrounded by security guards.

Brazilian media reported that Valdivia had been criticized by fans during the team’s warm-up at the stadium and allegedly retaliated with obscene gestures.

”They threw a cup at Valdivia and it hit me,” Prass said through his Twitter account. ”I got three stitches in the head and a cut in my ear.”

The sports daily Lance showed a video in which captain Henrique and reserve goalkeeper Bruno tried to talk with some of the fans to calm them down.

Condemnation for the wayward fans was swift and uncompromising.

Palmeiras president Paulo Nobre called those involved in the confrontation ”irrational bandits.” Which

”What happened today is unacceptable and Palmeiras will not tolerate this type of attitude,” he said at a news conference.

He said he would cut all the benefits being given to the team’s organized fan groups, including free tickets to away matches.

Jose Maria Marin, the president of the Brazilian football federation, said the incident ”hurts the country’s image.”

Sports Ministry Aldo Rebelo said these episodes ”can’t happen again” and that football is damaged by these fans.

”The clubs can’t be subjected to this kind of violence,” he said.

This was not the first time that Palmeiras had suffered problems with their supporters. Players received death threats before the team’s relegation to the second division last year and the team’s store was lit on fire. This year, reserve player Fabinho Capixaba was assaulted by fans on a street.

In 2008, coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo injured his arm in a confrontation with supporters at an airport in Brazil, and a year later former Brazil striker Vagner Love left the club after being threatened by a fan group, as did playmaker Diego Souza. Last year, midfielder Joao Vitor got into a fight with supporters who waited for him outside the club headquarters.

Boy racers

What is it about professional footballers and their motor cars? Yesterday we heard about Marcelo being caught driving despite serving a driving bam and today it’s the turn of Manchester City footballer Carlos Tevez, who according to the BBC, has been arrested in Cheshire on suspicion of driving while disqualified.

Tevez was held on Thursday, but has since been released on police bail. It’s not like he poses a flight risk or anything. Ahem.

The Argentine striker was banned from driving for six months in January after failing to respond to police letters about speeding.

A spokesman for Cheshire Police would only say: “Yesterday police arrested a 29-year-old man from Alderley Edge.

“The man was arrested on suspicion of driving whilst disqualified and has since been released on police bail.”


Former Flamengo goalkeeper Bruno has been convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend and sentenced to more than 22 years in prison.

In a trial that made front-page headlines across Brazil, Bruno was found guilty of ordering the killing of model Eliza Samudio, whose body has never been found amid allegations that she was dismembered and her remains were fed to dogs.

Bruno also was convicted of holding hostage their young son.

He was already serving a prison sentence of four years and six months for kidnapping Samudio.

“I expected more,” the model’s mother, Eliza Silva Samudio, told local media after the sentence. “They made it easy on him.”

The judge said Bruno’s sentence was reduced because of his confession. According to Brazilian law, he could be allowed some freedom in about three or four years, depending on his behavior. No one can serve more than 30 years in prison in Brazil.

In 2009, Samudio first alleged that she was pregnant by him, and that the goalkeeper and others kidnapped her and tried to force her to terminate the pregnancy.

She refused, and the child – who was now 3 and is also named Bruno – was born. But the model disappeared soon afterward in June 2010, and according to investigators, was lured to a ranch, where she was allegedly killed, and her remains fed to dogs.