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No way Jose

Almost two-thirds of Real Madrid’s members believe coach Jose Mourinho has a negative impact on the La Liga club’s image, according to a survey published in Marca on Wednesday.

Even the hated Franco polled better than that when he enjoyed patronage with the Spanish club.

Among 704 members asked at the stadium before Sunday’s game at home to Real Sociedad, or by telephone, whether the Portuguese’s actions and statements were damaging, 61.6 percent answered yes, with 33.1 percent saying no.

Members gave his performance as coach since he took over in 2010 an average mark of 6.68 out of 10, down from 8.82 in a similar poll conducted in March 2011, but 54.4 percent still thought he should stay on after this season, with 41.8 percent saying he should leave, they added.

The poll will make painful reading for president Florentino Perez, who is up for re-election this year and has given Mourinho unprecedented powers in the hope he can lead the club to regular silverware in domestic and European competition.

With Real trailing Barcelona by 16 points in La Liga, Mourinho’s, and by association Perez, tenuous grips on power are loosening by the day.

Nothing personal

One possible explanation for the perception of Mourinho is his treatment of iconic goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Casillas was dropped by Mourinho for the first time in his illustrious career when Real Madrid travelled to Malaga shortly before Christmas.

The Spanish international keeper believes there are personal motives behind him being dropped in favour of deputy Antonio Adán. Sent off against Real Sociedad, Mourinho has already decided that Adán will be recalled to the team when he has served his suspension.]

Mourinho has dismissed suggestions that Casillas was dropped for personal reasons, insisting that lack of form was his sole reason for omitting the keeper.

“I can not do anything. If people do not want to understand that basically the only problem I have with Casillas is that he is not in shape. The relationship does not matter”, the Portuguese said. “But this decision has not to annoy Iker Casillas or the fans. I do it out of conviction.”

The club is insisting that “Mourinho’s decision, although risky, is what we need to respect, and that’s that. It wasn’t what we were expecting, but we understand that we can’t get involved on anyone’s side apart from the manager’s”.

Oldest profession in town

Prostitutes in Brazil are signing up for free English classes ahead of the 2014 World Cup.

Prostitution is legal in Brazil and Cida Vieira, the President of the Association of Prostitutes in Belo Horizonte, which is organising the classes, said she expects at least 300 of her group’s 4,000 members to take English classes before next summer’s tournament.

“I don’t think we will have problems persuading English teachers to provide services for free,” Vieira said. “We already have several volunteer psychologists and doctors helping us.

“It will be important for the girls who will be able to use English to let their clients know what they are charging and learn about what turns them on.”

Well, if they’ve travelled several thousand miles to watch England play in a major football tournament, it’s safe to speculate that most of them are towards the masochistic end of the S&M scale.

Life bans

FIFA has extended the match-fixing sanctions on 41 players in South Korea to worldwide life bans.

The scandal goes back to 2011 when more than 50 players and coaches in the K-League were indicted for accepting money to fix matches.

Forty-one players received life bans from the K-League and the Korea Football Association.

FIFA said Wednesday that its disciplinary committee extended the sanctions so they take effect worldwide.

However, FIFA offered clemency to 21 players who admitted involvement in the scandal, by offering them a chance to return to the game.

Those players must go through a probation period of between two and five years, including community service ranging from 200 to 500 hours. Reinstatement after the probation would then be in the hands of the Korea Football Association.

The odd couple

Andrea Pirlo says he would welcome fellow midfielder Frank Lampard with open arms – presumably very long ones – if he leaves Chelsea and joins Juventus.

The England international will be out of contract this summer with a move to Italy mooted amid reports Serie A giants Inter Milan and Juventus could be interested in signing him.

Pirlo told Tuttosport: “They would be mad to let him leave Chelsea.

“He’s still one of the best in the world. If he wants to play in Italy I would welcome him to Juventus with open arms.

“Lampard could have another four years at the top in Italy.”

And the sad thing is, so slow is the pace of Italian football he probably could be playing for another four years. Probably alongside Pirlo. Indeed with Pirlo turning 34 in May and Lampard 35 in June, the pair remain mere striplings when compared to Inter skipper Javier Zanetti who is still going strong at 39!

Lampard, who despite protests from Chelsea fans, is set to leave the club at the end of the season, has dropped no hints as to his likely destination.

How the mighty have fallen

Wesley Sneijder, a former Champions League winner and World Cup finalist who not so long ago was being courted by Europe’s finest, is the subject of a bid from Galatasaray.

Without wishing to belittle the outfit who remain a huge fish in the relatively small sea of Turkish football, this is probably not the scenario Sneijder envisaged a couple of years ago when he was complaining about not being shortlisted for the FIFA Ballon d’Or award. But if a week is a long time in politics then two years is a life time in football – just ask Andy Carroll when he sobers up – and now the Inter playmaker (something of a misnomer for someone who hasn’t actually played since September) is no longer on the radar of Manchester United but in talks with Galatasaray.

On Tuesday, the Dutchman’s wife tweeted that she loved Istanbul and today, Gala president Unal Aysal admitted that he is eager in bringing the midfield maestro to Istanbul after having met Inter president Massimo Moratti.

“We talked about many things,” he told reporters. “From youth policy to the possibility of establishing a partnership between the two clubs.

“And we talked about Sneijder, of course.

“I instructed my team to sit down and try to negotiate, but I think everything will be clearer in the next few days.”

Meanwhile, a statement on the Turkish club’s official website, galatasaray.org, read: “Galatasaray announces it has begun negotiations with FC Internazionale for the transfer of Wesley Sneijder.

“The public will be informed of developments.”

When questioned about any potential switch to Istanbul, Sneijder’s agent, Soren Lerby, told De Telegraaf: “Every day there is a new club linked with Wesley.

“For that reason I have decided not to answer any more questions.”

Goal of the day

Fans eye view of League Two’s Bradford City third goal in their shock 3-1 Capital One Cup semi-final first leg victory over Premier League Aston Villa. This thumping header from Carl McHugh sets up a tantalising second leg.

Quote of the day

“PSG has become a club where anything is possible. But he has a long contract with Real Madrid and you don’t just leave a club like Real Madrid like that. There’s absolutely nothing concrete. There is zero contact. But today, when you talk about a big player like that leaving, there are four or five clubs he can go to, and PSG are now part of that group.”

Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo starts the ball rolling for the forthcoming Ronaldo-to-PSG saga.

Evils of football

A clergyman has hit out against the evils of football following Liverpool striker Luis Suarez’s controversial FA Cup winning goal against non-League Mansfield Town at the weekend.

The incident prompted Reverend Bob Jones, a minister at three churches in Mansfield, to question the values of the modern game.

What took him so long, I hear you cry.

Mr Jones said: “I have long thought that the game of football suffers from two evils, too much money and a lack of sportsmanship. I watched the game on TV and both my wife and I were incensed.

“I accept the referee made the decision, but the player could have been a real gentleman and owned up to it. In society as a whole we don’t tend to see sportsmanship so much now.”

After the game, Liverpool’s manager Brendan Rodgers said it wasn’t for Suarez to own up to the handball.

But Mr Jones said: “On this occasion the player I believe knew he had done wrong by his reactions following the incident, but felt he either did not want to do the decent thing or felt under too much pressure from what the team and manager’s reaction might be.

“I understand there is little that can be done about the excess money in the game, but is it too late to bring back sportsmanship?”

Meanwhile, a sanguine Mansfield chairman, said of the incident: “One day, cheats will never prosper.”

Judging by the way he is venerated by Liverpool fans and financially recompensed by the club, it’s fair to say that such a day is still some way off.

Put your shirt on it

To cement his reputation as one of football’s nice guys, Lionel Messi has sent a signed shirt to Gerd Mueller after the Barcelona forward broke the German’s 40-year-old record of 85 goals in a calender year.

Messi, who this week won the FIFA Ballon d’Or for a record fourth year in a row, went on to score an incredible 91 goals before the year was over.

The shirt, with Messi’s name and the number 10 in it, had the message: “For Gerd Mueller, my respect and admiration, a hug,” written on it.

Finally…

Lega Pro side Pro Patria have been ordered to play their next home game behind closed doors following the incidents of racial abuse towards Milan midfielder Kevin Prince Boateng.

Boateng walked off the pitch during the friendly match, after being subjected to racial abuse from a small section in the fans. Boateng was followed by club captain Massimo Ambrosini and the rest of the Milan squad.

The Lega Pro released a statement saying: “The Lega Pro will impose on the club Aurora Pro Patria the sanction of the obligation to play a league match behind closed doors with immediate effect, with the caveat that a further breach will be evaluated as an occurrence of multiple violations, for the purposes of the subsequent sanction.

“The behaviour of the Pro Patria supporters appeared to be particularly serious as it was a clear manifestation of racist discrimination during a friendly game, so there was no sporting tension or spirit of competition.

“The sanction for incidents of this nature is not only punishment, but also a preventative measure to avoid a repeat incident” the statement ended.

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