As reported yesterday, the Premier League have launched yet another campaign to instil respect among players and managers for match officials.

Referee Howard Webb, perhaps best remembered for his lenient approach during last summer’s Extreme UFC South Africa Team Showdown – that’s the World Cup final to you and me –  has spoken about his hopes for the the campaign.

“It’s a huge campaign…something that will take time and won’t happen overnight but I think on the field of play the relationship between the players and referee is pretty good. We need to keep sending messages to everyone in the game – show respect to the referee and to the opponents and promote the good side of football.

I’m not sure what Webb will make of this piece of footage, taken at a fifth division match in Argentina, between Union San Guillermo and Atletico Tostado. If he has a sense of humour, he should see the funny side of it.

All that’s missing is the accompanying Benny Hill music.

Welcome return

Paraguay striker Salvador Cabanas, who was shot in the head in a Mexico bar and missed the 2010 World Cup, returned to action for the first time on Wednesday night.

The match was held at Cabanas’ former home ground The Azteca and there was a plenty of support for the player from those present.

Cabanas played 8 minutes for America in the first hald and 10 for Paraguay in the second half.

His future as a footballer is not assured, but as Paraguay national team coach Francisco Arce pointed out, that is not the priority at the moment.

“Whether he comes back into the professional game or not is secondary,” he said.

Here’s footage of Cabanas’ return:

Comeback kid?

Freddie Adu, who was once regarded as football’s hottest young property, looks like he might have earned himself a return to MLS with Philadelphia Union.

Remarkably, though still only 21 years of age, Adu has played for seven different clubs. He arrived in America from Ghana touted as, if not the next Pele, then certainly the next Abedi Pele, but his career has thus far been on a downward spiral.

After spending last season on loan at Turkish second division outfit Caykur Rizespor, Adu was a surprise call-up for the USA’s Gold Cup squad. His performances there appear to have been enough to persuade Union coach Piotr Nowak, who worked with Adu at D.C. United, that the Ghanaian-born forward still had a future in the game.

Clock ticking

Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri’s exclusion from Arsenal’s squad to face Newcastle on Saturday has nothing to do with the pair’s impending departure from the club. Or so says manager Arsene Wenger, who has been burying his head deeper in the sand the longer the summer has gone on.

Fabregas, according to widespread reports, is set to seal his much-anticipated move to Barcelona, while Nasri, conscious that UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules are about to kick in, is reputed to be joining the dash for cash at Manchester City.

“I expect nobody to leave. There is no news. If there is news, I promise I will give it,” Wenger said, somewhat optimistically.

“Nasri went for the national team, he was sick, and he has not completely recovered yet. There are no other aspects why he is not in the squad.

“Cesc is not on strike. Cesc is not injured, he’s not match fit. I don’t want to go any deeper than that,” he added.

Strike threat

If Fabregas is not on strike, he soon may be, especially if he does complete the move to Barcelona. For, in Spain, the country’s footballers have called for strike action over the first two weekends of the 2011-12 season in protest over the lack of a wage guarantee fund.

The AFE is demanding a larger emergency fund to assist players who are not being paid by clubs in administration. This plea comes in the wake of several clubs failing to pay their staff after they fell into administration.

“We are unanimous and firm in our decision to call a strike,” said AFE president Luis Rubiales. “As it stands we are at the bottom of the pile in Europe. We don’t want more money – we want the clubs to honour the contracts they sign with their players.”

Early retirement

One player who won’t be involved in the Spanish strike action is Javi Poves, who has taken the unusual step of retiring from the game at the age of 24. The Sporting Gijon defender has grown increasingly disillusioned with life as professional footballer and decided he’d had enough.

“It’s all about money and players are just playing to distract people from what’s happening in the real world,” Poves told AP in a telephone interview. “These things started driving me crazy and gradually I came to this decision.”

He’s been described in Spain as the Angry Footballer, although his pronouncements so far seem measured, rational, and calm, while others have dismissed him as the anti-footballer,  although a more apt description might have been the anti-Winston Bogarde.

Poves said part of the reason he quit was because of the values young players are being taught by the clubs themselves.

“Players are seen as egoists who fight day-in, day-out just to make more money,” he said. “But that’s not the players’ fault. They’ve been programmed, educated to believe that and nothing else. They instill these values from a young age.”

Money, money, money

As of to confirm Poves’ fears that the game is now all about money, the Spanish national side are trying to arrange a lucrative friendly fixture in the middle-east.

The RFEF has opened negotiations with various countries in the region, although Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Qatar are understood to be favourites to host the World and European Champions, with Kuwait having already put a €3m offer on the table.

Is it any wonder that Poves grew cynical about his profession?


FIFA, perhaps mindful that they couldn’t exactly ban Mohamed Bin Hammam for bribing officials without also investigating those alleged to have received the bribes, has finally opened an ethics proceedings case against 16 Caribbean Football Union (CFU) officials.

The senior officials are suspected of taking cash to support Bin Hammam in FIFA’s presidential election. They are also accused of denying the corruption attempt to investigators.

Meanwhile, in the shark-infested Caribbean waters, official Lisle Austin who was suspended by FIFA for breaking rules by taking his dispute with the CONCACAF confederation to a civil court in the Bahamas, has spoken out about the decision.

Austin says his suspension by FIFA was conducted by a “kangaroo court” and referred to the governing body as a “corrupt cabal of arrogance and cronyism.”

From Russia with love

Joey Barton, who has spent much of the summer tweeting his dissatisfaction with life at Newcastle, may have found an escape route from his £60,000 a week hell.

Russian club Zenit St Petersburg are reported to be prepared to increase Barton’s salary to a level commensurate with what he feels he deserves, and certainly higher than any club in England feels he is worth.

Whether this represents further evidence of the growing financial might of Russian clubs, or merely confirmation that they have more money than sense, remains to be seen.


Finishing on a glum note with the news that two Roma players have been attacked by supporters at the club’s training venue.

Ahmed Barusso and promising young striker Stefano Okaka were the victims outside the Trigoria training complex.

Barusso has reportedly become a target because of his refusal to leave the club, while Okaka apparently angered fans by refusing to sign autographs.

Roma issued a statement expressing their dismay at the attacks: “AS Roma S.p.A are saddened by the incidents against Ahmed Barusso and Stefano Okaka outside Trigoria on Tuesday.

“We want to remind everyone that the club are fully behind their players, and hope the relationship with the fans can continue to be respectful, regardless of decisions from the players in relation to the transfer market.”