Players strike

Talks are continuing between representatives of the players’ Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE) and the clubs’ Professional Football League in a bid to resolve the dispute which led to the cancellation of the opening set of fixtures in Spain’s top two divisions.

The AFE is demanding a wage guarantee and that players be allowed to break their contracts if they are not paid for three consecutive months, a proposal rejected by the league.

Marca reports that the players and their clubs are sceptical that the AFE and LFP will reach agreement in time for the second strike – scheduled for next weekend – to be called off.

On the move

One player obviously desperate for a game is Juan Mata, who is prepared to fly to England in the hope of getting some playing time.

Valencia have reached an agreement to sell the 23-year-old winger to Chelsea, the Spanish club confirmed on Sunday.

“Valencia has reached an agreement in principle with Chelsea for the transfer of the player Juan Mata,” the statement said.

The club gave no financial details but Spanish media said the deal was worth around €27 million.

It never rains…

Arsene Wenger has been given a two-match touchline ban by UEFA following Arsenal’s (or Ten-men Arsenal as we will soon have to start calling them) Champions League qualifying victory over Udinese.

The Arsenal manager was suspended from the touchline for last week’s 1-0 Champions League play-off first-leg victory at the Emirates. However, he was found to have relayed messages to his assistant, Pat Rice, from the stands via a third party, the first-team coach Boro Primorac.

The ban covers Wednesday’s second leg against Udinese as well as the club’s next European game, which on current form, looks like being a Europa League game.

Goals of the day

Three great goals from the weekend’s action.

First, Leandro Damiao’s equaliser for Internacional v Flamengo was an acrobatic bicycle kick.

From Holland, came a superb solo goal from Guyon Fernandez to earn Feyenoord a point at Heracles.

A goal from Andriy Yarmolenko that rocketed into the top corner to give Dynamo Kyiva 1-0 win over Kryvbas Krivyi Rig.


Further evidence from FIFA that they are not taking the threat of match fixing lightly.

In a interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, the organization’s security chief, Chris Eaton, said that FIFA planned to offer an amnesty to anyone prepared to divulge information on match fixing in the coming year.

Eaton claimed that many countries had no idea of the scale of the problem, with criminals able to earn more from match-fixing than drug dealing.

When it comes to dealing with criminality, few organisations have as much as experience as FIFA; usually though, the bad guys are working for them, not against them.

Gunfire stops play

Terrifying scenes in the northern Mexican city of Torreon where a gunfight outside the stadium forced the suspension of the Santos vs. Morelia match after 40 minutes. Fortunately, there were no casualties.

“A window of the TV Azteca offices, an access ramp in the basement, the western side of the stadium structure, the perimeter fence, as well as a suite were hit by stray bullets during the confrontation yesterday,” the Santos statement said. “We want to make clear that in the interior of the Estadio Corona, there were no shots fired.”

Oscar winner

A hat-trick from Brazil striker Oscar gave Brazil a 3-2 win over Portugal in the final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup.

The winner, scored in injury-time, was either a moment of genius or a badly overhit cross. Either way, the Portuguese keeper Mika, who until this game had not conceded a goal at the tournament, was badly deceived.

Follow the money

Reports indicate that Samuel Eto’o wil complete his move to Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala within the next 24 hours.

“The deal will likely take place on Monday or Tuesday at the latest, as long as Samuel successfully completes his medical,” his agent, Claudio Vigorelli, was quoted as saying.

The Cameroon striker has enjoyed an illustrious career which has seen him win 3 Champions League titles, 3 La Liga titles, the scudetto in Italy, back-to-back African Cup of Nations successes as well as being named African player of the year on a record four occasions. So the 2011 North Caucasian Sports Personality of the Year, will sit neatly alongside those other other honours.

Incidentally, Anzhi’s spending may not end with the signing of Eto’o. Reports in Spain, claim that Dani Alves is the next target for the ambitious Dagestan outfit.

No idea how they plan to get that one past UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules, but these Russian oligarchs can be very persuasive.

Returning home?

Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has confirmed the Italian club are in talks with Liverpool over the signing of midfielder Alberto Aquilani.

Aquilani, 27, spent last season on loan at Juventus, where he enjoyed a revival after a disappointing, injury-plagued first year with Liverpool, but the clubs were unable to agree a fee and he spent pre-season back on Merseyside.

Berlusconi said: “We are negotiating for Aquilani. I like him a lot – he’s an interesting player. I’ve spoken about this with [vice-president Adriano] Galliani and [Massimiliano] Allegri. We will see what happens.”

So, with Aquilani on his way, Milan Jovanovic already departed, that just leaves Joe – ‘better than Messi’ – Cole, to offload to finally rid the club of Rafa Benitez’s ill-fated final spending spree.


Jose Mourinho has refused to apologise for his role in the altercation that occurred at the end of Real Madrid’s Super Cup defeat to Barcelona last week. You do surprise us Jose.

Television footage showed Mourinho jabbing his finger into the eye of Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola’s assistant Tito Vilanova as players performed their traditional post-match brawl on Thursday.

“Jose is not saying sorry, he is very clear that he is defending Real Madrid,” the coach’s spokesman Eladio Parames was quoted as telling El Mundo and As.

“He does not care what the press say, the important thing is what the Madrid fans think.”