All change at the top of the FIFA rankings with World and European champions Spain, supplanted by Holland, the team they defeated in last year’s World Cup final. Make of that what you will.
Holland, whose friendly against England earlier this month was cancelled, appear to have benefitted from not actually playing a match. That would certainly explain’s England’s rise of two places to number four in the standings. That ranks England above Uruguay, who last month became South American champions and who last year were World Cup semi-finalists. If England continue to not play like this, the number one spot could soon be theirs.
Here’s the current top ten:
Greek fans revolt against relegation
Greek first division clubs Volos and Kavala have been refused licences for nest season over ties with their chairmen, who have been banned for life from football following a match-fixing scandal.
A commission announcement said there had been no “substantial change” in the ownership of Volos and Kavala, whose chairmen have been charged with match-fixing and money laundering, and as a result both clubs have been relegated to theGreek fourth division.
The announcement elicited a predictable response from fans of Volos, who vented their frustration in traditional Greek style: they took to the streets and rioted. Police said some 3,000 Volos supporters marched through the city centre setting rubbish bins on fire and throwing stones at the offices of Greece’s governing party.
Leaving the sinking ship
Samir Nasri has completed his long-awaited move from Arsenal to Manchester City.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, sounding increasingly like the sulky kid who wants to take his ball him with him, hinted that Nasri had moved for the money.
“I am a realist so I have no illusions. It’s part of the modern life of a professional football player. It’s not that by coincidence that everybody suddenly lands at Man City,” Wenger told Arsenal’s official website.
There was a mixed reaction to Nasri’s departure among his former Arsenal team mates.
Emmanuel Frimpong tweeted: “Money is the root of all evil,” after Arsenal announced Nasri’s move.
The 19-year-old was still unhappy with Nasri later in the day after team-mate Jack Wilshere wished him all the best.
Wilshere said: “Good luck to my friend Mr Nasri. I learnt a lot from him. World class player. Will be missed.”
But Frimpong tweeted back: “Pffffff come-on Jack.”
Champions League qualifiers
A depleted Arsenal side face a tricky Champions League qualifying second leg tonight against Udinese. Holding a slender 1-0 advantage from the first leg, the London side can at least benefit from the presence of Wenger who managed to defer his appeal against a two-match touchline ban until after the game in Italy.
There were few surprises in last night’s second leg matches, although Apoel Nicosia overcoming Wisla Krakow was probably the most noteworthy result of the evening.
For their first goal, the Cypriot side were grateful to Wisla keeper Cezary Wilk, who fumbled the ball over the line like it was a piece of soap. Literally.
Following the money
Samuel Eto’o has arrived in Russia to complete his lucrative move to Anzhi Makhachkala. Only a failed medical or a last minute change of heart can now stop the Cameroon international becoming the highest paid footballer on the planet.
“We will present Eto’o to our fans ahead of our next home match,” Anzhi’s general manager German Chistyakov told the Russian media.
“We expect Samuel on Thursday to start preparations for our next match at Rostov. He will live in Moscow and train with the team at our base in the Moscow region.”
Eto’o arrival marks the latest step in Anzhi’s pursuit of reaching the Champions League.
“He’s very well known over the world and will help our club reach our ambitions of reaching the Champions League,” Anzhi spokesman Alexander Udaltsov told the BBC. “Our club are in the process of building a big team and signing Samuel is a big step.”
English Premier League club Liverpool have launched their first academy in India and said the club would have similar “footprints” across the world by 2014.
“We want to have footprints in every continent in the next three years,” Steve Turner, head of Liverpool’s International Football Academy, told reporters in Delhi.
Obviously the footprints at the Antarctica Academy will be in the snow.
Turner and former Liverpool striker Ian Rush will also travel to China to explore similar opportunities. The choice of Rush to lead the overseas venture seems a strange one. It was he, when playing for Juventus, who famously described the experience as ‘like living in a foreign country’.
Former Liverpool midfielder Steve McMahon will be head coach of the Indian academy. He said the project was not “money-driven” and would hopefully improve the standard of football in India.
They’re all heart these Premier League clubs.
Goal of the day
Guiseppe Rossi provided further evidence as to why he is one of the most wanted strikers in Europe, by scoring twice in Villarreal’s 3-0 win over Odense.
The game also featured a Zidane-like head butt from Villarreal’s Borja Valero. The midfielder didn’t help his cause by attempting to shove the assistant referee.
Kidnap victim released
Nigerian police say two soldiers are suspected of taking part in the kidnapping of Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel’s father.
Obi was freed Monday by police, who arrested six people in the operation.
Plateau state police commissioner Emmanuel Dipo Ayeni says the kidnappers told Obi “to give them $4 billion, which they described as ‘chicken change’ to Mikel and his Chelsea club.”
They kidnapped the wrong man; the father of Samuel Eto’o lives just across the border.
Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has slammed “hypocrisy in football” on hearing that he faces a potential suspension after the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) opened a disciplinary inquiry into his Supercup bust-up with Barcelona assistant coach Tito Vilanova.
The Special One issued a statement via Real’s website in which he apologised specifically to Real fans – but nobody else.
“I … wish to apologise to Madridistas, and only to them, for my attitude in our last game. Some people are better adapted to the hypocrisy in football than I am, and they hide their faces and speak in whispers deep inside tunnels. I’m not learning to be a hypocrite, and I don’t want to,” he said.
Martyr complex is defined as follows: ‘a person who has a martyr complex desires the feeling of being a martyr for his/her own sake, seeking out suffering or persecution because it feeds a psychological need. In some cases, this results from the belief that the martyr has been singled out for persecution because of exceptional ability or integrity.’
In a bid to revive the flagging reputation of Turkish football, the country’s Football Federation (TFF) has introduced a play-off system to decide the first division title. Reports say the plan came amid fears of falling revenues as a result of the match-fixing investigation.
“A play-off system will be in effect in the 2011-2012 season. We will try this. We hope it will be lasting,” TFF chairman Mehmet Ali Aydinlar told reporters after the meeting.
Under the plan, the top four teams in the league will face each other in a play-off.
Aydinlar was candid when quizzed about the reason for changing the current system.
“It may be dropped in future years but we believe that this will liven things up. We think clubs will earn more money. We want to make football more attractive,” he said.