A man of impeccable character

Luis Suarez, no stranger to controversy in his short time in English football, could face an FA misconduct charge after he appeared to make an obscene gesture towards Fulham fans at the end of Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat to the Cottagers.

The Uruguayan was pictured apparently responding to supporters, who had chanted ‘cheat’ at him during Monday’s game.

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish, sounding increasingly like a defence barrister representing an habitual offender, was angered by the chants.

“I would like to see you write that in the paper because you would be in a bit of trouble as well,” he said when asked about the ‘cheat’ chants. “It is about time he got a wee bit of protection.”

“His integrity is impeccable. He can look in the mirror and go to bed at night and sleep soundly.”

Dalglish refused to comment on the alleged hand gesture as he hadn’t seen it.

“I’ve not seen the picture and I am not taking anybody’s word for it,” he said.

“If you show me the picture and I’m convinced that what you’re saying is true, then I’ve got a decision to make.”

Here’s a picture of the gesture in question. Time to make a decision.

Technology on its way

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has revealed that the introduction of goalline technology is imminent, with the expectation that it will be in use for the 2014 World Cup.

Blatter told Bild: “There are now systems that combine precision, speed and are uncomplicated. We are now in the testing phase and the IFAB will vote in March 2012 in London over using this resource. If the final decision is made, it can be used from the 2012-13 season.”

He added in El Mundo Deportivo: “Brazil 2014 will have technology to avoid phantom goals. FIFA has two good systems that meet all the demands we set: reliability, immediacy and not being difficult to use.”

And the winner is…

Bulgaria Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has been voted his country’s footballer of the year. Borisov triumphed in the fans’ poll after collecting 44 per cent of the votes ahead of Manchester United’s 7-time winner Dimitar Berbatov.

The politician, who occasionally plays up front for third division Vitosha Bistritsa, wants the vote annulled.

“It’s a protest vote,’ he said. “This vote is not a signal that Borisov is the best player but that Bulgarian football needs reforms and a new policy. I suggest to hand the award to the best young player.”

Bulgarian football is at an all-time low at the moment. The country finished bottom of their Euro 2012 qualifying group with five points from eight games, while no club managed to reach the Champions League or the Europa League groups.

Eurozone crisis

There are some intriguing final group games in the Champions League this week, none more so than at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday where the parvenus of Manchester City play host the old money of Bayern Munich.

To reach the knockout stages, City require a win plus assistance from Villarreal in their game against Napoli. For Bayern, already qualified, there is more than pride at stake though, for there is nothing they would like more than to eliminate the profligate Premier League outfit.

Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has highlighted City’s spending as an example of ‘financial doping’ that is threatening the fabric of European football.

“The financial-doping must come to an end and lead to a virtual “equality of arms” between the clubs,” he said. “The oligarchy must be pushed into the background.

“Let’s take the example of Manchester City. How does it work when you write about €200 million loss?

“The working group of the UEFA is required here to establish strict penalties. Some clubs want leniency, but in the final analysis, only the exclusion from the international competitions or the non-licensing for the European competitions or Champions League place (is appropriate.)

“At Bayern, in everything we do, the rule is not to spend more than we make. We have done that consistently for 13 years.”

Close your eyes and that could be Angela Merkel speaking.

Asian Champions League

The draw for the 2012 Asian Champions League has been completed in AFC House in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

Group A
Al Rayyan (Qatar)
Al Jazira (UAE)
Nasaf Qarshi (Uzbekistan)
Playoff 1/2 (West)

Group B
Al Ittihad (Saudi Arabia)
Al Arabi (Qatar)
Bani Yas (UAE)
Pakhtakor (Uzbekistan)

Group C
Sepahan (Iran)
Al Ahli (Saudi Arabia)
Lekhwiya (Qatar)
Al Nasr (UAE)

Group D
Playoff 1/2 (West)
Persepolis (Iran)
Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia)
Al Gharafa (Qatar)

Group E
Gamba Osaka (Japan)
Adelaide United (Australia)
Bunyodkor (Uzbekistan)
Playoff 1/2 (East)

Group F
Ulsan Hyundai (South Korea)
Brisbane Roar (Australia)
Beijing Guoan (China)
Emperor’s Cup winner (Japan)

Group G
Tianjin Teda (China)
Seongnam Ilhwa (South Korea)
Nagoya Grampus (Japan)
Central Coast Mariners (Australia)

Group H
Thailand champions (Thailand)
Guangzhou Evergrande (China)
Kashiwa Reysol (Japan)
Jeonbuk Motors (South Korea)

Goal of the day

Frederic Kanoute’s curler came in injury time to give Sevilla a comfortable 3-0 win over Getafe.

Endgame in sight

Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez could be closing in on a deal to join Milan after the Italian club’s vice-president Adriano Galliani confirmed he has been given permission to speak to the striker.

Tevez, who has been on gardening leave since the clocks went back, is said to be keen on a transfer to the Serie A champions.

Galliani told Gazzetta dello Sport: “Tevez is a City player. The English club has authorized us to speak to his agent but we haven’t spoken directly to City yet.

“I prefer not to speak too much about Tevez, otherwise his price will go up and this is not good.”

The desire to play in Italy is somewhat surprising given the Argentinian’s oft-stated yearning to return closer to his homeland.

However, the player’s agent, Kia Joorabachian, admits that after much soul searching, he would be much better off staying in Europe. Tevez won’t do badly out of the deal either.

“A return to Brazil? It’s a possibility, but for the time being he wants to play in Europe,” Joorabchian told www.milannews.it.

“He (Tevez) is training intensely,” Joorabchian added. Presumably, his golf handicap is now in single figures.

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini said that he bore no ill will towards Tevez.

“He’s a good lad, in spite of his recent behaviour,” he told L’Equipe. “But maybe he does not have the people around him to give him the right advice.”

Act in haste…

FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke has warned that the mission to clean up world football’s governing body could take a while yet.

FIFA last week unveiled Professor Mark Pieth as leader of the Independent Governance Committee that will oversee reform of world football’s governing body.

“The governance committee will start its work soon, under the leadership of the chairman, Dr Pieth,” said Valcke.

“The goal is for them to bring some first ideas to the FIFA Executive Committee in December. Then in March, if there is a change of statutes, it has to go to the (FIFA) Congress in (May) 2012. I don’t think all of it can be done in 2012, so potentially it will be extended to the Congress in 2013.”

While it’s refreshing to see FIFA trying to clean up its act, it is slightly alarming that the final say on any recommendations made by the Independent Governance Committee will lie with the FIFA members themselves. Historically, turkeys don’t vote for Christmas.

History maker

A small piece of history for Clint Dempsey last night. The striker scored the winner in Fulham’s 1-0 win over Liverpool and in doing so, became the highest scoring American player in the history of the Premier League.

The goal was Dempsey’s 37th in the Premier League, which put him ahead of Brian McBride as the highest-scoring American of all-time.

McBride and Dempsey were teammates at Fulham for two seasons. Carlos Bocanegra also scored eight goals with Fulham, meaning 77 of the 128 Premier League goals scored by American internationals have been struck for Fulham.

The only other American with double figures is Roy Wegerle, who scored 13 times with Blackburn and Coventry City between 1992 and 1994.


Atletico Madrid have presented plans for their new stadium that will replace the Vicente Calderon.

The Spanish club says the new stadium will have a capacity of about 70,000, an increase of its current seating of about 55,000.

Work on the new stadium began months ago and is scheduled to be finished in time for the 2015-16 season.

Atletico president Enrique Cerezo said at the presentation: “Today is an important day, I would say that it is one of the most important days in the history of this club.

“There are not many times one has the opportunity to live a historical moment as relevant, in the life of a sports club, as this.

“Madrid will have one of the best stadiums in the world that can hold the final of the Champions League, World Cup, European Championship or, of course, the Olympic Games.