Terry stripped of captaincy

John Terry has been stripped of the England captaincy by the Football Association’s chairman, David Bernstein.

The defender was informed of the decision by Bernstein in a phone call on Friday morning. It is the second time that he has lost the captaincy for off-the-pitch reasons.

To lose it once is unlucky, twice careless, and a third time? There won’t be a third time. In fact, there have already been whispers that the FA’s decision might prompt Terry to give up on England altogether.

Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard is the odds-on favourite to replace Terry as England captain, but with his place in the side not guaranteed after an injury-plagued 18 months, perhaps coach Fabio Capello might be tempted to skip a (golden) generation and opt for a low profile appointment like Joe Hart.

Blast from the past

Former UEFA president Lennart Johansson has called for the current FIFA president Sepp Blatter to step down.

“It cannot be that only one man should be dictating and taking all the decisions about world football,” Johansson told BBC World Service.

“There is not much more to do than to get rid of the man in question.”

Asked for his opinion of 75-year-old Blatter, Johansson, who was UEFA president from 1990 until 2007, said: “I don’t love him, we don’t do Christmas together but I respect his knowledge.

“I just don’t like his dictatorship. Some will respect him but the majority will say he’s not good. It is not very easy to admire or respect him.”

As the man who fought and lost a bitter FIFA presidential election to Blatter in 1998, Johansson can hardly be considered an impartial witness on the subject of the Swiss. Nonetheless, it’s hard to disagree with his central thrust that Blatter’s removal would instantly enhance the credibility of football’s governing body.

UEFA played hardball with Turkey

Former Turkish Football Association (TFF)’s president Mehmet Ali Aydinlar has revealed that UEFA threatened to impose an eight-year ban on the nation’s teams from competing in European competition.

Super Lig champions Fenerbahce were kicked out of this season’s Champions League for their part in an alleged match-fixing scandal, despite the fact that investigations were ongoing.

Aydinlar has now admitted that the TFF were forced to act quickly in order to avoid a complete ban on Turkish clubs.

“UEFA forced the TFF. They threatened to impose an eight-year ban on Turkish teams if we didn’t act immediately,” he said according to Hurriyet Daily News.

Goal of the day

A neat piece of skill from Ronaldinho saw him elude a defender before calmly slotting past the keeper in Flamengo’s 2-0 Libertadores Cup victory over Bolivian side Real Potosi.

Too little too late

That win was not enough to save the job of Flamengo coach Vanderlei Luxemburgo, who was informed immediately after the match that he had been fired.

Luxemburgo said after the win over Real Petosi that he would be staying in the job, despite media speculation that his days at the club were numbered, but club president Patricia Amorim said the sacking had already been decided.

“The decision about Luxemburgo was taken after the talk I had with him today,” Amorim said.

“It had already been agreed with the coach that we would talk after the game but no decision was taken before that. We listened to the opinions of the players, the fans and saw this was the right moment to make changes.”

Luxemburgo pays the price for some disappointing results, but also because of his poor relationship with Ronaldinho.

Despite the player claiming that he would refuse to play for Flamengo if his overdue wages were not paid, the club decided to stand behind him and dispense with the coach.

It’s hard to believe that the decision to jettison Luxemburgo will be good for Flamengo’s long term stability, but this being Brazil, where the average coaching tenure is measured in months not years, stability is clearly an overrated virtue.

Quote of the day

“Carlos is not an option at the moment but it is possible in the future if he comes back.  I hope for him he has been training in the last three months to help his condition. There is only one thing on my mind, the Barclays Premier League. But if he comes back – and he is fit – it is possible.”

Roberto Mancini extends yet another olive branch to Carlos Tevez.

Form is temporary, class permanent

Footage of a recent Ajax training session shows that Dennis Bergkamp may have grown older, but his capacity to score stunning goals remains undiminished. Frank De Boer play a lovely crossfield pass to Bergkamp who fires home a glorious volley.

You can see why Johan Cruyff is so keen for the Ajax players to work under the tutelage of these two.

Mourinho to return

Jose Mourinho is reportedly ready to return to England to manage Chelsea when he quits his current job as Real Madrid boss this summer. So says the Sun, not ordinarily the most reliable of sources, but this being a quiet news day we’ll run with it.

A source close to the Portuguese coach claims that Mourinho wants to come back and replace Andre Villas-Boas, but only if owner Roman Abramovich gives him full control of team affairs.

The anonymous source, sounding not unlike a Sun journalist with a creative imagination, copy to file, and a looming deadline, stated: “Jose would go back to Chelsea.

“He knows things are a mess there right now. He also knows it would be difficult to go back and make the same impact as before.

“Winning the Premier League title back to back in his first two years at a club that had not been champions for 50 years was incredible.

“That’s why he’s still loved by the fans and why he still loves the club. They were special days. But before agreeing, he would want things very clear between him and (Chelsea owner) Roman Abramovich.

“He would say ‘Roman, you are the owner and I am the boss here. Let’s work together and the power is in our hands’.”

Somehow, Abramovich doesn’t strike me as the kind of person who responds favourably to being told what to do. Certainly not by former employees.

Bayer ban for Ballack?

Bayer Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voeller is threatening to ban Michael Ballack’s agent from the club’s stadium as relations between the two parties continue to suffer.

Agent Michael Becker said his client is being made “a scapegoat” to mask problems within the club “because it’s clearly not possible to fire (coach) Robin Dutt at this time.”

Voeller, a former Germany player and coach, was angered by the remarks.

“He says he knows it all,” Voeller said. “He can’t attack the club that way. He’s got a dark yellow card. Or he was in this stadium for the last time!”

The director suggests Ballack, a former Germany captain, “has a duty” to speak for himself and not send Becker to do his talking.

Becker had been responding to comments made last week by Leverkusen managing director Wolfgang Holzhaeuser, who said Ballack’s return to the club in 2010 from Chelsea had been a failure because the player had failed to live up to expectations. Considering they were signing an injury-prone player in the twilight of his career and Leverkusen have now reached the knockout stages of the Champions League, one wonders what exactly they were expecting from Ballack. Whatever it was, it was unrealistic.

Even Voeller concedes that Holzhaeuser should not have given the interview.

“Under no circumstances would I have given the interview at this time, but it was too late to intervene,” said Voeller said. “In any case it’s two, three months too early to take stock now already.

“(Ballack’s recruitment had been) more than correct and I do not regret it. But I expect him to conduct himself as he did when he was introduced to us. He can make demands, but in the end the coach always decides.”


Cheats sometimes do prosper. In Saudi Arabia at least.

Al Ittihad striker Fabrice Ondama cons the referee into thinking that he had been brought down by Al Shabab defender Omar Al-Ghamdi. the truth, as you’ll see, was somewhat different.