It’s a rich man’s world

Harry Redknapp has been found not guilty of tax evasion, a verdict which clears the way for the Spurs boss to become the next England manager. That certainly seems to be the consensus among bookmakers, who made Redknapp odds-on favourite to succeed Fabio Capello within moments of today’s verdict being announced.

So what if he can barely write his own name or read a team sheet. His managerial record has shown that lacking a formal education is no impediment when it comes to getting the best out of players, and it’s also proved quite handy when it comes to getting yourself out of a scrape with the taxman.

The verdict has led some commentators to speculate that Redknapp’s genial ‘appy ‘arry public persona made a ‘not guilty’ adjudication almost inevitable. Perhaps, but today’s judgment also seems to reinforce the belief that the justice system is fairer to some than others, and for a person of Redknapp’s immense personal wealth, it has been exceedingly fair.

Zimbabwe suspend coach

Zimbabwe’s football association has suspended national team coach Norman Mapeza, after he was implicated in a match-fixing scandal in Asia.

Former midfielder Rahman Gumbo has been named as caretaker coach, said Jonathan Mashingaidze, chief executive of the national football association ZIFA.

“Gumbo has been appointed on an interim basis until Mapeza and his assistant Joey Antipas have been cleared,” Mashingaidze told AFP.

“The board resolved that all individuals fingered in the Asiagate report were suspended with immediate effect and will not be considered for national team duty until they are cleared. This is just an interim structure and we are hoping to get a substantive one after the Burundi game in late February.”

Mapeza’s suspension came a day after former ZIFA chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya was released on bail after she had been held for bribery, corruption and match-fixing.

She is accused of sending the national team to play unsanctioned friendlies three years ago in Thailand and Malaysia, where a betting syndicate allegedly fixed the results.

Santana back at Flamengo

Flamengo have appointed Joel Santana as their new boss, with the much-travelled coach vowing to get the best out of Ronaldinho.

“Ronaldo is the team’s star, idol and he’ll settle games for us. He’s talented and knows how to play, the quality of this kid is impressive,” Santana said at his unveiling, using the name Ronaldinho goes by in Brazil.

“When you buy a rare piece you have to put it in the best place in the house. He’ll play where he feels best.”

And so it was that a new sport of nightclub football was invented.

Santana has enjoyed a remarkably coaching career. His appointment is his 31st managerial post and the fifth time has has been in charge at Flamengo. In 26 coaching jobs in Brazil, he has never stayed at a club longer than a year, and while his methods – overly negative, some critics say – may not be to everyone’s liking, they have not been without success.

Santana is one of a few coaches to have won Brazil’s Campeonato Carioca with each of the four big clubs (Botafogo, Flamengo, Fluminense, and Vasco da Gama.

Goal of the day

Jires Kembo curled in a beauty from outside the area in Rennes 3-2 French Cup win over Evian.

Doing their bit

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has confirmed that world football’s governing body will donate $250,000 to the families of those people killed in last week’s football riots in Egypt.

“I stated after the tragedy that this day was a black day for football,” said Blatter. “I’m still very shocked by what happened. Many of the victims were so young and they were also a crucial support for their families, who now need help.”

“The football community, including FIFA, must assist its Egyptian brothers and sisters.”

Berbtov back for Bulgaria?

Manchester United’s out-of-favour striker, Dimitar Berbatov, is so desperate for a game at the moment that he is considering returning to international football.

The 31-year-old, who is his country’s all-time leading scorer with 48 goals, quit Bulgaria in 2010. Since then, his hopes of concentrating on his club career have been scuppered; ostensibly, because at Manchester United, he no longer has a club career.

“You should receive an invitation to return somewhere,” Berbatov told Bulgarian sports website

“My phone is switched on and I can be more concrete if I receive an invitation.

Speaking of his future at United where he has spent the best part of a year on the bench, Berbatov added: “There was nothing concrete as an offer to me. I read about such things, but they are more speculation. I do not know how long I will stay at Manchester United. To my knowledge, the clause to extend my contract for another year is automatically activated in March. I know nothing more.”

The benefits of not playing

One player who believes he has benefited from a prolonged spell on the substitute’s bench is Japanese forward Kisho Yano who has rejoined J-League club Albirex Niigata.

The striker claims is he is returning to Japan a better player despite spending a big chunk of the past 18 months warming the bench for Freiburg in Germany’s Bundesliga.

“I wanted more playing time so I decided to return to Japan. I don’t want to waste my 18 months of experience in Germany.

“I want to show how I’ve improved as a player,” added the 27-year-old, who failed to make a single appearance for Freiburg this season.

There are very few professions where you can take the best part of two years off and claim to have improved. Football, I’m fairly sure, is not one of them

Senegal sack coach

Senegal have fired coach Amara Traore after their dismal showing at the African Nations Cup.

Senegal went into the Nations Cup as one of the favourites, but defeats to Equatorial Guinea, Zambia and Libya meant they were the first side eliminated.

“It was a failure and it is the coach’s responsibility,” said Augustin Senghor, president of the Senegalese Football Federation, reported the Senegalese Press Agency.

“Decisions had to be taken and the executive committee has decided to end its collaboration with the coach and his backup staff.”

More strikes threatened in Brazil

Brazilian construction workers have reiterated demands for fixed salaries and benefits for work on 2014 FIFA World Cup projects, by threatening national strike action.

Hardly news; had they said they had no plans to go on strike then we would have a story on our hands. Strikes, as regular readers will be aware, have been a common feature of the development of stadia for the 2014 finals, and today’s announcement will reignite fears that the rebuilding work will not be completed on time.

CUT leader Claudio da Silva Gomes has made the not entirely unreasonable demand that employees earn the same salaries regardless of which venue they are working on. He stated that pay discrepancies mean workers in southern Brazil earn nearly twice as much as their counterparts in the northeast.

“We have workers doing almost exactly the same kind of work but they are not earning the same salary or being entitled to the same benefits at the different venues. This doesn’t make sense,” Gomes said, according to the Associated Press. “If they are doing the same work, they should be getting paid the same salary, regardless of which region they are working in.”


An Argentine vineyard has announced plans to launch a new wine bearing the name of Lionel Messi.

The Bodega Valentin Bianchi, based in the province of Mendoza revealed its plans to name one of its products after Messi. The company divulged that the brand would be dubbed ‘Leo’, and that it had the full backing of the Barcelona forward.

“This venture will collaborate with the Leo Messi Foundation in order to continue creating projects focused on infant health and education, as well as establishing sporting activity as a key part of the fight against poverty and vulnerability,” the statement reads.

“These are the fundamental aspects of the Foundation, which since 2008 has worked tirelessly to carry its mission forward; acting to help at-risk children and adolescents.”

All profits form the venture will go towards charities which help vulnerable children and adolescents.