Swiss side thrown out of the league

Neuchatel Xamax have been stripped of their licence and kicked out of the Swiss Super League.

The Swiss Football League said that the decision was taken because the club was suspected of falsifying a bank document produced as a financial guarantee last year.

“The Swiss Football League (SFL) has taken away Neuchatel Xamax’s license for participating in championships organised by the SFL,” said the statement.

Neuchatel, owned by Russian businessman Bulat Chagaev, have already had eight points deducted for irregularities in the payment of social security contributions and players’ wages.

Chagaev, a Chechnyan businessman, bought Neuchatel in May saying that he wanted to transform the fortunes of the club. And in a way, he has been true to his word.

Spilling the beans

It’s unusual for a coach to name his transfer targets and it is virtually without precedent for one to list the players he has been offered. But, PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti has broken ranks and produced a list of players he claims have been offered to him by their respective agents.

Among the players reportedly available are Premier League strikers Carlos Tevez and Fernando Torres as well as the Brazilian duo Pato and Kaka.

“Since I joined PSG (last month) I have had about a hundred calls from agents proposing some absolutely unthinkable players!

“They all want to come here; the money is there, it’s Paris, there is a coach with a good reputation…,” Gazzetta dello Sport reported Ancelotti as saying.

“Names? Well, Tevez, Torres, (Manchester United’s Dimitar) Berbatov, (Tottenham’s Roman) Pavlyuchenko, (Napoli’s Edinson) Cavani, (Bilbao’s Fernando) Llorente.

“Kaka could be free in June,” former Milan and Chelsea coach Ancelotti went on.

“Pato? That’s a strange story – we don’t know. We’ll see. For January that one’s no longer a topic. In June …”

“With agents we could revamp the team week after week. I don’t like that.”

D-Day for FIFA

Mark Pieth, appointed by Blatter to chair FIFA’s independent governance committee, has told the Guardian that at Thursday’s inaugural meeting it will consider whether to examine past allegations of wrongdoing at FIFA.

“It is a matter for the independent governance committee to decide whether it is going to call for a fuller investigation into the past,” Pieth said, “and who should be conducting it.”

As the writer David Conn notes, their decision will tell us an awful lot about the sincerity of FIFA’s recent pledges to become more transparent.

Goal of the day

The goal of the game in Espanyol’s 3-2 Spanish Cup victory over Mirandes, was the visitors second scored by captain Pablo Infante. That effort gave the third tier outfit a two-goal lead, but 3 goals in four minutes from the home side turned a remarkable tie on its head.


Diego Maradona has stressed that Napoli will always be in his heart following his successful spell at the Stadio San Paolo from 1984 until 1991.

“Argentina and Napoli are the two teams that will always be in my heart. Napoli have been doing great. The city deserves a superb team like the current squad,” Maradona was quoted as saying by Ansa.

Ironically, it was the bad habits acquired during Maradona’s time at Napoli, that ultimately almost stopped his heart.

Damned with faint praise

Mario Balotelli’s agent Mino Raiola has revealed the Italian striker has told him life in Manchester “isn’t as bad as he thought” it might be. Thousands of the city’s residents might beg to differ.

“Mario has no intention of leaving City. He has started to understand certain systems on how to get along there,” Raiola told Sky Sport Italia.

“Strangely for him, he is admitting that Manchester isn’t as bad as he thought or said. Is Milan a better city? It depends on your point of view, but right now Manchester is better for him.”

Fans’ team of the year

Over 4.5 million voted in the annual UEFA users team of the year. There were no big shocks, although the inclusion of Gareth Bale and Arjen Robben must be considered minor surprises.

Eight Liga players feature in the selection with Barcelona, the reigning European champions, leading the way with five players, and another three coming from Real Madrid.

The player voted team captain by users, Xavi, was also the man to receive most individual votes. users’ Team of the Year 2011:
Goalkeeper: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)

Right-back: Daniel Alves (Barcelona)
Centre-back: Gerard Piqué (Barcelona)
Centre-back: Thiago Silva (Milan)
Left-back: Marcelo (Real Madrid)

Right midfield: Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich)
Centre midfield: Xavi Hernández (Barcelona)
Attacking midfield: Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona)
Left midfield: Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur)

Forward: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Forward: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid).

Coach: Josep Guardiola (Barcelona)

Always take the weather with you

Colombia’s top prosecutor is asking why a shaman was paid $2,000 to keep rain away from the closing ceremony of the Under-20 World Cup.

The eagle eye of the attorney general’s office, which is looking into the overspend at the finals, was understandably drawn to a payment made to the shaman.

Anthropologist Ana Marta de Pizarro helped organize the ceremony and says the shaman was justified.

She said: “Had it rained, the event would not have taken place. It didn’t rain on the ceremony, it was successful and I would use him again if I needed to.”

Well, that’s convinced me.

Shanghai express

Shanghai Shenhua have played down rumours in the Chinese media claiming the signing of Chelsea’s Didier Drogba was a done deal.

A Shanghai television broadcaster reported earlier this week that Shenhua were poised to sign Ivory Coast striker, who is out of contract at Stamford Bridge at the end of this season.

However, Shenhua officials denied the report with owner Zhu Jun confirming on his Weibo (the Chinese version of Twitter) that no deal had been agreed, but the club were still very much in the race for Drogba.

Shenhua director Zhou Jun added: “Maybe we can complete a deal before Chinese New Year (January 23).”

The Mirror had also claimed last week that the Chinese club, who recently signed Nicolas Anelka from the Blues, were closing in on Drogba with a two-and-a-half year deal believed to be worth a staggering 360,000 euros per week. Paging Samuel Eto’o’s agent…


Hours before the latest clasico instalment and the tension is evidently getting to Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, who has expressed his frustration at the lack of respect he receives from the press.

The Portuguese was criticised for some of his recent tactical changes ahead of the first leg of Madrid’s Copa del Rey quarter-final against Barcelona on Wednesday.

“How many titles do I have to win in order to avoid being questioned for what I do? Tell me what I have to do to satisfy you,” Mourinho said at a press conference.

“If I field Karim Benzema as my striker, you all ask about Gonzalo Higuain, but if he plays, you want to know why Benzema is out.

“If I play Pepe in midfield, you all stress he’s better at the back, but if he plays in defence, you suggest I use him in midfield.”