Bayern apologise for misleading fans

Bayern Munich have apologised for a PR stunt which announced a “spectacular transfer” but turned out to be a club promotion on Facebook that backfired and left many fans angry and disappointed.

Sports director Christian Nerlinger had announced on Thursday that a spectacular transfer would be unveiled at a news conference later that day.

The news conference turned out to be a promotion in which Nerlinger said every Bayern fan was the “spectacular transfer. Our 12th man”.

Coming from the home of the Zeppelin it seems appropriate that the stunt went down like a lead balloon, with fans registering their displeasure via Facebook.

Once they were logged in, the fans were made to “like” Bayern’s page in order to view the proceedings.

Bayern’s desire to raise its number of Facebook followers comes after the German national football team’s announcement last month that it had reached 1 million fans on the site.

If nothing else, the story offers an excuse to list the most popular clubs as measured by their Facebook and Twitter followings. Most of Europe’s big names are in there, although the presence in the top ten of Besiktas, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray, indicates hitherto unseen levels of support for Turkish clubs.

Top ten most popular clubs:

10. Besiktas

Facebook Fans: 2,853,174
; Twitter Followers: 53,783

Total 2,906,957

9. Fenerbahce

Facebook Fans: 4,901,434
; Twitter Followers: 295,873

Total 5,197,307

8. Milan

Facebook Fans: 6,212,535; 
Twitter Followers: 176,297

Total 6,388,832

7. Galatasaray

Facebook Fans: 6,078,660
; Twitter Followers: 466,638

Total 6,545,298

6. Liverpool

Facebook Fans: 7,231,126
; Twitter Followers: 493,501

Total 7,724,627

5. Chelsea

Facebook Fans: 7,405,514
; Twitter Followers: 410,594

Total 7,816,108

4. Arsenal

Facebook Fans: 7,740,591
; Twitter Followers: 946,855

Total 8,647,446

3. Man United

Facebook Fans: 19,961,486; 
Twitter Followers: No official page

Total 19,961,486

2. Real Madrid

Facebook Fans: 20,351,777; 
Twitter Followers: 2,464,341

Total 22,816,118

1. Barcelona

Facebook Fans: 21,376,981; 
Twitter Followers: 3,741,040

Total 25,118,021

Man out of Time

Recognition of Lionel Messi’s global appeal comes with an interview with Time Magazine and an appearance on the cover of this month’s issue  – the first time a footballer has featured exclusively on the cover of the publication in Europe, Asia and the South Pacific.

To accompany the interview, Messi’s place in the pantheon of world greats is discussed by an informed panel. Among them is World Soccer editor Gavin Hamilton who suspects Messi will not be recognised as the best player of all time until he wins the World Cup.

“I think it’s a reflection of the nature of football these days that club football dominates everything, and Messi has dominated the Champions League,” he says. “But internationally, the World Cup is still important, and I think we accept it as the only place there’s a level playing field where the players compete against each other on a global scale.

“The record books have to record him as a World Cup winner for him to be accepted as the greatest player of all time. The next World Cup in Brazil could be a perfect stage for him.”

English clasico

There is no such a thing as an English clasico, but if forced to pick one, most supporters would probably concede that Manchester United v Liverpool comes closest in terms of historical significance and mutual antipathy.

This weekend sees another instalment of a rivalry that simmered along for decades but really came to the boil in recent years as United gradually eroded Liverpool’s historical supremacy.

In the wake of the race furore involving Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra, there are fears that Saturday’s FA Cup encounter at Anfield could be a volatile occasion and both clubs have taken sensible steps to urge calm among supporters.

Earlier this week, Liverpool’s managing director Ian Ayre called for “rivalry not hatred” while United boss, Sir Alex Ferguson, wrote to all United fans travelling to the game imploring them to behave and provide “positive, witty and loud” support.

The Football Association has also issued a request, in partnership with the Merseyside police, for the clubs to remind their players and staff before kick-off of the particular sensitivities surrounding the games.

Now, it’s just down to the players to do their bit. Mmmm…

Goal of the day

Clarence Seedorf cuts inside on to his right foot and blasts a shot past the Lazio keeper, but it was the deft assist from Stephan El Shaarawy that really made this goal.

Platini backs winter World Cup

UEFA president Michel Platini has renewed his calls for the 2022 World Cup to be staged in the middle of the European winter to avoid the soaring summer temperatures of Qatar.

Any move to reschedule the World Cup is likely to meet with strong resistance from top leagues across Europe, which estimate that the switch would require changing league schedules over three consecutive seasons.

Platini remains adamant that the tournament in Qatar can be slotted into a mid-winter date with minimal disruption.

“The World Cup is the most important moment for the game every four years, but where does it say we always have to play in June? I don’t see the problem of playing in December,” Platini told The Telegraph.

“What is the problem for the Premier League to finish at the end of May instead of the beginning, and recuperate the time in December? We have to put the World Cup and the fans first.”

Platini also defended his decision to support Qatar despite the Arab state despite their promise to play the finals in the summer.

“The vote and the summer are two different things,” argued Platini. “I voted for a region that never received the World Cup, that was my philosophy.

“But I thought, after South Africa 2010, where it was zero degrees at 5pm and there was no life for the fans, how can we ask the fans and players to go to this country when it is 50 or 60 degrees in July? I think the best time to play is winter.”

Or not in Qatar.

Quotes of the day

“If Carlos doesn’t leave Manchester City this winter, he doesn’t rule out the possibility to join PSG in the summer. Carlos has faith in PSG project.”

January, 27th, 2012: Carlos Tevez’s agent Kia Joorabchian discussing the possibility of a move to Paris-Saint Germain.

“Thanks PSG, but no. My destination is Milan. I only see myself in the Rossoneri colours. Now I’m waiting for Milan.”

January, 24th, 2012: Carlos Tevez, when asked about the possibility of a move to PSG.

PAOK president resigns

Former Greece captain Theodoros Zagarakis has resigned as president of indebted PAOK Salonika after fans protested against the sale of Portuguese midfielder Vieirinha to German club Wolfsburg.

PAOK fans broke up seats in the stand and invaded the pitch after a 2-1 home defeat by Atromitos Athens on Wednesday.

“I step down at a difficult time so that love and unity return to the club,” said Zagorakis.

PAOK is under pressure to reduce its debt or have its licence revoked, under new “financial fair play” rules by UEFA.

Earlier this month UEFA fined PAOK, who have reached the last 32 of the Europa League, €250,000, of which €200,000 is suspended for a probationary period of three years.

It never rains…

Neuchatel Xamax have filed for bankruptcy after failing to win their Swiss Super League licence back, and the club’s owner, Chechen Bulat Chagaev, has been arrested on suspicion of fraud.

“Neuchatel Xamax has decided to file for bankruptcy because of the withdrawal of the licence and financial position of the company,” the club said on its website.

“The board has also decided to release the players from any obligations.”

Geneva prosecutors said in a statement that Chechen businessman Bulat Chagaev had been arrested to prevent “financial mismanagement.”

Courts can order a suspect to be remanded without charge if there is strong suspicion a crime has been committed and if the suspect is considered likely to flee, destroy evidence or endanger others.

With Chagaev, that’s an affirmative on all counts.

Turkey clubs vote for Christmas

Turkish clubs turned down a proposal to spare clubs from possible relegation over a match-fixing scandal.

Under the proposed reform, clubs believed to be involved in match-fixing would no longer face relegation but instead suffer a minimum 12-point deduction.

However, those clubs not implicated in the scandal insist that the existing sanctions, which include relegation, should be upheld.

“We have made all efforts so that Turkish football is not harmed or loses prestige abroad. But people spoke differently to us than they did behind their backs. Everyone is innocent and only we are guilty,” Football Federation (TFF) chairman Mehmet Ali Aydinlar said in an emotional final speech.

“We came with honour and that’s how we’ll go. History will write the truth,” he added.

Interestingly, opposition to the change is fiercest among those accused, with Fenerbahce president, Aziz Yildirim, who is currently in jail awaiting charges, describing the TFF proposal as “a black stain on the history of Turkish football”.

Meanwhile, as the saga rumbles on, pressure from UEFA grows, with general secretary Gianni Infantino saying earlier this week that Turkey must act quickly and take disciplinary action against those allegedly involved in the scandal.

Boot’s on the other foot

Mark Van Bommel enjoys his reputation as one of football’s less subtle enforcers, so no doubt he would have appreciated the simplicity and directness of Lazio’s Andre Dias approach when the pair clashed during Thursday’s Italian Cup tie.