Call for Hiqab to be legalised

The Asian Football Confederation has urged football’s rule-making body to approve a headscarf with new safety features for use by Islamic female players.

AFC acting chief Zhang Jilong said that supporting use of the hijab is crucial to the future of women’s football worldwide.

“Many women footballers in Asia wear headscarves. I would like to request the IFAB to favorably consider FIFA’s proposal and review the rule and allow women players to play wearing a safe headscarf that covers the neck,” he said in a statement.

Though FIFA originally banned the hijab in 2007 due to safety concerns, their executive committee agreed in December to put forward a proposal to amend the rules. It was prompted by a presentation from AFC vice president Prince Ali Bin Hussein of Jordan, who called on the IFAB to approve a Velcro-opening headscarf for players and officials.

Carroll happy at Liverpool

Andy Carrol, who it transpires was offered to Manchester City in exchange for AWOL striker Carlos Tevez, claims he is happy with life at Anfield.

“I’m just here. I’ve signed a contract here and this is the team I’m playing for,” Carroll said. “I love it here. All the lads are great with me in training and away from the training ground everyone has been great with me as well.”

It’s just on the pitch that things haven’t worked out so well.

Milan set Ibrahimovic price

Mino Raiola, representative of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Mario Balotelli, has enjoyed a good transfer window. He hasn’t managed to sell either of his big name players, but he has ensured that both have stayed in the headlines.

Balotelli, we were told last week, was considering his future in future in Manchester after Raiola said he was being persectured, while today, we learn that Milan are so keen to keep Ibrahimovic that they have slapped a €150 million price tag on him. It’s a huge sum and not that far short of what Ibrahimovic believes he is worth.

“According to [club president Silvio] Berlusconi, he [Ibrahimovic] is worth €150m,” the agent is quoted as saying by ANSA.

“I get offers every day for him, so I cannot say that he will remain at Milan until the end of his career at Milan – [but] I think he’d love to.”

Goal of the day

The Bolivian clausura kicked off at the weekend with Nacional Potosi’s Erlan Mealla scoring an astonishing acrobatic goal in his side’s 1-0 win over The Strongest.

Big names linked with UAE post

The UAE Football Association have refused to be comment on reports that former Al Jazira boss Abel Braga and Dutch legend Marco Van Basten are among the candidates being considered for the national team job. However, they have confirmed that Diego Maradona is an obvious candidate for the post as he currently works in Dubai.

“Yes, we have thought of Maradona to lead the team,” Yousef Al Serkal, the chairman of the Football Association interim committee said. “He is one of the names you cannot lose sight of, especially since he is already here. But we have to consider the financial aspects. Our goal is to announce a new manager before the end of the season.”

Braga, who won the league and cup double with Jazira last season before returning to Brazil to coach Fluminense, is an obvious candidate, while former Netherlands coach Van Basten is understood to be keen to return to management and even keener on boosting his pension.

Auction to launch PLS

A big moment in the history of the fledgling Indian Premier League Soccer (PLS) tonight, when the semi-retired world ‘stars’ will be put up for auction.

“This is an exciting time for Indian football,” Bhaswar Goswami of the Celebrity Management Group told AFP. “These legends will make the sport even more popular in the country. Television coverage will ensure this tournament will attract viewers across India. Details are being worked out.”

Argentinian striker Hernan Crespo commands the highest reserve price of $840,000 at the auction, followed by Italy’s World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro ($780,000).

The icon brigade is completed by former France midfielder Robert Pires, Jay Jay Okocha of Nigeria, ex-Argentina captain Juan Pablo Sorin and, to show that the term ‘legend’ has been rendered meaningless, Robbie Fowler of England is also up for grabs.

Drogba’s mum opens up soup kitchen

The mother of Ivory Coast international Didier Drogba has been cooking for the national team supporters at a makeshift restaurant she set up near the fans’ village in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

Clotilde Drogba said it was her contribution to the country at the tournament by feeding the supporters so they could have enough strength to cheer the team to victory.

Every match day, some 60 members of the national committee of the Elephants supporters (CNSE) queue up with bowls to collect free food from the mother of the country’s most famous footballer.

Ivory Coast sports minister Philippe Legre visited the supporters’ village early this week and handed the sum of $100 to each of the 60 fans.

Local commentators have criticised the Ivorian authorities for funding such a small group of followers. In contrast Angola brought 700 supporters while Burkina Faso have 200 fans.

Ukraine keeper given two-year ban

Ukraine goalkeeper Oleksandr Rybka will miss the European Championship after been given a two-year doping ban from UEFA.

Rybka, who plays for Shakhtar Donetsk, tested positive for a banned diuretic in November.

Shakhtar says it will appeal against the “extraordinarily harsh sentence.”

According to the club, their keeper was just using some “harmless pills to reduce weight”.

The drug itself isn’t a stimulant, but it’s included on the prohibited list due to its capacity to mask the traces of doping.

Benitez lined up to replace Mourinho?

Real Madrid have already drawn up a shortlist of candidates to replace Jose Mourinho in June, having accepted that his departure is inevitable. Or so say the Spanish press, aided and abetted by English media sources who claim that that the Portuguese is returning to manage in the Premier League.

The Germany coach, Joachim Löw, and Rafael Benitez have been lined up as the most likely replacements for the former Chelsea manager.

For Low, a return to club management after eight years involvement with the German national side, is a logical next move. As for Benitez, who succeeded Mourinho at Inter but probably wishes he hadn’t, one is reminded of the words of Karl Marx: “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”


Bank manager Pablo Infante whose goalscoring exploits have propelled tiny Mirandes into a King’s Cup semi-final against Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday, has not missed a day’s work of his ofice job in northern Spain this season.

The 31-year-old is the Cup top scorer with seven goals, and his third-tier club are on the brink of a possible final meeting with either Barcelona or Valencia.

Infante scored and set up their dramatic injury-time winner to knock out Espanyol in the quarter-finals last week, and a few hours later, he was opening the doors to his bank at 8 am with television cameras waiting to greet him.

“I’m here seven hours a day, 8 until 3. It’s in the afternoon when I immerse myself in my other job,” Infante told Deia.

“This media attention is down to the work of everyone at the club. I’ve perhaps received the most attention, but I take it the same as everything else, calmly.

“I understand this is a business, that when things go well you are on a real high, but when they go badly you are criticised and brought back down to earth.”

Tuesday’s first leg is pitches a side in the last four for the first time against the 23-times winners Bilbao.