Goal of the day

Tim Howard joined a select group yesterday by becoming only the fourth goalkeeper in the history of the Premier League to score a goal. On a windy night in Merseyside, the Everton man’s long range boot comfortably cleared all the outfield players before bouncing once and soaring over the stranded Adam Bogdan into the Bolton net.

Howard, who didn’t celebrate his goal, spoke with Bogdan after the match.

“I let him know that I was feeling for him,” Howard said. “It’s not a nice place to be. I’ve been there before, a long, long time ago, and that was why I didn’t celebrate.”

The other three keepers to have netted were Paul Robinson, Peter Schmeichel and Brad Friedel.


By Jove I think he’s got it! Luis Suarez that is. The Uruguayan has finally acknowledged that he may have caused offence by racially abusing Patrice Evra.

In the immediate aftermath of Liverpool’s decision not to appeal against the 8-match ban imposed on him, Suarez issued a defiant statement protesting his innocence. But, given time to reflect, the striker has finally acknowledged that some people might have been offended by his language. Basically, anyone who’s not Uruguayan and doesn’t support Liverpool.

Suarez said: “I never, ever used this word in a derogatory way and if it offends anyone then I want to apologise for that.

“I told the panel members that I will not use it again on a football pitch in England.”

It would have been nice if his apology had extended to Evra but let’s be thankful for small mercies shall we.

If Evra or indeed Liverpool for that matter, thought that this might be the end of the matter, in wades Kick it Out’s Lord Ouseley to label the club “hypocritical” and the player’s apology “nothing short of lamentable”.

Women and children first

Ajax have asked the Dutch football association (KNVB) to allow women and children to attend the “behind closed doors” replay of their cup match against AZ Alkmaar on January 19.

The original match at match on December 21 was abandoned after 37 minutes after an Ajax fan attacked Alkmaar keeper Esteban, who was sent off for his retaliation. The red card was later rescinded.

“We are willing to consider their request but we asked Ajax to create a plan how they will execute this and under what conditions,” the KNVB said in a statement.

In September 2011 the Turkish football authorities allowed Fenerbahce to admit women and children under 12 to a match previously ordered to be played in an empty stadium.

Keeping it in the family

Rustam Emomali, the eldest son of Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon, has been elected president of the country’s football federation (FFT).

Rustam’s autocratic father operates not so much a one-party state but more a one-family state, so whatever the 24-year-old lacks in experience he can more than make up for by having friends in high places.

According to a US report published by Wikileaks, Rahmon’s father presides over massive levels of of corruption. A cable dated 16 February 2010 from the US embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s capital, describes how Rahmon runs the country’s economy for his own personal profit. Rahmon and his family control the country’s major businesses, including the largest bank, and they “play hardball to protect their business interests, no matter the cost to the economy writ large”.

It will be interesting to hear what FIFA have to say about the appointment.

Match fixing latest

There’s an interesting interview with FIFA’s head of security, Chris Eaton, who today celebrates one year in his post.

Eaton is the man charged with combating the problems associated with match fixing and judging by his remarks it’s clear he has his hands full. Nevertheless, the former Interpol man is confident that he can rid the sport of wrongdoing.

Asked whether match fixing can be beaten, he replied: ” Absolutely! I’ve been involved in criminal investigations for 40 years and on an international level with Interpol for 12 years. I am yet to meet a truly smart criminal. There are many far smarter people in the administration of FIFA for instance.”

Now that’s a sobering thought.

Here’s the full transcript of the interview.

Stoichkov back in work

Bulgarian legend Hristo Stoichkov has been appointed coach of national champions Litex Lovech.

Stoichkov has never coached a club in his native country, although he managed the national side from 2004-07 with little success. He replaces Atanas Dzhambazki, who parted company with the Lovech-based side on Tuesday after 71 days in charge.

“Our goal is to win the Bulgarian Cup and to play in Europe (next season),” the former Barcelona player and European Cup winner told a news conference. “And no doubt, we’ll be searching for the win in every single match.”

Stoichkov, who fits the template of many former great players in that he played a good game, talks a good game, but can’t manage for toffee, becomes Litex owner Grisha Ganchev’s 11th coach since June 2004. If I was a betting man I’d be looking up the odds for that number rising to 12 before the end of the year.

Own-goal of the day

Phil Jones is clearly a talented footballer, comfortable on the ball, composed, a threat going forward. Unfortunately, at this early stage of his career, there’s little evidence that he can defend. Which is a shame because that’s what Manchester United bought him to do. Here’s Jones ushering the ball into an empty net – sadly for him, his own – during Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat to Newcastle United.

Ronaldo suffering from Dengue fever

Former Brazil striker Ronaldo has revealed he has contracted dengue fever.

Ronaldo wrote on his Twitter account that he was discharged from a hospital the night before and is recuperating.

Ronaldo thanked fans for the well-wishes he has received, while confirming he is now receiving treatment, resting and looking forward to his recovery.

Swiss players sacked

As rumoured yesterday, the fall out from Swiss club Neuchatel Xamax’s points deduction for failing to pay their players, continues to rumble on.

The Swiss football league’s website has reported that captain Stephane Besle, Javier Arizmendi, Vincent Bikana and Haris Seferovic have been fired.

“It’s painful for the Xamax adventure to end this way,” said Frenchman Besle, who had been at the club for six seasons.

“I wasn’t prepared to find myself on the transfer market again so quickly.”

The dismissals continue the travails that have plagued the club since it was bought by Chechen businessman Bulat Chagaev last May.

During the summer, he sacked the club’s administrative staff and ended all the sponsorship contracts. The season began with a 3-0 home defeat to FC Lucerne, prompting the club to fire Brazilian goalkeeper Rodrigo Gallato after one game.

In November, Neuchatel survived a request for bankruptcy made by a players’ agent who took the club to court alleging that he was owed 400,000 Swiss francs.

However, since then, public prosecutors have opened another case alleging that Chagaev had fabricated a letter from a bank he used during a hearing.


Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness says FIFA president Sepp Blatter should be removed from office if he is unable to show how he intends to resolve the problem of corruption over the next year. It’s Hoeness’s birthday today, so he should be forgiven for indulging in some wishful thinking.

“Blatter has the next 12 months in which to explain to everyone exactly how he will clean up the swamp, and if he cannot do them, then we must create the circumstances through which he can be removed,” Hoeness told the Sueddeutsche newspaper

“Every week it seems there is something new. We left these issues alone for a while but it seemed that things were starting to happen. But we will keep on top of all this again now but it seems everything is boiling up again.”