Kicked out

FIFA have kicked Myanmar out of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup as punishment for crowd trouble at a 2014 qualifier in July.

Fans threw stones and water bottles onto the field during Myanamar’s game against Oman on July 28, forcing the referee to abandon the match.

Oman were leading 2-0 at the time and were awarded the victory by that score to advance to the next round of Asian qualifying 4-0 on aggregate.

The punishment means that Myanmar will now have to wait until the 2022 World Cup before they can attempt to qualify for the World Cup finals. One wonders whether FIFA’s sanction would have been quite so extreme had the trouble occurred in Brazil or Germany or England or any other of the big television markets that ultimately bankroll the finals.

Beyond the pale

South Korean club Jeonbuk Motors says it has banned a fan for 10 years for mocking Japan’s March earthquake victims during a match against Cerezo Osaka.

The club said that the fan has apologized for putting up a banner describing the quake as something to celebrate during Tuesday’s Asian Champions League quarter-final match. Words fail.

Apparently, he made the banner in anger over Jeonbuk Motors’ earlier defeat to the Japanese club. Ah, well that would explain it then.

Job for life?

Arsene Wenger is one of the world’s greatest managers and his future at Arsenal is assured for as long as he wants to stay, the club’s owner Stan Kroenke has revealed.

“Arsene is one of my favourite people I have met in the last 20 years. He is a great person and I love the way he handles himself. He is one of the great managers,” he said.

Asked if he could stay at the club for another decade, Kroenke replied: “With Arsene, it his decision and only he will know that. Arsene’s our man. As an owner, that’s who we put our confidence in.”

A quick look at the empty spaces at Arsenal’s Champions League match against Olympiakos on Wednesday, might shake that confidence somewhat.

Up for grabs

Brazilian Sports Minister Orlando Silva has confirmed that four cities are in the running to host the opening match and ceremony of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, with Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Brasilia and Salvador vying to host the curtain raiser. Given the uncertainty about the building schedule for the finals, it certainly makes sense to hedge your bets.

Incidentally, there’s an interesting piece in the current edition of the Economist which examines the ongoing problems connected to the 2014 finals. The beautiful game? I think not.

Goal of the day

There was a nice build-up and a great finish from Igor Gabilondo in Athletic Bilbao’s 2-0 win over PSG.

Support for Tevez

Former Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes says he udnerstands why his one-time team-mate Carlos Tevez might have refused to warm-up during the Champions League defeat at Bayern Munich.

“I know Carlos quite well. He’s a player who wants to be playing,” Scholes told BBC Radio 5 live. “When he’s a sub, it will be killing him.

“It’s totally up to the manager but Carlos wouldn’t have been thinking that. He’ll be thinking, ‘The manager is against me, why is he not bringing me on? I’m City’s best player and he’s not playing me’.

Scholes once refused to play in a League Cup tie in 2001 after he been dropped for the previous game against Liverpool.

He explained: “You think you should be playing and my head was all over the place. I thought he [Sir Alex Ferguson] was messing me about, wrongly really. It’s up to him what he does with his team.

“I realise it was stupid. I let the manager down and it was something I regretted. It’s probably similar to Carlos Tevez’s state of mind if it is true he refused to come on.”

Dissent in the ranks

Tevez wasn’t the only Manchester City player whose behaviour raised eyebrows on Tuesday night.

Edin Dzeko reacted angrily to being substituted in the midweek defeat. Fortunately, the Bosnian came to his senses and was quick to issue an apology to his manager Roberto Mancini.

“I know my reaction [to being taken off] was bad,” he said. “I have spoken to the guys and to the coach as well. I have apologized for the reaction and Roberto has accepted it and said that everything is OK and that we have to be positive for the next game.”

The former Worlfsburg striker explained that he was angry because he was keen to impress on his return to Germany.

“I was unhappy because we were 2-0 down and I wanted to win the game,” he said. “It was something special for me to go back to Germany where I played for a long time. I wanted to do well and wanted the team to do well. Things didn’t go well for us. That is why I was extra frustrated.”

That’s one happy ship Mancini has got on his hands there.

Getting carried away

Franz Beckenbauer has urged Bayern Munich to remain grounded following the club’s impressive start to the season.

The former Bayern Munich legend stressed that the 2-0 win over Manchester City, impressive though it was, should be seen in the context of the opposition.

In terms that will wound the City hierarchy, Beckenbauer wrote in his column in Bild: “We should not forget that although Manchester City are a good club and are stronger than many Bundesliga sides, they’re not a great team like Real Madrid or Manchester United.

“Bayern are definitely not of the same level as Barcelona just yet. Claiming that would be a big exaggeration. Barcelona have won so many titles in the past few years, while we were relatively anonymous during those years.”

Dad’s army

Ambitious Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala have drawn up a shortlist which includes Fabio Capello, as they search for a new manager following the sacking of Gadzhi Gadzhiev. Roberto Carlos, appointed caretaker coach by president Gadzhi Gadzhiev, has been charged with compiling a list of suitable candidates.

“I am having dinner with the president and we’ll speak about signings and coaches for next season,” he is quoted as saying in the Daily Mail.

“In terms of coaches, there are several names, such as Capello, (Guus) Hiddink, (Wanderley) Luxemburgo and (Luis Felipe) Scolari.”

Roberto Carlos also hinted that the big-spending Russians are eyeing moves for Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard and improbably, former Arsenal man Robert Pires.

“We will talk about names like (Frank) Lampard, (Steven) Gerrard and (Robert) Pires,” he added.

Have I missed something here? Is he trying to recruit a vets team?


Didier Drogba has scotched rumours that he might move to Bayern Munich.

The Ivorian striker was linked with both Tottenham Hotspur and Milan this summer, with Bayern most recently linked with a move for the out-of-favout Chelsea man.

However, the 33-year-old has effectively ruled out a move away from Chelsea, stating it would be difficult to start again at a new club.

“I believe the rumours were unnecessary,” said Drogba on the subject of leaving west London.

“At my age, it’s next to impossible to start again at a new club.”

Try telling that to Roberto Carlos, or Robert Pires for that matter.