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Response to Yaya Toure abuse an overreaction, says CSKA coach

CSKA Moscow coach Leonid Slutskiy believes there has been a huge overreaction to accusations of racism against the club’s supporters.

The Russian champions were ordered to close part of the Khimki Arena for their next Champions League home fixture with Bayern Munich, after being reprimanded for racist chants towards Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure.

But Slutskiy said he was unaware of any such incidents, reiterating the club’s insistence that its supporters were not guilty of racist chants.

“We did not hear any racist slur so it is difficult to comment,” he told reporters.

“The club is categorically against racism, but we think the situation has been exaggerated and that there has been an overreaction.

“We have received our punishment, it was up to UEFA.”

CSKA media director Sergei Aksenov interrupted a question of whether the club were concerned about a repeat of such behaviour at Eastlands.

“Let us wait for them to repeat it and then feel sorry for that,” he said.

Manchester City have decided to deploy Russian translators at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday to monitor the language used by CSKA’s fans.

Meanwhile, several CSKA supporters fell foul of the authorities before even arriving in Manchester for Tuesday’s return match between the two sides.

A flight carrying CSKA fans to Manchester had to be diverted to Denmark to eject drunken passengers.

An Easyjet spokesman said: “Easyjet can confirm that flight EZY1872 flying from Moscow Domodedovo to Manchester on 3 November diverted to Copenhagen airport due to the disruptive behaviour of a passenger on board. One passenger was immediately offloaded on arrival.

“Unfortunately, prior to take off, it was necessary for the captain to take the decision to offload a further six passengers. The aircraft then continued towards Manchester where it landed with a short delay.”

Ghana concerned about World Cup security

Ghana’s sports minister has requested a meeting with FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke over security plans for the World Cup qualifier against Egypt in Cairo.

In a letter to Valcke, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah said his sports ministry and the Ghana Football Association still had “genuine security concerns” over the November 19 game, which FIFA decreed could go ahead.

The match will be the first involving Egypt to attract a sizeable crowd since a riot at a club match in Port Said in 2012 led to the deaths of more than 70.

Ghana’s sports ministry said it had accepted FIFA’s decision — although it wasn’t completely happy with it — but asked for more details on the security guarantees given to FIFA by Egyptian authorities.

“Even though Ghana is ready and willing to play Egypt anywhere, the Ministry of Youth and Sports (would) like to know from FIFA who would be held liable, accountable and responsible in the unfortunate event of any Ghanaian being harmed before, during or after the match,” Ankrah wrote.

FIFA said in an email to The Associated Press that “the security guarantees and security plan take into account all the provisions laid down in the FIFA stadium safety and security regulations.”

Sepp Blatter to meet Pope Francis

FIFA President Sepp Blatter is to share a private audience with Pope Francis.

It promises to be a meeting of two of the world’s most powerful leaders: the pope defers only to God; Blatter to no one.

FIFA says that Blatter, who is Roman Catholic, will meet the pope in Rome on November 22.

The pope, a keen football fan, grew up as a supporter of Argentine club San Lorenzo in his native country.

Blatter wrote to him then, saying “we have learned that Your Holiness is a passionate follower of our sport and of a club nicknamed ‘The Holy Team’ no less.”

One hopes for the Pontiff’s sake that Blatter does not request confession. The scheduled meeting could interfere with the Christmas schedule.

“Bless me Father for I have sinned…a lot.”

Goal of the Day

AZ Alkmaar’s Johann Gudmundsson scored with a stunning long range strike against Den Haag.

Quote of the Day

“It is pointless and pretty ridiculous to be worrying about a footballer getting racially abused. A millionaire getting booed in Russia is nothing compared with generations of people never getting the chance to better their lives and those of their children…The truth is that those at the top of British football do not care about getting rid of racism, they just don’t want to hear it or see it.”

Former England international John Barnes, no stranger to racist abuse during his own distinguished playing career, suggests that the problem of racism in English football runs deeper than the authorities are prepared to admit.

The unforeseen consequences of the desire for perfectly round footballs

FIFA strict guidelines on the roundness of balls have hit the traditional football producing industry in Pakistan.

Ten years ago the city of Sialkot produced 85 per cent of the world’s footballs employing 100,000 people as stitchers. Production has collapsed from over 40 million balls in 2007 to 22 million this year, while the workforce now comprises just 10,000.

The problems for the industry started in 2006 when FIFA introduced precise specifications which favoured uniform, machine-made products over traditional, hand-stitched balls. The latest rules introduced this year permit only a 1.3 per cent deviation from a perfect sphere, a tough target for traditional hand-stitched balls to meet.

China and Thailand have developed cheaper machine-stitched balls that, although of lower quality, have in a few years taken over half the global market. However, all Premier League matches still use Sialkot footballs made by a local company, Silver Star.

With nearly 3,000 stitches per ball, a good Pakistani stitcher can make 3-4 footballs a day, for which they receive about 67p a ball. A machine stitcher can produce 50 at just 4p a ball. Although the average stitcher earns a pittance relative to western incomes, the workers of Sialkot are relatively affluent compared to the rest of Pakistan, earning £840 a year, twice the national average.

According to legend, the success story of Sialkot as world capital of football production started with a man who repaired a leather ball for British colonial military officers about a century ago, and then began making his own balls. He was called Syed Sahib, and the city has named a street after him.

Policeman shot friend in row over Arsenal-Liverpool match

A policeman has been arrested after allegedly shooting a friend in a row over Saturday’s Premier League match between Arsenal and Liverpool.

The officer is a Liverpool fan and was furious when rival supporters taunted him over his side’s 2-0 defeat.

The incident occurred in Durban, South Africa minutes after the game had finished.

A group of friends were enjoying a barbecue while watching the match but many of them were Manchester United fans who taunted the police captain over the result.

One witness said he then pulled out a gun shouted “Manchester United – who?” and fired a shot.

His friend collapsed to the floor with blood pouring from a wound.

He was taken to hospital with injuries to his lung and liver.

The policeman was arrested and charged with attempted murder.

He later complained of feeling unwell and was admitted to hospital, where he is still under police guard.

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