Cristiano Ronaldo threatens to boycott Ballon d’Or ceremony

Cristiano Ronaldo has threatened to boycott the Ballon d’Or after accusing UEFA president Michel Platini of attempting to unsettle him.

Platini suggested that the award’s voting deadline was extended for the sake of the Real Madrid forward, but although his tone was lighthearted, some Spanish outlets claimed that the Frenchman was being serious with his remarks.

Either way, Ronaldo has taken the comments to heart and refused to respond to Platini, while suggesting he may not go to the ceremony on January 13 in Zurich and instead stay in Madrid or go to Portugal.

“I think that [Platini] was trying to provoke me,” the 28-year-old told reporters in Madeira, where he is enjoying a few days’ rest and preparing for the opening of his own personal museum. “I will not respond.

“On the day of the Ballon d’Or ceremony I may be in Spain or in Zurich… or in Madeira.”

The Portuguese winger is currently the bookmakers’ favorite to win the forthcoming Ballon d’Or, ahead of fellow frontrunners Franck Ribery and Lionel Messi.

Jose Mourinho calls for Ibrahimovic mentality from Chelsea players

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has challenged his squad to handle the pressure of fighting for the Premier League title by emulating Didier Drogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The former Real Madrid manager wants to see his current Chelsea squad develop a title-winning mentality.

Although, why a squad containing John Terry (3 league titles) Frank Lampard (3 league titles), Petr Cech (3 league titles), Ashley Cole (3 league titles), Fernando Torres (World and European Championship winner) etc. etc. should need to be reminded of the qualities required to win major titles, is anyone’s business.

But, wherever he has managed, Mourinho has always fostered team spirit by casting his players as underdogs. Even when managing Real Madrid, the self-proclaimed biggest club in the world, or Porto, the biggest club in his native Portugal, or inheriting the Inter job on the back of 4 consecutive league titles, or even Chelsea, where the billions of Roman Abramovich saw them able to outbid any club for any player.

“I like to put pressure on them, yes, but you have to analyze the players you’re working with,” he said.

“I gave Didier as an example. When I put real pressure on him, the animal was always coming out. Ibrahimovic at Inter – exactly the same. When I put real pressure on him, I knew that the answer was coming. It depends on the players’ profiles. Some react in a very good way. Some don’t.

“I have players who have told me not to criticize them in front of the other guys because, ‘It’s not good for my self esteem’. I’ve had everything.”

The Chelsea boss also wants his players to regard the challenge of a title fight as a positive.

“One of the things is to make the pressure of fighting for the title to be something natural, something that players accept in a positive way, not in a negative way,” he said.

“We have here some people who won the title before, but they’ve not won it for quite a long time. When you don’t do that for quite a long time, you forget it.”

Even though Frank Lampard is getting on a bit, surely even he can remember back to 2010 when Chelsea last won the Premier League.

Cesare Prandelli calls for World Cup water breaks

Italy manager Cesare Prandelli has called for FIFA to permit water breaks during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, due fears over the heat in South America.

FIFA have banned water breaks during matches due to the game slowing down and to time-wasting, but, Prandelli believes without water breaks the players will simply time-waste to ensure they can regularly rehydrate during a match.

“You can’t even give players water because FIFA want the bottles near the goalposts, which can only be of use when there are corner kicks,” he said.

“You are risking a situation where teams will kick the ball out for a corner just to drink something.

Italy have already experienced the heat, when they featured in the Confederations Cup earlier this summer, where the side finished third place after beating Uruguay on penalties 3-2.

Prandelli says that the request will be formally submitted within the next couple of days.

“It sounds like a joke but in fact it is really serious. We will make this request in the next two days,” he said.

FIFA has already rejected calls to reconsider its decision to schedule noon kick-offs for some matches in tropical venues.

However, there remains concern that teams playing in the northeastern cities of Fortaleza, Natal, Salvador and Recife will be subjected to temperatures soaring above 30 degrees Celsius.

Goal of the Day

Maximilian Beister lashes home a fantastic volley from the edge of the area to give Hamburg the lead against Cologne.

Quote of the Day

I attended an event at the request of the President of France, which as everyone knows is my country, and when I arrived I met the emir of Qatar and the prime minister of that emirate. No-one had told me they would be there. We had dinner together, but in the same way that I insist no-one told me the Qataris would be there, I can say with my hand on my heart that President Sarkozy did not ask me to vote for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup, not before, during or after this meeting. I understood that Sarkozy was keen on Qatar hosting the World Cup, but he didn’t ask anything of me.”

UEFA president Michel Platini tells Spanish newspaper AS, that while former French president Nicolas Sarkozy didn’t tell him to support Qatar’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup, he made it clear which country he would like him to support.

Free World Cup brazuca ball for newborns

Newborn Brazilians have been offered a free World Cup ball by maker Adidas as part of the official launch of the brazuca ball.

However, any child born in the Brazil on Tuesday, when the ball was launched, will be given the ball.

The ball has been tested for 2-1/2 years by more than 600 players and 30 teams in 10 countries across three continents, including Argentina’s Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi.

As always, with the launch of a new World Cup ball, this one claims to be better, rounder and will fly truer than any of its predecessors. However, unlike previous World Cup balls such as 2010’s jabulani, this one purports not to be the stuff of nightmares for goalkeepers.

Now for the science bit…Adidas said in a news release that “a new structural innovation with a unique symmetry of six identical panels alongside a different surface structure will provide improved grip, touch, stability and aerodynamics on the pitch”.

Brazil fullback Dani Alves said: “…we’re going to have a lot of fun with it. Most importantly, it plays well on the ground and in the air. It’s increased my levels of excitement even further and I honestly cannot wait for the opening game.”

Spain captain and goalkeeper Iker Casillas said: “The brazuca has a stunning design that feels inspired by Brazil. Now the ball has been launched the tournament feels a lot closer. Hopefully with brazuca we can get the same result as in 2010.”

No prizes for guessing which football manufacturer sponsors those two.