FIFA anti-racism chief says there is more work to be done in England

The head of FIFA’s anti-racism task force says he was left “disheartened” after meeting “demoralised” black and ethnic minority players in England.

Jeffrey Webb said many professionals believed they did not get opportunities to develop longer careers in the game.

Webb said: “The [English] game must reflect society and the community. It doesn’t do so.”

After Chris Kiwomya left Notts County by mutual consent on Sunday, there are only three black managers in the 92 clubs in the Premier League and Football League despite more than 30% of players being non-white.

FIFA vice-president Webb has previously called on English football to “look in the mirror and engage”, given what he believes is a lack of opportunity for black and ethnic minority players in terms of senior coaching, managerial and boardroom positions.

He told BBC Sport: “There’s a lot of young players coming through, I understand that more than 30% of the league is made up of people of African descent and over 71 different nationalities playing in the Premier League. But it’s not reflected, they’re not getting an opportunity.

“And many of them are becoming very demoralised and these are issues of course that we hope the FA will take on and that of the Premier League.”

The lack of black and ethnic minority coaches in the game has prompted the the Players union, the PFA, to issue a “ready-list” of qualified former players who they believe can step into vacant coaching positions.

But after what was described as a “breakthrough” meeting between the PFA and Football League chairman Greg Clarke last season, the players’ union has been left disappointed by the failure of the league to discuss its “Coaching Fair Play” initiative with clubs.

Manuel Pellegrini on handshake snub

Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini says he “did not want to” shake hands with Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho after the 2-1 defeat by the Blues.

Pellegrini was irked by Mourinho’s reaction to celebrate Chelsea’s injury-time winner against City. The Portuguese jumped into the stand to celebrate with the supporters in exuberant fashion.

“I did not expect anything different from him,” said Pellegrini. “It is normal.”

Mourinho said: “If they feel I did something wrong, I apologise.”

The Portuguese, 50, defended his actions by claiming he was trying to get to his son in the crowd when he celebrated the winning goal.

“This is the drama of the last minute,” said Mourinho. “He [Pellegrini] lost the game in the last minute, and I have sympathy with that.

“In other countries and cultures we shake hands before the game, and that is it.

“If he was sad because of the result I understand, if he was sad because I did something wrong, I accept that too.”

Genuine contrition or a disingenuous response from the Chelsea man? Who knows.

There is history between the pair. Mourinho succeeded Pellegrini as Real Madrid head coach after the Chilean was sacked in 2010, despite gaining a then record points total with the Spanish giants.

In 2011, Mourinho questioned both his predecessor’s achievements at the Bernabeu and choice of club after Pellegrini subsequently decided to join Malaga.

“Second place is just the first loser,” said the Portuguese ahead of a match between Malaga and Real.  “If Madrid were to fire me, I wouldn’t go to Malaga. I’d go to a top-level team in Italy or England.”

Gerardo Martino defends Messi performances

Gerardo Martino has dismissed claims that Lionel Messi is not performing well for Barcelona, and praised his recent displays.

Messi, with 8 goals from 8 games this season, must be the only player in the history of the sport who has scored a goal a game and yet is still be deemed to be performing below expectations. One wonders what the unforgiving Spanish press will have to say about Gareth Bale’s underwhelming start to his career at Real Madrid.

As for Messi, he had a quiet game in Saturday’s El Clasico against Madrid, but Martino remains happy with the 26-year-old’s performances.

“I’m not worried about Messi, that’s more something from people outside,” the former Paraguay coach said. “Even if he doesn’t score, he’s important for the team.

“He can play at different positions and that’s a good thing for the team

“If with his current stats, journalists think Messi isn’t doing well, I guess his stats will be out of this world when he’s good.”

Victory over Madrid saw Barcelona move six points clear of their rivals after 10 rounds, but Martino was quick to dampen any talk of the title and insisted his side will maintain their focus.

“You win the league game by game,” he stated. “You can’t relax. We should continue to improve every match.

“Winning El Clasico is always a mental boost for the players. The mood can’t be better.

“Until numbers say otherwise, Madrid are a rival for the title.

“Atletico is doing perfectly, I have said it before they’re a candidate.”

Goal of the Day

A stunning overhead kick from Chornomorets’ Ivorian striker Franck Dja Djedjé during his side’s 2-1 victory over Hoverla.

Quote of the Day

“Instead of taking away some European [nations], we have to go to 40 teams in the World Cup. We can add two African, two Asiatic, two American and one from Europe. I support this idea totally.”

As predicted by World Soccer Daily last week, Michel Platini response to Sepp Blatter’s proposal to cut down the number of European teams at the World Cup, is to offer to increase the number of finalists from 32 to 40. Never mind the quality…

Hoffenheim lose ‘ghost goal’ appeal

Hoffenheim lost its bid for a replay of a Bundesliga match won by Bayer Leverkusen with a goal that shouldn’t have been allowed.

Leverkusen’s Stefan Kiessling was awarded the goal by referee Felix Brych in last weekend’s game when his header hit went just wide of the post and rolled into the goal through a hole in the net.

At the level of park football this kind of thing does occasionally occur, but one would have thought that measures were in place to prevent such incidents occurring in the Budesliga, which, lest we forget, is the world’s best supported league. Apparently not.

A German football federation tribunal ruled that Brych didn’t breach any rules in making his decision and let Leverkusen’s 2-1 win stand.

“The decision may be unsatisfactory from a sporting point of view, but it corresponds to the rules and the laws,” judge Hans E. Lorenz said.

Hoffenheim director of professional football, Alexander Rosen, said they were “of course disappointed” by the ruling and will review the decision “calmly” before making a decision over a second appeal.

Brych told Monday’s hearing that he thought the ball was going wide, lost sight of the ball, and “then I saw the ball was in the goal.”

Kiessling said that he initially thought Hoffenheim goalkeeper Koen Casteels had scored an own goal.

He told the tribunal that he saw the ball heading toward the side-netting, but his view was blocked. “I didn’t see the impact, but (did see) that the ball was then in the goal,” he said.

To be fair to the referee, not one of the Hoffenheim defenders complains about the decision. In fact, the only person who appears unsure about the legitimacy of the goal is the goalscorer himself.