How make friends and influence people

Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards has apologised for his remarks claiming that FIFA and UEFA stole the game of football from the English.

Without wishing to endorse Richards’ ludicrous assertion, it’s clear that if they had stolen the game, there’s no way they’ll be giving it back now.

Explaining his comments Richards used the ‘Geoff Boycott’ defence*, when he told Sky Sports: “First of all, I’d like to clarify something. I’m a Yorkshireman and I’m quite broad. If I say something, it can be taken out of a little of context.”

The fearless Richards then waded into the debate about the sale of alcohol at the 2022 World Cup in alcohol-free Qatar.

“In our country and in Germany we have a culture,” he said. “We call it ‘we would like to go for a pint and that pint is a pint of beer’. It is our culture as much as your culture is not drinking. There has to be a happy medium.”

Not sure what a happy medium between a drinking culture and a non-drinking culture would be. A shandy perhaps?

The 70-year-old was attending the International Sport Security Conference in Doha Qatar where, to compound a bad day, he fell into a fountain pool.

He was accompanied by Bolton Wanderers chairman Phil Gartside, who was quick to deny reports that Richards was tipsy.

“I was on the way to dinner with Sir Dave at the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha,” Gartside told the BBC.

“We were walking across to our table in a dark courtyard area. There were three fountain areas nearby, no pool.

“They had switched off the lights. He thought he was stepping on to flat marble, but his foot went down into the water, he fell over and hurt his leg quite badly. Any suggestions he had a drink is nonsense. It’s a dry place.”

Until you fall into a fountain.

* Famously outspoken England cricketer whose habitual rudeness would be excused by virtue of him being born in the county of Yorkshire.

Manager in waiting?

Given the recent dismissal of coach Andre Villas-Boas amid claims of unsettling player power, one would imagine that one of the accused malcontents, skipper John Terry, would be keeping a low profile at the moment.

Not, at all. Having been substituted during Chelsea’s thrilling Champions League triumph over Napoli, Terry found it impossible to just sit on the bench and mind his own business. Instead, he was exhorting his team-mates ’til the final whistle, while acting manager, Roberto di Matteo, shuffled nervously in his technical area.

If Chelsea are looking for a tactically astute, emotionally stable person with technical know how as their next boss, then clearly they’ll look elsewhere. But if they’re looking for someone to shout really loudly whilst shaking his fist and kissing the club crest, then they could do a lot worse than hire Terry.

Macedonia league suspended

Macedonian first and second division matches have been suspended indefinitely after ethnic violence in the Balkan country.

Ethnic tension in Macedonia erupted two weeks ago when an off-duty police officer shot and killed two ethnic Albanians after a dispute over parking space in the town of Gostivar.

The decision follows injuries to at least 14 people during inter-ethnic clashes in Skopje and in the northwestern town of Tetovo since last Thursday.

On Tuesday the Macedonian Football Federation ordered four first division matches to be moved from Tetovo following a series of clashes, but one of the local clubs, FK Skendija, refused to move its games from the town’s municipal stadium, which forced the FFM to come up with the suspension.

Two FK Skendija supporters were arrested Saturday after a policeman was injured while apparently protecting two men from a mob attack.

After the arrests, hardcore Shkendija fans threatened to cause trouble in a match against league leaders Vardar Skopje originally scheduled for Wednesday.

Shkendija and two other clubs from Tetovo, Renova and Teteks, were then ordered to move their matches to neutral grounds but police deemed the venues they chose unsafe.

Quote of the day

“Ronaldo is unbelievable. You would have thought with the number of goals he scored last season you couldn’t improve, but he is at another level.”

Joe Mourinho enthuses about Cristiano Ronaldo following the forward’s latest two-goal haul.

As you can see from the following clip, this new ‘level’ includes the amazing ability to mesmerise goalkeepers when the ball is heading their way.

Scores charged in Egypt

Egypt’s prosecutor general has referred 75 people to criminal court in connection with riots last month that left over 70 people dead in the northern city of Port Said.

The defendants include nine members of the police and three officials from the Al-Masry football club.

On February 1, clashes between fans of home team Al-Masry and Cairo’s Al-Ahly, erupted at the final whistle of the match.

The violence came amid claims by witnesses that the security forces did little to prevent the rioting and may even have encouraged it as revenge for the involvement of hardcore Al-Ahly fans in the unseating of President Hosni Mubarak last year.

The Good, the bad and the ugly

We saw all aspects of Didier Drogba’s play last night: the good, when he eluded his marker to head acrobatically for Chelsea’s opening goal; the bad, when he fell frequently to the ground under the slightest hint of physical contact; the ugly, when he confirmed once again that when it comes to feigning injury he has few peers in the modern game.

Here’s the Ivorian doing his version of the Busquets.

Boys from Brazil

Ronaldinho has been named as one of the “overage” players in Brazil’s provisional squad for the London Olympics.

Brazil’s Olympic team manager, Mano Menezes, named the former World Player of the Year alongside the likes of Barcelona’s Daniel Alves, Chelsea defender David Luiz and Porto forward Hulk.

Other big names included in teh squad are Inter keeper Julio Cesar, Milan defender Tiago Silva, Santos’s superstar-in-waiting Neymar, Milan striker Alexandre Pato, Manchester United defender Rafael and Tottenham’s Sandro.

Menezes is clearly taking the competition seriously and is leaving nothing to chance in selecting a 52-man provisonal squad. Yes, that’s not a misprint: he’s picked a 52-man squad! If you’ve ever had kickabout on Copacabana beach, there’s a good chance your name will be on it.

Left in the lurch

From Turkey comes a story of the cruel exploitation of a young Ghanaian footballer’s dream of playing football professionally in Europe.

The player’s name is given as just Aziq, an 18 year-old who was lured to the country by unscrupulous men purporting to be agents for Turkish clubs. After paying up to $2,500 to an agent from Ghana for a “contract” they were dumped and are now dependent upon the charity of the local council.

The full story can be found here.

Goal of the day

Ultimately a mere consolation in his side’s 4-1 defeat to Real Madrid, but CSKA Moscow’s Zoran Tosic scored the best goal of the night when he belted home an unstoppable shot from outside the area.


Barcelona defender Eric Abidal will undergo a liver transplant in the “next few weeks”, the club have confirmed.

The news comes exactly a year to the day since the French international underwent an operation to remove a liver tumour.

Barca captain Carles Puyol has offered his support to his team-mate.

“This is very tough, the squad is hurt. We lived it last year, now again. But this will make us stronger,” he said.

“The main thing now is for Abidal to recover. The team is united, we’ll stand by his side. His attitude is an example for us. Abidal is in good spirits, he cheered us up. He’s really strong, we’re sure he’ll get through this.”