Turks walk free for Christmas

A Turkish court has released eight suspects in a match-fixing case, including the coach and an executive of Besiktas.

Besiktas coach Tayfur Havutcu, executive Serdal Adali and the other six were released from custody pending trial. Twenty-three suspects remain in custody.

A total of 93 football officials and players, including the chairman of champions Fenerbahce, Aziz Yildirim, are set to face trial on charges of corruption.

The Turkish parliament passed a law at the weekend cutting prison sentences for match-rigging from a maximum 12 years to three years, overruling President Abdullah Gul who vetoed the measure earlier this month.

Gul is now compelled to approve the legislation but argued that the new law did not represent a sufficient deterrent and believed it was passed to benefit certain individuals.

Maradona banned and fined

Diego Maradona has been suspended from taking part as coach of Al Wasl coach for the next three matches by the UAE Football Assocation (UAEFA).

Maradona was also handed a fine of $2,700 following an altercation with Al Ain coach Cosmin Olaroiu after a UAE Pro League match on Friday which Al Wasl lost 2-0.

The punishment was decided by the association’s disciplinary committee after a heated argument Maradona had with Olaroiu, who was also fined.

Maradona has been moaning about the standard of refereeing in the UAE from almost the moment he arrived in the country, alleging that there was a conspiracy against him and his team.

“Referees are always making decisions that affect me and my team,” he said earlier.

Maradona was referring to a recent decision by the UAEFA disciplinary committee, in which they decided to suspend one of his players, Darwish Ahmed for “inadequate behaviour” during a match against Al Shabab on December 3.

Speaking ahead of the clash on Friday, he said: “There seems to be some sort of agenda against us, especially from referees.

“The standard of refereeing here is unacceptable. A good referee should never be noticed, they should just do their job and not seek to be celebrities.

“I’m not the only one who thinks this, Fabio Cannavaro, Walter Zenga and the Al Shabab coach (Paolo Bonamigo) all have the same concerns. It is not good for the image of the game here.”

This is not the first run-in the Argentinian has had with the authorities since he arrived in the UAE, and if we can be sure of one thing in life, it is that this latest set-to won’t be the last.

Ronaldo told to ignore abuse

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho says that if Cristiano Ronaldo was jeered by Madrid supporters in the Clasico, the 26-year-old he should have ignored the abuse.

Ronaldo’s tendency to mutate into Emile Heskey whenever he faces Barcelona, has not gone unnoticed by the more fickle ements among the Bernabeu faithful.

“If he is like me, he does not care about whistles,” Mourinho explained. “During the match, there is no time to listen to what is happening out there. It does not seem to be a big problem.”

“Losing a match affected him, just like everyone else, but he does not lose his emotional balance.

“It is normal that he is more upset than he was two weeks ago. But there is no drama about his situation.”

Bridge and tunnel crowd

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has played down reports of a spat in the Stamford Bridge tunnel  with  Chelsea’s Ashley Cole, following the London outfit’s 2-1 win over his City side.

Mancini admits he did not understand what Cole had said, but says he can be happy if Chelsea were agitated because it meant they thought his side were a “top team”.

Either that or they’re just not very classy winners.

The Italian told reporters: “I don’t know if Cole said something, I didn’t understand it, but if the Chelsea players are saying we are a top team, for us that’s really important. They were lively because they beat a top team.”

Frank Lampard, who clearly did understand what Cole had said, tried to explain his team-mates reaction.

“Sometimes you get overheated,” he said. “Big games, big players who want to win things on both sides, and there was a bit of frustration.”

Goal of the day

Mario Baloteli showing he is not just an idiot in search of a village. Following excellent work from Sergio Aguero, the Italian rounds Chelsea keeper Petr Cech before calmly sliding the ball into the empty net to give Manchester City a 1-0 lead.

Anzhi spree shows signs of abating

The latest player to be linked with a move to big-spending Anzhi Makhachkala is El Hadji Diouf. I suppose very pantomime needs a villain and who better than the former Senegal international.

“I’m in contact with Anzhi officials. I’m being called often, even three days ago, but I’m yet to decide. Negotiations will begin in earnest anytime soon, but for now nothing is certain, that’s on my part,” Diouf told Dakar-based newspaper L’Observateur.

“Playing alongside Eto’o will be great. Why not, I’m keen but I’ve got to discuss with my family. My kids are schooling here (England), and moving out will entail another big arrangement,” he added.

Beckham set for PSG?

Paris Saint-Germain’s pursuit of Galaxy midfielder David Beckham is “95 percent complete,” L’Equipe has reported.

However, Beckham’s current club, LA Galaxy are refusing to give up on the player without a fight. The Galaxy’s owners, Anschutz Entertainment Group, are understood to have offered him an executive position within AEG.

“I can tell you that as of today, it’s certainly not a done deal,” Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said . “I think the Galaxy are very much interested in bringing David back. Again, it will be David’s decision, but we’re keenly interested in keeping the player here.”

Staying put?

Clarence Seedorf does not expect Carlos Tevez to join Milan because he expects the striker to move to a club which can “promise him the most money”.

Manchester City are looking to selll the AWOL striker in the January transfer window, with  Milan and PSG among the sides chasing his signature.

Milan midfielder Seedorf, displaying a degree of honesty rarely seen within the proessional football community, admits he is not expecting the Argentine to arrive at the San Siro in January.

“Looking back at his career, his agents and every move he has ever made, I think Tevez will go where they can promise him the most money,” Seedorf told Sky Sport Italia.

“Milan would be the first time in his life that he has chosen a club for his career rather than the money. We’ll see what happens.”

Valencia stadium deal

Valencia has sealed a deal with Spanish lender Bankia allowing work to resume on the club’s long-delayed stadium project, which was stopped in early 2008 due to financial problems.<

The La Liga outfit had been due to move into the 75,000-seat Nou Mestalla in time for the 2009-10 season but financial concerns meantthe scheme was shelved.

However, after reaching agreement with Bankia, construction work will resume shortly, with development expected to be completed in approximately two years.

Valencia president, Manuel Llorente, said: “This agreement is an historic milestone. It is a day that will go down in history and that will be welcome news for the hundreds of thousands of Valencianistas who will soon see their team playing home games in one of the best stadiums in Europe. The new home for Valencia will give the club a step up in every respect.

“I wish to say a special thanks to Bankia once again, for all their efforts and hard work in collaborating towards a great future for the club and for Valencianismo. This has been a joint effort that has taken many months and that has become reality thanks to will, effort and collaboration between our two entities.”


Zenit St Petersburg have been fined a total of €50,000 for crowd incidents at two  Champions League group stage matches.

The Russian club were fined for the setting off of fireworks, illicit banners, insufficient organisation and a pitch invasion. In which case, they have got off lightly.

In another case, Celtic  have been handed a €15,000 fine for illicit chanting at their  Europa League Group I match against Rennes in Glasgow on 3 November. Just when the moral high ground beckons, you can be sure that one of other of the Old Firm will vacate it.