PAOK fined and threatend with ban

Greek club PAOK Salonika have been fined and threatened with a ban from European competition for breaching UEFA’s club licensing regulation.

UEFA said its disciplinary committee had fined PAOK £206,000, of which £165,000 is suspended for a probationary period of three years.

“In addition, PAOK have been excluded from one UEFA club competition for which they qualify in the next three seasons. The exclusion is also suspended for a probationary period of three years,” UEFA said.

UEFA added: “PAOK must prove that, by June 30, 2012, they have no outstanding overdue financial obligations towards employees, tax authorities, social security institutions or other clubs arising from transfer agreements incurred before 30 June 2012.”

Childs play

Ajax have confirmed that their Dutch Cup replay against AZ Alkmaar on 19 January will only be open to children, with the ground closed to the over-13s.

The last-16 match was abandoned on 21 December when a fan invaded the pitch and attacked Alkmaar’s goalkeeper Esteban Alvarado.

Ajax last week asked the Dutch football association (KNVB) to allow women and children to attend the match but the ruling body decided that only the latter would be permitted because of a law that prevents gender-based discrimination.

Tickets will be free for clubs and primary schools with children aged under 13 and one adult will be allowed in to look after every six of them.

Goal of the day

You can take your pick from the seven scored in Real Mallorca’s amazing 6-1 Spanish Cup victory over Real Sociedad. Trailing 1-0 on the night and 3-0 on aggregate, Mallorca produced a stunning comeback which saw them score 4 goals in 6 minutes and 6 in 25, either side of the interval.

Goals one and two are pretty memorable, goal four less, especially for Sociedad keeper, Enaut Zubikarai, who played the role of pantomime villain to perfection. All that’s missing is the cry of ‘he’s behind you!’

Blunder of the day

Real Madrid made it through to the last eight of the Spanish Cup with a hard-fought 1-0 away win over Malaga. The only goal of the game was scored by, but credit should really go to Malaga keeper Wilfredo Caballero.

Angel of mercy

Jose Mourinho has apparently intervened in Real Madrid’s ongoing contract dispute with Angel Di Maria. Amid reports that his former club Chelsea are poised to make a £43million offer for the Argentinian, the coach has informed his board that the player is staying put.

The 23-year-old winger is struggling to agree a new pay rise at the Bernabeu and is unhappy with his current £1.65m salary. Hardly surprising; what with the new increased tax rates in Spain, Di Maria’s salary would barely cover Cristiano Ronaldo’s body wax bill.

But after the message came from on high, the club quickly issued a statement to the effect that the winger remained a valued member of the team.

“Di Maria can count on the love and appreciation of the club and we do not want to sell him,” Real Madrid sporting director Miguel Pardeza said in an interview with Canal Plus.

“We are proud that offers are coming in, because that means that signing the player was a success and that he is doing well at Madrid.”

Agent denies Carroll talk

The agent of Liverpool’s Andy Carroll says there is “no truth” in suggestions that the striker is set for a cut-price return to Newcastle United.

Reports claim that his former club would be willing to buy back the striker for £10m – £25m less than he cost Liverpool 12 months ago. Considering his manager Kenny Dalglish claimed that Carroll cost Liverpool minus £15million, they could sell him for £10million and argue that they’ve made a £25million profit on him. Well, it’s no more outlandish than some of the statements that have emanated from Anfield in recent weeks.

Match fixing

Israel Football Association chairman Avi Luzon is the latest football official to be questioned as part of an ongoing match-fixing probe in the country.

According to an AP report, police in Jerusalem detained Luzon for eight hours on suspicions of fraud, breach of trust and abuse of power.

Police are investigating reports that Israel officials presided over a Calciopoli-style scam wherebyreferees were assigned to certain matches so as to influence their results.

“At the end of this investigation, I can promise that Israeli soccer is clean, as is the chairman of the IFA,” Luzon was quoted by Army Radio.

“I can say with all certainty that no referee fixed any match.”

Luzon, 56, a member of UEFA’s executive committee, is one of dozens of Israeli football officials, players and referees to have been questioned by police.

Burkina Faso name 16-year-old in squad

Chelsea’s highly-rated 16-year-old, Bertrand Traore, has been named in Burkina Faso’s African Nations Cup squad on Wednesday.

Traore won a first cap for Burkina Faso in a friendly in September. If he plays in his country’s opening game of the Nations Cup against Angola in Malabo on January 22 he will become the third youngest player ever at the finals.

The record was set at the 2000 finals by Ghana’s Shiva Star Nzigou, who was 16 years, two months and 30 days old when played against South Africa in Kumasi, Ghana and scored. Nzigou currently plays for Belgium Third Division Team Royal Excelsior Virton.

Indeed, the record of youthful African prodigies after they have made their initial breakthrough is not great.

Mohamed Kallon, who was 15 when he first played in the qualifiers and 16 years, three months and nine days old when he came on as a substitute in Sierra Leone’s first game at the 1996 finals in South Africa, enjoyed a peripatetic career of diminishing returns and currently plays in India for Viva Kerala FC.

Arguably, the best known starlet in recent years is Nii Lamptey who scored on his senior debut international for Ghana in a 1992 African Cup of Nations qualifying match against Togo. However, within five years, at the age of 21, he had made his final appearance for his country.

Pros and cons of being a legend

Josef Hickersberger, the coach of UAE club, Al Wahda, was asked to consider a theoretical scenario.

What would happen to a coach who has seen his side win only two points from their past five Pro League matches, and has conceded the title is out of reach, only 10 games into the season?

The coach has also has just been eliminated from the President’s Cup in the quarter-finals, and sits in fourth in Etisalat Cup group play.

“I will get the sack. That’s for sure,” Hickersberger replied. “But I am not Diego Maradona”.

Lest we forget, the next time Maradona complains about a conspiracy against him, that while his legendary status may attract some  unwanted attention, it also confers upon him an impunity his managerial record may not merit.


If Luis Suarez thought he might be able to lift his head above the parapet, he can think again. No sooner had the furore surrounding his recent eight-match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra shown signs of abating, than he learns that he may be called to give evidence in the British parliament after MPs launched an investigation into racism in football.

“I think the events of the last few weeks have reignited concerns about racism in the game,” committee member Damian Collins said.

“It would be very interesting to hear from Liverpool, and personally I think we should get views from clubs, former and current players as well as administrators with relevant experience.

“Although this session will not necessarily be restricted to football it will be the principle area of inquiry following the Suarez case and the concerns that have arisen from that,” Mr Collins said.