Passage to India

Blackburn Rovers will visit India early next month, having cancelled their July trip at the last minute following terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

The Indian-owned club will become the first Premier League side to tour the country on Oct. 5-7, during a break in the English fixtures.

“Security is paramount but so is our commitment to bringing Blackburn Rovers to India,” Venky’s director Balaji Rao said in a statement on Monday.

“And perhaps the visit now could not have been better timed. The club is riding on a high after its big win over Arsenal, and the players are eager to share the glory with their Indian fans.”

I’m sure that if they had a choice, they’d choose to share the glory in a way that didn’t require them to travel halfway across the globe. Whatever happened to tweeting?

Natural order

A 6-2 win for Real Madrid over Rayo Vallecano combined with Barcelona’s 5-0 win over Atletico Madrid appears to show that the natural order is restoring itself in La Liga.

Cristiano Ronaldo notched a hat-trick (including 2 penalties) for Real Madrid to maintain his scarcely credible record of scoring almost a goal a game for the Spanish side, but again he was overshadowed by his Barcelona nemesis, Lionel Messi, who scored three from open play.

The superlatives are virtually exhausted now.

Holier than thou?

Barcelona have finally received support from their general assembly for the club’s lucrative shirt sponsorship deal with the Qatar Foundation.

The decision to sell advertising space on its jersey for the first time in the club’s 112-year history had brought criticism from former president Joan Laporta and former player-turned-coach Johan Cruyff.

But, the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Alexis Sanchez don’t come cheap and 697 members voted yes to the deal late, while only 76 voted against.

The halos won’t shine quite so brightly from now, but at least the bank manager will be a happier man.


Sepp Blatter’s year of the long knives continues with the suspension of Caribbean Football Union (CFU) official Colin Klass.

Klass was present at the infamous CFU meeting held in Trinidad & Tobago on May 10-11, which ultimately led to Mohammed bin Hammam being handed a life ban after being found guilty of bribery.

The Guyana official was reported by a witness to have “giggled” when he left a room where cash gifts were being handed over. Presumably, though, the 26-month suspension is not for giggling. That would be like expelling a child for laughing in class.

The FIFA report states: “Outside the boardroom, Mr Lunn encountered Lionel Haven (a former Bahamas FA board member) and Colin Klass.

“According to Mr Lunn, Mr Klass stated: ‘Why is this door locked, are there people getting bribed around here?’

“The male (CFU official) then allowed Mr Klass to enter the boardroom, which he exited after a few minutes. Mr Lunn noticed that Mr Klass had a smile on his face and was slightly giggling.”

Hardly an open and shut case.

A further 15 Caribbean officials under investigation are awaiting hearing dates. Let’s hope none of them have so much as smirked when on official business.

Goals of the day

Two goals almost identical in their execution.

Firstly, Roger’s for Ceara v Coritiba, in the Campeonato Brasileiro.

Meanwhile, in Argentina, Arsenal Sarandi’s Lisandro Lopez equally acrobatic strike against Olimpo.

Humble pie

New York Red Bulls Mexican defender, Rafa Marquez, may be forced to eat his words and issue an apology to team-mate Tim Ream.

Marquez singled out Ream in a particularly ungracious tirade following NY’s 3-1 defeat to Real Salt Lake. The 23-year-old was accused of making “childish mistakes” by the experienced defender. The upshot of it all was that Marquez was suspended for a match by coach Hans Backe and as a result, the Red Bulls looked a much more secure defensive unit in their 2-0 win over Portland Timbers.

Club captain Thierry Henry decided that the best approach was to clamber on the fence and hope to avoid the splinters.

“As I said after Wednesday’s game, I feel sorry for Rafa. But, the boss made a decision. Now the important thing is to concentrate on Saturday’s game.”

So it was left to Ream to play the role of the grown-up.

“In the heat of the moment things get said, and that’s the way things go,” he said. “Other than that, there’s nothing really to say about it”.

Lost in translaton

Valerie Bojinov has explained that Bulgaria coach Lotthar Matthaus had to be fired because he was unable to communicate with the players.

German Matthaus was sacked last week after leading the team to only three wins — two of them in friendlies—in 11 games.

Bojinov told Meridian Match that Matthaus struggled to get his thoughts across to the players.

“It was a different story with Matthaeus, it was like a broken phone conversation,” said the Sporting Lisbon forward.

“You’re talking to a translator and you know that sometimes such ‘tactics’ leads to problems. One didn’t hear something, others didn’t understand something … much of it was lost in translation.”

Matthaus has now managed Rapid Vienna, Partizan Belgrade, Atletico Paranense, Salzburg, Maccabi Netanya and Hungary. Interestingly, the one country in which he has never coached is also the one he would have no problem communicating with the players. But, clubs in his native Germany have shown no enthusiasm for employing the country’s most capped player of all time.

Make of that what you will.

It never rains…

It’s been an eventful week for Chelsea striker Fernando Torres. A well-taken goal at Old Trafford last week was overshadowed by  that miss, and similarly on Saturday, his clinical finish was quickly forgotten after a two-footed lunge on Swansea’s Mark Gower saw him red carded.

Torres was unhappy with the decision and you can almost understand his frustration. Rash though the challenge was, Torres actually misses. Just like at Old Trafford.

Crisis over?

Inter president Massimo Moratti believes the club has returned to normal under new coach Claudio Ranieri.

Ranieri replaced Gian Piero Gasperini last week after a dismal start to the season which had seen Inter go five matches without a win.

“Yes, of course, [the performance] went very well. Everything seems to be back to normal,” said Moratti after Inter’s 3-1 win at Bologna.

“Yes, I think [Inter are more rational]. More rational in the sense that it is more like their normal way of playing before.

“Gasperini might have been able to find that sort of normality further ahead but it was too much of a risk.”

Next stop for the revamped Inter is CSKA Moscow in the Champions League.


RIP Theyab Awana.

The 21-year-old UAE footballer who made the headlines last month following a back-heeled penalty, died last night after being involved in a car accident.

Here is the moment Awana gained footballing immortality.