Inter already champs for the bookies!?
Last time around, Inter Milan were declared champions two months after the end of the season. This season, they have been sort of awarded the honour with four months to go.
The Italian bookmakers Snai started to pay winnings to those who bet on Inter to win the 2006/07 championship…on January 30th.
The bookies took the decision after Inter scored their 14th consecutive win at Sampdoria and kept their 11 point advantage over Roma.
It is the first time a bookie has “declared” an Italian Bandar Qiu Qiu Online team champions just into the second part of the season. Inter’s chairman Massimo Moratti has warned his players and coaches that the bookies’ decision is totally irrelevant as to who will really win the championship.
“Let Snai believe we are the champions, while we must not forget that the competition is far from over.”
“I could never do as Ronaldo”
Former Inter’s player, today a successful coach, the Argentinian Diego Simeone condemned his ex-teammate Ronaldo for his transfer to Milan.
“People are free to take the decisions as they see fit, but I could not have worn Milan’s shirt,” says Simeone, who won the UEFA’s Cup and a second place in the League alongside Ronaldo in 1998.
Current Estudiantes’ coach remembers another instance of Ronaldo’s “treason”.
“He already did something similar when he signed for Real Madrid after playing for Barcelona. I could never have been Milan’s, Real’s or Roma’s player, since I played for Inter, Atlético and Lazio. That’s the way I think,” claims the feisty Argentinian, who puts loyalty ahead of everything else.
Mourinho to stay until 2010
Although he reportedly does not enjoy Roman Abramovich’s full confidence anymore, José Mourinho will not be easy to displace from Chelsea’s bench except with a hefty severance payment that may come his way in case of dismissal.
“If the club supports me, I don’t see any reason not to be here,” Mourinho told reporters at a launch of Chelsea’s corporate responsibility report at the House of Commons in Westminster.“Support is not about money, support is not about new players, you can feel support and have no players,” the former Porto manager explained.
Mourinho indeed enjoys support, at least from the bulk of the team, including the skipper John Terry and the keeper Petr Čech, recently recovered from a serious head injury.
“We’ll help Mourinho to stay by winning trophies. Since he is such a classy coach, his staying on would be the best thing for the team and the club.”
Ricard refuses to go to jail
The Colombian player Hamilton Ricard is no fool. When he learned he had been sentenced in his homeland to three years in jail for causing a fatal traffic accident, he informed the authorities he would not return to Colombia but would stay in Uruguay, where he plays for Danubio.
“I am not a murderer. On that rainy day my van overturned and one person unfortunately got killed”, said the former Middlesbrough player, announcing his lawyers would appeal the conviction.
Champion for gender equality
Drogba, UN’s ambassador
Chelsea’s forward Didier Drogba has been appointed a new UN ambassador of good will. The Ivorian will participate in campaigns to end poverty, reduce infant mortality and combat gender prejudices.
“It is necessary to promote equality of sexes and change men’s attitude towards women,” announced Drogba ambitiously, the third soccer player to carry UN credentials, alongside Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane.
Victim of a prank
A false call-up upsets Kezman
The former Chelsea striker, Mateja Kezman, has not been called up to the Serbian national team since the Spaniard Javier Clemente took over last summer. He was thus doubtlessly delighted when a Serb daily printed the news that Kezman had been called up for the national team practice to start in Belgrade on February 5th.
It took the 27-year-old one day to realize that no call-up had been sent to him by Clemente or the Serb FA, but that a prankster must have spread the “good news” through his current club, Fenerbahce. The information apparently spread through the club to the Turkish and Serb press, until the FA issued a denial.
A Fenerbahce board member told the Belgrade daily Kurir that in fact no message concerning Kezman had ever reached the Turkish club from the FA or the coach. In the meantime, the Serb FA spokesman Aleksandar Boskovic refused to comment on the “misinformation that does harm to Serbian soccer and Mateja Kezman himself.”
Replacing Smith no easy task
Alex McLeish to lead Scotland
The Scottish Football Association named Alex McLeish as the new Scotland coach replacing Walter Smith, who on January 10th announced he was leaving the post to take over his old club, Glasgow Rangers.
Smith left McLeish a team poised to qualify for the 2008 European Championship, a competition in which Scotland has never excelled. The 48-year-old McLeish appeared in three World Cups between 1982 and 1990 before coaching Motherwell, Hibernian and Rangers.
Under Smith, Scotland achieved the feat of beating France at home. If the team manage to emulate that exploit in the McLeish era, the Tartan Army will have cause to celebrate a first qualification for a European Championship final phase.
In spite of transplant failure
Klasnic does not give up hope
Ivan Klasnic of Werder Bremen is bracing himself for an indefinite period of hemodialysis after his body rejected his mother’s kidney he had implanted last Thursday.
The Croat, suffering from renal insufficiency, had hoped to return to action in six to eight weeks in his first transplant had succeeded. Still, the kidney donated by his mother Sima failed to assume the original organ’s functions.
At the moment, the 27-year old striker is recovering from the surgery while his brother Josip claims to be willing to offer his kidney for a second try, provided the analysis shows tissue compatibility.
“My brother still believes he can return to soccer,” said Josip to the Croatian press.
The doctors say they do not know why Klasnic’s body rejected the organ, since it is highly uncommon for the rejection to occur so soon.
In the meantime, Werder have renewed Klasnic for another season to enable him to face treatment and recovery with as much security as possible.
New UEFA Boss
A King that wants to be a revolutionary
Michel Platini was Le Roi, the King of soccer. In his prime, he was better than Maradona. Comparing their fair-play records, he was also a much greater sportsman than the Argentinian. He was, and is, far more intelligent and educated than the diminutive South-American with whom he shared the spotlight for ten years or so. He was also a more decisive player than Zinedine Zidane.
Platini is probably the best soccer player ever to have been appointed president of a major soccer organization. No-one like him won three consecutive France Football’s Golden Balls (1983-85). No other midfielder topped the Italian scoring charts three times in a row. He scored nine goals in five games to almost single-handedly lead France to its first European Championship in 1984. He won considerable amounts of silverware with Saint-Etienne and Juventus and, yes, he even gave the modest Nancy, his first squad, a French Cup in 1978. Thierry Henry might topple him as the all-time top international goalscorer for France, but for now Platini is the best scorer in French history with 41 goals.
At 33 he became France’s coach, taking the Tricolors to Euro’1992 with eight wins out of eight games, but after failing to go beyond the first round, he moved upstairs, serving as a co-chairman of the 1998 World Cup Organizing Committee. Later he was made a member of the UEFA Executive Committee and the chairman of FIFA’s Development Committee, before announcing his bid for UEFA president.
On January 26th he defeated the incumbent Lennart Johansson by 27 votes to 23, largely thanks to the votes cast by smaller nations, with whom he had lobbied extensively in the months leading up to the elections. In the years to come, the big soccer nations are destined to become his enemies, if he is indeed to antagonize their leading clubs over such issues as team quotas in the Champions’ League and the obligation to release players for international duty without exceptions and financial compensations.
Platini’s revolutionary plans
* Reduce to a maximum of three the number of teams per country in the Champions’ League to boost representation of lesser federations.
* Introduce two extra linesmen behind the goal-lines.
* Attempt to increase the soccer’s haves’ solidarity towards the have nots.
* Reduce the influence of G-14, soccer agents and civil courts interfering with soccer issues.