Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Weekly Football News Roundup 24 April 2007

Football News.
04/24/2007

Croatian FA to demand 3.5 million € from UEFA over loss of Euro 2012

Croatian FA chairman Vlatko Markovic says his organization will demand 2.5 to 3.5 million Euros in damages from UEFA after the joint Croatia/Hungary bid was rejected as host to stage the 2012 European championships.

"We'll ask between 2.5 and 3.5 million because all of our projects were suspended during the campaign to organize Euro 2012," Markovic told the Jutarnji list daily.

Markovic, who spoke to UEFA's chairman Michel Platini in Nyon over the issue, believes Croatia and Hungary were deceived in the Executive Committee's final vote last Wednesday that was won by Ukraine and Poland.

"We told Platini we were in shock over UEFA's decision in Cardiff and he replied, 'Me too'." What happened in Cardiff was a huge surprise both for him and for us, but I cannot go into details," said Markovic.

The Croatian FA chairman had claimed that seven of 12 Executive Committee members eligible to vote had pledged to support Croatia and Hungary, but Ukraine and Poland came away as runaway winners in spite of the weakest infrastructure and the turmoil in corruption-ridden Polish soccer. The Croatian Prime Minister, Ivo Sanader, on the other hand called for Markovic's resignation over the Croatian FA's failure to win the right to stage the big soccer event five years from now.

Lyon's double record

Thanks to Toulouse's defeat of Rennes, Olympique Lyon won the French championship for the sixth successive time. Lyon claimed that they were already in posession of the French record even though Marseille also finished top five times in a row, but the Southerners were stripped of their 1992/93 title due to having fixed the game at Valenciennes.
Now the record is clearly Lyon's by everybody's criteria. Lyon have also become the first team from one of the European top-five leagues to have collected six consecutive titles. In Spain, Real Madrid were champions five teams in a row on two occasions, while Juventus and Turin both have had a five year winning streak in the past.

The longest runs in top leagues

France (6): Lyon (2002-2007)
Spain (5): Real Madrid (1961-1965 and 1986-1990)
Italy (5): Juventus (1931-1935), Torino (1943-1949)
Germany (3): Bayern (1972-1974, 1985-1987, 1999-2001)
Borussia Mönchengladbach (1975-1977) England (3): Huddersfield (1923-1926), Arsenal (1932-1935), Liverpool (1982-1984) and Manchester United (1999-2001)

Internazionale crowned champions in Italy

Two goals from Marco Materazzi at Siena coupled with Roma's defeat at Atalanta gave Inter an unassailable lead at the top of the Serie A table and the 15th championship in their history.
This has been the first Inter league triumph achieved on the field after 18 years. Last year they had the title awarded to them by the Italian FA only because the two teams ahead of them had all their results annulled due to referee-tampering and match-fixing.
Surely, their rivals will try to minimize Inter's merits for this "scudetto" as well and claim their path to success was made easier by Juventus' relegation to Serie B and Milan's eight-point deduction for the current season. What Inter will try to do to dissuade the cynics is collecting the record number of points. They have 87 points with four games to go, four points fewer than Juventus' tally last year.

Incredible Mancini takes 8 titles in 7 years

Roberto Mancini has been working as a coach for only seven years but he has already filled his trophy room with some mean silverware. The 42-year-old ex-international player has managed Fiorentina (2000-2002), Lazio (2002-2004) and Inter (2004 to date) and won at least one trophy with each of the teams: an Italian Cup with both Fiorentina and Lazio plus two league titles, two Italian Cups and two Supercups with Inter.
Since Inter is yet to play this years's Italian Cup finals against Roma (for the third season in a row), Mancini's trophy collection may well be augmented before this spring is over.

Celtic win another League title

If the nineties were the time of Rangers, the first decade of the 21st century is painted green and white. Celtic secured their 41th League title and their fifth in the last seven seasons with four games to go by defeating Kilmarnock 2-1. The Japanese playmaker Shunsuke Nakamura gave the Celts the key three points in added time to keep his team 13 points ahead of Rangers.
Celtic can round off a magnificent season by adding the Scottish FA Cup in the finals against Hibernian or Dunfermline on May 26th.

Abedi Pelé's match fixing scandal

One of the top African players of all time, Abedi Pelé (45) has been banned from all soccer related activities due to involvement in a match fixing scandal in the Ghanaian League.
The Ghanaian Federation decided that Pelé-owned FC Nania's win over Okwawu United by 31-0 was not achieved in an entirely sportsmanlike fashion. At the same time, FC Nania's rival Great Mariners defeated Mighty Jets 28-0. Curiously, both games were 1-0 at halftime, but the forwards must have hit a golden streak after the interval.
As a consequence, all four teams have been kicked out into Division 3 and all the players involved banned from playing for the remainder of the season.
Abedi Pelé, a star of Marseille, Lyon and Torino during the nineties, claims that his team won legally, comparing the game with Manchester United's 7-1 drubbing of AS Roma.

Copa Libertadores' champions bid an early farewell

Internacional of Porto Alegre said goodbye to the defence of the Copa Libertadores after finishing behind Vélez Sarsfield and Nacional Montevideo in the first stage of the competition.
The South-American and world champions had to beat Nacional by three goals in the last round, but all they could manage was a 1-0 win, which meant their elimination due to an inferior goal difference.


The night when Messi became the soccer Messiah

Lionel Messi is the new Diego Maradona, the Spaniards are sure. In the FA Cup semifinals against Getafe, the Argentinian teenager scored a goal extremely reminiscent of Maradona's goal against England in 1986 - the one with his foot, not the other one.
On the turf of Camp Nou, Messi received the ball from Xavi in Barca's half, dribbled past four defenders, ran past keeper Luís García and right-footed the ball home from a narrow angle. Everybody was amazed, not least Maradona, who watched his "successor's" masterpiece from his hospital bed in Buenos Aires. The Argentinian press quoted Maradona as saying of Messi, "He is my heir".

Raúl goes level with Hierro

By playing in the Real vs. Valencia game on Saturday, Raúl González equalled Fernando Hierro's number of 439 appearances for Real Madrid. Only two more players have more appearances: Carlos Santillana on 461 and Manolo Sanchís on 524. If Real don't offload their skipper next summer, he will be well positioned to catch up with Santillana, but it will take him another couple of seasons to overtake Sanchís.
Raúl debuted in Real's senior team in October 1994 and went on to win 13 trophies and score 187 goals, fewer only than Alfredo Di Stéfano.

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