Friday, March 2, 2007

Soccer News 3/1/2007

Weekly World News

Spanish Cup bottle scandal

After two weeks of inflamatory messages from both Betis and Sevilla, during the run-in to the second leg of the Spanish King's Cup quarterfinals, the inevitable happened. Sevilla's coach Juande Ramos was knocked unconscious by a two-liter bottle thrown at his head by a Betis supporter from a stand at Ruiz de Lopera stadium.

The bottle flew just as Sevilla went 0-1 up through Frederick Kanoute, one of the most in-form strikers in Europe this season.

The coach eventually recovered as the Spanish soccer authorities consider what to do with Betis, although they would do well to punish Sevilla as well in view of their provocations at their rival's expense during a recent league game.

First Sevilla's officials refused to accept a memorial gift offered by Betis for their 100th anniversary, then passed on the photo opportunity in front of Betis president Manuel Ruiz de Lopera's portrait and finally one of the officials insulted De Lopera's relative alluding to the president's supposed homosexuality.

On the eve of the cup fixture Betis even planned to ban Sevilla chairman Jose Maria del Nido from entering their stadium, claiming he was a man who provoked violence. In the end, it was Juande rather than Del Nido who bore the brunt of the rival fans' anger.

In the meantime, Betis chairman Pepe Leon is contemplating handing in his resignation on grounds of objective responsibility, while Del Nido has said that he did not consider himself guilty for the incident.

Kezman smashes a Bosman photo

Former Chelsea striker Mateja Kezman went on the rampage in Alkmaar after his Fenerbahce team was eliminated from the UEFA Cup thanks to a last minute goal.

The Serb vented his frustration on a former AZ ace Johnny Bosman photo hanging on the wall in the corridor leading to the dressing rooms. The initial reports claimed Kezman broke two photos, but he admitted to having vandalized only one.

"It is true that I reacted nervously, but I did not smash two photos, just one," he said to the Belgrade Kurir daily.

"The Alkmaar directors know where I am and they are welcome to bill me," he added in a conciliatory tone.

Benfica increases fans' army to 165,000

Benfica of Lisbon is the club with the most fans in the world. No less than 165,000 have been registered this season, 18,000 up from last season.

The Eagles' chairman Luis Filipe Vieira claims Benfica have not reached the peak yet as far as the membership is concerned.

"We want to make it to 300,000, I'm sure believing this is not a utopia," said Vieira at an award giving ceremony for the longest standing members, some of whom have held Benfica's card for as long as 75 years.

Closest to Benfica is another club from the Iberian peninsula, Barcelona, with 150,000 members.

Capello out of royal favour

The Spanish King Juan Carlos I supports Real Madrid, as befits his royal title...and is allegedly concerned for his club's fortunes as long as the team are managed by Fabio Capello.

The Spanish daily El Mundo has claimed that the King has personally pleaded with a Real's director, Vincente Boluda, for a quick change on the coach's bench. Boluda has replied that sacking Capello would be too expensive, for now.

Spain is not a dictatorship and the King has no powers to fire or appoint coaches, but this episode too shows how unpopular the Italian is among fans, even those in very high places.

Newcastle claim 6,2 million euros for Owen injury

"How can a Premiership club ask for so much," said an irritated FIFA chairman Joseph Blatter regarding Newcastle's claim for 6,2 million euros compensation for Michael Owen's knee injury sustained during the World Cup in Germany.

In a London press conference Blatter said that 1,5 million euros was FIFA's final offer, specially since the FA was already paying the Magpies 300,000 euros per month to cover Owen's wages.
Still, the northerners believe they should be compensated for having to sign Obafemi Martins to fill in the gap in the team.

"Newcastle claim they have had to replace (Owen) with another player, but the rules state the players released for international duty must be insured by their club. The World Cup rules furthermore required the national FAs to verify whether the players are insured," reminded Blatter, adding.

"We have an injury fund but it contains 7 million for all cases, and the club which asks this much belongs to one of the wealthiest leagues in the world."

Spanish giants mad about Luduena

Three big Spanish clubs fight over an 11-year-old Argentinian player, who scored 160 goals in an infant league. The boy in question is Laurean Luduena, who has been invited to Spain for a trial with Barcelona, Espanyol and Real Madrid.

Luduena plays for Fundacion Pozo and has also attracted the interest of his country's giants, Boca Juniors and River Plate.

"If European teams continue acting like this, the player-producing teams will disappear, and I wonder where the Europeans will find their new players then," said Boca's chairman Mauricio Macri, adamantly opposed to rich clubs' practice of recruiting young foreign players from poorer countries.

Still, Laurean has already announced he has accepted the Spaniards' invitation and that he plans to travel to Spain at the end of March.

UEFA sentences Van Bommel to...chatting with kids!

Mark van Bommel will be able to play for Bayern in the return game of the Champions' League against Real Madrid after receiving a symbolic punishment for an obscene gesture during the first leg in Madrid.

For his two gestures equivalent to "up yours" directed to Madrid's players after he scored a vital second goal in the 3-2 Bayern's loss the Dutchman has been sentenced to "be at UEFA's disposal to promote fair play among young players during a youth competition organized by the European soccer authorities this year."

If Van Bommel repeats the gesture or does something similar, he will face a ban for one game and a 6200 euros fine. Bayern's midfielder is, of course, a former Barcelona player, which could explain his temperamental celebration of the goal in the dying minutes of a crucial game at Santiago Bernabeu.

Beckham enters politics, or does he?

Former Swiss soccer referee, Philippe Leuba, is running for a seat in a state parliament and his political campaign received a boost thanks to a high-profile involvement of David Beckham.

This it at least the impression the ref must have hoped to create when he put a newspaper add with a photo of himself shaking hands with Becks ahead of a 2005 friendly between England and Argentina.
The caption contained a supposed Beckham's message: "I hope you are just as impartial in the state parliament as you were on the football pitch."

When the superstar's lawyers mentioned the possibility of a lawsuit, Leube pledged to withdraw all such photos, claiming it was a mere joke.

"Surely no-one in Switzerland thought that David Beckham really supported my campaign," explained Leube.

Eto'os double detained

A Guinean citizen who tried to pass himself off as Samuel Eto'o while trying to purchase electric appliances on credit was uncovered and detained by police in Madrid.

The Spanish daily Sport wrote that the African Eto'o-lookalike carrying fake documents with the name of the famous Barcelona player was arrested in a household appliances store together with two accomplices, both fellow countrymen.

It was a strange ending to a week which saw Eto'o as the constant focus of media attention, because of his recovery from a serious knee injury, his refusal to come on as a substitute towards the end of a league game for Barcelona, and his posing scantily dressed for Rolling Stone magazine.

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