Friday, March 9, 2007

World Soccer News


Platini prepares an expansion of the European Championship

New UEFA chairman Michel Platini has announced plans to expand the European Championship final phase from 16 do 24 teams, starting from 2016.

"A UEFA commission is studying the proposal to increase the number of participants
in the final stage," said Platini on a press conference in Tbilisi, Georgia.
"There are UEFA members in favour and against the idea. In any case, if a positive decision is taken, the increase would take place in the 2016 finals."

The plan to postpone the expansion until 2016 has been welcomed both in Croatia and Hungary, candidates to stage the 2012 event, because an increase to 24 as early as 2012 would clearly fancy their rivals Italy, who would legitimately argue that only they can meet the requirements for a tournament that large.

Platini has also assured that he does not plan to pressure various national federations to cut the number of teams in their first divisions to 16 or 18, or to shift the competition calendar from autumn-spring to spring-autumn, in order to have an unified schedule on the continent.

"I won't insist on this topic. The number of teams involved or a calendar of the competition is down to the federation of each member country," added the Frenchman.

Maradona investigated for money laundering

The Argentinian Central Bank (BCRA), the country's tax authority, has denounced the former soccer great Diego Maradona for suspected money laundering. BCRA has asked the authorities to investigate the movements of Maradona's funds in various banking and credit institutions.

Over the last months Maradona's principal source of revenue is playing showball, a variant of indoor soccer, which he plays along with other former Argentina internationals.

After his lenghty recovery from drug addiction and a cardiovascular illness, Maradona started to work on his own television show called "La noche del 10" (The night of the ten), which is an allusion to the number he usually wore in his heyday. In the 13 weeks he hosted the program, he entertained Pele, Mike Tyson and Fidel Castro, among others.

Teddy Sheringham could go "down under"

Nearing his 41th birthday, Teddy Sheringham has received an offer from Sydney FC of the Australian A-League to join them for the next season due to start in August.

The former Manchester United and Tottenham striker is still going strong for West Ham, but if the Hammers go down they would probably be willing to release the star, whom Sydney is planning to pay a reported 1 million AUD per year.

"Sheringham still plays at the highest level in England, is an excellent soccer player and has plenty of experience", said Sydney's executive manager George Perry to The Daily Telegraph.

Last autumn the Brazilian veteran Romario had a middlingly successful stint at Adelaide United.

Mourinho: "If they kick me out, I'll be a millionaire"

José Mourinho knows he will not be sacked from Chelsea, specially not after his side made it to the Champions' League quarterfinals agains his old team Porto. But, even if Abramovich and Kenyon chose to terminate his contract any time soon, Mourinho would not be terribly upset.

"If the club sacks you due to bad results, it's part of the game. If that happens, I'll be a millionaire and in a couple of months I'd be working for another club. I cannot win every week nor every year, but I have a family, my children are healthy and I have a lot of friends. I have a good life so I don't feel any pressure."

Seeing that Chelsea have already won the League Cup and that they are still in race for the Premiership, Champions' League and the FA Cup, Mourinho has also asked for respect for his men.

"Taking into account the injuries we have suffered this season, my players deserve respect."

Ronaldo calls Capello "a man in trouble"

The former Real Madrid player, Ronaldo Nazario Lima, did not mince his words when talking about his ex-coaches Fabio Capello and Héctor Cúper.

"One should not trust Fabio Capello. He is a man in trouble, whose relationships with players leave a lot to be desired. This is not a time for coaches who act like generals," said Il Fenomeno to the Italian weekly Panorama.

The Brazilian forward expressed an even more negative opinion about the Argentinian Héctor Cúper, under whom he worked at Inter before joining Real Madrid in 2002.

"Cúper was worse, because Capello at least has a history to back him up. But, what has Cúper won?"

With regards to his alleged excess weight, Ronaldo promised to "have a nude photo made soon to put an end to all the speculations."

Argentinian FA found responsible for a man's loss of sight

The Argentinian Supreme Court has sentenced the Argentinian Football Federation (AFA) and the club Lanús to pay an undisclosed sum to a man as damages for an injury that cost him an eye sustained during incidents at a soccer game in 1996.

The victim was Hugo Arnaldo Mosca, who was hit on the head by a stone during one match between Lanús and Independiente and suffered a complete loss of sight in his left eye.

Just a month ago, after another series of incidents, Julio Grondona, the AFA chairman, said that he was responsible for soccer, but not for security issues. The Supreme Court has ruled quite the opposite.

The Court believes that the AFA is "the organizer" and "the beneficiary" of the sporting events in which Mosca lost sight on one eye, and that therefore cannot elude legal responsibility.

"The idea that the organizers should be concerned just with the sport and their revenue, while the security should be the Government's obligation is untenable in terms of our constitution," wrote the judges in the verdict, as if they wanted to give a direct reply to the AFA chairman.

Uribe returns as Peru's coach

Julio César Uribe, the current Cienciano Cuzco coach, has been appointed to manage the Peruvian national team yet again. The appointment of Uribe has ended the possibility of Juan Carlos Oblitas' returning to the national team bench.

Uribe returns to coaching Peru five years after quitting because of not being able to take the team to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea.

The former Sporting Cristal player will make his second debut on March 24th in a friendly against Japan.

Champions' League winner's curse continues

A tremendous equality of the Champions' League has been reflected in two ways. In the round of sixteen no team have scored a win larger than 2-0 or qualified by a margin higher than two goals on aggregate. In fact, only Manchester United achieved two wins, both by 1-0 over Lille (the first one being highly controversial).

The other proof of equality is the fact that it is now 17 seasons since the last European champion retained their title. The last time that happened was in 1990, when Milan defeated Benfica in Vienna by 1-0.

In the meantime, the closest anyone came to the defence of the title was the finals. Milan, Ajax and Juventus all lost in the finals in the season after winning the Champions' League or Cup.

Last time anyone won the premier trophy three times in a row was between 1974 and 1976, when Bayern achieved that feat.

History of failures

Season Defending champ Result

1990/91 Milan quarterfinals
1991/92 Red Star Belgrade semifinals
1992/93 Barcelona round of 16
1993/94 Marseille suspended
1994/95 Milan finals
1995/96 Ajax finals
1996/97 Juventus finals
1997/98 Borussia Dortmund semifinals
1998/99 Real Madrid quarterfinals
1999/2000 Manchester Utd. quarterfinals
2000/01 Real Madrid semifinals
2001/02 Bayern quarterfinals
2002/03 Real Madrid semifinals
2003/04 Milan quarterfinals
2004/05 Porto round of 16
2005/06 Liverpool round of 16
2006/07 Barcelona round of 16

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