Saturday, July 15, 2006

Italian Giants Stunned by Match-fixing Punishment

After nearly a week of World Cup euphoria, football-mad Italians were confronted with a league landscape scorched by the punishment meted out to four Serie A clubs convicted of match-fixing. A disciplinary tribunal's decision to relegate Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina to the second division and dock AC Milan 15 points next season was a body blow to the sport, newspapers declared. "Hammer blow," ran the headline in Gazzetta dello Sport, while the sports daily held out hope the sentences would be reduced on appeal. "But it's only the first round. The ball passes now to the federal court, the second and final stage of sports justice," the newspaper said. "It is not possible to imagine the verdict will be overturned. However, one could imagine a significant adjustment in the area of 'penalisation points'." An Italian Football Federation (FIGC) tribunal on Friday handed down its judgement in the match-fixing case involving the four clubs and 25 national and club officials, referees and linesmen. Juventus, as the club most heavily implicated in the scam, were stripped of their last two league titles and deducted 30 points next season, while Lazio and Fiorentina lost seven and 12 points respectively.
Although AC Milan escaped relegation, all four clubs have been banned from European competition. The clubs are expected to appeal against the sentences, with the FIGC anxious to settle the matter by UEFA's July 25 deadline for club submissions for the Champions's League and UEFA Cup next season. The relegations mean Lecce, Messina, and Treviso, who finished in the Serie A relegation zone, would retain their places in the top flight. Inter Milan, Roma, Chievo and Palermo could also expect entries to the Champions League. The four implicated clubs furnished more than half the Azzurri squad that defeated France in a penalty shootout to win the 18th World Cup, but calls for an amnesty were given short shrift by FIGC commissioner Guido Rossi. "Just 120 hours after the joyful day of the World Cup, Italian football is living the most unfortunate day of the first, historic relegation of Juventus into the second division," said the top-selling Corriere della Sera.
Il Messagero, meanwhile, dredged up French revolutionary history while invoking the infamous headbutt by French captain Zinedine Zidane that saw him sent off 10 minutes before the end of extra time. "The world turned upside down the day the French celebrate the storming of the Bastille," the newspaper said. "The amnesty party has suffered a series of headbutts even more violent than those of Zidane." Juventus former general manager Luciano Moggi, Fiorentina president Andrea Della Valle, Lazio chief Claudio Lotito and former FIGC president Franco Carraro are some of the officials who face bans of up to five years on sporting fraud charges. The scandal erupted when newspapers in May published telephone wiretaps that revealed Moggi telling a senior FIGC official which referees he wanted for certain league and European matches.
For La Stampa, which is part-owned, like Juventus, by the Agnelli family, the judgement by five retired judges was "a cruel and humiliating moment" for the giant Italian club. "In the matter of illegality, sports justice punishes even a simple attempt. Another Juve will arise and I hope, with all my heart, so too will Italian football," the newspaper said in an editorial. Watch the news report!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Ronaldo Vs. Ronaldinho

This is a nice link for anyone who enjoys a little bit of football skill. A comparison between two of the great footballers, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo! Watch the video!

Question Mark Hangs Over Ronaldo's Fate

Cristiano Ronaldo's future with Manchester United was still up in the air despite the club insisting he was not for sale. The Portuguese winger has retracted slightly from his claim that he would be moving away from Old Trafford after the rumpus surrounding his role in the World Cup sending off of Wayne Rooney. But in admitting there was a chance he could stay at United, the 21-year-old has also confirmed he could still leave, with his future set to be resolved before the weekend. "There is still nothing concrete," he said Thursday. "If it is a question of staying then it will be fine, if I leave it will also be fine. "It is still a question that has to be decided and is an issue that has to be discussed in the next few days.'' As he has now headed back to his Mediterranean home island of Madeira to recover from his World Cup exertions, Ronaldo is leaving all negotiations to his agent Jorge Mendes. Whatever discussions Ronaldo thinks are going to take place promise to be brief, with both Ferguson and United chief executive David Gill adamant the player will not be sold. They could easily make a handsome profit on the 12.2 million pounds they paid Sporting Lisbon for Ronaldo in 2003, but publically at least are insisting that such a move is not on the cards. "There is no possibility of Cristiano being sold," said United. "Cristiano recently signed a new contract until 2010 and the club fully expects him to honour it.
"The club will not listen to any offers for Cristiano. He is one of the brightest young stars in world football as demonstrated by his performances at the World Cup and Manchester United are not in the business of selling their best young players.'' Ferguson clearly does not want to see one of his best young players leave for a major European rival, acknowledging the negative signal it would send out. But, while he feels he should be able to reconcile Ronaldo and Rooney, there could be a possibility that the Portuguese star will simply not show up as planned at the club's Carrington training base.

Donadoni Becomes Italy's Coach

Former international star Roberto Donadoni was named as the new coach of World Cup winners Italy, the Italian football federation said. The 43-year-old Donadoni, who played for AC Milan and had been the coach of Livorno until he quit in February this year, takes over from Marcello Lippi who stood down on Wednesday after Italy's World Cup final win against France. Donadoni, a quick winger and talented passer of the ball, was considered one of the best Italian players of the late 1980s and won 63 caps, scoring four goals. He was part of the Italian team which finished third at the 1990 World Cup and played in the side which lost the 1994 final to Brazil on a penalty shoot-out. Donadoni started his playing career at Atalanta before a highly successful move to Milan where he became one of Italy's best ever wide-midfielders. After a spell in the USA with New York Metrostars, he took up coaching in 2001-02 when he was named as Lecco boss in the third division.
He then moved to Livorno before an ill-fated move to Genoa where he lasted just three games. He returned to Livorno during the 2004-05 campaign but then left in February with his team in sixth place in the table. Donadoni will be presented to the media on Tuesday in Rome.

World Cup winners join Rolling Stones on stage in Milan

The Rolling Stones were joined on stage by Italy's football champions Alessandro Del Pierro and Marco Materazzi as the band kicked off the European leg of their tour in Milan. Lead singer Mick Jagger, a big fan of Italy's World Cup winning football team, welcomed the 60,000-strong audience to the San Siro stadium in Milan late on Tuesday with the words "Hello Milan, hello Italy, you are the world champions," spoken in Italian. The tour had had to be postponed after Keith Richards, the Stones' guitarist, fell from a palm tree while on holiday earlier this year and had to undergo a brain operation. Italian daily Corriere della Sera said on Wednesday that Jagger was "not on great vocal form" but had "swung his hips like in the good old days".
The four ageing rockers played old favourites including "Jumpin' Jack Flash" and "Satisfaction" during the concert, the first in a European tour that will take the Stones to 11 different countries. But it was the appearance of the two footballers that dominated coverage of the concert in Wednesday's papers. Jagger delighted the audience with a quip about Materazzi, who was headbutted in the chest by French player Zinedine Zidane during the World Cup final on Sunday. "Materazzi and (Keith) Richards have something in common tonight -- they both recently had head-related problems," he said. Richards, 62, was hospitalized in New Zealand last month with a brain haemhorrage and had to undergo an operation to drain blood from his brain following his plunge from the palm tree on the South Pacific Ocean island of Fiji. Watch the Video!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Zidane Finally Talks

French football icon Zinedine Zidane on Wednesday said he was sorry for headbutting an Italian opponent during the World Cup final against Italy. But he said in a French television interview that defender Marco Materazzi had brought on the gesture by insulting him with some "very hard words." "I want to ask for forgiveness from all the children who watched that. There was no excuse for it," he said. "I want to be open and honest about it because it was seen by two or three billion people watching on television and millions and millions of children were watching.
Asked what exactly Materazzi had said, Zidane would only say that it was "very personal and concerned his mother and his sister." Zidane was sent-off for the head-butt to Materazzi's chest in the second period of extra-time in Sunday's final in Berlin. Italy went on to win the World Cup on penalties after the match had finished tied at 1-1 after extra-time. A French lawyer is investigating the matter to establish whether the explusion of Zidane was within the rules!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Klinsmann Quits As Germany's Coach

Jurgen Klinsmann told the German football federation (DFB) Tuesday he will step down from his role as national team coach, according to Wednesday editions of newspapers Bild and Suddeutsche Zeitung, after leading Germany to a third place inish at the World Cup. Both papers claim Klinsmann, a former World Cup winner as a player, told DFB president Theo Zwanziger and general manager Oliver Bierhoff of his decision, despite leading his country to a third place finish on home soil. Bierhoff has called a press conference at 1130 (0930GMT) Wednesday in Frankfurt.
Klinsmann, 41, had no previous coaching experience when he took over an ailing German squad two years ago. After Germany beat Portugal 3-1 to take third place, Klinsmann said he would think about his future over the next few days and consult with his California-based family. I think it would be of no surprise to anyone if he ended up coaching USA team on the next World Cup!

Materazzi's Side of The Story

Italian defender Marco Materazzi has for the first time acknowledged that he "insulted" French player Zinedine Zidane because he was super arrogant in the World Cup final, La Gazzetta dello Sport reported. Zidane, 34, floored Materazzi with a headbutt to the chest in the second half of extra-time in Sunday's final and was sent off, missing a penalty shoot-out in which he would have been expected to take one of France's spot-kicks. "I held his shirt .. for only a few seconds, he turned toward me and scoffed at me, looking at me with super arrogance, up and down: 'if you really want my shirt, you can have it later.' (Zidane said) It's true, I shot back with an insult," Tuesday's paper quoted Materazzi as saying.
Asked whether he had insulted Zidane's sister or mother, Materazzi said, it was an "insult of the kind you will hear dozens of times and that just slips out on the ground." "I certainly didn't call him a terrorist; I am ignorant, I don't even know what an Islamic terrorist is; my only terrorist is her," he said pointing to his 10-month-old daughter who was sleeping next to him on the plane that took the Italian team back to Italy."I certainly did not mention Zidane's mother; for me a mother is sacred."In recalling the incident in Berlin's Olympic Stadium, the newspaper Corriere della Sera said that Materazzi lost his mother when he was 14 and that he would certainly not have insulted Zidane's. The French player's agent had said Monday that Zidane's World Cup final assault on Materazzi was provoked by a "very serious" comment made by the Italian defender.
The former Real Madrid star's moment of madness in his last match before retiring may have been provoked by Materazzi calling his sister a prostitute, according to a report on Brazilian television channel Globo. Fantastico, a programme on Globo, employed lip-reading experts who said footage of the incident showed the Italian twice insulted Zidane's sister. The programme claimed Materazzi made the same comment twice before then using a "coarse word" at the French player. Zidane has not given his account of the incident but there have been reports Materazzi had called him a "terrorist" or suggested he did not have the right to play for France -- both insults based on French-born Zidane's Algerian heritage.

Italian Homecoming Celebrations ( Video)

As the speculations about the insident at the end of the final game at the World Cup continues the Italians are celebrating their win in the streets of Rome. Watch the Video of Italy's homecoming celebration.

High lights of Zidane's Last Game ( Video)

Watch high lights of Zidane's last World Cup game and what people think about his reaction against the Italian player!

Materazzi called Zidane a 'son of terrorist whore': British lip reader

Italy's Marco Materazzi called Zinedine Zidane a "son of a terrorist whore" just before the France captain gave him a brutal head-butt in the World Cup final, Britain's top forensic lip reader says. The Times newspaper hired Jessica Rees, whose skill has seen her summoned as an expert witness at criminal trials, to study a tape of Sunday's match that saw Zidane get a red card for his seemingly spontaneous assault. "After an exhaustive study of the match video, and with the help of an Italian translator, Rees claimed that Materazzi called Zidane 'the son of a terrorist whore' before adding 'so just f*** off' for good measure," it said.
Materazzi on Monday denied calling Zidane a terrorist, adding that "I don't even know what the word means". The Daily Mail -- who wrongly described Marseilles native Zidane as "Algeria-born" -- said Tuesday that it too engaged the services of a lip reader, whom it did not identify, who reached exactly the same conclusion as Rees. The Independent cited lip readers for Brazil's Globo television as concluding that Materazzi had told Zidane that his sister was a "prostitute".