Aug 16 2014
At last some common sense has come out of the Luis Suarez biting affair, with Thursday's decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport that the player can, at least, train and play friendly matches with Barcelona.
The verdict to uphold his suspension until Oct. 25 -- but cut him some slack regarding other football activities -- was, somewhat bafflingly, announced six days after Friday's appeal, which was put together by Suarez, Barcelona and the Uruguayan football association.
From a Barca point of view, it comes in time for the player to be able to fully acclimatise to his surroundings before he is allowed to finally play in a competitive game. Suarez can now finally join his colleagues and feel a part of the squad Luis Enrique is building ahead of the start of the new season.
The striker is now likely to be presented to the fans ahead of the Gamper Trophy game -- the traditional Camp Nou season curtain-raiser -- on Monday against Mexican side Club Leon, and should also also make his Barca debut in what is, for now, the last friendly game before the La Liga season opener versus Elche on Aug. 24.
However, it would not be a surprise if the club announced a further friendly or two to help Suarez get some match practice, as all eyes now turn to that October date when he will be available for selection, which just happens to be the weekend Barcelona meet Real Madrid in the first Clasico of the season.
In truth, Barca could not have realistically hoped for a better verdict, as a shortening of the FIFA ban would have set rolling a whole new process for players to appeal suspensions to the CAS.
While the length of the ban -- which also includes eight matches for Uruguay -- can be ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Aug 16 2014
A Colombian lawyer has filed an enormous lawsuit against FIFA after claiming that the lapse standard of refereeing at the 2014 World Cup hospitalised him with heart problems.
Aurelio Jimenez, 74, is suing world football's governing body for a billion euros (about 800 million pounds or 1.33 billion dollars) with his case centred around the controversial performance of Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo while overseeing Colombia's quarterfinal tie against Brazil.
During the game, Carballo let a number of heavy challenges on Colombia talisman James Rodriguez slide as well as infamously allowing Juan Zuniga's vertebrae-fracturing knee lunge on Neymar to go unpunished.
Indeed, Jimenez reckons that the official's performance was so egregious that it left him hospitalised with ... a broken heart.
"I felt very bad, I was heartbroken, my cardiac rhythm was altered and my relatives took me to the emergency room at the hospital," Jimenez told the BBC World Service.
"I was surrounded by my grandchildren, who were crying a lot."
To bolster his case, Jimenez has also collected a raft of evidence to prove that the refereeing out in Brazil was substandard and therefore a potential health risk to the millions of fans who tuned in to watch the tournament around the world.
"I decided to sue FIFA in the Colombian judiciary system," he continued, "because in the past world soccer championship in Brazil there were many wrongdoings related to referees who damaged many countries and their selections, among them the Colombia team.
"Moreover, FIFA's referees caused big moral damages and distress to Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, England, Uruguay, Mexico and Costa Rica."
Jimenez apparently has gathered testimonies from the likes of Pele, Diego Maradona, David Ospina and James Rodriguez as well as several top international referees whom he claims all criticised Carballo's health-endangering leniency during the quarterfinal.
However, as if to prove that he's not merely lodging a ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Aug 16 2014
U.S. youth international Jonathan Klinsmann has spent time training with the Stuttgart youth academy and the goalkeeper told Bild: "Playing in the Bundesliga someday would be a dream."
Klinsmann, the 17-year-old son of USMNT coach Jurgen, trained with the club alongside attacker Coy Craft in preparation for of an under-18 tournament with the U.S. in Prague.
The Bundesliga club tweeted on Thursday: "Coy Craft and keeper Jonathan Klinsmann's week-long training visit to the VfB youth teams has ended."
"I relished my time in Stuttgart," the Strikers FC goalkeeper said. "Of course, playing in the Bundesliga someday would be a dream."
As part of training programme, Klinsmann and seven of his U.S. under-18 teammates trained at various clubs throughout Europe and his father told Bild: "The lads should train at the highest level -- that's a huge experience for them. I received only positive feedback."
Klinsmann Sr., who played for Stuttgart between 1984 and 1989, added: "I am very thankful that Stuttgart enabled them to train with them."
Bild reports that his son spent 10 days in his father's hometown and predominantly trained with Stuttgart's under-17 and under-19 teams.
Aug 16 2014
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Marco Reus could make his return to the pitch from injury on Saturday, amid ongoing speculation about an exit from the club.
Reus, 25, injured his ankle in Germany's final pre-World Cup friendly against Armenia in June.
Despite his absence from the tournament in Brazil, the attacker has been heavily linked with a move away from Dortmund this summer.
Although Reus is under contract until 2017, a release clause can be triggered in the summer of 2015.
The clause had previously been reported as being a fee of 35 million euros until recent remarks made by Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
During the Bundesliga champions' recent visit to the United States, Rummenigge told ESPN FC that the fee is set at 25 million euros.
This led to a war of words between the two clubs and also sparked further rumours about a potential transfer for Reus.
On Friday, Spanish media linked the Germany international with a move to Atletico Madrid, while reports in England credited Arsenal with an interest in the player.
Dortmund have all but given up hope of tying Reus to the club beyond 2017, and removing the release clause.
"He knows that we want to extend his contract," Dortmund CEO Aki Watzke told Sky Deutschland.
Watzke explained that the club have tried to persuade Reus to stay by talking up the fact that Dortmund is his hometown, while they are prepared to offer him a better deal.
Reus has kept quiet throughout the summer, reiterating that he feels fine at Dortmund.
He could return to action on Saturday, when the club travel to Stuttgarter Kickers in the first round of the DFB-Pokal.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp said that Reus could be on the bench.
Meanwhile, Dortmund reported a turnover of 260.7 million euros and a 12 million-euro profit on Thursday.
The turnover dropped from ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Aug 16 2014
Bayern Munich lost the German Super Cup to archrivals Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday and the ramifications of the 2-0 defeat have deepened amid confirmation of Javi Martinez's ruptured cruciate ligament.
Bayern confirmed the bad news on Thursday and for Pep Guardiola and the reigning champions, it is a crushing blow.
Bayern are already short in central defence according to many of the club's fans, and seeing Martinez depart on a stretcher after 31 minutes would have concerned everyone of a Bayern persuasion. There were hopes the injury was not as serious as this, but now Martinez will be out long term.
"Obviously I'm extremely sad at this moment," the 25-year-old said. "But don't worry -- I'll come back even stronger."
As Guardiola said, the 2-0 defeat is secondary. While the Super Cup is officially classed as a competitive game, the trophy is not exactly one you proudly present in your club museum. The match being played in preseason says a lot, and both teams still lack fitness -- Bayern obviously more than Dortmund, because of their many international players still on holiday or yet to be introduced back into the side following a grueling summer at the World Cup.
After originally being done with transfer business with the signing of Pepe Reina, Bayern could be in the market for a centre-back now, with Martinez out for a prolonged spell.
Issues need to be clarified at the back. Holger Badstuber has just returned from long-term injuries himself, while Jerome Boateng is recovering from a long World Cup with Germany and Dante did not have his best season under Guardiola last term. If Bayern continue to play in a 3-4-3, David Alaba is an option as well, but his strengths are clearly on the flank.
One could even argue that Bayern would need two new centre-backs, should their three-man ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Aug 16 2014
LONDON -- Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has suggested managers who work under a director of football are in danger of "turning into robots" if they surrender control of their club's transfer policy.
The Gunners take on a Crystal Palace side suffering from the sudden departure of Tony Pulis in their opening Premier League game of the season on Saturday. According to reports, Pulis stepped down from his role at Selhurst Park after a disagreement over transfer policy with senior officials at the club.
Wenger offered sympathy for his counterparts who are not in charge of their side's transfer dealings during his prematch news conference on Friday, suggesting that the manager has to take responsibility for all decisions that involve the team.
"I understood early in my career that it is important to have control of transfers," Wenger said. "I'm not against listening to opinions, but at the end of the day, in a democracy, someone has to make a decision and it has to be the guy who has control of results.
"It is the responsibility of the manager to get the best out of players and choose the team, unless we become robots. Someone pushes the button and we just do what they decide -- no, no, no."
Turning his attention to the departure of Pulis from Palace, Wenger conceded his exit came as a shock ahead of his side's game against the Eagles at the Emirates Stadium.
"It was a complete surprise to me," he said. "I was at a managers' meeting on Monday and nothing indicated he will not be here on Saturday. What we can say is he did a remarkable job last season. He made a miracle. I don't know why he left.
"What kind of consequence for Crystal Palace, I don't know. The only thing we can do is prepare ourselves ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Aug 16 2014
Netherlands attacker Arjen Robben insists he has no plans to follow Bayern Munich teammates Philipp Lahm and Franck Ribery into international retirement.
Lahm decided to end his Germany career at the age of 30 after lifting the 2014 World Cup, while Franck Ribery, 31, said this week no longer wanted to represent France.
However, Robben, who helped Netherlands finish runners-up at the 2010 World Cup and third at this summer's tournament, has every intention of playing on.
"It still gives me a lot of joy," the 30-year-old told Sport 1. "It's an honour to play for my country. If my physical condition allows it, I will just continue.
"Whether I play at FC Bayern or for the Netherlands, it's a great honour. If nothing bad happens, I will certainly take part in the 2016 European Championship."
Robben, who has made the 2014 UEFA European Player of the Year shortlist, also stressed that Bayern will be his last top club.
The former Chelsea and Real Madrid star, who has three years remaining on his contract, said: "I have no more dreams. I feel really fine here in Munich. FC Bayern are my club, and it will stay like that."
Robben, though, began his career at Dutch side Groningen and suggested he could make a return before hanging up his boots, adding: "I don't know what happens after that. My hometown, Groningen, will always remain in my heart."
Robben has played a key role for Bayern in the last two seasons as they won back-to-back titles in the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal, as well as the 2013 Champions League.
They remain strong favourites to retain the German title, but the champions' difficult preseason has offered hope to the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen.
Javi Martinez has been ruled out for several months after an ACL injury in the Super Cup ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Aug 16 2014
Manchester United attacker Juan Mata insists he is ready to thrive in his favoured No.10 role under Louis van Gaal and believes the Dutchman's system will be perfect for him.
Van Gaal has revitalised United's tactics ahead of the new Premier League season. The 3-5-2 formation he used in the club's preseason friendlies has seen a transformation in several players, most notably Spain international Mata.
The 26-year-old was largely deployed in a wider position by previous boss David Moyes last season following his January move from Chelsea. However, Mata told the Daily Mail that, while it has been difficult to adapt to some of his new manager's methods, he has welcomed the return to a central role.
"I hope it will be [perfect] for me," Mata said. "I feel comfortable in that position. I can play as a midfielder defensively or as a striker offensively if that's what I have to do.
"My mission is to assist and score. I can do that from this position and I hope I can have a great season. More importantly it has to be a great season for the team. This system is difficult and it's difficult to adapt. You have to be very fit, for example.
"You have to be focused but, if you manage to master it, you can put lots of pressure on the opponent and you can hurt them with the ball.
"I think everyone knows that Dutch football likes to play a good way, a way I like to play and watch. This manager wants passing and movement and triangles. It's how I play my best."
The 26-year-old was largely deployed in a wider position by previous boss David Moyes last season following his January move from Chelsea. However, Mata told the Daily Mail that, while it has been difficult to adapt to some of ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Aug 16 2014
FIFPro, the world football players' union, said it is disappointed with the ruling handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Luis Suarez's appeal of his four-month ban for biting Italy's Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Suarez was banned for four months from "all football-related activity" after the biting incident with Chiellini in the group stage match between Italy and Uruguay.
CAS upheld the ban, meaning that Suarez still has to serve a four-month ban from club football,miss Uruguay's next eight international games and pay a 100,000 Swiss franc fine.
One aspect of the ruling that did work in Suarez's favour is that he will be able to return to training with his new club Barcelona and can also be formally unveiled to fans ahead of Monday's preseason Joan Gamper Trophy match at the Camp Nou.
FIFPro published a statement on its website that expressed disillusion with CAS for not strongly diminishing the sanctions imposed on Suarez by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee.
"CAS has not published the grounds for its decision," it read. "FIFPro is awaiting these grounds, to make a thorough statement.
"Nevertheless, FIFPro wants to express its disappointment with the decision. FIFPro -- the voice of all professional footballers worldwide -- remains of the view that the current sanctions are disproportionate in relation to his violation of the FIFA Disciplinary Code."
"Likewise, the public presentation of Suarez as a new FC Barcelona player will be held on Monday at the Camp Nou, on occasion of the Joan Gamper Trophy match (against Mexican side Club Leon)."
It remains to be seen whether Suarez will play any part in Monday's friendly against Mexican club Leon, but it seems likely the club will organise other matches to help get the player up to speed while he sits out eight Primera Division matches ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Aug 16 2014
Wolfsburg have announced the signing of former Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner on a free tree transfer.
Bendtner, 26, was a free agent after being released by the Gunners at the end of last season. The Denmark international moved to London in 2005 but, despite his potential, failed to ever earn a regular first-team place for Arsene Wenger's side and scored just 24 Premier League goals for them.
His time with the Gunners was punctuated by several loan spells, injuries and controversy. In March 2012, while at Sunderland, he was cleared by a court after being charged with damaging parked cars on a night out, while at the European Championship later that same year he was fined 80,000 pounds by UEFA for revealing a sponsor's logo on his underwear when celebrating a goal.
Bendtner's move to Germany ends the 2008-09 Bundesliga champion's search for a new centre-forward.
According to kicker, he has joined on a performance-based contract that runs until 2017.
Wolfsburg, who are hoping to break into the Bundesliga's top four this season, had been linked with a number of attackers during the summer transfer window.
However, Romelu Lukaku opted to leave Chelsea for Everton, Alvaro Morata made the switch from Real Madrid to Juventus, Mario Mandzukic signed for Atletico Madrid from Bayern Munich and Mame Biram Diouf now plays for Stoke after arriving on a free transfer.
"We dared to touch the top shelf," Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking was quoted as saying by kicker on Thursday, before Bendtner was signed. "It's empty now, we need to look a bit further down now. It gets more difficult."
Wolfsburg CEO Klaus Allofs added in WAZ: "We are not panicking.
"[Bendtner] is still a good player, that's why we considered him. When he is available on a free, there have to be a few question marks.
"That's clear, otherwise he'd be under ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)