Activists call for racism action summit

23 October 2012 03:19

Show Racism the Red Card wants a summit meeting to tackle the grievances of players who boycotted the ‘Kick It Out’ t-shirt campaign.

Kick It Out’s annual fortnight of anti-racism action in British football began on Thursday and ends on October 29.

However, several high-profile players, including Rio and Anton Ferdinand, Jason Roberts, Micah Richards and entire teams, including Wigan Athletic and Swansea City, opted not to wear t-shirts supporting the campaign.

The boycott was apparently in protest to the four-match ban imposed on John Terry by the Football Association for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, a punishment some players felt was too lenient.

Anti-racism group Show Racism the Red Card has released a statement explaining they understand the reasons why certain players chose to boycott the t-shirts and hopes the football authorities will draw up a plan on how to move forward and tackle racism within the game.

Show Racism the Red Card stated: “We fully understand the anger of the Ferdinand family and Jason Roberts in relation to the FA handling of the John Terry case. Both Rio and Jason are long-standing patrons of our campaign and are recognised in our Hall of Fame for their work.

“The issue of not wearing the Kick It Out shirts at the weekend highlights the displeasure of certain players in relation to the footballing authorities’ handling of the incidents of racism in the game.

“We call on the players involved to now sit down with us, KIO and the PFA to draw up a plan of action to present to the footballing authorities and government.”

Lord Ouseley, chairman of the Kick It Out group, has said he understands where the players are coming from but also urged them to speak out about their grievances, rather than boycott the campaign.

“The issue is that the t-shirts have become the story whereas the actual grievances of black players, both current and former, have not come out in the open,” he told the BBC.

“The black players who have expressed themselves by saying they are not going to wear the T-shirt are doing so because they genuinely believe there are grievances that have not been addressed.

“Those grievances can only be addressed if we confront them, not by gestures of not wearing a T-shirt, but I understand why people don’t do that.”

Prandelli ponders Cassano comeback

23 October 2012 02:41

Cesare Prandelli says veteran striker Antonio Cassano could return to Italy duty after being left out of the last two national squads.

Inter Milan forward Cassano played a starring role in Italy’s Euro 2012 campaign but has since been omitted from the national team squad for their opening 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

“We are lucky, because in this moment we have a lot of strikers,” Prandelli said after being awarded the Tor Vergata Ethics of Sport Award.

“However, the door is still open for Cassano because he is a good player. The same for (Antonio) Di Natale.”

Prandelli also gave his thoughts on the rumoured dispute between Roma coach Zdenek Zeman and Italian duo Daniele De Rossi and Pablo Osvaldo.

“I don’t like it when the players argue with their coaches. I believe they only should think about playing football,” he said.

Chelsea´s Willian swoop revealed

23 October 2012 00:49

Shakhtar Donetsk coach Mircea Lucescu has confirmed that Chelsea were knocked back in attempts to sign Brazilian ace Willian.

Despite Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo having completed moves for the likes of Edin Hazard, Oscar and Marko Marin before the transfer window closed, Lucescu revealed that the Champions League winners also tried to sign Shakhtar’s gifted playmaker.

The Ukrainian side’s manager insists that Chelsea’s offer was too low and, ahead of the crucial Champions League Group E clash at the Donbass Arena between the sides on Tuesday, Lucescu has called on Willian to show Di Matteo he made a ‘big mistake’ in not completing a deal for the 24-year-old.

“Willian was far away from Chelsea,” Lucescu told reporters.

“They didn’t even get anywhere near to our requirements, having done nothing to make my promises to Willian come true.

“Speaking specifically about the amounts, they officially offered the sum for which we had bought him young.

“I would really like them to highly appreciate his true value tomorrow and realise that they made a big mistake.”

Di Matteo insisted he had no role in negotiations to sign Willian, but labelled the former Corinthians man as a ‘fantastic player’.

“As an assistant (at the time) I wasn’t involved in those conversations but Willian is a fantastic player with good qualities,” the Italian said in his pre-match press conference.

“We have a good squad with good players and I don’t know where his future is, but the way he is playing here he looks quite happy.”

Lucescu also noted that Chelsea showed an interest in defender Darijo Srna during Carlo Ancelotti’s reign at Stamford Bridge.

“Several years ago, I had a conversation with Ancelotti, and he was interested in Srna,” he said.

“My wish is that, after tomorrow’s match, Chelsea get interested in all of our players.”

La Liga: Sevilla 3 Mallorca 2

23 October 2012 00:24

Sevilla overcame a half-time deficit to record a 3-2 La Liga win over Mallorca and climb to fifth place in the standings.

Following a pair of defeats the Andalusian hosts seemed destined for more misery on Monday when Pedro Bigas put Mallorca ahead on 26 minutes.

Alvaro Negredo returned fire just three minutes later, the Spain striker slamming a shot into the roof of the net to draw the sides level.

But Mallorca reclaimed the lead with their next thrust forward as Tomer Hemed slotted home Giovani dos Santos’ assist to leave the visitors 2-1 up at the interval.

Negredo completed his brace early in the second half with a close-range header as Sevilla began to assert their dominance over the visitors.

Michel’s side eventually went ahead through Cicinho in the 74th minute, the Brazilian’s deflected volley proving to be the winner.

The result ended a run of two consecutive defeats for Sevilla and moved them to 14 points from eight games, equal with champions Real Madrid in fourth.

Mallorca slide to eighth on the back of a third consecutive loss.

AFC Champions League: Al Ittihad 1 Al Ahli 0

22 October 2012 23:47

A second-half Naif Hazazi strike led Al Ittihad to 1-0 win over Al Ahli in the first leg of their AFC Champions League semi-final tie.

Hazai netted his eighth goal of the tournament in the 67th minute of the match in Jeddah on Monday to give the Saudi hosts a slender advantage ahead of next week’s second leg.

Al Ittihad always looked the more ominous in front of goal and tested Al Ahli goalkeeper Abdullah Al Maiouf through captain Mohammad Noor, before Osama Al Harbi saw his header cleared off the line by Kamel Al Mor.

Victor Simoes posed a threat at the other end and almost gave Al Ahli a surprise lead but Al Ittihad custodian Mabrouk Zayed produced a sharp save to deny the visitors as the half drew to a close.

Two-time Asian champions Al Ittihad reasserted their dominance after the interval and the breakthrough seemed inevitable. It came when Saudi international Hazazi struck his shot past Al Maiouf from six yards out, the goal standing despite the ball hitting the striker’s arm in the lead up.

The teams return to Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium, where they both play their home matches, in nine days time, with the winner of the tie to face either Uzbekistan’s Bunyodkor or South Korea’s Ulsan Hyundai in the final on November 10.