International News - Issue 245

Real’s James Ruled Out For Two Months
Real Madrid attacking midfielder James Rodriguez has been ruled out for two months with a broken metatarsal. The Colombian star requires surgery on the fifth metatarsal bone of his right foot after sustaining the injury in his side's 2-1 in over Sevilla last Wednesday. Rodriguez scored the opener for Real Madrid with a diving header in the 12th minute before having to leave the field before half-an-hour. Sergio Ramos is also ruled out for a few weeks with an apparent hamstring injury.

Brazilian midfielder Anderson has joined Internacional on a free transfer from Manchester United. The 26-year-old has penned a four-year contract with the Porto Alegre-based outfit. A statement on Internacional's website read: "Sport Club Internacional concluded last Tuesday the procedures to announce the signing of midfielder Anderson. He signs a four-year contract." United paid around £26million for Anderson in 2007. However, he fell out of favour for the 20-time English champions in recent years.

Harry Redknapp has resigned as manager of Premier League strugglers QPR. The 67-year-old spent just over two years with the club, who are currently 19th in the standings after 23 games - notably suffering 11 straight away losses. Chris Ramsey and Les Ferdinand have taken temporary charge of the London-based outfit. Redknapp said: "I have had such a fantastic time at QPR. I would like to thank the board, the players and all my staff, and especially the supporters who have been absolutely fantastic to me since I arrived at the club for their tremendous support. Sadly, I need immediate surgery on my knee which is going to stop me from doing my job in the coming weeks. It means I won’t be able to be out on the training pitch every day, and if I can’t give 100 percent, I feel it’s better for someone else to take over the reins." Redknapp was unable to save QPR from relegation in 2012/13 but guided the Rs to promotion last season.

Fifa may decide this month whether to allow teams to use a fourth substitute in extra-time. The International Football Association Board (Ifab) will meet to discuss the proposal in Northern Ireland on February 28. Should a motion be passed the concept could take effect in July. The idea, which has the support of Germany's World Cup-winning coach Joachim Low, is to help teams cope with tired and injured players in the extra 30 minutes of play. Other items on the agenda include discussing potentially using video replays to assist referees, as well as whether to relax a “triple punishment” rule where a defender can make a challenge that results in a penalty kick, a red card and suspension. Ifab includes delegates from Fifa and four British football associations.

Ghana winger Christian Atsu was named the top player at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, while he also won the award for the best goal at the CAF showpiece in Equatorial Guinea. Atsu helped the Black Stars reach the final on Sunday, where they lost 9-8 on penalties to west African rivals Ivory Coast in Bata. The 23-year-old also received recognition for his stunning strike in the 3-0 defeat of Guinea in the quarter-finals. Atsu's teammate Andre Ayew picked up the top scorer accolade with three goals, although Ahmed Akaichi (Tunisia), Dieudonne Mbokani (DR Congo), Javier Angel Balboa Osa (Equatorial Guinea) and Thievy Guivane Bifouma Koulossa (Congo) also found the net thrice.
Ghana defender Afriyie Acquah was named Man of the Match in the final, while striker Kwesi Appiah bagged the competition's Fair Play prize.

Morocco have been banned from the next two African Nations Cup tournaments as punishment for withdrawing from hosting the 2015 finals over fears of the spread of the Ebola virus. The Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) has also been fined $1-million and ordered to pay $9.12-million in damages to the Confederation of African Football and their partners, CAF said in a statement. CAF's executive committee rejected claims of force majeure from the FRMF and found the federation financially liable for the decision to withdraw from hosting the finals. Morocco had asked for the tournament to be postponed by a year to allow the Ebola outbreak in West Africa to be contained. The North African country was stripped of hosting rights by CAF in November as the tournament was switched to Equatorial Guinea. CAF said at the time that Morocco's concerns were alarmist, notably the fear the competition would attract tens of thousands of visitors from West Africa, where the World Health Organisation estimates almost 9 000 have died due to Ebola. Moroccan Youth and Sports Minister Mohamed Ouzzine suggested at the time that players based in Europe would not take part in the tournament, rendering it a flop for all concerned, but that has not materialised.

CAF has also given the Tunisian Football Federation until March 31 to apologise for the behaviour of their players and TFF president Wadie Jary following the controversial quarter-final defeat by Equatorial Guinea or face exclusion from the 2017 edition. Jary has been suspended from all CAF activities after he accused the organisation of bias against his country following a contentious penalty handed to Equatorial Guinea that allowed them to take the tie to extra-time. CAF said Jary must apologise or submit a letter with "irrefutable, tangible evidence" to substantiate his claims. Tunisia have already been fined $50 000 for what CAF termed "the aggressive attitude of some supporters in the stands, invasion of the pitch after the final whistle by players and substitutes ... insulting the referee and trying to physically assault him and the regrettable behaviour of the president of the Tunisian Football Federation”.

Equatorial Guinea were fined $100 000 on Friday for the behaviour of their supporters during the violence-strewn African Nations Cup semi-final loss to Ghana at Nuevo Estadio de Malabo, where 36 people were injured. CAF said at least 36 people injured were identified by the medical teams present at the stadium after the rioting that interrupted Thursday’s semi-finals. “All the injured were supported and attended to on site. A total of 14 were transferred to hospital units for further investigations with one case requiring close monitoring,” CAF added. Angry home fans pelted Ghana’s team officials and spectators with an assortment of missiles as their side went behind. Ghana fans were attacked as they celebrated and they fled onto the playing area, seeking sanctuary behind the back of the goal. Last Monday, Equatorial Guinea were fined $5 000 for an invasion of the pitch by a few spectators after their upset win over Tunisia in the quarter-final in Bata.

At least 40 people were killed and dozens injured when supporters of Zamalek football club clashed with police in Cairo on Sunday. The Egyptian interior ministery said the violence erupted when fans tried to force their way into a stadium to watch a game against Enbi. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowd at the army-owned venue in the northeast of the city. In February 2012, a riot broke out at a match in Port Said, where Al-Masry fans attacked Cairo's Al-Ahly supporters with an assortment of weapons. At least 72 Al-Ahly supporters were killed and more than 500 people injured, prompting the interim Egyptian government to ban domestic football for two years.

Liverpool attacker Raheem Sterling has been offered "an incredible" deal, according to Reds manager Brendan Rodgers. Sterling, a reported Real Madrid target, is yet to sign the contract, which was tabled a month ago. "The club has offered an incredible deal for a young player and I have spoken to Raheem a number of times and he is very happy here and I think you see that in his game," said Rodgers in the Daily Mail. "The player is very happy and wants to continue working the way he has been. He has made some great strides in these last couple of years and has now got reward for that and hopefully his representatives can find agreement with the club. What he has been granted here is an opportunity - we see it with lots of young players - and they get rewarded for that but we are certainly not a club who are going to give out way, way above what a player is worth at a certain time in a career. It is not a case of giving any player, I'm not talking about Raheem here I'm talking in general, what they want.  We want to reward our best talents as they are a big part of our future and we are confident that will all be in hand and sorted very soon." The 20-year-old Sterling has scored 21 goals and provided as many assists in 112 appearances for the Merseysiders.

Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale can handle the criticism coming his way from Los Blancos fans, according to Wales coach Chris Coleman. Bale has netted 14 goals in 31 outings for Real this season, but has been accused of selfish play and jeered at the Bernabeu of late. Coleman, though, has no doubt the €100 million-signing will maintain his focus. "He can handle that no problem at all," Coleman is quoted as saying by BBC Sport. "I'm not worried about him. If you go to Madrid for that amount of money and you know that the spotlight is on you then you can either handle it or you can't handle it. In his first season they won the Champions League, which was their holy grail - and he was a huge part of that campaign. It's his turn now to get some criticism. It won't bother him. He'll be fine. He'll get through it."

Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic said he was honoured to have his likeness cast in a wax statue at the renowned Musee Grevin. The Swede is only the second foreign footballer after Pele to be immortalised at the Parisian museum. "It's an incredible feeling to get a statue at the Musee Grevin," the 33-year-old said. "The statue looks very focused, just like myself out there on the pitch. I can only be grateful for the fantastic job done. I am very proud to get this sort of recognition, especially as a Swede. It's a big honour to have a statue in a great museum like the Grevin. I am very happy with it. The people can get really close to the statue and that was the objective. The next step? I don't know... Maybe replacing the Eiffel Tower with an Ibrahimovic statue..." Ibrahimovic has netted 16 goals in 23 outings this season, having also starred in PSG's back-to-back title triumphs following his arrival from AC Milan in 2012.

Argentine winger Angel Di Maria feels there should be two Ballon d’Or prizes: one for Ronaldo and Messi to fight over, and another for the rest. The former Real Madrid man, who has played alongside Cristiano Ronaldo at club level and is teammates with Lionel Messi at international level, feels he cannot differentiate the duo due to their different strengths and qualities. "I always say the same thing: that they're two completely different players" he told "Leo features in every game, making short bursts and nonchalantly dribbling past one, two or three players with great ball control in tight spaces. Cristiano is more about power, long-range shots - they're different.” And with the pair having won the last seven Ballon d’Ors between them, Di Maria feels Fifa should create a prize just for them to fight over and another to give a chance to everyone else. “If I were Fifa, I'd have two Ballon d'Or prizes, one for that pair to fight over, and another for everyone else," he said. With talk of his compatriot Messi being unsettled at Barcelona, Di Maria insists ‘The Flea’ does not want to leave the Camp Nou, yet feels he could work well under Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho – Di Maria’s former boss at Madrid. "In principle, I don't think Leo wants to leave Barcelona," Di Maria said. "It's hard to walk away from a club that's given you everything, where you effectively grew up. But to answer your question, no I don't think he'd have any problem working with Mourinho."

Radamel Falcao’s career at Manchester United appears to be in doubt and he won’t remain at the club past the end of the season, according to Jamie Carragher. Carragher gave his assessment on the Colombian international after United’s 1-1 draw at West Ham, a game which the Sky Sports pundit criticised their lack of movement and imagination going forward. West Ham were without Winston Reid and James Collins at the heart of defence, and Carragher believes the United front line should have caused the Hammers more problems. “I think Louis van Gaal has got a problem with his strike force,” Carragher told Super Sunday. “I don’t see Falcao staying at the end of the season and it’s something Manchester United will have to address in the striking department. West Ham showed pace and energy through Sakho and Valencia in the first half to get in behind the United defence. But Falcao and Van Persie failed to exploit the same spaces. They were just jogging up field, especially Van Persie, ambling up and they didn’t cause a make-shift West Ham back four enough problems. When United were in the wide areas, Falcao was ball-watching and that made him easy to mark. He should have been running down the channels. There is not enough movement from the front two, there’s no sprint, spark or energy and that was in complete contrast to West Ham.” With his side trailing by a goal to nil. United manager Louis van Gaal opted to bring Marouane Fellaini on as they pushed for a route back into the game. And while the substitute was involved in the build-up to Daley Blind’s equaliser, Carragher thought James Wilson, or the deployment of Wayne Rooney further forward, would have been better alternatives. “United have got big problems at that end of the pitch,” Carragher added. “Everybody talks about United needing a centre back and that defensively they’re all over the place, but they’ve got one of the best defensive records in the league. Granted, a lot of that is down to the goalkeeper, but the problems are at the other end of the pitch and there’s no way I see Falcao staying. The position of Rooney is not right. He only touched the ball in the opposition’s box once or twice and he’s playing like a defensive midfield player. You wonder why Van Gaal doesn’t put Rooney up front in those positions to create and score goals because the two strikers, with their lack of movement, had less touches than De Gea and that tells the whole story.”