International News - Issue 247

Mourinho At It Again With FA
Jose Mourinho said he was willing to risk a suspension for the Capital One Cup final as he continued his complaints over Chelsea's 1-1 draw with Burnley and labelled Ashley Barnes' challenge on Nemanja Matic "criminal". Mourinho had made clear his dissatisfaction with "four moments" during Saturday's match, as Burnley rescued a point at Stamford Bridge after Nemanja Matic was sent off. Mourinho had said after the game that he was unhappy with incidents in the 30th, 33rd, 43rd and 69th minutes, suggesting Barnes should have been punished for a challenge on Branislav Ivanovic, Chelsea should have had two penalties, and that the failure to punish Barnes for his first challenge led to the tackle on Matic that prompted the Serbian to react. He had refused to discuss the incidents in too much detail on Saturday, saying: "I'm punished when I refer to these situations. I don't want to be punished." However, he was willing to elaborate during an appearance on Sky Sports' "Goals on Sunday" programme. "At half-time, Burnley should be playing with 10 men and Chelsea should have two penalties," he said. "Normally, we win 3-0 or let's put in the possibility of missing one of the penalties - we win 2-0 and play against 10 men. The reality is that in the end, we play with 10 men and lost two points." While Mourinho felt Barnes deserved to be dismissed for the challenge on Ivanovic, he felt the Burnley forward deserved far greater criticism for the tackle on Matic. Referring to the reaction to Chelsea striker Diego Costa's stamps on Emre Can and Martin Skrtel, which Sky pundits had labelled "crimes," Mourinho said: "When I finished at the game against Liverpool, I went to the dressing room and the first thing I saw on the big screen, reading non-stop -- 'Diego Costa crimes.' "I would like to know how do you, Sky Sports, describe the actions of the Burnley player yesterday? My English is not good enough to find a word. When you think 'Diego crimes' after he puts his boot on a hand, when this is 'Diego crimes,' the minimum you have to say is 'criminal tackle.' "Did you apologise to Chelsea, to Diego or myself? You didn't. As an institution, Sky is so important in the Premier League, you never apologise. When Diego Costa has a three-match ban, probably three matches to Matic... tell me how many matches this player deserves?"

Burnley manager Sean Dyche has suggested Ashley Barnes' controversial tackle on Chelsea's Nemanja Matic was an unavoidable accident. The 25-year-old striker's challenge in Saturday's Premier League clash at Stamford Bridge prompted an angry reaction from Matic that earned the Serbia midfielder a red card. However, Dyche is adamant that the incident was a result of the 'pendulum motion' of a pass and highlighted the lack of reaction from the Chelsea dugout at the time.  The Clarets boss said: "No one reacts. Live time, no one reacts apart from Matic. My point is about live time - live speed. The referee has a chance. No one reacts. When the camera pans back to Jose Mourinho and his assistant, they're calmly talking about what they should do. After the event, with hindsight and camera views and slow-motion, now it's been called a criminal tackle and the like. I find that hard to adjust to when live at that moment, 15,000 people and expert staff and most of the players on the football pitch - it's rare there's not a reaction in the stadium. After the event, with slow-motion, of course it looks an ugly challenge but the ball is made contact with and the motion of the player is at high speed, the pendulum motion of the player. I don't know the biomechanics. I'm not an expert. But I'd say that once you're in that pendulum motion of playing a pass, it's very difficult to stop your leg going through the ball and rising. We all know it doesn't look a pleasant challenge but, at live speed, these are expert people who've been in the game a long time who don't even flinch at that moment. It's a real tough one. I find it hard that the manager is using very strong phrases about that moment when he didn't have any reaction at all at the live moment. I find that one hard to accept. Things often look different afterwards with all the technology you've got." Dyche also addressed two first-half incidents which Chelsea boss Mourinho said should have resulted in penalties for his side. The Burnley manager conceded that an apparent Michael Kightly handball in the box would “usually” have been penalised. But he thinks a possible Jason Shackell push on Diego Costa was not so clear-cut. "Jason Shackell definitely gets a mild hand on him,” said Dyche. “Is that enough for him to go down? It's a real debating point. That's a close one. The first one usually gets given but that one is a real tough one for referees. He (Costa) is off balance anyway, he gets a slight nudge and he goes down. I'm not remotely saying he went down easily or is trying to simulate. I just mean it's a mild contact, which inevitably means he ends up on the floor. I think that's a tough one, particularly when you consider the referee's actual angle to see that incident." Chelsea were also aggrieved that Burnley were not reduced to 10 men after half an hour when Barnes jumped into Ivanovic, felling the Blues defender, but escaped sanction. However, Dyche said: “He bundles into the player, it's fair to say, but I can't imagine that to be deemed anything more than, at most, a yellow card. Worst-case scenario in my opinion would be a yellow, almost impossible to be a red.”

Chelsea’s Thorgan Hazard has agreed to make his loan move to Borussia Mönchengladbach permanent. Hazard, the 21-year-old younger brother of Blues star Eden, moved to the Bundesliga side at the start of the season and, with his Chelsea deal expiring in the summer, he will now stay until 2020. Chelsea have retained a buy-back option on the Belgian, who also spent two seasons on loan with Zulte Waregem.

Algerian club ES Setif were crowned CAF Super Cup champions after beating Egpytian giants Al Ahly 6-5 on penalties following a 1-1 draw. With the game between the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup winners ending all square at Stade Mustapha Tchaker in Blida on Saturday, it took spot-kicks to determine a winner. Abdelmalek Ziaya opened the scoring for Setif with 20 minutes of the match remaining but a last-gasp equaliser in the fourth minute of stoppage time from Emad Meteb restored parity.  Bassem Ali missed the only penalty in the shootout. Setif get their hands on the CAF Super Cup for the first time. Al Ahly have won in six times, more than any other African club.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has spoken out on the club’s fans accused of racism in France, saying he is ‘disappointed’ and ‘ashamed’. Three of the club’s supporters have been handed lifelong bans after being filmed denying a black man entrance to a train while singing, “We're racist, we're racist and that's the way we like it". Chelsea have come out and apologized to the victim, saying they are appalled by the behavior, and now Mourinho has also condemned the trio. “The dressing-room reacted as I did – with disappointment. They condemn the situation and support the gentleman involved. They feel ashamed, but maybe we shouldn't because these people involved do not belong to Chelsea Football Club."

Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 290th goal for his club on Sunday night to take him to third in the Galacticos’ all-time highest goal-scorer charts. Los Blancos were 2-0 victors at Elche, with Karim Benzema opening the scoring with an easy tap-in before Ronaldo doubled the advantage with a thunderous header on 70 minutes to secure all three points, and rewrite the history books of the La Liga giants. Ronaldo’s goal, his 290th in 281 appearances, saw him overtake Carlos Santillana as the club’s third-highest all-time goal-scorer, honing in fast on first-placed Raul, who scored 323 goals for the Spanish club between 1994 and 2010. The Portuguese forward’s goal was his 28th goal in 35 appearances this season, and all-time record holder Raul, who now plays for New York Cosmos in the MLS, feels his record will be broken soon. "I’m certain he’ll break my record, just like he broke the Champions League record," Raul said. "The way he’s playing at Real Madrid right now, it’s just a question of time. Whether it’s one year, two years, three or four, surely he’ll do it. We’re talking about one of the best players in the history of football. There’s a big difference between Ronaldo and Lionel Messi and everyone else in the world."

Top five goal-scorers for Real Madrid:
Raul (1994-2010) - 323 goals, 741 appearances
Alfredo Di Stefano (1953-1964) - 305 goals, 392 appearances
Cristiano Ronaldo (2009-present) - 290 goals, 281 appearances
Carlos Santillana (1971-1988) - 289 goals, 645 appearances
Ferenc Puskas (1958-1966) - 242 goals, 262 appearances

Arsenal icon Thierry Henry has returned to the club to begin his coaching role with one of the club’s youth sides.  The Gunners’ all-time leading goal-scorer with 228 goals in 377 matches has taken up a coaching position with the club’s U16 side, as confirmed by head coach Arsene Wenger in a press conference last Friday. "Thierry Henry is making his first steps as a coach," Wenger told reporters ahead of Saturday’s League match-up against Crystal Palace. "It's good for our youngsters to be coached by him. He's been here once or twice. All our former players are welcome to come back here and get their coaching badges. We're happy to have him." The former France international spent eight successful years playing for Arsenal, winning two Premier league titles and three FA Cups.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi has admitted his performance last year was affected by problems "on and off the pitch". The four-time Ballon d'Or winner plundered 41 goals in 46 games in all competitions last term, but still endured criticism as Barca failed to win a trophy. Messi acknowledged his battle with injuries and his tax case took its toll in 2014. "The truth is that this year I tried to get to my best form as quickly as possible. I knew I was coming off the back of a not very good year, during which I went through a lot of problems on and off the field," the Argentina international told Mundo Leo. "It was a challenge to change the image that I had given out last season and to be the player I had been in previous seasons again. That was my objective and that's how I came out at the start of this season, really up for it."

FIFA presidential candidate Luis Figo has proposed a 48-team World Cup should he be given the role. The former Portuguese winger is challenging Sepp Blatter, Dutch football chief Michael van Praag and FIFA vice-president for Asia Prince Ali bin Al Hussein for the presidency, and has unveiled his manifesto in London. His plans includes more non-European teams and two tournaments of 24 played simultaneously in two different countries, with the top 12 in each playing a final knockout stage. Figo also wants changes made to the current offside rule, and plans to donate half of FIFA’s wealth on grassroots football in member associations. The FIFA presidential election takes place on May 29.

Manchester United icon Paul Scholes has taken a dig at Premier League leaders Chelsea, insisting they are “a long way off” from being great. The Blues currently top the EPL table by five points and are in the final of this season’s Capital One Cup, yet were held to a 1-1 draw against French outfit Paris Saint-Germain in their Champions League last 16 tie this week. Following the away draw, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho lauded his team as “great”, yet former Red Devils rival Paul Scholes disagrees. "Working as one of the ITV pundits on Tuesday night I was surprised to hear Jose Mourinho talking about Chelsea as a 'great team',” Scholes wrote in The Independent. "Great teams have to win trophies first, which means that Chelsea have had a great team when they won back-to-back league titles but they are still a long way off it now." Scholes added that he was unimpressed with Chelsea’s display in the French capital, and would not be surprised if PSG shocked their English rivals in London. "I recognise that Paris Saint-Germain have an excellent home record in Europe,” he continued. Even so, I expected Chelsea to create more chances against them this week. They had one attempt on goal, Branislav Ivanovic’s header that went in. Barcelona or Real Madrid might not have beaten PSG but they would have had more than one shot on goal. I wouldn’t rule PSG out for the second leg, especially if Zlatan Ibrahimovic decides he fancies it. I think they will score at least one at Stamford Bridge."

Welsh winger Gareth Bale maintains he has not adjusted his game following accusations of selfish play by some Real Madrid fans. Bale was jeered during Real's 3-0 win over Espanyol at the Bernabeu after going for goal instead of teeing up Cristiano Ronaldo. However, the 25-year-old made it clear he was not influenced in to passing the ball more in their 2-0 victory at Schalke in the Uefa Champions League. "I haven't really adapted my style of play," Bale told Sky Sports. "In certain games, if a sight of goal has opened up I’ll take it. But [against Schalke] I think my team-mates were in better positions and I tried to play the ball around."

A Fifa taskforce has recommended that the 2022 World Cup, to be hosted in Qatar, should take place in November and December. Officials met in Doha to discuss the possibilities of when the continental showpiece should be held, considering the excessive heat experienced in the region over June and July. Tuesday’s recommendation are expected to be given the go-ahead after a Fifa executive committee meeting in Zurich on 19 and 20 March. A number of aspects were discussed at the meeting in Doha on Tuesday to consider moving the world showpiece, with the heat, and the April fast of Ramadan, the main reasons behind the move to shift the tournament to later in the year. "The only remaining effective option is the November/December window," a statement read. Taskforce chief Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al-Khalifa hopes the decision will be accepted, as he feels it is beneficial to all parties concerned. "We are very pleased that, after careful consideration of the various opinions and detailed discussions with all stakeholders, we have identified what we believe to be the best solution for the 2018-2024 international match calendar and football in general,” he said. It was a challenging task and I want to thank all members of the football community for their productive input and constructiveness in helping to find a solution that we believe can work for everyone."

Brooklyn Beckham, the son of former England star David, will not be retained by the Arsenal academy next season. The 15-year-old, who only signed on in November last year, has failed to secure a scholarship with the London club, and it is understood that the teenage will not be retained by the Gunners next season. This comes as a surprise as Brooklyn was earlier this month enrolled into Arsenal’s U-18 side, with reports only later revealing that his promotion only came at a time when the rest of the U-16 and -17 players were away at a tournament in Qatar. Brooklyn, who plays on the right side of midfield like his father did, is still highly rated by the Gunners’ coaches, yet having started at a later stage compared to the other youngsters, was always said to be playing catch-up. It is still unclear whether or not Brooklyn will try look for another club. Beckham’s younger sons Romeo and Cruz are also enrolled in Arsenal’s Hale End academy, with 10-year-old Cruz said to be the most promising of the three brothers.