International News - Issue 248

Cannavaro Facing 10 Months In Prison
Former Italy defender Fabio Cannavaro has been handed a ten-month prison sentence for breaching police orders while under investigation for tax fraud. The 41-year-old, who captained Italy to their 2006 World Cup triumph, has been under investigation for tax evasion after authorities in Naples seized almost €1m of goods linked to the player and his wife. Cannavaro was told to keep out of his property during the investigations, yet he breached this ruling and was subsequently sentenced to ten months in prison, with his wife Daniela Arenoso and his brother Paolo – who still plays for Serie A side Sassuolo – handed custodial sentences. The trio have all appealed their sentences, which have thus been suspended until a final decision has been reached. Cannavaro, who turned out for top European clubs including Inter Milan, Juventus and Real Madrid, made 136 appearances for the Azzurri in a glittering career between 1997 and 2010. He is currently the coach for Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande.

Chelsea lifted the Capital One Cup after a 2-0 victory over London rivals Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley on Sunday. It was a typical cup final in the opening half as both sides kept things tight, resulting in a cagey affair. The biggest nearly moment came after 10 minutes when a 24-yard free-kick from Christian Eriksen struck the Chelsea crossbar. Tottenham arguably had the upper hand in the contest when the Blues opened the scoring just before the half-time whistle. John Terry finished from close range following a goalmouth scramble, with his shot deflecting off a defender and in. Spurs continued to search for a goal at the start of the second half but suffered a demoralising blow in the 56th minute when Diego Costa's shot from a tight angle defected off Kyle Walker and into the back of the net. At 2-0 Tottenham had a mountain to climb and nearly went three down when Eden Hazard dribbled into the box and saw his shot skim the crossbar. Harry Kane came closest for the chasing side with 14 minutes remaining but his header from a corner-kick went just wide. Jose Mourinho's side defended their lead in the closing stages and held on to ensure an early piece of silverware for the blue half of Wembley.
Brazilian attacking midfielder Kaka has been named captain of MLS side Orlando City. The 32-year-old has been handed the armband ahead of the start of the new MLS season, with Orlando’s first fixture against New York City set for 8 March. The 2007 World player of the Year, who has been on loan at Brazilian club Sao Paolo ahead of the start of the American League, was signed by the club from Italian giants AC Milan last year, and will now lead his new teammates in the upcoming season.

Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira has been cleared to resume training after a spell out through injury. The German has been sidelined since picking up a muscle injury against Atletico Madrid 19 days ago. “Finally! The doctors have cleared me for team practice next week,” Khedira revealed via social media. The 27-year-old, whose contract expires in June, has missed 18 games this season and has been linked with a move away from the Santiago Bernabeu. Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Bayern Munich are all reported to be interested in securing Khedira's services.

Eintracht Frankfurt forward Alexander Meier says he expects Arjen Robben will beat him to the Bundesliga's top scorer award. Bayern Munich's Robben is setting the pace with 17 goals in 19 League outings this season, one more goal than Meier. "Can I win the Torjagerkanone? I think Robben will make it," Meier said. "He scores one or two goals each game and Bayern score four or five goals all the time. It will be impossible to catch him again." Wolfsburg striker Bas Dost is also in contention for the prize with 13 goals, while Robert Lewandowski and Franco Di Santo are on 11 each.

Liverpool could be without Jordon Ibe for up to four weeks after the teenager missed Sunday’s impressive defeat of Manchester City with a knee ligament injury. The 19-year-old picked up the problem following last Thursday’s Europa League exit against Besiktas and is facing an extended period on the sidelines. Ibe has made a big impact for Brendan Rodgers’ team since returning from a loan spell at Derby County in January but is expected to miss league games against Burnley, Swansea City and Manchester United, as well as Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final with Blackburn Rovers, with the untimely setback.

Barcelona striker Luis Suarez has denied that he tried to bite Manchester City defender Martin Demichelis during Tuesday's UEFA Champions League clash. Suarez scored twice as Barca edged City 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium. Lionel Messi missed a late penalty that was saved by Joe Hart. The Uruguayan says the English media are out to get him after their latest allegations. UEFA will not be taking any action because the incident was not mentioned by German referee Felix Brych in his report. Suarez told a Uruguayan radio station: "He [Demichelis] put his hand on my throat. I do not understand why they [the English media] want to do this. They want to make trouble for me. They must be hurt after what I did to them in the World Cup but they forget that I played in England and they should show me some respect."

Egypt have appointed Hector Cuper as the new head coach of the Pharaohs. The Argentine made his name in Spanish football, coaching Mallorca and Valencia to some success in European competitions. He has also coached Georgia. “We have reached an agreement to appoint Cuper as the national team coach,” EFA spokesman Azmy Megahed said. “The coach's contract will be cancelled should he fail to guide the national team to the 2018 World Cup,” EFA board member Mahmoud El-Shamy added. Cuper replaces Shawky Gharib, who was sacked after Egypt failed to qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

Sunderland midfielder Adam Johnson has been suspended by his Premier League club after alleged sexual activity with an under-age girl. The 27-year-old was due to travel with his club side for their trip away to Hull on Tuesday, yet has been suspended on suspicion of sexual activity with a 15-year-old girl, which is now under police investigation. “Sunderland AFC has confirmed that Adam Johnson has been suspended from the club, pending the outcome of a police investigation,” a statement released by Sunderland read. “No further comment will be made at the present time.” The England international was reportedly questioned by police at his home in County Durham on Tuesday morning, before being arrested and taken into custody. A 27-year-old man was arrested earlier today on suspicion of sexual activity with a girl under 16,” a spokesman Durham Police said. “He remains in police custody and is helping officers with their inquiries.” Johnson, who has 12 caps for the Three Lions, has featured in 24 league matches for Sunderland thus far this season, who sit 16th in the Premier League standings.

Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella faces an emotionally-charged reunion with AS Roma, the team he represented for a decade, following the draw for the UEFA Europa League round of 16. It was one of two ties pitting together domestic rivals, with holders Sevilla drawn against Villarreal, a side coached by their former boss Marcelino. For ten clubs, though, uncharted territory awaits.

Round of 16 draw (ties 12 & 19 March)
Everton FC (ENG) v Dynamo Kyiv (UKR)
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (UKR) v Ajax (NED)
Zenit (RUS) v Torino (ITA)
Wolfsburg (GER) v Inter Milan (ITA)
Villarreal (ESP) v Sevilla FC (ESP, holders)
Napoli (ITA) v Dinamo Moscow (RUS)
Club Brugge (BEL) v Besiktas (TUR)
Fiorentina (ITA) v AS Roma (ITA)

Manchester United and Barcelona tried to sign Paris Saint-Germain’s Marquinhos last summer, the Brazilian defender has revealed. The 20-year-old is rated as one of the world's most promising young centre-backs, but despite the interest Marquinhos said he would like to sign a new contract.  Both clubs signed defenders last summer – Barcelona snapped up Jeremy Mathieu and Thomas Vermaelen, while Manchester United landed Marcos Rojo – but Marquinhos has hinted that he was their first-choice target. Speaking to French TV programme Telefoot, he said: “Yes, Manchester United wanted me and Barcelona too. Those two clubs negotiated with PSG but the directors did not give them any option. That gave me confidence. The president and the coach are happy with me. It would be good to renew [my contract] for Paris.”

The working group that is supporting fan ownership of Leeds has confirmed they will try and meet with Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe next month. Crowe, a lifelong Leeds fan, caused a media storm last week when he asked his Twitter followers whether or not he should buy the club. Leeds LLP responded favourably and made contact with Crowe, who asked the group to watch a six-episode show of the work he has done as co-owner of NRL side South Sydney Rabbitohs. And LLP will try and initiate face-to-face contact with Crowe when he returns to the country next month.

Chelsea skipper John Terry feels he still has three more years left in him to offer the London club. The English centre-back, who has been at Stamford Bridge since 1995 as a youth player, is still in search of a new contract with the Blues, and with the club only handing out one-year extensions to players over the age of 30, Terry feels this motivates the older players to prove themselves even more. "Not having the four or five years, the roles reverse, the power is in the club's hands," the 34-year-old said. "I think that's definitely inspired me to prove people wrong. I've kind of got my targets set on next year as well," he added. "That's my initial target. Two or three more years, I don't know." Yet the defender is well aware as to what is at stake. "Players are fighting for their places,” he said. “This is year roll-on, I am fighting for my future, for my family's future as well, and with that in mind, I just want to give it everything. I don't know how long I have got left but hopefully I have got a few years left in me. But if these are my last, I hope it will go out on a bang." Terry was named man-of-the-match after scoring in his first major final as Chelsea beat rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the Capital One Cup Final on Sunday, and hopes this will be the start of more silverware to come. "I loved it, I loved playing here in a big final and on a personal level, it was nice to get my first goal in a major final," he said. "More importantly, it was important to get our first trophy together. I spoke in the week about this being a springboard, like it did when the manager came in in 2004-05. It had that effect then and hopefully it does now."

FIFA presidential candidate Michael van Praag has promised to boost the number of teams at the World Cup finals to 40 if he is elected in May. The president of the Dutch FA is also keen for the game's worldwide governing body to distribute more money to national federations, pledging an annual handout of US$1m to each, four times the amount currently paid. Van Praag made the pledges as he launched his campaign to oust current president Sepp Blatter at the end of May. And the 67-year-old has also vowed to make public the report of former ethics investigator Michael Garcia into the bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in Russia and Qatar respectively. Van Praag, who has reiterated his intention to serve only four years if elected, has also promised to open regional Fifa embassies to assist the game's development throughout the world. Van Praag will face Blatter, 79, who is seeking a fifth term as FIFA president, Asian Football Confederation vice-president Prince Ali bin Al Hussein and former Portugal international Luis Figo at the presidential election in Zurich on May 29.

Former Barcelona coach Carles Rexach claims Real Madrid sold Angel Di Maria to Manchester United because he was 'too ugly' to play for them. Di Maria joined United from Real for £59.7m in the summer after helping Carlo Ancelotti’s side to win the Champions League but Rexach has made the bizarre claim that the real reason he was sold was because he didn't fit in with the Galacticos' pretty boy image. Rexach, who played for Barcelona and coached the side in 2001, says Madrid president Florentino Perez is trying to sell an 'international brand' and that includes having good looking players in their squad. Rexach told Spanish media outlet Regio7: "Florentino Perez looks at the world market and wants a team of Galacticos for everyone to admire. Do you understand what I mean? Ronaldo is the flagship of the club. Perez is selling an international brand. Vicente del Bosque and Di Maria are too ugly for Real Madrid. They are different from Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez." Rexach, who is tipped for a role as a director in a shake-up taking place at the Nou Camp, has a track record of making bizarre claims after also saying that the real reason Lionel Messi wasn't at his best for Barcelona last season was because he 'ate more pizza than he should have'.  Di Maria, who spent four years at Madrid, has struggled to find his top form at United and was substituted at half time of United's 2-0 win against Sunderland last Saturday. The Argentine winger's ability to settle into life in England has also been badly hit after his family were forced to move out of their Cheshire home when they were the victims of an attempted robbery in January.

Chelsea and Everton have been fined £30,000 by the FA for failing to control their players in a recent match at Stamford Bridge. Players from both sides became embroiled in an altercation in the 86th minute of the match on February 11 after Everton midfielder Gareth Barry received a second yellow card for tripping home forward Willian. In a statement, the FA said: “Both clubs were charged with failing to ensure their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion and/or refrained from provocative behaviour. The charge against Chelsea further alleged that their players surrounded the match referee and/or became involved in a mass confrontation." Both clubs admitted the charge and were warned as to their future conduct.