International News - Issue 257



Former Bolton Striker Convicted For Match-Fixing

A former Premier League striker has been jailed for two-and-a-half years after being convicted of match-fixing for his part in a conspiracy to bribe lower-league players. Delroy Facey, 35, who had played for Bolton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion, Hull City and other clubs in an 18-year career, had pleaded not guilty at Birmingham crown court. Judge Mary Stacey said Facey’s offences struck “at the very heart of football”. “You have been a role model, but you have abused that position,” she said. The jury who convicted the ex-footballer after deliberating for three hours last Wednesday, had heard Facey, from Huddersfield, Yorkshire, claim he had decided to “humour” two businessmen offering him up to £15,000 for his role in a plot. He thought they were “class clowns”. Andy Young, specialist prosecutor in the Crown Prosecution Service’s organised crime division, said after Facey’s conviction that he had been the middleman in the plot. He had earned “good money” from professional football, including £65,000 in 2010/11 when he was at Lincoln City. “But by the time of his arrest, he was no longer playing professionally and earning considerably less.” Facey’s role was to find players who would be willing to fix matches. Former non-league player Moses Swaibu, of Bermondsey, south London, was jailed for 16 months. He and Facey will spend half their sentence in jail and the rest out on licence. The Football Association, the sport’s governing body in England, advises all professional clubs to warn their players before the start of every season about match-fixing and related issues. Last year it also banned players, managers, club employees and match officials in the top eight tiers of football from betting on any football worldwide. This covers not only matches, but transfers and managerial appointments. Last year Michael Boateng, 22, a former defender with Conference South club Whitehawk FC, was sentenced to 16 months for his role in the plot. Businessmen Chann Sankaran, 34, from Singapore, and Sri Lankan-born Krishna Ganeshan, 44, were jailed for five years each. The National Crime Agency (NCA) said the aim had been to fix the results of matches, passing the information to an overseas network of bookmakers. The agency launched an investigation in November 2013 when it was presented with evidence by the Daily Telegraph. During the trials it emerged the conspirators had in fact failed to fix any games. Adrian Hansford, NCA lead officer, said there had been “the beginning of a concerted attempt to build a network of corrupt players in the UK. “That network included Facey who acted as a conduit for potential targets, and Swaibu, who was recruited to expand the network further. Facey played not only in the Premier League but also internationally for Grenada and had worked with managers including Sam Allardyce and Sven Goran-Eriksson. “So many people would have given their eye teeth to play football at that professional standard that you had”, the judge told Facey. The trial heard that Facey urged a footballer at a struggling non-league club to make some “easy money” by fixing the result of a match. He had tried to corrupt Scott Spencer, a player with Hyde FC, in a text conversation by offering him £2,000. Spencer, who, the court heard, was not involved in any form of match-fixing, was messaged by Facey, who told him: “You lot get rinsed out, week in, week out. You lot should make some money out of this lad, easy money.” Facey had continued: “Check this out. Four goals in a game – two in either half – and you guys can get 2k each, win, lose or draw. You guys can’t win for shit so you might as well make some peas.” During the conversation on WhatsApp, read to jurors by prosecutor Nick Mather, Facey said a friend who was betting would provide the money. The jury was also told of messages between Facey and Ganeshan. Ganeshan told Facey via Skype: “Get ready, things are about to come to life. Keep your boys on standby. If they deliver first time, me and only you are in big business for the future.”

Jose Mourinho has hit back at his and Chelsea’s critics after their latest title success. The Blues clinched their first Premier League title in five years following a 1-0 win against Crystal Palace on Sunday. It gave Mourinho the perfect opportunity to hit at out at the people who have labelled them ‘boring’. “In my country, we say the dogs bark and the caravan goes by,” he said. “It’s easier to be a pundit. As a pundit you win every game, you don’t lose matches. It’s a fantastic job. Maybe in 10 years' time it will be my job and then I will win every game.” Mourinho says he still has the desire to keep on going and achieving more success at Stamford Bridge. "I am so happy for the players and so proud of everything we did since day one - now we feel we got what we deserved. I will try for another title. I will try always. The day I don't feel the passion to try again, I stop.”

Liverpool will not sell Raheem Sterling, even if he does not sign a new deal in the summer. The England international, whose contract expires at the end of next season, has so far stalled on a new big-money deal, leading to speculation that the Reds may cash in this summer rather than lose him for nothing. But manager Brendan Rodgers insists that is not the case, adding that Anfield is the best place for Sterling to continue his development. "Raheem won't be going anywhere this summer, even if there's not a deal agreed,” Rodgers said. “We've made that clear from the beginning. I think Raheem looks a lot more relaxed now than he has done for a while. We had a couple of good meetings. He came to the house and had a good chat on a personal level as well. It's not just about the football side, it's also about his welfare because he's still young and he's been through a lot in the last couple of years so I talked to him generally and I think he's in a good place at the moment. "The club will meet up again with Raheem's representatives and we'll reinforce [the message]. Look, everyone wants to win trophies, everyone wants to play in the big competitions, but it's also important that you have the opportunity to do that so we'll just be reinforcing our stance that's been in place all the way along — that this is the best club for him at this moment."

Bayern Munich star Arjen Robben has been ruled out for the rest of the season with a calf injury. The Dutch winger had missed Bayern’s last four League matches, yet was a second-half substitute in Tuesday night’s German Cup semi-final clash against Borussia Dortmund. Yet the 31-year-old had to be taken off the field just 16 minutes after coming on as the Bundesliga leaders lost the tie, with the club confirming the full extent of Robben’s injury woes. “Arjen Robben has a tear in his left calf muscle. His season is over,” the club tweeted from their official account. The club’s misery was further compounded as Polish striker Robert Lewandowski was rushed to hospital after the match following an extra-time collision with Dortmund goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak. “Robert Lewandowski has broken his upper jaw and his nose. He also has a concussion. It doesn't get much worse than that,” a club statement read. It remains to be seen how long the 26-year-old will be out for, with the club sweating over his fitness ahead of the first-leg Champions League semi-final against Barcelona. Robben and Lewandowski are Bayern’s top two scorers in the League this season with 17 and 16 goals respectively.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels opposition coach Jose Mourinho needs to learn more respect. The duo have always enjoyed a feisty relationship, with the Chelsea boss most recently fuelling the fire by mocking his opponents for the Champions League exit to Monaco before taunting the Gunners on their lack of League honours in recent years. And although Wenger did not directly respond to Mourinho’s taunts, he clearly aimed his answer towards the Portuguese coach when asked about the recent comments made by the Blues boss. "The biggest thing of managers is to respect each other and some people have to improve on that," Wenger said. "Everybody lives with his own internal problems and I live with mine and that is enough."

Brazilian midfielder Ricardo Kaka is hoping to earn a spot in his national team for the upcoming Copa America competition. The midfield maestro, who now turns out for MLS club Orlando City, missed out on selection for the Selecao squad for last year’s World Cup, yet was called up by new coach Dunga for two friendlies against Argentina and Japan in October last year. Dunga is unbeaten as coach in his second stint in charge since Brazil’s exit from the World Cup on home soil, and Kaka hopes the national boss will look favourably upon him when selecting his squad for June’s continental showpiece. "If Dunga thinks I can fit in this team, I'll be ready," the former AC Milan and Real Madrid star said. "I think I can still play for Brazil and help with my skills and experience, but it does not depend on me." The 2007 World player of Year, who has scored four goals in 13 appearances for his new American club, has praised Dunga for his approach following Brazil’s 7-1 humiliation against Germany in the World Cup semi-final last year. "We lost our confidence in the last World Cup but Dunga is doing a very good job now," Kaka said. The 33-year-old, who has 29 goals in 88 games for the Selecao, will be hoping to join his national team mates, who are gunning for glory in this year’s Copa America, set to begin on 5 June in Chile. The five-time World Cup winners have been drawn alongside Venezuela, Peru and Colombia in Group C.

Liverpool coach Brendan Rodgers feels under-fire striker Mario Balotelli is “doing his best”, yet admits that the Reds attack in general needs to improve. The Italian striker was given his tenth start of the season against Hull last Tuesday night, yet failed to make the desired impact, having just 22 touches the whole game as he was brought off early in the second half as the Reds suffered a 1-0 defeat. The former AC Milan frontman has scored just four goals in 28 appearances since his arrival from Italy, and although being brought off for what looked like a foot injury, Rodgers feels the forward has been doing his best at the club. "Mario's doing his best. He's obviously come off [in the second half] with a foot injury,” the Liverpool boss told reporters, before calming talk of an early exit from the striker who only joined this season. He's still got a few years left on his contract. Every single player, every single day you come in at Liverpool, you're working for your future." An injury-plagued season for star frontman Daniel Sturridge has left Liverpool’s strikeforce lacking much-needed sharpness in attack, with youngster Raheem Sterling the club’s current top-scorer with just seven goals, and Rodgers admits this is an area of concern. “I think it's clear over the course of the season, not just this game, that [attack] is an area we've struggled in,” he said.

The wife of former Manchester United and England captain Rio Ferdinand has died from cancer. The QPR defender, 36, released a statement saying his "wonderful wife and soul mate" Rebecca Ellison had "passed away peacefully" at a London hospital. Ms Ellison, 34, who married Ferdinand in 2009, had breast cancer. She leaves behind three children, Lorenz, nine, Tate, six, and four-year-old Tia.

Reports emanating from Spain suggest that Spanish giants Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid could face a similar transfer ban imposed on Barcelona for the improper signing of youth players. According to two separate Spanish radio stations Cadena SER and Cadena COPE, Fifa is set to ban the two capital clubs from all transfer activity for the next two windows over ‘irregularities in the signing of minors’. Fifa rules state that the transfer of players under the age of 18 can only occur if the following criteria are met: "Under-18s can move to a club in a different country if their parents move there for non-footballing reasons, if they are from another nation within the European Union or European Economic Area and aged between 16 and 18, or if they live within 100km of the club.” Reports suggest that the Madrid clubs were notified of the investigation towards the end of Barcelona’s appeal for the very same crime, which is why Los Blancos spent €51 million in the last four months on players including Martin Odegaard, Danilo, Lucas Silva and Asensio as they prepared for a possible upcoming ban. Another report reveals that Spanish Football Federation’s president Angel MarĂ­a Villar attempted to plead with Sepp Blatter to drop the ban, yet the president refused. Should Atletico and Real receive a ban, they will likely appeal the punishment which could see the ban suspended, allowing the clubs to partake in transfer activity just as rivals Barcelona did when under investigation, bringing in the likes of Luis Suarez, Thomas Vermaelen, Ivan Rakitic and Claudio Bravo. Barcelona are banned for the next transfer window as they serve out punishment for the same offence, and will only be allowed to bring in new players again in January 2016. The ban could affect on-form striker Javier Hernandez’s possible permanent move to the Bernabeu, after Louis van Gaal has revealed he does not wish to bring back the forward to Old Trafford.

AC Milan midfielder Nigel De Jong has hit back at media speculation labelling him as the instigator in an argument with coach Filippo Inzaghi. The Rossoneri suffered their ninth loss of the season in a disappointing 2-1 loss to Udinese on Saturday, with coach Inzaghi allegedly blasting his players in the bus after the match. It is reported that Inzaghi told his players that they were “unworthy of this shirt" before one of the senior players replied, “We may be unworthy, but you’re not up to coach Milan.” Leading Italian publications La Repubblica and Corriere dello Sport report that it was Nigel De Jong who had made the hostile remarks towards the coach, yet the Dutchman has refuted such claims, hitting back via social media. “Press is the press for a reason,” he tweeted from his personal account. “Always looking for a hype. Don't assume the first thing you are reading is the truth. You can have an argument as adults, but always with respect.” The Dutch midfielder, who has been a standout performer in a season to forget for the Italian club, then defended the Milan coach, before urging his side to focus on matters on the pitch. “If there is one who knows the value of this shirt it is our coach,” he continued. “As that being said, let's move on to what's important. Leaving this issue for what it is and do the talking on the pitch together.” The seven-time European champions have endured a dismal season, and currently lie tenth in the Serie A standings, 30 points behind leaders Juventus.

Chelsea captain John Terry said he has proved Rafael Benitez wrong by continuing to be a key player for the newly crowned Premier League champions. Terry, 34, has played every minute of his side's triumphant campaign, having been told by Benitez he could not be guaranteed game-time at Stamford Bridge two seasons ago. Terry told Sky Sports: "One person said I couldn't play twice in a week. He knows who he is. I have proved him wrong as I'm still fighting, still in the side and feeling great."


Egyptian giants Al Ahly have fired their Spanish coach Juan Carlos Garrido after the Cairo club were knocked out of the African Champions League at the weekend. Al Ahly, who have won the continent’s top club competition a record eight times, failed for a second successive year to get to the group phase and instead drop down to the African Confederation Cup after their post-match penalty shootout loss to Moghreb Tetouan in Cairo on Saturday. They are one of the teams that Orlando Pirates could be pitted against in Sunday's play-off round draw in the Confederation Cup. “The Director of Football verbally informed me that I will not be continuing as the Coach. I am very disappointed to not be able to conclude this project and to deliver this bad news to you,” wrote the 46-year-old coach on his website (juancarlosgarrido.com). “I will update you once the terms of the conclusion of my contractual relationship have been agreed and I am no longer officially the coach.” Garrido signed a two-year deal in July last year and won the Confederation Cup with the club in November. But they trail arch rivals Zamalek in the league by 11 points. Garrido was coach of Spain’s Villarreal when they participated in the Champions League in Europe in the 2011-12 season. He has also coached at Club Brugge in Belgium and Real Betis in his homeland.