Soccer

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ISL and I-League must merge: AIFF and players


The All India Football Federation (AIFF) finds itself at the crossroads.

On one side, they have the Indian Super League (ISL) that has corporate sponsors, star coaches and players, Bollywood glamour and Star Sports.

On the other, they have the national tourney, the I-League that languishes with failing clubs, poor marketing and little or no television audiences.

Praful Patel, the AIFF president, is the man in the centre of the storm.

Both tournaments want longer terms but that can happen only at the cost of the other.

It is a fine balancing act. And the AIFF is wary of treading on anyone’s toes.

They do not wish to do away with the old without checking that the new will work out.

The I-League has tradition and history on its side.

The ISL has deep pockets and committed owners.

Patel does not believe that the I-League is doomed for extinction—yet.

He said:

There’s no question [that the I-League will stick around]. It is the league of India. ISL is a tournament — like the Rovers Cup or a Durand Cup. It is a tournament — not a permanent league as a league of the country recognised by FIFA. I-League has to remain as the principal league of the country.

An immediate merger with the ISL is not on the cards either.

The I-League teams don’t have any illusions about their financial future. Two Pune clubs, Pune FC and Bharat FC, have already put up their hands as being candidates for dropping out from the league.

A meeting of ISL promoters IMG-Reliance and I-League club representatives led to no resolution of the football calendar.

Patel said:

I-League clubs felt that new challenges have come after ISL’s success. This was a meeting on how to strengthen the I-League and make it more marketable. After ISL, television viewership of I-League also went up. While it may not translate into tangible benefits immediately, it shows one has had a spin-off effect on another. It will be better to take this to the right direction.

Patel warned that even a merger is no guarantee that teams will not continue to lose money.

A committee has been formed to look into a possible merger.

Patel added:

Even ISL clubs lose a lot of money. But we need to bring in people who have to be committed to that. If somebody is committed and passionate they will come forward. It’s not the first time clubs have gone out. I would like to see clubs remain but that won’t affect Indian football in the long run.

The I-League clubs have historically been there. Clubs are open to the merger but it would be unfair to say it’s done. There will be issues, because there are legacy clubs in Kolkata and Goa too. The ISL being a city based tournament, the question is how we integrate. Therefore this subgroup has been formed to give us an agenda.

The AIFF chief believes that a merger may take two to three years.

The I-League begins in January and ends by late May.

The ISL has a three month slot beginning October and ending in December.

AIFF general secretary, Kushal Das,  maintained that they are not being pressurised by FIFA or AFC into committing to just one league.

Das said:

Across the world, we have just one league and we have to follow the best practices. This was an excellent meeting and everyone agreed that, for the sake of Indian football, all of us have to work together.

I-League team owners are not convinced that they are not the football association’s step-children.

A disappointed club official said:

There was no commitment from the AIFF or genuine concern for I-League clubs, two of whom are close to shutting down. There was no discussion on how we can enhance the popularity of the I-League. All we are hearing of is another committee and we have seen all of this before.

English: Selwyn Fernandes is an Indian footbal...

Selwyn Fernandes is an Indian football player who plays as a Defender for I-League team Pune FC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Das insisted that the AIFF has a roadmap for merging the two leagues.

He added:

We have a roadmap which is to have one league within two-three years. But we have to chalk it out on how to go about it. There will be a shake-up in Indian football. There has not been any impact so far but it will happen in future and we have to sort this out. More or less all the teams — ISL clubs and I-League clubs and IMG Reliance — are of the opinion to have one league.

The AIFF general secretary also clarified that they are not keen on forming new I-League teams from existing cities specifically from Bengaluru.

Pune has three clubs, two of whom—Bharat FC and Pune FC—have threatened to shut shop.

The clubs claimed to have difficulties forming fan bases.

English: Lester Fernandez (born 6 December 198...

Lester Fernandez (born 6 December 1986) is an Indian football player who plays as a Midfielder for I-League team Pune FC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The I-League currently consists of 11 teams.

Team City State Home venue Capacity
Bengaluru FC Bangalore Karnataka Sree Kanteerava Stadium 24,000
Bharat FC Pune Maharashtra Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Complex 22,000
Dempo Panaji Goa Fatorda Stadium 19,800
East Bengal Kolkata West Bengal Salt Lake Stadium 68,000
Mohun Bagan Kolkata West Bengal Salt Lake Stadium 68,000
Mumbai Mumbai Maharashtra Cooperage Ground 10,000
Pune FC Pune Maharashtra Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Complex 22,000
Royal Wahingdoh Shillong Meghalaya Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium 30,000
Salgaocar Vasco da Gama Goa Fatorda Stadium 19,800
Shillong Lajong Shillong Meghalaya Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium 30,000
Sporting Goa Panaji Goa Fatorda Stadium 19,800

Source: Wikipedia

Das said:

The bid is already open and we will not take another team from Bengaluru as we already have BFC there. When BFC came into existence we had already made it clear there would not be another team in near future as per the contractual obligation.

English: Team photo of the Indian Football tea...

Team photo of the Indian Football team Pune FC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prodded on the subject of clubs folding, the AIFF chief, Praful Patel, said:

I want each and every club to keep functioning. But clubs do close down in football and a lot depends on financial planning.

The Indian players do not seem to have a problem with the proposed merger of the leagues.

Pune FC defender, Anas Edathodika, said:

The standard of the ISL is pretty good. There were several World Cup players in the ISL in 2014 and the youngsters can learn a lot from them. But if these great players could be involved in Indian football for a longer period, we could learn even more from them.

If the ISL is merged with the I-League, then we could have a longer tournament which would give Indians more opportunities to play alongside these foreigners. It would also force the I-League clubs to become more professional in their approach and that can only be good for the game.

Indian skipper Sunil Chhetri has no qualms either.

He said:

I would love to have just one league in the country…. where there will be 16-18 teams and which goes on for 11 months and there will be a format of Federation Cup like the FA Cup in England. I just hope things work, like I-League, ISL and the Federation and AIFF sit together and chalk it out. It would be great to have that for Indian football.

English: R.C Prakash (born 1979) is an Indian ...

R.C Prakash (born 1979) is an Indian football player. He is currently playing for HAL SC in the I-League in India as a Forward. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With so much said about the non-viability of two independent leagues and the problems with the existing I-League and with the players all for it, it must seem a  cinch that a merger is the best thing possible for the future of the sport in India.

Is it, really? More on that later.

Jose Mourinho makes Eva Carneiro the best known name in the EPL this week. How and why?


“I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow. I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism. I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug. I will not be ashamed to say ‘I know not,’ nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery. I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God. I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick. I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure. I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm. If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.”

The above text is the Hippocratic oath—the modern version—as transcribed by Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University in 1964.

Will someone bother to inform Jose Mourinho, arguably the most powerful soccer manager in the world, in his own words, ‘The Special One’ that his players’ well-being comes first and then his side’s winning chances?

Eva Carneiro, the Chelsea team doctor and Gibraltarian sports medicine specialist of British and Spanish parentage, together with head physiotherapist Jon Fearn, rushed to treat Eden Hazard in Chelsea’s game against Swansea last Saturday reducing the number of players on the field to nine. This did not go down well with Mourinho who publicly rebuked them.

The temperamental coach criticised his medical staff as being “impulsive and naive” and displaying a lack of knowledge of the game.

Some might say the same of the Portuguese national’s remarks and actions being indicative of his lack of awareness of medical ethics.

While his castigation of  Carneiro may not be sexist, it certainly is cause for concern as it shows a disturbing trend wherein players’ welfare is put after the club’s.

Peter Brukner, formerly Liverpool’s head of sports medicine and sports science and Australia cricket team doctor, said:

“I thought it was appalling behaviour by the manager. He has a player who has gone down, who has remained down and the referee obviously considered it serious enough to summon on the doctor and the physio. They went on as they must do when they are summoned on and the player is down, and as a result the player had to come off the ground. What do you expect the doctor to do? Just ignore the referee beckoning them on? Maybe he should be criticising his player for staying down, rather than the medical staff. The medical staff were only responding to the referee’s instruction to come and treat the player, who was on the ground. So then to criticise the medical staff publicly in the way that he did was absolutely appalling behaviour. The medical staff deserve a public apology and I’m very disappointed that the club hasn’t come out and done something to support them – they were just doing their job. Our first priority as doctors and physios is the health and safety of the individual player, and that’s what they were attending to. They were doing their job and they’ve been criticised very publicly for doing the job. I think that’s a very disappointing result.”

Carneiro has been with Chelsea since  February 2009. She was previously with the British Olympic Medical Institute and with England Women’s Football and UK Athletics.

The Chelsea boss insists that the medical duo will not attend at this Sunday’s derby game against Manchester City.

Carneiro alienated Mourinho further by posting a ‘Thank you’ note on her Facebook account.

Ralph Rogers, a former team doctor for Chelsea under Carlo Ancelotti, criticised his contemporary.

He said:

“You are support staff. You’re not one of the stars. There’s almost a slap in the face to the manager.

Why would she go to social media? It’s something we, as a profession, ethically should not be doing.”

The Premier League Doctors’ Group though supported Carneiro.

Their prepared statement read:

“Dr Carneiro has universal and total support from her medical colleagues at the Premier League Doctors’ Group. It is also of great concern that at a time when the both the Premier League and the Premier League Doctors’ Group are intensifying efforts to safeguard player welfare, the precedent set by this incident demonstrates that the medical care of players appears to be secondary to the result of the game.

The Premier League Doctors’ Group considers that removing Dr Carneiro from the Chelsea team bench for their next match is unjust in the extreme. In the publicised incident in last Saturday’s game against Swansea, the Chelsea medical staff were clearly summoned on to the field of play by the match referee to attend to a player. A refusal to run on to the pitch would have breached the duty of care required of the medical team to their patient.

It is a huge concern that Dr Carneiro has been subjected to unprecedented media scrutiny and a change in her professional role, merely because she adhered to her code of professional conduct and did her job properly.”

So what will it be?

Will the Chelsea supremo back down and accept his fault? The man demands total loyalty from his staff and considers himself a benevolent dictator.

Or will Eva Carneiro be reduced to backend support and, perhaps, an eventual exit?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Soccer: Sebastian Ariosa beats cancer and club Olimpia


It’s not okay to be seriously ill when contracted out to a soccer club.

At least, that’s what Paraguayan club Olimpia seemed to believe when it suspended Uruguayan Sebastian Ariosa’s contract when the player chose to undergo chemotherapy for a chest tumour.

The defender had a five-year contract with the club beginning 2011.

The Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) ruled in Ariosa’s favour awarding him 7% of his contract value ($60,000) as “moral damages” and $90,000 as sporting compensation for his team’s lack of “sportive ethics”.

This is as against an earlier FIFA edict that the Uruguayan’s contract should be paid out in full.

Both sides appealed to CAS; the Uruguayan sought other compensation.

Club officials had demanded his return to training from Uruguay while he was undergoing treatment there.

Alexandra Gomez, a lawyer for the global players’ union FIFPro, said:

“We see this as a great result. CAS stated that the club was not responsible for the condition of the player, but it was responsible for its own response to this situation.”

The court has also ordered the club to pay Ariosa his overdue salary plus interest as well as a 13th month accrued over the term of his agreement.

FIFPro , in its statement , said:

“FIFPro is pleased to announce a major legal victory has been awarded to Uruguayan footballer, Sebastian Ariosa.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) found Paraguayan outfit, Club Olimpia, breached almost all of its obligations toward Ariosa, including a blatant attempt to exploit the player’s incapacity to work after he was diagnosed with cancer.

Such is the significance of this case, CAS awarded ‘moral damage’ to Ariosa, which is extremely rare. It stems from Club Olimpia’s appalling behaviour to suspend the player at a time when he was suffering greatly, fighting for his life and dealing with the effects of chemotherapy.”

FIFPRO added:

“Olimpia was in breach on all counts. Its response was to stop paying and suspend Ariosa, while demanding that the player return to training in the midst of his treatment. This behaviour corresponds with the two requirements which the tribunal considered in order to grant moral damage; exceptionality and severity.”

Ariosa now turns out for national side, Defensor Sporting.

 

 

Is Lionel Messi losing it?


Is Lionel Messi losing it?

The charismatic Argentinean first head-butted his Roma opponent, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, and then grabbed him by the throat. Barcelona won 3-0

The usually cool-as-cucumber Messi has been red-carded just once in his international career—on his debut.

The Barca player escaped with a warning from the referee this time.

What is going on?

The Argentinean wasn’t exactly pleased with his performances during the Copa America where his team came close to winning the title only to lose to hosts Chile in the final.

This is the second time Messi has missed out on much-coveted silverware while representing his country. The first was the 2014 World Cup when Argentina drew a blank against Germany in the title round.

The reaction in the Argentine press has not been complimentary with questions about his greatness as a player and commitment to the national squad surfacing.

This despite the diminutive genius being adjudged the best player in both tournaments. There is no doubt that Messi is the best player on the planet.

Is he meeting his own exalted standards and expectations?

Diego Maradona was swift to launch a broadside at Messi’s feats in the South American tourney.

He said:

“It’s logical to fall, it is easy. We have the best player in the world, one who can go and score four goals on Real Sociedad and then he comes here and doesn’t score at all. You would say, but man, are you Argentine or Swedish? We need to stop busting on the folks who say that we should baby Messi. Messi needs to be treated just like we treat all the other players who put on the national team uniform. He is the best in the world, for better or worse. But look, he didn’t kill or rape anyone. Let’s not turn this into a soap opera.”

Messi’s grandfather, Antonio Cuccitini, was even more caustic.

He said:

“Some of him was there. Triumphs are the greatest things there are. But the last three games he was bad. He was lazy.”

More recently, the Human Rights Foundation criticized Messi for hobnobbing with abusers of children’s rights.

Messi laid the foundation stone for a venue for the Africa Cup of Nations 2017 together with Gabon dictator Ali Bongo.

France Football claimed that he was paid 2.4 million GBP to make the trip.

Human Rights Foundation President Thor Halvorssen said:

“In providing PR services to Gabon’s Bongo family, Lionel Messi has seriously undermined the credibility of his own charitable foundation. Whereas Messi claims to support children’s rights, and even serves as a UNICEF ambassador to promote youth education, he has endorsed a kleptocratic regime that refuses to investigate the ritual murder of children in Gabon.Messi’s trip is part of the Bongo family’s PR campaign to promote the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, which Gabon will host at enormous expense despite the fact that the Bongo family’s embezzlement has left 20 per cent of the population to live on less than $2 per day.”

Is it all adding to the pressure on the AlbiCeleste forward?

Or is this latest incident merely an aberration, a blot on a stellar record?

Still waters run deep.

Are we witnessing a rebirth of Messi as a firebrand on the field?

The speculation continues.

 

 

MS Dhoni announces retirement from IPL, signs up for ISL (Satire)


In a surprise announcement that again bewildered fans and critics, Mahendra Singh Dhoni announced his signing up as a marquee player for Chennaiyin Football Club in the Indian Soccer League (ISL).

The Indian ODI skipper is co-owner of the city club and will now represent the side in the next edition of the football league at the end of this year.

Dhoni announced his retirement from club T20 cricket effectively ending speculation about his future in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

The wicket-keeper batsman said:

“I have decided to discontinue my association with Chennai Super Kings and the IPL but my love affair with Chennai continues. I would love to give back to the metropolis that has adopted me with such passion and love over the past eight years. I have always loved playing soccer since my school days. Cricket was a fortuitous accident that has rewarded me in abundance. But I am still young and would love to ,maybe, emulate my idol Sir Vivian Richards who represented Antigua in soccer. I am a sportsman at heart—whatever the game. Soccer will also allow me to use my head more. The two months off from the IPL will be accommodated here. My commitment to the ISL is total and my playing for Team India (cricket) will be scheduled around the ISL league games.”

He added:

“I would love to try out my heads, hands and feet at other sports as well. In the future, I will also be looking at Motocross racing and kabaddi as possible outlets for the zing and zest within me.”

Abhishek Bacchan, co-owner of Chennaiyin FC, said:

“We are proud to have MSD as part of the team. We believe that he is a great motivator and can move our franchise right to the top of the league. Besides, after years of practice catching a small, red cricket ball, grasping a larger one under the bar should be a cinch.”

Disclaimer: The personalities are real but the story is fictional. Some facts (and figures) are made up, but you knew that already, didn’t you?

 

 

Will Lionel Messi ever be considered great like Maradona or Pele?


Is Lionel Messi ever going to win a major title as an Argentine?

Two Copa America finals, one World Cup final and yet the cupboard is bare.

He may be the finest player of his generation but his national team is not. At least, not yet.

Accompanied by the Galacticos of Barcelona, the magician with the ball is almost invincible.

He does not enjoy the same support alongside his fellow countrymen.

What are the reasons for this relatively poor show?

It is relative because for his showings at the above named tournaments, the young man captured two player and one young player of the tournament awards.

Hardly, what you’d term a no show.

Comparisons to Pele and Maradona will always fall short if the 28-year-old genius fails to capture a major international title.

It was, perhaps, easier for Pele. Club football did not take up most of the players’ time in those days.

Maradona , though , is another kettle of fish. He catapulted a small club side, Napoli, to two Serie A titles and another couple of runner-up finishes.

Argentina, of course, won the 1986 World Cup under him and made another stalwart run for the title in 1990 losing to Germany in the final.

Is Lionel Messi finished as a Argentine midfielder?

It would be a pity if it were so as media reports suggest.

Messi has his best chance to fill his trophy case at the 2018 World Cup in Russia—provided he keeps himself healthy and fit. He will be even more experienced and hopefully at the peak of his career.

The mind boggles—you mean to say Messi can get even better?

It helps even more if his teammates do.

A freely roaming Messi can do more damage than a Messi who is man-marked by not one, not two but three defenders.

What would Argentina not give to have strikers of the caliber of Neymar and Suarez alongside their talisman?

Unfortunately, national soccer is not club soccer and throwing money at a problem does not make it go away. The ethos of teamwork assumes salient importance.

Messi himself once said:

I prefer to win titles with the team ahead of individual awards or scoring more goals than anyone else. I’m more worried about being a good person than being the best football player in the world. When all this is over, what are you left with? When I retire, I hope I am remembered for being a decent guy.

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s what John Wooden has to say about teams:

The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.

Messi will not be great until his bench-mates make him great.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Neymar are rapped for being ‘bad boys’


Mahendra Singh Dhoni at Adelaide Oval

Mahendra Singh Dhoni at Adelaide Oval (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two captains hit the headlines for being participants in fractious misdemeanors on the field.

Both have been punished for their transgressions.

The Indian ODI and T20 skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni collided with Bangladeshi fast bowler Mustafizur Rahman  during the first one-day in Mirpur. Dhoni was docked 75% of his match fee and Mustafizur 50% of his.

At the Copa America in a crucial group encounter against Colombia, Brazilian star forward Neymar laid into his nemesis Camilo Zuniga for being physical with him.

Neymar shouted:

“Camilo! Camilo! Thanks a lot! Bet you’ll call me after to say sorry. Son of a b****.”

Zuniga was the man who knocked the Selecao skipper out of the 2014 World Cup with an ill-advised tackle that could have crippled Neymar prematurely ending his soccer career.

Brazil succumbed 0-1 in an ill-tempered game and Neymar vented his frustration by aiming a headbutt at at goal-scorer Jeison Murillo when the match ended.

Neymar has been provisionally suspended and received a red card for his trouble.

Violence and bad behavior have always been a part of sport. More so, professional sport.

No one likes losing. And particularly so no one likes losing after giving what they believe to be their best. Let none   tell you otherwise.

More so when it is what they do for a living.

And the perceived injustice is worse when the gladiators feel that they are not in control.

That certainly seems to be case with Neymar with the star forward lashing out at the standard of refereeing in the ballgame.

Neymar said:

“They have to use the rules against me. The ball hit me on the hand without any intention and I got a yellow. That’s what happens when you have a weak referee. I only lose my rag when officials don’t do their jobs. There was a melee, but he didn’t need to send everyone off.”

MS Dhoni, on the other hand, is the epitome of cool. He is said to have nerves of steel.

That the Indian skipper was party to an unsavory incident where he appears to be the aggressor is strange indeed.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Mustafizur Rahman were found guilty under Article 2.2.4 of the ICC Code of Conduct, which penalizes “inappropriate and deliberate physical contact between players in the course of play during an international match“.

Match referee Andy Pycroft said:

“In the hearing, Dhoni defended the charge on the basis that the bowler was on the wrong line and realising that he couldn’t avoid the collision, he used his hand and arm to push him away as he went through to ‘minimise the impact. However, my assessment was that Dhoni deliberately pushed and shouldered Mustafizur, which was inappropriate.

Even if there was a narrow gap between the runner [Raina] and the bowler, an experienced Dhoni should have tried to avoid the collision as cricket is a non-contact sport and the players are expected to avoid physical contact at all times. On this basis, I fined Dhoni 75% of his match fee”.

Dhoni’s experience was a crucial factor in the adverse decision. His adversary, on the other hand, was making his debut.

Dhoni said:

“The bowler (Mustafizur) thought I would move away while I thought he would. But as none of us did, we collided. This can happen in any match. It’s nothing big. I spoke to him later.”

The Indian skipper’s explanation is specious.

Some sections of the media believe that Virat Kohli should be handed over the reins in all formats of the game. Mohinder Amarnath, in particular, believes that Kohli brings a refreshing approach to the game and it is time a young Indian side are led by one of their own.

Is the pressure telling on the man from Jharkhand?

Or is this a mere aberration?

Time, and results, will tell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lionel Messi: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t


Lionel Messi is going, not going, going again.

What he said:

“I have never demanded anything to stay because I don’t have any intention of going. I heard people say that my dad had spoken to Chelsea, to City … it’s all lies.

I heard all sorts of things said. I never come out and deny [stories] but this time I am. It has been said that I have pushed out lots of people … Eto’o, Ibrahimovic, Bojan, Guardiola … [and] I didn’t ask them to sack our manager.

It hurts because it comes from people who [supposedly] love Barcelona. It’s people who want to hurt the club – and this time it did not come from Madrid, like other times, it has come from here. I have heard lots of things being said about me before and now. They make it look like I am the one who is in charge here when I am just another player.

Don’t throw shit at us from outside because that will only do us harm.”

Lionel Messi threw all speculation about his future with Barcelona out the window following his team’s 3-1 drubbing of Atletico Madrid, their first in over a year.

The statement allayed fans’ fears for the time being given the recent happenings at the club in the past week.

Barca have sacked their sporting director, Andoni Zubizarreta and Carles Puyol has quit the club.

While president, Josep María Bartomeu, has reassured Catalonians that Luis Enrique will continue as coach, he also announced that presidential elections will be brought forward a year making his own future at the club uncertain.

Messi’s relationship with Enrique has been on the rocks with the manager keen on resting his star player to prevent possible breakdown and burn out.

Messi would rather play most if not all games.

However, at the 2014 Ballon d’Or awards, the Argentine revealed fresh doubts.

Messi said:

“I don’t know where I will be next season. I would like to finish with Newell’s [the club from his hometown of Rosario]. As Cristiano Ronaldo says, only God knows the future. Things in football can change overnight.”

What he really meant:

 “Now, now,now. If Chelsea or Manchester City are willing to bite the bait, I could still move. Besides, I can now bargain with Barca about the extension of my contract. More power to me. It’s all about negotiations, baby, and I like to be the one in the dribbler’s seat. Perhaps, I’ll get Luis (Enrique) to start me more often.”

What he definitely didn’t:

 “It’s all about continuity and what’s best for the club and its fans.”

Lukas Podolski: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t


Lukas Podolski did not even get a kiss goodbye.

What he said:

“He [Wenger] said nothing to me. He did not call me or say goodbye. I don’t need flowers or a kiss from him. But it is about respect, about saying goodbye. For me respect is important. Maybe he had other problems with me.”

Arsenal forward and German international Lukas Podolski leaves for Inter Milan—on loan from Arsenal—on a sour note accusing manager Arsene Wenger of disrespecting him during his stay at the club.

Podolski has never had a regular place in the starting line-up since arriving there in 2012. His 60 appearances for the North London side bagged him 19 goals.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and in the backg...

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and in the background, Arsenal first team coach Boro Primorac (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wenger responded:

“I had many conversations with him, he had my agreement to go on loan. I deny that completely but I knew he did not get enough opportunities. We have many players, when a player of his quality doesn’t get enough games you can understand he is frustrated.

At some stage too many players is detrimental to the confidence. You need the right numbers. It had nothing to do with his quality. It is just a loan without an option to buy – that means he is back at the end of the season.”

Podolski told the Sun:

“If I had been given a run of five or 10 games and played really s—, then I could say: ‘Fair enough, I am not good enough.'”

What he really meant:

“Ouch! What a nasty break-up! And my manager cannot even see me to the airport with flowers, kisses and chocolates. Woo hoo!”

What he definitely didn’t:

“Now you know what it means to be Podolskied.”

Asamoah Gyan: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t


Asamoah Gyan and his team will die for their nation—at the right price.

What he said:

“We want to prove to people it is not about the money. We are just here to die for the nation as we’re Ghanaians.
We are just playing with our hearts and make sure we die for the nation. So far, the players are happy with the money and everything has been resolved. What we’re thinking now, is to going to Equatorial Guinea and to die for the nation.”

Ghana Black Stars skipper Asamoah Gyan insists that he and his team will put their best feet forward—literally—when they take part in the African Cup of Nations. The Ghanaian team have been promised a flat fee of USD 5000 for every match they play, irrespective of the result. This is the new bonus structure instituted by the country’s sports ministry.

After initial team rumblings, both parties have arrived at an understanding with Gyan assuring his fellow countrymen that there would be no repeat of the World Cup imbroglio wherein the players refused to play their final group game against Portugal in Brazil because they had not been paid their appearance fee. The players had then demanded payment in cash.

Gyan said:

“Before we didn’t know before we heard it in the press. During these holidays, we had to sit down with the board members and then trash out some issues and talking about the bonuses because we don’t want the Brazil issue to get in our heads right now. I think everything went on successfully. We are happy everything has been resolved. We are not thinking about any money issues now. What we are thinking about is the Africa Cup of Nations.”

What he really meant:

“We’re willing to lay down or get up for the country at the African Cup of nations. It all depends on whether we get paid to lie or die.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“Money is the root of all evil. Also, all goals.”

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