LA PAZ, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Bolivia coach Ramiro Blacut has resigned after only nine months in the job, saying he did not get enough co-operation from the clubs.
The 60-year-old, an admirer of German football who had been in charge of the team for the third time, walked out with Bolivia bottom of the 10-nation South American World Cup qualifying group. They have 10 points from 11 games.
'When we played against Brazil, they refused to release the players 10 days beforehand under the argument that there was no point in having so much time to prepare if we were going to lose any way,' he said.
Bolivia were beaten 3-1 in Sao Paulo in last September's game.
'There's no longer the idea that the national team is sacred, today it is directed by interests.'
The Bolivian Football Federation (FBF) said they would name Blacut's replacement by the end of the week.
Bolivia's next qualifier is at home to Argentina on March 26.
- Former Brazil coach Sebastiao Lazaroni has demanded a FIFA investigation into allegations that full back Branco was offered contaminated water by Argentina during a second round tie in the 1990 World Cup.
Following the match Branco complained he felt dizzy and weak after drinking from a bottle offered by the Argentine players during an injury stoppage in the second half.
Argentina won 1-0 with a late Claudio Caniggia goal after Brazil had dominated from start to finish. They went on to reach the final where they lost 1-0 to West Germany.
One of the greatest World Cup mysteries resurfaced on Wednesday when Argentine magazine Veintitres published an interview with former Argentina coach Carlos Bilardo, who said: "I'm not saying it didn't happen."
Bilardo, famous for his gamesmanship, later said he knew nothing about any deliberate ploy to contaminate the water bottle.
"They've called me from Italy, Spain, England, Brazil ... it's a misunderstanding," said the man known as Big Nose (Narigon).
However, Lazaroni has still called for an investigation.
"If it's true, it's lamentable," Lazaroni told Reuters television in an interview.
"FIFA should investigate and, if it is confirmed, hand out exemplary punishment to those involved.
"It doesn't matter if it happened 14 days, 14 months or 14 years ago," added Lazaroni, who last year coached the Jamaican national team.
"Sport should be based on transparency and fair play and matches should be won by the team which has the best technical qualities," he added.
By TALES AZZONI, Associated Press Writer
January 27, 2005
SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) -- At this rate, sonograms will become a soccer recruiting tool pretty soon.
Jean Carlos Chera, a 9-year-old who is 4-foot-6, is attracting interest from Manchester United and other top European teams. Chera, who weighs 77 pounds, currently plays for the youth teams of Associacao Desportiva Atletica, a small club in the southern Brazilian state of Parana.
``Seven or eight European clubs have already contacted us to know more about Jean,'' team president Adilson Batista Prado said in a telephone interview Thursday. ``They want to know what he is all about, and I tell them he's a phenomenon, probably the best player to come out of Brazil.''
Prado and team officials would not identify all the clubs interested in Jean, but confirmed that representatives of Manchester United have asked for videotapes of his matches.
Prado said teams from Portugal, France and Germany have made contact, and local media identified FC Porto as one of the teams.
The club said the European clubs haven't made official offers yet, but some have asked for permission to send representatives, and others have invited the midfielder and his family to go to Europe.
``He still needs to be a kid,'' said Prado, who does not allow Jean to talk to reporters.
Jean began to attract attention after the club put videos with highlights of Jean's matches on its Web site. In the videos, Jean is seen scoring goals from midfield, dribbling past several defenders and playing among 13- and 14-year-olds.
After the videos were posted, the site's page views nearly tripled and some of them had to be removed to keep the site from crashing, the club said.
Two years ago, Manchester and Inter Milan were among top clubs that expressed interest in then 14-year-old Freddy Adu, who signed Major League Soccer instead. European clubs generally are not allowed to use players from outside the European Union on their first teams until they turn 18.
BUENOS AIRES (AFP) - Claudio Caniggia, one of the stars of Argentinian football during the last decade, has announced his retirement at the age of 38.
Caniggia, who played alongside Diego Maradona when Argentina went all the way to the 1990 World Cup final although he was suspended for the defeat by the then West Germany, played 50 matches and scored 16 goals for his country in an international career which spanned 15 years from 1987.
The striker, who had been playing in Qatar, told Argentinia's Radio del Plata: "The truth is that after seven months of inactivity, and although I train every day and I am very well physically, I have decided to retire.
"I had offers but I wasn't enthusiastic about them. I was bored in Qatar and it did not add anything to my career. It was good for me financially but for nothing else."
His children still go to school in Glasgow where he won the 2002/03 Scottish Premier League title with Rangers.
Caniggia, who made his professional debut with River Plate in 1985, also played for Verona, Atalanta, AS Roma, Boca Juniors, Benfica and Dundee before moving to Rangers and finally Qatar Club. In all he played 457 matches and scored 122 goals.
ROME, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Italian soccer on Friday mourned the death from cancer of former European Footballer of the Year Omar Sivori, who played for both Argentina and Italy.
He had been in hosptal since September and died, aged 69 almost a year to the day after the death of his old Juventus team mate John Charles.
Former Juventus team mate Giampiero Boniperti told La Gazzetta dello Sport: 'To see Omar play was spellbinding -- one touch of the ball and then that extraordinary and deadly dribble that used to drive opponents crazy.
'Sivori had class, but his greatest gift was that he could think faster than the others.'
Giacinto Facchetti, now president of Inter Milan and one of Italy's greatest ever defenders, said: 'He was a great adversary, a player of immense class and character.'
Gianni Rivera, Italy's Golden Boy in the 1960s, added: 'He was always cocky because he knew he was good...off the pitch, though, he was extrovert and friendly.'
Sandro Mazzola, another 1960s great who was in the Italian team that lost to Brazil in the 1970 World Cup final, said: 'He was my inspiration - the only player of his time who knew how to play just behind the strikers. He had infinite skill.'
Sivori made his first division debut for River Plate in 1954 and won two Argentine championships with the club.
He played 18 times for Argentina, shining in their 1957 Copa America victory in Peru. A year later, he was transferred to Juventus, where he won Serie A titles in 1958, 1960 and 1961 and the Italian Cup in 1959 and 1960.
While at Juventus, he also won the European Footballer of the Year award in 1961.
Under the less stringent nationality rules of the time he later won nine caps for Italy, scoring eight goals, and represented the country in the 1962 World Cup in Chile.
He finished his playing career at Napoli, scoring 12 goals in 63 games, before retiring in 1968.
He returned to Argentina to coach Rosario Central and River Plate before taking charge of the national team for the 1974 World Cup qualifiers but resigned before the finals over differences with the AFA.
His famed team mate at Juventus, Welshman Charles, died on February 21 last year at the age of 72.
Laureano Tombolini, the starting keeper of Argentine club Colon, has revealed an absurd common practice that is currently taking place in the South American country.
“Even if no-one admits it, in all teams money is collected for the ‘barrabravas’ (the hard-core hooligan groups). We do it for our security,” he said.
”In Colon we collect money before each match, give it to our captain, who then puts it in an envelope and leaves it at the club headquarters. Then, one of these fans passes by and picks it up,” he explained.
“I don’t know what would happen if we didn’t do this, but one thinks of ones family and lowers his head,” he added.
Violence has soared in Argentine football since the economic crisis hit the South American country in the late 1990’s. :neutral:
LA PAZ, March 4 (Reuters) - The Strongest have been stripped of Bolivia's 2004 Clausura title for wrongly fielding Argentine goalkeeper Marcelo Robledo as a Bolivian national last year.
The Bolivian Football Federation (FBF) issued a statement confirming that the La Paz team has been deducted eight points, and that runners-up Oriente Petrolero will be awarded the 2004 title.
'The Strongest are no longer our champions. This is going to be very complicated to sort out because it is not possible to just change the teams that are playing in the current Libertadores Cup,' said Mauricio Mendez, president of Bolivia's Professional Football League.
The implications of the ruling for the line-up of Bolivian clubs in South America's equivalent of Europe's Champions League remain unclear.
The loss of eight points would force The Strongest back into sixth place in the Clausura standings and push Oriente into the frame.
The Strongest played normally in the Libertadores Cup on Thursday night, drawing 3-3 with Sao Paulo in a Group Three game.
Neither the FBF nor the South American Football Confederation (CSF) have yet commented on the implications of the decision for the Libertadores Cup.
Mendez suggested that a decision by the FBF to withdraw The Strongest would imply a three-year suspension from the South American tournament.
Robledo arrived at The Strongest after spells with Tarija and Aurora, but his claims of Bolivian parentage proved to be false.
The Strongest clinched the 2004 title in December, beating Oriente on penalties in the final playoff.
JOHANNESBURG, March 9 (Reuters) - The South African women's soccer team will be coached in etiquette and given tighter T-shirts in a drive to soften its image and attract sponsorship ahead of a 2007 World Cup bid.
A top official said on Wednesday female players who dressed and acted like men were giving women's soccer a bad name and needed to nurture their feminine side.
'They need to learn how to be ladies,' Ria Ledwaba, head of the women's committee at the South African Football Association (SAFA) told Reuters.
'At the moment you sometimes can't tell if they're men or women.'
The national team would be given a more shapely kit to emphasise their femininity on the pitch and would swap dowdy track suits for skirts and jackets when travelling.
'Obviously they can't wear skirts on pitch... but they will be given outfits made for women, with female shirts that are shaped for breasts,' Ledwaba said.
SAFA would also hold etiquette workshops to turn the players -- often plucked from the streets of South Africa's sprawling townships with no schooling -- into national assets.
'We need to teach them etiquette and the importance of being a role model,' said Ledwaba. 'There are mothers out there who won't let their daughters play football because they think they'll start acting like boys.'
The new outlook is part of a drive to attract untapped talent into the squad, which has never competed in a world tournament, and to lure sponsors.
The women's team is currently funded by mobile phone operator Vodacom, which also sponsors the men's team.
But Ledwaba said she was hoping to attract extra sponsorship from companies making products for women, such as toiletries.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter last year courted controversy when he urged women players to wear tighter shorts to distinguish them from men.
Brazilian international Felipe has been suspended for six months after video footage showed the Fluminense winger punching an opposing player, Brazil's Sportv television channel reported.
Brazil's Superior Sports Tribunal imposed the ban on Tuesday.
The player's lawyers said he would appeal and may be able to play for Fluminense until a second hearing, slated for March 17.
Fluminense's directors have said they are likely to rescind the player's one-year contract if the ban is confirmed.
Felipe said he had been provoked in the Copa Brasil clash against Campinense last week and claimed Campinense midfielder Marcos Mendes made comments about Felipe's pregnant wife and cast aspersions on the child's paternity.
The video footage showed Felipe catching the Mendes with a haymaker with the ball nowhere to be seen.
Antonio Toledo Gaspar, chairman of the committee that banned Felipe said no amount of provocation justified the attack and admitted the decision had an "educationary" element.
"I think this is a fair punishment. Felipe has to set a good example...the images of him punching a fellow player have been repeated endlessly on the television...and that gives him a higher profile than (Brazilian President) Lula," he said.
Felipe has a poor disciplinary record, one factor that has kept his appearances in the national team to a minimum.
Villarreal striker Diego Forlan will be recalled to the Uruguay squad after ironing out his differences with coach Jorge Fossati.
Fossati is set to name a squad on Friday for World Cup qualifiers at the end of March and said on Thursday that former Manchester United striker Forlan would be included.
"We've spoken to Diego and everything's fine, it's all settled and so he will be picked for the next two games," Fossati told reporters.
Forlan had announced in October he was temporarily quitting the Uruguay team because he was not being selected despite making the long trans-Atlantic trips to South America from Europe for 2006 World Cup qualifiers.
Fossati appears to have had a change of heart with Forlan enjoying a rich vein of form playing for Villarreal in Spain where he is Primera Liga top scorer with 16 goals.
Forlan earned a 7.5 million pound ($14.44 million) transfer to Manchester United in 2002 on the back of his scoring feats for Independiente in Argentina but he struggled to nail down a regular first team slot in England and moved to Villarreal last year for three million euros ($4 million).
He last played for Uruguay as a substitute against Argentina in Buenos Aires on October 9, remaining on the bench away to Bolivia three days later and missing the home win over Paraguay in their last qualifier in November.
Inter Milan striker Alvaro Recoba also stepped aside from the Uruguay squad last year because of a lack of form.
Uruguay are away to Chile on March 26 and home to Brazil in Montevideo four days later. They are fifth in the 10-nation South American group from which the top four qualify directly with the fifth playing off against the Oceania zone winners.
Venezuela's Supreme Court orders local soccer federation to hold elections
March 11, 2005
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuela's Supreme Court ordered the country's soccer federation on Friday to hold elections within a week to avoid suspension by FIFA.
Venezuelan Football Federation president Rafael Esquivel is expected to be re-elected, but federation member Jesus Berardinelli questioned the validity of the voting process, prompting Venezuelan soccer authorities to postpone the election.
Justice Fernando Vega Torrealba said the federation must elect its president on March 17 to avoid the possible sanction, which threatens two World Cup qualifiers at the end of the month.
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- The Venezuelan Football Federation has resolved an internal conflict that caused FIFA to threaten to suspend the country from international play.
Alejandro Sanchez Martorelli, who filed a legal complaint before the Supreme Court to increase the voting members of the federation in an effort to win the federation's presidency, dropped his candidacy, federation president Rafael Esquivel said Thursday.
The federation could still be sanctioned for taking the matter to a national court, a violation of FIFA regulations. The Supreme Court established a deadline for the federation's elections earlier this month, but may decide to strike that mandate in an attempt to appease FIFA.
At stake is Venezuela's matches in the World Cup qualifiers against Colombia on March 26 and against Bolivia on March 29.
Venezuela averted an international ban by FIFA on Friday when the local soccer federation held elections and ended a dispute that nearly derailed its hopes of reaching the 2006 World Cup finals.
The sport's world governing body had threatened to suspend the South American nation from international matches unless the Venezuelan Football Federation held elections for a new president and executive by March 19.
Rafael Esquivel was re-elected as president with support from 26 of the 34 members of the federation's elected assembly, composed of Venezuelan football clubs and associations.
"I feel very satisfied with the result, but I want to add that today it was soccer that triumphed," said Esquivel, who has led the federation for 17 years.
Representatives of an opposition candidate had frozen the election process by filing an appeal to the Supreme Court calling for a change in the way the poll was organised.
FIFA statutes forbid member nations from taking their grievances to civil courts.
Esquivel became the only candidate standing for the office after his opponent withdrew his candidacy and opened the path to end the dispute.
Oscar Harrison, a FIFA representative who arrived in Venezuela on Thursday to observe the vote, said the process was "peaceful, clear and transparent" and that the situation had been resolved.
Venezuela, ninth in the 10-nation South American World Cup qualifying group, have won four of their 11 qualifiers but still have a chance of reaching the 2006 tournament in Germany.
There are seven games to go and South America gets four slots in the World Cup and plays off for a fifth with Oceania.
Venezuela are at home to Colombia on March 26 and then visit Bolivia in La Paz on March 29 in their next qualifiers.
The Paraguayan list given by Anibal Ruiz...for the next 2 Rounds:
18 de marzo de 2005-. El DT de Paraguay, Aníbal Ruiz, dio a conocer la lista de jugadores que utilizará para los próximos partidos por las clasificatorias mundialistas, el 27 de marzo ante Ecuador en Quito y el día 30 recibirá a la "Roja" en Asunción, en duelos por la duodécima y decimotercera jornada rumbo a Alemania 2006.
Argentine player held by Brazil for racism returns home
By Luis Ampuero
BUENOS AIRES, April 16 (Reuters) - Argentine footballer Leandro Desabato has returend home after spending 40 hours in Brazilian police custody for an alleged racist insult during a Libertadores Cup match in Sao Paulo on Wednesday night.
Desabato arrived in Argentina on a flight from Sao Paulo with several of his Quilmes team mates and coach Gustavo Alfaro late on Friday night. Controversy over the incident continued to rage.
Brazilian authorities have potrayed their action as setting an example in the fight against racism while the Argentines say their team were victims of a farce.
Dozens of reporters were waiting at Ezeiza airport for the arrival of a modest side who rarely attract media attention.
Desabato, who did not speak to the media, was arrested on the field at the end of Wednesday's match away to Sao Paulo, one of Brazil's biggest clubs and twice Libertadores winners, following a first-half incident with opponent Grafite, who was sent off for retaliation.
Desabato was charged with slander aggravated by racism and spent two nights in custody before being released on bail on Friday. At one stage, the 26-year-old defender was handcuffed.
Quilmes said Desabato had been the victim of a farce and the accusations against him were based on lip-reading by television viewers.
They also said their directors had been aggressively treated at the Morumbi stadium and that Brazilian authorities were seeking publicity.
One director told Argentine media on Saturday that he was spat at and insulted by supporters but police refused to take any action.
As the controversy continued, former Argentina captain Daniel Passarella, who is now coach of Brazilian club Corinthians, accused the Brazilian authorities of double standards.
"Handcuffed! They made him look like a delinquent," Passarella told Brazil's Estado news agency. "There are drug traffickers on the loose on the border here and nothing happens to them. It's a strange situation."
Quilmes midfielder Matias Almeyda told Argentina's Clarin newspaper: "Everyone here is absolutely against racism. But it's becoming clearer that this whole story was orchestrated and they took advantage of Quilmes because it's a small team."
"It's going to add to the rivalry between Brazilians and Argentines."
BUENOS AIRES, April 27 (Reuters) - Argentina coach Jose Pekerman says Brazil will get a warm welcome in June for a World Cup qualifier and the game will not be influenced by the racism row involving an Argentine player in Sao Paulo two weeks ago.
Argentina and Brazil's soccer rivalry took a new twist two weeks ago when Leandro Desabato, defender for Buenos Aires club Quilmes, was arrested on the field following a Libertadores Cup tie away to Sao Paulo on charges of racism.
Desabato, who denied making racist insults, spent 40 hours in police custody following a first-half incident with rival forward Grafite and was at one stage handcuffed before being released on bail.
Pekerman described the incident -- hailed by Brazil as an example to the world in the fight against racism but denounced as a farce by Quilmes -- as unpleasant but said there was no climate of revenge.
"I'm confident that they (Brazil) will have the best possible attention, that they will be well-received and that it will be a good game on the field," Argentina coach Jose Pekerman told Reuters in an interview.
"The other (off-field) conditions depend on the government, the security services and each one will trying to make sure that things are the way they should be... and there are no problems."
"We're an educated country where we always try to make sure that everything is organised with respect."
Pekerman added: "This game has got nothing to do with what happened, there is a great respect for the Brazilian players.
"Some of them are team mates at the same club, there will not be any time type of problems."
Argentina, who currently lead the South American World Cup qualifying group with 28 points from 13 games, four ahead of Brazil who are second. The two old rivals meet on June 8.