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Steven Naismith opens up about Everton and Rangers – EXCLUSIVE

EXCLUSIVE: Wracked with self-doubt and nerves, but former Rangers star Naismith is now ready to prove he belongs at Everton

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UPDATED:

22:38 GMT, 20 December 2012

This has been a sobering week for Steven Naismith. Monday entailed a visit with Everton's squad to Alder Hey children's hospital; on Wednesday he helped serve Christmas lunch to homeless people at a refuge in Liverpool. It has not been a normal few days for the Everton forward but, then, again the same could be said of 2012 in general.

Naismith, after all, only finds himself playing in the Barclays Premier League due to the extraordinary events that led to the financial meltdown of Rangers.

The past 12 months have borne witness to some incredible sporting stories and the shockwaves from the demotion of one of the biggest names in the world game to the lowest rung of Scottish football continue to reverberate.

Making an impression: Naismith equalises against Liverpool and (above) serves dinner at a refuge for the homeless

Making an impression: Naismith
equalises against Liverpool and
(above) serves dinner at a refuge
for the homeless

Making an impression: Naismith equalises against Liverpool and serves dinner at a refuge for the homeless

'Hopefully 2013 will be a bit quieter and I can focus on my Everton career,' says Naismith, a level-headed and thoughtful individual.

'But it has been hard. At Rangers I had got involved in things that you never expect to have to deal with. That was so difficult.

'In 20 years' time, when people look back on it, it will be difficult to comprehend how big a story it was and what happened. It wasn't nice because the club was in such a mess. Nobody was prepared for what we had to go through.

'I don't think anyone would have ever thought it could happen, that is why it is so surreal. To see Rangers being demoted to the lowest tier of Scottish football was unbelievable but they are beginning to move on.'

Naismith felt he had no choice but to walk out on Rangers in June, when he objected to having his contract transferred to the newco and is currently embroiled in a legal battle with Rangers chief executive Charles Green.

The issue, though, is not proving distracting. Since he arrived on Merseyside in July – the day he made the journey south was the day Rangers were kicked out of the SPL – Naismith has contributed to Everton's eye-catching progress and the suspension to Marouane Fellaini means he will be heavily involved over Christmas.

An industrious forward with an eye for goal, Naismith's colleagues describe him as being the perfect team-mate; he comes in does his work, accepts when he is not named in the starting line-up but is always prepared if and when he is needed. They say he has settled in without fuss.

Knee-sy does it: Naismith celebrates after scoring against Everton's arch-rivals Liverpool

Knee-sy does it: Naismith celebrates after scoring against Everton's arch-rivals Liverpool

The man himself, however, will tell you a different story. It involves him being wracked with self-doubt and nerves and wondering whether he had the ability to cope with the demands of English football, given he had just spent nine months out with cruciate ligament damage.

'It has been a bit more difficult than I thought it would be,' said Naismith, who has been capped 19 times by Scotland.

'Moving clubs is a big deal but it was all the more difficult because I was coming back from a knee injury and hadn't played since last October before I signed.

Welcome aboard: David Moyes is prepared to give Naismith the time he needs to thrive at Goodison Park

Welcome aboard: David Moyes is prepared to give Naismith the time he needs to thrive at Goodison Park

'To be honest, I was a bit in awe of the lads when I started here. (Steven) Pienaar, (Leighton) Baines, (Leon) Osman, (Phil) Jagielka; Fellaini and (Nikica) Jelavic. The list goes on. They are top quality players. They are that good, you have no option but to deal with it and get up to speed.'

Crucially, Naismith has a manager in David Moyes who will give him all the time he needs to thrive – Baines, Pienaar and Jagielka are all examples of his ability to keep persisting even when things haven't been going smoothly.

'The manager has been fantastic,' said Naismith, who will also be afforded patience by the Goodison Park crowd after he scored the equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Liverpool in October.

Rangers old boy: The international played just under 100 times for the fallen Scottish giants

Rangers old boy: The international played just under 100 times for the fallen Scottish giants before his transfer

'He probably understands it from my point of view. 'He knew it wasn't going to click straight away; he knows that it is a longer term project. I've signed for four years and I would hope I will be there for that amount of time. His work ethic is outstanding. I am of the same kind of mind-set that you train 100 per cent every day.

'The 10 years he has been here, he has put his stamp on every aspect of the club. That goes from the office staff to the ground staff to the chefs to the players: everybody works to their best. It is one big team. It is not about individual departments and that is why the club is so successful.'

Should Everton – who face West Ham on Saturday – maintain their consistency in the second half of the campaign, they will be contenders for a Champions League spot and Naismith sees no reason why they cannot gatecrash the party.

'It is going to be tough because there are so many teams going for fourth spot,' he said. 'But we have shown that we have got the quality in our team. We could definitely compete if we got in there. The way we are competing in the league, I'm sure it would be the same if we made that next step.'

Rafael Benitez says Chelsea can still win title

We can still win the title! Chelsea boss Benitez believes Blues can come from behind and see off Manchester rivals

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UPDATED:

00:44 GMT, 15 December 2012

Rafael Benitez believes Chelsea can still win the league — even if they enter the Christmas period 13 points adrift of Manchester United.

Chelsea will be trailing the league leaders by a substantial margin if United win at home to Sunderland on Saturday, while Chelsea attempt to win the Club World Cup against Corinthians on Sunday.

Child's play: Rafael Benitez meets Japanese children in Yokohama on Sunday

Child's play: Rafael Benitez meets Japanese children in Yokohama on Sunday

Yet Benitez hopes to use a positive result in that tournament, and the glory of being crowned world champions after less than a month in charge, to inspire his players to refocus their attentions at home.

And he is refusing to give up on the big one: his first domestic league title as a manager in England.

Speaking at his team’s base in Yokohama, Benitez said: ‘I did not see the Manchester derby, but people told me about it and I agree it (the title) is not a two-horse race. People have asked me whether it is over already, but realistically, with three points for a win, if you get victories two or three games in a row you have more confidence and then it is different.

What's so funny, Rafa Benitez smiles at his players during training

What's so funny, Rafa Benitez smiles at his players during training

‘If we win here and play like we did against Monterrey in the semi-final, we can go on a run. We play good football and with the quality we have going forward and the right balance in defence, this team can win many games in a row easily. How many I don’t know, but once you start that with three or four, the confidence will go so high, why not

‘At Liverpool, we had an 11-game stretch, drew against Arsenal and won the other 10. So why can’t we do the same at Chelsea It is just a question of confidence. If you are strong enough, compact enough, we can do this. But these things will take some time to adjust.

Blue is the colour: Chelsea players are preparing for Sunday's World Club Cup final

Blue is the colour: Chelsea players are preparing for Sunday's World Club Cup final

‘What we do depends on the team. At Valencia, I had three years: the first really good, the second fine, the third amazing. Why Repeating the same exercises with clever people, they could understand.

‘As for winning the league at Chelsea, when I talk to the players here, I can see in their faces that they have the belief. So I know what we are doing is working. The roles and the movements we are
asking of them in training is working. I don’t have any doubt about the things I can do.’

David Silva says players responsible for Manchester City"s bad campaign

It's our fault! Silva pins blame for Man City's poor campaign on the players

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UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 14 December 2012

Manchester City winger David Silva believes Roberto Mancini’s players must accept the blame for the club’s unconvincing form this season.

Barclays Premier League champions City are six points behind leaders Manchester United in the title race and are already out of Europe.

But Silva believes it is the players and not manager Mancini who must take responsibility.

Crossing the divide: Manchester City star David Silva meets Man United fan William Ray, aged 9, from Bury

Crossing the divide: Manchester City star David Silva meets Man United fan William Ray, aged 9, from Bury

Silva said the players had themselves to blame for their situation

David Silva meets Zac Bramwell, aged 8

Visit: Silva, meeting Zac Bramwell, aged 8 (right), said he was hoping the kids would enjoy the players' company

Helping hand: Silva introduces himself to Sam Ainsworth, from Salford

Helping hand: Silva introduces himself to Sam Ainsworth, from Salford

Silva said: 'We're are responsible for what has happened this season.

'The way we played in the Champions League – we all have to take the blame for that.

'It didn't start well in the Champions League and it became an uphill task for us, it didn't happen. But you can't just blame the manager.

'All I would say is that since I joined City up to now we have made progress with Roberto. All there has been is progress.

'In the Champions League, I can’t put my finger on what it was.

'All I can say is when I came to City they were looking to get in the top four and since then they have won the Premier League, the FA Cup, we have qualified for the Champions League.

'People can’t expect to win the Champions League straightaway. We’ve got very good players and we will get there.

'I want to win it with City but let’s go one step at a time.'

Silva spoke this week as he joined team-mates on a visit to sick youngsters at Manchester Children’s Hospital. All the players who visited took Christmas presents they had paid for themselves.

'We’ve been visiting the kids and hopefully we will get a smile out of them at this time for Christmas,' said Silva.

'I don’t have kids, but I have a big family and I know what it’s like for them to receive presents and to have something from someone that they want to see.'

Hi there: Silva with Tipu Rehman aged 3 from Bolton and Dylan Roberts, aged 6 from Didsbury (below)

Hi there: Silva with Tipu Rehman aged 3 from Bolton and Dylan Roberts, aged 6 from Didsbury (below)

True blue: Silva meets Man City star Dylan Roberts, aged 6 from Didsbury

Silva will be in the City team at Newcastle on Saturday lunchtime having recovered from injury to play in last weekend’s derby defeat to Manchester United.

He feels he is back to his best now but admitted that a long-term ankle problem is still bothering him.

'I’m feeling great again,' he added.

'Before the injury I was good, I was playing very good but then I got three weeks out.

'Now I can hopefully keep going in a good way.

'It is true I have played a lot of games in the last three or four seasons, with the European Championships, and World Cup and domestic league but you have to recover well after every game and just be there and that’s football and that’s the way it is.

Here you go: Silva gives Ethan Bird, aged 5, from Hull, a present during his visit, and meets Sam Doran from Bolton (below)

Here you go: Silva gives Ethan Bird, aged 5, from Hull, a present during his visit, and meets Sam Doran from Bolton (below)

David Silva meets Sam Doran from Bolton

'I do have to keep on top of the ankle, always work on it and constantly care for it and there are parts of the season where I have to look after it a bit more. But its OK.'

With City six points behind United in the Premier League, Silva admitted that winning the title again from this position would be a huge achievement.

'It would be right up there with all the other big competitions that I've won,' he said.

'Winning the Premier League is seen as a big thing. It would be a great achievement to retain it.

'I've been lucky I've won a lot of medals but I'd still like to win more.'

Premier League fans shouldn"t be treated like animals, says Vincent Kompany

Fans aren't animals! Kompany dismisses calls for netting at Premier League stadiums

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UPDATED:

11:00 GMT, 14 December 2012

Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany has urged the football authorities not to treat supporters like animals by erecting netting in front of them at stadia in the Barclays Premier League.

Kompany was at City’s Etihad Stadium as Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand was struck with a coin at the end of last weekend’s derby game.

That incident prompted calls for nets to be erected in certain areas at grounds across the country to protect players from missiles.

Missiles: Manchester United players, including Rio Ferdinand, were pelted with missiles as they celebrated their late win in the derby at the Etihad Stadium

Missiles: Manchester United players, including Rio Ferdinand, were pelted with missiles as they celebrated their late win in the derby at the Etihad Stadium

No net gains: Vincent Kompany doesn't want to see fans fenced in at stadiums

No net gains: Vincent Kompany doesn't want to see fans fenced in at stadiums

But Belgian defender Kompany said: 'I hope actions will be taken but let’s not forget where football has come from and how far it has come.

'It is never a good thing to happen, not just for Manchester City or Manchester United, but for football.

'I would definitely say we need action on prevention but keep treating fans as human beings and not animals that have to be behind cages.

'I do think we should take action against these incidents and I have heard a lot of suggestions about putting up nets and everything.

'But the fact we are able to put people outside of cages is something that makes the English game so much more special.'

Kompany – who is fighting to recover from injury in time for Saturday's visit to Newcastle – was speaking to BBC’s Football Focus during City’s annual visit to Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

FA"s 92-point action plan to rid football of racism with quotas for referees and coaches

SPORTSMAIL EXCLUSIVE: We'll kick out the bigots… FA's 92-point action plan to rid football of the scourge of racism
The Football Association will introduce ethnic quotas for referees and coaches early in the new year
The latest video technology, including spy cameras, will be used to catch racist fansTough crackdown on offending clubsMoves to increase the involvement of women, ethnic minorities and disabled people

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UPDATED:

23:42 GMT, 12 December 2012

English football will introduce quotas for referees and coaches as part of an unprecedented campaign to tackle racism.

The plan will be adopted early in the new year and include the demand that at least 10 per cent of entry level officials and coaches throughout the game are from ethnic minorities.

There will also be moves to increase the involvement of women, ethnic minorities and disabled people in all forms of football, while Asian role models will be sought to encourage Asian children to play the game.

Confidential hotlines will be set up for players to report any form of bullying and discrimination, and fans will be able to text, email or maybe even tweet their complaints about any form of racism.

Race disgrace: John Terry (covering mouth) was banned for abusing Anton Ferdinand

Race disgrace: John Terry (covering mouth) was banned for abusing Anton Ferdinand

In addition, the latest video and audio technology will be used to identify supporters guilty of racist gestures or chanting at matches.

The far-reaching plan comes after a period in which football has been scarred by the racist behaviour of John Terry and Luis Suarez, and by the false accusation of racial abuse levelled at referee Mark Clattenburg.

PFA back ban call

The Professional Footballers’ Association will support the FA proposal of a minimum five-game ban for racist abuse.

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor said: ‘We want to illustrate the seriousness of our approach to this issue.’

The extent of the fight against racism can be revealed by Sportsmail, who have seen the FA’s 92-point Football Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Action Plan.

FA chairman David Bernstein has also given his personal guarantee in a letter to Culture Secretary Maria Miller, copied to Prime Minister David Cameron, that all the recommendations will be carried out once they have been rubber-stamped by football’s stakeholders.

The anti-racism education process being introduced will not just involve cultural lessons for overseas players and managers coming to England.

All sections of the game, including match stewards, will be given advice on how best to combat discrimination and the procedures to follow when it happens.

The FA will also establish an Inclusion Advisory Board to provide guidance on all equality matters and monitor the implementation of the plan.

Flashpoint: Luis Suarez (left) was in an ugly clash with Patrice Evra last season

Flashpoint: Luis Suarez (left) was in an ugly clash with Patrice Evra last season

The document has been distributed to all 92 League clubs, who will be expected to sign the charter for action against homophobia and transphobia launched by the Government last year.

Contracts with players and managers will have a mandatory reference to behaving in an inclusive and non-discriminatory manner.

A timetable has been set out as far ahead as the 2017-18 season as to when the 92 points will be implemented.

They start this month with the football organisations publicising the roles and responsibilities of each body — FA, Premier League, Football League, clubs, League Managers’ Associations, Professional Footballers’ Association and County FAs — in promoting inclusion and dealing with discrimination in football.

Also beginning immediately is the FA mandate that the proportion of ethnic minority coaches starting at the lowest level of qualification does not fall below 10 per cent.

And by season 2015-16: ‘The FA in conjunction with county FAs will ensure that 10 per cent of the referee workforce is from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, which is reflective of national demographics.’

Shirt shrift: Manchester City's Joleon Lescott refuses to wear a Kick It Out top

Shirt shrift: Manchester City's Joleon Lescott refuses to wear a Kick It Out top

The proposals are the FA’s response to
the Prime Minister calling for the game to take tougher action after an
anti-racism-in-football summit last February.

Bernstein is making the fight against racism his personal FA legacy before he stands down next May. In his letter to Miller he writes: ‘Let me give you my own personal reassurance that this is an issue at the very top of my agenda.

‘It is one that I know we are all determined to address both speedily and collaboratively subject to the approvals processes of our respective organisations.

‘There is no doubt that recent events have brought into sharp relief the impact that race and other forms of discrimination can still have on the game. Incidents involving high-profile players cast a shadow over the sport and can undermine much of the collective good work achieved.

‘Despite the substantial progress English football has made in this area over many years we fully recognise that the work to eliminate discrimination based on race, ethnic origin, colour and nationality is still not complete.’

Official inquiry: The FA want more non-white referees to follow Uriah Rennie

Official inquiry: The FA want more non-white referees to follow Uriah Rennie

Bernstein was referring to the Terry, Suarez and Clattenburg cases and the FA plan seeks to prevent any repetition.

The hotline strategy follows Jason Roberts’ complaints about some black players not trusting the authorities to fight racism.

To counter that lack of faith in the authorities, the planned support structure will ‘ensure those who wish to report incidents of discrimination or bullying within the game, whether trainees, players, coaches, managers, other employees or fans, can do so in confidence and receive the support they may require’.

Ironically Bernstein also puts on record his strong support for anti-racism group Kick It Out, whose chairman Lord Ouseley has threatened to quit the FA Council in protest at their ‘mealy- mouthed’ response to the Terry and Suarez issues.

The recommendations may be tweaked after feedback from stakeholders. But they are broadly expected to be introduced following club meetings next February. It is envisaged that the final version will be presented in a ‘more user friendly and punchy format’.

Crackdown: Chelsea banned this supporter for making a gesture at Manchester United's Danny Welbeck

Crackdown: Chelsea banned this supporter for making a gesture at Manchester United's Danny Welbeck

Other key proposals include:

The Football League introducing mandatory minimum standard club codes of conduct.Social media guidelines for players and club staff to follow throughout professional football.Crowd management measures to guide professional and semi- professional clubs.Mandatory lessons for all to educate and change attitudes and ensure they are informed of the procedures to follow when incidents occur.Closer working relationships with police over hate crime in football incidents.Football authorities to discipline clubs who repeatedly fail to sanction employers who breach code of conduct, or deal adequately with fans in relation to discriminatory language or behaviour.A review of the recruitment process for managers and coaches at the top level.New programmes to help black and Asian coaches gain qualifications to challenge for top professional roles.Talent programmes specifically for Asian men and boys and the promotion of Asian male and female role models.Improve the reporting and analysis of in-stadium offences.

The FA are not just attempting to eradicate racism in their grand plan.

The commitment is to ‘promote inclusion and eliminate discrimination whether by reason of race, nationality, ethnic origin, colour, age, gender, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, marital status, religion or belief, ability or disability’.

Ugliness has tarnished football: month-by-month

Andy Carroll defended by Kevin Nolan over alleged attack of photographer

Nolan jumps to defence of team-mate Carroll as West Ham captain dismisses claims striker attacked photographerStriker has been accused of gouging and attempting to bite Paddy Cummins
West Ham are standing by the on-loan star amid the allegationsPolice in Dublin made no arrests after probing players

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UPDATED:

20:01 GMT, 4 December 2012

West Ham players have leapt to the defence of Andy Carroll after the striker was accused of assaulting a photographer during the squad’s Christmas party.

The 35million England star, on loan at Upton Park from Liverpool, has found himself in hot-water after the incident outside a nightclub in Dublin in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Christmas Carroll: Hammers skipper Kevin Nolan, striker Carroll, Carlton Cole and Matt Taylor pose with a female fan at a pub in Dublin dressed all in fancy dress white

Christmas Carroll: Hammers skipper Kevin Nolan, striker Carroll, Carlton Cole and Matt Taylor pose with a female fan at a pub in Dublin dressed all in fancy dress white

Meal deal: Carroll - seemingly without his protective leg brace on - is pictured ordering food from Burger King at the end of his night out

Meal deal: Carroll – seemingly without his protective leg brace on – is pictured ordering food from Burger King at the end of his night out

Carroll is said to have lashed out at
33-year-old snapper Paddy Cummins, who was trying to take a shot of him
without his leg-brace.

The centre-forward is expected to miss the next two months with a knee injury and is required to wear the brace.

But in a show of team solidarity,
Carroll's team-mates will vouch for the 23-year-old when questioned by
club officials about the incident. The players will insist the striker
was provoked and showed no aggression towards the photographer.

Team-mate Kevin Nolan, who joined
Carroll on a trip to Whipps Cross Hospital in Essex on Tuesday to hand
out presents to sick children, said: ‘Someone is trying to fabricate a
story and that is the disappointing thing. It is part and parcel of what
we do and we understand that.

'We have had a fantastic weekend away
and you think you have come back with no problems but someone has made
something which was nothing as far as I was aware.'

Photographer Cummins alleges he was eye-gouged, pushed to the floor and that Carroll attempted to bite him during fracas.

Garda – Ireland’s police force – have launched an investigation into the incident, which is said to have taken place at 2.30am.

Carroll and a number of his team-mates have been interviewed by police but no arrests have been made.

Happy Hammers: Carroll and Nolan were put of a group to visit Whipps Cross Hospital in Essex

Happy Hammers: Carroll and Nolan were put of a group to visit Whipps Cross Hospital in Essex

West Ham players visit hospital in Essex

Injured: Carroll was wearing a protective knee brace on Saturday at Upton Park

Injured: Carroll was wearing a protective knee brace on Saturday at Upton Park

On Tuesday West Ham released a statement backing Carroll.

It read: 'Andy Carroll was in Dublin as part of a social trip with full permission of the management team.

'Andy agreed to have a number of pictures taken at the request of a photographer who was waiting on the street.

'Despite this, the photographer then
carried on taking photos in the close proximity of Andy and was politely
asked to stop by the private security team working on the trip.

'When he then continued taking more
photos he was restrained by the security team for Andy’s
safety. Eyewitnesses state at no point was there any physical contact
between Andy and the photographer.

'The Garda took statements from the group back at the hotel and no further action was taken.'

Speaking about the disappearance of
the leg brace, Carroll’s agent Mark Curtis added: 'The leg brace was
outside his trousers inside the club because he wanted people to see it
so they wouldn’t knock into him. When he left he put it under the
trousers.'

'He can’t walk without it. He isn’t a daft lad and he wouldn’t be able to put weight on his leg without it.'

Carroll now looks likely to escape recrimination from police and West Ham over the incident.

Night out: Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan were part of West Ham's Christmas party weekend tour to Dublin, where they were pictured with Irish fans

Night out: Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan were part of West Ham's Christmas party weekend tour to Dublin, where they were pictured with Irish fans

Spell on the sidelines: Carroll is out for eight weeks with a knee injury

Spell on the sidelines: Carroll is out for eight weeks with a knee injury

Brazil football chiefs offer community service in place of extended ban as punishment

Fancy community service rather than a ban Brazil football chiefs dish out punishments with a difference

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UPDATED:

16:58 GMT, 30 October 2012

Helping hand: Joey Barton picking litter in 2009

Helping hand: Joey Barton was given community service in 2009

Football chiefs in Brazil have taken an inventive approach to players who fall foul of the law: they offer them the chance to perform community service instead serving lengthy bans.

The latest victim – or beneficiary – to be given the unusual punishment is Corinthians striker Emerson.

He was punished with a six-match ban last month for insulting the referee in a first division game against Atletico. The ban was reduced to five matches, provided he spend a morning visiting sick children at a Sao Paulo hospice.

The Superior Court of Sports Justice,
the legal body that oversees Brazilian football, also ordered him to
pay a 3,100 fine to the institution.

The controversial striker turned up two hours late to meet the children but left declaring the idea a success to reporters.

'You
can't call this a punishment, it's more like a life lesson for us all,'
said Emerson, who could end up facing Chelsea in December's World Club
Championship in Japan.

Red alert: Could players take a community service option after landing themselves in hot water

Red alert: Could players take a community service option after landing themselves in hot water

Red alert: Could players take a community service option after landing themselves in hot water

'We can bring a little bit of joy to people who are going through a very tough time.'

Joey Barton was detailed to pick litter as part of his community service sentence as a punishment for attacking team-mate Ousman Dabo in 2009.

The midfielder was handed 200 hours' community service plus a suspended jail sentence for beating up Dabo and knocking him out in a training ground incident when both were at Manchester City.

Emerson is the third big name to receive this kind of punishment in as many months.

Palmeiras'
Chilean midfielder Jorge Valdivia and Luis Fabiano, the former Brazil
and Sevilla striker who now plays for Sao Paulo, were the first.

Valdivia was ordered to spend his
fine for insulting a referee on food and other aid for an orphanage in
Rio de Janeiro while Luis Fabiano was sentenced to visit a
rehabilitation centre for handicapped children.

Marching orders: The public would be pleased to see footballers giving back publicly to the community

Marching orders: The public would be pleased to see footballers giving back

'This
type of visit is educational as well as being punitive,' said Flavio
Zveiter, who heads the court that metes out punishment to footballers in
Brazil.

'These guys are heroes to lots of
people and this helps them reflect about their position and
responsibility to society. They sometimes live in their own little world
and they don't realise that what they do has repercussions in society
as a whole.'

Zveiter
said he was moved after seeing Luis Fabiano interact with the
disadvantaged kids and vowed to hand out more alternative punishments in
the future.

'It think
the repercussions were positive, the player himself said he was touched
by it and that was the main thing,' Zveiter said. 'I intend to use this
policy more.'

Drugs in cycling: Marcel Six banned over missed test

Fresh doping woe for cycling as rider Six banned over missed drugs test

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UPDATED:

11:35 GMT, 26 October 2012

A cyclist has been banned for 18 months for refusing to take a drugs test because he wanted to get home to his sick children.

Marcel Six, riding for the Metaltek Scott team in an event at Canary Wharf in May, told the tester that his wife was anxious about his children and this was backed up by evidence of text messages and phone calls.

An independent national anti-doping panel ruled however that 26-year-old Six was still guilty of refusing to provide a urine sample for doping control and banned him for 18 months.

Dark days: Charges against Lance Armstrong have plunged cycling into chaos

Dark days: Charges against Lance Armstrong have plunged cycling into chaos

The panel said: 'Honourable though the athlete's motives may have been, we have no hesitation in finding that his refusal was not based on any compelling justification.

'To be blunt, even if he agreed to race only at the last minute and under pressure, the fact of the matter is that, if he had time to compete in a cycle race, he had to make time to take the test.

'If, as was later the case, he wished to put his family first, then the time to do that was before he agreed to race rather than when he came to be tested.'

The panel did reduce the usual two-year ban by six months after deciding Six was able to demonstrate 'no significant fault or negligence'.

The ban comes in the wake of Lance Armstong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

The International Cycling Union accepted the findings of a United States Anti-doping Agency investigation which concluded Armstrong and his United States Postal Service team ran 'the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen'.

USADA stripped the 41-year-old American of all results from August 1, 1998, including his record run of Tour triumphs from 1999 to 2005, and issued him with a life ban in August, sanctions the UCI have now ratified.

London 2012 Olympics: Swimming: Michael Phelps wants to build legacy

Phelps hoping to build on legacy by teaching the world to swim like champions

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UPDATED:

17:34 GMT, 5 August 2012

Olympics 2012

Michael Phelps is not done with high-achieving even if his career as an Olympic athlete is over.

The American's indefatigability brought him 18 Olympic gold medals, two silver and two bronze, an unprecedented total, and after he scratches a travelling itch he will set himself new objectives.

Phelps is the man who wants to teach the world to swim, who wants to lop a heap of shots from his golf handicap, who wants nothing more than to see the sport he has dominated in the past decade continue to grow and grow.

Last one Michael Phelps says teaching children how to swim is very important to him

Last one Michael Phelps says teaching children how to swim is very important to him

Farewell: Michael Phelps retired on a high after winning the 4x100m medley relay

Farewell: Michael Phelps retired on a high after winning the 4x100m medley relay

He is also not a man who accepts
second best, as the rivals who have come and gone, lining their pockets
with silver and bronze, can attest.

Just now though, Baltimore-based
Phelps wants to enjoy life outside professional sport, the 27-year-old
having been cocooned since his mid-teens, visiting the world's greatest
cities but more likely to be taking in the sights from a coach window
than on foot. He could look but rarely touch. Now all that changes.

'I want to travel a bunch. That's
something I've always wanted to do,' Phelps said. 'I've been able to see
so many amazing places in the world but I've really never got to
experience them.

'I've seen the pool and hotels, every
year over the last 12 years of being in the national team. I'd like to
experience some things, whether it's travelling through Europe or going
back to Australia and being able to go around Australia, or South Africa
– something (South African swimmer) Chad (Le Clos) and I were talking
about.

'There's a lot of things I want to do
for myself just to be able to relax, and even though I am retiring and
the competitive side of my career is over, there's a lot of things I
want to do around the sport.

Dream team: Brendan Hansen, Matthew Grevers, Michael Phelps and Nathan Adrian

Dream team: Brendan Hansen, Matthew Grevers, Michael Phelps and Nathan Adrian

'I would like to take it to a higher level than it is right now, and continue to grow the sport more and more.'

He also has a charitable foundation, aimed at encouraging positive lifestyles for American youngsters.

'I'm going to be able to put more
time and effort into that,' Phelps said, 'and also my summer schools.
Being able to teach children how to swim and live healthily is something
that's very important to me.'

Phelps won four golds in London,
after eight in Beijing and six in Athens. It is also often forgotten he
raced in Sydney as a 15-year-old too, but that further underlines how
swimming has been his life since childhood.

As well as two relay successes in
London, including Saturday's 4x100metres medley, he claimed individual
gold in 100m butterfly and 200m individual medley.

Phelps could easily swim on and remain competitive on a world level between now and the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016.

Hugs: Michael Phelps with his coach Bob Bowman after receiving a special award

Hugs: Michael Phelps with his coach Bob Bowman after receiving a special award

'Sure, if I wanted to I could still go,' he said. 'But I'm ready to be done. I'm ready to retire and move on to other things.

'Whatever route I go down I'm going
to have goals. I'm still a very competitive person, so if I go out and
practice more at golf I'm going to drop x amounts of strokes.

'I'm going to have things I'll be
able to go for and try to achieve. That's the mentality I have and the
competitiveness I have, and I think it'll always be with me.'

As a boy, Phelps was diagnosed with
attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and had a school teacher who
thought he would amount to little in life. It was a prediction that was
wildly off target, with Phelps emerging as a national hero, sporting
nobility.

United States' swimmer Michael Phelps holds up a silver trophy after being honored as the most decorated Olympian

US swimmer Michael Phelps holds his trophy of the greatest olympic athlete of all time

The Greatest: Phelps was awarded a trophy for being the best Olympian of all time

As he prepared to mount the podium in
the Aquatics Centre last night, waiting for the Star-Spangled Banner to
strike up, Phelps turned to team-mate Brendan Hansen who is joining him
in retirement.

'And it was strange,' Phelps said.
'Brendan was like, 'I'm going to belt the words out', and I said, “It's
going to sound like gibberish if I do it”.

'As soon as I stuffed up on the podium I could feel the tears start coming.

'I said to Nathan (Adrian, who swam the anchor leg), “Oh no, there they come, it's going to be pretty brutal”.

'They just started coming. I tried to
fight it but I just decided to let it go, and whatever happened,
happened. I was just taking in these last moments of my swimming career.

'To be able to sit here and say I've done everything I wanted to do in my swimming career is something that's pretty special.

'That's the only thing I wanted to say when I retired. I wouldn't change anything. I didn't miss anything.

'I've had the opportunity to do something nobody else has ever done before, so I'm very happy with that.'

London 2012 Olympics: Now we need investments, says Kelly Smith

Now we need investments, says Smith, as she predicts a hopeful future despite Olympic defeat

|

UPDATED:

21:44 GMT, 4 August 2012

Kelly Smith, Team GB's most
celebrated footballer, forecast a golden future for the women's game
despite seeing her Olympic medal hopes perish.

Olympics 2012

Nothing, she said, could compensate
for the team's failure to overcome Canada for the chance to play the
United States in the semi-final at Old Trafford.

But Team GB's heroic failure before huge audiences has increased awareness of the women's game.

Smith challenged the business world's
blue-chip companies to capture the spirit of the 2012 Games and give
women's football the investment it deserves.

Smith said: 'The interest has been huge
and we have turned round the attitude of men. My Twitter tracker blew up
from day one of the Olympics. Young girls are letting me know they want
to play football now. Older men have been inspired by the way we have
played, saying how good they think the standard of women's football has
become.'

Inspirational: Kelly Smith in action for GB

Inspirational: Kelly Smith in action for GB

She claimed the wave of interest in women's football, generated by Team GB's first ever appearance in a tournament, could provide an outlet for the girls of Britain's inner cities.

England's record-breaking player, with 111 goals in 45 appearances, has fought her own demons in a rise to the top fraught by serious injury and controversy, and said: 'Football can give them something that will aid their development. Inner-city children should be encouraged to play the game. It's a great way to socialise. It's a healthy way to live. But we need sponsorship. That is an avenue the administrators should explore. Let's hope sponsors come forward after this.'

On the Olympic performances, she said: 'We didn't accomplish what we set out to. We've broken these records, inspired a lot of people, which is absolutely great and will hopefully take the game to another level, but we fell short.

'This is my last Olympics.'