Tag Archives: legitimate

Rafael Benitez faces lonely task to turn Chelsea around

Vive la RAFAlution Benitez faces lonely task of turning Chelsea's stuttering season around

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UPDATED:

10:48 GMT, 30 November 2012

Every revolution begins with one man. One man who has a radical vision and a voice that is louder than the rest. The problem for Rafa Benitez is that nobody wants to listen.

The supporters hate him, the tactics are dull and the players still miss Roberto Di Matteo.

It seems nobody except Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is ready to join the Rafalution.

Man in the middle: Rafael Benitez (centre) faces an uphill struggle to get Chelsea back on course

Man in the middle: Rafael Benitez (centre) faces an uphill struggle to get Chelsea back on course

Vive la Rafalution: The iconic poster of revolutionary Che Guevara

Vive la Rafalution: The iconic poster of revolutionary Che Guevara

The first problem: the fans

Revolutions require excitement.

History points to charismatic leaders who reduced complicated politics to simplistic ideas. In football parlance it is ideas like tiki-taka. In society it is free love.

With Rafa, who knows Managers need a dose of self-assured defiance, but Benitez tips towards swaggering arrogance.

There are few things more irritating than a manager treating legitimate questions with undisguised contempt.

Too often, Benitez looks like he’s swallowed a wasp that was sucking a lemon. And that’s before the fans start singing.

Warm welcome: At both homes games, Benitez has been booed by his own fans

Warm welcome: At both homes games, Benitez has been booed by his own fans

Frosty: Some supporters have taken banners to the games to express their discontent

Frosty: Some supporters have taken banners to the games to express their discontent

The diehards in the Matthew Harding stand want their Chelsea back, not the man ridiculed as the ‘fat Spanish waiter’ in his previous life as Liverpool manager.

Now he’s here, supporters have had to endure successive goalless draws for the first time since September 2004 – when Jose Mourinho was only two months into the job.

Including his final game at Liverpool, Benitez has overseen three consecutive 0-0 draws in the Barclays Premier League.

One more and he will match the four-game feats of only Arsene Wenger (a surprise) and George Graham (surprise, surprise). Which brings us to…

The second problem: the tactics

Early signs suggest a flashback to the dull Italian football of the Nineties, without the solitary winning goal.

Benching the creative genius Juan Mata against Fulham and keeping the faith with a man who looks like the ghost of Fernando Torres was always going to invite the vitriol of the stands.

Chelsea are winless in six (not, of course, all Benitez’s fault) and seven points behind Manchester United.

Torres has not scored for nearly 11 hours of football and although Benitez was hailed on his arrival as the magical man manager who used to bring the best out of Torres, by all accounts it was the adoration of the Kop that nurtured the goals out of the well-meaning but now impotent Spaniard.

Return to form Benitez hopes to get Fernando Torres back in the goals

Return to form Benitez hopes to get Fernando Torres back in the goals

Swing and a miss: Torres has gone almost 11 hours without finding the back of the net for Chelsea

Swing and a miss: Torres has gone almost 11 hours without finding the back of the net for Chelsea

The final problem: the players.

When ‘Captain, Leader, Legend’ John Terry cheekily inked the number 16 on his training top in defiant support of his sacked manager, it hardly screamed ‘Welcome Rafa, we’re happy to have you’ from the club captain.

Write a letter to Di Matteo in private if you feel like that JT, don’t pose in front of the cameras.

So Chelsea have a big problem. If Abramovich wanted to keep the seat warm for Pep Guardiola he has hardly found the right man.

One
is Mr Pragmatic, the other the creative director behind the most
beautiful team to play the beautiful game. And never the twain shall
meet.

Being the leader of a one-man revolution is a lonely, lonely job. Just ask Rafa.

Backing: Benitez will be especially keen to get John Terry back in the centre of defence when he returns from injury

Backing: Benitez will be especially keen to get John Terry back in the centre of defence when he returns from injury

Lance Armstrong stripped of Tour de France titles by UCI at last

Saddled with shame: Cycling's snivelling chief still in denial over culture of cheating that has infested his sport

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UPDATED:

22:37 GMT, 22 October 2012

Cycling's world governing body are willing to accept that Lance Armstrong is a doping cheat. Hallelujah.

The UCI made it sound as radical a discovery as finding human life on Pluto rather than a belated admission from an organisation who — and we are being generous here — were complacent as the greatest fraud in sporting history unfolded before them.

Pat McQuaid, the snivelling, self-preserving president, said: ‘The UCI will ban Lance Armstrong from cycling and the UCI will strip him of his seven Tours de France titles. Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling. He deserves to be forgotten.’

Shamed: Lance Armstrong has been stripped of his titles after the UCI endorsed the USADA sanctions

Shamed: Lance Armstrong has been stripped of his titles after the UCI endorsed the USADA sanctions

In fact, he was stripped of those
titles, ranging from 1999 to 2005, by the US Anti-Doping Agency in
August. The UCI were merely ratifying USADA’s legitimate act.

McQuaid spoke in Geneva as though he
was shocked by USADA’s findings. Shocked He could only be shocked if he
was blind, wilfully perhaps, to accusations that have been prevalent
for a decade. During McQuaid’s seven-year presidency, former US Postal
rider Frankie Andreu told the New York Times that doping was taking
place during Armstrong’s first Tour de France victory in 1999.

Self-preserving: President Pat McQuaid spoke as if he was shocked

Self-preserving: President Pat McQuaid spoke as if he was shocked

Then Armstrong’s former team-mate
Floyd Landis sent McQuaid, among others, emails detailing the drug
culture two years ago. But 63-year-old Irishman McQuaid tore into the
whistle-blowers and brushed their accusations under the Axminster.

Even as late as last month, McQuaid’s
fire was turned on USADA for their handling of the investigation into
Armstrong. The UCI barely twitched an eyebrow at the accusations.

‘We thought USADA were better
prepared,’ sniffed McQuaid, chiding them for taking so long to compile
their dossier. In the end the report amounted to 200 pages with 800
pages of appendices. It was a thorough job that soon made McQuaid look
ridiculous.

Banned: Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour titles by the USADA, but claims he was the victim of a 'witch hunt'

Banned: Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour titles by the USADA, but claims he was the victim of a 'witch hunt'

It also left him with no choice other than to display faux outrage on Monday.

He talked of the UCI ‘always having a
commitment to fight doping’, adding with a flourish: ‘If I have to
apologise now on behalf of the UCI what I will say is that I am sorry we
couldn’t catch every damn one of them red-handed and throw them out of
the sport.’

If he really possessed principle, he
would have resigned for having cried calumny against the accusers when
he should have launched an investigation.

Britain’s David Millar, a
self-confessed doper turned World Anti-Doping Agency activist, said:
‘The UCI always denied there was a problem and even now they are denying
they had knowledge of it, and that’s the next big step.’

McQuaid, a former teacher and road
cyclist, is the first paid UCI president. He took the job in 2005 at the
behest of Hein Verbruggen, his predecessor who is now honorary
president. The two men are said to be joined at the hip.

It is notable that the last
undoubtedly clean Tour victory until recent years, that of Greg LeMond
in 1990, came one year before Verbruggen took charge of the UCI. All
Armstrong’s wins came under his stewardship.

Not so magnificent seven: Armstrong's wins have been erased from the Tour de France record books

Not so magnificent seven: Armstrong's wins have been erased from the Tour de France record books

Support: Cyclists gathered to listen to Armstrong's address at the start of the annual Team Livestrong Challenge in Austin on Sunday

Support: Cyclists gathered to listen to Armstrong's address at the start of the annual Team Livestrong Challenge in Austin on Sunday

Oakley cut ties with Armstrong

Lance Armstrong has lost the support of another major sponsor after Oakley severed their ties with the disgraced cyclist.

The brand confirmed in a statement they were ending their relationship with the Texan in the wake of the announcement in Geneva.

Oakley have followed in the footsteps of Nike, Trek and Anheuser-Busch, brewers of Budweiser, who have all withdrawn their support for Armstrong.

An Oakley statement read: 'Based on UCI's decision today and the overwhelming evidence that USADA presented, Oakley has severed its long-standing relationship with Lance Armstrong, effective immediately.

'When Lance joined our family many years ago, he was a symbol of possibility. We are deeply saddened by the outcome, but look forward with hope to athletes and teams of the future who will rekindle that inspiration by racing clean, fair and honest.

'We believe the LIVESTRONG Foundation has been a positive force in the lives of many affected by cancer and, at this time, Oakley will continue to support its noble goals.'

Armstrong has stepped down from his position as chairman of his cancer charity.

But McQuaid blithely insisted the UCI
had no case to answer over alleged payments made to them by Armstrong
and associated companies, adding that a defamation action against
journalist Paul Kimmage, who made claims of hush-money changing hands,
would go ahead as planned.

Verbruggen is an honorary member of
the IOC, McQuaid is on the IOC’s evaluation committee for the 2020 Games
and cycling is an important Olympic sport. Yet the IOC have yet to
comment meaningfully on the Armstrong affair.

They say they will await the UCI’s
management committee meeting on Friday, when the issue of whether to
redistribute the Tour titles and the prize money will be resolved. Fine,
but the IOC should then act decisively.

Jacques Rogge, the IOC president, is a
man of integrity. But he is also a friend of Verbruggen, a personal
association that should not be allowed to interfere with what is right.

They would do well to heed the words
of the one hero of this tawdry episode, USADA chief executive Travis
Tygart, who said: ‘For cycling to move forward and for the world to
know what went on in cycling, it is essential that an independent and
meaningful Truth and Reconciliation Commission be established.

‘There are many more details of doping
that are hidden, many more doping doctors, and corrupt team directors
and the ‘omerta’ (within the peloton) has not yet been fully broken.
Sanctioning Lance Armstrong and the riders who came forward truthfully
should not be seen as penance for an era of pervasive doping. There must
be more action to combat the system that took over the sport.’

Away from Geneva, Armstrong lost
another sponsor, Oakley, who followed the lead set by Nike, Trek and
Budweiser brewers, Anheuser-Busch. In Armstrong’s home state of Texas,
insurance company SCA Promotions have demanded the return of a bonus
worth up to 5million paid after he won his sixth Tour in 2004.

And yet on his Twitter account, how was Armstrong styling himself on Monday night As the seven-time Tour winner, of course.

Ex-doper: David Millar (right) says there needs to be change

Ex-doper: David Millar (right) says there needs to be change

Euro 2012: Gary Neville warns England against Mario Balotelli

Don't risk getting sent off by winding up Balotelli, warns Neville

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UPDATED:

22:17 GMT, 23 June 2012

Gary Neville has warned England's players they risk getting sent off themselves if they try to wind Mario Balotelli up.

The margins between success and failure when England take on Italy in their Euro 2012 quarter-final in Kiev are so fine that the loss of a player could tip the balance.

So Balotelli's notoriously fragile temperament might be viewed as a legitimate target.

Danger man: Mario Balotelli (right) could cause England problems

Danger man: Mario Balotelli (right) could cause England problems

Euro 2012 email button

After all, Neville branded the Manchester City forward 'a clown' following his ludicrous red card at Arsenal in April.

Not for the first time since he was appointed to Roy Hodgson's England coaching staff, Neville's forthright opinions have been thrown back at him.

However, he feels niggling Balotelli could prove devastatingly counter-productive.

'If you go into the game thinking 'I'll go and try to wind up Balotelli', you could get sent off yourself,' said Neville.

'It's too big a game. Referees nowadays stamp on every little thing that happens – pulling shirts, standing on people's toes.

'Those days are gone. You are just going to get banned for two, three or four matches.'

On target: Balotelli hit the headlines for the right reasons against Ireland

On target: Balotelli hit the headlines for the right reasons against Ireland

And England have struggled enough with discipline, specifically the defeats to Argentina in 1998 and Portugal eight years later that followed red cards for David Beckham and Wayne Rooney respectively, to cause themselves more problems.

'In past tournaments, when we have got a player sent off it has been a big problem,' he said.

'We are concentrating on the way we keep our own composure and discipline and making sure we don't disappoint ourselves rather than what the other team will do.

'I've never gone into a game of football at any level when we've mentioned we will try to wind somebody up.'

In any case, Neville has seen no evidence at Euro 2012 that Balotelli is going to blow a fuse.

Talking tactics: Gary Neville (left) with England boss Roy Hodgson

Talking tactics: Gary Neville (left) with England boss Roy Hodgson

'He has been very composed in this tournament,' said Neville.

'I've watched a lot of the Italians in the last 48 hours. He plays well with Antonio Cassano up front. They are a real handful.

'Against Croatia, Balotelli was excellent. He made so many good runs down the side.

'With Antonio Di Natale they have got three good forwards who compliment each other.

'It may be a player on the pitch can sense something but the biggest concern about Mario Balotelli for England tomorrow is not whether we can wind him up.

'I can assure you of that.'

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London 2012 Olympics: IOC president Jacques Rogge criticises athletes who change nationality for money

Plastic Brits rile IOC boss Rogge… but he admits it can't be stopped

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UPDATED:

21:52 GMT, 14 March 2012

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge has entered the argument over ‘Plastic Brits’, criticising athletes who change nationality for money.

The debate reached the most powerful man in Olympic sport after Sportsmail shone a light on the influx of foreign-born athletes coming into the British team ahead of London 2012.

In comments that will deflate UK Athletics’ cheerleaders, Rogge said: ‘I understand the fully legitimate reasons like study, work, marriage or family reasons.

Not a fan: President of the IOC Jacques Rogge is against athletes swapping nationalities

Not a fan: President of the IOC Jacques Rogge is against athletes swapping nationalities

‘The issue of the athletes of the poor countries who get absolutely no support you can understand. Maybe you don’t love it but you can understand it.

Then you have athletes where there is support for them but they go to another country because there is a bigger gain to be made. We cannot oppose it because it is a matter of sovereignty but let me tell you frankly we do not love it.’

Rogge’s remarks could be applied to American-born Tiffany Porter, who was appointed British captain for last weekend’s World Indoor Championships.

Flying the flag: American born Tiffany Porter is expected to compete at the Olympics for Great Britain

Flying the flag: American born Tiffany Porter is expected to compete at the Olympics for Great Britain

The 24-year-old has spent her entire life in the United States but changed allegiance on the grounds her mother is British.

Seeking an Olympic place she was unlikely to gain in the US, she first competed for Britain last year and now receives Lottery funding worth up to 70,000 in cash and benefits.

Rogge declined to criticise Porter directly.

Porter is one of about 50 of Team GB’s likely 550 members who have jumped countries since London was chosen as Olympic host city.

Allen Stanford found guilty of 4bn fraud

Disgraced Stanford faces life behind bars after being found guilty of 4bn fraud

Disgraced financier Allen Stanford has been found guilty of orchestrating a massive 4.6billion fraud by a court in Houston, Texas.

Stanford set up a series of $20m (12.7m) cricket tournaments between England and West Indies in 2008 and announced the deal with the ECB by landing a helicopter at Lord's.

Jurors reached their verdicts against Stanford during their fourth day of deliberation, finding him guilty on 13 of the 14 charges except a single count of wire fraud.

Appeal: Stanford's lawyers have said they will contest the verdicts

Appeal: Stanford's lawyers have said they will contest the verdicts

Stanford, who was once considered one of the wealthiest people in the US, looked down when the verdict was read.

He faces up to 20 years for the most serious charges against him, but could spend longer than that behind bars if US District Judge David Hittner orders the sentences to be served consecutively instead of concurrently.

His mother and daughters, who were in the federal courtroom in Houston, hugged one another, and one of the daughters started crying whnen the verdicts were read out.

'We are disappointed in the outcome. We expect to appeal,' said Ali Fazel, one of Stanford's attorneys after the hearing.

Howzat! Stanford famously perched Matt Prior's wife Emily on his knee during the England v Middlesex Stanford Super Series match in 2008

Howzat! Stanford famously perched Matt Prior's wife Emily on his knee during the England v Middlesex Stanford Super Series match in 2008

Prosecutors called Stanford a con artist who lined his pockets with investors' money to fund a string of failed businesses, pay for a lavish lifestyle that included yachts and private jets, and bribe regulators to help him hide his scheme.

Stanford's attorneys told jurors the financier was a visionary entrepreneur who made money for investors and conducted legitimate business deals.

Stanford, 61, who's been jailed since his indictment in 2009, will remain incarcerated until he is sentenced.