Tag Archives: provocation

Martin Samuel: Marouane Fellaini was wrong but let"s get to grips with the real problem

OK, Fellaini was wrong but let's get to grips with the real problem



22:59 GMT, 16 December 2012

The narrative moves fast in English football but, even so, it can safely be presumed they haven’t changed the rules on the sly midway through the season.

So, as of the weekend, it was still illegal to hold on to another player to prevent his movement. Meaning the first foul that was committed in the Stoke City penalty area in the 59th minute on Saturday was by defender Ryan Shawcross.

That does not justify Marouane Fellaini’s reaction, and is only the tiniest mitigation for an incident that will almost certainly end with a three-match ban for the Everton player, but it is nevertheless an important fact.

Losing his head: Marouane Fellaini's clash with Ryan Shawcross was wrong on many levels

Losing his head: Marouane Fellaini's clash with Ryan Shawcross was wrong on many levels

Losing his head: Marouane Fellaini's clash with Ryan Shawcross was wrong on many levels

More from Martin Samuel…

It's been the greatest sporting year we've seen, but there can be only one winner, so… It must be Murray

Viva Forever Let’s hope it’s dead by Easter

Martin Samuel: Benitez battling jet-lag at a Club World Cup that is still trying to wake up… a prize that should be football's crowning glory, but isn't

Martin Samuel: Being good at football is not an act of provocation

Martin Samuel: You've had your time, Shane. Don't fight the dimming of the light…

Martin Samuel: Has Platini just torpedoed European Football with his 2020 vision

How awkward. I agree with the head-bangers

Martin Samuel: Gay hero Surely there's only one man to herald football's watershed moment… step forward Joey Barton


For it makes plain that what happened on Saturday, a clash that could have ended in serious injury, a fractured cheekbone or broken nose, was a direct result of football’s decision to allow wrestling matches in the penalty area.

Fellaini assaults Shawcross primarily because he is being prevented from playing, illegally, and Mark Halsey, the referee, appears happy to let this continue. Football has never had more policemen and yet such little interest in implementing the rules.

The replays clearly show that, directly before Fellaini strikes, Shawcross is gripping him by an upper arm beneath the shoulder, to restrict his run. This is a foul. It isn’t a penalty, because the ball is dead but it is without doubt subject to corrective action.

As none is forthcoming, Fellaini takes matters into his own hands, attempts to wrestle free and, as he passes Shawcross, ducks his head into his opponent’s face. Shawcross collapses. Halsey misses the incident.

For this reason the FA can pass sanction and Everton will lose their key player at a crucial time in the campaign. David Moyes, the manager, is resigned to this and did not complain. To his credit, he as good as invited punishment.

Maybe, by doing so, he felt he was acting for the wider good. Had Moyes defended his player, the fallout would have centred on Fellaini, who got away with several instances of poor behaviour on Saturday.

Instead, with Everton pleading guilty, football would now be wise to study cause and effect.

Fellaini is a physical player. He gives as good as he gets, and one imagines he gets plenty. Even so, he does not usually prioritise butting defenders over scoring goals. If Shawcross’s marking had been old-school, without fouling, this would not have happened.

Football is a contact sport. In the
penalty area, players will be in proximity. Yet over the last decade,
increasingly, defenders no longer guard their man, but grapple with him.

Jose Mourinho’s
Chelsea were masters at it, so are Stoke. And because referees have not
stopped this behaviour, it is encouraged.

Rough and tumble: Grappling at corners and freekicks has become commonplace in football

Rough and tumble: Grappling at corners and freekicks has become commonplace in football

Every penalty area resembles a red-belt judo class these days. The FA, supposed guardians of the game, are content to let this continue.

Fellaini has admitted he was wrong and apologised. There can be no quibbles over punishment.
Yet the wider problem is not being addressed. A single weekend, in which every foul of this nature was met with a warning, then a yellow card (or a penalty if it happened when the ball was in play), would curb it instantly.

Results would briefly resemble rugby scores, but then the crisis would be over, and football would be re-acquainted with the old-fashioned ways of defending. After all, isn’t that exactly what a player like Shawcross is supposed to be about

All about cash for nice little Hearner

Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn continues his battle to torpedo any hope of a genuine legacy at the Olympic Stadium.

'This dispute is going to run and run and run,' he said, maintaining his opposition to West Ham United’s tenancy. 'I know, after talking to the London Legacy Development Corporation, that the Olympic Stadium is all about money and nothing about community values.'

The same community values that once led Hearn to consider moving Orient to Harlow or Basildon.
That deal, obviously, wouldn’t have been about money at all. He's all heart, our Barry.

Pay now, judge later

Damien Comolli has been working overtime attempting to justify his record at Liverpool. It boils down to the standard demand of every director of football: judge me in five years.

'I don’t think we made mistakes on the players going out,' he said, 'and whether we made mistakes on the players who came in, time will tell.'

Time has told, old son.

Jordan Henderson

Jordan Henderson

Andy Carroll

Andy Carroll

Stewart Downing

Stewart Downing

Nearly two years down the line, Andy Carroll is on loan to a lesser club, having scored 11 goals for Liverpool — just six in the league — at a cost of 35million.

Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing can barely get a game. Charlie Adam is gone. There are eight players that have made double figure league appearances for Liverpool this season and only one — Luis Suarez, great acquisition, but hardly out of left field — was signed by Comolli.

The majority were in the team under Rafael Benitez.

'I speak to people and they ask, “What about that deal”' Comolli said. 'I explain and they say, “OK, I see where you’re coming from”.'

Of course they do; they aren’t writing the cheques.

'If you want to talk about Carroll, the situation was quite clear,' Comolli added. 'We were selling two players, Fernando Torres and Ryan Babel, and were bringing two in, Suarez and Carroll.

'Chelsea kept bidding higher and higher for Torres until we got to a point where the difference between their first and final bid was double. We were making a profit and the wage bill was coming down as well.'

In other words, Abramovich was overpaying so Comolli decided it did not matter if John Henry paid through the nose, too. That is why he got the bullet.

He was big-hearted Charlie with another man’s money. Judge him whenever you want but Liverpool will regret giving him even as long as they did.

Arsenal should be wary of dinosaurs like Usmanov

The Australian PGA Championship has probably sunk its last putt in Coolum, Queensland. Blame Jeff.

Jeff is a 26-foot robot plastic replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex located outside the clubhouse between Coolum’s ninth green and 10th tee. It has been there since the resort club was purchased by billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer. He is also considering building a dinosaur theme park.

Indeed, Palmer is considering a lot of things, many of them plastered on one of the 60 signs he erected around the course, promoting his pursuits, including a proposed replica of the Titanic.

Dino-sore: Jeff, the 26-foot robot plastic replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex at Coolum, isn't pretty

Dino-sore: Jeff, the 26-foot robot plastic replica of a Tyrannosaurus Rex at Coolum, isn't pretty

Also sinking is golf’s credibility as players, including Darren Clarke, walk in Jeff’s shadow.
At least Palmer agreed to turn off the dinosaur’s mechanical roar. Club players and guests traditionally get a mulligan — a chance to replay the shot without penalty — if Jeff bursts into life at the top of a backswing.

The very rich, as F Scott Fitzgerald observed, are very different from you and me. Palmer cannot understand what the fuss is about and wants Coolum to host again next year.

Alisher Usmanov, meanwhile, is perplexed that Arsenal continue to reject his advances and his requests for a seat on the board.

Yet just as Palmer dropped Jeff on an unsuspecting public, so Usmanov – wealthier than Roman Abramovich – offered a glimpse of what Arsenal could be like on his watch, by announcing that Thierry Henry should return to the club, 'but not as a player'.

Decisions, decisions: Alisher Usmanov

Decisions, decisions: Alisher Usmanov

‘I don’t have any powers in terms of decisions but there are a few players with whom I am in contact,’ Usmanov said. My favourite is probably Thierry. He should be involved at the club. He has another role to play; a more important role.

'Take the example of Patrick Vieira at Manchester City. He is also a symbol of Arsenal but is helping another club. We have to avoid that with Thierry.'

Says who

One imagines if Arsene Wenger wants Henry back in any capacity, he is perfectly capable of asking him. And if he wants him as a player, short-term like last season, he would not appreciate having his plans vetoed by an owner who thinks he knows best.

In attempting a populist manoeuvre, Usmanov inadvertently revealed more of his style than was flattering.

Whatever Arsenal’s current predicament, Wenger has more than earned the right to make his own decisions and to be told that Henry’s transfer is off, but his unrequired return in an elevated role is on, is precisely the type of interference that could usher him out of the door.

Usmanov has money and this alone appeals to desperate supporters, but the last thing Arsenal need is a 26-foot dinosaur, roaring his instructions at a neutered manager.

Expansion explained

We can all see the problem with the Club World Cup. To embrace the global ethos all continents must be represented, yet Europe and South America are overwhelmingly strong, so the tournament contains no mystery, beyond the outcome of the final.

Happy chappys: Corinthians are champions of the world after beating Chelsea in the Club World Cup Final

Happy chappys: Corinthians are champions of the world after beating Chelsea in the Club World Cup Final

The Intercontinental Cup, as the Club World Cup once was, has a tradition lasting 52 years, beginning with a home and away final between the winners of the European Cup and the Copa Libertadores.

Real Madrid lifted the first trophy in 1960, drawing 0-0 with Penarol of Uruguay in Montevideo and then beating them 5-1 in the Bernabeu. This was the best and most dramatic format of all.

From 1960 to 1979 when Olimpia of Paraguay defeated Malmo, there were 10 South American winners and nine from Europe.

Money won, however, and FIFA then switched to a one-off game, sponsored by Toyota, in Japan.
Again, competition stayed even. From 1980 to 2004 there were 13 European winners and 12 from South America.

Expansion then brought the Club World Cup, with a wider range of entrants, a horrid false start in Brazil in 2000, a relaunch in 2005, but basically the same outcome.

Apart from the shock qualification of Mazembe of Congo in 2010, the final has always been between Europe and South America. So as a spectacle, the tournament is moribund.

What is to be done Bruce Buck, chairman of Chelsea, has a good idea.

To strengthen the tournament, he said, it should be expanded to include the winners of the Europa League and its South American equivalent, the Copa Sudamericana. That way, there would be no guaranteed progression and at least one tough match en route to the final.

This season’s tournament would have featured Chelsea and Atletico Madrid from Europe, and Corinthians and Universidad de Chile from South America.

Sao Paulo, who finished fourth in Brazil this season, nine points clear of Corinthians, would already have qualified for next season’s tournament as Copa Sudamericana champions.

Conquering the world: How would Chelsea feel playing three matches in South America

Conquering the world: How would Chelsea feel playing three matches in South America

Buck’s point was that the Champions League became more vibrant by expansion.

Placing the tournament in one of the host cities in Europe or South America — so this year’s edition would have been played in London, Madrid, Sao Paulo or Santiago — rather than a sterile location like Japan or Dubai would also help.

One imagines the bid to claim the title of world champions would carry greater cachet if Chelsea’s task involved three matches in South America, against Monterrey of Mexico, Universidad de Chile and a final against either Corinthians or Atletico Madrid. Just a thought.

Are you sitting comfortably

Sir Dave Richards, chairman of the Premier League, is to be grilled at a Football Association board meeting this week over his character witness support for John Terry.

The FA considers Richards’ stance during Terry’s hearing a conflict of interests. Yet the FA brings these disciplinary cases and also commissions and rewards the members of the independent tribunal.

This as good as places the jury in the pay of the prosecution. No conflict of interests there then, gentlemen.

Merry Christmas

Well, that’s it from me until the New Year. I know we don’t usually do presents, but if you’ve got a machine that can receive apps, search for Radio Soulwax and download a file called Dave.

Sixty minutes of pure pleasure. If you like David Bowie, that is. And, if you don’t, seriously, what’s the matter with you But it’s free, so either way, Happy Christmas.


Rio Ferdinand coin fallout: Players must stop taunting fans – Jamie Redknapp

Stars must stop taunting fans… or it could be a knife instead of a coin which is thrown



22:26 GMT, 10 December 2012

This isn't an excuse for abuse or throwing coins but players have to take more responsibility for the way they behave on the field.

A goal celebration should be a show of joy, but when it is received as an act of provocation and aggression, especially in an away game, it creates an entirely different reaction.

The behaviour of some players, when leaving the field to celebrate, is dangerous and irresponsible. They are putting their own safety at risk.

Ashley Young

Robin van Persie

Emotion: Ashley Young and Robin van Persie celebrate Manchester United's victory over Manchester City

Football's emotion and tribal instincts can turn normal people into animals, leading to supporters running on the pitch, throwing missiles or making obscene gestures. Some people think they have paid their money so they can say what they want. Now it seems others think they can throw what they want.

I don't want players to become robots but they need to be aware of their environment. Next time, instead of a coin, it could be an idiot with a knife.

I'm not trying to be a killjoy, nor a hypocrite. I remember scoring a last-minute header for Liverpool against Newcastle. I went running for the manager, Gerard Houllier, who I believed had treated me poorly. Luckily, my team-mates knew how I was feeling and stopped me from getting to him. I don't know what I'd have done, but I wasn't planning to hug him tenderly.

Restraining order: Redknapp was held back by his own players from venting his frustrations at Gerard Houllier

Restraining order: Redknapp was held back by his own players from venting his frustrations at Gerard Houllier

The emotion of scoring a late winner; a mixture of joy, aggression, thrill and excitement, is hard to control. You've scored for your team, your manager, your family, your fans and yourself.

So I can understand how Manchester United's players were feeling after Robin van Persie's late winner in the derby. They wanted to share the celebration in front of their own supporters.

I've played in Liverpool v United games and would argue the atmosphere is worse than the derby mood in Manchester, despite the high stakes between the two teams, currently the best in the country.

Hit: Ferdinand was struck by a coin in the dying moments of the derby while celebrating Robin van Persie's winner

Hit: Ferdinand was struck by a coin in the dying moments of the derby while celebrating Robin van Persie's goal

Confrontation: A City fan makes his way on to the pitch but is held back by Man City stopper Joe Hart

Confrontation: A City fan makes his way on to the pitch but is held back by Man City stopper Joe Hart

But players are putting themselves at risk when they leave the field of play to celebrate a goal, especially away from home.

are reminded before games to stay on the field. Referees are told to
use a yellow card as a deterrent, but players are soon overcome with
emotion and lose control when a goal is scored.

season, we have seen a seat, lighters, coins thrown and a steward
injured at Chelsea in the aftermath of a goal. It's time for the players
to take a look at themselves and introduce some control.



Under siege: The United defender holds his head after being struck by a coin thrown from the crowd

Andy Hazell banned for 14 weeks

Gloucester ace Hazell slapped with 14-week ban after repeatedly punching opponent



12:38 GMT, 25 October 2012

Former England flanker Andy Hazell has been hit by a 14-week suspension.

The Gloucester forward was sent off for striking an opponent during his team's Amlin Challenge Cup victory over Mont-de-Marsan in France earlier this month.

Hazell's case was heard by independent judicial officer Roger Morris in Dublin on Thursday.

No holding back: Andy Hazell lands several blows on an opponent

No holding back: Andy Hazell lands several blows on an opponent


Click here to watch Hazell's attack

Hazell, who pleaded guilty to striking Mont-de-Marsan replacement Sebastien Ormaechea, cannot play again until January 21.

The player gave evidence and made
submissions to Morris, together with Gloucester rugby director Nigel
Davies and ERC disciplinary officer Roger O'Connor.

Immediately after the game, which
Gloucester won 11-6, Davies suggested that Hazell had reacted to extreme
provocation from a Mont-de-Marsan player or players.

Ban: Hazell pleaded guilty to striking Mont-de-Marsan

Ban: Hazell pleaded guilty to striking Mont-de-Marsan

The Aviva Premiership club provided
photographic evidence of marks around Hazell's eyes, but no citing
complaints were subsequently made to ERC by match commissioner John
West, who could not find sufficient video evidence of foul play.

In a statement, ERC said: 'The
judicial officer (Morris) determined that Hazell had intentionally
struck Ormaechea with both the fist and the knee.

'Having also determined that any
suspensions he would impose for the offences would run concurrently, and
as striking with the knee carries greater penalties than striking with
the fist under the IRB recommended sanctions for offences committed
within the playing enclosure, the judicial officer decided on a top-end
entry point of 16 weeks.

'Taking into account aggravating
factors, he added a further two weeks given Hazell's disciplinary record
and his failure to uphold the image of the game. Then following
consideration of Hazell's guilty plea and his exemplary conduct during
the hearing, the judicial officer deducted four weeks before imposing a
suspension of 14 weeks.

'Hazell will be free to play on Monday, 21 January 2013. Both ERC and the player have the right to appeal the decision.'

Andy Hazell punches opponent in head

Is this rugby or mixed martial arts Hazell lands blows on opponent amid gouging claim



10:52 GMT, 12 October 2012

This is the moment Gloucester flanker Andy Hazell takes his anger out on an opposition player with a flurry of punches followed by a knee to the head.

The former England forward was sent off midway through the second half of Thursday night's Amlin Challenge Cup clash against French club Mont-de-Marsan.

But Hazell claims he was merely reacting to provocation and there are strong suggestions that the 34-year-old might have been gouged during the match.

No holding back: Andy Hazell lands several blows on an opponent

No holding back: Andy Hazell lands several blows on an opponent


Click here to watch Andy Hazell's attack

'Never had a red in 12 years, extremely embarrassed by my actions,' Hazell said on Twitter.

'It was the third time someone tried to severely injury (sic) me, and I reacted.'

Hazell can expect a lengthy ban from tournament disciplinary chiefs.

Three other players – Gloucester forward Matt Cox and Mont-de-Marsan pair Scott Murray and Ephraim Taukafa – received yellow cards in the game for unrelated incidents.

Davies, meanwhile, told the Gloucester Citizen that Hazell's eye was 'severely sore and very red'.

'We'll speak to the citing commissioner, and there will be something done there,' Davies said.

Reaction Hazell claims he was provoked into lashing out

Reaction Hazell claims he was provoked into lashing out

'We can't condone what was done from a Gloucester view, but that was a reaction to what went on before.

'We will take our punishment, but I think they (Mont-de-Marsan) need to take their punishment too.

'We'll look at the video, and from what I've seen already I'm sure we will make a complaint.

'The doctor's had a look at Andy's eye. It was severely sore and very red.

'And we took some pictures of that, because that was damning evidence in its own right.

'He's disappointed with himself, but I think there were three incidents before that with the same player and he's caught him off the ball again, and unfortunately Andy snapped.'

Gloucester resume their Challenge Cup campaign against another French club – Bordeaux-Begles – at Kingsholm next Thursday night.

Fiorentina coach Dellio Rossi attacks Adem Ljajic then gets sacked

Fiorentina sack Rossi after coach loses it and attacks Ljajic for sarcastic applause



00:53 GMT, 3 May 2012

Fiorentina sacked coach Delio Rossi after he physically attacked midfielder Adem Ljajic during Wednesday's 2-2 draw with Novara.

The attack came after the player's apparent dissent at being substituted just 32 minutes into the match.

Fiorentina president Andrea Della Valle said in a statement released after the match and posted on the club's official website: 'In a few seconds months of stress came out. I am sorry because the coach has never committed acts of this kind.

Sacked: Fiorentina boss Delio Rossi (left) after his attack on Fiorentina's Adem Ljajic in Florence

Sacked: Fiorentina boss Delio Rossi (left) after his attack on Fiorentina's Adem Ljajic in Florence

'For his own good to make him understand he has made a mistake I had to take this decision. No provocation justifies this reaction.'

Della Valle confirmed Ljajic would also face action for his part in the incident. But he said he would wait to announce who would take charge of the side for the rest of the season.

'Also for respect of the person with whom I believed in to reconstruct Fiorentina I will say nothing official until tomorrow,' he added. 'Then you will know who will be given the reins of the team.

'We will also take proportionate measures against Ljajic.

Hurt: Ljajic (right) looked visibly upset as he sat on the bench after being hit by Rossi

Hurt: Ljajic (right) looked visibly upset as he sat on the bench after being hit by Rossi

'Rossi has not justified it to me but he is someone who has never done anything like this.

'I am sorry also that in the 10th year of my reign and with what he has brought – we have won at Milan and Roma and I believed this evening we would have achieved safety, certainly not that I would have to take a decision like this.'

The dramatic events unfolded as the Viola fought to confirm their the Serie A status. The point was enough to put them six points clear of the drop zone with two games remaining.

Fiorentina are all but certain to be in the top flight next season, but it does not mask what has been a difficult campaign. And it seems the pressure got to Rossi, who replaced Sinisa Mihajlovic at the helm in November.

Shock: Ljajic (right) heads back to the bench after being substituted - and then attacked

Shock: Ljajic (right) heads back to the bench after being substituted – and then attacked

Television pictures clearly show the coach attacking Ljajic as he took his place on the bench. The player appeared to sarcastically clap his coach's decision to substitute him, and Rossi responded by throwing punches as others on the bench attempted to restrain him.

Fiorentina were 2-0 down at the time, but battled back to claim an important point. And Della Valle wants to see more of that kind of spirit as they look to recover from the shock of Rossi's departure.

'This team needs unity to get away from the relegation situation,' he said. I know now that Delio Rossi is suffering more than anyone. 'But I want to respect the work he has done until now.'

London 2012 Olympics: Dwain Chambers cleared to run

BOA drugs fight is 'colonial' says Chambers camp after sprinter is cleared for London



21:30 GMT, 30 April 2012

Dwain Chambers’ manager has made the remarkable claim that the British Olympic Association’s defiant stand against drugs cheats amounted to ‘colonial arrogance’.

The controversial comments came within hours of disgraced sprinter Chambers winning the right to compete at London 2012, after the BOA’s lifetime ban for serious drugs cheats was overturned in court.

His manager Siza Agha, a barrister, said: ‘As hosts for the 2012 Olympics, this delicate and emotive issue required international diplomacy, foresight and responsibility.

Tougher sanctions needed: BOA Chairman Lord Colin Moynihan (left) and BOA CEO Andy Hunt react to the decision from CAS in London on Monday

Defeated: BOA Chairman Lord Colin Moynihan (left) and
BOA CEO Andy Hunt react to the decision from the Court of Arbitration for Sport in London on Monday

Tougher sanctions needed: BOA Chairman Lord Colin Moynihan (centre left) reacts to the decision from CAS in London on Monday

‘What we have received has been a crude and defiant display fuelled by misguided statements such as, “We have standards and the rest of the world doesn’t”.

‘It has been an exposure of colonial arrogance that even the most extreme and blinkered should have realised could only serve to marginalise British opinion on the international stage. In complete contrast, the World Anti- Doping Agency have been the model of professionalism and dignity in the face of the most extreme provocation.

‘Lessons should be learned by their example.’

Lord Moynihan, the BOA chairman, showed more grace towards Chambers — who systematically took anabolic steroids nine years ago — after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled the lifetime ban ‘non-compliant’ with WADA’s anti-doping code.

Moynihan said it was a ‘hollow victory’ for WADA but that he respected the adjudication, adding that Chambers and cyclist David Millar, who took the blood booster EPO, would receive equitable treatment if selected.

Second chance: Dwain Chambers is to be cleared for the Olympics

Second chance: Dwain Chambers is to be cleared for the Olympics

Moynihan instead turned his focus on the long-term fight against drugs. He said: ‘We are disappointed in the outcome for athletes, coaches and administrators who want to see progress against doping.

‘It is wrong that national Olympic committees now have to hand over their selection policy to drugs cheats or face court action. An overwhelming majority of athletes support this policy and are totally committed to a clean Games.

‘We will engage and lead a global campaign to bring fundamental and far-reaching reforms to WADA. We want tougher and more realistic sanctions for serious first-time doping offences. A four-year ban, including an Olympics, should be the standard.

‘Cheating to deny a clean athlete the chance to participate in the greatest event in sport cannot merit a sanction so light as a two-year ban and the chance that you may never miss a Games. We also want more pro-active and reliable testing methods.

‘We want WADA to operate in a far more efficient and effective manner and be more in touch with national Olympic committees.’

WADA president John Fahey accused the BOA of making ‘hysterical and inaccurate public statements’. He talked of the need for ‘harmonisation’ and rules that are ‘proportionate and respectful of individuals within the framework of international law’.

Cleared: David Millar

Cleared: David Millar

But the CAS ruling pointed the way towards Moynihan’s four-years-and-one-Games standard, saying it recognised that the BOA and IOC ‘were free to persuade other stakeholders that an additional sanction of inability to participate in Olympic Games may be a proportionate, appropriate sanction of an anti-doping offence,’ when WADA’s code is revised.

Chambers, training in Jamaica, must now make the 100 metres qualifying time of 10.18sec, which is well within his compass if he remains uninjured. UK Athletics will not stand in his way.

Millar will form a crucial part of Mark Cavendish’s road race team — embarrassingly a favourite for Britain’s first gold medal of the Games.

Dave Brailsford, British Cycling’s performance director, has said he will pick the fastest team regardless of moral issues, effectively ushering Millar into the fold. Cavendish also welcomed the prospect of Millar helping his cause. ‘I want him there,’ he said.

But former swimmer Mark Foster, who carried the flag at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Games four years ago, reflected a feeling among the majority of British athletes — between 75 and 90 per cent of the team have voted for a lifetime ban over the past 20 years.

He said: ‘My big thing is if Dwain Chambers hadn’t been caught he would still be doing it. The fact it was a two-year ban — just a ticking-over period — and then he came back to athletics. It’s nothing against Dwain, but he’s a cheat. I don’t like cheats.’

The BOA must pay their own costs and that of the hearing: less than the 100,000 they had budgeted for. Moynihan, though, will consider that a small cost for a battle lost if he ultimately wins his crusade.

Mark Foster is launching the Mark Foster Swim Academy during the 2012 Olympics.


1978: Born Islington, London, April 5.
1998: Takes 100 metres silver in European Championships and is third in World Cup.

1999: Runs 9.99 seconds to become the second European sprinter to break the 10-second barrier after Linford Christie. Runs 9.97secs to claim bronze at the World Championships in Seville.

2000: Fourth in Olympics final in Sydney.

2002: Gets off to a bad start in the Commonwealth Games 100m final and pulls up with cramps, later attributed to lack of fluids.
Takes gold at the European Championships and adds a superb run to bring the British team home for gold in the 4x100m relay.

2003: August 25 – Finishes fourth in the World Championships 100m final in Paris in a time of 10.08.
October 22 – Revealed to have tested positive for newly discovered `designer steroid' tetrahydrogestrinone (THG). Denies knowingly taking the drug.
November 7 – IAAF suspend Chambers pending disciplinary hearing, after B sample tests positive.

2004: February 22 – Handed a two-year worldwide ban due to expire on November 7, 2005 and a BOA lifetime suspension from the Olympics.

2005: December 10 – Admits using THG for 18 months before failing his drug test including when he became double European champion in August 2002.

In the clear: Dwain Chambers

2006: June 10 – Cleared by UK Athletics to make comeback.
June 11 – Returns to action at Gateshead, finishing third in 10.07. His time is the fastest by a European in 2006.
June 26 – All performances since January 1, 2002 annulled, including individual and relay gold at the European Championships in Munich in 2002 and the European record of 9.87 he shared with Linford Christie, after his admission to using THG prior to his failed drugs test.
August – Selected to represent Great Britain at the European Championships in Gothenburg.
Finishes seventh in the individual event before joining Mark Lewis-Francis, Darren Campbell and Marlon Devonish in the 4x100m sprint relay squad. The quartet win gold but their achievement is overshadowed by Campbell's refusal to celebrate on a lap of honour with his team-mates, saying it would be “hypocritical”.

2007: March – Secures a contract with NFL Europa side Hamburg Sea Devils.

2008: January – UK Athletics chief executive officer Niels de Vos claims Chambers will be barred from making a comeback because he has not undergone drug testing since November 2006 when he left the sport. The IAAF claim he is eligible to run because he never retired from athletics.
February 2 – Qualifies for the World Indoor trials in Sheffield by winning the 60m at the Birmingham Games in 6.60.
February 5 – Allowed to compete in Sheffield after UKA grudgingly accept his entry after the athlete's solicitors prepared to launch a High Court injunction against them.
February 10 – Storms to victory in the 60 metres in Sheffield to book himself a spot at the following month's World Indoor Championships in Valencia.
March 7 – Wins a silver medal in the World Indoor Championships.
May 6 – After a month-long trial with Super League side Castleford, the club reveal he will not be offered a contract.
June 4 – Wins his first 100m race since August 2006 in Greece.
June 30 – 200 past and present athletes, including Dame Kelly Holmes and Sir Steven Redgrave, sign a petition against Chambers being picked for the Beijing Games after his lawyers confirm plans for a High Court appeal against the BOA's lifetime Olympics ban.
July 3 – Court proceedings are launched by Chambers' legal team.
July 12 – Wins the 100m at the Aviva UK National Championships, the qualifying event for the British Olympic team.
July 18 – Chambers' attempt to gain a temporary injunction against the BOA ban is rejected at the High Court to end hopes of competing in Beijing.

2009: March – Wins gold over 60m at the European Indoor Championships in 6.46s.
Causes further controversy later in the same month after alleging in his autobiography that drug use is widespread within athletics.
August 16 – Finishes sixth in the 100m final at the World Championships in Berlin as Usain Bolt breaks the world record, pulls out of the 200m with a calf injury.

2010: March 13 – Wins world indoor gold over 60m in Doha.
June – Clocks 9.99 to win the 100m at the European Team Championships in Bergen, his first sub-10 clocking since 2001.
July 28 – Finishes a disappointing fifth in the 100m final at the European Championships in Barcelona.

2011: March 6 – Wins silver at the European Indoor Championships in Paris.
August 28 – Disqualified in the semi-finals of the 100m at the World Championships in Daegu for false-starting.
2012: March 10 – Wins bronze at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul.

Mario Balotelli axed from Italy squad

Balotelli axed from Italy squad as Prandelli doubts striker's mentality

Mario Balotelli has been left out of Italy's squad to played the United States as coach Cesare Prandelli cast doubts over the Manchester City striker's state of mind.

Balotelli's omission makes his selection for Euro 2012 a doubt, with former Chelsea and Swansea striker Fabio Borini earning a first call-up in his stead.

Axed: Balotelli scored for Man City at the weekend

Axed: Balotelli scored for Man City at the weekend

'He (Balotelli) still seems a little agitated to me,' Prandelli said. 'When I say we have to reach the European Championship prepared, I mean I don't want to get there with a squad who don't know how to manage tension and provocation.

'I don't want to see players who at the first sign of difficulty commit fouls and get sent off, leaving their teammates to struggle with 10 men. So we have a few months to think about it.'

Borini, 20, is enjoying a fruitful first season at Roma and he notched his seventh goal of the season at the weekend.

Martin Jol: I know some Fulham players don"t like me

I know that some of the players don”t like me, admits Fulham boss Jol

Fulham players can sulk all they like, but Martin Jol is not about to change his hardline approach any time soon.

The Fulham boss came out fighting on Tuesday, defending the style of management that has done little to endear him to the club”s senior players – and certainly not to Bobby Zamora, who was unhappy to be dropped for Saturday”s 2-0 defeat at Swansea.

Dutch courage: Fulham chief Jol came out fighting on Tuesday

Dutch courage: Fulham chief Jol came out fighting on Tuesday

Jol said 80 per cent of his players need winding up to perform at their best and insisted he did not care if this makes him unpopular with his squad.

He said: “It”s not provocation. For me it”s inspiration and trying to stimulate them. They always realise that I always try to get the best out of them. It will never be personal.


Bobby”s back on the beat: Zamora trained on Tuesday

“Even when I don”t like them I wouldn”t tell them. I would probably be a good actor and do as if I like them because that is my job to be professional.

“I”m sure there will be one or two in the starting XI who don”t like me, but it”s about doing the business for the club. You can”t keep all of them happy all of the time.”

The Dutchman”s relationship with Zamora has been frosty since the striker was told by text message he would not be travelling to Odense for Fulham”s 2-0 Europa League victory in September.

Jol also admitted he has quarrelled with Andrew Johnson, whose contract runs out next summer, and captain Danny Murphy, who was fined for walking straight down the tunnel after being substituted at West Bromwich in September.

What Fulham need to do

“In any team you have to get the pressure to perform,” said Jol. “I had the same with Johnson and I had the same with Murphy. With 80 per cent of the players, we have to try to create a sort of atmosphere to get the best out of them.

“It was the same with Bobby a couple of months ago. I thought to rest him and I left him out and he was moaning he was not going with us to Denmark.

“I thought I did a good thing to rest him, but players always have different opinions. For me, the main thing is that we get the best out of them and they give 100 per cent.”

The focus on his relationship with Zamora is something that irks Jol, who referred repeatedly to the “profile” the England striker enjoys at Fulham.

Asked whether he liked the 30-year-old, the Dutchman answered with a heavy dose of sarcasm. “I love him,” he replied, with a wink. But Jol insisted Zamora will still be a Fulham player after the January transfer window closes.


Fulham (4-4-1-1): Schwarzer; Kelly, Hughes, Hangeland, Briggs; Duff, Baird, Gecov, Frei; Dempsey; Zamora

The striker has been included in the squad to face Odense tonight, more out of necessity than choice.

Fulham must win to guarantee their place in the last 32 of the Europa League without Johnson, who is suspended following a red card against FC Twente last month, and Bryan Ruiz, who is ineligible. But Jol believes his approach will help Zamora to perform at his best and secure him a place in England”s squad for Euro 2012.

He said: “I hope I can get the best out of Bobby. There are players who want to play in every game, but I make the decisions. I feel we are on a good track and over the last two months he has been fitter than ever.”