Tag Archives: threats

Oscar Pistorius accused of having testosterone and needles at his home as court hears of "non-stop shouting" before gunshots fired

Pistorius accused of having testosterone and needles at his home as court hears of 'non-stop shouting' before gunshots fired
'Non-stop' shouting heard from Pistorius' home before shooting
Court hears Reeva was shot on right side of head, in right hip and right elbowPistorius is a flight risk and shouldn't be granted bail, says detectiveUnlicensed ammunition was found at the propertyPolice say testosterone, needles found in Pistorius' bedroomPistorius has said he had been a
victim of crime and received death threats

PUBLISHED:

06:38 GMT, 20 February 2013

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UPDATED:

10:14 GMT, 20 February 2013

'Non-stop shouting' was heard coming from Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius' home before his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp was shot dead, his bail hearing was told today.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel said the prosecution team has a witness who heard the shouting between 2am and 3am.

Steenkamp, aged 29, was shot three times in her arm, hip and head.

Two containers of testosterone and needles were also found in the bedroom of Pistorius.

The details were revealed as the second day of the 26-year-old athlete's bail hearing began at Pretoria Magistrates' Court.

Back in court: Oscar Pistorius on second day of bail hearing

Back in court: Oscar Pistorius on second day of bail hearing

VIDEO Pistorius arrives at court two hours early for second day of bail hearing

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In an affidavit, Paralympic star
Pistorius has denied murdering the model Steenkamp, 29, at his
home in the early hours of Thursday.

He has said the couple were in love
and he fired through his closed bathroom door, hitting the victim,
thinking a burglar or burglars were inside.

Steenkamp was hit three times and today the court heard the bullets hit her arm, hip and head.

Pistorius has said he shot her with a 9mm pistol.

Investigating officer Hilton Botha said he wanted the Olympian charged additionally with a weapons violation after unlicenced .38 calibre ammunition was found at the property on the exclusive Silver Lakes Golf Estate.

Pistorius arrived at the court
building in a police car with a blue blanket covering his head as
prosecutors prepared to detail why they are charging him with
premeditated murder in the shooting death of his girlfriend.

Under cover: A TV crew film Pistorius arriving at court with a blanket over his head

Under cover: A TV crew film Pistorius arriving at court with a blanket over his head

Oscar Pistorius stands in the dock

Oscar Pistorius stands in the dock

Today's proceedings were delayed as more than 100 journalists squeezed into court to report the hearing.

There were chaotic scenes as one
reporter fainted, an overflow room was set up to provide more space and
courtroom screens had technical problems.

Mr Botha said he arrived at Pistorius's house at 4.15am when the victim was already dead.
She was wearing white shorts, a black top and was covered in towels, the court was told.

Mr Botha said he believed Pistorius,
who won two gold medals and a silver at London's 2012 Paralympic Games,
was a flight risk and he was opposing bail.

He also told court Pistorius has offshore accounts and a property in Italy.

The court heard that two mobile phones were seized at the property and neither had been used to call the police or paramedics.

Pistorius has said he had been a
victim of crime and received death threats, but today the court heard
there were no records of this.

Police told the presiding magistrate that testosterone and needles were found in Pistorius's bedroom.

The athlete – who was sobbing this morning in court – made notes with a silver pen as the case progressed.

It was claimed the track star was
involved in another shooting at a restaurant in Johannesburg in January
and asked the gun owner to take responsibility for the incident.

Mr Botha also told the court of an
incident at Kyalami racetrack where Pistorius allegedly threatened to
“f*** up” a man during a row over a girl.

Anxious wait: Oscar Pistorius' sister Aimee, brother Carl and father Henke in the courtroom on Wednesday

Anxious wait: Oscar Pistorius' sister Aimee, brother Carl and father Henke in the courtroom on Wednesday

Inside Oscar's Bathroom - a graphic illustrating a suggested representation of the events that lead to Reeva Steenkamp's death

Prosecutors want to show why he should be denied bail. Pistorius denies the charge, and said it was an accidental shooting.

The double-amputee Olympian, his
brother, father and uncle were inside the court room as proceedings for
the bail hearing began. The room was packed for a second day.

The 26-year-old Pistorius sat in the
back of the car, which was in a convoy of three police vehicles that
entered the Pretoria Magistrate's Court through a side entrance ahead of
the second day of his bail hearing.

A detective has testified that Pistorius is a flight risk and shouldn't be granted bail.

Mr
Botha also said in the star athlete's bail hearing Wednesday that
Pistorius illegally possessed .38-caliber ammunition in a safe in his
bedroom.

Pistorius is
charged with premeditated murder for the Valentine's Day shooting death
of Steenkamp with a 9 mm pistol. The policeman testified that Pistorius
did not have a license for a .38-caliber weapon and consequently
possession of that ammunition was illegal.

Pistorius
argued in a court affidavit Tuesday that the shooting was accidental
and he thought the model was an intruder in his home.

The detective says all Pistorius would say after the shooting was 'he thought it was a burglar'.

Pistorius' attorney read out an emotional statement on Tuesday in which the
athlete denied murder.

In the statement, which Pistorius was too upset to read out himself, the
athlete said the couple were 'deeply in love', adding: 'I am absolutely
mortified by the events and the devastating loss of my beloved Reeva.'

In his statement, the 26-year-old claimed he mistook Steenkamp for a
burglar after hearing a noise in his bathroom.
Believing Steenkamp to be still in bed, he grabbed his 9mm pistol and
shouted a warning before firing shots at the toilet door.

Pistorius added: 'When I reached the bed, I realised that Reeva was not
in bed. That is when it dawned on me that it could have been Reeva who
was in the toilet.

'I returned to the bathroom calling her name. I tried to open the toilet
door but it was locked. I rushed back to the bedroom and opened the
sliding door exiting on to the balcony and screamed for help.'

According to Pistorius he then smashed his way into the toilet using a
cricket bat, finding her 'slumped over but alive'. He then phoned for an
ambulance and carried her downstairs, but she died in his arms.

Magistrate Desmond Nair ruled that the case was a schedule six offence –
meaning premeditated murder – for the purpose of the bail hearing in
Pretoria.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel told the court the victim arrived at the house
between 5pm and 6pm on Wednesday, and went to the bathroom after an
argument between the pair.
He said that at 3am Pistorius got up from his bed, walked to the
bathroom door and fired four shots through the closed door, hitting her
three times.

Nel said: 'She couldn't go anywhere. You can run nowhere.'
He told the court Pistorius later told a friend he thought she was a
burglar. Nel added: 'It was all part of the pre-planning. Why would a
burglar lock himself inside the bathroom'

The bail hearing came as Steenkamp's funeral was held in her home town of Port Elizabeth.
Steenkamp was cremated at a memorial service attended by family and
friends who had travelled from around the world. Six pallbearers carried
her coffin, draped with a white cloth and covered in white flowers.

Earlier, French fashion house Thierry Mugler became the latest high-profile sponsor to distance itself from Pistorius.

The company has announced the immediate and complete withdrawal of all
products featuring Pistorius, including its 'A*men Pure Shot' fragrance
featuring Pistorius, which was launched as a special edition to mark
last year's London Paralympics.

In addition, Thierry Mugler has removed all point-of-sale advertising
featuring Pistorius, and deleted all references to the athlete from its
website.
Two other major sponsors, Oakley and Nike, also distanced themselves
from the athlete this week. Oakley has suspended its contract with
Pistorius while Nike said it has no plans to use him in future
campaigns.

Zenit St Petersburg fans demand no non-white and gay players

Zenit fan group demands non-white and gay players to be left out of the team

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UPDATED:

19:19 GMT, 17 December 2012

A group of fans of Russian side Zenit St Petersburg are calling for non-white and gay players to be excluded from their team.

This is another sign of the racism which plaguing the country that will host the World Cup in 2018.

Landscrona, the largest Zenit supporters' club, released a manifesto on Monday demanding the club field an all-white, heterosexual team.

It added that 'dark-skinned players are all but forced down Zenit's throat now, which only brings out a negative reaction' and said gay players were 'unworthy of our great city.'

Insult: Hulk (right) is a non-white player who plays for the Russian side

Insult: Hulk (right) is a non-white player who plays for the Russian side

The club quickly sought to distance itself from the fans. Without directly referring to their manifesto, Zenit's Italian head coach, Luciano Spalletti, said on the club's website that 'tolerance for me is most of all the ability to understand and accept differences.'

'Furthermore, being tolerant means that you fight against any kind of stupidity,' he added.

The club, which is owned by state-controlled natural gas giant Gazprom, also told the R-Sport news agency it picked players on ability alone, insisting that 'the team's policy is aimed at development and integration into the world soccer community, and holds no archaic views.'

Zenit was the only top-flight Russian team without a black player until this summer, when it acquired Brazilian striker Hulk and Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel for 80 million euros.

French midfielder Yann M'Vila declined a move to the club in August after receiving death threats.

'I can personally assure you that I will do everything I can to help those who seek to explain to people what tolerance is, and the need to respect other cultures and traditions,' Spalletti said.

'I think that Zenit has proven through its work that the club understands what tolerance is, and what it means to have tolerant behavior. The team has gathered players from different countries and ethnic groups who work together to achieve a common goal, and work well.'

Against it: Luciano Spalletti spoke out against the fans' demands

Against it: Luciano Spalletti spoke out against the fans' demands

Fans insisted that 'we are not racists and for us the absence of black Zenit players is just an important tradition that underlines the team's identity and nothing more.'

Russia has struggled to deal with racism and violence at its stadiums as it prepares to host the 2018 World Cup.

Black players are frequently the targets of monkey chants and some, including Anzhi Makhachkala's Robert Carlos and Christopher Samba, have had bananas thrown at them by fans.

Officials have at times shown little enthusiasm for targeting racism. When Lokomotiv Moscow fans held up a banner in 2010 thanking an English team for signing their black striker Peter Odemwingie with a picture of a banana, the head of Russia's World Cup bid awkwardly claimed they were referencing a quaint, little-used Russian expression meaning 'to fail an exam.'

Zenit's fans have long been the country's
most problematic. Dick Advocaat, the team's former Dutch manager, once
admitted that 'the fans don't like black players' and that it would be
'impossible' for Zenit to sign one.

History: Wagner Love said Zenit's fans were the most racist in Russia

History: Wagner Love said Zenit's fans were the most racist in Russia

Several black players have also singled out Zenit's fans as particularly racist. Former Russian top scorer Vagner Love told a Brazilian newspaper in April that Zenit was 'the most racist team in Russia' and the only one whose fans had abused him in his seven years playing for CSKA Moscow.

Five years earlier, Krylya Sovetov Samara's former Cameroon international Serge Branco told a local newspaper that Zenit's management were 'the real racists' for not combatting the problem, adding that 'in a civilized country they'd smack them down to the third division for their fans' behavior.'

Zenit's fans have also come under the spotlight recently after one of them threw a firecracker that injured Dinamo Moscow's goalkeeper during a match in November.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, himself a Zenit fan, called for violent spectators to be banned for life from attending matches. Parliament has drafted a bill that would ban hooligans for a year.

Steven Naismith won"t back down in Rangers row

Standing firm: Naismith won't back down in Rangers row as striker battles former club

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UPDATED:

23:15 GMT, 12 December 2012

Steven Naismith has maintained he will not back down from his legal dispute with Rangers and instead insisted he owes the Ibrox club nothing.

The Everton star is one of a posse of former players defending themselves against legal action brought by Ibrox chief executive Charles Green after they quit the club on free transfers in the summer.

Green wants the new clubs of Naismith, Steven Whittaker, Jamie Ness, Sone Aluko and Kyle Lafferty to pay compensation for signing players who walked out after objecting to their contracts being switched from the Rangers oldco to the newco.

Won't back down: Steven Naismith is involved in a dispute with Rangers

Won't back down: Steven Naismith is involved in a dispute with Rangers

The Ibrox club will learn in January if they have the right to pursue compensation via the SFA. If that is unsuccessful, Green has threatened to pursue the cash via the courts.

Unable to have their international clearance certificates transferred to their new clubs in the meantime, Aluko, Lafferty and Ness are counter-suing the Ibrox club for ‘constructive dismissal’.

Naismith says he wants no part in suing Rangers but is determined to defend himself from legal threats.

And, despite accepting a 75-per-cent wage cut when the club entered administration, he insists he is not after a penny.

‘I think 90 per cent of people that talk about this don’t know half of what happened,’ said Naismith in Glasgow.

New start: Naismith left Rangers to join Everton in the summer

New start: Naismith left Rangers to join Everton in the summer

‘I took legal advice and made the decisions I made.

‘I’m not looking to go after the club for money for 90 days’ pay or anything like that — it’s not something I’ve thought about or been interested in.
‘There’s so much going on, so many different cases.

‘People think it’s one big thing and everyone’s name gets thrown in the pot.

‘People want to say things as they think they know everything. But the people closest to me know what happened — and what’s gone on, on my part anyway.

‘You’re never going to make everyone happy.’

No brainer: Naismith left Ibrox after Rangers were relegated

No brainer: Naismith left Ibrox after Rangers were relegated

Taking advice from lawyers, Naismith admitted the prospect of counter-suing Rangers was raised.

Already unable to walk through the door at Ibrox amid the bitterness, he opted instead to concentrate on his new career at Everton.

And, frustrated that fans rarely mention the financial sacrifices players made when they took substantial wage cuts to keep others in their jobs, Naismith insists he never intended to leave Rangers and would still have been there but for financial meltdown in February.

‘In a couple of years, people will look back and say they did that (wage cuts) for the good of the club,’ he said. ‘People might think there were other agendas or we were only doing it for certain reasons, but the players know what we were trying to do at the outset. That was to try to stop the club from getting liquidated.’

Manchester Derby: Sir Alex Ferguson meets troops in Chester

Ferguson puts Manchester derby preparations on ice to meet troops in Chester

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UPDATED:

17:07 GMT, 6 December 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson put his preparations for the Manchester derby on hold to present soldiers with service medals in Chester this afternoon.

The United manager greeted troops from The Royal Welsh 1st Battalion in the city after their return from Afghanistan.

The troops marched through the city centre before being presented with their Afghanistan tour medals by Ferguson at Chester Racecourse.

Meeting and greeting: Sir Alex Ferguson met with soldiers from the The Royal Welsh in Chester

Meeting and greeting: Sir Alex Ferguson met with soldiers from the The Royal Welsh in Chester

Honour: Ferguson awarded the returning soldiers with medals for their services in Afghanistan

Honour: Ferguson awarded the returning soldiers with medals for their services in Afghanistan

Honour: Ferguson awarded the returning soldiers with medals for their services in Afghanistan

WIth Ferguson's local rivals City gearing up to host a thrilling derby on Sunday afternoon, the Scot made plenty of time to talk with the returning soldiers.

The battalion returned from Operation Herrick 16 after a six months tour of duty in October.

The Welsh troops were based in Helmand province where they conducted a range of missions, including a security and ground holding role, mentoring and liaison with the Afghan National Police and Afghan Army and ensuring the local populations were safe from enemy threats.

Ferguson thanked the brave men and women for their heroism.

He said: 'Every time you go out there we pray for you. The ones who didn't make it we will remember most of all. It's an absolute privilege for me to be here.'

Proud: Soldiers from 1st Battalion marched through Chester before being awarded the medals

Proud: Soldiers from 1st Battalion marched through Chester before being awarded the medals

Proud: Soldiers from 1st Battalion marched through Chester before being awarded the medals

Around 500 of the troops marched proudly through their home city.

Lieutenant Colonel Steve Webb, the Commanding Officer of 1 R WELSH, told ITV: 'It is good to be home and to have the opportunity to celebrate with, and thank those who have been so important to our successful tour in Afghanistan this year, and I hope that everyone continues to show such kind support to those currently deployed as they have shown to us.

'Primarily though, I hope the day is a fitting way for the Battalion, our families and the wider Regiment to celebrate our homecoming.'

United are looking to bounce back from a humiliating 1-0 home defeat at the hands of FC Cluj as they travel to the Etihad stadium this weekend.

City also endured a miserable end to a miserable Champions League campaign.

Roberto Mancini's men returned from Germany having been comprehensively beaten by Borussia Dortmund, leaving them with a paltry three points from the group stages.

Leading the way: Ferguson took time away from his Manchester derby preparations to attend the march

Leading the way: Ferguson took time away from his Manchester derby preparations to attend the march

Celtic"s Anthony Stokes sent death threats on Twitter

Celtic's Stokes sent death threats on Twitter after allegedly attending benefit for Irish gangster

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UPDATED:

15:43 GMT, 3 December 2012

Celtic’s Anthony Stokes has been sent a death threat on twitter after it was claimed the striker attended a tribute in memory of a notorious Irish gangster.

Stokes, who is also an Irish international, was targeted by a user named @gonzo1690, who said he hoped that the Ulster Volunteer Force, a paramilitary group, would ‘put a bullet’ in his head.

The user tweeted: ‘Hope the UVF put a bullet in your head you f****** p****’.
In the same tweet, the user added: ‘If I ever see you you’re getting smashed ya ****.’

Threat: Anthony Stokes has been targeted on Twitter

Threat: Anthony Stokes has been targeted on Twitter

The 23-year-old is considering reporting the abuse and the death threat to police, tweeting in response to his followers: ‘Do I need to send this to the police or do they just pick up on it’

The attack on twitter came after claims that Stokes, a former Hibs and Arsenal forward, had attended a benefit event for murdered Irish gangster Alan Ryan, a senior figure within the Real IRA, in Dublin.

Ryan was killed last September, executed at close range outside his home.

Celtic fans were quick to unite in condemnation at the abuse. Tam Selleck CSC, wrote: ‘This coward @gonzo1690 just told Stokes he hopes the UVF put a bullet in his head. Won’t be smiling in court.’

Another tweeted: ‘Anybody placing bets on when @gonzo1690 will get a chap on his door from police’

Death threats to Halsey opened Taylor"s eyes to referee"s plight in the modern game

Death threats to Halsey opened Taylor's eyes to referee's plight in the modern game

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UPDATED:

22:38 GMT, 1 November 2012

Steven Taylor had just finished sparring with Sunderland fans when he bumped into Mark Halsey at St James’ Park last Sunday.

It should have been an innocuous conversation with the fourth official before Newcastle’s clash with West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League, a chance for a quick chat with a popular match official.

What happened next left the former England Under 21 defender wide-eyed as he was given an insight into the world of top-class refereeing.

Banter: Steven Taylor (right) has a glint in his eye as he shares a moment with Sunderland's Steven Fletcher

Banter: Steven Taylor (right) has a glint in his eye as he shares a moment with Sunderland's Steven Fletcher

Taylor said: ‘Mark asked me what the reaction of the Sunderland fans had been and I told him there had been no problems, just a bit of banter.

‘I didn’t realise Mark gets death threats to him and his family. I didn’t know that kind of thing happened, so it was a bit of a shock to me, a real eye-opener.

'When they’re talking about his family, his kids, talking about putting a bullet in their heads, that’s too far. I haven’t had anything like that.

‘Halsey was trying to make me feel better about my situation by telling me what happened to him, but that’s another level.’

This is the modern-day plight of referees, living in fear of reprisals over decisions made at high speed and under matchday pressure.

It has been a difficult week for officials in light of Chelsea’s complaint into the conduct of Mark Clattenburg at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea have filed a report to the FA citing ‘inappropriate language’ towards John Mikel Obi, but no-one at the club denies that the alleged insult is the word ‘monkey’.

This is different territory for a referee, but the 80,000-a-year officials have become accustomed to the abuse and the threats from supporters.

In September, a fan was cautioned by Greater Manchester Police after Halsey, who recovered from throat cancer in 2009, was abused on Twitter.

Halsey had refereed Manchester United’s 2-1 victory at Anfield when Liverpool fan John Wareing tweeted: ‘I hope Mark Halsey gets cancer again and dies.’

Death threats: Mark Halsey has received vile abuse from supporters

Death threats: Mark Halsey has received vile abuse from supporters

Taylor added: ‘It’s different for Mark because he gets abuse and threats and it’s down to the decisions he’s made. I asked him how he dealt with it and he said he just had to get on with it and not let it affect him, but that must be incredibly hard.

‘I don’t know how he can shrug that kind of thing off because I’m not that kind of person. He’s a brave guy for what he’s been through and after everything that has been said about his family.’

The abuse is relentless, far more sinister compared with anything Taylor endured at the Stadium of Light after joking that he would rather collect stamps than watch Sunderland.

They responded by singing ‘Steven Taylor, we wish you were dead’, but the big central defender thought nothing of it.

The Newcastle defender added: ‘The Sunderland fans know what I’m like, it was all tongue in cheek, but some of their fans got caught up in the emotion of it.

‘I was only having some fun, stirring things up a bit. I’ve talked to Sunderland fans and they understood it was about getting the North-East derby back up to where it should be.

‘I think the fans were just lost for words about what to sing about me. We were having a laugh with each other, there were 48,000 and the atmosphere is always great there. I really enjoyed it.’

These are volatile times for football, with fans creating hostile atmospheres and players putting intolerable pressure on referees as they press for an advantage.

The Newcastle defender, in the squad for Sunday’s clash at Liverpool, added: ‘Players put massive pressure on referees.

‘In the dressing room before games we are told by one of the backroom staff who is the referee, how many red and yellow cards they’ve given out so far this season.

‘If you act all big time the referee is just going to ignore you. Players are so clever these days and they go down with the slightest of touches.

‘I think we’ve seen them clamping down on this diving thing, but I think it’s getting even harder for referees.

‘Like players, different referees have different characters and egos.

‘People should treat referees the way you want to be treated.

For their own self-respect they need to keep their cool and not let things affect them.’

Anzhi Makhachkala – who are the team facing Liverpool

Just who are Anzhi Makhachkala The extraordinary story of the billionaire Russians hoping to topple Liverpool

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UPDATED:

16:03 GMT, 24 October 2012

The Russian Republic of Dagestan, with its mountainous terrain, has been a place of sanctuary for people of all ethnicities and backgrounds over the centuries. And this remains as true today as ever.

But while it was once impoverished nomads and refugees who settled there, it is now more likely to be multi-millionaire young men playing football.

The region’s football side, Anzhi Makhachkala, are in the throes of a new Russian Revolution, one which their oligarch owners hope will deliver them to the summit of not only the national, but the European, game.

Big names: Guus Hiddink and Roberto Carlos have been enticed to Anzhi as manager and technical director respectively

Big names: Guus Hiddink and Roberto Carlos have been enticed to Anzhi as manager and technical director respectively

Destination Dagestan: Samuel Eto'o signed for Anzhi from Inter Milan and reportedly earns 350,000 a week at the Russian club

Destination Dagestan: Samuel Eto'o signed for Anzhi from Inter Milan and reportedly earns 350,000 a week at the Russian club

In the next two weeks, Liverpool will find out first-hand how far they’ve come. This is a Europa League double-header with much more than first meets the eye.

The story of Anzhi is one of eye-watering quantities of money being thrown at a club who three years ago languished in the second division, and of enticing star quality names like Samuel Eto’o, Roberto Carlos and Yuri Zhirkov to come and play in one of the most volatile and hostile regions on earth.

Dagestan is a place where mafia gangs control billion-dollar industries like oil, gold and potash (not to mention caviar from the Caspian Sea), where kidnapping, bombings, violence, threats and intimidation are commonplace, and where everyone owns a gun.

Yet amidst the killings, the lawlessness and a separatist struggle with Moscow, local billionaire Suleyman Kerimov is trying to build an all-conquering team from absolutely nothing.

Money man: Oligarch Suleyman Kerimov is bankrolling Anzhi's bid to conquer Russia and Europe

Money man: Oligarch Suleyman Kerimov is bankrolling Anzhi's bid to conquer Russia and Europe

Liverpool will not see any of Dagestan’s turmoil as the away group stage tie, on November 8, will be played at the Lokomotiv Stadium in Moscow, 1600km to the north, due to UEFA’s enduring ban on European games being played in Makhachkala.

It is one of the many curiosities of the Anzhi story that this will actually be a ‘local’ match for the players and their well-regarded coach Guus Hiddink. They live and train just outside of Moscow, flying first-class to all their domestic home matches at the rickety, Soviet-era Dynamo Stadium.

The squad cover nearly 50,000 miles a season just to fulfil their home fixtures.

It ensures a plush, pampered and most importantly safe lifestyle for players like Eto’o, who at 30 might be accused at playing at a standard beneath him until you realise his wage packet is reportedly 350,000 a week.

Eto’o was recently filmed by a group of French documentary makers inspecting his new Moscow penthouse, complete with private lift, sauna, swimming pool and 360 degree panoramic views of the historic capital.

Pointing the way forward: Eto'o has nine goals in 13 outings so far this season

Pointing the way forward: Eto'o has nine goals in 13 outings so far this season

Roberto Carlos, 39, winner of the World Cup in 2002, finished his playing days with Anzhi and is now their sporting director. His last birthday present was a 1.8m Bugatti Veyron sports car, personally procured by Kerimov’s small change.

Also in the squad is Christopher Samba, signed for 12.3m as Blackburn hurtled towards relegation from the Premier League last season. He earns 100,000 a week but has been the victim of racist abuse in the Russian League.

He told BBC Sport this week: ‘This is a very ambitious club and we have attracted a lot of players. This is not just about money – this is a proper sports project.

‘People don’t come here just to chill and win a pay cheque. We’re putting in a shift on the pitch and at the moment it’s working.’

Solid as a rock: Christopher Samba joined Anzhi from Blackburn for 12.3m last season

Solid as a rock: Christopher Samba joined Anzhi from Blackburn for 12.3m last season

Zhirkov, who spent two years at Chelsea, joined for 13.2m in August 2011, and another former Stamford Bridge face, Lassana Diarra, moved from Real Madrid this year.

They’re guided by Hiddink, another Chelsea connection of course, who was picked ahead of Fabio Capello for the job in February. His pay cheque is worth 8.3m a year.

/10/24/article-2222466-15A9B16B000005DC-694_634x458.jpg” width=”634″ height=”458″ alt=”Chelsea connection: Yuri Zhirkov has linked up with former boss Hiddink at Anzhi” class=”blkBorder” />

Chelsea connection: Yuri Zhirkov has linked up with former boss Hiddink at Anzhi

They’re also getting more and more ambitious in their recruitment. There were sensational reports in the summer of Anzhi trying to woo Robin Van Persie with a 45m transfer fee and 300,000-a-week. Manchester United’s Nemanja Vidic is also reportedly on their shopping list for January.

Just 18 months ago, this would have been unthinkable when Kerimov, a 46-year-old billionaire who made his fortune from investments in the region’s lucrative gold, silver and potash mines, took control.

The region’s President, Magomedsalam Magomedov, gave him 100 per cent control of Anzhi in exchange for a truck load of cash not only to spend on the squad and a new 40,000-seater stadium, but the region as a whole.

Plenty to cheer: The Anzhi fans will soon have a 40,000 stadium in which to watch their side

Plenty to cheer: The Anzhi fans will soon have a 40,000 stadium in which to watch their side

Kerimov, who is reportedly worth $8bn, has so far pledged $200m for infrastructure projects which will start to regenerate a turbulent region.

In the nineties, Chechen separatists led armed operations in Dagestan on a number of occasions, taking hostages in hospitals in Dagestani towns and killing scores of people.

In 1999, an Islamic body called on Muslims in Dagestan and neighbouring Chechnya to take up arms against the Russian military. There were two weeks of bloody clashes and Russia has maintained its presence there ever since.

Periodically, insurgents take on the military presence. Ten died in Makhachkala in a 2005 bombing and a policeman was killed and 60 wounded when a bomb went off outside Anzhi’s stadium in September 2010.

Bright future: Hiddink and Carlos are determined to take points from Liverpool to maintain their good start to the season

Bright future: Hiddink and Carlos are determined to take points from Liverpool to maintain their good start to the season

So a history of friction between Moscow and this southern province has been added to by Anzhi’s ascent. When they used the Lokomotiv Stadium for their Europa League qualifier with AZ Alkmaar in August, supporters of the Moscow clubs united to hurl nationalist abuse at the Anzhi players.

Zhirkov was also signalled out for abuse by Russian fans when he played for the national side in the same stadium. The locals believe he’s wasting his time down in Dagestan.

‘We’re unpopular because people can’t understand how a club that won the second division [three years ago] are now title contenders,’ adds Samba.

But for Samba and his teammates, unpopularity is a small price to pay for being part of the Revolution.

Lance Armstrong says USADA investigation is a "vendetta" against him on Twitter

Angry Armstrong says USADA investigation is a 'vendetta' against him in series of tweets

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UPDATED:

19:43 GMT, 5 July 2012

Lance Armstrong has responded angrily to reports – criticised by the United States Anti-doping Agency – that his former team-mates have been handed six month suspensions in exchange for giving evidence in a doping case allegedly implicating the seven-time Tour de France champion.

Suggestions bans suspended until the end of the season have been issued to team-mates of Armstrong for giving evidence in the case have been dismissed by those allegedly involved and USADA, who last week confirmed they are to file formal doping charges against the Texan.

Armstrong repeatedly and strenuously denies any wrongdoing and described the investigation as a 'vendetta'.

Armstrong wrote on Twitter: 'So let me get this straight…come in and tell @usantidoping exactly what they wanted to hear…

Angry: Armstrong (right) has complained of a 'vendetta' against him

Angry: Armstrong (right) has complained of a 'vendetta' against him

'…in exchange for immunity, anonymity, and the opportunity to continue to race the biggest event in cycling..

'This isn't about @usantidoping wanting to clean up cycling – rather it's just plain ol' selective prosecution that reeks of vendetta.'

USADA chief executive Travis T Tygart criticised the speculation surrounding the case and insisted nothing has been determined and that no individual cases have been addressed.

In a statement, Tygart said: 'USADA's investigation into doping in the sport of cycling continues.

'No individual cases have been finalised, and any attempt to guess at whom potential witnesses might be only leads to inaccurate information being reported and subjects those named to unnecessary scrutiny, threats and intimidation.

'It is important to remember that the truth would often be suppressed without witnesses who at great cost to themselves are willing to tell the truth under oath about what they saw and experienced, and any attempt to circumvent the proper procedures in order to bully or silence people who may or may not be witnesses cannot be tolerated.'

Armstrong and USADA's responses came after the story broke in Europe before the start of the fifth stage of the Tour in Rouen.

Statement: Jonathan Vaughters faces the media

Statement: Jonathan Vaughters faces the media

Two of his former team-mates Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie ride for Garmin-Sharp, whose team boss Jonathan Vaughters, also a former team-mate of Armstrong's, gave short shrift to the claims.

Vaughters, chief executive of Slipstream Sports, the parent company of the Garmin-Sharp team, wrote on Twitter: 'Regarding the Dutch media report: No 6mos (sic) suspensions have been given to any member of Slipstream Sports. Today or at any future date.'

A Slipstream Sports statement added: 'Media reports of suspensions are untrue.

'As we have always said, we expect that anyone in our organisation who is contacted by any anti-doping or government authority will be open and honest with that authority, but, at this moment, we – our organisation, our riders and our staff – are focused on the Tour de France.'

George Hincapie is riding in a record 17th consecutive Tour, having been a team-mate of Armstrong in each of his seven triumphs, and is seeking to help BMC Racing team-mate Cadel Evans successfully defend the yellow jersey.

Former team-mate: George Hincapie in action on the fifth stage

Former team-mate: George Hincapie in action on the fifth stage

BMC Racing team president Jim Ochowicz said: 'We've not received any notification from any authority about this issue at all.'

Hincapie added: 'I'm just disappointed with this thing being brought up once again. BMC's got nothing to do with this. Cadel's focus is to try to win the Tour and I'm here to help him do that.

'I'll continue to do that and try not to let anything get in my mind besides that.'

Asked whether he has spoken to Armstrong recently, Hincapie added: 'I haven't in a while. I feel bad that he's going through all this. Lance has done so many things for the sport.'

Neil Lennon almost quit after death threats

Celtic boss Lennon admits he almost quit football after death threat nightmare

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UPDATED:

10:52 GMT, 18 May 2012

Celtic manager Neil Lennon considered quitting the game after threats were made against him.

The Northern Irishman was at the centre of a high-profile court case earlier this year, which saw two men, Trevor Muirhead and Neil McKenzie, jailed for five years for conspiring to assault him by sending parcel bombs to Celtic Park and the club's training ground.

Lennon spoke about his difficult year in an interview with Real Radio's phone-in host Peter Martin, which will be aired on Monday evening.

Worth it: Neil Lennon almost quit football after receiving death threats

Worth it: Neil Lennon almost quit football after receiving death threats

During the trial Lennon told the court he was left 'very disturbed' after learning he was a target, along with other prominent fans of the club.

Lennon's close friend, Paul McBride QC, who was also a target, died suddenly while on a trip to Pakistan in March, days before he was to give evidence at the trial.

The Celtic manager and former player, who was a pall bearer at Mr McBride's funeral in Glasgow, said losing his friend coupled with the stress of the court case made for a 'tough spell'.

He said: 'I had a real difficult time when Paul McBride passed away. And there was a spell where, on the Monday it was Paul's funeral and then on the Tuesday I had to go and give evidence in the court case and that was a real tough, tough spell.

'At times you think: is it worth it You know, all these things that happen to you.'

Tough times: Lennon at the funeral of Paul McBride

Tough times: Lennon at the funeral of Paul McBride

When asked by Mr Martin if he had any moments when he thought about quitting, Lennon replied: 'Yeah. I mean at the end of the day, your personal safety is in jeopardy or you feel it's in jeopardy.

'I was always well briefed by the police and the intelligence officers, so that gave me a lot of comfort through those times but you're just thinking: is it worth living here

'You know, I love Glasgow. I love the environment. It's been my home for a long, long time. But there is an element to it that lets the city down, you know, lets the country down and the sooner we can eradicate that … but it's got to come from the home.

'It's got to come from the families and it's all right pointing the finger at schools and this, that and the other, (but) you know as parents we have a responsibility to bring your kids up in the right way.'

James McClean warned by Martin O"Neill

Think then speak, McClean warned after Sunderland winger's Catholic outburst

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 11 May 2012

Sunderland manager Martin O'Neill has urged outspoken winger James McClean to choose his words carefully after he reignited the war of words over his Euro 2012 call-up and claimed Catholic footballers are uncomfortable playing for Northern Ireland.

McClean, 23, was named in Giovanni Trapattoni's Euro 2012 squad this week, just five months after breaking into the Sunderland team, and pledging his allegiance to the Republic of Ireland.

It provoked a furious backlash among some fans in the North on Twitter, and after he received death threats and sectarian abuse – and responded with one ill-advised sarcastic retort – McClean closed down his account.

Making his point: Sunderland's James McClean (centre) didn't hold back

Making his point: Sunderland's James McClean (centre) didn't hold back

But the former Derry City player enraged Northern Ireland fans further after suggesting that any Catholic 'would be lying' if they claimed to feel comfortable playing for the North at Windsor Park.

'It's probably the wrong thing to say but it was just a stepping stone in my career,' said McClean. 'You don't really feel at home. I think any Catholic would be lying if they said they did feel at home, seeing all those flags (Union Jacks) and hearing the songs and chants.

'For me, personally, I didn't feel part of it. I gave a piece – an article – not that long back and I was just describing how, as a Catholic in the squad, you don't feel part of the squad.'

International star: James McClean

International star: James McClean

O'Neill called McClean in after training on Friday morning to explain his comments. A Sunderland source said the manager was furious with the winger who is from the same part of Ireland.

He has been urged not to provoke further anger with any comments, particularly when he is with the Ireland squad later this month and for the finals, where they will be based in Poland.

The Sunderland boss said: 'I am delighted he has closed his twitter account. My own view is that those kind of things are pretty nonsensical. It's best it's closed. I'm happy with that.

'The north/south thing was less in my time. It now has become a major topic of conversation. James spoke with his family and made up his mind long before I was at the club. Good luck to him, that's his decision and he should be left alone.

'We have a few players on Twitter. I don't know whether I would want them to close them all down, but you have to be careful with what you say, especially if it is said in the dressing room.'