It takes a special kind of talent to be on the radar for both the Spanish and Brazilian national teams. After a period of drama, Diego Costa ended speculation this week by signing a notarized letter saying he would play for Spain.
That letter, sent to the Brazilian football association, rejected the South American country’s call-up for its November friendlies and clarified his intention to play for Spain, AS reported on Tuesday. He is now eligible to be called up by Spain coach Vicente del Bosque in November instead.
With Costa off the market, Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari decided to give AC Milan striker Robinho his first call-up in two years.
“Robinho practically knew he was going to be called up,” Scolari said at a press conference. “He has played in two World Cups. It’s important at this time to give him the opportunity and see how he’s going to fit in and have the spirit we want.”
Scolari would not answer any questions about Costa at the conference.
The Brazilian federation went a step further, insisting that Costa be stripped of his Brazilian citizenship for his refusal to accept the call-up.
“The chairman [José Maria Marin] authorized me to open a legal action at the Justice Ministry requesting that he loses his Brazilian citizenship, which Diego Costa has rejected,” federation lawyer Carlos Eugenio Lopes said. “He rejected his Brazilian citizenship. Marin has asked me to study the situation deeply in order to keep him from ever playing for Spain. He told me that, from now on, Costa is persona non grata at the national team and that the players themselves wouldn’t welcome him because of that episode.”
In a video on the Atlético Madrid website, Costa said it was a difficult decision to play for his adopted country over his homeland.
“I looked at everything and saw that it was right and best to play for Spain because this is where I have done everything,” he said. “All that I have in my life was given to me by this country. … I hope people understand because it is not something against Brazil.”
Former Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse is embroiled in a bizarre investigation into the extortion of a sex tape.
The 34-year-old French striker has been arrested by French police who have confirmed that are investigating attempts to bribe another international footballer.
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Unconfirmed reports from France claim that the individual in question is France and Lyon midfielder Mathieu Valbuena, a former teammate of Cisse at both Marseille and with the French national team.
According to Reuters news agency, Cisse was questioned because he was familiar with the people involved and in total four individuals were arrested as it is alleged they plotted to ask for money from Valbuena for the sex tape to not be released. It is unclear if the tape is of Valbeuna and his partner Fanny Lafon, or if other individuals are involved.
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Cisse won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool and scored 24 goals in 79 games during his three-year stay at Anfield until 2007. He also had spells with Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers in the Premier League, while he is currently out of contract after being released by Ligue 1 side Bastia following nine goals in 41 appearances. Cisse is due to appear on the French version of “Dancing with the Stars” in the coming months.
Further reports from France say that Cisse is expected to be “exonerated” and that the existence of the video is “not proven” at this point.
Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.
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Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.
Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:
“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”
That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”
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There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?