William Gallas

FAI paid millions by FIFA to stop legal case over Thierry Henry handball incident

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The stunning fallout continues at FIFA as the Irish FA revealed on Thursday that it was paid by world soccer’s governing body to not launch a legal case following an handball incident involving Theirry Henry in 2009 which prevented them qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Head of the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) John Delaney revealed the stunning settlement on Irish radio station RTE, but failed to confirm the exact amount the FAI was paid by FIFA which has seen been reported as over $5 million.

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For those of you who don’t remember, Ireland drew 1-1 after extra time in the second leg of their 2010 World Cup playoff in Paris. But during extra time Henry deliberately handled the ball into the path of William Gallas who put the ball into net to make it 2-1 to the French on aggregate. The referees missed the incident and the the goal stood, knocking Ireland out of the competition and sending France to the World Cup finals in the process.

Ireland, and the entire soccer community across the globe, was incensed but the result stood despite Henry admitting he handled the ball deliberately. The FAI appealed against the awarding of the goal and ordered a replay of the second leg, something Henry also called for as he was now public enemy number one, but FIFA refused to order a replay and France went to the 2010 World Cup instead of Ireland.

And now we know why the subsequent legal proceedings were halted by the Irish. Here’s a transcript from what Delaney had to say about the incident as he insists the payment was legitimate.

“We felt we had a legal case against FIFA because of how the World Cup play-off hadn’t worked out for us with the Henry handball.

Also the way Blatter behaved, if you remember on stage, having a snigger and having a laugh at us. That day when I went in, and I told him how I felt about him, there were some expletives used. We came to an agreement.

That was a Thursday and on Monday the agreement was all signed and all done. It’s a very good agreement for the FAI and a very legitimate agreement for the FAI. I’m bound by confidentiality for naming the figure.

You’ve put a figure out there and fair play to you It was a payment to the association to not proceed with a legal case. In there they signed a confidentiality agreement where I can’t talk about the amount involved.

You used a figure there, well done to you, but it was a very good and legitimate deal for the FAI.”

So, there you have it.

Delaney’s comments implicate both the FAI and FIFA as a whole new bombshell has been dropped on a situation which caused uproar over five years ago, and also comes at the worst possible time for FIFA as leader Sepp Blatter has announced hiss plan to resign and they are under investigation by both the FBI and Swiss authorities.

When it rains, it pours.

Jose Mourinho desperate to scupper Liverpool’s title charge

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Sunday’s game between Liverpool and Chelsea (Watch live on NBCSN, 9:05 a.m. ET and online via Live Extra) was meant to be a title decider. Now, after Chelsea hit a sticky patch, it has become a shot at redemption for Jose Mourinho and his team.

Their mission: ruin Liverpool’s title hopes.

Even if Chelsea beat Liverpool it won’t do much for their faint title hopes; but this could be about revenge for Mourinho.

Cast your minds back to 2005. Almost exactly nine years ago Chelsea was at the height of their power under Mourinho, winning Premier League titles back-to-back and a force to be reckoned with in Europe. On May 3 they faced the second leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal away at Anfield, in a winner takes all battle after drawing the first leg 0-0 at Stamford Bridge. Luis Garcia hooked the ball towards the goal at the Kop end. William Gallas hooked the ball off the line. Yet somehow, a goal was given and Liverpool advanced to the final of the UCL, where they eventually beat AC Milan in one of the most memorable finals in living memory.

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That was meant to be Mourinho’s Chelsea lifting the UCL trophy in Istanbul. That was meant to be his parade. Almost a decade on, the only trophy the ‘Special One’ hasn’t won as Chelsea’s boss is the Champions League. What followed was Mourinho starting a feud with then Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez and there’s been a mutual disdain between the Portuguese boss and Liverpool ever since. That has spread to the fans, as Sunday’s game is eagerly anticipated both on and off the pitch, especially after Mourinho accused Liverpool’s star man Luis Suarez of diving and believes he could injure his only fit goalkeeper, Mark Schwarzer. Oh, Jose.

Ahead of Sunday’s clash, Mourinho has been playing down the importance of it as it is sandwiched in between Chelsea’s two UCL semifinals with Atletico Madrid. They drew 0-0 in Madrid last Tuesday and have the second leg at home on Wednesday with a whole host of injury problems ravaging Mourinho’s squad. It is clear where the 50-year-old Portuguese bosses priorities lie. He is likely to play a ‘B squad’ against Liverpool on Sunday, with Mourinho complaining about Chelsea not getting help from the English FA.

“We represent English football and are the only team in European competitions,” Mourinho explained after the 0-0 draw with Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals of the Champions League. “Spain has four and gave them all the conditions to try to have success, so I know what I would do. But I’m not the club. I have to speak to them. I would play with the players who are not going to play Wednesday.”

“The fact that the (Liverpool) match is on Sunday, I think puts the problem not in my hands but in the hands of those who decide the game should be on Sunday and not Saturday or Friday.”

Yet, we shouldn’t underestimate how badly Mourinho wants to win on Sunday. Not for the glory of his squad, or that a victory will likely hand Manchester City the initiative in the title race, but because he is a stubborn man of principle, who never forgets when he is wronged like he was back at Anfield nine years ago. Yes, the referee looked to have made an incorrect decision back then, but Mourinho’s record at Anfield has been poor over the years.

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Mourinho and Rodgers worked together at Chelsea, now they will be enemies on the sidelines.

In eight games at Anfield as Chelsea boss, Mourinho won the first two games in 2005 but in the last six he has recorded just one win against the Reds.

Now, emphatically, he has a glorious chance to change that fortune around.

Add into the fact Mourinho’s manic outburst at referees following Chelsea’s shock defeat to Sunderland last Saturday, which cost him a third fine of the season from the FA, plus his request to play the ‘B squad’ during the week, and you have a man creating a staunch ‘us against them’ mentality at the Bridge.

Further fueling the fire is the fact that Mourinho’s former academy and reserve team manager during his first stint in charge of Chelsea was… Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers. Intertwining storylines have entangled Sunday’s clash as Mourinho and Chelsea aim to upset Anfield, Merseyside and neutrals around the world who want to see Liverpool win their first league title in 24 years.

Can Mourinho play the role of home-wrecker against Liverpool?

You bet your bottom dollar he’ll be trying his hardest to throw a spanner in the works of Liverpool’s ominous title machine. That knowledge alone will spur his Chelsea players on, as the master of the dark arts aims to conjure up a dastardly spell to dispatch an old demon which has been haunting him for quite some time.

Liverpool fans be warned, Jose is aiming to turn his track record at Anfield around. Starting this Sunday in Liverpool’s biggest game of the campaign.

Tottenham’s sensational rebuild continues as Lamela, Chiriches arrive with others on way

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Tottenham certainly aren’t afraid to splash the cash this summer and they’ve been at it again on Friday as they prepare for life after Bale.

On Friday afternoon Spurs confirmed the signings of AS Roma attacker Erik Lamela for a club record fee of up to $45 million, while they also added Romanian central defender Vlad Chiriches, 23, for a deal in excess of $13 million.

Lamela, 21, is an exciting winger who has lit up the Eternal City with his speedy attacks and goalscoring exploits in Serie A. The Argentinian international will certainly get Spurs fans off their seats at White Hart Lane this season as Andre Villas-Boas adds further firepower to his attack. The addition of Chiriches was also needed as Tottenham struggled for cover at the back and the former Steaua Bucharest captain and Romanian international will not just sit on the bench, he’s a ball-playing center back who will challenge Michael Dawson and Jan Vertonghen for minutes straight away.

(MORE: Tottenham to sign Erik Lamela from Roma for $45 million)

Tottenham have now spent over $140 million this summer and a deal to bring in Ajax midfielder Christian Eriksen is also close to being completed as Spurs’ monumental rebuild continues.

Argentine international Lamela is by far the highest profile arrival over the summer and a huge onus will be on his shoulders to replace the brilliance of Gareth Bale. Of course Bale’s long-winded transfer to Real Madrid still hasn’t officially gone through but the Welshman is expected to complete his $135 million move by Monday’s transfer deadline, hence Tottenham’s massive spending spree.

Because let’s not forget before today’s flurry of additions Spurs had already spent almost $90 million in the transfer market with Belgian international winger Nacer Chadli, Spanish national team striker Roberto Soldado, Brazilian international midfielder Paulinho and French international midfielder Etienne Capoue all joining AVB’s revolution.

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Christian Eriksen is close to becoming Spurs’ seventh summer signing.

But if you look at the sheer overhaul at White Hart Lane this summer, Tottenham is building a squad than can realistically challenge England’s long-time “top four,” for many years to come. Lamela, Chiriches, Chadli, Capoue and Paulinho are all 25 and under, while Soldado is one of the most potent goalscorers in the European game.

Perhaps years from now people will look back at Tottenham’s decision to cash in on Bale and reinvest elsewhere as the best decision the club could have ever made.

So in a straight swap for the money they should receiver for Bale, Tottenham now have: two holding midfielders of international class, apacey Belgian international winger, one of the most prolific finishers in La Liga in Soldado, a young defender who is composed on the ball and an exciting winger that can carve open the opposition at will.

Yeah, that’s a great deal. And the decision to hire Franco Baldini as Technical Director really makes a lot of sense now. With his nous and connections in the European transfer market, Tottenham have spent big but spent wisely as they’ve invested all of the profit they’re set to get from Bale’s transfer. Tottenham Chairman Daniel Levy must be applauded for that appointment, as hand on heart he must’ve known Real would come calling for Bale sooner rather than later. Now Baldini has helped Levy build a talented, attack minded squad that’s capable of challenging at the very top of the English Premier League for years to come. Bravo.

But another big factor in all of this was the tough decision to let other long-term Tottenham servants leave. That was extremely necessary to complete AVB’s overhaul. The likes of Clint Dempsey, Scott Parker, Jake Livermore, Tom Huddlestone, Steven Caulker and William Gallas left “The Lane” as a new-look Spurs aim to challenge for the Champions League for the foreseeable future.

It’s always a risk to bring in so many new players at once but Tottenham had to take this calculated risk as they prepare to lose their main man to Real Madrid. Only time will tell if AVB’s revolution is a successful one. But one thing’s for sure, the board and chairman have backed the vision of their Portuguese manager 100 percent.

Now after huge investment, it’s top four or bust for Tottenham.

Tuesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Chiriches and Lamela to Spurs, Fellaini to United

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Leading the transfer rumor charge for Tuesday is the continued talk of Tottenham landing Steaua Bucharest defender Vlad Chiriches.

Spurs are currently rolling with a center-back pairing of Jan Vertonghen and Michael Dawson and looking quite strong in doing so. Younes Kaboul is back healthy and providing cover but manager Andre Villas-Boas, sensing his squad can make a long-shot run at the Premier League title, is looking for greater depth.

Chiriches would provide just that and more. The 23 year old is known as a quick, ball-playing defender who is viewed in Romania as the next coming of legend Christian Chivu. With Steven Caulker being sold to Cardiff City and William Gallas’ retirement, this is a deal we can expect to get done, likely for around $11 million (£7m).

But Spurs aren’t stopping there as AVB is also seeking additional cover for the expected departure of Gareth Bale. Since missing out on Brazilian midfielder Willian the North London club has narrowed their focus on Roma attacking midfielder Erik Lamela, who scored 15 goals and notched 5 assists in 33 Serie A competitions last season. This deal will cost Spurs a bit of a prettier penny, however, and is expected to get done at $47 million (£30m).

At Manchester United, manager David Moyes finally looks ready to make a legitimate offer for Everton’s Marouane Fellaini after two lowball bids were immediately rejected by the Merseyside club. Rumors out from the Mirror say that Moyes is ready to offer a $39 million (£25m) for the Belgian and that the bid will be submitted in the next 24 hours. If Everton accept the offer, expect Roberto Martinez to turn around and snap up his former midfielder at Wigan, James McCarthy.

It’s been a little over a year since we’ve seen Joey Barton in the Premier League and Crystal Palace feel that’s just about long enough. Manager Ian Holloway has moaned endlessly (and poetically) about his club’s struggles in the transfer market but expect that to stop later this week when the Eagles bring in the QPR midfielder on a $1.2 million (£750k) move from Loftus Road.

One Sunderland player who is not on board with Paulo Di Canio is attacking midfielder Stephane Sessegnon. The manager has taken note and looks poised to bring in Inter Milan midfielder Zdravko Kuzmanovic on a season long loan deal. The arrival of the 25 year old Serbian would allow Di Canio to move forward on the sale of Sessegnon, who could be on his way to a number of clubs including Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal and Marseille.

Following Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Tottenham, Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup noted his intent to bring in a new attacking player. From all indications, that man is none other than West Bromwich Albion misfit Peter Odemwingie. The Russian-born Nigerian international is said to be keen on a move to The Liberty but the Swans have only offered $2.8 million (£1.8m) while Stoke City and Cardiff City are both rumored to have bid $3.1 million (£2m).

Benayoun, Gallas and Santa Cruz coming to a club near you?

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Today is the day plenty of English Premier League players came back out on the free agent market. Let the rumors begin.

Earlier this morning the EPL announced that each club has handed in their list of players who had been retained or released.

Some big names were on the released list, as William Gallas, Roque Santa Cruz and Yossi Benayoun all spring to mind.

When you scroll through there are certainly plenty of other players who could end up back in the Premier League next season, or indeed in other top flights across Europe. Ashavin, Hitzlsperger, Lichaj, Simpson, Schwarzer and Pennant would all be worth a go.

So just where could some of them end up? Let’s take a look at a few of these former stars to see if they could find their feet in England’s top-flight once again or maybe their days in the EPL are over.

William Gallas has had an injury-hit spell to end his career at Tottenham Hotspur but before that the Frenchman was giving proof to the old adage that ‘age is just a number.’

The former Arsenal defender is 35, but he could certainly last another one or two seasons in the EPL. A mid table team like Stoke City or West Ham could get very good value for money from Gallas. That is if he wants to drop down and not compete for the top four as he has done throughout his EPL career. A solid and capable defender.

Yossi Benayoun has had a strange few years in the English Premier League. After excelling at West Ham when he burst onto the scene, the 33-year-old Israeli international has bounced around plenty of huge sides without playing many minutes. At Liverpool he made a promising start and scored 18 goals in 92 games for the Reds.

But his move to Chelsea really halted his career, as Benayoun was loaned out to both Arsenal and former club West Ham during his three seasons ‘at’ Stamford Bridge. Still, with a whole host of EPL experience and his incredible flair on the ball, Benayoun could be a steal for another mid table team looking for creativity. Although his age has limited his appearances in recent years. A move abroad to Major League Soccer or elsewhere seems to be a more likely destination.

Roque Santa Cruz, remember him? The 31-year-old Paraguayan was one of Mark Hughes’ first big-money buys at Manchester City for almost $26 million. But he scored just three goals in 20 games and has spent the last two seasons out on loan at Real Betis and Malaga in La Liga, scoring 15 goals in 63 games. Not bad.

So would any EPL clubs take a gamble on the South American? Maybe Cardiff or Swansea would take a look at him to help spearhead their attack. But more than likely Santa Cruz will head back to La Liga.