July 9th, 2014

Nigeria heading for FIFA ban over interference

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Nigeria is not backing down after sacking its entire national football federation leadership, ignoring a FIFA directive and moving closer to a ban from internationals for the reigning African champion. A weekend meeting of football and government officials in the capital Abuja endorsed the earlier sacking of Nigeria Football Federation President Aminu Maigari and his executive committee for not solving a player payment dispute during the World Cup. Officials said in a statement Sunday they were planning new elections.

World body FIFA, which doesn't allow governments to interfere in football affairs, said it would not recognize Saturday's meeting and has given Nigeria until Tuesday to reinstate Maigari or face sanctions. That would likely involve banning the country's national team and clubs from playing in continental or international tournaments, and could leave players like Chelsea's John Obi Mikel and Liverpool's Victor Moses frozen out of next year's African Cup in Morocco, where Nigeria is due to defend its title.

Maigari was also arrested on his return from the World Cup in Brazil and delegates at the emergency meeting said they blamed him for embarrassing Nigeria at the tournament by not resolving the bonus dispute.

Nigeria reached the second round for the first time since 1998 but had its campaign marred by the payment dispute, where players rebelled against the federation after not receiving their money for making the last 16 of the showcase. However, the continent's reputation was also badly damaged as Nigeria, Cameroon and Ghana all had their tournaments undermined by disputes between players and officials over money.



Aaron #1

Ángel di María, Mats Hummels heads up Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United wish list

Hope he's okay.

Ángel di María is being monitored by Manchester United’s incoming manager Louis van Gaal, who has identified the Argentina and Real Madrid forward as a potential summer target. The Germany defender Mats Hummels would also be open to a move to United if Borussia Dortmund agree to sell him.

If United were to land both players it could cost the club up to £75m, with the deals being financed by the sale of current players. Marouane Fellaini, Nani, Ashley Young and Shinji Kagawa are among those who Van Gaal may consider offloading.

Van Gaal, who leads Holland into Wednesday evening’s semi-final against Argentina at Brazil 2014, wants Di María to strengthen his forward line, with the new United manager an admirer of his pace and strength.

The 62-year-old has often played 4-3-3 when previously managing clubs and although he can tinker formations – at the World Cup Holland have lined up in a 5-3-2 – Van Gaal always favours speed when attacking, a style Di María would help enhance.

Di María, who has a thigh injury so will not face Van Gaal’s Holland team in São Paulo in Wednesday’s second semi-final, was man of the match in Real Madrid’s Champions League final extra-time win over Atlético Madrid.

While United would be expected to propose an initial bid of around £40m, Real’s interest in Monaco’s James Rodríguez, who was Colombia’s star performer in Brazil, means they may be prepared to listen to an offer in the region of £45m for the 26-year-old who is contracted until 2018, having signed a fresh deal two years ago.

Although Di María is happy at the Bernabéu, he came close to leaving the club in January, according to his agent Eugenio López, who claimed a “presidential issue” was causing his prospective sale. His wife also posted an Instagram message in November that said, “And you want to sell him?” after he scored against Galatasary in a Champions League group match.

Mats Hummels, the Raphaelite prince.

Hummels, who played the first half of Germany’s 7-1 rout of Brazil in the opening World Cup semi-final, has a contract until 2017 and although his camp believe that at present he may remain at Dortmund, there is an acceptance that his longer-term future is unclear, and that if the club were to accept an offer from United the defender would be open to the move.

Hummels, who could cost £25m-30m, is an admirer of Van Gaal, with the 25-year-old aware of his coaching abilities having started his career at Bayern Munich when the Dutchman was in charge of the club.

The central defender, while currently happy at Dortmund, also acknowledges that United’s pedigree and status as one of the continent’s premier clubs makes Old Trafford an attractive proposition should the possibility of a move occur.


Let's not even think about yesterday. I still can't understand why Real wants to sell di Maria.