Summer review: football nails the Olympic spirit, Gigi Becali on Lady Gaga, transfer highlights, plus witch of the week
Cayman Isles of Wonder
Headlining week one of football’s bid to “emulate the Olympic spirit”: Manchester United, newly registered in the Cayman Islands tax haven, committing £66m in fees plus wages for Robin van Persie – £1m more than total government spending on the School Sports Partnership: a budget cut by 67% in 2010 to “help fill the hole in the public finances”.
Also capturing the mood
United’s PR announcement of the club’s new deal with gambling firm Bwin to become United’s official online slot machine provider: “Two giants in the world of sport come together in an enthralling partnership.”
Best comic timing
3 July: Barclays head Bob Diamond resigns with the bank in turmoil over the Libor scandal, allegations of “aggressive tax avoidance” and fostering a “culture of systematic greed and irresponsibility”.
13 July: The Premier League re-signs Barclays as £120m “global title sponsors”.
Best fresh start
Italy’s war on racism – Varese fans warming up for the new campaign with “severe racist abuse” of their own player. Giulio Ebagua apologised for making “a gesture” at them in response: “As a professional, I must accept their insults.”
Most giving interviewee
Romania: Astra owner Ioan Niculae – winding himself up during a live TV interview to the point where he sacked his coach on air and offered the job to a guest on the show. “We’re the worst team there is! That’s it, Stelea is sacked! And I’ve already found the perfect man to take over. Gigi, you give me a call.”
Niculae’s previous: • January: names António Conceição as his third coach of the season, pledging a new “era of stability”. • March: sacks him on live TV. “Conceição brought us only madness.”
Best scouting network
Adelaide United: taking ex-Ajax striker Dexter Rosales on trial in July due to his “good pedigree … we’ve cast the net far and wide”. Adelaide later said that finding out Rosales did not exist and had been made up by online hoaxers “doesn’t look great from our end. It’s been a strange few days.”
• One to watch: Montpellier owner Louis “Loulou” Nicollin on rival clubs eyeing Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa: “They need to stop pissing me off. If Mapou doesn’t like to stay, he’ll go in the reserves. At some point club owners have to say ‘stop’ otherwise we’ll be eaten alive. When we have crap players and nobody wants them, we have no choice but to keep them. So we’ll be totally strict: he stays. It’ll prove the size of my balls.”
• Most convincing: June – Yakubu on what drew him to a €6m-a-year deal in China: “It’s not money … What I have found in China is love, happiness, sincerity and warmth.”
• Plus most ambitious: 2011 – Gaston Ramirez, Bologna: “Bologna make me feel like a prisoner. I must be allowed to move up. I want to play for a club that competes for European trophies.” 2012 – “Southampton have offered me so much money.”
Peru’s John Galliquio: apologising after causing a lockdown at a Costa Rica airport by tweeting while being searched: “Much more of this and he’ll find my gun.” Peru’s consul intervened after “a full anti-terrorist response”. Team spokesman: “He’s an idiot, not a criminal.” Galliquio: “You live and learn.”
Most passionate kitman
Brazil: Fluminense’s Denílson Macedo – suspended for 15 days for chasing a linesman across the pitch shouting: “You son of a shameless bastard.” Authorities found Macedo guilty of “offending the man’s honour”; Fluminense were fined £160.
Benfica defender Luisão says he’s “unmoved” by the media fallout after he floored a referee during a pre-season friendly. “I have a clear conscience and I will continue with my work.” Benfica: “This referee offered a lamentable display of theatre.”
Mexican white witch The Grand Warlock: correctly predicting a 2-1 win for Mexico in the Olympics final. Antonio Vazquez sprayed “spiritual balm” at journalists before making his prediction. Mexican press: “Previous tips have been less successful, including: the wrong winners of the Champions League final and La Liga, and saying Javier Hernández would surpass Lionel Messi last season. He didn’t.”
Keeping a low profile over the summer: Steaua owner Gigi Becali – settling for a general warning to Romanians to stay away from Lady Gaga’s tour. “She’s a disciple of Satan. She probably doesn’t even realise she’s possessed. When we see her we must spit. That’s what a Christian does. That’s what I do.”
Plus: best career move
Germany: Playboy model Nina Kristin on finding a new direction. “For many weeks I’ve been studying the Fifa guidelines on how to become an agent. I have many footballer friends, so it’s an obvious move. They just need someone who cares.”