Team contract lotto fever
Lottery fever gripping the nation has even spread to the national team with all 21 players of Joachim Loew's squad buying tickets for yesterday's rollover 35 million euro (US$44 million) jackpot, the German Football Federation said on Friday. Germany captain Michael Ballack and company have chosen their respective numbers and if they come up the winnings will go to charity. The squad were in Rostock ahead of yesterday's friendly with Georgia as they prepare for the Euro 2008 qualifier against Slovakia four days later.
Big Phil wishes Silva well
National coach Luiz Felipe Scolari on Friday wished a rapid recovery for Uruguay striker Dario Silva, who had his right leg amputated following a car accident. "We want to send a message of concern and solidarity to Dario. He's an athlete who has had a misfortune and we hope that he recovers as soon as possible," the Brazilian World Cup-winning manager told reporters in Lisbon. Silva, 33, left a hospital in Montevideo on Thursday, 10 days after doctors amputated his leg below the knee.
Ince banned for going AWOL
Goalkeeper Clayton Ince was suspended by FIFA from playing for his English club Walsall for 10 days from yesterday for rejecting an international call up from Trinidad and Tobago. Ince was the first-choice goalkeeper of new Trinidad coach Wim Reisenbergen for friendlies against St. Vincent and the Grenadines yesterday and Panama on Wednesday. But he turned down the request, citing a groin strain he said he needed to rest. However, he then went and played a full game for Walsall last weekend in England's League Two. On Trinidad and Tobago's request, FIFA instructed Walsall it couldn't play Ince during the period of the Soca Warriors' two friendlies, and added a five-day suspension from next Thursday.
Chelsea accused over sand
Premiership champions Chelsea on Friday denied suggestions they had deliberately damaged their pitch ahead of a Champions League clash with Barcelona. Reports in the English press had drawn attention to pitch repairs carried out at Stamford Bridge this week that involved pouring tonnes of sand on the field. It was claimed the sand may have been put down to hinder Barcelona's fluid passing football when the European champions play Chelsea on Oct. 18. But Chelsea insist the sand was part of routine pitch work and a club spokesperson said: "Whilst the Chelsea players are away representing their national teams, an 18-day break between home fixtures has allowed our ground staff to carry out routine maintenance work on the Stamford Bridge pitch."