Serie A boss angry at threat
The league president reacted angrily on Sunday after the captains of all 20 Serie A sides signed an open letter demanding that a dispute over players’ rights be resolved before the start of the season. Serie A president Maurizio Beretta said he would not be moved by threats, after the captains said the championship would not start without an agreement being signed. Last week, Italian Players Union president Damiano Tommasi had also warned that the new agreement had to be signed before Aug. 27, when the league is scheduled to get under way. An old collective agreement expired at the end of the 2009-2010 season and talks for its renewal dragged on for the whole of last season, when strikes were twice narrowly averted. The union is especially unhappy about clubs trying to force players to move in the last year of their contracts and players who are no longer wanted by their clubs being forced to train separately. Beretta told the ANSA news agency on Sunday: “I’m surprised. We will not sign under these conditions and I don’t see why we should submit to a threat from Tommasi, something we didn’t accept with [his predecessor] Sergio Campana. We mustn’t forget that we are talking about 800 players whose average wage is over 1 million euros [US$1.4 million] per year.”
Ajax rally to beat Graafschap
Miralem Sulejmani struck twice as champions Ajax came from behind to beat Graafschap Doetinchem 4-1 on Sunday on the opening weekend of the Dutch League. Twente beat NAC Breda 1-0 after a 27th-minute penalty by Marc Janko, while PSV Eindhoven suffered a 3-1 defeat against 10-man AZ Alkmaar. Ted van de Pavert put Graafschap ahead after 15 minutes, knocking in at the near post from a corner. Sulejmani equalized six minutes later. Derk Boerrigter gave Ajax the lead after some fluent one-touch play after 31 minutes and two minutes later teammate Siem de Jong had a penalty saved by Joost Terol. Sulejmani and Theo Janssen settled the match just after the hour mark with two goals in three minutes. A superb volley by Maarten Martens earned Alkmaar the lead against PSV, before a 30m drive by Nick Viergever doubled it. On the stroke of halftime, Dries Mertens pulled one back, but 10 minutes before time US international Jozy Altidore sealed Alkmaar’s win, despite the sending off of Niklas Moisander.
Porto lift the Super Cup
Two goals by defender Rolando earned Porto a 2-1 win over Vitoria Guimaraes on Sunday to lift the Portuguese Super Cup, their first trophy under new coach Vitor Pereira. Porto’s third Super Cup win in a row followed a hugely successful season in which they won the league title, the Europa League and the Portuguese Cup, before coach Andre Villas-Boas moved to Chelsea and his assistant Pereira was promoted to head coach. The Portuguese champions’ next final is likely to be a tougher test when they face Barcelona in the European Super Cup in Monaco on Aug. 26.
Real to sign Santos’ Neymar
Real Madrid have reached a deal with Santos to sign gifted Brazilian teenage striker Neymar in December, a Spanish sports daily reported on Sunday. “The club has agreed to the request of the player and postponed his arrival until after the World Club Cup [to be held in Japan on Dec. 8 to Dec. 18] so the player can celebrate Christmas as a brand new Real Madrid player,” sports daily Marca said on its Web site.