Name change report queried
FIFA questioned the Argentine Football Association (AFA) over reports the country’s championship could be renamed after the General Belgrano battleship sunk during the Falklands War in 1982. AFA were warned the potential name change for the Clausura championship, which began last weekend, could breach FIFA statutes. “FIFA contacted AFA with regards to a potential change of name of the Liga de Primera Division.” According to media reports, the league was set to be named after “Crucero General Belgrano,” FIFA said in a statement. “FIFA has requested the AFA to provide further information on this matter, and reminded the AFA of article three of the FIFA statutes which prohibits any kind of discrimination against a country, private person or group of people on account of ethnic origin, gender, language, religion, politics or any other reason.” Local media said the name change would have to be approved first by the AFA’s executive committee, which meets weekly, usually on Tuesdays.
Ronaldinho may play Bosnia
The national team could field Ronaldinho, Neymar and Paulo Henrique Ganso, a key trio in their 2014 World Cup ambitions, when they meet Bosnia in a friendly in Switzerland on Feb. 28. Flamengo captain Ronaldinho and the Santos pair, striker Neymar and playmaker Ganso, were included in a 23-man squad named on Tuesday by coach Mano Menezes. Menezes first fielded the trio against Ghana in September last year when Ronaldinho, 31, made his Brazil comeback, but midfielder Ganso only played for a few minutes before being injured in the 1-0 win in London. Ronaldinho, part of Brazil’s 2002 World Cup-winning team, but overlooked in 2010, was recalled by Menezes in September after a 10-month absence during which he missed the Copa America in Argentina in July.
Roma’s Lamela called up
AS Roma teenager Erik Lamela and 31-year-old Napoli defender Hugo Campagnaro have earned their first national team call-ups for a friendly against Switzerland in Berne on Feb. 29. Liverpool winger Maxi Rodriguez also earned a recall in the 18-man squad of foreign-based players named by coach Alejandro Sabella on Tuesday, while Real Madrid’s Angel Di Maria returns from injury. The squad will be increased in the leadup to the match with the inclusion of players from the local league, the AFA said on their Web site. The gifted Lamela has been in good form for Roma since his transfer from relegated Argentine giants River Plate in middle of last year. Rodriguez, who played for Argentina at the 2006 World Cup, last turned out for his country in the 4-0 quarter-final defeat by Germany in Cape Town in July 2010.
Mertesacker out for a while
Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker could be sidelined for a month with an ankle injury, manager Arsene Wenger said on the eve of yesterday’s Champions League game at AC Milan. The Germany international was injured in Saturday’s Premier League win at Sunderland and is poised to miss both legs of the last-16 tie with Milan as well as the north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur and his national team’s friendly with France. “He had reconstruction of his ankle in Germany before he joined us and the scan did not look too positive yesterday. Last night he went back to Germany to speak to the specialist and see where we go from there,” Wenger told reporters on Tuesday. “Certainly in the next month he will not be with us.”