Yaya Toure picks up award
Manchester City star Yaya Toure on Thursday won a third straight African Footballer of the Year award. The 31-year-old Ivory Coast international also won in 2011 and 2012. Nigeria’s John Obi Mikel was second and Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast finished third. “I thank my family for their support and also congratulate John Obi Mikel, who also deserved this award,” said Toure, who was a key player for both club and country last year. Egyptian legend Mohamed Aboutrika beat compatriot Ahmed Fathy and Sunday Mba from Nigeria to win the Best Player Based in Africa award. It was a fitting sendoff for the 35-year-old Al Ahly SC star, who has announced his retirement from the game. Nigeria scooped several awards to underline a very successful year, with coach Stephen Keshi voted Africa’s Best Coach, while the Super Eagles were voted the Best National Team after they won a third Africa Cup of Nations in February and qualified for a fifth World Cup.
Liverpool’s Rodgers fined
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has been fined ￡8,000 (US$13,000) and warned about his future conduct after criticizing a referee following his side’s defeat at Manchester City last month. Rodgers described the performance of referee Lee Mason and his officials during Liverpool’s 2-1 loss on Dec. 26 as “horrendous” and questioned why a referee from Greater Manchester had been appointed to oversee the match. “Hopefully, we won’t have a Greater Manchester referee with Liverpool-Manchester games in future,” Rodgers said. “I was surprised we are playing in Manchester and have a referee from Greater Manchester. I am sure we won’t get for Liverpool-Man City someone from the Wirral [near Liverpool].” Rodgers was subsequently charged by the Football Association, which alleged that his comments questioned Mason’s integrity. The former Swansea City boss was fined on Thursday following a hearing by an independent regulatory commission.
Bahia sign Messi’s cousins
World Player of the Year Lionel Messi may be out of reach for Bahia, but the Brazilian top-flight side have signed two of his cousins instead. On Thursday, the club from Salvador de Bahia paraded two new recruits, Argentine brothers Maxi and Emanuel Biancucchi, their Web site carrying a picture of the duo standing alongside Messi. Midfielder Emanuel, 25, spent last season with Paraguayan club Olimpia, with whom he reached the final of the Libertadores Cup, losing to Brazilian side Atletico Mineiro. His elder brother Maxi, 29, has signed a three-year contract and should have few problems adapting to his new surroundings having previously played for Bahia’s local rivals Vitoria, netting a total of 17 goals last year.
Roma sell Michael Bradley
AS Roma agreed to sell US international midfielder Michael Bradley to Major League Soccer (MLS) club Toronto for US$10 million on Thursday. A club statement said a deal for the 26-year-old had been completed. Although Roma did not identify Toronto as the buying club, the Canadian side has long been linked with Bradley, who is expected to join along with Tottenham Hotspur’s England striker Jermain Defoe. Bradley has played in the MLS before in a spell with the New York Red Bulls in 2006. He has also played for SC Heerenveen in the Netherlands, Germany’s Borussia Moenchengladbach, Aston Villa in England and both AC Chievo Verona and AS Roma in Serie A.