Brazil plummet to 22nd
Five-time world champions Brazil plummeted further down the FIFA world rankings as they hit a record low of 22nd place on Thursday, leaving them sandwiched between Ghana and Mali. The latest rankings were also hugely embarrassing for Asia, whose highest-placed team, Japan, were a modest 32nd, with South Korea and Australia the region’s only other teams in the top 50. Brazil’s low position is a combination of their lackluster recent results, including four draws in their past six games and their lack of competitive internationals. Brazil, who qualify automatically for next year’s World Cup as hosts, have spent the past two years playing only friendlies, which earn fewer points under the complex calculation system. Mali were among four teams who reached their highest-ever ranking, alongside Belgium (12th), Bosnia (15th) and Albania (38th). Oceania champions Tahiti will head for the FIFA Confederations Cup in 138th position after dropping three places. They will face Nigeria, Uruguay and European champions Spain, who continued to lead the rankings. There was no change in the top four, with Germany, Argentina and Croatia trailing Vicente del Bosque’s side.
City recruit Fernandinho
Manchester City made their first big-money signing of the off-season, recruiting Brazil international Fernandinho from Shakhtar Donetsk on Thursday. Financial details were not disclosed, but British media reported that Fernandinho would cost City about ￡35 million (US$54.7 million). The 28-year-old central midfielder said: “This is a change, a challenge and a chance that I have been waiting a long time for. Playing in the Premier League for City is like a dream.” Fernandinho must fight for a place in City’s midfield with Yaya Toure, Gareth Barry and Javi Garcia.
Jordan coach detained
Foreign Minister Bob Carr has apologized to Jordan’s ambassador after the country’s soccer coach was detained by customs officials at Melbourne’s international airport for about four hours, despite having a valid visa. Adnan Hamad was stopped at customs on Thursday after arriving from New Zealand, where the team had been training ahead of their World Cup qualifying match on Tuesday in Melbourne against Australia. Jordan’s soccer association said it “strongly rejected” the action and it would seek an official clarification from Football Federation Australia. A spokeswoman for the immigration department said Hamad was required to confirm his immigration status, but declined to give further details.
Corinthians fans released
Seven Corinthians fans detained in Bolivia over the accidental death of a youth in February were released on Thursday, the Sao Paulo team said. Corinthians, in a statement on its Web site, said it learned with “great happiness news of the release.” A flare fired by a Brazilian fan killed a 14-year-old Bolivian fan during Corinthians’ away game against San Jose in the western city of Oruro during a Copa Libertadores match. After the incident, Bolivian police detained 12 Corinthians fans. The five other Brazilians were kept behind bars because gunpowder residue was found on their hands, along with flares in their backpacks during their Feb. 20 arrest, according to Brazilian sports daily Lance. A 17-year-old Corinthians supporter, on his return to Sao Paulo, took responsibility for the accidental death during the 1-1 draw in Oruro.