FIFA announces short list
Lionel Messi, Franck Ribery, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Neymar are among 23 candidates on the short list for the Ballon d’Or announced by FIFA yesterday. Ribery, who won UEFA’s Best Player in Europe award for the 2012-2013 season, helped Bayern Munich win the UEFA Champions League, Bundesliga and DFB Pokal titles. Messi, winner of the last four Ballon d’Or in voting by coaches, team captains and the media, was injured late in the season and could not prevent Barcelona from being beaten by Bayern in the Champions League semi-finals. Another nominee was Liverpool forward Luis Suarez, who missed the start of the Premier League season while serving a 10-game suspension for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in April. The Ballon d’Or winner is to be announced Jan. 13 in Zurich, Switzerland.
Cheick Tiote sentenced
Newcastle United’s Ivory Coast midfielder Cheick Tiote was handed a suspended seven-month prison sentence on Monday after he admitted possessing a fake driving license. Tiote bought the fake Belgian license for 15,000 euros (US$20,665) and then attempted to swap the forgery for a full UK license, Newcastle Crown Court heard. Tony Hawks, prosecuting, said that when passing through Belgium, the 27-year-old met a man near Brussels airport, and handed over the cash and a photograph of himself. He then attempted to send it off with an application for a UK license. Suspending the imprisonment for 18 months, the judge told Tiote that he would have to complete 180 hours of unpaid community work.
Fletcher back in action
Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher returned to action on Monday in the latest stage of his battle to recover from a serious stomach illness. Fletcher has played just 13 games since announcing he was taking an extended break from soccer in November 2011 after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. The 29-year-old has since undergone several operations, the last of which took place in January, and been put on a strict dietary regime in a bid to correct his stomach condition. The Scotland international was finally given the all-clear to return to training last week and on Monday he took the first steps toward featuring for David Moyes’ side by playing 67 minutes for United’s under-21 team in their 2-2 draw against Fulham.
Walker signs new contract
Tottenham Hotspur defender Kyle Walker has signed a new contract keeping him at the Premier League club until 2019. Walker has become a key figure at rightback for Spurs since arriving from Sheffield United in 2009 and has also broken into Roy Hodgson’s England team. The 23-year-old was voted the Professional Footballers Association Young Player of the Year last year and has made 112 appearances for the north London club.
Lyon supporters banned
Police announced on Monday that Olympique Lyonnais fans will be banned from attending their club’s Ligue 1 derby clash at AS Saint-Etienne on Nov. 10. The bitter rivalry has flared into a series of violent incidents at past matches, notably between the two club’s sections of ultra supporters. According to a decision taken on Oct. 22, all fans appearing to be Lyon supporters will not be allowed to approach areas close to the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard.