A Different Week - Fights, Fines, and Friendlies
Since the weekend, the last five days have seen some incidents that perfectly sum up the very best and the very worst of football, with a bit of the very odd thrown in for good measure.
The week began with the bizarre story of Jermaine Pennant’s car. The winger, who in December joined Stoke City from Real Zaragoza after a successful loan spell, was hit with a €480 fine (£406) after leaving his Porsche parked outside a Spanish train station for three weeks. Pennant claimed that, in his haste to get to England in time to sign for the Potters ahead of the transfer deadline, he had been forced to abandon the car in Zaragoza and had been unable to return to Spain to collect it. However, rumours from Spain circulated that Pennant had in fact forgotten he even owned the vehicle and had to be rung by Zaragoza officials to be reminded of its existence, which naturally Pennant denied. If Pennant did indeed lose all recollection of his Porsche, it does suggest that he possibly has a smidge more money than sense. Pennant’s response? "I don’t need it, I drive a Ferrari here – it gets me about!"
A rather more serious embarrassment befell Crawley Town when one of their supporters was arrested after appearing to mock the victims of the Munich air crash in the video for the club’s FA Cup song; A Message To You Rooney, a cover of The Specials’ classic A Message To You Rudy. The fan was arrested by Sussex police and also banned for life by Crawley, after a United fan spotted him on the video, which is widely available on the internet, making aeroplane gestures and holding up his fingers to signify 1-9-5-8, the year of the disaster. Needless to say, the incident has been condemned by both Town and its supporters and one can only hope that the idiocy of one doesn’t overshadow Crawley’s achievements in the competition.
This was certainly the case on Wednesday, as Tottenham’s superb win away at AC Milan was unfortunately relegated to a mere sideshow in the wake of the pandemonium that followed the final whistle in Italy, which saw Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso angrily confront and then head-butt the Spurs assistant manager Joe Jordan. In possibly the most ill-advised scrap with Jordan since the Dhofar Rebellion, Gattuso’s agent claimed that ‘Rino’ had been provoked by the 59 year-old Scot, who stayed on his feet despite the attack. Jordan does speak Italian, after spending four years in the country as a player, including a highly successful spell at AC, but according to Gattuso, they were in fact speaking another language. "We were both speaking Scottish, something that I learned when I played in his home city of Glasgow, but I can't tell you what we said," explained the former Rangers man, who was already due to miss the second leg of the tie after being booked for a foul on Pienaar but may now also face extra disciplinary action from UEFA. Incidentally, Gattuso has now amassed 28 Champions League yellow cards, second only to Paul Scholes…strangely.
Next up was yet another case of one man’s idiocy spoiling the achievements of others and yet again it involved the FA Cup. Back in January, Stevenage players and fans were celebrating on the pitch after their historic defeat of Newcastle in the third round of the competition, when a Boro fan punched defender Scott Laird in a baffling and unprovoked attack. Last Thursday, the fan was handed a jail time and a six year banning order after admitting the attack, which he apparently carried out because Lair had previously a past relationship with his girlfriend and had allegedly "not treated her correctly."
To end the week and following up last week’s A Different Week, which detailed the appointment of Ruud Gullit as manager of Chechen minnows Terek Grozny, this week the owner of Grozny, former Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov has apparently secured a home friendly international against a Brazil all-star XI, rumoured to include 2002 World Cup winners Ronaldinho, Kaka and the recently retired, for now at least, Ronaldo. Despite fears over the security of the troubled Caucasus area, the Brazil side will take to the pitch on the 10th March to face a Chechen side that will even be captained by Kadyrov, a feared former militia leader who is the current President of Chechnya, despite being accused of a number of human rights offences. "Ramzan Kadyrov himself will be the team's captain," said Khaidar Alkhanov, the republic's sport minister. "This will be a powerful stimulus for [the] players and a huge present for Chechen supporters."