Boro seek inquiry on Emerson

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The Independent Online

Middlesbrough are to ask the Association to request an investigation by football's world governing body, Fifa, into a "hidden agenda" surrounding Emerson's behaviour.

The pounds 4m Brazilian midfielder, who signed a four-year contract in May, has gone missing three times and Middlesbrough are waiting for him to return from his latest trip back home.

The finger is being pointed at Barcelona, with the Premiership club claiming they have orchestrated a campaign to lure the player away.

"There is no bad blood between Middlesbrough and Emerson," Keith Lamb, the Middlesbrough chief executive, said. "He has told us on numerous occasions that he is happy and wants to play football but there has been a hidden agenda to move him away from the club."

However, if Barcelona are relying on Middlesbrough cutting their losses on Emerson, they will be disappointed. "People in Spain are amazed that Middlesbrough can stand up to Barcelona, but we won't be bullied by some of the alleged larger clubs in Europe," Lamb said. "Barcelona will not get Emerson but they might get a load of trouble.

"The FA are well aware of what has been going on and are totally supportive of our actions and when the dust settles we want the FA to ask Fifa to carry out a full investigation into the whole affair.

"Middlesbrough Club is bigger than any individual. There can only be one winner in this and one loser. We've told Emerson that if he's got a football future, it's on Teesside. If he doesn't want to play football he can go and sit on a beach in Brazil or sit on a quay in Barcelona and watch the ships go by. What he can't do is play football for anyone else."

Emerson, who will not play at Leeds tomorrow even if he returns today, laid bare his problems in a Portuguese newspaper. "I am starting to live a drama," he said. "My wife is ill. She doesn't like Middlesbrough as she feels it is too cold. I find it hard to concentrate on football as my wife is unhappy living in Middlesbrough."

Nottingham Forest have quashed speculation that they will be selling Ian Woan to Tottenham for pounds 3m, and Birmingham have turned down an offer from Bolton for Mike Newell, the striker they signed for pounds 775,000 from Blackburn last summer.

Uefa, European football's governing body, responding to the Bosman ruling on transfer fees and attempting to help smaller clubs, has proposed that players should be signed on long-term contracts until the age of 24, during which time they will be subject to a transfer fee, and after which time they will be available on free transfers.