Click to follow
The Independent Online

The latest threat to football as we know it comes not from the United States but from - where two television stations have called for televised matches to be divided into thirds or even quarters to allow for more advertising.

Despite huge audience ratings, the two private channels, Sat1 and RTL, say they cannot make a profit because of the fees they pay for broadcasting rights. "The only way of financing televised football is to break the game up into thirds," Fred Kogel, the Sat1 managing director, said.

Kogel's counterpart at RTL, Helmut Thoma, suggested that coaches should be able to call two time-outs of two or three minutes in each half, which could be used to show commercials - and claimed the support of Sepp Blatter, the general secretary of Fifa, world football's governing body.

This has been denied by Blatter, who said: "Splitting the game into thirds or quarters is definitely not going to happen. There are also going to be no time-outs in the game in the foreseeable future." He admitted that he had raised the concept of time-outs last year, in order to help coaches have more influence on the game, but "tests in Sweden and Brazil have shown that the flow of the game suffers".

Before Blatter ruled out the TV stations' proposals, Franz Beckenbauer, the president of Bayern Munich, was more outspoken in his opposition, describing the ideas as "as useful as a hole in the head" and "the nonsense of the century".


It has been a good week for Fenerbahce's Nigerian defender Uche Okechukwu. The Olympic gold medallist earned a bonus of $10,500 (pounds ,7000) for playing his part in Wednesday's historic defeat of Manchester United in the Champions' League, to add to the $10,000 he won last Sunday for scoring in a Turkish League game against Trabzonspor - the 2,000th goal in Fenerbahce's history, hence the bonus.

Okechukwu and his Nigerian club-mate Augustine "Jay Jay" Okocha are planning to become Turkish citizens, adopting the names Abdul-Kerim Rahim Uche and Mohammad Yavuz Okocha respectively.

Already popular in Istanbul, the Nigerians and their team-mates are now national heroes after the events of Old Trafford. "Your victory has overwhelmed the whole nation with joy," Turkey's Foreign Minister, Tansu Ciller, said.

Some fans took the celebrations too far, however. A 25-year-old man firing a gun randomly out of his window in jubilation shot a woman in the stomach and her 10-month-old baby in the feet. Both victims were on the balcony of their flat. Elsewhere, an 18-year-old man was shot in the neck.


Shameful scenes at the Rasunda stadium last night, where Cyril Jeunechamp, nicknamed "the bull of Nimes", was sent off after trying to attack the referee in a European Cup-Winners' Cup tie. The French Third Division club Nimes, 3-1 down to AIK Solna from the first leg in France, were leading 1-0 and pressing hard when Jeunechamp saw red five minutes from the end. He attempted to kick the referee when he was denied a free-kick after being brought down by a defender.