Football Around The World: Nosy press cause Brazilian brawl

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RELATIONS BETWEEN footballers and the British press are occasionally less than cordial, but they would have to deteriorate some to match scenes witnessed at the weekend in the ian championship quarter-final between Sport Recife and Santos.

Tempers flared after Recife, already two goals ahead, were awarded a controversial penalty. Santos players argued with the linesman but finally lost their tempers when a radio reporter held a microphone between them and the official to get a better idea of what was being said.

The striker Viola was then seen to lash out at a reporter, leading to a free-for-all involving Santos players, policemen wielding truncheons, more reporters and the Santos coach, Emerson Leaon. The brawling lasted 20 minutes but was not the last controversial moment.

The referee later appeared to award a goal-kick instead of a penalty and then changed his mind once again by awarding a penalty. At least events ended on a peaceful note. Recife ended up 3-1 winners and no one was sent off.


NANDO MUNOZ, an Espanyol defender, was as surprised as anyone when his shot midway through Sunday's game against Real Zaragoza put his side 2- 0 ahead. He had gone 12 years and 246 games in the Spanish First Division without troubling the statisticians. The centre-back, who has played for Barcelona and Real Madrid, looked stunned upon scoring. "I'm very, very happy," he said after the game, which ended 3-0 to the visitors. "But I can't talk now. I'm waiting for a call from my family."


JOHAN CRUYFF has launched his most virulent attack yet on his compatriot, the Barcelona coach, Louis van Gaal. Cruyff, a former player and coach at Barcelona, made his latest criticisms in the wake of Barcelona's recent defeats in both the Spanish league to Oviedo and the Champions' League to Bayern Munich.

"It's a street without an end. Van Gaal does not know where he is going," Cruyff said. "Van Gaal has committed many errors not because he is stupid but because he does not know the club. He's lost the base I established and does not have the affection of the Catalan players.

"I am Dutch and I signed Koeman and Witschige but never in my life did I play six or seven Dutch players. [Van Gaal has six Dutch players in his first-team squad at the moment] You can imagine the outcry if eight Spaniards were to turn out for Ajax."


GERMAN PROFESSIONAL football players are too lazy, according to the Werder Bremen coach, Felix Magath. "In a free economy system, you will not find anybody who works three hours a day and earns millions," the former German international said last week.

Asked if he thought players should work a 40-hour week, he replied: "Why not? I have the feeling that players have an easy life. They must understand that we're permanently involved in a competition with the other clubs and that this competition is a tough one."


PETER WITHE, the ex-Aston Villa striker who is now coach of Thailand's national team, has a huge responsibility in next month's Asian Games. He must restore the reputation of a team tarnished by the farcical international earlier this year when Thailand beat Indonesia in the Tiger Cup despite trying to lose to avoid having to play in Vietnam in the semi-final.

"With the help of the English coach I'm confident the Thai team will reach the final," Thawatchai Satchakul, the new team manager, has said. "The players have apologised to football fans for the past and promise to regain public faith and their reputation."