Football: Toshack threatens to quit Besiktas in fines dispute

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The Independent Online
THE BESIKTAS coach, John Toshack, said yesterday he was close to resigning because of a row with club directors.

"I'm ready to throw in the towel, about to give up. Instead of doing their job, the directors are making statements on television and to the newspapers," the Anatolian news agency quoted Toshack as saying.

The former Liverpool and Wales striker is unhappy that the directors announced hefty fines on leading Besiktas players before tomorrow's European Cup-Winners' Cup second round game with Norway's Valarenga and a weekend Istanbul derby with Fenerbahce. "I was very angry at the announcement of these fines ahead of the Valarenga and Fenerbahce matches. What good is it for the team to announce these fines?" he said.

A club spokesman confirmed press reports that the Turkish internationals Alpay Ozalan and Oktay Derelioglu had been hit by a total of about pounds 36,000 in disciplinary fines this week. "The salaries of the players, trainers and masseurs at this club are not paid on time. If they are going to talk to the press, they can at least pay the wages on time," Toshack said. "My bag is packed and ready. I'm really tired of what they are doing." Besiktas are currently top of the Turkish First Division.

Meanwhile, Milan's George Weah has said he would rather sit on the bench than carry on playing on the left wing, but a club spokesman denied the Liberian striker wanted to quit.

The former World Player of the Year said before a training session that he was not happy that the manager, Alberto Zaccheroni, was making him play out wide on the left. His favoured position up front has been taken by Oliver Bierhoff.

Weah, whose contract runs until 2001, said he would rather be on the bench. But, asked whether he would leave, he replied: "I don't want to leave. I want to find a solution."

The Danish international midfielder Thomas Gravesen has been fined by his German club SV Hamburg for failing to turn up for an X-ray after injuring his hand in a match last weekend. Gravesen hurt his hand in Saturday's 4-1 win over MSV Duisburg and will have to undergo surgery for what has turned out to be a fracture.

But he was given a 1,000 marks (pounds 360) fine after going off to Denmark for the day when he was meant to have the injury examined. Gravesen eventually underwent an X-ray which revealed the fracture. He faces an operation on Friday and is expected to be out of action for about three weeks.

The former Fifa president, Joao Havelange, has blamed the European authorities for the decision to award the 2002 World Cup finals jointly to Japan and South Korea.

"It's an error. Which will be the governing currency? Who will be responsible for security?" Havelange was quoted as saying by the magazine France Football yesterday.

"The decision was put forward by the Europeans to upset me," said the 84-year-old Brazilian, who handed the reins of the world game's governing body to his former general secretary, Sepp Blatter, in June.

"But a president never loses. When I understood what they were plotting, I presented the proposition myself so as not to be put in a difficult position," he said.

"I'm not a dictator. I'm simply more intelligent than them, excuse me."

The two Asian countries started out as rivals to stage the first finals of the next century but Fifa, under Havelange, ended up handing them the tournament jointly. The teams would not be able to turn up in different cities as was the case in France this year, so the move was a step backwards, Havelange said.

Asked what mistakes he had made Havelange, the Fifa president for 24 years, said: "None. I worked very hard. There was no money [at Fifa], now there is. There was no headquarters, now there is.

"There were hardly any competitions and now there are. Fair play didn't exist, and now it exists. Refereeing has changed, and now it's better. I find that everything was done well. Excuse my frankness."

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