Football: West Ham admit Di Canio interest

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The Independent Online
WEST HAM are poised to complete the pounds 3.5m signing of Marc-Vivien Foe, the Cameroon international from the French champions, Lens, in time for Saturday's Premiership meeting with Wimbledon at Selhurst Park. And the Hammers are also is interested in signing Sheffield Wednesday's troubled Italian striker, Paolo Di Canio.

Foe, a talented midfielder who was ready to sign for Manchester United last season before a broken leg put him out of the World Cup finals, only became a realistic target for West Ham after the pounds 7.5m sale of John Hartson to Wimbledon two weeks ago.

The West Ham manager, Harry Redknapp, yesterday denied reports that the signing had been completed but he told West Ham ClubCall: "There are still just one or two details to be tied up but, hopefully, it will be done in time for Saturday's game."

West Ham's football secretary, Neil Harrison, confirmed: "There will be no announcement today but you would be right to assume things are moving in the right direction."

And after the Sheffield Wednesday secretary, Graham Mackrell, reportedly said the east Londoners had "made an inquiry" about Di Canio, Harrison confirmed: "There has been an inquiry but he is just one of the number of players we are interested in."

Representatives from the Football Association met Sepp Blatter, the president of Fifa, football's world governing body, in Zurich yesterday to assure him that the English game has put its recent troubles behind it. David Davies, the acting executive director, and Geoff Thompson, the FA's vice- chairman, told Blatter their aim is to modernise the FA following the resignations of its chief executive, Graham Kelly, and chairman, Keith Wiseman, over the cash-for-votes scandal involving the FA and the Football Association of Wales.

A Fifa spokesman said that Blatter had informed them that "there is a differentiation between individuals and institutions" and that England's bid to host the 2006 World Cup will not suffer because of recent events.

Meanwhile, the executive committee of the game's European governing body, Uefa, has rejected Blatter's proposals for a biennial World Cup. It believes holding the tournament more regularly would devalue it.

"The committee was unanimous there are no positive elements to be discovered in this proposal for European football, nor for football in general nor for the World Cup," the German secretary general of Uefa, Gerhard Aigner, said in Cape Town, South Africa, yesterday.

He added that Uefa would invite Blatter to a meeting so he could explain his idea in greater detail. Aigner was speaking after the Uefa executive had held its first meeting on African soil, timed to coincide with the start tomorrow of the under-17 Meridian Cup, which pits four African under- 17 teams against four teams from Europe.

Asked what was Uefa's main objection to Blatter's plan, Aigner said: "There are too many reasons to be elaborated on, but one is that the World Cup would be devalued if it was held every two years."

Football clubs were warned yesterday that out-of-competition drugs testing will start imminently and could soon include a new way to track EPO blood doping. Dr Michel D'Hooghe, the head of Fifa's medical committee, said urine tests soon could determine the use of EPO, a synthetic product at the centre of doping allegations in Italian football since last summer.

The Celtic youngster Mark Burchill has ended months of speculation over his future by signing a new four and a half year deal with the club. The 18-year-old striker had refused to be rushed into signing a new contract but signed yesterday.

Motherwell's efforts to secure John Spencer on a permanent basis look to have failed, with the Scotland international forward returning to Everton. Spencer has been on loan at Fir Park for the past three months and Motherwell had earmarked substantial funds to clinch his transfer.

However, talks with the Goodison side have failed to bridge the apparent gap between what Motherwell can offer and the near pounds 1m Everton want.