Football: Zidane drops a hint to United

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The Independent Online
THERE MAY be an added incentive for Manchester United to overcome Juventus in next Wednesday's European Cup semi-final. Zinedine Zidane, the Juve midfielder so admired by the United manager Alex Ferguson, said yesterday that the Turin giants' fortunes in the Champions' Cup could determine whether he decides to stay with the Serie A club.

Zidane, the star of France's victorious World Cup campaign and the world player of the year, said he is happy at Juventus, but hinted that he might look elsewhere if they fail to win Europe's premier club competition this season.

Zidane said: "Family is more important for me than football. I have never hidden the fact that there are problems living in Turin although not with the club. I am fine at Juventus. It does not bother me if some of my team- mates are better paid than me. I am already happy with what I have got, I am happy at Juventus because I have a contract until 2004."

However, in a clear reference to Juve's European Cup campaign, Zidane said: "Let's just finish this season and then we will see according to the results we have."

The Italian league's disciplinary panel has fined Roma and Lazio more than $25,000 (pounds 16,000) for racist signs displayed in the stands during the clubs' derby on Sunday. The league held the teams accountable for what it called "racially discriminatory" flags and banners on display at the Olympic Stadium, which the clubs share in Rome.

Roma, technically the home team for the match, were fined 25 million lire (pounds 8,875) and Lazio 20 million lire (pounds 7,125). Lazio also learned they will be without their captain, Alessandro Nesta, for three games. He was handed the lengthy suspension for a tackle on Roma's Francesco Totti, and an ensuing argument with the referee.

Lazio's three other starting defenders - Paolo Negro, Giuseppe Pancaro and Sinisa Mihajlovic - all received one-game suspensions, meaning the Serie A leaders will have to use four reserves for their key game on Saturday against Juventus.

At home, Brian Kidd was given some welcome news for his struggling Blackburn Rovers side last night with the return of both Kevin Gallacher and Christian Dailly. Both long-term absentees have been inactive for four months but are in the squad for Saturday's crucial relegation encounter with Southampton. Gallacher is fit after a calf complaint while Dailly has recovered from a ruptured thigh.

The Newcastle defender Steve Howey could be out of the game for up to eight months after rupturing his Achilles tendon during Sunday's FA Cup semi-final victory over Tottenham. Howey's inclusion at Old Trafford was something of a gamble after a month out with a calf problem, but no one could have predicted the misfortune which brought his departure on a stretcher before half-time.

Howey said: "The good news is that it is not connected with the calf injury that plagued me for such a long time. I have been given a definite time frame for recovery, and that cuts out all the agony of living in hope.

"I am going to be out for eight months and, naturally, I am very disappointed, but it gives me a chance for a rest. I will take my family abroad in the next week or so and I'll be ready to start again during next season."

European football's governing body, Uefa has announced that that it will plough 35 million Swiss francs (pounds 14.7m) into the sport this season.

It said that a flat sum of 200,000 Swiss francs ($134,700) will be paid at the end of the season to all of Uefa's 51 member associations. Additional payments will go to clubs eliminated in the two qualifying phases of the Champions' League and all national champions who did not take part in the competition.

Clubs eliminated at, or before, the second round stage of this season's Cup-Winners' Cup and Uefa Cup will also receive additional payments.

Poland will be the biggest beneficiary, receiving a cut of 1.23 million francs, followed by Romania and Yugoslavia, who will each receive 1.15 million.

San Marino will get 200,000 francs, followed by Liechtenstein and Andorra with 280,000 and Spain with 360,000. The World Cup champions, France, will net 590,000 francs, while England are set to receive 680,000.

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