Anelka under fire from on high

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Spain

Spain

Nicolas Anelka is not worth the money - it's official, at least if you accept the word of the Spanish Prime Minister. Jose Maria Aznar, a Real Madrid fan of 40 years' standing, described the 5.3bn pesetas (£22.2m) his side paid Arsenal for the French striker as "nonsense".

The 20-year-old has failed to score since his arrival in August, and Señor Aznar went on: "I think it is impossible for a soccer player to play so well as to be worth 5.3bn pesetas. In life, everything has a limit and some things are simply too much. What must a player do to justify 5.3bn pesetas? How many goals must he score, how many titles must he win?"

Morocco

Manchester United may have come in for criticism for taking part in the forthcoming World Club Championships instead of the FA Cup, but the event is being taken seriously elsewhere. So seriously, in fact, that the African champions Raja Casablanca have been allowed to break their fast during the month of Ramadan.

During Ramadan, muslims abstain from eating, drinking and sexual relations during daylight hours, but a theologian, invited by the club to rule on the question, imposed a fatwa, or religious decree, permitting staff and players to postpone the fast, which can be delayed because of illness, travel, war, or a mission important to the interests of the nation. Raja will not get away with it altogether though, as the fast must be observed at a later date.

Brazil

Christmas came early, as they say, for Milene Domingues. A day early in fact. The 22-year-old model - visibly pregnant, according to reports - was married to the Internazionale striker Ronaldo at his mother's house in Rio de Janeiro on Friday.

It was a sign of the times that the witnesses included Ronaldo's agent, Reinaldo Pitta, and Aloisio Freitas, the financial director of his company, Gortin Promocoes. Bride and groom were both wearing presents from Giorgio Armani, but it is clear Ronaldo has learned nothing from Posh 'n' Becks. The whole do cost less than £5,000.

Russia

Lev Yashin has been voted Russia's athlete of the century by the country's federation of sports journalists. The man in black, who died of cancer in 1990 aged 60, played more than 600 games for Dynamo Moscow and won 78 caps while, in 1963, he became the only goalkeeper to be named European Footballer of the Year.

Switzerland

The Swiss are not known for their partying, but it can be assumed they were celebrating yesterday. The reason? The announcement by the former Tottenham coach Christian Gross that he is staying with Basel rather than accepting an offer to take over the national side.

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