Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 6th 2015 Contents BARCELONA---Barcelona fired sports director
Andoni Zubizarreta yesterday, a week after the
club lost its appeal against a one-year transfer
ban and a day after losing at Real Sociedad, miss-
ing a chance to overtake Real Madrid at the top
of the Spanish league.
The transfer ban was imposed by Fifa for violating
rules for registering youth players.
In a statement, Barcelona said club president
"Josep Maria Bartomeu has decided to rescind the
contract" of Zubizarreta.
The club thanked Zubizarreta "for his work, ded-
ication and professionalism during the four years
he was in charge of football for this club."
Zubizarreta s firing was quickly followed by former
defender Carles Puyol announcing that he was
stepping down after less than four months as
Zubizarreta s assistant.
Barcelona lost its appeal to the Court of Arbi-
tration for Sport on December 30 after attempting
to overturn the ban imposed by Fifa for breaking
rules on registering minors as youth players. In a
February 2013 probe, Fifa had targeted violations
regarding 10 players, under the age of 18, Barcelona
signed to its academy.
Zubizarreta had also been criticised for the per-
formance of several players recruited in last year s
European transfer window, the last opportunity for
Barcelona to sign new players until 2016.
Luis Suarez has only scored once in nine Spanish
league games, Thomas Vermaelen has yet to play
due to recurring injuries he experienced at Arsenal
and Brazilian defender Douglas has made only three
The decision came a day after Barcelona lost 1-
0 at Real Sociedad. The loss increased pressure on
Barcelona coach Luis Enrique, another Zubizarreta
signing, for his erratic lineups.
Following Sunday s loss in San Sebastian,
Zubizarreta said "my job always depends on what
the president decides."
Then, he spread some of the blame for the transfer
ban to Bartomeu.
"Barto knows the situation better," Zubizarreta
The club said Bartomeu will hold a news con-
ference on Wednesday.
The firing of Zubizarreta, a former Barcelona
goalkeeper and for many years the most-capped
player for Spain s national team, is the latest blow
in a series of setbacks for the Catalan club.
It comes almost a year after former club president
Sandro Rosell resigned when a lawsuit investigating
his involvement in the signing of Brazil forward
Also, Lionel Messi is still involved in a tax fraud
LONDON---He's young, experienced and
wants to play---but it looks like public
opinion in Britain may prevent forward
Ched Evans from ever resuming his pro-
fessional soccer career.
Evans, 26, is out of prison after serving
time for raping a 19-year-old woman in
his hotel room in 2011. Yet public reaction
to his possible return to the nation s
favourite sport is becoming more and
The high-profile case raises questions
about the role of rehabilitation and chal-
lenges conventional wisdom that a con-
victed criminal who has paid for his
offense should be given a chance to work.
The situation is complicated by Evans
lack of remorse---he insists he is innocent
and has never apologised.
Oldham, an English team that plays in
the country s third-tier League One, is
considering signing Evans but major
sponsors Verlin and Mecca Bingo said
yesterday they will drop the team if he
joins. Thousands have signed an online
petition opposing his return.
"I agree he s served his time but it s a
very serious crime," said Kath Woodward,
a professor of sociology at Britain s Open
University who deals extensively with
sports issues. "Remorse would go some
way toward ameliorating the situation.
It s very disappointing that clubs like Old-
ham are trying to get a reasonable player
cheap. It shows the management of foot-
ball (soccer) doesn t understand the
She said society s attitudes toward rape
and sexual harassment have hardened
considerably since the days when former
heavyweight champion Mike Tyson was
able to resume his boxing career after
serving time in prison for a 1992 rape.
"I can remember the idea you just have
to put up with it, it s part of life, but
women now are not prepared to do that,"
she said. "There s a lot of public feeling
against him coming back, a lot of public
protests. The fans genuinely don t want
it."Oldham s chief executive, Neil Joy, said
that discussions were continuing with
soccer authorities on the topic but the
club was not ready to make "any official
announcement" concerning a possible
pact with Evans.
There have not been any high-profile
cases of convicted rapists returning to
professional team sports in the United
States. However, some professional ath-
letes in the US have been able to resume
their careers after prison sentences,
including NFL quarterback Michael Vick,
who served time for his role in a dog-
Evans was jailed for five years in 2012
but was released in October after serving
half his sentence. The former Wales
national team player said he would work
to clear his name and that he wanted to
return to soccer.
Sheffield United said in November that
Evans would train with the club, sparking
almost immediate opposition. Prominent
Britons, including Olympic gold medalist
Jessica Ennis, said they would drop their
association with the club if they signed
The pressure worked---the club changed
course after 10 days and said Evans would
not be training there after all.
After that, the prospect that Evans
could play overseas was raised when a
Maltese team said it would offer him a
contract. But British officials said since
Evans was a convicted sex offender this
would likely be impossible. A Ministry
of Justice statement said probation officers
would have to approve any new job and
would have to be assured of regular, face-
to-face meetings, which "effectively rules
out working abroad."
Then Oldham entered the picture. But
resistance has been fierce, with some
20,000 people signing an online petition
opposing his addition.
Greater Manchester Police and Crime
Commissioner Tony Lloyd even took the
unusual step of wading into the contro-
versy. He said Evans "lack of remorse"
and "failure to acknowledge" his crime
should keep him out of the game.
"Ched Evans is a convicted rapist and,
whilst I strongly believe in the principle
of rehabilitation, it will send out entirely
the wrong message if they offer him a
contract," Lloyd said.
Professor Simon Chadwick, who spe-
cialises in sports marketing at Coventry
University, said Evans has become "a toxic
player that nobody wants to touch."
Chadwick said Evans made the situation
worse by presenting his case to the public
in an arrogant way that does not seem
to comprehend the severity of his crime.
"Nobody wants to see somebody who
has perpetrated violent crime against
women be so easily allowed back in," he
said. "Normally you d say, if he served
his time, he should have the opportunity
to re-enter the workplace and continue
his work. But this is not a legal issue, it s
a socio-cultural issue. What this man has
done is deemed by many to be unaccept-
Tuesday, January 6, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Public pressure dims soccer
options for convicted rapist
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GAZA CITY---A delegation
from world soccer's governing
body is visiting the Gaza Strip
to give a boost to local foot-
The Fifa delegation arrived
in Gaza yesterday after a five-
hour delay at an Israeli border
crossing. Delegation leader
David Borja says the visit---the
first by Fifa in 12 years---will
be the start of "very good
Abdulsalam Haniya, a mem-
ber of the Palestine Olympic
Committee, said the delegation
is visiting two soccer stadiums
that were damaged by Israeli
airstrikes. Palestinian militants
launched rockets from one of
the stadiums in 2012.
The delegation is also donat-
ing money to build 20 soccer
fields with artificial turf.
Israel said the delegation was
delayed because one of its
members had not co-ordinated
the visit ahead of time.
ROME---Italian Football Federation
president Carlo Tavecchio hopes a plan
to reduce Serie A from 20 to 18 clubs
is approved this year.
Tavecchio tells RAI state radio, "If it s
not done in 2015 then we ll have to make
Tavecchio also wants to cut Serie B
from 22 to 20 clubs.
He says, "The Italian sports system
is imploding. The resources are dimin-
ishing. ... (The reductions) can return
Italian football to a better level."
Dragged down by old stadiums, dwin-
dling attendance, fan violence and
racism, Serie A is struggling to keep up
with leagues in England, Spain and Ger-
Italy is fourth in UEFA s country coef-
ficient rankings, which determine how
many clubs each league gets in the lucra-
tive Champions League.
Tavecchio did not say when the cuts
might be made.
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