Kick in the teeth for a Spanish football starlet in Leeds

A talented young footballer from a Leeds school has been shown the red card from playing in a local league – because she is Spanish.

Carmen Olmos, 14, a boarder at Fulneck School, Pudsey, has been told she is not eligible to play for Wortley FC, because the Football Association (FA) cannot obtain “international clearance” for her.

It says its hands are tied by FIFA regulations and while she can play for the school, she is banned from joining any team playing in a competitive league.

“She attended a number of trials with Wortley Girls FC, enjoyed them so much that she asked to join. The club wrote to the FA to check that, because Carmen had not previously registered for either a Spanish or English club, she would not need an International Transfer Certificate. Sadly the reply was that she could only play for the school. Carmen’s unhappy, her family are unhappy, we are unhappy and Wortley FC are livid.”

The FA last night confirmed it was a FIFA regulation, under which she was unable to play.

A spokesman from FIFA said international transfers of registered players are only permitted if the player is over 18, with few exceptions. He added: “The same rules also apply to the registration of foreign minor players who have never been previously registered.”

He said each decision is made by a sub-committee appointed by the Players’ Status Committee.


Spain boss looking to end club rifts

La Roja will head to Brazil looking to retain the title they won four years ago in South Africa but there is a strong possibility of tension within the squad, with the country’s top three teams in Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid all fighting for the league title.

Their rivalries have led to a number of fiery encounters between the sides and it has often been speculated that this has prompted a number of rifts within the national set-up. Del Bosque was the mastermind behind his country’s success in the Rainbow Nation, as well as their Euro 2012 triumph, but admits that without unity within the camp they will struggle to achieve anything similar in the summer. “With good relationships between the players we will be closer to success,” the coach is reported as saying in AS.

“There are many great teams that also want to be world champions, so repeating (their 2010 victory) is very complicated.”


Spain still top of FIFA rankings

World and European champions Spain have remained top of the latest FIFA rankings.

With only six international matches played in the past month there has been little movement, with FIFA’s official website putting down the rise of Greece and Scotland to the change in valuation of World Cup qualifiers of recent years.

Greece, winners of the European Championships in 2004, have entered the top 10, while Scotland have leapt 15 places.

Germany remain behind Spain while Portugal have gone third. The top 10 is rounded out by Colombia, Uruguay, Argentina, World Cup hosts Brazil, Switzerland and Italy.


Torres says he can make Spain’s World Cup team

Spain striker Fernando Torres says he can make the World Cup squad and help his country defend its title in Brazil.

Torres tells Spanish daily AS “in football you never know where you will be inside one month. I’m going to work hard, that’s all you can do with this last part of the season so important. Those in the best form before the World Cup will go.”

The Chelsea striker was dropped from Spain’s team for a recent friendly against Italy with Brazilian-born striker Diego Costa taking his place. Alvaro Negredo is also ahead of him in the pecking order.

Torres, who turned 30 on Thursday, helped Spain win back-to-back European Championships and the last World Cup.


Spain, Netherlands, Chile headline Group B at WCup

Spain’s bid to repeat as champion has the unenviable task of beginning in a World Cup group with the Netherlands, Chile and Australia.

Three of the four should contend for a spot in the knockout phase, with plucky Australia looking overmatched but able to spoil the hopes of the others.

Spain and the Netherlands play on June 13 at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, while Chile could take an early lead in Group B with its opener against Australia at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba.

With Brazil a potential opponent in the round of 16, no team can afford a poor start in Group B.

Spain lost its opening match at the World Cup four years ago, but went on to beat the Netherlands in the final. This year, those same two teams meet in one of the most anticipated opening matches of the tournament.

The rematch is likely to produce a different spectacle than four years ago when the Dutch soured their tournament run with a physical, defensive display that has come to be symbolized by Nigel de Jong’s kung-fu style kick to the chest of Spain midfielder Xabi Alonso.

Spain has not lost a step as it vies to win a fourth straight major tournament with a core squad that is likely playing its final World Cup.

Spain’s schedule is perhaps the toughest, as it follows up its match against the Netherlands by playing Chile on June 18 at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

”We’ll have to be ready from Day 1,” Spain coach Vicente del Bosque said after the draw. ”With this selection of rivals, we cannot afford to let our concentration slip one bit. The Netherlands will demand our best.”

Spain finishes group play against Australia, where anything but a victory would be a shock.


Spain looking for another title in Brazil

Spain has a chance to become the first team to win back-to-back World Cup titles since Brazil in 1962, and what better place to do it than in the country that coined the phrase “Jogo Bonito.”

Four years after winning its first world title, Spain is not as feared as before, but coach Vicente del Bosque still has the luxury of enough talent and experience to field two teams.

Spain’s midfield remains the cog to its success with veteran players Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, and Xabi Alonso; difference-makers like David Silva and Cesc Fabregas; and the arrivals of burgeoning talents such as Thiago Alcantara and Isco to carry forward the team’s quick-touch, possession football.

Four years ago, Spain rallied from its opening loss to Switzerland to reach the final, beating the Netherlands 1-0 with a more defensive approach as Alonso and Sergio Busquets stacked the midfield and protected the back.

Spain’s defense remains one of its strengths despite the loss of Carles Puyol, with Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique forming a block in the center, where Javi Martinez can easily slide in.

Cezar Azipiluceta looks likely to partner Jordi Alba to provide Spain with plenty of pace at the fullback positions.

Iker Casillas is the first-choice goalkeeper despite having been relegated to a backup role at Real Madrid, although his experience has carried him through a difficult season-and-a-half at Madrid.

Spain will open against the Netherlands in Salvador on June 13 in a rematch of the 2010 final before a tricky match against Chile in Rio de Janeiro five days later. The defending champions will then face Australia on June 23 in Curitiba, where the squad will be based.

“Simply put, it’s one of the toughest groups in the tournament,” Xavi said. “We know how hard it is to play the World Cup, especially right from the start with this group we’ve been put into.”


Working in Spain was fantastic, but I got tired of the atmosphere – Mourinho

Former Real Madrid manager, Jose Mourinho recently discussed his time at the capital club and admitted that while he had a fantastic working experience in Spain, life wasn’t as easy as it is in England and he got tired of the “atmosphere.”

In an interview with Radio Monte Carlo, Mourinho spoke about his experience and divulged that he prefers life in England.

“Working in Spain was a fantastic experience, but social life isn’t easy there. I got tired of the atmosphere. I like it in England. The relationship with the players, press and fans suits me better.”

“I watched the ‘Clásico’. The refereeing? It’s the same everywhere. Football is more than a sport and it’s not easy. There is too much pressure.”

Mourinho was constantly at odds with the press in his final year at Real Madrid, often times sending his assistant manager, Aitor Karanka to speak with the media before and after matches.


Spain keeper Valdes to miss World Cup

Spain goalkeeper Victor Valdes will miss the World Cup after being ruled out of action for seven months following knee surgery.

He had been in good form this season for Barcelona, who are in contention to win three trophies, before suffering a cruciate ligament injury making a routine save in last week’s La Liga game against Celta Vigo.

The 32-year-old Spain international went under the knife in Augsburg, Germany, on Monday morning and Barca confirmed on their website the surgery had gone successfully.

“The player has been operated on by Dr Ulrich Boenisch and Ricard Pruna in Augsberg, Germany,” the club said in a statement.

“The operation was a success and he will now be out for approximately seven months.”

Valdes, 32, was set to be named in Vicente del Bosque’s Spain squad to go to the World Cup and had a good chance of being the first-choice keeper with Iker Casillas having lost his place in the Real Madrid team to Diego Lopez.

The long-serving custodian has long planned to leave the Nou Camp at the end of his contract in June, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen having already agreed a summer move from German side Borussia Monchangladbach.

Valdes has played 535 senior games for Barca since making his debut over a decade ago, and won six Primera Division titles, three Champions League crowns and two Copa del Reys among a host of other trophies.

He was also part of the Spain squad that won the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championship.


Difference between Italy and Spain

Carlo Ancelotti has considered the differences that he sees between football in Italy’s Serie A and Spain’s La Liga.

The former Parma, Juventus and Milan Coach is currently working at Real Madrid and has considered where the two Leagues are dissimilar at the moment.

“Spanish football is different and reflects the philosophy and culture of this country,” Ancelotti has told Radio Anch’Io Sport.

“And it is mostly played with much possession of the ball. It is different, certainly, to Italian football, which is experiencing a particular moment.

“There are cycles, it remains technically competitive, but to improve it is normal that there is a need for innovations in infrastructure.

“As for Juventus, the results in Europe are not related to the Italian League. There is less quality, but the rhythms have always been different. The gap can be recovered peacefully, I have no doubt.”

Ancelotti considered Real Madrid’s performance of late, which has them third in Spain.

“In the League we have slipped to third because of two setbacks. The dream is La Decima [the 10th European Cup, but the League is a concrete objective.

“The League is interesting because beyond the three teams at the top, there are teams like Zaragoza and Athletic Bilbao who  are very competitive.

“I have a strong team and complete – there are champions, experienced players and young people from the academy.

“Ronaldo? It is a simple thing to train him because he is an immense professional. He has understood that talent devoid of professionalism does not allow you to stay at the highest levels. That is the same for him, for Ibrahimovic and for many others.

“In Italy? The champions nourish affection and have no confinement to the Italian League.”

The 54-year-old considered Italian attitudes towards match officials.

“In Italy there is so much, too much pressure. They all have individual quality, but in Spain and England they are under less pressure.

“Would television replays help? No, for the love of God. There’s already too much, it should not be put in the field.”

Ancelotti was asked for his view on Rafa Benitez and Antonio Conte’s fall-out yesterday evening over how much each club has spent relating to their respective levels of success.

“Fortunately I am a Coach, not an accountant. I leave the sums to the President, I deal with tactics and other things.”


Brazil, Spain, Argentina and Germany are favourites to win the World Cup

At Friday’s presentation, Cristiano spoke about the upcoming World Cup and named off his favourites to win the competition, failing to name his own squad, Portugal, who are not expected to go far.

“I hope we have a good World Cup, we have no pressure because the favorites are Brazil, Spain, Argentina and Germany. The first game is important because it’ll be against a very important team, Germany.

“Going to the World Cup is a great motivation, because I became a footballer watching Portuguese players.”

Cristiano has been rumoured to be struggling with a knee injury and will be monitored closely before Saturday evening’s match against an in-form Rayo Vallecano.


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