Neymar's defence called over transfer
MADRID • Barcelona forward Neymar has been ordered to appear in a Spanish court next month as one of the defendants in a fraud case brought by Brazilian investment fund DIS.
The firm alleges it was the victim when Barca signed the player, third in the latest world football player of the year poll, from Brazilian club Santos.
A judge in Madrid, acting on a request from the state prosecutor, ordered Neymar, his parents, former Barca president Sandro Rosell, incumbent Josep Maria Bartomeu and two former Santos officials to present themselves on Feb 1 and 2.
Ronaldo's statue gets messed up
LISBON • Cristiano Ronaldo's statue in Funchal, capital of his home island of Madeira, has been tagged with the name and shirt number of arch-rival Lionel Messi, according to local press reports.
The graffiti was put on the statue overnight on Tuesday, just hours after Barcelona's Argentinian star Messi claimed a fifth world player of the year award, beating Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Ronaldo in the process.
The name Messi and the No. 10, both scrawled in red, had already been cleaned off the statue, the Diario de Noticias da Madeira said.
Roma axe coach after horrible spell
ROME • Roma have sacked French coach Rudi Garcia after a poor run of form, the Italian Serie A club confirmed yesterday.
Garcia, 51, won the double in France in 2011 with Lille and became Roma coach in 2013. His team won their first 10 Serie A matches in 2013-14 and enjoyed two straight second-place finishes. But he leaves with the capital club fifth in the table, seven points behind leaders Napoli.
The final straw was last Saturday's 1-1 draw at home to AC Milan, which left Roma with just one win in their last 10 games in all competitions.
Bayern chief revives talk of Euro league
MILAN • Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge reignited the idea of creating a "European league" with 20 of the continent's leading clubs, according to Italian media yesterday.
"You can't rule out that, in the future, we could create a European league with the major clubs from Italy, Germany, England, Spain and France, under the auspices of Uefa or a private organisation," he said during a financial fair play meeting in Milan on Tuesday.
"It would be a competition with 20 teams and perhaps we would play some matches in America and Asia," added Rummenigge, who is also president of the European Club Association, an independent body which represents clubs at European level.