UEFA tells Sporting to remove violent wallpaper

Portuguese club Sporting have been ordered to get rid of photographs covering the walls inside their stadium which UEFA view as violent and offensive.

"The scenes depicted in the images are clearly contrary to the values of respect and tolerance UEFA works hard to promote," European soccer's governing body said.

The images, plastered on wallpaper on the walls of the Alvalade stadium's tunnel leading to the pitch, show a group of aggressive-looking, masked fans clashing with stadium stewards. One of the fans is pictured burning a flare, an illegal object to bring inside stadiums in Portugal.

"UEFA has a zero-tolerance approach to violence and these images show at the very least an ambivalent position towards fan trouble and fan violence," UEFA said, explaining its decision to request that the club remove or cover the images for UEFA matches.
Sporting did not comment on UEFA's request, but had previously said the pictures were not disrespectful and accused local media of having singled them out from a wider range of images.

Only children for Ajax vs AZ Alkmaar match

The Dutch Cup replay between Ajax Amsterdam and AZ Alkmaar on Jan 19 will be watched by a crowd of children only.

The last-16 match was abandoned on Dec 21 shortly before halftime after a fan invaded the pitch and attacked Alkmaar keeper Esteban.

Esteban retaliated and was sent off but his red card was rescinded and Ajax were forced to replay the game in an empty stadium.

Ajax last week asked the Dutch football association (KNVB) to allow women and children to attend the match but the ruling body decided that only the latter would be permitted because of a national law of comparable treatment for men and women.

Tickets will be free for clubs and primary schools with children aged under 13 and one adult will be allowed in to look after every six of them.

Alkmaar lead the Dutch league standikngs with Ajax in fourth.

Copper not the right name for handball venue

London 2012 organisers have come under fire after changing the name of the Handball Arena to the Copper Box.

The world's leading nations will battle for precious Olympic gold, silver and bronze medals in the 7,000-seater venue at this year's Games but copper it seems is not to the taste of British handball's governing body.

"We deserve to have all our good work in developing the sport recognised by the authorities by not giving the venue a generic title which does nothing to reflect its usage," British Handball chief executive Paul Goodwin said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Why have they not renamed other facilities in a similar vein? Perhaps the Olympic Velodrome will be called 'the big round wooden building' or the basketball arena renamed 'the marshmallow'?". The Copper Box, which features 3,000 square metres of copper cladding and multi-coloured interior, was completed in May. It will host the handball competition until the semifinals before it switches to the basketball venue.

Drogba likely to join Anelka at Shanghai

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba will not be joining China's Guangzhou Evergrande after the defending national champions ended speculation over a bold transfer swoop.
"We have (had) no contact with Drogba whatsoever, nor... authorised anyone to contact him," the club said..

"The recent Drogba reports are pure speculation, he is not in our plans."

Drogba could now be closer to joining Chinese rivals Shanghai Shenhua after they signed his Chelsea striking partner Nicola Anelka last month.

Former French international Jean Tigana is set to take over as Shanghai coach and the club have declared their interest in bringing Ivory Coast international Drogba in too.

Promoted Dalian Aerbin have also been linked with Drogba, 33, who is entering the last six months of his current contract with Chelsea.

Guangzhou were believed to be lining up an astonishing $625,000 a week deal for Drogba, according to China Daily, before the club's denial.