Thursday Kickoff: Real Madrid under investigation; Ibra urges Rooney to join PSG; and more

EstadioSantiagoBernabeu (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

Real Madrid’s 3-0 win on Wednesday over Galatasaray should give them breathing room in their quest for a Champions League title, but news of an EU investigation has taken the wind right out of the club.

The European Commission is investigating the club for accepting illegal state aid, according to a report in The Independent. The report states that Real Madrid benefited from a land swap with the city council in 1996, and now that the club wants to develop the Santiago Bernabeu, authorities have looked over the numbers and found inconsistencies.

According to the report, the property Real Madrid gained in the land swap has increased in value from €421,000 in 1996 to €22.7 million 2011. The club have defended themselves, saying that they’ve conducted all dealings with the city council in public.

Numerous Spanish clubs have been in financial trouble the past few seasons, most notably Valencia, who defaulted on a bank loan in January, and Malaga, who has been suspended from European competition next season.

Here are some more stories to get your Thursday started:

IBRAHIMOVIC URGES ROONEY TO JOIN HIM

Following news of Paris Saint-Germain President Nasser Al-Khelaifi’s interest in Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has chimed in as well.

The Swedish international said on Wednesday that he believes if Rooney ever does leave United, PSG should be his only destination. Ibrahimovic also played to the English international’s ego, calling him one of the top ten strikers on the European continent.

“If he wants to be part of the best project in football, then there is only one club to sign for,” Ibrahimovic told Sky Sports.

PSG currently sit in first place in Ligue 1, seven points ahead of second-place Marseille with eight matches remaining. Since taking over 2011, Al Khelaifi and his Qatari based investment group have spent over €250 million transfers to improve the squad.

XOLOS SEALS PLACE IN KNOCKOUT STAGES

Club Tijuana have continued their incredible run the past couple of seasons by making the knockout stages of the Copa Libertadores for the first time in club history.

On Wednesday, Xolos tied Bolivian club San Jose 1-1 in the mountains of Ororu, but the draw was enough along with a Corinthians win to confirm a place in the next round. Fidel Martinez scored the first goal of the match for Tijuana when he chipped the keeper to himself, before heading in from two feet away in the 66th minute.

San Jose came back to score in the 81st minute, with Marcelo Gomes finishing a beautiful passing sequence with a blast into the net to tie the match. The draw though has condemned the Bolivian side to finish their Copa Libertadores run in the group stages.

Across the continent, Corinthians of Brazil defeated Colombian club Millonarios 1-0, putting the defending champions into the knockout stages as well. Argentine giants Boca Juniors defeated Barcelona of Ecuador 1-0 and Chilean side Huachipato defeated Caracas of Venezuela 4-0 on the road. Ronaldinho scored twice and assisted on one in Atletico Mineiro’s 5-2 win over Arsenal de Sarandi of Argentina that was marred by Arsenal players fighting police on the field.

QUICK KICKS

Diego Milito has returned to light training for Inter Milan earlier than expected. (REPORT)

Hannover defender Johan Djourou wants to make his loan deal from Arsenal permanent. (REPORT)

AS Roma President James Pallotta is looking for a €75 million investment in the club from sponsors or outside sources. (REPORT)

Borussia Dortmund forward Robert Lewandowski has been told he must sort out his future by May. (REPORT)

AC Milan forward Mario Balotelli has been included as a member of Time magazine’s prestigious 100 most influential people of 2012. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you see Real Madrid being punished under financial fair play rules? Do you see Rooney playing alongside Ibrahimovic? Do you believe Balotelli was one of the 100 most influential people of the past year?

Share your thoughts below.

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25 Responses to Thursday Kickoff: Real Madrid under investigation; Ibra urges Rooney to join PSG; and more

  1. Nate Dollars says:

    only thing surprising about the ‘investigation’ (in quotes, because it isn’t an official investigation yet)is that it’s taken this long for them to decide to even look into the possibilities of an investigation.

    it’s been known for years that the club’s real estate deal with the city of madrid was basically just a long-term cash infusion, so why now?

  2. 1254 says:

    Rooney is eventually going to leave Man U or he will be used to the bench. Great striker but in a dump. what’s up with him?

    and how exactly is Lewandowski is world class? He had 1 fantastic season and so far a pretty good 1, but when you’re a striker at a club like Dortmund, you’re bound to score almost certaintly

  3. biff says:

    How about an investigation as to why Real Madrid in its the past two Champions League games (against Manchester United a few weeks ago and last night against Galatasaray) has benefited from several absolutely awful game-changing decisions from inexperienced referees who, at the very least, appear to be incompetent. Not accusing the refs of intentionally trying to help Madrid advance, but the bad calls that have been made are exactly the sorts of calls that a ref with an agenda would make.

    • ChiTown says:

      The missed calls yesterday were bad, but enough with this nonsense about the Nani play not being a red card.

      He put his boot through a player’s chest. There are no legitimate complaints that don’t start with, “well yes by the rules it’s a red.”

    • Eurosnob says:

      Biff, Roy Keane, a former Manchester United player, said that Nani’s card was the right decision. It was a dangerous play – a cleat in the chest – and there is no intent requirement under the rules. No question – it was a big call that affected the game and people can debate it – but even the folks that used to wear Manchester United’s shirt disagree about whether the red card to Nani was appropriate. By the way, the ref who gave Nani the card has plenty of international experience, including officiating at EURO 2012 and last years’ Champions League semi-final between Cheslea and Barca. I cannot comment on the last nights game, since I did not see it.

      • biff says:

        It’s ridiculous to quote Roy Keane to try defend the Nani red card, as Keane is still angry at Sir Alex and Keane was obviously delighted with the red card and Manchester United ouster from the Champions League and and used the opportunity to loudly and publicly rub salt in Sir Alex’s wounds.

        link to dailymail.co.uk

        But if you still want to use former players, look no further than Man U legend Gary Neville said he was shocked at the Nani red card that it was definitely a bad call.

        Look, I am not a Man U fan at all. I am a lover of the game and I believe in a level playing field and the Nani red card is one of the worst decisions ever, along with denying Galatsaray two clear penalties last night against Madrid, which used to be one of my favorite teams. But quite frankly, I am hoping now for a miracle, with Galatsaray beating them 4-0 next week, or maybe the game ending 3-0 after 120 minutes and Galatasaray winning on penalty kicks.

        • ChiTown says:

          You love the game, yet don’t know the real laws. The fact that people were on both sides of the call indicates that there is merit to the call that was made.

          By the laws, it was a red card. One of the worst decisions ever? You just look foolish.

        • Travis says:

          one of the worst decisions ever? holy hyperbole. get over it, you put yourself at risk when you raise your boot to chest level.

        • GW says:

          biff,
          “I am a lover of the game and I believe in a level playing field and the Nani red card is one of the worst decisions ever,”

          If you love the game learn the rules. It will enhance your experience.

          If you are going to take that Kim Jong Un, apocalyptic tone then learn the rules.

          These pasted sections are taken directly from the FIFA laws of the game. The important phrase is:

          “in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force”:

          Don’t take my word for it and go through the site yourself. No links since Ives hates them.

          What you will find is the referee has room for interpretation, discretion, whatever you want to call it. You will also find that there is no mention of “intent to harm” or anything along those lines. If you think about it makes perfect sense since how is a ref supposed to know what anyone intends?

          LAW 12 – FOULS AND MISCONDUCT
          Direct free kick
          A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following seven offences in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:

          • kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
          • trips or attempts to trip an opponent
          • jumps at an opponent
          • charges an opponent
          • strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
          • pushes an opponent
          • tackles an opponent

          Sending-off offences

          A player, substitute or substituted player is sent off if he commits any of the following seven offences:
          • serious foul play
          • violent conduct
          • spitting at an opponent or any other person
          • denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area)
          • denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick
          • using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures
          • receiving a second caution in the same match
          A player, substitute or substituted player who has been sent off must leave the vicinity of the field of play and the technical area.”

    • BCC says:

      It’s football. I have seen Real Madrid victimized by equally terrible calls. Move on — life is short.

  4. RK says:

    Guess what isn’t being mentioned at all at marca.com?

  5. brent says:

    Rooney will never go to PSG- France is Taxing soccer players at 75% of their income. They would have to pay him 750 Million… lol.

    • ChiTown says:

      The tax rate for money made above a certain amount is taxed at 75%. Our taxes were even higher than that just a couple decades ago.

    • Al17 says:

      1. Tax rate isn’t 75%. They’re trying to make it that way BUT it’s not supposed to apply to Football clubs since they’re not considered to be “large” employers. Course it depends on whom you speak with in the French Government about it. It will be in the courts and wouldn’t shock me if the EU is dragged into this one. I don’t see this happening. Hell, France arguably exports more players than any other European country as result of low wages in Ligue 1 when compared to other leagues.

      2. Rooney’s not coming to PSG nor do we want his ass. Talent in the youth system is coming through and if this club’s gonna buy, look at the recent track record…can you say Italia Serie A? Lavezzi, Verratti, Pastore, Sirigou, Thiago Silva all came from Italian clubs. England’s not the place to buy talent and hasn’t been in who knows how long.

    • RK says:

      Nope. That was thrown out of the courts recently, so they are trying to do it to corporations.

    • GW says:

      Should Rooney decide to go to PSG I’m sure he has some smart person on retainer to figure out how to deal with the taxes.

      Beckham does it by having his family stay in London and him living in a hotel, and I don’t mean the Dew Drop Inn..

  6. Joe says:

    Off topic:
    Anyone care to speculate where Jozy Altidore will make a move to this summer? If the EPL is where he wants to play, would the interest be from a team like Tottenham or would he have to latch on with a mid-table team like Fulham? Or would he have to go to a smaller club like Norwich to start consistently?

    • ChiTown says:

      Jozy’s been great for his Dutch league club.

      That being said, he wouldn’t sniff Tottenham unless it was with the reserve squad.

      • Tyler K says:

        I don’t know if he goes to the EPL. I think the Bundesliga/Serie A would be best for him at this point. Maybe a move back to La Liga if those two leagues didn’t present an ideal situation.

    • Falls City Outlaw says:

      Hull City is in the promotion hunt. It would be amusing to see him as a Tiger again.

    • Al17 says:

      anywhere but EPL

  7. 1254 says:

    Serie A for Jozy

  8. big poppa says:

    Great stuff Ives. hope to god the Rooney has enough class to not play for PSG. Everybody knows Madrid is diiiiirty. VISACA BARCA. Balotelli is not influencing anything in a positive way… needs to grow up.