Friday Kickoff: Balotelli backed by Prandelli for Brazil; LFP boss reveals match-fixing issues; and more

MarioBalotelliItaly1-CzechRepublic (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

Mario Balotelli may have made the headlines recently for the wrong reasons, but according to Italian National Team head coach Cesare Prandelli, he’s the first player on the team sheet when Italy arrives in Brazil next summer for the World Cup.

“Is it conceivable to go to the World Cup without him? Absolutely not,” Prandelli said to Italian radio station RAI Sport on Friday. “I am convinced that, from now on, Mario will not do anything out of the ordinary, and at the World Cup he will come prepared. I spoke with him and he told me that it is his dream (to go to Brazil).”

The 23-year-old forward recently finished serving a three-game suspension after being shown a red card and “intimidating the referee” following AC Milan’s 2-1 defeat at home to Napoli. The suspension kept Balotelli out of Milan’s 3-2 defeat to Juventus as well, as he’s continue to struggle to keep his emotions together on the field.

At the same time, he’s been in top form recently when he’s been on the field for both club and country, scoring six goals in his last seven games played in all competitions. Italy visits Denmark on Friday in a World Cup qualifier, though qualification is already assured for the Azurri.

Here are some more stories to start your Friday:

LA LIGA BOSS BELIEVES “EIGHT TO TEN MATCHES” ARE FIXED IN SPAIN EACH YEAR

There have been a number of arrests in the last two months of people alleged to have taken part in match fixing, but according to Javier Tebas, they’re just scratching the surface.

The Spanish League (LFP) president revealed in an interview in England on Friday that anywhere from eight to ten matches per season are fixed between the top two divisions in Spain.

“Between the first and second divisions, around eight to 10 games have been manipulated [per season],” Tebas told the BBC. “If they do not eradicate it immediately, the infection will grow.”

Last May, the LFP was asked to investigate a match between Levante and Deportivo La Coruna after both the Deportivo president and one of Levante’s player’s came out with match-fixing accusations. According to Tebas, if those in Spanish soccer are caught taking part in match fixing, they should be banned for life, while those who know about it but don’t do anything should be given a three year ban.

FIFA ANNOUNCE WORLD CUP TICKET UPDATE

More than six million applications were submitted during the first phase of ticket requests for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil according to FIFA, with the host nation leading the way with the most requests.

More than 70 percent of the ticket requests came from Brazil, with the USA, Argentina, and Germany following in that order in terms of most ticket requests. More than 374,065 requests have been made from the USA, while the World Cup final on July 13 at the Maracana has received 751,165 requests alone.

The second phase of the World Cup ticketing process will begin on November 5 and run through November 28, with all applications for tickets being processed on a first-come first-serve basis.

QUICK KICKS

Assuming he plays against Denmark on Friday for Italy, goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon will become Italy’s all-time cap leader with 137 appearances. (REPORT)

Just as he was coming back from a separate injury, Barcelona learned on Thursday that Jordi Alba would be out a further six weeks with a hamstring problem in his left leg. (REPORT)

Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverly has been ruled out of England’s final two World Cup qualifiers with a calf injury. (REPORT)

Alessandro Del Piero scored the first goal for Sydney FC in their season opening 2-0 victory against the Newcastle Jets. (REPORT)

The Mexico Football Federation, as of mid-week, have only sold 40 percent of tickets to the 105,000 capacity Estadio Azteca ahead of El Tri’s must-win World Cup qualifying match on Friday against Panama. (REPORT)

After being suspended by Valencia for his disparaging comments about the club and players, Adil Rami has agreed a deal to move on loan for the rest of his contract to AC Milan, with Milan paying €400,000 ($540,000) for the loan and an option to purchase the contract for €6 million ($8.15 million). (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you agree with Prandelli’s comments on Balotelli? Surprised to hear about the size of match-fixing in Spain?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in European Soccer, Featured, FIFA World Cup, Mexican Soccer, South American Soccer. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Friday Kickoff: Balotelli backed by Prandelli for Brazil; LFP boss reveals match-fixing issues; and more

  1. The Imperative Voice says:

    City’s fortunes of the past couple years are indicative of “with me” or “without me” regarding Balotelli. There are some players who while an extreme hassle are quite productive.

  2. Brent says:

    Azteca has not even been sold completely out during this hex. Ever game I’ve seem empty seats. Wonder if this is an omen.

  3. biff says:

    I wonder if referees, and not just players, are being looked at in La Liga match-fixing investigations. There have been some very questionable calls from time to time.

    • Drewbles says:

      Yeah, like Madrid’s magical penalty in extra time to level the score.

      I would think it would be easier to use the refs to match-fix, since there’s only one head official, he probably makes in a year what the players make in a week, and he can heavily influence the match.

      • kmac014 says:

        If a game is fixed they wouldn’t wait until til the last seconds to make sure the result goes there way, also they wouldn’t make it so obvious.

        • Drewbles says:

          So your argument is that since it was so obviously a blown call that changed the outcome of the match at the last second, it couldn’t have been match-fixing. Interesting take.

          • Clyde Frog says:

            Most match fixing does not involve pre-determining which team will win. It usually involves bets taken during the match for things like `first corner conceded by which team´, ´first throw-in conceded by which team´, over/under on total corners taken by both teams, etc.

  4. Joamiq says:

    “I am convinced that, from now on, Mario will not do anything out of the ordinary”

    Well then you, sir, are exceedingly naive