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Volume 10 No. 22

International Football

Never has a short sentence caused "so much commotion" as Cristiano Ronaldo's "I'm sad," according to MARCA. Few were aware that Ronaldo was "in possession of a bombshell that was just waiting to be dropped." Even Real Madrid President Florentino Pérez and right-hand man José Ángel Sánchez were "totally shocked" when Ronaldo asked to speak to them on Saturday. The Portuguese striker does not feel he has the support of the club, his teammates or the fans. He is disappointed with Real Madrid's "lack of support as a club" in his quest for the UEFA Best Player in Europe Award, and also because of "other small details that other clubs do for their star players, which he does not have" (MARCA, 9/4). ELCONFIDENCIAL's José Félix Díaz reported that Real Madrid "feels betrayed" by Ronaldo. However, the feeling does not come from the player's desire to leave the club, but from "the timing of the communication." After telling Perez he wanted to leave, the President responded, "Why are you telling us this now, with the transfer market already closed and without any possibilities to react?" Madrid can only sell Ronaldo to markets like France and Russia, "which continue to be open" until Thursday, but they cannot buy any players with the Spain transfer window having closed on Friday. Had this occurred seven days prior, "Ronaldo currently would not be a Real Madrid player" (, 9/4).

AT A BREAKING POINT: In London, Mark Ogden wrote that "while it would be simple to suggest that Ronaldo's relationship with Real is now at a breaking point, few in Spain expect him to leave." Madrid has a €1B ($1.3B) buy-out clause inserted into the Portuguese's €10M ($12.6M) annual contract, which does not expire until June '15. With that kind of buy-out clause, even Man City "will not be pursuing Ronaldo" (TELEGRAPH, 9/3). AS' Manu Sainz reported that Ronaldo "sought to calm the situation" as he met up with the Portugal squad ahead of their World Cup Qualifier against Luxembourg. Ronaldo said, "Every problem has a solution" (AS, 9/4). AS' Ricky Romero reported that Barcelona spokesperson Toni Freixa "did not speak about the differences" that Ronaldo has with Real Madrid. Freixa said, "Here in Barcelona everybody is very happy." He added, "If a player wants to talk about his contract we completely understand. We will sit down and talk and there will be no conflict of any type" (AS, 9/4).

ONLINE REACTION: reported that in the past 24 hours the Twitter hashtag #CristianoEstáTristePorque (#CristianoIsSadBecause) is one of the top trending hashtags in Spain. Two of the most popular re-tweeted reasons were @ceGattuso's "The price of hair gel suddenly increased 21%" and @Mr_Mosby's "There are not always mirrors in the tunnels to the locker rooms" (, 9/3). On Tuesday night, Ronaldo posted the following message on Facebook: "That I am feeling sad and have expressed this sadness has created a huge stir. I am accused of wanting more money, but one day it will be shown that this is not the case. At this point, I just want to guarantee to the Real Madrid fans that my motivation, dedication, commitment and desire to win all competitions will not be affected. I have too much respect for myself and for Real Madrid to ever give less to the club than all I am capable of. Abrazos to all madridistas."

Several footballers from a second-string Cameroon side "want to play in India's lucrative I-League, given the falling standards back home," according to the IANS. The Cameroon league is semi-professional, and the players who are paid the most receive only about $1,000 a month. Cameroon Coach Emmanuel Bosso said, "We are trying to make it fully professional." The "financially unattractive domestic league, a player's revolt and a struggle to find adequate replacements for aging stars" such as Samuel Eto'o, Benoit Assou-Ekkoto and Eric Djemba-Djemba, "saw the African giants tumble 48 places from a high 11th rank on the FIFA charts" to 59th since '09. Officials are trying to "pacify the players" by promising to convert the semi-professional league into a full-fledged league "to keep them home." Cameroon has qualified for the World Cup more than any other African team, but it fears that it may be difficult "to make it in the next couple of editions." Additionally, a team that has won the African Nations Cup four times "has failed to even qualify for the 2012 edition" (IANS, 9/4).

Experienced Sports Administrator and former footballer Nikolai Tolstykh was elected as the new president of the Russian Football Union (RFS). He takes the helm after Sergei Fursenko stepped down in June. Russian Olympic Committee CEO Tolstykh spoke of his wish to further develop the game in his country, with a particular focus on the grassroots and the regions. Tolstykh said, "I am happy that my program has won the approval of the Russian football community. We should discuss now with all the regional RFS departments a program for the further development of football in Russia. I am confident that Russia's football development can be advanced by the nurturing of children's and youth football in the regions." The 56-year-old will also have the 2018 FIFA World Cup as a key item on his agenda. Russia was named as host nation for this tournament in Dec. '10, and Tolstykh spoke of the organizational challenge ahead: "Russia has been given the right to stage the World Cup in 2018 – and our aim is to make this event a huge football festival" (FIFA).

Russian Premier League's FC Anzhi Makhachkala striker Samuel Eto'o is the best-paid footballer in the world at €20M ($25.2M) annually, according to Rubén Jiménez of MARCA. Rounding out the top three are Paris St. Germain's Zlatan Ibrahimovic (€14.5M/$18.2M) and ManU's Wayne Rooney (€13.8M/$17.8M). Ronaldo has the 10th highest salary at €10M ($12.6M), which is reportedly "one of the motives for his recent anger" with Real Madrid (MARCA, 9/4).

Name Club / League Annual Salary
1. Samuel Eto'o FC Anzhi Makhachkala (Russian Premier League) €20M ($25.1M)
2. Zlatan Ibrahimović Paris St. Germain (Ligue 1) €14.5M ($18.2M)
3. Wayne Rooney Manchester United (Premier League) €13.8M ($17.3M)
4. Yaya Touré Manchester City (Premier League) €13M ($16.3M)
5. Sergio Agüero Manchester City (Premier League) €12.5M ($15.7M)
6. Didier Drogba Shanghai Shenhua (Chinese Super League) €12M ($15.1M)
7. Fernando Torres Chelsea FC (Premier League) €10.8M ($13.6M)
8. Darío Conca Guangzhou Evergrande (Chinese Super League) €10.6M ($13.3M)
9. Lionel Messi FC Barcelona (La Liga) €10.5M ($13.2M)
10. Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid (La Liga) €10M ($12.6M)

A start-up women’s football league featuring teams from the Netherlands and Belgium "may lead to similar cross-border men’s competitions in Europe," according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG. UEFA approved the 16-team BeNe League for a three-year trial. If the league is successful, the merger could be followed in senior men’s divisions. This would allow clubs from smaller leagues to "increase revenue and compete with wealthier English, Spanish and German teams." Football teams from countries with smaller populations "have been the losers" as success has increasingly been determined by the size of domestic TV markets. Clubs such as Dutch Eredivisie's Ajax cannot match the salaries offered in richer leagues and are regularly forced to sell players. UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino said, "The main issue for such a proposal would be deciding how clubs qualify for UEFA’s competitions, which currently occurs on a country-by-country basis." In the BeNe League, the Belgian and Dutch teams "will first play rivals from their own countries before the top four from each meet in the new year." Matches between the four lowest-placed teams will also take place (BLOOMBERG, 9/4).