• Eccentric Colombian goalkeeper, Rene Higuita, famed for his ‘scorpion kick’ clearance against England and other eye-catching stunts, has tested positive for cocaine. The 38-year old crowd-pleaser, active for Mexican club Avcus, is unlikely to play again.
• Former Swedish Celtic star, Henrik Larsson, now with Barcelona, is out for the season. Despite his serious injury, the Spanish club have offered the prolific scorer a contract extension.
• Harry Redknapp has followed his assistant Jim Smith in walking out on Premiership club Portsmouth. The duo took Pompey into the top division for the first time in 2003 and have managed to remain there. Despite both Chairman Milan Mandaric and Redknapp stressing that the split was amicable, it is thought that the arrival of new Director of Football, Velimir Zajec, prompted the departures.
•The Ukrainian who stabbed England fan Stephen Smith to death during the Euro 2004 Championships has been sentenced to thirteen years in prison. The judge considered that twenty-two years would have been appropriate but was over-ruled.
• Four games before the conclusion of the Brazilian Championship, leaders Athletico Paranaense, two points ahead of Santos on 81, have been docked 60 (sixty!) points for using a player not properly registered – six for each of the ten games forward Denis Marques has played. The club is appealing.
• PSV striker, Mark von Bommel, out of contract at the end of the current season, is reportedly joining Real Madrid despite being strongly linked with Tottenham Hotspur and several German clubs.
• Moroccan champions, Raja Casablanca, have released their coach Alain Fiard because of “bad results and a lack of empathy with the fans”!
• The Football Association has appointed ITV’s Head of Sport, Brian Barwick,
as its new Chief Executive. Barwick fills the gap left by the resignation of Mark Palios and begins work on January 31.