All in the Game: Yes - Gianni Infantino really did say that

Fifa president strangely suggests a biennial World Cup would ‘give hope to Africans’

A sponsorship to forget

For reasons known only to themselves, the Daily Mail found itself browsing through Oldham Athletic’s online store last week and spotted a ‘retro’ range of merchandise that they felt was a touch problematic.

The range, launched last summer, is a salute to the man who sponsored the club’s shirt back in the 1988-89 season and features a quirky enough collection of items, including a baby burp cloth, a chopping board, a face mask, a mouse mat and a bandana for a dog.

The name emblazoned on these items? “MAXWELL.” Yes, Robert Maxwell, the deceased press baron, whose misdemeanours during his lifetime included stealing of hundreds of millions of pounds from his companies’ pension funds. And, of course, he was the father of Ghislaine, recently convicted of child sex-trafficking.

How many baby burp cloths with Maxwell printed on them have been sold, we’re not sure, but as one colleague pointed out, at least they’re not flogging Maxwell-branded pension plans.


Quote of the week

"We need to give hope to Africans so that they don't need to cross the Mediterranean in order to find a better life but, more probably, death in the sea." - Fifa president Gianni Infantino on why a biennial World Cup would be a good thing. Seriously, he said this.

Number of the week

65,000,000 - The reported annual value of the naming rights deal Barcelona are currently negotiating which would result in them playing at the Camp Nou Spotify. Neil Young? Weeping.

Word of mouth

"They didn't even let us go to the bathroom when we got off the plane. They cut off our air conditioners, we had no water and they made sirens sound throughout the stay." - Apart from that, Argentina's Rodrigo De Paul was quite happy with his trip to Chile where he and his team-mates collected a 2-1 World Cup qualifying victory.

"The video was cut short and edited." - Brentford's Ivan Toney suggesting that the context was removed from the clip that did the rounds last week showing him say, well, "**** Brentford". You'd give anything to hear the context that made it harmless.

"I'm addicted. I've built Wembley and Old Trafford. By the time you finish, you can't believe two or three hours have just gone. It stops me thinking about football all the time." - Leicester City's Jess Sigworth on her unparalleled passion for ….. Lego.

Vlahovic is Turin-bound

How well did Fiorentina’s ultras take the sale of Dusan Vlahovic to Juventus, a club for whom they have little love? Not tremendously well, even if the total deal will yield around €80 million.

The Serbian striker is the latest in a lengthy enough list of one-time Fiorentina idols who broke the faithful’s hearts by joining Juve, one that includes Roberto Baggio, Federico Chiesa and Federico Bernardeschi.

How sympathetic have the Juve ultras been to this latest hurt? Not hugely. The banner they planted in Florence last week? “From Baggio to Vlahovic…. thanks subsidiary, until the next sale!”

Grant joins Rangers

Considering Glasgow Rangers will be 150-years-old in March, it’s a risky business making claims about ‘firsts’ through their history. To this day, for example, you’ll still hear it said that Mo Johnston was the first Catholic to play for them when (the hopefully accurate) records show that it was actually a fella by the name Pat Lafferty a whole 103 years before - and there were a whole heap more before Johnston rocked up at Ibrox.

One ‘first’ that you’d be fairly confident is accurate, though, is that Ciara Grant is the first 28-year-old female doctor from Letterkenny to be signed by the club, the midfielder, who won the National League with Shelbourne last season, joining until the end of the current campaign.

Mind you, the women’s wing of Rangers was only formed in 2008, so it’s a considerably thinner history book to check through.

We were going to make the claim that Grant is now the fourth senior Irish international born in the ‘26 counties’ (before or after partition) to be signed by Rangers, after the excellently named Alexander Breckenridge Craig (born Galway - 1886-1951), James Lowry McAuley (Portarlington - 1889-1945) and Alexander Stevenson (Dublin - 1912-1985), but we’re too afraid in case we’re missing a few. Whatever the truth of that claim, Grant has, without question, made her own slice of history.