A few years back my wife and I spent a short holiday in Barcelona, a fabulously vibrant city which I can heartily recommend (although beware of the pickpockets!).

Whilst there we took advantage of an open-top bus tour of the Spanish city which included a stop outside Barcelona’s impressive Nou Camp stadium.



Now for some strange reason which I’ve never been able to work out, my wife doesn’t share my obsession with football so there was no way she was going to let me indulge myself and experience a tour of the stadium or its impressive merchandising store.  So I just savoured the moment and spent a couple of minutes staring upwards at the exterior of the towering 99,000 capacity structure.

Barcelona Football Club has always had an aura of class about it, reinforced by the spectacular fashion in which they totally outclassed the Premier League’s finest exponents of the beautiful game, Arsenal, in last season’s Champions League encounter.  And, of course, there was a strong Barcelona representation in the Spanish side which won the World Cup in the summer.  There was also a splendid TV documentary about the football club and the way it goes about its business. They are an organisation with a lot to admire.

So it was with great sadness that I read this week that Barcelona has ended its 111 year history of refusing commercial shirt sponsorship by signing a £125m deal with the Qatar Foundation.

Previously they had paid to carry the Unicef logo for the past five years, which in the money-obsessed world of professional football, was a splendid gesture.  But now the children’s charity will share space with the new sponsors. Okay, the Qatar Foundation is a non-profit organisation concerned primarily with education projects in the Middle East, but the ending of Barcelona’s total commitment to Unicef is a shame.

I see that Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez has put in a written transfer request which the Premier League club has not surprisingly rejected.  Apparently sources close to the player say he is homesick after four years in England but interestingly a Manchester City statement says: “The club remains disappointed by this situation and particularly with the actions of Carlos’ representative.”  The statement goes on: “Significantly, over recent months, the club has also received numerous requests from Carlos’ representative to renegotiate and improve his playing contract as well as more recently a request to extend that contract by another year.  However, in line with the club’s policy of not negotiating playing contracts mid-season this has not been granted. Carlos’ current five-year contract has three-and-a-half years to run and he is the highest paid player at the Manchester City Football Club.”

BBC Radio 5 live football correspondent Ian Dennis said: “The striker is believed to be homesick and over the last couple of months there have been suggestions he’s considering quitting football altogether.  “In a recent television interview he said he was tired of football and tired of people who work in football.”

Further newspaper reports at the weekend said that the player’s wife and two daughters have continued to live in Argentina.  If Tevez is genuinely homesick then that is understandable and no doubt he will have no qualms about returning to play in his native land and the vastly reduced wage he would receive.  Neither he, of course, nor his agent would have absolutely no interest in another lucrative, big money transfer to another European club, say like Real Madrid or Barcelona for instance.

Hmm, we shall see…

‘Put a sock in it’ is a colloquial British phrase for ‘shut up’ or ‘stop talking’ but it could have a whole meaning for footballers trying to deal with the dreaded broken metatarsal injury, according to a story in the Sunday Mirror.

David Beckham, Michael Owen, and Wayne Rooney have all suffered  from the injury but sports scientist Chris Niesiolowski, who broke his metatarsal whilst an Academy player with Derby County,  has come up with a possible solution – the Metasox which is being used by Premier League club Wolves.

The Metasox, incorporates a rubber silicon pad over the top of the foot and Wolves physio Alan Peacham said: “They’re like shin pads for feet. We use them as a protection for players who have suffered from foot injuries and we then hit upon the idea of using the sock as prevention.”