LONDON – Chelsea Wednesday appointed Champions League-winning boss Roberto di Matteo as its permanent manager and first-team coach on a two-year contract.
Di Matteo, 42, who took over from Andre Villas-Boas in March on an interim basis, led Chelsea to a maiden Champions League title and FA Cup glory last season.
The former Chelsea and Italy midfielder said: “I’m obviously delighted to have been appointed as manager and first-team coach.
“We all achieved incredible success last season that made history for this great club. Our aim is to continue building on that and I’m already planning and looking forward to the squad’s return for pre-season.”
Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay added: “Roberto’s quality was clear for all to see when he galvanized the squad last season and helped the club make history, and the owner and board are very pleased he will be continuing his good work.”
No London club had ever won the European Cup or Champions League until Chelsea beat Bayern Munich in a penalty shoot-out at the German club’s home ground in May.Vilanova agrees two-year deal
Tito Vilanova, Pep Guardiola’s former assistant, has agreed a two-year deal to coach Barcelona from next season, the Spanish club said Wednesday.
“Vilanova will sign his contract on June 15. The presentation will take place on Friday at the Nou Camp,” Barcelona said on its official Twitter feed.
Although Barcelona announced Vilanova would step up to the post on the same day that Guardiola gave his news conference to say he was leaving on April 27, negotiations to put Vilanova’s new contract in place have taken time to come to fruition.EPL sells TV rights to Sky, BT
English Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore says the TV rights have been sold to Sky and BT for 3.018 billion pounds ($4.69 billion) in a record three-year deal.
Scudamore told a news conference Wednesday that the Premier League has concluded the sales process for the seven packages of live audio and visual rights for broadcast in Britain, from the 2013-14 to 2015-16 seasons.
He says seven packages containing 154 matches were divided between the two companies, with Sky winning the rights for 116 matches and BT 38 games.SINGAPORE – Australia coach Holger Osieck voiced disbelief at a “very, very dubious” sending-off as the spotlight again fell on refereeing standards in Asia’s World Cup qualifiers.
Osieck was scathing about Saudi official Khalil Al-Ghamdi’s dismissal of Mark Milligan, for a second yellow card, which proved a key moment in Tuesday’s thrilling 1-1 draw with Japan.
“I can’t blame him at all,” Osieck said of Milligan, who was ruled to have brought down Japan’s Atsuto Uchida in the 55th minute at Brisbane Stadium.
“That was a very, very dubious call from the referee. It was a cross inside and he clearly went to the ball and didn’t even touch him.
“How could he give a red card for that? It was beyond my comprehension.”
Japan’s Yuzo Kurihara scored the opening goal 10 minutes later before Luke Wilkshire equalized from the penalty spot, following Uchida’s slight tug on striker Alex Brosque.
And Japan also had cause to grumble when Al-Ghamdi handed goal-scorer Kurihara a debatable second yellow, sending him off late in the game. He later blew the final whistle as Keisuke Honda lined up a free kick – sparking consternation on the visitors’ bench.
The latest controversy follows a complaint by FIFA vice president Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan about refereeing in Asia’s final qualifying phase for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, which kicked off last week.
“It is certainly a highly important matter worth addressing with my colleagues on the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) executive committee,” he said in a statement.
“We are in need of a thorough assessment of our refereeing system as an integral part of competitions in Asia.”
Last week, Uzbekistan complained it was robbed of a goal in the 1-0 loss to Iran when Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura failed to spot the ball crossing the line – a claim backed up by TV replays. Coach Vadim Abramov was sacked after the defeat.
There was no immediate response from FIFA to Tuesday’s events, but a spokesman for the world body, reacting to the Uzbek incident, last week said that a referee’s decisions were regarded as final.
Asia’s final qualifying round wraps up next June, with the top two in both groups of five winning an automatic berth at Brazil 2014.
Oman kept alive its hopes of advancing by drawing 1-1 with Iraq.
Oman, which also drew with Australia last week, struck in the eighth minute when Mohammed Al-Balushi headed home a cross from Hussain Ali al-Hadhri.
Iraq star striker Younis Mahmoud equalized in the 37th from the penalty spot, awarded after Oman defender Abdul al-Mukhaini was called for a handball.
Qatar survived an onslaught from Iran to secure a goal-less draw.
Iran wasted the bulk of possession and good chances, thanks in part to Qatar goalkeeper Qasem Burhan. It has scored only once in its first two matches.
The Qataris showed little attacking initiative and resorted to time wasting for long spells in the second half as they claimed a point to leave the race to finish behind the Koreans wide open after the opening fourth round matches. — Agencies