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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Eto'o appears likely to pass on huge offer from Manchester City

MANCHESTER, England (AP) Samuel Eto'o looks set to snub Manchester City's "stratospheric" offer for the Cameroon striker.

News photo
Not cashing in: Samuel Eto'o is set to turn down an offer from Premier League side Manchester City that would have made him the highest-paid soccer player in the world. AP PHOTO

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has said City is looking to make Eto'o the highest paid player in the world and a £25 million ($41 million) bid has been lodged by the Premier League club.

But Eto'o's agent has indicated that the player will see out the final year of his contract before leaving Barcelona on a free transfer next year.

Agent Josep Maria Mesalles told Spanish radio station ONA FM on Monday: "If there is not a 180-degree turnaround then he will stay with Barcelona."

Eto'o scored 34 goals last season in helping to lead Barcelona to league, domestic cup and Champions League trophies.

Chelsea appeals

LONDON (AP) Chelsea launched appeals on Monday against what it called UEFA's "unnecessarily harsh" fine and the bans given to Didier Drogba and Jose Bosingwa following the heated Champions League semifinal against Barcelona.

European soccer's governing body fined Chelsea $138,000 for failing to control the players as well as fans who threw objects on to the pitch, and punished Drogba and Bosingwa over their conduct toward Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo.

Ovrebo denied several Chelsea penalty appeals in May's 1-1 draw with Barcelona, which advanced on away goals and won the competition.

Drogba was given a six-match ban, the last two games suspended for two years, for the striker's finger-waving confrontation with Ovrebo after being eliminated by Barcelona. He was pulled away by security staff while yelling an expletive toward a television camera.

For branding the referee a "thief" in an interview for denying the penalty appeals defender Bosingwa was handed a four-match ban, the last game suspended for two years.

"We believe these punishments are unnecessarily harsh given the circumstances," Chelsea said in a statement. "We would reiterate that the players and the club are acutely aware of our responsibilities towards setting a good example as role models and upholding the values of the game. That is why honest and sincere apologies were made swiftly after these regrettable incidents occurred."

Informant link denied

BUCHAREST (AP) Former Romanian soccer star Gheorghe 'Gica' Popescu insists he was not an informant for the country's secret police in the 1980s during the regime of the late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

The defender was part of a Romanian team that qualified for three consecutive World Cups starting in 1990 and two European Championships. He also captained Barcelona to win the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1997.

The 41-year-old Popescu said he once signed a document promising to "defend the national interests."

"I signed a very general thing. My conscience isn't clear, it's very clear," he said at a news conference. "I didn't inform on anyone."

Under Ceausescu, security services kept tabs on Romania's athletes. Some players at international competitions reportedly were asked to share details of their conversations with foreigners.

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