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The Lead

I’m not a conspiracy theorist (unless it comes to CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals featuring Canada), but my eyebrow raised slightly I noticed another AC Milan-related headline amid all the reports of the vice president of AC Milan, Silvio Berlusconi’s brother Paolo, using a racial epithet in regard to Mario Balotelli, whose return to Italy came arguably despite previous incidents of racial abuse.

It was this, from the Telegraph:

This morning a Spanish newspaper published a document used as evidence in the case that appeared to suggest a link between Milan with Fuentes, but the club have said they have had never had contact with the doctor and any suggestion that they may be involved was wrong.

Fuentes is charged, along with four others, of endangering public health, after in 2006 police raided properties associated with Fuentes and found 200 bags of blood and plasma, including some that contained the banned drug EPO.

Fuentes has told the court that he has worked with cyclists, footballers, tennis players and boxers, but the judge has so far refused to insist that he reveal the code names attached to the blood bags.
“AC Milan have never had direct or indirect contact of any nature with Dr Eufemiano Fuentes,” the club said in a statement.

“Any references to the activities of doctor Fuentes in relation to Milan are the result of false interpretations or a mistake.

So no, I’m not going to let that one slide, despite threats of legal action from the club.

As for the slur against a player who only arrived last week, Paolo Berlusconi should resign effective immediately. If not, Mario Balotelli should never play another game for Milan. Easy for me to write, difficult for the parties to accept or even to consider, but there is no morally acceptable alternative. In the wake of Milan’s support of Kevin-Prince Boateng following his decision to walk off the pitch after suffering racial abuse from a group of Pro Patria supporters, the club has little alternative unless they wish to come off as indefensible hypocrites.

Whatever Mario Balotelli decides to do, he should think of the precedent it would set if he failed to take a stand, both for himself and those who come after him.

England

Ferguson reflects on tragic Munich disaster on its 55th anniversary.

Ashley Cole on becoming a centurion.

Swansea captain Garry Monk signs one-year extension with the club.

Italy

Louis Saha to sign with Lazio, to replace injured Klose.

Silvio Berlusconi’s brother makes racist remark about Balotelli.

La Liga

Manzano replaces Caparros as the new relegation-threatened Real Mallorca manager.

Tomorrow Messi will put pen to paper and extend his contract at Barcelona.

Germany

Bayer Leverkusen’s general manager questions the logic of Loew’s post-season USA tour.

Kevin Grosskreutz extends contract with Dortmund until 2016.

Bit and Bobs

Keeper fails to catch ball and let’s in an easy goal.

Neymar says England are a one-man team.

Gambling is destroying the beautiful game.

Thanks to Alima Hotakie for compiling today’s links.