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Brits abroad and Johnny foreigner

Off the Ball never rests in its mission to scratch around the underbelly of professional football to find the most bizarre, humorous and inexplicable stories.

This week, Premier League chairman Dave Richards falls into Doha hotel fountain pool after claiming "FIFA stole football", crackpot Steaua Bucharest owner Gigi Becali vows to oust all foreigners, Joey Barton threatens to unleash a horde of deadly animals on a bunch of squatters, Didier Drogba shames himself with a Sergio Busquets impression and all of Lionel Messi's 50 goals this season in a three-minute clip.

Brits abroad

Only on very rare occasions does something happen that actually deserves to be saddled with the much over-used phrase "you couldn't make it up", but when Premier League chairman Dave Richards accused FIFA of stealing football from England before falling into a fountain pool at a Doha hotel, the saying fit perfectly.

Richards - who, as his buffoonery came to light, the Premier League was quick to point out was at the security conference in a "personal capacity" - also turned on UEFA before splashing down in the pool and being rescued by Bolton chairman Phil Gartside.

"England gave the world football. It gave the best legacy anyone could give. We gave them the game," Richards rambled. "For 50 years, we owned the game. We were the governance of the game. We wrote the rules, designed the pitches and everything else.

"Then, 50 years later, some guy came along and said you're liars and they actually stole it. It was called FIFA. Fifty years later, another gang came along called UEFA and stole a bit more."

Erm, that'll be the 2026 and 2030 World Cups not coming to England then.

Johnny Foreigner

But it wasn't just Dave Richards who was tub-thumping this week. Crackpot Steaua Bucharest owner Gigi Becali took a break from verbally attacking his rivals, both in politics and football, and vowed to sell all of the Romanian club's foreign players.

Former shepherd Bacali, who faces six years in jail for trying to bribe players and officials in 2006 and 2008, wants a return to the glory days of 1986, when Steaua won the European Cup without fielding a single foreign player throughout the tournament.

"I want to see a team built entirely of Romanians. That's my intention," Becali said. "(Argentinean) Pablo Brandan has already left to join a Chinese club, the contracts of (Portuguese) Geraldo Alves and (Bulgarian) Valentin Iliev will not be extended after the end of the season and (Montenegrin) Stefan Nikolic will also leave.

"There were only Romanians in the team in 1986 and they won the European Cup, so why should we pay high salaries to foreign players and not win anything?"

Becali concluded with a trademark jibe at his rivals Cluj, who have a Portuguese coach and 18 foreign players on the books: "You'll never see us being like CFR Cluj."

Barton threatens squatters with deadly animals

QPR midfielder Joey Barton threatened to unleash a horde of deadly animals on a bunch of "heroin riddled" squatters that moved into his London home this week.

The former England international, who claims to share the house with his partner Georgia McNeil, tweeted: "Just heard the news some squatters had broken into my house last night and changed the locks. The cheeky b*******."

He added: "For sheer audacity, I have to give them 10/10. Luckily for them, I'm trying to give up violence.

"Might go to nearest pet shop and purchase 20 tarantulas, 20 snakes and as many rats as I can get my hands on, pop them through letter box. Then we'll see who the clever one is. Be warned Squatters....ur time is up."

Luckily for everybody involved, the level of media coverage that ensued spooked the settlers, who left the house shortly after invading it. "Squatter issue over and fully sorted," Barton later tweeted. "What a firm of cheeky, heroin riddled b*****s they were. Thankfully they sh*t it and left."


Video of the week

Chelsea may be the only Premier League club left flying the flag in Europe, but Blues striker Didier Drogba brought shame on himself and the club this week after he capped his usual 'all fall down' by faking getting hit in the face against Napoli and then indulging in a game of peek-a-boo that Barcelona's diver-in-chief Sergio Busquets would be proud of. To see Drogba fake getting hit in the face and playing peek-a-boo, click here .


More than words...


After being red carded for the first time in his Bundesliga career, Cologne's Lukas Podolski shows his manager Stale Solbakken what the referee mistakenly sent him off for. ©AP Images


Around the web

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• Lionel Messi has scored 50 so far this season - see them all in just three minutes


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