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Everton slip to third successive defeat

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"Shameless fatty" Ronaldo slams fans

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, John Carew's new tattoo is a pain in the neck, "Shameless fatty" Ronaldo slams "terrorist" Corinthians fans, Rafa Benitez swaps 'facts' for 'statistics' and Benni McCarthy is fined £200,000 for being overweight.

Ronaldo slams "terrorist" fans

Lumbering Corinthians striker Ronaldo has labelled the fans that called him a "shameless fatty" following the Brazilian club's exit from the Copa Libertadores as "terrorists".

Following a 2-0 defeat to Colombian outfit Deportes Tolima in the preliminary round of the continental competition the supporters threw stones, smashed up cars and painted slogans at the Corinthians training ground that included "Ronaldo is a shameless fatty" and "media tart - you disappoint us again."

The portly poacher, who may well be regretting playing on for another season despite his special varicose veins-combating socks, said he understood the fans' disappointment, but condemned any sort of violent protest, claiming the protests did not represent the sentiments of the entire fanbase.

However, many disgruntled supporters are demanding that club president Andres Sanchez give three time FIFA World Player of The Year, 2002 World Cup winner and World Cup all-time leading scorer Ronaldo the boot. Fellow Brazil veteran Ronaldinho, who has just made his debut in front of thousands of cheering Flamengo fans, best take note of how quickly a shining legacy can be eclipsed by a ballooning waistline.

Carew goes menstrual

When he's not scoring offside goals against Sunderland, Stoke City striker John Carew likes to head down to the local tattoo parlour, but unfortunately for the Norwegian international his latest bit of ink is proving to be a pain in the neck.

The striker's new daubing reads 'Ma Vie, Mes Régles', which in theory translate as 'My Life, My Rules'. However, a French professor at the University of Oslo has pointed out that the use of the acute accent over the word 'Régles', rather than the grave accent (è), dramatically changes the meaning to 'My Life, My Period' or 'My Life, My Menstruation'.

"He has a spelling mistake in the neck and it is embarrassing," Professor Christine Meklenborg Salvesen told Norwegian tabloid Verdens Gang.

Before any member of the Stoke squad breaks the news to the 6'5" colossus we suggest they bear in mind that it's Carew's life and Carew's rules so Carew can spell it however the hell he likes.

Rafa swaps 'facts' for 'statistics'

In Rafael Benitez's world nothing is ever his fault. It wasn't his fault that Liverpool crashed last season and it wasn't his fault that Inter Milan, who are now making a run at the title, did the same under the axed-manager's stewardship earlier this term.

During Benitez's time in the Premier League the floundering boss famously produced a list of 'facts' with which to defend his position but only succeeded in prompting a spate of mickey-taking that continues to this day. So this week Benitez opted for a list of 'statistics' to explain his troubles at San Siro.

"At first we were all happy at Inter. But injuries changed everything - the choice of players available and the internal dynamics of the squad," Benitez waffled. "I want to show some statistics based on the injuries so I am not misunderstood - 80% of those injured had the same or similar injuries in the previous two years ... a month after we left Inter, there were eight muscular injuries."

Hmmm... did not Jose Mourinho win the Champions League, the Scudetto and the Coppa Italia whilst dealing with those "similar injuries in the previous two years" Rafa? It seems so to us.

Benni McCarthy fined for being too fat

West Ham United gastronome Benni McCarthy has been fined nearly £200,000 for repeatedly failing to meet the relegation-threatened club's weight loss targets, report the Daily Mail.

At the start of the season the 33-year-old striker weighed in at 15st and was told to slim down to 13st 5lb. However, the South African failed to meet a 2.2lb weekly loss stipulated by the Hammers' fat camp on five separate occasions and had his £38,000-a-week wages docked each time.

McCarthy eventually won his battle of the bulge only to be told that he was now too slow to merit a place Avram Grant's 25-man Premier League squad for the second half of the season.

"He's a very good player and one of the best finishers in training that I have ever seen," Grant said. "But now we need players with movement and the advantage of being quick, and we have others."

Palermo fans urge owner to stop acting crazy

Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini is widely regarded as the craziest and most unpredictable owner in all of Serie A, so much so that with club flying high in fifth place the fans have urged him not to screw everything up.

Despite manager Delio Rossi doing a sterling job, outspoken Zamparini, whose previous outbursts include "we should put referees in prison" and "journalists are traitors of my team", has repeatedly criticised the coach in public and the supporters are concerned the Messiah in the dugout will quit.

In an open letter to Zamparini the fans wrote: "This club has finally found the right man in Delio Rossi to push on this project based on young talent. The coach is working very well, the team is with him, the fans share and respect his ideas, the table and performances speak clearly. Therefore, why should we shoot ourselves in the foot?"

Since taking control of the Rosanero in 2002 the supermarket mogul Zamparini has transformed the Sicilian club from Serie B fodder into an excellent Serie A side but the trigger happy boss has gone through 28 managers during his time with both Palermo and Venezia.


Video of the week

This is possibly one of the most amazing refereeing oversights you'll ever see. During an FA Trophy match between Blyth Spartans and Droylsden one of the outfield players pulls off a diving save that Peter Schmeichel (or Luiz Suarez) would be proud of. Somehow the match officials manage to miss the blatant handball. To see the incredible handball save click here ESPN Video.


More than words...


Daniel Agger gives a warm welcome to former Liverpool team-mate Fernando Torres. ©Getty Images


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