Mexican poopy pants, Gignac's fat camp
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, Balotelli-plagued Roberto Mancini says he needs to see a psychologist, Mexico's Omar Arellano poos his pants during a game, Marseille striker Andre-Pierre Gignac is packed off to fat camp and Turkish side Sivasspor FC daub themselves in the blood of a slaughtered sheep.
Mexico star poos himself on the pitch
Jurgen Klinsman may have marked his debut as USA coach with a last-gasp 1-1 draw against Mexico this week but as far as Off The Ball is concerned the headline act was El Tri winger Omar Arellano who had himself a little accident in the trouser department during the game.
England's Gary Lineker blazed a trail for on-pitch, poo-related disasters during Italia '90 when he soiled himself in a World Cup game against Republic of Ireland.
But luckily for Lineker, England played in dark blue shorts and he was able to keep the embarrassing incident buried for 20 years. Poor old Guadalajara winger Arellano wasn't quite so lucky.
The Mexico national team play in white shorts and the apparent evidence of his poopy pants was picked up by ESPN's TV cameras and beamed around the world.
Barmy Balotelli drives Mancini mad
Mario Balotelli's bizarre antics - which include driving into a women's prison, throwing darts at unsuspecting youth players and finding a bag full of rotting fish in his Maserati - have featured so often in this column that Off The Ball can't help but love the Manchester City crackpot.
But poor old City boss Roberto Mancini holds a slightly different view after a year of dealing with the fallout from Balotelli's off-the-pitch escapades and on-pitch petulance, with the Italian joking this week that he had been driven to edge of madness by the youngster.
"I have to speak to Mario every single day - and I need a psychologist!" Mancini told The People. "I don't know why he does the things he does, except to say that he is a young guy who will eventually grow up. But I have known him since he was 17 and he is even worse now than he was then."
At least Mancini could relax for few days this week while the Italian striker was on international duty. Although Azzurri boss Cesare Prandelli was kept on his toes. "In only two days of training he [Balotelli] has not managed to annoy me yet," the Italy boss joked.
Mistake? What mistake?
Footballers have a number of rudimentary tried and tested ways to cope with making a costly mistake: there's the good old deferral of responsibility technique, which consists of quickly pointing the finger of blame at a team-mate, or alternatively they can fake an injury. But Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Fabian Giefer took things to a whole new level this week when he simply denied having any recollection of the blunder that led to a goal in his side's 2-0 defeat by Mainz.
To be fair to the 21-year-old, he did suffer concussion after colliding with Mainz forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting's knee in the 84th minute of the game. And the fact that he played on but had to be sent to a clinic for observation overnight also adds weight to his excuse.
Giefer, who mis-hit a simple pass across the face of goal to allow Sami Allagui to open the scoring in the 32nd minute, told Germany's Express newspaper: "I have a complete blackout. I didn't even know how we played. I also know nothing of my mistake. Neither can I remember our preparation for the game, the hotel in Mainz, nor even our training camp."
Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who has been made less than welcome at the Allianz Arena by the club's ultras following his move from Bundesliga rivals Schalke, could do well to follow Giefer's example after an error on his debut handed opponents Borussia Monchengladbach victory and made him even more unpopular. In fact, if Neuer finds a big enough knee to bash his head against he could forget he ever made the move to Munich.
Gignac packed off to fat camp
Olympique Marseille striker Andre-Pierre Gignac must have spent his time recovering from groin surgery this summer snaffling croissants and coq au vin as the Ligue 1 club have shipped him off to fat camp to lose weight.
OM don't call it that of course. They claim Gignac is heading to an Italian health centre in the spa town of Merano, where he will undergo an individually tailored programme in order to regain peak physical fitness. Sounds just like fat camp to Off The Ball.
Marseille doctor Christophe Baudot said: "He didn't put on much weight after the surgery but we want him to lose weight and we've had trouble achieving that in recent weeks. Three or four kilos too much for a top-level athlete can hold them back."
The 25-year-old will return to France next week and is expected to resume training with Marseille before the end of the month with a view to being back in contention to play in September.
Ewe must be joking
Turkish side Sivasspor FC went to extreme, bloody lengths this week to ensure a victory over Serbian side FK Rad when they controversially slaughtered a live sheep on the pitch for good luck before the kick-off.
The home side went on to win the friendly (yes, friendly!) match 4-1, but rather than any 'good luck' gleaned from the butchery, the victory was probably down to the fact the FK Rad players, who retired to the changing rooms during the ovine assassination, had been traumatised by the sight of the opposition heading towards them daubed in blood.
The Serbian side's striker Radomir Kokovic said: "When we got back to the pitch, the Sivasspor players where putting the dead sheep's blood on their bodies as a part of the ritual. When their captain approached me to shake hands, his arm was covered with blood up to an elbow."
The blood-basted Sivasspor players also apparently offered promotional gift bags to some fans in the stands.
Video of the week
This week's video is one to warm the cockles of your heart as Real Madrid take on 109 Chinese kids in a match in Guangzhou... although the stars of Spanish football didn't have the decency to lose and actually won the game 2-1. To see Real Madrid take on 109 kids click here .
More than words...
Smoke is seen rising from the London riots from a view behind the Bobby Moore statue outside Wembley.
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