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FOOTBALL

Is Maradona heading to the French Riviera?

First it was Golden Balls, next it could be the Hand of God. Following David Beckham's surprise move to French football Diego Maradona could follow suit after Montpellier said they want to speak to the Argentine legend about becoming their coach.

Is Maradona heading to the French Riviera?
Photo: Armando Tovar

Outspoken Montpellier president Louis Nicollin said on Friday that he hopes to speak to Argentine legend Diego Maradona about taking over as coach at the club next season.

The French side, who won the Ligue 1 title last season for the first time in their history, are on the lookout for somebody to replace Rene Girard, who has been in charge since 2009 but will leave in the summer when his contract expires.

Nicollin, who often courts attention with his outrageous comments, made headlines on Monday when he told RMC radio that he was keen to recruit Maradona "to annoy PSG."

This time, however, it appears that his interest is genuine.

There have been suggestions that Maradona is keen to speak to the southern French outfit, and Nicollin insisted at the start of the week that "Maradona has been thinking about coaching in Europe and maybe at our club. If he wants to talk to us then we'll receive him with great pleasure."

However, Nicollin admits the situation has been complicated by the number of "agents" claiming to work on the Argentine's behalf.

"Things should become clear on Monday. I think that he (Maradona) will come to Montpellier with his agent for a first meeting, but it is not yet 100 percent sure," Nicollin told AFP on Friday.

"I am wary of these agents," he added. "There is an Argentine, a North African…there are at least 10! I have decided to give it until Monday to see if there is somebody I can trust.

"I keep getting faxes telling me 'it's ok' and then nothing comes. I am not going to fool around indefinitely. There is not just Maradona. I am working on other possibilities, and there are plenty of them."

Maradona, the star of Argentina's 1986 World Cup-winning team, is prepared to speak to Montpellier about their soon-to-be-vacant coaching position, according to Youssef Haijoub, the manager of sports marketing agency SGM, who own the former player's image rights in France.

SGM have exclusive rights to negotiate in Maradona's name in France, and already have links to Montpellier after organising the club's January tour to
Morocco.

Maradona currently lives in Dubai where he works as an ambassador for the Dubai Sports Council.

He coached Argentina at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, where they reached the quarter-finals before losing 4-0 to Germany, and most recently had a spell in charge of Al-Wasl in the United Arab Emirates.

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FOOTBALL

French prosecutors demand jail term for Russian accused of leaving England football fan with brain damage

French prosecutors on Friday called for a 15-year prison sentence for one of two Russians accused of beating a British supporter during Euro 2016, an attack that left him with brain injuries.

French prosecutors demand jail term for Russian accused of leaving England football fan with brain damage
Russian fans light flares at the match against England in 2016.. Photo: AFP

One prosecutor, Christophe Raffin, asked for the “legal maximum… between 14 and 15 years” for Pavel Kossov, who is accused of throwing the first punch at 55-year-old Andrew Bache.

Bache was injured in the violence that broke out before England played Russia in the southern French port city of Marseille on June 11th, 2016.

The second Russian on trial in Aix-en-Provence, Mikhail Ivkine, stands accused of throwing a chair at the victim, with prosecutors asking for a potential suspended sentence of up to five years.

He has claimed he was defending himself.

“No, it wasn't legitimate self-defence, it was illegitimate use of force against Andrew Bache,” Raffin said of the violence.

 

Police give emergency aid to Andrew Bache following clashes in the city of Marseille. Photo: AFP

The prosecutors said the Russians were part of a group of about 150 men, many with martial arts training, who wrought havoc in Marseille.

Bache, from Portsmouth in southern England, has no memory of the events and is too frail to attend the trial.

His son Harry, who nurses his father, is representing him in court.

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