Football briefs: Gareth Bale | Mario Balotelli | Steve McClaren | European finals

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SCOTLAND assistant coach Stuart McCall has hailed Gareth Bale as the most influential player in the Barclays Premier League right now, with Scotland again facing the daunting task of stifling his talents.

The winger was the star man as Wales secured a 2-1 win over the Scots in Cardiff in October and looks set to be on top form again for next month’s World Cup qualifier at Hampden after scoring eight of Spurs’ last ten goals. McCall said: “There is some top quality in the Premier League but, for impact on a game and match-winning goals, it is certainly Gareth Bale at this moment in time. He’s terrific.”

• Serie A has made a bold statement of intent in the battle against the racist behaviour marring Italian football by fining Inter Milan €50,000 euros (£43,000) after supporters racially abused AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli for the second time in two weeks.

Balotelli was the victim of “racially discriminatory chants” from a section of the Nerazzurri support on Sunday as he faced his former club.

The Italy international held his finger to his lips in response to the consistent abuse in the 1-1 draw, while several supporters were seen waving inflatable bananas.

• Former England manager Steve McClaren has resigned as coach of Dutch club FC Twente amid growing unrest following poor recent form.

McClaren held talks with president Joop Munsterman over the weekend but the manager failed to receive the assurances for which he had hoped and took the decision to leave his job. The split comes after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Heerenveen left Twente – who won the title under McClaren in 2010 – in fifth place in the Eredivisie. The 51-year-old was in his second spell in charge of the team.

• A four-day festival will take place next to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park ahead of the Champions League final in London in May. The Uefa Champions Festival will take place at the International Quarter in Stratford on 23-26 May. The free festival will be the first major event to come to the area since last summer’s London Olympics.

Fans can have their photos taken with the men’s and women’s trophies and visit Uefa’s Champions League museum. The Champions League final is at Wembley on 25 May, with the women’s final at Stamford Bridge on 23 May.