PSV EINDHOVEN forward Mateja Kezman is on 24-hour security surveillance after Dutch police foiled a plot to kidnap him last weekend. A 59-year-old Dutchman from Arnhem, who according to police has a significant criminal past, was arrested on Sunday but released on Thursday on suspicion of plotting to snatch the Serbia & Montenegro international.
Eindhoven’s chief detective, Willem van den Brand, said that the attempt, which was being master-minded by the Yugoslav mafia, was due to take place one or two days after the arrest. "We had got a pretty complete picture of the plan, even though we did not have enough evidence against the arrested suspect."
Kezman, top scorer in the Dutch league this season with eight goals, was shaken by the affair, but insisted that he was ready to return to football.
"I’ve been trying to do all the things I always do - training, walking with my family - and until now that’s been going well," he said. "At first I was shocked, of course, and a little panicked. My family were all extremely upset and worried.
"But as for the details, I know just as much about the case as everyone else - very little. It is inconceivable that this could have happened. Everything now is in the hands of the police, and I have a lot of faith in them.
"I am a sportsman. It is nice to play on the pitch for two hours, and just think about football."
Coach Guus Hiddink insisted that Kezman had picked up the routine again, but PSV president Harry van Raaij was less convinced: "The kidnap might have been averted, but it will still leave its marks. And we must not forget that the creators of this plot are still free."
Dutch justice department spokesman Charles van der Voort spelled it out to gangs looking to abduct other players: "We want to give a clear signal: Guys, we know what you’re doing. Do not do it. This is a warning: keep your hands off our football players."
That should do the trick.
SPANISH magazine Don Balon ran an intriguing feature this past week in which they asked La Liga players whether they would be happy to share a hotel room with a team-mate that they knew was homosexual. Answers were instructive:
Villarreal defender Fabio Coloccini: "No problem, but it would be out of the question that he touched me."
Celta Vigo captain Alexander Mostovoi: "I would never share my room with a gay."
Atletico Madrid goalkeeper German Burgos: "I would, but I’d also be very careful about his movements."
Celta Vigo midfielder Peter Luccin: "I would refuse to share my room with a homosexual team-mate."
Real Betis and Brazil midfielder Marcos Assuncao: "No."
Villarreal goalkeeper Jose Manuel Reina was in the minority with: "Of course. The most important thing is respect, and that includes everybody’s sexual preferences."
Celta Vigo forward Edu: "Yes, but nothing would happen."
TWO nations who performed brilliantly during the World Cup are still toiling to cope with life after 2002. Since Senegal lost their coach Bruno Metsu to the ‘petrol dollar’ of the Qatari league, the team have struggled, and are heading into next year’s African Nations tournament low on confidence and morale.
After losing their latest friendly to Egypt, the players admitted that they were struggling playing under new boss Guy Stephan, who has been in charge for more than a year.
Pape Bouba Diop, who scored the winner over France in the World Cup opening game, complained: "We fail to understand Stephan and his tactics on the field. We sorely miss the presence of Metsu - the whole squad feels it."
Goalkeeper Tony Sylva added: "Metsu was more than just a manager, a friend and brother to all the players. He was simply a gentleman, and like no other manager I ever had before.
"He used to call every player playing in Europe or elsewhere to keep up with our personal achievements time and again. Nothing of that is experienced since Stephan took charge."
The situation is little better with Japan, who laboured to a 1-1 draw over Romania. Zico has replaced Philippe Troussier as coach, and has failed to win over the Asian press after a series of disappointing performances. His captain, Hidetoshi Nakata, also had harsh words for his team-mates after the game.
"The players just do not talk," he moaned. "This is an extremely serious problem. I was practically hollering at them the whole game."
TURKISH journalist and former Galatasaray vice-chairman Fatih Altayli had an interesting take on the Alpay saga that has swept England and Turkey since last weekend’s explosive Euro 2004 encounter.
Altayli argued that the English media have come down softly on Alpay, whom he described as a "problem child when he was playing in Turkey".
Writing in the national daily Hurriyet, Altayli said: "I think his attack on Beckham and what he did afterwards were a planned action. He knew that what he did would produce this result in England, and that he would be thrown off his team.
"I think that he used the national match to get himself thrown out of a team which he doesn’t like, and which doesn’t like him."