ENGLAND take on San Marino in a World Cup qualifier tomorrow.
So to liven up proceedings while San Marino park the bus and England toil for the first half and hour before scoring, here are some fun San Marino facts for your reading pleasure.
San Marino are currently ranked joint-207th and last in the FIFA rankings, level on zero points with Bhutan and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
San Marino have only won one match in their history, a 1-0 friendly success over Liechtenstein in April 2004.
Davide Gualtieri, who scored the fastest goal in World Cup qualifying history after eight seconds against England in 1993, is now a computer salesman.
None of the teams in the seven-team Sammarinese League have their own ground. Instead, five neutral grounds are used on a rotating basis.
Aldo and Davide Simoncini made history against Sweden in 2010 when they became the first twins to score own goals in the same international match.
NEWCASTLE could sue Wigan striker Callum McManaman for his horror tackle on full-back Massadio Haidara.
The 21-year-old escaped punishment for the challenge which left Frenchman Haidara in hospital when the Football Association ruled they could not charge him retrospectively because the incident had been seen by one of the match officials at the time and not deemed worthy of a red card.
It will take a second scan next week to determine the severity of the damage and subsequently how long the 20-year-old will be out of action, but although the club currently has no plans to resort to the courts that could still be an option open to the player who, it is understood, is yet to receive an apology.
THE attitude of football fans towards the presence of gay players has changed dramatically in the last 25 years, according to a Loughborough University academic.
Dr Jamie Cleland’s research has revealed that 93 per cent of fans say that a player’s on-field performance, not his sexuality, is the most important thing to them.
And that shows just one example of a cultural shift in attitudes since Justin Fashanu came out in 1990 and was ostracised by former team-mates, fans, the media and even his own brother John.
Dr Cleland has done three studies into homosexuality in football – an analysis of 3,500 fans’ views towards the presence of gay footballers with Professor Ellis Cashmore of Staffordshire University, an analysis of 2,500 posts surrounding homosexuality on fan message boards, and an analysis of the print media’s reaction to Anton Hysén coming out in March 2011.
Dr Cleland said: “The conclusion from all three studies is that the environment in football is a lot more inclusive towards sexuality than is being reported.
“It’s changed dramatically since the 1980s and 1990s, but there is always a vocal minority – and they are very vocal.”
IT’S tense, it’s nervous, very little is happening as we approach the run in to the season’s end.
Number one is still taken by LookMumNoHands, with only Rumford Rovers (2), Pat Mustard XI (6) and Rochester United (7) climbing inside the top 10.
Stevies Wonders (38) was top scorer this week with an impressive 74 points.
RACISM in British football is still rife despite the efforts of campaigners to stamp it out over the last 20 years, according to research.
Dr Jamie Cleland says that more than 80 per cent of fans who took part in his study said that racism was still endemic in British football, while half said they had experienced racism in the last two years.
He said football’s governing bodies, and anti-racist organisations like Kick It Out, have contributed to a culture of complacency and that racism has been ‘disregarded’ or ‘suppressed’ to ‘give the impression it had been eradicated’.
The study also says the fans want stronger leadership from the governing bodies like FIFA, UEFA and the FA and a ‘zero tolerance’ stance on racism with points deductions, bigger fines and life-bans introduced for supporters found guilty of a racist act.
THE world’s leading football clubs are to be offered enormous financial inducements to participate in a 24-team tournament every two years in Qatar and neighbouring Gulf states, the Times has reported.
Oil-rich billionaires could offer up to £175m to the world’s biggest clubs just to take part in a summer ‘Dream Football League’.
The tournament – to be held in six cities in the Gulf region every other year, starting in 2015 – would involve 24 elite clubs.
Organisers would hope to attract four English clubs from Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur to take part.
EQUIPMENT used to grow grass by criminals in Nottinghamshire has been donated by police to Notts County to use to grow grass.
Cannabis farm confiscated lighting rigs and heating lamps have been donated by the force to the League One side, who will reuse them to keep the turf at Meadow Lane in top condition throughout the winter.
Supt Mark Hollands said: “This property would normally be crushed, so it is important it gets reused and a lot of people are getting the benefit from it.”
And stadium manager Greg Smith told the BBC it was “a massive saving for the club”.
IN THE Goaltastic league this week – despite FA Cup intervention on the fixture list – the pressure remains on league leader LookMumNoHands.
Former champion Can’t touch this! climbs to second, while Pat Mustard XI (7) and MasasMagic (9) also rise.
Top scorer this week was 11th-placed Stooshers FC, with 64 points.
NORMALLY everyone loves an animal pitch invader – from the Ewood Chicken to the Anfield Cat, they often become cult creatures.
But the marten which invaded the match between FC Thun and FC Zurich at the weekend was less than welcome.
Because the weasel’s antics on the pitch ended with the creature being caught by Zurich defender Loris Benito – who the animal then injured with a bite to the finger.
Following the match, he said: “In hindsight, I was probably a little foolish.
“You don’t know what sort of disease it might be carrying. It was painful.”
DESPITE posting a profit, Southampton’s executive chairman Nicola Cortese has criticised the Premier League’s decision to impose wage and spending controls on clubs.
Saints reported a £0.9m profit for the last six months of 2012, which alongside a wage bill that is 59 per cent of turnover would see Southampton comfortably comply with the new financial regulations
But Italian banker Cortese insists owners should be allowed to run their clubs as they wish: “We believe very strongly that each club should continue to be permitted to run their business – including their pay rolls – as they see fit.
“This is fundamental to the future integrity of football.”