Saturday, July 14, 2012 ESPNsoccernet: July 13, 12:06 PM UK
Canizares' naked WAG, Messi hits bottle Dominic Raynor
Off the Ball may have taken a brief but well deserved break while Spain inevitably won Euro 2012, we're back for the 2012-13 season and will be scratching around the underbelly of football for the most bizarre, humorous and inexplicable stories with renewed vigour. We kick off the campaign with a heady mix of booze, nudity and implied violence.
Canizares posts photo of naked wife online
We start in Spain, where former Valencia goalkeeper Santiago Canizares made a blunder that eclipsed (almost) anything from his playing career when he somehow managed to post a photo of his naked wife taking a shower on Twitter.
After realising the error, which he subsequently tried to blame on his mischievous children, Canizares quickly removed the image of Mayte Garcia (NSFW-ish), but by then the topless snap was trending worldwide and spreading like... well, like a naked picture of a footballer's wife.
The former Real Madrid star will now have to deal with some funny looks and knowing winks when he resumes his day job as a TV pundit for Canal Plus and Cadena Ser, but Canizares, 42, is certainly no stranger to embarrassing headlines.
In 2002, the butter-fingered Spanish international dropped a bottle of aftershave on his foot at La Roja's World Cup training base in Jerez and was ruled out of the tournament after he suffered a severed tendon.
Inter wave red rag at ultras
"If God is not an Inter fan, then why is the sky blue and the night black?" goes the saying in the Nerazzurri half of Milan. So when Nike produced a new away shirt for the 2012-13 season in the red hue synonymous with arch-rivals AC Milan it was always going to cause outrage.
"It's an insult to our history, that colour belongs to another team," raged Inter's furious Ultras in an open letter to club chairman Massimo Moratti. "It's a real punch in the eye and another in the stomach that has left us breathless."
The overriding feeling of disgust at the red aberration amongst the 'The Curva Nord' means it is unlikely to ever be seen in the stands at San Siro. The Ultras have called on all supporters to boycott the new shirt and when they speak, the rest of the supporters would do well to listen.
"We urge fans not to buy this clothing and they certainly shouldn't come to the stadium wearing it," warned the Ultras. They didn't need to add "or else" at the end.
Messi hits the bottle
Having run out things to win on the football pitch, and with a hat-trick of World Player of the Year gongs cluttering his trophy-laden mantle piece, Barcelona star Lionel Messi has decided to hit the bottle.
Okay, so the golden boy of world football may not be glugging back the booze himself, but the Argentina international has teamed up with the Bodegas Bianchi winery in his homeland to put his name on range of high-end vino.
The 'Leo' range - comprising of a white blend called Torrontés and two red varieties of Malbec and Malbec Premium - will be unveiled under the slogan 'Leo, esencia creadora' (Leo, creative essence) and the bottles' labels will take the form of a football shirt, or a football.
Part of the proceeds from sales of the wines will go to the Argentinian footballers' foundation, which is dedicated to running projects focused on healthcare and social activities to help children. Off the Ball wouldn't dare to question the validity of using booze to help children and promote health.
Bell tolls for City spending power
They may have spent £930 million to successfully land the Premier League title but Manchester City discovered this week that money can't actually buy everything.
After shelling out for €1,000 mattresses, 6.30am alarm calls and hay baths at their 5-star Austrian pre-season training camp the money-bags club discovered the early morning tolling of the bells of the church adjoining the team hotel couldn't be bought.
"They wanted to ask the priest to switch off the bells of the church attached to the hotel," Alois Seyrling, the hotel's manager, explained. "The bells are ringing at seven in the morning, eight in the morning, and nine in the morning. However, I couldn't convince the priest - perhaps if he gets an autograph he'll stop for a few days."
Video of the week
Want to buy a season ticket for Crystal Palace? No? Want to watch a video of Crystal Palace's cheerleaders, the Crystals, trying to sell you a season ticket whilst wearing bikinis and dancing to Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe? Thought you might. Click here to see the Crystals cheerleaders in action .