The week in Eastern Europe: Ignominy, indigence and mendicancy
If there existed such an article as the television licence in Eastern Europe, you could consider the beholder suitably disgruntled.
The regionÃ¢ÂÂs output is not in the vanguard of excellence, not when broadcasters subject their viewers to staid political drivel, bonkers game shows of Tarrant on TV clip-quality, or the kind of hardcore filth one could only dream of acquiring at a car boot sale (or so NMTBÃ¢ÂÂs heard).
And they're not averse to taking a perfectly good format from one of our programmes and Eastern European-ifying it, like MoldovaÃ¢ÂÂs Strictly Come Dancing. The sadistic producer pairs a celebrity with an indigent member of the public Ã¢ÂÂ thatÃ¢ÂÂs an indigent member of the public with a sick relative unable to afford treatment, NMTB hastens to add Ã¢ÂÂ for a dance-off.
You can probably guess what the prize is; in the blogÃ¢ÂÂs opinion, itÃ¢ÂÂs akin to organised mendicancy, especially when the individual in poor health is wheeled out to plead for their relation to remain in the competition.
Also, you have to question whether spending several hours a week dancing really is helpful to the situation, and could they be doing something a little more productive with their time, like ooooh, getting a job, maybe?
NMTBÃ¢ÂÂs guilty pleasure after work in ChiÃ ÂinÃÂu was the ludicrous Teste de Fidelite, perhaps best explained as an unhealthy hybrid of Balls of Steel and The Jeremy Kyle Show that our failing society will indubitably be lapping up in the not-too-distant future, if the furore surrounding the indiscretions of certain footballers is anything to go by.
Plot thus: take one insecure woman, a (potentially) adulterous other half and a harlot with enormous gazongas as inducement. Fast forward through the Ã¢ÂÂchance meetingÃ¢ÂÂ between said other half and harlot with enormous gazongas, and the pair end up indulging in what swimming pool signage would describe as Ã¢ÂÂheavy pettingÃ¢ÂÂ at her flat.
At this point, the insecure (and now correct and incredibly irate) woman, smug presenter and two balaclava-clad goons burst in to bring proceedings to an abrupt halt. ItÃ¢ÂÂs then that the callous producer gets his grubby mitts on a glorious money shot of five minutes of stiletto-hurling, fist-flying mayhem.
Next we cut to the miscreant in a studio enduring the ignominy of a lie detector test in the manner of a Stalinist show trial except with the bonus of utter humiliation on national television.
It honestly wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt surprise the blog if it reached these shores with vacuous footballers as fodder, and itÃ¢ÂÂs doubtless in the minds of Teste de FideliteÃ¢ÂÂs creators, as players in Eastern Europe arenÃ¢ÂÂt exactly holier-than-thou.
Recently itÃ¢ÂÂs been Russian club Anzhi MakhachkalaÃ¢ÂÂs Youssef Rabeh whose capricious behaviour has been engendering media interest.
A litany of controversial incidents have blighted the career of the newly-promoted Premier-Liga sideÃ¢ÂÂs Moroccan defender since leaving Africa, including being handed a three-year suspended jail sentence for drink-driving, so it perhaps wasnÃ¢ÂÂt a disappointment to Levski Sofia fans that the 24-year-old was hived off to the Dagestan club earlier this month.
Rabeh gets a telling-off from Mike Dean
The centre-back joined his new team-mates at AnzhiÃ¢ÂÂs, ahem, Ã¢ÂÂchaoticÃ¢ÂÂ training camp in Turkey, where they were preparing a long-awaited return to RussiaÃ¢ÂÂs top flight.
Their friendly against Slavia Sofia Ã¢ÂÂ and RabehÃ¢ÂÂs debut Ã¢ÂÂ was a farce, owing to the gameÃ¢ÂÂs abandonment on 58 minutes after Magomed MagomedovÃ¢ÂÂs dismissal provoked Anzhi players and officials into attacking the referee.
Leading the charge wasnÃ¢ÂÂt the controversial Moroccan but, naturally, club president Magomed-Sultan Magomedov, who was disgusted that the official had shown the temerity to brandish a second yellow card at his son.
And there were more problems for Anzhi after Rabeh proclaimed himself unavailable for their next friendly against fellow Russians Krylia Sovetov Samara because of a niggling injury.
He remained at the clubÃ¢ÂÂs hotel during their 2-1 defeat, but on AnzhiÃ¢ÂÂs return, their Ã¢ÂÂcrockedÃ¢ÂÂ centre-back was nowhere to be seen.
Rabeh, whose whereabouts remain unknown, had absconded. Also gone, in what could be an unrelated incident, was his roommate Todor TimonovÃ¢ÂÂs wallet.
"I'm shocked," declared RabehÃ¢ÂÂs agent Nikolay Zheynov. "I've talked to his family and they also have no idea where he is. He stabbed us in the back."
Rabeh is since said to have conducted a telephone interview with the Bulgarian newspaper Meridian Match and affirmed he was retiring from football, just a fortnight and 60 minutes playing time into a three-year contract with the Russians.
"We did so much to help him and we hoped that his move to Anzhi would help him and his career," Levski's chief executive Konstantin Bazhdekov said, in a buck-passing lilt.
ItÃ¢ÂÂs cast something of a shadow over the new-season preparations for Anzhi, who are refusing to stump up the transfer fee for the Moroccan, said to be around the ÃÂ£300,000 mark.
Contract law isn't NMTB's forte, but it presumes the matter is between Anzhi and Rabeh, and nothing to do with Levski, who have have taken the matter to FIFA while presumably vowing never to deal with Russian clubs again.
Only a few months have elapsed since they become embroiled in one of the most bizarre occurrences in football. In September Levski received an offer-you-canÃ¢ÂÂt-refuse bid for a quartet of their key players from Rubin Kazan, and promptly packed them off to Russia to discuss personal terms. It was roughly ÃÂ£4 million on the table Ã¢ÂÂ good money for a Bulgarian club.
Something perturbs NMTB about the person who oversees LevskiÃ¢ÂÂs transfers, because they evidently arenÃ¢ÂÂt the most erudite of individuals and three facets of the deal would have aroused suspicion among the wise:
1) The Russian transfer window is closed in September2) The players were asked to fly to Moscow, 450 miles west of Kazan3) The contact details proffered were a mobile telephone number
It didnÃ¢ÂÂt evoke suspicion in Sofia and the players did meet somebody in the Russian capital, that much is true, although substantially lower figures were bandied about by the Rubin Ã¢ÂÂdelegateÃ¢ÂÂ and the troupe flew back to Bulgaria with contracts unsigned and, more importantly, minus a cheque for ÃÂ£4 million.
Slightly peeved, Levski contacted Rubin. Well, they dialled the number on the fax, and all they got was a bemused English girl, who definitely wasnÃ¢ÂÂt Gurban BerdiÃÂ½ew.
The perturbed Bulgarians eventually did reach the Premier-Liga champions, who confirmed they werenÃ¢ÂÂt culpable for summoning the Levksi players to Moscow and announced that the whole affair was news to them.
It probably wasnÃ¢ÂÂt a coincidence that the wild goose chase occurred on the same day as the Sofia derby and a severely depleted Levski slumped to a 2-0 defeat to their bitter rivals CSKA.
And it almost certainly wasnÃ¢ÂÂt a coincidence that hitherto unheard of sums of money concerning Bulgarian football in Asia were staked on a CSKA victory.
Interpol are investigating the ridiculous episode, which ironically lists Rabeh as one of the quartet of players involved.
Thankfully they're not all a bad lot though, and there was one uplifting story from the FSU last weekend that proves footballers can be an affable bunch.
Shakhtar DonetskÃ¢ÂÂs Darijo Srna purchased 760 tickets for local orphans and foster children to attend the HirnykyÃ¢ÂÂs 1-0 win against Vorskla on Sunday. The Croatian also paid for their transport to and from the game.
Now that is the behaviour of a captain.ÃÂ¡ÃÂÃÂ°ÃÂÃÂÃÂ»ÃÂ¸ÃÂ²ÃÂ¾