FIFA takes charge of Uruguay FA

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Montevideo (AFP) – Football’s world governing body FIFA has taken control of the Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) after the organisation was plunged into chaos following the sudden resignation of president Wilmar Valdez last month. A letter from FIFA reported in local media said the body had set up a “regularisation committee” aimed at restoring order to the AUF. The FIFA committee would be responsible for managing the affairs of the FA through to February 28, 2019 and would revise the organisation’s statues and arrange new elections. Uruguayan football has been in crisis since July 30, when president Valdez, who had favourite to win a new term in a vote the following day, abruptly resigned. Valdez stepped down after the emergence of mysterious audio recordings just before his re-election bid. Although the exact content of the recordings is unknown, media said they contained comments about sports administrators, a member of the Continue reading "FIFA takes charge of Uruguay FA"

McClaren under fire as QPR crash again

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London (AFP) – QPR manager Steve McClaren is in danger of being sacked less than a month into the new Championship season after his struggling side were beaten 3-0 by Bristol City on Tuesday. McClaren’s team are rooted to the bottom of the second-tier table following their fourth successive league defeat. The former England coach, dubbed the ‘Wally with the brolly’ during his ill-fated spell with the national team, only took over from Ian Holloway in the close-season. But reports have suggested he is already on the verge of being axed by QPR chairman Amit Bhatia. A humiliating 7-1 loss at West Brom on Saturday triggered a barrage of abuse for McClaren from angry QPR fans and he endured a similar reception at Loftus Road after City ran riot. Matty Taylor’s goal four minutes before the interval put the Robins ahead. Andreas Weimann doubled their lead five minutes into the Continue reading "McClaren under fire as QPR crash again"

Coach keeps Argentina guessing about Messi’s future

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Buenos Aires (AFP) – Argentina’s interim coach Lionel Scaloni refused to be drawn on Lionel Messi’s international future after leaving the five-time World Player of the Year out of his squad for upcoming friendlies next month. Local media had claimed the Barcelona star asked to be excused from international duty for Argentina’s four remaining friendlies in 2018, starting with a trip to the United States in September to play Guatemala and Colombia. “I’ve spoken with Messi and from that conversation I picked my squad,” said Scaloni, who took over from the sacked Jorge Sampaoli after Argentina’s underwhelming World Cup last-16 elimination to eventual champions France. “We didn’t speak about what could happen in the future. We know what Messi represents for us and we’ll see for the future.” Messi, 31, has retired from international duty once before after missing a penalty in Argentina’s shoot-out defeat by Chile, for the Continue reading "Coach keeps Argentina guessing about Messi’s future"

Pjanic signs contract extension with Juventus


Milan (AFP) – Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic has signed a contract extension to keep him at Juventus until 2023, the Italian champions announced on Tuesday. The 28-year-old has won back-to-back Serie A and Italian Cup doubles since joining the Bianconeri from Roma in 2016. Known as a set-piece specialist, Pjanic has scored 15 league goals directly from free-kicks since arriving in Italy in 2011. “I’m very happy to extend my contract until 2023 with this amazing club,” Pjanic, who has scored 12 goals in 79 international appearances for Bosnia and Herzegovina, wrote on Twitter. Juve kicked off their Serie A title defence last Saturday with a dramatic 3-2 victory at Chievo as Portuguese great Cristiano Ronaldo made his competitive debut after joining from Real Madrid for 100 million euros ($114.5 million) last month.

UEFA president Ceferin nominated to stand for re-election


Paris (AFP) – The Slovenian Football Association (NZS) on Tuesday announced that its former head, Aleksander Ceferin, has been nominated for re-election as UEFA president by several European federations. The NZS said in a statement on its website that a group of federations had sent an “official proposal” of support for Ceferin, the 50-year-old lawyer who succeeded Michel Platini at the head of European football’s governing body in 2016. Along with Slovenia, the federations who have announced their support are Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Italy and the Republic of Ireland. The election is due to take place on February 7 next year in Rome, with other potential candidates having until November 7 to come forward, as long as they have the support of at least three member federations.

Premier League threatens legal action over Saudi piracy

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London (AFP) – The English Premier League said Tuesday it is taking steps to bring legal action in Saudi Arabia to resolve a piracy issue over the televising of its matches and to protect its authorised broadcaster Qatar-based beIN Media Group. The EPL said it had seen “compelling evidence” that all 20 of its matches shown over the first two weekends of this season’s campaign had been broadcast illegally by a pirate TV channel called “beoutQ’. BeIN Sports was only recently awarded the exclusive broadcasting rights across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) for another three seasons up to the 2021/22 campaign after paying ‘tens of millions’ for them.   “The Premier League takes piracy in all its forms extremely seriously and is committed to working with its broadcast partners and regulatory authorities in territories all around the world to stop the non-authorised exploitation of its content,” read a Continue reading "Premier League threatens legal action over Saudi piracy"

Beckham to receive UEFA President’s award

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Paris (AFP) – Former England captain David Beckham is to receive the 2018 UEFA President’s Award in honour of his achievements in the game and his work since retiring as a player, European football’s governing body said on Tuesday. The ex-Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder, who is now 43, will receive the award in Monaco later this year. “I have chosen David Beckham as the recipient of this year’s award because he has been a global ambassador for football, promoting the game and all its values in every corner of the planet,” said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin. “His tireless humanitarian efforts, which have helped the lives of many children around the world, should also be celebrated. Beckham is a true football icon of his generation.” Beckham won the Champions League with United in 1999 and later played for Los Angeles Galaxy, AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain after leaving Continue reading "Beckham to receive UEFA President’s award"

Seedorf leaves out China-based players in first Cameroon squad

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Yaoundé (AFP) – New Cameroon coach Clarence Seedorf has named France cap Paul-Georges Ntep in his first squad for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations qualifier away against Comoros, but there is no place for two China-based stars. Dutchman Seedorf, who was appointed on August 4 as the successor to Belgian Hugo Broos with compatriot Patrick Kluivert as his assistant, has left out both Benjamin Moukandjo and Christian Bassogog. Moukandjo captained Cameroon during their victorious 2017 Cup of Nations campaign in Gabon, while winger Bassogog was the best player at the tournament. Both play their club football in China, Moukandjo with Beijing Renhe and Bassogog with Henan Jianye. They played in Cameroon’s 1-0 win over Morocco in the first round of qualifiers, in June last year. Ntep is a notable call-up to the squad — the 26-year-old forward, who plays for Bundesliga club Wolfsburg, was born in Cameroon but has
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Palace captain happy without VAR despite Salah ‘dive’

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London (AFP) – Crystal Palace captain Luka Milivojevic says he prefers playing without Video Assistant Referee (VAR) even though his side felt hard done by in going behind to a controversial penalty in the 2-0 loss to Liverpool.  The 27-year-old Serbian midfielder said he had asked Egyptian Mohamed Salah to tell match referee Michael Oliver he should reverse his decision to award a penalty on the stroke of half-time in Monday’s match. Salah, who has been accused of diving by among others Palace manager Roy Hodgson, refused. However, Milivojevic believes the Premier League is better off without VAR even though they are the only hold-outs of the major, top-flight leagues to do so. “I do not want VAR in this league,” he told the Crystal Palace website. “In this country you have the best referees in the world. I do not think VAR will help. “They are human beings,
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Lyon sign Belgium defender Denayer from Man City

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Lyon (AFP) – Lyon have completed the signing of Belgian international defender Jason Denayer from English champions Manchester City for a fee of up to 10 million euros ($11.5 million), the French club announced on Tuesday. Denayer has signed a four-year deal, with the transfer fee taking into account 3.5 million euros in potential bonus payments. The 23-year-old joined City’s academy as a youth but never established himself in their first team, and has spent the last four years being loaned out to various clubs. After stints at Celtic and Sunderland, Denayer played for Galatasaray last season, helping them win the Turkish title. The arrival of Denayer, who has played eight times for Belgium but did not go to the World Cup in Russia, comes after a summer in which Lyon have been linked with moves for several defensive reinforcements. Among those linked with the seven-time French champions Continue reading "Lyon sign Belgium defender Denayer from Man City"

Football’s big names are ‘Little Wife’ and ‘Busty’ to China fans

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Shanghai (AFP) – Mesut Ozil is “Little Wife”, Paul Pogba is “Busty” and Jose Mourinho is called “Magic Bird” — Chinese fans and media have conjured up creative and bizarre nicknames for many of the world’s best-known football figures. There is also “Very Homesick Boy” (Carlos Tevez), “Little Puppy” (Kylian Mbappe) and “Violent Bird” (Paulinho). Chinese is expressed using idiomatic characters rather than an alphabet, making it difficult to use the language to transliterate some foreign names. That means that while someone like England striker Harry Kane or Lionel Messi keep their names in China because they are fairly simple to pronounce, many others have not been so lucky. It is often an indication of how popular a player is in China. Argentine forward Tevez, who has never stayed at one club for long during his up-and-down career, had a disastrous 12-month spell in the Chinese Super League (CSL) with Continue reading "Football’s big names are ‘Little Wife’ and ‘Busty’ to China fans"

Can we play you every week? China 16 Tajikistan 0

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Shanghai (AFP) – Impassioned debate raged in China on Tuesday about the state of the men’s national football team after the Chinese women’s side thrashed sorry Tajikistan 16-0 at the Asian Games. Forward Wang Shanshan plundered nine goals — a remarkable hat-trick of hat-tricks — as China ran riot on Monday in the Indonesian host city of Palembang. China’s women, who consistently outshine their male counterparts on the international stage, have easily won two games out of two at the Games and face mighty North Korea on Wednesday to decide who takes top spot in the group. China previously hammered Hong Kong 7-0 and the women’s latest goal fest sparked debate back home on social media. China’s men’s team are something of a national embarrassment, qualifying for the World Cup only once, in 2002, when they failed to win a point or even score a goal. “Are they playing volleyball? Continue reading "Can we play you every week? China 16 Tajikistan 0"

Bolt takes first tentative steps on Man Utd dream

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Gosford (Australia) (AFP) – Usain Bolt has taken the first tentative steps towards his Manchester United dream after the sprint king joined Australian side Central Coast Mariners for his first training session Tuesday. Wearing gloves and tracksuit bottoms despite a mild winter’s day, the Jamaican did some light stretching, jogging and ball work with the rest of the squad in his maiden drill since being given the chance to win a playing contract by the A-League team. He showed glimpses of good control, but also some heavy touches, favouring his left foot. “It’s just like track and field — the first day of training is always the roughest one. You can tell how much work you need to put in. But it felt OK, you know,” said Bolt after the 45-minute workout. The superstar athlete, who also celebrated his 32nd birthday Tuesday, has been given an opportunity by the Mariners Continue reading "Bolt takes first tentative steps on Man Utd dream"

Balotelli opts to stay at Nice, say French club

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Paris (AFP) – Mario Balotelli has signed a new deal to stay at Nice despite strong interest from French rivals Marseille, the Ligue 1 club announced on Monday. The striker, whose strong form in the last two seasons at the Allianz Riviera has seen him return to the Italy team, has scored 43 goals for the club. Nice have got off to a slow start this year under new coach Patrick Vieira, with the former Arsenal and France midfielder seeing his charges lose at home to Reims and draw at Caen. But the decision of the 28-year-old Balotelli to stay will be a massive boost to Vieira and his team. “After careful consideration, Mario Balotelli has decided to stay at OGC Nice,” the club said in a statement. “The Italian international expressed his wishes to the directors. There will be a third season for the forward. The agreement was signed
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No complacency due to competition for places at City, insists Kompany

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Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany believes the champions are well placed to avoid past mistakes and become the first team in a decade to retain the Premier League title. The Belgian, who is the only current City player to have been with the club through the decade that they have been under Abu Dhabi’s free-spending ownership, has won the league three times at City. But on the previous two occasions, City have failed to mount a serious title challenge in the following year, leaving Manchester United, in 2009, as the last champions to defend their title successfully. Now, however, Kompany insists that under Pep Guardiola’s management, City will not make the same errors as in years gone by. “I can only say it’s different from previous years we have won the league,” he said. “There’s been so many warnings we have had and every single Continue reading "No complacency due to competition for places at City, insists Kompany"

Witsel rescues Dortmund from embarrassing Cup exit on debut

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Berlin (AFP) – Belgian international Axel Witsel struck deep into injury time on his Borussia Dortmund debut to save his new club from an embarrassing German Cup exit at Greuther Furth on Monday, before Marco Reus sealed a 2-1 win in extra time. The 29-year-old Witsel, who joined the Bundesliga giants from Chinese side Tianjin Quanjian earlier this month, came off the bench in the 74th minute of the first-round tie. He saw Sebastian Ernst give second-tier Greuther Furth a shock lead just three minutes later, but volleyed home an equaliser in the fifth minute of added time before Reus grabbed a 121st-minute winner. It was also Swiss coach Lucien Favre’s first game in charge of Dortmund, and it was his second-half introductions of Witsel and English teenager Jadon Sancho which helped his new team avoid falling at the first hurdle of the Cup for the first time since 2005. Continue reading "Witsel rescues Dortmund from embarrassing Cup exit on debut"

Man City lose Bravo to Achilles injury

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London (AFP) – Manchester City could be without reserve goalkeeper Claudio Bravo for the rest of the season after the Chilean ruptured an Achilles tendon, the Premier League champions confirmed on Monday. “Bravo has sustained an Achilles tendon injury in today’s training session,” City said in a statement. “He will fly out to Barcelona for further tests on Thursday where the extent of the injury will be examined.” Bravo won two La Liga titles with Barcelona before moving to City in 2016, but an error-strewn first season provoked City to sign Brazilian Ederson from Benfica last year to take over as first-choice ‘keeper. “No matter what happens, or how bad it looks today, life will go on, and tomorrow will certainly be better,” Bravo tweeted. However, Bravo played all six ties as City won the League Cup last season and his absence leaves City short on back-up for Ederson. Daniel Grimshaw, Continue reading "Man City lose Bravo to Achilles injury"

Salah in diving storm as Liverpool win at Palace

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London (AFP) – Mohamed Salah was engulfed in a diving storm as the Liverpool star won the controversial penalty that inspired their 2-0 win over 10-man Crystal Palace on Monday. Salah was accused of diving by Palace when he tumbled in the penalty area late in the first half at Selhurst Park. Referee Michael Oliver awarded a spot-kick for Mamadou Sakho’s challenge on the Egypt winger and James Milner converted the penalty. Adding insult to injury for Palace, Salah was involved in another controversy in the second half when he went to ground after a challenge from Palace defender Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who was sent off even though there was minimal contact. Taking advantage of their numerical superiority, Jurgen Klopp’s side then made sure of extending their 100 percent start to the Premier League season thanks to Sadio Mane’s goal in stoppage-time. After Manchester City’s swaggering demolition of Huddersfield on Sunday,
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Rodrigo strikes as Atletico held by Valencia in La Liga opener

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Madrid (AFP) – Atletico Madrid failed to get their La Liga title bid off to a winning start, as Rodrigo earned Valencia a 1-1 draw at the Mestalla Stadium on Monday. Angel Correa gave Diego Simeone’s visitors a 26th-minute lead, but Rodrigo struck in the second half for the home team and last season’s runners-up Atletico failed to find a winner. There are high hopes at the Wanda Metropolitano that Atletico can muster a serious title challenge, after keeping their key players in the close season and claiming an impressive extra-time win over city rivals Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup last week. But they were given a tough test to start the campaign at a strong Valencia outfit who will be playing in the Champions League this season for the first time since 2015 after finishing fourth. Simeone gave a La Liga debut to Thomas Lemar, who joined Continue reading "Rodrigo strikes as Atletico held by Valencia in La Liga opener"

‘Why can’t I do better than Mbappe’, asks Monaco youngster Geubbels

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Monaco (AFP) – At his first press conference as a Monaco player, teenager Willem Geubbels met the inevitable questions about Kylian Mbappe by asking why he can’t do even better at the club than the World Cup winner. Monaco paid Lyon 20 million euros (£17.5 million, $23.6 million) for the forward in June, and he only turned 17 last Thursday. He was not intimidated by comparisons to Mbappe, one of the club’s previous teen phenomenons. “When you see what he has done here, it makes you want to do beautiful things, to follow in his footsteps,” said Geubbels. “And why not do even better? “I’m not putting myself under pressure over this, it will be done right.” Mbappe made his Monaco debut in 2014, just before his 17th birthday, and went on to play 60 games for the club and win a Ligue 1 title before joining Continue reading "‘Why can’t I do better than Mbappe’, asks Monaco youngster Geubbels"