The Fiver | Paul Scholes and that breach of football betting regulations


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Reading the story detailing how Paul Scholes was hauled before the Football Association beaks to answer questions about his fondness for an occasional punt on football, one sentence leapt out at The Fiver. “The FA became aware of Scholes’s behaviour after being informed of his betting history by the bookmaker Paddy Power at the turn of this year,” it read. Paddy Power, eh? How heartwarming to learn that, for all their zany, b@nterific attention-seeking and in-no-way-tasteless dedication to jolly japes, this behemoth of the bookmaking industry was quick to flag up what they recognised as a potential breach of football betting regulations to the FA, as they are duty-bound to do.

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Women’s World Cup game-changing moments No 3: China in 1991


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Fifa’s fears that the tournament would be a commercial failure and the players might not last 90 minutes proved unfounded at the Women’s World Championship For The M&Ms Cup

Like much of what is published on Fifa’s website, its account of what it calls “the inaugural Women’s World Cup” is served up with a healthy dollop of official spin and doesn’t quite tell the whole story. The basics are all covered, of course: staged in China in 1991 the tournament was contested by 12 teams and won by the USA, who beat Norway in a final staged at Guangzhou’s Tianhe Stadium and played in front of 65,000 people.

Fifa boasts that, for the first time in the organisation’s history, six female match officials were appointed to help officiate at the tournament “in keeping with the true spirit of the celebration”. One of them, Claudía de Vasconcelos of Brazil, was given Continue reading “Women’s World Cup game-changing moments No 3: China in 1991”

The Fiver | The time for pointless comparisons is now over


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An England team surfing into a World Cup on a wave of hype? Check. The same team being touted as genuine contenders by its many media cheerleaders? Check. An opening group game against dangerously underrated opponents to whom few give a snowball’s chance in hell? Checkity, check check check. While there is no shortage of bores on social media disgraces who care so little about women’s football they seem compelled to spend their every waking hour droning on about how inferior it is to the men’s game, the parallels between England’s Lionesses pitching up for the Women’s World Cup and countless men’s teams arriving at major competitions before them are striking … and rather ominous for those of a cynical bent.

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Football transfer rumours: João Cancelo to Manchester City?


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Today’s tell-all is ruing another international semi-final defeat

One of several England defenders who failed to impress against the Netherlands last night, Kyle Walker may be disheartened to learn Manchester City are hitching their skirts at Juventus right-back, João Cancelo. Bought from Real Madrid for £26m, Danilo is expected to leave the Etihad this summer and City are reported to have rejected a £13m bid from Inter for the Brazilian. With Juve also believed to be interested in the full-back, a player-plus-cash deal could be in the offing.

One man who had a more enjoyable evening in Guimaraes was Matthijs de Ligt, who has been consistently linked with a move to Barcelona but is now being tipped to join Paris Saint-Germain. With Leonardo due to return to his former role as sporting director with the French champions, ESPN say the Brazilian has been in constant contact with Mino Raiola, Continue reading “Football transfer rumours: João Cancelo to Manchester City?”

Portugal 3-1 Switzerland: Nations League semi-final – as it happened


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The Fiver | The business end of the Nations League


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Fiver readers of a certain age and nationality will remember Turnabout, a daytime BBC TV quiz show that was as ludicrously complicated as it was utterly compelling. Despite nobody involved, least of all its host – erstwhile Football Weekly stand-in Rob Curling – appearing to have any idea what on earth was going on in its Sphere, Palindrome, Star or About Turn games, the show ran for 239 episodes across eight series and all involved seemed to have a very nice time. More recently, in their own attempt to put an end to the kind of meaningless friendlies that have long been the scourge of international football, Uefa introduced its own similarly complicated competition and called it the Nations League. Since its inception last year, England have played four games and advanced to this week’s finals and now Continue reading “The Fiver | The business end of the Nations League”

The Fiver | Close to becoming the first manager to fall off his team’s victory parade bus


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More than half a million people are estimated to have lined the streets of Liverpool (population: 552,000) on Sunday to welcome home Jürgen Klopp and his team of Big Cup winners after their win over Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid on Saturday night. To put that in context, a comparatively paltry 250,000 protestors are expected to converge on the streets of London (population: eight million) to ridicule, mock and barrack the obnoxious, lying, narcissist Donald Trump on his official visit to the UK. While the Fiver’s not so good at sums, even we can tell this proves a hell of a lot more UK citizens chose to turn up to show their appreciation for Klopp and his players than can be bothered to demonstrate their contempt for the current president of the USA. And when you consider just how Continue reading “The Fiver | Close to becoming the first manager to fall off his team’s victory parade bus”

Gareth Bale bemoans lost joy of childhood and joins the outcasts with limited options | Barry Glendenning


This post is by Barry Glendenning from Football | The Guardian


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The Real Madrid winger’s dream has turned into a nightmare and he finds himself in the same boat as Özil and SánchezIn his documentary State of Play, an examination of the current wellbeing of football aired on BT Sport last week, Michael Calvin was granted an audience with Gareth Bale. He put it to the Real Madrid winger that Rory McIlroy, in whose company Calvin had spent quality time while embedded with Europe’s 2018 Ryder Cup team at the invitation of their captain, Thomas Bjorn, had told him that when you reach a certain level as an athlete or sportsman you can no longer retain that joy you had as an innocent kid. “Have you found that?” he asked Bale.

“Yeah, 100%, he couldn’t have put it any better,” said the footballer, without hesitation. “When you’re a kid you have no thoughts in your mind, you just play Continue reading “Gareth Bale bemoans lost joy of childhood and joins the outcasts with limited options | Barry Glendenning”

Football transfer rumours: Giovani Lo Celso to Tottenham Hotspur?


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Today’s fluff is up and at it early doors

What now for Tottenham Hotspur, who must return to the drawing board following their defeat at the hands of Liverpool in Saturday’s Champions League final in Madrid. While they were away, somebody sketched portraits of Real Betis’s central midfielder Giovani Lo Celso, his Lyon counterpart Tanguy Ndombélé, Celta Vigo striker Maxi Gómez and Fulham winger Ryan Sessegnon, whose collective price-tag of well over £140m could send a chill down the spine of the club’s thrifty chairman Daniel Levy.

Related: Mauricio Pochettino faces task of laying out the road ahead for Tottenham | Barney Ronay

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Football transfer rumours: Ben Chilwell to Atlético Madrid?


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Today’s tell-all saw a welcoming light and stopped to rest for the night

Assorted Spanish media outlets the Rumour Mill pretends to take an interest in but doesn’t really say Atlético Madrid want to sign a certain Leicester City left-back. “Ben Chilwell serait sur les tablettes des Colchoneros,” say AS and Cadena Sur, identifying the 22-year-old as a possible £70m replacement for Lucas Hernandez, who has left the Spanish capital for pastures new at Bayern Munich. With Manchester City also interested, the Premier League champions will almost certainly sign the England international.

Declan Rice has dismissed rumours linking him with a move to Manchester United, telling reporters his “focus is fully on playing for West Ham”. The England international, whose focus used to be fully on playing for the Republic of Ireland, pointed out his “great connection” with the fans at the London Stadium. “I love Continue reading “Football transfer rumours: Ben Chilwell to Atlético Madrid?”

The Fiver | Derby peering through the wrong end of their imaginary binoculars


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Having seen them spend the immediate aftermath of their Championship play-off semi-final win over Nasty Leeds making fun of Marcelo Bielsa’s penchant for spying, The Fiver can’t help but wonder if the players of Frank Lampard’s Frank Lampard’s Derby County spent Monday night peering through the wrong end of their imaginary binoculars in order to get some idea of just how far they still have to travel to reach the Premier League. Beaten by Aston Villa in the Championship play-off final, they cut a comparatively sombre bunch as they lay in despair on the Wembley turf, but can at least console themselves with the potential of racking up one of those celebratory £2,802.30 bar tabs on their next trip home from Elland Road.

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Football transfer rumours: Roberto Martínez to take over at Barcelona?


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Today’s tittle-tattle is gonna take a little time

Following Barcelona’s defeat at the hands of Valencia in last weekend’s Copa del Rey final, the future of Ernesto Valverde is in doubt – and Catalan radio station RAC1 have identified the Belgium manager, Roberto Martínez, as the favourite to succeed him. Signed for both Wigan and Everton by Martínez, jokes about James McCarthy replacing Sergio Busquets at the Camp Nou are already doing the rounds. The Everton midfielder might not get his dream move if one of Unai Emery, Ronald Koeman or Max Allegri, who are also believed to be on Barca’s four-man shortlist, get the job.

In other managerial news, the Mail report that Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has already agreed a deal with Juventus that would net him an added £1.2m per year and put an end to the thinly-veiled xenophobia he has to put up Continue reading “Football transfer rumours: Roberto Martínez to take over at Barcelona?”

Aston Villa 2-1 Derby County: Championship play-off final – as it happened


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Arsenal’s Sokratis: ‘We respect Chelsea but we are not afraid’


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The Greek defender believes the Europa League final will be won by the better team unit, rather than a standout individual

During his first interview as an Arsenal player last summer, it was put to Sokratis Papastathopoulos that his former Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel had once described the 30-year-old Greek centre-back as being “obsessed” with defending. “I like that my team doesn’t concede goals,” he said. “I like the zero in defence, of course.” While Sokratis has not enjoyed as many zeros as he might have hoped for this season – playing alongside Shkodran Mustafi is not always conducive to clean sheets – his passion for defending was never more apparent than when Arsenal cantered to Premier League victory over Chelsea at the Emirates in January. With Willian in the Arsenal penalty area, looking to pick out a teammate with a pull-back, Sokratis dived in, dispossessed the winger Continue reading “Arsenal’s Sokratis: ‘We respect Chelsea but we are not afraid’”

Baku boycott would solve Arsenal dilemma rather than leave a man behind | Barry Glendenning


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If Arsenal refused to contest Europa League showpiece they would generate headlines that may force Uefa into climbdown

Leave no man behind. A code embraced by the US military, it refers to army policy of doing everything and anything possible to avoid abandoning troops behind enemy lines. A commendable dictum, despite the accompanying risks, it is one the Arsenal hierarchy may ponder ruefully as their players and backroom staff set off for next week’s Europa League final, leaving one of their own potentially key troops behind before even arriving at the Baku battlefield.

In the meantime a “letter voicing their concerns” has been dispatched to Uefa and, at a recent media briefing, Unai Emery made all the right noises about the importance of winning the final for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. “Micki”, as he is known to all and sundry at Arsenal, was unavailable to give his take on this Uefa-induced shambles, Continue reading “Baku boycott would solve Arsenal dilemma rather than leave a man behind | Barry Glendenning”

Football transfer rumours: Jack Clarke in, Trippier out at Tottenham?


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Today’s tell-all is caught between a rock and a hard place

Captain. Leader. Legend. Next Middlesbrough manager? John Terry could be off to the Riverside Stadium, says Talksport, which reports that the former Chelsea stalwart has held talks with a view to becoming the Championship club’s new manager. In the market for a gaffer following the departure of Tony Pulis, Boro have a few candidates in mind and the man who earned his coaching stripes as an assistant at Aston Villa this season is among them.

Despite being strongly linked with an alliterative summer swoop for the Crystal Palace right-back Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Manchester City are this close to securing the scrawl of the Juventus defender João Cancelo, who plays in the same position. Along with Barcelona, City are also keeping tabs on the Benfica midfielder João Félix, who Tuesday’s Rumour Mill led everyone to believe was Continue reading “Football transfer rumours: Jack Clarke in, Trippier out at Tottenham?”

Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona (4-3 agg): Champions League semi-final – as it happened


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Football transfer rumours: Alexandre Lacazette to Barcelona for £70m?


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Today’s fluff is greying at the temples

Still picking shrapnel from the blue and white striped kitchen sink complete with seagull insignia that Brighton threw at them on Sunday, Arsenal may have to put their disappointment at failing to finish in the top four behind them and brace themselves for an audacious £70m bid for Alexandre Lacazette from Barcelona, according to the Express. With 18 goals to his name this season, the striker cut a forlorn figure as Arsenal’s players endured their post-match lap of disgruntlement at the Emirates and the Spanish champions are understood to have identified him or his compatriot Antoine Griezmann as the men to provide them with a little extra cutting edge.

Apparently resigned to losing their diminutive Danish dynamo Christian Eriksen this summer, Tottenham Hotspur got an opportunity to admire Ajax midfielder Donny van de Beek from close – but perhaps not as close as Continue reading “Football transfer rumours: Alexandre Lacazette to Barcelona for £70m?”

Newcastle United 2-3 Liverpool: Premier League – as it happened


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Title tilts: more of the most nailbiting finishes around Europe


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The Premier League is not the only exciting title race in Europe with Ajax and PSV deadlocked and Istanbul Basaksehir leading a three-horse race in Turkey

While the Premier League title race remains a particularly thrilling two-horse race in which Liverpool and Manchester City remain neck and neck, not every European top flight has been quite so tight. In Italy, Juventus’s procession to their eighth consecutive scudetto ended almost a fortnight ago with five matches to spare. Meanwhile in France, Paris Saint-Germain could afford the luxury of squandering three separate chances to win their sixth Ligue 1 title in seven years before stumbling over the line on the same weekend. In Spain, Barcelona lifted the Primera Liga trophy last Saturday with three games to spare, having looked home and hosed for some weeks. Elsewhere, however, leagues are tighter and here we cast an eye over four high-profile European title races Continue reading “Title tilts: more of the most nailbiting finishes around Europe”