Messi Has Brought 'Transformational Year' For MLS Says Garber

Lionel Messi shakes hands with MLS Commissioner Don Garber after defeating Nashville to win the Leagues Cup final in August - AFP
Lionel Messi shakes hands with MLS Commissioner Don Garber after defeating Nashville to win the Leagues Cup final in August - AFP
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Messi Has Brought 'Transformational Year' For MLS Says Garber

Lionel Messi shakes hands with MLS Commissioner Don Garber after defeating Nashville to win the Leagues Cup final in August - AFP
Lionel Messi shakes hands with MLS Commissioner Don Garber after defeating Nashville to win the Leagues Cup final in August - AFP

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber says his league has enjoyed a "transformational year" crediting the arrival of Lionel Messi and the broadcast deal with Apple TV for unprecedented interest.

But while he said North America would become the "epicenter" of the game with the World Cup, Copa America and FIFA Club World Cup all coming to the region, Garber acknowledged squeezing in all the club and country competitions was a headache.

In his annual "state of the league" address ahead of Saturday's MLS Cup final between Columbus Crew and Los Angeles FC, Garber said MLS was trending upwards in all key areas.

"Lionel Messi had many options for the next chapter of his iconic soccer career. The magnitude of his decision to join MLS cannot be over-stated," Garber said.

"A World Cup champion, an eight-time Ballon d'Or winner is playing in our league. We're not just part of the global conversation of sports but one of the biggest stories in the world, certainly one of the biggest stories this summer," added Garber, AFP reported.

Messi's arrival early in a new 10-year global streaming deal with Apple TV meant "more fans watch MLS games here and around the world than ever before" said Garber, without revealing overall audience figures from Apple.

MLS has also seen rising numbers of fans in stadiums across the country with the derby between Los Angeles FC and Los Angeles Galaxy attracting a league record 82,110 to the Rose Bowl on July 4.

Garber said there had been a record of "nearly 12 million fans" at MLS games throughout the year and also hailed the new Leagues Cup, held jointly with clubs from Mexico's Liga MX, as a "smashing success".

The tournament in the middle of the MLS regular season was won by Messi and Inter Miami and the World Cup-style format won over my skeptics.

"It was a success on every measure and as with so many things this year went on to exceed so many of our expectations. It is only the beginning. This is a tournament which will continue to grow in scale, in scope and reach in the years ahead," he said.

But the addition of Leagues Cup games comes into a calander that will be squeezed by the major tournaments coming to the USA in the coming years.

Next year will see the USA host the Copa America before the new, expanded 32-team, FIFA Club World Cup is held in the country a year ahead of the World Cup itself, co-hosted with Canada and Mexico.

"For the next few years, North America will be the epicenter for the beautiful game," he said.

But with the Leagues Cup, CONCACAF Champions Cup, the US Open Cup as well as the regular season and the playoffs, fitting all the games in while protecting players from burn-out remains a challenge.

Garber said MLS would not stop play during Copa America saying they could not afford to halt their season but would have to be "creative" with their schedule.

MLS usually plays through the regional CONCACAF Gold Cup but Garber said there was no question of the league continuing during the World Cup.



Klopp's Liverpool Farewell Fizzles Out Tamely

Fizzling out: Jurgen Klopp's farewell at Liverpool is in danger of becoming a damp squib. Paul ELLIS / AFP/File
Fizzling out: Jurgen Klopp's farewell at Liverpool is in danger of becoming a damp squib. Paul ELLIS / AFP/File
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Klopp's Liverpool Farewell Fizzles Out Tamely

Fizzling out: Jurgen Klopp's farewell at Liverpool is in danger of becoming a damp squib. Paul ELLIS / AFP/File
Fizzling out: Jurgen Klopp's farewell at Liverpool is in danger of becoming a damp squib. Paul ELLIS / AFP/File

Jurgen Klopp's nearly nine years at Liverpool have been filled with memorable milestones but an unwanted first of his reign leaves his final few weeks at Anfield with little left to play for.
Klopp tasted defeat in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park for the first time in nine visits as a 2-0 defeat against Everton left the Reds' dreams of sending their manager off as a Premier League winner in tatters.
Just a few weeks ago, Liverpool were on course for a potential quadruple but have come off the rails, said AFP.
A run of four wins in nine games has seen Klopp's men crash out of the Europa League and FA Cup as well as falling off the pace at the top of the Premier League.
Liverpool trail leaders Arsenal by three points and are only one point ahead of defending champions Manchester City, who have two games in hand.
AFP Sport looks at what has gone wrong to leave Klopp's fitting farewell at risk of fizzling out.
Slow starts
Liverpool's habit of fighting back from losing positions was lauded earlier in the campaign as a sign of the "mentality monsters" Klopp has created throughout his time at Anfield.
They have amassed 27 points after falling behind in the Premier League alone this season, but have seen their luck run out after falling behind to Crystal Palace and Everton in shock defeats over the past 10 days.
In all competitions, Liverpool have conceded the opening goal 22 times this season.
They never recovered from a sluggish start at Goodison as Everton wasted a number of chances and had a penalty overturned by VAR even before Jarrad Branthwaite opened the scoring on 27 minutes.
Wasteful finishing
Liverpool's forward line has also gone off the boil come the business end of the season.
They have failed to score from open play in four of their last five games.
Mohamed Salah has looked out of sorts since returning from a hamstring injury picked up at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez were again guilty of wasting huge chances against Everton.
And Diogo Jota, often heralded as the most natural finisher at the club, has been sidelined again by injury after just returning from a two-month layoff.
"You can see we are in a rush in front of goal," said Klopp. "We create a lot but we don't score often enough.
"You can see that and that's the problem. You have to fight through these periods. It's not a problem of attitude, the boys want it but it is my job to bring them into a situation where they feel confident to do it."
Fatigue
The quest for the quadruple could now be coming back to haunt Klopp as Liverpool look to have run out of steam.
They have played 54 games this season and will have four more before the end of the campaign.
A number of academy graduates stepped up during an injury crisis in the early months of 2024 and helped ensure Klopp did at least secure some silverware in his final season by winning the League Cup in February.
Yet, just as they are getting major players back with Alisson Becker and Trent Alexander-Arnold returning in recent weeks, those that have been relied on most during the winter months are fading.
Klopp admitted after the Palace match that midfield duo Alexis Mac Allister and Wataru Endo are struggling due to the burden placed upon them earlier in the campaign.
"Players who played all the games are less fresh but it is the same for the other teams. I don't want that to be an excuse," added Klopp.
"A lot of things come together so it is not great timing. I would prefer to be sitting here winning 4-0 and flying but the job is to win football games and the more you win, the more successful you are.
"In the moment we didn’t win enough to get anything from the season."


Hernandez on Target as Columbus Down Monterrey in Champions Cup Semi

Columbus forward Cucho Hernandez dribbles past Monterrey's Jesus Gallardo in their CONCACAF Champions Cup semi-final. Jason Mowry / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP
Columbus forward Cucho Hernandez dribbles past Monterrey's Jesus Gallardo in their CONCACAF Champions Cup semi-final. Jason Mowry / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP
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Hernandez on Target as Columbus Down Monterrey in Champions Cup Semi

Columbus forward Cucho Hernandez dribbles past Monterrey's Jesus Gallardo in their CONCACAF Champions Cup semi-final. Jason Mowry / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP
Columbus forward Cucho Hernandez dribbles past Monterrey's Jesus Gallardo in their CONCACAF Champions Cup semi-final. Jason Mowry / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

Cucho Hernandez was on target as Columbus Crew defeated Mexico's Monterrey 2-1 in their CONCACAF Champions Cup semi-final first leg clash in Ohio on Wednesday.
Colombian forward Hernandez delivered a sparkling performance capped with a well-taken first-half goal to help Columbus take a slender advantage into next week's return in Mexico, said AFP.
Jacen Russell-Rowe headed home the winner for Columbus from a corner on 72 minutes after Maximiliano Meza had leveled for Monterrey just after half-time.
The Major League Soccer champions -- who produced a stunning upset of Mexican side Tigres in the quarter-finals -- once again proved to be more than a match for Liga-MX opposition.
Monterrey started brightly and could have taken the lead through US international forward Brandon Vazquez, whose snap shot from six yards out was well-saved by Crew goalkeeper Patrick Schulte after six minutes.
But after that early scare, Columbus dominated for long periods, with Hernandez at the heart of most of their attacks at Lower Field.
The Colombian almost set up an opener for Diego Rossi on 17 minutes, but the Uruguayan directed his attempted finish just wide of the post.
Moments later Hernandez saw a vicious shot well-saved by Monterrey goalkeeper Esteban Andrada.
Columbus's pressure paid off after 26 minutes though, with Hernandez working a one-two with Russell-Rowe on the edge of the area and finishing crisply past Andrada for 1-0.
Hernandez almost doubled the Crew lead on the stroke of half-time, but was once again denied by Andrada as the besieged Monterrey goalkeeper beat away a superb shot.
Columbus were rocked on 58 minutes though when Monterrey equalized. Jesus Gallardo ghosted past Sean Zawadzki far too easily down the left and crossed for Meza who jabbed in the finish.
But Zawadzki made amends on 72 minutes, delivering the corner which picked out Russell-Rowe at the far post whose header bounced up and into the net past Andrada.
The second leg takes place in Monterrey next Wednesday.


Medvedev Hoping for More Clay Success with Simon in His Corner 

Daniil Medvedev. (AFP)
Daniil Medvedev. (AFP)
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Medvedev Hoping for More Clay Success with Simon in His Corner 

Daniil Medvedev. (AFP)
Daniil Medvedev. (AFP)

Daniil Medvedev believes the addition of Gilles Simon to his coaching team can help him understand clay better as the world number four looks to build confidence on his least favorite surface ahead of the French Open starting next month.

Medvedev has won 19 of his 20 titles, including the 2021 US Open, on hardcourts, with a grasscourt crown that same year at the Mallorca Open. He won his lone claycourt trophy at the 2023 Rome Masters in the lead-up to Roland Garros.

Medvedev, who was runner-up at the Australian Open in January, did not have a great start to the claycourt season after losing early in Monte Carlo this month.

However, he said he could see improvements in his game under Simon, who won five tour-level trophies on clay.

"He tries to bring something to my game, which maybe I thought of, but didn't understand how I should bring it on the court," Medvedev told reporters at the Madrid Open.

"He explains how I can do it and for me then it's important because during the match you don't have time to think too much. It's more of a reaction. So I have to be smart to not overthink what he says. Overthink it in practice, maybe, but not during the match.

"I feel like in Monte Carlo, because we talked a lot about playing ... I maybe thought too much about 'OK, next shot, what do I do?' Where I actually had to play more.

"It's very interesting and for the moment it's working great. I'm looking forward to learning more things."

Medvedev begins his Madrid campaign against Christopher O'Connell or Matteo Arnaldi.


Pochettino Frustrated by Chelsea’s Inconsistency After Thrashing at Arsenal 

Football - Premier League - Arsenal v Chelsea - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - April 23, 2024 Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino looks dejected after the match. (Reuters)
Football - Premier League - Arsenal v Chelsea - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - April 23, 2024 Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino looks dejected after the match. (Reuters)
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Pochettino Frustrated by Chelsea’s Inconsistency After Thrashing at Arsenal 

Football - Premier League - Arsenal v Chelsea - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - April 23, 2024 Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino looks dejected after the match. (Reuters)
Football - Premier League - Arsenal v Chelsea - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - April 23, 2024 Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino looks dejected after the match. (Reuters)

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino was left frustrated by his team's inconsistency after their 5-0 thrashing at Arsenal in the Premier League on Tuesday, which came just days after they pushed Manchester City hard in a tight FA Cup semi-final loss.

Leandro Trossard opened the scoring at the Emirates before Ben White and former Chelsea player Kai Havertz both scored twice in the second half to seal the north London club's biggest-ever win in the fixture.

The defeat came after Chelsea had gone eight matches unbeaten in the league, and dealt a blow to their hopes of claiming a European place next season.

"When we have bad days, we are so bad. When we are good, we are capable of everything," Pochettino told reporters.

"We cannot blame the players, I'm not going to blame the players. We cannot blame young guys who came here and after suffering some circumstances, come here to fight against a team preparing to win the Premier League.

"It is true we are disappointed with our performance, but I am not going to say something which is unfair to describe our team, our players, our squad."

Chelsea next face a trip to fourth-placed Aston Villa on Saturday, before hosting fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur on May 2.


Sinner Not Heaping Pressure on Himself with Top Ranking in Sight 

Italian tennis player Jannik Sinner attends press conference on his participation in the Madrid Open tennis tournament, in Madrid, Spain, 23 April 2024. (EPA)
Italian tennis player Jannik Sinner attends press conference on his participation in the Madrid Open tennis tournament, in Madrid, Spain, 23 April 2024. (EPA)
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Sinner Not Heaping Pressure on Himself with Top Ranking in Sight 

Italian tennis player Jannik Sinner attends press conference on his participation in the Madrid Open tennis tournament, in Madrid, Spain, 23 April 2024. (EPA)
Italian tennis player Jannik Sinner attends press conference on his participation in the Madrid Open tennis tournament, in Madrid, Spain, 23 April 2024. (EPA)

World number two Jannik Sinner can close in on Novak Djokovic at the top of the world rankings by lifting the Madrid Open title but the in-form Italian said he is not putting any extra pressure on himself after a superb start to the season.

With Djokovic skipping the Masters tournament to stay in top shape for the Grand Slams and the Olympic Games, Australian Open champion Sinner would pick up 1,000 points and move to within 330 of the Serb if he wins his fourth trophy of 2024.

"I don't want to put pressure on myself. I'm living a very positive moment, winning a lot of matches, I just try to keep going like this," Sinner, who has lost only two of his 27 matches this year, told reporters.

"In my mind, I know that I can and have to improve if I want to win more. I'm searching for new opportunities and I feel like that every tournament I play, there can be a good opportunity to show that my level has raised.

"Showing what I've improved ... that's for sure something I'd like to do here. This is a new opportunity, new tournament and we'll see how it goes."

Defending Madrid champion Carlos Alcaraz said Sinner was the man to beat ahead of the May 26-June 9 French Open Grand Slam.

"He's dangerous. He's the best player in the world right now," world number three Alcaraz said.

"I think (some people) think his tennis doesn't suit well to the clay, but he's had results on clay as well.

"He can win every tournament he goes to, and obviously I'm fighting with him and Novak to be number one. I'm trying to stay there, but honestly it's going to be difficult."


Salt Lake City Poised for 2034 Olympics Award 

Fireworks fill the night sky 08 February 2002 during the opening ceremonies of the XIXth Winter Olympics at the Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. (AFP via Getty Images)
Fireworks fill the night sky 08 February 2002 during the opening ceremonies of the XIXth Winter Olympics at the Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. (AFP via Getty Images)
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Salt Lake City Poised for 2034 Olympics Award 

Fireworks fill the night sky 08 February 2002 during the opening ceremonies of the XIXth Winter Olympics at the Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. (AFP via Getty Images)
Fireworks fill the night sky 08 February 2002 during the opening ceremonies of the XIXth Winter Olympics at the Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. (AFP via Getty Images)

Salt Lake City is all but guaranteed to be awarded the 2034 Winter Olympics later this year and officials said its robust infrastructure and enthusiastic public support have paved the way.

Utah's capital city hosted the Games back in 2002 and International Olympic Committee representatives recently toured the city and heard plans for its "no-build" Games.

No other cities are in the running for the 2034 Games. Salt Lake City 2034 and France 2030 were picked as preferred hosts for the Winter Olympics in November.

"They got the opportunity to see our venues and how they are still thriving," Catherine Raney-Norman, chair of the Salt Lake City - Utah Committee for the Games, told Reuters in an interview.

"They left excited with what they had seen. It was extremely positive."

While other cities have soured on the idea of hosting an Olympics for fears of cost overruns that is not the case in Salt Lake City, where the legacy of the 2002 Games endures.

"Our polling has shown that we have over 80% public support," said Raney-Norman, a four-time Olympic speed skater.

"That's amazing. And we've had that consistently for the past 20 years."

Ensuring the public remains on board is one of the challenges that comes with having a 10-year leadup to the opening ceremony.

"Our challenge is making sure we maintain that enthusiasm and also making sure we have intentional impact on our community," she said.

"We don't have to build buildings so our headline in 2034 is going to be based on our impact in the community more so than standing up a new building."

The Winter Olympics have grown by about 40% since Salt Lake City hosted them last as more sports and disciplines have been added but the city can handle the additional action, Raney-Norman said.

"We know that within our venues and within our technical side that we can execute on those events," she said.

"We're embracing it, we're excited about it."

New events like big air could be held at a temporary downtown venue while the University of Utah will serve as the athlete village, she said.

Salt Lake City initially wanted to bid for the 2030 Games but dropped plans due to it being too close to the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The IOC is expected to formally name the city as host on July 24.

Hosting an Olympics within 10 years of LA28 is a "generational opportunity" for the United States and Raney-Norman said dialogue is already happening between the organizing committees.

"As we look to a future award and Salt Lake hopefully officially being named the host for 2034, we see opportunities and synergies as we continue to collaborate," she said.

"This is an opportunity to elevate the Olympic and Paralympic movement in the United States and that requires collaboration between the two groups."


Jeddah to Host Grand Smash 2024 World Table Tennis Championship

The event is organized by the Saudi Table Tennis Federation, supervised by the Ministry of Sport, in cooperation with the World Table Tennis Organization (WTT).
The event is organized by the Saudi Table Tennis Federation, supervised by the Ministry of Sport, in cooperation with the World Table Tennis Organization (WTT).
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Jeddah to Host Grand Smash 2024 World Table Tennis Championship

The event is organized by the Saudi Table Tennis Federation, supervised by the Ministry of Sport, in cooperation with the World Table Tennis Organization (WTT).
The event is organized by the Saudi Table Tennis Federation, supervised by the Ministry of Sport, in cooperation with the World Table Tennis Organization (WTT).

Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Governorate will host the Grand Smash 2024 World Table Tennis Championship for the first time under the theme "Saudi Smash" from May 1 to 11, with the participation of a group of elite international players in the game.

The event is organized by the Saudi Table Tennis Federation, supervised by the Ministry of Sport, in cooperation with the World Table Tennis Organization (WTT).
The championship, hosted by the Kingdom for the first time, will consist of two phases. The first phase is the preparatory stage, scheduled from May 1 to 3. During this stage, 64 players, including Saudis, will compete to advance to the second stage, known as the finals, which begins on May 4. Only 8 players will progress to the finals. The eight players will then compete alongside 56 other world-class players in the elimination rounds to vie for titles in the five tournaments: men's and women's singles, men's and women's doubles, and mixed doubles.
The event reflects the significant development of the sports sector in Saudi Arabia, aligning with the objectives of the Kingdom's Vision 2030 to make the sports sector a direct contributor to the progress, prosperity, and development of the Kingdom across all fields.


Paris Mayor Confident Water Quality Will Allow Olympic Swimming in River Seine

Competitors swim in the Seine River during the Paris Triathlon competition in Paris Sunday, July 10, 2011. (AP)
Competitors swim in the Seine River during the Paris Triathlon competition in Paris Sunday, July 10, 2011. (AP)
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Paris Mayor Confident Water Quality Will Allow Olympic Swimming in River Seine

Competitors swim in the Seine River during the Paris Triathlon competition in Paris Sunday, July 10, 2011. (AP)
Competitors swim in the Seine River during the Paris Triathlon competition in Paris Sunday, July 10, 2011. (AP)

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo said she was confident water quality in the River Seine will be up to Olympic standards this summer — and that she’ll be able to prove it by swimming there, possibly alongside President Emmanuel Macron.

The Seine is the venue for marathon swimming at the Games and the swimming leg of the Olympic and Paralympic triathlons.

Asked Tuesday about whether she’ll meet her promise to swim in the Seine before the Games, Hidalgo said “for sure, because water quality will be good.”

For decades, the Seine was too toxic for most fish and for swimmers, useful mainly as a waterway to transport goods and people or as a watery grave for discarded bicycles and other trash. Swimming in the Seine has, with some exceptions, been illegal since 1923.

Hidalgo mentioned new facilities that have been specially built to clean up the river, whose water quality was recently denounced by an environmental group.

A water treatment plant in Champigny-sur-Marne, east of Paris, was inaugurated Tuesday.

Next week will see the official opening of a huge storage basin meant to reduce the need to spill bacteria-laden wastewater into the Seine untreated when it rains. The giant hole dug next to Paris’ Austerlitz train station will hold the equivalent of 20 Olympic swimming pools of dirty water that will now be treated rather than being spat raw through storm drains into the river.

Hildago said she had invited top officials to swim in the Seine at an event dubbed “the big dive” to be staged at the end of June or beginning of July. Macron, who himself promised to swim in the river, has been invited, she confirmed, as well as Paris Olympics organizers and IOC president Thomas Bach.

“We’re going to dive into the Seine, and many volunteers have already come forward to come and dive with me and all the athletes who will be there,” Hidalgo said. “We’ll all be safe to swim in the Seine.”

Marc Guillaume, the Paris regional prefect, earlier this month dismissed a recent NGO report about poor water quality, saying it was based on testing during the winter, when no one was swimming in the Seine.

Water quality must be good enough for swimming during the Games and, from 2025, in the summer, because the city plans to open some areas to the public. However, swimming out of season will remain illegal.

The estimated cost of the Seine cleanup efforts amount to 1.4 billion euros ($1.5 billion), paid by the state and local authorities.

Guillaume said routine water testing will start on June 1 when all the new treatment facilities are operational. During the Olympics, water will be tested at 3 a.m. each day and determine whether to hold events as planned, he detailed.

Olympics organizers said if pollution levels were too high, events could be rescheduled and in the worst-case scenario, the swimming section of the triathlon would be canceled.

In a recent report, the Surfrider Foundation called the Seine “a particularly polluted spot” after it monitored bacteria levels for over six months. The group concluded that athletes “will be swimming in polluted water and taking significant risks to their health.”

The Paris mayor's news conference on Tuesday was meant to unveil cultural and sports celebrations to be staged on 26 sites across Paris during the summer.

“We are working together to ensure that the party is beautiful,” Hidalgo said, adding that security is the authorities' top concern.

Around 30,000 police officers are expected to be deployed each day during the Games, with 45,000 working during the opening ceremony on the Seine.

“We work ... with a lot of professionalism and determination so that never, ever the issue of security finally comes to prevent our freedom to be able to live together,” Hidalgo said.


UEFA Picks Two Video Review Referees at Center of Controversy for Euro 2024 Duty

Premier League - West Ham United v Fulham - London Stadium, London, Britain - April 14, 2024 Referee Stuart Attwell talks to his assistant as West Ham United's Lucas Paqueta looks on. (Reuters)
Premier League - West Ham United v Fulham - London Stadium, London, Britain - April 14, 2024 Referee Stuart Attwell talks to his assistant as West Ham United's Lucas Paqueta looks on. (Reuters)
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UEFA Picks Two Video Review Referees at Center of Controversy for Euro 2024 Duty

Premier League - West Ham United v Fulham - London Stadium, London, Britain - April 14, 2024 Referee Stuart Attwell talks to his assistant as West Ham United's Lucas Paqueta looks on. (Reuters)
Premier League - West Ham United v Fulham - London Stadium, London, Britain - April 14, 2024 Referee Stuart Attwell talks to his assistant as West Ham United's Lucas Paqueta looks on. (Reuters)

The match official accused of bias by English Premier League club Nottingham Forest got UEFA support on Tuesday by being selected for the European Championship as a video review expert in an overall list which included no women.

Forest’s inflammatory social media post on Sunday targeting Stuart Attwell has been widely criticized across English soccer and was even mocked by another club.

Forest said Attwell is a fan of relegation rival Luton and claimed that this was a factor in not being awarded up to three penalty kicks on video review in a 2-0 loss at Everton on Sunday.

Attwell is among 20 video assistant referee (VAR) specialists chosen by UEFA to work at the 51-game Euro 2024 in Germany that starts June 14.

“All chosen referees have performed consistently to the highest standards in UEFA’s top competitions, and also in their domestic competitions,” UEFA head of refereeing Roberto Rosetti said in a statement.

Also on the VAR list is Tomasz Kwiatkowski of Poland, who UEFA removed from a Champions League game in November one day after he advised 2022 World Cup final referee Szymon Marciniak to award Paris Saint-Germain a stoppage-time penalty for handball against Newcastle. Kylian Mbappé scored to deny Newcastle victory in a 1-1 draw.

Marciniak is among the 18 European referees picked for Euro 2024, plus Facundo Tello of Argentina who joins them as part of the close working ties between UEFA and South American soccer body CONMEBOL.

UEFA did not include any women among the referees, assistants, video review specialists and fourth officials in their Euro 2024 team that will be based in Frankfurt. At Euro 2020, Stéphanie Frappart of France was included as a fourth official. She made history at the men’s World Cup in 2022 when she handled the Germany-Costa Rica game in the group stage.

England has two referees selected, including Anthony Taylor who worked with Attwell in the Everton-Forest game on Sunday.

One of the two German referees picked, Felix Zwayer, was the subject of comments about integrity by Jude Bellingham when the England star played for Borussia Dortmund in 2021.


Inter's Future Bright under Inzaghi but Off-field Uncertainty Reigns

Inter Milan are riding high after winning their 20th league title. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP
Inter Milan are riding high after winning their 20th league title. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP
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Inter's Future Bright under Inzaghi but Off-field Uncertainty Reigns

Inter Milan are riding high after winning their 20th league title. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP
Inter Milan are riding high after winning their 20th league title. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

Inter Milan are flying high after sealing the Serie A title by winning the Milan derby but off-field uncertainty is still the order of the day for the new Italian champions.
Last season's run to the Champions League final looked like a one-off for Inter, one of Europe's grand clubs who like much of the continent's football royalty have to deal with a huge resource gap to the Premier League and state-backed clubs like Paris Saint-Germain, AFP said.
And their situation off the field is yet to fully stabilize even as they receive a second star on their jersey for their 20th league crown.
Hanging over Inter for the past three years has been an emergency loan taken out with investment fund Oaktree, which must be paid in full next month and after interest reportedly amounts to between 375-380 million euros.
That loan -- whose exact figure Inter would not confirm to AFP -- had been taken out in 2021 as Inter and other Italian clubs were hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Oaktree can, much like Elliott did with Milan in 2018, take control of Inter should that loan either be not repayed or refinanced by Inter's Chinese owners Suning.
Inter president Steven Zhang appeared bullish at Sunday's Formula One Chinese Grand Prix, strongly hinting that come the summer he will still be president.
"Every day there are rumors (about Suning selling)... What I can say is that we will continue to fight, continue to win," said Zhang to Sky Sport on the paddock at the Shanghai International Circuit.
"None of the rumors are true. As long as I'm the president, as long as I'm the owner we're going to continue to win."
New deal
Zhang was not in Milan for -- Champions League final aside -- the biggest game of Suning's near eight-year reign as owners, and in fact hasn't been there for months.
Zhang, who lost a court case with China Construction Bank over personal debts of 320 million euros, is negotiating a reported 400-million-euro loan with another US fund, this time with Pimco, which Inter will use to pay off Oaktree and keep the club with Suning.
Contacted by AFP, Pimco said that they "couldn't discuss ongoing negotiations".
While effectively kicking the can down the road with another reported three-year loan with even higher interest than the 12 percent negotiated with Oaktree, strong performances on the pitch and in the transfer market should boost accounts which have taken a beating since the pandemic.
Inter's posted losses of 85 million euros in 2022/23, following even heavier losses of 140 million euros and 245.6 million euros in the previous two seasons as stadiums were partially or fully closed due to the pandemic.
Zhang also basically confirmed a contract extension for Simone Inzaghi, who has done a superb job in difficult circumstances since replacing Antonio Conte three years ago and is expected to sign an extension until 2027.
Stadium uncertainty
New deals for captain Lautaro Martinez and Italy midfielder Nicolo Barella are also in the offing, while this summer is set to be the first in some time where a star player won't need to be sold to balance the books.
"I've said many times that it's a gift for me as president to work with a coach like Inzaghi," added Zhang.
"He gives me confidence and keeps the environment calm and stable. We're going to continue together."
Inter also remain in limbo with regards to getting their own stadium after plans to build a new ground on the San Siro site with AC Milan petered out last year.
Inter have pushed ahead with a new stadium project in the town of Rozzano, just south of Milan, which corporate CEO Alessandro Antonello has said is the club's priority despite talks with AC Milan and Milan city council over potentially taking possession of a renovated version of the current San Siro.
Italian construction group WeBuild is working on a feasibility study for a renovation to be finished in June which the city of Milan hopes can convince its two world famous football clubs to stay within its borders.
Mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala has repeatedly expressed worry about what will happen to the San Siro if both teams leave, with AC Milan having bought land in suburb San Donato Milanese for their own stadium project.