Russian Qualifier Upsets Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur in Miami

Ons Jabeur of Tunisia fields questions from the media during the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium on March 21, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Getty Images/AFP)
Ons Jabeur of Tunisia fields questions from the media during the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium on March 21, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Getty Images/AFP)
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Russian Qualifier Upsets Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur in Miami

Ons Jabeur of Tunisia fields questions from the media during the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium on March 21, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Getty Images/AFP)
Ons Jabeur of Tunisia fields questions from the media during the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium on March 21, 2023 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Getty Images/AFP)

Russian qualifier Varvara Gracheva overpowered fourth-seeded Ons Jabeur of Tunisia 6-2, 6-2 on Friday in the second round of the Miami Open.

Jabeur, who is ranked fifth in the WTA, twice sought assistance from the training staff. She has been slowed by a knee injury this year, perhaps playing a role as Gracheva beat a player ranked in the world top five for the first time.

Gracheva said: "The plan was, of course like all matches, to be as stable as possible, to try to make her work as much points as possible, and of course wait for comfortable ones to attack."

Gracheva wound up saving three of the four break points she faced while converting five of her six break opportunities.

"I just probably caught this wave where I'm stable, where I always have a chance to play my game, be aggressive, cause troubles for the others by the game style," Gracheva said. "Just try to keep rolling on this way."

Two other highly seeded player joined Jabeur on the way out of Miami, as No. 5 Caroline Garcia of France and No. 7 Maria Sakkari of Greece both lost their second-round matches.

Romania's Sorana Cirstea cruised past Garcia 6-2, 6-3, while Canada's Bianca Andreescu overtook Sakkari 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.

Andreescu said of her victory, "I think the match was really good from both of our parts. Maria played amazing. She was playing very aggressive.

"I felt like I was on my heels a lot of the time during the match, but I made every ball. I fought to the end, and I think I played the important points just a little bit better today. But, yeah, it could have gone either way today."

Second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus produced a 6-4, 6-3 win over the United States' Shelby Rogers. Ninth-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland demolished Canada's Leylah Fernandez 6-1, 6-1, but 11th-seeded Veronika Kudermetova of Russia fell 6-4, 6-2 to Czech Republic's Marketa Vondrousova.

Other second-round winners were 15th-seeded Petra Kvitova, 16th-seeded Barbora Krejcikova, 17th-seeded Karolina Pliskova, 31st-seeded Marie Bouzkova and Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic; 18th-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia; 19th-seeded Madison Keys and Sofia Kenin of the United States; 22nd-seeded Donna Vekic of Croatia; and Magdalena Frech of Poland.



Klopp Takes a Walk Down Memory Lane as He Prepares for Emotional Final Match as Liverpool Manager

 Emily Farley shouts at a passer-by as she decorates her house in Liverpool before Juergen Klopp's final match as Liverpool manager, Liverpool, Britain, May 16, 2024. (Reuters)
Emily Farley shouts at a passer-by as she decorates her house in Liverpool before Juergen Klopp's final match as Liverpool manager, Liverpool, Britain, May 16, 2024. (Reuters)
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Klopp Takes a Walk Down Memory Lane as He Prepares for Emotional Final Match as Liverpool Manager

 Emily Farley shouts at a passer-by as she decorates her house in Liverpool before Juergen Klopp's final match as Liverpool manager, Liverpool, Britain, May 16, 2024. (Reuters)
Emily Farley shouts at a passer-by as she decorates her house in Liverpool before Juergen Klopp's final match as Liverpool manager, Liverpool, Britain, May 16, 2024. (Reuters)

As part of a club documentary offering an inside view of his final days at Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp was asked by the filmmakers to stand alone on The Kop one afternoon and gaze out around Anfield.

He did it and didn’t particularly like it.

“I love Anfield to bits,” Klopp said Friday, “but I love it when it’s full.”

On Sunday, there won’t be a spare seat inside the storied stadium when Klopp takes charge of his final game as Liverpool manager after nearly nine years at the club.

There might not be many dry eyes among the home fans, either.

Klopp was the man who made Liverpool dream again.

The man who led the team to seven major trophies — including a sixth Champions League title (“Let’s talk about six, baby,” he memorably sang) and a first English league championship in 30 years.

The man who forged such a connection with the port city that he has been compared to Bill Shankly, the club's most legendary manager.

The man who felt equally at home motivating his players to go above and beyond with his heavy-metal style of football as he was talking compassionately with families of the victims of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s game against Wolverhampton, Klopp stopped many times while answering questions — sometimes because he was getting emotional and sometimes because he wanted to find exactly the right words about all aspects of a club that has become so close to his heart.

“I would not be happy if I’d have thought I could have done more,” the 56-year-old German said. “I couldn’t. I couldn’t have done more.”

It’s why there wasn’t such a sense of sadness as he said individual goodbyes to his players on Thursday and had a barbeque with the squad.

He visited workers in the club’s store in Liverpool city center one final time. He forgets how many Liverpool jerseys he has signed over the past few days.

Klopp said it has been “the most intense week of my life.”

“Saying goodbye I don’t think is ever nice,” he said, “but saying goodbye without feeling sad or feeling hurt, that would just mean the time you spent together wasn’t right or great. And I had a great time.”

There was a sense of joy as he went through his greatest hits as Liverpool manager.

His best game? Maybe, surprisingly, the 1-1 draw with Manchester City at Anfield this season, when Liverpool delivered a dominant second-half display against the team Klopp feels is the best in the world.

The best goal? Goalkeeper Alisson Becker’s header from a corner in the fifth minute of stoppage time to win a game at West Bromwich Albion.

His favorite assist was Trent Alexander-Arnold’s quickly taken corner for Divock Origi’s goal in the 4-0 comeback win over Barcelona in the 2019 Champions League semifinals. And Alisson’s late stop against Napoli in that same Champions League campaign was his favorite save.

As he recounted all the memories, it made him realize just what an amazing time he’s had and the journey he has gone on since arriving as a bespectacled eccentric with slightly wonky teeth and a playing style — all passion and high-energy — that was seemingly made for Liverpool.

“I take memories, friendships and relationships with me forever,” Klopp said. "You realize the older you get, when time slips though your fingers, you look back and go, ’My God, that was really good.

“A decade in your life is massive and I will not forget a day of it.”

Klopp being Klopp, there was even time in his final pre-match news conference to delve into the footballing issues of the day by saying he would vote for the scrapping of VAR at the Premier League’s annual general meeting next month.

By then, though, he’ll be on the outside looking in. A former Liverpool manager. No longer part of English football.

Yet, he always will be. Few people have been so charismatic, so influential, so good at his job, even if — and Klopp said he accepts it — there will be many who believe one league crown was a below-par return for a club whose title duels with City raised the standard of English football to a new level.

It’s why there will be such a special atmosphere at Anfield on Sunday, away from the scrutiny of a title denouement being played out at Etihad Stadium and Emirates Stadium.

Klopp said he has refused to give the documentary-makers access to his final team meeting because he has "no idea how it will go.”

“If it could not be a goodbye atmosphere, but a football atmosphere, that would be cool,” he said.

“We will prepare as good and as normal as possible. I think I was never someone who disturbed a good game but probably, this time, I am the one and I’m sorry for that.”

Klopp, who in 2022 was awarded the Freedom of the City of Liverpool — the highest civic honor, also had one last message for the people.

“I don’t imagine the club will need my help in the future,” he said. “But if the city needs me, I am there.”


Germany Defender Benjamin Henrichs Signs Contract Extension at Leipzig Through 2028

FILE - Leipzig’s Benjamin Henrichs, left, challenges Mainz’s Phillipp Mwene for the ball during the Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and FSV Mainz 05 in Leipzig, Germany, March 30, 2024. Defender Benjamin Henrichs has signed a contract extension through 2028 with Leipzig, one day after being named to Germany’s preliminary squad for the European Championship next month. (Hendrik Schmidt/dpa via AP, File)
FILE - Leipzig’s Benjamin Henrichs, left, challenges Mainz’s Phillipp Mwene for the ball during the Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and FSV Mainz 05 in Leipzig, Germany, March 30, 2024. Defender Benjamin Henrichs has signed a contract extension through 2028 with Leipzig, one day after being named to Germany’s preliminary squad for the European Championship next month. (Hendrik Schmidt/dpa via AP, File)
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Germany Defender Benjamin Henrichs Signs Contract Extension at Leipzig Through 2028

FILE - Leipzig’s Benjamin Henrichs, left, challenges Mainz’s Phillipp Mwene for the ball during the Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and FSV Mainz 05 in Leipzig, Germany, March 30, 2024. Defender Benjamin Henrichs has signed a contract extension through 2028 with Leipzig, one day after being named to Germany’s preliminary squad for the European Championship next month. (Hendrik Schmidt/dpa via AP, File)
FILE - Leipzig’s Benjamin Henrichs, left, challenges Mainz’s Phillipp Mwene for the ball during the Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and FSV Mainz 05 in Leipzig, Germany, March 30, 2024. Defender Benjamin Henrichs has signed a contract extension through 2028 with Leipzig, one day after being named to Germany’s preliminary squad for the European Championship next month. (Hendrik Schmidt/dpa via AP, File)

Defender Benjamin Henrichs has signed a contract extension through 2028 with Leipzig, one day after being named to Germany's preliminary squad for the European Championship next month.

Henrichs' contract at Leipzig was due to run out in 2025 and he has now agreed a three-year extension which was announced Friday. He said he'd considered leaving for a new challenge, The AP reported.

“We’ve always had a very fair exchange of views. I’m now 27 years old and of course I have also thought about whether I’d like to try something new again," he said in a statement.

"But the club and the sporting management around (sporting director) Rouven Schröder and (coach) Marco Rose have always made it very clear to me that they’re counting on me and would like to see me continue in Leipzig."

Leipzig is already assured of finishing the Bundesliga season in fourth spot ahead of its last game at Eintracht Frankfurt Saturday.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Messi's Record $20.4 Million Salary Dwarfs Entire MLS Teams

Lionel Messi - File/AFP
Lionel Messi - File/AFP
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Messi's Record $20.4 Million Salary Dwarfs Entire MLS Teams

Lionel Messi - File/AFP
Lionel Messi - File/AFP

Lionel Messi's record $20.45 million annual salary from Inter Miami makes him by far the best paid player in Major League Soccer but also puts him ahead of the entire squads of 25 of the league's clubs, according to data released by the MLS Players Association on Thursday.

The players union regularly releases the full pay details of the entire league.

Messi has a guaranteed compensation of $20,446,667 made up of a base salary of $12 million plus various bonuses, AFP reported.

The figures from the players' union do not include the huge income the Argentine World Cup winner receives in commercial deals, endorsements and sponsorships from companies such as Adidas and Apple.

Messi signed his last contract with Spanish club Barcelona in 2017, a four-year deal that gave him the potential to earn 138 million euros per season including salary and add-ons.

Messi moved to Paris Saint-Germain in August 2021, after his contract with Barca ended and was reported to be earning between 30-35 million euros with the French club.

The 36-year-old joined Miami in July last year on a deal which runs until the end of the 2025 season but he may still be receiving payments from Barca.

Joan Laporta, the Barca president, said in January 2022 that the club were scheduled to make deferred salary payments to the player until 2025.

Toronto's Italian striker Lorenzo Insigne, who was MLS's best-ever paid player until Messi's arrival, was second on the list with a guaranteed income of $15.4 million from the Canadian club.

Messi's Spanish team-mate, Sergio Busquets, the 35-year-old former Barca midfielder, is the third top earner in the league on $8.8 million guaranteed.

Miami's former Barca duo of Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez and Spanish full-back Jordi Alba each earn $1.5 million per year.

Inter Miami's total wage bill is $41.68 million with Toronto second on $31.41 million. Current league champions, the Columbus Crew, had a total salary cost of $15.19 million, ranked 21st in the league.

Messi shares a dressing room with a number of team-mates earning just a tiny fraction of his income -- defender Noah Allen, a regular part of the matchday squad, earns a total of $91,383.

The average MLS salary is $594,390 in 2024 which is up 12.1% from last year.

Miami are able to pay Messi such a high salary because of the 'Designated Player' rule which was brought in to allow Los Angeles Galaxy to sign David Beckham in 2007 on a base salary of $6.5 million a year with his total deal earning him around $50 million in five years.

While Messi's income is huge by MLS standards it is well below the levels of top performers in other major sports in the USA.

Last year Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow signed a five-year deal worth $55 million per season, a new league record.

The NBA's top earner Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors makes $51.9 million.


Former Türkiye Coach Fatih Terim Leaves Greek Club Panathinaikos

FILE - Panathinaikos’ head coach Fatih Terim instructs his players during a Greek super League soccer match against AEK Athens, at OPAP Arena stadium, in Athens, Greece, Jan. 14, 2024. Turkish coach Fatih Terim on Friday, May 17, 2024, has announced his departure from Greek club Panathinaikos, one game before the end of the season. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis, File)
FILE - Panathinaikos’ head coach Fatih Terim instructs his players during a Greek super League soccer match against AEK Athens, at OPAP Arena stadium, in Athens, Greece, Jan. 14, 2024. Turkish coach Fatih Terim on Friday, May 17, 2024, has announced his departure from Greek club Panathinaikos, one game before the end of the season. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis, File)
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Former Türkiye Coach Fatih Terim Leaves Greek Club Panathinaikos

FILE - Panathinaikos’ head coach Fatih Terim instructs his players during a Greek super League soccer match against AEK Athens, at OPAP Arena stadium, in Athens, Greece, Jan. 14, 2024. Turkish coach Fatih Terim on Friday, May 17, 2024, has announced his departure from Greek club Panathinaikos, one game before the end of the season. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis, File)
FILE - Panathinaikos’ head coach Fatih Terim instructs his players during a Greek super League soccer match against AEK Athens, at OPAP Arena stadium, in Athens, Greece, Jan. 14, 2024. Turkish coach Fatih Terim on Friday, May 17, 2024, has announced his departure from Greek club Panathinaikos, one game before the end of the season. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis, File)

Former Türkiye coach Fatih Terim has announced his departure from Greek club Panathinaikos, one game before the end of the season.

The 70-year-old Terim said in an online post Friday that he was ending his five-month stint with the club after a meeting with the owners, The AP reported.

“Our plans for the 2024-2025 season were not aligned,” said Terim, who won eight championship titles in his homeland as manager of Galatasaray.

He thanked Panathinaikos fans and club staff, adding: “I sincerely wish Panathinaikos a successful future.”

Panathinaikos also confirmed Terim’s departure.

Under Terim, Panathinaikos remained in contention for the title before slipping to fourth place after three successive defeats, losing 4-1 to PAOK in Thessaloniki Wednesday.

League leader PAOK takes on city rival Aris in Sunday’s final round. A defeat could hand the title to second-placed AEK Athens, which hosts Lamia.


FIFA to Seek Legal Advice on Palestinian Proposal to Suspend Israel from Int’l Football 

FIFA President Gianni Infantino reacts during an address after Brazil won the bid to host the Women's World Cup, during the 74th FIFA Congress at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok, Thailand, May 17, 2024. (Reuters)
FIFA President Gianni Infantino reacts during an address after Brazil won the bid to host the Women's World Cup, during the 74th FIFA Congress at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok, Thailand, May 17, 2024. (Reuters)
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FIFA to Seek Legal Advice on Palestinian Proposal to Suspend Israel from Int’l Football 

FIFA President Gianni Infantino reacts during an address after Brazil won the bid to host the Women's World Cup, during the 74th FIFA Congress at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok, Thailand, May 17, 2024. (Reuters)
FIFA President Gianni Infantino reacts during an address after Brazil won the bid to host the Women's World Cup, during the 74th FIFA Congress at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok, Thailand, May 17, 2024. (Reuters)

FIFA will seek independent legal advice before holding an extraordinary council meeting by July 25 to make a decision on a Palestinian proposal to suspend Israel from international soccer because of the conflict with Hamas.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino outlined the plan at the FIFA congress on Friday after representatives of the Palestinian and Israel football federations had a chance to speak in front of the 211 member associations.

"FIFA will mandate as of now, independent legal expertise to analyze the three requests (from the Palestinian FA) and ensure the statutes of FIFA are applied in the right way," Infantino said. "This legal assessment will have to allow for inputs and claims of both member associations. The results and the recommendations ... will be forwarded to the FIFA council.

"Due to the urgency of the situation, an extraordinary FIFA Council will be convened and will take place before July 25 to review the results of the legal assessment and to take the decisions that are appropriate."

The Palestine Football Association proposal to 211 member federations called for "appropriate sanctions, with immediate effect, against Israeli teams," according to FIFA documents released a month before the congress and council meeting sin Bangkok.

The motion noted "international law violations committed by the Israeli occupation in Palestine, particularly in Gaza" and cited FIFA statutory commitments on human rights and against discrimination.

The Palestinian FA wrote that "all the football infrastructure in Gaza has been either destroyed, or seriously damaged, including the historic stadium of Al-Yarmuk" and said it had support for the motion from the federations of Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Syria and Yemen.


Brazil Declared Host of 2027 Women's World Cup at FIFA Congress 

Brazilian Football Association President Ednaldo Rodrigues is surrounded by his delegation as he makes a speech after Brazil wins its bid to host the 2027 Women's World Cup during the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok on May 17, 2024. (AFP)
Brazilian Football Association President Ednaldo Rodrigues is surrounded by his delegation as he makes a speech after Brazil wins its bid to host the 2027 Women's World Cup during the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok on May 17, 2024. (AFP)
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Brazil Declared Host of 2027 Women's World Cup at FIFA Congress 

Brazilian Football Association President Ednaldo Rodrigues is surrounded by his delegation as he makes a speech after Brazil wins its bid to host the 2027 Women's World Cup during the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok on May 17, 2024. (AFP)
Brazilian Football Association President Ednaldo Rodrigues is surrounded by his delegation as he makes a speech after Brazil wins its bid to host the 2027 Women's World Cup during the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok on May 17, 2024. (AFP)

Brazil was declared the host of the 2027 Women's World Cup at the FIFA Congress on Friday, beating the joint bid of Belgium, Netherlands and Germany to become the first South American country to hold the tournament.

The Brazil bid received the backing of 119 member associations of the FIFA Congress to host the 10th edition of the competition, compared to 78 votes for the European bid.

"We knew we would be celebrating a victory for South American women's soccer and for women," said president of the Brazilian Football Confederation, Ednaldo Rodrigues.

"You can be sure, with no vanity, we will accomplish the best World Cup for women."

Brazil was given a slight edge in the run up to Friday's vote after a FIFA technical evaluation released last week gave it a score of four out of five, verses 3.7 for the Belgium-Netherlands-Germany (BNG) bid.

The race was whittled down to two last month after the United States and Mexico withdrew their joint bid to pursue the 2031 tournament instead.

The FIFA assessment scored each bid on criteria ranging from commercial viability, team facilities and accommodation, to broadcast sites, stadiums and fan festival venues.

It said Brazil's 10 stadiums were purpose-built and configured for major tournaments having hosted the 2014 men's World Cup and the bid had a strong commercial position and government commitment.

It highlighted the compact nature and support behind the Belgium-Netherlands-Germany bid, solid commercial viability, good infrastructure and short distances between venues, but also noted the smaller capacities of its 13 stadiums.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said the Brazil tournament would be "the best Women's World Cup ever".

'FUTILE DEBATE'

In his opening remarks at the Congress, Infantino pledged to boost access to football worldwide and sought to end what he called a "futile debate" over the amount of matches being played.

He said FIFA was organizing about 1% of club games and just 1% to 2% of national team matches, but was helping 70% of its members, which "would have no football without the resources" FIFA provides.

"I hope these figures will show that we should probably stop this futile debate, it's really pointless, and focus on what we need to do which is organize the best competitions and develop football around the world," he said.

The Congress also heard a Palestinian call for the suspension of Israel's football federation, accusing it of multiple violations of FIFA statutes, including over the Gaza conflict and the inclusion in Israeli leagues of teams located in Palestinian territory.

Infantino said a legal assessment of the allegations would be undertaken urgently, with the FIFA Council convening an extraordinary Congress in late July to address the issue.

Since an Oct. 7 cross-border raid by Hamas-led gunmen that Israel says killed more than 1,200 people, the offensive in Gaza has left more than 35,000 Palestinians dead, according to Gaza health officials. Israel says its strikes are targeted at militants.

The president of the Palestinian Football Association (PFA), Jibril Rajoub, had urged the Congress to hold a vote to suspend the Israel Football Association (IFA) from all football activity and to respect the Palestinian territory.

"FIFA cannot afford to remain indifferent to these violations or the ongoing genocide in Palestine," he said.

"I ask you to stand on the right side of history... If not now, when?"

His Israeli counterpart Shino Moshe Zuares said no rules had been broken and the proposal had nothing to do with football.

"Once again, we are facing a cynical political and hostile attempt by the PFA to harm Israel," he said.

"I am holding myself back ...in the hope things can be better for the game for those who play in Israel, the Palestinian Authority and or those who play all over the world."


Adidas Chairman Thomas Rabe Re-elected Until 2025

Logo of Adidas brand is displayed on the store in the center of Warsaw, Poland, January 4, 2024. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
Logo of Adidas brand is displayed on the store in the center of Warsaw, Poland, January 4, 2024. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
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Adidas Chairman Thomas Rabe Re-elected Until 2025

Logo of Adidas brand is displayed on the store in the center of Warsaw, Poland, January 4, 2024. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
Logo of Adidas brand is displayed on the store in the center of Warsaw, Poland, January 4, 2024. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights

A majority of Adidas shareholders backed the re-election of chairman Thomas Rabe at the company's annual general meeting on Thursday, securing his role for a fifth year, with the German sportswear brand set to appoint a successor in 2025.

Prominent proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) had recommended in April that investors vote against Rabe's reappointment due to what it argued was an "excessive" number of roles at other companies, Reuters reported.

Adidas said Rabe's reappointment would serve to ensure a smooth handover of the chairmanship, which he has held since 2020. Rabe is also CEO of German broadcaster RTL Group and CEO of media conglomerate Bertelsmann.

"The succession planning for the Supervisory Board as a whole and for myself as Chairman of the Supervisory Board are paramount for me," Rabe said in a letter to shareholders ahead of the AGM.

Adidas' executive pay was also approved in a shareholder vote, although Norway's sovereign wealth fund, the fifth-biggest shareholder in Adidas, voted against for the second year in a row.

 

 

 

 

 

 


FIFA Urges Soccer Bodies to Mandate Racism as an Offense

A long exposure shows FIFA's logo near its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
A long exposure shows FIFA's logo near its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
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FIFA Urges Soccer Bodies to Mandate Racism as an Offense

A long exposure shows FIFA's logo near its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
A long exposure shows FIFA's logo near its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

FIFA wants all 211 national federations to mandate racist abuse in soccer as a disciplinary offense, and designate a crossed hands gesture by victims to signal the abuse they get.

Soccer's world body detailed the tougher and more unified approach it wants to tackle racism on Thursday after months of consulting with victimized players including Real Madrid star Vinícius Júnior.

The crossed hands gesture was made on a medal podium at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 by United States athlete Raven Saunders who won silver in women’s shot put.

”It’s the intersection of where all people who are oppressed meet,” Saunders said in Tokyo, The AP reported.

FIFA is encouraging players to copy the gesture that led to Saunders facing a disciplinary investigation by the International Olympic Committee, which has rules prohibiting political statements at medal ceremonies.

Teams whose fans or players racially abuse opponents could soon face disciplinary punishments such as forfeiting games, typically as a 3-0 loss, as part of a five-pillar pledge on tackling discrimination. They will be put to FIFA member federations on Friday at their annual meeting in Bangkok.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino promised months ago to make a worldwide proposal and has consulted with Brazil star Vinicius Junior, who is Black and has been repeatedly abused by opposing fans in Spanish stadiums.

He broke down in tears at a news conference in March before Spain hosted Brazil in a friendly organized in fallout of the persistent abuse he has faced in his adopted home.

“The time has come for football to unite to unequivocally commit as a global community to address the issue of racism in the game,” FIFA said in a letter to member federations.

FIFA also wants to create a panel of players who will “monitor and advise on the implementation of these actions around the world.”

Soccer has struggled for more than a decade to deal with racism in stadiums by agreeing and coordinating on-field responses by match officials and post-match disciplinary action by federations and competition organizers.

Soccer leaders in countries such as Italy and Spain have consistently denied the sport has a racism problem.

In some cases, investigations were dropped by soccer authorities including UEFA because there was no evidence beyond a claim by the player alleging abuse.

Black players who claimed they were racially abused by opponents or fans and tried to leave the field have themselves been shown a yellow card for their actions.

FIFA wants the crossed hands gesture to be the recognized signal for referees to start a long-standing three-step process at a game where racial and discriminatory abuse is heard: To pause the play and broadcast warnings in the stadium, to take teams off the field, then abandon games.

That three-step process should be mandatory across all 211 federations, FIFA said on Thursday.

Saunders initially was in trouble with the IOC for making the gesture which also was a broader statement celebrating diversity. The IOC investigation was paused days later after Saunders' mother died.


Germany Coach Watches as Others Announce His Euro 2024 Squad With No Surprises

 Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann (rights) speaks to media. - The AP
 Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann (rights) speaks to media. - The AP
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Germany Coach Watches as Others Announce His Euro 2024 Squad With No Surprises

 Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann (rights) speaks to media. - The AP
 Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann (rights) speaks to media. - The AP

Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann watched as his initial European Championship squad was announced for him by a variety of people reflecting the mix in German society on Thursday.

Stuttgart goalkeeper Alexander Nübel was the only new name among the 27 called out in a video message featuring students, TV presenters, singers, döner kebab chefs, radio presenters and others.

“Super troop. Could be from me. But it’s our squad,” Nagelsmann said at the end of the video shown at a glitzy press conference in sponsor Volkswagen’s showroom on Berlin’s Unter den Linden boulevard, The AP reported.

“It was great,” Nagelsmann said of the unusual announcements. “That's how we involved many people, an experience that's very important for the team, that can show the path to success in our home tournament.”

Nagelsmann is keeping faith with the shakeup he initiated in March before the friendly matches against France and the Netherlands. Both games yielded wins, boosting confidence before Germany hosts the tournament next month. Nagelsmann clearly saw no need to change a winning team too much.

There was no return for Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels or Bayern Munich midfielder Leon Goretzka despite their strong finishes to the season, but Hummels’ club teammate Nico Schlotterbeck is back for the first time since last September. Hummels and Schlotterbeck helped Dortmund reach the Champions League final against Real Madrid on June 1.

Schlotterbeck and Dortmund teammate Niclas Füllkrug will join Germany late because of their involvement in the final, as will Madrid’s Toni Kroos and Antonio Rüdiger, who were also nominated for the tournament.

“It will make the training a bit harder because they're players that are envisaged for the starting lineup, players that are important for the team," Nagelsmann said of Kroos and Rüdiger. “I'd prefer if players are successful and play great games and come with a lot of confidence.”

Most of the squad was “leaked” by the federation through various outlets in the days before, though the unusual confirmations also led to some confusion. Thomas Müller, for example, suggested on Instagram that he was included before it was confirmed by the federation.

Müller, who has played 128 games for Germany, is the most experienced player in the squad, followed by Bayern Munich teammate Manuel Neuer (117 appearances) and Kroos (108).

Nagelsmann, who said he's taking four goalkeepers to the tournament, will need to reduce his squad by one before he finalizes it.

The German soccer federation also announced that Nagelsmann's coaching staff extended their contracts through the 2026 World Cup, putting them in line with Nagelsmann, who extended his contract last month.

Germany hosts Euro 2024 from June 14 to July 14. Nagelsmann’s team begins its tournament preparations in Blankenhain, central Germany, from May 26-31 before moving to Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, on June 1.

Germany warms up with friendlies against Ukraine in Nuremberg on June 3, and Greece four days later in Mönchengladbach.

The host nation gets the tournament underway against Scotland in Munich. It then plays Hungary in Stuttgart on June 19 and Switzerland in Frankfurt on June 23.

“I already have the idea that we can win this thing, that we can gain faith in winning it,” Nagelsmann said.


Monaco to Host the Start of the 2026 Spanish Vuelta

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows Monaco Principality during the Monaco Yacht Show, one of the most prestigious pleasure boat shows in the world, highlighting hundreds of yachts for the luxury yachting industry in port of Monaco, September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
FILE PHOTO: A general view shows Monaco Principality during the Monaco Yacht Show, one of the most prestigious pleasure boat shows in the world, highlighting hundreds of yachts for the luxury yachting industry in port of Monaco, September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
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Monaco to Host the Start of the 2026 Spanish Vuelta

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows Monaco Principality during the Monaco Yacht Show, one of the most prestigious pleasure boat shows in the world, highlighting hundreds of yachts for the luxury yachting industry in port of Monaco, September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights
FILE PHOTO: A general view shows Monaco Principality during the Monaco Yacht Show, one of the most prestigious pleasure boat shows in the world, highlighting hundreds of yachts for the luxury yachting industry in port of Monaco, September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo Purchase Licensing Rights

The 2026 Spanish Vuelta will start in Monaco, organizers announced on Thursday.

The grand tour’s first stage will take place entirely in the tiny principality known for its iconic Formula 1 event. The second stage of the three-week race will also start in Monaco, The AP reported.

This year's Vuelta which is scheduled to start in August will begin in Lisbon. The Portuguese capital was the first foreign city to host a Vuelta start back in 1997. The Vuelta has also had starts in the Netherlands and France.

This summer, Monaco will host the start of the final stage of this summer’s Tour, which will be held outside Paris for the first time since 1905 because of a clash with the Olympics.

Monaco also provided the start of the 2009 Tour de France.