Messi Honored with a Statue at South America’s Soccer HQ

Lionel Messi (L) from Argentina reacts in front of a statue of him during the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) Night of Stars celebration in Luque, Paraguay, 27 March 2023. (EPA)
Lionel Messi (L) from Argentina reacts in front of a statue of him during the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) Night of Stars celebration in Luque, Paraguay, 27 March 2023. (EPA)
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Messi Honored with a Statue at South America’s Soccer HQ

Lionel Messi (L) from Argentina reacts in front of a statue of him during the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) Night of Stars celebration in Luque, Paraguay, 27 March 2023. (EPA)
Lionel Messi (L) from Argentina reacts in front of a statue of him during the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) Night of Stars celebration in Luque, Paraguay, 27 March 2023. (EPA)

The tributes continue to pour in for Lionel Messi following Argentina's World Cup triumph.

South American soccer's governing body on Monday presented the 35-year-old Argentine star a with statue, which will be placed in the CONMEBOL museum next to those of legendary players Pelé and Diego Maradona.

Messi also received replicas of the World Cup and the Finalissima trophy, which Argentina won against Italy, during the ceremony before the Copa Libertadores draw.

His teammates and coach Lionel Scaloni received miniature trophies as well, including that of the 2021 Copa America lifted in Brazil.

“We are living a very special and beautiful moment, getting a lot of love,” Messi said during the tribute. “It was time for a South American team to win the World Cup again.”

Argentina beat Panama 2-0 on Thursday in Buenos Aires in its first international friendly since winning the World Cup title in Qatar last December.

Scaloni's team will face Curacao on Tuesday to celebrate with its fans in the countryside city of Santiago del Estero.



Zverev to Face Jarry in the Italian Open Final after a Comeback Win over Tabilo

Alexander Zverev of Germany looks on during his men's singles semi final match against Alejandro Tabilo of Chile (not pictured) at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Italy, 17 May 2024. (EPA)
Alexander Zverev of Germany looks on during his men's singles semi final match against Alejandro Tabilo of Chile (not pictured) at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Italy, 17 May 2024. (EPA)
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Zverev to Face Jarry in the Italian Open Final after a Comeback Win over Tabilo

Alexander Zverev of Germany looks on during his men's singles semi final match against Alejandro Tabilo of Chile (not pictured) at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Italy, 17 May 2024. (EPA)
Alexander Zverev of Germany looks on during his men's singles semi final match against Alejandro Tabilo of Chile (not pictured) at the Italian Open tennis tournament in Rome, Italy, 17 May 2024. (EPA)

For about an hour, Alexander Zverev had no answer to the rocket-like forehands and perfectly placed drop shots that Alejandro Tabilo kept producing on Rome’s red clay.

The fifth-ranked Zverev kept patient, though, and took his chance when it came as he rallied to beat his unheralded Chilean opponent 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2 on Friday for a spot in the Italian Open final.

“I was just hanging on the second set. I brought my energy up,” Zverev said. “He hit me off the court in the first set and I didn’t play well at all, but he was a big reason why. He gave me no rhythm.”

In Sunday’s final, Zverev will face another Chilean, Nicolas Jarry, who beat Tommy Paul 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-3 on the American’s 27th birthday.

The 24th-ranked Jarry came back from a set down to eliminate Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinals and will be playing his first Masters Series final.

It was an appealing contrast in styles between the big-serving 6-foot-7 (2.01 meter) Jarry, who goes for a lot of his shots, and the more defensive-minded Paul, who grinds it out and likes to make his opponents play longer points.

Jarry required five match points to finish off Paul and ended up with 33 winners to his Paul’s 20, but also many more unforced errors — 49 to 15 — in a match that lasted nearly three hours.

“I go for it. And, if everything goes in, amazing,” Jarry said. “But it’s difficult to maintain.”

Zverev, the 2017 Rome champion, had the pinkie on his left hand bandaged following a fall in his previous match, after which he said his finger was “crooked.” The German plays right-handed but uses a two-handed backhand.

He said his pinkie was swollen and he was using painkillers.

“I tore a capsule. ... But I didn’t break any bones,” Zverev said. “The finger is still very, very big. It was manageable.”

It’s Zverev’s third final in Rome. He won in 2017 by beating Novak Djokovic in straight sets for his first Masters Series title. He lost to Rafael Nadal in the title match a year later.

“I’ve been here before,” Zverev said. “I know what it takes and hopefully I can use that.”

Top-ranked Iga Swiatek will play No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka in the women’s final on Saturday.

Rome is the last big wamup before the French Open starts on May 26.

Zverev, who has disputed a penalty order from a German court over allegations that he caused bodily harm to a woman, faces a trial starting during Roland Garros. He said recently that he won’t attend the start of the trial.

Zverev leads 4-2 in his career meetings with Jarry but the series is tied 2-2 on clay.

“Nicolas is one of the most aggressive players we have on the tour,” Zverev said. “Obviously huge serve, huge forehand. Tries to hit big from both sides of the court.”

The 32nd-ranked Tabilo eliminated top-ranked Djokovic in the third round on Sunday and hadn’t dropped a set in the tournament until errors helped Zverev win the second-set tiebreaker. Zverev then took control early in the third.

Tabilo, who is a lefty, saved a break point midway through the first set with a slicing serve out wide to the ad court then produced three drop shots to serve out the set.

Zverev and Tabilo were born in the same year and played often as juniors, when Tabilo represented Canada, where he was born.


Egypt’s Elneny to Leave Arsenal after Eight Years

Mohamed Elneny. (AFP)
Mohamed Elneny. (AFP)
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Egypt’s Elneny to Leave Arsenal after Eight Years

Mohamed Elneny. (AFP)
Mohamed Elneny. (AFP)

Midfielder Mohamed Elneny will leave Arsenal at the end of the season after eight years at the Premier League club, the Egypt international said on Friday.

Elneny joined Arsenal from Swiss side FC Basel in 2016 for 5 million pounds ($6 million) and has made 161 appearances for the London club.

A knee injury restricted the 31-year-old to eight outings during the 2022-23 season. He has made six appearances in all competitions in Arsenal's current campaign.

"Gooners, I'm here today to send you a message, to say goodbye and thank you for everything you've done for me," Elneny said in a video posted on X on Friday.

"The love, the support and the kindness. I'm really going to miss you so much and you'll be in my heart forever."

Elneny did not say where he would go after leaving Arsenal.

He said he would bid farewell to fans at the Emirates on Sunday as Arsenal host Everton in their final league match, hoping for a Manchester City slip-up against West Ham United to secure their first title in 20 years.


Arsenal Must Not Get 'Too Emotional' on Final Day, Says Odegaard

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United v Arsenal - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - May 12, 2024 Arsenal's William Saliba and Gabriel celebrate after the match REUTERS/Carl Recine
Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United v Arsenal - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - May 12, 2024 Arsenal's William Saliba and Gabriel celebrate after the match REUTERS/Carl Recine
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Arsenal Must Not Get 'Too Emotional' on Final Day, Says Odegaard

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United v Arsenal - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - May 12, 2024 Arsenal's William Saliba and Gabriel celebrate after the match REUTERS/Carl Recine
Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United v Arsenal - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - May 12, 2024 Arsenal's William Saliba and Gabriel celebrate after the match REUTERS/Carl Recine

Arsenal players must not let their emotions get the better of them as they chase the Premier League title into the final day of the season, captain Martin Odegaard said ahead of their match against Everton.
Arsenal are two points behind leaders Manchester City going into Sunday's final round of fixtures. The Gunners must win to stay in contention, while City could lift their fourth title in a row if they beat West Ham United, Reuters said.
Arsenal's hopes of ending their 20-year wait for the league title dwindled after City's 2-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday put the Manchester side at an advantage.
"We spoke about it the day after (City went ahead)," Odegaard told TNT Sports. "We have to focus on ourselves, we can't get too emotional about it.
"We have one more game, at home, it's the last game of the season and our goal and our task is clear, we have to win that.
"We'll see what happens. That's our mindset now, win that last game, give the fans a good last game and we'll see. It's out of our control, we just focus on our game."
The Norwegian midfielder said his side have been amazing this season. "We've taken good steps and I feel like we're a much better team compared to last season," he added.

"We´ve had some really good games, some good results, and we are now there until the last day, to push for it."
Arsenal finished second in the 2022-23 season, five points behind City. They last won the league title under manager Arsene Wenger in their 2003-04 "Invincibles" season when they went the entire campaign unbeaten.


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.