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No further action to be taken against Chelsea or John Terry


The Football Association has decided to take no further action against John Terry or Chelsea after investigating the circumstances of his substitution in his final game at Stamford Bridge at the end of last season.

Having worn the number 26 jersey during his 19-year career at the club, Terry left the field through a guard of honour formed by his teammates after 26 minutes of the champions’ 5-1 win over Sunderland.

The FA’s Integrity Department said it would investigate the substitution after it emerged that several punters had won thousands of pounds for betting on the exact time of Terry’s substitution at odds of 100-1.

Shortly before the game, the editor of a Chelsea fanzine had tweeted that Terry would be withdrawn after 26 minutes.

However, it is understood the FA has now decided there is no case to answer as there is no evidence to suggest this was inside information intended for the purposes of betting and is therefore not a deliberate attempt at so-called spot-fixing.

Proving such an offence is notoriously difficult and it could also be argued that the tribute to Terry was not unprecedented as Didier Drogba was carried off by his Chelsea team-mates during the first half of a Premier League game against Sunderland in 2015.

In other integrity-related news, the FA is also expected to conduct more than 5,000 drug tests by the end of the 2017-18 season, which is up from 3,300 last season and double the amount conducted in 2015/16.

The FA believes it spends more on anti-doping than any other sports governing body in the UK and more than any other national football association. Last season, there were only two anti-doping rule violations in English football, both for in-competition use of social drugs.

As well as increasing its testing efforts, the FA is also close to announcing new guidelines for fining clubs for whereabouts failures.

Last season, Bournemouth, Manchester City and Fleetwood were fined for failing to keep up-to-date whereabouts information, which anti-doping officials need to be able to find athletes to do out-of-competition testing.

After three breaches of the rules within six months, Manchester City were fined £35,000, which is understood to be the maximum sanction available under the current guidelines.

That was relatively small sum was criticised by some anti-doping experts and athletes from other sports, prompting the FA to review the sanctions.

The new Premier League season will also see new crackdown on simulation or, as it is now known, successful deception of a match official.

When there is clear and overwhelming evidence of a player successfully tricking an official to make an incorrect decision that results in a penalty, a red card or a yellow card that later leads to an opponent’s dismissal, a three-strong panel will review the evidence independently.

If they are unanimous that an offence has taken place, a charge will follow and the case will be fast-tracked, with offenders receiving a two-match ban.

Scottish football has had a similar system for a number of seasons and the evidence from north of the border is that players quickly accept their punishments and behaviour has improved.

Source: PA




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Manchester City arrange training camp after their Premier League opener


Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is to take his squad to a training camp in Catalonia less than a day after the start of their Premier League season.

The former Barcelona boss will return to his homeland for a four-day stay – which includes a friendly against LaLiga debutants Girona – just hours after kicking off their campaign at newcomers Brighton on August 12.

City say it is a chance for Guardiola to work with the full squad as some players missed the pre-season trip to the United States.

Director of football Txiki Begiristain told mancity.com: “This trip is a great opportunity for Pep to work with his full squad in an intensive training camp.

“We have had some players away on international duty this summer, which means Pep hasn’t had the chance to work for long with the whole squad.

“The game itself promises to be a fantastic spectacle, as Girona finalise their own preparations for their debut campaign in LaLiga.”

Source: PA




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Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo appears in court in tax case


Gab Marcotti explains Cristiano Ronaldo’s tax-fraud case, and Herculez Gomez and Max Bretos discuss the impact at Real.
Zinedine Zidane says Cristiano Ronaldo is enjoying some time off and will be back for the start of the season.

MADRID — Cristiano Ronaldo appeared in court in Madrid on Monday morning to answer charges of a €14.7 million tax fraud

Prosecutors at Spain’s Hacienda tax agency have put together a case arguing that the Real Madrid forward, and his advisors and agents Gestifute, routed image rights income through a network of companies to avoid paying the relevant taxes from 2011 to 2014.

Ronaldo, who has previously denied all the charges through his agents, arrived at the court around 11 a.m. local time. No members of the media were permitted inside the court.

AS has reported that, unlike Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, the Portugal captain will not accept wrongdoing.

If Ronaldo disputes the charges brought by the Hacienda prosecutors, judge Monica Gomez Ferrer will then decide whether to take the case forward and potentially set a trial date. If found guilty, he could be ordered to pay back taxes and a fine — which could be as high as €50 million — and experts have said he risks a custodial sentence if he fails to comply. 

Gestifute owner Jorge Mendes gave evidence in front of judge Gomez Ferrer in late June relating to a case involving former Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao at which he denied he or any of his staff have any role in tax affairs. 

Cristiano Ronaldo arrives at court in Madrid on Monday morning.

The image rights income of other Mendes clients — including Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and former Madrid players Fabio Coentrao, Pepe, Angel Di Maria and Ricardo Carvalho — have also been investigated by the Spanish authorities.

Ronaldo, on an extended break following the Confederations Cup earlier in the summer, did not appear for Madrid during their International Champions Cup games in the United States this summer.

Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says he is expected to join up with the squad on their return to Europe on Aug. 5. He is then unlikely to feature in the European Super Cup against Manchester United in Skopje on Aug. 8, or the Spanish Supercopa games against Barcelona on Aug. 13 and 16.

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan



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Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo to make first court appearance in tax case


Gab Marcotti explains Cristiano Ronaldo’s tax-fraud case, and Herculez Gomez and Max Bretos discuss the impact at Real.
Zinedine Zidane says Cristiano Ronaldo is enjoying some time off and will be back for the start of the season.

Cristiano Ronaldo is due in court in Madrid on Monday morning to answer charges of a €14.7 million tax fraud

Prosecutors at Spain’s Hacienda tax agency have put together a case arguing that the Real Madrid forward, and his advisors and agents Gestifute, routed image rights income through a network of companies to avoid paying the relevant taxes from 2011 to 2014.

Ronaldo, who will appear before the court at 11:30 a.m. local time, has denied all the charges through his agents.  Although he has yet to speak publicly about his plans, AS has reported that, unlike Barcelona forward Lionel Messi, the Portugal captain will not accept wrongdoing.

If Ronaldo disputes the charges brought by the Hacienda prosecutors, judge Monica Gomez Ferrer will then decide whether to take the case forward and potentially set a trial date. If found guilty, he could be ordered to pay back taxes and a fine — which could be as high as €50 million — and experts have said he risks a custodial sentence if he fails to comply. 

Gestifute owner Jorge Mendes gave evidence in front of judge Gomez Ferrer in late June relating to a case involving former Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao at which he denied he or any of his staff have any role in tax affairs. 

The image rights income of other Mendes clients — including Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and former Madrid players Fabio Coentrao, Pepe, Angel Di Maria and Ricardo Carvalho — have also been investigated by the Spanish authorities.

Ronaldo, on an extended break following the Confederations Cup earlier in the summer, did not appear for Madrid during their International Champions Cup games in the United States this summer.

Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane says he is expected to join up with the squad on their return to Europe on Aug. 5. He is then unlikely to feature in the European Super Cup against Manchester United in Skopje on Aug. 8, or the Spanish Supercopa games against Barcelona on Aug. 13 and 16.

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan



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Spanish midfielder Victor Rodriguez training with Seattle Sounders ahead of move


Sigi Schmid’s return was a lackluster affair, as his LA Galaxy played to a scoreless draw with his old club, Seattle.

Spanish midfielder Victor Rodriguez trained with Seattle on Monday ahead of a free transfer from La Liga’s Sporting Gijon, Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey said.

Lagerwey told ESPN’s Julie Stewart-Binks on Saturday that the club would announce a new signing “next week,” and sources told ESPN FC on Monday that the Sounders were set to announce the signing of Rodriguez.

Lagerwey then confirmed that Rodriguez trained with the Sounders on Monday morning, though the GM cautioned that no deal has yet been completed.

However, he did say that the potential signing would be below the designated player level, and the club would likely use targeted allocation money in the deal.

Rodriguez plays primarily as a right winger, and scored two goals in 27 league and cup appearances last season for Sporting, which announced last week that the 28-year-old would be released when he signs an MLS contract, with an agreement already in place.

Prior to that he was on the books at Elche, though his second season there saw him loaned out to Getafe, where scored twice in 34 league and cup appearances. He has also spent time with Real Zaragoza and Badalona.

Victor Rodriguez is near a move to the Seattle Sounders.

The Sounders are also continuing their pursuit of Dynamo Kiev midfielder Derlis Gonzalez, but a source with knowledge of the negotiations said it’s still unclear if the Sounders will get the deal over the finish line before the close of the summer transfer window on Aug. 9, and that there is still much work to be done.

The hang-up continues to be the transfer fee, even though the Sounders’ offer for Gonzalez remains the best that Kiev has received so far, according to the source. Lagerwey declined to comment on Gonzalez on Monday.

Kiev is standing firm for the moment, but the political unrest in the country in recent years has made Dynamo more vulnerable to losing foreign players like Gonzalez, who is entering his third season with the club.

During that time, Gonzalez has scored nine goals in 52 league and cup appearances. Prior to joining Dynamo, Gonzalez was with Swiss side FC Basel where he scored six goals in 36 appearances.

He has also been on the books of Olimpia and Guarani in his native Paraguay. At international level, Gonzalez has made 27 appearances, scoring four goals.

Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.



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Scott: Clever Boys not intimidated by anyone


Granwald Scott of Bidvest Wits challenges Khama Billiat of Mamelodi Sundowns during the Absa Premiership match between Bidbest Wits and Mamelodi Sundowns on 01 May 2017 at Bidvest Stadium © Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix

by
Bertin Basson

Monday Jul 31, 2017. 20:30


Bidvest Wits midfielder Granwald Scott has revealed that the reigning MTN8 and Absa Premiership champions are ready to defend their respective titles.

The Clever Boys won a first top-flight title earlier this year, pipping Mamelodi Sundowns, Cape Town City and Kaizer Chiefs in an exciting run-in.

Scott, 29, returned to South Africa in January following a short stint with Slovan Bratislava in Slovakia. The hard-tackling midfielder left for Europe having made a name for himself at Ajax Cape Town.

The 2017-18 season is set to be long and at times arduous for Gavin Hunt’s troops as they will also be competing on the continent – Scott, though. is confident that the Braamfontein-based club are ready for the challenges that lie ahead.

WILLARD KATSANDE EYES CONSISTENCY

“We’re building a team that will ensure we can compete with the best and the highest level,” Scott told KickOff.com.

“It will definitely be tough in the new season as teams are desperate to overthrow us. But if you look at the quality and depth we have now with the signings we made – it tells you about the club and the coach’s ambitions and plans. This is fantastic and needs to be saluted and I think we’re on the right path.

“We are not intimidated by anyone. I think we should be ready to compete with the best in Africa with the good mix and quality of players we now have.

“It will be a long tough season especially with our commitments in Africa and we’re looking forward to the challenges. Like I said, I think that we’re on the right path to challenge for more honours and success,” Scott concluded.



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Behind the World Cup record: Helmut Schon



  • Helmut Schon holds record for most World Cup matches as coach (25)
  • He took part in four World Cups with Germany
  • In 1974, Schon became a world champion with Germany on home soil

Helmut Schon is the most successful national coach in German football history, and one of the most successful ever to grace the beautiful game. He won both the FIFA World Cup™ and European Championships and still holds a World Cup record to this day.

He was recognised for his achievements in 1974 with the Silver Laurel Leaf, presented by the German president, and the Federal Cross of Merit. Schon was subsequently named an honorary member of the German Football Association (DFB) in 1980 and received the FIFA Order of Merit in 1984, while Deutsche Post marked what would have been his 100th birthday with a commemorative stamp on 1 September 2015.

The coach

“I’m certain that there is one thing the overwhelming majority of loyal fans would like to see more than anything else: good, authentic, exciting and athletic football – with no frills.”

This was Schon’s motto – and one that brought the former Germany coach a great deal of success. The late Austrian vocalist Udo Jurgens described him as the “general with a heart”, while for Franz Beckenbauer, the man around whom the playing style of Schon’s teams was based and his on-pitch representative, he was “a coach of great stature and humanity”.

Born in Dresden, Schon made as great an impact on German football as fellow world champions Sepp Herberger (1954), Franz Beckenbauer (1990) and Joachim Low (2014). The man whose 1.90m stature led his players to affectionately refer to him as Der Lange or ‘The Lanky One’, whilst always respectfully addressing him as ‘Mr Schon’, was considered to be a blessing to German football. Between 1964 and 1978, the national side played a successful yet highly attractive game, prompting one reporter for Milan’s Corriere della Sera to declare that “Helmut Schon’s team heralds a new footballing era”.

Schon’s track record is unique. At his first World Cup as head coach, he stepped immediately out of Herberger’s long shadow as Germany finished runners-up to England in 1966. Die Mannschaft secured third place four years later after suffering a semi-final defeat by Italy in what was dubbed the ‘Match of the Century’. The golden era in which Germany won the 1972 European Championship and the 1974 World Cup followed and the broad smile Schon wore beneath his hat was beamed around the world. ‘The Man in the Cap’ became the most successful coach in Germany’s 116-year history.

There are only three other national team bosses in the history of the game who can hold a candle to Schon: Italy’s Vittorio Pozzo, who won back-to-back World Cups in 1934 and 1938; Spaniard Vicente del Bosque, who became a world champion in 2010 and a European champion in 2012; and Joachim Low, who led his team to a third-place finish in 2010 before lifting the Trophy in 2014. However, none of them can boast any additional podium finishes.

The record

On 21 June 1978, Germany faced Austria in Cordoba at the FIFA World Cup in Argentina. It was Schon’s 25th World Cup match at his fourth World Cup – a record that no other coach has yet equalled.

His record at these tournaments was remarkable, with 16 wins, four draws and five defeats in four World Cups [editor’s note – the matches lost after extra-time in the 1966 World Cup Final and 1970 World Cup semi-final are counted as defeats]. Schon’s 1966 campaign only ended in defeat to the hosts after a legendary match with an even more legendary goal at Wembley Stadium.

At Mexico 1970, Germany again suffered just one defeat in another thrilling match that went down in World Cup history as the ‘Match of the Century’, with Schon and his players ultimately finishing the tournament in third place. Although they followed this up with victory on home soil in 1974, they still suffered a memorable defeat that year – at the hands of none other than East Germany.

Four years later, Hans Krankl scored a goal in the 88th minute to hand Austria an unassailable 3-2 lead and bring Schon’s unique World Cup coaching career to an inglorious end. Having announced his retirement ahead of the 1978 World Cup, that lacklustre campaign in Argentina marked the end of Germany’s most successful era to date.

The memories

“Helmut Schon didn’t deserve a farewell like that.”
Berti Vogts, Helmut Schon’s captain at the 1978 World Cup, immediately after Germany’s 3-2 humiliation by Austria in Cordoba

“What made Helmut Schon remarkable was his ability to lead a team of exceptional individuals while letting each player express his individuality.”
Vogts today on his former national team coach’s strengths

“When the team lost, he took it personally – and didn’t speak a word to us the next day. The fact that he expressed his deep disappointment like that instead of giving us a telling-off or handing out punishments made a real impression on all of us. That was his particular way of doing things. Helmut Schon didn’t motivate his players by giving us a loud lecture but by showing us how affronted he was. It felt as if we’d disappointed our own fathers.”
Bernd Holzenbein on Schon’s strategy after the 1974 defeat to East Germany

“His life’s work has become legendary.”
Former DFB President Egidius Braun after the death of Helmut Schon at the age of 80 in February 1996



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Neymar in China on promotional tour while PSG reports abound


Neymar poses with Floyd Mayweather, Petke’s rant is immortalised and more in The Sweeper.
The FC crew react to Sergio Ramos’ quote about Neymar’s future and debate the effect his departure would have on Barcelona.
Thiago Motta was asked about the Neymar transfer speculation following PSG’s 2-1 victor in the French Super Cup.

Barcelona striker Neymar spent Monday in China on a promotional tour while reports swirled about his potential world-record €222 million transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

After helping Barcelona beat Real Madrid in the International Champions Cup in Miami on Saturday, Neymar left his teammates and flew to China, where he was pictured attending a fashion show and being interviewed by state television.

He also took a photo with his countryman Hulk, who is playing for Shanghai SIPG in the Chinese Super League, and said hello to his fans on social media platform Weibo.

“I would like to send a fond embrace to all my fans in China, I want to thank them for all their support,” he wrote. “And to all my friends on Weibo, could you send me suggestions as to what I should do while I am here?”

Meanwhile, Qatari newspaper Al Watan reported on Monday that Neymar will stop in Doha on his way back to Europe to meet PSG chairman Nasser Al Khelaifi and possibly have a medical ahead of what would be a historic move.

Neymar faced the Chinese media at a fashion show on Monday.

The 25-year-old would become the most expensive footballer of all time if the Ligue 1 club sign him for a fee more than double the one Manchester United paid Juventus for Paul Pogba last summer.

A source told ESPN FC on July 22 that the Brazil international and his father have already agreed personal terms with PSG, and all that was left to do at that point was for the Ligue 1 giants to work out how to activate the player’s release clause without incurring the wrath of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play watchdog.

On Saturday, a source said the Ligue 1 club are so confident in landing Neymar that they are already considering how to unveil him, and French radio station Europe 1 reported on Monday that Paris police granted PSG permission to show him off this week in the city centre, rather than at the Parc des Princes.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde was tight-lipped about Neymar’s plans after the Miami Clasico, though PSG’s Dani Alves said after the French Super Cup on Saturday that he hoped his countryman’s move would be “finalised soon.”

Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.



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Slimani to face Albion despite freak accident – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa


Leicester City‘s Islam Slimani (right) battles for the ball with Sunderland’s Lamine Kone (left) during the Premier League match at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland.

by
Austin Ditlhobolo

Monday Jul 31, 2017. 20:00


Leicester City’s Algeria international Leicester City‘s Algeria international Islam Slimani is expected to make a speedy recovery ahead of the club’s clash with Burton Albion in a friendly match on Tuesday.
i is expected to make a speedy recovery ahead of the club’s clash with Burton Albion in a friendly match on Tuesday.

This is despite having sustained a deep cut behind his knee during City’s 1-0 defeat to fellow English side Wolverhampton Wanderers in a friendly match on Saturday.

Leicester City assistant coach, Mike Stowell says they are hopeful that the 29-year-old hitman will be ready for their clash with English outfit Burton.

“It was a very nasty cut,” Stowell told Leicester Mercury.

“It was a freak accident and the blade of the boot has cut him right at the back of his knee.

“There was no way he was going back out there so he had to be stitched up in the dressing room,” he added.

“Hopefully, he’ll be back out there against Burton.”

Slimani and his City teammates are scheduled to face Arsenal in their first 2017/18 English Premier League game on Friday, 11 August 2017.



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Fernando Llorente suffers broken arm and will miss start of season


Swansea striker Fernando Llorente will miss the start of the new Premier League season with a broken arm.

Llorente suffered the fracture in a cycling accident while he was on holiday during the summer break and is set to miss the opening two games.

Swansea start their season at Southampton on August 12 before hosting Manchester United the following weekend.

“Fernando’s rehabilitating individually – he has not joined the team training yet,” head coach Paul Clement told the official Swansea website.

“But assuming all goes well, we anticipate that happening in the next 10 days.

“I think it is unlikely he will be involved in the first couple of games, but his return will not be long after that.

“The most important thing is that we get the arm right.

“You don’t want him to re-fracture it and then end up with Fernando needing surgery, because a six-week injury can then become a six-month injury.”

Spain international Llorente was Swansea’s top scorer last season with 15 goals following his £5million move from Sevilla.

The 32-year-old World Cup winner was the subject of an approach in January from Chelsea, managed by his former Juventus boss Antonio Conte.

And Llorente has been consistently linked with the Premier League champions during the summer transfer window.

Source: PA




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Toronto FC jumps over Chicago Fire and New York City FC thanks to Sebastian Giovinco


Sebastian Giovinco dazzled again Sunday afternoon, scoring twice and assisting another goal in Toronto’s rout of NYCFC.

Lots of movement in the Power Rankings this week, as Toronto FC leapt to the top following its big win and the Chicago Fire’s loss to Sporting Kansas City.

1. Toronto FC (+2): Just in case anyone had forgotten, Sebastian Giovinco reminded MLS that he remains the best player in the league with two goals in a 4-0 romp over NYCFC.

2. Chicago Fire (-1): On the field, the Fire ran into a Sporting team with something to prove, and lost 3-2 in Kansas City. Off it, David Accam’s future remains up in the air.

3. New York City FC (-1): NYCFC were undone by the Giovinco Show in Toronto, with Andrea Pirlo looking decidedly ineffective in Yangel Herrera’s place.

4. Sporting Kansas City (+2): No Dom Dwyer, no deficiencies on the attacking end for Sporting. The emergence of Daniel Salloi in a 3-2 win over the Fire is a great sign.

Sporting KC earned a hard fought 3-2 win over Chicago to maintain the top spot in the Western Conference.

5. FC Dallas (-1): A deflected shot and a questionable penalty had Dallas in a hole even before a red card for Carlos Gruezo, all of which resulted in a shocking 4-0 loss to Vancouver.

6. Atlanta United (-1): There was a bit of bad luck at play in Atlanta’s 1-1 draw with Orlando in their final game at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The frame of the goal kept out several excellent efforts.

7. New York Red Bulls (+2): Since losing to NYCFC on June 24, the Red Bulls are enjoying a four-game unbeaten run. Their most recent victory came in 4-0 demolition of Montreal.

8. Houston Dynamo (no change): Juan Cabezas’ first goal in Dynamo orange helped salvage a 2-2 draw against the Portland Timber, and kept Houston’s unbeaten home record intact.

9. Seattle Sounders (+2): Seattle extended its unbeaten run to six games, putting on a strong defensive performance in a scoreless draw against LA.

10. Columbus Crew SC (-1): After Wednesday’s 3-0 debacle of a loss in Philadelphia, Crew SC did a credible job in a 2-2 draw across the country in Utah.

11. Vancouver Whitecaps (+4): Not many would have picked the ‘Caps to go on the road and beat down Dallas 4-0, but a bit of a luck and a red card for the host set things up nicely for Vancouver.

12. San Jose Earthquakes (-2): Nick Lima’s sweet half-volley was all the Quakes needed to take down the Rapids 1-0 at Avaya Stadium.

Juan Cabezas netted late for the Houston Dynamo to steal a point against the Portland Timbers.

13. Portland Timbers (+1): The good news is that VAR would have fixed the missed call that held the Timbers to a 2-2 draw in Houston. The bad news it that VAR won’t be operational until next week.

14. LA Galaxy (-2): Sigi Schmid’s Galaxy debut and showdown with his old club came and went with a whimper, as neither LA nor Seattle found the net in a goalless draw.

15. Orlando City SC (-2): Kaka has still got it. The Brazilian showed his quality with a wonderful goal in Orlando’s 1-1 draw against Atlanta. Now to sort out the Dwyer / Cyle Larin partnership.

16. Real Salt Lake (+1): Mike Petke’s suspension meant there was no rant this week. RSL’s bad luck with the post kept things to a 2-2 draw with Columbus.

17. New England Revolution (+1): That’s two wins in a row (with seven goals in total) following a 3-0 win over Philadelphia. If this is indeed a resurgence for the Revs, the real test comes next weekend in Chicago.

From Kaka’s stunner to Giovinco’s magical brace, relive all the goals from an exciting 21st round of MLS action.

18. Philadelphia Union (-2): Flip sides of the coin for the Union between two games this week. Good: 3-0 win over Columbus at home. Bad: A dispiriting 3-0 loss in New England.

19. Minnesota United (+2): Nothing like facing the sad sack Black & Red to bring some joy to a difficult expansion season. The Loons set a new mark for largest margin of victory with a 4-0 win over D.C.

20. Colorado Rapids (-1): In the end, it wasn’t the lack of Tim Howard in net that hurt the Rapids in their 1-0 loss at San Jose; Colorado just can’t generate chances.

21. Montreal Impact (-1): It’s the Daniel Royer Show in Jersey these days. The Austrian scored twice in the Red Bulls’ 4-0 romp over the Impact.

22. D.C. United (no change): There’s not much to say about the lost season for United. Attention is already on 2018, a new stadium, and — perhaps — new owners.

Jason Davis covers Major League Soccer and the United States national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @davisjsn.



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Jurgen Klopp insists Barcelona target Philippe Coutinho is not for sale


Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has reiterated his stance Barcelona target Philippe Coutinho is not for sale.

Earlier this month the club rejected a £72million bid for the Brazil international but that does not appear to have deterred the LaLiga club, with speculation growing they will return with an improved offer.

With reports suggesting it is increasingly likely Coutinho’s compatriot Neymar is set to join Paris St Germain, Barcelona will have a hole to fill, and having identified the Reds playmaker as the ideal replacement another bid cannot be ruled out.

Klopp’s position remains unchanged, however, and he made his views clear at a press conference ahead of Tuesday’s Audi Cup match against Bayern Munich in Germany.

“If you say he is not available to be sold, where is the interpretation?” said Klopp.

“The word ‘not’ means there is no interpretation. There is nothing new.”

While Coutinho is set to feature against the Bundesliga champions, defender Joe Gomez and striker Divock Origi have been ruled out of both matches at the Audi Cup.

Origi was withdrawn from the starting line-up for Saturday’s friendly against Hertha Berlin after reporting a tight hamstring while Gomez, who played in the 3-0 win, has a minor knee problem.

“Divock won’t be available for the two Audi Cup games. He has picked up a very slight muscle injury,” Klopp told liverpoolfc.com.

“We are being cautious with this but it makes sense. He will be monitored over the next few days but we are not overly concerned.”

On Gomez, Klopp added: “He will be missing from the next few games.

“It is nothing too serious, a little issue with his knee picked up in the game but we will take no risk with him.”

Klopp also does not want to risk striker Danny Ings, who is still working his way back to full fitness after a knee operation in October.

Right-back Nathaniel Clyne and third-choice goalkeeper Danny Ward are both sidelined with back injuries but keeper Loris Karius, centre-back Dejan Lovren and Klopp’s stand-in left-back last season James Milner are all available after minor niggles.

Source: PA




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MLS’ focus on Development Academy has league’s next stars shining brightly


Orlando City star Kaka explains what being an MLS All-Star means to him, especially for a match against Real Madrid.

It has been 10 years since the introduction of the U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy program. Replacing the previous Super Y-League model, the Developmental Academy’s shift of focus to heightened training and more competitive games has been vital. It was supposed to persuade the best young American and Canadian talent to remain at domestic academies rather than leave for clubs abroad.

While it’s nearly impossible to assume that all bright talents will avoid the lures of Europe and beyond, the DA program has been crucial for the growth of the sport in the United States and Canada. Some players, like Christian Pulisic, Ethan Horvath and Emerson Hyndman, have used their time in the DA program to parlay better youth games into moves to bigger leagues.

However, there are a large number of success stories among players who have entered MLS. The league is able to sign players from its academies thanks to the Homegrown Rule (founded soon after in 2008). From Juan Agudelo to Gyasi Zardes, these homegrown players have made their mark on the league, helping MLS begin to shed the “retirement league” moniker and rebrand it as a league of choice for young American talent.

The rest of the world has taken notice of these homegrowns as well. Andy Najar left D.C. United for Anderlecht in 2013, and the Honduran has become a key part of the Belgian giants’ roster. Seattle Sounders product DeAndre Yedlin used a strong showing in the 2014 World Cup to secure a transfer to Tottenham. Now he’s a likely starter in the Premier League, after a winding road led him to recently promoted Newcastle United before last season.

A third homegrown has recently found himself in the spotlight again. Matt Miazga still holds the record for highest transfer fee paid for an MLS homegrown player, as Chelsea paid $5 million for him in 2016. He scored the third goal in the U.S.’ 3-0 win over Nicaragua in this month’s Gold Cup, and it’s been confirmed that he’ll return to Vitesse for a second season-long loan, where he’ll be a regular starter for the Dutch side.

Tyler Adams
After Matt Miazga’s departure for Chelsea in 2016, Tyler Adams is the latest New York Red Bulls academy product to make waves.

“It made my decision even easier,” current Red Bulls starlet Tyler Adams said to ESPN FC, regarding the effect Miazga’s rise has had on his decision to sign a homegrown deal. “There’s always the option that, if you do well in the system you’re at, there could be a bigger move later on in your career. Matt has been a major influence on me. We were in the national team at the same time, so I always looked up to him.

“Seeing that he’s doing bigger and better things at Chelsea, with the national team, making big moves. It’s worked out for everybody.”

Miazga may be the poster child for the program at this stage, but there are plenty of homegrown players who are making names for themselves in MLS. The latest Gold Cup roster included seven homegrowns. Kellyn Acosta was a regular starter, Zardes played a role coming off the bench and Jordan Morris scored the goal that handed the U.S. the cup in the 88th minute of the final.

Of course, not all homegrowns immediately step up for the senior clubs. The road from DA to MLS is imperfect. The partnership with USL has started to bridge the gap, giving these young players a chance at playing regularly in the second division. Still, not all affiliates are under direct control of MLS clubs; if an independent partner is focused on winning a USL Cup, they may prioritize the experience of their veterans over the potential of teenage prodigies.

An intriguing part of All-Star Week, this year’s Homegrown Game sees MLS’ next best things take on Chivas’ U20s on Tuesday night. Adams will take part in the game for the Homegrowns, as will FC Dallas’ Jesse Gonzalez. The goalkeeper is the oldest member of the Homegrown roster at the ripe old age of 22, and will be playing in his third Homegrown Game. The ability to play regularly (and at an early age) played a huge role in his decision to come to MLS — and eventually to represent the U.S internationally.

Jesse Gonzalez will feature for the MLS Homegrown team at All-Star Week after returning from the Gold Cup with the U.S.

“I spoke to both coaches (Bruce Arena and Juan Carlos Osorio) before I made my decision,” Gonzalez said, having recently made his permanent commitment to the U.S. “Both said to be patient. I was able to spend more time and get more comfortable with [Arena] during the Gold Cup and he was a major influence on my decision to play for the U.S. Playing in MLS will help me be seen more often by Arena, I’m sure.”

After serving as the third goalkeeper at the Gold Cup, Gonzalez is beginning to make an impression on Arena. Adams, meanwhile, is very much a hot prospect in his own right. At 18, the midfielder from Wappingers Falls, New York, made his MLS debut last season. His precocious play helped the Red Bulls make the decision to trade Dax McCarty this offseason, and Adams has not disappointed. He has started 11 games this season, as well as five matches for the U.S. side that made the quarterfinals of the U20 World Cup this spring.

“Being with the Red Bulls was always my first choice,” Adams affirmed, when asked if committing to college or European academies factored into his decision. “Once I started with the academy and came back from the U17 program, I knew right away that it was the right fit for me. [New York coach] Jesse [Marsch] and the staff he brought with him convinced me that they were going to turn this organization around and focus on youth.”

Adams does admit that seeing players like Miazga and Pulisic playing regularly in Europe is a motivating factor. After earning a regular starting spot in the early stages of his career, he believes that staying with Red Bulls is the best route for his development.

“The most important thing is continuing to get minutes,” Adams asserted. “I’m continuing to develop, and then doors might open up in the future for myself. Another goal of mine is to break into the national team, and I know I can only do that if I’m playing regularly. The situation I’m in now is great, and I’m looking forward to getting more minutes with the Red Bulls.”

Adams has all the makings of a success story. Still, there’s room for growth in the U.S./Canadian development structure. While every club would love to develop their own Pulisic, a significant chunk of these generational talents will continue to sign with clubs overseas.

But that may be looking too far down the road. MLS was at a true crossroads in 2007, with contraction and dwindling attendance putting the league in its darkest days. Two rules from that year saved it from implosion. The designated player rule gave the league credibility from day one. However, the Homegrown rule might be the catalyst that will allow MLS to become a league of choice. By giving elite young talent a chance to start sooner, the league has gotten deeper and, in turn, far more fun to watch.

Jeff Rueter is a St. Paul-based writer for ESPN FC and also contributes to The Guardian, FourFourTwo, Howler and MLSsoccer.com. Twitter: @jeffrueter.



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Hillsborough Justice Campaign praises open discussions over safe standing


The Hillsborough Justice Campaign, which represents some of the families of victims of the disaster, has welcomed the way the debate over safe standing has been handled by a Liverpool fans group.

Spirit of Shankly, the club’s biggest independent supporters’ group, held meetings with the families and also fans before canvassing supporters on the issue of rail seating being introduced with 86 per cent of nearly 18,000 respondents voting in favour.

“Spirit of Shankly should be applauded for the manner in which they conducted the debate and voting regarding rail seating,” said a HJC statement on its Facebook page.

“They approached Hillsborough groups, invited people to voice their opinions at meetings and, now have the results of the vote – overwhelmingly in favour of safe standing.”

HJC, however, has has historically placed itself outside the debate over safe standing.

In a statement issued earlier this month the group said it “does not hold a position on safe standing as it feels that it is not within the remit of the campaign to dictate or influence football supporters as to their preference”.

“Our remit has always been to campaign for truth and justice for the 96 and to support survivors.

“Nevertheless, this issue has been discussed over many years at meetings and, within the group there have always been opinions both for and against.

“It is also fair to say that over time some members have changed their views in favour of safe standing.

“We appreciate that our opinion is sought but all we would add to our consistent statement is that we welcome open, fair and frank discussion on the subject and would expect safety to be at the heart of any discussions.”

Source: PA




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Gladbach to get season’s blessing with Pope Francis



Borussia Mönchendgladbach will get a chance to ask for divine intervention ahead of the new campaign when they meet Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday.

Check out Gladbach’s summer signings in the Bundesliga Transfer Centre!

Gladbach have been hard at work in pre-season but Dieter Hecking and his team will get a heavenly break from it all when they fly to Rome on Tuesday.

The Foals have been granted an audience with the 80-year-old head of the Catholic Church, who is himself a supporter of San Lorenzo in his native Argentina.  

The meeting was made possible by Gladbach vice-president Rainer Bonhof, who has good contacts at the Vatican and presented Pope Francis with a club jersey when they met in October 2015.

An official Gladbach team made up of veteran former players has taken on a Vatican representative side on three occasions and are set to do so again in October.

“In the last few years a very good relationship has been developed with the Vatican representative team,” said Bonhof, who also met Pope Benedict XVI in 2011.

After Germany’s senior squad got the chance to meet Pope Francis last November, Gladbach’s first-team players will get to greet the pontiff in private on Wednesday morning.

The trip comes as a blessing amidst a tough pre-season schedule, which culminates with a game at Leicester City on Friday.

Watch: Gladbach’s Media Day

Click here for more Gladbach news and features



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Baroka confirm Zim star Munetsi departure – ABSA Premiership 2017/18


Marshall Munetsi of Baroka FC tackled by Thembela Sikhakhane of Orlando Pirates during the Absa Premiership match between Baroka FC and Orlando Pirates at the Loftus Stadium in Pretoria on the 30 November 2016©Samuel Shivambu/Backpagepix

by
Austin Ditlhobolo

Monday Jul 31, 2017. 18:00


South African giants Orlando Pirates have decided to recall Zimbabwe international Marshall Munetsi from his loan spell.

The 21-year-old central midfielder spent last season out on loan at Absa Premiership side Baroka FC.

Munetsi enjoyed regular game time at the Limpopo-based outfit – making 26 league appearances for the club – scoring twice in the process.

Pirates, who are based in Johannesburg, have since decided to recall the promising midfielder following his successful loan stint.

Morgan Mammila, the Baroka chief executive officer, confirmed the news on Sunday.

“Yes, it’s true, Munetsi went back to Pirates,” Mammila tells KickOff.com.

Munetsi is set to compete with the likes of Issa Sarr, Thamsanqa Sangweni and Oupa Manyisa in central midfield at Bucs.

Pirates will be hoping to clinch the 2017/18 Absa Premiership title after finishing the 2016/17 season trophless.



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Who gets to keep the UEFA Champions League trophy? – UEFA Champions League – News


Real Madrid can become the first team since 1976 to win a third European Cup in a row next season – in the past, that would have meant keeping the original trophy permanently. Now now.

A rule introduced in 1968/69 stipulated that the cup became the property of any club who won the competition five times or three years in a row (after which they began a new cycle at zero). However, the regulation (article 11.1) was changed ahead of 2008/09 and now reads …


Highlights of Real Madrid’s 2016 triumph

“The original trophy, which is used for the official presentation ceremony at the final and at other official events approved by UEFA, remains in UEFA’s keeping and ownership at all times. A full-size replica trophy, the UEFA Champions League winners’ trophy, is awarded to the winning club.”

Under the old system, five clubs were presented with the main trophy used at the time and therefore have original European Cups in their possession.

Real Madrid – awarded the original trophy (old design) in 1967
Ajax (third title in a row, 1973)
Bayern München (third title in a row, 1976)
AC Milan (fifth title, 1994)
Liverpool (fifth title, 2005)

Bayern München's badge of honour


Bayern München’s badge of honour©Getty Images

Barcelona’s fifth title (2015) and Real Madrid’s fifth title since 1967 (2016) occurred after the regulation change. Clubs who win a fifth title or three in a row for the first time now receive a badge of honour to be worn on their sleeve containing their number  of victories – Barcelona in 2015 joining Real Madrid, AC Milan, Bayern, Liverpool and Ajax as recipients.

Most European Cup/UEFA Champions League wins
Real Madrid 12
AC Milan 7
Barcelona, Bayern München, Liverpool 5

Most consecutive European Cup/UEFA Champions League wins
Real Madrid 5 (1956–1960)
Ajax 3 (1971–1973)
Bayern München 3 (1974–1976)

 

 



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5 things you might not know about Nemanja Matic


Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic has joined Manchester United in deal believed to be in the region of £40million.

The 28-year-old becomes the third new arrival this summer after defender Victor Lindelof and striker Romelu Lukaku signed from Benfica and Everton respectively, earlier in the transfer window.

Here, we look at five things you may not have known about the Serbian international .

FAMILY AFFAIR

Matic was coached by his father at his first youth-team club, Vrelo, before joining several other youth teams including Obrenovac 1905, Red Star Belgrade and Partizan. However, he is not the only Matic to make it in the professional ranks. His younger brother, Uros, is a central midfielder who plays for Danish side Copenhagen. The 27-year-old started his career at Slovakian side Kosice, where Nemanja was a first-team regular, and would join his older brother at Benfica in 2013. A year later, Uros signed for Dutch side NAC Breda before joining Austrian side Sturm Graz and then Copenhagen in January 2017. He made 39 appearances in all competitions last season and also featured in the Europa League.

HIS FOOTBALL CAREER COULD HAVE TAKEN A DIFFERENT PATH

Prior to joining Chelsea for his first spell in 2009, Matic had a trial with then-Premier League side Middlesbrough and was set to join the club after an international break with Serbia. However, talks broke down between the north-east side and Kosice before the Blues stepped in to snap up the midfielder for £1.5million. Where would his career be now if he joined Boro?

HE USED TO BE AN ATTACKING MIDFIELDER

The 28-year-old was originally signed as a playmaker by Carlo Ancelotti in 2009 but struggled to break into the first team with the likes of Germany international Michael Ballack and stalwart Michael Essien ahead of him in the midfield pecking order. However, the transfer to Benfica in 2011 saw manager Jorge Jesus change his role into a defensive midfielder, where he has become one of the most consistent players in the position ever since. Matic has shown he can still contribute in the final third of the pitch too, with long-range efforts against Everton and Tottenham in recent seasons reminding fans that he is not a one-trick pony.

REFUSED TO PLAY FOR SERBIA

Whilst at Benfica, Matic refused to play for his country under the management of Sinisa Mihajlovic, citing the fact that he did play a single minute during his five previous call-ups before returning to the squad for a World Cup qualifier against Croatia in September 2013, where he was sent off. He also threatened to quit international football in November 2015 after criticising his Serbia team-mates as they crashed to a 4-1 defeat to Czech Republic with qualification to Euro 2016 already out of the question with a fourth-placed finish in their group.

MOURINHO RATES HIM

The Portuguese manager was the man who brought Matic back to Stamford Bridge from Benfica for a fee around £20million to reinforce Chelsea’s central midfield. Mourinho spoke glowingly of the Serbian on his second unveiling, he said: “He has grown as a player in Portugal and has become a fantastic all-round midfielder. I like him a lot because of his stability. He is a very stable player for someone who is still so young, only 25.” When Mourinho took over at Manchester United last summer, the 54-year-old was linked with the central midfielder but the move was blocked by Chelsea boss Antonio Conte. He has now fulfilled his wish at the second time of asking.

Source: PA




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Bayern Munich name Hasan Salihamidzic as new sporting director



Reigning Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich have announced Hasan Salihamidzic as the club’s new sporting director.

The 40-year-old former winger, a hugely popular figure at the club following nine-trophy laden years there between 1998 and 2007, has agreed a three-year contract and was officially unveiled on Monday.

The position has been vacant since spring 2016, when former incumbent Matthias Sammer asked to be released from the position.

“When I was asked if I wanted to I knew immediately that I would,” said Salihamidzic. “When I was here as a player I always gave 100 per cent in every training session and every game, and I’ll do the same now as sporting director. I’ll be available for the players 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I’m really looking forward to the task.”

Watch: Salihamidzic relishing the challenge at Bayern

“Hasan knows Bayern well, he was here as a player for several years,” said Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. “He’s a person I wouldn’t have liked to play against because he always worked hard and gave his all.  He’s a very loyal and he speaks five languages, so he can speak to all of our players. He’ll be responsible for football and he’ll be the link between the coach and the team and the coach and the club.”

Salihamidzic, who represented Bosnia and Herzegovina at international level, enjoyed nine trophy-laden years at Bayern, winning six Bundesliga titles, four DFB Cups and the UEFA Champions League in 2001. He joined the record German champions from Hamburg in 1998 and went on to make 230 Bundesliga appearances for Bayern between 1998 and 2007.

He had subsequent spells at Juventus and Wolfsburg before retiring as a professional in 2012. He has since worked as an ambassador for Bayern and travelled with the club on their recent trip to Asia as part of the Bundesliga World Tour 2017.

Watch: Relive Salihamidzic scoring past Manuel Neuer back in the 2006/07 season

Click here for more Bayern news!



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Nemanja Matic joins Manchester United from Chelsea


Manchester United have announced the signing of midfielder Nemanja Matic from Chelsea.

The 28-year-old Serbia international has agreed a three-year contract at Old Trafford and moves for a reported fee of around £35million + £5million in add-ons.

The move reunites Matic with his former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, under whom he won a Premier League title in 2015.

Matic told the club’s website, www.manutd.com: “I am delighted to have joined Manchester United. To work with Jose Mourinho once again was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.

“I have enjoyed my time at Chelsea and would like to thank the club and the fans for their support. I cannot wait to meet my new team-mates and to start training with them.

“This is a very exciting time for the club and I am looking forward to playing my part in creating more history for this great club.”

United had been linked with Matic throughout the summer but Mourinho indicated at the weekend a deal was close as he spoke of the player’s desire to move.

Following completion of the move, Mourinho said: “Nemanja is a Manchester United player and a Jose Mourinho player. He represents everything we want in a footballer – loyalty, consistency, ambition, team player.

“I would like to thank him for his desire to join us because without that, it would be impossible to have him here. I am sure our players and supporters will love him. A big welcome to our new number 31.”

The move ends Matic’s second spell at Chelsea. He first joined the Blues in 2009 but left the following year. After making his name at Benfica, he was brought back to Stamford Bridge by Mourinho in a £21million deal in 2014.

As well as winning the title with Mourinho two years ago, he also won another Premier League crown last season.

His departure this summer was made possible by the London club’s signing of Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco.

He becomes United’s third major signing of the summer after Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelof.

Source: PA




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Kaizer Motaung and Irvin Khoza send condolences after FNB stampede – ABSA Premiership 2016/17


Chairman of Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates

by
Phumzile Ngcatshe

Monday Jul 31, 2017. 17:00


Although the FNB Stadium stampede investigation is underway, Kaizer Chiefs chairman Kaizer Motaung says they are very saddened by the incident.

Two people lost their lives at the FNB Stadium during a Soweto derby match between Amakhosi and Orlando Pirates.

Media reports reveal that the stampede outside the venue was allegedly caused by fans with fake tickets and those without any tickets who tried to force their way into the venue.

Although the Carling Black Label Champion Cup match was not stopped, the venue has now been declared a crime scene.

Following the Saturday incident, Motaung and Buccaneers’ boss, Irvin Khoza held a joint media briefing on Monday.

Khoza revealed that of the two people who passed away, only one has been identified by their family members.

“I would like to say we are very much touched about what happened on Saturday because this happened before,” said Motaung.

“We are contemplating to organize a memorial service when we get all the identities of the passed on individuals.

“There will be an independent inquiry then we will address the media in due course once more info is gathered.”

Meanwhile, Khoza added that they are asking for patience to probe all the events as he sent condolences on behalf of the two Soweto giants.

“We are asking now for patience to investigate all the facts to see what preventative steps could have been taken,” adds Khoza.

“The only person on the pitch is the ref who can stop the game. The game was not stopped because we had to abide by safety and security regulations.

“No stone will go unturned in the investigation to find out the causes of these tragic events.

“Nothing we say will bring back the lives of who passed away. The very least we can do is to see what went wrong.”



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Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo after court appearance – I have never hidden anything


Gab Marcotti explains Cristiano Ronaldo’s tax-fraud case, and Herculez Gomez and Max Bretos discuss the impact at Real.
Zinedine Zidane says Cristiano Ronaldo is enjoying some time off and will be back for the start of the season.

MADRID — Cristiano Ronaldo said he “has never hidden anything” and told his advisers to always make sure he paid what he owed correctly and in time, in a statement released after the Real Madrid star spent 90 minutes answering to charges of a €14.7 million tax fraud in a Madrid court on Monday morning.

Prosecutors at Spain’s Hacienda tax agency have put together a case arguing that the Real Madrid forward, his advisers and agents at Gestifute routed image rights income through a network of companies to avoid paying the relevant taxes from 2011 to 2014.

Ronaldo, who has previously denied all the charges through his agents, arrived at the buildings of the Court of First Instance and Instruction No. 1 in Pozuelo de Alarcon, Madrid, around 11 a.m. local time and spent an hour-and-a-half in front of Judge Monica Gomez Ferrer.

No members of the media were permitted inside the court, and a plan for the Portugal captain to read a prepared statement afterward was shelved, with a Gestifute statement instead released almost two hours later.

Ronaldo said in the statement: “The Spanish tax service [Hacienda] knows the detail of all my income because we have given it to them. I have never hidden anything, nor did have I ever had the intention of evading taxes.

“I always do my tax declaration in a voluntary manner, as I think that we must all declare and pay taxes according to our income. Those who know me know that this is what I ask from my advisors — that they keep everything up to date, and correctly paid, as I do not want any problems.”

The Gestifute statement went on to say that the accusation by Hacienda prosecutors that a special company was created when Ronaldo joined Real Madrid from Manchester United in 2009 to keep his image rights income away from the Spanish tax authorities was untrue.

“When I signed for Real Madrid, I did not create a special structure to manage my image rights, I just kept the wy they were managed when I was in England,” he said. “The lawyers who were recommended to me by Manchester United created it in 2004, long before I thought of coming to live in Spain. The structure was normal in England, accepted by the English tax authority who ratified it as legal.”

Hacienda investigators have also looked at the sale of Ronaldo’s image rights to Valencia owner Peter Lim in 2015. The statement denied there were any tax problems around this business decision.

“Since 2015 Cristiano Ronaldo has ceded his image rights to a third party, paying independently the taxes due,” it said. “He currently pays his taxes in Spain, and is one of the biggest individual contributors in the whole country.”

Cristiano Ronaldo arrives at court in Madrid on Monday morning.

A court source told ESPN FC that Ronaldo had been “relaxed” as he entered the courtroom, but reports immediately afterward said his mood had changed during the 90-minute intervention.

Multiple reports in the Madrid media said Ronaldo had told the judge, “I am only here because I am called Cristiano Ronaldo.”

The Gestifute statement did not mention the reported exchange and added that Ronaldo would now be making no further public comment on the issue until the judge reaches her decision.

“Now is the moment to let justice do its work,” he said. “I believe in justice and I hope that, also in this case, there is a just decision. And with the goal of avoiding any unnecessary pressures or contributing to any kind of ‘parallel justice,’ I have decided that I will not make any more comments about this issue until the decision is made.”

Based on the evidence heard on Monday, Gomez Ferrer will then decide whether to take the case forward and set a trial date. If found guilty, Ronaldo could be ordered to pay back taxes and a fine — which could be as high as €50 million — and experts have said he risks a custodial sentence if he fails to comply.

Gestifute owner Jorge Mendes gave evidence in front of Gomez Ferrer in late June relating to a case involving former Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao, at which Mendes denied he or any of his staff have any role in tax affairs. 

The image rights income of other Mendes clients — including Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and former Madrid players Fabio Coentrao, Pepe, Angel Di Maria and Ricardo Carvalho — have also been investigated by the Spanish authorities.

Ronaldo, on an extended break following the Confederations Cup earlier in the summer, did not appear for Madrid during their International Champions Cup games in the United States this summer.

Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane says Ronaldo is expected to join up with the squad on their return to Europe on Saturday. He is then unlikely to feature in the European Super Cup against Manchester United in Skopje on Aug. 8, or the Spanish Supercopa games against Barcelona on Aug. 13 and 16.

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan



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Nigeria’s Aluko could get new Fulham deal – 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa


by
Austin Ditlhobolo

Monday Jul 31, 2017. 16:00


English Championship side Fulham are eager to retain the service services of Nigeria international Sone Aluko ahead of the new campaign.

The Cottagers have confirmed that they have already rejected multiple bids for the striker from an unnamed club.

Fulham head coach Slavisa Jokanovic wants the 28-year-old marksman to stay with the club as they prepare for the 2017/18 season.

“All I can do is fight,” Jokanovic told BBC Radio London.

”Around me there is news we’re thinking about selling him.

“If we do this then it will be a big mistake for my team,” he added.

The club told the same radio station that: “Ultimately, it looks likely there could be a contract extension.

“The club have had multiple bids for him and have rejected them.”

Aluko, who netted only nine goals in 50 appearances for the Cottagers last season, is an important player for Jokanovic’s side.



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With MLS maturing, it’s time to return the All-Star Game to East vs. West


From Kaka’s stunner to Giovinco’s magical brace, relive all the goals from an exciting 21st round of MLS action.

On Wednesday, Major League Soccer’s best will line up against Real Madrid at Chicago’s Soldier Field. It promises to be a star-studded affair with David Villa, Giovani Dos Santos, Kaka and others taking on Gareth Bale, Marcelo, Luka Modric, and the rest of Zinedine Zidane’s European champions.

The match will be an exhibition, of course, but also a nice showcase for the league, a 90-minute stretch that could draw headlines around the globe. Playing a club with the international pedigree of Real Madrid, after all, will never be a bad thing.

Wednesday’s game marks the 13th straight year in which the All-Star Game consisted of a group from MLS taking on an international club. It began with a 4-1 win over Fulham in 2005 and has featured Chelsea and Manchester United twice, along with Roma, Bayern Munich, Arsenal and a few other notable clubs. (The All-Stars vs. Guest format also occurred in 2002 and 2003, when the league’s stars played the U.S. national team and Chivas de Guadalajara, respectively, before reverting to East vs. West for a year in 2004.)

Overall, the MLS vs. a popular European team has been a successful experiment. But after nearly a decade and a half, with the domestic league maturing, the time for the format to end is drawing near. In the near future, the MLS All-Star Game should feature only players from the league.

There were three major reasons for switching to the MLS vs. World format. One was to increase the level of competition. While All-Star Games in all sports leagues are inherently free-flowing exhibitions geared toward offense, the MLS All-Star Games at the turn of the millennium were spinning out of control. In 1999, the West won 6-4 followed by a 9-4 East win in 2000 and a 6-6 draw in 2001, highlighted by four goals from Landon Donovan.

Goals are fun; three straight games ticking into double digits, however, makes a mockery of the sport. That’s somewhere between 300 and 400 percent more goals than teams scored per game during the regular season. Even the NBA All-Star Game, which critics deride for its lack of defense, sees only a 50-100 percent increase in scoring compared to regular-season action.

2004 MLS All-Star Game
The last time the MLS All-Star Game featured an East vs. West format was in 2004.

The second reason was to help MLS gain visibility around the world. An All-Star Game featuring a team such as Chelsea, Bayern Munich or Real Madrid will naturally draw more attention abroad than one in which players from the league face off against one another. It presented a way to show European audiences a stadium full of passionate fans to prove that Americans were interested in soccer.

Finally, in the early days of the league, MLS lacked the depth to field two full All-Star teams. With at least 18 players per side, that’s three dozen guys earning a nod. In 2004, the last year of the East vs. West format, MLS had 10 teams, which means almost a third of each squad’s starting lineup made the All-Star team. That’s… a lot.

But MLS in 2017 is not the same as MLS in 2004 or even MLS in 2010. None of the reasons for continuing to bring in European teams are as compelling as they were five, 10 or 15 years ago.

From a competitive standpoint, playing a European giant is always going to be a tricky proposition. It’s a no-win situation for the domestic league’s team. If the MLS players prevail, as they have done in more than half the games in the past, it gets written off as an empty victory against a team on a preseason U.S. vacation. If they lose, the narrative is that MLS’ strongest players aren’t good enough to compete. If the MLS squad tries too hard, as it did during the 2014 match with Bayern Munich, the opposing coach and players get angry, and “Handshake-gate” ensues. No one needs that to happen again.

Two teams made up of MLS players would compete against each other, bringing an appropriate level of effort to the field, focusing on having a good time and bringing the viewing audience in as well. And if the occasional game ends 6-6 or 9-4, so what? As long as the goals are good, people won’t complain.

2016 MLS All-Star Game
With MLS’ growth continuing, does it need to place European competition in its All-Star Game anymore?

Furthermore, MLS has enough talent to make two strong rosters. The 24 All-Stars this season represent only 12 teams, which means nearly half the league doesn’t have anyone to root for. That’s disappointing, and it’s also the type of small thing that stymies growth. Fans might not watch one of MLS’ signature events because they don’t feel invested in the players. An easy fix for that problem is to have more All-Stars. Expanding to two teams of 18, or even 20, players would give more spots and get more fan bases involved.

Of the three reasons for playing a European squad, the visibility it would bring across the pond remains the most useful. The All-Star Game can be a good showcase for how the league is growing — a sold-out Solider Field will make a strong impression — and clubs like Real Madrid and Bayern Munich want to partake in the game as they try to build their brands in America.

But MLS could have it both ways. They could hold a double-header, for example, with an all-MLS All-Star Game and a friendly between two European teams on the same night. Or they could hold the games on consecutive nights, with soccer taking over the host city for a weekend.

If the logistics are too complicated or if there’s a concern that the All-Star Game would be overshadowed by the friendly, what about bringing in a European squad to participate in a skills competition? Imagine Gareth Bale racing Kekuta Manneh, Keylor Navas and Tim Howard facing off in a shot-stopping competition, Sebastian Giovinco and Karim Benzema battling in some sort of finishing challenge. I’d tune in for that, and I imagine I’m not the only one.

MLS, now in its 22nd year, is growing up. It’s time its All-Star Game does as well.

Noah Davis is a Brooklyn-based correspondent for ESPN FC and deputy editor at American Soccer Now. Twitter: @Noahedavis.



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