Chinese owner of Czech football club Slavia Prague confirms purchase of stadium completed

Eden Arena football stadium in Prague

Prague:

Mainland conglomerate CEFC China Energy, which owns one of Czech Republic’s top football clubs Slavia Prague, has confirmed that the purchase of the club’s stadium is completed.

CEFC China Energy, ranked as one of the mainland’s ten largest private companies by China Daily in 2014, will make Eden Arena in Prague the home ground of the football club.

CAS alllowes Real Madrid youth players to play despite transfer ban

Lausanne – The Spanish club Real Madrid CF has informed the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) that it will file an appeal within the next days against the decision rendered by the FIFA Appeals Committee on 8 September 2016, confirming the decision previously taken by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee on 23 July 2015, following an alleged breach of the FIFA Rules concerning the transfer of minor players.

 

Pursuant to such FIFA decision, Real Madrid is prevented from registering any players at national and international level for the next two complete and consecutive registration periods. Prior to the filing of the appeal, Real Madrid CF has requested urgent interim measures from CAS in order to stay the execution of Point 6 of the FIFA decision. Such request was granted by CAS earlier today. Accordingly, only Point 6 of the decision is suspended, pending the outcome of the appeal due to be filed with the CAS in the coming days. The other elements of the FIFA decision remain in force for the time being.

 

Point 6 of the FIFA decision reads as follows.

 

Real Madrid CF is granted with a term of 90 days to regularize the situation of the minors within the club. In particular the club shall present, without further delay, the relevant requests to the Subcommittee appointed by the Player’s Status Committee and comply with all the relevant rules and regulations with respect to the specific cases. Should the club obtain the approval of the subcommittee for registration/transfer of a player, the club shall be exempt of the prohibition imposed by the present decision for the registration/transfer of the authorized minor

India’s red light youngsters’ journey from Kolkata to Denmark

Kolkata, India: July 25th 2016- In a break from training for one of the world’s largest football tournaments, Yakub Ali swells with pride at the idea of putting a smile on the face of his mother back in Asia’s biggest red light district.

“We’ve grown used to people sneering about where we come from and telling us that our mothers are worthless,” says 15-year-old Yakub. “So this will be a gift to all of our mothers who have to put up with discrimination, abuse and injustice every day of their life in Sonagachi.”

Yakub is one of eight sons of sex workers living in Kolkata’s notorious Sonagachi neighbourhood, who is heading to Denmark later this month to take part in the Dana Cup, an international youth tournament.

His Durbar Sports Academy teammates also include youngsters drawn from other slum areas in India’s eastern metropolis.

They will join hundreds of teams taking part in the tournament, which runs from July 26-30.

PHOTO: AFP

The tournament in the northern town of Hjorring will include teams of boys and girls from every corner of the globe, but few will surely match the raw desire to prove their worth than the Durbar line-up.

The academy is overseen by the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC), a charity organisation which works for the welfare of Indian prostitutes and also runs Asia’s first cooperative for sex workers.

Situated around 40 kilometers south of Kolkata, the academy gives underprivileged youngsters an opportunity to let their hair down far away from the narrow alleys and squalid apartments of Sonagachi.

An estimated 8,000 sex workers ply their trade in Sonagachi which is home to several hundred brothels, gaining it the reputation as the largest single red light zone in Asia.

PHOTO: AFP

Smarajit Jena, a public health scientist who founded DMSC, said the boys were routinely treated as pariahs in Sonagachi and often found themselves with no one to turn to when they encounter challenges in their daily life.

“The kind of loneliness that the children of sex workers have to endure is hard to describe. They are treated as untouchables,” Jena told AFP. “Most of them end up dropping out of school because of the stigma, so we need something to focus on and bring them back into the mainstream.”

Yakub, a centre-forward, said he had “cried tears of joy” when the team managed to qualify for Denmark. The cost of the trip is being underwritten by several Indian and international corporations.

“Football has opened doors for boys like us to prove our worth,” the teenager said. “We got a taste for victory when we won our league in Kolkata last year, but now we are only looking forward.”

Yakub says he never goes anywhere without a picture of his hero Lionel Messi in his pocket, but acknowledges that he will have to temper his inclination to go on mazy runs like his Argentine hero.

PHOTO: AFP

“We are training hard and trying to stay focused.. We are being trained to perform like a finely-tuned orchestra rather than as a solo act,” he explains.

While cricket is the number one sport in India, Kolkata is often regarded as the premier football city and it is just as common to see youngsters kicking a ball on the streets as wielding a bat.

The coach of the academy, Biswajit Majumdar, said the boys’ determination to triumph against the odds made them a joy to work with on the training field.

“It’s wonderful that the boys dare to dream,” Majumdar told AFP. “They are often treated badly and have to put up with nasty comments, but they have a never-say-die attitude and hunger for success, which you can’t help but be inspired by.”

Majumdar said that his charges would have to make sacrifices to maintain their focus while in Denmark and ensure that they do themselves proud.

“We have taken away their cell phones to minimise any distractions,” he said.

“My task is to make use of that fire in their belly, so they push themselves even harder in training and so they can achieve their goals.”

AFP

Euro 2016-Griezmann make sure final birth for France

Germany v France - EURO 2016 - Semi Final
Football Soccer – Germany v France – EURO 2016 – Semi Final – Stade Velodrome, Marseille, France – 7/7/16 Germany’s Manuel Neuer attempts to claim the ball leading to France’s Antoine Griezmann scoring their second goal REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach Livepic

Stade Velodrome  Marseille, France 7th July 2016: Two-goal Antoine Griezmann fired France into the Euro 2016 final on Thursday when a smash and grab 2-0 victory over a territorially dominant Germany ended 58 years of tournament suffering at the hands of their neighbours.

Griezmann drove in a penalty at the end of the first half after a needless handball by German captain Bastian Schweinsteiger and poked home in the 72nd minute following a blunder by goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to set up a final against Portugal in Paris on Sunday.

“We are as happy as kids, the whole country is behind us,” Griezmann said.

“This is the result of a group and of a lot of hard work from the staff. Now we’re in the final and we want to lift that trophy. Playing a final is great but it’s winning it that counts.”

World champions Germany dominated the match in terms of possession but their lack of a deadly finisher cost them and razor-sharp Griezmann, whose double took his tournament-leading tally to six, was the difference.

It was the first time France had beaten Germany in a competitive match since the 1958 World Cup, including defeats in the semi-finals of the 1982 and 1986 World Cups and the quarter-finals two years ago.

The hosts will go into the final as strong favourites to emulate the teams of 1984 and 1998, who won the European and world titles on home soil.

Germany will wonder how they failed to score but, after Jerome Boateng’s handball gaveItaly a lifeline in the quarter-finals, their captain’s similarly inexplicable high hand swung the game France’s way when they most needed it.

France, roared on in a fantastic atmosphere, had torn forward in the opening exchanges.

Euro 2016-Ronaldo leads Portugal into Euro final

portugal-celebrate

LYON, France 6th July 2016 – Cristiano Ronaldo upstaged Gareth Bale to propel Portugal into its second European Championship final, scoring a thumping header and then setting up Nani’s goal in a 2-0 win over Wales on Wednesday.

The goals came in the space of three minutes early in the second half in Lyon, helping end Wales’ unlikely run to the semifinals in only its second ever major tournament.

Ronaldo equaled France great Michel Platini’s record of nine goals in European Championship football when he timed a prodigious leap to perfection and planted home a header in the 50th.

The Real Madrid star then sent in a long-range shot that a sliding Nani diverted into the net from 10 meters.

Ronaldo- a serial winner in individual and team prizes in club football – will get another chance to win his first trophy on the international stage against either France or Germany in Sunday’s final at the Stade de France.

“It’s what we have dreamt of since the beginning,” Ronaldo said. “We knew it would be a long road and we’re still in the tournament.”

Portugal last competed in a final at Euro 2004, when the team surprisingly lost on home soil to Greece. A 19-year-old Ronaldo shed tears after that match, but he has managed to lead a much weaker side to another international showpiece.

Ronaldo shared a long conversation with Bale after the final whistle and the Madrid teammates embraced. This could have been the match where Bale emerged from Ronaldo’s shadow, but that will have to wait.

“It’s very disappointing to be so close to the final,” Bale said, “but we have to be proud. This is a proud moment for us, we have achieved a lot.”

Competing in its first tournament since the 1958 World Cup, Wales – a rugby-mad nation of 3 million people – has been one of the most popular stories of Euro 2016, topping its group and then beating highly fancied Belgium in the quarterfinals.

But the Welsh had no response to the successive blows dealt by Ronaldo after a turgid first half that had been illuminated by a couple of surging runs from Bale.

Portugal hadn’t previously won a match in regulation 90 minutes in France, but there would be no late drama here thanks to Ronaldo.

The owner of the best leap in world football, Ronaldo timed his jump perfectly and headed home left back Raphael Guerreiro’s cross off a short-corner routine. Wales defender James Chester was blindsided by Ronaldo, who scored his third goal of the tournament – one less than France forward Antoine Griezmann.

It was telling that when they needed to chase the game, the Welsh could only throw on a striker from the third tier of English football – Simon Church. The absence of attacking midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who was suspended on Wednesday, was keenly felt.

There were a couple of half-chances for Wales late on, but Portugal could have doubled the margin of victory by the end, with Joao Mario hitting the post with one of the chances on the breakaway.

Portugal had lost five of its previous six semifinal matches in major tournaments.

After the final whistle, Wales headed over to applaud their fans, who didn’t stop singing in the corner of the Stade de Lyon.

“We have no regrets,” Bale said. “We’re a proud nation and proud of what we achieved.”

Meanwhile, Portugal – defying pre-tournament expectations – is heading to Saint-Denis as Ronaldo chases that elusive international title.

“We had difficult moments,” Ronaldo said, “but it’s like I always say, it’s better to start poorly and have a positive ending, The dream is still alive.”

Lionel Messi handed jail term in Spain for tax fraud

Argentina and Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi has been sentenced to 21 months in prison for tax fraud.

His father, Jorge Messi, was also given a jail term for defrauding Spain of €4.1m (£3.5m; $4.5m) between 2007 and 2009.

They also face millions of euros in fines for using tax havens in Belize and Uruguay to conceal earnings from image rights.

However, neither man is expected to serve time in jail.

Under the Spanish system, prison terms of under two years can be served under probation.

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The footballer and his father were found guilty of three counts of tax fraud in Wednesday’s ruling by the court in Barcelona.

As well as the jail terms, Messi was fined about €2m and his father €1.5m. They made a voluntary €5m “corrective payment”, equal to the alleged unpaid tax plus interest, in August 2013.

The sentence can be appealed against via the Spanish supreme court.


Lionel Messi’s illustrious career:

Lionel Messi. File photoImage copyrightAFP
  • Winner of Fifa Ballon d’Or as world’s best footballer on five occasions
  • Voted Uefa best player in Europe three times
  • Uefa Champions League winner with FC Barcelona on four occasions
  • Spanish championship winner with FC Barcelona eight times
  • Olympic gold medallist with Argentina in 2008
  • Argentina’s all-time leading scorer with 55 goals

…and major disappointments:

  • June 16 2016: quits Argentine team after missing penalty in shootout in Copa America final loss to Chile
  • it was fourth major final defeat for Argentina in nine years
  • other three losses: Copa America (2015) again to Chile (again on penalties); 2014 World Cup to Germany; Copa America (2007) against Brazil

 


FC Barcelona’s reaction

“FC Barcelona expresses its full support to Leo Messi and his father in relation to the conviction for tax fraud…

“The club… considers that the player, who has corrected his position with the Spanish tax office, is in no way criminally responsible with regards to the facts underlined in this case.”

BBC

Euro 2016: Germany beats Italy for the 1st time in 9 major tournament meetings.

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Bordeaux, France 2nd July 2016: There are slow-burning, tactical battles, and there is Germany versus Italy in the quarterfinals of EURO 2016 on Saturday in Bordeaux, France.

With Germany boss Joachim Loew throwing out a tactical surprise of his own prior to kickoff — the Germans elected to match Antonio Conte’s five-man backline with a five-man defensive unit of their own, complete with lots of high, aggressive pressing — the game played out just as you might have expected: disjointed play featuring lots of fouls and few genuine scoring chances in the opening 60 minutes.

In the end, it took nine rounds of hilariously bad penalty kicks for Germany to come out on top and book their place in the semifinals, where they’ll face the winner of Sunday’s fourth and final quarterfinal, between the tournament hosts, France, and the tournament darlings, Iceland.

Mario Gomez, somewhat surprisingly, proved himself Germany’s best player on the day, with the majority of Germany’s success in the final third coming via the Fiorentina striker. It was the much-maligned Gomez who did yeoman’s work during the build-up to Mesut Ozil’s opening goal in the 65th minute.

After a quick one-two at midfield, Gomez broke down the left flank and held the ball up exceptionally, which allowed everyone else to join in on the attack. Gomez played a simple through ball fro Jonas Hector into the penalty area, and though Hector’s cross was deflected, it fell to Ozil at the top of the six-yard box, and the Arsenal playmaker made no mistake with his first-time finish.

Euro QUarter GER v ITA

Italy equalized 13 minutes later, though, when Jerome Boateng handled the ball inside the penalty area, and did so with his arms and hands raised above his head in an attempt to show the referee he wasn’t committing a foul with his body, only to commit a shocking handball violation. Leonardo Bonucci stepped up and converted the ensuing penalty with ease.

Back on level terms, the remainder of regular time and all of extra time played out predictably once again. The penalty shootout was a comedy of horrifically taken spot-kicks, from Simone Zaza’s twinkle-toes run-up; to Thomas Mueller’s weakly hit, center-third strike; to Ozil’s clanger off the post; to Graziano Pelle‘s slow-roller wide of the post; to Bastian Schweinsteiger‘s space-bound rocket ship. Hector hit the clinching spot kick, following the failure of Matteo Darmiam, to seal Germany’s place in the semis.

 

Wales upset Belgium to reach first ever Euro cup semi-final

Wales v Belgium - EURO 2016 - Quarter Final
Football Soccer – Wales v Belgium – EURO 2016 – Quarter Final – Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille, France – 1/7/16 Wales’ Wayne Hennessey celebrates at the end of the game REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol Livepic

 

Lille, France 1st July 2016: Wales produced a stunning upset to reach the Euro 2016 semi-finals after Hal Robson-Kanu’s superbly fashioned goal and Sam Vokes’s late header secured a 3-1 comeback win over Belgium on Friday to set up a clash with Portugal.

Robson-Kanu left three Belgium players for dead with a ‘Cruyff’ turn and calmly stroked the ball home to put Wales ahead in the second half, while substitute Vokes’s header ensured they reached their first major tournament semi-final.

It was a crushing blow for heavy favourites Belgium, who had taken the lead in the 13th minute when Radja Nainggolan rifled a shot into the top corner from distance only for Wales captain Ashley Williams to level with a header from a corner.

“I said before we kicked the ball today, we’re not here to enjoy it, we are here to compete,” Wales manager Chris Coleman said. “Don’t be afraid to have dreams. Four years ago I was as far away from this as you could imagine. I’ve had more failures than successes but I’m not afraid to fail. We deserve this.”

Wales, playing in their first quarter-final since losing to Brazil in the 1958 World Cup, next have a match that sees the world’s two most expensive players face each other in Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and his Real Madrid team mate Gareth Bale.

Coleman’s side, however, will have to do without their inspirational midfielder Aaron Ramsey, who picked up a booking that has ruled him out of the semi-final in Lyon on Wednesday.

Euro 2016: Portugal beat Poland on penalties to reach semi-final

Poland v Portugal - EURO 2016 - Quarter Final
Football Soccer – Poland v Portugal – EURO 2016 – Quarter Final – Stade Velodrome, Marseille, France – 30/6/16 Portugal’s Renato Sanches scores their first goal REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Stade Velodrome, France 30th June 2016: Portugal reached the semi-finals of Euro 2016 by beating Poland 5-3 on penalties after the two sides drew 1-1 after extra time on Thursday.

Jakub Blaszczykowski failed to convert Poland’s fourth penalty, which was saved by Rui Patricio, as Portugal earned a semi-final against either Wales or Belgium in Lyon on Wednesday.

Poland raced into the lead in the second minute when Kamil Grosicki burst down the left and crossed into the middle where Robert Lewandowski sidefooted the ball into the net for his first goal of the competition.

Renato Sanches, 18, and starting an international for the first time, leveled for Portugal after 33 minutes, collecting Nani’s backheeled pass and firing past Lukasz Fabianski from the edge of the penalty area.

Reuters

Rio Olympics: Neymar and Douglas Costa in Brazil squad

Brazil Football fans

Brasilia, Brazil 30th June 2016: Stand-in coach Rogerio Micale has named the Barcelona superstar and Bayern Munich forward in his squad as Brazil bid to bounce back from humiliation in the Copa America.

Palmeiras captain and goalkeeper Fernando Prass is the third permitted player over the age of 23 after receiving his first international call-up as a 37-year-old.

Brazil will be playing in their first major tournament on home soil since their embarrassing 7-1 semi final defeat to Germany.

The Spanish champions allowed Neymar, 24, to play in the Olympics but not this month’s Copa America, in which Brazil were knocked out at the group stage.

Corinthians coach Tite was named as Dunga’s successor after he was sacked following Brazil’s Copa American exit, but Under-20s coach Micale will be in charge for the Olympics.

The five-time world champions, who face South Africa, Iraq and Denmark in the group stages, have never won the Olympic title and suffered defeat four years ago in London when they lost to Mexico in the final.

“Neymar is different. He is one of the best players in the world. Any national team would want to have a player of his profile,” Micale said.

“He will mean a lot for the team. I hope he will be able to help the younger players.”

Brazil Olympic sqaud

Goalkeepers: Fernando Prass (Palmeiras), Uilson (Atletico Mineiro)

Defenders: Luan (Vasco), Rodrigo Caio (Sao Paulo), Marquinhos (PSG/), Douglas Santos (Atletico Mineiro), William (Internacional), Zeca (Santos)

Midfielders: Rafinha (Barcelona), Rodrigo Dourado (Internacional), Fred (Shakhtar Donetsk), Thiago Maia (Santos), Felipe Anderson (Lazio)

Strikers: Neymar (Barcelona), Douglas Costa (Bayern Munich/GER), Gabriel Barbosa (Santos), Gabriel Jesus (Palmeiras), Luan (Gremio)