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01:07:22

Richarlison moves to Spurs

Tottenham continued their summer spending programme with the £ 60 million acquisition of Brazilian striker Richarlison from Everton. Richarlison made 152 appearances and scored 53 goals for Everton, whom he joined in 2018. He was previously with Watford for one year, who signed him from Fluminense for £ 11.2 million but made a handsome profit when selling him to Everton for £ 35 million. Richardlison has won 36 caps for brazil, scoring 14 goals. He joins Ivan Perišić and Yves Bissouma as Spurs’ major close season captures so far.

England face Israel in under-19 final

The UEFA Under-19 European Championship takes place tonight in Trnava, with England facing Israel for the second time in the eight-team tournament. The two sides were in the same first phase group and England won 1-0. Israel beat France 2-1 in the semi-finals, while England won by the same scoreline against Italy after coming from a goal down. Crowds for the championship, being hosted in Slovakia, have been quite poor, with less than a thousand seeing England beat Italy.


29:06:22

Serie A clubs way behind European rivals

Italian clubs are lagging behind the rest of Europe when it comes to revenues from kit suppliers. Juventus get more than any other Serie A club, some € 51 million per season from Adidas, with AC Milan now receiving € 30 million a season from PUMA. Inter, unsurprisingly, are third in the list, with just € 12.5 million. While there have been some improvements in the revenue derived from kit providers, Europe’s big clubs get multiples of the Serie A income. Real Madrid are paid € 120 million by Adidas each season, while Barcelona get € 105 million from Nike. The top English Premier clubs earn from € 35 million to € 75 million.

Shamrock shame

Ahead of their UEFA Champions League tie with Hibernians of Malta, Shamrock Rovers have warned their fans about causing trouble at home and away games. Shamrock beat Bohemians 1-0 last Friday (June 24) in a game played against a backdrop of an intense but trouble-free atmosphere, but a couple of days later, Shamrock won 2-1 at St. Patrick’s Athletic and a bottle was thrown onto the pitch. With the European game in mind and the heavy penalties UEFA can inflict, the club said: “Unfortunately the club and the vast majority of our supporters, continue to be let down by a small number of individuals who cause trouble, often on our travels. This casts an unnecessary shadow on the reputation of the club and our fanbase. Whether it is pitch encroachment, missiles being thrown onto the pitch, flares and smoke bombs in the stands or flares thrown onto the pitch, the fines associated with this behaviour have already been costly for the club this year with approx € 6,000 in fines.”

United going Dutch

Manchester United’s dogged pursuit of Dutch talent looks set to yield some fruit in the coming days. They have agreed in principle to sign Frenkie de Jong from Barcelona and Feyenoord full-back Tyrell Malacia. United have been chasing De Jong for a couple of months and the fee is expected to be € 65 million plus add-ons. Malacia will cost just € 15 million after they beat-off interest from Lyon, who thought they had signed the 22 year-old. Both deals are subject to medicals. New coach Erik ten Hag appears to be following a strategy of going after players with a link to Ajax or Dutch football.


27:06:22

Watford cancel Qatar game

Watford have cancelled a friendly against the Qatar national side after fans expressed concerned about human rights. Rob Edwards' side were due to face the World Cup hosts on the final day of a pre-season camp in Austria.The country has also been heavily criticised over its treatment of migrant workers building stadiums for the World Cup, to be held in the country later this year. A club spokesman said: "The game was never finalised and it became abundantly clear this was a game not to play; as such, the schedule was revised."

UEFA believe Super League is dead

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has discussed the ongoing feud between European football's governing body and the clubs that were advocating the Super League's formation. He expressed his belief that no team, apart from Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus, are willing to participate in aborted project."I will UEFA is not a monopoly," Ceferin told La Gazzetta dello Sport."You are free to be in it or not. You can participate in our cups or organise your own. But then, it's logical that you don't play in ours, isn't it? "Whatever the decision of the court, nothing changes - the Super League is dead because nobody wants to participate."



26:06:22

Red Star Belgrade v Zenit – a Gazprom cup?

Most of the world has condemned Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, but Serbia has so far rejected any opportunity to implement its own sanctions. Russian sports teams have been banned, notably their football clubs from UEFA competitions. However, on July 3, Red Star Belgrade, Serbia’s champions, will meet Zenit St. Petersburg in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in what is being billed as “the clash of champions”. Both clubs are sponsored by Gazprom, the Russian energy company, in fact Red Star arguably owe their continued existence to the backing of Gazprom. Serbia relies almost totally on Russian oil and gas and their own energy company, NIS is majority-owned by Gazprom. The match seems sure to bring consequences for Serbia from UEFA.

Rapinoe speaks out

Megan Rapinoe, the US women’s soccer star, has responded to the controversial anti-abortion case and Roe v Wade. Rapinhoe has long been a leading voice on human rights issues and said: “The cruelty is the point…Pro-choice means that you get a choice…pro-life doesn’t allow anybody to make a choice.” She added: “It’s hard to out into words how sad a day this is for me personally, for my teammates, for all the people out there this is going to affect.” As it stands, abortion is will be banned on half the US states.


24:06:22

Real switch to BMW

Real Madrid, who have enjoyed the sponsorship of Audi since 2003, will be switching to BMW with effect from July1. Although Real have been in negotiations with the prestige brand for some time, they have been unable to reach an agreement, and so the contract, which expires at the end of June, will not be renewed. At the same time, Audi are reducing their involvement in football and will focus more on Bayern Munich. BMW will be one of the club’s primary sponsors and will also provide cars to the Real Madrid players.

UEFA aim to fuel more fixture congestion

UEFA are preparing to create yet another new competition that would kick-off the new season and prelude the start of the Champions League campaign. It will begin in 2024, the same year in which the revised Champions League format also gets underway. The tournament would feature four clubs, including the winner of the previous Champions League, in a Final Four format, and for some reason, would most likely take place in the United States. UEFA have been interested in a Final Four format for the Champions League, but that seems to have failed. It's almost certain the reigning European championswould take part, while the other three would be selected for their record over a period of time. Just why UEFA need another tournament is a mystery and why the US is involved is very unclear.

23:06:22

Lukaku goes home

Romelu Lukaku has returned to Inter Milan on a season-long loan with Chelsea receiving a loan fee of £ 8 million. Lukaku joined Chelsea a year ago for almost £ 100 million, but his time back at Stamford Bridge was largely frustratingly unsuccessful. Lukaku also seems to have upset the management at the club with a TV interview that suggested he would like to return to Italy. In some ways, the Lukaku transfer was indicative of so many under-performing transfer acquisitions at Chelsea during the Abramovich era. The Belgium international has said he didn't want to leave Inter, but was forced to go as a result of the club's financial problems.

Neymar stuck in Paris

Paris Saint-Germain are trying to change their identity and are looking to fill their team with young players with a winning mentality, according to their president Nasser Al-Khelaifi. PSG have to cut some costs, which may mean unloading some of their expensive, high-profile players, but this will not include the sale of Neymar. PSG are experiencing financial tension following the renewal of Kylian Mbappé’s contract. Marca said Neymar may have become something of a burden and PSG may want to end their relationship but his high price tag and wages make any move almost impossible. Khelaifi would not be drawn on the subject: “We can’t talk about it in the media, these are private negotiations.” Neymar’s wages are said to be almost € 50 million gross.


21:06:22

Giggs resigns at last

Former Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs has resigned as Wales manager. The troubled 48 year-old walked away from his role in November 2020 after being arrested. He was later charged with using controlling behaviour and assaulting his girlfriend, charges he has denied. Robert Page became interim manager and has taken them to the 2022 World Cup. The Welsh FA has thanked Giggs for his time as manager but admitted his decision is in the best interests of Welsh football. 

Marina next to leave

Chelsea’s Marina Granovskaia is leaving the club as the shake-up of the club under new ownership gathers momentum. Granovskaia, who is Canadian-Russian, joined Chelsea as part of the Roman Abramovich regime and became indispensable to the owner, managing transfers and contracts. She previously worked with Abramovich at Sibneft. Chelsea are now looking for a director of football and have been linked with Andrea Berta of Atlético Madrid.

Polish international pays for Russia link

Poland’s national team have excluded Maciej Rybus, a player who has been employed in Russia with Lokomotiv Moscow and has since moved to Spartak. Rybus, who is a 32 year-old full back, has been told he will not be part of Poland’s national team training camp and will not be considered for the World Cup. He has won 66 caps in his career. A lot of foreign players have left Russia since the war started in February, some permanently, some on temporary loans elsewhere. Poland is a staunch ally of Ukraine.
19:06:22

Buck stops here at Chelsea

Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck is stepping down as chairman of Chelsea after almost 20 years in the role. Apparently, he will retain some sort of advisory position. “I am proud to have helped Chelsea realise great success on the pitch and make a positive impact in the community,” said Buck. “Now is the right time to step down and let new ownership build on the strong foundations we have in place.” Buck, 76, was appointed in 2003 by Roman Abramovich and presided over the most successful era in the club’s history. 

Pochettino exit getting dirty

The proposed departure of Mauricio Pochettino from Paris Saint-Germain is not going as smoothly as the Parisians hoped. According to media reports, discussions between Poch and PSG have not bee easy and he is loking for a compensation figure of £ 17 million. PSG are eager to cut that fee, possibly because they are aware that Pochettino’s possible replacement, Nice’s Christoph Galtier will cost them money. Nice want around € 10 million to let their coach go, but PSG don’t want to pay more than € 5 million. Meanwhile, Pochettino will not be short of options and Athletic Bilbao have been linked with the Argentinian.

United spurned by Ajax star

Manchester United received a setback when Ajax’s Jurrien Timber rejected a chance to move to Old Trafford. It was a blow to new manager Erik ten Hag, who gave the player his debut at Ajax. The Dutch international defender fears his World Cup chances will be negatively affected by a move to United as he’s unlikely to be first choice. Louis van Gaal has said publicly that to be considered for the Netherlands squad, players have to be playing “week-in, week-out” and this appeared to influence Timber’s decision. Ten Hag is said to be very disappointed as he was confident of landing Timber.

17:06:22

England 3 Belgium 0

England’s Women began their preparations for Euro 2022 with a 3-0 victory over Belgium at Molineux in front of a crowd of 9,600.  Manchester City’s Chloe Kelly impressed on her return to the side after a serious knee injury. Kelly came off the bench and had a shot deflected in for the first goal on 62 minutes. The second goal came from a Rachel Daly volley four minutes later and a late own goal clinched a solid victory.

Azteca again – the great World Cup stadium selected again

Mexico City’s iconic Azteca Stadium has been named among 16 venues to stage games at the 2026 World Cup being held across the US, Canada and Mexico. Around US$ 29 billion is being spent on remodelling the stadium that stunned the world when it was first constructed in 1966. The Azteca has hosted two World Cup finals, 1970 and 1986. However, it would seem unlikely that the 2026 final will be held there as Mexico (and Canada) are only staging 10 games in a competition that is effectively a US-hosted event. The modernisation of the Azteca has just got underway and will take two years. FIFA President Gianni Infantino has described the stadium as  “the Vatican of football” and “the cathedral of football”.

Bordeaux penalised 

It isn’t just French police that take a hard line, French football’s regulator, DNCG can also flex its muscles when required. Bordeaux, who were relegated to Ligue 2 at the end of 2021-22, have been taken down another level over financial problems at the club. They will start 2022-23 in the Championnat National. It’s not the first time DNCG have sought to penalise Bordeaux, they tried to relegate them a year ago, but the club’s new owner, Gerard Lopez, persuaded them to reverse the decision. Lopez arrived after majority shareholder, King Street, decided to withdraw funding for Bordeaux after investing more than € 46 million. At that time, the club’s losses were running beyond € 80 million.

Houghton excluded from squad

Former England captain Steph Houghton has been excluded from the squad for the women’s Euros by coach Sarina Wiegman. Houghton has been recovering from an achilles tendon injury for the past few months and hasn’t played since January 2022. Wiegman said it was a hard decision, but insisted Houghton is not ready to compete. “It was a matter of time, and we don’t have that time,” said Wiegman. Houghton, 34, has made 121 appearances for England and played in five major tournaments.

Boycott Qatar gathers momentum

The German soccer federation will not take action against people displaying a banner calling for a boycott of the World Cup in Qatar during Germany’s Nations League match against Italy. The DFB, referred to a police statement on Wednesday that says the demonstrators’ action is covered by freedom of expression and “not criminally relevant.” Shortly after the start of the match, a group of demonstrators held a huge banner saying “15,000 dead for big venues — FIFA and Co. without a conscience! Boycott Qatar.”

15:06:222

England humbled

England suffered their worst home defeat since 1928 when they were beaten by the Wembley Wizards of Scotland, losing 4-0 at Molineux to Hungary. This latest UEFA Nations League setback has prompted a wave of criticism of coach Gareth Southgate and his team. Hungary were a goal ahead through Roland Sallai’s 19th minute strike at half-time, but England capitulated in the second half, conceding three goals in 19 minutes through Sallai (70), Zsolt Nagy (80) and Dániel Gazdag (89). There was a further blow near the end when John Stones was red carded. Southgate has taken responsibility for the defeat, but the facts are his side are on the brink of elimination from the Nations League and relegation.

Costa Rica qualify

The last team to qualify for the 2022 World Cup is Costa Rica after their 1-0 victory over New Zealand in the intercontinental play-off in Doha. Costa Rica took a third-minute lead when Joel Campbell shot low into the bottom corner. New Zealand ended the match with 10 men after Kosta Barbarouses was sent off for fouling Francisco Calvo. Luis Fernando Suarez's side go into Group E, which includes Spain, Germany and Japan. Costa Rica have now qualified for the World Cup six times and 2022 will be their third successive appearance.

Good Kompany

Vincent Kompany has been appointed as the new manager at Burnley. The 36 year-old arrived at Turf Moor after leaving Anderlecht where he spent three years. Last season, he led Anderlecht to third place in the Belgian League and the cup final. But the former Manchester City captain was keen to return to the North-West of England. “Burnley is a truly historic club and it is an honour to be appointed first team manager. I’ve been impressed by the Board’s vision for the club which aligns with my own and I look forward to playing my part as we enter an important season,” said Kompany.

14:06:22

Aussie win through to Qatar

Australia sealed a place at the 2022 World Cup after winning the intercontinental playoff against Peru in Qatar. Australia won 5-4 on penalties after a 0-0 draw. The hero was goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne, who dived to his right to deny Alex Valera from the spot.More than 10,000 Peruvian fans were in the stadium, some having flown halfway across the world for the game the Peru coach described as “the match of our lives”. Peruvian fans were singing and dancing during the match. A small portion of the crowd stayed back well after the game to show their appreciation for the players despite the loss. Australia have played in five past World Cups, winning just two of 16 games.

Kirchner bid for Derby flounders

US businessman Chris Kirchner has formally withdrawn his bid to buy Derby County, despite providing proof of funding on more than one occasion. The EFL have intervened in the takeover process. Mike Ashley and former Derby chairman Andy Appleby are now among the favourites to rescue the Rams. Kirchner was the club’s preferred bidder, but his apparent failure to produce the funding on time has laid the way open for other potential buyers. Derby have been in administration since last September when ex-owner Mel Morris appointed Quantuma to handle the club’s business.

13:06:22

Pochettino leaving PSG

Inevitably, Mauricio Pochettino will be leaving Paris Saint-Germain and will not be seeing-out the last year of his contract with the French champions. The 50 year-old won Ligue 1 in 2021-22 and the Coupe de France in 2020-21, but capitulation in the UEFA Champions League was arguably his downfall, as it has been for his predecessors. Pochettino had a 65.48% with PSG but the job of managing a squad that included Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé was never going to be an easy one. Already, names like Zinedine Zidane, José Mourinho and Christoph Galtier are being linked to the job.  

United’s decline impacting England careers

England manager Gareth Southgate has issued a warning to Manchester United players Luke Shaw, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford, saying they have a lot of work to do to get back into the squad. Rashford hasn’t played since the Euro 2020 final and Sancho has managed just one appearance in a very subdued start to his United career. The club’s relatively poor season has also taken its toll on centre half Harry Maguire, who is no longer guaranteed a place in the England side. Furthermore, Mason Greenwood, whose future is uncertain even after being cleared of the assault charges levelled against him, is also out of the reckoning.

No more big signings for Atléti

Atlético Madrid’s sporting director, Andrea Berta, says the years of big signings at the club are over. “The important thing is to continue with this squad, which has value, with players who have a great future. We will have to wait for the market to get underway,” he commented at an award ceremony in the Spanish capital. Over the past five years, Atléti have spent € 679 million gross, resulting in a net outflow of € 101 million. Only Barcelona have spent more.

Chiellini heads to LA

Former Juventus and Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini has joined Loa Angeles FC just days after ending his career in his homeland. Chiellini has been linked with a move to Major League Soccer since 2021 after helping Italy win EURO 2020. At the time, Chiellini was a free agent and had an interest in continuing his career in the United States. Details of his contract have not been announced, but Chiellini was signed using targeted allocation money, meaning his salary must be above the maximum MLS budget charge of US$ 612,500 but less than the US$ 1,612,500 that would demand a designated player tag.

Japanese fans can cheer again

For the first time in two years, Japanese fans have been given almost free rein to root for their teams at J-League matches. The match between Kashima Antlers and Avispa Fukuoka at the Kashima Stadium was the first in which spectators were allowed to behave like they did in pre-pandemic times. Typically, precautions are still in place. When cheering, they must face forward and wear masks of unwoven cloth. They are not permitted to eat or drink while cheering.“Cheer loudly” areas were set up behind the goals, comprising 1,700 seats in total. Every alternate row and every other seat had to remain vacant in these areas. The J-League plans to introduce the “cheer loudly” concept to other games.

12:06:22

Another dull performance by England
 
England were held to a 0-0 draw by Italy in their third UEFA Europa League game at a near empty Molineux. Manager Gareth Southgate admitted England have become over-reliant on Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling and it showed in a tepid game of few chances.  In fact, England have failed to score from open play in their last three games and they are halfway through their Nations League games and are without a win. “We’re very, very reliant on Harry and Raheem at the moment and that is a concern. We keep working on getting balls into the right areas, but there’s been a little bit of a lack of sharpness in those areas across the three matches, really. I think we had the players on the pitch today, we made the changes that we hoped would refresh the team as well, but we also played an Italian team that was very well organised.” 

Ireland trounce poor Scots 

The Republic of Ireland comfortably beat Scotland 3-0 in Dublin for their first ever Nations League win. Desperate for points after defeats by Armenia and Ukraine in their first two games, the Republic took a 20th-minute lead through Alan Browne with Troy Parrott doubling the advantage after being teed up by Michael Obafemi. Obafemi then capped an outstanding individual display by scoringhome the Republic's third from distance. The win lifts the Republic up to second in Group B1, ahead of the third-placed Scots. 

Frenkie goes to Salford? 

The Manchester Evening News has reported that Manchester United are considering a £ 75 million bid for Frenkie De Jong of Barcelona. New coach Erik ten Hag has identified the Dutch international as a priority target and the club’s interest has intensified in the past few weeks. Barca are said to be keen to unload De Jong to raise some capital for team rebuilding. 

Núñez bound for Anfield, at a cost

Liverpool seem certain to sign Darwin Núñez from Benfica and the fee is going to top € 100 million, says the Portuguese media. Both A Bola and Record in Portugal have broken down every aspect of the deal the Uruguayan striker will sign with Liverpool, explaining how Benfica will be compensated. Liverpool will initially pay € 75 million and the remaining 25 million euros will come from add-ons. Liverpool will pay five million euros when he plays 10 games, and another 10 million euros when he reaches 60 games. Núñez’s individual and collective achievements with Liverpool will be rewarded with an additional 10 million under the terms of the deal. According to A Bola, the deal will be for five seasons at a salary of € 12 million gross per season.  

Getting messier in Brazil 

Brazilian football’s bid to create a breakaway super league has hit a huge snag as 25 clubs have now decided to set up their own league. This latest rift is a setback for plans that have gained considerable momentum since 2021. But 25 clubs disagree about the distribution of TV revenue with members of the Libra ((Liga Brasileira) group. The new idea among the 25 proposes 45% guaranteed TV income for all clubs and 30% depending on performance and another 25% depending on fan engagement. Seven clubs had signed up for the project Libra with Codajas Sports Kapital, but there were still differences over the distribution of revenues from TV. The negotiations continue.

11:06:22

Derby takeover doubtful

Derby County’s takeover by Chris Kirchner is expected to flounder after problems emerged in closing the deal. The US businessman was named as the preferred bidder to take the Rams out of administration, but according to media reports, the acquiring team failed to execute. It is believed the funds promised by the potential new owners may not have arrived.  BBC Radio Derby’s Ed Dawes commented: “I’ve been up all night taking to various people who are closely involved in this, and it’s my understanding the deal will most likely collapse today. There is a serious problem with closing it.”

Germany 1 England 1

Enlgland got a very fortunate draw in Munich thanks to a late and very dubious penalty that was converted by Harry Kane for his 50th goal for his country. A young Germany side were the better team for most of the 90 minutes and England looked decidedly jaded, as they did in Budapest in their first Nations League game. Germany took the lead through Jonas Hoffman’s 50th minute striker but in the 88th minute, Nico Schlotterbeck collided in the area and after a VAR check, a penalty was awarded. Kane levelled with a confident spot kick past Manny Neuer.

Blatter and Platini in the dock

Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, two of the most powerful men in world football just a few years ago, are on trial in Switzerland accused of fraud. Swiss prosecutors claim a 2011 payment of CHF 2m (£1.6m) made by Blatter, former president of FIFA, to Platini, ex-president of UEFA, was unlawful. Blatter and Platini, who were both banned from football in 2015 say the transfer was belated payment for Frenchman Platini's advisory work for FIFA. After a lengthy investigation, Blatter has been accused of "fraud, in the alternative of misappropriation, in the further alternative of criminal mismanagement as well as of forgery of a document". Platini, meanwhile, is accused of fraud, misappropriation, participating in criminal mismanagement as an accomplice, and forgery of a document.

Benfica to launch fan tokens

Benfica are the latest club to embrace fan tokens and are set to launch on the blockchain-powered Socios.com platform. Socios.com has more than 150 clubs and leagues signed up to its platform, including Manchester City, Barcelona and Paris St Germain. The date for the Benfica Fan Token launch has yet to be announced. “We have been paying very close attention to Digital Assets,” said the club’s CEO Domingos Soares de Oliveira. “Benfica is constantly focused on searching for and delivering a positive experience to our fanbase. We are delighted to be partnering with Socios.”

Mbappe tops the list of valuable players

CIES Football Observatory have issued their latest list of the 100 most valuable players and Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappé tops the table at € 206 million, ahead of Real Madrid’s Vinícius Júnior at € 185 million. In third place, Manchester City’s new signing, Erling Haaland, is valued at € 153 million. The highest valued goalkeeper is Gianluigi Donnarumma (PSG) at € 74 million and Rúben Dias of Manchester City is the most valuable central defender at € 110 million. Kevin de Bruyne (30) is the oldest player in top 100, valued at € 57 million. The Premier League is the most represented league with 41 players.

Obituary: Bobby Hope

A member of the last West Bromwich Albion side to win a trophy, Bobby Hope, has died aged 78. Hope was born in Bridge of Allan, Stirlingshire on September 28 1943 and made 336 Football League appearances for Albion. He won the FA Cup in 1968 with the club, two years after winning the Football League Cup. A tenacious midfielder, Hope won seven caps for Scotland and later played for Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham City.

Big clubs missing out on commercial opportunities

According to The Fan Relationship Index (FRI) from the CLV Group, the big six Premier League clubs are missing out on £700 million of revenue from commercial deals. The CLV Group says clubs are falling short “because they don’t have or use data which allows them to understand their specific strengths as a club – and sell deals accordingly.” The FRI estimates they are missing up to £345 million in potential content subscriptions. Neil Joyce, CEO of CLV Group, commented: “Most clubs own the ability to create content – they have apps, websites and in some cases TV channels. What they need is more data capability, technical capability and global resources to help them convert (content) to a subscription model.”

06:06:22

Messi goes nap

Lionel Messi netted all five of Argentina’s goals in their 5-0 victory against Estonia in Pamplona. The 34 year-old created a career best playing for his country and in doing so, passed the number of goals scored by Ferenc Puskás for Hungary. Messi has now scored 86 goals in 162 internationals for Argentina. His performance also underlined his return to form for the national team and followed his two-goal salvo for Argentina against Italy at Wembley in their 3-0 win in the Finalissima.

Orange protest by USA

The United States men’s team drew 0-0 with Uruguay in Kansas City in a warm-up for the CONCACAF Nations League. The US team demonstrated their support for greater control around guns in America following a spate of mass shootings. They wore orange arm bands and also sent a letter of protest. Coach Gregg Berhalter commented that he was proud of his players. The letter to Congress said: “There are those who say athletes shouldn’t get involved in issues that are deemed political. Certainly, we can all agree that the safety of the children in our country is a sacred responsibility that is shared by all of us.” America, are you listening?

Grimsby Town back in the EFL

Grimsby Town, just a year after being relegated, won back their place in the EFL League Two after beating Solihull Moors 2-1 in the play-off final at the London Stadium in front of 22,000 people. Solihull took the lead, but the game went to extra time and substitute Jordan Maguire-Drew scored the winning goal. Grimsby finished sixth in the league and went through play-offs against Notts County (2-1) Wrexham (5-4). All of their games went to extra time. Solihull had finished third in the league and had won against Chesterfield in the semi-final. Grimsby will join National League champions Stockport County in League Two in 2022-23.

Wales 1 Ukraine 0

Wales have qualified for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar for their first finals since 1958. The Welsh beat Ukraine 1-0 in Cardiff. Ukraine tried desperately to equalise after Gareth Bale’s free kick was unluckily deflected into the net by Andriy Yarmolenko, who tried desperately to retrieve the situation. The goal, scored in the 34th minute, came against the run of play. Wales had to thank a superb performance from goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey. Bale called the win the greatest result ever achieved by Wales and if Cardiff City get their way, he will be playing in the Welsh capital next season. Wales, meanwhile, will come up against England, USA and Iran in Qatar.

05:06:22

Nine double winners in Europe

The 2021-22 season saw nine clubs win their domestic doubles, although Liverpool and Manchester City were both denied the chance of completing the feat. Not one of the big five European countries saw one team win the league title and domestic cup competition in 2022, the last time it was achieved in France and Germany was in 2020, while in England it was 2019 and Italy and Spain, 2018. The most prominent side to pull off the double was Porto in Portugal. The others include: Red Bull Salzburg (Austria); Red Star Belgrade (Serbia), Ferencvaros (Hungary), Lincoln Red Imps (Gibraltar), Qarabag (Azerbaijan), Sheriff (Moldova), La Fiorita (San Marino) and New Saints (Wales).

Hungary 1 England 0

England lost their opening UEFA Europa League game in Budapest in a game played in front of 35,000 youngsters. Gareth Southgate’s side were jeered by the crowd when they took the knee as part of the ongoing anti-racism initiative. Once the game started, a jaded England side were disappointing, losing to a 66th minute penalty from RB Leipzig’s Dominik Szoboszlai. England were fortunate that Conor Coady cleared an early effort from Szoboszlai off the line and Jordan Pickford was at his best to save from Zsolt Nagy. Coady had a glancing header just wide in the second half, but András Schäfer missed a sitter late in the game which would have sealed victory. Harry Kane almost levelled in the closing minutes with a fierce shot that flew into the side-netting. Overall, a poor display by England, who face significant hurdles against Italy and Germany in the Nations League group stage.

Wydad the champions of Africa

Morocco’s Wydad AC are the new CAF Champions League winners after beating Al-Ahly of Egypt 2-0 in the final in Casablanca. A crowd of 45,000 saw Wydad clinch their third CAF Champions League title, thanks to two goals from Zouhair El Moutaraji, one in each half. Wydad’s victory deprived Al-Ahly a hat-trick of wins in the competition, but there has been a hint of controversy since the final. CAF decided to host the game in Morocco even though Wydad had made it through to the final. This upset Al-Ahly, whose coach, Pitso Mosimane claimed that at any other venue, his team would have been champions. North African clubs have dominated the competition in recent years and there is intense rivalry between Moroccan and Egyptian teams. Mosimane, who was bitter in defeat, said the CAF Champions League is 50 years away from the standards set by UEFA’s equivalent.

French government defiant

The French authorities are still adamant the problems at the UEFA Champions League final were caused by a huge number of counterfeit tickets to the tune of more than 50%. Instead of discussing the poor organisation at the world’s biggest club game, the pair doubled down. Frrench interior minister, Gérald Darmanin spoke of “massive fraud to an industrial level and organisation of fake tickets”. Darmanin also blamed the RER B strike and Liverpool fans at a hearing. He went on to defend how French authorities and police had handled the situation on Saturday. He said that decisions by the public authorities had saved lives. The tear-gassing, he claimed, prevented supporters from getting crushed. He repeatedly stated there were no problems for Real Madrid fans, a version of events that fails to correspond with various media reports.

03:06:22

Champions League shambles goes on

Real Madrid are now challenging UEFA over the Champions League final debacle on May 28. The European champions want to know why the Stade de France was chosen for the game and who was responsible for leaving the fans defenceless. "Football has transmitted an image to the world which is far away from the values and goals which it should pursue," said Real Madrid in a statement. French authorities have tied to blame ticket fraud among Liverpool fans but it has emerged that supporters were subject to attacks from local gangs. "We believe something which should have been a wonderful festival of football for all fans who attended the game, quickly turned into a series of unfortunate events which have caused a sense of outrage around the world," said Real Madrid. "As was evident in the revealing images published by the media, several fans were attacked, harassed, assaulted and robbed in violent fashion.

Barcelona the most innovative club

Barcelona have been named the most innovative club in the world, according to Sport Innovation Lab. Barca are ahead of their rivals Real Madrid and a cluster of English clubs.The list takes into account revenue diversification, technological adaptation and how clubs are building their business through innovative approaches and digital initiatives. Key for Barca was its investment in the fan experience such as its partnership with Socios.com, as well as its multilingual social media profiles, its eSports teams, its data-driven amateur membership program and its Innovation Hub. After the Spanish duo, Arsenal and Manchester City were in third and fourth place respectively.

Juventus busy in the market

Juventus, keen to recapture the Serie A title in 2022-23, have targeted a number of players for their summer shopping. Chelsea’s Timo Werner, old boy Paul Pogba, Frankfurt’s Filip Kostic and Paris Saint-Germain’s Angel Di Maria are all being linked to the old lady from Turin. At the same time, Paulo Dybala looks set to leave Juve, with Premier League clubs interested in the Argentinian striker. Juve manager Max Allegri has had a swipe at Dybala, claiming he had rarely been the same since being dubbed “the new Messi”. Dybala, now 28, has scored 115 goals in 293 appearanced for Juventus.

Son’s the man

Tottenham’s golden boot winning striker Son Heung-Min has been honoured by his country in the form of the Cheongnyong medal, the highest sports merit award in South Korea. He was given the accolade by South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol on the pitch before the international friendly with Brazil in Seoul. Brazil beat their hosts 4-1. Son remains immensely popular in South Korea, looked upon with the a level of idolation usually reserved for actors and K-pop stars. Tottenham are planning a pre-season tour to South Korea in July.

Lewandowski urged to go to Liverpool

Poland coach and Liverpool fan Czeslaw Michniewicz hopes Robert Lewandowski will join his favourite club after the prolific striker announced he intends to leave Bayern Munich. Michniewicz. Lewandowski has more Poland caps and goals than any player in Polish football history and score 50 time for Bayern in 2021-22. Little wonder that Lewandowski believes he has achieved all he can in Bavaria. He is looking for one last lucrative deal as a player and has eyed a possible move to Barcelona, apparently making a three-year verbal agreement with the Catalans.

02:06:22

Ukraine victory

Scotland, who last qualified for the World Cup in 1998, were beaten 3-1 by Ukraine amid emotional scenes at Hampden Park in the World Cup 2022 play-off. Scotland were on a hiding to nothing as the neutral vote was for Ukraine to win through to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. They were comfortably beaten, with goals from Yarmolenko (33 mins),Yaremchuk (49) and Dovbyk (90), while Scotland’s solitary response was a goal from Callum McGregor (79). Scotland manager Steve Clarke admitted the better team won. Ukraine move on to face Wales for a place in the finals later this year.

Pardew makes a stand

Alan Pardew has left Bulgarian club CSKA Sofia after racist behaviour among some of their fans. Pardew was appointed technical director of CSKA in November 2020, but the recent outburst of racism at a game with Botev prompted him to call it a day. His assistant, Alex Dyer, has also left the club. CSKA were runners-up in both the Bulgarian league and cup in 2021-22. The Botev game was just a few days after CSKA lost 1-0 to local rivals Levski in the cup final.

Milan takeover

AC Milan, the new Italian champions, have been taken over by RedBird Capital, who bought the Rossoneri from Elliott Management in a € 1.2 billion deal. Elliott, who took on Milan four years ago, have turned the club around after some horrendous financial result. The club has also returned to prominence by winning Serie A in 2021-22. Redbird are led by former Goldman Sachs banker Gerry Cardinale, the company bought 10% stake in Fenway Sports Group, the holding company that owns Liverpool. The transaction represents another investment by the private equity sector and is the latest involving US investors.

Chinese league gets underway

The beleaguered Chinese Super League (another club bit the dust recently) starts on June 3 with the slogan, “Together for a new future”. A record 18 clubs will kick-off, with the competition being played in three biuo-secure hubds: Meizhou, Dalian and Haikou. The first 10 rounds of the league will be played in these locations, mostly behind closed doors. Some clubs, such as Guangzhou, are in financial difficulties and Chongqing folded because they could not attract new investors. Champions Shandong Taishan are favourites to retain their title.

Argentina win debatable showdown

Lionel Messi was named man of the match as Argentina beat Italy 3-0 in the Finalissima at Wembley in front of 87,000 people. The game, a clash between reigning European Champions and Copa America winners, was reintroduced by UEFA. Argentina played superbly, with goals from Martinez, Di Maria and Dybala. For Italy, Chiellini played his last game of a 117-cap career on the international stage. Messi’s performance was hailed by commentators, who considered he had put on a masterclass after his disappointing season in Paris.