Ammon News, Sports

FIFA votes for new Club World Cup, Euro clubs confirm boycott

[3/16/2019 4:10:37 PM]

AMMONNEWS - FIFA will go ahead with a new 24-team Club World Cup starting in 2021, its President Gianni Infantino said on Friday, setting the world soccer governing body in conflict with Europe’s top clubs. Infantino, speaking at a news conference, said FIFA had made the decision at its council meeting on Friday. The competition, however, immediately faced a boycott from Europe’s leading clubs, which include the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United. The European Club Association (ECA), which represents 232 European clubs, including all the major teams, wrote a letter asking Infantino not to make a decision now and saying they would not take part in the 2021 tournament. Following Infantino’s announcement, a spokesperson for the ECA said: “ECA clubs will not participate in 2021 CWC and will assess participation in editions of the competition post-2024.” UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, later said it had a duty to protect the health of players and that its members of the FIFA Council had unanimously voted against the proposal. “UEFA shares ECA’s view that the International Match Calendar in 2021 does not provide any realistic option to stage a 24-team Club World Cup and that it should furthermore not be played at a time when players should have a well-deserved rest period,” it said in a statement. The tournament would be held instead of the Confederations Cup in June 2021. No host nation has been decided yet, Infantino said. “We went through a consultation process, spoke with everyone, some agree, others disagree, you have different views and positions,” said Infantino. “I am feeling very positive from the discussions and I am sure that at the end we will be very happy,” he said. “I understand the situation in Europe with stakeholders, the leagues, the clubs, small clubs, big clubs, the players’ union -- it’s more complex than other countries in the world,” he added. *Reuters

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Liverpool’s Henderson out of Fulham clash with ankle injury

[3/16/2019 4:09:08 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson will miss Sunday’s Premier League match at Fulham after failing to shake off an ankle injury, manager Juergen Klopp said on Friday. Midfielder Henderson went off early in Liverpool’s last-16 second-leg clash at Bayern Munich on Wednesday which Klopp’s side won 3-1 to reach the quarter-finals of Europe’s elite club competition. The 28-year-old has been named in the England squad for this month’s European Championship qualifiers. “With Hendo we know now it’s serious enough to rule him out for the weekend. The international break will be long enough to bring him back,” Klopp told a news conference. “It was a little one with the ankle. It was the best scan we could get but still not good enough. Not good but OK.” Fellow midfielder Naby Keita faces a fitness test to be in contention for the clash at 19th-placed Fulham having missed the trip to Bayern. “With Naby we have to see if he can train today. Checks were positive but we have to see if it stays positive,” Klopp added. Victory will lift title-chasing Liverpool into top spot with 76 points, two points above champions Manchester City who play Swansea City on Saturday in the FA Cup quarter-finals. Manchester City will have a game in hand but Klopp pointed out that they could face a tough run-in with games against third-placed Tottenham Hotspur and local rivals Manchester United in April. “When City have a game in hand it’s not that important. We just want to win our game at the weekend. City’s game in hand is against United and that’s not easy but we need to think about winning our games only,” Klopp said. “We haven’t struggled psychologically with them ahead of us or us ahead of them, it’s being really focused on the football game. Until the end of the season, let’s play football.” *Reuters

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Premier League investigates Man City over FFP allegations

[3/9/2019 8:45:12 AM]

AMMONNEWS - The Premier League said on Friday it had opened an investigation into alleged Financial Fair Play (FFP) breaches by champions Manchester City after UEFA had begun its own probe into the allegations. European soccer’s governing body opened a formal investigation into the alleged FFP violations on Thursday, a move City welcomed in a bid to end speculation surrounding the club’s sponsorship agreements. The FFP rules are intended to prevent clubs receiving unlimited amounts of money through inflated sponsorship deals with organizations related to the owners. “The Premier League has previously contacted Manchester City to request information regarding recent allegations and is in ongoing dialogue with the club,” the Premier League said in a statement. The statement added: “The league has detailed financial regulations and strong rules in the areas of Academy player recruitment and third-party ownership. We are currently investigating these matters and will allow Manchester City every opportunity to explain the context and detail surrounding them.” Manager Pep Guardiola was asked on Friday whether he was concerned his achievements at City would be tainted by the allegations, but he told reporters: “No, absolutely not.” Guardiola added: “The club made a statement, so I can’t add more than that. The club are open, hopefully it can finish as soon as possible. I trust a lot what the club has done, because I know them and hopefully they can solve it as soon as possible.” German publication Der Spiegel reported in November that City’s Abu Dhabi owners inflated sponsorship agreements in order to comply with FFP requirements. City’s statement on Thursday said accusations of financial irregularities were entirely false. City host eighth-placed Watford on Saturday and Guardiola hailed their manager Javi Gracia, who looks set to lead them to their best-ever finish in the Premier League. “It’s incredible what he’s done, one of the toughest games we had,” Guardiola, who was voted February’s Premier League manager of the month, said. “In the last nine games, they have physicality, quality one-on-one, strong in the air, well organised... what he’s done has been incredible.” *Reuters

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Southampton’s Yoshida relishing ‘PlayStation’ survival battle

[3/9/2019 8:44:03 AM]

AMMONNEWS - It requires a warrior spirit to thrive in the heat of a Premier League relegation battle and fortunately for Southampton, Maya Yoshida is well-equipped with survival skills. Things have rarely been smooth for the 30-year-old defender since he arrived from Dutch club VVV Venlo in 2012 but no other Japanese player has appeared more times in the Premier League. After forcing his way back into the Southampton team recently, he is set for his 141st Premier League appearance for the club when they host Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. With Southampton two points above the bottom three, a visit from third-placed Spurs, managed by former Saints manager Mauricio Pochettino and with prolific England striker Harry Kane leading their attack, is a daunting prospect. But Yoshida never shirks a challenge and said he would “fight to the last” to preserve Southampton’s top-flight status. Asked what being Japan’s most prolific Premier League appearance maker means, Yoshida is typically modest but is proud nonetheless. “It’s not a very big contest!” he told Reuters at Southampton’s plush training complex on Thursday. “It’s the most difficult league in the world and every six months the club has a huge budget to replace me, but I have to survive and prove I’m good enough. “Last week it was (Manchester United forward Romelu) Lukaku and this week it’s Harry Kane, and in a few weeks its (Liverpool’s) Mohamed Salah. It’s like playing a PlayStation game. But it’s fantastic. “That’s why I want to be here.” Six managers Yoshida has seen six managers come and go at St Mary’s and at various times has been below the likes of Toby Alderweireld, Jose Fonte and Virgil van Dijk in the pecking order. Despite playing a key role in Southampton’s relegation scrap last season, the Japanese again found himself on the fringes at the start of the new campaign under Mark Hughes. After German coach Ralph Hasenhuettl took charge of Saints in December, Yoshida got a run in the team but following the Asian Cup he again found himself demoted before returning to the side for last month’s vital win over fellow strugglers Fulham. He then played in an unlucky 3-2 defeat at Manchester United last week - and is determined to lead the team from the heart of defence in Southampton’s final nine games. “I’m hungry to keep playing football in the Premier League,” Yoshida, speaking on behalf of club sponsor Virgin Media to launch the Super Saints fans initiative, said. “I’ve missed matches because of the Asian Cup, and I didn’t play a long time at the beginning of the season under Mark Hughes. That’s painful and I don’t want to miss any more.” He added: “You feel helpless when you’re not in the team.” Yoshida played in Japan’s loss to Qatar in the Asian Cup final on Feb. 1 before returning to a relegation battle in which steely nerves are needed and there is no space for egos. “We have to sacrifice for the team and help each other,” he said. Yoshida added: “If we have an ego on the pitch, we will be in trouble.” Pochettino ban Spurs have won 10 of their 13 Premier League games with Saints since the south-coast club were promoted back to the top flight, but Pochettino will not be in the London club’s technical area on Saturday because of a touchline ban. Yoshida played down any suggestion that would tip the balance of the game Southampton’s way. “That team has played a long time together and they understand the vision and the philosophy of Pochettino,” he said. “If we cause them some trouble, ask some different questions, it could work for us though.” Nagasaki-born Yoshida insists Southampton are in a better place than last season, saying the high-intensity style Hasenhuettl prefers has been taken on board by the squad. “He has a plan and a vision that we didn’t have for such a long time and now we have a manager to show the direction that we need to follow,” he said. Southampton’s less experienced players also have a leader on the pitch who they can count on when the going gets tough. “Maybe I don’t roar like a lion but I understand what needs to be done,” he said. “I’m not Cristiano Ronaldo who scores three goals every game but I’m trying to lead by example.” *Reuters

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Barca hailed as champions-elect after beating Real Madrid

[3/3/2019 1:10:42 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Barcelona were hailed as La Liga champions-elect in the Catalan media after their 1-0 win at Real Madrid on Saturday, while the capital’s press called for sweeping changes at Real after another domestic failure. Ivan Rakitic’s cool strike in the first half was enough to see off Real and send Barca 12 points clear of their historic rivals, as well as giving them a 10-point cushion over nearest challengers Atletico Madrid. “They are like champions,” said the cover of Barcelona-based newspaper Sport, describing the win, which came three days after a 3-0 victory over Madrid in the Copa del Rey semi-finals, as “another assault on the Santiago Bernabeu.” Mundo Deportivo, another Barcelona daily, likened the victory and the team’s jubilant celebrations to “a dance”, adding: “Barca can almost touch the title after killing off Madrid.” Barca became the first team in the history of La Liga to win four league games in a row at Real Madrid, prompting Sport to gloat about the Catalan side’s hegemony on enemy territory. “Barca can now take the keys to the Bernabeu, a stadium which they have made their home and where they feel no fear at all, only pleasure,” said the newspaper’s editor. “Barca strike another blow, leaving Real without the Cup or La Liga in the space of three days,” said Madrid-based newspaper Marca. Fellow Madrid daily AS said: “Madrid give up” on its front page, and also spoke of it being the end of an era for many of the club’s players who appear to be beyond their best, such as Sergio Ramos, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Marcelo. “This is a crisis which obliges the club to reinvent itself in the summer in a profound way after a turbulent year,” said the newspaper. “Changes need to be made in the dugout, as coach Santiago Solari has run out of credit, and above all in the squad, where players with huge salaries and inflated statuses are being shown up.” *Reuters

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Manchester United cannot go years without league title, says Solskjaer

[2/25/2019 3:24:31 PM]

AMMONNEWS - Manchester United cannot afford to go years without winning the Premier League title like Liverpool and must look to reclaim the trophy, the club’s caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said. United last won the league title in 2013, the year Alex Ferguson stepped down as manager, while Liverpool has not won the Premier League since it was formed in 1992, last winning the first division title in 1990. Liverpool is tied with Manchester City at the top of the current standings and can take an outright lead if they win or draw at Old Trafford on Sunday. Solskjaer said the 29-year wait for the trophy will be at the back of their opponent’s minds. “Of course they do feel that pressure. I think all the supporters do and players probably do as well,” Solskjaer told reporters ahead of Sunday’s clash. “But then we have not won it for a few years and so we want to get back to that. We have to make sure that we don’t end up being happy being among the top four. “If you aim too low and reach your target, then that’s more dangerous than aiming too high and missing them. It’s probably the toughest league to win and when you look at it, there are only five or six teams that have won the Premier League.” Solskjaer also took a dig at Liverpool, who have shown potential to be title challengers in recent years before fading away and relinquishing their advantage in the title race. “I have loads of Liverpool fans back home and every year is going to be their year. It has got to October and it’s: ‘OK, next year’,” Solskjaer added. “Now they are in the race so for them, it is going to be an exciting finish to the league. That’s none of our concern, we just have to concentrate on ourselves.” *Reuters

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Jordan qualifies to 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup

[2/24/2019 4:51:08 PM]

AMMONNEWS - For the second time in its history, Jordan on Sunday qualified to the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup after defeating New Zealand 86-80 in Round 2 Asian Group E qualifiers for the World Cup 2019 to be held in China in the summer this year. Before taking on New Zealand in Amman today, the national team routed Asia's basketball giant China 86-62, in its home qualifier on Friday in Amman.

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