England Weighs How To Combat Racism in Russian World Cup

England is soliciting advice on how to deal with the potential for racism at the upcoming soccer World Cup in Russia, according to Team Manager Gareth Southgate. "We work with our players on how we will support each other if anything like that was to happen," said Southgate, a former England international.

"There would be some official protocol to follow if it did happen, but we really hope it is a situation that doesn't emerge, and that it's a festival of football we are talking about on the pitch and not talking about things off the field.

"The most important thing is that internally we are able to support our players if something does happen and they understand how their teammates and our staff are going to go about that.

"There are some sessions we will do with them about that and then there is the official protocol to be followed. As a federation, I think we would be strong in pushing for the right solutions within that.

"So we have everything in place, but most importantly is that internally the players feel they have that level of support."

His comments follow the Russian football association being fined about US$30,000 by soccer's global governing body, FIFA, for racist chants by supporters during a friendly international against France in March. 

France's Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele were the targets of monkey chants during their side's 3-1 win over Russia in Saint Petersburg.

Racism has plagued Russian soccer since clubs began purchasing foreign players after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) anti-discrimination network reported 89 racist and far-right incidents at Russian games in the 2016-2017 season. The number was about the same as that recorded in the preceding three seasons — an indication that the Russian Football Union's attempts to eradicate the problem have yet to succeed.

Mourinho bemoans losing at his own game to Chelsea's Conte

Manchester United Jose Mourinho bemoaned old foe Antonio Conte's tactics as his side failed to breakdown Chelsea's defensive wall in losing the FA Cup final 1-0 on Saturday.

Eden Hazard's 22nd minute penalty proved the difference between the teams to ensure Mourinho's second season at Old Trafford ends without a trophy.

United enjoyed a far better Premier League season than Chelsea as Conte's men failed to even qualify for the Champions League by finishing fifth just a year after claiming the title.

However, despite finishing second in the league to a record-breaking Manchester City side, Mourinho's approach has been much-criticised this season for lacking the flair and invention displayed by City and Champions League finalists Liverpool.

"I congratulate them because they won but I don't think they deserved to win," said Mourinho.

"I'm curious to read today and tomorrow, to watch, to listen (to) your (the media's) opinions."

Mourinho and Conte have consistently clashed since the latter arrived in England just under two years ago.

But tactically they have plenty in common as despite Mourinho's protestations, Chelsea's defensive resistence inspired by Conte's organisation is exactly what Mourinho has made his own trademark in a trophy-laden career.

Mourinho claimed on the eve of the game that he didn't understand the media's interpretation of "entertaining".

In the Portuguese's estimations, racking up 6-0 victories is not as exciting as "emotion until the end, the game open, everyone on the edge of their seats, both dug-outs nervous and tense with the result in doubt."

The final did deliver on that promise as Chelsea 'keeper Thibaut Courtois saved brilliantly from Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba headed wide as United tried in vein to force the game to extra time.

Mourinho hasn't been afraid to publicly criticise his players this season, most notably lambasting his squad after winning their Cup quarter-final against Brighton in March.

However, one of two exceptions that night along with Nemanja Matic was Romelu Lukaku.

The Belgian striker has scored 27 goals in all competitions in his debut season at Old Trafford.

But even he bore the brunt of Mourinho's frustration for only declaring himself fit enough for a late cameo appearance from the bench due to an ankle injury.

"When a player tells you he is not ready to play, not ready to start, then the question is how many minutes you think you can? How can you convince a player?," he added.

"Chelsea are not stupid. They know our team without Lukaku does not have a presence, so putting eight or nine players in front of the box they knew they would be dominant in that direct football.

"We tried everything by other ways but they had a huge block of compacted players."

The damage at the other end was done early on when Chelsea capitalised on a fast start, and a fine individual display by Hazard.

The diminutive Belgian excelled in the space between United's defence and midfield despite Mourinho's best efforts to man mark him with Ander Herrera.

Hazard pounced on indecision by Phil Jones to burst clear on goal and was then brought down by the England international as he prepared to shoot before converting the spot-kick himself.

"They only play long ball," insisted Mourinho. "When you play against a team so predictable, it is quite easy to adapt to it. But of course Hazard is a very good player and of course he created a penalty."

Platini admits ‘skulduggery’ to rig 1998 World Cup draw

Disgraced Michel Platini has sensationally admitted to a “little skulduggery” in rigging the draw to ensure Brazil and France could not meet until the final of the 1998 World Cup, where he was organising committee president.

“We organised the schedule so, if we finished first in our group and Brazil first in theirs, the teams could not meet before the final,” France great Platini told Radio Bleu Sport in an interview to be broadcast on Sunday, highlights of which the station tweeted on Friday.

The revelation comes at a time when Platini is banned from football for receiving a “disloyal payment” of two million Swiss francs (1.7 million euros, $2 million) when he was head of UEFA from disgraced former FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

The draw took place in Marseille on December 4, 1997 and was presided over by FIFA’s then-general secretary: Blatter.“Look, we were at home, you have to make the most of things, we weren’t going to go through the bother of six years organising the World Cup if we could not pull off a few little tricks,” said Platini, a former midfield star for Saint Etienne, Juventus and France. “Do you think other hosts didn’t do the same at their World Cups?”

A France-Brazil final “was everyone’s dream”, said Platini.Brazil were placed in Group A and France in Group C, ensuring they wouldn’t meet until the final, as long as both won their group.

Not everyone was happy with the fairly transparent plan, though.At the time, the selection process of top seeds for the eight groups had provoked accusations of a “European conspiracy” by then-Brazil coach Mario Zagallo.

Following frantic negotiations behind the scenes, six European countries and two South Americans — Brazil and Argentina — were picked, with Africans Nigeria missing out.Ahead of the draw, Zagallo had complained that French organisers would “do everything to ensure Brazil are not world champions”, insisting the seeding process was fixed to ensure the Selecao would face two European sides in the group stages: they drew Norway and Scotland, as well as Morocco — a fairly easy draw by anyone’s standards.

But their bitter rivals Argentina drew the only group with just one European team, Croatia, as well as Jamaica and Japan.France got Denmark, South Africa and Saudi Arabia, finished top and then beat Paraguay, Italy (on penalties) and Croatia on route to the final, playing both their quarter-final and semi-final at the Stade de France national stadium where the title-decider would also be held.Brazil won their group and beat Chile, Denmark and the Netherlands (on penalties) before losing the final 3-0 to France.

Jose Mourinho: Don’t worry, be happy

Jose Mourinho has told his Manchester United players to be happy rather than nervous as he revealed the secret of his cup final success.

Mourinho has been successful in 12 of the 14 finals he has contested as a manager, in contrast to his opposite number today, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte, who has won none.

Speculation remains rife that today’s FA Cup final will be Conte’s last game in charge of the Blues, but Mourinho says that will have no bearing on the outcome.

“Honestly I still don’t know what his situation is,” said Mourinho, who has buried the hatchet with the Italian following their war of words earlier this season.

“I didn’t read or listen to him say he is leaving and for me that’s the most important thing, Antonio and the club.

“Of course sometimes I read what is written, that someone is coming, the other is coming, but until it is official I don’t know.

“But in relation to the match, if it is or isn’t his last match, will not change his approach to the game and his desire to win.”

Mourinho is hoping striker Romelu Lukaku passes a late fitness test on an ankle injury.

Winger Anthony Martial is fit while David de Gea will start in goal as regular cup keeper Sergio Romero is short of match sharpness.

Victory, and a 13th final success for Mourinho, would also be a 13th FA Cup for United.

“I like to play the matches,” he added. “That’s how you should approach finals, you shouldn’t go to finals less than very happy. That’s the point.

“If you give me the choice of finish the (last) match against Watford and go on holiday, or be working one more week to play a beautiful final, of course I want to play the beautiful final.

“Everybody wants to play finals. You have to be happy. Not nervous. Anxiety is normal but you have to go with happiness.”

Some pundits have expressed fears the showpiece could be a dull, cagey affair, especially given some of United’s less-than-cavalier performances this season.

But Mourinho countered: “I don’t understand these words of entertaining. Do you think 6-0 is entertaining? I don’t think so.

“I think entertaining is emotional until the end, an open result until the end, everybody on their seats until the end, both dugouts nervous and tense with the unpredictability of the result.

“For me as a football lover, not as a manager, that’s entertaining. I think it will be entertaining.”

Whatever happens today, Mourinho insists United’s season will not be defined by the result.

United finished second in the Premier League, a distant 19 points behind runaway champions Manchester City, but Mourinho insists progress has been made: “People can do what they want, you can analyse the way you want to analyse. I can also analyse the way I want to analyse.

“Of course it makes a difference, but it’s one thing to make a difference and the other is to consider the season good or bad because of one match.

“I analyse the work I do, the effort I put in, and everything we all did at the club.

“I know the positive things and the negative things so I am not going to change my analysis of the season because of the result of one match. Not at all.”

Anthony Martial, Alexandre Lacazette, Dimitri Payet miss out on France World Cup squad

DIMITRI Payet was left out of France’s 23-man World Cup squad on Thursday, a day after being injured during Marseille’s Europa League final defeat by Atletico Madrid.

He has a thigh problem that will need at least three weeks to heal, a delay that prompted coach Didier Deschamps to omit the former West Ham player. Unveiling his squad on French TV, Deschamps said he had no choice but to leave out Payet.

“Without his injury he would have been a serious candidate for the 23-man list,” Deschamps said. “This is a muscular injury, with a risk of a relapse.” Payet has been in impressive form with Marseille. He is the French league’s top playmaker this season with 13 assists, and claimed three goals and seven assists in the Europa League, starring in the quarterfinals and semifinals. France, runner-up at the European Championship two years ago, opens its World Cup campaign against Australia on June 16. It meets Peru five days later and closes the group stage against Denmark on June 26.

Most of the squad were expected to be selected. The biggest surprise came with the inclusion of Sevilla’s holding midfielder Steven Nzonzi, who was preferred to Paris Saint-Germain’s Adrien Rabiot.

The 29-year-old Nzonzi has just two caps.

“Steven has technical skills and an imposing height, he plays in the same fashion as N’golo Kante,” Deschamps said. “And Adrien’s performances with France are not at the same level as those he delivered with PSG this season.” In defense, Djibril Sidibe and Benjamin Mendy were included after recovering from injuries.

Mendy only returned to competition in April with Manchester City but his influence on the left flank is such that Deschamps was not even tempted to overlook the former Monaco left back.

In the heart of the defense, Marseille’s Adil Rami took advantage of Laurent Koscielny’s Achilles injury as he was included alongside regular starters Samuel Umtiti and Raphael Varane.

Deschamps also named 11 reserves who won’t be joining France’s training camp next week but could be called up in case of injury.

Manchester United forward Anthony Martial and Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette were not included in the squad but are among the reserves. Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema, who has a strained relationship with Deschamps and also missed Euro 2016, did not make the cut despite being regarded by many as the best French forward of his generation.

Deschamps has plenty of talent to choose from in attack and opted for Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele, Florian Thauvin, Nabil Fekir and Thomas Lemar.

Buffon calls time on 17-year Juventus career

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon announced on Thursday that he will leave the Turin giants after 17 years but did not as expected declare the end of his playing career.

Buffon, 40, captained Juventus to a seventh straight Serie A title and fourth consecutive Italian Cup triumph this season.“To end this adventure with two new victories was important,” the Italian told a press conference at the Allianz Stadium.

“Saturday will be my final match with Juventus.”The former Parma goalkeeper will make his 640th Serie A appearance against Verona in Turin.Buffon said he would like to take more time to reflect on his future which could be either on or off the pitch.

“What am I going to do? Saturday, I’m playing a match and it’s the only thing that’s certain,” he continued.“Until 15 days ago, I was sure to stop playing, but I received some exciting proposals, both on and off the pitch. Off the pitch the most interesting was made to me by (Juventus) president (Andrea) Agnelli.”

“Next week, after a few days of calm reflection, I will make a definite and certain decision.”According to the Italian press Buffon has received offers from top European clubs including Liverpool, Real Madrid and Paris Saint Germain.

It was a rollercoaster season for Buffon with Italy failing to qualify for the World Cup finals for the first time in six decades.His final Champions League game ended in another fiasco last month as he raged into the night at the referee after being sent off late in a semi-final defeat by Real Madrid.

He is facing a UEFA ban for his verbal abuse of English referee Michael Oliver who he said had “a rubbish bag for a heart” and should “sit in the stands with your wife, your kids, having your drink and eating your crisps”.

European football’s governing body said the case will be dealt with on May 31.“After that match, I went beyond the limits with the things I said about the referee and I apologise for that,” said Buffon.

“I am extremely sorry about that, as over 23 years of Champions League career, I was never sent off or suspended, so I feel that I behaved fairly and in a sporting manner with everyone.“If I saw the referee again, I would give him a hug and say that he should have taken more time with that decision in such an important game for us and for me,” said Buffon.

Italy’s most capped player with 176, Buffon could make his international farewell on June 4 in a friendly against the Netherlands.Buffon holds the record for going 974 minutes in Serie A football without conceding a goal and has kept 300 clean sheets in 655 competitive club matches.

Atletico crush Marseille 3-0, win their third Europa League title

La Liga outfit Atletico Madrid proved their formidable firepower in Europa League, beating Ligue 1 side Marseille 3-0 in the final here on Wednesday.

It was the third time for Atletico to win the tournament in franchise history.

Antoine Griezmann, whose hometown Macon is not far from Lyon, scored in each half of the match, before captain Gabi's late low shot made it beyond any speculation.

Atletico, who made their fifth appearance in the final of European tournaments in the past nine years, were crowned in Europa League in 2010 and 2012, while Marseille anticipated for another European title after winning the Champions League back in 1993.

Marseille pressed high from the start, and almost broke the deadlock just on four minutes on their "home" pitch. Skipper Dimitri Payet's clinical pass on a counter-attack found Valere Germain, whose shot went beyond the cross-bar.

However, the attack-minded French team had to pay for their own error. 33-year-old goalkeeper Mandanda suffered poor communication with full back Andre Zambo Anguissa when he cleared the ball in the 21st minute.

Griezmann didn't waste the glorious chance to finish a side-foot after being teed up by Gabi who intercepted the ball.

Added to their inferior position, Marseille lost Payet who was injured and had to leave the pitch in tears in the 32nd minute.

Griezmann continued his in-form play after the interval. After a clever one-two in midfield, the Frenchman was released on the right by Koke to casually lift his left-footed shot over the outgoing Mandanda in the 49th minute.

Marseille had two attempts to half their deficit with less than two minutes from time. Second-half substitute Kostas Mitroglou rose highest to head a right-wing cross from Morgan Sanson, but the ball went onto Oblak's right-hand post. That arrived before left-back Jordan Amavi's powerful shot outside the box was saved by Jan Oblak.

Gabi's goal on the counter-attack in the 89th minute capped off Atletico's convincing victory of the night.

Former Spanish "Golden Boy" Fernando Torres came off the bench for Griezmann late in the match, and ended story with his boyhood club with a European champion. He lifted up the trophy alongside Gabi on the award ceremony.

"It's happiness that's difficult to explain. It's a dream come true. On a sentimental level, this title has to rank highest. Everyone has a boyhood dream, and this was mine," said Torres.

After failing to secure next season's Champions League spot by winning the Europa League title, Marseille had to turn their focus back on domestic league, and had their last try in the final round action.

Currently ranked fourth in Ligue 1, Marseille saw themselves three points away from Monaco, and one point adrift Lyon. The second-placed team will automatically earn a spot in group stage of next season's Champions League, while the third will go through qualifiers.

Allardyce sacked as Everton manager, Moyes leaves West Ham

Sam Allardyce was sacked as manager of Everton on Wednesday after just six months in charge despite guiding the Premier League club away from relegation danger to a mid-table finish.

The former England manager, 63, was brought in as Ronald Koeman's replacement in November, but his rudimentary style of play has proved deeply unpopular with fans of the Merseyside club.

"We have made the decision that, as part of our longer-term plan, we will be appointing a new manager this summer," said new chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale. "On behalf of the chairman, board of directors and Mr Moshiri, I'd like to thank Sam for the job he has done at Everton."

"Sam was brought in at a challenging time last season to provide us with some stability and we are grateful to him for doing that," she added.

Former Watford and Hull City manager Marco Silva is the favourite to take over and could complete the move to Goodison Park six months after the club failed to prise him away from Vicarage Road.

Despite signing an 18-month deal, Allardyce appeared resigned to his fate after Sunday's 3-1 defeat at former club West Ham, during which Everton supporters called for his sacking. "I can't quite say confident after all the rumours I'm reading in the paper," said Allardyce, when questioned about his future. "Generally there's no smoke without fire. We'll wait and see when we meet up."

David Moyes has left West Ham following the end of his short-term contract, the Premier League club announced on Wednesday. The 55-year-old former Everton and Manchester United boss arrived at the London Stadium in November, with the sole objective of ensuring the Hammers' top-flight status, which he achieved. "I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to David Moyes and his staff for achieving the target of keeping West Ham United in the Premier League," said joint chairman David Sullivan.

"When David and his team arrived, it was the wish of both parties that the focus be only on the six months until the end of the season, at which point a decision would be made with regards to the future," he added. "Having taken stock of the situation and reflected now the campaign is complete, we feel that it is right to move in a different direction."

Sullivan said the club, who finished 13th in the Premier League, aim to appoint a "high-calibre" successor within the next 10 days. The announcement on Moyes came barely 12 hours after David Gold, West Ham's co-owner, said he hoped Moyes would remain in charge for next season.

Reports this week said West Ham had held "productive" talks with Paulo Fonseca, the manager of Shakhtar Donetsk, while Sullivan remains a long-term admirer of Newcastle's Rafael Benitez. Former Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini, currently with Hebei China Fortune, and outgoing Paris St-Germain coach Unai Emery have also been linked with the role.

Moyes succeeded Slaven Bilic in November, when West Ham were in the relegation zone, and guided the team to safety.

Joe Hart left out as England reveal 23-man World Cup squad

England manager Gareth Southgate has announced his 23-man squad for the World Cup in Russia with Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart the most notable omission.

Hart played in nine of England's ten qualifying games as they easily topped a Group F containing Scotland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

The 31-year-old was left out of the final game, a 1-0 win over Lithuania, but was widely expected to at least retain his squad place for the finals.

Stoke City's Jack Butland, who started that final game, has been selected alongside Jordan Pickford of Everton and uncapped Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope between the sticks.

Three members of the Premier League-winning Manchester City defence – Fabian Delph, John Stones and Kyle Walker – have been selected along with Liverpool youngster Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Jack Wilshere has been omitted in midfield in spite of earning his place back in the Arsenal starting 11, while ex-Ireland under-21 defender Michael Keane of Everton is also left out.

Once-capped Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook is on the standby list should injury force changes in the main 23, as is Burnley defender James Tarkowski.

The squad was released via a video on the FA's social media pages, which can be viewed below.

Goalkeepers: Jack Butland (Stoke), Jordan Pickford (Everton), Nick Pope (Burnley).

Defenders: Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Fabian Delph (Manchester City), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Harry Maguire (Leicester), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), John Stones (Manchester City), Kieran Trippier (Tottenham Hotspur), Kyle Walker (Manchester City), Ashley Young (Manchester United).

Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea).

Forwards: Harry Kane (Tottenham), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jamie Vardy (Leicester), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal).

Standby: Lewis Cook (Bournemouth), Tom Heaton (Burnley), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), Jake Livermore (West Brom), James Tarkowski (Burnley).

Man City boss Guardiola scoops awards double after claiming LMA Manager of the Year

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola claimed the double after he was crowned the League Manager's Association (LMA) Manager of the Year and the Premier League Manager of the Season.

Guardiola enjoyed a record-breaking season at the helm of champions City, who became the first Premier League side to reach 100 points, as the Spaniard scooped both awards on Tuesday.

The former Bayern Munich and Barcelona coach also helped City set Premier League bests in terms of wins (32), away wins (16), goal difference (+79), goals (106) and the most matches won in succession (18) after the Citizens finished 19 points clear of neighbours and second-placed Manchester United.

Guardiola held off Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, Burnley's Sean Dyche, Wolves boss Nuno Espiro Santos, Cardiff City's Neil Warnock and John Coleman of Accrington Stanley to take out the LMA Manager of the Year.

The 47-year-old also became the first City manager to win the award – handed to Chelsea manager Antonio Conte last season – after Roberto Mancini (2012) and Manuel Pellegrini (2014) missed out despite winning the Premier League.

Read more at https://www.fourfourtwo.com/news/man-city-boss-guardiola-scoops-awards-double-after-claiming-lma-manager-year#WTTXIFzo48swr6OU.99

"I want to share this manager award with all the other managers and I hope Sir Alex will be here to share it with us," said Guardiola.

"We achieved records and success that we'll remember for the rest of our lives."

Guardiola also beat Klopp, Dyche, Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson, Newcastle United's Rafael Benitez and Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton to the Premier League gong.

"I don't usually win awards because it’s the fellow managers who vote for it," Guardiola added.


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