Manchester United confirm youth-team coach Paul McGuinness exit from academy

Manchester United have confirmed their Under-18 coach Paul McGuinness has left the club on Friday. He joined the Academy staff in 1992 and after a series of poor results, has decided to leave his post of youth-team coach to pursue other ambitions in football.

A statement on United's official website read, "Paul McGuinness has announced he is leaving his post as youth-team coach at Manchester United to pursue other ambitions in football."Paul is the son of former United manager Wilf McGuinness, who joined the academy staff in 1992. He saw 86 academy graduates go on to play for the Red Devils' first team, out of which 23 players became full internationals.

United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward confirmed the club are in the process of restructuring their academy while speaking on a conference call with investors. United Under-18s have had a disappointing run as they are without a win in the last 12 matches.

McGuinness' highlight came when he guided his side to the FA Youth Cup success in 2011. He has expressed his delight after he was privileged to follow in his father's footsteps at Old Trafford.

"It has been an honour and a privilege to follow in my father Wilf's footsteps and to serve Manchester United in a variety of roles for a total of 28 years," McGuinness explained, as quoted by the club's official website.

"I have dedicated my life to each job, from player to education and welfare officer, to Centre of Excellence director and scout, assistant academy director for under-9s to under-16s and later under-17s to under-21s, head coach for the professional development phase and finally youth-team coach.

"I will be forever grateful to Sir Alex Ferguson for making my dreams come true and inviting me to represent Manchester United as a player and for the last 23 years as a proud member of staff.

"I have learned a great deal by working with Sir Alex and so many special Manchester United people over the years, especially my mentors Eric Harrison, Jim Ryan and Tony Whelan.

"I have so many incredible memories, particularly the FA Youth Cup win in 2011 and being asked to be part of the Munich memorial service in 2008, but I have especially enjoyed working behind the scenes with devoted colleagues, nurturing and coaching young players to reach their potential.

"I now have other ambitions I would like to fulfil in football that I can only experience outside the club.

"I am extremely grateful to all the staff at Carrington and Old Trafford for their friendship and professionalism over the years. Many thanks also to all the United supporters from all over the world - especially the incredibly dedicated followers of the Under-18 and youth teams.

"Finally, I would like to wish good luck for the future to Louis van Gaal, Ryan Giggs, the first team and all the players and staff at the Academy," he concluded.

Lionel Messi wins La Liga Player of the Month for first time in career

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi has won the La Liga Player of the Month Award for the first time in his career, the league announced Friday.

Messi earned the award after scoring six goals in five league games in the month of January.

The 2015 Ballon d’Or winner opened the month with a hat trick against Granada, and then scored against Athletic Bilbao and Malaga. He sealed his January campaign with an equalizing goal in Barcelona’s 2–1 victory over Atletico Madrid on Jan. 30.

The Player of the Month award was created at the beginning of the 2013–14 season, and is voted on by writers. Neymar is the only other Barcelona player to have captured the honor, winning in November.

Barcelona is in first place in La Liga and won or drew every match the team played in January.

Liverpool owners apologise to fans

Liverpool’s owners on Wednesday apologised and scrapped controversial plans to hike Anfield ticket prices after 10,000 fans walked out of the ground in protest at the weekend.Principal owner John W Henry and chairman Tom Werner acted after legions of angry Reds fans stormed out of the ground in the 77th minute of Saturday’s home game against Sunderland.

The timing reflected the $112 being asked for the most expensive ticket at Anfield next season. As a result of Saturday’s mutiny, the club’s owners announced a number of changes to their initial proposals in a structure which will also remain for the 2017/18 season.

Revenue generated from ticket prices will be frozen at 2015-16 levels; this means the highest match-day price for a general admission ticket will remain at £59 — the lowest will be £9 and these tickets will be offered for every match with an allocation of 10,000 across the season. The highest season ticket price will be frozen at £869 — after fears it would break through the £1,000 barrier — and the lowest £685. “It has been a tumultuous week,” said an open letter jointly signed by Henry and Werner.

“On behalf of everyone at Fenway Sports Group and Liverpool Football Club we would like to apologise for the distress caused by our ticket pricing plan for the 2016/17 season. We were strongly engaged in the process to develop the ticketing plan for 2016/2017,” the letter said. “We met directly with representatives of LFC’s Supporters’ Committee and along with LFC management, wholeheartedly agreed with major concerns raised, notably: access for local and young supporters; engagement and access to Anfield for local children; access to Premier League matches for those in Liverpool most challenged by affordability,” wrote in the letter.

“We believe the plan successfully addressed these concerns and are disappointed that these elements have been either lost or, worse, characterised as cynical attempts to mask profiteering in the plan as a whole,” they added in the letter. “Rather, we prefer to look at them as the parts of the ticketing plan we got right. On the other hand, part of the ticketing plan we got wrong.”

FIFA bans Jerome Valcke for ticket and television deals abuse

The former right hand man to FIFA’s scandal tainted president Sepp Blatter was also fined 100,000 Swiss francs ($100,000).

The 55-year-old Frenchman had denied any wrongdoing after he was implicated in the sale of black market sales of tickets for the 2014 World Cup.A FIFA statement said however that “several other acts of potential misconduct” during his nearly 10-years in office arose as the ethics committee investigated the accusations.

It highlighted “in particular abuse of the FIFA travel expenses policies and regulations, cases involving related-parties issues and the sale of TV and other media rights, and the destruction of evidence”.

FIFA said a sports marketing firm “gained an undue advantage from the selling of FIFA World Cup tickets” and that Valcke had helped.

“Not only did Mr Valcke do nothing to stop these activities, he even encouraged the persons responsible to do so. Furthermore, Mr Valcke repeatedly encouraged them to breach an agreement concluded between FIFA and the sports marketing firm.”

The statement also highlighted a contract for the sale of television and media rights for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in the Caribbean.Valcke attempted to grant the rights to “a third party for a fee far below their actual market value and had taken concrete preparatory action in this regard”.

Valcke was also found to have “deliberately” tried to obstruct the FIFA investigation by “attempting to delete or deleting several files and folders relevant to the investigation”.

FIFA said the Frenchman had also cheated on his expenses.

It said Valcke and his family travelled “at FIFA’s expense purely for sightseeing reasons as well as repeatedly choosing private flights for his trips over commercial flights without any business rationale”.

Valcke has also been linked to a $10 million payment made by South Africa to corruption-tainted former Caribbean football chief Jack Warner. US investigators reportedly believe this was a bribe to secure votes for the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA did not say whether this was part of the investigation.

The world football body fired Valcke on January 13, the latest high profile figure to be brought down after Blatter and UEFA chief Michel Platini were banned for eight years for separate ethics violations.

FIFA first suspended Valcke on September 17, when investigators began probing the ticketing scheme.

After ending the inquiry, the ethics committee had called for a lengthy ban and the 100,000 Swiss franc fine.

Valcke has long been a controversial figure in football.

Pour les enfants ou contre la corruption ? Clash entre la Fédé d'athlétisme et Nestlé

Nestlé a mis fin à son programme pour les enfants avec l'IAAF à la suite de la mauvaise pub des cas de corruption. "Les enfants en pâtiront", rétorque la Fédé.
Les sponsors choisissent le sport en partie pour les valeurs et pour l'image que la discipline peut lui apporter. Alors quand l'image est négative, les partenaires s'interrogent. C'est le cas de Nestlé, sponsor de la Fédération internationale d'athlétisme (IAAF). La marque a décidé de mettre fin à son partenariat portant sur un programme pour enfants, en raison des scandales mêlant corruption et dopage qui affecte l'instance.

Le président de l'IAAF, Sebastian Coe, a exprimé sa colère et sa consternation à la suite de cette défection. "En colère et consternés par l'annonce d'aujourd'hui sur (le programme pour) les enfants, nous ne l'accepterons pas. Ce sont les enfants qui en pâtiront", a-t-il affirmé dans un communiqué transmis à l'Agence France-Presse. Mercredi après-midi, Nestlé a annoncé la fin "avec effet immédiat" de son partenariat avec le programme de l'IAAF pour les enfants (IAAF Kids Athletics programme).

Premier coup de semonce
"Nous avons décidé de mettre un terme avec effet immédiat à notre partenariat avec le programme de l'IAAF pour les enfants", a annoncé Lydia Méziani, porte-parole du groupe d'agroalimentaire, dans un mail. "Cette décision a été prise au regard de la publicité négative liée aux allégations de corruption et de dopage faite à l'encontre de l'IAAF", précise le texte. Nestlé finançait ce programme depuis 2012. "Nous pensons que cela pourrait négativement impacter notre réputation et notre image", ajoute la porte-parole.

Le retrait de Nestlé est un premier coup de semonce pour l'IAAF, mise à mal depuis plusieurs mois par des cas de dopage en Russie qui ont été couverts par de la corruption jusqu'au plus haut niveau de l'instance. L'IAAF a depuis suspendu la Russie de toute compétition internationale, alors que les Jeux olympiques de Rio - où l'athlétisme est le sport numéro un - se déroulent dans six mois.

15 millions d'enfants touchés par ce programme
En France, un volet judiciaire a abouti à la mise en examen de plusieurs anciens responsables de l'IAAF, dont son ancien président le Sénégalais Lamine Diack. "Nous avons informé l'IAAF de notre décision et attendons de sa part un accord formel indiquant que notre partenariat a pris fin", conclut le texte. Dans une première réaction, l'IAAF a déclaré être "en discussions avec Nestlé concernant la dernière année de son partenariat de cinq ans portant sur le programme de l'IAAF pour les enfants".

Le programme de l'IAAF pour les enfants a été créé en 2005 et a permis de faire découvrir l'athlétisme à plus de "15 millions d'enfants dans 76 pays", selon le texte de l'IAAF transmis mercredi soir. "En 2016, ce programme envisage de s'étendre à 15 autres pays, pour 360 professeurs et 8 640 éducateurs sportifs, avec trois millions d'enfants concernés", précise le texte. Avec l'arrivée de Nestlé comme sponsor principal à partir de 2012, "l'IAAF a pu organiser en plus des cours pour les professeurs et les entraîneurs et cela a permis de toucher un plus grand nombre d'enfants", écrit par ailleurs la fédération internationale sur son site. Les objectifs du programme sont de faire de l'athlétisme "le sport le plus pratiqué dans les écoles", "d'éduquer les enfants au sport en général et à l'athlétisme en particulier". Les enfants qui ont pu bénéficier de ce programme sont répartis en trois classes d'âge : 7-8 ans, 9-10 ans et 11-12 ans.

Van Gaal: I would know if Manchester United spoke to Mourinho

Louis van Gaal believes the Manchester United board would inform him if they are holding talks with Jose Mourinho.

Several reports this week have claimed that Mourinho’s move to United this summer has all but been confirmed.

Van Gaal has been criticised over United’s playing style this season, with his side dumped out of the Champions League at the group stage and unlikely to overturn a 12-point gap between themselves and Premier League leaders Leicester City.

But the Dutchman is adamant that United have not been actively speaking to potential replacements.

“I have not said that we have spoken, but he [Mourinho] is my friend, so there you go,” Van Gaal told The Independent. “But I don’t know if Manchester United have spoken with Mourinho or not.

“I can only say that I have spoken with [United’s executive vice-chairman] Ed Woodward and I cannot imagine that they have spoken with each other. “I think that if they speak with another manager, they would tell me because our relationship is like that. But I think that, if they want to change, they have to prepare themselves. That is also a professional attitude, in my opinion.”

Blanc Extends His Contract At Paris St Germain

Laurent Blanc has signed a new contract with Paris Saint-Germain, which is set to see him remain in the French capital for the next two years.

The former defender succeeded Carlo Ancelotti in the Parc des Princes hotseat in the summer of 2013, following a two-year stint in charge of the national side during which he led them to the quarter-finals of Euro 2012. Since returning to club management, Blanc has guided PSG to two league titles, and they face Chelsea in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League this term.

The 50-year-old was due to become a free agent when his contract expired at the end of the season, and with some big-clubs likely to looking for new managers in the summer – including former club Manchester United – Blanc would have been an appealing option. However, he has now ended such speculation by signing a two-year extension with his current employers

“I would like to thank the club for the faith that has been put in me,” he said via the club’s official website. “Since the beginning, I have felt honoured to work for such an ambitious club and it is extremely satisfying to coach such talented players. I hope that I can continue make Paris Saint-Germain a brilliant and respected ambassador of French football.”

As well as their last-16 match in Europe against Chelsea, PSG also have interest in every other competition they entered this season. A third successive league title looks certain as they command a 24 point lead at the top of Ligue 1, they advanced to the Coupe de France quarter-final on Wednesday, and they take on Lille in the Coupe de la Ligue final in April.

Jordan’s Prince Ali Says FIFA Politics Affected International Games

Some national teams have been given unfavorable competition fixtures for failing to toe the political line inside soccer's world governing body, the Jordanian candidate to become its next president said on Thursday.

Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein, one of five men competing to take over as head of FIFA, described a climate of fear and reprisals inside the scandal-plagued organization, whose outgoing boss Sepp Blatter was suspended in October and banned for eight years in December.

"Let me tell you what happens when you don't go with the recognised powers in FIFA," Prince Ali, who is head of Jordan's football association, told a news conference.

"Development projects mysteriously stall; tournament hosting bids are suddenly compromised or withdrawn; national teams start to mysteriously face less favorable fixtures or even referees.

"All of these are effective ways to punish member associations that fail to demonstrate political loyalty."

FIFA is mired in the worst crisis in its 111-year history, with corruption investigations under way in Switzerland and the United States. Several dozen people, including senior soccer officials, have been indicted.

Prince Ali is regarded as an outsider in the February 26 election to succeed Blatter, who has led FIFA since 1998. Swiss-Italian Gianni Infantino has won the backing of European soccer's governing body UEFA and South America's CONMEBOL, while Africa's confederation has backed Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa of Bahrain.

Speaking later to Reuters Television, Prince Ali did not enlarge on the allegation that national teams had been given unfavorable fixtures, but he said the practice had extended to FIFA competitions.

"I'm referring to competitions and a lot of times it comes down to the (continental) confederations as well, and the way they approach games," he said.

"It's a common feeling within the footballing world and it's something that one has to really tackle and make sure there is no interference in terms of how things are planned."

Asked if the practice included World Cup qualifiers, he said: "I think sometimes it happens across the board."

World Cup qualifiers are usually organized by the confederations of the continents in which they take place.

"Confederations have a lot of pull in how they organize the tournaments, and FIFA has to keep a much more watchful eye because these are FIFA tournaments and therefore they have to guarantee that things are done much more effectively," he said.

FIFA could not immediately be reached for comment.

Prince Ali has served four years on FIFA's executive committee, but described himself as a rebel. He said he was surprised to learn when he joined the committee that meetings were held below ground at its Zurich headquarters.

"It is a bunker, three floors underground, and for me that is not the vision that one should have for that organization," he said. "There is a problem where minutes are not published. And even when they are received they are not accurate, in my opinion."

He said that if elected, he would review the decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar if there was proof of wrongdoing.

The desert country was a surprise choice to host the event, normally held in summer, and the choice provoked a furor that forced FIFA to switch it to November and December, in the middle of the European season. Qatar denies any wrongdoing in connection with its bid.

"If there is proof that there was criminal activity involved in a bid, then sure," Prince Ali said, adding that he would also look at allegations of mistreatment of migrant construction workers in Qatar.

"I will, as president, be there to make sure that human rights and workers' rights are abided by," he said.

Adam Johnson sacked by Sunderland

Sunderland have sacked winger Adam Johnson a day after he pleaded guilty to two child sex offences.

Johnson was in court on Wednesday, where he admitted one count of grooming and one of sexual activity with a 15-year-old schoolgirl, but also denied two further charges of sexual activity.

The 28-year-old will be back in court today for the start of his trial.

And a brief Sunderland statement released last night read: “In light of Adam Johnson’s guilty pleas, the club has today terminated his contract with immediate effect.”

A couple of hours earlier, Johnson had lost his boot sponsorship deal with Adidas, who also cited his guilty pleas in a brief statement.

Tennis - Parcours très prometteur du jeune Amaury de Beer en Tunisie

Amaury de Beer, jeune tennisman mauricien, a fait honneur à notre quadricolore à Tunis. Il s’est imposé au 1e tour face au Kenyan Olivier Kigoto, classé 708e sur le score de 6-0, 6-0 ce qui lui a valu 10 points. Il a eu ensuite à croiser le fer avec Omar Elkadi, tête de série no 12, classé 303e. Amaury pris en surprise par cet adversaire de taille, concéda le premier jeu 0-6 contre un Elkadi qui n’a fait qu’une faute directe pendant tout ce set. Au deuxième set Amaury ne se laissa pas intimider par son classement bien inférieur à celui de son adversaire et menait 4-2. Bien vite Elkadi se ressaisit pour remporter les quatre prochains jeux, et gagner ce set à 6-4.

Opposé à Calvin Jordaan, tête de série no 6, classé 197e mondial (classement incomparable à celui d’Amaury classé 1273e) et un an de plus son aîné. Amaury a mis du temps à rentrer dans le match et a concédé le premier set 1-6. Toutefois, il a vite pris sa revanche, et remporta le deuxième set sur le score de 6-2. Au super tie-break, Amaury ne fit pas de cadeau à Jordaan en le remportant 10-2! Amaury est très encouragé par cette performance et déclare avec un grand sourire : « J’ai vraiment bien joué et surtout je me suis fait plaisir ».

À savoir qu’en double, Amaury et Hemanshu Rambojun, son compatriote mauricien, sont toujours en lice dans le tableau principal après avoir battu au premier tour la paire Maiga du Mali et son partenaire Ntcha du Benin, (6/2 6/2) pour ensuite avoir pris d’assaut la paire sud-africaine Howard-Tripp et Jordaan, têtes de série no 3, sur le score de 7/6-6/1. Ils affronteront en quart de finale la paire tunisienne Bellalouna/Dabbabi.

Pour sa part, Amaury se battra pour un classement entre la 17e et la 24e place au classement final. Déjà avec ces performances, il a considérablement amélioré son classement qui devrait passer sous la barre des 900 dès mardi prochain – ce qui fera de lui le meilleur classé ITF Junior mauricien à ce jour.

Pour rappel, Amaury se rendra aussitôt après Tunis en Floride où il poursuivra ses entraînements au ‘United Tennis Academy’ de Bradenton. Son but cette année est de se retrouver parmi les « top 100 Junior mondiaux ».

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