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Milan’s Europa League Ban Should Serve as a Reminder to Manchester City

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AC Milan has been handed a one-year ban from European football over breaches of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations. The Serie A club will not play in the 2019-2020 Europa League.

UEFA, European football’s governing body, had accused the Italian club of flouting FFP rules over the past three seasons and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), on Friday, ruled in its favour.

Milan’s ban comes as a blessing for AS Roma, which will capitalize on Milan’s adversity. Roma, which finished 6th in the standings, now move up to the group stage of Europa League. Their position in the qualifying rounds will be grabbed by seventh-placed Torino.

Milan, once a European powerhouse, with seven European titles, is merely a shadow of its former self today. San Siro was once the home of football and some of the greatest players the game has ever known played there; Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi, Kaka, Ruud Gullit, Marco van Basten and Andrea Pirlo, to name a few. It all seems such a long time ago.

Like in most cases of downfalls, financial difficulties played a huge role in the reversal of fortunes for the Rossoneri. Silvio Berlusconi, a constant at AC Milan for 31 years, had put the rival Italian clubs to shame with his lavish spending. But the former Italian prime minister couldn’t cut off the debts that had tormented the club for almost a decade. This was just one of the factors, though.

Milan’s consistent refusal to adopt a more offensive style of play, something that most top-flight European clubs have built their successes on, has hurt them badly. An unshakeable belief in a more defensive approach has let them down over and over again.

But this, perhaps, is not the moment to discuss the rise and fall of one of the mightiest clubs to have ever played the beautiful game.

It is about the message that has emerged out of the decision to ban the club.

The ban imposed on Milan by the governing body has sent a strong signal to those who circumvent rules of the game. Be prepared to face the music if you are found breaching the codes of conduct.


The most significant aspect of fair play is based on the idea of equal opportunities. But it’s an ambitious goal. In the rat race for sporting success, the access for clubs to external financial resources is not evenly allocated and some financially robust clubs don’t seem to care for the rules. As the German saying goes, “money scores goal”. This is the principle on which they apparently operate.

With the ban on Milan, UEFA has conveyed its zero-tolerance approach to financial misconduct. But, the Italian club is not a financial powerhouse and does not have the clout that some others, like Manchester City, enjoy. It can be argued that UEFA did not face much resistance from Milan.

Even before the verdict was read out, a frantic Manchester City lodged an appeal against UEFA’s investigation into breaches of fair play regulations, with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. But that was an exercise in futility. CAS receives appeals only after a decision has been made. City jumped the gun in utter desperation.

They are staring at a one-year ban from the Champions League by UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body if allegations that they circumvented FFP regulations on spending are found to be true.

This case could prove to be a ‘real’ litmus test of UEFA’s ability to prove to the world that it can hold its own against financial giants of the game. If City is found to have infringed, it will have been for the second time. In 2014, the Abu Dhabi-owned club settled for a $60 million fine, alongwith transfer restrictions, after it broke the same FFP rules.

Club owner, Sheikh Mansour Zayed Al Nahyan of the Abu Dhabi royal family, would be hoping money once again scores a goal. In which case, a terrible precedent will be set, making a mockery of the governing body’s authority.

Although UEFA’s banning of Milan does not, in any way, add muscle to the governing body, it’s a step in the right direction, nevertheless.

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City’s Boss Pep Guardiola Unhappy with Gabriel Jesus’ Failed Attempt

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Pep Guardiola

After seeing the Manchester City’s game against Crystal Palace, no one was as dejected as its boss, Pep Guardiola. Guardiola’s frustration from the team’s performance was to the extent that he even claimed the team is “not ready” to win the Champions League, during the post-match interview. 

The two-time defending champion of the Premier League, Man. City won the game against Crystal City by 2-0. However, there were many aspects during the game against the Eagles that indicate Manchester City could have played better, turning the opportunities into the goal.

He said, “We miss a lot of chances in the final third and we have to do that to be clinical. When the people say about the Champions League being the target, we are still not ready. We create a lot and we don’t concede, but we can still improve. We are a team in the last two seasons who score a lot and create a lot. I don’t have doubt about that, but still we have to keep going and work on that.”

Pep Guardiola made the statement about the team needing to work hard came as a response to the question about Gabriel Jesus, who instead of passing the ball to Kevin De Bruyne tried a vain attempt to score a goal on his own.

While speaking of Jesus, the former Barcelona boss said, “Last season was tough for him. After the World Cup it was not easy. But he is strong. He is the number nine for Brazil. So he is an incredible young player.”

“He [Jesus] is so calm. He is a real competitor, he has accepted the decisions, in every session he fights like an animal. Of course he is still young and can improve, like when he has to pass to Kevin. He has to do it. But he is so young.”

However, on Tuesday Pep Guardiola’s team will be facing Atlanta at the Etihad Stadium to improve their point difference against the current champion Liverpool, as The City is still trailing by six points from The Reds, even with seven consecutive wins in the tournament.

And with the upcoming game against Atlanta, Man. City’s Boss Pep Guardiola will be facing the choice to get Sergio Aguero back in the team or provide another chance to the Brazilian defender.

On the other hand, explaining Jesus’ possible state of mind, former Liverpool striker Michael Owen said that the reason Jesus tried to score on his own, was to impress Guardiola and make name for himself in an ongoing competition against famed Sergio Aguero.

He said, “It is a problem because you’re so desperate to impress, if you score a couple of goals, it’s not easy to leave you out. You can understand it, you’re hungry for goals and obsessed with goals. But at some point you have to swallow your pride for the good of the team.”

The only question that remains is will Pep Guardiola replace Jesus with Aguero to teach him a lesson or is the unsuccessful try to score a goal enough for Jesus to know that passing the ball is more important in a game than to keep the ball in one’s possession.

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Saudi Piracy Reboot: Premier League Exposes beoutQ Seller in London

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Saudi Continues Piracy: Premier League Exposes beoutQ Seller in London

English football’s Premier League has revealed that a retailer in London has been convicted for selling the set top boxes, which illicitly gave access to broadcast of its games and other content.

Ammar Al-Silawi, 39, was found guilty on two charges of copyright and fraud each. As per the report, illegal streaming devices (ISDs) provided access to a number of channels, including those of the pirated service provider beoutQ – a pirate pay-television broadcaster serving Saudi Arabia. The seller operated from a shop on London’s Edgware Road.

The trial took place last month, while the sentencing was heard at Westminster Magistrates’ Court earlier this month. Al-Silawi received the maximum 300 hours of unpaid community service and was ordered to pay legal costs to the Premier League. The convict was also ordered to comply with the charges, failing to which would result in an immediate custodial sentence.

“The law is very clear that the sale of ISDs is illegal and it is an issue taken very seriously by both the police and the courts,” said Premier League director of legal services Kevin Plumb.

“We will continue to investigate and pursue all suppliers of illegal streaming services, regardless of the size or scale of their operation, to protect the intellectual property that enables the Premier League to be so competitive and compelling,” he added.

The Premier League prosecuted the case along with the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) and with the assistance of the Metropolitan Police.

This is for the first time where Premier League has successfully prosecuted and convicted the seller. However, the league has argued to continue with the steps and fight against sellers promoting piracy.

For two years, beoutQ has been operating as the single most extensive operation, which has affected the revenue by millions. Factually, the operation is also the most audacious step ever taken to promote piracy in the history of modern media.

Apart from Premier League, other major football bodies including, FIFA, UEFA and La Liga recently issued a joint statement and shunned beoutQ. The leagues in their statement called on Saudi-based satellite operator Arabsat to stop the piracy distribution.

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Bulgarian Coach Krasimir Balakov Resigns amid Mass Criticism on Moot Statement

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Krasimir Balakov

Last updated on October 21st, 2019

The past few days have been tumultuous for England’s football team due to the instance of racial abuse during the 2020 Euro Cup Qualifier against Bulgaria.

Moreover, the statement of Bulgarian coach Krasimir Balakov not only led to his mass criticism but also shed light on the fact that how the prominent authorities are willing to avoid voicing the racial abuse concerns.  

The academicians and the researchers for a long time have claimed football to be a binding sport between the players, fans and the administrative authorities. But the recent instances of racial abuse against different players, clubs, and teams have successfully managed many to believe it otherwise.  

The resignation of the Bulgarian coach came four days after the splendid win of England national football team against Bulgaria by a score of 6-0 in the 2020 Euro cup Qualifier.

Following the resignation, coach Krasimir Balakov said, “I am no longer national team coach. I wish success to the next coach, the situation is not rosy at the moment. I have never been a coach in such an atmosphere. I tried to pick up the players in the locker room.”

“There was no rebellion. The players were so mentally stressed by what was happening on the pitch that they lacked the energy to rebel,” he added. Apart from the Bulgarian coach, the whole board of the Bulgarian Football Union, along with its President Borislav Mikhailov resigned on Friday.

The Bulgarian Football Union claimed the poor performance of men’s national team as the reason behind Krasimir Balakov’s resignation. Although, it won’t be wrong to consider the possibility that the criticism for Balakov’s post-match statement amassed might be the reason for his resignation.

Even though there have been numerous instances of racial abuse in Europe, the incident is prevalent in other parts of the world,  including the Middle-East dating back to 1970s involving anti-Arab, promotion of Holocaust against Maccabi Tel Aviv and anti-Semitic taunts.

The horrific scenario achieved new heights in the Middle East region when Iran accused Syria of “fixing” the 2018 World Cup qualifiers match held in Kuala Lumpur.

On the other hand, there have been instances that gave a glimmer of hope like the collective effort of Algerian football fans to stop racial abuses against the dual-nationality players.

The resignation of Krasimir Balakov is a key example that most of the responsible authorities avoid taking a constructive stance on resolving the racial abuse cases on a psychological level, and instead believe in the removal of leadership.

If such practices continue, the famed sport “football” might lose its charm and enthusiasm for which it is known from a long time.

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England Retaliates Racial Abuse at 2020 Euro Cup Qualifier with 6-0 Win

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During England’s 2020 Euro Cup qualifier against Bulgaria on Monday at Stadion Vasil Levski in Sofia, everything seemed to be going well for Gareth Southgate and his team until the racist slurs marred the splendid win against Bulgaria.

There were many other notable instances throughout the match like the combined team effort leading to the 6-0 win against Bulgaria and the efforts of Bulgarian Captain Ivelin Popov to stop the racist abuse.

However, it was the monkey noises and chants aimed at the coloured players of England and the statements from the Bulgarian coach and a Bulgarian journalist after the game that ruined the experience for football fans.

As the 2020 Euro Cup Qualifier against Bulgaria started, the Bulgarian fans directed racist slurs towards Tyrone Mings, who was playing his first international match. Yet, Gareth Southgate’s players continued to focus on the game maintaining the integrity of the game and acquiring the lead of 2-0.

Soon, the game had to be stopped at the 28th minute when England’s forward Raheem Sterling became the target of the abuse. When the game stopped, an announcement was made as per the three-step UEFA protocol for tackling abuse, asking fans to stop the abuse and warning that the game could be suspended if the abuse continued.  

Gareth Southgate and his boys remained undeterred from the fateful incident in the 2020 Euro Cup Qualifier and continued to improve their lead to 3-0 before the game was stopped at the 43rdminute.

The second timeout led to the referee asking England manager Gareth Southgate if England wanted to leave. Southgate in response denied and decided to play until half time, by when the team had already acquired a 4-0 lead.

The extent of the racial abuse during the 2020 Euro Cup Qualifier between England and Bulgaria was so severe that Bulgarian Captain Popov had to ask the fans to maintain calm.

As England’s team tried to reel back from the racial abuse during the match, the ignorant attitude of Bulgarian coach Krasimir Balakov marred the event further for the visiting team.

Additionally, a Bulgarian reporter also claimed that the visiting was exaggerating and the game was so friendly, even though it did not appear so at any point of time during the match.

This is not the first time, a football game or a player became a target of racial abuse. However, continuous instances like this do indicate the need for stricter policies to ensure racial abuse does not mar any event like it did for England at the 2020 Euro Cup Qualifier against Bulgaria.

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Pep Guardiola: Quitting Manchester City On Cards, if Plans Go Otherwise

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Pep Guardiola: Quitting Manchester City On Cards, if Plans Go Otherwise

He was manager invincible pretty much the last season, but the game is changing rapidly even for Manchester City Boss Pep Guardiola, who has vowed to quit if everything goes wrong. Interestingly, as revealed, the fact is also well known to Man City Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak.

Manchester City’s start to Premier League season has already been dented with 2 defeats in 8 matches contested thus far, and the Champions are 8 points adrift of the leaders Liverpool. The situation has, therefore, left Guardiola both wondering and pondering about what to do about the increasing gap.

Discussing his close relationship with Khaldoon Al Mubarak in his new book ‘Pep’s City: The Making of a Superteam’, Guardiola stated: “He knows I’d step aside if things weren’t going to plan.” Adding, “I’ll give everything to avoid that and make every effort to move things forward. No coasting.”

The book, written with the Spaniard’s full co-operation, also points out that he will put Christmas ban on his players. As noted, Manchester City’s Manager was livid with some of his players who stayed out until dawn at last year’s club bash. As a fact, celebrations were allegedly subjected to even more criticism because they came after a 3-2 defeat to Crystal Palace, only a couple of days ago.

Following the decision to stay out until late, Guardiola met with his coaching staff and decided there will be an upper limit on time until which the players can stay out.

Guardiola’s ‘Pep’s City: ‘The Making of a Superteam’ also claims that Man City players came and joined the staff for the party at the Great Northern Warehouse. However, some players decided to enjoy the occasion at the nightclub Chinawhite.

The next day, while most players reported on time to the training ground, some were late because of the previous night’s decision, leaving Guardiola fuming.

Meanwhile, Manchester City will face Crystal Palace in their next Premier League match. Palace, who sit only two points behind City will look to extend their good run against the defending champions. However, Guardiola’s men would like to seal three big points, especially after having already dropped eight points in 8 game weeks.

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