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



europa league

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.


FIFA 20 Official Game will have a New Emirati Club Addition




The football fans are becoming eager, as the month for another addition FIFA video games series is coming up next month. This year, Electronic Arts (EA) has given the Middle Eastern fans a reason to rejoice FIFA 20, like never before.

The video games company recently announced that EA SPORTS FIFA 20 will feature the Emirati team, Al Ain FC for the first time ever. The debut of United Arab Emirate’s team in the series reportedly came after growing demand from the fans in the Gulf and Asia.

One of the most accomplished teams in the Emirates, Al Ain FC was the most requested additions in the region. The game will feature the complete line up, as well as its iconic purple kit. The local news agencies have also reported that the team will mark its presence at the EA SPORTS FIFA 20 launch.

Managing Director of Al Ain Sports and Cultural Club, Hamad Nakhirat Al Ameri said, “The addition of Al Ain FC in the upcoming EA SPORTS FIFA 20 is a recognition of the hard work of our players and our management, and more importantly our incredible fans in the UAE and beyond.”

“Al Ain FC has the history, talent and record to make it one of the best clubs in Asia, and we look forward to showing football fans from around the world a taste our capabilities and the true potential of Arab football,” stated Al Ameri.

EA’s FIFA video games series is one of the most esteemed across the globe. Besides, the game is expected to create a stronger foothold in the Middle East, where football is extensively prevalent sport. The latest series will be releasing with some great new features, which will be including VOLTA Football as well.

Also known as “The Boss”, Al Ain FC has covered a journey of some incredible achievements in its long history on various levels, be it local, regional or pan-Asian. The team also has a brilliant presence in Asia. Its inclusion in the FIFA 20 will be another major accomplishment that the team will soon achieve.

Mansour Al Mansouri, Director-General of National Media Council, stated, “The addition of Al Ain Club to FIFA 2020 video game is a result of the strategic partnership between the Council and EA Sports. The Council is keen to strengthen partnerships with companies producing global video games content with a view to develop the video games market in the country.”

While Al Ain FC will be marking its debut in the series, it is expected to offer an unforgettable experience to its Gulf users. EA’s latest addition to FIFA 20 might also lead to abundant additions to its consumers in Middle East.

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Chelsea Boss Frank Lampard backs Tammy Abraham and Condemns Racial Slurs



Frank Lampard

Following the penalty shootout at the UEFA Super Cup final, Liverpool emerged victorious after a beautiful save by Adrián against the penalty shootout of Chelsea player, Tammy Abraham.

Following the penalty miss out, the 21-year-old striker for the English Club Chelsea became a target of online racial slurs as his shootout proved decisive for the fate of Chelsea, costing them the UEFA Super Cup.

However, this did not seem to affect Chelsea Manager Frank Lampard as he along with other team players came forward to back Tammy Abraham. The Blues’ manager asserted that he will not remove Abraham from the squad against Leicester City in the upcoming match of 28th Premier League at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

After the online racial abuse, anti-racist organisation Kick It Out not only termed the comments as “predictable, but no less disgusting”, but also issued a “call to action” to the social media channels.

In a press release, Chelsea’s manager in response to the online abuse against Tammy Abraham said, “Tammy is more than disappointed. I am disgusted by a so-called Chelsea fan. I don’t know how it’s allowed on the social media platforms. It’s too easy, so something needs to be done.”

The ex-player of Chelsea and now the manager, Frank Lampard, further added, “To say they need to be thick-skinned is too easy to say. When it becomes you and it becomes hurtful, it’s a problem we have to deal with. The social media companies, are they ever going to stop someone casually putting up what someone did against Tammy? That’s their responsibility.”

Famed footballer and winger for Chelsea, Christian Pulisic also came forward in the support of Abraham and said, “It’s penalties, man – somebody has to miss. He’s going to get his head up. Obviously it’s tough but penalties are like that. He can deal with it and he’ll be fine. He’ll move on, score a goal in the next game and everything will be forgotten. We’re there for him.”

According to Frank Lampard, Tammy Abraham has a “hunger for scoring goals, gets in positions regularly” and that displays his character as a player, who does not believe in hiding.

This is not for the first time that football lovers have made racist slurs towards the Black English players. Seeing the current policies of social media and behaviour of the fans, it definitely won’t be the last, unless there is a change in policies and a strict action is employed against those found involved in such actions.

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Man United Spoil Chelsea’s Dream as it Nets Four at Theatre of Dreams



Manchester United

Going hammers and tongs at Chelsea’s defence, Manchester United ruined Chelsea’s opening day of the Premier League big time. The hosts, who looked a little unsettled at the initial stage, eventually won the match by 4-0 on the night.

The victory also spoiled Frank Lampard’s party in his first ever Premier League match as Chelsea manager, with his side unfortunately denied by the frame of the goal twice. Scoring four of the very best goals, Manchester United drew first blood after Kurt Zouma gave away the penalty in the 18th minute, and Marcus Rashford converted from the spot.

As the match went on, Chelsea made a ball or two, but Aaron Wan-Bissaka alongside Hary Magurie made some brilliant interceptions, denying the team from moving forward. However, even at that time, the Blues were pressing and looking to work away and get in behind United’s defense.

Nonetheless, the team could not yield anything positive other than hitting the post, as the Red Devils went in with a goal to the good at the half-time break.

Coming in for the second half, Manchester United readjusted their strategy and maintained a good amount of possession in the final three. The team made chances, got in behind Chelsea’s defence, and even converted the chance as it fell their way in the 65th minute; via Anthony Martial.

With two goals up, Chelsea were certainly starring down the barrel, and in the hast to make a comeback, the team made another mistake and gave away the ball to the opposition. The Red Devils were quick to capitalize on the counter, as Paul Pogba played a fantastic ball ahead to Marcus Rashford, who easily put it past Kepa Arrizabalaga to make it 3-0. The goal also took his personal tally to 2 goals.

But it was not all from Manchester United on their first match day, as Substitute Daniel James– on his Premier League debut– scored nine minutes from time to make it 4-0. It was also an emotional night for the 21-year-old, who lost his father just before signing for the club.

The Blues couldn’t really make anything happen in the remaining knockings of the game, as the official blew full-time whistle at 4-0.

“We made four mistakes, and they put them away,” Lampard said. “It is a reality check for us all. We are Chelsea. We don’t want to come here and lose 4-0. It wasn’t a 4-0 game for long periods, but we need to accept it,” he added.

Chelsea are up against Leicester City in their next Premier League encounter, while Manchester United play Wolves.

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Liverpool Leave Norwich in Disarray; Register Victory in League Opener



Liverpool Leave Norwich in Disarray; Register Thumping Victory in League Opener

Spellbinding, heartwarming and most importantly clinical, Liverpool’s down under in Premier League once again got off to a winning flyer against Norwich City, Friday. The European champs left Tim Krul reeling with 3 flamboyant strikes and an own goal, in reply for just a goal; winning 4-1 on the night.

The victory implied that the Reds extended their unbeaten run to 13 league matches, and showed early signs of dominance. Picking up from where they left last season, Liverpool to a lot of people’s surprise, played Divock Origi ahead of Sadio Mane. However, the decision came off perfectly for Jurgen Klopp, as the Winger scored Liverpool’s fourth goal, just 3 minutes before the half-time whistle.

Meanwhile, in the succession of goals scored on the first night, the deadlock was ironically broken by a no look finish from Norwich’s Grant Hanley, who made a mess of the ball played in by Origi. The situation left Norwich tottering and resulted in goals from Mohammed Salah and Virgil van Dijk, with under 30 minutes played. By the half-time break, Liverpool had already banked 4, while the away side still drew blank.

Liverpool started the second half with the same spirit, but failed to convert the opportunities that fell their way. However, Teenu-Pukki — who was last season’s top scorer in British football’s second tier–gave the visiting fans something to cheer about after he finally swept home in the 64th minute. Yet, as the game went on, Pukki’s goal only counted as a consolation for the away side, as referee blew the full-time whistle at 4-1.

“It was a pretty good second half from us,” Pukki told Sky Sports after the match. “We decided at half time it was maybe too much to get some points so we just wanted to go and try and score,” he added.

Liverpool were undoubtedly the better side throughout the game, except for the fact that their defense looked a little fragile at times. We didn’t underestimate them at all,” Liverpool defender Joe Gomez told Sky Sports. “We knew they’d come here to play football, the manager warned us about that, and they got behind us a few times. It was frustrating to concede the goal but we have to learn from it and progress,” he added.

In addition, the bigger worry for Liverpool is the loss of their goalkeeper Alisson Becker, who was forced off in the first half after picking up an injury. The Brazilin was named the golden glove winner for most clean sheets last season, and the Reds would undoubtedly want him back in the mix.

Meanwhile, next up for Liverpool in Premier League is Southampton, while Norwich will square off against Newcastle.

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Micah Richards hangs boots on his football career



Micah Richards hangs boots on his football career

Ex-England Defender Micah Richards has hung boots on his professional football career. Playing along the greats of the game, both at international and club level, Richards’ defending skills were second to none.

However, his decision to part ways with the game has come after a persistent knee injury, which kept him astray of consistently performing at the club level. The 31-year-old last played for Aston Villa in October 2016. The club released him this summer, and now he is set to move on with a promotional cum punditry role at Manchester City – his former club.

Richards, while sharing his delight, told the BBC sport: “From when I was a young kid I dreamed that I would win the Premier League and play for England, and I am very proud I achieved both.”

The defender has played 295 games for Manchester City, Fiorentina and Villa, besides winning 13 caps for England. He debuted aged 18 for his national side, and remains the youngest defender, scoring a goal for his country- against Israel in 2007. He also lifted the coveted FA Cup in 2011 and the Premier League title with Man City in 2011/12.

“My time at Aston Villa was very frustrating because I wanted to play but my knee would swell up so I could not even train. But it was still an honour to play for them, and I am just sorry I could not do more for them on the pitch, Richards said on his retirement.

“It is great to be asked to come back and be involved at City, because they hold a special place in my heart. Everyone there took me under their wing right from when I joined,” he added.

Micah Richards joined City from Oldham as a 14-year-old, and busted onto the scene for the club aged 17, in 2005. He marked 245 appearances for the blue side of Manchester, before spending a season on loan with Fiorentina in 14/15. He further signed a 4-year-contract with Villa, which ended last month.

A City spokesman on the news of Micah’s arrival said: “Everyone at the club still thinks very fondly of Micah. The fans love him to bits and we are looking forward to working with him at events home and abroad in the future.”

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