Tuchel Revels In ‘Incomparable’ Joy Of Club World Cup Triumph

Tuchel took over Chelsea about a year ago. Credit: [email protected]

 

Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel described winning the Club World Cup as an “incomparable feeling” as the European champions got their hands on the last major trophy missing from their cabinet.

Kai Havertz repeated his heroics from the Champions League final in May, nervelessly converting a penalty deep into extra time as Chelsea overcame Palmeiras 2-1 on Saturday.

The Blues become the third English club to win the competition after Manchester United and Liverpool.

“Maybe this cup or this tournament is not so highly regarded in Europe, but once you’re here and once you feel it, it totally catches you,” said Tuchel.

“You’re on the bus and you drive in the evening and you see the lights of the stadium, and you don’t know the other team because they don’t come from your country, not from your league, it’s a fantastic feeling.

“And it’s incomparable to any other feeling and so that’s why it’s so beautiful.”

Chelsea’s victory was all the more enjoyable for Tuchel, who only arrived in Abu Dhabi on Friday after a race against the clock following his positive Covid-19 test last week.

READ ALSO: Football Fan Shot Dead In Brazil After Chelsea’s Win Over Palmeiras

He was forced to leave assistants Zsolt Low and Arno Michels to guide the team in his absence, resorting to video calls to stay in constant contact with players and staff.

“Several times I was on my way to the airport and on the way back from there while I was driving because the test was not negative,” explained Tuchel.

“It was not nice to watch the semi-finals at the office on the screen.

“As a coach, you want to be on the sideline. And I’m happy now that all the effort was worth it and we managed to get the cup.”

Abramovich Approval 

 


With the missing piece of the jigsaw secure, Tuchel shook hands out on the pitch with club owner Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire whose funds have transformed Chelsea.

“I said congratulations, he said congratulations, and I said ‘It’s for you. It’s your club and it’s your input and your passion that made this possible and we’re happy to be part of it.'”

Chelsea return to Premier League action next weekend against Crystal Palace, the first of four matches in 12 days across four different competitions.

It is a critical stretch for the club this term, but Tuchel said he tried to impress upon his players the need to appreciate this rare moment in the UAE.

“We tried to calm the team down and tell them what a fantastic opportunity it is to play football like this,” he said.

“Every footballer in the world is jealous of having the chance to play this final.

“So many young boys one day dream to be in this final and watch this game, and we reminded ourselves that all of us have been spoiled somehow and it’s also a moment to enjoy.”

For Palmeiras, it was a disappointing end to their second Club World Cup in as many years.

But coach Abel Ferreira expressed pride at what his team has achieved during his reign.

“We’ve built a lot in a very shot period of time here with Palmeiras,” said Ferreira, the Portuguese who was appointed in October 2020.

“I will confide I’m bleeding inside but I’ll forbid my players from not celebrating second place.

“I want them to go the hotel and have a beer and when they get to the plane I’ll tell them to celebrate.”

AFP

Newcastle Ask Fans Not To Wear Arab-Style Clothing After Saudi Takeover

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 13, 2017 St James’ Park stadium, home ground of Newcastle United, is pictured in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England, ahead of the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur. PARNABY / AFP)

 

Newcastle have asked fans celebrating the club’s Saudi-backed takeover not to wear Arab-style clothing to matches in case it causes offence.

Some supporters wore traditional robes and others donned headdresses for Sunday’s Premier League clash with Tottenham, the Magpies’ first game under their new owners.

The £305 million ($420 million) Newcastle takeover was rubber-stamped by the Premier League earlier this month.

“Newcastle United is kindly asking supporters to refrain from wearing traditional Arabic clothing or Middle East-inspired head coverings at matches if they would not ordinarily wear such attire,” said a club statement on Wednesday.

“A number of supporters have recently attended St James’ Park wearing associated head coverings and robes, marking the takeover of the club by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media.”

The club said nobody among the new ownership group was offended by the attire, acknowledging it was a gesture that was “positive and welcoming in its intent”.

“However, there remains the possibility that dressing this way is culturally inappropriate and risks causing offence to others,” the statement added.

“All visitors to the club are, as always, encouraged to wear whatever is the norm for their own culture or religion, continuing to reflect the broad and rich multicultural communities and groups from which the club proudly draws its support.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Newcastle announced that manager Steve Bruce had left the club by “mutual consent” less than two weeks after the takeover.

Bruce, whose departure was widely expected, took charge of his 1,000th match as a manager in Sunday’s 3-2 defeat by Tottenham — his only game under the new owners.

Northeast side Newcastle are second from bottom of the Premier League and without a league win this season.

Premier League Hit Back Over Newcastle Takeover Bid Claim

premier-league-fixtures-today
The Premier League was put on hold since mid-March due to COVID-19 outbreak. Photo: Twitter/Premier League.

 

The Premier League have slammed Newcastle’s claim that the organisation rejected a Saudi Arabia-backed bid to buy the troubled club.

Newcastle released a statement on Wednesday that said Premier League chief executive Richard Masters had blocked the takeover and did not “act appropriately”.

But the Premier League delivered a strongly worded response on Thursday that made it clear they had not pulled the plug on the deal.

“The Premier League was disappointed and surprised by the Newcastle United Football Club statement regarding its potential takeover by PCP Capital Partners, the Reuben Brothers and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF),” a statement read.

“The club’s assertion that the Premier League has rejected the takeover is incorrect.

“The Premier League Board has, on a number of occasions, given its opinion about which entities it believes would have control over the club should the consortium proceed with the acquisition. That opinion is based on legal advice.

“This means the potential takeover could proceed to the next stage should the relevant entities provide all appropriate information. They would then be subject to a suitability assessment by the Board. As an alternative, the Board has repeatedly offered independent arbitration as a way forward since June.

“It is also incorrect to suggest these decisions were taken by any individual; they were agreed unanimously by all Premier League Board members.”

The investment group, which included the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), PCP Capital Partners and billionaire brothers David and Simon Reuben, said they withdrew their bid in July after waiting months for the English top-flight’s approval.

A £300 million ($391 million) deal to buy the side from owner Mike Ashley had been agreed in April.

However, the bid had attracted scrutiny due to the piracy of sports broadcast rights, including Premier League matches, in Saudi and the state’s human rights record.

Amanda Staveley of PCP Capital Partners said when the bid was withdrawn that the Premier League wanted the Saudi state to become a director of the club as the PIF was not deemed to be an arm of the government.

Supporters have long campaigned for Ashley to sell the club as they have been disillusioned with his 13-year spell as owner, which has included two relegations from the Premier League.

Newcastle begin the new Premier League season away to West Ham on Saturday.

AFP

African Leagues: Moroccan, Egyptian Clubs Hit By COVID-19

 

More than 20 positive tests for coronavirus at several clubs led to the postponement or cancellation of league matches in Morocco and Egypt at the weekend.

Three matchday 22 fixtures were called off in the Moroccan Botola Pro 1 with Ittihad Tangier worst affected as 23 of the staff tested positive.

Wydad Casablanca and Rapide Oued Zem were also hit by a COVID-19 outbreak and could not play.

Egyptian club Al Masry said 22 of their staff tested positive and the Port Said outfit did not turn up for a fixture against Ismaily.

EGYPT

With runaway leaders Al Ahly set for a record-extending 42nd title, arch rivals Zamalek improved their chances of coming second thanks to a 1-0 win over lowly Misr Lel Makkasa.

Forward Hossam Ashraf scored in the fourth minute of stoppage time to secure three points for Zamalek, whose rivalry with fellow Cairo club Ahly dates back to 1911.

Third-place Pyramids FC had to come from two goals behind to draw 2-2 against relegation-threatened El Gaish with Tunisian Amor Layouni levelling eight minutes from time.

Ahly have 53 points, Zamalek 38, Pyramids 36 and Al Mokawloon Al Arab 34 in the strongest league in the continent judged by Confederation of African Football (CAF) titles.

MOROCCO

Raja Casablanca won 2-0 at lowly Hassania Agadir and extended an unbeaten run to six matches since play resumed last month after a suspension since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The leaders needed just three minutes to break the deadlock in southern Morocco with Soufiane Rahimi scoring and Hamid Ahaddad added a second goal soon after half-time.

Raja have won four matches and drawn two since the resumption, and the 14-point haul has propelled them to the top of the table with nine rounds remaining.

The three-time African champions have 42 points, arch-rivals Wydad Casablanca 40, Renaissance Berkane 39 and FUS Rabat and Mouloudia Oujda 36 each.

TUNISIA

Leaders Esperance snatched a 1-1 draw at Etoile Sahel in the biggest matchday 20 attraction of the Tunisian Ligue Professionnelle 1.

Karim Aribi gave fourth-place Etoile a 19th-minute lead they held until the third minute of additional time when Taha Yassine Khenissi equalised.

Ivorian Chris Kouakou netted after 14 minutes to earn second-place CS Sfaxien a 1-0 home victory over mid-table Soliman.

Esperance have 50 points with six rounds remaining as they chase a fourth straight title, Sfaxien 40, Monastir 39, Etoile 34 and Club Africain 33.
ZANZIBAR

Mlandege have been crowned champions in the semi-autonomous region of Tanzania, garnering 68 points from 30 matches to finish one point above Zimamoto.

It was the seventh title for the club, but the first since 2002, and success qualifies them for a maiden CAF Champions League appearance next season.

Zimamoto trounced Kapinga 4-0 in the final round while JKU came third after drawing 1-1 with Malindi.

Defending champions KMKM had to settle for fourth spot, 12 points adrift of Mlandege, after a 2-2 draw against Mafunzo.

AFP

Third Brighton Player Tests Positive For Coronavirus – Club

A laborant at the State Health Authorities of Baden-Wuerttemberg works on a test sample of a suspected case of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus in Stuttgart, southern Germany on January 29, 2020. Marijan Murat / DPA / AFP.

 

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber on Sunday revealed a third player at the Premier League club has tested positive for the coronavirus, raising fresh concerns about the attempt to finish the English top-flight season.

The unnamed player was tested on Saturday and will self-isolate for 14 days while he recovers from the virus.

The rest of Brighton’s squad will continue to train at home and in solo sessions at the team’s training ground.

Two other Brighton players, who were not named, contracted the virus several weeks ago and have reportedly recovered.

“Unfortunately we have had a third player test positive just yesterday,” Barber told Sky Sports News.

“Despite all the measures we have all been taking over the last few weeks, when the players haven’t been involved in taking any significant training at all, we have still suffered another player testing positive for the virus.

“There are concerns and I think it is normal for all clubs to have those concerns.

“We want to make sure we do all that we can so the protocols that are put into place are safe and secure and mitigate the risk.”

In Germany, Bundesliga 2 side Dynamo Dresden have put their entire squad and coaching staff into two-week isolation after two players tested positive for coronavirus.

READ ALSO: COVID-19 Cases In Russia Surpass 200,000 

The Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 are due to restart on May 16.

Brighton’s latest positive test comes ahead of Monday’s Premier League meeting, where clubs are expected to debate the plan to complete the season behind closed doors at neutral venues and vote on whether player contracts will be extended until the end of the rescheduled campaign.

The Premier League would like to restart the season in June and play the remaining 92 fixtures by August.

Barber has been critical of the neutral venue idea, insisting that the campaign should still be played on a home-and-away basis as Brighton battle to avoid relegation.

Norwich, Watford and Aston Villa were in the relegation zone when the Premier League was suspended because of the health crisis on March 13.

– ‘Self-interest’ –

Brighton have received criticism for their vocal stance, but Barber insists all clubs will act with a degree of self-interest.

“People will accuse us of self-interest, I totally understand that, but at this stage of the season there is self-interest at every level of the table,” he added.

“There is as much self-interest at the top as there is at the bottom, there is as much self-interest in the middle as there is at the bottom.

“Everyone has different objectives for the season and we are all looking to play out the season, if it is safe to do so.

“We really do want to play and we want to make sure the competition stays as fair as it can be despite these exceptional circumstances that we are facing.”

Aston Villa and Watford have joined Brighton in speaking out against the neutral stadium plan.

But Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish has backed the 20 clubs to eventually come to a consensus.

“There are no easy answers, we have to work through it as a collective and I think we will and come out with a consensus in the end,” he told the BBC.

“(The meeting) is another part of the journey in trying to get football back. We would be derelict in our duty if we did not find a way for the game to come back.

“It may prove beyond us, we have huge challenges in order to get it back to complete the season but we are planning on doing so.”

AFP

Mikel Obi Leaves Turkish Club Over Coronavirus Fears

Mikel To Miss Eagles AFCON Qualifier Against South Africa
(File) Nigeria’s midfielder John Obi Mikel attends a press conference in Kaliningrad on June 15, 2018 during the Russia 2018 World Cup football tournament. OZAN KOSE / AFP.

 

Former Nigeria international John Mikel Obi has quit Turkish football club Trabzonspor, the team said, after the former Chelsea midfielder said he did not want to play as the new coronavirus spread worldwide.

“The contract has been ended by mutual agreement with John Obi Mikel,” Trabzonspor said in a statement late Tuesday.

The deal between the player and the team had begun on June 30 last year and was meant to last until May 31, 2021.

He criticised the Turkish Football Federation’s (TFF) move to let Super League matches continue without spectators, unlike in other countries where games have been suspended.

“There is more to life than football. I do not feel comfortable and don’t want to play football in this situation,” Mikel Obi wrote on Instagram on Saturday.

“Everyone should be home with their families and loved ones in this critical time. Season should be cancelled as the world is facing such turbulent times,” he added.

READ ALSO: Burkina Faso Reports First Coronavirus Death In Sub-Saharan Africa 

The 32-year-old played for Chelsea for over 10 years. He retired from international duty after last year’s Africa Cup of Nations after making 89 appearances for Nigeria.

The TFF on Tuesday rejected growing calls for matches to be suspended.

Among those opposed to any delay of Super League matches is Trabzonspor chief Ahmet Agaoglu who said any decision to cancel would lead to a rise in divorces.

Trabzonspor — one of the major non-Istanbul-based clubs — are currently at the top of Turkey’s Super League.

Turkey confirmed its first novel coronavirus-related death on Tuesday as the number of cases in the country rose to 98.

AFP

Football Fan Loses Finger While Celebrating Club’s Promotion

FC Twente’s supporters celebrate with their team (file photo). Credit: AFP

 

A fan of Dutch team FC Twente lost a finger when he clambered over a fence to celebrate his team’s promotion to the first division, a supporters group said on Wednesday.

The supporter’s painful afternoon occurred when the final whistle blew on a 0-0 draw against Young AZ Alkmaar on Monday, a result which guaranteed a return to the top flight Eredivisie after a year’s absence.

READ ALSO: Barca Open: Nadal Survives Early Scare, Beats Argentina’s Mayer

He trapped his finger in the fencing as he joined dozens of other delirious fans invading the pitch.

News channel Hart van Nederland on Wednesday published on its website a photo of the severed and bloodied finger, lying on the ground next to a cigarette butt.

It was discovered by cleaning crews at the ground following the pitch invasion which also saw several other fans hurt as they leapt the barriers.

AFP

‘We Want Messi To Always Be At Barca’ – President

Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring a second goal during the Spanish league football match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on March 30, 2019. LLUIS GENE / AFP

 

Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu has said he plans to offer Lionel Messi a new contract in the hope the Argentinian will stay at the club his whole career.

Messi’s current deal runs until 2021, the same year he turns 34, but the Argentinian has been in brilliant form again this season.

He has 42 goals for club and country while his 32 scored in La Liga have propelled Barca to within touching distance of their fourth league title in five years.

“We would like to renew his contract, that’s the idea,” Bartomeu told ESPN in an interview published on Friday.

“I believe he still has many years in front of him and in the coming months we will sit down with him so that he has many more years at Barcelona.”

Messi joined Barcelona’s academy aged 13 and is one of the few players left from Pep Guardiola’s iconic team that won the treble in 2009.

In total, he has won nine La Liga titles with the club, as well as four in the Champions League and six in the Copa del Rey.

“Messi is a one-club man,” Bartomeu added. “It’s more than what he does on the pitch, his relationship with Barca will last forever.

“I use the example of Pele, who was always at Santos. We want Messi to always be at Barca, whether that’s playing on the pitch or being linked to the club (after he retires).”

AFP

Brazil Mourns After Football Training Facility Fire Kills 10

A grieving man is seen at Brazilian football club Flamengo training center after it caught fire in Vargem Grande neighborhood, west of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on February 8, 2019. CARL DE SOUZA / AFP

Brazilian football was in mourning on Friday after 10 people died when a fire ripped through a youth training facility at the country’s most popular club, Flamengo, authorities said.

The pre-dawn blaze in Rio de Janeiro hit a building that housed players aged 14 to 17, firefighters said.

In addition to the deaths, three people were injured in the fire.

The cause was not immediately known.

“Flamengo is in mourning,” the club wrote on its social media accounts.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who is in semi-intensive care in hospital following surgery on his abdomen, said he felt “the families’ pain.”

READ ALSO: 10 Killed As Fire Razes Brazilian Football Club

In a statement shared by the presidency, he added that he was dismayed by “this tragedy… which has taken the lives of young people who had started the journey towards realizing their professional dreams.”

Brazil’s biggest football star Neymar, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain in France, posted a picture on his Instagram account of the Flamengo club badge with the words: “My sympathies.”

Teenage Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior, who came up through the youth ranks at Flamengo before signing with the European Champions in 2017 for 45 million euros ($52 million), posted a message on Twitter asking people to pray for the victims.

“Just by thinking about the days and nights I spent in the training center gives me goosebumps,” said the 18-year-old.

“I still can’t believe it. Let’s pray for everyone.”

Globo TV broadcast aerial footage of the fire, which it said had been brought under control after it burned for two hours.

The blaze broke out at 5:00 am in the Vargem Grande district of Rio in a modern facility where the top-flight professional Flamengo squad also trains, the news website G1 said.

The dead were six players and four team staff, the channel SporTV said.

Derby match to be postponed 

The main team had been due to practice at the same facility later in the morning, for their last training session ahead of Saturday’s derby against fierce local rivals Fluminense.

The Rio de Janeiro football federation said it had called a meeting between the two clubs’ management to discuss postponing the match.

Fluminense were one of a number of clubs to send messages of condolence on social media.

Flamengo is the most popular club in football-crazed Brazil.

Youth league teams also train at the facility, known as Ninho do Urubu.

Distraught relatives rushed to the facility seeking information about loved ones, TV footage showed. Most of the youth players at the club are not locals but come from all over the country.

Brazilian football legend Zico, a former Flamengo player, described the accident as a “tragedy.”

“We must absolutely give all the support necessary to the victims’ loved ones because most of them aren’t from Rio,” Felipe Bornier, the Rio state sports secretary, told journalists.

The training camp is in an area of western Rio that was hit by a fierce storm on Wednesday night. Six people were killed.

Because of those heavy rains the football facility remained without electricity or water on Friday as the fire broke out, the G1 news portal reported.

It’s only two years since Brazilian football was in mourning over the airplane disaster that decimated the Chapecoense team.

The plane carrying the team crashed in Colombia killing 71 people, including 19 players, 14 members of staff and around 20 journalists.

AFP

10 Killed As Fire Razes Brazilian Football Club

 

Fire swept through a training facility for Brazil’s most popular football club Flamengo Friday, killing at least 10 people, authorities said.

The pre-dawn blaze in Rio de Janeiro hit a building that housed youth-category players aged 14 to 17, firefighters said.

In addition to the deaths, three people were injured in the fire.

The cause was not immediately known.

Globo TV broadcast aerial footage of the fire, which it said had been brought under control after it burned for two hours.

The fire broke out at 5 am in the Vargem Grande district of Rio in a modern facility where the top-flight professional Flamengo squad also trains, the news website G1 said.

READ ALSO: ‘We Can Now Mourn’: Footballer Sala’s Family Says After Recovery Of His Body

The dead were six players and four team staff, the channel Sportv said.

The main team had been due to practice at the same facility later in the morning.

Youth league teams also train at the facility, known as Ninho do Urubu.

Flamengo is the most popular club in football-crazed Brazil.

Distraught relatives rushed to the facility seeking information about loved ones, TV footage showed.

The training camp is in an area of western Rio that was hit by a huge storm Wednesday night. Six people were killed.

Because of those heavy rains, the football facility remained without electricity or water Friday as the fire broke out, G1 reported.

AFP

Ferdinand Admits Placing Club Above Country

FILE PHOTO Former Manchester United English defender Rio Ferdinand  Photo: GLYN KIRK / AFP

 

Former England star Rio Ferdinand’s confession that he placed club above country when he played at two World Cup finals will be one present England Manager Gareth Southgate hopes to avoid in Russia.

The 39-year-old former central defender won 81 caps for England from 1997-2011, most of them while at Manchester United.

He told The Times that having competed against fellow members of England’s so-called “golden generation” such as Chelsea legends John Terry and Frank Lampard and Liverpool icon Steven Gerrard, during a league season he did not feel like opening up to them when they came together for a major finals.

Ferdinand played in two World Cups, both times reaching the quarterfinals. In 2002, England lost 2-1 to eventual champions Brazil and in 2006 on penalties to Portugal after Ferdinand’s club-mate Wayne Rooney was sent off.

“It overshadowed things. It killed that England team, that generation,” said Ferdinand.

“One year we would have been fighting Liverpool to win the league, another year it would be Chelsea.

“So I was never going to walk into the England dressing room and open up to Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, John Terry or Joe Cole at Chelsea, or Steven Gerrard or Jamie Carragher at Liverpool because of the fear they would take something back to their club and use it against us.”

Ferdinand, now a respected pundit who recently tried to take up professional boxing but was refused a licence, said that he regrets putting club before country.

“I didn’t realise that what I was doing was hurting England at the time,” said Ferdinand.

“I was so engrossed, so obsessed with winning with Man United — nothing else mattered.”

Ferdinand says he was most marked by cutting off almost all communication with childhood friend Lampard once they moved away From West Ham.

However, he added “the managers not being good enough” also played a role in England under-achieving at World Cups.

England qualified comfortably for the finals under Gareth Southgate and are hoping to do significantly better than their efforts in their last two major finals appearances.

Roy Hodgson lost his job after England’s embarrassing exit in the last 16 of Euro 2016 to Iceland after he had been give another chance when his team failed to get through the group stage at the 2014 World Cup.

AFP

‘Monstrous’ Messi To Enter Barca’s 600 Club

Messi

Lionel Messi will celebrate his 600th start for Barcelona on Saturday in what his manager Ernesto Valverde hails as “a monstrous” achievement.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner becomes only the third player to reach the milestone for the Catalan club after ex-playmaker Xavi Hernandez (767 appearances) and the current captain Andres Iniesta (642).

In his 599 games since 2004 the 30-year-old Argentine legend has scored 523 goals all competitions to be the club’s all time top scorer and the top scorer in La Liga with 360.

“It’s monstrous, 600 matches for the same club, with all the goals he’s scored, and all those assists, with all his vivacity,” marvelled Valverde at the eve-of-match press conference on Friday.

“You run out of adjectives to describe Messi’s journey. It shows his importance to this club.

“To reach 600 games, that’s an awful lot of games! It’s extraordinary, like everything he does.

“It’s not only that he’s appearing for the 600th time, it’s the way he’s played in these 600 matches.”

Against Sevilla at the Camp Nou, Messi has the opportunity to add to his Liga season-leading 12 goal haul which has lifted Barcelona to a four-point lead at the top of the table.

In contrast his fellow striker Luis Suarez has endured a fallow period this term with only three league goals.

“Luis is a goalscorer, it’s only a question of perseverence,” said Valverde.

“If there is one thing that sums him up it’s this: he’s obstinate, aggressive, committed in his work and we know that he’s always got the chance to score goals…I don’t think Luis Suarez is going to down tools.”

AFP