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European Super League in tatters as Atletico, Inter & AC Milan follow English clubs in quitting


Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan, and AC Milan are the latest clubs to withdraw from plans for a new European Super League

The project for a breakaway European football competition has been left in tatters after all six English clubs also quit.

Nine of the 12 original teams that were planning to pioneer the new league have now formally pulled out of the project.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, and Tottenham all confirmed their decisions late on Tuesday.

What has been the reaction in Italy?

“FC Internazionale Milano confirms the club is no longer part of the Super League project,” the Italian club said in a press release.

“We are always committed to giving the fans the best football experience; innovation and inclusion have been part of our DNA since our foundation. Our commitment with all stakeholders to improve the football industry will never change.

“Inter believe that football, like any sector of activity, should have an interest in constantly improving its competitions, in order to continue to excite fans of all ages all over the world, within a framework of financial sustainability.

“With this vision, we will continue to work together with institutions and all stakeholders for the future of the sport we all love.”

City rivals AC Milan were also considering their position in the new league and confirmed later on Wednesday that they had also withdrawn.

“We accepted the invitation to participate in the Super League project with the genuine intention to deliver the best possible European competition for football fans around the world and in the best interest of the club and our own fans,” the club said in a statement.

“However, the voices and the concerns of fans around the world have clearly been expressed about the Super League, and AC Milan must be sensitive to the voice of those who love this wonderful sport.”

“We will continue to work hard to deliver a sustainable model for football,” AC Milan added.

The announcements meant Juventus were the only Italian team left in the Super League, but the Turin club’s president Andrea Agnelli said he believes the project cannot go on without the six English clubs.

Juventus said they were aware that other clubs had intended to withdraw from the project, but said that the necessary agreements had not been completed.

“While remaining convinced of the validity of the sporting, commercial and legal premises of the project, Juventus believes that it currently has little chance of being completed in the form in which it was initially conceived,” the club said.

“Juventus remains committed to building long-term value for the Company and for the entire football movement.”

And Spain?

Earlier on Wednesday, Atletico Madrid also announced their decision to quit the proposed breakaway league, after a meeting of its board of directors.

It said that it “decided to formally communicate to the Super League and the rest of the founding clubs its decision not to formalise its participation in the project.”

“For the club, harmony between all the groups that make up the red and white family, especially our fans, is essential.”

“The first team squad and their coach have expressed their satisfaction with the club’s decision, as they understand that sporting merits must take precedence over any other criteria.”

Spanish clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona are also involved with the project and are yet to comment.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez was appointed to oversee the Super League, said on Monday that the project was created “to save football”.

Meanwhile, there has been some internal pressure on the Catalan club, from player Gerard Pique.

“Football belongs to the fans. Today more than ever,” he wrote on Twitter.

How the plans folded in England

In a 25-word statement, Manchester City were the first club to officially u-turn, saying they had “formally enacted the procedures to withdraw from the group developing plans for a European Super League.”

The five other English clubs all subsequently confirmed their withdrawal.

“We have now had time to consider the matter fully and have decided that our continued participation in these plans would not be in the best interests of the Club, our supporters or the wider football community,” Chelsea said.

“We didn’t make the right decision here, which we fully accept,” Arsenal said.

John Henry, the American billionaire who owns Liverpool, apologised to fans, staff and players in a video message, stressing: “I alone am responsible for the unnecessary negativity brought forward over the past couple of days.”

“It goes without saying but should be said that the project put forward was never going to stand without the support of fans,” he said. “Over these 48 hours, you were very clear that it would not stand. We heard you. I heard you.”

“I know the entire LFC team has the expertise, leadership, and passion necessary to rebuild trust and help us move forward,” he added.

Liverpool had been publicly urged to desert the Super League by its players who shared a tweet first posted by captain Jordan Henderson.

“We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen,” Henderson said. “This is our collective position.”

Fans enthusiastically welcomed the announcements by English clubs, as did British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“This is the right result for football fans, clubs, and communities across the country,” he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday morning. “We must continue to protect our cherished national game.”

The Premier League had threatened to sanction the six rebel clubs and PM Johnson considered introducing laws to stop them forming a new European competition.

The other 14 English top-flight clubs met on Tuesday to “unanimously and vigorously” reject the Super League plans.

What has UEFA said?

European football was rocked after some of the continent’s richest teams announced a few days ago they were forming a breakaway league.

The main controversy is that teams would not have to qualify to take part in the league, removing a key competitive element in some people’s eyes.

Both the European football governing body (UEFA) and the global body (FIFA) had warned of consequences including excluding players from other national, regional or global competitions.

“It is admirable to admit a mistake and these clubs made a big mistake,” said Aleksander Ceferin, president of UEFA.

“They are back in the fold now and I know they have a lot to offer not just to our competitions but to the whole of the European game.”

“The important thing now is that we move on, rebuild the unity that the game enjoyed before this and move forward together.”

In an overnight statement, the Super League had stood by its proposals, “convinced that the current status quo of European football needs to change”.

“Given the current circumstances, we shall reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project, always having in mind our goals of offering fans the best experience possible while enhancing solidarity payments for the entire football community.”

But the latest withdrawals have the project with just three of its twelve original proponents.

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UK fans advised against travel to Turkey for Champions League final


By Euronews

Manchester City are to face Chelsea in an all-English Champions League final

Manchester City are to face Chelsea in an all-English Champions League final


The UK has added Turkey to its ‘red list’ of countries for travel from May 17, which will require a 10 day hotel quarantine upon arrival in the UK.

This means football fans should not travel to Istanbul for the Champions League final later this month, according to transport minister Grant Shapps.

The match, between Chelsea and Manchester City, is scheduled to take place at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium on Saturday, May 29.

The UK announced its traffic light system for travel on Friday, with just a handful of countries being listed as ‘green’, meaning there is no quarantine requirement for arrivals from those countries.

As a red listed country, arrivals from Turkey would have to qurantine in a quarantine hotel for 10 days (which must be booked and paid for before you travel), as well as taking a PCR test on day two and day eight.

The UK’s Test to Release scheme will not be an option for red-listed arrivals, unlike amber countries.

Shapps said putting Turkey on the red list will “have a number of ramifications.”

“It does mean with regards to the Champions League that fans should not travel to Turkey,” he said.

The English Football Association is in discussions with UEFA, he added, saying the UK is open to hosting the final but it’s a decision for UEFA.

He also highlighted the UK’s track record of recently hosting football matches with thousands of spectators.

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Davide Astori: Italian doctor sentenced for manslaughter over death of Fiorentina footballer


By Euronews with AFP

Supporters display a poster during the funeral ceremony of Davide Astori in Florence in March 2018.

Supporters display a poster during the funeral ceremony of Davide Astori in Florence in March 2018.

AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

An Italian doctor has been sentenced for manslaughter over the death of international footballer Davide Astori.

The 31-year-old Fiorentina captain was found dead in a hotel room in Udine in March 2018, before his team was due to play a league match.

According to the autopsy report, Astori died from tachyarrhythmia, an abnormal acceleration of the heartbeat, during his sleep.

Giorgio Galanti, then-head of the sports medicine department at Florence’s Careggi Hospital, was the last person to clear Astori to play in the summer of 2017, seven months before his death.

On Monday, Galanti was given a one-year suspended sentence for failing to diagnose the player’s undetected heart defect.

Prosecutors have said that the doctor should have carried out additional examinations to try and detect heart disease, in view of the results of Astori’s stress tests, and had called for an 18-month prison sentence.

Galanti was also ordered to pay €1 million euros to Astroi’s family, Italian media reported. His lawyer immediately said that he would appeal the verdict.

The doctor had “acted correctly”, lawyer Sigfrido Fenyes told reporters in February.

A second doctor was also initially targeted in the investigation, but the case against him was dropped.

Davide Astroi’s death caused great emotion in Italy, where he was a member of the national team and won 14 caps.

The central defender also represented Cagliari, Roma, Pizzighettone and Cremonese in his career.

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Christoph Metzelder: Former German footballer given suspended sentence for sharing child pornography


By Euronews

Christoph Metzelder arrives at the court in Duesseldorf  for the opening of his trial.

Christoph Metzelder arrives at the court in Duesseldorf for the opening of his trial.

AP Photo/Martin Meissner

Former German footballer Christoph Metzelder has been given a suspended prison sentence for distributing child pornography.

The 40-year-old partially admitted the accusations against him as his trial began at Dusseldorf District Court on Thursday.

Metzelder was accused of possessing child and youth pornography and of forwarding 29 files to three different women, including a former partner.

Prosecutors told the court that the former footballer had shared photos via WhatsApp showing the sexual abuse of girls under 10 years old in August 2019.

Around 297 files with sexual content involving children or adolescents were found on his mobile phone during the investigation.

Metzelder was sentenced to ten months’ imprisonment on probation. His trial was initially scheduled to last until early May.

“I accept the punishment and ask forgiveness from the victims of sexual violence,” Metzelder said before the ruling. “I will have to live the rest of my life with this guilt.”

Metzelder was a runner-up with Germany at the 2002 FIFA World Cup. He also represented his country at the 2008 UEFA European Championships, winning 47 caps in total.

He enjoyed a successful playing career as a defender with Preußen Munster, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 04, and Spanish giants Real Madrid.

After retiring in 2013, he worked as a television pundit and also set up his own foundation that supports projects for children and young people.

Metzelder stepped down as president of his hometown club TuS Haltern in September 2019 when the allegations against him were made public.

At the time, he was also working as a coach with the German Football Association.

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