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Football clubs in Belgium vote to merge with Dutch league


Belgium’s leading football clubs have supported a proposal to merge their league with the Netherlands.

The Belgian Pro League has announced that its general assembly unanimously voted in favour of an “agreement in principle” for a possible cross-border ‘BeNeLeague’.

The league said in a statement on Tuesday that the move concerned the “direction” of professional football in Belgium.

“This ambition is based both on respect for the sporting aspirations of the big clubs and on the need for economic stability of the other professional clubs,” it said.

“The 25 clubs are unanimous in their desire to give the Beneleague a fair chance.”

Last year, the Belgian Pro League was the first major European competition to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The details and format of a cross-border competition with the Netherlands have been discussed for months but no formal proposals have yet been unveiled.

The project has raised concerns among football supporters’ groups, who fear that the BeNeLeague would only favour the larger clubs in the country, such as current champions Club Brugge, Anderlecht, and Standard Liège.

The management of the Pro League has said they will now play “an active role” in the project to ensure all teams benefit, even if they are not participating.

“The BeNeleague must go hand in hand with the guarantee of economic stability for the other professional clubs through the creation of a national first division championship based on sustainable licensing and competition rules,” the league added.

“The project also implies that the youth teams of the professional clubs can quickly develop into the national amateur series.”

Last year, Deloitte calculated that a merger could generate up to €400 million per year in marketing and television rights deals, according to Belgian media.

Football clubs playing in a different country

The concept of a BeNeLeague between Belgian and Dutch football clubs has been trialled previously.

In 2012, the two countries’ football associations founded a cross-border women’s league, following success with a one-match BeNe Super Cup competition between the two national champions.

However, in just its second year, financial difficulties and disagreements meant two participating teams disappeared. And after just three seasons, the BeNeLeague was discontinued and both nations returned to their own national competitions.

It’s not clear if the new proposals would follow a similar league structure as the previous project.

Initially, the women’s BeNeLeague was divided into two national leagues for the first stage, before merging for a competitive cross-border ‘A’ and ‘B’ league. These would then decide relegation and European qualification.

In 2013, this was then changed to a single league comprising 14 teams from both countries.

The proposed BeNeLeague would not be the first in Europe to feature teams from two separate nations or principalities.

In the United Kingdom, Cardiff City, Swansea City, Newport County, and Wrexham all compete in the English football league system, as opposed to the Welsh leagues.

Elsewhere, FC Andorra play Spain’s Segunda División B, and AS Monaco were crowned champions of the French Ligue 1 as recently as 2016-17.

Meanwhile, all football clubs in Liechtenstein play in the Swiss Football League system, as the country has no properly recognised league of its own.

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Goretzka’s late equaliser saves German blushes as Hungarians prove a tough test


By Euronews with AP

Germany's Leon Goretzka, left, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's second goal

Germany’s Leon Goretzka, left, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side’s second goal

Lukas Barth/AP

Leon Goretzka scored late to keep Germany in the European Championship after a 2-2 draw against Hungary on Wednesday.

Jamal Musiala made an immediate impact after coming on in the 82nd minute, eluding three defenders to give Timo Werner room to shoot. Werner, who also came on as a substitute, was blocked but the rebound fell for Goretzka, who shot past goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi in the 84th.

It had looked like Ádám Szalai was going to drag his team into the round of 16. The Hungary captain scored one goal early against the run of play and set up András Schäfer to make it 2-1 right after Kai Havertz had equalized for Germany.

Germany made the better start but was caught out early yet again in the tournament when Szalai met Roland Sallai’s cross with a flying header on a counterattack in the 11th.

Germany struggled against Hungary’s defensive 5-3-2 formation and was further hampered by heavy rain from a thundershower in the first half.

The home team also seemed to miss Thomas Müller’s unpredictability. Müller was on the bench because of a knee injury sustained in the 4-2 win over Portugal. Leroy Sané started in his place, the only change Joachim Löw made from the teams that started both previous games.

The home team had to wait till the 66th when the normally excellent Gulácsi failed to punch away Toni Koos’ free-kick. Mats Hummels headed the ball forward and Havertz made sure from close range.

Celebrations were cut short, however, as Hungary replied immediately when Szalai played in Schäfer to head the ball past Manuel Neuer.

It would have been enough to send Hungary through to the next round at Germany’s expense, but Löw’s substitutes rescued the game and kept him in a job. Löw is stepping down after the tournament.

Germany finished second in the group with four points and will next face England at Wembley Stadium on Tuesday.

Portugal drew with France 2-2 in the other group game and both have progressed, while Hungary finished last with two points and has been eliminated.

Before kickoff, a person with a rainbow flag ran onto the field and held it up in front of the Hungary team as the country’s national anthem was being played. The person was quickly tackled by stewards and pinned to the ground, and then led away to cheers and applause.

The build-up to the match had been overshadowed by a spat over the Munich city’s council’s request to illuminate the stadium in rainbow colors. UEFA refused on the grounds that it was a political statement directly addressed against Hungary.

Many German fans carried small rainbow flags that were distributed by activists before the game.

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‘An afterthought’: why do specs companies ignore the black community?


The women behind the first company to make glasses specifically for black faces says the eyewear industry treats the black community as an “afterthought”.

Kimeze was launched by sisters Clare and Christina Kimeze in London last month after being frustrated with the lack of glasses that properly fit the faces of members of the black community. They say that black shoppers are being overlooked by the industry, with the majority of glasses on the high street made with only a Caucasian face shape and size in mind. “None are made specifically for black features,” says Clare. “As a community, we have historically been an afterthought.”

Christina says that the optical industry is aware of the problem but is not acting to change things. “[They] are aware nobody is doing this and have made a conscious decision not to do it, which in and of itself is shocking,” she says. The sisters also say that companies use black models in their advertising campaigns to look inclusive but this is “disingenuous, some would even say exploitative”.

Clare adds: “There is a consumer group of over a billion people that has been overlooked. Of course this needs to change.”

Kimeze sunglasses.
A model wearing Kimeze sunglasses. Photograph: Ekua King

Christina says that she came up with the idea of Kimeze when she was at home watching Westworld. “I noticed one of the main characters, Bernard (played by Jeffrey Wright), was wearing glasses that he didn’t seem to be able to keep on his face,” she says. “I remember thinking how uncomfortable that must be for him and then realised I was doing the same thing.”

As part of the background to setting up the company over a three-year period, the sisters spoke to industry professionals and found that this was an industry-wide issue. “This is absolutely an acknowledged pain point for black people, not just by the community by itself, but by the optical profession and glasses-manufacturing industry,” says Clare. “An early comment from our first manufacturer [in Italy] that stayed with us was: ‘This is not just a first for Italy, it is a first for the world.’”

Jeffrey Wright Westworld.
Jeffrey Wright as Bernard Lowe in Westworld. Photograph: HBO

Christina says that within the diversity of the black community there are some commonalities in terms of fitting glasses. “Some features we are talking about could include lower, wider nose profiles or narrower and lower nose profiles, with a lower bridge than Caucasian people,” she says. “Some people also have a wider nose at the bottom than Caucasian people, but not everyone.”

Clare says that one experience with glasses was uncomfortable and unflattering. “The bridge of my glasses was too narrow to sit on my nose bone,” she remembers, “I would get big gaps between my glasses and my nose or they would squash the base of my nose.” Kimeze’s range, which includes sunglasses, have specific nosepads and bridge widths made with black wearers in mind.

Kimeze glasses.
‘A first for the world’ – Kimeze glasses. Photograph: Ekua King

“We are excited to inject a fresh perspective, our glasses are designed in London and embody both our British and African heritage,” says Clare. “Will other companies produce eyewear to better fit black and brown faces? They absolutely should, but currently they don’t.”

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Milan men’s fashion week SS22: the key shows – in pictures



Like his fellow Milanese designers, Tod’s creative director Walter Chiapponi decamped to one of Italy’s countryside hidden secrets to shoot the film for his SS22 collection, Under the Italian Sun; in his case, Cantina Petra in Tuscany designed by Architect Mario Botta. It was, by all counts, an Italian safari. Inspired by the imagery of the legendary Peter Beard, Chiapponi presented utilitarian outerwear, easy chambray safari suits and relaxed sportswear in an earthy palette of khaki, rust and mustard that was pierced by sky blue

TODSLike his fellow Milanese designers, Tod’s creative director Walter Chiapponi decamped to one of Italy’s countryside hidden secrets to shoot the film for his SS22 collection, Under the Italian Sun; in his case, Cantina Petra in Tuscany designed by Architect Mario Botta. It was, by all counts, an Italian safari. Inspired by the imagery of the legendary Peter Beard, Chiapponi presented utilitarian outerwear, easy chambray safari suits and relaxed sportswear in an earthy palette of khaki, rust and mustard that was pierced by sky blue

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