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European Super League plans crumbling as English clubs withdraw

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All six Premier League teams involved in the European Super League (ESL) have withdrawn from the competition.

Manchester City were the first club to pull out after Chelsea had signalled their intent to do so by preparing documentation to withdraw.

The other four sides, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham, have all followed suit.

The Super League said it would reconsider “the most appropriate steps to reshape the project”.

The 12-team Super League was announced on Sunday to widespread condemnation.

The remaining six clubs, Spain’s Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid and Italy’s AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus are yet to comment on the withdrawal of the English sides.

“Despite the announced departure of the English clubs, forced to take such decisions due to the pressure put on them, we are convinced our proposal is fully aligned with European law and regulations,” the ESL said, adding it was “convinced that the current status quo of European football needs to change”.

In an interview with Italian newspaper la Repubblica, Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli said the remaining clubs will “press ahead” and the project still had “a 100% chance of being a success”.

Manchester City confirmed they had “formally enacted the procedures to withdraw” from the Super League.

Liverpool said their involvement in the proposed breakaway league “has been discontinued”.

Manchester United said they had “listened carefully to the reaction from our fans, the UK government and other key stakeholders” in making their decision to not take part.

Arsenal apologised in an open letter to their fans and said they had “made a mistake”, adding they were withdrawing after listening to them and the “wider football community”.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said the club regretted the “anxiety and upset” caused by the proposal.

Chelsea confirmed they have “begun the formal procedures for withdrawal from the group” that they only joined “late last week”.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin welcomed the reversal, adding: “I said yesterday that it is admirable to admit a mistake and these clubs made a big mistake.

“But 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.”

The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson posted on Twitter: “I welcome last night’s announcement. This is the right result for football fans, clubs, and communities across the country. We must continue to protect our cherished national game.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer added that this “must be a watershed moment, where we change our game to put fans first again”, while Liberal Democrats leader Ed Davey tweeted: “This must be the start of a fans-led football revolution.”

In a statement, the European Super League said: “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.”

English football’s ‘big six’ were part of a group that announced plans to form the breakaway league, which they hoped to establish as a new midweek competition.

It was condemned by fans, football authorities and government ministers in the UK and across Europe by UEFA and league associations.

Around 1,000 fans gathered outside Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge ground before their game against Brighton on Tuesday to protest at their club’s involvement.

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who was involved in the Super League discussions, has announced he will step down from his role at the end of 2021.

Leading players at some of the six clubs signalled their disapproval of the planned breakaway league.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson said on social media his side’s “collective position” is they do not want the Super League to take place.

“We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen,” read a message that was also posted by many fellow Liverpool players.

After City confirmed their withdrawal, England winger Raheem Sterling posted: “Ok bye.”

UEFA had hoped to stave off the threat of a European Super League with a new 36-team Champions League, which was agreed on Monday.

In announcing their proposals for a Super League that would eventually comprise of 20 teams, the 12-club group said the Champions League reforms did not go far enough.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, who was named as the ESL’s chairman, said the competition was set up “to save football” because young people are “no longer interested” in the game because of “a lot of poor quality games”.

None of the Spanish and Italian sides have yet released a statement after the six Premier League teams pulled out.

-BBC

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Messi to finish his career at Barca – Koeman

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Ronald Koeman says Lionel Messi “has to finish his career at Barcelona”, with the Blaugrana boss expecting a contract extension for the mercurial Argentine to be announced “soon”.

The six-time Ballon d’Or winner is yet to make an official decision on his future, with the 33-year-old still seeing his current deal run down towards free agency.

The expectation is, however, that he will extend a career-long association with the Liga heavyweights, with fresh terms on the table and ready to be signed.

Koeman told Sport when asked for an update on a long-running saga in Catalunya: “Messi has to finish his career at Barcelona, so I hope we can make it official soon.”

Barca president Joan Laporta has stated on a regular basis, even before he returned to office at Camp Nou, that he believes Messi will stay put.

That message has been reiterated, although he has suggested that paperwork will not be completed imminently by a man currently away on Copa America duty with his country.

“The renewal isn’t at an advanced stage,” Laporta has admitted.

“It’s okay, I believe that Leo’s boots will stay on Camp Nou’s pitch.

“I can’t contemplate a no from Messi; he wants to stay. We’re doing what we can but there’s no need to seduce him.”

While waiting on a call from Messi, Barca are working hard to put more pieces of a trophy-winning puzzle in place alongside their iconic captain.

Deals have been done for Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia and Emerson Royal, while Memphis Depay is expected to complete a switch from Lyon as a free agent.

Koeman is pleased with progress being made on the recruitment front, with the Dutchman adding: “We are working on building a competitive team, one that will be much stronger than in previous seasons.”

Ronald Koeman is already looking ahead to next season at Barcelona and he was spotted in Amsterdam for the Netherlands’ game against Austria at Euro 2020 on Thursday evening.

Although Koeman himself is Dutch and was their coach during qualifying, meaning he could well have been attending just to see his team play, it’s said that he was there to watch Memphis Depay.

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The domestic seasons might have ended, but Ronald Koeman is already looking ahead to next season at Barcelona and he was spotted in Amsterdam for the Netherlands’ game against Austria at Euro 2020 on Thursday evening.

Although Koeman himself is Dutch and was their coach during qualifying, meaning he could well have been attending just to see his team play, it’s said that he was there to watch Memphis Depay.

Memphis is expected to join Barcelona in the coming days or weeks. Koeman himself said on Wednesday that talks were going in the right direction and he took the chance to watch the player on Thursday night.

Koeman will return to Catalonia to take Barcelona’s pre-season training from July 12.

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Eriksen discharged from hospital after operation

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Denmark’s Christian Eriksen has been released from hospital after undergoing a successful operation, the Danish Football Association confirmed in a statement on Friday.

Eriksen was admitted to hospital after he collapsed due to cardiac arrest in the 43rd minute of Denmark’s opening Euro 2020 game against Finland on June 12.

The FA announced on Thursday that he would receive an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), a small electronic device that is a type of pacemaker and can prevent fatal cardiac arrests by discharging a jolt to restore a regular heart rhythm.

“Christian Eriksen has been through a successful operation and was today discharged from Rigshospitalet,” the FA said in a statement on Twitter.

“Today he also visited the national team in Helsingor — and from there he will go home and spend time with his family.”

The incident reverberated through football, with many players sending well-wishes to Eriksen and his teammates.

The game between Belgium and Denmark on Thursday was stopped in the 10th minute as a tribute to Eriksen.

A banner was also displayed among fans in one of the stands, which read: “All of Denmark is with you, Christian.”

Before kickoff, a large flag in the shape of a Denmark shirt with Eriksen’s name on the back was unfurled on the pitch. Eriksen wears the No. 10 shirt for his country.

“Thank you for the massive number of greetings — it has been incredible to see and feel,” Eriksen said in a statement following his release from hospital.

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French Open: Djokovic beats Tsitsipas to win 19th Grand Slam

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Novak Djokovic on Sunday came from behind to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7 (6-8) 2-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 to win the 2021 edition of the French Open.
The Serbian top seed Djokovic by the victory has claimed his 19th Grand Slam title.
His opponent, the Greek fifth seed Tsitsipas, was appearing in maiden major final.
“I tried my best,” says Stefanos Tsitsipas, but his speech is almost drowned out by the fifth seed’s adoring fans in the Chatrier crowd.
He says, “I had a good run and am happy with myself, but let’s give it to Novak because he has shown us over the past couple of years what a great champion he is.
“I am inspired by the things he has achieved and I hope one day I can maybe do half of what he has done so far!
“I would like to thank the Greek fans who came, my team who have been constantly backing me up and helping me achieve my dreams. It is a difficult journey and takes a lot of work every day.
“I hope to be back next year and put out a good show again.”

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