Barcelona, Bayern Munich stay strong but PSG loses

Updated 18 February 2013
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Barcelona, Bayern Munich stay strong but PSG loses

LONDON: Barcelona and Bayern Munich maintained dominance of their respective leagues but there was a shock for French Ligue 1 leaders Paris St. Germain who lost to end a nine-match unbeaten run.
In England, Arsenal suffered a shock FA Cup fifth-round defeat by second tier Blackburn Rovers, ending their best remaining chance of winning a first trophy for eight years.

SPAIN
World Player of the Year Lionel Messi passed the 300-goal mark for Barcelona as he guided the La Liga leaders to a 2-1 comeback win with a double in Granada on Saturday.
The Argentine pounced on a loose ball for the equalizer just after halftime and curled a superb free kick over the wall for the winner, his 37th goal in La Liga this season and 301st of his Barca career.
Second-placed Atletico Madrid remembered how to win away again when Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Cristian Rodriguez scored in a 3-0 victory at Real Valladolid, their first win on the road since November.
Barca have 65 points from 24 games, Atletico 53 and Real Madrid 49 in third after surviving an 18th-minute red card for Sergio Ramos to beat city rivals Rayo Vallecano 2-0 at home thanks to early goals from Alvaro Morata and Ramos.

ENGLAND
Ten-times FA Cup winners Arsenal suffered a shock 1-0 fifth- round home defeat by Championship (second division) Blackburn Rovers, one of three second-tier sides through to the quarter-finals.
A late Colin Kazim-Richards goal won it for Blackburn at the Emirates and the final whistle was greeted by a chorus of boos by home fans.
Everton were held to a 2-2 draw by third-tier Oldham Athletic but Premier League sides stamped their authority on the competition on Sunday. Holders Chelsea eased past Brentford 4-0 in a fourth-round replay while in fifth-round ties 2011 winners Manchester City crushed Leeds United 4-0 and Wigan Athletic won 4-1 at Huddersfield Town.
In the weekend’s one Premier League match, Liverpool thrashed below-strength Swansea City, eyeing next weekend’s Capital One Cup final, 5-0 at Anfield to leapfrog the Welsh side into seventh place.
GERMANY
Bayern Munich continued their dazzling run toward a first Bundesliga title since 2010 with a 2-0 victory at VfL Wolfsburg that kept them 15 points clear at the top.
Forward Mario Mandzukic notched his 15th goal of the campaign and substitute Arjen Robben grabbed his first in stoppage time to register the Bavarians’ 18th win in 22 games.
Marco Reus was in fine form for Borussia Dortmund and scored a hat trick in their 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt that helped them stay in second place.
Bayer Leverkusen are a point behind after Stefan Kiessling scored once to join Mandzukic at the top of the scorers’ chart on 15 and set up another goal in their 2-1 victory over Augsburg.

FRANCE
Paris St. Germain’s march toward a first French league title since 1994 was slowed on Sunday when they suffered a 3-2 defeat at Sochaux.
Cedric Bakambu netted the winner for the hosts to end PSG’s nine-match unbeaten run in Ligue 1 and allowed Olympique Lyon, who thrashed Girondins Bordeaux 4-0 away, to narrow the gap to three points.
PSG have 51 points from 25 games and next week face third place Olympique Marseille, who are five points off the lead after Rod Fanni’s stoppage-time goal gave them a 1-0 home win over Valenciennes on Saturday.
Nice climbed to fourth on 42 points thanks to teenager Neal Maupay, who scored the only goal at Bastia on Saturday.
The Mediterranean side leapfrog St. Etienne who drew 1-1 at Stade Reims on Sunday.

NETHERLANDS
Goals from Dries Mertens and Georginio Wijnaldum helped PSV Eindhoven overcome Utrecht’s early opener to win 2-1 and stay three points clear at the top of the Dutch league.
Ajax Amsterdam beat RKC Waalwijk 2-0 to stay three points behind as Twente Enschede and Feyenoord fell further adrift.
Twente were held to a 1-1 draw by bottom side Willem II Tilburg and Feyenoord slumped to a 3-2 defeat at strugglers Zwolle.

PORTUGAL
Champions Porto and last season’s runners-up Benfica stay locked together at the top of the Portuguese Premier League after respective wins over Beira Mar and Academica.
The fierce rivals remain joint-leaders on 49 points after 19 matches.

Ghana international Christian Atsu returned from the African Cup of Nations to open the scoring for Porto with a clinical first-half shot and Colombia striker Jackson Martinez wrapped up a morale-boosting 2-0 away win.
Porto face Malaga in the Champions League on Tuesday.
Benfica dug deep to overcome Academica 1-0 at home, with Brazilian striker Lima converting from the spot deep in stoppage time.


Saudi Arabian football clubs helped with debts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Updated 22 May 2018
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Saudi Arabian football clubs helped with debts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will cover all external debts owed by Saudi Professional League clubs
  • Crown Prince will provide 1,277,000,000 Saudi riyals (around $340 million)

RIYADH: The General Sports Authority and Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) have announced that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will cover all external debts owed by Saudi Professional League clubs.
According to reports, the Crown Prince will provide 1,277,000,000 Saudi riyals (around $340 million) that will not only clear monies owed but also enable clubs to invest ahead of the 2018-19 season.
The issue of debt had become a major issue in the country’s football scene.
“Some Saudi Arabian clubs are currently experiencing financial problems that require immediate and urgent intervention,” the General Sports Authority, which oversees Saudi Arabian sport, said in a statement released on social media.
The body noted that there are a total of 107 cases under appeal at world governing body FIFA regarding unpaid salaries in Saudi Arabia.
“Failure to intervene urgently to rescue clubs may result in damage to the reputation of the Kingdom in general and Saudi Arabian sport in particular,” added the GSA.
“Some Saudi Arabian clubs may face severe disciplinary sanctions because of the failure to meet financial obligations such as the
denial of the registration of players in general or the deduction of points.”
Unpaid salaries were also a factor in Al-Ittihad and Al-Nassr being unable to appear in this year’s AFC Champions League after they were denied AFC club licenses.
Al-Ittihad were the club with the highest debt of 309 million riyals ($82 million) and welcomed the news.
“We are delighted by the generous initiative of His Royal Highness,” Al-Ittihad president Nawaf Al-Muqairn said in an official statement released by the two-time Asian champions.
“This contributes to creating solid ground for all clubs to move toward achieving their goals.”
Legendary Saudi striker Sami Al-Jaber, recently appointed president of champions Al-Hilal, announced his gratitude on social media.
“Great thanks to His Highness the Crown Prince for the great support that the clubs have enjoyed which enables sport in our country to keep pace with the aspirations of our leadership,” Al-Jaber wrote.
The Crown Prince’s move followed the SAFF announcing a new raft of regulations in April that will come into effect next season and are designed to take the league forward. These included restricting club spending on transfers and salaries to 70 percent of revenue. The size of first-team squads has been reduced from 33 to 28, of which five must be homegrown players of 23 or younger.