Isco gets Spain call as Torres misses out

Updated 01 February 2013
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Isco gets Spain call as Torres misses out

MADRID: Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque on Friday named a 21-man squad for the friendly against Uruguay on February 6, with Malaga starlet Isco and Chelsea full-back Cesar Azpilicueta included for the first time.
However, the reigning European and world champions will take on the 2011 Copa America winners in Doha, Qatar without another Chelsea player, as striker Fernando Torres was left out.
Isco, who recently signed a contract extension with Malaga, is just 20 but is one of the most exciting prospects in the Spanish game just now, while right-back Azpilicueta has nailed down a regular place in the Chelsea side since arriving from Marseille last summer.
Carles Puyol returns to the squad after a dislocated elbow denied him the chance to win his 100th cap in La Roja’s final game of 2012.
Nacho Monreal is also called up a day after sealing his transfer from Malaga to Premier League side Arsenal.
As well as Torres, Valencia striker Roberto Soldado is also missing from the attack, while Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas is absent due to injury.
The game against Uruguay will serve as preparation for their World Cup qualifying double-header against Finland and France next month.
Goalkeepers: Victor Valdes (Barcelona), Jose Manuel Reina (Liverpool/ENG)
Defenders: Sergio Ramos, Alvaro Arbeloa (both Real Madrid), Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Jordi Alba (all Barcelona), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea/ENG), Nacho Monreal (Arsenal/ENG)
Midfielders: Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez (all Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal/ENG), Francisco Alarcon Isco (Malaga), Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid)
Forwards: David Villa, Pedro Rodriguez (both Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City/ENG), Alvaro Negredo (Sevilla), Juan Mata (Chelsea/ENG)


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

Updated 27 min 19 sec ago
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Saudi Arabian football clubs helped with debts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

John Duerden 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.