Kurdish-Shiite row erupts at Iraqi football match

Zakho Sport Club. (Zakho club website)
Updated 17 December 2016

Kurdish-Shiite row erupts at Iraqi football match

BAGHDAD: Two clubs from Iraqi Kurdistan announced on Saturday their withdrawal from the country’s football championship in protest at anti-Kurdish chants during a match against a Shiite club.
The match itself was briefly suspended after Irbil’s players walked off when home club supporters in the Shiite city of Najaf south of Baghdad chanted slogans associating the Kurdish regional capital Irbil in the north with the Islamic State jihadist group.
Iraqi television, which was broadcasting the match, cut the audio to block the chanting.
“We called our players off because of the slogans... which the Najaf public was chanting against Kurdistan and its political figures,” Abdallah Majid, a director of the Irbil club, told AFP. 
“This is unacceptable and has no place in sport,” he said, adding that Irbil was pulling out of the championship until “a decision is taken at the political level.”
A second Kurdish club in the Iraqi league, Zakho, withdrew in solidarity with Irbil.
The Iraqi football federation issued a statement apologizing to Irbil and calling for punitive measures to be taken over the incident.
IS fighters seized swathes of Iraqi territory west and north of Baghdad in 2014, including areas bordering autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan.
Iraqi federal forces, Shiite militias and Kurdish peshmerga fighters in mid-October launched an anti-IS offensive to try to recapture the northern city of Mosul.
But strains remain between Kurdistan and Baghdad over oil resources in northern Iraq and the scope of autonomy.
Iraq’s football federation has for years been lobbying the sport’s world governing body FIFA to lift a ban on the country hosting international games because of security concerns.

Neymar future remains up in the air as PSG reject Madrid offer

Updated 23 August 2019

Neymar future remains up in the air as PSG reject Madrid offer

  • Paris club said to turn down an offer from Barcelona of €40 million plus Coutinho and Rakitic

PARIS: Neymar remains no closer to getting his desired move away from Paris Saint-Germain amid reports Thursday the French club have rejected an offer from Real Madrid of €100 million($111 million) plus players.

French sports daily L’Equipe said Real had offered cash plus Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and goalkeeper Keylor Navas, but PSG turned it down because “the overall value of the offer did not match their expectations.” 

Paris paid €222 million to sign Neymar from Barcelona two years ago and their sporting director Leonardo is understood to be determined to only sell the forward for a deal considered to be of the same value.

Real have spent the summer trying to offload Bale, while James is unwanted after returning from a loan at Bayern Munich and Navas is no longer the club’s first-choice goalkeeper.

Meanwhile, Barcelona remain hopeful of bringing Neymar back to the Camp Nou, but Catalan daily Sport claims an attempt to sign the player on loan with an obligation to buy for €160 million at the end of the season has been firmly rejected in Paris.

Sport claims Barcelona feel “it is very clear that PSG are trying to prevent the Brazilian from returning to the Camp Nou in any scenario.” 

PSG had previously reportedly turned down an offer from Barcelona of €40 million  plus Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic. Coutinho has since joined Bayern on loan.

Juventus are also believed to have stated an interest in signing the 27-year-old, who has not featured in any of PSG’s matches so far this season having been frozen out amid the uncertainty over his future. The transfer window closes in France, Spain and Italy on Sept. 2, meaning time is fast running out for a deal to be done.

Watford loan Sweden winger Sema to Udinese

Watford winger Ken Sema has completed a season-long loan move to Udinese, the Serie A side confirmed on Thursday.

The six-times capped Sweden international only moved to Vicarage Road last summer from Ostersunds FK and made 22 appearances for the English club.

The 25-year-old's departure follows the arrival of Senegal international Ismaila Sarr to the Premier League outfit on a club record transfer of €35 million   ($38 million) from Rennes. The northeastern Italian club and Watford are both owned by the Pozzo family.

Udinese host AC Milan in their opening match of the Serie A season on Saturday.