Chinese club denies move for Barca star Andres Iniesta

Andres Iniesta is a player in high demand after announcing he is leaving Barcelona. (AFP)
Updated 08 May 2018
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Chinese club denies move for Barca star Andres Iniesta

  • Spanish midfielder is leaving after two decades at Barca
  • Chongqing Lifan say they are not in the running to sign 33-year-old

SHANGHAI: China’s Chongqing Lifan denied making a big-money move for Andres Iniesta as Spanish media said the Barcelona captain could now be headed for Japan or Australia.
Reports in China and Spain have linked Chongqing with the 33-year-old Spanish World Cup-winner, who is leaving Barcelona after two decades of phenomenal success.
Chongqing said Iniesta wouldn’t be joining “as a player” but left the door open to future cooperation with the midfielder, who has promotional and marketing links with the city.
Chongqing added that they wanted to support the “healthy development of Chinese football” — a reference to China’s clampdown on heavy transfer spending and focus on homegrown talent.
“Our club will never violate the development prospects of Chinese football and we are determined to make due contributions to the healthy development of Chinese football,” a statement said.
It added: “The other sports industry sections of our club’s controlling shareholder have in-depth cooperation with Mr. Iniesta in sports brokerage, sports marketing, and youth training and education.
“We don’t rule out that in the future there may be more in-depth cooperation between the two sides in the Chinese market, but this does not mean that Mr. Iniesta will join the club as a player.”
Japan’s Vissel Kobe, named in Spanish media as a possible next club for Iniesta, had no comment on Tuesday when approached by AFP.
Football Federation Australia also made no comment after Spain’s Sport website named the A-League as Iniesta’s “preferred destination.”
Chongqing, in southwest China, had emerged as a surprise contender to snare Iniesta — one of the finest midfielders of his generation — despite not being a traditional heavyweight in Chinese football.
Their only major success was the FA Cup in 2000, but Iniesta has traveled to the city of 30 million people in the past for promotional events and worked closely with the sports marketing agency Desports.
Desports was founded by Chinese businessman and Chongqing chairman Jiang Lizhang, who was said to have been spearheading attempts to lure Iniesta.
Chongqing are the second Chinese club to rule out a move for Iniesta, after Tianjin Quanjian threatened legal action to quash reports linking them with the player.
A skyrocketing series of expensive deals was brought to a halt last year when the CFA introduced a 100 percent tax on foreign transfers over 45 million yuan ($7 million), with proceeds going into a fund for youth development.


Platini released from custody after police questioning

Updated 19 June 2019
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Platini released from custody after police questioning

  • French authorities haven’t announced any charges against Platini
  • The authorities also questioned a sport adviser from the previous French president’s administration

PARIS: Former UEFA president Michel Platini was released from custody in the early hours of Wednesday after being questioned as part of a corruption investigation into the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.
His communication team said that Platini’s detention ended at 12:30 a.m. local time.
Platini had denied any wrongdoing and French authorities did not announce any charges against the former France and Juventus player.
“It was long, but given the number of questions it could not be different,” Platini said after his release. “They asked me questions about the 2016 Euro, the World Cup in Russia, the World Cup in Qatar, the Paris Saint-Germain, FIFA.”
Also questioned Tuesday were Sophie Dion, a sports adviser in former French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s administration, and Claude Gueant, the former secretary general of the Elysee presidential palace under Sarkozy.
Ahead of the FIFA vote, Sarkozy hosted a meeting in November 2010 that brought Platini together with Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, then the crown prince of Qatar and now its ruling emir. Al-Thani also owns the French soccer club Paris Saint-Germain, and Sarkozy frequently attends its games.
Qatar beat the long-favored United States 14 to 8 when FIFA selected the host country for the 2022 World Cup
As head of European soccer’s governing body UEFA, Platini was the continent’s top representative on the FIFA committee that picked Qatar.
French prosecutors are known to be investigating an array of winning bids for major sports events, including the 2018 World Cup, awarded to Russia, the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and track and field world championships.

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READ MORE: TIMELINE: The trail of corruption allegations surrounding the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar

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