Arsenal drawn with Eintracht Frankfurt in Europa League, Manchester United head to Kazakhstan

General view of the trophy before the UEFA Europa League draw. (Reuters)
Updated 31 August 2019

Arsenal drawn with Eintracht Frankfurt in Europa League, Manchester United head to Kazakhstan

MONACO: Last season’s runners-up Arsenal were placed in the same section as Eintracht Frankfurt in the draw for the Europa League group stage in Monaco on Friday, while Manchester United face a long trip to Kazakhstan.
Unai Emery’s Arsenal side lost the final in Baku to Chelsea, who had already eliminated Eintracht on penalties in the last four.
Arsenal will kick off away in Frankfurt on September 19.
Ten-time Belgian champions Standard Liege and Portugal’s Vitoria Guimaraes also in Group F.
United, Europa League winners in 2017, will face Astana of Kazakhstan as well as Partizan Belgrade and former finalists AZ Alkmaar of the Netherlands in Group L.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be at home to Astana in their first game. They will make the 12,000-kilometer round trip to face the Kazakh champions, who were knocked out of the Champions League in the first qualifying round, on November 28.
Wolverhampton Wanderers, the third English team in the draw, will take on Turkish side Besiktas in Group K.
In their first European campaign since 1980, Wolves have already come through three ties just to reach the group stage. They beat Torino 5-3 on aggregate in the play-offs.
Nuno Espirito Santo’s team will also face Slovan Bratislava of Slovakia and Portuguese club Braga, who will be their first opponents, at Molineux.
The draw was far less kind to the two Scottish representatives.
Scottish champions Celtic meet Italian Cup holders Lazio and French Cup holders Rennes in Group E as well as CFR Cluj, the Romanian side to whom they lost in Champions League qualifying.
Celtic were in the same group as Rennes in the 2011-12 Europa League and took four points against the French club. The teams meet in France on September 19.
“It’s a great draw. There’s a couple of glamor games there and a chance to maybe exact some sort of retribution on Cluj as well, so we’re delighted to be in there and delighted with the group,” said Celtic boss Neil Lennon.
Meanwhile, Steven Gerrard’s Rangers will take on former European Cup winners Porto and Feyenoord as well as Swiss champions Young Boys in Group G.
Rangers reached the group stage for the second season running after edging out Legia Warsaw in the play-off round. Their first game will be at home to Jaap Stam’s Feyenoord.
“We know we are the underdogs in the group but we want to go and surprise a few people, that’s what we will try and do. We will do everything we can to try and get out the group,” said Gerrard.
All opening group games will be played on September 19 with the last games on December 12. The final will be held in the Polish city of Gdansk on May 27, 2020.


Turkey defends footballers saluting soldiers

Updated 15 October 2019

Turkey defends footballers saluting soldiers

  • Sports Minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoglu described the controversial goal celebration — in which players were seen as supporting Turkey’s military operation in Syria — as a nice salute
  • France drew 1-1 with Turkey in the Euro 2020 qualifier amid mounting tensions after Paris condemned Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish militants in Syria

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s sports minister voiced support on Tuesday for national team players who saluted the country’s soldiers during their Euro 2020 match with France.
Sports Minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoglu described the controversial goal celebration — in which players were seen as supporting Turkey’s current military operation in Syria — as a “nice salute.”
France drew 1-1 with Turkey in the Euro 2020 qualifier amid mounting tensions after Paris condemned Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish militants in Syria.
European football’s ruling body UEFA had already said it would “examine” a military salute given by Turkish players during an earlier match against Albania.
But the sports minister said the controversy was unwarranted, and pointed to the fact that French star Antoine Griezmann had also given a military salute to President Emmanuel Macron in June.
“Those who remained quiet about Griezmann’s military salute are trying to distort our national footballers’ nice salute,” Kasapoglu said in a televised press conference, holding up a picture of Griezmann’s salute.
He said critics were trying to distract from Turkey’s success in staying top of the qualifying group.
“Those who are trying to block out their failure on the pitch should give up on their efforts. The result is clear,” Kasapoglu said.
Kasapoglu also warned UEFA to be “prudent” in its investigation of the salutes.
Turkey’s operation against Kurdish militants in Syria, launched a week ago, has been widely criticized by the international community but has drawn widespread support at home.