Super League organizers set out 80-team competition idea

Super League organizers set out 80-team competition idea
Organizers of the Super League project presented a long-promised new proposal Thursday for a multi-division competition involving up to 80 European soccer teams and operating outside of UEFA's authority. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 09 February 2023

Super League organizers set out 80-team competition idea

Super League organizers set out 80-team competition idea
  • Setting out 10 principles for the project, Spain-based A22 Sports Management said it had talked to “nearly 50 European clubs” about the revived proposal
  • It is unclear if any clubs have publicly supported it

GENEVA: Organizers of the Super League project presented a long-promised new proposal Thursday for a multi-division competition involving up to 80 European soccer teams and operating outside of UEFA’s authority.
Setting out 10 principles for the project, Spain-based A22 Sports Management said it had talked to “nearly 50 European clubs” about the revived proposal. It is unclear if any clubs have publicly supported it.
The document follows an initial legal setback for A22 in December at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg in a challenge to what it claims is monopoly control by UEFA, the governing body of European soccer. Advocate General Athanasios Rantos proposed then that the court recognize UEFA’s authority over European soccer competitions.
An official ruling from the court is expected before the end of the season.
“Our objective is to present a sustainable sporting project for European club competitions, available to, at a minimum, all 27 EU member states, as soon as possible after receipt of the judgment,” A22 said Thursday.
The document provides detail on an idea first conceived by A22 leaders in 2021 that their next proposal would be a more inclusive multi-tier competition involving more countries.
“Participation should be based on annual sporting merit and there should be no permanent members,” A22 said.
Twelve clubs from Spain, Italy and England launched the original breakaway plan in April 2021. That project called for a 20-team league with 15 founders protected from relegation. It was backed by J.P. Morgan Chase bank, which later apologized for a “misjudgment.”
The project collapsed within two days amid a fierce backlash from UEFA, fans and lawmakers, who in England threatened legislation to counter it. Only Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus publicly backed the case at court in Luxembourg.
English clubs are still thought to be unlikely to join a revived breakaway plan. The Premier League’s international appeal and financial power has only grown in the past two years.
The gap between England and the rest — typified by the Premier League’s domination of the January transfer window and record losses posted last year by Barcelona and Juventus — could persuade team officials across Europe to find alternative ways to compete.
For any breakaway from UEFA to succeed, it would likely need support from clubs in smaller leagues like the Netherlands, Portugal and Scotland.
“Participating clubs should remain fully committed to domestic tournaments,” A22 said, “as they do today.”


Farewell: Herve Renard signs off as Saudi Green Falcons head coach

Farewell: Herve Renard signs off as Saudi Green Falcons head coach
Updated 49 min 10 sec ago

Farewell: Herve Renard signs off as Saudi Green Falcons head coach

Farewell: Herve Renard signs off as Saudi Green Falcons head coach
  • Perhaps the most enduring image from the game was the warm hug Salem Al-Dawsari gave the coach after equalizing just before half time
  • By then, French media had confirmed that Renard had agreed a deal to fill the vacant position as manager of the French women’s team

Herve Renard’s four-year reign as manager of the Saudi national team ended on Tuesday with a whimper as his team fell to a 2-1 friendly defeat in Jeddah at the hands of Bolivia.

The lasting image from a disappointing game, from the Saudi perspective, was perhaps the moment when Salem Al-Dawsari, who has shone during Renard’s time in charge, hugged the coach warmly after he equalized just before the break.

It was a touching moment that, even at that stage of the game, looked like a fond farewell to a tactician who was leaving to coach the French national women’s team.

 

 

That deal was reported by French media during the game as being done, and confirmed by the Saudi Arabian Football Federation a few minutes after the final whistle.

The visitors grabbed the winning goal in the second half to make it four wins in Asia for South American teams in the space of a day, after South Korea, Japan and Australia had all lost at home.

Few Saudi fans will have cared much about that. They left the game disappointed, especially with the porous defense that was on display. The Green Falcons have made progress under Renard but while there will be plenty for his successor to work with, there is also plenty still to do.

There were warning signs early on; in the seventh minute, Mohammed Al-Owais struggled to deal with a back-pass but recovered in time to make the save.

But then, after some promising moves from the hosts, the South Americans took the lead. Jaime Arrascaita’s low cross from the left should probably have been dealt with by Abdulelah Al-Amri but the Al-Nassr centre-back failed to clear and Marcelo Moreno was waiting to take advantage and poke the ball home from close range.

Saudi Arabia tried to push forward but, as was the case during their 2-1 loss to Venezuela on Friday, they struggled to carve out any clear openings. That began to change in the last 10 minutes of the first half, however. Their best chance up to that point came in the 35th minute when a free-kick fell to Al-Amri in the area but his shot on the turn went straight into the arms of goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra.

Saleh Al-Shehri went closer five minutes later from a Mohammed Kanno cross but the striker’s shot from close range was blocked by Jairo Quinteros — illegally so according to the referee after he consulted the pitch-side monitor.

Up stepped Al-Dawsari, calmly sending Viscarra the wrong way and the ball into the bottom right-hand corner. It was his sixth successful penalty kick since missing one against Poland in the second game of the Qatar World Cup.

There was plenty of energy on display after the break. Abdul Aziz Al-Bishi, recalled to the side, chested the ball too hard when through on goal just before the hour, and seconds later Abdullah Al-Hamdan was perhaps relieved to see the offside flag raised as he shot straight at the goalkeeper while unmarked in the area. In the 65th minute, Al-Amri had the ball in the net but Al-Hamdan was offside.

Then Bolivia were back in front and it was another poor goal to concede. Al-Owais parried a low cross back into the area, Diego Medina fed the ball to Carmelo Algaranaz and the substitute had the luxury of time to juggle the ball, turn and fire a low shot into the bottom corner.

Saudi Arabia tried to get back on level terms but were unable to get the breakthrough they needed. All thoughts turned to Renard when the final whistle sounded, signaling the end of what will be remembered as a successful era, despite recent results. 


Senegal, South Africa, Burkina Faso qualify as Namibia shock Cameroon

Senegal, South Africa, Burkina Faso qualify as Namibia shock Cameroon
Updated 29 March 2023

Senegal, South Africa, Burkina Faso qualify as Namibia shock Cameroon

Senegal, South Africa, Burkina Faso qualify as Namibia shock Cameroon
  • Burkina Faso needed one point from a visit to Togo to qualify and they drew 1-1 

JOHANNESBURG: Defending champions Senegal, South Africa and Burkina Faso qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations in matchday four on Tuesday while Namibia are close to joining them after a shock win over Cameroon.

Reigning African Footballer of the Year Sadio Mane set up Boulaye Dia to score in the first half and give Senegal a 1-0 win over Mozambique in Maputo and an eight-point Group L lead.

Mihlali Mayambela pounced on a loose ball to score the winner as South Africa defeated Liberia 2-1 in Monrovia and join shock 2022 World Cup semifinalists Morocco as the Group K qualifiers.

Burkina Faso needed one point from a visit to Togo to qualify and they drew 1-1 with Dango Ouattara giving the visiting side an early lead that Kodjo Laba canceled out in Lome.

Captain Peter Shalulile opened the scoring for Namibia, who replaced Cameroon as Group C table-toppers by winning 2-1 in Soweto near Johannesburg.

Senegal, whose penalty shootout victory over Egypt last year brought the Cup of Nations trophy to Dakar for the first time, stretched a perfect group record to four wins.

But it was a much closer contest against Mozambique than last week when the Teranga Lions romped to a 5-1 victory at home.

Mozambique remain second, but will be overtaken if Rwanda win at home to Benin in Kigali on Wednesday.

South Africa ground out a win as Zakhele Lepasa put them ahead, although William Jebor levelled for Liberia before half-time after a blunder by captain and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.

Another goalkeeping howler, this time by Liberian Thomas Songo, gifted Mayambela the crucial goal eight minutes into the second half.

“It was difficult, but 90 minutes of perseverance got us through,” said South Africa coach Hugo Broos.

“Coping with the physicality of the Liberians was a real challenge. Fortunately, we chose the right players in the right positions and coped.”

Morocco, the first African or Arab nation to reach the World Cup semifinals, did not play because scheduled opponents Zimbabwe were barred due to government interference in the sport.

Cameroon football boss and former star Samuel Eto’o looked on from the stand as a team lacking injured forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Karl Toko Ekambi came off second best.

Shalulile and Absalom Iimbondi scored in the second half for the Brave Warriors before Vincent Aboubakar snatched an added-time consolation goal for the Indomitable Lions.

Namibia have five points and Cameroon four, and both must face Burundi, who have only one point but are not out of the running for a top-two finish.

Algeria clinched qualification from Group F on Monday, but who accompanies them as runners-up is wide open after Uganda upset Tanzania 1-0 in Dar es Salaam through a late Rogers Mato goal.

Tanzania and Uganda have four points each and Niger two with two rounds to come, in June and September.

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah netted as Egypt hammered Malawi 4-0 in Lilongwe to join Guinea at the top of Group D.


De Bruyne stars, leads Belgium to 3-2 victory in Germany

De Bruyne stars, leads Belgium to 3-2 victory in Germany
Updated 29 March 2023

De Bruyne stars, leads Belgium to 3-2 victory in Germany

De Bruyne stars, leads Belgium to 3-2 victory in Germany
  • De Bruyne set up both opening goals then sealed the victory just as Germany were threatening an equalizer

COLOGNE, Germany: Kevin De Bruyne steered Belgium to a 3-2 friendly win over Germany in new coach Domenico Tedesco’s return home on Tuesday.

De Bruyne set up both opening goals then sealed the victory just as Germany were threatening an equalizer after recovering from a very poor opening half hour.

It gave Tedesco, the former Leipzig and Schalke coach, a second win from his first two games after his team started Euro 2024 qualifying with a 3-0 win in Sweden last week.

Yannick Carrasco opened the scoring in the sixth when he easily eluded Germany right back Marius Wolf and dispatched the ball past goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen after De Bruyne sent him through on the left. De Bruyne was involved again three minutes when Romelu Lukaku made it 2-0.

Germany’s defense was looking shaky in the absence of Real Madrid’s Antonio Rudiger and Borussia Dortmund’s Niklas Süle and Nico Schlotterbeck. Neither Matthias Ginter nor Thilo Kehrer were able to capitalize on their absences.

Dodi Lukebakio should have made it 3-0, Lukaku struck the crossbar, and David Raum almost scored an own goal as play continued in one direction.

Leon Goretzka went off with an apparent ankle injury in the 32nd — bad news for Bayern Munich ahead of the “Klassiker” against Bundesliga leader Borussia Dortmund on Saturday — and Germany coach Hansi Flick also took off the ineffective Florian Wirtz, bringing on the more defensively minded Emre Can and Wolfsburg midfielder Felix Nmecha for his debut.

The changes had an immediate effect as Germany switched to a 4-3-3 formation.

Niclas Füllkrug scored with a penalty in the 44th after his header from a corner struck Lukaku’s hand and the Belgium star was penalized for hand ball.

Can made a potentially goal-saving tackle before the break and the home team continued its renaissance after it, cheered on by the relieved crowd.

Timo Werner had a goal ruled out for offside, Fullkrug headed over, and Joshua Kimmich tested Koen Casteels, who was playing in goal for regular No. 1 Thibaut Courtois, out with what the team said was “a minor strain in the adductor.”

With the home team attacking, De Bruyne sealed Belgium’s win on a counterattack in the 78th.

Kevin Schade set up Serge Gnabry for a late consolation before the visitors held on through the final minutes.


Klinsmann no success yet as Uruguay beat S. Korea 2-1

Klinsmann no success yet as Uruguay beat S. Korea 2-1
Updated 28 March 2023

Klinsmann no success yet as Uruguay beat S. Korea 2-1

Klinsmann no success yet as Uruguay beat S. Korea 2-1

SEOUL: Jurgen Klinsmann is still waiting for his first win as head coach of South Korea after Uruguay triumphed 2-1 in a friendly played at the Seoul World Cup Stadium on Tuesday.

The former Germany and US coach was appointed last month and his first match in charge was a 2-2 home draw with Colombia on Friday.

After Korea progressed to the second round of last year’s World Cup at the expense of Uruguay, the result provided some measure of revenge for the visiting team.

The meeting between the two teams in Qatar ended 0-0 but it only took Sebastian Coates 10 minutes to open the scoring for Uruguay, after he rose above the Korean defense to head home a corner from Federico Valverde.

Six minutes into the second half, midfielder Hwang In-beom fired home a shot from inside the penalty area. But Lazio’s Matias Vecino grabbed the winner in the 63rd minute, scoring from close range after goalkeeper Cho Hyun-woo parried a Joaquin Piquerez
free kick.

With six minutes remaining, Kim Young-gwon headed home but the goal was ruled out for a foul on the goalkeeper.

Just four days after defeating Ecuador 3-1 in Sydney, Australia lost to the same opposition 2-1 in Melbourne.

Brandon Borrello put the Socceroos ahead after 16 minutes but two second-half goals, the first a Pervis Estupinan penalty and the second from William Pacho after 65 minutes, gave Ecuador the win.


Japan coach demands ‘control’ after Borre stunner gives Colombia victory

Japan coach demands ‘control’ after Borre stunner gives Colombia victory
Updated 28 March 2023

Japan coach demands ‘control’ after Borre stunner gives Colombia victory

Japan coach demands ‘control’ after Borre stunner gives Colombia victory
  • Colombia showed more attacking intent after the break and Jorge Carrascal almost scored

OSAKA: Japan coach Hajjime Moriyasu said he wanted to “build a team that can control games” after his side threw away an early lead to lose 2-1 to Colombia in a friendly on Tuesday.

Brighton winger Kaoru Mitoma put Japan ahead with a towering header in the third minute in Osaka but Colombia equalized later in the first half through Aston Villa teenager Jhon Duran.

Rafael Borre then scored a spectacular overhead winner just after the hour mark, launching himself into a right-footed strike that whistled past Japan goalkeeper Daniel Schmidt.

Japan drew 1-1 with Uruguay in Tokyo last week and Moriyasu said he was frustrated not to claim a win in his team’s first home games since reaching the World Cup last 16 in Qatar in December.

“We were aiming for the win, we prepared well and we scored the opening goal, so it was disappointing not to win that game,” he said.

“We’re aiming to win no matter the situation. I want to build a team that can control games,” he added.

Mitoma has been in scintillating form since joining Brighton last summer and he gave Japan the perfect start when he rose to thump Hidemasa Morita’s cross past Colombia goalkeeper Camilo Vargas.

“It was a great cross from Morita and all I had to do was get on the end of it,” said Mitoma, who has scored six goals in the Premier League this season.

“We scored at a good time but the way the game played out after that is something we have to work on.”

Colombia saw little of the ball in the first half but they equalized in the 33rd minute when Deiver Machado raided down the left before cutting the ball back for Duran to sweep home.

Colombia showed more attacking intent after the break and Jorge Carrascal almost scored with a deflected shot that looped up and over the crossbar.

Borre showed him how it was done just minutes later, and Colombia held on to their lead when Vargas kept out Japan striker Ayase Ueda’s header with a point-blank save.

“Uruguay and Colombia were great opponents for us and we all felt how hard they go in for the ball,” said Japan’s Ko Itakura, acting as captain with Maya Yoshida and other veterans not called up for the two games.

“Now I want us all to go back to our clubs and raise our level individually.”