Boca Juniors' player Schiavi watches their Argentine First Division soccer match against Newell's Old Boys in Buenos Aires

Juan Roman Riquelme not returning to Boca Juniors

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Sure to disappoint the throngs of Boca Juniors fans hoping for his return, Juan Roman Riquelme showed up at Boca’s training ground Saturday morning to inform the team that he will not be joining them for the upcoming tournament. The club icon plans to stand by the decision he made this summer.

“I can’t change the decision I made six months ago. I love this club, I’ve lived some very nice memories, but I am a man of word and I am not returning to Boca.”

Riquelme left Boca in July after the club’s loss to Corinthians in the Copa Libertadores final. Rumors have linked the playmaker with moves abroad, most notably to Brazil, but when Boca recently replaced former manager Julio Falcioni with club legend Carlos Bianchi, there was hope Riquelme could be lured back to the club.

However, after discussions between player and club late this week, Riquelme arrived at the club’s training complex to deliver the disappointing news.

“I came because I had to let the coach and the president know about my decision. I did the things I had to do and told them the same thing I said over at Carlos (Bianchi)’s home. I’m very grateful towards the coach, the president and for everyone who tried to convince me to return to Boca, but my decision is firm. I’m very happy with the life I’m living and want to continue this way.”

So where will Riquelme end up? After this fervor of activity surrounding a return to Boca, it’s too early for new links to surface. Both stylistically and financially, Brazil remains a good fit, though if a team from Major League Soccer wants to take the chance that Riquelme can adjust to Major League Soccer, you won’t hear any complaints from this space.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia