Heather Mitts retires: Time has come to move on

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After 14 years and 137 international appearances, U.S. international Heather Mitts became a former U.S. international on Wednesday, the 34-year-old right back announcing her retirement from soccer via Facebook.

The University of Florida product was a part of three gold medal winning teams during a national team career that began in 1999.

At the professional level, Mitts spent time with the Philadelphia Charge, Boston Breaks, Philadelphia Independence and Atlanta Beat between the WUSA and WPS.

“The time has come for me to move onto a new stage of my career,” Mitts wrote on Facebook.

“It’s been an amazing journey with some obstacles but in the very end I feel so fortunate that we were able to close on a golden note.”

Mitts was part of the team that won gold at the 2012 London Olympics but had spent most of her time in a reserve role after the emergence of Ali Krieger before the 2011 World Cup.

In all, 104 of Mitts’ international appearances came as a starter. Her 137 caps are sixth all-time among U.S. national team defenders.

According to her announcement, Mitts plans to stay involved in the game and is set to assume a role with the Philadelphia Union:

I will continue to stay close to the sport as I will be working as a sideline analyst & ambassador for the Philadelphia Union while taking part in other soccer related projects. I also look forward to starting a family and becoming an ultimate soccer mom.

Mitts had been allocated to the Boston Breakers of the new National Women’s Soccer League.

The final thoughts from her Facebook post:

Its amazing how 28 years of playing a sport I love and always will, can fly by. From my first cap til now, the growth of the sport has been profound. I look forward to the launch & success of the NWSL, and rooting on my Boston Breakers. Old ladies club of Christie Rampone & Shannon Boxx keep the flame alive! I leave with so much gratitude to US Soccer for allowing us the right to play for our country. Lastly the fans. Your constant love and support for the sport and this team is among the best in the world. I look forward to joining you to cheer on this amazing team.

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

Thanks to all the people who have made this dream possible.

Chinese clubs to pay 100% tax on foreign transfers

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The days of Chinese Super League sides spending eye-popping figures on a handful of international superstars are over β€” either that, or those figures are about to double β€” for now, at least.

[ MORE: Oscar given 8-game ban for petulant display in ChinaΒ ]

China’s Football Association announced Thursday that, effective immediately, any foreign player signed for a fee exceeding $6.63 million would be subject to a 100-percent tax on top of the fee paid to acquire the player. The tax will remain in effect until the end of China’s ongoing transfer window, July 14. The tax will also apply to Chinese players signed for a fee exceeding $3 million.

It’s Chinese authorities’ latest attempt to prevent big spending by CSL clubs, which has in every instance been detrimental to the development of young Chinese players making their way through the academy system. The taxed money will then be reinvested in “youth training, construction of public sporting facilities and scientific progress in football development,” according to a statement by the CFA.

Just last week, China was eliminated from contention to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia. The only time China has ever qualified for the World Cup was in 2002.

Young Englishman Oxford goes abroad, to Gladbach, on loan

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MOENCHENGLADBACH, Germany (AP) Borussia Moenchengladbach has signed English central defender Reece Oxford on loan for the season from Premier League club West Ham.

Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl says “Oxford has gone through all the England youth teams and is one of the biggest defensive talents in Britain.”

The 18-year-old Oxford, who spent the second half of last season on loan at second-division club Reading, is Gladbach’s fifth arrival of the off-season.

Qatar stadium safety concerns again raised by death investigation

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An investigation into why a British man fell to his death on a building site for the 2022 Qatar soccer World Cup has raised concerns about stadium roof safety.

World Cup organizers on Thursday released partial findings of an assessment of the accident at the Khalifa International Stadium, but said the full report cannot be released while local authorities continue their own investigation. It is one of two work-related deaths detailed in Qatar’s latest welfare report on preparations for the 2022 soccer tournament, which currently involves 12,367 workers on eight construction sites.

The 40-year-old British man fell 39 meters in January after one end of the roof catwalk he was installing dropped and a safety rope snapped.

“During the course of the investigation, the team had raised concerns with the method of installation of the raised catwalk system,” the welfare report from Qatar’s World Cup organizers stated. “This required further investigation regarding the method itself and the supervision skills of the specialist contractor staff.”

It has led to “corrective and preventative actions” being implemented by the contractor, a joint venture between Belgian and Qatari firms, along with safety checks across all stadium sites, the report said.

“These included a review of all working-at-height activities across all SC projects, an enhanced process when reviewing specialist activities within construction sites, and a detailed review of all roof and gantry designs,” the Supreme Committee overseeing stadium projects added.

The British man is the only European working on Qatar stadiums to have died in a country relying on a low-paid migrant workforce from south Asia to prepare for the first World Cup in the Middle East. Six non-work related deaths have been announced by organizers, with most suffering from heart or breathing problems.

Hassan Al Thawadi, the supreme committee’s secretary general, said medical staff are trying to raise awareness of the “importance of healthy lifestyles” by evaluating diets and identifying health issues, including hypertension and diabetes. Cooling helmets have also been developed in an attempt to make it safer for workers on outdoor sites during the searing summer heat.

World Cup preparations have been dogged by concerns about the welfare of workers since the natural gas-rich Gulf nation won the FIFA vote in 2010. Mounting international pressure led to Qatar raising living standards and worker rights. Inspections led to three contractors being blacklisted and 14 entities “demobilized” from projects for failing to tackle welfare issues, the World Cup report reveals.

“There is still work to be done to ensure our workers’ welfare standards continue to have a tangible impact on the ground and we are comprehensive in our attempts to tackle the myriad of issues facing migrant workers across the SC program,” Khalid Al-Kubaisi, who oversees worker welfare at the Supreme Committee, said in a statement.

The report has been released as Qatar is gripped by a diplomatic crisis that has seen it isolated in the region. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar earlier this month and blocked air, sea and land traffic over its support for Islamist groups and ties with Iran. Qatar denies the charges and says the allegations are politically motivated.

Official (finally): Salah completes move from Roma to Liverpool

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It was the summer’s first transfer rumor-turned-real-story-turned-never-ending-saga that seemed to refuse to cross the finish line, but it’s finally come to pass: Mohamed Salah is a Liverpool player.

Salah’s move from Roma to Liverpool took so long to complete that the club’s poor social-media manager probably never wants to read the words “Announce Salah” for the rest of his/her life.

The deal will cost Liverpool something in the neighborhood of $50 million β€” a new Liverpool club record β€” and completes the utterly terrifying attacking quartet Jurgen Klopp can’t wait to unleash on the Premier League come August β€” Salah on one side, Sadio Mane opposite, Philippe Coutinho in the middle, and Roberto Firmino at striker. Salah, by the way, will take over Firmino’s no. 11 shirt, with the Brazilian switching to no. 9.