Espanyol fans upset with Barca shirt on the statute of Christopher Columbus

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Controversy out of Barcelona today where fans of RCD Espanyol are livid over the city’s decision to adorn the famous statue of Christopher Columbus with a giant replica of the team’s new shirt design.

The two sides meet this weekend in El Derbi Barceloní. With the Blaugrana already having clinched the La Liga title, the Champions are now setting their sites on equaling Real Madrid’s record mark of 100 points, which the capital side achieved last season. To reach the feet Barca will need to defeat Espanyol at Cornella-El Prat and Malaga at Camp Nou on June 1st.

For 11th place Espanyol, this weekend’s match afforded them little to play for until their neighbors decided to inflame the rivalry. Barcelona’s city council permitted the statute after receiving money from the club as part of a publicity stunt. As part of the deal, the shirt was signed by some of the Barcelona players and is set to remain in place from until June 9th.

source:

The city’s decision to permit Columbus to wear the kit chafes the fans of Los Periquitos, who believe Barca receives far more than their fair share of support from local institutions. Espanyol fan groups, through an official statement, have already said that as a result of the statute they plan to turn their backs and whistle when their team perform the traditional guard of honour to welcome the newly crowned champions on to the pitch.

One Espanyol fan group in particular, @PERICOZ, went so far as to send a Tweet of encouragement to the pigeons of Barcelona to “do what you have to do” on the shoulders of Columbus.

So what do you guys think? Are Espanyol fans serious with this complaint? If so, do they have legitimate beef or is it just sour grapes?

One thing is for sure, it can’t be easy to share a city with the likes of the Catalan giants.

Defoe walks out Bradley Lowery, scores in England win

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Jermain Defoe’s friendship with terminally-ill Bradley Lowery has been special to watch unfold, and the Sunderland striker brought his little buddy to Wembley today.

Then he notched a match-winner.

Lowery walked Defoe out onto the field in a replica England kit before Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania, and then Defoe scored his 20th goal for country.

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It was his first since 2013, the last year Defoe was called up for the Three Lions.

Here’s the goal, which was followed by a second-half Jamie Vardy tally as England stayed atop Group F with a 2-0 win over Lithuania.

Two Russian soccer fans stabbed in Serbia

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) Two Russian fans have been hospitalized with serious injuries after being stabbed following a friendly soccer match between Red Star Belgrade and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Sunday police were looking for the knife-wielding perpetrators who attacked a group of Lokomotiv fans in downtown Belgrade late Saturday.

Serbian media reports said the Russian fans were attacked by supporters of Red Star’s rival Partizan Belgrade.

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The match, which Red Star won 2-1, was meant to promote Serbia’s traditional friendship with Russia.

Stefanovic says “nobody should think they could hurt the Serbian-Russian friendship” with such attacks.

Serbia has seen a surge of fan violence inside and outside stadiums. In 2009, a French football fan was fatally beaten in Belgrade.

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

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Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

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Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).

Ozil bristles at talk of Arsenal selling him

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Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.

The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.

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Ozil was not called up by Germany, and has missed four of his last nine Premier League matches. Three of those were for illness, and he missed last week’s loss to West Brom with a hamstring injury.

From Metro:

“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.

“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.