EPL Chief: “It is nonsense” to blame Premier League for England’s demise

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Richard Scudamore finally hit the roof when asked about something that repeatedly pops up during his press conferences.

The English Premier League’s riches has resulted in players brought in from across the globe, but many believe that has harmed the English national teams chances.

But EPL Chief Executive Scudamore refuted such claims, defending the league against recent claims from the English national team that not enough young English talent is given the chance to play regularly in the EPL.

“There were 210 players qualified to play for England, playing in the Premier League last year,” said Scudamore. “And we ought to be able to find 11 to take the field to do well. Those players are playing week in, week out against the world’s best talent.”

Scudamore has a point.

He has held his position as Chief Exec. of the EPL since 1999 and in that time the Premier League has grown exponentially. However the English national team has diminished as a world power and with the percentages of foreigners playing in England on the rise, Scudamore spoke further about how the EPL aims to bring through more young English talent.

Our responsibility is to make sure the youth development systems in this country are as good as they can be. That huge investment, £320m, in the elite performance plan is starting to see results. We’re starting to see more English-qualified people coming through the academies, we’re starting to see more take part in first teams. All we can do is be responsible for some of the input. Clearly, our responsibility ends once those players go off and are selected.

The Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) has been banded around wholeheartedly in recent years as the answer to all of the English national teams problems. But after England’s U-21 side lost every game at the European Championships and the U-20 side didn’t win a group game at the World Cup, criticism has been rife from ex-players and managers who believe the EPL’s module is hindering the national team.

But how do you really solve this conundrum? There is simply no easy solution.

English Under-21s made up 2.28 percent of the total minutes played by EPL players during the 2012-13 season. In the German Bundesliga, that figure was 6.22 percent. So how can more young Englishmen get minutes in the EPL?

(MORE: The FA is in a tizzy over the Premier League schedule)

Except from putting huge limitations on the number of foreign players each team can play — say five in the starting lineup max, or no more than seven in the match day squad of 18 — there is no easy fix. And we all know that EPL chiefs will not restrict their clubs to how many foreign stars they can buy and play.

Simply put, the EPL has outgrown the English national team. Back when it was founded in 1992, even the greatest optimist wouldn’t have predicted the global hotbed England’s top-flight has now become as soccer fans across the world regard it as the best of the best. That is in terms of commercial success, on field play, venues and fan experience, really whatever you want to measure it by.

The English Premier League does have a huge part to play in the English national teams success. But it seems as if the point of no return has been crossed. The tipping point has been reached, now English youngsters will find it harder than ever to grace England’s top-flight with their presence.

La Liga releases schedule: First El Clasico coming in December

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It’s Christmas in July for fans of La Liga Friday as the Spanish league published its schedule for the upcoming season.

Defending champions Real Madrid travel to Deportivo La Caruña on August 20, the opening match of the season while its rival Barcelona hosts Real Betis.

As it’s La Liga, the first date most fans searched for was the first El Clasico of the season, and the biennial battles between Real Madrid and Barcelona will take place on December 20 and May 6, with Real Madrid hosting the first match.

The first match comes just ahead of the Spanish winter break, while the second match comes at a busy period at the end of the season, where both teams will be hoping to still be competing in the UEFA Champions League.

Other interesting matches to keep an eye on in the first few weeks of the season include Real Madrid hosting Valencia in week two, the Barcelona derby between Barca and Espanyol in week three and Atletico Madrid taking on Sevilla in week six.

Here’s a look at this year’s La Liga schedule.

Conte: Costa “situation was very clear” in January

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At this point, there is no doubt Diego Costa‘s future lies away from London and Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte broke his silence on the Brazilian-born Spain international striker, saying he’s been ready to move on from Costa since January, when Costa and Conte had a disagreement following a big-money offer from Chinese club Tianjin Quanjian during the winter transfer window.

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“I don’t like to talk about players who are not here but the only thing I can tell you [is that] in January, the Costa situation was very clear, for the club for him and his agent,” Conte told reporters Friday. “For me the situation is closed.”

It’s an amazing turn of events after Costa scored 20 Premier League goals in Chelsea’s title-winning 2016-2017 season, including 14 goals through the end of December. But after falling out with Jose Mourinho a year earlier, the same issue happened again under Conte, with Costa proving much less effective down the stretch.

But Conte and Costa were able to put their differences aside on the field, photographed multiple times hugging after wins, as well as after winning the title.

Costa is reportedly now agitating for a move back to his former club Atletico Madrid, but the Spanish club’s transfer ban until the next window complicates matters. In a World Cup year, would Costa be willing to sit out half a season just to leave Chelsea?

If Costa’s time in the Premier League is up, he’ll go down as one of the league’s best pound-for-pound goalscorers. He scored 52 goals in 89 Premier League appearances, with seven more cup goals in his three-year spell at Chelsea.

And if he is gone, defenders across the Premier League will sure be happy to wave goodbye.

Sparta Prague signs France midfielder Rio Mavuba

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PRAGUE (AP) Sparta Prague says it has signed France midfielder Rio Mavuba to a three-year contract.

The 33-year-old Mavuba comes from French club Lille, which he joined in 2008. Before that, he played for Bordeaux and Spanish club Villarreal.

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Mavuba was on the France team at the 2014 World Cup.

He is the 10th player signed by Sparta after Italian coach Andrea Stramaccioni took charge in May.

Mexico 1-0 Honduras: Pizarro strikes early to put El Tri in Gold Cup semifinals

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Mexico had little trouble dispatching Honduras as El Tri won 1-0 in Glendale, AZ and eased into the Gold Cup semifinals.

Just four minutes into the game, Mexico took the lead as they got Honduras on its heels, with Rodolfo Pizarro sticking the ball in at the far post at the end of a scramble. Jesus Duenas carved a ball through the defense, and while Elias Hernandez whiffed on the tap-in, Pizarro was right behind him to finish the chance.

Mexico settled in after scoring, while Honduras tried to out-muscle El Tri, with the latter receiving a pair of yellow cards in the first 45 minutes. There were precious few other chances throughout the first half, with Honduras completely incapable of creating anything in the attacking half.

Mexico continued to dominate out of the halftime break, but they lost Monterrey midfielder Jesus Molina in the 65th minute with discomfort, replaced by Chaka Rodriguez. The best moment for Honduras as they chased the game late came in the 78th minute as Jose Corona made a spectacular save when substitute Alexander Lopez nearly scored directly from a corner. They came close again in stoppage time after a set-piece as Alfredo Mejia scuffed a shot agonizingly wide.

Honduras ended their Gold Cup without a single goal scored. They technically defeated French Guyana 3-0 in the group stage, but that came on the typical forfeit scoreline, whereas the actual game played ended in a 0-0 draw.

Meanwhile, Mexico will take on Jamaica in the semifinal in a rematch of last tournament’s final.