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Wenger wants UEFA to take a hard line with Financial Fair Play violators

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If you want to be a part of a competition, you have to play by its rules. Those who don’t should not be allowed to take part.

That’s the logic Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger would like to see applied by UEFA as if concerns Financial Fair Play (FFP), according to reporting by The Guardian. Calling current sanctions unduly “sophisticated,” the Arsenal boss said he’d prefer simpler FFP punishments that make “more sense.” To him, excluding violators into the competition makes the most sense.

“You would think that you accept the rules and you’re in the competition or you don’t accept the rules and you’re not in the competition. Then, everybody would understand it.”

Unfortunately for Wenger, the rules aren’t exactly ‘adhere or you’re out.’ Financial Fair Play has a compliance period, after which clubs in violation face a series of varying, escalating punishments. Perhaps one day a team will be excluded from Champions League, but that day isn’t tomorrow, when teams like Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain find out their penalties.

Then again, Wenger confessed he doesn’t quite understand how FFP’s punishments work:

“But if I go out in the street now and I ask a hundred people what you think of the fair play punishment, how many do you think can explain it to you? I’m in the job and I cannot do it.”

Whether he can explain the sanctions or not, Wenger’s underlying point seems clear: The principles of the competition must be respected, not only by teams but also by those two are enforcing the rules. The point of FFP is go get teams spending within their means, right? Why allow teams to take part if they’re unwilling to do so?

It’s a view that transcends Wenger’s view on Champions League. It also defines how Wenger manages his club. In a league with big spenders like Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United, the Arsenal boss wonders how interested England is in having a “fair competition:”

“If you say to me tomorrow: ‘We give everybody £100m in the 20 Premier League clubs,’ I am OK. I’ll take the gamble. You can start what is a fair competition. It is a bit like how it works in the States, which is the most capitalistic country. They have a more even field of competition. That’s a basic question you have to answer in England. Do we let it go and everyone spends what he wants?”

The Guardian has more, but as you’d expect from a manager who has stayed within his means, Wenger takes a harsh view of those breaking their banks to sign the world’s best talent.

Bayern’s Vidal says “ugly” Atletico not deserved UCL finalists

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 27: Juanfran of Atletico Madrid and Arturo Vidal of Bayern Munich argue during the UEFA Champions League semi final first leg match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Bayern Muenchen at Vincente Calderon on April 27, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.

Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]

However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.

Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.

They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.

The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.

Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.

[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]

Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.

Europa League preview: Liverpool, Shakhtar look to overcome Spanish foes

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - APRIL 28:  Cedric Bakambu of Villarreal is watched by the Liverpool defence during the UEFA Europa League semi final first leg match between Villarreal CF and Liverpool at Estadio El Madrigal on April 28, 2016 in Villarreal, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.

[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]

Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0

Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.

[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]

Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw 

Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

Men in Blazers podcast: Celebrating Leicester’s title with Arlo White

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In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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European police say Russian mafia infiltrating soccer clubs

LISBON, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 04:  Sporting Lisbon fans celebrate after their team score a goal during the Portuguese Liga match between Sporting Lisbon and Uniao Leiria at the Alvalade XXI Stadium on November 4, 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.

Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.

[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]

Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.

Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.

Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.