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Samir Nasri considering retirement from French National Team

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After being left out of the second straight France World Cup squad, Samir Nasri is considering international retirement.

Nasri was a shock leave-behind by Les Blues coach Didier Deschamps, who left the Manchester City winger out of his 23-man squad and his list of seven replacements.

The controversial 26-year-old, who enjoyed a rejuvenated season under new manager Manuel Pellegrini this year, played a big role in Manchester City’s success scoring 12 goals and collecting 11 assists in all competitions, including big strikes in the Capital One Cup final and last Sunday’s Premier League finale.

Perhaps even more notable was Nasri’s attitude adjustment, a sign of maturity under Pellegrini that did not exist under previous club or national team managers. Nasri, himself, was conscious of the adjustment, which led to his disappointment at being dropped.

From his interview with Sky Sports:

“It’s a little bit hard to accept. I need to take some time now to think about the national team because it’s been twice now that they take away a World Cup from me.

“You can go around and ask any player if they’re happy to be on the bench, nobody’s going to say yes. I need to think a little bit during the holiday, what will be my future in the national team, because missing two World Cups is really hard for a player.”

Yet, despite his well-chronicled reaction to the news over Twitter, Nasri now admits he had a feeling he’d be left out.

“I must confess, I knew before. Sometimes you have the feeling, when you call to speak to the manager and he doesn’t want to speak to you, you know you’re not going to go to the World Cup.

“It was a shock but I was prepared mentally. I’m okay. I respect his choice. He wanted to not pick me … good on him. I wish good luck to the French national team.”

From Pellegrini’s viewpoint, Deschamps’ decision to leave out Nasri was wrong but one that, nevertheless, he’s afforded to make as manager. “I was talking with all of the players, with Samir of course, it’s not good news for him,” Pellegrini said at a press conference in Abu Dhabi. “He’s a very good player and deserves to be in the national squad but all teams have managers and it’s up to them to decide.”


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