MLS newcomers Orlando ban fans after violence erupts in derby clash

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Orlando City Soccer Club have cracked down hard on their so-called supporters who ran riot in a USL Pro vs. NASL clash with Florida neighbors the Tampa Bay Rowdies last Sunday.

Four men were arrested, two for disorderly intoxication and two for battery on a law enforcement officers, as Orlando’s fans repeatedly tried to intimidate and entice members of the Rowdies supporters group, Ralph’s Mob, into starting fights during the I-4 Championship game which Orlando won 3-2. The fans in questions jumped barriers to get at Tampa Bay fans at Al Lang Field, while small fires were also started as flares and fireworks were let off. See pictures of some of the fighting, here.

Police have since released the names of those involved as Stephen Marva, 24, shoved a police officer as he tried to start a fight, then Charles Tolman, 30, hit a police officer with a flag. Jimmy Galvez, 28, and Jared Ambrose, 24 were charged with disorderly intoxication. Marva, Tolman, Galvez and Ambrose have been banned from all future Orlando City games pending the outcome of their court cases.

In an open letter to fans, which you can read in its entirety below, Orlando City’s joint-owner and Chairman Phil Rawlins spoke of how the “incidents reflected very poorly on the club” and then banned all current Supporters Groups (The Ruckus & Iron Lion Firm) until they sign a new “Code of Conduct” agreement with the club that adheres MLS fan rules.

Acts of hooliganism likes this should not be popping up anywhere in the world, let alone a soccer match in a civilized nation such as the USA. In other countries violence in the stands at soccer games, plus in and around the stadiums, is still a huge issue. Let’s hope this doesn’t spread to the U.S. as we all love the passion MLS and the lower leagues are creating, but there’s no place for scenes like this to play out.

Kudos to Orlando for nipping these despicable actions in the bud and not tolerating any of this nonsense. They have proved once again that even if a few of their fans let them down, Orlando will be a great addition to the MLS family from the next March onwards.

At last Sunday’s game in St. Petersburg a small portion of our fans were involved in a number of incidents that reflected very poorly on our Club and entire fanbase. The Club wants to make it abundantly clear that it will not tolerate any such behavior, will not be associated with fans who think this type of behavior is acceptable, and takes the situation extremely seriously.

Orlando City is proud of the reputation it has built in the community and will not allow a small number of fans involved in unsavory behavior to tarnish our organization. For these reasons the Club, following consultation with local law enforcement and Major League Soccer, has taken immediate action which includes (but is not limited to) the following steps:

  • The four fans arrested have been suspended from all future Orlando City games pending the outcome of legal proceedings;
  • Both current Supporter Groups – The Ruckus & Iron Lion Firm – have been indefinitely suspended pending their agreement to a new Fan Code of Conduct which follows MLS Supporter Group guidelines;
  • All privileges associated with being a Supporter Group (e.g., use of drums, flags, large banners, etc.) are temporarily suspended. The Club is in the process of implementing new guidelines to become a “Recognized Supporter Group” which will involve privileges (such as use of drums, flags, large banners, etc.) for those groups that comply in the future;
  • A copy of the new Fan Code of Conduct is being distributed to all fans.

We extend our apologies on behalf of our fans to the Rowdies organization for the events of last Sunday. The Club has also written a letter to the Tampa Bay Rowdies expressing the same.

In closing, as a Club, we have worked tirelessly over the last four seasons to be a model organization on and off the field. We are very proud of what we have accomplished with the support of our fans, partners, players and staff. We know that the vast majority of our supporters already fully comply with the Fan Code of Conduct, love the game of soccer, and are passionate fans of Orlando City. We will not allow our good name to be sullied by the actions of a few. We will, without hesitation, do everything we can to continue upholding the Club’s core values as we transition into Major League Soccer.

Fabinho admits interest in Manchester United

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If even a fraction of this summer’s transfer interest is real, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has taken every precaution against his biggest 2017 enemy: scheduled congestion.

Mourinho was a regular critic of United’s schedule last season in the run-up to its UEFA Europa League title win over Ajax, and is building his roster up for the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Saief completes USMNT switch ]

The manager already had plenty of attacking options, and has added Victor Lindelof to his stable of defenders while reportedly flirting with PSG’s Marquinhos, too. Defensive midfielder Nemanja Matic is also a reported target (as are half of the world’s elite footballers).

And now, a wry smile from Monaco’s Fabinho hints that Mourinho may be making progress with another target.

‘‘It’s a tempting invitation. … I would first talk to my agent, Monaco too, to decide everything right. But it’s a great club, sure enough I would think well about it.”

Fabinho played mostly right back in 2014-15 before splitting time between that position and defensive midfielder the following year and seeing most of his time at CDM last season. Mourinho has lavished praise and given a contract extension to right back Antonio Valencia and has Ander Herrera, Michael Carrick, and Paul Pogba at CDM (though the latter can certainly operate higher up the field).

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 — either that, or those figures are about to double — for now, at least.

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

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.