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Head of English soccer threatens to quit over reforms

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LONDON (AP) The head of the English Football Association has threatened to quit if a set of proposals to reform the governing body is not backed by the British government.

On Thursday, lawmakers will debate a motion of “no confidence” in the FA’s ability to reform itself and meet its duties as a governing body, with critics accusing the association of a lack of diversity and unhappy with its antiquated structure.

[ MORE: Man United to pick up De Gea option ]

FA chairman Greg Clarke said he accepts that “our governance needs changing” and is “confident it will happen” once he puts proposals before the government, which could call for laws to be brought in to change the structure of the world’s oldest soccer federation.

“If the government is not supportive of the changes when they are presented in the coming months, I will take personal responsibility for that. I will have failed. I will be accountable for that failure and would in due course step down from my role,” Clarke said in an open letter published late Tuesday. “However, I don’t believe that the FA is failing football.”

The debate is taking place in the House of Commons after five former FA executives said the governing body had failed to self-reform and was “outdated” as it was being held back by “elderly white men.”

British Sports Minister Tracey Crouch said in July that the FA would lose up to 40 million pounds ($50 million) of public funding if it did not reform. In December, she said the government would bring in legislation to force through reforms if the governing body did not make changes itself.

In announcing the House of Commons debate, the Culture, Media and Sport committee said last week that “it is clear there appears to be considerable resistance to the idea of changing its very out-of-date structure at all.” It said the committee is preparing a draft bill to “bring the structure of the FA – which is, in legal terms, a company – into line with modern company law.”

Clarke said the FA needs to be “more diverse, more open about decision-making and we do need to better represent those playing the game,” but has yet to go public with his proposals.

There is only one woman on the FA’s 12-person board, while reform of the body’s 120-person council has proved to be beyond a long line of recent FA chairmen.

UEFA: Wales in trouble; Spain dominates; Buffon hits 1000

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Friday’s matches mark the midway point of the main round of qualifying in UEFA, and the tables remain tight near the top of Groups D and G.

[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]

Group I, however, is seeing some distance between first and second thanks to Croatia’s result versus Ukraine.

Republic of Ireland 0-0 Wales

Neil Taylor was sent off in the 69th minute for Wales, whose World Cup hopes are in trouble.

Seamus Coleman was stretchered off after the tackle, with a scary-looking injury that will leave Everton fans sick in more ways than one. Coleman’s leg was broken, and left dangling by the challenge.

Ireland couldn’t take advantage of the sending off, and failed in a bid to overtake Serbia for first in Group D. The Irish trail on goal differential, and will host Serbia on Sept. 5.

But Wales will rue the result more, remaining four points back of second-place Ireland. Chris Coleman’s side drops a point behind Austria as well, and will not have Taylor or Gareth Bale (card accumulation) in its next match. That comes against leaders Serbia.

Italy 2-0 Albania

Daniele De Rossi scored a 12th minute penalty kick won by Andrea Belotti, and Ciro Immobile scored late to provided the goals in Gianluigi Buffon’s 1000th appearance for club and country. Fittingly, it ended in a clean sheet. The match was briefly delayed after flares were thrown onto the field.

Spain 4-1 Israel

David Silva, Vitolo, and Diego Costa stakes the Spaniards to a three-goal lead, with Lior Refaelov ruining David De Gea‘s clean sheet with 11 minutes to play. Isco scored the match’s final goal.

Spain remains atop Group G on goal differential, eight better than second place Italy. Israel is four points behind both.

Croatia 1-0 Ukraine

Fiorentina’s Nikola Kalinic’s 38th minute goal was enough for the hosts, and Croatia is now five points clear at the top midway through qualifying.

Elsewhere
Austria 2-0 Moldova — RB Leipzig’s Sabitzer nabs winner
Liechtenstein 0-3 Macedonia — Ilija Nestorovski bags brace
Kosovo 1-2 Iceland — Sigurdsson PK the match winner
Georgia 1-3 Serbia — Mitrovic, Tadic lead the way
Turkey 2-0 Finland — Brace for Cenk Tosun

Boro’s Gibson called to England after injury to Man Utd’s Smalling

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Scoring goals has been the biggest problem for Middlesbrough in its return to the Premier League, and that overshadows how well the Northeast club has defended its own goal.

Ben Gibson has been a huge part of that, and now he’ll earn the chance to represent his nation thanks to an injury to Chris Smalling. Gibson will join England ahead of Sunday’s home World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.

[ MORE: Podolski leads Germany past England ]

Gibson has far and away been Boro’s best player, leading the side in blocked shots and clearances. The blocked shots total is tied for ninth in the Premier League, 11 behind current leader and new England teammate Michael Keane.

Smalling’s undisclosed injury is a bigger problem for Manchester United, which had already lost center back depth on England duty when Phil Jones was hurt.

Dele Alli to miss next three European matches, UCL or UEL

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Tottenham Hotspur is primed to qualify for a second-straight UEFA Champions League campaign this year, and will have to start that sophomore run without Dele Alli.

The 20-year-old playmaker has banned for his next three matches. If Spurs finish fourth, that would mean both qualifying matches and an additional match.

[ MORE: Five questions for USMNT ]

If they finish higher, Dele will miss the first three group stage matches.

Dele was shown red for a tackle on Brecht Dejaegere in Spurs’ 2-2 draw with Gent in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32, as Tottenham left the tournament.

Men in Blazers podcast: Man City-Liverpool review, USMNT preview

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Rog and Davo recap the Top Four battle between Manchester City and Liverpool, ask (again) whether it’s time for Arsene to go, and break down two of the most important USMNT games in modern history.

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