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Fiorentina unveils plans for new 40,000-seat stadium

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FLORENCE, Italy (AP) Fiorentina unveiled plans Friday for a new stadium, which it hopes to be playing in by 2021.

The new stadium will seat 40,000 people, with the closest fans being only seven meters from the field.

The 420 million euro ($447 million) project will regenerate an area in a northwestern suburb of Florence and also includes a shopping center, a hotel and new transport links.

“It’s a historic moment. We’re presenting an important project for Florence and for all of Italy. It will be a sort of Purple Renaissance,” Fiorentina owner Andrea Della Valle said.

Purple is the color of Fiorentina, which is nicknamed the Viola.

The first brick is expected to be laid in 2019, with construction taking two years.

“We are resolving the last small problems. I imagine that we’ll need four years to finish everything,” said Della Valle, who added that the club is still looking for financial investors for the project.

Only three other Italian teams have their own stadiums. The Juventus Stadium was the first when it was inaugurated on Sept. 8, 2011. Sassuolo owner Giorgio Squinzi’s company bought his team’s stadium in 2013, while Udinese opened its own ground earlier this year.

Roma’s long-delayed stadium plans were given the green light by Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi recently, prompting Lazio to say it wanted its own stadium, too.

“Many clubs are trying and that’s a good thing. We’re one of them and we’re moving forward quickly,” Della Valle said. “People are talking about Roma’s new stadium. We’re even further ahead and this is a great opportunity for change for Italian football, which is very behind in this aspect.

“Between the stadium and the surrounding area, it’s a project of hundreds and hundreds of millions. We really wanted to do something for this city, which deserves it.”

Also at the presentation were Italian sports minister Luca Lotti, Fiorentina President Mario Cognigni and Florence Mayor Dario Nardella.

“The stadium will not be a cathedral in the desert,” Nardella said. “The redevelopment of the northwestern area will be total.

“It will also create 3,000-4,000 jobs. There’s a nine-out-of-10 chance it’ll be completed.”

Leicester City record massive earnings from UEFA Champions League

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Leicester City’s UEFA Champions League campaign may have ended without a trophy, but the Premier League side pipped the European champions in the bank account.

UEFA announced on Friday that Leicester City earned $96,167,125 during the Champions League run that ended in the quarterfinals, the farthest of any Premier League club. Real Madrid, the back-to-back champions, earned a slightly less $95,385,679. Much of the difference comes from TV rights deals in England, which pays out more to teams compared to the TV rights deal in Spain.

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Juventus, the Italian giant, earned the most of any club in last year’s Champions League, making a whopping $129,965,357, mostly thanks to the TV rights again.

Mourinho: Ibrahimovic could return in December

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Dare to Zlatan? It could be only a couple of months away.

That’s according to Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who said the veteran striker could return from his torn ACL before the end of the calendar year.

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“Zlatan is here, he’s working here and under our control,” Mourinho told reporters. “He’s working as you would expect so, so, so hard. But he’s not to be back in the next week or next couple of weeks. Do I believe he’ll be back in 2017? Yes, I do. But it’s just a feeling.”

The big Swede scored 28 goals for Man United last year in all competitions, proving that he’s still got it at the age of 36, but it’s going to be tough for him to find his old form coming off an ACL injury at such an old age. After suffering the injury last April, it’s been a long road to recovery for Ibrahimovic.

However, with the play of Romelu Lukaku up top, Ibrahimovic would only play from time to time, which could help in his recovery both from the knee injury and just the general recovery between games.

Manchester City quartet called up by Brazil for friendlies

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Brazilian National Team coach Tite has decided on calling up a full-strength squad for November’s upcoming friendly matches in Europe, including four Manchester City players in his 25-man squad.

Gabriel Jesus, Fernandinho, Danilo and Ederson all made the squad as Tite looks to develop more chemistry among his side ahead of the 2018 World Cup, which Brazil breezed into after Tite took over in 2016.

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Luckily for Manchester City and the other European-based players in the squad, Brazil’s friendly matches will be played in Western Europe. The Selecao first faces Japan in Lille, France on November 10 before taking on England at Wembley Stadium on November 14.

The call-ups may be a tough pill for Guardiola to swallow though. As of Friday, Manchester City has 17 games remaining in the calendar year, and surely he would prefer for some of his starters to get a two-week break in November to preserve some energy instead of play in friendly matches.

Everton announce lifetime ban for fan involved in altercation with Lyon player

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On a night when UEFA unveiled a new campaign for respect, there wasn’t enough of it shown both on and off the field.

Everton has followed up on UEFA opening up disciplinary proceedings against them by banning a fan from Everton matches after the fan was seen to punch at an Olympique Lyon player in the second half of Lyon’s 2-1 win at Goodison Park.

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“Club Officials have reviewed the footage of an incident that occurred in the 64th minute of the game against Olympique Lyonnais where supporters towards the front of the lower Gwladys Street End became involved in a confrontation between players,” Everton said in a statement. “We have identified one individual whom action will now be taken against. This will include a ban from attending future Everton fixtures and the Club registering a formal complaint with Merseyside Police.”

The video below shows a fan – amazingly, holding onto a small boy in one arm – throwing some punches at Lyon players after a fracas on the field.

The punch and ban is yet another dark moment for Everton, which has just one point from its first three Europa League matches and sits in 16th place in the Premier League with eight points from eight games.