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Russia banning fans from Confederations Cup games

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The Russian government has reportedly begun to take the liberty of banning fans from Confederations Cup games it determines to be a problem, and they’re doing it at the last possible minute.

According to Associated Press reporter James Ellingworth, the Russian government has forced fans to purchase a “fan ID” along with their ticket in order to gain entry to games. The government can cancel this form of identification at any given time, allowing them to control those who enter games and those who are denied. According to Ellingworth’s report, the government has already taken the liberty of banning fans just hours before the opening game between Russia and New Zealand, leaving their tickets useless.

The report states this system will also be used at next year’s World Cup.

One fan cited in Ellingworth’s report, who serves as the head of a notable supporter’s group, said he was halfway through the drive from Moscow to St. Petersburg to attend the game when he was notified via email that he would be denied entry. The fan apparently has a troubled past, having been booted from France twice after fan violence following a game between England and Russia last year.

All this comes despite poor fan attendance and ticket sales for the Confederations Cup. According to Sky Sports reporter Bryan Swanson, just 65% of the tickets have been sold for the entire event, with 7,000 tickets available for the opening match just the day before the game.

Obviously, it’s a bad look for Russia when games featuring the host nation are not sold out, and the stadium features large sections of empty seats. It won’t help if the government is banning fans with tickets in hand from entering the stadium.

The Russian government does well to purge the crowd of troubled fans, but holding sole control over who can attend matches is a slippery slope, and according to Ellingworth’s report, there are some supporters who feel the cancellation of their tickets are unjustified.

Despite poor ticket sales, the government has given fans of the host nation yet another reason to think hard before purchasing a seat at the games.

Another American heads to Schalke: Zyen Jones

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Schalkamerica?

Bundesliga mainstays Schalke have added yet another American, this one 17-year-old Zyen Jones of Atlanta United. Jones is a forward with the U.S. U-17 national team.

Like Josh Sargent, who signed his deal with Werder Bremen on Tuesday, he’ll head overseas and sign a pro contract on Aug. 25, his 18th birthday.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

Jones will join several potential USMNT teammates in Gelsenkirchen, including injured senior team midfielder Weston McKennie and youngster Nick Taitague (19). Forward Haji Wright is on loan at Sandhausen.

Report: Simon Dawkins making move to Minnesota

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The Loons are taking a flier on Simon Dawkins.

The London-born Jamaican international hasn’t done a ton since returning to MLS from Derby County, and turned 30 over the offseason, and Paul Tenorio says the player is on his way to Minnesota United.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

Dawkins scored 14 goals between 2011-12 with San Jose, but scored just five times in his return to California and was blanked in 14 appearances last season. He registered just 10 shots in those matches.

The left winger would join an attack with Christian Ramirez, Kevin Molino, Ethan Finlay, and a pair of Generations Adidas forwards: Abu Danladi (2017 SuperDraft) and Mason Toye (2018).

Champions League Weds. preview: Sevilla-Man Utd, Shakhtar-Roma

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Jose Mourinho says Manchester United is one round away from having legitimate hopes of winning the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

That makes the Round of 16 tie against Sevilla — beginning Wednesday in Spain — a bit of a dream qualifier for the Red Devils.

“I normally say that Champions League dreams start around the quarter-finals and not yet in the last 16,” Mourinho said on ManUtd.com. “Last 16 still looks a long way to go. When a team reaches the quarter-finals, I think it’s the moment where even the teams that are not favourites – which is our case – they start realising that anything is possible.

The injury-hit side got a bit of a boost on Tuesday in Sevilla, where Paul Pogba, Antonio Valencia, Marcus Rashford and Ander Herrera all trained ahead of the first leg.

As for the hosts, manager Vincenzo Montella admitted that he hopes Pogba won’t play, and joked that he’d prefer to tie up and “padlock” Alexis Sanchez in a bid to defend against the Chilean star.

The final Round of 16 tie to start will be Roma’s pairing with Shakhtar Donetsk, with the first leg taking place in Ukraine.

Shakhtar hasn’t played in some time, but the great equalizer is the bitter cold at Donbass Arena, where the temperature is set to be between 21 and 28 degrees Fahrenheit come kickoff.

Don’t worry, Roma fans, Daniele De Rossi is busy breathing fire into any teammates angling for excuses:

“The cold weather could affect things a little because we’re not used to it but at the end of the day it comes down to how well you perform out there. We must be mentally ready from the get-go because the cold might hit us in the opening minutes.

“If it was that much of a factor, these teams would win the Champions League every year. You don’t go through because of the weather.”

Villarreal opens probe into Semedo’s reported arrest

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MADRID (AP) Spanish club Villarreal says it is investigating the actions of defender Ruben Semedo after reports that he was arrested for a violent incident.

The club said it is “highly concerned” about the issue and “will take the appropriate disciplinary actions with utmost rigor based on the seriousness of the events.”

[ MORE: Chelsea-Barca recap | JPW’s 3 things ]

The statement was released after Spanish media reported that the Portuguese player was taken into custody early Tuesday for allegedly being involved in a hostile confrontation with another man last week.

Police did not immediately confirm Semedo’s arrest.