Argentina

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Man City defensive leader Otamendi signs through 2021-22

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Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi is a part of the long-term, signing a new deal to keep him with the Etihad Stadium through the 2021-22 season.

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The 29-year-old Argentine center back has authored four goals this season, and has found a groove in Pep Guardiola‘s system.

Otamendi leads the team in aerials won (3), interceptions (1.7), clearances (3.5), and offsides drawn per game (1.1) while also five times being named Man of the Match for City. He leads the team in yellow cards, too, with seven.

Here’s Otamendi, from ManCity.com:

“My only aim is to help the team and give all I can for this Club. I am learning every day under Pep and enjoying my football and I feel I can still improve as a player. I’m a family man who enjoys being at home and I love living in Manchester, you sort of get hooked by it.”

Argentina to play Spain, Italy in March in World Cup buildup

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentina will play Italy and Spain in March as part of its World Cup preparations.

The Argentine Football Association says on Tuesday the team will face the Italians on March 23 in Basel, Switzerland, then Spain four days later in Madrid.

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Argentina had a troubled campaign in South American World Cup qualifiers. It secured a spot in Russia only in the very last match against Ecuador.

Italy did not qualify for the World Cup for the first time in decades and Spain is among the favorites to win it.

The Argentines are in Group D with Iceland, Croatia, and Nigeria.

Argentina coach Sampaoli sorry for insulting traffic cop

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli has apologized for insulting a traffic officer who stopped him at a checkpoint.

Sampaoli belittled the officer over his pay grade, and said he was sorry in a statement on Tuesday.

A witness videoed the incident on Sunday and posted it on social media.

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“I totally regret what happened,” Sampaoli said. “Anger, coming from a discussion in which I was wrong, made me say words that do not represent in any way my convictions or my beliefs.”

The coach was stopped after attending his daughter’s wedding near Casilda, a city 360 kilometers (220 miles) northwest of Buenos Aires.

Sampaoli said he will apologize personally to the officer he insulted.

The video shows Sampaoli yelling out of the car, accompanied by the traffic officer.

“You are making me walk two blocks, idiot. You make 100 pesos ($5.50) a month,” the coach said.

Seven other people were with him in the car, which made the officer stop the vehicle.

Casilda security secretary Federico Censi, who oversees the traffic division, told a local radio Sampaoli called him to apologize for his behavior.

In the statement, Sampaoli said, “Salaries do not represent the qualities or the value of any human being. I ask forgiveness to our society for this bad example.”

Argentine club Huracan confirms “El Kaku” heading to Red Bulls

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From one Argentine to another, the New York Red Bulls look to be on the verge of adding a solid presence to its attack.

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Argentine club Huracan released a statement on Saturday stating that winger Alejandro Romero Gamarra (aka El Kaku) had been sold to the Major League Soccer side for a whopping $6.25 million.

While an official announcement from the Red Bulls has yet to come down the pike, it seems like a matter of time until they have the 22-year-old’s signature.

The Red Bulls — who lost in the Eastern Conference semifinals in November — were looking to help bolster its attack ahead of the 2018 season.

The team has long been led by Bradley Wright-Phillips and his 100 career goals since joining the Red Bulls, but with the departure of Gonzalo Veron this offseason Jesse Marsch’s side is certainly lacking on the wing.

Gamarra has scored a goal and added three assists this season in the Primera Division de Argentina, with his soon-to-be-former club Huracan sitting in fifth place.

Rio prosecutors launch probe into soccer final violence

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro launched an investigation Thursday into the fan violence surrounding the Copa Sudamericana final between local club Flamengo and Argentine team Independiente.

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Clashes broke out on the night before Wednesday’s match at Maracana Stadium, and continued throughout the day. There was vandalism inside the stadium during the match and violence afterward, with more than 50 Flamengo supporters being detained over the two days.

The Rio prosecutor’s office said in a statement it would be questioning officials at Brazil’s football confederation, South American soccer’s ruling body, CONMEBOL, and local police about the incidents.

The statement added that “a profound investigation of the facts is needed so we can identify and punish the criminals that disguised as fans to spread chaos, fear and disorder in society.”

Major Silvio Luiz, head of policing for the final, criticized Flamengo’s handling of ticket sales.

Flamengo drew the second-leg match 1-1, and lost the final 3-2 on aggregate. The Copa is the second most prestigious club competition in South American soccer.