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FA looks to crack down on England fan violence, bans two

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The FA has issued lifetime bans to a pair of England fans who were caught performing overtly insulting gestures during a trip to an away game in Germany in March, the first time the FA has given out lifetime bans to members of the official supporter’s group.

One fan was caught doing a Nazi salute, while the other made the throat slash symbol and mocked the Hitler mustache. During that trip, fans were also spotted singing songs mocking World War II, and booing the German national anthem, which garnered a statement from FA chief Greg Dyke condemning the “disrespectful” behavior.

Multiple reports, the bans are just the beginning of harsher crackdowns on hooliganism by the FA. The report says the organization is increasingly worried about the young adult fanbase that has shown an increasingly bold tendency, especially on away games.

Along with the pair of lifetime bans, the FA also handed out 16 suspensions and sent letters of warning to four others. In addition, extra security has been ordered for Saturday’s match in Scotland – which has a later 5pm start time – with special training given to game stewards and a heightened police presence for the surrounding area.

Unfortunately, the FA is at this time only able to sanction official members of the supporter’s group, whose membership has apparently fallen from 57,000 in 2007 all the way to around 8,000 currently.

English soccer introduces retrospective bans for simulation

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LONDON (AP) English soccer is introducing retrospective bans of at least two matches for players who deceive referees by diving to win a penalty or get an opponent sent off.

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The English Football Association announced on Thursday that a new offense of “successful deception of a match official” will apply from next season.

The FA says this will be enforced “where there is clear and overwhelming evidence to suggest a match official has been deceived by an act of simulation, and as a direct result, the offending player’s team has been awarded a penalty and/or an opposing player has been dismissed.”

[ MORE: Mourinho right to complain? ]

A panel featuring a former match official, ex-manager, and former player will review footage of incidents and have to unanimously agree to charge offenders.

Manchester City accept FA charge over anti-doping rules breach

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Manchester City have accepted an FA charge of breaching anti-doping rules.

[ MORE: Mourinho’s alternative facts ]

The charge relates to a “whereabouts” ruling which states that each club must make the authorities aware of training sessions and the location of player whereabouts at all times in case of possible drug tests.

What does this charge actually mean?

Well, there is a widespread belief that a fine is coming City’s way and a slap on the wrist for an administrative error.

City were charged with failing to let anti-doping officers know where their players were on Jan. 12 and after requesting more time to respond to the initial charge they have now accepted it.

Now we wait to find out exactly what their punishment is, but it doesn’t seem like any points deduction is coming the way of Pep Guardiola‘s men.

Victims in British sex-abuse scandal unite, call for justice

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) The man whose harrowing testimony of being sexually abused by a youth coach sparked an ongoing crisis in English soccer wants to take the issue to a global level.

“I can’t even begin to give you the numbers of people contacting me directly, not just footballers and ex-footballers but members of the public,” Andy Woodward told The Associated Press on Monday. “It’s everywhere.”

If he’s not too weary by the sheer scale of the scandal he helped to uncover, Woodward will fly to New York on Wednesday to speak to an American broadcaster about his 30-year journey from abused youth player to an inspiration to millions.

“I personally know that in America, there are certain things which have potentially happened there,” Woodward said. “It’s just about reaching out to everyone.”

Woodward was the first of a growing list of former soccer players to go public over the past three weeks about the ordeals they went through as youngsters.

The effect has been bigger than they could ever have imagined.

About 450 people have reported incidents of child sexual abuse at soccer clubs to 18 British police forces. A hotline set up by a children’s charity in response to sex abuse claims has taken about 1,000 calls in little more than a week. At least 55 clubs, professional and amateur, have been implicated in the story.

On Saturday, Chelsea – the current leader of the English Premier League and one of the biggest clubs in the country – apologized to a former player who was sexually abused while a member of the club’s youth team and who was paid 50,000 pounds ($77,500) to keep the matter out of the public domain.

The English Football Association, meanwhile, has started an internal review to re-examine its response to convictions of soccer coaches in the 1990s.

All this because Woodward was brave enough, after decades of anguish and soul-searching, to break his silence.

“I have no words for the emotion about how I feel about it all,” Woodward told the AP. “In my stomach, I knew there was a lot more (victims) out there.”

The scandal is sure to get bigger.

On Monday, Woodward and other victims launched an independent trust to support players – and their families – who have suffered from child abuse. The aim of the “Offside Trust” is to create a support network for victims, and establish a united front in the search for justice.

“We can’t let that happen again,” Woodward said at an emotionally charged news conference in Manchester. “We need to let players from this beautiful game we’ve got to be able to be free from (our) horrible experience and go on to be those footballers they are aspiring to be.”

Comments from a lawyer who sat alongside Woodward at the news conference, and who is helping to run the trust, sparked renewed concern about the scope of the scandal.

Ed Smethurst, managing director of law firm Prosperity Law LLP, said he was aware of other cases where soccer clubs have used confidentiality clauses in settlements with victims of sexual abuse. Smethurst also said he knows of people still involved in coaching who victims have spoken about and “certainly need further investigation.”

Woodward and other victims have become like a family. Clearly tense before the news conference, he and fellow victim Steve Walters embraced and nervously sipped water.

Walters – the second person to go public about sexual abuse he suffered as a young player – broke down at one stage, and didn’t want to answer certain questions.

“I’ve had over 50 different players get in touch with me (about abuse they suffered),” Walters told the AP afterward. “Some have been professionals, some are still in the game now, a lot of them have fallen by the wayside.

“There are sad stories that people have turned to drink, had broken relationships, one or two have had mental breakdowns. People don’t realize the mental torture it provides for you.”

Walters said a Belgian player contacted him to speak about his experience of being abused as a youngster, and that he has also spoken to people from Canada, the United States and Australia.

There are two things Walters and the others want to come out of all this.

“We want justice,” Walters said. “And we want our future children, especially those involved in sports, to be protected so something like this can never ever happen to a child again.”

Man United’s Jose Mourinho gets touchline ban

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Manchester United’s manager Jose Mourinho has been handed a one-game touchline ban.

[ MORE: United’s Europa squad ]

Mourinho, 53, was sent off at half time of United’s 0-0 draw with Burnley at Old Trafford on Saturday for launching a verbal attack at referee Mark Clattenburg and had to watch the second half from the stands.

He will now have to watch the game against Swansea City this Sunday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com) from somewhere other than the Liberty Stadium.

In a separate charge, Mourinho was also handed a £50,000 fine in relation to comments he made about referee Anthony Taylor before United’s game against Liverpool last month.

It has not been a good week or so for Mourinho.

With United winning just one of their last seven Premier League games and plenty of superstars such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Wayne Rooney out of form, the problems are starting to pile up for the Portuguese coach.

He is of course no stranger to FA fines and bans, as he was handed a one-game touchline ban last December when in charge of Chelsea, plus fined on numerous occasions for comments about referees.

Below is a brief statement from the FA on both of Mourinho’s charges and the subsequent action they’ve taken.

Jose Mourinho has been fined £50,000 in relation to media comments he made prior to Manchester United’s game at Liverpool on 17 October 2016.

An Independent Regulatory Commission heard that Mourinho accepted the comments he made on 14 October 2016 constituted improper conduct but denied they brought the game into disrepute, in contravention of Rule E3(1).

The Commission found the disrepute element of the charge proven and as well as being fined, Mourinho was warned as to his future conduct.

Separate to this, Mourinho will serve an immediate one-match touchline ban after he admitted using abusive and/or insulting words towards a match official and accepted the standard penalty.

The incident happened in or around the tunnel area during half-time of United’s game against Burnley on 30 October 2016.

As well as the suspension, the standard penalty for this breach of FA Rule E3 also includes an £8,000 fine.