PSG’s Leonardo hospitalized after Ligue 1 celebrations

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It has emerged this morning that under-fire Paris Saint-Germain director of football, Leonardo, was rushed to hospital last night, after collapsing just hours after PSG had won the French title.

The former Brazilian international has certainly been in the news in recent weeks, after allegedly pushing a referee in the tunnel during PSG’s brutal 1-1 tie with Valenciennes on Sunday, May 5.

Paris Saint-Germain — with the help of former MLS star David Beckham — clinched their first Ligue 1 title since the 1993-94 season on Sunday night, after beating Lyon 1-0. But during the post game celebrations Leonardo was seen arguing with star player Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as the evening turned sour.

On top of that, other reports suggest PSG may yet be handing the coveted French title back soon, as Leonardo’s actions of pushing a match official could see the club handed a points deduction, with the trophy instead heading to their bitter rivals Marseille.

Stress, anxiety, pressure. It’s all been mounting.

If you take into account what has been a rambunctious few weeks and last few hours for Leonardo, then you can see why his health appears to be in such a poor state.

Under constant stress and pressure from the Qatari-based ownership group that run PSG, Leonardo has seen Les Parisiens limp towards the finish line and claim the league title with two games to spare.

This incident hits home just how much stress is involved in soccer today. The top clubs in Europe demand success, week in, week out. And the demands on a select few people to deliver that is, at times, incredibly unfair. Yes, they’re paid huge amounts of money to manage, dictate and organize a successful club. But many put their whole life on hold, with sporting director’s and manager forced to deliver victory at all costs.

Just this week, the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson was cited by some as premature, with many suggesting concerns about Fergie’s health as the main reason behind his decision to retire.

It seems now as if Leonardo’s health has paid the price for PSG’s title race. But early indications suggest his condition isn’t critical and he should make a full recovery.

Regardless, take a look at the video of his bust up with Ibrahimovic during last night’s celebrations. Decide for yourself if that is the face of a man celebrating PSG’s greatest triumph in almost 20 years… or a man fighting with the rigors and stress of leading an elite European club to success.

Is the stress of providing success in soccer too much to handle?

Reina faces hearing over links with trio connected to mafia

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ROME (AP) Outgoing Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina has been summoned to a hearing at the Italian football federation over his association with people with links to the mafia.

Reina, along with Paolo Cannavaro and Salvatore Aronica, is to face the FIGC’s disciplinary committee after an investigation by Naples’ anti-mafia department.

It is reportedly one of the reasons why Napoli decided not to renew Reina’s contract, with the former Liverpool goalkeeper set to move to AC Milan on a free transfer.

The FIGC says Reina “has had and continues to have inopportune association and friendship with Gabriele Esposito, Francesco Esposito and Giuseppe Esposito.” It adds that that includes holidays and “an exchange of favors.”

Cannavaro, who had two spells with Napoli, retired at Sassuolo last year. Aronica also spent several years at the southern club before joining Palermo in 2013.

Iran names initial squad for World Cup

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) Jalal Hosseini and Vouria Ghaffouri have both been left off Iran’s provisional 24-man squad for the World Cup.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz did not say why Hosseini, a Persepolis defender, and Ghaffouri were not included.

There was space for midfielders Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi, however. Both played with Greek club Panionios against Maccabi Tel Aviv in August 2017. Iran does not recognize Israel and its supreme leader has threatened the country in the past. Both Shojaei and Hajsafi missed matches with the national team after the game.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh, a 24-year-old forward who plays in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar, is also in the squad, which was announced Sunday.

In the midfield, Queiroz chose Saeid Ezatolahi, although the Amkar Perm player will miss the team’s first World Cup match because he was given a red card in a game against South Korea in qualifying.

Nottingham Forest midfielder Ashkan Dejagah was also chosen.

Goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh of Portuguese club Maritimo made the squad. His father, Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, was Iran captain and goalkeeper at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Iran will play in Group B at the World Cup with Portugal, Spain and Morocco. The team will play warm-up matches in Turkey and Greece before heading to Russia.

Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo)

Defenders: Ramin Rezaeian (KV Oostende), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Al Saad), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Seyed Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal)

Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens), Mehdi Torabi (Saipa), Ashkan Dejagah (Nottingham Forest), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Ehsan Hajsafi (Olympiakos), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds FK), Ali Gholizadeh (Saipa)

Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiakos), Mahdi Taremi (Al-Gharafa Sports Club), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (SC Heerenveen)

Six Premier Leaguers named to Argentina, but no Icardi

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Argentina’s World Cup roster features a number of the usual suspects, particularly up front, but Serie A’s top goalscorer has been surprisingly left off the list of 23.

[ MORE: Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan ]

Manager Jorge Sampaoli’s squad was made official on Monday, which includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.

The Albiceleste won’t be taking Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi though, which has raised some questions about the decision.

Icardi led all scorers in Italy’s top flight this season, scoring 29 goals in 34 Serie A matches, while Paulo Dybala edged out the final striker spot in the Argentina squad.

Dybala is teammates with Higuain at Italian giants Juventus.

Meanwhile, six Premier League players were named into the South American nation’s squad, including goalkeepers Sergio Romero (Man United) and Willy Caballero (Chelsea), as well as Nicolas Otamendi (Man City), Marcos Rojo (Man United) and Manuel Lanzini (West Ham).

Men in Blazers POD: FA Cup recap, UCL final preview and more

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Rog and Davo recap a spite-fueled, snear-filled, peak Phil Jones FA Cup Final, preview this weekend’s Champions League tilt between Liverpool and Real Madrid and eulogize Big Sam… gone the opposite of too soon. Plus, World Cup rosters and MLS.

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