Since scoring twice in his first Premier League start, reversing Sunderland’s early lead and grabbing a win for Manchester United at the Stadium of Light, there’s been much talk of Adnan Januzaj’s future in international football. The 18-year-old is eligible for a plethora of countries: Belgium, where he was born. Albania, as he’s ethnically Albanian. Possibly England, if he delays getting a senior cap in a competitive fixture for another country. There’s also talk of Turkey, through his grandparents, and Serbia, as his parents are from the still-disputed territory of Kosovo – but it’s almost inconceivable to think that Januzaj would take a call-up from the Serbian national team.
And now Kosovo itself has come calling. In January, FIFA gave the Football Federation of Kosovo permission to play international friendlies, although with the caveat that the team cannot play against national teams of the former republics of Yugoslavia. With that in mind, Kosovo has arranged for its first FIFA-sanctioned international match, to be played against Haiti on March 5.
For that match, Kosovo want the young Januzaj. His performances for United have been impressive, one of the few bright spots in the Red Devils’ stale season. And, as it’s only a friendly, Januzaj’s participation would not prevent him from playing for another national team in the future.
It’s not as though Kosovo is lacking talent. Albanian international Lorik Cana, currently with Lazio, along with Swiss internationals Valon Behrami of Napoli, Granit Xhaka of Borussia Mönchengladbach, and Xherdan Shaqiri of Bayern Munich are all of Kosovar Albanian descent. But having Januzaj, said Eroll Salihu, the secretary of the FFK, would be “hugely symbolic” for Kosovo.
Wembley Stadium is set to stay in the FA’s hands.
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The FA announced in a press release Wednesday that Fulham owner Shahid Kahn had withdrawn his offer of $790 million to purchase Wembley Stadium. Kahn first became interested in buying the stadium in February 2017, when he and FA CEO Martin Glenn met at the Superbowl. What followed was an informal offer to the FA Board of Directors before a formal offer was made.
The offer has been valued at anywhere from nearly $800 million to nearly $1.2 billion. In a statement, Kahn said that his goal to purchase the stadium was to provide the FA with a large amount of capital which it could use to improve grassroots soccer around the country.
“The intent of my efforts was, and is, to do right by everyone in a manner that strengthens the English game and brings people together, not divides them,” Khan said. “Unfortunately, given where we are today, I’ve concluded that the outcome of a vote next week would be far from sufficient in expressing the broad support favored by the FA chairman to sell Wembley Stadium.”
The FA council was set to vote on the sale next week.
Although it cost the FA and British government more than $1.4 billion (adjusted for inflation) to renovate and rebuild Wembley Stadium, the arena hosted 33 events between July 2016 and June 2017 and in its latest published financial records, the FA recorded an after-tax profit of $21 million. So it seems that along with the sponsorships and broadcast deals, Wembley Stadium is a money maker, which makes it important for the FA to hold on to.
That being said, it’s hard to turn down a deal worth close to $1 billion, even if that’s a lump sum and they won’t receive further investments from stadium revenues in the future. In the future, maybe Kahn or another owner may make another offer, one that the FA council could accept.
The head of La Liga is considering taking extraordinary action to ensure that a planned match this year in the U.S. goes off as expected.
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According to Spanish radio station Cadena Cope, La Liga president Javier Tebas is set to bring a lawsuit against the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and its chief, Luis Rubiales to compel the federation to approve Barcelona’s match against Girona on January 26, which has been scheduled to be moved to Miami, Fla.’s Hard Rock Stadium.
In a way, it makes sense that Tebas and the Spanish league is considering every possible avenue to ensure that their 15-year marketing rights agreement with Relevant Sports, including league matches played abroad, can move forward as expected. However, it was clear after the announcement in August that all parties involved – especially La Liga, had not thought this through. FIFA, the RFEF, local fans and the Spanish league’s player’s union have all opposed the news, and on Wednesday Real Madrid formally sent a letter of it’s disapproval in moving La Liga matches abroad.
Tebas and La Liga would prefer for this to be resolved legally sooner rather than later, so they can market the Barcelona match in Miami and begin negotiating with the other federations that need to approve. But there’s a decent chance that the other parties – FIFA, and U.S. Soccer – could fail to rubber stamp what would be a first-of-its-kind event. In any case, watch this space.
The U.S. Men’s National Team finished the October FIFA international slate with a somewhat demoralizing loss and an uplifting draw, if there is such a thing.
The young U.S. core continues to show flashes of great talent, but overall the team still seems to be stuttering along under caretaker manager Dave Sarachan, who just managed his 10th game and could likely finish out the calendar year as USMNT boss.
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Below is a look at the key takeaways from the USMNT’s October friendlies:
Arsene Wenger could be back to barking orders from the sideline once the calendar flips to 2019.
In an interview with German publication BILD, Wenger admitted that he’s received job offers all over the world and aims to return in January. Wenger hinted as well at his future, stating he was open to either international or club management.
Wenger has been without a job since parting ways with Arsenal at the end of last season, a second successive in which the club finished outside the top four.
Even with his disappointing end to life at Arsenal, it’s clear Wenger is still passionate and ready to coach again in the future. Come January, there will likely be a few Premier League openings as well as opportunities in other leagues (AC Milan? Bayern Munich? Real Madrid?). However, most of the domestic options would see Wenger take over a team likely in a relegation battle, something Wenger doesn’t really have experience with. In addition, outside of Mexico and U.S. Soccer’s ongoing coaching search, it’s unlikrly there will be a major national team opening come January.
Wenger previously said would make up his mind about his future in September, but since missing his deadline he’s continued to move the date back. Perhaps a year away will fully rejuvenate the wise manager.