UEFA rule Atletico’s on-loan Chelsea ‘keeper can play against the Blues in UCL semis

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Ahead of the UEFA Champions League semifinal draw on Friday, UEFA released a statement reminding clubs of the ‘integrity of competition’.

That was in relation to Chelsea’s on-loan goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who is currently playing for Atletico Madrid who the Blues could’ve faced in the final four of the UCL… And, as fate would have it, that’s exactly how it’s turned out.

(MORE: UCL semifinal draw – European giants clash in final four)

Chelsea reportedly had a clause inserted into Courtois’ loan deal that stated Atletico must pay them $8.3 million if the clubs were ever to meet in the Champions League and the Madrid club wanted to play the 21-year-old Belgian ‘keeper against his parent club.

According to the following statement from UEFA the talented young goalkeeper, who has spent the past three seasons as a regular for Diego Simeone’s side, is able to play against Chelsea in the upcoming UCL semifinal and the clause would violate the ‘ sporting integrity’ of the competition.

In response to media reports referring to the situation of Club Atlético de Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, UEFA would like to reiterate its position. The integrity of sporting competition is a fundamental principle for UEFA.

Both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations contain clear provisions which strictly forbid any club to exert, or attempt to exert, any influence whatsoever over the players that another club may (or may not) field in a match. It follows that any provision in a private contract between clubs which might function in such a way as to influence who a club fields in a match is null, void and unenforceable so far as UEFA is concerned.

Furthermore, any attempt to enforce such a provision would be a clear violation of both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations and would therefore be sanctioned accordingly.

(MORE: Atletico face $8.3 million price to play starting GK if drawn with Chelsea)

This is certainly a tricky area to navigate, as in the past other players have been caught up in these loan confusions. Usually  in the Premier League, a player will have a clause in his loan deal that states he cannot play against his parent team however with Chelsea putting a monetary fund on Courtios head, it has all got a bit messy. Plus there are no such restrictions involving players loan players playing against their parent club in the UCL.

During the 2013-14 Champions League we have already had s similar situation. When Celtic played Elfsborg in the qualifying rounds, their on-loan striker Mo Bangura was free to play against the Hoops but they felt he shouldn’t be playing against his parent club and expected Bangura to sit it out. However he was free to play, and indeed played against his parent club for the Swedish side.

It is thought Atletico will not play Courtis, both for the financial reasons of playing over $4 million per game, and due to the fact that they want to keep one of the best young goalkeepers in the game at Atletico on loan next season. So, it is in Atleti’s interests to not upset Chelsea, otherwise they could lose their start ‘keeper.

A complex and unique situation will be the main stroyline unfolding as Chelsea and Atletico Madrid prepare to square up.

Fulham owner withdraws offer to purchase Wembley Stadium

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Wembley Stadium is set to stay in the FA’s hands.

[READ: USMNT 1-1 Peru: Player Ratings]

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.

Report: La Liga chief going to court to compel U.S. based games to happen

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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.

[READ: What did we learn about the USMNT?]

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.

What did we learn about USMNT during international break

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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.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ]

Below is a look at the key takeaways from the USMNT’s October friendlies:


(more…)

Wenger: I want to return to management in January

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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.