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Sports court orders FIFA to admit Gibraltar as member

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GENEVA (AP) FIFA has been ordered by sport’s highest court to accept Gibraltar as a member, opening the national team’s path to play in the 2018 World Cup qualifying program.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Monday it upheld the Gibraltar soccer federation’s appeal against FIFA blocking entry in 2014, but its panel of judges could not directly grant membership.

“The panel has unanimously ordered that the FIFA Congress take all necessary measures to admit (Gibraltar) as a full member of FIFA as soon as possible, within the limits of the FIFA Statutes,” the court said in a statement.

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The congress of 209 FIFA members meets next week in Mexico City. It could also add another new European member, Kosovo, at the same meeting.

It is a second victory for Gibraltar at CAS, after a previous ruling against UEFA meant it could join the European soccer body in 2013.

Spanish soccer leaders have consistently opposed the progress of Gibraltar, which borders Spain and was ceded to Britain more than 300 years ago. Spain still disputes sovereignty.

The latest verdict ruling means Gibraltar, which has a population of around 30,000 people, could now be fast-tracked into a 2018 World Cup qualifying group which kicks off in September.

FIFA and the Gibraltar federation could not immediately confirm if its statutes would allow Gibraltar immediate membership and a qualifying place, or if the process would be delayed by one year.

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“We understand that FIFA are working to ensure our inclusion in next week’s Congress agenda,” the Gibraltar soccer body said in a statement.

The CAS judges insisted that the FIFA ruling council should act quickly. The council, chaired by new FIFA President Gianni Infantino, meets next Monday in Mexico City, four days before the congress has its annual business meeting.

Gibraltar was prevented from joining FIFA before the World Cup qualifying draw made in Russia last July.

At a September 2014 meeting, the FIFA executive committee chaired by Sepp Blatter ruled that Gibraltar’s “requirements for admission to FIFA were not met and that it would not submit the GFA’s application to the FIFA Congress,” CAS said.

FIFA rejected Gibraltar’s application because the British territory was not an independent country as required by the governing body’s statutes.

Those rules were updated in 2013, two months before Gibraltar joined UEFA despite longstanding opposition led by Spain.

Gibraltar made its competitive debut in a qualifying group for the 2016 European Championship, losing every match.

FIFA and UEFA can easily slot Gibraltar into one of the two five-nation World Cup qualifying groups without adding extra fixture slots which are designed for the majority of six-team groups.

There is also space to add Kosovo, a former province of Serbia which declared independence in 2008.

On Tuesday, Kosovo is expected to join UEFA as a member in a vote of the 54 European federations, including Gibraltar, at their annual congress being held in Budapest, Hungary.

Kosovo’s pending application to FIFA is on the agenda of the world body’s council meeting next Monday.

The two vacant spots in European qualifying groups are in groups which have Belgium and Croatia as top seeds.

Jurgen Klopp wins FIFA’s The Best men’s manager

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Jurgen Klopp has been named the top manager in the world for the past season at FIFA’s The Best awards ceremony on Monday in Milan, Italy.

The UEFA Champions League-winning manager beat out Premier League winner Pep Guardiola of Manchester City and UCL finalist Mauricio Pochettino of Spurs.

[ WATCH: FIFA’s The Best awards ceremony ]

Klopp, of course, was magnanimous in victory.

 “It is great, nobody expected this 20, 10, five, four years ago that I would be standing here,” Klopp said. “We know what an incredible job Mauricio Pochettino did and what Pep did.”

He thanked the owners and players of his club.

“To the owners thank you, they gave me an incredible team. I have to thank my team – as a coach you can only be as good as your team is. I’m really proud of being manager of such an incredible bunch of players. This is an individual prize, I don’t 100% understand individual prizes, I’m here for a lot of people.”

Good for Klopp.

Watch Live: FIFA’s The Best awards 2019

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FIFA’s The Best awards ceremony takes place in Milan, Italy on Tuesday as the top players and managers on the planet will be crowned.

The ceremony starts at 2:30 p.m. ET and you can watch it live online in Spanish via Telemundo Deportes (click on the link below).

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo are the three nominees to be crowned the best male player on the planet.

USWNT duo Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan are up for the top female award, as is England’s Lucy Bronze.

Outgoing USWNT head coach Jill Ellis is the favorite to land the award for the best coach in the women’s game, while Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino are all among the candidates to be named the best managers in the men’s game.

Click on the link above to watch the glitzy ceremony from Milan as plenty of other awards, like the Puskas Award for the best goal scored in the world, will be dished out.

Premier League player Power Rankings

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Matchweek 6 produced some stunning displays across the Premier League, with big wins, comebacks and late drama across plenty of games.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Players from Liverpool, Man City and Leicester City dominate our rankings, while the likes of West Ham and Bournemouth are also well represented. There are also plenty of new entries among our top 20.

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League. If they didn’t play in the last matchweek, they aren’t getting in this list!

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


1. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City) – New entry
2. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) – Even
3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) – Up 13
4. James Maddison (Leicester) – Up 16
5. Joel Matip (Liverpool) – New entry
6. Bernardo Silva (Man City) – New entry
7. N’Golo Kante (Chelsea) – New entry
8. Steve Cook (Bournemouth) – New entry
9. Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester) – New entry
10. Fernandinho (Man City) – New entry
11. Fikayo Tomori (Chelsea) – New entry
12. Mark Noble (West Ham) – New entry
13. Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool) – Even
14. Mason Mount (Chelsea) – Down 10
15. Callum Wilson (Bournemouth) – Even
16. Aaron Ramsdale (Bournemouth) – Up 3
17. Andriy Yarmolenko (West Ham) – New entry
18. Chris Wood (Burnley) – New entry
19. Matteo Guendouzi (Arsenal) – New entry
20. Jamie Vardy (Leicester) – New entry

Holding set to return from injury for Arsenal

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Rob Holding is set to return for Arsenal at Nottingham Forest this week.

The Gunners travel to Forest in the League Cup on Tuesday, with Holding back in the squad after nine months out through injury.

Arsenal simply said Holding is “back in contention” for the third round League Cup tie and alongside the likes of Kieran Tierney,  Dinos Mavropano and Hector Bellerin playing for the U23 side last Friday, all of a sudden there is good news in terms of defensive injuries for Arsenal.

Alexandre Lacazette is still out after injuring his left ankle, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles is suspended after his red card against Aston Villa on Sunday. Lacazette is expected to return in October, as Arsenal’s injury woes are clearing up.

Holding, 24, was in sensational form last season before he cruelly suffered a serious knee injury in a Premier League game against Manchester United in December.

This will be a huge boost for Unai Emery, as his defense continues to make basic errors and they’ve now given up 10 goals in their first six games of the new PL season.

Sokratis and David Luiz have looked shaky as a partnership and if Holding can regain his form quickly, he will be a guaranteed starter in this Arsenal side.

Before injury cut short his 2018-19 campaign, Holding was being touted as an England international.

The dominant center back will want to make up for lost time and his presence at the heart of Arsenal’s defense saw them go on a 22-game unbeaten run in the opening months of last season.

Following their battling 3-2 win with 10 men for over half of their clash against Aston Villa on Sunday, Arsenal sit in fourth place on 11 points. Considering all of their issues so far, that’s not a bad start.

They have conceded at least twice in each of their last four PL games, and Holding’s return should help them improve their woeful defensive record.

His injury had a negative impact last season, and his return should have a hugely positive impact this season.