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Guardiola won’t play Toure until he apologizes for agent; Toure retires from Ivory Coast

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Yaya Toure may not play for Manchester City again.

Toure, 33, hasn’t featured at all for City in the Premier League this season under Pep Guardiola with the towering Ivorian midfielder having one year left on his current contract at the Etihad Stadium.

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Guardiola, speaking to the media ahead of City’s League Cup game at Swansea City on Wednesday, confirmed that Toure will not play again at City until he apologizes for comments from his outspoken agent Dimitri Seluk who said Guardiola had “embarassed” Toure after leaving him out of his UEFA Champions League squad for this season.

Here’s what Guardiola had to say to reporters.

“He must apologize to his team-mates. He must apologize to the club,” said Guardiola. “If he doesn’t, he won’t play. A manager has to make his job. If he has a problem he should speak to people at the club. But the day after, his manager (agent) went to the media. He (Yaya) has not had the courage to call me.

“I cannot imagine when I was a player that my manager [agent] would go to the media and speak against [former Barcelona coach] Johan Cruyff and say about this and that. Maybe it is a new period and things are changing. But I am an old guy. In the old generation, the manager has to make his job and the player his job, trainer his job.”

Toure’s agent has also said that if City fail to win the UCL this season then Guardiola should “have the balls” to apologize to Toure.

Well, Guardiola wants the exact opposite.

I was in one of Guardiola’s press conferences on Aug. 19 where he made a comment about Toure’s agent and said: “I’m very glad his manager [agent] said I am a good coach. Thank you Dimitri [Seluk].” Toure has only played once for City this season, a second leg game against Steaua Bucharest in the UCL play-off round after City won the first leg 5-0.

There is obvious tension here which dates back to Toure’s time at Barcelona where Guardiola decided to sell him. Until Toure apologizes — which, if he hasn’t done by now is he really going to? — he won’t play for City again.

It would be a sad end to a glittering City career for Toure who has won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups during his time at the Etihad.

After eight wins from eight to start his time at City, is there any need for Guardiola to take this dispute into the public eye? After his treatment of Joe Hart and now Toure, the Spanish coach isn’t afraid of upsetting City’s old guard and making tough decisions.


It was a busy news day for Toure who also announced he will be retiring from international duty.

After playing 113 times for the Ivory Coast, which included winning the African Cup of Nations for the first-time in 2015 and being crowned the four-time African Player of the Year has decided to retire from international action.

Here is Toure’s statement from his website.

“Writing this note was probably ‘the most difficult match of my life’. After 14 years at the highest level, I’m sure this is the right time for me! The fact that I am 33 now, the intensity of training and the multitude of games are not the reasons why I am making this decision.”

Atletico Madrid temporarily cuts player salaries by 70 percent

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Atletico Madrid says it has reached an agreement with its players and coaching staff to reduce their salaries by 70 percent while competitions are stopped during the coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: FIFA extends men’s age limit for Tokyo Olympics due to virus ]

Atletico announced the agreement on Thursday and said it is temporarily suspending the jobs of club employees.

Atletico had previously said it would need to take such a drastic step but had yet to reveal the details.

A job suspension under Spanish law allows a company to greatly reduce its labor costs by having workers stay at home while guaranteeing they will go back to their positions when conditions improve.

[ MORE: UEFA threatens Belgian league with European expulsion ]

The Spanish club added that some of the money saved by the players’ salary cuts will be given to its other employees who will be furloughed.

Barcelona recently announced it had come to a similar agreement with its players.

Both clubs said that such cost-saving measures were necessary to ensure their financial stability due to the loss in revenue during the stoppage of competitions.

CONCACAF postpones Nations League finals, Gold Cup qualification

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CONCACAF announced on Friday that the 2019-20 Nations League finals and the opening rounds of 2021 Gold Cup qualification have been postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: UEFA threatens Belgian league with European expulsion ]

The Nations League finals — featuring the U.S. men’s national team, Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras — were previously scheduled to take place in Houston and Dallas in early June. CONCACAF says the semifinals and final will be rescheduled for a later date.

The seconds round of Gold Cup qualifying was previously scheduled to be made up in June — following their postponement in March, with four two-leg ties featuring largely Caribbean and Central American nations. Those, too, will be rescheduled for a later date.

Given the ongoing public health situation, and following consultation with FIFA regarding the international football calendar, we have made the decision to suspend the CONCACAF Nations League finals, which was scheduled for June 4-7, 2020 in the Houston and Dallas areas.

The event, which includes the Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico and USA men’s national teams, will be rescheduled to take place at a later date in venues to be determined. This will be confirmed following further discussions with FIFA regarding the remaining international windows in the football calendar, and will obviously be subject to public health authorities deeming it safe for professional sports events to resume.

FIFA extends men’s age limit for Tokyo Olympics due to virus

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GENEVA — FIFA has extended the age limit for the men’s soccer tournament at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: UEFA threatens Belgian league with European expulsion ]

The amended Olympic rule on Friday retains the “players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997” standard for the Tokyo Games following a one-year postponement agreed last week by the International Olympic Committee and Japanese authorities.

It means players eligible for the intended under-23 tournament in 2020 can still play in Japan at age 24 next year. Men’s soccer kicks off ahead of the July 23, 2021 opening ceremony in Tokyo.

FIFA also postponed two women’s age-group World Cups due this year in Central America and India, and confirmed no international games for men and women will be played in the early June dates protected for national team call-ups.

Soccer’s world body said “health must always be the first priority and the main criteria in any decision-making process, especially in these challenging times.”

The Olympic decision was made by a FIFA panel of soccer officials worldwide, created to address the soccer shutdown during the health crisis.

The 16 men’s teams at the Tokyo Olympics next year can also select three over-age players in their rosters. A stellar lineup includes Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Spain.

Two women’s World Cup tournaments — the Under-20s hosted by Panama and Costa Rica in August and September, and the Under-17s in India in November — are postponed. No new dates were announced.

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Until the COVID-19 outbreak, national team games scheduled in June included the 2020 European Championship, World Cup qualifying games in South America and Asia, and qualifiers for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

After Euro 2020 was postponed for one year, UEFA hoped to schedule playoff games in June to confirm the last four places in a 24-nation lineup. Those playoffs were postponed indefinitely this week.

World Cup qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar now face uncertain scheduling in a congested calendar in Europe, South America and Asia.

FIFA said on Friday it would “organize bilateral discussions” with continental governing bodies “to finalize a revised match schedule pending health and safety developments.”

FIFA plans to direct hundreds of millions of dollars from its cash reserves to support a global emergency fund, and has agreed to appoint one official from each of the six soccer continents to coordinate the work.

Arsenal want season completed ‘to maintain integrity’ of PL

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Arsenal remain in support of finishing the 2019-20 season in order to “to maintain the integrity” of the competition, despite Friday’s unanimous vote that the Premier League cannot resume at the start of May as previously hoped due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: UEFA threatens Belgian league with European expulsion ]

The Gunners, who currently sit ninth in the PL table with 10 games left to play (one more than the majority of clubs around them), were five points back of fifth-place Manchester United for qualification to next season’s UEFA Champions League thanks to Manchester City’s two-year European ban.

In a statement released on Friday, Arsenal reiterated their stance that the current season should be played to completion rather than called to completion at things stand or abandoned altogether.

We are in full support of the objective for all remaining domestic league and cup matches from the 2019-20 season to be played, in order to maintain the integrity of each competition.

We also fully agree with the principle that any return to action will only be with the full backing of government and when medical guidance allows.

The restart date is under constant review as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic develops and we continue to work together with all stakeholders through this very challenging time