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World Cup trophy designer Silvio Gazzaniga dies at 95

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MILAN (AP) Silvio Gazzaniga, the sculptor who designed the World Cup trophy, has died. He was 95.

Gazzaniga’s son, Giorgio, said his father passed away in his sleep at home in Milan.

“He just didn’t wake up this morning. It was a peaceful death,” Giorgio Gazzaniga told The Associated Press on Monday, adding that his father had been in the hospital recently for a series of minor ailments.

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Silvio Gazzaniga designed and created the World Cup trophy in 1971 after Brazil retained the right to keep the Jules Rimet trophy by winning its third World Cup in 1970.

“The World Cup is a mythic object for the players and for all football lovers,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said. “We will be eternally grateful. I express my condolences by joining the pain of the family.”

The 18-carat solid gold trophy weighs approximately six kilograms (13 pounds). It depicts a moment of joy: two players celebrating with their arms outstretched and a globe resting on the backs of their shoulders.

“The lines spring out from the base, rising in spirals, stretching out to receive the world,” Silvio Gazzaniga once said, according to FIFA’s website. “From the remarkable dynamic tensions of the compact body of the sculpture rise the figures of two athletes at the stirring moment of victory.”

FIFA received 53 proposals from seven different countries for a new trophy, before opting for Gazzaniga’s design.

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“I designed it to reward heroism,” Silvio Gazzaniga said in a 2002 interview with The Associated Press. “But not superhuman heroism. It’s not a conventional cup.”

Giorgio Gazzaniga said that his father knew his design couldn’t be understood on paper, so he brought a plaster model to show FIFA.

“The jury understood right away that it was a very photogenic cup,” Giorgio Gazzaniga said. “It’s easy to lift and beautiful when raised. He created a universal trophy.”

The FIFA contest stipulated that the winner would not hold the rights to his work and so Silvio Gazzaniga never profited directly from images of the World Cup trophy.

“But as compensation he gained more work on other cups,” his son said. “He became Mr. Cups.”

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Silvio Gazzaniga also designed the UEFA Cup, European Super Cup and many other international trophies.

But he’ll be remembered above all for the World Cup.

Cafu, who captained Brazil to the 2002 World Cup title, tweeted, “Today I think for Silvio Gazzaniga, this man designed the trophy which gave my proudest moment in sport. RIP.”

Silvio Gazzaniga leaves behind two children, along with grandchildren and great grandchildren.

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FOLLOW LIVE – Tunisia and Nigeria in AFCON third place game

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The appetizer to the main course takes place today as Tunisia and Nigeria meet in the third place match of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

Both sides fell in the semifinals on last-minute goals, with Tunisia dropping to Senegal on an extra-time own-goal while Nigeria was pipped by a Riyad Mahrez 95th minute winner.

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While this match is obviously a chance for both sides to finish the tournament on a high note, also notable is the race for the Golden Boot. Odion Ighalo is in the lead with four goals and could look to tack on to that total with Mahrez, Adam Ounes, and Sadio Mane all on three goals and playing in the final.

Nigeria boss Gernot Rohr will want to save face after a disappointing tournament, and while he received the dreaded vote of confidence from the Nigerian federation, he still will want something tangible to take home. The Super Eagles came into the tournament as the third-highest FIFA ranked African nation, but after a shaky group stage performance and a pair of narrow one-goal knockout stage wins before the loss to Algeria, the need for a quality outing is great.

Five of the six previous matches between these two teams have ended in draws, so something has to give this time in Cairo.

Guardiola to Leroy Sane: only “happy” players will see the field

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Leroy Sane has been the subject of some uncertainty this summer, and it might be getting to Pep Guardiola.

After Sane came off the bench and helped Man City pummel West Ham 4-1 in the preseason Premier League Asia Trophy, Guardiola was asked about his future with the club after reports this summer that Bayern Munich was interested in snatching him away from the Etihad.

“The club made him an offer last year,” Guardiola said. “So, I have said many times, we only want people happy to be here. We are going to help him to be the best, we know his potential and what level he is. He has a special quality that is difficult to find around the world. He knows, they all know, all the forwards, all the midfielders, how difficult it is to play, it’s difficult because of the quality we have.”

“But, at the same time I spoke to the club ten times and I want people here to be happy, if they don’t want, they go. The desire to have him be with us is always there.”

Sane was spectacular at times last season as Manchester City won the Premier League title, but he played a shrinking role as the end of the campaign pressed on, forced to come off the bench as a substitute four times after February and left as an unused substitute five other times down the stretch as well. Sane played just two full 90 minute appearances in Premier League play in the 2019 calendar year.

With that in mind, it has proven difficult to convince Sane to sign a new contract at Manchester City, with his current deal set to expire in two years. That caught Bayern Munich’s attention, and the German side has been persistent in hoping to attract the 23-year-old to Allianz Arena.

Once Guardiola made his comments about happy players, he was asked bluntly if he thinks Sane will be with the team at the start of the season. He did not want to go into the situation further, saying, “I have already answered that question really well.”

Argentina women’s team players critical of coaches after roster changes

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The Argentine national team is facing controversy after making a host of changes to its roster for the 2019 Pan American games despite a solid showing in the World Cup earlier this summer.

Most notably, 29-year-old Estefania Banini, who captained the side at the World Cup, was left off the roster. She lashed out on social media, claiming on Instagram that she was left off after making internal comments critical of the coaching staff and trying to improve the team’s ability to compete.

“No rest, not injured, permission from my club, I have enough to be in the national team,” she wrote. “From 5 years old I trained to defend the blue and white, fighting for my place equally without discrimination. The coaching staff decided to leave me out…because we have our differences, they decide to put an end to my dream of defending the shirt.”

Banini goes on to explain that she wants coaches “with enough experience we can learn from” and who can help grow the game in their country. She said what they don’t want is something they experienced at the World Cup – “being told ‘just defend because we don’t want to concede 11’ when going out to play.”

Other players left off the roster for the Pan American games are Ruth Bravo and Lorena Benitez, both of whom were starters at the World Cup less than a month ago. Bravo, along with Belen Potassa, posted similarly critical comments on their own social media accounts after being left off the roster, with much of the content word-for-word to what Banini wrote.

Argentina performed well in the group stage of the World Cup, nearly advancing in the final seconds of the group stage before a 3-3 draw with Scotland saw them fall just short of passing Japan into a qualifying spot. They managed a 0-0 draw with Japan in the opening match and fell to England by a close 1-0 scoreline.

Banini has been outspoken in the past, criticizing the Argentinian federation back in 2014 for not supporting the women’s game enough. With her most recent comments potentially costing her a place in the team, some of her teammates had her back. Soledad Jaimes and Florencia Bonsegundo, also both starters in the World Cup, resigned their places on the Pan American Games roster in solidarity with their teammates, believing them to be unfairly treated.

“While 18 teammates pack their bags for the Pan American Games, I decided to withdraw from the roster,” Bonsegundo wrote in her own Instagram post. “Today I have to take a step forward for this struggle that we all started and that few have the courage to do. I understand that in this way I am protecting you more [the fans] because I know that in a future with properly trained players, Argentina may be at the level of the world powers! I’m still dreaming of a country with greater equality, without discrimination and where the voice of women is taken into account with the same weight as that of a man”

Argentina was drawn into a group with Panama, Costa Rica, and Peru for the Pan American games, with their first match set for July 28.

Reports: De Rossi heads to Argentina to sign for Boca Juniors

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According to reports in both Italy and Argentina, Roma legend Daniele de Rossi, who left the Italian club this summer at the age of 35, is heading to Argentina to finalize a deal to play for Boca Juniors.

The reports state that De Rossi will sign a one-year contract worth $560,000.

The Roma youth product has spent his entire career with the Serie A side, making 616 career appearances for Roma across all competitions and scoring 63 goals.

There was rumored interest from MLS in the 35-year-old, with NYCFC the most frequently named club, but it seems that interest never seriously took off. De Rossi also reportedly had an offer to coach in the Italian youth ranks and interest from fellow Italian clubs Bologna and Fiorentina.

At Boca, he will look to return the club to the top of the Argentine Primera Division where they stood two seasons ago before dropping to third last campaign.