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Egyptian coach suspended as row over Qatar reaches soccer

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The diplomatic row over Qatar has reached soccer.

An Egyptian coach was suspended on Thursday for refusing to give interviews to a Qatar-based television network and attempting to boycott a news conference where the network’s journalists were present. After finally giving in and agreeing to attend the news conference, the coach covered the station’s microphone with his hand to try and block the recording, the Confederation of African Football said when announcing his punishment.

[ MORE: Chalobah leaves Chelsea ]

Hossam el-Badry, coach of Egyptian club Al Ahly and a former Egypt international, was fined $10,000 by CAF and suspended for one game for the snubs aimed at the Qatar-based beIN Sports network following two games in the African Champions League.

Egypt was one of four countries alongside Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to sever ties with Qatar last month, accusing it of supporting extremist groups and funding terrorism.

Qatar, which will host soccer’s World Cup in 2022, denies the allegations.

The beIN sports channels are owned by Al Jazeera, Qatar’s flagship television network and a factor in the diplomatic standoff. The four anti-Qatar countries want, among other things, Al Jazeera to be shut down.

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The African soccer body said el-Badry initially refused to attend a news conference following Al Ahly’s 2-0 loss to Moroccan club Wydad Casablanca on June 20 because of the presence of beIN sports journalists. He did eventually attend, but either put his hand over the beIN microphone while he spoke or pushed the microphone away, CAF said.

Following a game in Egypt last weekend against Cameroon’s Coton Sport, el-Badry and Al Ahly players refused all interviews with beIN. The players also boycotted the news conference.

El-Badry’s one-game ban was put on hold, provided he was not found guilty of a similar offense during the remainder of the African Champions League, CAF said. Al Ahly has qualified for the quarterfinals.

Reports: Alli unlikely to play in England’s second Group G match

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The Three Lions may not have taken all good news away from the team’s 2-1 win over Tunisia in their World Cup opener.

[ MORE: Russia races past Egypt, likely en route to next round ]

Several reports are suggesting that England will likely be without Tottenham playmaker Dele Alli in their second Group G match against Panama on Sunday.

Alli was forced out of England’s opener with a thigh strain, which gave manager Gareth Southgate the decision to put in Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

There isn’t a timetable for the 22-year-old’s return to the pitch, but his absence will definitely present a major question for Southgate heading into the rest of group play.

Without Alli in the starting XI, it’ll likely be between Loftus-Cheek and Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard to fill the role where Alli normally sits.

In the case of Lingard, who started against Tunisia, the England boss would have to bring in another starter if Southgate opts to have the Red Devils attacker sit in as the number 10.

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”