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Sporting CP suspends entire first-team squad after feud with team president

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Things are getting really, really heated in Lisbon.

According to reports across Portugal, Sporting CP will be forced to play its B team after the first team squad became embroiled in a feud with outspoken team president Bruno de Carvalho.

Following the club’s Europa League quarterfinal first-leg loss to Atletico Madrid on Thursday, Carvalho roasted the squad via Facebook, putting players like Fabio Coentrao, Gelson Martins, Fredy Montero, and Bas Dost on blast for things like missing chances and getting yellow cards.

It was an absolutely ruthless post, one that claimed the team “wasn’t focused” and that the 11 players “played like 9 many times.”Seeing bad errors by international and experienced players adds more to the suffering [of the defeat],” he claimed.

Needless to say, the squad didn’t take kindly to being called out publicly by members of the front office. The reports state the players first hoped to confront Carvalho personally at training the next day, but he never showed. Feeling like they had to save face, the players took to Instagram on Portuguese international goalkeeper Rui Patricio’s page – also posted to Coentrao’s account – to make a statement saying they are united as a squad and expressed “disgust” with Carvalho’s comments.

Somos Sporting Clube de Portugal, em nome do plantel, somos a informar o seguinte… Suamos, lutamos e honramos sempre a camisola que vestimos. Não somos perfeitos e não acreditamos em jogadores perfeitos, porque queremos sempre evoluir! Não existem jogadores nem equipas perfeitas, mas quando as coisas não correm como queremos, sabemos assumir as nossas responsabilidades. Todos nós temos de o fazer! Quando vencemos, empatamos ou perdemos… sim… porque no Futebol estes são os resultados possíveis, a responsabilidade é sempre de todos! Somos uma equipa! Somos um grupo unido de um Grande Clube onde o respeito é uma das bases necessárias a essa união. Não podemos pensar apenas no “Eu”, mas sim “Nós” e sempre na equipa, porque só assim poderemos vencer. No nosso Clube, nas seleções nacionais que representamos, sempre damos e continuaremos a dar o nosso melhor, porque o querer é uma constante. Somos profissionais, somos humanos! A nossa integridade e o nosso compromisso são sagrados! Esforço, dedicação, devoção e glória sempre! Damos o máximo pelo Sporting Clube de Portugal, damos o máximo por nós próprios enquanto equipa, individualmente enquanto atletas. Lutamos pelo nosso Clube, pelos nossos adeptos e por nós, sempre! Não há outra forma séria de estar no Futebol Profissional que não seja esta… Por esta razão, em nome de todo o plantel do SCP, espelhamos neste texto o nosso desagrado, por vir a publico as declarações do nosso Presidente, após o jogo de ontem, no qual obtivemos um resultado que não queríamos… a ausência de apoio, neste momento…, daquele que deveria ser o nosso líder. Apontar o dedo para culpabilizar o desempenho dos atletas publicamente, quando a união de um grupo se rege pelo esforço conjunto, seja qual for a situação que estejamos a passar, todos os assuntos resolvem-se dentro do grupo. Saibamos ver que, por maiores que sejam as dificuldades, ainda há muito para disputar. Temos uma recta final em várias competições e vamos, haja o que houver, unidos e coesos, dar o máximo pelo Sporting Clube de Portugal. Somos Sporting Clube de Portugal.

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“On behalf of the SCP squad, through this joint statement we express our disgust with our president’s public statements after yesterday’s game for which we did not achieve the result we desired,” the statement reads. “The lack of support at this moment from the one who is supposed to be our leader, pointing the finger to publicly blame an athlete’s performance when a group is ruled by its combined effort.”

Well, it didn’t end there. Carvalho called the players “spoiled boys” has threatened to suspend every player on the first team for replying to his comments, in a since-deleted post on his Facebook account. And according to reports, Carvalho is planning on carrying out his threat, with Sporting planning to play its reserve squad against 14th placed Pacos Ferreira on Sunday.

This is not the first time Carvalho has publicly criticized his players. Just two weeks ago after former Porto striker Andre Silva said he didn’t get along with Carvalho, the president responded by painting Silva as ungrateful.

Sporting sits third in the Primira Liga table, five points back of second-placed Porto and six behind leaders Benfica. They are just a single point above fourth-placed Braga.

Sports court overturns AC Milan’s ban from Europa League

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — In a legal victory over UEFA, AC Milan is back in the Europa League after the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned a ban imposed for overspending.

[ Transfer Rumor Roundup: Everton bid for Richarlison, latest on Mbappe ]

The court said Friday the punishment was “not proportionate” following a takeover completed last week, even though UEFA was right to judge Milan had broken financial monitoring rules.

The seven-time European champion had failed to approach breaking even on player transfers and wages over several seasons in which it failed to qualify for the top-tier Champions League.

UEFA was ordered to review the case and apply a “proportionate disciplinary measure,” the court said in an urgent ruling.

Milan’s reprieve was largely due to the takeover by a United States-based hedge fund which last year provided key finance to a Chinese-led purchase of the storied club.

In a statement Friday, European soccer body UEFA noted without comment that the case returns to the judging section of its club finance panel.

[ MORE: Conte to sue Chelsea over how firing was handled ]

The verdict was given Friday without detailed reasons from a three-judge panel, one day after a hearing at the highest court in world sports.

An urgent ruling was needed because the case affected Italy’s entry in the Europa League second qualifying round next week.

Milan’s legal win restores the club’s place in the group stage which kicks off in September. Atalanta, which placed seventh in Serie A, goes back into the qualifying rounds and plays Sarajevo in a first-leg game in Bosnia-Herzegovina on Thursday. Fiorentina, which placed eighth last season, is now withdrawn from the Europa League.

Milan broke UEFA’s financial fair rules which monitor finances over a three-year assessment period of all clubs qualifying to enter the Champions League or Europa League.

When it was banned last month, Milan said it failed to break even on soccer-related business in the period from July 2014 to June 2017 — before its spending spree one year ago.

[ MORE: Goalkeeper Alisson completes record transfer to Liverpool ]

Milan spent nearly $250 million on new players. This was despite questions over the financial stability of the Chinese-led consortium that purchased the club from former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for $800 million in April 2017.

The team finished sixth in Serie A, missed out on the four Italian places in the Champions League, and qualified for the Europa League.

However, the court said UEFA had not “properly assessed” some relevant points in Milan’s case, and the club’s finances improved after the takeover.

Elliott Management has promised to inject $66 million in capital.

Former owner Li Yonghong missed a deadline to repay part of a loan worth more than $350 million from the hedge fund. Elliott repossessed the holding company in Luxembourg that Li used to buy Milan.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Everton make $65.6 million bid for Richarlison, Mbappe, and more

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For the second-consecutive season, Everton is set to bring in another big-money signing.

On the heels of last year’s nearly $60 million deal to sign Gylfi Sigurdsson, Everton looks set to sign Watford winger Richarlison for a $65.6 million transfer fee. Everton manager Marco Silva coached Richarlison when Silva was Watford manager and has been looking to reunite with the 21-year-old Brazilian.

[READ: Argentine World Cup drama]

Richarlison began his time at Watford in fine form, scoring give goals by the end of November and looking dangerous along the wings. But the goals dried up and defenders began to figure out how to mark him out of the game, neutralizing his danger.

At Everton, Richarlison is going to be expected to lift this side back into a strong position in the table, following a rough year for the club.

Here’s more transfer rumors from across the Premier League, Europe and North America:

(more…)

Roma’s American owner Palotta banned for three months by UEFA

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AS Roma owner James Pallotta has been punished by UEFA for calling the officiating “an absolute joke” after Roma were bounced by Liverpool in last year’s UEFA Champions League.

UEFA announced on Friday that Pallotta had been given a three-month ban for “improper conduct.” UEFA stated that Pallotta is banned “from carrying out his function during UEFA competition matches in which he would otherwise participate, starting from AS Roma’s first UEFA competition match of the 2018/2019 season. In particular, the official may not be in the technical area or communicate directly or indirectly with the team’s players and/or technical staff during the match and may not enter the dressing room or tunnel before or during the match.”

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Pallotta made headlines around the world for his reactions in Rome, including jumping into one of the city’s many famous fountains after Roma knocked out Barcelona in the Champions League quarterfinals.

However, against Liverpool, Roma’s dream run came to an end, with the Reds winning 7-6 on aggregate in a wild 180 minutes of action. Pallotta, speaking after Roma was knocked out, stated it was “an absolute joke” that UEFA didn’t have video assistant refereeing, which may have helped give Roma a penalty kick on two occasions.

While Pallotta may appeal, this suspension isn’t too serious. It appears that Pallotta can still sit in the owners box and attend UEFA matches, just not be in the technical area or in the tunnel before and during the game.

Messi, Mascherano confronted Argentine coaching staff at World Cup

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After two games at the 2018 World Cup, Argentina was in serious trouble.

With an aging team that lacked world class defenders, the Albiceleste managed just a draw with Iceland while eventual World Cup finalists Croatia reminded Argentina what it used to have in midfield with a dominating 3-0 win.

The defeat put Argentina in a precarious position, needing a win on the final group stage day and some luck to go through into the knockout stage past Nigeria and Iceland. Now, a new book by Argentine journalist Ariel Senosiain could shed some light on what happened between the match against Croatia and Nigeria.

According to Senosian’s digital book, called El Mundial es Historias, Lionel Messi and Javier Mascherano ordered a meeting with manager Jorge Sampaoli and his coaching staff, and it did not go down well.

“We don’t get what you say, we don’t trust you anymore and we want to have an opinion,” Messi and Mascherano are reported to have said to Sampaoli, which surprised the veteran manager. When Sampaoli asked the players what they wanted an opinion on, they responded, “everything.”

Messi was reportedly also upset with Sampaoli for the manager asking Messi who he thought should come on as a substitute during the match.

“You asked me 10 times which players you wanted me to see on and which ones I didn’t and I never gave you a name,” Messi reportedly said.

In the days following the defeat to Croatia, many reports emerged out of the Argentina camp that Messi had essentially organized a mutiny, and he was going to select the squad and tactical instructions. The team made the switch from a three-man backline to a more standard 4-4-2, and it delivered some better performances, even though Argentina’s defense was still shambolic, especially in the 4-3 defeat to France.

With 15 members of the 23-man roster over the age of 30 and no head coach, the Argentina National Team is set for a huge upheavel, and there’s not much in terms of youth players who could replace the likes of Mascherano, Banega, Otamendi and of course Messi and Sergio Aguero in the lineup.

These alleged quotes are just the beginning of what should be a messy year for Argentina, as it tries to get itself back on track, renewing its youth development and forming the next generation of Albiceleste stars.

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