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Chelsea slam fans after “unacceptable” incidents

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Chelsea have issued a statement condemning the behavior of a “vocal minority” of their fans who “refuse to join us in the 21st century.”

Chairman Bruce Buck issued the statement on the same day UEFA opened an investigation into alleged antisemitic chants by Chelsea fans during their Europa League game against Vidi last Thursday.

That incident, as well as Chelsea supporters appearing to take flags with nazi symbols along to Budapest with them, came just a few days after an investigation was launched into the alleged racist abuse of Raheem Sterling by four Chelsea supporters.

Buck revealed that Chelsea will continue its programs fighting antisemitism and racism present in the game, as they will also play a game against the New England Revolution in May to promote their ‘Say No to Antisemitism’ campaign.

Below is the statement from Chelsea in full.


After recent events, I wanted to take this opportunity to reach out to our community and fans to condemn the actions of a few mindless individuals at some of our recent matches. These actions are unacceptable and unwelcome both in our club and in football.

A deeply unpleasant but vocal minority which refuses to join us in the 21st century has shamed the great majority of our decent, well-behaved fans. We have been carrying out our own investigations into these events while cooperating fully with authorities. We have already suspended four individuals pending investigations and will continue to take the strongest possible action against anybody found to have been using discriminatory words or gestures. But we must all come together to stamp out these ugly scenes.

Over the past weeks, months and indeed years, I have spoken at length to various Chelsea fans and supporter groups, all of whom are in full agreement that the type of behaviour we have witnessed is wholly unacceptable, hurtful and does not represent the club or the overwhelming majority of those who follow our teams home and away.

The message from Mr Abramovich, our directors, our coaches, our players and our hundreds of staff is simple – this is a club open to everybody. We are committed and determined to be a force for good and not a symbol of society’s wider problems.

Our club prides itself on our inclusion and diversity work, and in particular that of the Chelsea Foundation, which since its birth in 2010 has grown into one of the most far-reaching social programmes in world sport. Its Building Bridges campaign has promoted equality within our club, our stadium and throughout our communities for nearly a decade.

Our Say No to Antisemitism campaign has received widespread backing since its launch in January and as a part of this, we will play a game next May against the New England Revolution in America. We also recently took part in the Rainbow Laces campaign, reinforcing our support for the Chelsea Pride group to increase visibility of and provide a representative voice for the club’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) fans, their friends and families.

Other activities include our equality and diversity workshops for primary school children and the annual Asian Star initiative, which for a decade has aimed to increase participation at all levels of the game in British-based Asian communities. Our Disability Showcase debuted in 2018 and saw more than 800 adults and children take part across two days at Stamford Bridge and Cobham. It will make a welcome return next summer.

With Frank Lampard leading the club’s efforts, we joined up with Kick It Out in 2010 to try and rid the game of the Y-word, and have frequently reiterated since, that what other clubs may deem acceptable from their supporters in the way of personal identification does not alter our position of zero tolerance. This will not change now or in the future.

Since 2007, we have provided an SMS service that makes it easier for supporters inside the stadium to report discriminatory behaviour at matches. That number is 07894 937793 and I urge our fans to use this where appropriate and help us beat the plague that threatens to overshadow the fantastic work this club does for inclusion and equality. Alternatively, you can email buildingbridges@chelseafc.com.

Clearly, there remains a way to go on this journey, but we will not rest until we have eliminated all forms of discrimination from our club. We will continue to work alongside our fans, anti-discrimination organisations and football authorities to create an environment where everyone feels welcome and valued.

If you do not share these values, this is not the club for you.

We must not allow a small minority of fans to bring further embarrassment upon us, and will continue to take the strongest possible action against them.

I ask our many thousands of match-going supporters and the millions more around the world to work together to help us confront this issue and remove discrimination from our game.

We are determined to win this battle, but we need the backing and action of those who share the principles of this great club.

Atletico Madrid roster for MLS All-Star Game includes Felix

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Major League Soccer fans will get a good luck at one of the hottest prospects in world soccer when the MLS All Stars take on Atletico Madrid in next week’s MLS All Star Game.

Joao Felix, the $142 million 19-year-old, is among the roster announced by Diego Simeone for the match.

[ MORE: Newcastle in for $28M Saint-Maximin ]

Felix scored 20 times with 11 assists in 40 matches for Benfica before moving to Atleti in the summer. Those numbers include a hat trick against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League quarterfinals first leg.

The other stars will be there, too, provided no transfers happen in the interim. Koke, Thomas Lemar, Diego Costa, and Saul Niguez are in the squad.

New Atleti defender Kieran Trippier and longtime El Tri hero Hector Herrera will also be sure to help drive attendance in Orlando City.

The full roster is here.

Leagues Cup preview: MLS gets its next shot at Liga MX

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It’s not a typo; The s is very real.

The Leagues Cup — not the League Cup — is the new competition pitting Major League Soccer sides against some of the top sides from Mexico’s Liga MX.

The tournament has been expanded before it’s even seen a ball kicked in competition, as the second edition with go from eight to 16 teams.

[ MORE: Newcastle in for $28M Saint-Maximin ]

For now, though, we’ve got four American and four Mexican sides meeting over the next two months in a bid for North American supremacy not unlike a CONCACAF Champions League stripped of all the minnows.

Much like the CCL, the Mexican sides will be expected to triumph, even with all of the quarterfinals being staged in the United States.

Chicago Fire hosts Cruz Azul on Tuesday, followed by the LA Galaxy’s visit from Club Tijuana.

Wednesday will see the Houston Dynamo host Club America, and Tigres UANL at Real Salt Lake.

The winners meet Aug. 20, while the final will be played Sept. 18 in Las Vegas.

There’s a lot of promise in this, and it gives MLS another chance to make some statements about the distance between it and Liga MX. The Mexican sides have flat out dominated the CCL, and it’s not difficult to make the same prediction for this tournament.

But, like many tournaments, it also gives success-starved clubs a chance to give their fans something big and their players a tonic. For Bastian Schweinsteiger‘s Chicago, for one, it’s a huge opportunity. And for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Galaxy, it’s a look toward another piece of silverware for one of the world’s biggest trophy cases.

USMNT prospect Ledezma earns praise from van Nistelrooy

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Even for talents of the highest levels with top soccer education, sometimes a kid’s gotta learn how to eat.

Richard “Richie” Ledezma, 18, is in the midst of his first year at Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven, a spot which beckoned after a five-match, one-goal season in the USL with Real Monarchs of the USL.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Ledezma starred for U.S. U-20 team at the World Cup after his first half-season with PSV, which saw him play with the U-19s while trying to lose some weight.

From Goal.com:

“PSV help me with my nutrition, with my food and how I eat. It’s the quantity of food you eat, I guess,” he added. “Because I came a little chubby, when I got here, I guess. They all called me ‘fatty’ and stuff, so I was like, cool, you know? So no more McDonald’s.”

Goal’s James Westwood had a wide-ranging interview with Ledezma and also spoke with soccer royalty: longtime Real Madrid and Manchester United scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy was Ledezma’s coach with the U-19s.

“He’s making a difference in midfield with very quick-thinking passes, movement, can score a goal, play people in, he’s creating chances for the whole team.”

That’s not just good praise from a legend, but a solid sign for fans of the United States men’s national team. A proper No. 10 or playmaking midfielder could allow Gregg Berhalter or another future USMNT coach to use Christian Pulisic on the wings.

Ledezma has some work to do before he breaks into the first team of the Dutch runners-up, who have signed former Stoke City man Ibrahim Afellay and has Gaston Pereiro in the fold as well.

Newcastle reportedly in for $28M mercurial Nice attacker

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L’Equipe says that Newcastle United have returned to Nice in the hopes of landing Allan Saint-Maximin.

The Ligue 1 outfit wants $28 million for the playmaker, who could team up with Miguel Almiron and (maybe) Joelinton to give the Magpies a much-improved attack.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Saint-Maximin, 22, has 10 goals and 10 assists across his last two seasons with Nice, and played everywhere in attack for Patrick Vieira: both wings, center forward, second striker, attacking mid… even some left and right midfield.

The player, however, has been a headache for Vieira at times, with the manager saying Saint-Maximin believes that he has enough talent to reach the highest level without the required amount of work.

That said, the youngster’s skill set is electric. He’s a March birth date, too, so a relatively young 22. That $28 million would be another transfer record broken for Newcastle, assuming it happens ahead of the Joelinton move.

Or… as Newcastle fan knows, neither could go through.