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Totti’s departure puts pressure on Roma’s American owner

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ROME (AP) Former Roma captain Francesco Totti left his position within the club’s management on Monday in a move that will increase fan opposition to the team’s American owner.

While he has been a technical director since retiring from playing two years ago, Totti said he was left out of decisions about the hiring and firing of coaches and moves in the player transfer market.

“I never had the chance to express myself. They never involved me,” Totti said. “The first year that can happen but by the second (year) I understood what they wanted to do. … They knew of my desire to offer a lot to this squad but they never wanted it. They kept me out of everything.

“It’s a day that I hoped never would have come,” Totti added in a news conference at the Italian Olympic Committee.

After playing 25 seasons with his hometown club and leading the club to its last Serie A title in 2001, the 42-year-old Totti remains Roma’s most emblematic figure.

“Presidents come and go, coaches come and go, players come and go. But not emblems,” Totti said.

Totti’s departure comes a month after then-captain Daniele De Rossi announced he, too, was leaving Roma after the club surprisingly decided not to renew his contract.

Totti said Romans were being pushed out of Roma since James Pallotta and some fellow Boston executives purchased the club in 2011 – becoming the first foreign majority owners in Serie A.

“For eight years here, since the Americans came, they’ve done everything they could to sweep us aside,” Totti said.

Pallotta runs the club from Boston and has not been to Rome in more than a year, and Totti said that was problematic.

“When the boss isn’t around everyone does whatever they feel like,” Totti said. “That’s the case anywhere.”

Pallotta said last week in a long interview published on Roma’s website that he had offered Totti the role of technical director.

“This is a very important role at the club, easily one of the most important and influential roles in our football operations, and the fact that we want him to take on the role says everything about what we think of Francesco,” Pallotta said.

“I don’t know what is being said and by whom, because I’ve given up reading most of the media, but I believe Francesco already has great influence on our decision making.”

While Paulo Fonseca was hired from Shakhtar Donetsk last week as Roma’s new coach, Totti deflected reports that he had preferred Gennaro Gattuso or Sinisa Mihajlovic for the job.

“The only coach I called was Antonio Conte,” Totti said, referring to the new Inter Milan coach.

Roma is coming off one of its worst seasons in years, with a sixth-place finish in Serie A meaning it missed out on the lucrative Champions League. A year after reaching the semifinals, Roma was eliminated from the Champions League by Porto in the first knockout stage.

Roma has also been struggling to build a new stadium.

Pallotta first presented a plan for a new stadium in March 2014, saying that it would be ready for the 2016-17 season – yet construction has still not started because of a series of bureaucratic delays.

Asked what it would take for him to return to Roma, Totti replied: “First of all, different ownership.”

Totti also confirmed long-held speculation that the club forced him to retire from playing before he wanted to, and added that he had a six-year contract within management.

“There were a lot of promises made,” he said. “But in the end they weren’t kept.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

LAFC’s Adama Diomande voluntarily enters MLS’s health program

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Los Angeles FC forward Adama Diomande has entered Major League Soccer’s substance abuse and behavioral health program.

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MLS announced Diomande’s voluntary decision Friday.

Diomande won’t play for LAFC at least until the program’s doctors complete their evaluation and he is cleared by program officials.

The 29-year-old Norwegian scorer has eight goals and seven assists in 25 appearances this season, including 15 starts. He has played a valuable complementary offensive role alongside MLS scoring leader Carlos Vela.

[ MORE: Report: Netherlands FA to meet with Sergiño Dest ]

Diomande is in his second MLS season after joining LAFC from Hull City. He also previously played under LAFC coach Bob Bradley in Norway.

LAFC (19-4-7) has clinched the Western Conference title, and it leads the overall MLS table by seven points despite a four-game winless streak.

Premier League Preview: Newcastle v. Brighton

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  • Early-season relegation battlers meet on Saturday
  • 18th-place Newcastle to host 16th-place Brighton
  • Brighton won at Newcastle, drew at home last season

Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion, a pair of Premier League sides with just two wins from the first five weeks of the season between them, will meet at St. James’ Park on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBCSports.com) for what could prove to be a retrospective relegation six-pointer when May rolls around.

Each side replaced its manager — Steve Bruce for Rafa Benitez at Newcastle; Graham Potter for Chris Hughton at Bright — in the summer and neither of the new bosses has had a particularly enjoyable start to the 2019-20 campaign. Brighton won on the opening day of the season, but have taken just two points from the following four games. Newcastle lost their first two games, won their third, and have drawn and lost again since. It’s the kind of form that’ll see both sides stuck in the high-teens of the PL table if they don’t find their footing in the coming weeks.

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Things are particularly worrying for Newcastle, who didn’t they’d be without Benitez until the end of June and didn’t appoint Bruce until mid-July. Key players had already left the club and reinforcements for few and far between. Forward Joelinton joined for $50 million and is one of four players with a single goal scored thus far.

Last week was nearly fruitful for the Seagulls, until the conceded a stoppage-time equalizer and settle for a point at home against Burnley. Summer signing Neal Maupay bagged his second goal for Brighton earlier in the game, giving Potter a potential trump card over a handful of other relegation-threatened sides without a consistent goalscorer.

Injuries/suspensions

Newcastle: OUT – Matt Ritchie (ankle), Florian Lejeune (knee), Dwight Gayle (calf); QUESTIONABLE – DeAndre Yedlin (groin)

Brighton: OUT – Leandro Trossard (groin), Jose Izquierdo (knee), Ezequiel Schelotto (knee)


Projected lineups

Newcastle: Dubravka – Krafth, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Willems – Almiron, Hayden, Shelvey, Atsu – Joelinton

Brighton: Ryan – Duffy, Dunk, Webster – March, Stephens, Propper, Burn – Gross, Maupay, Murray


What they’re saying

Joelinton, on Andy Carroll: “It’s always great to have experienced players in the group, and he’s one of them. He can help the club, he can help the young players. Andy Carroll has scored a lot of goals in the Premier League, and it’s great to be playing alongside him. He’s a calm guy. I still haven’t spoken to him a lot because my English isn’t great! But every day he’s trying to help. He’ll help me before the games, he’ll give me positional advice and suggest what I’ve done both good and bad.”

Graham Potter, on the trip to Newcastle: “Newcastle away is a tough game just like all the others. We don’t target particular matches — it’s about what we need to do to get a positive result. They have an experienced manager who I came across last year and he’s someone I have a lot of respect for. They have good quality players and we know it can be a hostile environment, it’s a big club and we know we have to play well to get something.  Steve has a lot of games under his belt – he’s had a lot of success and he’ll understand the challenge that lies ahead.


Prediction

Newcastle haven’t scored multiple goals in a game yet this season, and they’ve conceded twice as many as they’ve scored (four). It’s hard to trust them to be anything resembling consistent from game to game. It wouldn’t be surprising if they battled to a boring 0-0 draw, or conceding three times before halftime. It’ll probably be closer to the former, a 1-1 stalemate.

AC Milan announces internal anti-racism task force

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MILAN (AP) AC Milan has announced it will establish an internal task force to address racism in Italian football.

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The club says the task force will be supported by “an external consultancy” and “develop a program of activities to increase awareness, monitor and address racist behavior on social media and in the stadium, and drive the adoption of global best practices on diversity and inclusion.”

The move comes after reports of racist chants directed at Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, who is black, during a match at Hellas Verona last weekend.

Milan says the anti-racism initiative will be launched during Saturday’s derby against Inter Milan.

[ MORE: Premier League TV, streaming schedule ]

Inter striker Romelu Lukaku was subjected to racist chants in a match at Cagliari this month.

Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis, who is South African, says: “Italian football needs to wake up and take a strong stance against racist behaviors. AC Milan will take a leadership position on this issue. . We believe that we have a moral obligation to do everything we can to address this issue.”

Slow start dooms Southampton again: ‘We lost the game in first half’

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Slow starts are, ironically, quickly becoming the story of Southampton’s Premier League season. It happened again on Friday, resulting in a 3-1 home defeat to Bournemouth in the Premier League‘s budding south coast rivalry

[ Premier League Previews: Leicester City v. Tottenham | Man City v. Watford ]

Through six games, Saints have conceded the first goal four times. In those four games, they have taken just one point. When scoring the game’s first goal, they have two wins and two clean sheets.

It would appear that Ralph Hasenhuttl‘s side is set up to play one way, and one way only. Speaking after Friday’s defeat, Hasenhuttl lamented his side’s slow start, conceding that the game was all but lost when they fell 2-0 behind in the 35 minutes — quotes from the BBC:

“The finish was not important anymore. If you lose 2-1 or 3-1 it does not make too much difference. We lost the game in the first half.

“In the second half, we were sharp. Had about 26 shots to six from Bournemouth but the most important stat is the goals. They scored three, we scored once.

“We weren’t aggressive enough and too easy in the first half. It is not easy to be 1-0 down after 10 minutes. We had a lot of blocked shots and misses near the post. It was a good performance in the second half but without a result.

“For the second goal was had a lot of players in our attacking box so it was not easy to defend.

“We showed a good reaction because we knew we needed to be brave. We changed our shape and were aggressive for the second ball. It gave us 64% possession and we had a lot of shots. Maybe we didn’t deserve to take something because of our first half.”

Southampton’s next chance to start a game quickly will come in an away bout with Tottenham Hotspur next Saturday.