Barcelona sells Camp Nou title to raise money to fight virus

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BARCELONA, Spain — Barcelona will sell the title rights to its storied stadium for one year in an effort to raise money for the fight against the coronavirus.

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The Spanish club’s executive board said Tuesday it will donate the entire fee raised by selling the title rights to the Camp Nou to fighting the global pandemic.

The Camp Nou is the biggest stadium in Europe with more than 99,000 seats. It has never had a sponsor since it opened in 1957.

“We want to send a universal message: For the first time someone will have the opportunity to put their name on Camp Nou and the revenues will go to all of humanity, not just Barca,” club vice president Jordi Cardoner told The Associated Press.

“The initiative arose in an emergency situation. We think that we have to have a very quick response, putting our crown jewel at the service (of the fight).”

The club had planned to wait to sell the stadium’s title rights for the first time in the 2023-24 season. At that time, the club hopes to bring in 300 million euros ($326 million) paid up front for a 25-year contract to pay for renovations to the stadium and other facilities.

Cardoner, who has recovered after contracting the virus, said the board conceived of this new charity sale independent of the long-term deal of 25 years. But, he said that if there emerges a sponsor who wanted to include it in the long-term deal, then the club would consider it.

Cardoner said Barcelona wants to listen to offers from companies and private foundations and will consider opening it up to a group of interested sponsors who could team up and hopefully provide even more funds to help battle the new virus.

He would not give any estimate on how much the foundation hopes to earn from this “one-shot” sale. But given the greatness of Lionel Messi and the millions of spectators who tune in each week to watch Barcelona’s games, Camp Nou is one of the most coveted venues in sports.

“Camp Nou is sending out an S.O.S.,” Cardoner said. “We are open to everything. We want to maximize the economic participation and to ensure that the partners share our same social values.”

The stadium will maintain the name “Camp Nou” in addition to including the sponsor, the club said.

Barcelona’s foundation for social charities, which is overseen by Cardoner, will manage the investment of the money in fighting the virus. The foundation runs programs in Spain and in 58 other countries, largely focused on at-risk youth and refugees.

The club said it hopes to close a deal “in the coming weeks.” The decision will then have to be approved by a general assembly of club members, which number 140,000, likely to be held in October, if conditions permit.

How the money is used will be determined by the club’s foundation and the sponsor, with each party proposing how to distribute half of the funds, Cardoner said. Barcelona said it wants to propose using part of the money in Spain, especially in Catalonia, and in countries where the club has current charities. Cardoner said specific projects have not been chosen, but he would like some money to go to helping the elderly, especially in the devastated nursing home sector.

Cardoner said that he took some inspiration from the club’s decision in 2006 to put UNICEF on its shirt, which had never carried a sponsor before. The club moved the UNICEF logo to the back of the shirt in 2011 and sold the front to a corporate sponsor. It has continued to donate 2 million euros ($2.14 million) to UNICEF annually.

The main impetus, however, hit Cardoner while he was confined to his bed waging his own fight against an infection from the virus. He never needed hospitalization and fully recovered after a couple of weeks, but he said that the experience prompted him “think big.”

“I spent a long time in bed and had time to think,” he said. “We do a lot through our foundation, and it occurred to me that we had to think big, think big like we did with the shirt and UNICEF.”

Spain has been one of the hardest-hit countries by the COVID-19 virus, which causes respiratory failure especially in the elderly and the sick. More than 20,000 people have died in Spain, a death toll second only to the United States. The city of Barcelona and the surrounding areas in northeast Catalonia have been hotspots.

The suspension of the Spanish soccer amid the pandemic has put a large hole in the expected revenues of Barcelona, forcing its players to take a pay cut. Still, Cardoner said the club was not tempted to use the title rights revenue now to help plug the holes.

The decision comes during a rocky season for Barcelona and president Josep Bartomeu, who has weathered a mid-season coaching switch, internal tiffs between club officials and players, and the resignation of six board members. Even so, Barcelona leads the league that is now in limbo.

Saudi Arabia vs Mexico: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Mexico needs a win to have hope of reaching the World Cup knockout rounds, while Saudi Arabia’s hopes of the final 16 may require the same at Stadium 974 in Doha on Wednesday.

The Saudis stunned Argentina 2-1 In Lusail to open the tournament but could not repeat the feat against Poland at Education City in Al Rayyan on Saturday to leave themselves with three points through two matches.

STREAM LIVE SAUDI ARABIA vs MEXICO

Mexico remains without a win after their scoreless draw versus Poland led to a Lionel Messi-inspired loss to Argentina In Lusail.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Saudi Arabia vs Mexico.


How to watch Saudi Arabia vs Mexico live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Wednesday Nov. 30
Stadium: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

The Saudis have arguably been the most fun team at the tournament amongst non-powers, always running and getting exceptional goalkeeping. Salem Al-Dawsari was very good in both games but his missed penalty before halftime against Poland looms large of a match that could’ve been 1-1 going to the break and instead ended 2-0.

Mexico has not scored at the tournament so far, and Raul Jimenez has only been used as a super sub. Hirving Lozano and Alexis Vega combined for just three shot attempts before being subbed out of the Poland loss, while Lozano and Henry Martin combined for two versus Poland (Vega attempted five). They need better up top to keep up their streak of making Round of 16 appearances at the World Cup.


Saudi Arabia quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 51
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 5
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC (Won Group B)
Coach: Herve Renard
Key players: Salem Al-Dawsari, Fahad Al-Muwallad, Mohammed Al-Owais

Mexico quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 13
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 16
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONCACAF (2nd place)
Coach: Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino
Key players: Guillermo Ochoa, Hector Herrera, Raul Jimenez

Poland vs Argentina: How to watch live, stream link, team news

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Poland and Argentina surely didn’t plan to reach the marquee match of World Cup Group C with their knockout round status in doubt, but it’s been that kind of tournament in Qatar.

Poland remains unbeaten in Qatar after beating Saudi Arabia 2-0 in Al Rayyan, adding to the point it earned from a scoreless draw with Mexico In Doha to give it top billing in the group heading into Wednesday’s match.

STREAM LIVE POLAND vs ARGENTINA

Argentina, meanwhile, rebounded from a 2-1 tournament-opening loss to Saudi Arabia In Lusail to bear Mexico 2-0 behind a goal and an assist from Lionel Messi.

Saudi Arabia’s three points means it can still advance with a win over Mexico, who itself can add to its one point. So everyone’s alive in Group C.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Poland vs Argentina.


How to watch Poland vs Argentina live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Wednesday, Nov. 30
Stadium: Stadium 974, Doha – 2pm
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

The storyline for every Argentina game this tournament from this point forward — and really since the lead-up to the Mexico match — is that any loss means the end of Lionel Messi’s World Cup career (at least according to the living legend). The Albiceleste would be thrilled to get something more out of Lautaro Martinez, while Paulo Dybala’s yet to make his tournament debut.

Robert Lewandowski finally has a World Cup goal on his resume, while Piotr Zielinski has been very good for Poland. Former Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was sensational in the win over Saudi Arabia.


Poland quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 26
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 8
How they qualified: Qualified from UEFA via playoffs, Path B
Coach: Czeslaw Michniewicz
Key players: Robert Lewandowski, Wojciech Szczesny, Piotr Zielinski

Argentina quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 3
World Cup titles: 2 (1978, 1986)
World Cup appearances: 17
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (2nd place)
Coach: Lionel Scaloni
Key players: Lionel Messi, Angel de Maria, Lautaro Martinez

Portugal vs Uruguay: How to watch, live stream link, team news

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Portugal looks to seal its fate in the World Cup Round of 16 by piling pressure on Uruguay when two titans of the sport meet in Lusail on Monday.

Portugal outlasted Ghana 3-2 in Doha to open its tournament with a big win that featured a controversial penalty for Cristiano Ronaldo, while Uruguay staged a scoreless draw with South Korea.

STREAM LIVE PORTUGAL vs URUGUAY

It’s a group that never looked easy and is looking more and more like a “Group of Death” as the World Cup rolls through Qatar in its typically tense fashion this month and next.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Here is everything you need for Portugal vs Uruguay.


How to watch Portugal vs Uruguay live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 2pm ET, Monday Nov. 28
Stadium: Lusail Iconic Stadium, Lusail
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Everyone’s going to keep looking at Cristiano Ronaldo — it’s difficult not to turn your head with all the “Look at me” nonsense — but Bruno Fernandes is the real string-puller here. He’s playing well with Ruben Neves, while Ruben Dias and the back line will look to tighten things up after letting Ghana stay in the game.

Uruguay hero Luis Suarez has been here before, but his supporting cast is as good as ever. Rodrigo Betancur and Jose Maria Gimenez give La Celeste a chance at clean sheet every time they take the pitch.


Portugal quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 9
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 8
How they qualified: Qualified from UEFA via playoffs
Coach: Fernando Santos
Key players: Cristiano Ronaldo, Ruben Neves, Bruno Fernandes, Joao Cancelo

Uruguay quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 14
World Cup titles: 2 (1930, 1950)
World Cup appearances: 14
How they qualified: Qualified from CONMEBOL
Coach: Diego Alonso
Key players: Luis Suarez, Federico Valverde, Darwin Nunez, Rodrigo Betancur

Brazil vs Switzerland: How to watch, live stream link, team news

Brazil vs Switzerland live
Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP via Getty Images)
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Opening match winners Brazil and Switzerland meet Monday at Stadium 974 in Doha.

FIFA world No. 1 Brazil broke through pesky Serbia for a 2-0 win In Lusail to start the tournament as Richarlison scored two goals — one a ridiculous bit of technique — to get the Brazilians off on the right (and left) foot.

STREAM LIVE BRAZIL vs SWITZERLAND

Switzerland meanwhile used a 1-0 defeat of Cameroon to claim three points and set up Monday’s win-and-in match.

[ LIVE: World Cup 2022 schedule, how to watch, scores, hub ]

Can Neymar-less Brazil take the next step toward a sixth World Cup? Here is everything you need for Brazil vs Switzerland.


How to watch Brazil vs Switzerland live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 11am ET, Monday Nov. 28
Stadium: Stadium 974, Doha
TV channels en Español: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Brazil will not have Neymar for this one and likely the rest of the group stage as the oft-fouled magician felt the sting of Serbian tackles in the opener. The Brazilians have had to play without their captain before and have a wealth of attacking options, but who will join Richarlison in providing the goals in a Ney-less attack.

The Swiss have all the tools to hang with Brazil, but how physical will they want to make it for the favorites? Granit Xhaka will be one to watch as the underdogs try to balance a desire to get forward with the danger of doing so against a potent Brazil.


Brazil quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 1
World Cup titles: 5 (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)
World Cup appearances: 22
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from CONMEBOL (1st place)
Coach: Tite
Key players: Neymar, Thiago Silva, Casemiro, Alisson Becker

Switzerland quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 15
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 12
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (1st place)
Coach: Murat Yakin
Key players: Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri, Yann Sommer, Remo Freuler