Reports: Messi to stay at Barcelona as exit clause expires

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Lionel Messi is going to spend at least one more year with Barcelona.

The world’s best player had an exit clause in his contract that allowed him to leave without a transfer fee, but that expired at Midnight according to Marca.com.

Messi has 19 goals and 12 assists in just 22 La Liga appearances this season, one of just four players in Europe’s top five leagues to collect double-digit goals and assists (Jadon Sancho, Serge Gnabry, Alassane Plea).

It had been reported since November that Messi would not exercise his option to leave the club, but there were numerous reasons to think he might rethink things given problems at Barcelona.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

There been chaos in the board room and players including Messi were angry to be thrown under the proverbial bus when Ernesto Valverde was fired early this year.

Notably, he called Barcelona “home” but noted “weird things happening” at the Camp Nou.

And there were, with the club denying accusations it used an outside firm to slander current and former players on social media. The club saw six board members resign in April.

Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall for the calls that headed to his reps from clubs across the world?

Report: Cristiano Ronaldo can leave Manchester United in January

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Cristiano Ronaldo will be able to leave Manchester United in January, as a report states that Erik ten Hag is open to the idea of letting the legendary forward move on.

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Ronaldo, 37, was an unused substitute in United’s humbling 6-3 defeat at Manchester City on Sunday.

Asked after the game why he didn’t bring on Ronaldo, Erik ten Hag said it was out of ‘respect’ for what Ronaldo had achieved in his incredible career to date.

Per the report from The Telegraph, it is believed that United will now not stand in the way of Cristiano Ronaldo leaving if an appropriate offer arrives in January.

Could this actually happen?

After wanting to leave all summer long, it appears that Cristiano Ronaldo knew what was going to happen.

He knew his style of play would not fit the style Erik ten Hag wanted to play and that has been pretty much spot on in the early months of the season.

United, and Erik ten Hag, dug their heels in and wanted Ronaldo to stick around and play a key role in their rebuild but it clearly won’t work.

A player of his quality, and on the wages United are paying him, cannot sit on the bench game after game. He just can’t.

Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Anthony Martial and Antony have proved they can score goals and that United look a fluid attacking unit when three of those four players start in the front three.

Now seems like the time for Ronaldo to move on and it’s time for United to admit the Portuguese star was right to want to move on.

Where could he go?

At this point there will be a lot of Europe’s top teams chasing Ronaldo, still, and as he hasn’t played in the UEFA Champions League this campaign, he could provide a real boost for somebody in the knockout stages if he does get this move in January.

Sporting Lisbon and Juventus still seem like the most obvious choices and it all hinges on Ronaldo’s wage demands and who can get United to release him from his contract with a big enough transfer fee. Of course, he will have offers from all over the world but it seems like Ronaldo wants to stay in Europe for the next few years, at the very least.

Ronaldo will now be focused on getting enough minutes between now and the World Cup next month to make sure he’s fit enough to lead Portugal’s charge in Qatar and then when he returns to Manchester in December, he will be able to focus on his club future.

As things stand, it’s very unlikely Ronaldo will be playing at Manchester United in 2023.

Leicester hammer Nottingham Forest for first win of season (video)

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Leicester vs Nottingham Forest recap: Brendan Rodgers and the Foxes picked up their first win of the 2022-23 Premier League season, as they hit the newly promoted Reds for three goals in 10 minutes, en route to a 4-0 victory, at King Power Stadium on Monday.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Rodgers’ employment had recently come under a bit of scrutiny, with the Foxes losing six straight games after picking up their only point to date on opening day. Unsurprisingly, Monday’s victory was also Leicester’s first clean sheet of the season, after conceding a Premier League-worst 22 goals in their first seven games (still most in the PL, with Forest one behind on 21).

The result sees the Foxes and Reds swap places in the table, from 20th and 19th, to 19th and 20th, respectively.

WATCH FULL MATCH REPLAY


What we learned from Leicester vs Nottingham Forest

Quality of known quantities shines through

James Maddison scored two goals and assisted another; Wilfried Ndidi protected the backline and didn’t get injured; Youri Tielemans linked play and took up dangerous areas on one side while Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall did the same on the other; Harvey Barnes got on the scoresheet. Before the season began, this is more or less how Rodgers drew it up. He would have also been counting on key contributions from last summer’s crown-jewel signings Patson Daka (also scored a goal on Monday), and for Jamie Vardy to remain a frequent goal threat and chip in double-digit goals for the 8th straight season. Vardy didn’t get a goal, but the 35-year-old Leicester legend had four shots (all in the first half) and might have scored two or three on another day. A victory all by itself doesn’t fix a team or save a season, but a team performance like we saw from Leicester on Monday? That might just do the trick.

Unfamiliar faces, familiar results

As previously stated, Forest’s defensive record is only minimally better than that of Leicester, and it’s a hugely worrying trend of late, having conceded 16 goals in their last five games (all defeats, including two against Bournemouth and Fulham, the other two promoted sides). Forest made 22 signings in the summer transfer window, and through eight games they look like a side that has rarely, if ever, played together before. Because, well, they haven’t. Now, attention turns toward Steve Cooper, who could find himself under pressure if owner Evangelos Marinakis wants a quick fix as his club stares down a likely relegation battle this season.


How to watch Leicester vs Nottingham Forest live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 3 pm ET, Monday
TV channel: USA Network
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com


Key storylines & star players

Leicester (20th place) have conceded more goals (22) than any other side in the Premier League — even Bournemouth, who shipped nine to Liverpool in one game. Wesley Fofana left for Chelsea (for $80 million) just before the transfer deadline, and Leicester made just one (loan) signing during the summer window. Has disinterest in the boardroom turned into disinterest in the locker room? If so, it’s difficult to see how Rodgers weathers this storm.

It’s been a similar story for Forest (19th), who impressed in each of their first three Premier League outings collapsing defensively (14 goals conceded) in four straight defeats, including back-to-back 3-2 humblings at the hands of the other two promoted sides, Fulham and Bournemouth.


Leicester team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Ricardo Pereira (achilles), Ryan Bertrand (knee) | QUESTIONABLE: Patson Daka (illness)

Nottingham Forest team news, injuries, lineup options

OUT: Omar Richards (calf), Moussa Niakhate (thigh), Orel Mangala (undisclosed) | QUESTIONABLE: Emmanuel Dennis (knock), Morgan Gibbs-White (knock), Scott McKenna (knee)

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NWSL investigation finds systemic emotional abuse, sexual misconduct on multiple teams

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An independent investigation into the scandals that erupted in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) last season found emotional abuse and sexual misconduct were systemic in the sport, impacting multiple teams, coaches and players, according to a report released Monday.

“Abuse in the NWSL is rooted in a deeper culture in women’s soccer, beginning in youth leagues, that normalizes verbally abusive coaching and blurs boundaries between coaches and players,” former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Q. Yates wrote in her report on the investigation.

U.S. Soccer commissioned the investigation by Yates and the law firm King & Spaulding after former NWSL players Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim came forward with allegations of harassment and sexual coercion dating back a decade involving former coach Paul Riley. Their account was published by The Athletic in September 2021.

Riley, who denied the allegations, was quickly fired as head coach of the North Carolina Courage, and NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird stepped down.

But it was clear the problems were widespread. Five of the 10 head coaches in the NWSL last season either were fired or stepped down amid allegations of misconduct.

“The verbal and emotional abuse players describe in the NWSL is not merely ‘tough’ coaching. And the players affected are not shrinking violets. They are among the best athletes in the world,” Yates wrote.

More than 200 people were interviewed by investigators. Some two dozen entities and individuals provided documents. U.S. Soccer also provided documents and the firm reviewed 89,000 deemed likely to be relevant.

U.S. Soccer President Cindy Parlow Cone called the findings “heartbreaking and deeply troubling.”

“The abuse described is inexcusable and has no place on any playing field, in any training facility or workplace,” she said in a statement. “As the national governing body for our sport, U.S. Soccer is fully committed to doing everything in its power to ensure that all players — at all levels — have a safe and respectful place to learn, grow and compete.”

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

The report made numerous recommendations to prioritize player health and safety. Among them is the requirement that teams accurately disclose coach misconduct to the league and the soccer federation to ensure coaches aren’t allowed to move between teams. It also calls for meaningful vetting of coaches and timely investigation into allegations of abuse.

The NWSL said it was in the process of reviewing the report. The league and the NWSL Players Association is also conducting an investigation.

“We recognize the anxiety and mental strain that these pending investigations have caused and the trauma that many – including players and staff – are having to relive. We continue to admire their courage in coming forward to share their stories and influence all the changes necessary to keep moving our league forward,” NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman said in a statement. “Establishing trust and confidence between the league, its players and other key stakeholders remains a central focus for the NWSL, and we know that we must learn from and take responsibility for the painful lessons of the past in order to move the League into a better future.”

The investigation focused on three former coaches, Riley, Christy Holly of Racing Louisville and Rory Dames of the Chicago Red Stars.

It recounts an April 2021 encounter between Holly and a player, Erin Simon, who now plays in Europe. Holly invited her to watch game film with him and allegedly told her that for every pass she messed up, he was going to touch her. Simon told investigators Holly “pushed his hands down her pants and up her shirt.”

Simon, now with Leicester City, said too many athletes suffer in silence because they are afraid they won’t be heard.

“I know because that is how I felt,” the 28-year-old said in a statement. “Through many difficult days, my faith alone sustained me and kept me going. I want to do everything in my power to ensure that no other player must experience what I did. This report allows our voices to finally be heard and is the first step toward achieving the respectful workplace we all deserve.”

[ MORE: 10 things we learned in the Premier League – matchweek 9 ]

Holly was terminated for cause but Racing Louisville declined to publicly state the reason. Yates’ report noted that Racing did not provide investigators with details about Holly’s employment, citing mutual nondisclosure and non-disparagement clauses.

Farrelly said the harassment she experienced began in 2011 when she was a player with the Philadelphia Independence of the Women’s Professional Soccer league. Riley was her coach.

She told The Athletic the abuse by Riley continued when she was with the Portland Thorns in 2014 and 2015. Shim, a former Thorns player, also said she experienced harassment. Neither woman is playing in the NWSL now.

The Thorns said they investigated Riley in 2015 while he was with the team and reported the findings to the league. They did not renew his contract but did not make the reasons public.

The report said the Thorns were not forthcoming with certain information and they attempted to prevent investigators from using the team’s 2015 report.

“The Portland Thorns interfered with our access to relevant witnesses and raised specious legal arguments in an attempt to impede our use of relevant documents,” Yates wrote.

Riley went on to coach the Western New York Flash, which later moved to North Carolina and was renamed.

When the scandal broke last year, former Thorns forward Alex Morgan, posted to social media: “The league was informed of these allegations multiple times and refused multiple times to investigate the allegations. The league must accept responsibility for a process that failed to protect its own players from this abuse.”

Morgan also said Shim and Farrelly asked the NWSL earlier last year for a new investigation into Riley’s behavior but were rebuffed.

The U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association released a statement: “All Players and employees deserve to work in an environment free of discrimination, harassment, and abusive conduct. The USWNTPA commends the courage of the survivors, current Players, and former Players who came forward to speak out against abusive practices that have become far too normalized in the NSWL and women’s soccer generally. At the same time, USWNTPA is dismayed that some NWSL clubs and USSF staff impeded the investigation; those who have not done so should fully cooperate with the ongoing NWSL/NWSLPA investigation immediately.”

U.S. Soccer said its board of directors and a leadership team would immediately begin implementing the report’s recommendations.

“U.S. Soccer and the entire soccer community have to do better, and I have faith that we can use this report and its recommendations as a critical turning point for every organization tasked with ensuring player safety,” Parlow Cone said. “We have significant work to do, and we’re committed to doing that work and leading change across the entire soccer community.”

Ever Wonder why Arsenal moved from South to North London?

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Our ‘Ever Wonder’ series will run throughout the 2022-23 Premier League season and focuses on key stories behind the history, tradition and culture of all 20 Premier League clubs.

[ MORE: Check out our ‘Ever Wonder’ series in full ]

Have you ever sat there and wondered why certain chants became iconic at a club? Why a team has a certain nickname? Why they play in those colors? How they were founded? Yep, us too.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA

This season we will be digging deep to tell the stories of the rich history, tradition and culture from around the Premier League and give you the answers to things you want to know more about.


Ever Wonder why Arsenal moved across London?

Based in Woolwich in south east London, the club was originally founded in 1886 as a group of workers from the Woolwich Arsenal Armament Factory decided to set up a club.

They were originally called Dial Square because of a sun dial atop the entrance to the factory. Seriously.

As for the factory itself, it served the British Army with ammunition and explosives research and 80,000 people worked there during the First World War.


Red jerseys and stadium struggles

Dial Square then became Royal Arsenal and players from Nottingham Forest joined the club, hence the now famous Garibaldi red jerseys which Forest, established 20 years before Arsenal, gave them.

After moving around several stadiums in Plumstead, which was based on the outskirts of London at the time, Arsenal then became Woolwich Arsenal and it stayed that way until 1913.

Struggling financially due to Plumstead being in an isolated area and not easy for people to travel to compared to other London clubs, Woolwich Arsenal were looking for other locations to move to from their Manor Ground home.

Arsenal vs Liverpool at the Manor Ground in Plumstead


Bombing accelerates move

During the suffragettes battle for equality for women in the UK, targeted bombings were carried out at high profile venues.

One such bombing occurred at Arsenal’s home stadium, destroying the grandstand at the Manor Ground in 1913 which would reportedly cost over $1,220 to repair.

With a significant bill to pay to repair the stadium and the club once again teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, the largest shareholder of the consortium who bought the club in 1910, Sir Henry Norris, decided to move the club to Highbury in north London in 1913 after a failed attempt to merge Fulham and Arsenal, the two clubs he was chairman of.

Arsenal moved to Highbury Stadium


Controversial 12-mile move from South to North London approved in 1913

Amid uproar from fans in Woolwich and north London, it still happened and famed stadium architect Archibald Leitch built their home ground at Highbury.

That is when the Arsenal we know today was truly born.

They soon became known as ‘The Arsenal’ in 1914 and then dropped ‘the’ to become known simply as Arsenal in 1919 as football resumed in England following the First World War.


Feud with Tottenham begins

In-between then a feud had already bubbled up with Tottenham. Of course it had.

Arsenal were promoted to the first division at the expense of Tottenham amid huge controversy and after a league vote, Arsenal took Spurs’ place in the first division.

Hence a bitter rivalry was born and Tottenham’s fans like to remind Arsenal to, shall we say, ‘head back to Woolwich, please, because north London is ours.’ The real version is obviously less polite.


The Gunners have never looked back

Financial success, being close to a London Underground station and improved facilities were the main reasons Arsenal moved 12 miles across London to north London in 1913 and it is where they have remained ever since.

London’s most successful team (in terms of the number of major titles and top-flight titles), the decision to move Arsenal across England’s capital city is still bearing fruit over 100 years later.

They’ve come a long way from a team set up in a factory which made explosives for the British Military.