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Michel Hidalgo
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Michel Hidalgo, who coached France to EURO 1984 glory, dies

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PARIS (AP) Michel Hidalgo, the coach who led France to the 1984 European Championship title and the 1982 World Cup semifinals, died on Thursday. He was 87.

The French Football Federation confirmed the death.

Hidalgo coached the national team from 1976-84 and led host France to its first major title at Euro 1984 with midfielder Michel Platini scoring nine goals.

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Les Bleus reached the World Cup semifinals two years earlier but lost to West Germany in a penalty shootout.

Soccer purists adored the way Hidalgo’s teams were almost fixated on creativity, even at the expense of defending. The midfield, led by Platini, was known as the “Magic Four” and was arguably the best in the world at the time. Alain Giresse, Jean Tigana and Bernard Genghini were the other three.

“I would like to express all my affection and my support to his wife Monique, to his family and all of those close to him,” Platini said in a statement. “As a coach, Michel lifted France to the summit of its art, with determination choosing the beautiful game and allowing each one of us to express all of our ability and individual talent.”

Hidalgo coached France in 75 games, behind only Raymond Domenech and current coach Didier Deschamps.

FFF president Noel Le Graet spoke of his “immense sadness and deep emotion” upon hearing of Hidalgo’s death.

“The federation, our football, are in grieving,” Le Graet said. “With his style of play, his personality and his exemplary passion, he contributed to our sport shining at international level and its popularity in France.”

During his playing days from 1952-66, Hidalgo was an attacking midfielder who scored regularly for Le Havre, Reims and Monaco.

He won French titles and French Cups as a player, and scored in the European Cup final when Reims lost to Real Madrid 4-3 in 1956. He put his club ahead 3-2 after the Spanish team rallied from a 2-0 deficit.

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The Latest: Brighton, Bournemouth aid workers; MLS extends moratorium

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The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on soccer around the world:

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Major League Soccer has extended its moratorium on team training through April 3 and still wants players to stay in their team’s local market.

MLS has targeted May 10 as a potential return date.

Team training facilities may be used only for physical therapy purposes at the direction of the team’s medical staff.


The Spanish soccer federation has announced measures to help smaller clubs financially.

The measures include a loan of 4 million euros ($4.3 million) to help pay the salaries of players and coaches.

The loan will be available to clubs from the third and fourth divisions, and futsal clubs. It can be paid back without interest over two seasons.

The federation also says it will negotiate a credit line for teams in the first and second division.

Federation president Luis Rubiales says the federation’s doctors will be made available to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, and the national team’s hotel can be used as a hospital if necessary.


Premier League teams Brighton and Bournemouth have become the first clubs to sign up to a campaign to make 100,000 free soccer tickets available to medical workers on the front line during the coronavirus outbreak.

The initiative was conceived by executives at Brighton, which has committed to giving National Health Service workers 1,000 tickets for matches and has invited other clubs from the Premier League, English Football League, Scotland and Northern Ireland to join in.

Bournemouth immediately followed suit, offering “a minimum of” 1,000 tickets.

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber says “we feel this is a small way in which we can show our gratitude for those NHS staff on the front line who are fighting the battle on behalf of all of us and give them something to look forward to.”

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Juventus in for Torres, Upamecano to Arsenal

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The coronavirus shutdown across Europe and the world has given teams time to focus on improving their squads for the future. There’s no certainty about when the transfer window will take place as the 2019/20 season continues to be pushed back possibly bleeding into the summer or even the fall. But clubs will have no excuse not to be ready once the time comes for players to make moves.

Liverpool has been linked with Valencia winger Ferran Torres for some time now, with the 20-year-old seeing his contract with the Spanish side expiring in the summer of 2021. However, according to Italian publication Corriere dello Sport, the Reds will have competition for his signature.

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Juventus is reportedly interested in pursuing the Spaniard, which makes sense given the makeup of the Juve squad. On the flanks in Turin are 35-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo, 31-year-old Juan Cuadrado, and the oft-injured Douglas Costa. Only Federico Bernardeschi can be counted on long-term at Juventus, leading to rumors such as these.

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Elsewhere, Arsenal has been linked by tabloids in England to RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano, with the 21-year-old French youth international said to have asked to leave this summer – or whenever the upcoming transfer window takes place. Upamecano has started every single league match for RB Leipzig this season after missing the first four due to injury. He also played the full 90 minutes of the 3-0 win over Tottenham in the Champions League that sent RB Leipzig through to the quarterfinals.

Upamecano’s contract with the German club expires in the summer of 2021, so like Torres’ situation at Valencia, it would be in the club’s best interest to sell the youngster this coming transfer window to maximize his transfer value.

Finally, Chelsea is reportedly interested in bringing aboard a second Ajax player after already securing Hakim Ziyech. According to Italian publication Calciomercato, the Blues are looking into left-back Nicolas Tagliafico after their chase of Ben Chilwell was turned down by Leicester City. Tagliafico, a 27-year-old Argentinian international, has been a fixture in the Ajax side since joining in January of 2018 from Argentine club Independiente. His Ajax contract runs out in the summer of 2022, so while there isn’t as much urgency to sort out his situation as with Torres or Upamecano, it is still within range.

The Blues currently have both Emerson and Marcos Alonso at left-back, so they are also not necessarily looking to urgently bring someone aboard in his position, but Tagliafico is versatility, able to play in the middle as well, making him a potentially useful player in a three-center-back system.

New U.S. Soccer leadership: Settling USWNT’s lawsuit a priority

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NEW YORK — The newly installed president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Soccer Federation used their first news conference to state that settling a lawsuit filed by women’s national team players is a top priority.

“A lot of damage has been done, and I think we are going to have to rebuild that trust and rebuild the relationship. It is not going to happen overnight,” President Cindy Parlow Cone said Tuesday. “It’s going to take a lot of effort and time and energy from the U.S. Soccer side to rebuild that trust, not only with our U.S. women’s national team players, but with our fans and everyone engaged in the sport.”

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Players claim they have not been paid equally to the men’s national team and asked for more than $66 million in damages under the Equal Pay Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A trial is scheduled for May 5 in federal court in Los Angeles.

“The solution here is clear, simple, and unequivocal: equal pay,” responded Molly Levinson, spokeswomen for the players.

In legal papers filed this month ahead of the trial, the USSF claimed the women’s team didn’t have the physical abilities or the same responsibilities as the men’s team. That sparked a furor that included an on-field protest by players wearing their warm-up jerseys inside out to hide the USSF crest. The outcry led to the resignation of USSF President Carlos Cordeiro and caused the federation to change its lead law firm.

Chief legal officer Lydia Wahlke has been placed on administrative leave, which was first reported Tuesday by ESPN. Parlow Cone said an outside firm has been retained to review USSF decision-making that led to the briefs “to see where that process broke down.” She hopes to schedule settlement talks.

“I don’t think a trial is good for either party or for soccer,” Parlow Cone said.

A 41-year-old World Cup and Olympic champion, Parlow Cone had been the USSF vice president before Cordeiro quit on March 12.

“The comments and the language in the last filing,” Parlow Cone said, “I think not only hurt our relationship with our women’s national team, but hurt women and girls in general, and as a former national player, they were personally hurtful to me.”

Will Wilson, a former MLS executive and the uncle of retired NFL quarterback Andrew Luck, was hired as chief executive officer Monday to replace Dan Flynn, who retired in September. The 52-year-old Wilson had been co-head of the NFL division of the Wasserman Media Group, which represents players.

“The wording, the comments in the filing were quite frankly shocking and very, very disappointing to me,” Wilson said.

Parlow Cone said she is part of the USSF’s board special litigation committee along with youth council representative Tim Turney and independent director Patti Hart. She said the committee was never given a chance to review the filings before they were submitted to the court.

“There was a fundamental error in our processes,” Parlow Cone said.

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She drew a distinction between this month’s filing and previous legal arguments by the federation.

“I think it’s one thing to argue that men and women play in different tournaments and play against different teams, and it’s altogether a different statement to say that therefore the women carry less responsibility or have less ability,” Parlow Cone said.

She said it was too soon to decide whether she would run next February to complete the final year of Cordeiro’s term. Parlow Cone also said the USSF is open to having the women and men negotiate together for a common labor deal, but that decision is up to the two unions under federal labor law.

Wilson, who said he received a multiyear contract, said it was not clear whether the postponement of the Olympics would cause Nike and other sponsors to decrease payments to the USSF this year. He is likely to take a role in organizing the 2026 World Cup, which the U.S. will co-host with Mexico and Canada.

In addition, the USSF faces antitrust suits by the promoter Relient seeking to allow foreign leagues to play in the U.S. and by the lower level North American Soccer League, which stopped play after 2017 and wanted a promotion-relegation system.

The U.S. men’s national team has been without a collective bargaining agreement since December 2018. Some federation staff complained about working conditions under Flynn and his No. 2, chief commercial and strategy officer Jay Berhalter – the brother of men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter. Jay Berhalter left the USSF last month when it became clear he would not succeed Flynn.

“Yes, there are issues. That’s obvious,” Wilson said. “But for me it was the fact that we had to address those and find resolutions, attack the culture and really create a place that people want to be and want to work.”

U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner called off a March 30 hearing to decide summary judgment motions by each side and will issue his rulings based on the written submissions.

Australia’s A-League suspended until April 22

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SYDNEY — Australian soccer’s A-League has suspended its season indefinitely, bringing an end to all professional football competitions in Australia and New Zealand until the coronavirus pandemic passes.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s Hudson-Odoi “feeling fine and back to his usual self” ]

Football Federation Australia chief executive James Johnson announced the decision Tuesday, saying the latest measures imposed by the federal government made it impossible for the A-League to continue. The league had only a few regular-season rounds remaining before the playoffs. Johnson said the postponement will be reviewed on April 22.

“As a national competition played in all parts of Australia, as well as New Zealand, mission complicated became mission impossible,” Johnson said.

He remained optimistic the season could resume and said the postponement likely was “heartbreaking” for players, clubs and fans. All soccer in Australia from community to professional level has now been halted.

[ MORE: Transfer rumors: Aubameyang to Man United, Skriniar to Man City ]

“We will feel this,” Johnson said. “We will feel the financial pressure on the game at all levels. The game will survive. Will we need to make changes, be different? I say yes.”

The multi-national Super Rugby competition suspended its season last week and attempts in Australia and New Zealand to create domestic competitions for their teams have been put on hold.

Australian rules’ Australian Football League suspended its season Sunday after only one round. The National Rugby League followed suit on Monday after two rounds. In each case government restrictions on national and international travel, on public gatherings and non-essential activities made continuing untenable.