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Real Madrid secure $650 million loan to fund stadium renovations

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Real Madrid can begin renovations on its 71-year-old Santiago Bernabeu stadium this summer after securing approval for the project’s funding.

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The Spanish giants announced in a press release that the Real Madrid board of directors approved a $650 million loan to finance a massive renovation project to the club’s home stadium in the heart of Madrid. It’s unclear in the press release when the renovations will be completed.

Starting in 2023 until 2049, Real Madrid will pay $33.4 million in debt payments to pay back the loan with a very low, 2.5 percent interest rate. The low interest rate was part of the reason why Real Madrid president Florentino Perez pushed for this deal, Perez remarked in the past. In addition, Real Madrid projects the new renovations will bring in an additional $170 million in revenue, which would more than cover the debt costs.

Originally announced publicly in September 2018, the renovations will add a new steel facade around the stadium, a retractable roof over the field plus a permanent roof over the fans in the seats, as well as other technological upgrades. The club will also be able to expand its club shop and club museum.

Part of Real Madrid’s motivation to complete the renovations was likely, along with good financial conditions, the fact that Barcelona is undergoing its own renovations at the Camp Nou which will also bring that stadium into the 21st century. In addition, Atletico Madrid just opened across town the brand-new Wanda Metropolitana Stadium.

Sevilla coach says he has leukemia, will stay with team

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MADRID (AP) Sevilla coach Joaquin Caparros says he has leukemia but will stay on the job with the Spanish club.

Caparros made the announcement after Sevilla’s 2-0 win at Valladolid in the Spanish league on Sunday.

“I have chronic leukemia but it won’t keep me from doing my job,” the 63-year-old Caparros said in the post-match news conference. “I’m living a normal life. I won’t talk about the subject anymore but I wanted everyone to know that everything is OK.”

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Sevilla has won three of its four matches since Caparros, a former sports director for the club, took over from the fired Pablo Machin last month.

Caparros was also in charge for the final stretch of last season after Italian coach Vincenzo Montella was fired.

Sevilla is fifth in the league, one point behind fourth-placed Getafe in the fight for the final Champions League spot, with seven rounds left.

In 2017, then Sevilla coach Eduardo “Toto” Berizzo stayed on the job after undergoing surgery to treat prostate cancer.

Athletic Bilbao draws 0-0 at Alaves, remains in drop zone

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MADRID (AP) — Athletic Bilbao remained in the relegation zone of the Spanish league after being held at Alaves to 0-0 on Monday.

Bilbao is in 18th place of the 20-team league and level on points with Villarreal, which is the last team in safety.

Bilbao generated the few scoring chances of the regional Basque Country derby, but goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco saved shots by Raul Garcia and Inigo Cordoba in each half.

“We wanted to win, of course, but these types of physical, hard-fought matches are good to boost the team’s morale,” Bilbao defender Inigo Martinez said. “We have to keep our heads up.”

Bilbao won its previous two matches under new coach Gaizka Garitano, who replaced the fired Eduardo Berizzo two weeks ago.

Bilbao, which only has players from the northern Basque Country or neighboring areas, has never been relegated to the second division.

Alaves stayed in sixth place and unbeaten through all eight home matches in the league.

Van Persie scores winner, sent off in wild Feyenoord finish

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Robin Van Persie had an eventful final few minutes as Feyenoord pulled into a crowded top of the Eredivisie table seven matches into the season.

With Feyenoord and 10-man Vitesse Arnham even at De Kuip in the 87th minute, van Persie took a free-kick from outside the top-right of the box and unleashed a cannon that found the far corner, past a wrong-footed Eduardo. It put Feyenoord up 2-1, and looked in great shape to move into third in the Eredivisie standings.

That is likely van Persie’s final significant game action for some time.

The 35-year-old lunged in studs up from behind on Vitesse substitute Max Clark, earning him a straight red card. That comes with the standard three-match suspension, which would leave van Persie on the sidelines for the team’s big match against second-placed Ajax on October 28. It’s a big loss for Feyenoord, as van Persie is now joint-third in the Eredivisie goal tally with six goals through the first seven matches.

On the other side, Vitesse eventually saw two of its own sent off. First, Thomas Bruns saw a straight red card in the 63rd minute for a dangerous tackle from behind, while Danilho Doekhi earned his second yellow three minutes deep into stoppage time after van Persie had already been sent to the showers.

Neymar endorses Brazil great Romario’s bid for Rio governor

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Neymar has endorsed former Brazil international Romario in his bid to be Rio de Janeiro state governor.

[ MORE: UCL roundup: USMNT’s Pulisic, McKennie shine ]

Romario’s social media channels published a video of Neymar backing him on Tuesday.

Neymar says in the video: “I hope you can make Rio better. I am a frequent visitor and I love this city.”

Romario, a World Cup winner with Brazil in 1994 and a former FIFA player of the year, is polling second behind former Rio mayor Eduardo Paes. The election for state governor is next month.

[ MORE: UCL preview: Real, Ronaldo debut apart; Man City, United, too ]

Rio state has been in deep financial trouble since the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar has never lived in the state but owns a beachfront mansion in Mangaratiba, south of Rio de Janeiro city.

The 52-year-old Romario is currently a senator in Brazil’s congress. He started his political career in 2010 as a congressman, a year after he hung up his boots.