Daniel Karell

How the world reacted to Messi’s 6th Ballon d’Or

Leave a comment

It wasn’t a massive shock, especially with Cristiano Ronaldo not in attendance, but Lionel Messi picked up his sixth Ballon d’Or award from France Football on Monday evening.

Even if not a surprise, it’s still incredibly impressive. It’s Messi’s first Ballon d’Or since 2015 and at age 32, he’s looking as strong, quick, and incredible as ever. For a player on the wrong side of 30 to take his game back to a superstar level is incredible, and it had folks thinking nostalgic.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Here’s a sample of some of the reaction to Messi’s win on social media:

View this post on Instagram

😍 Felicidades @leomessi 🌟

A post shared by Antoine Griezmann 🇫🇷 (@griezmannfhd) on

 

Swiss prosecutors quiz PSG president in FIFA bribery case

Getty Images
Leave a comment

GENEVA — Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser al-Khelaifi was questioned again by Swiss federal prosecutors on Monday, and will seek to have a two-year investigation into allegations he bribed a FIFA official dismissed.

The office of Switzerland’s attorney general said Al-Khelaifi, former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke, and a businessman who has not been identified presented themselves for questioning in the Swiss capital.

Final examination hearings were held ahead of decisions on “whether the proceedings are abandoned or a summary penalty order is issued or an indictment is filed,” the prosecution office said.

Criminal proceedings were opened against the three men in March 2017 and unsealed later that year before they were questioned for a first time in Bern.

In his role as chairman of Qatari broadcaster beIN Sports, Al-Khelaifi is alleged to have arranged for Valcke to use a luxury villa in Italy linked to sealing broadcast rights deal for the 2026 and 2030 World Cups.

“Valcke is believed to have accepted undue advantages from his two co-suspects,” prosecutors said on Monday. “In particular, the co-suspect Al-Khelaifi allegedly gave Valcke the sole rent-free use of a property.”

BeIN Sports renewed its Middle East and North African rights for those tournaments. It bought the 2018 and 2022 rights soon after FIFA picked Qatar as the 2022 tournament host exactly nine years ago on Monday.

“The principal allegation against Mr. Al-Khelaifi … has no single basis in law or fact,” beIN said in a statement on Monday.

“For this reason a motion to dismiss proceedings will be filed by Mr. Al-Khelaifi’s lawyers this week.”

BeIN said the price it paid for the 2026-2030 games – reportedly close to 500 million euros ($550 million), a record for the Middle East rights – showed that no favorable deal was struck.

Al-Khelaifi and Valcke have repeatedly denied wrongdoing, and Swiss prosecutors said they enjoy the presumption of innocence.

Since the criminal proceedings were opened, the PSG president was elected oto represent European soccer clubs on the executive committee of UEFA. It meets on Wednesday in Nyon, Switzerland.

On Monday, Swiss prosecutors declined to predict a timeline for their work, which it called “dynamic processes, which are not influenced by the (Swiss attorney general’s office) alone.”

In a separate investigation, French prosecutors have implicated Al-Khelaifi in “active corruption” linked to payments allegedly helping Doha win hosting rights for the athletics world championships. He has denied wrongdoing.

Messi wins 6th Ballon d’Or

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lionel Messi is back on top.

For the sixth time, the hosts at France Football’s end-of-year awards ceremonies read out Messi’s name as the winner of the Ballon d’Or. The 2019 award is Messi’s first since 2015. Since the the award was won by Cristiano Ronaldo twice and Luka Modric last year after guiding Croatia to the 2018 World Cup final.

So far this season, Messi has scored 14 goals to go with eight assists for Barcelona in all competitions. Last season however, Messi returned to his dominance, leading La Liga with 36 goals and scoring a total of 48 between the league and the UEFA Champions League. He also had 16 assists between both leagues.

Also honored on Monday evening was the winners of the Best Young Player and the Best Goalkeeper, a new award.

The goalkeeping award, named after the Soviet great Lev Yashin, went to Liverpool’s Alisson Becker. The Brazilian goalkeeper backstopped Liverpool in his first season in England to second place in the Premier League and the 2019 UEFA Champions League title. He’s recorded 21 clean sheets in 45 Premier League appearances so far.

Matthijs de Ligt, the former Ajax star who led his team to back to back Champions League semifinals, was named the Best Young Player by France Football. Now with Juventus, de Ligt is part of a superstar generation of young Dutch players who are looking to take their nation far at the 2020 Euros and beyond. De Ligt, at just 20-years old, still has many of his best years ahead of him.

The top ten in the final 2019 Ballon d’Or is as follows:

10. Riyad Mahrez, Man City

9. Bernardo Silva, Man City

8. Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich

7. Alisson Becker, Liverpool

6. Kylian Mbappe, PSG

5. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

4. Sadie Mane, Liverpool

3. Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus

2. Virgil Van Dijk, Liverpool

1. Lionel Messi, Barcelona

USWNT’s Rapinoe wins 2019 Women’s Ballon d’Or

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Megan Rapinoe topped off an iconic calendar year with France Football’s biggest prize, the Women’s Ballon d’Or award.

Rapinoe scored six goals to go with three assists as she led the U.S. Women’s National Team to another FIFA Women’s World Cup title. She scored the decisive goals against France in the quarterfinals and the Netherlands in the final, but it was her place as the heart and soul of the USWNT that led her and the national team to win. The 34-year-old absorbed all the pressure on her and her team and still produced on both sides of the ball.

Rapinoe had nine goals and seven assists across the calendar year for the USWNT. In addition to winning the World Cup, she won the Golden Ball and the FIFA award for the best women’s soccer player of the year. She’s also in the running and is now surely the front runner for the 2019 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year.

England right back Lucy Bronze and Rapinoe’s USWNT teammate Alex Morgan finished in second and third place, respectively.

Report: No money in January for Mourinho

Getty Images
2 Comments

Jose Mourinho will have to deal with the squad he has for the rest of the season, according to a report the Guardian.

The report states that Tottenham isn’t making any money available for signings in January, meaning that Mourinho won’t have the chance to add to his Spurs squad. Usually, when a new coach comes in, they’re given at least a transfer window to bring in one or two players, especially mid-season, to stabilize the squad.

[READ: Mourinho speaks for the first time as Spurs manager]

It’s certainly an unusual move from Tottenham. It leaves Mourinho in a bad spot in terms of the five first-team players who will be out of contract in June. If any of them, including Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen, leave on transfer, perhaps Tottenham can use those funds towards new signings. However, it’s more likely at this point that all five will finish the season at White Hart Lane and leave, setting up a massive summer for Mourinho.

At the same time, Tottenham has shown financial austerity for the past few seasons, as it struggles to pay back the loans it took to renovate its stadium. Pochettino didn’t make a single signing for the entirety of the 2018-2019 season and while the club broke its transfer record to sign Tanguay Ndombele, there wasn’t investment throughout the squad.

Considering Tottenham’s financial behavior, it does question why Mourinho took the job in the first place. But with his reported eight-figure salary, and the chance to work with Harry Kane, Mourinho may have decided it’s worth it, even if he can’t sign his players and mold the squad in the way he wants.