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Giuseppe Rossi faces one-year ban for doping case in Italy

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ROME (AP) Former Italy forward Giuseppe Rossi’s injury-plagued career has taken another negative turn with a positive doping test.

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Italy’s anti-doping agency Nado Italia announced on Tuesday that Rossi will stand trial next week after testing positive for an eye drug that can be used as a masking agent.

The anti-doping prosecutor is seeking a one-year ban.

The test was taken in May while Rossi played for Genoa at the end of the last Serie A season.

Rossi is currently out of contract.

Dorzolamide, the substance that Rossi tested positive for, is not banned when administered with eye drops but Rossi told anti-doping authorities that he did not use eye drops when he was questioned twice, in June and July.

Rossi had no immediate comment.

The 31-year-old Rossi was born in the United States but played for Italy from 2008-14. His career has been slowed by a series of knee injuries.

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Players’ union reiterates disapproval of league match in US

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MADRID (AP) The Spanish players’ association remains against the league’s plan to play a regular-season match in the United States despite receiving more detailed information.

The association was not convinced by the league’s update and said on Monday it still disapproved of the Girona-Barcelona game planned for suburban Miami in January. It said the league still lacks the necessary approvals from other stakeholders, and it can’t guarantee the union contract won’t be breached.

The association doesn’t have a final say on whether the game actually happens, although players recently did not rule out a strike if their demands are not considered. They complained about not being consulted by the league before the idea was presented.

The association’s latest announcement came three days after the Spanish soccer federation refused to approve the match, putting the plan in serious doubt. The federation requested more documentation from the league after saying it failed to show the overseas match would comply with Spanish and international regulations and TV broadcast contracts, and that it would not harm the other 18 league clubs and the fans of Girona and Barcelona.

The match would also need to be approved by the U.S. soccer federation, plus continental bodies UEFA and CONCACAF. FIFA’s permission is not mandatory but president Gianni Infantino recently expressed his doubts about the game.

Spanish league president Javier Tebas again defended the match, saying football needs to catch up to what other sports have been doing to try to keep growing internationally.

“If we don’t keep working to try to grow, other competitions and other sports will leave us behind. We have to be different,” Tebas said on Monday at a soccer conference in Madrid.

“In the sports industry we have to try to copy what others are doing well. Why does the NBA and the NFL take a match abroad and we can’t? Why can’t we keep growing? This is our greatest responsibility, to grow, because this is an industry.”

Tebas said he was surprised by the amount of negative reaction to the proposal.

“It looks like we want to play the entire league in Miami. It’s just one match,” he said. “We want to play one match, for strategic reasons, to try to grow the league.”

Earlier Monday, European Club Association chairman Andrea Agnelli, Juventus’ president, said he “take(s) his hat off” to Tebas for taking the initiative and working to expand the Spanish league globally.

“That’s something that should be looked at,” Agnelli said. “If you want to have a global audience, you need to be closer to (that audience).”

The league plan to play games in the U.S. is part of a new 15-year partnership with sports and entertainment group Relevent, which operates the International Champions Cup, a tournament of club friendlies during the European offseason in July and August around the world.

The Spanish federation held its season-opening Super Cup abroad for the first time in August, with Barcelona beating Sevilla in Tangier, Morocco.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez said on Sunday his team would not play the game abroad in the future, saying he was “vehemently against it.”

The league has said it will not force clubs to play in the overseas match.

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Messi to remain out of Argentina squad for Brazil friendly

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) Lionel Messi will miss Argentina’s friendly against Brazil on Oct. 16 in Saudi Arabia.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said on Monday that Messi will not be called for the brief tour. He will also miss the other friendly in Saudi against Iraq on Oct. 11.

Scaloni, the interim national coach until January, said Argentina was focusing on blooding younger players.

Messi has made no public comments about his decision to be left out of the Argentina squad, which he hasn’t played for since the World Cup.

Messi was also absent from Argentina’s two-match tour of the United States this month.

Third UEFA competition important despite “little commercial value”

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MADRID (AP) A third European club competition will have “little commercial value,” European Club Association chairman Andrea Agnelli said Monday, but it will still be important for smaller teams seeking to increase their exposure.

The 32-team yet-to-be-named competition is being discussed with UEFA for 2021 and beyond. It would be played in addition to the Champions League and the Europa League.

“It’s difficult to see commercial value when you look at a third-tier competition because there is very little commercial value, but sometimes we have to listen to our fellow club members who want to participate more,” Agnelli said at a soccer conference in the Spanish capital. “The fact that they are participating in international games would allow them to grow and showcase their players going forward.”

The Juventus president said there were initial discussions about expanding the Europa League from 48 teams to 64, but the consensus was that it would ultimately hurt the second-tier competition which already “struggles” commercially compared to the Champions League. The solution was to reduce the number of clubs in the Europa League and have all three European club competitions played with 32 clubs.

Agnelli also said making adjustments to the new international calendar that will begin in 2024 is “the first thing we have to tackle” as European clubs.

He said clubs would like to see all the confederation tournaments being played at the same time every four years, on even years, to help free up vacation time for players.

“We have to think of a moment where players can have a proper four-week rest period,” he said. “And I’m saying this in the interest of all. Players are exceptional, but they are not machines. Football players are like Formula One cars, if you actually use them too much, they just break.”

FIFA has been leading talks to discuss the new calendar and issues such as the continental championships and when clubs must release players for national team duty.

Agnelli also said it would be ideal to limit the potential maximum number of games for clubs to 43 per season.

“I want to make sure we are well heard when we craft the next international match calendar,” he said. “The clubs are the ones that truly invest and take the risks.”

Women’s Ballon d’Or award launched

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PARIS (AP) A woman will win the most prestigious individual trophy in soccer for the first time this year.

Awarded every year by France Football magazine since Stanley Matthews won it in 1956, the Ballon d’Or for the best player of the year will be given to both a woman and a man on Dec. 3 in Paris.

Pascal Ferre, the magazine’s editor in chief, told The Associated Press women’s soccer has grown so much in recent years it was a logical step to create the new award.

“Women’s soccer is a booming discipline that deserves the same respect as men’s soccer,” Ferre told the AP. “It’s coming to maturity and growing bigger. More than 760 million TV viewers watched games at the last women’s World Cup in 2015, this did not happen by chance.”

France Football will make an official announcement in Tuesday’s edition of the magazine.

A list of 15 nominees for the prize will be announced on Oct. 8 alongside the 30-man selection. The players will be selected by France Football and a panel of international journalists specialized in women’s soccer will vote on a winner.

“The jury won’t be the same as the jury voting for the men,” Ferre said. “Only experts can vote. I’m confident we will get a jury of about 40 journalists, from countries where women’s soccer is growing.”

The Ballon d’Or merged with the FIFA World Player of the Year award from 2010-15, but the magazine and soccer’s governing body split two years ago. FIFA also awards a trophy to the best women’s player.

Ferre said most of the female players he spoke with about the new Ballon d’Or have been enthusiastic.

“They are thrilled and can’t wait for it,” Ferre said. “They are very proud to see that the world of soccer considers that women should be treated in the same respect as men.”

France Football is also launching a new award for the best young player of the year, the Kopa trophy, named after the late Raymond Kopa. The former Real Madrid attacking midfielder who became the first French player to win the Ballon d’Or back in 1958 died last year at 85. Only former winners will be entitled to choose the winner from a list of 10 under-21 players.

The award ceremony will be broadcast live in more than 120 countries.

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