Lionel Messi sets Ballon d’Or record, Barca’s Putellas wins women’s award

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Lionel Messi has become the first player to win sevenΒ Ballons d’Or, edging Robert Lewandowski to the title as best men’s player in Europe.

The PSG star was joined on the women’s side by Alexia Putellas, who plays at his longtime club of Barcelona. Four Chelsea women’s players — Sam Kerr, Pernille Harder, Jessie Fleming, and Fran Kerby — finished in the top ten.

Copa America and Copa del Rey winning Messi shined for Argentina and Barcelona, respectively, and moves two trophies clear of Cristiano Ronaldo.

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Chelsea’s Jorginho finished third in the voting, giving the Premier League a second-straight year with a top-three vote-getter.

Blues teammate N’Golo Kante finished fifth, and Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema ranked fourth.

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah was also in the top 10, finishing seventh, one spot ahead of Kevin De Bruyne.

Cristiano Ronaldo skipped the ceremony and finished outside the top ten for first time since 2010.

Gianluigi Donnarumma was awarded the Lev Yashin Trophy as best goalkeeper of 2020, while Chelsea was named Club of the Year.

Three Canadians made the women’s top ten, as PSG’s Ashley Lawrence and Portland’s Christine SInclair were joined by Fleming after winning gold at the Olympics.

USWNT beat Australia in victorious return

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SYDNEY — After 21 years since last playing in Australia, the USWNT needed only 24 seconds to score against the Matildas on Saturday.

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Turns out that was all the new-look American side needed in a 3-0 win at Sydney’s Olympic stadium before a Matildas-record crowd of 36,109.

Ashley Hatch scored her first international goal when Australia’s defense failed to clear the ball from the opening kickoff. Hatch found herself one-on-one with goalkeeper Teagen Micah, and Hatch calmly slotted a low shot to the right of Micah.

Hatch, the 2021 Golden Boot winner as top scorer in the National Women’s Soccer League for the champion Washington Spirit – 10 goals in 20 matches – was making just her third appearance for the U.S. and first since 2018.

Rose Lavelle scored the second American goal in the 49th minute and captain Lindsey Horan finished the scoring from a penalty in the 68th.

Australia dominated much of the first half after Hatch’s first-minute goal. USWNT goalkeeper Casey Murphy – in her international debut – was the player of the opening 45 minutes as she saved a half-dozen chances, including two from Australia veteran Sam Kerr.

The best Australian chance came from Kyah Simon, who missed from inside the six-yard box when the goal was open.

“As a striker, you pride yourself on scoring goals and I take full responsibility that I should have finished that,” Simon said. “The game (would have been) 1-1 at that point, so that could definitely change the momentum of the game.”

It was the first time since April 9, 2013, that the U.S. had a starting XI with every player under the age of 30. The average age of the starting side Saturday was 26 years, making it youngest starting lineup to take the field for the USWNT since April 5, 2018.

Horan and Tierna Davidson were the only players in this starting side who started in the most recent match with the Matildas in the Olympic bronze medal game on Aug. 5 in Tokyo, a match won 4-3 by the Americans. Lavelle and Emily Sonnett also saw action in that match as second-half substitutes.

The USWNT have won the World Cup four times, including the last time in France in 2019. Australia and New Zealand will co-host the next World Cup in 2023, with the tournament’s first match scheduled for 600 days from Saturday.

The last time the Americans played in Australia was while winning the silver medal at the 2000 Olympics.

The win was the 28th for the USWNT over Australia, with one loss and four draws. After six straight matches between the teams were decided by two or fewer goals, Saturday’s match marked the USWNT’s biggest win against Australia since a 4-0 victory in October 2013.

The teams will meet again Tuesday in Newcastle, north of Sydney.

Dames resigns as Red Stars coach amid abuse allegations

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CHICAGO — Rory Dames resigned Monday as coach of the Chicago Red Stars, and the team said it has launched an independent review of player health and safety and the team’s culture after The Washington Post quoted several players saying Dames was emotionally abusive.

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Dames led the Red Stars to the National Women’s Soccer League title game, which Chicago lost on Sunday to the Washington Spirit. Washington won the title under an interim coach after coach Richie Burke was fired in September for violating the league’s anti-harassment policy. Spirit players had said Burke was verbally abusive.

Rory Dames is the latest of several NWSL coaches to face allegations of misconduct. Lisa Baird resigned as the league’s commissioner on Oct. 1 after two former players came forward with allegations of harassment, including sexual coercion, against North Carolina Courage coach Raul Riley, who was immediately fired by the Courage.

The league has launched an independent investigation into its handling of abuse claims, and U.S. Soccer, the sport’s governing body, has retained former U.S. Attorney and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates to lead its investigation into abusive behavior and sexual misconduct in women’s professional soccer.

The Washington Post reported that Dames did not respond to multiple requests for comment and resigned as the newspaper was preparing to publish its article. The Post said it spoke to seven players who alleged that Dames had been emotionally abusive to them or their teammates.

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Among those who spoke to The Post was Christen Press, who contributed to a formal complaint about Dames that was filed to U.S. Soccer in 2018. Dames kept his job and went on to become the NWSL’s longest-tenured coach.

“Things were happening that were inappropriate,” Press told The Post. “But I’d been told to be quiet, that this was fine.”

The Red Stars said in a statement that the goal of the review of team culture was to implement changes that would empower players.

“We stand with the players who are fiercely advocating for change, and we are committed to doing our part to ensure a safe environment for the League’s players, staff, volunteers and fans,” the team said.

Aminata Diallo of Paris Saint-Germain arrested after attack on teammate

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PARIS–) Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Aminata Diallo has been taken into police custody following an attack on other players from the women’s team, the club said.

PSG said in a statement that the 26-year-old Diallo was arrested on Wednesday morning by Versailles police following the attack that took place last Thursday evening.

“Paris Saint-Germain condemns in the strongest possible terms the violence committed,” PSG said. “Since Thursday evening the club has taken all necessary measures to guarantee the health, well-being and safety of its entire women’s team.”

PSG added that it will work closely with the Versailles police to clarify the facts.

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“The club is paying close attention to the progress of the proceedings and will study what action to take,” PSG said.

No other names were given, but several French media reports said that midfielder Kheira Hamraoui was attacked following an evening out with Diallo and another unnamed teammate.

Broadcaster BFM TV reported that Diallo was driving them back when several people wearing masks attacked, and that Hamraoui was hit several times with a metal bar and needed stitches to her hands and legs.

Hamraoui and Diallo are teammates on France’s national team.

Hamraoui re-joined PSG in the offseason from Barcelona and played in the Champions League semifinal as Barca knocked out PSG.

Hamraoui previously played for PSG from 2012-16, the year Diallo joined from Guingamp.

Detroit City announces USL move; NISA takes shots at departing champs

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Detroit City FC, one of the United States’ most prominent clubs outside of Major League Soccer, has joined the USL Championship ahead of the 2022 season, eschewing the upstart National Independent Soccer Association after several successful season.

The club started in 2012 with an amateur team in the National Premier Soccer League and joined the nascent professional NISA in 2020, winning two NISA Championships.

Detroit cited increased stability and exposure as the impetus for the move.

“It’s clear that the time is right for Detroit City FC to move forward by joining the USL Championship,” said Detroit City FC co-owner and chief executive officer Sean Mann. “This puts us on track to accomplish many of our shared objectives such as fielding a professional women’s side, enhancing our academy program, upgrading our facilities, and expanding our reach. Since 2012, our vision for Detroit City FC has been to become Detroit’s soccer club for all time. We strive to be the most inclusive, community-focused, and supporter-driven club in the USA.”

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USL boss Jake Edwards praised Detroit, saying, “it’s hard to find a better example of bringing a community together through soccer.”

NISA issued conditional well-wishes to DCFC on its departure, saying, “They are a quality organization that we wish well – if they respect the legal agreements and obligations the league and the member clubs have forged together. Announcing the jump before the season’s end, and not fulfilling its commitment to the 2022 season, brings into question sporting integrity. Also, it should be the baseline that USSF ensures that order, not chaos, exists in the U.S. system.”

The league also took Detroit to task for joining a “closed system,” as USL like all American professional leagues currently does not implement promotion and relegation. NISA has said it plans to introduce pro/rel when the league reaches an unspecified number of teams.

“It is surprising that Detroit City – a historically stalwart supporter of the open system – has chosen ‘franchise’ over ‘club;’ ‘closed’ over ‘open.’ NISA has many great storylines to carry us into 2022 and beyond. Those are our focus as we continue to champion independent American soccer.”

Detroit’s 41 points have already claimed the NISA title with matches to spare in a 10-team league with LA Force, California United, Michigan Stars, Stumptown Athletic, Chicago House, Maryland Bobcats, Chattanooga FC, New Amsterdam FC, and San Diego 1904.

New York Cosmos is on hiatus from NISA and four other teams have been announced for the future: New Jersey Teamsterz, Flower City Union (Rochester, N.Y.), Valley United FC (Phoenix), and AC Syracuse Pulse.