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CONCACAF Gold Cup matches to be played in Kingston, Jamaica

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MIAMI (AP) The CONCACAF Gold Cup will be played in the Caribbean for the first time when a group-stage doubleheader takes place on June 17 in Kingston, Jamaica.

[ MORE: Valencia eyed by MLS club ]

The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football said Tuesday that Jamaica will join Honduras in Group C, which also plays in Houston on June 21 and Los Angeles on June 25.

CONCACAF plans to announce the full schedule on June 10. The United States opens on June 18 at St. Paul, Minnesota, plays four days later in Cleveland and finishes the first round on June 26 at Kansas City, Kansas. Semifinals are July 2 at Glendale, Arizona, and the following day at Nashville, Tennessee. The final is July 7 at Chicago.

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Italian soccer federation signs deal with Chinese government

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ROME (AP) The Italian soccer federation has signed a wide-ranging memorandum with the Chinese government to promote soccer between the two countries.

The deal foresees playing the Italian Super Cup or Italian Cup in China within the next three years.

[ MORE: Upsets in EURO qualifying ]

The Italian Super Cup – which pits the Serie A champion against the Italian Cup champion – has already been played in China four times over the last 10 years.

The meeting with China Media Group head Shen Haixiong also focused on TV content and rights, collaboration over developing young Chinese players in Italy and instruction for using the video assistant referee.

Shen was in Rome for the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Italian federation president Gabriele Gravina says, “Soccer has shown once again to be a bridge between different cultures.”

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Valencia again targeted by Batman creators for bat logo

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MADRID (AP) Batman is coming after Valencia’s bat logo.

The Spanish soccer club is again being targeted by DC Comics over the use of its logo, which serves as the centerpiece of its centennial celebrations this year. The comic book makers, who created the superhero Batman, have made another complaint about how the team is using the bat logo.

“The parties have requested an extension of the `cooling off’ period to negotiate a possible deal,” the law firm representing Valencia, Garrigues, said in a statement to The Associated Press on Thursday. “This period can be extended until Oct. 30, 2020.”

DC Comics filed a complaint with the European Union’s office of intellectual property opposing the trademark application made by Valencia for its centennial logo on a claim there was a “likelihood of confusion” with some of the designs of Batman’s symbol.

If a deal is not reached between the parties, the intellectual property office will rule on the case.

Valencia and DC Comics also had a logo dispute a few years ago, but the two sides reached an agreement and the club said at the time that that particular design of the bat was not going to be used.

Valencia said it will not comment on the dispute, and its press office did not answer questions about whether the club would continue to use the logo created for the centennial.

A request for comment from the lawyers representing DC Comics in Spain was not immediately answered.

The new symbol – a modern-looking bat-shaped figure with open wings – has been used in different colors during the team’s centennial celebrations this week. The images remain on the team’s website and mobile apps, as well as in some online videos.

The design was on the celebratory plaque unveiled at the club’s birthplace in the Spanish city on Monday, the date of the centenary. The team’s festivities will continue on Sunday with a “legends match” involving former Valencia players.

When the new symbol was introduced before the season started, the club said the logo would complement the team’s traditional badge and would not be limited to the centennial season.

“The club reinforces its association with the bat, which is one of the most emblematic symbols of the city,” Valencia said at the time. “It’s an innovative design that looks into the future.”

After DC Comics first complained of Valencia’s use of a new bat design for a line of casual clothing in 2012, the club said “a bat has been incorporated into the club’s official crest since 1922,” and “the official crest and the bat have been trademark registered worldwide and their use has not been subject to any legal challenge.”

The team’s main badge has a different-shaped bat and the colors yellow and red, although this season it is predominantly black and gold because of the centennial celebrations.

The Batman character made its first appearance in a DC Comics publication in 1939, 20 years after Valencia was founded.

Valencia is a six-time champion in the Spanish league, with its last title in 2004. It will be trying to win its eighth Copa del Rey title in this year’s final against Barcelona.

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USMNT’s Sargent makes 1st Bundesliga start in Bremen’s 1-1 draw

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BREMEN, Germany (AP) Werder Bremen’s European hopes were damaged by a 1-1 home draw with Stuttgart in the Bundesliga Friday.

Bremen had been hoping to get closer to Wolfsburg, which occupies the last Europa League qualifying position in sixth spot, but had to be content with a move up to ninth.

Steven Zuber fired Stuttgart ahead after 61 seconds. The former Hoffenheim striker stayed cool after he was sent through by Mario Gomez to shoot beyond Bremen keeper Jiri Pavlenka and inside the far post.

Despite more possession for the hosts, it was Stuttgart which had the better chances – Gomez spurning two good opportunities – and the visitors were left to rue the misses when Max Kruse set up Dutch midfielder Davy Klaassen to equalize with a powerful strike before the break.

“I’m sorry for the team,” Gomez said.

Bremen brought on Claudio Pizarro, who became the oldest ever goalscorer when he grabbed a late equalizer against Hertha Berlin last weekend, for the last half-hour but the 40-year-old Peruvian could not find the winner.

American forward Josh Sargent made his first league start for Bremen.

Stuttgart remained in the relegation zone with 16 points from 23 games.

On Saturday, second-place Bayern Munich hosts Hertha. Leader Borussia Dortmund takes on Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday.

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IOC backs FIFA’s calls for Bahraini player to be released

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The International Olympic Committee has backed FIFA’s calls for a Bahraini soccer player to be allowed to return to Australia from Thailand where he is detention while being pursued for extradition by Bahrain.

But Asian soccer’s leadership is declining to publicly back the campaign to secure the release of Hakeem al-Araibi, who has refugee status in Australia.

The IOC said its president, Thomas Bach, “has personally discussed this worrying situation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.”

FIFA asked the Thai government earlier this week to ensure al-Araibi was released at the “earliest possible moment.”

The IOC said its “full support for the FIFA actions in order to find a solution based on `basic human and humanitarian values”‘ has been conveyed to the Thai government by IOC member Khunying Patama Leeswadtraku.

By contrast, the Asian Football Confederation only says it “continues to work with FIFA … to find a solution.” In emails, AFC spokesman Colin Gibson would not say what the governing body believes the solution should be, specifically declining to back calls for al-Araibi’s return to Australia.

An AFC statement said Senior Vice President Praful Patel is handling the matter and not President Sheikh Salman Bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, a member of Bahrain’s royal family, to prevent any “conflict of interest.”

Al-Araibi has said he was tortured in Bahrain after his 2012 arrest and fled in 2014 to Australia, which granted him political asylum in 2017 and where he now plays for Melbourne’s Pascoe Vale Football Club.

Bahrain wants its former national team player returned to serve a 10-year prison sentence that was handed down in absentia after he was accused of vandalizing a police station – a charge he denies.

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