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Basel forward Van Wolfswinkel has successful brain surgery

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BASEL, Switzerland (AP) Basel forward Ricky Van Wolfswinkel is to leave the hospital after successful brain surgery to treat an aneurysm.

The club says the operation was performed Tuesday and the Dutchman has been cleared to leave.

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Van Wolfswinkel’s aneurysm was discovered by chance during scans after he sustained a concussion in a Champions League qualifying game this month. His injury occurred late in a 2-1 home loss to LASK Linz on Aug. 7.

The 30-year-old former Norwich and Sporting Lisbon player has said he expected to be out of action for at least six months.

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Messi back in training, could be fit for Betis

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi was back in full training again on Wednesday and may be fit to face Real Betis in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Messi had been training separately from the squad since injuring his right calf in the preseason.

He missed the team’s 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the league opener on Friday.

Barcelona has not said how long it expects Messi to be sidelined.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

Coach Ernesto Valverde is also dealing with injuries to forwards Luiz Suarez and Ousmane Dembele.

Dembele is certain to miss Sunday’s match at the Camp Nou because of a left thigh injury that should keep him out for about five weeks.

Suarez also isn’t likely to play this weekend because of a muscle injury sustained before halftime of Friday’s game in Bilbao.

Two-time defending champion Barcelona hadn’t loss a league opener in 10 seasons.

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Seattle Sounders defender Roman Torres suspended 10 games

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NEW YORK (AP) Seattle Sounders defender Roman Torres has been suspended 10 games by Major League Soccer after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Green scores ]

The league handed down the suspension Friday, two days before Seattle hosts Sporting Kansas City. The Sounders currently sit in second place in the Western Conference standings.

Along with the suspension, Torres has been fined 20% of his annual salary. According to the MLS Players Association database, Torres is scheduled to make a base salary of $670,000 and guaranteed compensation of $740,000 for this season.

Torres may not participate in team training or use team facilities during his suspension. He may train with Seattle’s USL affiliate two weeks prior to the first MLS game he’s eligible to play – Sept. 29 against San Jose.

Torres has appeared in 15 matches and started 11 for Seattle this season. He has played 1,035 minutes this season, eighth on Seattle’s roster.

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USWNT adds Portugal dates to World Cup ‘victory tour’

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CHICAGO (AP) The world champion U.S. women’s team will play a pair of exhibitions against Portugal on its victory tour, on Aug. 29 at Philadelphia and five days later at St. Paul, Minnesota.

The Americans open the tour on Aug. 3 against Ireland at Pasadena, California.

[ MORE: Klopp talks quiet window ]

The U.S. Soccer Federation said Wednesday a pair of additional friendlies are planned for Oct. 3 and 6.

All 23 players on the World Cup roster will be selected for the games.

The U.S. has a 16-game unbeaten streak that includes 13 consecutive wins.

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Zimbabwe players threatening to boycott African Cup opener

African Football
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Zimbabwe players are threatening to boycott Friday’s opening game of the African Cup of Nations against host Egypt because they haven’t been paid, raising the prospect of another major embarrassment for African soccer at the end of one of its worst weeks.

Players and a team official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation said a meeting with federation officials at the team hotel on Thursday failed to resolve the standoff.

Zimbabwe is due to open Africa’s top tournament against Mohamed Salah and Egypt in Cairo.

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The players refused to train on the eve of the game and spent most of the day in their hotel rooms before emerging to meet with officials. They are demanding to be paid their allowances for the African Cup, along with allowances and match fees still owed to them from a regional tournament last month.

One of the people with knowledge of the situation said some players had asked to be released from the squad so they could return home.

The Zimbabwe Football Association said in a statement that the game against Egypt would go ahead and there was no strike threat, but that was countered by the five players and the team official who spoke to the AP. They said there was still a deadlock in the negotiations.

A player strike to start its top tournament would leave African soccer in a mess.

World body FIFA announced Thursday it was taking steps to clean up the continent’s governing body, the Confederation of African Football, which is plagued by allegations of corruption and financial misconduct against its president and is an organizational shambles.

FIFA is sending its secretary general Fatma Samoura to lead the African confederation for an initial six-month term starting in August, when she will oversee a complete forensic audit of the organization that runs soccer’s largest continental confederation.

CAF president Ahmad, who goes by one name, was detained by French authorities while attending a FIFA meeting in Paris this month and questioned. He was released but is the subject of that criminal investigation and an ethics committee investigation by FIFA, where he is a vice president.

The Madagascan is accused of negotiating improper business deals as head of CAF and of bribing African soccer presidents. He’s also accused of misusing official money to buy himself luxury cars and sexual harassment of staff at CAF.

He has denied the allegations but it’s unclear if he’ll play a leading role at the African Cup, which runs until July 19.

Player strikes have become common among African teams at major tournaments. A number had strikes, or threatened strikes, at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and 2017 African Cup in Gabon.

In one case, Ghana’s government hurriedly sent a chartered plane full of bundles of cash to Brazil to hand out to its players to ensure they played.

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