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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.

Report: Martino to leave Atlanta, national team job looms

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Tata Martino’s future has been debated for some time.

Would he elect to stay with Atlanta United beyond the season? Would national team duty call? And if so, would it be the USMNT? A return to Argentina?

[ UCL: Real rocks Roma, Man City falls ]

Now ESPN is reporting that Martino will leave Atlanta United at the end of this season, opening another high profile MLS job next to the LA Galaxy vacancy.

Presuming he wants to leave Atlanta, which option is most attractive?

  • Mexico and the USMNT are both on the precipice of golden generations, assuming they pick the right shepherd. El Tri is a bit further along in the process than the U.S., and it would be an easy selection.
  • Argentina is Martino’s home, and he’s held the job before. Would the idea of melding Lionel Messi’s final prime throes with Paulo Dybala to try and claim a first Copa America since 1993 be enough?
  • Colombia would also face the test of World Cup qualifying in CONMEBOL, and is a pretty packed side. James Rodriguez (27), Yerry Mina (23), and Davinson Sanchez (22) will be around for the long haul, while Juan Cuadrado and Radamel Falcao are still productive.

VIDEO: Lionel Messi scores stunning goal

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Lionel Messi has started the UEFA Champions League campaign as he means to go.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

By scoring a sublime free kick to put Barcelona ahead against PSV Eindhoven.

In their Group B opener at the Nou Camp, Ousmane Dembele was fouled and Messi stepped up to curl home a perfect free kick into the top corner.

Take a look at the video below to watch the first goal of the 2018-19 UCL group stage being scored.


Girl soccer player challenges gender rules in Argentina

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CHABAS, Argentina (AP) At age 7, Candelaria Cabrera goes after the soccer ball with determination. She drives toward her rivals without caring much about getting hurt and deftly manages the bumps on the dirt field.

She wears a loose white jersey from Huracan de Chabas, her hometown, located 230 miles (370 kilometers) north of the capital, Buenos Aires. Printed on the back and on her red shorts is a number 4. She uses white boots and shin guards. Her long, copper colored hair tied in a ponytail distinguishes her from the rest of the players.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines for Wk5 ]

“Cande,” as she is known by friends and family, is the only girl playing in a children’s soccer league in the southern party of Santa Fe province, birthplace of stars including Lionel Messi, Gabriel Batistuta and Jorge Valdano. Former Argentine coaches Marcelo Bielsa, Gerardo Martino and Jorge Sampaoli were also born there.

But a regional regulation that prohibits mixed-gender teams in children’s categories threatens to take her off the field – a ruling that has helped dramatize the inequality in opportunities for men and women in this soccer-crazed county.

“I had to sit down with her and tell her that there are some people who have to make rules in soccer and that these rules do not agree with what she wants,” said Rosana Noriega, Candelaria’s mother. “And, well, we both cried, and she said: `The people who make the laws are bad people.”‘

She was 3 years old when her parents gave her her first ball. They understood that it didn’t make sense to insist she play with dolls, even if there were “comments from other moms that they should not give her male toys because it would encourage her to be a lesbian,” Noriega recalled.

Two months ago, the regional soccer authorities notified Huracan that the team could no longer include Candelaria. She could only play on a girls’ team – which does not exist where Candelaria lives.

Noriega took to social media to speak out about her daughter’s case and was surprised to find that she was not the only one. Girls wrote to her saying they were facing the same problem in nearby towns and more distant provinces.

Of the 230 regional leagues recognized by the Argentine Football Association, only 68 have women’s teams. This is just one of the many disparities with men’s soccer. The most notable is financial: The best-paid contract in men’s first division is around $3 million a year. In contrast, women who play in their top category receive a travel voucher of $44.

Argentina’s female players, who will play in a November runoff game for the 2019 World Cup, have struggled financially when their payments were delayed. They also expressed discomfort when Adidas, the brand that sponsors a few members of the national teams of both genders, unveiled the new shirt for the Female America Cup this year with models rather than players.

“The biggest lack is that they don’t have younger players. They start playing at age 16, 17 and by then they’ve missed out on a bunch of issues that have to do with understanding the game,” said Ricardo Pinela, president of the Football Association’s Women’s Football Commission.

“The important thing is that every club in every corner of the country gives a girl the possibility of joining a female soccer team, to play with other girls, even if it’s just for fun, and from there generate the necessary structure that … sets them on equal standing as the male players”, he argued.

After Candelaria’s case became widely publicized, her regional league committed to reviewing the rule in an assembly at the end of the year – leaving her case in limbo until then.

While she’s officially now banned, the team has let her keep playing – at least until an opponent objects.

Candelaria’s most recent match ended with her team beating rival Alumni de Casilda 7-0.

“No one should say that a girl can’t play soccer,” she said.

Report: Tata Martino in frame for Argentina national team job

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Atlanta United head coach Tata Martino has been tipped to take an international coaching job, and it isn’t the vacant USMNT job.

[ MORE: Bendtner apologizes ]

According to Fox Sports Argentina, the 55-year-old Martino has already spoken twice with Argentina about returning to the helm for La Albiceleste.

Atlanta is one of the favorites to triumph in Major League Soccer this season, still alive for both the Supporters’ Shield and the MLS Cup. Martino has lost just 14 of 61 league matches as United boss.

The situation in Argentina has been a mess, with Lionel Messi barely dragging the side out of the World Cup group stage.

Martino managed Messi at Barcelona and Argentina, where he managed La Albiceleste to a pair of Copa America finals.