UEFA asks FIFA to investigate “alleged smear campaign” against Michel Platini


UEFA is up in arms after what they have called an “alleged smear campaign” was released against Michel Platini.

Platini is currently the UEFA president, and is one of the leading candidates to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president when the election takes place next February.

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According to German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, a document entitled “Platini: Skeletons in the closet” was sent anonymously from FIFA headquarters to multiple newspapers.

The article questions if Platini is the right man to serve as the head of FIFA, and calls out the former French international for voting for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup.

From a UEFA spokesman:

I can confirm that UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino sent a letter of complaint to FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke.

We have asked FIFA to investigate the origin of this article because we are concerned by the reports of an alleged smear campaign against the UEFA president.

Copies of this letter were also sent to [FIFA’s independent chief ethics investigator] Cornel Borbely and [chairman of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee] Domenico Scala for ethics and transparency reasons.”

This is not the first time Platini has been called out, as his competitors for the FIFA presidency Chung-Mong joon and Prince Ali bin al-Hussein have both publicly questioned the Frenchman’s candidacy.

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Platini was once one of Sepp Blatter’s closest friends in FIFA, but has since changed his stance and called for Blatter to step down after the corruption scandal broke earlier this year.

Barcelona downed 4-0 by Athletic Bilbao in Spanish Super Cup

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With the 2015-16 La Liga season kicking off in less than ten days, Barcelona still has some work to do.

After winning the treble last season in one of the most dominant years in European football history, Barca has had some struggles in the preseason, highlighted by today’s 4-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup.

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Today’s defeat comes on the heels of Barcelona’s unconvincing 5-4 win in the UEFA Super Cup over Sevilla. Despite winning the match, Barca conceded three second half goals to Sevilla and needed an extra-time winner from Pedro to take home the trophy.

Trailing just 1-0 at halftime to Athletic Bilbao, the defending European champions allowed a second half hat-trick from Aritz Aduriz, putting themselves in a massive hole. The Super Cup follows a two-legged formant, meaning Luis Enrique’s side must now win by five goals in the second leg to capture the title.

After conceding just 21 goals in the entire La Liga season last year, Barca has now allowed eight goals in two matches.

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Of course it’s just the preseason and although trophies were on the line, these two matches are relatively meaningless in the grand scheme of things. However, it still shows that Barcelona may not be as invincible as they were last season.

Report: Manchester City could snatch Pedro from Manchester United’s grasp

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Manchester City and Manchester United are huge rivals on and off the pitch, and now they seem to be rivals for the signing of Barcelona forward Pedro Rodriguez.

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A report from the Daily Mail claims that City are interested in signing Pedro should their $75 million move for Belgian winger Kevin De Bruyne fall through in the coming days. However, United have long been linked with a move for the Spanish international attacker, as the player himself acknowledged his time at Barca may well be up.

Following his game-winning goal in extra time during Barcelona’s thrilling 5-4 win over Sevilla in the UEFA Super Cup on Tuesday, Pedro confirmed that a move away from Barca after 11 years would be all about playing time and not about money.

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The Spanish winger has seen his minutes diminish at the Nou Camp over the last 12 months after the arrival of Neymar and Luis Suarez to partner Lionel Messi in attack.

United have been the long-term favorites to seal a deal for Pedro, with the Red Devils meeting his $30 million release clause and also said to have agreed personal terms with his reps. However, City are keeping a close eye on the situation and could pounce at the last minute to bring him to the Etihad Stadium instead of Old Trafford.

Either option would be a good one for Pedro, while it would seem like both United and City are well stocked with attacking midfielders but both sides know they must continue to strengthen if they’re going to challenge Chelsea and Arsenal for the Premier League title.

City have Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and David Silva in attack, but having Pedro on one wing instead of the likes of Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas would significantly strengthen the attacking options at Manuel Pellegrini’s disposal. If the move for Wolfsburg’s De Bruyne doesn’t go ahead as planned, then Pedro is a top class second choice. As for United, they seem more desperate to land the Spaniard as after Wayne Rooney and Memphis Depay, they have few options of players who can play centrally, while Pedro has also flourished on either wing during his successful spell at Barcelona which has seen him win three UEFA Champions League titles and five La Liga crowns, plus a World Cup and two European Championships with Spain.

His experience and quality in the final third for club and country is exactly why the two Manchester clubs are dueling for his signature.

Pedro admits uncertainty about future, Manchester United transfer edges closer


Despite scoring the winning-goal for Barcelona in their thrilling 5-4 UEFA Super Cup win over Sevilla in Tbilisi on Tuesday, forward Pedro Rodriguez is still unsure where his future lies.

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Pedro, 28, has been linked with a move to Manchester United all summer and the Spanish international attacker has dropped the biggest hint yet that he could be leaving the Nou Camp in the coming days.

Following reports that Pedro told club technical secretary Robert Fernandez that he wanted to leave, the diminutive attacker denied saying that but admitted to being angry at not starting in the Super Cup final.

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Pedro also said any potential move would not be about money but playing time and when asked if he wanted to leave Barca, here’s what he had to say.

“The answer is no. But it is a difficult, complicated situation. When you know you may leave, it is difficult,” Pedro said. “The truth is that I had a good chance to play [in the Super Cup]. The coach has decided not to count on me. I don’t know, I don’t know if I will continue here.”

“Manchester? Yes, there are nice challenges on all sides. Today I’m here, and I’m happy. And if I go, I will go with my head held high having always given everything.”

The main stumbling block over this move is Pedro’s release clause of around $30 million. Barcelona is said to want the entire fee up front, no messing around with installments, while United are said to be shirking on handing over that cash. Pedro’s release clause was reduced earlier this summer to $30 million as the player played an average of just 43 minutes per appearances last season, as Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez led Barcelona’s run to securing the treble.

Pedro’s 11-year stint at Barcelona seems to be coming to an end and his possible arrival at United alongside Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young, Juan Mata and Memphis Depay will be greatly welcomed by Louis van Gaal as he looks to increase his attacking options with a push for success in the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League this season.

CONCACAF’s Confederations Cup berth decider between USMNT and Mexico moved


CONCACAF’s 2017 Confederations Cup will be decided 24 hours later than originally planned.

The United States and Mexico saw their Rose Bowl playoff match moved back to Oct. 10 at 9:30 p.m. ET.

Because the Yanks bowed out in the Gold Cup semifinals and Mexico won the tournament, the two sides will play the match to decide who goes to Russia in 2017.

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The States earned their berth by winning the 2013 Gold Cup.

Russia, Germany, Australia and Chile have already clinched berths in the 2017 tournament.

CONCACAF results have been mixed in recent Confederations Cup. Of course, the U.S. had a historic run in 2009 that snapped Spain’s unbeaten run, but the team lost its first two games before getting through to the knockout rounds on a borderline miracle.

Mexico didn’t get out of the group stage in 2013, but went to the semifinals in 2005 where they lost on penalties to Argentina after winning Group B. The States finished in Group B’s basement back in 2001, while El Tri won the 1999 tourney at home (with the U.S. finishing third).