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Former England forward Eni Aluko retires

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Former England striker Eni Aluko retired from professional soccer on Wednesday, ending a career in which she became a prolific scorer for multiple teams and accused one of her international coaches of racism.

The 32-year-old Aluko announced her retirement in a post on The Players’ Tribune website, saying she was proud to have been part of a generation of female players who used their “voices and their feet to break barriers all over the world” and moved into a “more empowered position.”

Aluko, who left Juventus in December after 18 months at the Italian club, scored 33 goals in 102 appearances for England but didn’t play for her country after 2016.

The following year, she said she was subjected to “bullying and discrimination” by then-England coach Mark Sampson, which led to the Football Association making a public apology to Eluko after an investigation found Sampson had used racially discriminating remarks toward her in 2014.

As part of the case, it was revealed that an 80,000 pound ($105,000) financial settlement was secretly struck by the FA with Aluko to halt her grievance complaint against Sampson ahead of the European Championship in 2017.

In her post, Aluko said “there have been other moments when I have thought about leaving” soccer.

“I’m talking about the racism, the abuse on social media, all that,” she said. “Women do not earn much in football, we play because we love the game. Sometimes I have thought, `Is it worth it? Do I love you enough?’ And every time the answer has been yes.”

Aluko played for Birmingham, Charlton and Chelsea in England, and also for teams in St. Louis and Atlanta in the United States. She joined Juventus in 2018.

Aluko has also worked in recent years as a newspaper columnist and a TV commentator.

“Some people say that you are just a sport, but you have taught me so much about life,” she wrote in her “thank you” letter to soccer. “You have shown me how to work with others, how to set targets and achieve them, how to embrace challenges. You have given me highs that I never thought were possible, and lows that challenged me to my core – but that also made me strong and resilient.”

Phil Neville plays down USWNT reports

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A report from the UK had suggested that Phil Neville was in the running to become the next USWNT head coach, but the England women’s boss has poured cold water on the links.

Speaking after England lost 2-1 at Norway in a friendly on Tuesday, Neville said he was happy being in charge of the Lionesses as he is also due to take charge of Team GB at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics next summer.

“There’s been no approach,” Neville said. “My focus is on winning us a gold medal in the Olympics. It’s flattering because it means you’re doing a good job. My focus is England. I love this job.”

The former Manchester United and England defender then went on to reaffirm his commitment to England and the Football Association, as he was named as one of the three finalists for the coach of the year in the women’s game by FIFA last week.

“I’ve been linked with a number of jobs since becoming England manager and that’s because my players have been so good,” Neville said. “I’ve said before, I love the job I am doing, it’s a tremendous challenge. The players are heading in the right direction and I get backed unbelievably by the FA. So I am 100 per cent happy.”

With 18 months under his belt as head coach of England, he led his squad to the World Cup semifinal where they lost 2-1 to eventual champions the U.S. but the jury is still out as the Lionesses were expected to at least reach the final four in France this summer.

It isn’t clear how serious of a contender Neville ever was for the USWNT job.

With Jill Ellis stepping down as head coach in October after delivering back-to-back World Cup victories, the USWNT are searching for their next manager with NWSL coaches Paul Riley, Laura Harvey and Vlatko Andonovski all leading candidates.

New USWNT GM Kate Markgraf will be narrowing down the search in the next few weeks and given Neville’s relative inexperience as a coach, it would be incredibly surprising to see him interviewed for this position.

The initial report stated that Ellis is a big fan of Neville and she would have a big say in appointing her successor, but it would still be a huge shock if Neville landed the biggest job in the women’s game.

USWNT stars named as finalists for top FIFA award

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Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Lucy Bronze have been named as the three finalists for the FIFA best female player of the year award.

USWNT duo Rapinoe and Morgan were influential in their 2019 World Cup victory, while Bronze was a stud for England this summer and won the UEFA women’s player of the year award last week.

Rapinoe, 34, is likely to win the award as the Reign FC star caused headlines on and off the pitch this summer.

Her clutch goals and leadership were crucial to Jill Ellis’ side winning the 2019 World Cup, but off the field her criticism of political leaders and strong opinions on the Equal Pay battle has led to widespread praise.

Morgan scored five goals in the USWNT’s opening game of the tournament against Thailand and the Orlando City striker scored the game-winner in the semifinal against England. Her hold-up play and selfless work up top was just as impressive as her goals throughout the World Cup, as she also grabbed three assists.

As for Bronze, she won the Silver Ball as the second best player at the World Cup this summer and her marauding displays from right back had Lionesses head coach Phil Neville calling her the best player on the planet on several occasions. The Lyon defender is certainly the best player on the planet not from the USA.

WATCH LIVE: England v. USWNT, World Cup semifinal

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This is it.

England and the U.S. lock horns in Lyon on Tuesday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Telemundo Deportes) for a place in the 2019 Women’s World Cup final.

An epic semifinal clash is set up between Phil Neville‘s Lionesses and Jill Ellis’ USWNT in front of a capacity crowd of 57,000, as the U.S. are favorites but will be wary of this upstart English side.

Remember: you can watch every single game from the tournament live online in Spanish via Telemundo Deportes and via the NBC Sports App, while for the two semifinals you can also watch live on NBCSN via a simulcast from Telemundo.

[ WATCH: England v. USWNT live on NBCSN ]

For England their main threat is Ellen White up top, who is the leading goalscorer at the tournament with five goals, while both Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe also have five each for the USWNT as Ellis had plenty of selection dilemmas given the strength of their squad.

Rapinoe was left of the starting lineup along with Sam Mewis, as Lindsey Horan and Christen Press come in.

England were dealt a huge blow as goalkeeper Karen Bardsley is out injured.

In front of a crowd of mostly American fans in Lyon, expectation levels will be high for the USWNT to finish off England early. But as the Lionesses showed during their victorious run to win the SheBelievesCup on U.S. soil earlier this year, they are improving all of the time.

[ WATCH: Every Women’s World Cup game ]  

Click on the link below to watch the game live online, as the winner of this semifinal will play either Sweden or the Netherlands in the final in Lyon on Sunday.

World Cup semifinal Power Rankings

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Only four remain and 20 are out.

The 2019 Women’s World Cup in France has been epic and record-breaking, but now that it’s reached the final four, which nation should be the favorite to win it all?

[ MORE: Solo fears for USWNT

England and the USWNT do battle in Lyon in the first semifinal on Tuesday, while one of Sweden or the Netherlands will also be in the final on Sunday in Lyon at they clash on Wednesday.

The Lionesses and Netherlands are very much rising nations in the women’s game, while Sweden (World Cup runners up in 2003 and third-place in 1991 and 2011) have always had a strong presence and the USWNT have won three of the seven World Cups in history.

[ LIVE: Watch every single 2019 Women’s World Cup game

Below we break down the favorites to win it all this summer, ahead of the semifinals kicking off.


4. Sweden: They proved a tough test for the USWNT in group play and Stina Blackstenius has emerged as a real star after her heroics in the quarterfinals against Germany. The weakest of the four remaining teams, but the fact Sweden are at the semifinal stage is a huge success in the first place. They are full of confidence and are tough to break down. That’s a dangerous combination.

(Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

3. Netherlands: Could easily take down one of England or USWNT in the final if they progress, as expected, past Sweden. Barcelona’s Lieke Martens has the ability to rip apart a defense on her own, and the reigning European champs have so many offensive weapons with Vivianne Miedema also in top form. Despite not quite clicking through the gears yet in this tournament, you get the sense the best is still to come from this Dutch team.

(Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images )

2. England: You could put them behind the Netherlands, but the way the No.3 ranked team in the latest FIFA rankings brushed aside Norway in the last eight proved their power. Ellen White has been scoring the goals, while the likes of Duggan, Taylor, Parris, Kirby and Mead all provide a depth of attacking options. The Lionesses are dangerous and love to possess the ball, and the only thing holding them back is cutting out a few of their slack defensive errors.

(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

1. USA: The USWNT are the favorites to win the World Cup, but they’ve been far from convincing so far in the knockout rounds. Two penalty kicks, a free kick and a tap-in from Megan Rapinoe got them past Spain and France, as six goals across their last three games proving that the likes of Heath and Morgan are struggling for form in the final third. Jill Ellis has received plenty of criticism for her more defensive approach, but Julie Ertz has been superb in holding midfield and defensively the U.S. have improved. Their semifinal against England will be a tougher test than the final. The USWNT are favored, but it’s about 60-40 in their favor right now.

(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)