Euro 2020

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Russia banned from 2020 Olympics, 2022 World Cup

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Russia has been banned from competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) voted unanimously to ban the nation from international sport for four years for doping offenses.

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Individual Russian athletes will be allowed to compete under a neutral banner at this summer’s Olympics. The men’s national soccer team will also still be allowed to compete at the 2020 European Championship, where they will be one of the 12 host nations this summer.

The punishment was agreed by WADA’s executive committee at a special meeting at the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee in Switzerland. It is the most severe sanction yet against the country after accusations of systemic doping and deleting laboratory evidence.

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WADA president Sir Craig Reedie said, “For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport. Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order and re-join the global anti-doping community for the good of its athletes and of the integrity of sport, but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial.

“As a result, the WADA executive committee has responded in the strongest possible terms, while protecting the rights of Russian athletes that can prove that they were not involved and did not benefit from these fraudulent acts.”

EURO 2020 draw: Group F a nightmare with Germany, France, Portugal

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Germany, France, and Portugal have been drawn into a nightmare Group F at EURO 2020, while England will meet World Cup runners-up Croatia in group play.

Groups A and B are known in full, with Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, and Wales in the former and Belgium, Russia, Denmark, and Finland in the latter.

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Four spots remain in play between Groups C, D, E, and F, as 16 teams will contest the playoffs this Spring.

The winner of the playoff path C, contested by Norway, Serbia, Scotland, and Israel, will join Group F.

What do you think?

Group A

Group B

Group C
(Playoff winner path D/A – Romania, Georgia, Belarus, North Macedonia, Kosovo)

Group D
Czech Republic
(Playoff winners path C – Norway, Serbia, Scotland, Israel)

Group E
(Playoff winners path B – Ireland, Slovakia, Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina)

Group F
(Playoff winners path A/D – Bulgaria, Finland, Iceland, Georgia, Belarus, North Macedonia, Kosovo)

Luis Enrique: Moreno disloyal for wanting to coach at Euros

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MADRID — Returning Spain coach Luis Enrique says Robert Moreno was disloyal for not wanting him to regain the job until after the 2020 European Championship.

Moreno was promoted from assistant coach to take charge of Spain in June when Luis Enrique left to be with his ill 9-year-old daughter. She died in August after a five-month battle against a type of bone cancer.

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Luis Enrique was re-hired earlier this month to lead Spain after Moreno had secured the team’s spot at Euro 2020.

According to Luis Enrique on Wednesday, Moreno wanted to step back down into his assistant position after next year’s tournament.

Luis Enrique says “to me, it was disloyal. I would never have done that. I don’t want anybody with these characteristics in my staff.”

The former Barcelona coach says he was keen to resume work as soon as possible to show his family that “life goes on.”

Report: Temporary concussion substitutions coming for Euro 2020

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According to a report by Sky Sports, football’s lawmakers – the International Football Association Board (IFAB) – is set to vote in February on the institution of temporary concussion substitutions, and it seems to have widespread support.

The rule is proceeding through the regular process of vetting possible changes to the laws of the game, currently under review for presentation and voting in February. Should the vote pass, it would be implemented on June 1, 2020 with all other rule changes that pass, per the usual timeline, meaning the first major competition to make use of the new law would be Euro 2020.

The proposed rule would allow a team to send in a substitute while an on-field player is removed for concussion evaluation. The substitution would not count as one of the team’s three (or four, in extra-time) official substitutions, and the substitute could be replaced by the original player should he be deemed fit to play.

It is intended to afford a team’s medical staff more time to evaluate a player thought to be possibly concussed with as little effect on the game. It is thought at present that teams are hesitant to fully evaluate a player that suffers a head injury in fear that the team is down a man for the duration of the evaluation.

Detractors of the rule believe that coaches will take advantage of the flexibility late in games after having used all three legal substitutions by having a player fake a head injury to see him replaced.

Collegiate soccer in the United States – which has far more relaxed substitution rules than professional – currently allows teams to freely substitute for all injured players without counting against that injured player’s eligibility to return to the match, or the substitute’s eligibility to return later. Professional rugby, a fully contact sport, also currently allows for temporary head injury substitutions.

The Sky Sports report seems to infer that the rule has support, citing both UEFA’s publicly declared support as well as reported support within players’ union FiFPRO.

Full details as EURO 2020 playoff draw confirmed

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The draw for the EURO 2020 playoffs has been made and some intriguing clashes have been lined up for March.

With 20 of the 24 teams already qualified for the tournament next summer, 16 teams remain in the hunt for the final four places.

Okay, so here’s how it works:

  • Each team will play in a one-legged semifinal match on Mar. 26
  • The winners of each semifinal in their path will meet in the final on Mar. 31, with the winner of that game qualifying for the EURO 2020 finals

Path A is loaded with tough teams, as Iceland and Hungary both qualified for EURO 2016, and Romania were pretty decent during qualifying as they narrowly lost out on automatic qualification. The winner of this path will go into either Group A/D for the finals tournament.

In Path B there is the potential for a Northern Ireland v. Republic of Ireland final in Belfast, but both sides face tricky away tests in the semifinals first. The winner of Path B will be placed in Group E of the finals tournament alongside Spain.

Path C sees Scotland host Israel in Glasgow in their semifinal, but the winner of that game will be the heavy underdogs to face either Norway or Serbia in the final away from home. Whichever team prevails from Path C will be placed in Group D alongside England.

Kosovo seem like the frontrunners in Path D as all four teams have never qualified for a European Championships so we will have a new team in action next summer. The winner of this path will go into either Group A/D for the finals tournament.

Below is a look at the how the paths have been lined up, and which winners of the semifinals will host the finals.

Path A
Match 1: Iceland v. Romania
Match 2: Bulgaria v. Hungary
Final: Match 2 winner v. Match 1 winner

Path B
Match 1: Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Northern Ireland
Match 2: Slovakia v. Republic of Ireland
Final: Match 1 winner v. Match 2 winner

Path C
Match 1: Scotland v. Israel
Match 2: Norway v. Serbia
Final: Match 2 winner v. Match 1 winner

Path D
Match 1: Georgia v. Belarus
Match 2: North Macedonia v. Kosovo
Final: Match 1 winner v. Match 2 winner