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Rodriguez racial abuse charge found “not proven”

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West Brom striker Jay Rodriguez will not face punishment for an alleged racist incident against Brighton and Hove Albion.

The Gulls’ Gaetan Bong claimed that Rodriguez racially abused him during a Jan. 13 match, and Rodriguez was charged by the Football Association.

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Fired manager Alan Pardew reportedly spoke up for Rodriguez at the hearing, after which the charge was found to be “not proven.”

The club released a statement following the verdict, with West Brom director of football administration Richard Garlick saying:

“Everyone at the Club is delighted for Jay because this has been a trying period for him. He has always maintained his innocence and we are naturally pleased the Commission has dismissed the charge.”

USMNT falls back to No. 25 in latest FIFA Rankings

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The U.S. Men’s National Team rounds out the top 25 teams ranked by FIFA in the world soccer governing body’s latest rankings.

FIFA released its March rankings Thursday morning, with Northern Ireland jumping over the USMNT to put the U.S. back at No. 25. It’s the lowest spot for the U.S. since 2016 when it fell to No. 28. England remained at No. 16 in the rankings.

The top five of the rankings remained unchanged with Germany leading followed by Brazil, Portugal, Argentina and Belgium. Poland jumped up to No. 6 in a tie with Spain, and then Switzerland, France and Chile round out the top 10.

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Six teams in the top 25 missed out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The USMNT, Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, Wales, Italy and Chile.

FA charges Guardiola for wearing yellow ribbon to advocate Catalonia

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The English Football Association has charged Pep Guardiola for wearing a political message.

Guardiola has been wearing a yellow ribbon in support of Catalan independence, and that’s in breach of the FA’s kit and advertising regulations.

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The Manchester City boss was born in Santpedor in central Catalonia, and played for Catalan club Barcelona in addition to representing both the Spain and Catalonia national teams.

Guardiola has until Monday to respond to the charge.

He’s spoken of jailed Catalans and Spain’s unwillingness to allow a Catalan independence vote as a concern for democracy.

Watch: Sturridge, Sterling discuss being roommates, FIFA video game

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Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling are no longer teammates at the club level, but the pair still get a chance to hang out when they report for national team duty.

In a video from the FA, the Liverpool forward and Manchester City midfielder discuss their times as roommates with the England National Team and how Sturridge isn’t too happy with his FIFA pace ranking.

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Considering how closed off some players are to the public, it’s nice to see some open up about their lives behind the scenes, showing that they’re not much different than the rest of us.

Joey Barton banned for 18 months amid betting scandal

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Burnley midfielder Joey Barton has been banned for 18 months from all soccer related activity with immediate effect.

The English Football Association have issued the ban after Barton, 34, accepted the charge but requested a personal hearing. Barton admitted to placing 1,260 bets on soccer games over a 10-year period.

Here is the statement in full from the FA about the charge.

Joey Barton has been suspended from football and all football activity for 18 months with immediate effect after he admitted an FA misconduct charge in relation to betting.

It was alleged that between 26 March 2006 and 13 May 2016, he placed 1,260 bets on the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in, football matches or competitions in breach of FA Rule E8.

Following the Independent Regulatory Commission hearing, the Burnley midfielder was also fined £30,000 and warned as to his future conduct. Written Reasons will follow in due course.

Burnley released a short statement saying that “Joey Barton plans to appeal the length of this suspension” and the former Manchester City, Newcastle and Rangers midfielder issued a lengthy statement stating just that.

He also offered plenty of context into his hearing as he believes he was treated harshly by the FA.

“I am very disappointed at the harshness of the sanction. The decision effectively forces me into an early retirement from playing football. To be clear from the outset here this is not match fixing and at no point in any of this is my integrity in question. I accept that I broke the rules governing professional footballers, but I do feel the penalty is heavier than it might be for other less controversial players. I have fought addiction to gambling and provided the FA with a medical report about my problem.

“I’m disappointed it wasn’t taken into proper consideration. I think if the FA is truly serious about tackling the culture of gambling in football, it needs to look at its own dependence on the gambling companies, their role in football and in sports broadcasting, rather than just blaming the players who place a bet.

“Having consulted with my friends and lawyers, I have decided I will be appealing against the length of the ban. I hope that I shall be afforded a fair hearing by an independent Appeal Panel. If I am, we are confident that the sanction will be reduced to a fair one that both reflects the offences as well as the mitigating factors and the fact that there was nothing untoward or suspicious about the bets I made.

Barton also admitted that between 2004 and 2011 he placed “a handful of bets on my own team to lose matches” and tried to defend his actions, saying he had no way of influencing the outcome of those matches. The Liverpudlian also stated that he grew up in a culture of gambling and wants the FA to do more to help players from similar backgrounds.

At the bottom of his statement he also listed 30 of the “most pertinent bets” for the FA as he tries to be as transparent as possible.

Barton last played in midfield for Burnley — he re-signed for the Clarets in January after leaving Glasgow Rangers following a disastrous six-month spell in Scotland — last Sunday against Manchester United and that could well have been his final game as a professional if he does not get the length of this ban cut down.

The controversial midfielder has previously been banned three times by the FA for violent conduct, while he also spent time in prison in 2008 for an assault on a night out in Liverpool and was also handed a four-month suspended sentence after assaulting Man City teammate Ousmane Dabo on the training ground.