France

Getty Images

Macron apologizes to Albania on wrong anthem at soccer game

2 Comments

TIRANA, Albania (AP) Albania’s prime minister says French President Emmanuel Macron has apologized to him after the wrong national anthem was played ahead of a European Championship qualifier between the two countries on Saturday.

Edi Rama tweeted Sunday that Macron expressed “his sincere apology for the scandalous gaffe of the French Football Federation with our National Flag anthem!”

France won the Group H game in Paris 4-1.

Albanian players looked bemused – and fans angry – when Andorra’s anthem was played instead of Albania’s. Andorra is in the same qualifying group as France and Albania.

The start of the match at Stade de France was delayed for about 10 minutes, and the right anthem then played.

Another incident occurred when the stadium announcer mixed up Armenia – which is not in the same group – with Albania.

France’s next opponent is Andorra at home on Tuesday.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

EURO 2020 qualifying: Portugal edges Serbia, France batters Albania

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With four goals each, France and Portugal were in no need of favors as they comfortable cruised by their opponents in Saturday’s EURO 2020 qualifying action.

[ MORE: EURO qualifying wrap ]


Serbia 2-4 Portugal

The Serbians were no match for the Portuguese.

Portugal, trailing an unbeaten Ukraine in Group B by eight points, were more than ready to cut the deficit on Saturday night in Belgrade. And despite taking 42 minutes to get the engine going, the goals, eventually, poured in.

William Carvalho broke deadlock minutes before halftime, tapping in the ball into the back of net following a lack of chemistry between Serbia’s goalkeeper and defense inside the six-yard box.

Gonçalo Guedes added one of his own to put the visitors up two goals early into the second half. More than twenty minutes later, with Serbia back into the game through a Nikola Milenković goal, Cristiano Ronaldo, as always, made sure to make his presence known.

Goals galore followed shortly, with Aleksandar Mitrovic and Bernando Silva scoring within two minutes.

Portugal, with a lot of ground to make up, now sets its sights on Lithuania, while Serbia travels to Luxembourg.

France 4-1 Albania

Is this the year that Kingsley Coman separates himself from everyone else in the elite category? So far, it’s looking like it and France – like Bayern Munich – are gladly benefiting from it.

With a brace from the winger, France cruised past Albania in Paris.

The 23-year-old scored first in the eight minute, following a sublime back from Raphaël Varane. In the 68th minute, with France up by two, Coman recorded his second of the night.

 

Albania spoiled Hugo Lloris‘ clean sheet following a converted penalty from Sokol Cikalleshiu.

Despite an unbeaten record through five matches, the pressure on France remains intact with Turkey and Iceland, who only trail by goal differentials, as they take on Andorra next. Albania, on the side, host Iceland.

Elsewhere

Kosovo 2-1 Czech Republic
Lithuania 0-3 Ukraine
England 4-0 Bulgaria
Iceland 3-0 Moldova
Scotland 1-2 Russia
Slovenia 2-0 Poland
Turkey 1-0 Andorra

Pogba out of France squad with injury; Guendouzi gets first call-up

Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images
Leave a comment

PARIS (AP) An ankle injury is keeping Paul Pogba out of international duty with France, opening the door for Arsenal’s Matteo Guendouzi to win his first cap.

[ MORE: Transfer Deadline Day in Europe: Deals galore ]

Pogba was limping after playing 90 minutes in Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Southampton on Saturday in the English Premier League.

France says he is out of the squad for upcoming European Championship qualifiers against Albania on Saturday, and Andorra on Sept. 10.

United says “it remains unclear how serious his injury may be” ahead of an assessment. United next plays Leicester on Sept. 14.

[ MORE: Premier League player Power Rankings ]

France has called up the 20-year-old Guendouzi to replace Pogba. He’s started all of Arsenal’s four league games, and set up a goal for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on Sunday in a 2-2 draw with Tottenham.

France is level on nine points at the top of qualifying Group H with Turkey and Iceland.

Referee stops Ligue 1 game for removal of homophobic banners

Photo by Gokhan Balci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
2 Comments

For the third time in two weeks, a high-level league game was temporarily stopped due to homophobic abuse occurring inside the stadium.

[ MORE: Zlatan open to Man United return | USMNT squad for Mexico clash ]

Wednesday’s Ligue 1 game between home side Nice and visitors Marseille was stopped by referee Clement Turpin in the 28th minute for the removal of homophobic banners displayed by Nice’s fans, along with reports of homophobic chanting. The stoppage lasted 10 minutes.

According to writer and broadcaster Tom Williams, the banner and/or chants were aimed at British chemical company INEOS, the club’s new owners led by British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe who completed their purchase of Nice on Monday.

[ MORE: Bolton Wanderers saved as takeover completed ]

It’s the second such (high-level) incident to have occurred in France after French referee Mehdi Mokhtari stopped a Ligue 2 game between Nancy and Le Mans due to homophobic chanting, and the second such instance this week after Brazilian referee Anderson Daronco stopped the first-division game between Vasco da Gama and Sao Paulo for homophobic chanting.

French football officials have presumably made it abundantly clear to the country’s referees that eradicating homophobic abuse — along with racist abuse, perhaps — is a high priority. Mokhtari and Turpin wasted no time in halting their respective fixtures, which could prove the most effective method for putting an end to various types of abuse, at least inside stadiums.

French second-division game halted over homophobic chanting

Photo credit should read JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN/AFP/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Following the guidelines of a new rule set forth by FIFA, the Ligue 2 game between Nancy and Le Mans was stopped by referee Mehdi Mokhtari due to homophobic chanting by fans on Friday.

[ VIDEO: Barcelona beaten by 38-year-old Aduriz’s stunning bicycle kick ]

Prior to stopping the game, a request made over the stadium’s public-address system was unsuccessful in silencing the abuse. Players also appealed for fans to stop singing the Song in question.

The game was resumed following the brief stoppage, which was described by Eurosport as lasting “about a minute.”

French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu applauded Mokhtari and fellow associates responsible for their decision and actions taken:

“I congratulate the referee Mehdi Mokhtari and the delegate of [Ligue de Football Professionnel] Alain Marseille who took their responsibilities and decided to interrupt the football match between Nancy and Le Mans for homophobic insults. It’s a first. And last one, I hope”

Marlene Schiappa, Secretary of State for Equality between Women and Men, echoed the same sentiments:

“Congratulations to referee Mehdi Mokhtari for having bravely interrupted the match against homophobic songs sung at Nancy-Le Mans as allowed by the rules. Football is an exciting sport. It must remain so for all.”