Lech Poznan

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Watford, Southampton add defenders from Spain, Poland

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Watford and Southampton have strengthened their back lines ahead of the 2017-18 Premier League season.

Saints nabbed 21-year-old Lech Poznan center back Jan Bednarek, who is with Poland at the U-21 EURO.

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Bednarek stands 6-foot-2 and made 31 appearances for his Polish club last season, and it sounds like he’s a bit awed by his early experiences at St. Mary’s:

“It’s like a different kind of place to which we see in Poland,” said Bednarek of the facilities at Staplewood Campus. “It’s modern, it’s so big. There is everything that you need to improve. I will do everything to use this time here.

As for the Hornets, they’ve added former Barcelona B and Real Madrid B back Kiko Femenia.

The 26-year-old right back made his name with Alaves the last two seasons, boosting the club into the top flight before making 37 appearances in La Liga. Femenia averaged 1.5 interceptions and 1.3 clearances per game last season.

Bednarek seems one for the future, while Femenia is a bit of a risk from Watford in terms of immediate impact. He was not a star for his club in La Liga, but could his style be a better fit in the PL?

UEFA hands down three anti-racism sanctions

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UEFA charged two Polish clubs and one Hungarian club with racist behavior, handing down fines and stadium closures. The Control and Disciplinary Body announced the decisions on Friday, all stemming from incidents in Europa League qualifying.

Budapest Honvéd, one of the most famous Hungarian clubs that was once home to Ferenc Puskás, was charged with racist chanting in its second qualifying round matchup with FK Vojvodina. The team’s next two UEFA games will be played behind closed doors, one for this incident and one from previous sanctions that were pending future behavior. The club has also been fined €50,000.

Lech Poznań, after its fans displayed a racist banner against VMFD Žalgiris in the third qualifying round, has been fined €5,000. In addition, the part of the stadium that usually houses the club’s ultras has been closed for its next UEFA match.

Finally, Piast Gliwice has been accused of displaying a racist banner in a second qualifying round match against Qarabağ. UEFA handed down a partial stadium closure for the club’s next home UEFA match and a €5,000 fine.

In the press release announcing these sanctions, UEFA reiterated its emphasis on eradicating racism in soccer:

The fight against racism is a high priority for UEFA. The European governing body has a policy of zero tolerance towards racism and discrimination on the pitch and in the stands. All forms of racist behaviour are considered as serious offences against the disciplinary regulations and are punished with the most severe sanctions.