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Sports court overturns AC Milan’s ban from Europa League

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — In a legal victory over UEFA, AC Milan is back in the Europa League after the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned a ban imposed for overspending.

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The court said Friday the punishment was “not proportionate” following a takeover completed last week, even though UEFA was right to judge Milan had broken financial monitoring rules.

The seven-time European champion had failed to approach breaking even on player transfers and wages over several seasons in which it failed to qualify for the top-tier Champions League.

UEFA was ordered to review the case and apply a “proportionate disciplinary measure,” the court said in an urgent ruling.

Milan’s reprieve was largely due to the takeover by a United States-based hedge fund which last year provided key finance to a Chinese-led purchase of the storied club.

In a statement Friday, European soccer body UEFA noted without comment that the case returns to the judging section of its club finance panel.

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The verdict was given Friday without detailed reasons from a three-judge panel, one day after a hearing at the highest court in world sports.

An urgent ruling was needed because the case affected Italy’s entry in the Europa League second qualifying round next week.

Milan’s legal win restores the club’s place in the group stage which kicks off in September. Atalanta, which placed seventh in Serie A, goes back into the qualifying rounds and plays Sarajevo in a first-leg game in Bosnia-Herzegovina on Thursday. Fiorentina, which placed eighth last season, is now withdrawn from the Europa League.

Milan broke UEFA’s financial fair rules which monitor finances over a three-year assessment period of all clubs qualifying to enter the Champions League or Europa League.

When it was banned last month, Milan said it failed to break even on soccer-related business in the period from July 2014 to June 2017 — before its spending spree one year ago.

[ MORE: Goalkeeper Alisson completes record transfer to Liverpool ]

Milan spent nearly $250 million on new players. This was despite questions over the financial stability of the Chinese-led consortium that purchased the club from former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for $800 million in April 2017.

The team finished sixth in Serie A, missed out on the four Italian places in the Champions League, and qualified for the Europa League.

However, the court said UEFA had not “properly assessed” some relevant points in Milan’s case, and the club’s finances improved after the takeover.

Elliott Management has promised to inject $66 million in capital.

Former owner Li Yonghong missed a deadline to repay part of a loan worth more than $350 million from the hedge fund. Elliott repossessed the holding company in Luxembourg that Li used to buy Milan.

Cristiano Ronaldo won’t travel to U.S. with Juventus

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Cristiano Ronaldo sent shockwaves across the globe when he completed a stunning move to Juventus over the weekend, but American fans will have to wait to little while to see the Portuguese star in action.

[ MORE: Schedule for PL giants on U.S. tour ]

The 33-year-old won’t take part in the Serie A champions’ tour of the United States this summer, which begins on July 25 against Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.

Instead, Ronaldo will head to Asia for his annual “CR7 Tour,” which helps promote his various sponsorship obligations as well as his global brand.

Juventus faces a jam-packed fixture list while in the U.S. over the coming weeks, which includes three International Champions Cup matches, as well as taking on the MLS All-Stars in the 2018 MLS All-Star Game on August 1 in Atlanta.

Ronaldo: “Usually players of my age go to Qatar or China”

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TURIN, Italy (AP) — At the age of 33, many football players are past their peak. Cristiano Ronaldo vows to show he is not one of them.

[ VIDEO: Juventus unveil Cristiano Ronaldo ]

Juventus signed Ronaldo from Real Madrid last week for $131.5 million — an Italian league record sum — and the world player of the year penned a four-year contract.

Some see it as an extravagant sum for a player who, although a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, is entering the latter stages of a glittering career.

At his first news conference as a Juventus player on Monday, Ronaldo insisted he was motivated by a new challenge and keen to step out of his comfort zone after nine years at Madrid.

“With all due respect, usually players of my age go to Qatar or China, so coming to such an outstanding club at this stage in my career makes me very happy,” he said.

“I’m different from all the other players who think their career is over at my age. I want to show that I’m not like the others, I’m different. It’s an emotional moment for me because I’m not 23, I’m 33.

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“I’m not here on holiday,” he added. “I want to mark the history of Juventus. I hope I can surprise everyone one last time and I’m very, very confident.”

Ronaldo has always been credited with a phenomenal workrate, and he has promised to continue that at Juventus in order to prolong his longevity.

The Portugal forward moved from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2009, and became the Spanish club’s all-time leading scorer with 451 in 438 matches. He helped Madrid win four Champions Leagues — beating Juventus in the final in 2017 — and also won La Liga and the Copa del Rey twice each.

Ronaldo, who also led Portugal to the European Championship in 2016, also won the Champions League at Manchester United as well as three Premier Leagues and the FA Cup.

He expects his winning ways to continue at the Serie A champion.

“It will be tough, I know that,” Ronaldo said. “The league is very tough but Juve is ready and I will be ready. The age is not important. I feel good, I feel motivated. I will try to do my best like always. I’m looking forward to starting the league well and to try to win every title.”

[ MORE: Courtois to join Hazard in Chelsea exit? ]

On his arrival at Allianz Stadium for his medical on Monday, Ronaldo was greeted by hundreds of fans, who chanted his name and “Portaci la Champions” (“Bring us the Champions League trophy”).

Juventus hasn’t won the Champions League since 1996. It has been on the losing side in the final five times since then, including twice in the past four editions.

Juventus has won the Serie A for the last seven seasons — and done the league and Italian Cup double for the past four — but has struggled to transfer its domestic supremacy to the European stage.

Ronaldo has won the Champions League four times in the past five seasons. He has a record 120 Champions League goals, 105 of them at Madrid, 12 more than Juventus as a team managed in that same period.

“Juventus has been one step away from it and couldn’t win,” Ronaldo said. “I hope I can be the lucky charm.”

VIDEO: Juventus unveil Cristiano Ronaldo

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Things are pretty crazy in Turin right now.

Cristiano Ronaldo has been unveiled as a Juventus player after his record $120 million transfer from Real Madrid, the largest few ever paid by Juve or any Italian club in history.

[ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule

The five-time World Player of the Year causes  a stir wherever he goes but this was something else.

Ronaldo, 33, signed autographs and posed for photos with fans as thousands turned out to see him arrive in Italy.

The Portuguese star last played on June 30 against Uruguay, as Portugal lost 2-1 and crashed out of the World Cup at the last 16 stage.

Juve are heading on a U.S. tour this summer and their first game is on July 25 against Bayern Munich in Philadelphia, before they play Benfica, the MLS All-Stars and his former club, Real Madrid.

Take a look below at some of the scenes from Ronaldo’s unveiling at the fourth club of his career after his spells at Sporting Lisbon, Manchester United and Real Madrid.


Elliott Management owns AC Milan after Li misses deadline

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MILAN (AP) Elliott Management has promised to inject 50 million euros ($66 million) in capital after taking over Italian club AC Milan.

It says former owner Li Yonghong missed Friday’s deadline to repay part of a loan worth more than 300 million euros from the U.S.-based hedge fund.

Elliott says it has repossessed Li’s assets starting with the holding company in Luxembourg that he used to buy seven-time European champion Milan in April 2017.

A statement from Elliott says: “Ownership and control of the holding company that owns AC Milan has today (Tuesday) been transferred to funds advised by Elliott … after the previous owner of AC Milan defaulted on its debt obligations to Elliott.”

The fund had been expected to sell the club on but the statement adds that on top of the 50 million euros “to stabilize the club’s finances,” it also “plans to inject further capital over time to continue to fund AC Milan’s transformation.”

Milan finished sixth in Serie A last season to qualify for the Europa League but it has been banned for one year by UEFA for overspending. It is appealing.

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