Sochaux

On season’s eve, Sochaux demands it replace Lens in French top flight

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When American winger Alejandro Bedoya and his club Nantes kick off their Ligue 1 season on Saturday, the French side is scheduled to host newly-promoted RC Lens in what should be a decent chance at victory to start a campaign.

If Ligue 2’s Sochaux has its way, however, they’ll be waltzing into Nantes as a surprise Ligue 1 side.

Let’s break it down: Sochaux’s 40 points were two shy of top flight survival last season, and Les Lionceaux were condemned to Ligue 2.

Lens was promoted to Ligue 1 after finishing in Ligue 2’s second place last season, but the upgrade came with conditions and the club isn’t meeting these conditions. The season starts this weekend, and Sochaux wants back into the big money top flight.

From the Associated Press:

Lens … was initially banned from joining the top flight on financial grounds. It won an appeal but was barred from signing new players and its main shareholder, Azerbaijani businessman Hafiz Mammadov, was ordered to transfer four million euros ($5.3 million) to the club.

With that sum still missing Tuesday and the new Ligue 1 season starting this weekend, Sochaux says “the fundamental principle of equality has not been respected.” Sochaux wants France’s football federation and the league’s governing body to re-examine the case, adding “in consequence, we demand that Sochaux be reinstated to Ligue 1.”

Wow.

Lens is playing in various home stadia this season as its home is prepared for Euro 2016, a fact that surely helps Sochaux’s case. But how has it gotten this far? And since it has, is there any way Ligue 1 can back away from Lens?

WATCH: Many questions after giant stuffed doll interrupts corner kick

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The annals of match interruption by soccer supporters took a turn for the toons after a startlingly-accurate toss by a Sochaux supporter in its match against Marseille.

As Mathieu Valbuena prepared to unload a corner kick that would hopefully tie up the match for his side, a giant Betty Boop doll was tossed almost directly onto the ball.

There are at least three magnificent things to note about the video, and we encourage you to toss your observations into the comments section:

1) Who brings a Betty Boop doll to a soccer match and, more importantly, how does one successfully bring it into the arena (“Well, you see sir, we’ve never lost when I’ve brought my Boop.”)?

2) How about Valbuena’s only mildly-affected reaction to the giant doll landing near his foot?

3) The aim on that toss! Close to pinpoint!

Thanks to WhoAteAllThePies for the video.

Done Deal: Transfer market action from August 27

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Every day between now and the end of the European transfer window, we’ll detail every remarkable signing in our Done Deal report. On Tuesday, a handful of loan deals were announced, as most of the action took place behind closed doors in setting up larger moves to be made official in the coming days.

• While it’s not strictly transfer news, Landon Donovan‘s reported signing of a multiyear contract to keep him with the Los Angeles Galaxy does squash rumors of him moving abroad. (SI.com)

• Stoke City signed 25-year-old Moroccan winger Oussama Assaidi on loan for the remainder of the season from Liverpool. (The Guardian)

• Aston Villa sent defender Enda Stevens on a short-term loan to Notts County in League One. (Sky Sports)

• Mounir El Hamdaoui (pictured) is set to sign a loan deal with Málaga from Fiorentina in Serie A. Málaga will have an option to buy the Dutch-Moroccan next summer. (La Opinión de Málaga)

• Speaking of La Viola, Croatian striker Ante Rebić flew to Fiorentina on a private plane on Tuesday to complete his transfer from RNK Split. (Sportske Novosti)

• FC Twente signed 20-year-old Mexican forward Jesús Corona from Monterrey for €3.5 million on a four-year deal. (Football Oranje)

• Ligue 1’s Sochaux picked up Wolverhampton Wanderers winger Razak Boukari on loan until the end of the season. (Sky Sports)

Sochaux’s Ryad Boudebouz and how to handle fan racism

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United States’ fans didn’t get to see him at the 2010 World Cup, but Algerian attacker Ryad Boudebouz was there as a 20-year-old, looking on as Landon Donovan vaulted the States to the top of Group C. At the time he was regarded as one of the more promising young talents in France, a reputation he has reinforced over the last two seasons. Playing almost exclusively from a wide position, the FC Sochaux attacker has posted 14 goals since the beginning of the 2010-11 season, even if his creativity more refined than his finishing.

This summer, that skillset drew the attention of one of France’s biggest clubs, Olympique Marseille, with a transfer breaking down a fee could not be agreed. That dalliance with a logical, to-be-expected career move hasn’t sat well with Sochaux’s fans, with supporters displaying anti-Boudebouz signage at the team’s Sept. 1 match versus Montpellier. More alarming, the banners were accompanied by with calls of “dirty arab.”

We’ll get to the racism in a second. First: How smart is it for Sochaux fans, having already seen one of their best players move this summer (Marvin Martin to Lille), to be insulting one of their few particularly talented players? Especially considering he was so close to moving? The club has stumbled mightily out of the gate (losing four of four), but opening the front door and shoving your best player out might be page one of What Not To Do When Your Club Is Struggling. Though Boudebouz had been very positive about staying with Sochaux in the wake of his failed move, you couldn’t blame the now-20-year-old for circling Jan. 1 (the opening of the winter transfer window) on his calendar.

To his credit, though, Boudebouz is handling the incident exactly as you’d want: With dismissive abhorrence. Here’s the Google translate machine (my French isn’t that good) on the young Algerian’s reaction, quote via L’Equipe:

“It comes from a minority of morons … They are not real fans of FC Sochaux, but the poor [lost guys] that have nothing to do in football stadiums. I know the difference between the supporters of the club who can express dissatisfaction with the performance of one of their players, and bad people who desecrate [with] racial slurs.”

Delivered with the perfection. He immediately segregated the offenders from the body of Sochaux support. He called them what they are (morons) and acknowledged he’s capable of distinguishing between their hate and honest frustration with the clubs’ struggles. There’s no hyperbole here, nor are there appeals to a larger, potentially justifiable causes. Implied in Boudebouz’s response: It’s not worth our time.

In some places, the slurs Boudebouz heard would have been a national scandal. True, L’Equipe (big, national, sports daily) is reporting on this, but it’s not something that’s defining the re-start of Ligue 1 action. It’s being covered for what it is: Some idiots doing something disgusting, reminding us racism needs to stay on our radars.