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Third UEFA competition important despite “little commercial value”

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MADRID (AP) A third European club competition will have “little commercial value,” European Club Association chairman Andrea Agnelli said Monday, but it will still be important for smaller teams seeking to increase their exposure.

The 32-team yet-to-be-named competition is being discussed with UEFA for 2021 and beyond. It would be played in addition to the Champions League and the Europa League.

“It’s difficult to see commercial value when you look at a third-tier competition because there is very little commercial value, but sometimes we have to listen to our fellow club members who want to participate more,” Agnelli said at a soccer conference in the Spanish capital. “The fact that they are participating in international games would allow them to grow and showcase their players going forward.”

The Juventus president said there were initial discussions about expanding the Europa League from 48 teams to 64, but the consensus was that it would ultimately hurt the second-tier competition which already “struggles” commercially compared to the Champions League. The solution was to reduce the number of clubs in the Europa League and have all three European club competitions played with 32 clubs.

Agnelli also said making adjustments to the new international calendar that will begin in 2024 is “the first thing we have to tackle” as European clubs.

He said clubs would like to see all the confederation tournaments being played at the same time every four years, on even years, to help free up vacation time for players.

“We have to think of a moment where players can have a proper four-week rest period,” he said. “And I’m saying this in the interest of all. Players are exceptional, but they are not machines. Football players are like Formula One cars, if you actually use them too much, they just break.”

FIFA has been leading talks to discuss the new calendar and issues such as the continental championships and when clubs must release players for national team duty.

Agnelli also said it would be ideal to limit the potential maximum number of games for clubs to 43 per season.

“I want to make sure we are well heard when we craft the next international match calendar,” he said. “The clubs are the ones that truly invest and take the risks.”

Best FIFA Awards 2018: Who won the hardware, made Best XI?

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Luka Modric won the Men’s Best Player award at Monday’s Best FIFA Football Awards show in London, capping off an extraordinary 2018 (a bit early, granted) for the Croatian who helped Real Madrid to a third straight Champions League title and guided his country to the 2018 World Cup final in the calendar year.

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“It is a great honor and a beautiful feeling to stand here with this amazing trophy,” he said in his acceptance speech. “First of all, I would like to congratulate Mohamed [Salah] and Cristiano [Ronaldo]. I am sure in the future you will have another opportunity to fight for this trophy.

“This award is not just mine. It is my teammates from Real Madrid and Croatia. Without my coaches I would not have won this. Without my family I would not be the player I am today.”


Marta won the Women’s Best Player award, for the first time in her legendary career, after leading Brazil to glory at the 2018 Copa America and scoring 13 goals to go with six assists for her NWSL side, Orlando Pride.

“This means so much. It is not only about Marta but it is about my teammates and women’s football.

“It is amazing. For me, it is most important to see women’s soccer grow up each year. If I keep doing well and that can help outside of the field too then I am happy.”


Didier Deschamps, who guided France to its second World Cup title this summer, won the Men’s Best Coach award.


Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah won the 2018 Puskas award for the best goal scored, upsetting Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale who each scored a stunning bicycle kick for Madrid in Champions League play last season.


FIFPro Best XI

Goalkeeper: David De Gea (Manchester United)

Defenders: Dani Alves (Paris Saint-Germain), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Marcelo (Real Madrid)

Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), N'Golo Kante (Chelsea)

Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Eden Hazard (Chelsea)


London-born actor — and apparent England superfan — Idris Elba took home the award for best- (or worst-, depending on personal preference) dressed.

Serie A: Lazio, Napoli roll while Roma falls again

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AS Roma’s early-season struggles continue as they fell to Bologna on the road 2-0, their second loss of the year through five matches. Bologna had not yet scored through four matches, blanked by Inter, SPAL, Genoa, and Frosinone coming in. Federico Mattiello somehow broke the duck in the 36th minute as his left-footed curler somehow got through traffic into the bottom-left corner. Federico Santander added another on the hour mark, and Roma lost for the second time in the last three, without a win since the opening week of the season.

Roma head coach Eusebio Di Francesco was furious after the game, lighting his players up for lacking passion. “You all seem to think you know the answers, so maybe I should ask you questions? We always end up talking about numbers, statistics, but not the determination and fire in the belly,” the 49-year-old Italian said to Sky Sport Italia after the match. “If you have 74 percent possession and lose 2-0, it means something is missing in your attitude. If you lose every duel with Bologna, then you weren’t determined enough.”

Juventus grabbed a late victory as new star Cristiano Ronaldo bagged an 81st minute winner in a 1-0 victory over Frosinone. The former Real Madrid forward latched onto a flubbed shot by Miralem Pjanic and buried the chance. Ronaldo had been denied earlier in the match, with the shot first slowed by a diving Marco Sportiello before the ball was eventually cleared off the line by Marco Capuano. It’s a solid comeback moment in Ronaldo’s return to the field after his controversial sending-off in Champions League play during the week.

Elsewhere, Napoli visited Torino and won 3-1 in Turin behind a double from Lorenzo Insigne, giving the 27-year-old four goals on the young season. The first came just four minutes into the game on a terrible mistake by the hosts, with an attempted clear Emiliano Moretti clattering off his central defensive partner Nicolas N’Koulou and falling right into Insigne’s lap for him to smash into the top-left corner. Simone Verdi bagged his first Napoli goal in the 20th minute, and Insigne killed off the game past the hour mark with his second, putting Napoli up by a pair. The result leveled Napoli on points with leaders Juventus, with the defending champions yet to kick off ahead of their eventual win.

Lazio also won big, putting four past Genoa for a 4-1 victory. Felipe Caciedo struck just seven minutes in, and Ciro Immobile did the rest with a brace. Rising star Sergej Milinkovic-Savic added Lazio’s fourth with a long-range header, pulling Lazio into fifth place with nine points through five matches.

AC Milan was pegged back by a very late strike, forced to accept a 2-2 home draw with Atalanta. Milan held a 55% possessional advantage and an eventual 17-15 shot advantage, but Atalanta halftime substitute Emiliano Rigoni scored in the 91st minute to even the score. A ball whipped into the box pinged its way to Duvan Zapata, who slashed a powerful volley on net that was acrobatically saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma, but the rebound fell right to Rigoni on the doorstep who couldn’t miss.

Philadelphia 2-0 Sporting KC: Simpson double gives hosts playoff boost

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Jay Simpson was a monster from start to finish as the Philadelphia Union took a huge step towards securing a playoff spot by beating Sporting KC 2-0 at home.

Simpson was active early and often, forcing Tim Melia into a point-blank save right on the doorstep one-on-one in just the 10th minute. He took a curling David Maccam ball over the defense but Melia came out of net to smother the attempt.

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In the 36th minute, Melia was put to test again as Borek Dockal smashed a howitzer off a KC defender and against the crossbar, which came back into play and Melia kicked away from net. The rebound came to Simpson, but his effort was weak enough for Seth Sinovic to clear off the line with Melia outstretched on the turf.

As halftime passed without an opener, Simpson was there to provide the eventual breakthrough. A long ball pumped into the box found the head of substitute Alejandro Bedoya under pressure, and the USMNT veteran found Simpson alone near the top of the penalty area. The 29-year-old London product volleyed it into the bottom-left corner for the lead.

Philadelphia held just 38% possession throughout the match, but they matched KC in shots 14-13, 5-6 on target. Simpson would grab a second as the Sporting KC defense again botched the offside trap. Substitute Fabrice Picault floated in a cross, and it fell to Bedoya who beat the back line as the flag stayed down. Bedoya headed it to Simpson also through on net, and he finished off the fingertips of Melia.

The win puts Philadelphia six points clear of the cutoff line,

Neymar gives jersey to crying boy as PSG beats Rennes

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PARIS — Neymar was whistled off the pitch but showed he held no grudge against the Rennes fans, giving his shirt to a young boy who managed to run across the pitch to hug the Brazil star on Sunday in the French league.

With PSG leading 3-1, Neymar slowly walked back to the Paris Saint-Germain bench in the 90th minute of the match at Rennes as coach Thomas Tuchel made his final substitution when the boy escaped security and ran toward the striker.

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The boy burst into tears when he reached the player and pointed at his shirt. Neymar took the boy under his arm and walked back to the sideline, gesturing toward security guards to make them understand the situation was under control and he did not want them to intervene.

Neymar then took off his shirt and gave it to the boy as he was taken away by stewards.

Neymar had a mostly anonymous performance before the incident, with a mediocre display in Brittany. Five days after slumping to its first loss this season in a 3-2 Champions League defeat at Liverpool, PSG struggled in the first half but came from behind to win 3-1 and remain perfect in the French league with a sixth consecutive win.

PSG remains five points clear at the top of the standings.

Playing without the suspended Kylian Mbappe, the defending champions faced strong resistance from an inspired home side that defended well and destabilized PSG on the break.

PSG conceded early when Adrien Rabiot scored a clumsy own goal. Tuchel’s side managed to turn things around with goals from Angel Di Maria, Thomas Meunier and Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting.

Rennes played with three attacking players and applied early pressure on Gianluigi Buffon’s goal. Mbaye Niang and Ismaila Sarr tested the Italian keeper before Rabiot inadvertently sent the ball into Buffon’s net from a corner after a header from Niang ricocheted off his shoulder in the 11th minute.

Rennes could not build on the momentum and started to play deeper as PSG took control of the match and leveled just before halftime with a low-shot from Julian Draxler’s cut-back pass.

Edinson Cavani hit the post at the start of the second half and Meunier scored at the end of a swift counterattack with a right-footed shot. Subsitute Choupo-Moting then celebrated his league debut with a goal in the 83rd minute from Meunier’s pass.

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