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Hotties Alert: What World Cup Heartthrobs? These Dishy Pinoy Football Hunks Already Set The Goal!

All eyes are on these hotties when they take the field......»»

Category: lifestyleSource: abscbn abscbnJul 9th, 2018

SUPER 8: Inside the Asia League s grand basketball plans for the region

MACAU --- The Summer Super 8 is just the beginning. The Asia League may only have eight teams, including two Pinoy teams, in its tournaments now with the Super 8, but the FIBA-recognized offseason competition platform for club basketball is targeting bigger and better things. All for the continued development of basketball, particularly in this part of Asia. Matt Beyer, CEO of the Asia League, noticed a couple of years back that there's pretty much no international club-to-club basketball competitions in Asia so he made some things happen. While football has tournaments like the UEFA Champions League, basketball has no such thing. There's the FIBA Champions Cup, but that includes all of Asia. What the Asia League tries to focus on is the East Asia and Southeast Asian territory, where top teams from China, Korea, Japan, and the Philippines can go after each other in high-level tournaments. "I just think there's a huge lack in international club-to-club basketball competition in Asia," Beyer said. "And if you look at China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Chinese Taipei, if you add the population of these geographies, it's over 2 billion people. So there's a lot of fans but no high level club-to-club competition. That's the reason this was created," he added. For Beyer, Macau seems to be the perfect setting to stage such tournaments and for the Summer Super 8, he's looking at it as something that could become Asia's version of the NBA's Las Vegas Summer League. Asia League has eight teams competing for the Super 8 this year with two teams each from China, Korea, and the Philippines plus one each from Japan and Taipei. Next year, the Super 8 may no longer be as the plan is to have 16 teams see action. "What we're aiming for is to become the East Asian version of the Las Vegas summer league," Beyer said. "Our July events, we will expand the scale of the teams. The eight teams this year, I wanna have 16 next year and that means more PBA teams if that's logistically possible," he added. Speaking of the PBA, the Asia League is aggressive is trying to work with getting Filipino teams to its events. Why? Pinoy teams attract crowds and they generally perform well with these kind of tournaments. For the ongoing Super 8, both NLEX and Blackwater ended up with identical 2-1 records. The Road Warriors are in the semifinals and the Elite missed the playoffs by one basket and ended up with an inferior quotient. And despite group play being played on weekdays, a decent Filipino crowd have showed up to watch the action at the East Asian Games Dome. "We started the dialogue with the PBA and Commissioner Willie (Marcial)," Beyer said. "We're trying to coordinate being able to make things work with the schedule and have teams released for the tournaments or just fit into the windows where they're available. I think we can work it out long term and I think this is good for the PBA and to the teams to play against different types of teams for a technical perspective and it should help to get the news out about PBA teams in other markets," he added. Aside from the Super 8 this year, the Asia League also has the Terrific 12 coming up in September. More than the number of teams involved, that tournament should be fiercer with club teams being allowed to have imports. Beyer ideally wants to have the PBA participate in that as well but with the Governors' Cup ongoing at that time, it might be difficult at least for this year. Still, the Asia League wants Pinoy teams, but not just any Pinoy teams. That's why Alab Pilipinas has been in consideration to compete in September though it's yet to be seen if Jimmy Alapag's crew can join. Ultimately, Beyer's goal is to have the Asia League be a hub for teams across Asia to compete with one another in such a way that their own mother leagues aren't being disrupted. The Asia League wants its July event to be the premier offseason joust. "The ideal situation that I look at is the July event be the summer league and expand it to 32 teams in three years. And that becomes the premier offseason forum just like the Las Vegas summer league is in the West," Beyers said. "September, we can't expand it above 12, that might be a little too big but let's see how it goes. That's gonna be the biggest preseason party for teams. We're gonna have the best rosters, tons of media, and broadcast on over 30 platforms all over the world," he added. That seems grand enough for the Asia League but there's more. Soon enough, full integration is going to be Beyer's target. "What we want starting the 2019-2020 season is to have integration into the seasons. What I look at is a pilot project where we take teams that are on the region and put them into two small groups that play home and way through the season, maybe one game per month to start," Beyer said. "And then we do a Final Four event, probably here in Macau to start. And then maybe that Final Four event can be like Euroleague Final Four before it moves around the region at an annual basis. That would be what I like to see. That would require a deep partnership with FIBA and the associations like the PBA," he added. Ultimately, the Asia League would like to stay true its mission to raise the standard of basketball in the region through greater collaboration with different leagues. It helps that for the current Super 8, teams are in it to win it and are taking things seriously. There should be more to come. "This isn't a one off tournament. We want to have a series of events. FIBA's mandate is a little different than ours but I think the goal is the same, we want to develop basketball and make the level of competition better in the region," Beyers said.   --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 21st, 2018

Football: Azkals fighting for redemption, recognition in upcoming tournaments

As important as the first quarter of 2018 was for the Philippine Azkals, the coming months are definitely even more crucial. With the introduction of former England skipper Terry Butcher as the national team’s new head coach, the road to redemption and recognition begins. "The next 12 months is huge for Philippine football. If we can have success in the Suzuki Cup and the Asian Cup, that will be huge strides in the development of football here in the Philippines." said Azkals skipper Phil Younghusband. Redemption is the goal for the upcoming 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup, which kicks off in November. The last time that the Azkals participated in the biennial Southeast Asian tournament, it was definitely one to forget. For the first time since 2008, the Philippines failed to qualify for the Suzuki Cup semifinals, snapping a streak of three straight Final Four appearances. This year, the Azkals once again find themselves grouped with Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore, just like in 2016. “We have the same group as in the 2016 Suzuki Cup, so it’s a chance for us to redeem ourselves and do better.” said Azkals team manager Dan Palami.      “[It's] the same draw we had two years ago when we didn’t qualify,” said Younghusband. “We know it will be tough and it’s a challenge for us.” The Fil-British striker added that in order to establish themselves as a force to reckon with in Southeast Asian football, teams like Thailand and Indonesia, and Singapore are ones that they need to take care of. “If we want to continue to help the growth of Philippine football, these are teams we will have to play and win against.” A successful AFF Suzuki Cup campaign will also definitely give the Azkals the much-needed momentum as they begin their AFC Asian Cup campaign, their first in team history. On the biggest stage that they’ve been on, their goal is to be recognized as a legitimate contender in Asian football. “The Asian Cup draw is a difficult group, but there are other groups that are more tough. It will be great to get the experience of playing a World Cup side to see what level we are at.” Younghusband said. In the Asian Cup, which kicks off in January of 2019, the Azkals find themselves grouped with South Korea, China, and Kyrgyzstan. All three teams are ranked higher than the Philippines. And while it’s bound to be an uphill battle for the Azkals, Younghusband is hopeful that they can come up with some surprises. “China will be very difficult, but we played them last year so we know what to expect. I would rather play a team we have played before. Kyrgyzstan, we played twice recently and had good victories so it should be interesting. Hopefully, we can claim a best third spot or even surprise a few people and claim second spot.”  Much like the captain, Palami acknowledges that the Asian Cup will indeed be a tough go, but going through tough opponents is the only way for the Azkals to prove themselves among Asia’s elite, and that’s what Palami wants to see from the Pinoy side. “For the Asian Cup, it will be a tough group, but I think if we do it right, we can pull off one of the biggest surprises in the tournament, and that’s what we aim to do.” “We don’t want to be mere participants, but we want to be true competitors in the Asian Cup.” Palami added......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 14th, 2018

Ronaldo relies on teammates for winning league start at Juve

By Daniella Matar, Associated Press VERONA, Italy (AP) — A smile, a wink and a thumbs-up: Cristiano Ronaldo didn't seem too perturbed at not scoring on his Juventus debut. The 33-year-old forward appeared relaxed after Saturday's 3-2 victory against Chievo Verona and, although Ronaldo did not stop to speak to reporters, he responded with those gestures when asked how he felt his debut had gone. His coach wasn't too troubled either. "Cristiano Ronaldo had a good game. He had several shots on goal. Today he didn't score because clearly it was written somewhere that he wouldn't score," said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri with a smile. For the thousands of fans who descended on the medieval city of Verona, this was one of the rare occasions when the five-time world player of the year couldn't score. Ronaldo had scored in both pre-season friendlies he played for Juventus since his surprise 112 million euro (then $131.5 million) move from Real Madrid but could not find the back of the net on his competitive debut. And it was up to Federico Bernardeschi to rescue Juventus, with a stoppage-time winner as the Bianconeri fought back from a goal down to beat Chievo and get their pursuit of an eighth straight league title off to a winning start. Ronaldo should make his home debut next week against Lazio and there were encouraging signs for Juventus from this game. He linked up well with Douglas Costa, notably in the 18th minute when Ronaldo's effort went just the wrong side of the left post. Ronaldo also fired narrowly over from a tight angle on the half-hour, while he drew several smart saves from Chievo goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino, who is still going strong at the age of 39. The Portugal international almost scored the winner at 2-2, but Sorrentino got down quickly to beat away his angled free kick. "(Ronaldo) moved well at times but he wasn't picked out by his teammates," Allegri said. "He's a different footballer, you can see that. He's integrated into the team with ease." BALL TRICKS The excitement had been building in Verona since the fixtures were announced. The match at the Stadio Bentegodi was sold out and long queues to get in formed more than three hours before kickoff. The team bus carrying Ronaldo and his Juventus teammates was greeted by huge cheers, with fans crowding onto the balconies of the stadium. Ronaldo warmed up with crowd-pleasing ball tricks and Juventus fans cheered his every touch. BONUCCI BACK Juventus took the lead after just 162 seconds as Chievo failed to properly clear a free kick and Sami Khedira fired Juventus in front. The Bianconeri wasted chances to double their lead, with Ronaldo going close on several occasions. Mariusz Stepinski headed Chievo level shortly before halftime and Emanuele Giaccherini converted a penalty after being brought down by Juventus debutant Joao Cancelo. But Leonardo Bonucci marked his return to Juventus with a role in the equalizer after the Italy defender spent just one season at AC Milan. Bonucci headed in a corner in the 75th. The goal, which went down later as an own-goal from Chievo defender Mattia Bani, was met with a mix of cheers and jeers by the visiting fans. Mario Mandzukic's goal was ruled out by the video assistant referee shortly before full time following a foul on Sorrentino which led to an anxious few minutes as the goalkeeper received medical treatment on the pitch. ___ LOOK WHO'S BACK Carlo Ancelotti had a winning start to his return to Italian football as his Napoli team fought back to beat Lazio 2-1. Ciro Immobile scored a stunning opener for host Lazio but Arkadiusz Milik leveled in first-half stoppage time and Lorenzo Insigne netted the winner in the 59th. The 59-year-old Ancelotti took over from Maurizio Sarri at Napoli, who finished second last season, four points behind Juventus. Ancelotti has not worked in Italy since leaving AC Milan in 2009 after leading the Rossoneri to a number of trophies, including two Champions League titles......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 19th, 2018

HOF preview: Moss went deep to ignite Vikes, transform NFL

By Dave Campbell, Associated Press MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The ball was flying down the field often for Minnesota during that drizzly night in Green Bay, and Randy Moss kept going over and past the defense to get it. Five games into his NFL career, Moss was a star. He was a revolutionary, too. There was no moment that better defined his arrival as the league's premier deep threat than that breakout prime-time performance against the two-time reigning NFC champion and bitter rival Packers. "Seeing Randall Cunningham smile, seeing him energetic," Moss said, reflecting on his five-catch, 190-yard, two-touchdown connection with Cunningham that carried the Vikings to a 37-24 victory. "It was just a great feeling." When the Vikings landed in Minnesota, his half-brother, Eric Moss, who was briefly his teammate, wondered about celebrating the big win. "I said, 'Going out? No, I want to go home,'" Moss said. Then defensive tackle John Randle tapped him on the shoulder. "Man, we're going to party tonight!" Moss said, recalling Randle's pronouncement to the rookie. "That's when I finally understood what it really meant to the guys for us to go into Lambeau and win." Twenty years later, with Moss set to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend after being elected in his first year of eligibility, the swift, sleek and sometimes-sassy wide receiver has finally understood the depth of his impact on the game and the privilege of opportunity to serve as a celebrant of the sport. "I came into the league with, I guess, my head not really screwed on my shoulders properly," Moss said recently on a conference call with reporters. Over time, the "homebody-type guy" from tiny Rand, West Virginia, who ranks second in NFL history in touchdown receptions (156) and fourth in receiving yards (15,292), learned how to soften some of the edges he's carried since he was a kid. "I've been able to open myself up and meet more people, be able to travel the world," said Moss, who's in his third season as an ESPN analyst. "Football here in America is a very powerful sport, and just being in that gold jacket, hopefully I can just be able to continue to reach people and continue to do great things." Moss will become the 14th inductee from the Vikings, joining former teammates Cris Carter, Chris Doleman, Randall McDaniel and Randle. He'll be the 27th wide receiver enshrined at the museum in Canton, Ohio. That's a three-hour drive from his hometown, but it's sure a long way from poverty-ridden Rand where Moss and his sports-loving friends played football as frequently as they could in the heart of coal country next to the Allegheny Mountains just south of the capital city, Charleston. "It was something that just felt good. I loved to compete. I just loved going out there just doing what kids do, just getting dirty," Moss said. He landed at Marshall University after some off-the-field trouble kept him out of Florida State and Notre Dame, and he took the Thundering Herd to what was then the NCAA Division I-AA national championship in 1996. Several NFL teams remained wary of his past, but Vikings head coach Dennis Green didn't flinch when Moss was still on the board in the 1998 draft with the 21st overall pick. Moss never forgot the teams that passed on him, with especially punishing performances against Dallas, Detroit and Green Bay. "I just carried a certain chip on my shoulder because the way I grew up playing was just basically having a tough mentality," Moss said. "Crying, hurting, in pain? So what? Get up, and let's go." The Vikings finished 15-1 in 1998, infamously missing the Super Bowl by a field goal. The next draft, the Packers took cornerbacks with their first three picks. Moss never escaped his reputation as a moody player whose behavior and effort were often questioned. That led to his first departure from Minnesota, via trade to Oakland in 2005. The Raiders dealt him to New England in 2007, when the Patriots became the first 16-0 team before losing in the Super Bowl, to the New York Giants. After a rocky 2010 for Moss, including being traded by the Patriots and released by the Vikings, he took a year off. He returned in 2012 to reach one more Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers. Moss was not a particularly physical player, but for his lanky frame he had plenty of strength. His combination of height and speed was exceptional, and his instincts for the game were too. Carter taught him how to watch the video board at the Metrodome to find the ball in the air, and he had a knack for keeping his hands close enough to his body that if the defensive back in coverage had his back to the quarterback he couldn't tell when the ball was about to arrive. In an NFL Films clip that captured a sideline conversation between him and Cunningham during one game, Moss yelled, "Throw it up above his head! They can't jump with me! Golly!" For Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen, who has lived his entire life in Minnesota, was a sports-loving 8-year-old in 1998 when Moss helped lead the Vikings to what was then the NFL season scoring record with 556 points. The first team to break it was New England in 2007 with, again, Moss as the premier pass-catcher who set the all-time record that year with 23 touchdown catches. "It's fun to look back at his career and watch his old film. I love when that stuff pops up on Instagram, to be able to watch some of those old Randy plays that made me want to play this game," Thielen said. "I try to emulate him as much as I can.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 31st, 2018

PFF President Nonong Araneta reveals exciting times ahead for Philippine football

Mariano “Nonong” Araneta is pumped up for Philippine football, and it's easy to see why. The Philippine Football Federation president has divulged exciting details of the federation's plans to develop the national training center in the San Lazaro Leisure Park in Carmona, Cavite. Plus the Azkals are also getting ready for a busy few months ahead. Araneta is keen on ramping up the federation's partnership with the Manila Jockey Club in SLLP, where the FIFA Artificial Turf Pitch is situated. Already a training ground for youth national teams and club sides, Araneta says that lighting towers will soon be installed that will permit nighttime play. “We are just waiting for AFC because the lights will be bidded out,” Explains Araneta. “Hopefully they will be installed by the end of the year.” The lights will feature an intensity of 900 lux, more than the accepted 800 lux minimum for televised matches. The lights will complement the hundreds of new seats that have already been put in place around the pitch. But that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the PFF has planned for Carmona. “We have spoken to Manila Jockey Club about transferring our headquarters there,” says Araneta. “We are ready to start the bidding and construction.” The PFF is planning to purchase a 3000 sqm parcel of land within the San Lazaro Leisure Park and build a complex with dormitories, classrooms for coaching and referee courses, and a gym. “The funds are ready, initially we will be getting US$1.5 Million from FIFA,” says Araneta, who says the federation will be selling their current building in Pasig to help fund the move. But Araneta says that another option is available, to buy a different 2000 sqm plot of land beside the artificial pitch that is separate from the 3000 sqm parcel. There a grandstand could be constructed, transforming the pitch into a stadium. The headquarters could then be situated under the seating while the other site houses the dorms, classrooms, and gym. More fields are also in the pipeline in the training center. Araneta says that two artificial turf mini-pitches measuring 40 by 20 meters will be made right beside the main pitch. These will also be lighted and can accommodate recreational play and festival competitions. Incredibly, there will be yet another pitch in the training center, a natural grass regulation field within the Manila Jockey Club's racetrack. “That is for our national teams so that if they are set to play on grass, they can train there,” explains Araneta. The middle of the racetrack already has a grass area where football is played. Manila Jockey Club and PFF have yet to decide if the new grass pitch will be a brand new one or if the current surface will be improved. “We want our activities to be there,” declares Araneta. “We have already had coaching seminars there. Schools can also use our facilities. The pitch is there to be used not to be seen,” he adds with a chuckle. Araneta is a former national team player himself and is also optimistic about the near future with the Azkals. The squad is facing two big tournaments in the coming months: the AFF Suzuki Cup in November and December and their maiden appearance in the AFC Asian Cup in January 2019. Araneta says the Azkals will travel to Bahrain during the September FIFA window to play a Bahraini club side, likely on Sept 7, before tangling with the Bahrain national team on September 11. There will also be a FIFA window in October, and Araneta says the Filipinos can enjoy at least one friendly at home. Araneta hopes that Rizal Memorial will still be available before it gets spruced up in preparation for the country's hosting of the 2019 SEA Games. “Our fans will get to watch our new team,” said the president with evident pride. Crunch time begins in November, with the Azkals in a five-team round-robin group with a new home-and-away format. The Philippines will host Singapore in Bacolod's Panaad Stadium on November 13 before playing either Brunei or Timor Leste away four days later. The two ASEAN minnows will square off in a two-legged qualifying series in September to to determine who makes the group stage. On November 21 the Azkals entertain Thailand in Panaad in what promises to be a mouthwatering contest, before closing their group stage against Indonesia, probably in Jakarta, on November 25. The semis will run from December 1 to 6, with the two-legged finals being held on the 11th and 15th. After a quick Christmas break the team jets off to the Middle East on December 26, where final preparations for the Asian Cup will commence in earnest. There are plans to play in Qatar against either a club team or their national side, and then perhaps a game in Kuwait before the team goes to the United Arab Emirates. The group schedule is as follows: January 7 against Korea Republic in Dubai, January 11 versus China in Abu Dhabi, then January 16 against Kyrgyzstan in Dubai. The top two will advance to the knockout round, but the Philippines can also sneak through as one of the better third-placers. But the senior national team isn't the only competition Pinoy football fans can focus on this year. The boys U15 national team were in action while the U16 girls play in an AFC competition. The U19 men also played in the AFF U19 Championship, where they beat Singapore 2-1. The senior ladies team also notched a win against the Lion City in their AFF tournament. Araneta says the very successful PFF Women's League from last year will be run again, and that the PFF also plans a youth league. Both will be partly funded by FIFA. Of course the Philippines Football League will continue, with a League and Cup phase. The realization of these plans will be one of the achievements of Araneta's presidency. Another will be his membership in the 33-person FIFA Council, which acts as a board of directors of the organization. Araneta was recently in Russia to watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup along with other council members. Araneta is one of six Asians in the FIFA Council, alongside members from China, Malaysia, Korea Republic, Bahrain, and Bangladesh. He is the first Filipino to serve in this level of leadership in FIFA. The Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo native freely explains the benefit the country can enjoy from this connection. According to Araneta “we have firsthand information on funding, and the Philippines is part of the body that will decide on what's best for football.” He says that in the next cycle of FIFA funding he might be able to acquire an additional US$ 2 million for the development of the training center. The PFF President also enjoys the inside track when it comes to acquiring development funds from the Asian Football Confederation, since he also serves as the Chairman of the AFC Finance Committee. “All budgets pass through us. We know the funding, the revenues. We know when to ask for projects. Like the lights in Carmona, that was approved by the AFC development committee,” continues Araneta. But being part of the FIFA Council is not all glitz and glamor, confesses Araneta. He mentioned a recent Council meeting in Bogota, Colombia, that necessitated an arduous 33-hour trip through Europe for a stay that lasted just two days. Sometimes deliberations in FIFA meetings can stretch for as long as six hours. Immediately after the Bogota confab he jetted off to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for another meeting. “It's no joke,” says Araneta, who is 64 years old. But the former striker and defender has no complaints and reveals his motivation to keep on going at the job. “I went to the Youth Football League. I visited the Allianz National Youth Futsal Invitational. You see the kids playing there, you see kids play everywhere. The enthusiasm of the players is what keeps me going.” - RELEASE.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 18th, 2018

The real deal with Alphonse Areola and how he can still switch to Azkals

A Filipino is a World Cup winner but not everyone is celebrating French reserve goalkeeper Alphonse Areola’s chance to hold up the most coveted trophy in the football world. While he is receiving praise from Filipino shores some fans are doubting whether this is the right time for ‘pinoy pride.’ ‘Pinoy pride’ in the World […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  interaksyonRelated NewsJul 17th, 2018

Australia legend Tim Cahill retires from international duty

SYDNEY, Australia – Australia's all-time leading goal-scorer Tim Cahill retired from international football Tuesday, ending an illustrious career that has taken him to 4 World Cups. The 38-year-old, who scored 50 international goals in 107 appearances, last played for the Socceroos when he came off the bench for their final ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJul 17th, 2018
Category: lifestyleSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 16th, 2018

Vive la France! And a lot of other nations, too

By Ronald Blum, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — Antoine Griezmann's father emigrated from Germany, and the France forward's mother is of Portuguese decent. Paul Pogba's parents arrived from Guinea. Kylian Mbappe's dad is from Cameroon, his mom Algerian. Immigrants, sons of immigrants and grandsons of immigrants bonded together with scions of families that have been French for generations, all for the rouge, blanc et bleu. And for only the second time, France is the World Cup champion. About two-thirds of Les Bleus' roster included players with immigrant backgrounds, a mini-United Nations of soccer talent. "That is the France that we love," Griezmann said through a translator after Sunday's 4-2 victory over Croatia ended the most exciting World Cup final in decades. "It's beautiful to see it." Griezmann's free kick was headed in by Mario Manduzkic for the opening own-goal in the 18th minute, and then he converted a penalty kick for a 2-1 lead in the 38th after video review spotted a handball by Ivan Perisic. Mbappe's speed led to the third goal in the 59th . He added a goal of his own in the 65th , at 19 becoming the second-youngest scorer in a World Cup final behind 17-year-old Pele in 1958. Vive la diversite! A day after Bastille Day, the party was on. "The diversity of the squad is in the image of this beautiful country that is France," midfielder Blaise Matuidi, whose parents are from Angola and Congo, said through a translator ahead of the match. France won on a humid night in Russia, with thunderclaps during play and a downpour during the trophy presentation. Quite different from that indelible summer evening at Stade de France in 1998, when fans in the arena and throughout Paris sang "La Marseillaise" until dawn and young teenagers drove cars while their intoxicated parents sat in passenger seats. People called that team "Black, Blanc, Beur," noting how white, black and North African players came together. Zinedine Zidane, a son of Algerians, headed in a pair of first-half corner kicks against heavily favored Brazil. Patrick Vieira, born in Senegal, fed Normand-born Emmanuel Petit for the third in the 3-0 win. This year's team was perhaps even more diverse. Defender Samuel Umtiti was born in Cameroon and backup goalkeeper Steve Mandanda in Zaire. Others descended from Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, Mococco and Senegal, plus Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain. "There may be players who come from different origins, but we do have the same state of mind," Griezmann said. "We all play for the same jersey, the cockerel. For our country, we give everything we have. As soon as you wear the jersey, we do everything for each other." He scored the go-ahead goal after the first video review-created penalty kick in a World Cup final. During a delay of about four minutes that might have unnerved less-composed players. Griezmann told himself to pretend it was a league match. "Carry on and do the same thing as I normally do," he remembered thinking. At 27, he in his prime but in the penumbra of Spanish soccer at Atletico Madrid, toiling in a league that Barcelona and Real Madrid dominate. He led the 2016 European Championship with six goals and tied for second with four at the World Cup, three on penalty kicks, earning the Bronze Ball as third-best player behind Croatia midfielder Luka Modric and Belgium forward Eden Hazard. Griezmann kissed the trophy, knowing his generation will be revered in the same way Zidane, Petit, Thierry Henry, Lilian Thuram and Fabien Barthez remain renowned from Calais to Cannes. "From tonight on, I'm sorry for them, but they are going to be different," coach Didier Deschamps said. "Those 23 players will be linked forever, forever. Whatever happens — they might follow different paths, but they will be marked forever and they will be together thanks to this event." Griezmann, man of the match in a World Cup final, will be on posters throughout the republic, asked for endorsements, a mainstay of commercials. He will asked for autographs for the rest of his life. "I'm going to be in the history of French football with my team," Griezmann said. "We don't quite realize it yet. Our children will very proud to have our names.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 16th, 2018

Young and united, England looks good as a title contender

By Graham Dunbar, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — A famous song lyric neatly describes the upbeat feeling around England's rejuvenated national soccer team. It's not "football's coming home." Instead, try the old punk rock line: "If the kids are united, they will never be defeated." The positive emotions of England's young players are evident toward coach Gareth Southgate despite the 2-1 loss to Croatia in extra time in the World Cup semifinals. "You've brought belief and the love of football back. Thank you boss from the whole nation," 20-year-old forward Marcus Rashford wrote on his Twitter account Thursday. You’ve brought belief and the love of football back. Thank you boss from the whole nation ❤️⚽️ pic.twitter.com/2meUAFlIN5 — Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) July 12, 2018 Over-achieving in a first major international test for Southgate and many of the squad has banished the anxiety that harmed too many England teams in recent years. Rashford, a sharp and fast second-half substitute in Moscow on Wednesday, is not even the youngest of Southgate's players in Russia. At 19, Trent Alexander-Arnold impressed in the Champions League final for Liverpool in May, and weeks later started his first World Cup game, against Belgium. "It has been an honor to be a part of this special team. We will be back stronger," Alexander-Arnold wrote on Twitter early Thursday. Absolutely devastated that our journey is over! We enjoyed every moment as a nation, I’d like to thank all the staff and fans for being behind us. It has been an honour to be a part of this special team. We will be back stronger 💔🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 pic.twitter.com/LErwj4QqZm — Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) July 11, 2018 Alexander-Arnold, a quick, right-sided defender, will need to force his way into the team past Kieran Trippier, perhaps the standout success of England's tournament. Trippier delivered world-class corners, crosses and free kicks, including the fifth-minute goal against Croatia that raised hope of a first World Cup final berth since 1966. The Tottenham player gave an emotional endorsement of Southgate, who seems likely to guide England's team to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. "It all comes from the manager, unbelievable manager for me personally, the way he handles the team," Trippier said at the Luzhniki Stadium. "He sets the tone, he brought this team together." A relatively late bloomer at 27, Trippier is a rare England player who will turn 30 before kickoff in Qatar on Nov. 21, 2022. The four attackers who started Wednesday, including 24-year-old captain Harry Kane, are between 22 and 25. The heart of the defense — John Stones, Harry Maguire, plus goalkeeper Jordan Pickford — are in the same age bracket. It's a talent pool setting up England as a serious title contender in the coming years. There is still room for envy if England can bear watching the World Cup final on Sunday. In the midfield duels, France fields the elegance and power of Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante against Croatia's precise pair of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic. There isn't likely to be a Modric-type player in England's team ahead of the 2020 European Championship to help retain the ball, pace the play, and manage the toughest games. Those are the kinds of qualities England needed after halftime against Croatia. "If we're in the position again, we'll be better off because of the experience of what we've just had," said 28-year-old Jordan Henderson, who was Liverpool's captain in that Champions League final loss to Modric and Real Madrid. The incentives are huge. Euro 2020 is being hosted across 12 countries, but England could qualify and be placed in a group based at Wembley Stadium, travel for two knockout rounds, then come home for the semifinals and final at Wembley. "The aim if we're at the Euros in two years' time is to go again," said Kane, who should be Southgate's chosen captain for years to come. Before qualifying starts next March, England is in a fascinating group for the inaugural UEFA Nations League, which starts in September. Spain, under new coach Luis Enrique, visits Wembley on Sept. 8. England then travels to face Croatia on Oct. 12. The return games will be completed by November......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 13th, 2018

All those oh, so nears and more for England at World Cup

By Rob Harris, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — They sing of alcohol and agony, and of all those oh, so nears. The anguished English now have another line to add to the lyrics of "Three Lions": Football's not coming home. There was no penalty heartache this time, like in the semifinals at the 1990 World Cup or 1996 European Championship. But a 2-1 loss to Croatia in extra time stopped England from reaching its first World Cup final since 1966. "It hurts a lot," England striker Harry Kane said. "It's going to hurt for a while." The fans sang of 30 years of hurt in 1996. Two years later, they refreshed it to 32. But the Lightning Seeds, an English musical act, stopped producing updates after that. It's now 52 years and counting. England came very close on Wednesday. For more than an hour, Gareth Southgate's young team led Croatia before the weary, aging opposition sprung back into life at the Luzhniki Stadium. Now, on their way to St. Petersburg for a third-place playoff against Belgium, there are just so many agonizing misses to replay in their heads. Kane. Jesse Lingard. Raheem Sterling. Chances to build on the lead secured by Kieran Trippier's free kick in the fifth minute. While Trippier did Bend it like Beckham for his goal, this generation of England players is far removed from the celebrity-obsessed David Beckham-era that straddled the millennium. They even managed to win a game on penalties, breaking the streak of five tournament shootout losses, in the round of 16. "Wasn't to be this time," British Prime Minister Theresa May wrote on Twitter amid the latest Brexit turmoil within her government, "but it's been a great journey that's made the country proud." There is a genuine sense of warmth between this squad and its followers. The apathy of just four years ago — when the 90,000-capacity Wembley Stadium was more than half empty — replaced by a newfound affection for the national team under Southgate. Fans could relate to players like Kane, Trippier and John Stones, who toiled through lower leagues to eventually reach the pinnacle of the game. The coach even became an unlikely fashion icon. "If we have brought joy back home, which I know we have," Southgate said, "that has been worthwhile." Tens of thousands packed into Hyde Park in central London to watch Wednesday's match, roaring in delight and flinging beer in the air when Trippier scored. Thousands more made the journey from England to Russia, packing into the Luzhniki after shunning the group stage. Even after Mario Mandzukic's 109th-minute goal, a young squad was saluted for exceeding expectations with its deep progress in this year's tournament. "They are still maturing and Croatia have some hardened warriors," Southgate said. "They have broken through a number of barriers over the last few weeks. We have made such strides with our supporters." And still they sang , long after the final whistle as midnight approached, about "drinking all your vodka." There are sorrows to drown, but this was not an embarrassment for England. No need to rip up the script that has seen England recover from the humiliation of being denied a place at the 2008 European Championship by Croatia with a coaching blueprint instilled through all age groups winning titles. Champions last year at both the under-17 and under-20 World Cups, collecting the main prize will have to wait at least until 2022. A timepiece at the national team's St. George's Park base has been counting down to the final in Qatar. It was compared to the Doomsday Clock when new leadership took charge at the Football Association. But Southgate has real optimism that his team can hit its peak in the Gulf in four years — from Kane up front to Jordan Pickford in goal. "It's clear to everyone the progress that's been made in terms of the level of performances and the quality of the group," Southgate said. "This is a thoroughly different journey." English soccer has now had its reset moment. The country came to Russia to regain respect. From the ignominy of the failure to win a game at the 2014 World Cup to the meek collapse against Iceland in the round of 16 at Euro 2016. "This team has taken us to a place that we never thought we would ever have imagined we would get," Gary Neville, England's assistant coach during the Euro 2016 campaign, said on British broadcaster ITV. "They have taken the nation with them." For all the playfulness in practice with rubber chickens, splashing around with unicorns in a pool and the sense this was a group of friends having fun on an extended summer vacation, there was always a steely, winning mindset. There should be tinges of regret about falling short at a World Cup where defending champion Germany was eliminated in the group stage, and Argentina, Brazil and Spain fell before the semifinals. England does not appear in semifinals very often. Southgate was in the last one 22 years ago. A post-match news conference after the loss to Croatia looked like the last place he wanted to be. "I'm trying to get the balance right," Southgate said, "of recognizing that tonight was a wonderful opportunity for us and you can't guarantee that those opportunities will ever come again." Football will come home in two years when Wembley Stadium stages seven games, including the semifinals and final, at the 2020 European Championship. Southgate has to find a way to get his team one step further than in Russia. Without just coming oh, so near......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 12th, 2018

Coach of England wins the nation s heart by being a nice guy

By Danica Kirka, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — In an age of tattoos, tongue piercings and tensions over Brexit, a soft-spoken man in a dark blue waistcoat and striped tie is uniting England amid dreams of victory in soccer's World Cup. Coach Gareth Southgate is the buttoned-down leader of a new generation of players who speak softly and let their victories silence critics. And England supporters have found that refreshing after years of underperforming teams led by stars such as David Beckham, who became as much a celebrity as an athlete. "He's very much about a team spirit. It's more about the collective — you can see it in the way he deals with the squad," said Paul Willis, who was in the stands last Saturday in Samara, Russia, when England reached the semifinals with a 2-0 victory over Sweden. "We had superstars, but we didn't have a team." Southgate's focus on teamwork and civility has made him an unlikely icon in a country that is deeply divided by bitter arguments over plans to leave the European Union and a widening gap between rich and poor. England Captain Harry Kane may be the tournament's leading scorer, but fans are donning waistcoats and ties — even as the country enjoys an unusually hot summer — in homage to Southgate as pundits extol the 47-year-old coach's calm leadership. "He has shown us the value of courtesy, kindness, hard work and that most derided of virtues, niceness," columnist India Knight wrote in the Sunday Times. "He has redefined not just how to be a manager, but how to be a man." Southgate displayed his character after England's July 3 victory over Colombia, offering a supportive hug to Colombian player Mateus Uribe after his miss in a penalty shootout helped England advance. The England coach understood Uribe's agony, having missed a similar shot at the 1996 European championships. The moment of empathy also reminded the country how Southgate once lampooned his own failure with a Pizza Hut commercial in which he wore a bag over his head to shield his identity from angry fans. Southgate's compassion sparked a hashtag for the coach's real and imagined acts of kindness such as "#GarethSouthgateWould stop and help you put the chain back on your bike even if he was all dressed in his waistcoat and late for the game." Southgate became manager less than two years ago after the Football Association's first choice was forced out after unguarded comments to undercover reporters. Since then he has quietly ushered out the last of the old stars and brought together a group of youngsters who modestly shrug off compliments and give kudos to their teammates. Perhaps more importantly, he recognized the contribution of the fans, something that had been eroded during the superstar era. After every game, Southgate and his players walk across the field to applaud the supporters who have traveled to Russia to cheer for the team. "We had lost a bit of connection," Willis, a 57-year-old fan from Birmingham, said of past regimes. "That is now back. All the team and the back room applaud our input to the game." That has also translated into huge support back home in football-mad England. At least 20 million people, 38 percent of England's population, watched Saturday's victory over Sweden, according to figures from the BBC. Commentators say the actual number was much higher because so many people watched the game on huge screens in parks and shopping centers. London authorities are inviting 30,000 fans to the city's Hyde Park for a screening of Wednesday's semifinal against Croatia. Fearing demand will far exceed that, authorities stressed that only those with tickets should come to the park. Ticket services reported hundreds of people were trying to dump theater tickets for Wednesday because they had more pressing business elsewhere. Social media sites are urging fans to wear waistcoats — please don't call them vests — to the office ahead of the big match — a "Waistcoat Wednesday" if you will. Marks & Spencer, the official tailor to the England team, says sales of the grandfatherly garments have doubled during the World Cup. Rio Ferdinand, one of the previous "golden generation" of players who is now a commentator for the BBC, has been leading the cheers for this year's team, asking fans to post video of their beer-throwing, chest-bearing, flag-waving celebrations after the win over Sweden. On Sunday, Ferdinand tweeted his own mea culpa for past failures, while also highlighting Southgate's unique contribution. "Why weren't the golden generation... the golden generation???" he tweeted. "We as players look at ourselves first...we never performed....but sometimes you have to be allowed to perform! Gareth is allowing this current @England to do this." That's paying off. Kane, who turns 25 later this month, has scored six goals in the tournament. Dele Alli, 22, came back from injury to score the team's second goal against Sweden. Fabian Delph, 28, played the last 15 minutes of Saturday's game after missing the previous game against Colombia because Southgate allowed him to go home for the birth of his third child. Southgate himself recognizes the contributions of everyone, from the physiotherapists to the players who push their teammates in practice but rarely get into a game, even to fans back home. "Our country has been through some difficult moments recently in terms of its unity, and I think sport has the power to do that and football in particular has the power to do that," he said. "So for us, we can feel the energy and we can feel the support from home, and that's, that's a very special feeling. It's a privilege." Barring that, it does help to have a snappy waistcoat. "Quite frankly, I don't care what he wears," Willis said. "He can wear a tutu if we carry on winning.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 11th, 2018

Denmark goalkeeper gets one-upped in World Cup shootout

By Stephen Wade, Associated Press NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia (AP) — Despite saving three penalties, Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel got one-upped in the shootout. Schmeichel first saved a penalty from Croatia playmaker Luka Modric late in extra time to force Sunday's match to a shootout. He then saved two more spot kicks, but it was Croatia that advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals. "It's a strange feeling," Schmeichel said. "Huge disappointment but also enormous pride about our team. I think today we had the opportunity." The match ended in a 1-1 draw. Croatia keeper Danijel Subasic then set a tournament record by saving three penalties in the shootout, which Croatia won 3-2. Schmeichel and Subasic stopped five spot kicks combined, a record in a World Cup shootout and one of the greatest goalkeeping displays in tournament history. "He saved three penalties in a shootout," Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said of his goalkeeper. "'You don't see that every day." Schmeichel's first penalty save came in the 116th minute when he dived to his left to smother the attempt from Modric. He later saved spot kicks from Milan Badelj and Josip Pivaric. "I'm sorry for Kasper and the whole team," Denmark coach Age Hareide said. "That's just the brutality of football." Schmeichel was playing with his famous father in the stadium, the pain and joy on Peter Schmeichel's face flashing on the giant TV screen as he watched his son play. He jumped up and down after each penalty save. The elder Schmeichel, who played for Manchester United, was in goal when Denmark beat the Netherlands in a penalty shootout in the semifinals of the 1992 European Championship. Denmark went on to win that title. The current Denmark goalkeeper, who does not like to be compared to his famous father, said it was difficult to accept the result. "There are many emotions right now," said Schmeichel, who won the Premier League title with Leicester in 2016. Schmeichel said he seldom practices penalties because it's impossible to replicate the pressure and adrenalin in practice. "Pressure does something to players and people and it's natural," Schmeichel said. "I've played a lot of games and today with the penalties I went with my intuition, what I felt in the moment. That was unfortunately not enough in the end.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 2nd, 2018

Uruguay happy that Suarez, Cavani find their rhythm together

By Pablo Elias Giussani, Associated Press NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia (AP) — Uruguay waited for 12 long years before the national team could celebrate goals from Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani in the same match at a World Cup. For the first time in coach Oscar Tabarez's tenure, both forwards scored in the same game and they couldn't have chosen a better time: The convincing 3-0 defeat of host Russia secured Uruguay's status as group winner and as one of the most solid teams of the tournament's opening stage after taking a full nine points. "It's important that goal scorers score goals," Tabarez said. "Let them get into their flow. Not because of selfishness, but because they contribute a lot. I believe it's very important that both Edi and Luis scored." Both players will need to be at their best when Uruguay faces Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo in the round of 16 on Saturday in Sochi. Against Russia on Monday, Suarez scored from a free kick with a low shot that sailed past Russia's wall and into the right corner. Cavani pounced on a loose ball after the goalkeeper parried it from a header by Diego Godin. Cavani poked it home for Uruguay's third goal. It was Suarez's seventh goal in three World Cups, while it was only a third for Cavani. Cavani, one of the world's greatest scorers in club football with 323 goals in 12 years with Danubio, Palermo, Napoli and current team Paris Saint Germain, hasn't had the same success at World Cups. He scored one goal in each tournament in South Africa in 2010, when Uruguay reached the semifinals, and in Brazil in 2014, when the South Americans were eliminated in the round of 16. But Suarez and Cavani now join an exclusive club of players that have scored in three consecutive World Cups. "Statistics are there to be broken," Suarez said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 27th, 2018

Sweden hit out at Germans for rubbing it in with celebrations

Supporters of the German national football team react after their team scored a second goal as they watch on a giant screen the Russia 2018 World Cup Group F football match between Germany and Swed.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philippinetimesRelated NewsJun 24th, 2018

Serbs angrier at World Cup ref than at nationalist gestures

By Mike Corder, Associated Press KALININGRAD, Russia (AP) — Serbs appeared angrier Saturday at the referee who officiated their country's 2-1 World Cup defeat than at two Swiss players who provocatively flashed Albanian nationalist gestures after scoring. Years of simmering Balkan tensions surfaced at the World Cup on Friday night as Switzerland beat Serbia in Kaliningrad. The two Swiss goals came from ethnic Albanians Xherdan Shaqiri and Granit Xhaka, both of whom celebrated with a hand signal of the double-headed eagle on the Albanian flag. "The Swiss Provocation," wrote Serb nationalist daily newspaper Vecernje Novosti alongside photographs of the gestures and a picture of Shaqiri's boots, which have the Kosovo flag on one heel and the Swiss flag on the other. FIFA's disciplinary committee opened proceedings against the two for the politically charged goal celebrations. FIFA also said Saturday it has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Serbian Football Association for crowd disturbance and the display of political and offensive messages by Serbian fans. FIFA also is reviewing statements that Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic made after the match. The families of both goal scorers hail from Kosovo , the former Serb province whose 2008 declaration of independence is not recognized by Serbia and remains a source of friction between the Balkan neighbors. Thousands of Kosovo Albanians trekked across Europe in the 1990s, fleeing rising ethnic tensions that culminated in a bloody 1998-99 war of independence between ethnic Albanians and Serb forces that left about 10,000 people dead. Many settled in Switzerland, but still have strong feelings for their homeland — Xhaka's brother plays for the Albanian national team. Serbian football officials complained to FIFA, soccer's governing body, about the gestures, but appeared far angrier about the failure of German referee Felix Brych to use a video review when two Swiss defenders manhandled Serbia striker Aleksandar Mitrovic to the ground in the second half. Brych ignored Serbian players' penalty appeals. FIFA had no comment Saturday about the video decision. Serbian football association Vice President Savo Milosevic reacted angrily after the match. "I understand maybe the referee didn't see it, but that's why we put VAR (video assisted review) on," Milosevic said. "What are (those) guys doing up there?" Serbian newspapers gave more space to the VAR spat than to the nationalist gestures. In the Kosovo capital, Pristina, fans set off flares when the Swiss players scored . Fans in the Albanian capital, Tirana, cheered as they watched the match on outdoor screens. Kosovo's president Hashim Thaci wrote on Twitter: "Congratulations to goalscorers Xhaka, Shaqiri and entire #Switzerland on a well deserved win! Proud of you." He finished his tweet: "Kosova ju don!" — an Albanian phrase meaning "Kosovo loves you!" Thaci is due to meet his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic in Brussels on Sunday for European Union-brokered talks on their countries' strained relationship. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama posted on his Facebook page photos of Shaqiri and Xhaka with their hands crossed in the two-headed eagle symbol and wrote: "Photo of the day." Meanwhile in Kaliningrad the day after the match, fans of both sides were not impressed by the gestures. "Politics shouldn't be mixed in with sports," said Stefan Gabrilovic, a Serbia supporter who lives in Australia. "I mean, it's not right, it's not right at all." Switzerland fan Mannie Affolter agreed. "I think it's not necessary but I cannot stop them," Affolter said. "For me it's too political, they should concentrate on sports. I don't like it either." Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic, who was born in Bosnia, another Balkan nation that fought a war of independence as Yugoslavia collapsed in the 1990s, didn't approve, either. "You should never mix politics and football. You should always show respect," he said after the match. "It's a wonderful atmosphere and a positive experience and that's what football should be about." ____ Associated Press writers Dusan Stojanovic in Belgrade and Llazar Semini in Tirana, Albania, contributed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 24th, 2018

Boxing: New father Albert Pagara drawing inspiration from baby boy

A confident and composed ‘Prince’ Albert Pagara put on a show in front of his hometown of Maasin, Southern Leyte, Saturday evening in the main event of Pinoy Pride 44: Laban sa Leyte. Looking like the dominant ‘Prince’ Albert of old, Pagara dominated Ghanaian opponent Laryea Gabriel Odoi in three rounds to reclaim the WBO Intercontinental Super Bantamweight Championship for a second run with the regional title. (READ ALSO: Albert Pagara back to form, sets sights on world champion Dogboe) It was the same title that the lost to Cesar Juarez in 2016, and getting it back was a bit of redemption for the ALA Boxing Promotions standout. While the ultimate goal of one day becoming a world champion - like stablemates Donnie Nietes and Milan Melindo - is the main motivation for Pagara, the 24-year old found a new source of inspiration heading into his bout against Odoi in Maasin. After dispatching his Ghanaian foe, Pagara thanked the people of Maasin, and then gave a special shoutout to his son, three month old Prince Albert. Talking to ABS-CBN Sports after the bout, Pagara shared that baby Prince Albert was his unico hijo. “Inspirasyon ko yung anak ko kasi yan yung first baby ko,” For Pagara, having a baby was also a dream that was intertwined with his world championship aspirations. “Nangarap ako na magka-baby ako, para pag nag-boboxing ako, may inspiration ako.” The new father adds that having a young one at home will help keep him focused on the ultimate goal. “Dati family ko yung inspiration ko, ngayon may baby ako, pag-umuuwi ako hindi puyat.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 11th, 2018

Israel in uproar over Argentina pre-World Cup friendly snub

By Aron Heller, Associated Press JERUSALEM (AP) — The sports-crazed nation of Israel was in uproar Wednesday over Argentina's abrupt cancellation of a World Cup warmup match following pro-Palestinian protests, with some of the country's leaders accusing Lionel Messi and his teammates of caving to terrorism. Israel was eagerly awaiting the sold-out international friendly scheduled for Saturday night at Jerusalem's Teddy Kollek Stadium and the arrival of some of the world's best players. Argentina is one of the most popular national teams among Israelis and fans had been scrambling to get a chance to see Messi in person. But after a fierce Palestinian campaign, which included images of Argentina's white and sky-blue striped jersey stained with red paint resembling blood and threats to burn Messi posters, Argentina's football federation announced it was skipping the event. Claudio Tapia, president of the Argentine Football Association, apologized for cancelling the match but said the safety of the players was at stake. "What has happened in the last 72 hours, the actions, the threats that have occurred have led us to take the decision not to travel," he said during a news conference in Barcelona, where the Argentine team is training prior to the start of the World Cup next week. "(We) apologize to the Israeli community. It's nothing against the Israeli community, the Jewish community and I would like everyone to take this decision as a contribution to world peace," he said. "In the end, they've done the right thing, and this is behind us," Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain told ESPN. "Health and common sense come first. We felt that it wasn't right to go." Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Argentine President Mauricio Macri and urged him to intervene, to no avail. Later Wednesday, Israel's Sports Ministry said a "negotiation" about the match was underway, perhaps in hopes of salvaging it, but gave no further details. "It's unfortunate the soccer knights of Argentina did not withstand the pressure of the Israeli-hating inciters, whose only goal is to harm our basic right to self-defense and bring about the destruction of Israel," said Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. "We will not yield before a pack of anti-Semitic terrorist supporters." The head of the Palestinian football association, Jibril Rajoub, had called on Arab soccer fans to burn Messi posters and T-shirts if he participated. He has long tried to get soccer's world governing body, FIFA, and the International Olympic Committee to impose sanctions against Israel. Rajoub believes Israel should be punished for restricting movement of Palestinian players, and for forming teams in West Bank settlements. Rajoub had also objected to holding the match in Jerusalem, whose eastern sector the Palestinians claim as their capital. Although the Kollek stadium is in west Jerusalem, it is located in a neighborhood built where a Palestinian village once stood before it was destroyed in the war surrounding Israel's independence in 1948. Following the move, he held a press conference in Ramallah featuring a picture of him with Messi and a sign reading: "From Palestine, thank you Messi." Rajoub had accused Israel of playing politics with the game, by moving it from its original location in Haifa to Jerusalem, and by trying to link it to celebrations surrounding Israel's 70th anniversary. He called it a victory for "ethics and values" of sports. "They tried to use sport as a tool for political ends, and for this I think, they failed," Rajoub said. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said it was a sad morning for Israeli sports fans, including his own grandchildren. "But there are values that are greater than even Messi. The politicization of the Argentinean move worries me greatly," he said. Opposition figures, however, accused Israel's headline-seeking sports minister Miri Regev of bringing on the politicization of the sporting event by insisting on moving the game from Haifa to contested Jerusalem and by trying to orchestrate a politicized photo-op with Messi. Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and annexed the area in a move that is not internationally recognized. Israel considers the entire city to be its capital, while the Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. Regev rejected the backlash at a press conference Wednesday evening saying "there is no bigger lie" than claims her decision to hold the match in Jerusalem aided in its cancellation. She said the Argentinians had not objected and that Messi himself had wanted to visit sacred Christian and Jewish sites in the holy city. Regev said the match was canceled following "threats by terror elements sent to Messi and his family and to other players." Opposition leader Isaac Herzog called the snub a "spectacular own goal" by Regev that delivered victory to boycotters of the Jewish State. Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay called for a police investigation into Regev's "corrupt conduct." "We just absorbed a shot in the face. This is not just sports," he tweeted. "This, unfortunately, could start an international tsunami." Regev claimed that "terrorist" groups had made threats against Argentina's players and their families, sending them images of dead children, though she gave no further evidence. She accused members of the Israeli parliament, or Knesset, of backing the boycott advocates. "Unfortunately, we have Trojan Horses in the Knesset who give headwind to terrorism," she said. The Palestinian militant Islamic group Hamas praised Argentina for canceling the game. Spokesman Husam Badran said Hamas "applauds" the move and reiterated its position that rejects "all forms of normalization" with the Jewish state. A senior official at the Argentine Football Federation said the national team decided to call off the match with Israel after receiving threats from Hamas. The official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity due to safety concerns, did not provide evidence or details of the alleged threats. A Hamas official mocked reports that the group had threatened the players, calling them unrealistic, and saying they don't deserve a comment. The Hamas official was not authorized to comment in the issue and also spoke on condition of anonymity. Hamas is sworn to Israel's destruction and has ruled Gaza with an iron fist since it took over the territory in 2007. Israel and the United States consider it a terror organization for its bombings, shooting and rocket attacks targeting civilians. Israel has largely fended off the boycott campaign with only a small number of artists and organizations shunning the country. Argentina's snubbing would appear to be the boycott movement's greatest achievement thus far. The grassroots movement advocates boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel in what supporters say is a way to promote Palestinian rights through nonviolent means. Israel says the campaign goes beyond Israeli occupation of lands claimed by the Palestinians and masks a deeper aim of delegitimizing or even destroying the country. It has formed a government ministry whose primary mission is to combat the boycott movement. The Argentinean move, which featured on the front pages of all the major Israeli dailies, raised fears that it could serve as a template for future boycotts of Jerusalem, most notably next year's scheduled hosting of the popular Eurovision song contest. The Palestinians celebrated the cancellation as a major triumph. Israeli organizers said an offer had been floated to have the game played in Barcelona instead, but it was highly unlikely. "I think sports should never be involved with politics," said Shahaf Ashraga, a fan in Jerusalem. "It just makes me sad to think that the game has to be canceled because of the Palestinian pressure." Argentina opens its Group D campaign in Russia against Iceland on June 16. It then plays Croatia on June 21 and Nigeria on June 26. It is unclear whether Argentina will play another warmup, or if it will arrive in Moscow ahead of schedule. ___ Associated Press writers Debora Rey and Victor Caivano in Buenos Aires, Argentina, contributed......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 7th, 2018

2018 World Cup has Pinoy flavor with France GK Alphonse Areola

At 25 years old, Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Alphonse Areola is already a folk hero of sorts, especially to fans of the France U-20 team, but a missed opportunity for Philippine football. The French keeper, whose parents are both of Filipino descent, was the hero in Les Bleus' magical run to the title at the U-20 World Cup back in 2013. Areola made pressure-packed stops in the penalty shootout against Uruguay to help France hoist its first-ever U-20 championship. As far back as 2011, Dan Palami had already asked the 6'5" keeper to consider suiting up for the Azkals. Seven years later, Areola is now a decorated member of the French national youth squad, and is poised to make his mark in the biggest stage of international football. Areola will be backstopping French shotstoppers like Tottenham's Hugo Lloris and Steve Mandanda of Olympique Marseille as Les Bleus looks to capture its first World Cup title in 20 years.       You can catch Alphonse and the rest of Les Bleus on ABS-CBN S+A, and LIGA at the 2018 FIFA World Cup LIVE from Russia starting June 14. Here's the complete schedule......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 5th, 2018

Neymar makes spectacular return as Brazil beats Croatia, 2-0

LIVERPOOL, England --- Only three months ago, Brazil striker Neymar was on an operating table and in danger of missing the World Cup in Russia. Those fears largely disappeared Sunday when Neymar returned to action with smart dribbling, fluent passing and an impressive individual goal, which he celebrated with his surgeon. Playing for the first time since February, Neymar scored the opener in Brazil's 2-0 friendly win against Croatia in Liverpool after coming on for the second half. He then ran to hug Brazilian soccer confederation doctor Rodrigo Lasmar on the sidelines at Anfield. "I am so happy to play football again. I have waited and worked a lot for this. I suffered, the...Keep on reading: Neymar makes spectacular return as Brazil beats Croatia, 2-0.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 4th, 2018