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Football Extras: Sala's body arrives in Argentina for weekend funeral

Last updated on: February 15, 2019 20:50 IST

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Emiliano Sala

IMAGE: Tributes left outside the Stade de la Beaujoire stadium in Louis Fonteneau, Nantes, in France for Emiliano Sala.  Photograph: Stephane Mahe/File Photo/Reuters

The body of footballer Emiliano Sala arrived in Argentina on Friday, ahead of this weekend's wake and burial in his home town.

TV pictures showed a van carrying the body being slowly escorted out of the Buenos Aires airport by police vehicles.

The body is being driven to Progreso, around 538km (334 miles) northwest of the capital Buenos Aires, for a vigil and wake.

Sala, 28, had been flying from his previous club Nantes in western France to Wales on Jan. 21 to join up with Cardiff City when the single-engined Piper Malibu aircraft disappeared over the English Channel.

Wreckage was found on Feb. 3 following a privately-funded underwater search and a body was recovered three days later.

Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock and chief executive Ken Choo are among those who will attend the funeral.

Man United forwards Martial and Lingard out for up to three weeks

Manchester United forwards Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard have been ruled out for up to three weeks due to injuries and will miss their next two matches against Chelsea and Liverpool, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said on Friday.

Lingard and Martial suffered muscle injuries in the first half against Paris St Germain in the Champions League at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

"I think they will be out for two to three weeks looking at it now," Solskjaer told a news conference ahead of Monday's FA Cup fifth-round clash against holders Chelsea.

The injury comes as a setback for United, who have won 10 out of their 12 matches under caretaker boss Solskjaer, but it provides an opportunity for forwards Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku to rediscover their goalscoring touch.

Solskjaer said it also opens doors for attacking youngsters Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong, who have been pushing for first-team action this season.

"It is a chance for anyone who plays, whether it is Alexis, Romelu or Angel (Gomes)," the Norwegian coach added.

"Anthony and Jesse have done really well for us, they're vital, but then again with Rom and Alexis, they've got different skill sets and will be able to show what they can do.

"We still have forward options but Angel and Chongy have been training with us all week, even the weeks leading up to this, so there is a big chance they will be involved."

United are also locked in a battle for a top four Premier League finish with Arsenal and Chelsea, and face title contenders Liverpool at Old Trafford on Feb. 24.

French league to fight against racist Mbappe graffiti

The graffiti was discovered in one of the French capital's metropolitan trains on Tuesday, prompting the International League against Racism and anti-Semitism (LICRA) to file a complaint

IMAGE: The graffiti was discovered in one of the French capital's metropolitan trains on Tuesday, prompting the International League against Racism and anti-Semitism (LICRA) to file a complaint. Photograph: Pilar Olivares/Reuters

The French football league (LFP) said on Thursday it will join a lawsuit against the authors of racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic graffiti targeting Paris St Germain striker Kylian Mbappe.

The graffiti was discovered in one of the French capital's metropolitan trains on Tuesday, prompting the International League against Racism and anti-Semitism (LICRA) to file a complaint.


The authors of the graffiti have yet to be identified.

"The LFP will join the lawsuit initiated by LICRA against the authors of this graffiti," the LFP wrote in a statement.

"The LFP condemns the racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic graffiti targeting Kylian Mbappe."

Mbappe, whose father is from Cameroon and whose mother is of Algerian origin, was born in Paris.

The 20-year-old striker was one of the heroes of France's victorious World Cup campaign in Russia last year, scoring their fourth goal in their 4-2 win over Croatia in the final.

Infantino defends FIFA from criticism over Bahraini footballer

FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Friday defended world soccer's governing body over its perceived lack of action in the case of refugee Bahraini footballer Hakeem Al Araibi, saying it had been working behind the scenes in the affair.

Araibi was held in a Thai prison for more than two months at the Gulf state's request before arriving in his adoptive home Australia on Tuesday to cheers from hundreds of supporters.

The 25-year-old fled Bahrain in 2014 after being accused of crimes committed during the 2011 Arab Spring protests, which he denies, and received refugee status in Australia. He had travelled to Thailand for his honeymoon.

"We have been working for this solution through official channels obviously. We have been working as well behind the scenes," Infantino told a news conference in Istanbul when asked about criticism over the lack of FIFA public statements on the case.

"I prefer not to make any press conferences or any big statements. I prefer to have results. This is how we are working at FIFA," he said at the end of a FIFA summit in Istanbul.

"I think we can celebrate the fact that everything ended in a very positive way, and we are just happy about that," Infantino said.

"It is not the merit or no merit of anyone in particular; it's all those who have contributed," he said.

Araibi had been convicted of vandalising a police station in Bahrain and was sentenced to 10 years in prison in absentia.

He has denied any wrongdoing, saying that he was playing in a televised match at the time the offence was committed, and was granted asylum in Australia in 2017. Bahrain, however, sought his extradition from Thailand.

He was freed after nearly three months of diplomacy, legal manoeuvring by the governments of Australia, Thailand and Bahrain, and a public campaign by footballers and human rights activists.

UEFA investigate after Ramos says he got booked on purpose

UEFA has launched a disciplinary investigation that could rule Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos out of a potential Champions League quarter-final, first leg after he admitted getting booked on purpose in Wednesday's 2-1 win at Ajax Amsterdam.

With Madrid 2-1 up in the last-16 first leg, Ramos was shown a yellow card in the 89th minute, his third booking of the European campaign which means he will be suspended from the second leg of the tie in the Spanish capital on March 5.

Should holders Madrid progress to the quarter-finals, Ramos would then have a clean slate for the final stretch of Europe's elite competition, which his side have monopolised since 2016.

In an extraordinary post-match interview, Ramos said he intentionally got booked against Ajax, which breaks UEFA's rules and is punishable with an extra one-match suspension.

European soccer's governing body UEFA said on Thursday that it had launched a disciplinary investigation "in connection with the statements made" by Ramos.

The Spain international, who was playing his 600th game for Madrid, later attempted to row back on his comments with two posts on Twitter in which he regretted getting suspended for the second leg.

UEFA added that Ajax had been charged over the throwing of objects, setting off of fireworks and display of an "illicit banner" by fans. Real were charged with the setting off of fireworks.

Barcelona extend coach Valverde’s contract until 2020

Barcelona have extended coach Ernesto Valverde's contract by another year until the end of the 2019-20 season with an option for one more season, the La Liga club said on Friday.

The 55-year-old guided Barcelona to the league and cup double last season and has, so far, won 65 of his 96 games in charge in all competitions.

"FC Barcelona and Ernesto Valverde, the first team coach, have reached an agreement to extend the contract between the two parties for another season (2019/20) with the option for one more (2020/21)," the club said in a statement on their website.

Valverde almost led the side to an unbeaten league campaign in his debut season, winning 28 games and losing only once.

Barcelona are on course for another league title this season and sit atop the standings with 51 points from 23 games, six points ahead of rivals Real Madrid.

UEFA satisfied with VAR debut in Champions League knockouts

Video Assistant Referee (VAR) "worked perfectly" at all stadiums that hosted the first leg of the last-16 Champions League ties this week, according to UEFA's chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti.

VAR was implemented for the first time in Europe's premier club competition and was called into action in games when tight offside and penalty decisions were involved.

"I am very happy with the way VAR was implemented," Rosetti said in a statement on the UEFA website.

"The technology worked perfectly, and the refereeing teams performed at a very high level."

The most talked-about decision involved VAR ruling out Ajax's first-half opener against Real Madrid after it deemed Dusan Tadic to be offside when Nicolas Tagliafico headed the ball past Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

UEFA stood by the decision to chalk off the goal but questions were raised over the time it took to reach a verdict, with the restart delayed by nearly three minutes.

Rosetti promised to look into improving the system's efficiency.

"The most important thing is that the referee took the right decision. Accuracy is more important than speed," Rosetti added.

"We have to take into account that this was a very complex situation where the VAR had to check two possible offside situations and the referee also had to consider the interference of the attacking player."

Rosetti said VAR also reviewed but did not intervene in two other decisions which involved a Porto handball outside the box at AS Roma and a delayed offside call against Paris St Germain at Manchester United.

Chile joins Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay in World Cup bid

Chile joined three neighbouring South American countries in a bid to host the 2030 soccer World Cup, according to a joint statement from their governments released on Thursday.

The bid, which previously included only Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, is up against bids from England, and another bid from Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

The 2030 World Cup will mark the centennial of soccer's most important championship. The first was held in Uruguay in 1930.

Simeone renews Atletico contract until 2022

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has renewed his contract until 2022, the club said on Thursday in a video posted on social media, meaning the Argentine is set to complete a decade in charge of the La Liga side.

"I would like to thank all the directors and all the fans of Atletico Madrid for their support in the continuity of this project," Simeone said in the video.

"We look forward to the project continuing until 2022 with a lot of excitement, knowing that big challenges await us."

Simeone, 48, who spent two separate spells at Atletico as a player, took over as coach in December 2011 with the club hovering above the relegation zone and transformed them into one of the top sides in Europe.

Simeone has won seven trophies with Atletico, including two Europa League titles, one Copa del Rey and one La Liga title, and has taken them to two Champions League finals, losing in 2014 and 2016 to Real Madrid.

Liverpool's Lovren unlikely to face Bayern, says Klopp

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp concedes he faces a selection dilemma as centre back Dejan Lovren is unlikely to feature against Bayern Munich in Tuesday's Champions League last 16 fixture at Anfield.

Lovren is still recovering from a hamstring injury sustained against Wolverhampton Wanderers last month and the Croatia defender did not travel with the rest of the squad to the club's warm-weather training camp in Marbella this week.

"I don't want to rule it out but I cannot really plan with it," Klopp told the club's website.

"He is not here for good reasons, because he cannot be part of training. We are back on Friday. Then from Saturday on, Dejan is back at Melwood and we will see."

First-choice centre back Joe Gomez is out of action having undergone surgery on a fractured leg, with no timescale put on his return.

With Virgil van Dijk suspended for the first leg encounter against the German champions, Klopp may consider slotting in Brazil midfielder Fabinho alongside Joel Matip at the heart of the defence.

"Of course, we have to prepare it differently. If Dejan gives a sign on Monday – 'I feel brilliant' – then we’d have to think anew," Klopp added.

"But in the moment we prepare the game and in this preparation Dejan is not involved. We have to find other solutions."

Monaco sack vice-president Vasilyev over 'important mistakes'

AS Monaco have sacked vice-president Vadim Vasilyev after "important mistakes" saw the club drop to the bottom of the Ligue 1 table, president Dmitri Rybolovlev said on Thursday.

"Important mistakes were made last year, leading to our worst results in seven years," Russian Rybolovlev said in a statement on the principality club's website.

"It is time for change. And these changes do not only affect the team, they also affect the management. That is why I have decided to release Vadim Vasilyev from his duties as vice president."

Monaco are currently third from bottom in Ligue 1, one point below the safety zone, following a slight improvement in form after their former coach Leonardo Jardim was last month brought back to replace the sacked Thierry Henry.

The 44-year-old Portuguese Jardim, who led the club to the French title and the Champions League semi-finals in 2017, was sacked last October after a poor start to the season.

Monaco's former player Henry, the ex-Arsenal and France forward, was hired to replace Jardim but failed to lift the club out of the danger zone in his first job as a manager.

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