News of all that's transpired on and off the football field
Argentina captain Lionel Messi is back in the national squad for the first time since last year's World Cup in Russia, and will play in at least one of their friendlies against Venezuela and Morocco this month, coach Lionel Scaloni said on Thursday.
The Barcelona forward has not played for his country since their last-16 exit at the hands of eventual champions France, opting to take a sabbatical after what was a disappointing tournament for the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.
However, Scaloni said in January that he had a "good feeling" about Messi's possible return from his self-imposed exile, and included him along with 30 other players.
"Leo has been selected, we'll decide later if he plays one game or two," Scaloni told reporters in Buenos Aires.
"I will make that decision."
Messi is Argentina's leading goal scorer with 65 goals but he is often criticised for not reproducing his club form for the national side.
He joins a squad featuring four goalkeepers, 10 home-based players but no Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain or Mauro Icardi.
West Ham United midfielder Manuel Lanzini also returns to the squad for the first time after suffering a knee injury days before the World Cup that ruled him out of action for nearly nine months.
Goalkeepers: Agustin Marchesin, Juan Musso, Esteban Andrada, Franco Armani
Defenders: German Pezzella, Gabriel Mercado, Juan Foyth, Nicolas Otamendi, Walter Kannemann, Nicolas Tagliafico, Marcos Acuna, Gonzalo Montiel, Renzo Saravia, Lisandro Martinez
Midfielders: Leandro Paredes, Guido Rodriguez, Giovani Lo Celso, Manuel Lanzini, Roberto Pereyra, Angel Di Maria, Matiaz Zaracho, Ivan Marcone, Domingo Blanco, Rodrigo De Paul
Forwards: Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Martinez, Paulo Dybala, Angel Correa, Lautaro Martinez, Dario Benedetto, Matias Suarez.
Atletico coach Simeone fined
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has been fined 20,000 euros ($22,486) for a provocative goal celebration in their 2-0 Champions League win over Juventus.
UEFA said in a statement that its disciplinary tribunal had sanctioned Simeone for "improper conduct" after he turned towards the crowd and put his hands on his trousers to celebrate their opening goal in the round of 16, first leg tie on February 20.
Last season, the former Argentina captain missed the Europa League final when he was banned for four European matches after being sent off against Arsenal in the semi-finals for shouting at the referee and pushing the fourth official.
Juventus were fined 30,000 euros and their coach Massimiliano Allegri was given a warning over a late kickoff in the match at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium while Atletico were fined 38,000 euros over blocked stairways and the throwing of objects by their fans.
The second leg will be in Turin on March 12.
Two-match touchline ban 'unfair', says Tottenham's Pochettino
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino said he was "in shock" after receiving a two-match touchline ban from the English Football Association (FA).
Pochettino, who has not yet decided whether he will appeal the ban, was also fined 10,000 pounds ($13,117) by the FA on Wednesday after accepting an improper conduct charge for confronting referee Mike Dean following Tottenham's 2-1 Premier League defeat at Burnley.
"I am in shock. I still think it's unfair. But what can I do now? Nothing, only to accept it," Pochettino told reporters on Thursday ahead of Tottenham's league trip to Southampton.
"I still need to see the reasons but the letter has still not arrived. I am suspended for two games."
Pochettino said he would make a decision on appealing the ban after reading the FA's letter.
"I'm so curious to see why they decided to do what they did. I need to see the reason why, then we'll see what happens. This is my seventh season in England and you can see how I have behaved from day one."
Pochettino managed Saturday's opponents Southampton when he moved to England in 2013 and he hopes the relegation-threatened side, sitting two points above the drop zone, stay up under manager Ralph Hasenhuettl.
"My wish is Southampton finish in a very good way. Hasenhuttl is doing a very good job, Southampton have a very good squad," Pochettino added.
"A lot of people were disappointed when I left the club and they are not going to forgive, but I still love them. In one year-and-a-half I spent there, it was a great experience."
Pochettino also hoped ManchesterCity and Liverpool would join Tottenham and Manchester United in the Champions League quarter-finals as he wanted all four English teams in the next round.
"It's fantastic, both clubs in the quarter-finals is massive for English football, and I hope ManchesterCity and Liverpool can be in the quarter-finals," Pochettino said.
"I'm a person that always tries to help English football, and it's going to be amazing if there are four teams in the quarter-finals."
Roma president furious; Mueller questions Loew
AS Roma president James Pallotta said his team had been 'screwed again' after their Champions League elimination at the hands of Porto on Wednesday, when two VAR decisions went against the Serie A side in the final minutes.
Porto were awarded penalty late in extra time following a VAR review which Alex Telles converted to give them a 3-1 win on the night in the round of 16, second leg tie and send them through 4-3 on aggregate.
Shortly afterwards, Roma forward Patrik Schick went down under a challenge from Moussa Marega in the Porto area and the referee, who consulted the video assistant but did not review the incident himself, waved play on.
"Last year we asked for VAR in the Champions League because we got screwed in the semi-final and tonight, they've got VAR and we still get robbed," Pallotta posted on the club's official Twitter feed.
"Patrik Schick was clearly clipped in the box, VAR shows it, and nothing is given. I’m tired of this crap. I give up."
UEFA could not immediately be reached for comment.
There was no immediate comment from Roma on the future of coach Eusebio Di Francesco, who was already under pressure after a 3-0 derby defeat to Lazio on Saturday.
Di Francesco did not speak to the media after game, instead going straight to the team bus.
'Angry' Mueller questions Loew decision after Germany axe
Germany coach Joachim Loew's decision to end Thomas Mueller's international career has left the Bayern Munich midfielder 'angry' and struggling to come to terms with the manner in which he received the news.
Loew said on Tuesday that the 29-year-old Mueller and his Bayern team mates, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, both 30, were no longer part of Germany's plans as they look to move on from their group stage exit from last year's World Cup.
The trio were part of the Germany squad that won the World Cup in 2014 and Mueller said the sudden nature of the announcement had left a bitter taste.
"The more I think about it, the more the way it was done makes me angry," Mueller said in a video on Instagram. "The coach's decision left me puzzled."
"A coach must make sporting decisions, I don't have a problem with that. But it's mostly the character of the decision that I don't understand. Mats, Jerome and I are still able to play at the highest level."
"The press releases of the German football federation and its president (Reinhard Grindel), prepared in advance, were from my point of view in bad taste and showed a lack of consideration."
Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge questioned the timing of the announcement in a joint statement with the club's sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic.
"The last Germany international was played on Nov. 19," Rummenigge said. "We're disappointed that the players and the public have been informed of this decision some 3-1/2 months later, before crucial games for Bayern."
"We were surprised this happened as part of an unannounced visit by Loew and (team director) Oliver Bierhoff to Bayern."
Defending champions Bayern, who are second in the Bundesliga behind Borussia Dortmund on goal difference, host VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday before facing Liverpool in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie four days later.
Germany play their first international of the year against Serbia in Wolfsburg on March 20.
Turkey bans Kurdish football club's player for life over attack on opponents
A football player of the Kurdish Amedspor club in Turkey's third-tier league has been banned for life for attacking opponent players, the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) said on Thursday.
Mansur Calar, 33, was banned from all competitive games for four years and fined 25,000 lira ($4,600) for "attacks on opponent players" during his club's 1-1 draw against Sakaryaspor last weekend, the TFF said.
Procedurally, any suspension longer than three years in Turkey constitutes a life ban, meaning Calar will not be able to play soccer in the country again.
Footage from the match showed players from Sakaryaspor being attacked by Calar with what appeared to be a sharp weapon. After the match, the players who were attacked appeared to have cuts on parts of their bodies and faces where Calar was seen attacking.
With the TFF's decision, Calar became the second player from Amedspor, who play in the biggest city of Turkey's largely Kurdish southeast, to receive a life ban from Turkish football.
Last year, German-Kurdish player Deniz Naki, who had been previously convicted for supporting the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), was also banned for life for "separatist and ideological propaganda".
Amedspor have long been at the centre of controversy, with their games often overshadowed by conflict between Turkish security forces and Kurdish militants.
About 40,000 people have been killed since the PKK took up arms against the Turkish state for autonomy in the country's southeast. The PKK is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.
The TFF also handed Amedspor a spectators' ban and two of its other players match bans and fines for the altercation at the end of the match with Sakaryaspor. A Sakaryaspor player was given a five match ban and a fine.
Amedspor currently stand in 8th position in the TFF Second League, 20 points behind league leaders Keciorengucu, with nine games left in the season.