Category Archives: News

Unveiled Diego Maradona statue at India attracts ridicule

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A bronze sculpture of the Argentina football legend Diego Maradona was unveiled at a club in Kolkata, although the dubious likeness to the 1986 World Cup winner has attracted online ridicule.

Maradona was in Kolkata for a charity event, nine years after making his first appearance in the capital of India’s West Bengal state and three months after he was due to visit again. His trip had been postponed several times.

The Times of India reported that Maradona, 57, handed out cheques to 11 cancer patients at the event, which was attended by around a thousand people, some of whom were standing on rooftops of the adjoining buildings.

The 12-foot statue features the 1986 World Cup winner with a healthy head of hair and holding aloft the trophy he helped Argentina win in Mexico, although it bears little resemblance to the then 25-year-old captain.

The Argentine guided his country to their 1986 World Cup success with a series of stunning individual performances at the time.

“I am not god of football but a simple footballer,” a smiling Maradona said through an interpreter after the unveiling. “I’m happy to be here in Kolkata again. It’s amazing to have my statue here.”

Some online commenters claimed that the statue bears more likeness to any other personality imaginable including the former England manager, Roy Hodgson, the former NBA star, Susan Boyle or “someone’s gran”.

The incident echoes the case of FIFA Best player of the year and Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, whose bust unveiled earlier this year when Madeira airport was renamed to Aeroporto Cristiano Ronaldo in honour of the Real Madrid star. Reaction to the bronze effigy then had been scathing and eventually prompted an update to be made.

Toronto FC beats Seattle Sounders to lift MLS Cup trophy

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Toronto FC became the very first Canadian team to win the MLS Cup after beating Seattle Sounders 2-0 in the final.

The club will also become the first MLS team to win a domestic treble, after Greg Vanney’s side also won this year’s Supporters’ Shield — for finishing top of the MLS table — and the Canadian Championship, their domestic cup title.

The team also managed to secure a record 69 points in a MLS season.

On the other hand, Seattle — aiming to become only the fourth team to retain the MLS Cup — came into the game on the back of six clean sheets and looked to frustrate the hosts in the final, but was pinned back throughout.

After having lost to Seattle on penalties in last year’s final, Toronto lead deservedly this time around when Jozy Altidore latched on to Sebastian Giovinco’s through ball and clipped a shot over Stefan Frei, before Victor Vazquez added an injury-time second from close range.

It was almost a cruel twist of fate for Frei, who had earlier made a host good saves to deny the likes of Jonathan Osorio, Giovinco, Marco Delgado and Víctor Vazquez in the first half.

But Toronto continued to push after the break, and it was Altidore who found the way through, although there were claims he was offside when Giovinco played his pass forward.

On the other side, Seattle — with former Fulham and Tottenham player Clint Dempsey in their team — offered little going forward and only had two shots on target.

Their push for a late equaliser bore no fruit as Vazquez scrambled TFC’s second into an empty net after Armando Cooper’s own shot found the woodwork.

Wembley to host four additional Euro 2020 group stage matches

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Wembley will host seven games at Euro 2020 after UEFA handed the stadium an additional four matches that was previously scheduled for Brussels.

Euro 2020 is poised to be staged across 12 countries as former UEFA president Michel Platini’s idea of a one-off gesture to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the tournament.

UEFA had decided to reallocate the three group fixtures and one last-16 game previously given to the Belgian capital due to delays in the building of a 60,000-capacity stadium on the site of Heysel. Belgian authorities failed to provide guarantees the stadium would be ready.

Speaking in Nyon, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said the decision of UEFA’s executive committee had been unanimous as waiting on Belgium was deemed “high risk”.

“We don’t know if they can build a stadium or not,” Ceferin had added.

In addition to deciding where the first game, on 12 June, will be and what to do about the difficulties in Brussels, the UEFA executive committee has also announced where each of the six groups’ games will be played.

Baku and Rome will host group A, group B games will take place in Copenhagen and St Petersburg, Amsterdam and Bucharest get group C, Glasgow and London will share group D, group E will be staged in Bilbao and Dublin, while group F’s fixtures will be in Budapest and Munich.

The English FA chief executive, Martin Glenn, said: “We are delighted to help UEFA by hosting the additional four matches at Wembley Stadium. It’s an honour to be one of the 12 nations that will play a part in this prestigious Euro for Europe tournament and I would like to thank the UEFA executive committee for giving us the opportunity to stage these games.”

Cristiano Ronaldo wins fifth Ballon d’Or award

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Cristiano Ronaldo won the fifth Ballon d’Or of his career yesterday, matching Lionel Messi as the most-awarded winner of one of football top individual honours.

Ronaldo, 32, won the award for the second consecutive time, after a year that saw him help Real Madrid to a third Champions League crown in four seasons and a first La Liga title in five years, as well as the FIFA Club World Cup.

The Portuguese captain also scored twice as Madrid beat Juventus 4-1 in the Champions League final in June, while also finishing top scorer in the competition with 12 goals.

Upon accepting his latest honour in a ceremony held at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Ronaldo said: “I feel very happy, it’s a fantastic moment in my career, I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”

“This year has been great, we won the Champions League and La Liga and, on a personal level, I was a top scorer in the Champions League. Trophies help win these awards and we have to thank my colleagues from Madrid and Portugal, it was very important for me.”

FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi was the runner-up in votes for the award, now conducted by a global panel of journalists and organised by France Football magazine after a split from a partnership with FIFA that ran from 2010-15. Ronaldo had also won FIFA’s top award in October when he was named FIFA Best Men’s Player for the second consecutive year.

This year also marked the seventh straight year that both Messi and Ronaldo have finished in the top two for the Ballon d’Or — no one else has won the title since AC Milan midfielder Kaka did in 2007, when Ronaldo was second and Messi third.

Neymar, who moved from Barca to Paris Saint-Germain this summer, finished third for the second time in his career, while Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was fourth.

Two of Ronaldo’s Real Madrid teammates were also in the top-ten of the Ballon d’Or final standings, with Luka Modric fifth and Sergio Ramos sixth as the top defender on the list.