Bayern hopeful Coutinho’s arrival will give the team a boost

Brazilian midfielder Philippe Coutinho, the new recruit of FC Bayern Munich, with the club's Croatian sports director Hasan Salihamidzic during his presentation on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 19 August 2019
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Bayern hopeful Coutinho’s arrival will give the team a boost

  • The Brazil playmaker, who failed to make an impact at Barcelona after his club-record arrival from Liverpool

BERLIN: Struggling to replace wingers Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben, Bayern Munich has turned to Philippe Coutinho.

The Brazil playmaker, who failed to make an impact at Barcelona after his club-record arrival from Liverpool, will play in Germany on loan.

Bayern, which opened its season with a 2-2 draw at home against Hertha Berlin on Friday, had been frustrated in the transfer market. The club’s No. 1 target, Germany forward Leroy Sané, injured his knee while playing for Manchester City and last week’s loan signing of Ivan Perisic from Inter Milan had the feeling of a stopgap solution.

Bayern players Joshua Kimmich and Robert Lewandowski had been calling for high-profile reinforcements, with the latter questioning the quality of Bayern’s substitutes after the team’s German Super Cup loss in Dortmund.

Coutinho, the second-most expensive player in the world when he joined Barcelona from Liverpool in January 2018, fits the bill for Bayern.

The Bavarian club agreed to pay his wages and a fee of €8.5 million ($9.4 million) to Barcelona for the season.

“The agreement also sees an option to buy for Bayern fixed at €120 million ($133 million),” Barcelona said.

Coutinho’s first game will likely be at Schalke on Saturday, when Bayern will be hoping he shows the form that convinced Barcelona to take him from Liverpool.

Bayern will also be keeping en eye on Sané’s recovery — just in case.

Renato Sanches wants out of Bayern.

The Portugal midfielder made his feelings clear after coming on as a late substitute in the team’s opening draw.

“The situation isn’t good for me because it’s the same thing for the second time in a row,” Sanches said. “I’ve asked the club again to let me switch to another team. Five minutes, like today, that’s not enough for me.”

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge’s response was prompt: “It’s not appropriate to walk away angrily after the first or second game. He will still get his chance, we’re all convinced of him.”

Bayern president Uli Hoeneß said the club’s transfer business is done after closing the deals to bring Coutinho, Perisic and Michael Cuisance to the club.

“Now our squad is as complete and well-stocked as we imagined. Our squad was too small at the start of July. Now we have filled it with three transfers in the last days and weeks — and I mean filled with quality,” Hoeneß told Sky Sport.

Hoeneß said coach Niko Kovac could work “in peace with this squad till Christmas.”

Borussia Mönchengladbach officials were surprised when Cuisance, a 20-year-old French midfielder, said he wanted to move to Bayern after making 11 Bundesliga appearances last season.

“Mika is a young talented player, but he still has to learn a lot,” Gladbach coach Marco Rose said. “I think the transfer was unavoidable for us. I got the impression in the last weeks that Gladbach became too small for him.”


Iran assures FIFA that women can attend football qualifier

Updated 22 September 2019
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Iran assures FIFA that women can attend football qualifier

  • FIFA traveled to Iran ahead of the weekend for talks on the matter of women and football
  • The Islamic republic has barred female spectators from football and other stadiums since 1981

MILAN: FIFA has been “assured” that Iran will lift its 40-year ban and allow women to attend a World Cup qualifying game next month.

Football’s governing body wants Iran to end its ban on women entering stadiums that breaches international football statutes prohibiting discrimination.

Global attention on the ban followed the death this month of a 29-year-old activist, Sahar Khodayari, who set herself on fire outside a courthouse. She had been detained for dressing as a man to enter a football stadium in Tehran and faced six months in prison.

“There is women’s football in Iran but we need Iranian women as well to be able to attend the men’s game,” FIFA President Gianni Infantino said in a speech at a conference on women’s football on Sunday. “And we need to push for that with respect but in a strong and forceful way. We cannot wait anymore.

“We have been assured, that as of the next international game of Iran, women will be allowed to enter football stadiums. This is something very important, it is 40 years that this has not happened, with a couple of exceptions, but it is important to move to the next level and to the next stage.”

FIFA sent an inspection team to Iran this week to meet government and football officials ahead of Iran’s match against Cambodia at the 78,000-capacity Azadi Stadium on Oct. 10 — its first home match of the 2022 qualifying competition.

Infantino’s comments drew praise from United States outgoing coach Jill Ellis, who was at the same FIFA conference in Milan, two months after leading the American women’s team to a second successive World Cup title.

“I think it’s huge,” Ellis said. “FIFA has enough of a pull and ability to influence change and I think it’s absolutely the right thing. I mean I don’t think there should be any discrimination period and to not allow women to go see football I think is, I just can’t even wrap my brain around it in terms of it being something. I think if FIFA can influence that, I think it’s great.”