FA doing ‘all we can’ to prevent repeat of Euro 2020 Wembley chaos in Champions League final

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Borussia Dortmund’s coach Edin Terzic, center, gives instructions to the players during a team training session in Cologne on May 28, 2024, ahead of their Champions League final against Real Madrid in London on Saturday. (AP)
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Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham, center, exercises next to his teammate Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior, left, during a training session during a Media Opening day in Madrid on May 27, 2024. (AP)
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Updated 28 May 2024
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FA doing ‘all we can’ to prevent repeat of Euro 2020 Wembley chaos in Champions League final

  • There was also trouble at venues for the 2022 and 2023 Champions League finals, in Paris and Istanbul
  • The FA’s director of tournaments and events said: “We are doing all we can to ensure fans have a smooth arrival process and nice experience as they come to the stadium“

LONDON: England’s governing Football Association said Tuesday it had invested £5 million ($7 million) in improving safety and infrastructure at Wembley in an attempt to prevent a repeat of the violence that marred the climax of the Euro 2020 showpiece when the London ground stages this weekend’s Champions League final.
An independent review identified more than 20 “near-misses” that could have led to serious injury or death as a consequence of ticketless individuals trying to gain entry, and in some cases succeeding, for the England v Italy match in July 2021.
There was also trouble at venues for the 2022 and 2023 Champions League finals, in Paris and Istanbul.
Germany’s Borussia Dortmund and Spanish giants Real Madrid will meet in this season’s final at Wembley on Saturday, with officials promising they will have a “robust and comprehensive testing plan” in place for digital ticketing and safety checks.
Chris Bryant, the FA’s director of tournaments and events, said: “We are doing all we can to ensure fans have a smooth arrival process and nice experience as they come to the stadium.”
The FA, which has tested new methods at the League Cup and FA Cup finals, said fans would be able to enter Wembley four hours before Saturday’s kick-off, rather than two, with Transport for London running extra services to help manage the flow of fans to and from the ground.
Bryant accepted that, following the coronavirus pandemic, the supply of stewards was a major issue at the Euro 2020 final, insisting Saturday’s match would see “the highest ever stewarding deployment in Wembley Stadium history.”
“One thing in the Euros final was very much the supply of stewarding, which I can say was at a low point off the back of Covid,” he said. “We’re very confident the supply of stewarding which you’ve seen in the industry has bounced back.”
He added: “We’ve increased the strength of all the doors because at the Euros final people tried to rip the doors. Those doors are locked with a magnetic lock system and we’ve put a further lock system on every door around the stadium.
“We never foresaw events like that for the Euros final and I’m not sure we will again but we’ve learned lessons and additional measures have been implemented.”


Pulisic scores, assists on Balogun goal to lead US over Bolivia 2-0 in Copa America opener

Updated 24 June 2024
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Pulisic scores, assists on Balogun goal to lead US over Bolivia 2-0 in Copa America opener

  • The 11th-ranked US plays Panama on Thursday at Atlanta and closes the group against Uruguay on July 1 at Kansas City, Missouri

ARLINGTON, Texas: Christian Pulisic scored in the third minute and assisted on Folarin Balogun’s goal in the 44th as the United States cruised past Bolivia 2-0 in their Copa America opener on Sunday night.
Pulisic joined Clint Dempsey as the only US players with a goal and an assist in a Copa America match and reached 30 goals in 69 international appearances, the fewest among Americans.
“We came out flying with a lot of intensity. Obviously, that early goal helped us a lot,” Pulisic said. “All around, a pretty dominant performance. I think we could have put it away and had more goals there.”
Among six invited guests to South America’s championship, the US is expected to advance from Group C to the quarterfinals along with Uruguay.
“It’s a start that’s massive for us. Build the confidence,” American defender Antonee Robinson said. “If we were being picky, we could have been a lot more clinical, We could have put another two, three goals away.”
Bolivia lost its 13th straight Copa America match dating to 2015 and has one win in its last 31.
The 11th-ranked US plays Panama on Thursday at Atlanta and closes the group against Uruguay on July 1 at Kansas City, Missouri. No. 84 Bolivia meets Uruguay on Thursday at East Rutherford, New Jersey, then plays Panama on July 1 at Orlando, Florida.
A crowd of 47,873 attended the match under the retractable roof at 80,000-seat AT&T Stadium, which will host a World Cup semifinal in two years. It was 97 degrees Fahrenheit outside (36 Celsius) the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys at kickoff but air-conditioned inside.
Playing a day before his 30th birthday, goalkeeper Matt Turner had three saves in his 25th international shutout. The US improved to 6-0 at AT&T as the Americans opened their fifth Copa America appearance, the first since reaching the semifinals as co-host in 2016.
The US had 18 touches inside the attacking penalty area in the first half and Bolivia had none.
Pulisic put the US ahead 2:23 in, the fastest American goal in 34 competitive matches against South American opponents. He played a short corner kick to Tim Weah and ran toward the penalty area. Weah returned the ball to Pulisic, who took a touch and from just inside the area curled a right-foot shot off the outstretched fingertips of goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra and into the far upper corner.
Balogun doubled the lead when he received a pass from Pulisic, took several touches and threaded a low, left-foot shot along the ground, past defender Jesús Sagredo and inside Viscarra’s far post for his fourth goal in 13 appearances.
Balogun put the ball in the net again in the 53rd off a pass from Weah, but Weah was whistled for offside when he received the ball from Weston McKennie in the buildup, a decision confirmed in a video review.
Midfielder Tyler Adams, regaining fitness after a back injury, played the first half in his first start for club or country since March 30. Adams and Bologun were inserted into the starting lineup in place of Yunus Musah and Ricardo Pepi in the two changes from the lineup for the 1-1 exhibition draw against Brazil on June 12. Musah replaced Adams at the start of the second half and Pepi entered in the 65th.
Viscarra pushed Pepi’s 79th-minute shot over the crossbar, then stopped Pepi in the 90th on a point-blank initial attempt and another off the rebound.


Hungary knock Scotland out of Euros with 100th-minute winner

Updated 24 June 2024
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Hungary knock Scotland out of Euros with 100th-minute winner

  • Hungary arrived at the Euros with increased expectations after a 14-match unbeaten run between November 2022 and March of this year

STUTTGART, Germany: Kevin Csoboth scored in the 10th minute of added time as Hungary snatched a 1-0 win over Scotland to stay in the hunt for a place in the last 16 of Euro 2024.
A sickening collision led to Hungary striker Barnabas Varga being stretchered off in front of his visibly shocked team-mates in the second half, but Csoboth’s late winner kept them alive in the tournament.
It was a bitter end to Scotland’s bid to reach the knockout phase of a major tournament for the first time as they were caught out pressing for a goal of their own right at the death.
Germany finished top of Group A after a 1-1 draw with Switzerland, who will go through as runners-up. Hungary must rely on other results if they are to advance as one of the best third-placed sides.
Scotland came last with just a point as their wait for a first European Championship win since 1996 goes on.
Coach Steve Clarke made one enforced change for Scotland as Scott McKenna replaced Kieran Tierney, who was stretchered off with a hamstring injury in the 1-1 draw with Switzerland.
English-born Callum Styles got the nod in Hungary’s midfield, coming in after shaking off an injury, with Endre Botka also making his first appearance of the tournament on the right side of a back three.
John McGinn revealed the team skipped their pre-match nap as thousands of Scotland supporters gathered outside the hotel, belting out songs in anticipation of what they hoped was a historic night.
Hungary arrived at the Euros with increased expectations after a 14-match unbeaten run between November 2022 and March of this year. They also beat England twice in the last UEFA Nations League, as well as Germany away.
But back-to-back defeats had punctured confidence and left Marco Rossi’s side needing to beat Scotland to keep alive their hopes of reaching the knockout rounds.
Scotland goalkeeper Angus Gunn shovelled away a dipping drive from Bendeguz Bolla that bounced awkwardly in front of him, with Styles and then Willi Orban booked for cleaning out McGinn in a first half full of endeavour but limited in genuine chances.
That was until Che Adams’ dangerous clearance led to a Hungary free-kick 25 yards out, which Dominik Szoboszlai clipped toward the far post with Orban’s header skimming the top of the crossbar.
Szoboszlai, who shrugged off injury concerns after missing Hungary’s final team training session, hammered over a strike from distance, and it wasn’t until the 53rd minute that Scotland registered a shot.
Scotland defended doggedly as Jack Hendry blocked Roland Sallai’s attempt shifting in from the left before Marton Dardai headed over from a cross.
A horrifying incident left Varga prone on his back in the Scotland area as he tried to head a free-kick goalwards while Gunn came flying out, with Anthony Ralston also crashing to the ground.
It resulted in a long stoppage as medics set Varga in the recovery position before a sheet was draped around him as he was carried off on a stretcher.
The fourth official indicated 10 minutes of stoppage time, which sparked a desperate quest from both teams to find the winning goal.
Gunn saved well from Andras Schafer and Szoboszlai, before Csoboth hit the post. Scotland defender Grant Hanley had a chance parried away by Peter Gulacsi, with Hungary racing up the other end and Csoboth steering home a cutback to break Scottish hearts.


Last-gasp Fuellkrug goal rescues top spot for Euro hosts Germany

Updated 24 June 2024
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Last-gasp Fuellkrug goal rescues top spot for Euro hosts Germany

FRANKFURT: A stoppage-time header from Niclas Fuellkrug has rescued a 1-1 draw for Germany against Switzerland on Sunday in Frankfurt, ensuring the Euro hosts finish top of Group A.

The Swiss hit the lead early, Dan Ndoye booting in from close range after 28 minutes to stun the home side.

Germany took a series of risks late in the hope of an equalizer and veteran striker Fuellkrug delivered, heading home in the second minute of stoppage time.

The result means Switzerland, rather than Germany, face a tougher last 16 assignment, setting up a potential meeting with holders Italy or 2018 World Cup finalists Croatia.

The Germans look set to face second place in England’s Group C, which is currently Denmark.

Heading into the match the hosts were optimistic they had turned the corner after almost a decade of disappointment at major tournaments, with two World Cup group stage exits bookending a Euros last 16 elimination.

Led by an experienced midfield featuring captain Ilkay Gundogan and Toni Kroos, Germany beat both Scotland and Hungary in their first two Euros matches to give the hosts hope of a deep run in the tournament.

The hosts were however caught off guard by Switzerland’s energy and failed to carve out many clear-cut chances against a dogged Swiss defense.

Despite Fuellkrug’s late rescue effort, Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann will have plenty to ponder after the stodgy performance.

Despite having already qualified for the last 16, Nagelsmann decided to play the same starting XI for the third straight game.

It was a decision he may regret when defender Jonathan Tah saw yellow, his second in the group stage, meaning he will miss Germany’s first knockout game.

Pushed on by an optimistic and partisan home ground, Germany started brightly, carving out some half-chances after launching long balls over Switzerland’s midfield press.

Robert Andrich looked to have given Germany the lead after 16 minutes when Yann Sommer made a meal of his long-range strike, which bounced past the goalkeeper and into the net.

The goal was however overturned with VAR finding Jamal Musiala had committed a foul in the lead-up.

The Swiss had been on the back foot early but took the lead on the 28-minute mark, taking advantage of some sloppy play from Musiala and Joshua Kimmich.

Musiala lost the ball in his own half, sending Switzerland on the break. Kimmich won but then let go of possession, allowing Remo Freuler to find Ndoye who stuck out a leg and booted the ball into the net.

It was the first time the hosts have trailed this tournament and the goal seemed to rattle Germany, who were increasingly hesitant in closing out the first half.

Germany went on the attack in the second half as Nagelsmann made several offensive changes but the hosts had few clear chances against a Swiss side doggedly protecting their lead.

Man City defender Manuel Akanji stretched out to block Kimmich at point-black range with 20 minutes remaining.

Nagelsmann brought Fuellkrug from the bench with 14 minutes remaining and the Borussia Dortmund striker stepped up to the plate, heading in a cross from David Raum to send Germany back to the top of the group.


Tchouameni prefers substance over style for France at Euro 2024

Updated 23 June 2024
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Tchouameni prefers substance over style for France at Euro 2024

  • A draw against a Poland side who are already eliminated will be enough to secure France’s last-16 place

PADERBORN, Germany: France midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni says he is not concerned about criticism of the team’s performances so far at Euro 2024 as the favorites stand on the brink of a place in the last 16 despite not lighting up the tournament.
“Some people want to win and do so by playing well, and others just want to win. Personally I just want to win, whether we play well or not,” the Real Madrid star told reporters at the French team’s base in Paderborn on Sunday.
“The most important thing is winning and getting three points because I think at the end of our careers what we will remember is what we have won, not how we played.”
The 2022 World Cup runners-up go into Tuesday’s final Group D game against Poland in Dortmund with four points from two outings having scored just once via an own goal while keeping two clean sheets.
They beat Austria 1-0 in their opening match after Maximilian Woeber put through his own net, and then drew 0-0 with the Netherlands in Leipzig in the absence of the injured Kylian Mbappe.
That is despite France boasting supreme attacking quality in their ranks beyond their captain.
Yet Les Bleus have often been criticized in the past for not playing more expansive football under coach Didier Deschamps.
They went on to win the 2018 World Cup after laboring through the group stage, recording a narrow 2-1 win against Australia thanks to a penalty and an own goal, then edging Peru 1-0 before a 0-0 draw against Denmark.
“In recent times we have had quite a lot of good results and won titles with this coach. That is the most important thing,” Tchouameni said.
“I understand that some people want to see a team play really good football.
“Maybe we are not the team that plays the best football, but we are the ones who are most often in the latter stages and that is the main thing for me.”
A draw against a Poland side who are already eliminated will be enough to secure France’s last-16 place.
Mbappe could return after sitting out the Netherlands match as he recovers from a broken nose suffered against Austria and adapts to wearing a protective face mask.
“I think everyone knows he is really eager to play in the next match,” Tchouameni said of his future Madrid teammate.
“As for the mask, I think he is starting to get used to it. Of course he would rather not wear it but I think if you ask the doctor he would say there is no choice.
“But that won’t change anything for him. We know that when he is on the field he will bring a lot to the team.”
Even a defeat against Poland might not stop France progressing, depending on the result of the other group game between Austria and the Netherlands.
However, a victory might not be enough for the French to top the group, if the Dutch win too and so by a bigger margin.


Euro 2024 security bulked after pitch invaders aim for Ronaldo selfies

Updated 23 June 2024
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Euro 2024 security bulked after pitch invaders aim for Ronaldo selfies

BERLIN: UEFA will increase security during the rest of Euro 2024 after several pitch invaders attempted to take selfies with Portugal’s star striker Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 39-year-old forward posed for a photo with a young boy during the 3-0 win over Turkiye in Group F on Saturday in Dortmund, but grew exasperated as at least five more fans attempted to do the same.
“Safety and security in the stadium, on the pitch and at team facilities are the ultimate priority for UEFA,” the European football governing body told AFP on Sunday.
“To this end, additional safety measures will be deployed in the stadiums to further meet the requirements of the tournament, and to prevent such incidents.”
One security guard crashed into Paris Saint-Germain striker Goncalo Ramos while trying to stop a pitch invader reaching Ronaldo.
Portugal coach Roberto Martinez said it was lucky that the supporters who ran on to the pitch were only trying to take photographs.
“It is a concern because today we were lucky that the intentions of the fans were good,” said Martinez.
“It is a very difficult moment if those intentions are wrong... probably we should give a message to the fans that it is not the right way.”
UEFA said any spectators entering the field of play will be thrown out of the stadium, be banned for further matches and face “the filing of a formal criminal complaint for trespass.”
Portugal qualified for the last 16 with their comfortable win over Turkiye as Group F winners.