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SBD Global/February 7, 2017/International Football

Football Notes: Arsenal's Mesut Özil Says Champions League Must Remain Open

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil told German magazine kicker that he "does not want to see the Champions League becoming a closed shop." From next season, reforms mean the top four clubs in Europe "will have four guaranteed places in the competition's group stage." With 16 slots already taken, "plus a further place for the winner of the Europa League, the chances for smaller leagues to get teams into Europe's biggest club competition will decrease." Özil: "Smaller teams must always have the opportunity to lock horns with the big ones. The top teams should not build a closed shop in the Champions League" (ESPN.com, 2/6).

FIFA confirmed the worldwide extension of the ban imposed by the Asian Football Confederation Disciplinary Committee on Timor-Leste FA General Secretary Amândio de Araújo Sarmento, who was found guilty of using falsified documents in connection with the fielding of ineligible players by Timor-Leste. The three-year ban prevents him from taking part in any football-related activity (FIFA).

Ecuadorian side Barcelona's match on Sunday was abandoned after violence in the stands "left 40 fans injured." A fight broke out after 11 minutes "between different factions of the club’s ultras, Sur Oscura," which Ecuador’s Ministry of Communication said "left seven supporters with serious injuries" (THE SUN, 2/6).
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