FC Barcelona has "reportedly sacked" Communications Dir XAVIER MARTIN and is "set to appoint a fourth person to the role since 2010," according to FOOTBALL ESPANA. The club is "expected to release a statement" confirming Martin's removal from the position, which he has held since Dec. '11. When current Barcelona President SANDRO ROSELL took over in '10, PERE JANSÀ "originally began in the role," but was "replaced after 18 months by KETTY CALATAYUD, who was then succeeded by Martin." The "most likely reason behind this latest change is the club’s belief that they have 'failed to project a positive image' with consideration of the board, the sporting, economic and social situation" (FOOTBALL ESPANA, 11/19). MUNDO DEPORTIVO reported Barcelona has announced ALBERT MONTAGUT, 56, as Martin's replacement. Montagut is a "journalist with extensive experience at various media outlets." The objective "will be to secure stability in the communications department through '16, when Montagut's contract will end." The news "confirms that stability at the communications director position is a signature issue being faced by Rosell." One of the "probable causes of the decision is the feeling that the team's communications department has not been able to convey the team's success" (MUNDO DEPORTIVO, 11/19).
People and Pop Culture
Czech FA Chair MIROSLAV PELTA said that PAVEL VRBA, who currently coaches Czech side Viktoria Plzen, will "take over the Czech Republic national team on Jan. 1" (EP, 11/19). ... BJ-League team The Rizing Fukuoka named KIMITOSHI SANO head coach. Sano's promotion "is the first official coaching change in the 21-team league this season" (JAPAN TIMES, 11/19).
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Spanish tennis player NURIA LLAGOSTERA on Tuesday announced her retirement following a recent two-year suspension that "was going to prevent her from officially competing again until Nov. 7, 2015." Llagostera, 33, "emotionally stated that her career is ending here" (EFE, 11/19). ... Chilean FC Barcelona player ALEXIS SÁNCHEZ will be featured in an HBO documentary as part of the int'l channel's "Destino Brasil 2014" ("Destination Brazil 2014") series on "players expected to lead teams participating in the 2014 World Cup." The documentary "will include interviews with Sánchez's family and will examine the player's upbringing and background" (SPORT, 11/19). ... Former Germany youth int'l BURAK KARAN, 25, "died during an air raid on the Syrian town of Azaz in October, allegedly after travelling there to assist anti-Assad forces." A video of Karan posted on YouTube "has fuelled speculation that the player became radicalised after retiring from sport." Accompanied by a reading of a "poem to my mother," it shows the young man wearing a turban and, in one picture, carrying a machine gun (London GUARDIAN, 11/19). ... Chinese President XI JINPING met with IOC President THOMAS BACH in Beijing on Tuesday. Xi "congratulated Bach on being elected as ninth IOC president and thanked Bach and IOC's support and guidance of China's sports and Olympic movement." Bach thanked the Chinese government for its support to int'l Olympics and "hailed China's contribution to the world sports" (XINHUA, 11/19). ... Ireland national football team Manager MARTIN O'NEILL "will seek to impose a temporary ban on his Ireland players from using Twitter" after JAMES MCCLEAN’s latest indiscretion on the social networking site, with the manager declaring himself as not "overly pleased" with the Wigan Athletic winger, whom he repeatedly "censured for similar reasons during their spell together at Sunderland" (LONDON TIMES, 11/19).
FIFA President SEPP BLATTER: "Enjoyed conf-call with Moroccan media. Big #ClubWC interest. Country worked hard on stadia since 2010WC bid. Confident will be great hosts."
ManU defender RIO FERDINAND: "@Cristiano has ended the Ballon D'or argument tonight....if he don't win it now then Blatter has pulled rank!"
AP's ROB HARRIS: "85,934 here at Wembley. That's almost 149,000 attending 2 England games in a week"
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