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Volume 7 No. 82

Franchises

Gelson Martins is among a contingent of Sporting Lisbon players terminating their contracts.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton are among the Premier League clubs "put on alert after the chaos unfolding" at Primeira Liga side Sporting Lisbon resulted in six players terminating their contracts, according to Jacob & Cotton of the LONDON TIMES. The north London clubs have been interested in Gelson Martins, while Everton "could be interested in William Carvalho," the midfielder who worked with Marco Silva when he was in charge of Sporting and was "subject to an offer from West Ham United last summer." The players have sent a formal notification to the Portuguese club that there is a "valid motive" to free themselves from their contracts after the squad was suspended for losing to Atlético Madrid in the Europa League quarterfinals. Sporting then missed out on a place in the Champions League qualifying rounds after losing the final game of the season, "which prompted about 50 gang members, wearing balaclavas, to break into the club's training ground at Alcochete in mid-May." The supporters assaulted players and coaching staff and vandalized the dressing rooms, leading to 23 arrests (LONDON TIMES, 6/12). The AP reported in April, club President Bruno De Carvalho "harshly criticized his team's performance" against Atlético Madrid in the Europa League, and "pointed out mistakes by individual players on social media." The players responded by posting a joint statement "defending their commitment to the club and questioning the manners of De Carvalho," saying that he should support them as their "leader." There were recent reports -- all unconfirmed -- "blaming De Carvalho for the attacks by fans on the players and coaches" (AP, 6/11).

Bruno de Carvalho offered to resign if players withdraw their threats to leave the club.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

'CONCERTED ATTACK': REUTERS' Andrei Khalip reported de Carvalho "offered to stand down if key players withdraw their threats to leave the club in protest" at his behavior. De Carvalho had rejected calls by senior club members to stand down, accusing his critics of blackmail and "a concerted attack on Sporting." But after Monday’s move, the president said, "We will resign if the athletes write a letter to Sporting saying, firstly, that if this management quits they will reverse their terminations and play for Sporting. ... Secondly, if we run and get elected again, they maintain their contracts." De Carvalho "has refused to accept the legitimacy of a proposed vote on June 23 to depose him and his colleagues" (REUTERS, 6/12).

Lopetegui is joining Real Madrid despite recently extending his contract with the RFEF.
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

Julen Lopetegui was named Real Madrid's manager "just weeks after committing his future to Spain's national team," according to Anthony Hay of the London DAILY MAIL. Lopetegui on May 22 signed a deal with the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) to continue coaching La Roja until '20, but Real Madrid "swooped for his services" and he agreed to join the La Liga club after the World Cup. The move "comes as a surprise, with Lopetegui not featuring prominently among the host of managers linked with the role since the departure of Zinedine Zidane." Lopetegui, who has been in charge of Spain's national team for the past two years, agreed to a three-year contract with Real Madrid (DAILY MAIL, 6/12).

RFEF IN SHOCK: In London, Richard Martin wrote the "shock appointment" of Lopetegui three days before Spain kicks off its World Cup campaign "was met with bewilderment and fury as the team’s preparations were thrown into chaos." The announcement came as a "huge slap in the face" to Spanish Football Federation President Luis Rubiales, who "hastily cancelled his appearance" at Wednesday's FIFA Congress and flew from Moscow to the team’s base in Krasnodar, where he will hold a press conference alongside Lopetegui to "explain this most untimely turn of events." In the meantime, the RFEF "imposed a blackout on players, forbidding them from speaking about the appointment." Rubiales was voted in as president last month and his first act was to hand Lopetegui a new contract until after Euro 2020. The coach’s decision to walk away from the national team as soon as the World Cup ends "is a huge blow" to Rubiales' authority. Spanish newspaper El Mundo said, "This is a crime against the state, against public order, because one club can never torpedo the flagship of Spanish football, which has always been the Spain team" (TELEGRAPH, 6/12).

AC Milan's women's team will compete in Serie A's women's league from next season after the club bought out Brescia's league license. AC Milan is "following the example" of clubs like AS Roma, Fiorentina and Juventus. The Italian Football Federation has been "undertaking a significant effort in recent years to grow the women's game" (REUTERS, 6/12).

Tottenham will not know the location of its first home game of next season when the Premier League announces the '18-19 fixtures on Thursday. The FA gave the club until Friday to decide if it wants to renew its tenancy at Wembley. It is the second time the club has postponed the decision. Tottenham was "due to tell the FA" on Wednesday if it wanted to play its first home games of '18-19 at the national stadium before moving into its new home (London EVENING STANDARD, 6/12).

Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund increased the capacity of its home ground by six seats ahead of the new season in August. Dortmund, which "boasts the biggest stadium in Germany," announced that the capacity will expand from its current 81,359 to 81,365 after seat space becomes available from recent renovations. This will also allow the club to sit 248 more spectators for Champions League nights, with 66,099 "now allowed for European competition" (London DAILY MAIL, 6/11).