Former Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal slams United for going behind his back to appoint Jose Mourinho

Louis van Gaal says Manchester United went “behind my back” in replacing him as manager with Jose Mourinho in 2016.

The Dutchman, 66, was sacked48 hours after winning the FA Cup and Mourinho was appointedless than a week later.

“They told me only after it was leaked out, it was the biggest disappointment of my life,” Van Gaal, who was two years into a three-year contract, told Dutch paper Algemeen Dagblad.

“United put my head in a noose and I was publicly placed on the gallows.”

It is Van Gaal’s first interview about the manner of his Old Trafford exit.

He had won seven national titles with Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and AZ before being appointed Manchester United boss in May 2014.

United finished fourth in the Premier League in his first season in charge to qualify for the Champions League but, despite winning the FA Cup, they finished fifth in his second campaign as they could only qualify for the Europa League.

“The pressure was enormous with my head in the noose and they went right behind my back,” said Van Gaal.
“I think it was all orchestrated like a film and it was done very much behind my back right from January.”

United paid out £8.4m to Van Gaal following the departure of the Dutchman and his coaches.

“United did not discuss this with me. If they had come to me with the Mourinho plan then I could have said ‘OK, let’s give it everything for the last six months, complete commitment to each other and the team and then Jose Mourinho can take over’,” he added.
“They could have saved the last year of my salary by doing that but after what happened I made them pay every penny.”

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Fancy Bears hackers leak football drug use at 2010 World Cup

Carlos Tevez, Juan Sebastian Veron and Dirk Kuyt have been named by hackers Fancy Bears as three of the players permitted to use otherwise-banned medicines during the 2010 World Cup.

Tevez and Veron are two of five Argentina players listed in a document which details therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) and declarations of use of medicines for 25 players during the tournament in South Africa more than seven years ago.

The Fancy Bears have previously published details of TUEs — essentially a doctor’s note permitting the use of an otherwise-banned substance to treat a medical condition — in Olympic sports.

Tuesday’s publication of hacked data was the Fancy Bears’ first disclosure in football and drew a strong rebuke from FIFA.

“FIFA condemns in the strongest terms the publication by the Fancy Bears group of information obtained illegally, particularly personal and medical data from athletes,” the statement said.

“The release of such information constitutes a clear violation of the athletes privacy and puts at risk the ongoing fight against doping. All potential violations of the anti-doping regulations are handled by FIFA in accordance with WADA regulations.”

Tevez, who has played for Manchester United, Manchester City and West Ham, former Chelsea and United playmaker Veron and ex-United defender Gabriel Heinze all declared the use of Betamethasone, a corticosteroid with a variety of uses.

It does not feature directly on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)’s prohibited list, but is banned dependent on the concentration detected, and is covered in section nine of the list.

That reads:

“All glucocorticoids are prohibited when administered by oral, intravenous, intramuscular or rectal routes.”

Former Liverpool and Netherlands forward Kuyt was revealed to have used dexamethasone, apparently for pain relief due to dentistry issue with his root channel.

Mario Gomez was one of four Germany players listed.

Gomez received a TUE for salbutamol, a common asthma medication.

Former New Zealand, Blackburn and QPR defender Ryan Nelsen — listed as “Nelson” on the published form — declared the use of prednisone, another corticosteroid.

No England players were listed and there is no suggestion of wrongdoing on the part of those named, but the Football Association is still working to discover the extent of the hack.

The Russian hackers also claimed there were 160 adverse analytical findings — or positive doping tests — in 2015 in football.

Of the four UK failures, three were for cocaine and one for ecstasy.

Fancy Bears first hacked WADA files in September last year.

Five-time Olympic champion and 2012 Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins was forced to defend himself following the publication of his medical records, which revealed three TUEs for triamcinolone ahead of three of his biggest races in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Wiggins insisted the use of the corticosteroid was medically necessary due to a pollen allergy that aggravated his asthma.

The latest hack includes an email from the Football Association’s head of integrity, Jenni Kennedy, to FIFA regarding four anti-doping cases in May 2017.

One shows Middlesbrough’s George Friend received triamcinolone through a “legitimate method,” with UK Anti-Doping determining no anti-doping rule violation had occurred.

Zesh Rehman, then of Gillingham, received a retrospective TUE for prednisolone following a League One match with Southend in February.

It was prescribed due to urticaria, or hives, which is a bumpy and uncomfortable rash. Two cases are ongoing involving a pair of non-league players, who it is said tested positive for the anabolic steroid oxandrolone in out of competition tests.

The FA said:

“The Football Association is disappointed that strictly confidential information has been released into the public domain. The details of ongoing cases cannot be discussed or disclosed until due legal process has been completed.

“In the event that an Anti-Doping Rule Violation has been committed, full details will be published on The FA website in line with The World Anti-Doping Code.

Additionally, it is inappropriate to publish information relating to personal medical conditions or medications and we will work alongside our partners to ascertain the extent of this matter.”

Barcelona to sue Neymar for breach of contract

Barcelona are to sue former player Neymar for £7.8m over an alleged breach of contract in the wake of his £198m move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Having already said they would refuse to pay €26 million in bonus payments Neymar was due to receive this summer, Barcelona are now attempting to claim back money already paid to the player.

The Catalan club said on Tuesday they believe they are owed money that Neymar received as part of a renewal bonus when he signed a new contract last year, in addition to €8.5m in damages plus interest.

The amount of the renewal bonus the club are seeking was not immediately made public.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Barca said they had passed the complaint on to the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), having first filed the lawsuit in a Barcelona court on Aug. 11.

“FC Barcelona have sent a claim to be made against Neymar for breach of contract to the RFEF for it to be passed on to the French Football Federation [FFF] and FIFA,” the statement read.

“In the lawsuit, the club demands the player return the already paid sum for his contract renewal because he has not fulfilled his contract; €8.5m in damages; and an additional 10 percent in interest. The club also requests that PSG subsidise the amounts in the event that the player cannot take responsibility.”

Neymar put pen to paper on a new five-year deal at Camp Nou last October, and in addition to the bonus he was paid at the time, he was due to receive €26m more this summer.

However, after his world-record €222m transfer to PSG went through, Barcelona spokesman Josep Vives confirmed the club would not be making the payment because Neymar had not fulfilled his contractual duties.

“There were three conditions — one, that the player didn’t negotiate with another club before July 31; two, that he publicly expressed his decision to fulfil his contract; and three, the payment was to be made on Sept. 1 to ensure he didn’t go to another club,” Vives said.

“With these criteria not met, the club will not pay the renewal bonus. The money is no longer with a notary but back with the club.”

Neymar did not publicly say he was considering a move to PSG until Aug. 3, the day Barcelona terminated his contract and he signed with his new team.

Barcelona’s claim comes just days after Neymar blasted the club’s board.

“I do have something to say: that I am disappointed with them [the Barca directors],” Neymar said after PSG’s win over Toulouse on Sunday.

“I spent four years there and was very happy. I began happy, spent four years happy and left happy. But not with them. For me, they shouldn’t be in charge of Barca. Barca deserve much better, and everyone knows this.

“To see my former teammates unhappy makes me sad also, because I have many friends [there]. I hope that things get better for Barca. That they return to the team they were and become one that can compete with the others.”

Former Barcelona and Manchester United goalkeeper Victor Valdes retires

Ex-Barcelona and Manchester United goalkeeper Victor Valdes has decided to retire from football, according to a report in El Mundo Deportivo.

Valdes, 35, had offers from Deportivo La Coruna, Real Betis and Las Palmas to continue to play after leaving Middlesbrough in the summer, but has opted to hang up his gloves and focus on his new TV production company.

Valdes’ agent Gines Carvajal would not confirm or deny the story when contacted by ESPN FC.

The former Spain international has set up Crazy4fun TV, which was launched on July 27, an international production company with bases in Barcelona, London and Abu Dhabi.

El Mundo Deportivo reports that Valdes will not only be behind the camera but is also expected to present a TV show that will feature former players that has already been sold to 12 countries.

Valdes left Middlesbrough in May after his one-year contract expired following the club’s relegation from the Premier League, making 28 appearances for the club.

Valdes was a huge figure in Barcelona’s success, playing 535 games and winning 21 titles, including six La Liga titles and three Champions League trophies in his 12 years at the club.

He left the Camp Nou at the end of the 2013-14 season and eventually signed for Manchester United in January 2015, but failed to impress at Old Trafford under Louis van Gaal and moved to Standard Liege on loan a year later.

As an understudy of Iker Casillas, Valdes made 20 appearances for Spain and was part of the squads that won the 2010 World Cup and the European Championship two years later.

Manchester United manager confirms interest in Gareth Bale

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has confirmed he will pursue Gareth Bale in the remaining weeks of the transfer window if the Welshman is not Zinedine Zidane’s plans at Real Madrid next season.

Bale has travelled to Skopje with the European champions ahead of the UEFA Super Cup against United on Tuesday.

He has been linked with a move to Old Trafford, with Real Madrid reportedly keen to sign Monaco teenager Kylian Mbappe to fill his role.

And Mourinho, who has targeted another attacking player this summer, said Zidane’s teamsheet for the game at the Philip II Arena on Tuesday night will hint at his plans for Bale next season, and whether the 28-year-old could become available.

Mourinho told a news conference:

“Well if [Bale is] playing tomorrow, no I wouldn’t think of that, it’s because he’s in the coach’s plans and the club’s plans, because he also has that motivation to continue at Real Madrid.

So I haven’t even thought about the possibility. “If he is not in the club’s plans, that — with the arrival of another player — would mean he was on his way out.

I will try to be waiting for him on the other side and fight with other coaches that would want him on their team.

“But if he plays, that is the best confirmation that he is wanted by the team.”

Earlier on Monday, Bale was named in Madrid’s 24-man squad for the game alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, newly returned to training after missing the club’s preseason tour.

United have also been linked with Croatian winger Ivan Perisic but the speculation has cooled with Inter Milan holding firm in their £48.5 million valuation.

Mourinho also confirmed he will be without Phil Jones in Skopje after UEFA upheld the defender’s two-match ban for verbally abusing a doping control officer following the Europa League final.

Eric Bailly is also suspended.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah has not travelled with sources saying the Dutchman is on the verge of joining Crystal Palace on loan for a season.

Mourinho added:

“With Phil Jones I was expecting that the appeal would be negative. The only thing I hope is that, the team that wins, if some player wants to celebrate, I hope the doping committee sends somebody with him and doesn’t close him in a room.

“No Phil Jones, no Eric Bailly. No Timo Fosu-Mensah because in this moment he is probably going on loan to another club so we make a decision that he doesn’t travel.”

Harry Redknapp all-clear after cancer scare

Birmingham City boss Harry Redknapp has been given the all-clear by doctors after emergency cancer surgery.

The 70-year-old will take charge of pre-season after having a tumour removed from his bladder
Tests later showed that the tumour was not malignant, but Redknapp will have further check-ups every three months.

“I could feel it in my body – I knew it wasn’t right. This is the first time I’ve been properly worried,” he said.

Redknapp took charge of the Championship club in April after Gianfranco Zola resigned, and succeeded in saving them from relegation.
“They cut it out, took it away, sent it away to make sure it is not malignant and luckily everything was OK. I know I am fortunate,” Redknapp said.

“They cut it out, there was no other option. Once they did that I was up and about after a couple of days. I am relaxed about it now because what can you do?”

Germany top FIFA world ranking

Germany will return to the summit of the FIFA World Ranking after their Confederations Cup victory over Chile.

Brazil had held the No. 1 position since April, but the world champions just accrued enough ranking points to reclaim top spot for the first time in two years. Germany climb two places from third to usurp both Brazil and Argentina.

European champions Portugal, who finished third at the Confederations Cup, climb four places to fourth with Chile falling three places to seventh after winning just one match in Russia even though they reached the final.

Switzerland climb four places into fifth, while Poland shoot to their highest-ever ranking of sixth — up from their previous best of 10th in June. Before last year, Poland had never even been inside the top 15, and a 3-1 World Cup qualifying win over Romania has increased their placing further.

Colombia, France and Belgium also drop three places, to eighth, ninth and 10th respectively.

Peru (14th, up one), Iceland (19th, up three), Northern Ireland (22nd, up six) and Congo DR (28th, up 13) all register their best-ever ranking. Sweden rocket 16 places from 34th into 18th, helped by their World Cup qualifying win over France, while Haiti are up 15 into 49th.
But there’s not such good news for Netherlands (32nd, down one) who drop to their equal-worst ranking. United States (35th, down 12) are now just one position below their worst placing while, 12 months on from their appearance at Euro 2016, Hungary slump 24 places into 57th — their lowest position for seven years.

Mexico are the top ranked nation in CONCACAF, and remain in 16th, with Costa Rica down sixth to 26th. However, all CONCACAF nations will have the chance to climb back up with the Gold Cup taking place this month.

Egypt remain the No. 1 team in Africa, though drop four places to 24th. Senegal are up three in 27th, followed by Congo DR.

In Asia, Iran are still way out in front and moved up another seven places into 23rd in the process of qualifying for the World Cup. Their nearest challengers are Australia (44th, up four) and Japan (45th, non-mover).

The new FIFA Ranking will be officially published on Thursday.

JULY FIFA RANKING TOP 20

1. Germany

2. Brazil

3. Argentina

4. Portugal

5. Switzerland

6. Poland

7. Chile

8. Colombia

9. France

10. Belgium

11. Spain

12. Italy

13. England

14. Peru

15. Croatia

16. Mexico

17. Uruguay

18. Sweden

19. Iceland

20. Wales

Zenit sign Leandro Paredes from Roma for €23m

Roma midfielder Leandro Paredes has joined Zenit St Petersburg on a four-year contract, the Russian club have announced.

Paredes, who began his career at Boca Juniors, had also been linked with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich and Serie A winners Juventus.

The Argentina international started 15 games for Roma last season, scoring three times, and Roma’s official website said Zenit would pay an initial €23 million, which could rise by another €4m through clauses.

A product of the Boca Juniors academy, Paredes initially joined Chievo on a temporary basis in January 2014 and was then loaned to Roma in July of that year. 

He signed permanently for the Giallorossi from Boca Juniors in June 2015.
Paredes played for Empoli on loan in 2015-16 before returning to Roma last summer.

IFAB consider reduction in match duration to 60 minutes


New proposals by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) could reduce the duration of a match to change to 60 minutes from 90 with the clock stopped every time the ball goes out of play, and allow players to take a free kick or corner to themselves.

Other changes include permitting free kicks to be taken with a moving ball, penalties being given if a goalkeeper handles a backpass and a penalty goal being awarded in the instance of a goal line handball, a law similar to one already practiced in rugby union.

There are also ideas for teams whose players mob referees to be docked points and for defenders to be allowed to receive the ball from a goal kick within the penalty area.

A goal kick would follow a penalty kick, meaning there would be no opportunity for players to follow in and score from a rebound. This is proposed to stop the issue of encroachment, with the kick being given as missed if an attacking player encroaches and a retake being allowed if a defending player encroaches on a missed penalty.

IFAB says the “Fair Play!” document has three aims — to improve player behaviour and increase respect, to increase playing time and to increase fairness and attractiveness.

“Many people are very frustrated that a typical 90-minute match has fewer than 60 minutes of effective [actual] playing time i.e. when the ball is in play,” IFAB said. “The strategy proposes measures to reduce time-wasting and ‘speed up’ the game.”

IFAB said some of the proposals could be implemented immediately and require no law changes, while some are “ready for testing/experiments” and some are “for discussion”.

The document says match officials should be stricter on the rule which allows goalkeepers to hold the ball for six seconds. IFAB also suggests match officials should be stricter on time-keeping, stopping their watch from a penalty being awarded to the spot-kick being taken, from a goal being scored until the match resumes from the kick-off, and from the signal of a substitution to play restarting.

Former Premier League referee David Elleray, the technical director of IFAB, told The Times that the plan is “a radical document.”

“You could say that it is a quiet revolution aimed at getting football even better,” he said. “My starting point was to look at the laws and say ‘what are they for?’ and if there is no particular reason then would changing them make the game better.”

Allowing goalkeepers to pass the ball to defenders within the penalty area from a goal kick has already been trialled in European youth matches in order to test whether it would encourage more passing rather than a long kick upfield.

The use of video assistant referees (VARs) at the Under-20 World Cup was deemed a success, Elleray added.

“Overall the trials are going extremely well,” he said. “Out of 52 games in the Under-20 World Cup in Korea there were only 12 decisions which were decided by the VAR so it is not disrupting the game.

“Referees are saying to players at corners and free kicks ‘remember, the cameras are watching you.’ Players know they cannot get away with things such as violent conduct and bad tackles.”

IFAB is made up of world football’s governing body, FIFA, and the four British home football associations and is responsible for making the final decision on law changes. The “Play Fair!” document will be discussed at various meetings before decisions are taken on whether to develop ideas further or discard them.