Chelsea defend themselves over Uefa charge of antisemitic chanting

Chelsea have sprung to the defence of their chairman, Bruce Buck, who had been critical of Uefas handling of its charge of alleged antisemitic chanting Chelsea have moved to clarify comments by their chairman, Bruce Buck, in which he suggested Uefas decision to charge the club over alleged antisemitic chanting during a Europa League group game against Vidi had been a waste of time. Uefa confirmed on Thursday that the charges would not be pursued, apparently because of a lack of evidence. That decision was reached despite Chelsea having released a statement immediately after the game in Budapest last December condemning those who had shamed the club and questioning the brainpower of anyone who had engaged in the chants, which …

‘Please fight for me.’ Bahrain soccer player detained in Thailand pleads for help

Bangkok, Thailand (CNN)Hakeem Al-Araibi’s finger traces over every sentence of the letter, eager not to miss even one word from his beloved wife. Those happy family plans were forcibly put on hold when Al-Araibi, a refugee and former member of the Bahraini national soccer team, was arrested at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport while on his honeymoon on November 27. Interpol had issued a “red notice” — an international arrest warrant — which is not supposed to be given to refugees. Al-Araibi, who fled Bahrain in 2014, was detained and held in Thailand at the request of the Bahrain government. He holds refugee status in Australia where he plays for Melbourne soccer club Pascoe Vale, but has beenlocked in an overcrowded Thai …

UAE and Qatar revving up for ‘El Gasico’ in Asian Cup

(CNN)Forget “El Clasico.” Welcome to ‘El Gasico.” Follow @cnnsport The boycott, the worst diplomatic crisis to hit the Gulf Arab states in decades, followed allegations that Qatar was supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region. Qatar rejected the accusations, labeling them “unjustified” and “baseless.” READ: Qatar crisis: What you need to know Much of the criticism aimed at Qatar comes from its alleged support of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic group considered a terrorist organization by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Qatari citizens were given 14 days to leave Saudi Arabi, Bahrain and the UAE, while all three countries banned their own citizens from entering Qatar. Yemen, Mauritius, Mauritania, the Maldives and Libya’s eastern-based government also joined the boycott. The air …

Kepa Arrizabalaga: Has $92.8 million goalkeeper fatally undermined Maurizio Sarri?

(CNN)Maurizio Sarri tore furiously at his jacket, gesticulating wildly as he stormed down the Wembley tunnel. What followed was an ugly scene which overshadowed what was a markedly improved Chelsea performance and a battle of wills, embarrassingly lost by a manager in the first major cup final of his career. Substitute Caballero, who saved three penalties for Sunday’s opponents Manchester City against Liverpool in the 2016 final, stood confused with his arms outstretched in the direction of his embattled boss. READ: Chelsea manager Sarri rages over sub clash as Manchester City wins League Cup READ: Liverpool draw with Manchester United in Premier League but was it two points dropped? A visibly livid Sarri, who eventually backed down after a conversation …

Al-Araibi imprisonment: Australia cancels Thailand training camp

(CNN)The Australian Football Federation (FFA) has canceled a proposed training camp in Thailand for its Under-23 men’s national team in a show of support for Hakeem Al-Araibi, the refugee footballer who is fighting extradition to Bahrain. But the pre-tournament camp is now in the process of being moved as international outcry at the treatment of Al-Araibi grows.

Matthijs de Ligt: Ajax’s latest homegrown hero

(CNN)There are few football clubs like Ajax. There are even fewer, perhaps, with as clear a pathway between academy and greatness. Matthijs de Ligt is the latest — not so much a cab off the rank as a Rolls Royce. He might just be the ultimate product of his environment. Ajax All-access: The Past They are the words of a natural leader, albeit one who was still four years from birth when Patrick Kluivert scored to clinch Ajax’s most recent European crown in 1995. The notion that age is but a number, perhaps, rings true nowhere more than at a club spearheaded by this impressive teenager. “Of course it’s an extra responsibility being captain of a club like Ajax,” he …

Qatar stuns Japan to win Asian Cup

(CNN)Qatar produced the most famous moment in its sporting history Friday after defeating Japan 3-1 in the final of the Asian Cup. Qatar’s 4-0 win over the UAE in the semifinal was particularly difficult for the host nation to swallow, but this result is likely to prove even more embarrassing with celebrations likely to last all night in Doha. The boycott of Qatar, the worst diplomatic crisis to hit the Gulf Arab states in decades, followed allegations that the state was supporting terrorism and destabilizing the region. Qatar rejected the accusations, labeling them “unjustified” and “baseless.” READ: Qatar crisis: What you need to know Much of the criticism aimed at Qatar comes from its alleged support of the Muslim Brotherhood, …

Kylian Mbappe: PSG’s new figurehead?

(CNN)Beforehand all the talk had been of how much Paris Saint-Germain would miss Brazilian superstar Neymar for their Champions League last-16 tie against Manchester United. When Gianluigi Buffon made his Champions League debut for Parma in 1997, Mbappe was not yet an embryo. When Ole Gunnar Solskjaer — then 26 — scored the last-gasp goal that won Manchester United the 1999 competition, Mbappe was just five months old.

Emiliano Sala: UK air investigators recover a body from plane wreckage

(CNN)A body was recovered from the wreckage of a plane found in the English Channel during the search for Cardiff City player Emiliano Sala and the plane’s pilot, authorities said Wednesday. Sala, 28, and the 59-year-old Ibbotson were flying in the single-turbine aircraft from Nantes, in northern France, to Cardiff in Wales, when it disappeared from radar near the Channel Islands on January 21. The Argentine striker had recently signed with English Premier League club Cardiff City for a reported £15 million ($19.3 million) from French club Nantes and was heading to the Welsh capital after saying farewell to his former teammates in France. Wreckage from the plane thought to be carrying the footballer was found Sunday by a privately …