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Messi in Miami shirt seems ‘strange’ – Barca president

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Barcelona president Joan Laporta has told ESPN it is a “strange feeling” to see Lionel Messi in an Inter Miami CF shirt, but he wishes the forward the best in MLS.

Messi, 36, left Barca for Paris Saint-Germain two years ago, but the Catalan side attempted to re-sign him earlier this summer when his contract with the French side expired.

Saudi Arabian team Al-Hilal also offered Messi a contract, but the Argentina international opted to join Inter Miami, where he has scored three goals in his first two appearances.

“It’s a strange feeling,” Laporta told ESPN of watching Messi play in the United States. “We identify Messi with Barcelona. That’s the way I think most supporters see Messi, because most of his career has been at Barca.

“But we respect his decision and we wish the best for him. We want the best for our players. He came to Barcelona as a kid, 14-years-old, and he spent 20 years with us. I hope he can be very happy in Miami.”

Messi has already been joined in Miami by former Barca teammates Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, while Luis Suarez has also been linked, although sources have told ESPN the Uruguay striker will remain at Gremio until at least the end of the year.

Laporta said he understood Messi’s decision to take on a new challenge in the U.S., even if Barca had cleared his possible return with LaLiga financially.

“It was very close,” the Barca chief added. “We had to manage our financial fair play situation so we needed time. At the end, we reached an agreement with LaLiga that authorised us to add him to the squad.

“But Leo was coming from a situation in Paris where he was under a lot of pressure. His father told me that he needed a place where he won’t be under pressure and at Barca that would not be the case because of the meaning of the return of our hero.”

During his 21 years at Barca, Messi became the club’s record appearance holder and top scorer, scoring 672 times in 778 games. He won four Champions Leagues, 11 LaLiga titles and won the Ballon d’Or on seven occasions.

“In Miami, it is different for him, it’s a new league for him, one that is improving and Messi can help with the developing of the league,” added Laporta.

“With Busquets and Jordi Alba as well, maybe Luis Suarez. It will be very attractive for the fans in the United States. So he preferred to go to Miami. We respected it and understood his decision.”

Messi has made a fast start to life in South Florida, scoring the game-winning free kick on his debut against Cruz Azul in the Leagues Cup and then adding a brace in a 4-0 win over Atlanta United FC on Tuesday.

In California, meanwhile, Barca finally kicked off their preseason with a 5-3 defeat against Arsenal at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood as part of the Soccer Champions Tour they are taking part in.

Their opening game against Juventus in Santa Clara was postponed last weekend because of a stomach bug which spread across the squad.

They are back in action on Saturday when they play the Clasico against Real Madrid in Dallas before closing their trip against AC Milan in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

“We lost against Arsenal, but it’s preseason and we will get better,” Laporta said. “I hope against Madrid and in our last game in the U.S. we can be better.

“This tournament is fantastic. There are full stadiums, the fans are great and everything is so well organised. Last night we played in front of 70,000 with people coming from abroad to watch us.

“And training is also going great. The facilities in Los Angeles are perfect for us. We just had the problem with the viral infection, but we feel thankful to be here.”

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National Anti-Doping Bill 2024: Sports Minister applauds Tinubu’s foresightedness

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The Honourable Minister of Sports Development Senator John Owan Enoh salutes President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for placing premium on the National Anti-Doping Bill , thereby giving the Nation a reputation.

The transmission of the Anti-doping Bill 2024 to the National Assembly and the accelerated passage of same remains a landmark achievement of this administration. It is a show of the courageous and bold leadership of the president, a final and appropriate response to the perennial issues of doping that have characterized Nigeria’s relationship with the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA).

Senator John Owan Enoh the sports minister always made it clear that this administration was greeted with WADA issuing a notice to ban Nigeria from International Competitions which degenerated to the point that the agency took Nigeria to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS). Amidst other non-compliant issues, the main challenge was Nigeria’s inability to domesticate the National Anti-doping Law and setting up a National Anti-Doping Organization (NADO) as part of its obligation having signed the international convention in 1999.

“ for years,the country has grappled with meeting up to the expectations of the World Anti-Doping Organization ,despite being a foundational signatory for 25 years.
Nigeria has been in the eye of the storm due to its inability to domesticate the Anti-Doping Law with the backing of parliament.
I must thank our sports loving president for his foresight immediately the issues were brought before him .His foresight and actions have put the country on the right path in sports.
I also appreciate the National Assembly for the passage of the bill ,consideration and approval of the report of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters during plenary.
The county will no longer have doubts of its participation in global sporting events, eligibility to host sports competitions amongst other perennial issues” the Sports Minister said.

This welcome development comes weeks before the country’s participation at the Paris Olympics 2024.

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Bafana Bafana Must Fall, Sports Minister Charges Super Eagles

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Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh, on Monday, rallied support of critical stakeholders and Nigerians for Finidi George,

With the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in full swing, the Honourable Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh has called on the Super Eagles to shift their focus from their recent African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and concentrate on the crucial task of securing a spot in the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

The Super Eagles are set to face Bafana Bafana of South Africa on Friday at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, and Senator Enoh stated that Nigeria must approach the tie as a make-or-break one, as victory will put the team back on track for qualification.

“The FIFA World Cup is the biggest showpiece in football,” Senator Enoh emphasized. “We cannot afford to miss out on the World Cup again. The disappointment of missing the last tournament, especially after the disappointing home match against the Black Stars, must drive us to ensure we qualify this time.”

Senator Enoh urged all stakeholders, including players, coaches, and support staff, to be fully committed to the qualification campaign. “All hands must be on deck to ensure the team qualifies for the World Cup,” he stressed. “I urge the players to get the job done in the first half of the game by scoring early goals, so they are not under pressure in the second half.”

“The upcoming match against South Africa is critical,” Senator Enoh said. “The players need to put the AFCON glory behind them and concentrate fully on this task. Early goals will be key to taking control of the game and ensuring a less pressured second half.”

Senator Enoh concluded by expressing confidence in the Super Eagles’ ability to rise to the occasion and secure a much-needed victory. “We have the talent, the passion, and the support of millions of Nigerians. Let’s channel that into a winning performance and take a significant step towards World Cup qualification.”

The match will kick off at 8 p.m. local time on Friday, June 7, at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo. Nigeria currently has two points from two games and sits third in their group of six teams.

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South Africa coach names Super Eagles winger as danger man ahead of WCQ

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South Africa coach, Hugo Broos, has named Super Eagles and Atalanta winger, Ademola Olajade Lookman as the danger man for Nigeria ahead of both teams’ clash this evening, Soccernet.ng reports.

Both sides met in the semi-final of the AFCON 2023 tournament in Ivory Coast, with the Super Eagles emerging victorious after 120 minutes of intense football. Stanley Nwabali was the hero, denying Bafana Bafana twice from twelve yards.

Lookman is a leading candidate for the CAF Player of the Year Award, after a stellar season with Atalanta, getting to the Copa Italia final, and scoring a hat-trick against Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the UEFA Europa League final.

Broos, speaking in his presser ahead of their game against Nigeria, highlighted the Atalanta man as the threat for his side but admitted their focus as a team won’t be on the former Leicester City forward.

“Obviously, the (Nigeria) danger man is Ademola Lookman, but we are not focusing on that. We are focusing on our game, we have the ability and we have proven that at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Côte d’Ivoire,” the Belgian said in quotes revealed by Score Nigeria.

Lookman is primed to step up for the Super Eagles of Nigeria against South Africa tonight, alongside Victor Boniface, after the Nigerian attackers enjoyed success with their European club sides this season.

Samuel Chukwueze is a doubt for Finidi George ahead of tonight’s game. The A.C. Milan right winger did not take part in the final training session of the Super Eagles.

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